Thursday, March 31, 2022

The NSW areas with high rate of school suspensions

Problem children tend to disrupt the schooling of the whole class they are in. And suspending them is usually too little too late. Such problems could be largely avoided if "special schools" were revived but that falls foul of the Leftist compulsion to ignore differences and pretend that all children are equal even when they are not. So troubled students are thrown in with normal students to the detriment of both.

In special schools provision can be made to have professional help available for troubled students, which would give realistic alternatives to suspensions, which usually achieve nothing

In the north-west of NSW, home to some of the state’s most disadvantaged and remote schools, one in 13 students was suspended in the first half of last year. In the north of Sydney, the rate was fewer than one in 100.

New figures from the NSW Department of Education also show suspension rates for students who are Indigenous or have a disability continue to be disproportionately high, with one in 10 Aboriginal students sent home from school in term one in 2021.

Suspensions are at the centre of a fiery debate in NSW education. A plan to make it harder for principals to give them out was delayed this week amid intense opposition from teacher unions and principals’ groups, who argue it will lead to rowdier classrooms.

The new figures – which compares term one data over the past five years, due to the lockdown in the second half of 2021 – show suspensions among secondary students were the highest in five years, with 6.8 per cent of students sent home for continued disobedience or aggressive behaviour.

However, suspensions in primary schools were lower than usual, at 1.1 per cent.

More than 10,000 students received long suspensions for the most serious behavioural issues, and were away for an average 12.2 days. They included 184 students from kindergarten to year 2.

Most were for persistent misbehaviour or physical violence, while 640 were for serious, school-related criminal behaviour, 715 were for possession or use of a suspected illegal substance, and 527 related to weapons.

One in 10 Aboriginal students – who account for 8.6 per cent of enrolments in government schools – was suspended at least once during semester one, a lower rate than previous years. Some 8.4 per cent of students with a disability were suspended.

City schools had lower suspension rates than country ones, ranging from 0.8 per cent of students in Sydney’s north to 2 per cent in the inner city, 2.8 per cent in the west and 3.9 per cent in the south-west.

Country rates ranged from 4.8 per cent in the state’s south-east, Newcastle and the Central Coast, to 6.2 per cent in the north-east and 7.4 per cent in the north-west.

Just 128 students were expelled, a number that has trended down. About half were expelled for misbehaviour, and half for unsatisfactory participation.

Amid concern about the high rates of disadvantaged students suspended, Education Minister Sarah Mitchell has led the development of a new behaviour strategy that halves the length of school suspensions and prevents students being sent home more than three times a year.

The new policy, which had been due to begin next term, also requires principals to give a warning if a student’s behaviour was raising the prospect of suspension. They could only send students home immediately if there was a threat to the safety of others.

Principals and the teachers union said the policy would reduce consequences for poor behaviour in schools. The NSW Teachers Federation passed a resolution calling on schools not to implement it, and called for more resources for staff to deal with complex student needs.

About 500 principals have written to Ms Mitchell opposing the new strategy over the past month.

Ms Mitchell this week said she would delay the implementation of the behaviour strategy until term three, to allow schools – which have been hit hard by COVID-19 and floods this term – more time to prepare.

New rules around restrictive practices, such as seclusion and process to follow if a child becomes violent, will be delayed until the beginning of next year.

“We’re committed to the policy, and we’re not shifting,” Ms Mitchell said. “We want to make sure we implement it well. The other thing we’re wanting to look at [is principals’] concerns about better inter-agency collaboration.”

NSW Teachers Federation vice president Henry Rajendra said the delay was a response to teachers’ opposition.

“Our schools don’t have the necessary staffing to meet the needs of our students, particularly measures to intervene early, so we can provide the maximum support, so they can engage positively throughout the classroom,” he said.

But Louise Kuchel from Square Peg Round Whole – a community of parents advocating for children with disabilities – said the delay was “upsetting and frustrating and not fair”.

“We’re getting really tired of advocating for [students’] rights and being consistently blocked by the union, who we are trying to help by providing them with some strategies to help our kids.”

One mother, who wanted to remain anonymous to protect her children, said her children’s public school’s understanding of disability had improved with a new principal.

One son, now eight, who has autism, was suspended four times, triggering such deep anxiety about school that she decided to teach him at home.

Another son – who is on a six-month waiting list for a diagnosis and who struggles to leave his parents – has been given warnings rather than suspensions for his behaviour. “If a student with attachment issues gets to spend more time with his parents [through suspension], he will repeat the behaviour and make the situation worse,” the mother said.


Lachlan Murdoch claims Australia's way of life is 'under attack' and that a woke ABC is undermining the country

Lachlan Murdoch has slammed the ABC and claimed the Australian way of life is under siege in a pointed speech to the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA).

'Our core values, our successes and even our history are under constant attack,' Rupert Murdoch's eldest son said on Tuesday night as he launched the Centre for the Australian Way of Life - 'a centre of cultural and intellectual influence and authority' at the IPA.

'Nourishing and defending those core values is extremely important. Not to do so has real world, real bad outcomes,' he said.

Mr Murdoch, who is the CEO of Fox Corporation and thought most likely to succeed his father, did not name the ABC in his 3,400 speech, instead referring to it as 'the national broadcaster'.

'To listen to our national broadcaster or much of the media elite is to hear about a uniquely racist, selfish, slavish and monchromatic country,' the billionaire media baron said.

He said the reality was very different, that Australia is one of the most 'tolerant, generous, independent and multicultural countries in human history', but that 'our national identity and culture are are weathering constant attempts to recast Australia as something it isn't'.

Mr Murdoch, who arrived back in Sydney last Friday on his $90million private jet, said Australians had an 'innate concept of fairness' and believed in a 'fair go'.

'I am always saddened when elements of our citizenry, often the elites who have benefited most from our country, display not a love of our values but a disdain for them,' said the 50-year-old, who was born in London, raised in New York and moved from Los Angeles to Sydney last year.

'How can we expect people to defend the values, interests and sovereignty of this nation if we teach our children only our faults and none of our virtues,' he added.

Mr Murdoch railed against what he called 'the damage done to the American psyche' through attacks on its values and the 'destructive rewriting of its history' and said Australia must 'learn from this cautionary tale'.

He also offered some advice on Australia's response to the Covid-19 pandemic, saying the country was right to 'turn the tyranny of distance into a temporary pandemic advantage ... until vaccines were developed'.

But he claimed the country then became 'a victim of our own success, with state leaders thinking they could out-do each other with lockdowns and remain Covid-free forever'.

Mr Murdoch said the approval of these approaches by much of the public 'was fuelled by the alarmist language and fear mongering of politicians and much of the media'.


ABC cancels book on cartoonist

There was enormous interest in last week’s “The Silence of the Aunty” segment of Media Watch Dog which was titled “The ABC’s Cancellation of Books on the Pell Case”.

This documented the fact that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster had “cancelled” recent books about Cardinal George Pell’s convictions on historical child sexual abuse charges which were quashed in a 7 to Zip decision by the High Court of Australia on 7 April 2020.

ABC journalists led the media pile-on against Pell and the ABC website contains numerous pages on the Pell Case. But ABC producers and presenters have refused to discuss three books which came out after the High Court decision. Namely, Keith Windschuttle The Persecution of George Pell, Frank Brennan Observations on the Pell Proceedings and Gerard Henderson Cardinal Pell, The Media Pile-On & Collective Guilt. With only one exception. Windschuttle was interviewed on ABC Radio National’s The Religion and Ethics Report.

MWD understands from its sources inside the ABC Soviet that there was considerable opposition from within the ABC to Windschuttle’s appearance on the ABC – despite the fact that no one has been able to point to any significant error in his book. Neither Brennan nor Henderson has been invited on to any ABC program.

An avid reader reminded MWD that author Fred Pawle suffered a similar fate with respect to his 2021 book Die Laughing: The Biography of Bill Leak.

Without question, Bill Leak (1956-2017) was one of Australia’s finest cartoonists and painters. In his introduction to Die Laughing, the comedian and artiste Barry Humphries described Leak as a “truly great and fearless Australian” whose work is not only “a record of its time” but also “funny”, “brutal”, “incisive” and “relentless”.

When Bill Leak was on the left and a fierce critic of John Howard and other political conservatives – including, at times, Jackie’s (male) co-owner – his work was untouched. However, when Leak became a critic of the left and adopted some conservative positions – there were many attempts by left-wing activists to silence him.

Fred Pawle’s work is what a good biography should be – sympathetic but also critical. In short, it is not a hagiography as is the case with many biographies of the left, by the left and for the left which are discussed ad nauseam on the ABC. Rather it’s an insightful, considered assessment of a brilliant artist and a clever but flawed man.

Australians can be trusted to read Pawle’s biography and make their own conclusions about Bill Leak. But not according to the ABC, it seems. For years, ABC types paraded against political and social censorship. Now censorship is rife within the ABC.

And so it has come to pass that ABC presenters and producers have effectively “cancelled” Die Laughing. The author has received only one interview on the ABC since his book was published last year – on ABC Radio National’s Between the Lines hosted by Tom Switzer. That’s all.

Now Bill Leak had quite a few mates in the ABC. Including Phillip Adams, Richard Fidler and Leigh Sales – currently the presenters of Radio National’s Late Night Live , ABC Radio’s Conversations and ABC TV’s 7.30 respectively.

