Thursday, June 30, 2022

Census 2021: Boom time for middle Australia

The past five years have been revealed as a period of booming prosperity for middle Australia, with census data revealing the average Australian’s income increasing by 20 per cent between 2016 and 2021, or at twice the pace of living costs.

The median weekly income lifted from $662 in 2016 to $805, or equivalent to $41,900 a year, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Canberrans enjoy the highest average annual gross personal incomes in the country at $62,600 – 50 per cent above the national figure – according to the census, while Tasmanians earned the least, at $36,500.

After the ACT, the next highest earning jurisdictions were the resource-rich but sparsely populated Northern Territory – at $48,700 on average in 2021 – followed by similarly blessed Western Australia, where the median personal income was $44,100.

Among the big east-coast states, the averages were $42,300 in NSW, $41,800 in Victoria, and $40,900 in Queensland. South Australians on average earned $38,200 a year.

Victorians reported the fastest-paced growth in median incomes for individuals, up 25 per cent over the five years, and the NT the slowest, at 7 per cent.

Alongside booming housing and superannuation wealth, the ABS data painted a picture of five years of climbing national prosperity and rising real incomes.

Housing stress fell despite the strong upward trajectory for property prices, as rents failed to keep up with income growth, and home loan rates trended lower despite a climbing indebtedness.

Economists said this year’s surge in inflation to multi-decade highs, alongside what is anticipated will be a string of Reserve Bank rate hikes, presented a more challenging outlook over the coming 12-18 months.

The figures include the adult population from 15 years to above 85 years, including those who were unemployed or retired.

The data revealed about 40 per cent of Australian households reported annual personal income of more than $100,000, and a similar proportion said they earned under $78,000.

By household, the ACT recorded the highest median total personal income, at $123,400, and Tasmania the lowest, at $70,600.

Associate professor Ben Phillips at the ANU’s Centre for Social Research and Methods said the census showed, at least on the surface, that “it’s been a very good five years in terms of household living standards for a typical Australian family”.

He said there was little in the initial census data to show the trends around inequality, although the ABS’s use of the median figure meant the outcome had not been distorted by large moves at the top end of the income scale. “At least middle Australia is doing reasonably well – we don’t know about lower income groups, or in the regions,” he said.

“Overall, it’s a pretty rosy picture, although obviously with some potential storm clouds with rates and the general cost of living increases. There are more concerns about where we’re heading, rather than where we’ve been.”

The ABS figures revealed a lower proportion of Australians in housing stress.

The lift in median personal income since 2016 was twice the growth in average household rents, and three times that of mortgage costs.

Households spending more than 30 per cent of their income on mortgage payments – a common threshold for stress – fell from 19.3 per cent in 2016 to 14.5 per cent in 2021. The equivalent share or renting households under stress fell from 36 per cent to 32.2 per cent, the census showed.

Mr Phillips said “we’ve heard a lot about mortgage stress. For some people, this is true, like first-home buyers getting into the market. For the average punter on an existing rental arrangement or who got their housing loan five, 10, 15 years ago, they have done OK”.


Decline of Christianity is a loss for everyone

Amid all the social trends that this week’s census data reveals, none is more significant than the truly seismic collapse in religious belief, especially in Christian faith.

Doubtless, many will welcome this. Indeed, why should any of us have the “assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things unseen”, given – as we now know from a myriad of official ­reports – that the successors of St Peter have been guilty of the most appalling human betrayals. Even if there was once a Nazarene who said to his friend “you are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”, surely it was an impossible hope to think that any human institution could last millennia, especially when it has so often fallen so far short of its ideals. But lest we merely note this as just another one of the many interesting contemporary social trends, let’s consider the centrality of Christian inspiration to Western civilisation; and ponder the impact on the institutions and the attitudes we value, if the underlying religious convictions that created them are rapidly fading away.

Fifty years back, in 1971, 87 per cent of Australians identified as religious, and overwhelmingly as Christian. Now it’s just 54 per cent. And here’s the really striking feature: only five years ago, 52 per cent of us identified as Christian. Now it’s just 44 per cent. That’s an almost 20 per cent decline in Christian belief in just five years. Some of that will be people who don’t worship regularly anymore and feel fraudulent in ticking the religion box even though their faith is still with them. For others it represents a clear rejection of organised religion. Five years back, only 30 per cent of us identified as having no religion. Now it’s 39 per cent. That’s a 30 per cent leap in just five years, making no religion the fastest-growing “creed” in the country.

Why does that matter? It may not be fashionable to say so, but the way we live is unimaginable without a Christian cultural foundation. Our democracy, for instance, rests on the notion that everyone is equal in rights and dignity, something that’s come down to us through the Christian gospels. It’s on this very principle, as an example, that I reject the idea of a race-based body in our Constitution in the form of the Indigenous voice to the parliament and it’s disappointing to see some religious leaders support it because it’s an anathema to the fundamentals of Christian faith.

Elsewhere in our culture, our justice system rests on the notion that we should treat others as we’d be treated ourselves; again, something that’s come down to us through Christian teaching. Our sense of community too rests on the notion that we should “love our neighbours as we love ourselves”. It’s a commandment that lies at the heart of our volunteerism and philanthropy.

Then there’s the not insignificant matter of what religious organisations contribute in terms of social uplift. Beyond a values-based education, they run an abundance of health and community services. To reference the largest Christian denomination, the Catholic Church, as an example, there are 80 Catholic hospitals across the country and 25,000-plus aged-care beds in Catholic nursing homes, as well as social welfare bodies and charities with a broader Christian inspiration – from the Salvation Army, to the St Vincent de Paul Society, to Anglicare, to Lifeline, and Alcoholics Anonymous – all organisations that are generally thought to be serving Australians well, however discredited the zeitgeist might find the faith which inspires their good works.

For several decades, Christianity has been giving way to other religious and cultural traditions. The federal parliament might still start with the Lord’s Prayer but only after an acknowledgment of country. Christian beliefs and Christian representatives are routinely mocked and ridiculed in the public square (the witch hunt against Cardinal George Pell is only the most extreme instance) in a way that other faiths (Judaism perhaps excepted) never would be. And this can be expected to intensify, given that most schools are now not only indifferent but often hostile to Christian faith, and often ignorant too, to Christian knowledge.

Rightly, young Australians are taught to respect the Dreaming stories and Indigenous spirituality. But how many would be readily familiar with any of the Bible stories other than the Christmas one, despite their centrality in our culture? How many would understand the significance of Easter, except as a holiday with too much chocolate? Of course, faith is a matter of spiritual conversion that can’t be learnt like a lesson, but any Australian who’s not at least familiar with the gospels is culturally impoverished, even if not always spiritually worse off.

Tellingly, the census data this week revealed that mental illness is now our most prevalent chronic health condition (ahead of arthritis and asthma) and doubtless this owes much to the decline of the beliefs that gave the lives of our forebears spiritual comfort and purpose. As an imperfect Christian myself, who doesn’t always agree with the teachings of my faith, I don’t claim to know how an increasingly god-less ­society might be re-evangelised; just that there’s so much that we’ll miss when it’s gone, as individuals and as a society.

It’s worth noting another key feature of the census, the fact that a larger proportion of our population is born overseas than in any other developed country. More than 50 per cent of us are now foreign-born or have at least one ­foreign-born parent – and that’s much less, these days, in the UK or New Zealand, and increasingly in India and China.

Again, on the issue of the voice, creating two classes of ­Australian by virtue of their race risks unsettling the great multicultural nation we have become with the implicit message that only those with a demonstrated Aboriginal genealogy are legitimate; that the rest of us are somehow less worthy.

It goes without saying that professing religion doesn’t make anyone a better person. Still, in their own ways, every faith calls us to be better. Religious or not, Australia remains a wonderful country and the best place in the world to live. But there’s plenty to work on if we are to stay that way, and much we should protect.


A huge Marxist influence pervades education today

The NSW Liberal Senator Hollie Hughes gave a speech to the Sydney Institute identifying why the Scott Morrison government was defeated in the recent election. In doing so, she suggested that many young voters have been influenced by ‘an education system basically run by Marxists’.

There’s no doubt the popularity of the Greens Party and the so-called Teal independents was especially strong among voters under the age of 24 and with higher levels of education. There’s also no doubt since the late 60s and early 70s Australia’s education system has been infiltrated and dominated by the neo-Marxist inspired cultural-Left.

Despite the ALP’s education minister Jason Clare describing Senator Hughes’ comment as ‘just crazy’, the reality is those in control of Australia’s schools and universities have given up any pretence of being impartial, balanced, and objective.

As detailed in the chapters on school and tertiary education published in Cancel Culture and the Left’s Long March, Australia’s education system has long been captured by neo-Marxist inspired Critical Theory and cultural-Left ideology dedicated to overthrowing the status quo.

A commitment to a liberal education dealing with what TS Eliot describes as ‘the preservation of learning, for the pursuit of Truth, and in so far as men are capable of it, the attainment of wisdom’ has long been jettisoned in favour of using education to overthrow capitalism and undermine Western societies denounced as Eurocentric, racist, and misogynistic.

The school curriculum, in areas like Climate Change, gender and sexuality, multiculturalism, and Indigenous studies, is dominated by the cultural-Left. Generations of students have left school convinced about the impending apocalypse caused by man-made global warming, that gender and sexuality are social constructs and Western Civilisation is riven with structural sexism, racism, and xenophobia.

In her 1983 speech to the Fabian Society Joan Kirner, one-time Education Minister and Premier of Victoria, argues education has must be reshaped as ‘part of the socialist struggle for equality, participation and social change, rather than an instrument of the capitalist system’.

University faculties preach a rainbow alliance of liberating ideologies ranging from deconstructionism and postmodernism to radical gender, feminist, queer, and post-colonial theories. Trigger warnings, safe spaces, and diversity guidelines based on identity politics and victimhood abound.

Such is the destructive impact of cultural-Left ideology on universities, the ANU’s Pierre Ryckmans in his 1996 Boyer Lectures argues universities have long since been deprived of their ‘spiritual means of operation’. Ryckmans concludes the ‘main problem is not so much that the University as Western civilisation knew it, is now virtually dead, but that its death has hardly registered’.

For those who have read the Manifesto of the Communist Party by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, it should not surprise the cultural-Left has long since targeted education as a key institution in its long march to overthrow capitalism.

Central to the Manifesto is the conviction, ‘The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.’ Capitalist society subjugates and exploits workers and the aim of the communist party is to overthrow capitalism and achieve a socialist utopia where conflict disappears and all are free.

Marxists argue that instead of education and culture being inherently beneficial or worthwhile, capitalist society and the bourgeoisie use both as instruments to enforce their domination and control. Given its impact on workers, culture is condemned as ‘a mere training to act as a machine’.

Marx and Engels argue concepts like culture, freedom and the law are ‘but the outgrowth of the conditions of your bourgeois production and your bourgeois property’ and communism’s goal is ‘to rescue education from the influence of the ruling class’.

While published in 1848, the Manifesto continues to have a profound impact on schools and universities in Western societies like Australia. Drawing on Louis Althusser’s concept of the ideological state apparatus, where education is employed to impose capitalist hegemony, the argument is curriculum must be radically reshaped.

Instead of being objective and impartial and dealing with wisdom and truth, knowledge is seen as a social construct employed by the elites to indoctrinate students and future citizens to accept as normal what is inherently unjust and inequitable.

Since the late 70s, the Australian Education Union has argued students must be taught Australian society is characterised by inequality and injustice and teachers must decide whose side they are on in the battle against oppression.

The Australian Association for the Teaching of English, instead of formal grammar and syntax and enduring literary works, champions critical literacy based on the works of the Brazilian Marxist Paulo Freire. An approach where literary works are deconstructed and critiqued in terms of power relationships and students are conditioned to be new-age, cultural warriors.


The Teals as populists

Commentators on the hard-left love to throw around the word ‘populism’ as a sneer word to attack conservative movements or politicians. If you don’t like Donald Trump, you can dismiss him with a wave of the hand as a populist.

But are the Teal independents the real populists? In his book The Global Rise of Populism, Benjamin Moffitt argues that there are certain traits associated with typical populists. One is claiming that we are in a state of crisis, facing a life-threatening emergency. Does that sound like the Teal climate alarmists?

Another is persuading people that they (the populists) are not part of the establishment – and here we have the Teals making a song and dance about being political virgins unstained by the inadequate climate targets adopted by the major parties.

Populists are also likely to be drawn towards authoritarianism – such as forcing us all out of our (evil) petrol cars.