Adams, Fidler and Sales spoke about their late friend Bill Leak for Die Laughing. But not one has brought about a situation whereby Fred Pawle has been interviewed on their programs – despite the fact that Late Night Live, Conversations and 7.30 interview authors about books. This suggests a lack of intellectual courage. If this trio does not believe that Leak is worth discussing on the ABC – why did they think it was worth talking to Pawle about his subject?

This appears to be yet another action by the ABC to silence voices that it does not want to hear. Another example of “The Silence of the Aunty”.


SA election shows Morrison the path to victory

The defeat of Liberal Premier Stephen ‘Marshmallow’ Marshall in South Australia opens a path to victory for Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the federal election but only if Morrison has the courage to follow the example of new Labor Premier Peter Malinauskas.

A Liberal defeat that presages a victory is not as contradictory as it seems. Marshall was a creature of the so-called moderate wing of the Liberal party. Malinauskas is a socially conservative Catholic who openly opposed same-sex marriage and voted against the legalisation of euthanasia and late-term abortion.

Labor presented Malinauskas as a dad who plays footy, but he is closer to former prime minister Tony Abbott and NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet than to opposition leader Anthony Albanese, who religiously attends Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Malinauskas leads the Catholic right faction and the resignations of former treasurer Jack Snelling and former minister Don Kenyon to revive the Family First party forced his factional enemies to realise that if they wanted to win government, they would have to keep their bigotry to themselves. Labor’s cheer squad followed suit. No protesters screamed, ‘Get your rosaries off my ovaries’, those attacks are reserved for the Christian right.

Yet it was moderate Liberals who gave Malinauskas his biggest break. Attorney-General Vickie Chapman infuriated social conservatives by introducing a private member’s bill allowing abortion up to the time of birth, which was fast-tracked by Marshall. When Liberal minister David Speirs tried to limit the damage by introducing an amendment to restrict access to late-term abortion, Marshall voted against it; Malinauskas supported it. Marshall added fuel to the fire by also fast-tracking a bill on euthanasia. Not content with these legislative victories, won with the support of the Greens and Labor, moderates thwarted a move by hundreds of Christians to join the party. SA Liberal party president Legh Davis, backed by Marshall and federal government leader in the Senate Simon Birmingham, forced recent members or those seeking to join the party to declare their support for endorsed candidates.

The purge of Pentecostals infuriated Tony Pasin, the Liberal member for the federal seat of Barker, who said it bordered on religious vilification, and incensed outgoing federal Liberal MP Nicolle Flint who slammed the move as undemocratic. It also prompted the Australian Christian Lobby and Family First to target all MPs who voted in favour of late-term abortion, along with One Nation and former Family First senator Bob Day, who campaigned against the attack on Christian values.

The election results show the outcome. Three socially conservative Liberals who left the party comfortably won seats as independents. Moderate Liberals in safe seats suffered massive swings. Marshall’s claim to be a better economic manager bought him nothing. At best, the Liberals will have 15 out of 47 MPs, with Marshall in danger of losing his own seat.

The notion that Marshall should have won because he did a good job managing the pandemic is delusional. He earned the moniker Marshmallow because he hid behind his police chief who exercised draconian powers at the behest of the chief health officer, a nutty professor who famously claimed you could catch Covid from touching a football. To this day, if you test positive for Covid in South Australia you must quarantine for a week, while your close contacts must isolate for a fortnight. Who knows why? When there was no Covid in the state, Marshall tolerated business-strangling restrictions. When the state opened in late November, the combination of Omicron and crazy quarantine rules crippled the economy by forcing people into repeated isolation.

The lesson for Morrison is stark. The marginalisation of Christians in the Liberal party is a cardinal error, just as it has been for Labor, which is usually beholden to the godless Greens when in power. By bringing Christians into the Labor fold, Malinauskas has won a majority in the lower house after only one term in opposition.

Malinauskas has another lesson for Morrison. Unlike Marshall, he is pro-nuclear and has had the courage to defend the establishment of a nuclear waste repository or a nuclear power plant in South Australia, saying it could be a safe source of base-load power with zero emissions.

This is a golden, or a uranium-plated opportunity for Morrison. Albanese puts himself forward as a leader in the mould of Bob Hawke or John Howard. Not on nuclear energy, which both supported. As a student politician, Albanese was aligned with the hard Left and friendly with People for Nuclear Disarmament. In 2004, as shadow minister for environment he campaigned against nuclear power when it was raised by Howard. In 2019, he called any discussion of nuclear technology a ‘fantasy’ which his Green allies found ‘alarming’.

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has gifted Morrison the opportunity to cut energy prices in ways Albanese won’t be able to copy; extending the life of coal-fired power plants, accelerating gas plants, and fast-tracking an increase in energy exports to bolster our allies. It also allows Morrison to drive a wedge through Labor on nuclear technology by talking to Malinauskas about nuclear industry in South Australia.

Morrison also needs to address the heightened threat of conflict posed by Russia and China. With support from Malinauskas, he can put flesh on his new Aukus alliance with the US and the UK by announcing the purchase of nuclear submarines and establishing an industry to support their maintenance in South Australia. He could also start discussions with Malinauskas on safe, small-scale, fourth-generation nuclear power, based on the miniature reactors in nuclear submarines.

Albanese likes to pretend he is like Malinauskas. Hardly. While Albanese has been cosying up to communists since his days as a student politician, the Malinauskas family fled communism in eastern Europe to set up a fish and chip shop in Adelaide. Labor, under Albanese, is hostile to politicians like the late senator Kimberley Kitching and retiring MP Anthony Byrne who were among the diminishing few to criticise China because under Albanese, Australia will kowtow to China, not defend the national interest.

Morrison once said he didn’t want to fight ‘culture wars’ because they don’t deliver jobs, but if he wants to hold on to his own job, he has to make the moderates in the Liberal party recognise that unless they win the support of Christians and conservatives at the next election, the marshmallows in the party will be toast. ?




Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Teaching sexual consent in high schools

Bettina Arndt makes a number of good points below. She is undoubtedy right to ascribe present policies to anti-male feminists.

She should have gone further, though. WOMEN also need education about consent. I doubt that any consent education will do much but I am sure that almost any experienced man will tell you that female consent can be an enigma wrapped in a mystery.

It used to be well-known that women play games with men. They may be open to having sex with a man but will at no stage utter a clear consent. It is essentially a "wait-and-see" strategy that is not inherently unreasonable but it sure can be confusing to the male concerned

I have always refused to be part of such games. I was willing to spend time talking with a woman but if the conversation seemed too flirtatious I would simply desist from further conversation, apparently to the confusion of the woman concerned on some occasions. I once left party rather early after having a rather involved conversation with an Eve but was told the day after by a friend who had also been present: "You could have got her into bed, you know". I think he was right. I felt that at the time. I just didn't like the complexity of the games.

So in my case I have confined myself to situations where an approach of some sort from me was met with clear agreement, but not necessarily verbal agreement. Behaviour can be more eloquent than words. So I have always acted with clear consent but am well aware that I have missed out in situations where consent was less clear. And I have no doubt that on some such occasions the woman concerned has felt frustrated by my "stupidity". I know that because the woman concerned has persisted with me and been much more direct on a second occasion.

And a big problem often is that a rather assertive approach by a male is required for the woman to give consent. The consent will be genuine but for various reasons the woman likes an assertive approach. And thererein lies a big problem. How is the male to work out when assertiveness is required as opposed to where consent is genuinely not given? It can be a guessing game and guessing games can go wrong. Neither party is at fault when it goes wrong. The fault lies with a culture in which female consent or the lack of it may not be clear

So can we "educate" women to be clearer in giving or refusing consent? I would like to think so but am not holding my breath

Last month it was announced all Australian high school students are to be taught about sexual consent and coercion. Mandatory education programs are being rolled out across the country teaching boys not to rape.

It’s mainly due to Sydney schoolgirl Chanel Contos, who burst into the limelight last year when she announced that a school sex education course had led her to discover she’d been raped two years earlier. As a 13-year-old she’d been ‘forced’ to go down on a boy at a party but it took a Year-10 school sex education course for her to realize what had happened to her. She started a website encouraging other girls to tell stories of similar sexual assaults and nearly 2,000 obliged. Ever since she’s been out there calling out male misbehaviour and lobbying for school sexual consent courses.

This is just the latest front in the mighty feminist battle to rein in male sexuality and punish more rapists. I wrote recently about how the NSW parliament was misled by false statistics which were used to assist the smooth passage of enthusiastic consent regulations into law. At much the same time over 1,500 school kids were signing a Contos petition calling for enthusiastic consent to be taught in schools.

Our compliant media dutifully pushed the fear-mongering as Contos met with members of parliament and other power brokers to make it all happen. We heard shocking stories of drunk girls waking up to discover males taking advantage of them, boys behaving badly, circulating photos of their mates having sex, etc. some truly unacceptable male behaviour.

But gradually questions started appearing in online comments about why so many girls were finding themselves in these risky situations, why were so many vulnerable youngsters attending these alcohol and drug-fuelled parties?