And populists tend to promote very few policies. Not for them the messy business of foreign affairs, national security and economic management. And that’s the Teals, isn’t it? Give them drastic climate action and a federal ICAC and their political philosophy is complete.

Narrow interests and an emotional appeal – does that sound like manipulative ‘populism’? It certainly sounds like the Teals




Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Alarming statistic reveals the depths of Australia's housing crisis as more than one million homes remain empty while renters struggle to find a place to live

This mismatch is almost entirely a government creation. As I said previously:

Only a minority of these homes will be actually unused but some will be -- particularly homes owned by people living overseas. Some owners are so wary of the unrecoverable damage that tenants can and do sometimes inflict that they regard protecting their investment as a higher priority than renting it out for income.

And given the extremely pro-tenant laws, who could be blamed for not wanting to tangle with tenants? Landlord protection laws would put most of the properties into the rental market but there is no prospect of such laws emerging. Government meddling in the market is once again producing perverse behaviour. Legislation designed to help tenants in fact hurts them. At the very least, it pushes up their costs

I in fact have a rental property that I do not rent out even though it is little used. I prefer to keep it available for occasional use by family rather than bother with tenants and all the "protections" that come with them. I am not even allowed to bar pets these days. Awful of me but if you smell what some pets do to carpet you will understand. I have been a landlord. I know.

If tenants want more choice of housing, they should be telling governments to back off but it's the opposite that's being advocated

Australia's housing crisis has been laid bare with new Census data revealing more than one million homes are sitting empty as renters struggle to find a place to live and first home buyers are locked out of the market.

Some desperate Aussies have even been forced to live out of caravans and tents, as they battle soaring cost of living pressures and one of the tightest rental markets in the nation's history.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed earlier this month, the national vacancy rate had dropped to just 1.1 per cent in April.

Census data released on Tuesday by the ABS, uncovered about one-in-10 Aussie houses - believed to be holiday homes and investment properties - are currently vacant.

Australian National University demographer, Dr Liz Allen, told The Project she's shocked by the contrast between the haves and have-nots.

'Let me tell you, it's a punch in the face for all those Gen X's and Millennials who have no hope of ever owning their own home,' she said.

'What this Census does is allows us to bare witness in real time, to the impacts Covid had across a wide range of things in Australian society.'

'This is by far and away a global first and something that the world will look to, to examine the impacts of Covid,' Dr Allen added.

The survey uncovered that of the 10.8 million private dwellings counted, 1,043,776 were vacant the night of Census.

Dr Allen added: 'The over one million homes should definitely be a priority for Governments across Australia to consider how we can truly make Australia fairer and redress housing inequality.'

She said that this can be achieved by considering this large chunk of homes that are 'just waiting for someone to move in.'

The Census identified more than 58,000 people were living in caravans, while almost 30,000 were living on houseboats.

The survey also revealed the ability for Aussies to own their home has dropped 10 per cent over the past 25 years, from 41.6 to 31 per cent.


New '$100M senator' gives first interview since election victory

After four weeks of 'sleepless nights'—as the AEC counted preferences; Ralph Babet finally made it across the line, taking a seat in the Australian Senate 'for the freedom movement'.

Dubbed the $100M senator, referencing the United Australia Party spend, Babet gave an exclusive first interview to Rebel News.

"I wanted to give you guys [Rebel News and Real Rukshan] the first scoop because you always present both sides of the argument", Babet said.

The newly elected senator says it's his mission to 'unite the freedom movement' in the lead-up to the Victorian State election.

"I believe the freedom movement was a little fragmented", he added.

Barbet went on to passionately urge Australians to get politically active.

"You need to get off your behind, and you need to work. Because if you want change. If you want real, measurable change, it comes from you. It doesn't come from me. It comes from you. So get up there. Do something about everything you hate that's happening in our world right now."


Rainbow tyranny at universities

Universities should be impartial when it comes to active ideological disagreements, and they should certainly not cede that impartiality in order to side with a position in opposition to the rights of members of their community who they have publicly claimed to support. The first is anti-democratic, the second is hypocritical and unethical.

University impartiality is important because it facilitates pluralism within the academic community.

A report on global democracy released in March found that democracy is on the decline and dictatorship is on the rise, with democracy having backslid to 1989 levels. One shift thought to be responsible for this is ‘toxic polarisation’ and one solution, according to politics professor Matthew Flinders at the University of Sheffield, is for universities to operate as ‘sites of democratic socialisation’ by committing to pluralism as part of their existing commitment to freedom of speech.

If you head into the University of Melbourne campus today, you will find the ‘inclusive’ redesigned Pride flag at every entrance to the university, as well as unfurled down the side of one of its outward-facing buildings. On the surface, the message might seem innocuous: the university supports lesbian, gay, and bisexual people (the rainbow part of the flag), trans people (the pink, blue, and white part of the flag), and ‘queer’ people of colour (the black and brown part of the flag).

Let’s focus on the pink, blue, and white part: the trans flag. This flag was featured at the ‘Stock Out’ protests lead to the resignation of Professor Kathleen Stock from her position at the University of Sussex; used by protesters who assaulted a feminist in Manchester and blocked access to a suffragette statue; and featured on posters protesting against my teaching of feminism.

With that in mind, the message of the ‘inclusive’ Pride flag is actually far from innocuous. Rather than referring to a collection of people with diverse political views, religious faiths, and moral values who happen to be gay, or trans, or queer persons of colour, the flags refer to a specific collection of ideas – an ‘ideology’ – about sexual orientation and gender identity.

One of these ideas is that biological sex is a ‘social construction’ rather than a real difference found in nature throughout our evolutionary history and across the animal and plant kingdom. Another is that because biological sex is a social construction, we should stop caring so much about it, and start caring about other things that are more important like ‘gender identity’ which is a person’s subjective sense of themselves in terms of masculinity, femininity (or neither).

Yet another is that because there are a great many gender identities, there are correspondingly a great many sexual orientations, and sexual orientations are not what we thought they were. Yet another is that identity trumps any material facts. You can be a ‘woman’ without being female, you can be a ‘lesbian’ even when you are a male who sleeps exclusively with females.

Do you see the problem? If there is no sex then there is no same-sex attraction,so there is no homosexuality or bisexuality as the gay rights struggle understood it. Recent legislation aligned with this ideology removed protection for same-sex attraction from the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act, replacing it with a word salad referring to attractions between ‘persons of a different gender or the same gender or more than one gender’. The head of Stonewall, an organization once dedicated to the gay rights struggle, now describes exclusive same-sex attraction as a ‘social prejudice’.

Supporters of this ideology rush to ‘affirm’ gender non-conforming children (who are most likely to grow up to be gay) as transgender, which greatly increases their likelihood of irreversible medical interventions. Arguably, then, this ideology is not affirming of, but rather actively undermines the gay rights struggle. The ‘inclusive’ Pride flag tells me, and all other lesbians on campus, that we are wrong to exclude males from our sexual orientations. We’ve heard that before.

Where does this leave the members of the university community who happen to be gay, trans, or queer persons of colour, and yet who reject this ideology? By flying these flags the university compromises pluralism on campus by making it more difficult for staff and students to voice a dissenting view. This is not just hypothetical: in April, in response to a social media post in which I expressed displeasure about flags put up for ‘Trans Day of Visibility’, the University tweeted:

‘This post runs counter to the views and the values of the University of Melbourne. The author has been counselled and has subsequently edited the post to remove the offensive content.’

Members who disagree with the university’s position risk censure. If most go along with the university out of fear or cowardice, and the university has taken the wrong position, then bankrupt ideologies gain a stronger foothold. And this is not the only consequence; what of the university’s commitment to inclusivity for women, and for lesbian, gay, and bisexual people?

Universities must facilitate constructive disagreement among the members of their communities. That is their obligation, given their function within democratic societies. They fail to do that when they take sides in complex and controversial debates; they fail doubly when the side they take undermines the rights struggles of other members of their community.

It’s time for the University of Melbourne to take down the flags.


Australia unfairly demononized by Greenies

When Australians eventually reach the Pearly Gates they may, whatever their earthly sins, finally receive some redemption for their efforts to save the world from climate change. After decades of persecution for not doing enough they may at last be recognised for doing more than most.

As the rest of the world suffers collective amnesia, Australia faithfully continues its missionary work to achieve its 2030 and 2050 Paris and Glasgow emission reduction delusions.

While China lifts its annual coal output by 300 million tonnes, (two-thirds Australia’s total production), Australia imposes a virtual moratorium on new mines. State bans, together with native title and environmental opposition, have also largely stopped new coal-seam gas drilling and fracking.

No coal plants are under construction in Australia with the largest, Eraring, due to close seven years early. The existing fleet is ageing and, with the end in sight, it is suffering predictable neglect. At the start of winter, one-quarter of Australia’s coal generation was offline. Not so China. It is building 43 new coal-fired power stations. Nor in Europe, where several countries, together with Britain, are bringing retired coal plants back online and are planning new mines.

Japan, always mindful of its national interest, has stalled its withdrawal from fossil fuels.

But, to Australian critics, none of this matters. Who cares if Australians spend four to five times more per capita on renewable energy than China, the EU, Japan and the United States? Or that Australia’s fossil fuel energy mix for 2020 was 76 per cent compared to China’s 84 per cent, the EU’s, 85 per cent (which includes burning wood), Japan’s 88 per cent and America’s 84 per cent?

Confirming Australia’s pariah status, the latest Climate Change Performance rankings published by advocacy group Germanwatch, rank Australia 59th out of 63 nations on greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy, energy use and climate policy.

The environment charity, Greenfleet, notes that ‘when it emerged that Australia contributed only 1.3 per cent of total global CO2 emissions, many people were led to believe that as a nation, we were already doing enough’. Not so it cautions. Australia’s coal exports accounted for more than a quarter of the nation’s total exports over the last decade and most of our electricity is still powered by fossil fuels. On that basis, Australia contributed about 3.6 per cent to global emissions.

Moreover, that number doesn’t include emissions from other mineral exports or consider the emissions produced as a result of those exports. By taking these into account, and Australia’s population being around 0.33 per cent of the world’s population, instead of being virtuous, Aussies are among the highest emitters on the planet.

Australian bumbling, we learn, has led to it shunning its closest neighbours’ plea for an end to the coal industry and to contributing to the climate change plight of Pacific Islands nations. This is why the Solomon Islands nation has become a virtual Chinese colony.

As new Foreign Minister, Penny Wong now acknowledges, Australia previously ‘disrespected’ the struggle of Pacific nations as they grappled with the consequences of climate change.

But, what struggle is she referring to? The reality is that in the 30 years since 1990, a period characterised by consistent satellite observation, tropical cyclone activity in the Pacific has been decreasing. Moreover, rather than facing existential threats from rising sea levels, the latest satellite imaging shows 80 per cent of Pacific Islands, are growing or stable.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese sides with the nation’s critics and hopes some day, ‘Australia will once again be a trusted global partner on climate action’.

Is it intellectual cowardice or crass ignorance which drives Australia’s political class on its suicidal mission? It’s certainly not the science.

At least the leftist Potsdam Institute’s Professor Ottmar Edenhofer has the courage to say out loud what is becoming more obvious by the day. ‘One has to free oneself,’ he says, ‘from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. Instead, climate change policy is about how we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth’.

Assuming he was talking about redistribution from the rich to the poor, the reality is, it’s going the other way. Renewable energy rent-seekers, particularly Big Wind, have colluded with climate activists to bully governments into paying them massive subsidies and to levy imposts on electricity consumers.

Energy expert, Dr Alan Moran, observes ‘government no longer publicises the extent of these, but they come to about $7 billion a year. This gives wind and solar double the price which coal receives and it is this that is driving coal out of the market’.

Until now, the average Australian has felt removed from the complexities of energy and climate change politics. For those who can afford the capital outlay, subsidised roof solar panels have provided an incentive to support renewables. For others, rising electricity prices have been philosophically absorbed, offset, in part, by rising wages and declining interest rates. Most have broadly accepted climate change propaganda and left the esoteric scientific arguments for the elite to sort out.

Russia’s actions in Ukraine have changed all that. The West’s ageing coal fleet and dependence on renewables was always an accident waiting to happen. So when supply shortages hit a world ripe for inflation courtesy of years of reckless fiscal and monetary policies, household budgets were hit hard with the poor suffering most. Many will become jobless and in winter have to choose between heating their homes or buying groceries.