Naturally, any suggestion that girls needed to take care of themselves were howled down. A principal of a Sydney girls school dared to suggest that along with more sex education in schools, parents need to be ‘having conversations regarding consent, the impact of alcohol, risk-taking behaviours, and self-respect’. Her sensible suggestion was treated with disdain by journalists who lined up enlightened souls to put her straight. The problem is ‘not about girls’ pronounced an executive from the Alliance of Girls’ Schools, but rather about the ‘underbelly of disrespect, privilege, and callousness displayed by young men towards young women’.

‘This is a systemic, centuries-old societal problem,’ she explained. ‘Behaviour that endorses male sexual entitlement, lack of accountability, and a power imbalance.’

That’s it, you see. Feminism 101, all designed to tie in nicely with the ‘respect for women’ ideological claptrap already rolled out in the Respectful Relationships programs allegedly tackling domestic violence, which are currently indoctrinating children in schools – teaching them about toxic males and helpless females.

Now sexual consent education will reinforce that message. I’ve just been sent snapshots taken from the brand-new curriculum being introduced in one South Australian school. Apparently, there’s flexibility in how the educators choose to address the topic but it seems most schools will take a similar approach.

It’s fascinating seeing how the educators twist themselves into knots to avoid any hint of victim-blaming. They’ve come up with a new slogan: ‘Vulnerability is not the same as responsibility.’ Look at this little scenario featuring Kim. Be warned, it’s pretty confusing because we aren’t given the gender of Kim, who uses the pronoun ‘they’.

Kim is out drinking, and a man ‘they’ know offers ‘them’ a ride home but instead drives to a secluded spot, parks and wants to have sex. Our educators spell out the message very clearly: it’s the villain, the driver, who is 100 per cent responsible for his actions and whether or not Kim is safe. Kim is simply ‘vulnerable’ as a result of decisions ‘they’ have made to get into this situation.

Neat, eh? In this particular scenario we don’t know the gender of the potential victim, but the bulk of the responsibility/vulnerability examples given in the curriculum involve males taking advantage of girls who arguably signal sexual interest in various ways by: wearing low-cut dresses; or inviting a boy to ‘snuggle’ with them in a private room at a party. Here’s a classic example, featuring Jen and Luke. Note that it is taken from an American publication called Men Stopping Rape – which says it all…

The predominantly female teachers who will be guiding the students’ discussion of these scenes will no doubt work hard to convince the kids that the boy is inevitably 100 per cent ‘responsible’ while the innocent girl is simply ‘vulnerable’.

Very occasionally they do present a girl as the baddie. Like the sexually aggressive Mila who is all over her boyfriend Luke and gets very indignant when he says he wants to take his time. ‘I said it was time to be a real man and do the deed,’ responds Mila. A rare toxic woman but overwhelmed by large numbers of pushy blokes who don’t take no for an answer, have sex with sleeping girls and boast about having sex to their mates.

The curriculum does include one scenario, Ali and Josh, describing the situation of a girl who has sex because she fears her boyfriend might dump her if she doesn’t. That’s true to life – a very good example of a girl giving consent she may later regret. The great pity is there is so little in this curriculum about the many reasons girls might be ambivalent about consent. The central myth of the ‘enthusiastic consent’ dogma is the notion that girls/women know their own minds and clearly indicate their desires. The truth is males are forced to interpret the muddy waters of female sexual ambivalence, obfuscation, and confusion. The apparent ‘Yeses’ that are really ‘Maybes’ or secret ‘Nos’.

This week I had a live chat on Thinkspot with a famous YouTuber, Steve Bonnell – also known as ‘Destiny’. Bonnell has made big bucks as video game Twitch streamer. but this clever, articulate young man is also a political commentator, debating all manner of issues usually from a leftist perspective. Funnily enough, just after our conversation Bonnell was banned from Twitch for ‘hateful conduct’ which might just have included our chat about sexual consent, which certainly would have got up the nose of the woke folk running social media.

Bonnell regularly challenges the new dogma on this issue, throwing down the gauntlet by declaring that women no longer have bad sexual experiences – if was bad, it was rape and the man’s fault. His argument is that men are being forced into a parental role – treating women like infants with no agency of their own. Bonnell also declares that if you invite someone to your house, you must expect them to see that as a sexual invitation. And that when it comes to stealthing, women shouldn’t have sex with anyone whom they wouldn’t be comfortable telling not to remove a condom.

Naturally I agreed with him on these points, but amusingly Bonnell was very careful not to align too strongly with what he sees as my overly protective pro-male stance. I was intrigued to hear him talk about young women today, whom he claims enter every sexual encounter with some element of fear. As I pointed out, I’ve never felt like that and see this as a total failure of modern feminism. Whatever happened to feminism’s celebration of women’s female strength and independence? Remember Helen Reddy’s triumphant song – I am woman, hear me roar?

Many of you will know Camile Paglia’s famous story about being in college in the 1960s when girls were still chaperoned and locked safely away from boys at night. She describes their fight to rid themselves of this protectionism, the fight for the freedom to risk rape. ‘I think it is discouraging to see the surrender of young women of their personal autonomy,’ she says, amazed that women are welcoming ‘the intrusion and surveillance of authority figures over their private lives’.

That’s the bottom line here. The sexual consent courses being introduced in our schools are simply the latest effort to convince young women that they are all potential victims, needing protection from dangerous males. Another step to creating a divided society.


Australian Covid-killing ‘fog’ guards Singapore Airport

Hi-tech hand sanitisers, nasal sprays, pills and even cannabis have all been spruiked as treatments to kill or ease symptoms of Covid-19. But could crushing the virus be as simple as using water?

Or more specifically, electrified water, with a sprinkling of salt, that can create a potent dis­infectant?

The nation’s peak science agency, the CSIRO, thinks so and has backed a South Australian company that has developed a Covid-killing “fog” that will be deployed at Singapore Airport in coming months.

The technology has received approval from Australia’s health regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, as well as undergone testing from the world’s two biggest airline manufacturers, Airbus and Boeing.

For the company, Ecas4, it is proof that life can really present bouquets. It originally developed the technology to extend the shelf life of fresh cut flowers.

The “fog” involves electrolysis of salt and water, creating a pH-neutral disinfectant solution known as Ecas4-Anolyte. This solution can be sprayed onto a surface or fogged in an enclosed space using a specialised machine, such as an aircraft cabin, to sanitise all the surfaces it comes into contact with.

Crucially, it has no harsh chemicals or side effects, meaning people can breathe it in (and out), helping stop the spread of Covid.

It is similar technology to the salt chlorinators commonly used in swimming pools, and Ecas4 director Tony Amorico cites this connection when highlighting its safety.

“Chlorine about 2000mg/litre becomes a dangerous, hazardous product. Below that it’s safe. We’re producing at levels two to 300 where we know we kill bacteria and Covid effectively, instantly,” Mr Amorico said.

After international borders reopened last month, Industry Minister Angus Taylor said Ecas4’s technology would help give people the confidence to return to the skies following two pandemic-plagued years.

“From incredible inventions such as rapid breath Covid tests, mRNA technology, to innovations such as this cleaning and sanitising solution from Ecas4 helping to get us back in the skies, this is the kind of groundbreaking innovation the Morrison government is supporting to grow our economy, create new jobs and help our nation reach the other side of the pandemic,” Mr Taylor told The Australian.

But like most fledgling companies with great ideas, committing precious funds for research and development can be risky and cost-prohibitive. And this is where the CSIRO comes in via its Innovation Connections scheme, part of the Australian government’s Entrepreneurs’ Program.

CSIRO introduced Ecas4 to the University of South Australia, which began investigating whether the solution could eliminate traces of Covid-19. The project was successful, and the solution subsequently received approvals from TGA and major aircraft manufacturers.

Other beneficiaries of the CSIRO’s innovation fund include plant-based meat start-up V2food, which formed a partnership with Jack Cowin’s Competitive Foods to launch the Rebel Whopper at Hungry Jacks.

For Ecas4, getting Singapore Airport on board was challenging, given international travel bans prevented them from installing the system in-person.

“Because the cost of transporting a solution to them was prohibitive, we built a purpose built machine to allow a batch production, which we can remotely connect to and we remotely see how much they’re producing,” Mr Amorico said.

“The best part of it is we can switch it off if I need to, as well for any reasons to stop them from producing if we want them to. And that’s how we ensure the quality of the product is produced on a regular basis because we can measure the conductivity of the solution and we can also measure the current and the voltage that we’re providing through that process.”


The Australian Federal budget holds an economic miracle

Perhaps it is the misery brought on by the ongoing global pandemic and war in Ukraine that has dulled the awareness of Australians to the economic miracle forming before them.

Two years ago when the economy was deliberately put into hibernation in order to save lives after the Covid-19 virus entered the country through air and sea ports, economists were full of dire warnings about coming double-digit unemployment, a house price collapse, and the deepest recession in a century.

The pandemic came to snap nearly 30 years of sustained economic growth, and put before policy makers a threat to the prosperity of the country that easily dwarfed that of the Global Financial Crisis in 2008.

As international and state borders slammed shut in 2020, Australians hunkered down in their homes and braced for the worst, with a generation of them unaware of what a recession meant.

It is through this bleak prism that the economic forecasts contained in the federal government’s budget for 2023 released on Tuesday need to be viewed.