Globally, Australians are among the first to experience this, but its governments stubbornly refuse to change tack. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews believes, ‘It’s wrong to be doing anything else other than forging ahead’ and, new Energy Minister, Chris Bowen agrees. For him, nuclear power is an expensive ‘joke’. Batteries and band-aids are better and cheaper.

Still, shivering Aussies should take comfort that when their time comes, their fruitless sacrifices to save the planet may at least be acknowledged by St. Peter.




Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Pointless splurge on pre-school education

It only has point as a child-minding service. Its educational benefits are illusory. But a free child-minding service will be popular with women who want or need to work.. It's only free to the user, however. The cost to the taxpayer will be huge

The huge "Head-start" progam in the USA started out with similar bright-eyed hopes but had no lasting benefit

On June 16, the Premiers of New South Wales and Victoria announced ‘the greatest transformation of childhood education in a generation’.

The Victorian government will spend $9 billion to provide 30 hours a week of play-based learning for four-year-olds, with a rollout from 2025. They will also provide free kindergarten for three-year-olds, for up to 15 hours.

The New South Wales government will spend $5.8 billion on a similar scheme with later commencement, it reports that this would somehow eventually translate into $17 billion in increased economic activity; this is in addition to the federal government committing $5 billion to the cost of childcare.

Following Covid, the federal and state finances are in disarray.

Federal debt has ballooned towards $1 trillion. NSW debt stood at $50 billion in 2019, heading to $140 billion this year and under $200 billion by 2025. Figures for Victoria are equally parlous, increasing from under $50 billion in 2019 to $150 this year and $210 billion by 2025. The other states and territories have had relatively smaller increases as they were less damaged by Draconian, and perhaps unnecessary, lock-downs.

With these economic threats, it seems a bad time to introduce yet more welfare demand, a demand which we know, once introduced, will never be rescinded. Should we need a better example of where this leads, we have to look no further than the sky-rocketing cost of the NDIS.

Apart from the financial consequences, there are a number of political imperatives at work here. There is a belief that early commencement of education will result in improved educational outcomes; teachers and other unions are in favour of this job creation.

Also, that greater child care will allow more parents to return to the workforce. Underlying this debate is the changed concept of parenting, with the welfare state increasingly expected to take over the traditional role of rearing children, a role which was once considered not only a parental obligation but also their financial commitment.

Currently, there is a shortage of workers in many areas, it is tempting to think that freedom from the (self-inflicted) demands of parenting, would allow many women to return to work to fill those shortages. There are, fortunately, still some who consider involvement in their children’s development to be an obligation and a source of iuytrsatisfaction. At the other extreme, there are a number who look on this as a release from responsibility, but who have no intention of going to work. In view of the cost, it would seem logical to provide child-care, if considered appropriate, only for those who do return to work. There may also be only a short-term demand for workers, if predictions of a recession come to pass the situation may change dramatically, with unemployment rising.

The other big question is the predicted educational outcome, there is no doubt education is in disarray. A UNICEF study in 2017 showed that Australia had slipped down the league tables of educational achievement, coming in at 39 out of 41 in high and middle-income countries, ahead of only Turkey and Romania. In 2003, the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) ranked 15-year-old Australian students 10th in maths, 4th in reading, and 6th in science; 15 years later the results were 23rd in maths, 16th in reading, and 14th in science.

The problems besetting education relate to classroom discipline, distorted curricula, declining teaching standards, fad-driven teaching methods, and reduced parental input. As classroom size has declined and more money is invested, ($36 billion in 2019-2020), the deterioration continues, now enhanced by the Covid pandemic. It is nothing short of scandalous that after 12 years of schooling, 40 per cent of adults have achieved only a basic level of literacy; for many of my parents’ generation, leaving school at 14 had educated them better than those with 4 extra years

A quarter of a million children were enrolled in pre-school activity at 3 years age, part of Julia Gillard’s “education revolution” to develop a child’s “social and cognitive development”; this number had risen to 330,000 by 2021. The traditional education starting point had been at age 5 years, prior to commencing year 1 schooling at 6. Studies from America (whence all good things come) in the early 2000s suggested that improved economic outcomes could be achieved with an earlier start, but that misguided philosophy seems to have persisted. It is also concerning that children of this age are being subtly targeted by left-wing ideology in areas such as trans-gender, climate change, anti-colonialism, etc.

Parents in America have complained about drag queens in classrooms to promote ‘inclusivity’, New York schools have spent $200,000 on this activity; at least the parents (when informed) have the ability to demand change.

A suggestion of early improvement following pre-school does not carry through to later years. Several studies, both in Australia and overseas, have failed to show any long-term benefit from early education, in literacy and numeracy, on NAPLAN (National Assessment Program, Literacy and Numeracy) testing. The latest 2021 US study has confirmed no academic benefit, it did suggest it resulted in better-adjusted children, but without considering the input of motivated parents who had to pay for this activity. NSW and Victoria appear intent on following the Biden playbook with free pre-schooling, in the case of America, an eye-watering extra $1.8 trillion over 10 years, would be needed from the debt-ridden economy.

We are already breaking the bank with debt, yet politics indicate, without evidence, we ‘must do more’ to improve both education and employment prospects. As is often the case, with welfare, education, health, care of the disabled or elderly, or the NDIS, we must be governed, not by what we would like, but by what we can afford.


NSW Auditor-General warns universities of China risk

NSW’s top universities are now much more reliant on Chinese students than before the Covid-19 pandemic and are creating risks for the entire sector, the state’s auditor-general has warned.

Chinese students accounted for 50.5 per cent of the state’s foreign students in 2021 – up nearly 6 per cent on the previous year – due to an enrolment boost of nearly 2300 more students from China, while the number of students from other countries fell, according to the Auditor-General’s latest report on NSW universities, released on Monday.

Chinese students flocked to the University of Sydney, whose revenue from Chinese students rose by a massive 35 per cent to $1.2bn last year.

Figures calculated from university financial statements and the Auditor-General’s report also show that the University of NSW’s revenue from Chinese students rose 12 per cent to about $580m last year.

The rise comes despite ­repeated warnings from governments and national security figures over the past two years on the need for universities to wean off the Chinese student market, amid growing tensions with Beijing and increased concerns about foreign interference on Australian campuses.

In her report, NSW Auditor-General Margaret Crawford slammed universities in the state for their failure to diversify their foreign student intakes and warned of a “concentration risk”.