Instead of a job market horribly scarred by years of recession, the country is now on the cusp of full employment. In simple terms that mean that anybody seeking a job can get one, or already has one.

Nearly every forecast for unemployment since the outbreak of the pandemic has had to be binned quickly as the economy consistently outperformed.

The jobless rate is now forecast to fall to 3.75 per cent by mid-2022 from 4 per cent currently. That’s a number no economic policy maker or politician in the country will have seen in their working lives.

Even Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe, who joined the central bank out if school in the late 1970s, can’t claim he has been witnessed to such a low number.

It’s a staggering forecast that, if anything, looks conservative given current trends in hiring and record numbers of job vacancies. It’s highly possible the unemployment rate will fall even further than that in the next year.

So instead of long lines of long-term unemployed, Australia is engaging its labour force, which is underpinning a forecast for the economy to grow by 3.5 per cent over the next year.

Some economists will argue that with closed borders and a federal government fiscal stimulus of more than $300bn to battle the pandemic, the country should indeed be approaching full employment.

They’d be right too. But the success also reflects the design of the government spending which had at its core a wage subsidy known as job keeper that kept firms afloat, but more importantly, kept employers paid and linked to a firm.

So when the lockdowns ended, the engines of growth re-engaged at speed. Prior recessions, like the one in the early 1990s, have been marked by years of sustained high unemployment. It’s usual that older and low skilled workers remain on the trash heap for some time.

The budget also includes a forecast that wages will grow by 3.25 per cent in the next year, reversing the trend of the moribund trend of the last decade.

Those looking for a dark lining in the Australian economic story will point to rising inflation. This is where it gets interesting. The budget forecasts consumer prices will rise by just 3.0 per cent in 2022-24 and by just 2.75 per cent in 2023-24.

Viewed against a back drop of inflation running hot in major economies, stoked by interrupted supply chains and soaring energy costs, these low numbers look ambitious. But Australia has been an inflation outlier for some time. Its proximity to Asia, where inflation is more benign, and a sluggish wage setting system, have helped to keep wage growth down.

Still, if the budget’s economic forecasts are too optimistic, it is here as inflation could still easily break out of its cage in the next year, setting up the next great challenge for policy makers to rein it back in.

Getting this wrong could undo the good work that is now visible strength in the economy, bringing with it rapid rises in interest rates.

Still, there is a strong argument to suggest that much of what consists of current price pressures in the economy will eventually fade. To have a true inflation break out, you need wages to jump. While they are drifting up, there’s no surge yet that would signal the genie is out of the bottle.

To round the story of the economy, the last batch of GDP growth data showed the economy steaming ahead at its fastest pace since March 1976, unemployment is currently at a 14-year low, and consumers have saved a large portion of the pandemic stimulus. It sit in bank accounts waiting to be spent.

In the last year, house prices have jumped by more than 20 per cent. While that’s a vexed statistic given the rise has frozen many out of home ownership, it still represents a big lift in household wealth.

After two years of pandemic, Australia has been left with a bulging government mountain that some economists will argue leaves the country more vulnerable in the event of another shock.

All that is true, but still, Australia’s debt burden is much lower than that of many of the major economies and the strong job market means the debt mountain can be eaten into by driving GDP growth faster.

By late 2022 (if not earlier), full employment is likely to have been achieved, and on current indications, interest rates will still be low.

It wasn’t meant to be like this.


The 'beautiful surprise' in the Budget that NO ONE is talking about - as top economist reveals why interest rates WON'T rise as soon as everyone thinks

A top economist has shone a spotlight on one of the most 'beautiful' things hidden in last night's Budget - sustained low employment rates.

Deloitte Access Economics partner Chris Richardson said the 'beautiful surprise' hidden in the 2022 Budget was welcome, and also predicted interest rates would not rise any time soon.

'It's not mentioned in any headline anywhere, it's only been a handful of months since the Treasury last updated us [and] they are now of the view that low unemployment rates in Australia can be sustained,' he told Sunrise host David Koch on Wednesday.

'Basically an extra 140,000 Australians can be in jobs from here on in. It looks as though we can run the Australian economy faster for longer, and that's great.'

Those considered 'winners' in Treasurer Josh Frydenberg's fourth budget were pensioners, carers, motorists, low to middle income earners and job seekers.

When asked if he thought there were any 'losers' the economist said of this budget: 'If you've got a pulse and a vote then you've got some money.'

However, he said there were 'hidden costs' as well as some consequences of splashing cash on an already healthy economy, with unemployment predicted to reach 3.75 per cent in September, the lowest level since 1974.

'When you drop extra money atop an economy that is pretty strong, you get higher inflation, that means our money doesn't go as far,' Mr Richardson explained.

'You may annoy the Reserve Bank into an interest rate rise, so the cost of your mortgage goes up, and we import more and speed up other economies rather than ours.'

He said the welcomed cash splash will in turn put pressure on the RBA to push interest rates up faster, but not as soon as people might think.

'We've got the view that is now unusual that the Reserve Bank will not be raising rates in the next few months. They'll still do it, but it's going to be the end of 2022 before they do it,' Mr Richardson predicted.




Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Carbon fraud claims rejected by industry players

A set of whistleblower allegations slamming the integrity of Australia’s carbon offset program has been rejected by the industry body, which says the “sensational accusations” threaten projects aimed at cutting emissions.

A new bout of volatility has hit the sector just weeks from a federal poll after the former chair of an audit committee alleged a majority of carbon credits issued by the Regulator were flawed.

Andrew Macintosh – an ANU professor and former chair of the Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee – last week unveiled a series of problems with the government’s Emissions Reduction Fund, which is run by the Clean Energy Regulator.

The Carbon Market Institute – whose 130 members include ANZ, BHP, Coles and Woodside Petroleum – has denied the ­charges.

“Sensational claims of ‘fraud’, ‘rorts’ and ‘sham’ amount to a direct attack on a vast network of farmers, traditional owners, service providers, investors, auditors, conservationists and public servants, many of whom have spent the last decade striving to accelerate support for stronger industrial emission reduction, sustainable agriculture and reversal of deforestation,” CMI chief executive John Connor said.

“Many of these participants are feeling aggrieved by accusations which do not appear to be substantiated by the academic papers.”

The Clean Energy Regulator directly contracts for the purchase of Australian Carbon Credit Units from carbon offset schemes such as revegetation on pastoral properties, energy efficiency projects run by big energy users and even promises by farmers to end or avoid land clearing.

Mr Macintosh, tasked with overseeing the integrity of the carbon credit scheme, alleged “proponents are being issued ACCUs for growing trees that were already there when the projects started” among other claims and called for an independent investigation to explore the Clean Energy Regulator’s administration and the broader suitability of the Emissions Reduction Fund.

The CMI said both it and its members were analysing the technical papers released late last week by Mr Macintosh, and would issue a “comprehensive response” later this week.

However, it said on Sunday that Mr Macintosh’s land management papers did not back up claims that 70-80 per cent of ACCUs lacked integrity.

“The papers focused on the Human-Induced Regeneration methodology appear to confuse principles under the methodology, which is aimed at crediting transition to forest cover, not current forest levels. The transition to forest cover is closely regulated, including five-yearly regeneration checks and a 15-year forest cover attainment check,” the CMI said.

CMI said it would take part in any independent review “to enable the investments and reforms necessary to address our twin climate and biodiversity crises”.

The Clean Energy Regulator said on Friday it stood by the Emissions Reduction Fund, describing it as “a robust offsets scheme with a high degree of integrity” and said complaints about several of its carbon methods were unfounded. Labor has vowed to hold an independent review of the scheme if it wins a looming federal election.


‘Absolute disgrace’: 85 per cent of CFMEU officials penalised or before courts

Labor’s promise to scrap the construction watchdog has come under fire after it was revealed 85 per cent of CFMMEU leaders in the division are before the courts or have been fined.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese will promise to follow in the footsteps of Bob Hawke and Paul Keating in a pre-election speech today. He will vow to rediscover a spirit of consensus between governments, unions, businesses and civil society.
QLD News

Industrial Relations Minister Michaelia Cash said Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese will give the “green light” to appalling behaviour and chaos on constructions if he wins the election and follows through with the pledge.

But Labor says it makes no apology for its plans to scrap the watchdog, saying it was a “politicised and discredited organisation”, while CFMMEU construction union boss Dave Noonan said the ABCC was “giving the green light” for bosses to rip off workers.

Of the 28 listed CFMMEU construction and general division officials, 24 either have been penalised by the federal court or are facing court hearings.

Senator Cash said the union’s record was a disgrace.

“Mr Albanese’s promise to abolish the ABCC will lead to chaos on Australia’s building sites and give the green light to appalling behaviour,” she said.

“This would also threaten billions of dollars in construction projects and jeopardise the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of workers in the construction sector.”

She said the record of the CFMMEU officials was “absolute disgrace”.

“The level of law-breaking committed by just one union and its delegates is breathtaking,” Senator Cash said.

“Instead of promising to crack down on this type of behaviour, Anthony Albanese is promising to abolish the ABCC, which is keeping these disgraceful actions in check.”

Opposition industrial relations spokesman Tony Burke said the ABCC was a “politicised and totally discredited organisation” and accused it of targeting workers had previously been found to have acted unlawfully under its previous Commissioner.

“It was set up by the LNP to dismantle unions and undermine the pay, conditions and job security of ordinary Australian workers,” Mr Burke said.

“We will abolish it and we make no apology for that.”

CFMMEU national secretary Dave Noonan said construction workers were more likely to be fined for standing up for their rights, than employers who were “stealing their wages or putting their safety at risk.

“The ABCC gives dodgy bosses a green light to rip off workers,” he said.

“It does nothing when big builders go to the wall owing workers millions. Yet it punishes workers who speak out about safety or demand to be paid the wages and entitlements they are owed.

“Construction workers should not face being targeted and fined by a regulator with the powers of a Royal Commission that ignores criminal behaviour by employers.”

Mr Albanese has been unable to explain who will prosecute unlawful industrial activity if he scraps the Australian Building and Construction Commission, while Master Builders Association warned it will “unleash union thuggery”.


The ‘Green’ shades of political hypocrisy

It was only last month that the Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam, called on the government to ensure that all rental properties contained ‘compulsory air conditioning’ as part of a minimum standard requirement in a letter to Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation, Melissa Horne.

Air conditioning is an energy-consuming monster.

While those of us who are comfortable living in the modern world feel no guilt about the advances in technology that allow humans to wear a jumper inside when it’s over 45 degrees outside – the Greens hail from the apocalyptic ‘end is nigh’ pool of thought. They are prepared to send Australia back to the caves armed with candles through their relentless pursuit of policies that dismantle Australia’s energy security, but sure, let’s mandate air conditioners?

While the Greens terrify children and incite them to skip school and stage mock ‘die-ins’ in capital cities, they don’t mind arguing in favour of air conditioning to drag votes from the hot and sweaty poor (who are being made more poor by Climate Change policies).

This month, the Greens are back on track, calling for the luvvies in Canberra to give up their vehicles on ‘car-free’ days and try out ‘car-free zones’ in the city. Mind you, this might not be necessary as fuel prices continue to rise on the back of Australia’s dependence on internationally-sourced oil (because ideological zealots fight against domestic resources).

Jo Clay, the Greens’ transport spokesperson, released a discussion paper containing the above proposals along with the usual cash splurge on footpaths, bikes, and – of course – dramatically lowering speed limits so that cars have to expend more fossil fuels to go nowhere.

The paper also suggests mucking around with traffic light sequencing to make life miserable for motorists and leave cars pumping out fumes while bikes and pedestrians take priority. Or if that doesn’t suit, other recommendations include removing roads entirely to make ‘more space for the community’. Pesky things like on-street parking are listed as a ‘loss of space for little real gain’ – aside from having somewhere to park, which is a pretty big gain for motorists.

‘Canberrans love active travel,’ Clay insisted. ‘We have the highest level of cycling in Australia and almost everyone uses active travel at some point. Even those who drive most places will still get out of their car and walk or wheel to their final destination.’

According to Clay, these car-free days and zones are meant to offer the people of Canberra a way to ‘experience a different way to use our roads’ because exploring transport options for fun is probably high up on the list of activities for struggling businesses and families desperately scrambling to recover from Covid health orders.

Australians are more likely to believe in ‘active transport’ when representatives of the Greens permanently exchange their government-funded cars for push-bikes and cycle to Parliament in the pouring rain, freezing cold, and sweltering heat of Canberra. If they want us to believe that the working-class need to give up their cars for the ‘greater good’, Greens MPs should set the example by refusing to fly around the country and instead hop on long-distance trains or buses.

No takers?

‘We have to do more to help Canberrans choose the original zero-emissions transport method of active travel. We need to make active travel fun, accessible, and safe for everyone.’

How does this declaration work with the paper’s recommendation to trial off-road bicycle exemptions for helmet requirements? Helmets are widely regarded as the most important safety advancement for cyclists – something openly acknowledged by the paper – but people don’t like wearing helmets so the Greens reckon we should just ‘ditch them’ because cycling ‘participation dropped when helmet laws were introduced’. Sure, but fatalities also dropped by 46 per cent.

‘This off road exemption could be trialled and the effect on participation measured to see if this increases cycle commuting, especially for short distances within suburbs.’

The original zero-emissions method of transport has been common with the peasantry for thousands of years – walking – although we are yet to see that less-glamorous mode of transport kick off with MPs screeching ‘Net Zero!’ from the chambers of Parliament.


Climate change activist Maxim O'Donnell Curmi jailed for four months after protests

A man who scaled a 60m-high crane at Sydney's Port Botany during one of several stunts by climate change activists last week has been jailed for four months.

Maxim O'Donnell Curmi today pleaded guilty to five charges, including endangering a person on a railway and encouraging the commission of a crime, before Waverley Local Court.

The 26-year-old from Hurstbridge in Victoria will appeal the sentence, said activist group Blockade Australia.

It has claimed responsibility for a series of protests around the Port Botany area held for five consecutive days, which also targeted freight rail lines and roads.

On Friday, Curmi jumped a barbed wire fence and evaded workers before climbing to the top of a large crane used to load and unload shipping containers at the port.

He remained dangling from a rope for five hours, blocking the loading of a docked ship.

Today, Magistrate Ross Hudson accepted Curmi's guilty pleas and sentenced him to four months in jail plus a $1,500 fine.

The sentence will expire on June 24.

Last week, the NSW government introduced harsher penalties of up to two years in jail and a $22,000 fine for protesters as a reaction to the Blockade Australia campaign.

An amendment was added to make it an offence to disrupt any tunnel or bridge across Sydney, and laws could be expanded further to include roads and key facilities.

Attorney-General Mark Speakman said the previous fine of up to $2,200 was not enough to deter activists he described as "economic vandals".




Monday, March 28, 2022

From 'problematic' bogans to the COVID divide: Australia's messy relationship with social class

The article below talks of class in terms of income. But there is more to it than that. Even occupational prestige does not capture it. Yet there clearly is a stratum in Australian society where people have an elite identity. People in that stratum are economically prosperous but economic affluence is by itself not enough for such an identity. People can become suddenly rich without acquiring an elite identity.

So what is the key variable leading to an elite identity? It is IQ. Elite people are smart and it is the characteristics of high IQ people that become markers of high social class. Toby Young explains it

So the article below rather misses the point. It shows an awareness of cultural differences but explains those differences in terms of income. But any approach to levelling income will not abolish social class. Smart people will always do better. Even in the heavily equalitarian Soviet Union, there was a "nomenklatura" who lived privileged lives

Australia, we are often told, is the land where everyone can get a "fair go." It's one of many egalitarian terms that are used in this country, from inside our parliament to throughout our pop culture. But is Australia as equal as many of us like to think?

Steve Threadgold, an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Newcastle, has a clear opinion: No way.

"People start at different places [in life]," Professor Threadgold tells ABC RN's Saturday Extra, "but we don't really like to talk about class very much, for some reason."

He's co-edited a new book with fellow researcher Associate Professor Jessica Gerrard titled Class in Australia, which dissects the topic and looks at how social class can be a barrier.

And first up, he wants Australians to improve how they discuss the realities of class.

Bogans, hipsters and class

The term 'bogan' immediately conjures up the image of a very specific Australian — likely involving a singlet, cigarettes and a mullet.

So too with 'hipster' — tight black jeans, a soy latte and smashed avocado on toast are probably involved.

But Professor Threadgold has researched the usage of these terms and says they're problematic substitutes for talking about class.

"These are ways that class is represented and spoken about in the public sphere, without really talking about class … 'Bogan' has tended to stand in for vulgar working class tastes and 'hipster' for ironic middle class consumer cultures," he says.

"What's interesting is that the hipster is often [portrayed] as a quite ironic, almost playful figure, while the bogan tends to elicit much more denigration.

"The bogan is seen as doing things wrong."

He says the bogan has "become a representation of cultural aspects of class, particularly around taste. And then, by using this figure, you don't need to say 'working class people are this' you can invoke 'the bogan.'"

In this way, he says working class people can be maligned in the media and everyday conversations, and the realities of their lives are often obscured.

So just how big are Australia's class divides? Very big, according to Professor Threadgold and other research.

A widening gap between rich and poor

The book lays out a stark picture of inequality and disadvantage in Australia.

"According to measures of inequality, the rich/poor gap is widening, returning to the heights of the 1920s. Education is getting more expensive, while social welfare is increasingly difficult to access," the co-editors write.

"The reality for anyone who is not from a privileged, well-connected background is exclusion from the housing market and the prospect of insecure work."

Although there are many "distinctive experiences of disadvantage and inequality — gender, race, Indigeneity, sexuality, ability, age", talking about class can "make inequality a public issue anchored in economic structures and social/cultural institutions."

And research suggests that Australia is much more unequal than many people may realise.

According to one analysis from the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) and the University of New South Wales, before the pandemic, the incomes of those in the top 20 per cent were six times higher than those in the lowest 20 per cent.

When it came to average wealth, the numbers were even more stark, with the top 20 per cent ($3,255,000) having 90 times that of the lowest 20 per cent ($36,000).

Cassandra Goldie, the CEO of ACOSS, says: "In a wealthy country like Australia, the dominant perception is everybody's doing well … but there are large numbers of people who are living on very low and modest incomes."

"Unless we get some major changes to policy directions here, we will see an increasingly divided society, both in terms of income adequacy, and in terms of wealth behind you," she adds.