“Seven out of the 10 universities now record China as the leading source of overseas student revenues. This creates not only a concentration risk for each university, but for the NSW university sector as a whole,” she said in her Universities 2021 report.

“For two universities, the University of Wollongong and Southern Cross University, the top country of origin changed from India to China in 2021.”

In her report Ms Crawford repeated warnings the Auditor-General made in previous years about universities’ over-reliance on students from a limited number of countries. “Unexpected shifts in demand arising from changes in the geo-political or geo-economic landscape, or from restrictions over visas or travel can impact revenues, operating results and cash flows,” she said.

Group of Eight universities CEO Vicki Thomson, who represents both the University of Sydney and the University of NSW, said the higher education sector was not different to any other sector of the economy, including mining, in its exposure to China.

“Our universities are very aware of the commercial risk and the need to balance their portfolios in their recruitment strategies, including with students from China. But, like other industry sectors, we will not walk away from the Chinese market,” she said.

Ms Thomson said Chinese students were choosing Australia because of its “quality offering”.

“We want Chinese students to continue to see Australia as a destination of choice. We are looking at other markets, as we always have, but building alternative markets takes time, investment and resources,” she said.

Overall the number of international students in NSW fell by 12.5 per cent in the first two years of the pandemic, the Auditor-General’s report says. Other universities highly reliant on Chinese students include UTS and University of Newcastle.


Families to pay double for electricity thanks to a net zero climate change policy with $3,200 bills expected

Australian families are set to pay double for their electricity by 2030 as part of a net zero by 2050 carbon emissions policy, a new report says.

The Institute of Public Affairs, a free market think tank, said the closure of six coal-fired power stations in NSW, Victoria and Queensland in less than a decade would see consumers on average pay $3,248 a year - or $812 a quarter - on electricity.

The absence of affordable baseload power would cause wholesale power prices to quadruple within eight years.

This would cause retail prices to double by 2030, rising by 103 per cent as wholesale prices, comprising a third of an electricity bill, soared by 310 per cent.

Australians are already paying $1,600 a year on average or $400 every three months for their electricity.

But a 103 per cent increase by 2030 would see average electricity bills climb to $3,248 a year or $812 a quarter.

The IPA feared the decommissioning of the Yallourn W, Eraring, Bayswater, Liddell, Vales Point B and Callide B plants would remove 11 gigawatts - or 11 billion watts - of generation capacity from the National Energy Market.

These six stations make up 20 per cent of the National Energy Market's total capacity and are slated for closure, respectively, in 2028, 2025, 2030, 2023, 2029 and 2028.

The closure of these stations was expected to cause national wholesale electricity prices to surge by 310 per cent by 2030.

'In the absence of reliable and affordable replacement baseload power supply facilities in the next decade, consumers can expect to see more than a doubling in their electricity bills as a result of the closures,' IPA report authors Kevin You and Daniel Wild said.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese's new Labor government last week pledged to the UN a 43 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. His predecessor Scott Morrison's Liberal Party had a less ambitious 26 to 28 per cent reduction within that time frame.

But both sides of politics were committed to a net zero by 2050 target.

'The policy of net zero emissions by 2050 presents a significant risk to job growth, economic development, and Australia’s energy reliability and affordability,' the IPA said.

A move to be carbon neutral would also see electric cars put pressure on the grid as new petrol cars were phased out.

Electric cars last year had a minuscule 1.57 per cent market share, when Tesla sales data was included in Electric Vehicle Council estimates.

But as electric vehicle popularity increased, a trial by Origin Energy and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency estimated EV recharging could cause electricity demand at peak times to rise by at least 30 per cent.

The report recommended financial incentives to encourage EV owners to recharge outside peak times.

Tasmania became Australia's first state to achieve net zero carbon emissions in 2015 by virtue of having vast forests.

Despite that, the IPA forecast the island state's average electricity bills rising by 125 per cent to $4,500 a year - the most expensive predicted for 2030.

Electricity bills were also expected to double in the other mainland states, with South Australia expected to have the next higher average annual bill of $3,200, followed by New South Wales on $2,600, and Queensland and Victoria on $2,500.

Coal-fired power stations have been faltering this year with energy companies reluctant to upgrade them ahead of their closure.

This saw wholesale electricity prices more than double, surging by 141 per cent in the year to March, Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) data showed.

The AEMO last week took the unprecedented step of suspending the national spot price of electricity but that $300 a megawatt hour cap was due to be lifted on Thursday morning.

Small electricity retailers are now advising their customers to find another provider from July 1.

Consumer group One Big Switch campaign director Joel Gibson noted Discover Energy had advised customers of a 285 per cent increase, estimating that would see bills almost quadruple by $1,563 a year.

'Hundreds of thousands of households with smaller retailers now need to switch ASAP or they will cop increases of 50 per cent to 285 per cent on their power bills and pay unfair prices,' he said.


Energy crisis won’t be solved by wind and sun

Nigerian Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo recently lambasted the rich West for its hypocrisy on energy policy. Writing in The Economist, he declared “rich countries, especially in Europe, have repeatedly called for African states to use only renewable power sources”.

Objecting to the patronising efforts of Westerners to prod Nigerians into “leapfrogging” over fossil fuels into wind and solar, Osinbajo points out that a moratorium on fossil fuel sentences Nigeria to poverty. “Though solar will provide most of our power in the future, we still need natural gas for baseload power.”

Osinbajo is right with regard to the African continent, but rich Westerners are hypocritical at home as well. Advocates of new-generation renewables will often argue that we must choose wind or solar – or submit to the ravages of a changing climate.

But this is a false choice. Some European countries get more than 90 per cent of their electricity from low carbon dioxide sources, such as France (nuclear energy) and Norway (hydropower). Yet no country gets most of their electricity from wind or solar.

In fact, the percentage of the world’s electricity that comes from clean sources has remained stagnant since the 1980s. Although there has been a boom in investment in wind and solar, there has been a lack of investment in nuclear. When nuclear plants shut down, coal-powered plants tend to replace them. Unfortunately, this lack of investment in nuclear has cancelled out the reductions in CO2 emissions made by new-generation renewables. In 1985, 35 per cent of the world’s electricity came from low-CO2 sources; by last year it was just 38.26 per cent.