Class and the pandemic

Dr Goldie says that COVID-19 affected well-off and less-well-off Australians in dramatically different ways.

"We've had two very different experiences of this pandemic," she says.

Dr Goldie points out that many people from lower socio-economic areas "were required to go out and continue to do frontline, low-paid casual work," instead of being able to work from home.

With a focus on international politics and business, Geraldine Doogue talks to expert commentators about the things that matter to Australians.

In addition, these Australians "[sometimes] live in overcrowded housing, often with many people living in one home, and are much less able to self isolate."

"So therefore [such groups] were much more heavily exposed to the consequences of the virus."

One report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that in the first year of the pandemic, people living in the lowest socio-economic areas had COVID-19 mortality rates 2.6 times higher than for people living in the highest socio-economic areas.

And a separate analysis by ACOSS and the University of New South Wales found poverty and inequality actually reduced early in the pandemic due to crisis support payments, but then spiked later in the pandemic as these supports were rolled back.

"The kinds of policies introduced [in 2020] helped to close gaps … but then this unravelled," Dr Goldie says.

Class in politics

Professor Threadgold says despite class being an important issue, it rarely features in our political debates.

"When you do hear political leaders talk about class, they tend to reverse it," he says.

"So if an argument is made for something like taxing billionaires, or having some kind of shared wealth, then all of a sudden, it's a class war against the rich. And that's really the only time you hear [about class in politics]."

Professor Threadgold cites one elected individual as having a distinct voice in the political realm: Tasmanian independent senator Jacqui Lambie.

"She's a very rare instance of someone from a relatively disadvantaged background with a voice in the Australian public sphere … She is a person that seems to speak often about the views of the disadvantaged, and she's experienced that herself."

But Professor Threadgold says "beyond when she gets to speak for herself, much of the writing and talking and representations of her tend to be parodies."

Political change

Dr Goldie says, while there are many issues around inequality to be dealt with, there is one significant area that needs to be addressed.

"[One] important focus, we believe, is over our revenue base," she says, questioning the federal government's "eye-watering tax cuts."

"There's the 'stage 3 [tax cuts],' which are $16 billion per annum, that will mostly be going to people on higher incomes, mostly men, who already have enough and don't need any more relief," she says.

"[Meanwhile] there's a refusal to look at tax reforms that actually will tackle these serious inequalities and secure a more adequate revenue base for the kind of critical services like health and education — which are some of the key drivers to ensuring a more equal and balanced and fair society."

"I think the community does generally understand that we have real choices here [around policies]. The wealth that we have accumulated is being increasingly concentrated in the hands of fewer people — that's not good for anybody."

So why consider class?

Professor Threadgold says a better understanding of class means inequality and disadvantage in Australia could be better addressed.

"If someone doesn't do well at school, or loses their job, or is in poverty, often they're blamed as an individual: they're lazy, they don't work hard enough or they made all the wrong choices," he says.

"But what we find is [when considering] class, those kinds of things, those kinds of inequalities, are much more systematic."

He says: "If we can think about these things on a more systematic basis, the public will be better informed about what's going on."


Australia did well on Covid? Pull the other one

Thousands of lonely deaths in our disastrous and secretive response to the Wuhan virus

David Flint

It is to the credit of a group of parliamentarians that an independent cross-party inquiry has been convened into the Australian response to the pandemic.

Absent a Royal Commission, it is only through such an inquiry that a peoples’ national pandemic contingency plan can emerge.

Hopefully it will not be ignored as former health minister Tony Abbott’s was, despite, as we noted here, his work being internationally acclaimed.

Any assessment should begin by burying the myth that in responding to the pandemic, Australia did relatively well.

Occupying a whole continent, Australia enjoys the unique advantage of being the world’s largest (remote) island nation.

Our death rate should be similar to New Zealand’s, 19 deaths per million (DPM). Taiwan, close to where the virus emerged and hardly remote, comes in at 35 DPM. But Australia’s was many times these, 218 DPM.

While total Australian deaths should have been about 780, the Australian total to date is 5,665.

Worse, for too many, this death was too often a lonely departure resulting from a cruel and unjustified policy of depriving the dying, in their final hours, of the comfort of children and others close to them.

On any fair assessment, the Australian response to the Wuhan virus has been secretive and arbitrary. In terms of costs and deaths, it has been a disaster.

Apart from closer control of the international borders, at times inadequate ─ as we saw with the Ruby Princess ─ almost every decision taken by the ruling politicians was wrong.

They set aside what was surely their overriding duty, to protect the easily identifiable vulnerable. Apart from advice on hygiene and distancing and ensuring early treatment was available, their role should have been to allow the rest of the nation to get on with their lives in a free society. However, that was the last thing the politicians would tolerate.

As the distinguished American academic Michael Rectenwald observed in a recent lecture at Hillsdale College, ‘hitherto democratic Western states (he particularly singles out Australia) have been ‘transformed into totalitarian regimes modelled after China’. This, he says, was done with the goal of having economies operate under ‘capitalism with (communist) Chinese characteristics’, a two-tiered economy with profitable monopolies and government on the top and socialism for the majority below.

This led to the probably unlawful imposition of that draconian Chinese communist remedy, the lockdown. The sheer inutility of this is demonstrated by the fact that the state with the longest lockdowns, Victoria, was the very one with the largest number of deaths, to date 2,675.

This also led to an unhealthy obsession not only with invariably wrong modelling but also with Big Pharma’s vaccines. Robert F. Kennedy Jr, with the imprimatur of a large team of scientists including two Nobel Prize laureates, describes these in his recent book, The Real Anthony Fauci: Big Pharma’s Global War on Democracy, Humanity, and Public Health as ‘novel, shoddily tested and improperly licensed technology’.

Under US federal law, these vaccines could not qualify for emergency use authorisation if any existing FDA-approved drug proves effective against the same malady. This explains the worldwide campaign by Big Pharma, supported by Big Media and Big Tech, not only against ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine but also against the very idea of early treatment.

Given the lack of proper testing, the immediate effect of the vaccines is still a matter for proper assessment, with the long- term consequences unknown. Accordingly, governments should have concentrated on offering them to the most vulnerable. Instead, their use has been almost universally forced on the population despite federal assurances to the contrary. Proposed crossbench legislation to stop this was blocked, notwithstanding legal advice that the Commonwealth has power to enact this.

In addition, there has been a wholly unnecessary program to vaccinate children with such ‘shoddily tested’ vaccines, despite the fact that children are in no way seriously vulnerable unless they have other medical problems. In fact, statistics indicate that only six people under 20 years of age died of the virus and four of these were under ten.

The draconian Beijing-style policies adopted by governments have had devastating impacts on Australians, in relation to their finances, their work, their businesses, their education and their mental health. The delays in elective surgery and in testing for all sorts of diseases, including cancer, will no doubt have a deleterious effect. The nation and especially future generations have been left a massive debt. None of this was necessary; all of this must be avoided in planning how best to respond to the next virus.

What we saw during the crisis was the culmination of the gradual whittling away under the rigorous two-party system of the protections against the phenomenon about which Acton famously warned, that power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

In many ways the best protection against this was in the intricate structure of checks and balances which once characterised our system of government, even in colonial times. But during the crisis the power to make law by regulation was secretive, slipping entirely both from proper audit in the Executive Council to ensure the propriety of the process and proper parliamentary scrutiny.

What we saw everywhere was government at the whim of one or two ruling politicians. One example was the closing down of the NSW construction industry (at a cost of $1.4 billion) apparently without medical advice. As to a solution, it is possible that as with the live cattle ban, much regulatory action will be found after years of litigation to constitute misfeasance in public office. If so, the taxpayers and not the delinquent politicians will pay.

Solutions more immediate than litigation lie in the first place with all Australians when they come to cast their votes. The future pandemic plan must involve the restoration of traditional checks and balances in our system of governance . Further. the dose of direct democracy which we already see in the requirement for a constitutional referendum should be extended as proposed in the petition so that the ruling politicians are henceforth truly accountable, 24/7, to the Australian people.


Claims a baby was STRIP SEARCHED by police with an officer 'spreading the infant's legs'

The cop was clearly searching for contraband, a common problem in prisons. And if no harm comes to the baby I see no big problem with it. But the law neeeds to be changed, not breached

The family of an eight-month old baby is suing the state of NSW claiming he was unlawfully strip searched by a female police officer.

The boy's mother was on her way to visit his father in jail on September 2, 2018, when the officer allegedly took the baby out of his nappy, spread the his leg's and inspected his body.

The incident outside Mid North Coast Correctional Centre near Kempsey is the second such allegation to go to court in NSW with the family of a 16-month-old boy settling out of court in a previous case.

There is no suggestion either child's family were attempting to smuggle contraband and it is not clear if the same officer was involved in both incidents.

When arriving for the visit about 8.30am, both the baby and mother were first examined by sniffer dogs before being directed on to a bus where the boy was allegedly further searched.

'The police officer inspected the (baby's) naked body, ­including (his) genitals and buttocks area,' court documents seen by The Daily Telegraph state.

The lawyers for the baby under direction of his mother are suing for unlawful detention and battery.

'NSW laws clearly state that a child under 10 cannot be strip searched,' their lawyer Todd Scott said.