One of the greatest lies told about climate change is that solving the problem is simply a matter of willpower. If only governments around the world would listen to Greta Thunberg and Simon Holmes a Court, and install solar panels and wind turbines at a faster rate, then temperatures would stabilise. Unfortunately, the problem of climate change is not simply a matter of goodwill. If it were, the Germans would not be reopening their mothballed coal-fired power plants after pledging to be coal-free by 2030.

The Dutch and the Austrians, similarly, would not be following the Germans in reopening their coal-fired plants as well, a week after Russia halted gas deliveries via the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

“The cabinet has decided to im­mediately withdraw the restriction on production for coal-fired power stations from 2002 to 2024,” Dutch Climate and Energy Minister Rob Jetten told media.

“The situation is serious,” said German Economic Affairs and Climate Action Minister Robert Habeck. “It is obviously Putin’s strategy to upset us, to drive prices upwards and to divide us … We won’t allow this to happen.”

It is becoming increasingly clear that one of the biggest catastrophes of modern geopolitics has been Europe’s entanglement with Russia over energy. During the past five years, while the West was busy taking policy advice from a teenager, Russia was at work fracking and drilling for oil.

Back home, our politicians persist with the fanciful notion that an entire country’s electricity grid can be powered by wind turbines and solar panels.

On June 16, Andrew Wilkie tweeted: “While the Aus Govt’s target to cut emissions by 43% by 2030 is a step forward, it’s still not good enough. We need a 75% reduction by 2030 & net-zero by 2035. The only way to do this is to quickly phase out coal, gas & oil & fast-track to 100% renewables.”

When Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen was asked by Nine journalist Chris Uhlmann about whether the solution to Australia’s recent energy crisis (during which the Australian Energy Market Operator suspended the electricity market to ensure supply) was to invest in the continued maintenance of our coal-fired plants, Bowen fired off an angrily defensive reply. Yet just a week later, emergency powers were invoked to block the export of coal in the event of such a crisis happening again.

In response to our recent power crisis, environmentalists at home have called for a blockage on gas exports, a gas export tax and increased government subsidies for battery storage technologies. Yet these are simply Band-Aid solutions. To ensure energy security, Australia needs to extract more gas, invest in and maintain our existing coal-fired power plants, and think seriously about a long-term transition to nuclear energy.

While nuclear energy is often dismissed as being too costly, the question is: compared with what? The battery storage required to power the whole of Australia has been estimated to cost $6.5 trillion. If this is a cost-effective solution, then God help us all.

An inconvenient truth is that the push for wind and solar may have other motivations than simply concern about climate change.

Last year, The Economist constructed a portfolio of companies that would benefit from the world’s energy transition and estimated that these companies had a total market value of $US3.7 trillion. Tracking these companies’ economic performance, it found that since the start of 2020, they had performed twice as well as the S&P 500, with the “greenest 25% of firms (seeing) their share prices rise by 110%”. But the problem is, according to The Economist, that 30 per cent of these companies do not yet turn a profit.

Just as the cryptocurrency bubble has burst this year, the new-generation renewable energy bubble is likely to burst in the foreseeable future. While big money has piled into the push to transition energy – and this investor exuberance has led to increased pressure on politicians to “transition faster” – the real world presents obstacles in the form of physics and thugs such as Vladimir Putin.

When Putin continues to use energy as a weapon against Europeans, a Nigerian vice-president calls out the hypocrisy of Western leaders, and when countries such as Australia are threatened by blackouts, more people will start to see through the wind and solar hype. The question is, will Australian politicians continue living in a fantasy or will they have the courage to face up to reality?




Monday, June 27, 2022

Anthony Albanese to go ahead with Voice referendum even if Coalition refuses to back Indigenous body

He's a fool. Referenda are always lost in Australia if they have any significant opposition. National party anyone? But maybe Albo doesn't care about the result. Being seen as "Doing something" may be all he wants

Anthony Albanese will put a referendum to enshrine a First Nations voice to parliament in the Constitution this term even if the Liberal and National parties do not formally support it.

In an exclusive interview, the Prime Minister said he would adopt a “genuinely bipartisan” approach towards implementing the Uluru Statement from the Heart with an Aboriginal advisory body to parliament but would not give “right of veto” to the Coalition.

“You don’t need a consensus but you need a broad agreement, firstly, among First Nations leaders and then, secondly, you would seek to get as broad a political agreement as possible for a referendum,” Mr Albanese said.

“So that doesn’t mean that any group would have veto power because my concern is that unless there is a referendum in the foreseeable future, then the momentum will be lost.”

Mr Albanese said there was enough support in the community for a referendum on the voice to parliament to succeed without major party bipartisanship and reiterated that if the ­Coalition opposed the referendum, it would not stop him putting it to voters.

“We would consider that as a factor but not necessarily a decisive one,” he said. “That would obviously be a factor that we would have to take into consideration … but I’m not giving any political organisation or any grouping a right of veto.

“Julian Leeser’s appointment as shadow attorney-general and as well as Indigenous affairs I see as a positive sign and (there is) enormous goodwill from people in media organisations, in the business community, in the trade union movement and in civil society to really do something that is positive for the nation.”

A voice to parliament is opposed by former Liberal prime ministers Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison, who each characterised it as a “third chamber” even though it would not be able to propose, amend or reject legislation, and would not scrutinise every bill or motion. Peter Dutton, who also ­labelled it a “third chamber”, recently said he was open to supporting a referendum.

“The nature of the voice to parliament would still be subject of legislation,” Mr Albanese clarified . “It is not … an attempt to bind ­future governments. It is, though, a clear decision by enshrining it in the Constitution, that a voice to parliament and consultation with First Nations people would be something that couldn’t just be dismissed.”

In the past week, Indigenous leader Pat Turner said she could not see a way forward on constitutional recognition and there was not enough detail on how a national Voice would work, while Greens Indigenous affairs spokeswoman Lidia Thorpe said in an ­interview with The Weekend ­Australian that the nation was not ready for a public vote on the voice, and it would be risky to proceed before a national treaty between the commonwealth and Indigenous people.

Mr Albanese feared momentum would be lost if he did not push ahead with constitutional recognition to enshrine a voice to parliament this term and lashed the Greens for saying a treaty should be the priority rather than an Aboriginal advisory body.