The law in NSW also states a member of the same sex must perform any strip search.

He added the alleged incident was a 'flagrant' violation of the rights of the baby who was unable to assert any objection.

The family is also seeking damages in Port Macquarie District Court.

The state on behalf of NSW Police is yet to submit a defence in the case.


A NSW school assignment that gave students the option to argue in support of the slave trade is under investigation

This Would Be A Rather Good Exercise In Thinking Outside The Box but sensitivities were understandably aroused

Lake Macquarie High School, south of Newcastle, came under fire after the history assignment handed out earlier this month was shared on social media.

It gave students the option to write as the US Economy Minister where “your report will argue for the continuation of the Slave Trade” or as the US Human Rights Minister where “your report wants to stop Slave Trade”.

For those arguing in support of slavery, students were told to outline “the positive contribution” slaves made to economies in Africa, England and the US.

They were instructed to present their viewpoint from an “empathetic perspective”, which was described as to “understand from the viewpoint of the people involved”.

Maria Alier shared the assignment on Instagram, which she had received from a friend of African descent whose siblings were in the class.

She claimed students were even told by the teacher that if they wrote a report advocating for slavery, they were more likely to receive higher marks.

Ms Alier said she was “initially baffled and then quickly insulted” by the assignment brief and couldn’t understand how it was not stopped along the way before it was handed to students.

“Asking kids to justify the unjustifiable and argue for the continuation of indescribably painful and cruel practice such as slavery sends their easily impressionable adolescent minds to the very same right wing material that could manipulate even the most forward thinking kids into a rabbit hole of bigotry and prejudice,” she told of her reasoning to share the assignment on social media and encourage people to contact the school and department of education to voice their concerns.

“No one is saying that we can’t learn about slavery or the injustices of the past, but it is not correct to sit there and justify them.”

Ms Alier pointed out it wouldn’t be appropriate to justify the Holocaust or the Stolen Generations, so she couldn’t understand how educators thought it would be for the slave trade.

Commenters on Ms Alier’s Instagram post praised her for publicising the issue, and others shared their reactions on TikTok.

“As a person who has been racially abused for being black in the past, thank you,” one woman wrote. “Thank you so much, you are spreading information and empowering other people to speak out about injustice.”

Another replied: “This is honestly so disgusting that a school will allow this. thank you for sharing this! The school/teachers need to be held accountable.”

Jagorda Manyuon, the older sister of students in the class, told Pedestrian her family received a verbal apology from the principal after persistent complaints were made.

“[They] said ‘I’m not racist’ and I get that. Okay, cool you’re not racist – but can you still do something about this? What’s being done?” she said.

“I’m not sure an apology is enough. These things will just keep happening.”

The NSW department of education confirmed to it was “aware of an allegation of inappropriate content appearing in an assessment task” at the school and was investigating.

“The Department has had an Anti-Racism Policy in place for 30 years,” a spokesman said.

“It promotes respect for people from all cultural, linguistic and religious backgrounds and rejects all forms of racism in schools and department offices.”

Ms Alier said what she wanted to come out of the investigation was a public apology to African students, how the department plans to ensure it doesn’t happen again, and better implementation of the school’s anti-racism policy and training.




Sunday, March 27, 2022

Australia declares 'mass bleaching' at Great Barrier Reef

The usual lies, presumably. Probably because of La Nina, Australia is having a rather cool year so global warming is an unlikely explanation for bleaching.

And is there really any bleaching? Viewed from a distance, corals underwater look grey regardless of their close-up colour. So what these galoots saw from their planes and helicopters may tell us nothing

The last big bleaching event was caused by reduced sea levels so if there is actually any bleaching, sea levels, not warming are likely to blame

Australia's spectacular Great Barrier Reef is suffering "mass bleaching" as corals lose their colour under the stress of warmer seas, authorities said Friday, in a blow widely blamed on climate change.

The world's largest coral reef system, stretching for more than 2,300 kilometres (1,400 miles) along the northeast coast of Australia, is showing the harmful effects of the heat, said the Reef Authority.

The Great Barrier Reef, home to some 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 types of mollusc, was suffering despite the cooling effect of the La Nina weather phenomenon, which is currently influencing Australia's climate, the authority said.

Though bleached corals are under stress, they can still recover if conditions become more moderate, the Reef Authority said.

The mass bleaching report emerged four days after the United Nations began a monitoring mission to assess whether the World Heritage site is being protected from climate change.

UNESCO's mission is to assess whether the Australian government is doing enough to address threats to the Great Barrier Reef -- including climate change -- before the World Heritage Committee considers listing it as "in danger" in June.

He pressed the government to show the damaged areas to the UN mission now inspecting the reef rather than the picturesque areas that have been untouched.

"Here, corals are being cooked by temperatures up to four degrees above average, which is particularly alarming during a La Nina year when ocean temperatures are cooler."

When the UN previously threatened to downgrade the reef's World Heritage listing in 2015, Australia created a "Reef 2050" plan and poured billions of dollars into protection.

"Unfortunately, as more severe bleaching is reported across our beloved Great Barrier Reef, we can see these devastating events are becoming more common under the continuing high rate of greenhouse gas emissions," she said.

- 'No safe limit' -

An average increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels would see more than 99 percent of the world's coral reefs unable to recover from increasingly frequent marine heatwaves, they reported in the journal PLOS Climate.

"The stark reality is that there is no safe limit of global warming for coral reefs," lead author Adele Dixon, a researcher at the University of Leeds' School of Biology, told AFP.

The 2015 Paris Agreement enjoins nearly 200 nations to keep global heating "well below" 2C.


Chinese company exits Cubbie Station as Macquarie takes control of famed cotton property

The Chinese actually rescued Cubbie after it went broke due to drought

China’s multi-billion dollar textile giant Shandong Ruyi has finally exited its once controversial holding in Australia’s largest irrigated cotton property Cubbie Station, selling its 51 per cent interest to funds controlled by Macquarie Group.

The Chinese company had a decade long involvement with the station and in its early years of ownership came under political pressure to sell down its long time 80 per cent stake to 51 per cent.

It hit that mark in 2019 when an agricultural fund managed by Macquarie took over a 49 per cent stake.

The Macquarie-led fund has now bought the remaining 51 per cent stake in Cubbie Station, associated properties and cotton ginnery, bringing the fund’s total ownership to 100 per cent.

The sale comes amid a pullback of China’s ambitions in property and corporate Australia, and at a time that also suits Macquarie’s expansion in Australian agriculture.

The 2012 purchase of Cubbie Station by Shandong Ruyi sparked political discord about rising foreign, and in particular Chinese, investment in Australian farmland. Former Labor treasurer Wayne Swan approved the $232m deal on the condition that the Chinese group “sell down its interest in the Cubbie Group from 80 per cent to 51 per cent to an independent third party (or parties) within three years”.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison later extended Ruyi’s deadline by another three years when he was treasurer in 2016.

Cubbie Station is one of the country’s most critical agricultural assets and accounts for about 10 per cent of national cotton output. The 93,000-hectare property near Dirranbandi and St George, on the border of Queensland and NSW, also has valuable licences to store more water than Sydney Harbour.

However, before the Chinese-led purchase Cubbie Group had languished and fell into administration in 2009 with debts of about $300m.

Shandong Ruyi initially took an 80 per cent stake when its acquisition was finally approved in 2012, with Melbourne-based family company Lempriere holding the remaining 20 per cent interest. By 2016, the Chinese owners had absorbed Lempriere stake into their business, and Dubbo businessman Roger Fletcher took the remaining 20 per cent stake.

Colliers head of agribusiness, transaction services Rawdon Briggs confirmed his involvement in Shandong Ruyi’s initial sell down in 2019, but declined to comment on the latest sell-off of the company’s remaining interest.

Macquarie Asset Management, which manages the acquiring fund, is one of the country’s top operators in local agriculture and said it “looks forward to continuing Cubbie Ag’s involvement in and support for local communities”.

The company said the ownership change would “not materially change the day‐to‐day operations of Cubbie”. Veteran manager Paul Brimblecombe will continue as chief executive of Cubbie, and staffing remains unchanged.

The now full owners said there would also be no change to the Voluntary Water Contribution that was announced when the Macquarie fund acquired its initial interest and the area’s environment has since been transformed.

When the 2019 sale was announced the new joint-owners committed to supporting the Northern Murray Darling Basin, with a voluntary contribution of up to 10GL to the Culgoa River and Lower Balonne intersecting streams.

Ruyi and Macquarie said at the time that the 10GL would “increase the volume of water in the river at critical times and help deliver a range of community and environmental outcomes.

Cubbie’s three properties are near Dirranbandi and St George in south west Queensland and span 93,700 hectares, including 22,100 hectares of irrigated cropping.

The last time before the 2019 deal that Cubbie took water from the river system was in April 2017 when it drew 14GL, or about 9 per cent of the 156GL that passed through St George.

After the Ruyi-led consortium bought Cubbie Station in 2012 for $232m it poured more than $26m into maintaining and improving the efficiency of Cubbie’s operations and put more than $25m buying and upgrading the Dirranbandi ginnery, and also funded major low-season maintenance programs.

The Chinese parent group has been under financial pressure.

Last month, creditors of Shandong Ruyi said the Chinese company had defaulted on a loan used to buy Lycra Co. and that they would seek to gain control of the stretchy-fabric maker.

That move was but the latest financial challenge for Ruyi, the company assembled by textile magnate Qiu Yafu, who had promised to challenge the likes of LVMH Mo√ęt Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE as a global luxury conglomerate.

Macquarie’s purchase is well-timed as cotton price have spiked – doubling since 2019 – and despite challenges by the drought since then Cubbie Station is now receiving heavy water flows after the floods.


Group of Eight universities boost their share of international students

The Group of Eight research-intensive universities have boosted their share of international students during the past year of the Covid pandemic.

New data from the Go8 shows its universities enrolled nearly half (48 per cent) of international students in January this year compared with 41 per cent in January last year. The figures indicate that students are more wedded to what they perceive as the more prestigious degrees at Go8 universities, compared with the generally lower-cost courses at other universities.

The Go8 universities also enrol a higher proportion of Chinese students – who have proved more willing to continue studying during the pandemic – than other universities, either online or at study centres set up in Chinese cities. In January this year the Go8 market share of Chinese students enrolled in higher education courses in Australia rose to 75 per cent, compared with 69 per cent in January last year.

Overall, the number of Chinese students studying in Go8 universities is still lower than a year ago. In January this year the figure was 65,663, compared with 70,760 in January last year.

But even in the Indian market, where students look for lower-fee courses and the research-intensive universities attract a far smaller segment of the market, the Go8 still improved its share of students over the past year. In January this year the Go8 had a 17 per cent slice of the Indian market, compared with 14 per cent in January last year.

Again this was achieved despite a drop in the number of students from India enrolled in Go8 universities. In January this year the figure was 4083, compared with 6130 in January last year.

The Go8 data gives a fuller picture of the latest international student statistics released by the federal Education Department, which shows 201,052 international students were enrolled in higher education in January this year, 23 per cent less than in January last year.

In all education sectors (including vocational, schools and English language tuition), there were 364,643 international students in January, down 21 per cent on January last year.

The worst hit sector is English language tuition where 8,187 international students were enrolled in January this year, 52 per cent less than in January last year.

Because English language tuition relies on students spending a relatively short time in Australia for courses of up to six months, it was quickly devastated by the Covid border closures. This year’s enrolments are 83 per cent less than two years ago


Lies, damned lies, and Covid statistics

New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet lied. The New South Wales Health Department lied. The question remains, did other state premiers misrepresent Covid health policies?

No, this is not an assumption, unfounded allegation, or exaggeration.

Several weeks ago, Dominic Perrottet openly admitted to deliberately misleading the public in a bizarre rant that exposed recent health orders in New South Wales as nothing more than superficial (and expensive) measures to make the Department of Education ‘feel better’ about children returning to school.

Perrottet referred to the re-installment of QR testing and the state-wide use of RAT testing in schools as having ‘no utility’ and ‘no science’.

‘The most ironic one I thought was we [NSW government] ended up bringing QR codes back when we weren’t even tracking and tracing. There was no science behind it at all. It had zero utility. But there was a massive campaign and when those campaigns get run what it does is that it depletes confidence. And that kind of reporting, as we have seen over this period of time has been depleting confidence in our people. So we actually brought it back for one reason only – to instil confidence so that people would go out using QR codes.’

Yes, our supposed ‘trust the science’ Covid-Safe society was unable to handle the truth, so the government made businesses stand there and watch people check-in to nowhere for weeks, and police fined them if they refused to partake in the theatre of nonsense.

According to an ABC article at the time, Perrottet’s decision came after a National Cabinet meeting (the contents of which are protected after the Prime Minister passed legislation to deter Freedom of Information requests). Perrottet explained the decision to reintroduce QR check-ins was created as part of a range of measures that would ‘assist with contact tracing’.

What is this if not a lie?

The NSW websites still says, ‘From 18 February 2022, QR check-ins will only be required for nightclubs, strip clubs, sex on premises venues and for music festivals with more than 1,000 people. Hospitals, aged and disability facilities may use their existing systems for recording visitors.’

Is anyone using this information? It seems unlikely, and even if they are, what is the scientific value of tracing a virus with 195,000 active cases?

By far the more disturbing insight offered by Perrottet was the abuse of the state’s children to make the Education sector ‘feel better’.

‘When we announced schools going back, the media would rush to find the scariest epidemiologist who was out there saying “every child across New South Wales would die”. And that was a problem, because we had to instil confidence. So what did we do? Together we agreed we would go and get all these Rapid Antigen Tests – which was a massive fee,’ said the Premier.

Instead of standing his ground and defending the much-lauded ‘science’ of NSW Health – something that citizens were told that they could not question when it was destroying their businesses and holding them hostage in their homes – Perrottet implemented measures to keep the media quiet.

With the state in a financial mess, Perrottet authorised the NSW Department of Health to spend over $57 million on Rapid Antigen Tests for school students to make the Department of Education feel better about hypochondriac parents and teachers.

Dubbed the ‘Covid Smart Plan’ to (unnecessarily) assist the return of children to school, it remains proudly advertised on the government’s website – even after the Premier rubbished it as old-fashioned propaganda.

‘Premier Dominic Perrottet said supporting students to return safely to the classroom is vital after two years of disruption to their education. […] New COVID-smart measures will help make this happen, including surveillance testing both students and staff twice weekly with RATS.’

Compare this to the Premier’s candid comments in late February.

‘I mean, we had to procure – we procured millions of these tests and had the plan together and distributed them before schools started to three thousand schools across our state and five thousand childcare and early childcare education centres.

‘And by doing that together and having that plan – and this is another interesting thing about the pandemic – [the Department of] Health completely disagreed with this approach, by the way, they didn’t see the point of having surveillance testing, but [the Department of] Education wanted it because we need to once again instil confidence in our teachers and instil confidence in our parents.’

This is a lie that continues in print and as policy. Why hasn’t it been retracted with an apology?

When these revelations came to light on social media, the majority of the press allowed the embarrassing truth to sink quietly beneath the headlines, probably because they had invested thousands of pages in justifying and congratulating the exposed health measures – and also because Perrottet name-dropped the press as being part of the problem.

There were no repercussions for this deception – not for the Department of Education, the Department of Health, or the media.

At least Perrottet offered an admission to the fabrication of Covid health orders at this late stage of the pandemic, but what about his peers in National Cabinet?

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk ran near-identical RAT programs for school children earlier this year while the Federal Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, competed for bragging rights.

They have said nothing.


Good News About "Threatened" marsupial

A recent Epoch Times article details the resurgence of one iconic Australian animal species impacted by the “Black Summer” fires of 2019-2020. The story out of Australia demonstrates, once again, the resilience of animal species confronted with disturbed habitat and is good news for anyone concerned about the impact of large wildfires on vulnerable animals elsewhere.

In the article, “Australia’s Rare Potoroos Bouncing Back After Bushfires,” Epoch Times reports that in December 2021, in the aftermath of large fires across Australia, the rabbit-sized relative of kangaroos called “potoroos” were spotted via camera monitoring systems in 35 of 120 monitored locations. The number of sites has increased since then.

“On March 2022, environment minister Lily D’Ambrosio announced that this has increased to 53 sites across over 300,000 hectares of land,” Epoch Times writes.

The good news for the potoroo has not been widely covered by corporate media outlets. The resurgence of the marsupial serves as an example of nature recovering from bushfires, which at the time were hyped as proof of the impacts of climate change.

Even before the Black Summer fires, alarmists claimed that climate change would decimate the Australian native mammal populations by more frequent or intense fires and associated habitat destruction.

Meteorological data discussed in Climate Realism show there is no meaningful trend of increasing or decreasing rainfall across Australia. In addition, data does not suggest Australian wildfires are becoming more extreme or widespread as the earth modestly warms. To the contrary, data show a declining trend of wildfires since at least the 1970s. NASA satellite data show the amount of acres lost to wildfire annually across the globe decreased by 24 percent since 1998, as described on Climate Realism, here.

As with other fires, new environmental policies, such as limiting the clearing brush, timber, and halting controlled burns may be most responsible for the severity of the 2019-2020 bushfires, following, as they did, multiple years of abundant rainfall and growth. Evidence indicates that many of the Australian fires were lit on purpose by arsonists. Regarding wildfires, the co-director of Australia’s National Centre for Research in Bushfire and Arson said “[a]bout 85 per cent are related to human activity, 13 per cent confirmed arson and 37 per cent suspected arson.”

Invasive grass species and mismanagement of fuel load were also be to blame for the out of control bushfires.

Besides the fact that there is no increasing trend of wildfire extent or severity in Australia, fire is completely natural to the landscape, and even essential to many native species’ survival and health. This is most famously seen in some eucalyptus trees which need fire to germinate their seeds. Eucalyptus are highly flammable, which assists their reproduction.

Rather than climate change induced wildfires, invasive species brought to Australia by humans, like cats and foxes, and habitat loss to development, pose the greatest threat to all small native ground dwelling species. In fact, one of the strategies implemented to aid the potoroo’s continued rebound mentioned by Epoch Times is to set traps and poisons for foxes that are known to kill the marsupial. This active approach to helping the potoroo numbers grow in their original habitat will do far more to promote the species flourishing than limiting fossil fuel use to fight climate change.