“It is now five years since the Uluru Statement from the Heart,” he said. “It is a generous and ­gracious statement that asks for nothing more than good ­manners to be applied in that if an issue is going to affect Indigenous people, they should be consulted on it. It also envisages recognising that Australia’s history of this magnificent continent didn’t begin in 1788 – it goes back at least 65,000 years – and that we should be proud of having the oldest continuous civilisation on earth. And that to me is unfinished business.

“Once it occurs, I think it will be like the apology to the stolen generations – people will wonder what the fuss was about. But we need to get it done. And if we don‘t get it done in the next term, then it risks drifting.”

While committed to transitioning Australia from a constitutional monarchy to a republic, Mr Albanese said his priority was constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians with the voice to parliament. A republic would be pursued in a second or third term. “I can’t envisage a ­circumstance whereby Australia changed our head of state but we still did not recognise first nations people in our birth certificate,” he said.


Vaccines on trial

When a two-year-old boy died in South Australia last week, Chief Public Health Officer Professor Nicola Spurrier was quick to link the death to Covid adding, ‘I know that parents who have heard this news will be pretty worried… that something may happen to their young child if they catch Covid,’ and advising that ‘the best thing families can do, because we’re not vaccinating that age group, is make sure everyone else in the family is vaccinated.’

One family that didn’t take kindly to Spurrier’s announcement were the grieving parents of the deceased child. The infuriated father wrote on the SA Health Facebook page, ‘How dare you lie about my son! He did not die of Covid, you lying witch!’ The mother was equally incensed accusing Spurrier of using her son’s death ‘to push an agenda’ when the cause of death had not even been established.

The agenda is the vaccination against Covid of children aged six months to four years. It was a new low for Spurrier but she is not alone in distorting facts in the rush to vaccinate babies and toddlers.

Dr Clare Craig, a diagnostic pathologist was shocked by the shoddy data Pfizer presented to the FDA in support of its application. Craig is co-chair of the HART Group, highly qualified UK doctors, scientists, economists and other experts who came together over shared concerns about policy relating to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Craig noted, that the trial recruited 4,526 children yet only 1,526 children made it to the end of the trial, a staggering rate of attrition. She called on Pfizer to explain why two-thirds of the participants dropped out and said without an explanation the trial should be deemed ‘null and void’.

The results of the trial are even more disturbing. There were no cases approximating severe Covid, so Pfizer cooked up its own definition of children experiencing a slightly raised heart rate or a few more breaths per minute. On this basis, there were six children aged two to four in the vaccine group who had ‘severe Covid’ but only one in the placebo group, which suggests the vaccine might actually be causing the children to get ‘severe Covid’. Even more damning, one child had to be hospitalised because they had a fever and suffered a seizure and that child had been vaccinated.

Yet it was when it came to counting cases of Covid, that Pfizer got really creative. In the three weeks after the children had their first shot, 34 vaccinated children got Covid and only 13 in the placebo group, a 30 per cent increase in the risk of getting Covid among the vaccinated, so Pfizer simply ignored that data. There was an eight-week period between the second and third dose during which, once again, more children got Covid in the vaccinated group, and this trend persisted after the third dose. Indeed, to get a positive result, Pfizer had to ignore 97 per cent of all Covid cases that occurred during the trial and only counted ten cases that occurred right at the end, three in the vaccine arm and seven in the placebo arm, declaring that this proved the vaccine was effective.

But that’s not all. In the two-month follow-up period, 12 children got Covid twice and all bar one of them were vaccinated, mostly triple dosed.

On Friday, on the basis of this dodgy data, Pfizer was granted an Emergency Use Authorisation by the FDA, approval that is meant to be granted only when the treatment group faces serious injury or death. Yet as the trial demonstrated, Pfizer was forced to invent a bogus definition of ‘severe Covid’ because Covid is so mild in children in this age group. Moderna’s two-shot vaccine was also approved based on a study which showed efficacy of just 37 per cent, far below the minimum level set at 50 per cent. On Saturday, a panel at the US Centers for Disease Control voted unanimously to recommend approval of the vaccines guaranteeing that they will be rolled out in the US and almost certainly be approved for use in Australia too.

How it can be ethical to give a vaccine to infants who are at so little risk, when there is no long-term safety data is a mystery, especially when so many studies raise safety concerns. Bio-distribution studies that Pfizer conducted but tried to keep secret show that the the lipid nanoparticles that contain the mRNA do not stay in the arm but travel to every organ including the testes and ovaries, where they have unknown impact on reproductive health. The journal Andrology published a peer-reviewed paper last Friday showing large decreases in sperm counts in men after the second Pfizer jab. Transfected cells expressing the spike protein can cause autoimmune diseases including myocarditis.

They also seem to attack key parts of the immune system that suppress viruses and cancers, perhaps explaining why so many vaccinated people suffer the reactivation of latent viruses. mRNA and transfected spike protein can also remain for extended periods in the lymph node germinal centres damaging the immune system by causing T-cell exhaustion. The latest nightmare is that the vaccines appear to trigger a new aggressive form of Creuzfeldt-Jakob disease in some people and amyloidosis in others.

Why does the FDA seem so indifferent to the dangers posed by the vaccine? It’s impossible to say but a trial about to get underway in the US may throw light on the matter. Robert Barnes is the attorney for Brook Jackson, a whistleblower who worked on the Pfizer vaccine trials. Barnes alleges that Jackson reported to the FDA that the Pfizer trials were ‘riddled not only with error but with fraudulent and false certifications to the US government’.

What is fascinating is that Barnes says that Pfizer has moved to dismiss the case on the grounds that it doesn’t matter if they submitted fraudulent certifications or false statements under penalty of perjury to the government, or lied about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine because the government knew what was going on and was their co-conspirator.

It sounds incredible, but it would explain why the FDA tried to suppress the Pfizer trial data for 75 years. And why it seems to pay so little heed to the harm it might do to little children.


Griffith University academics mount cancel culture attack

Disturbing that some loony obscure academics could be influenced by heavily biased Leftist "historian" Henry Reynolds, of "black armband" fame. Birds of a feather flock together, I guess

Although few may remember him today, Sir Samuel Griffith made an immense contribution to the early development of Australia’s parliamentary and legal systems as the primary author of the Constitution and the first Chief Justice of the High Court. He played an integral role in securing the system of government that has made Australia one of the most stable, prosperous, and long-lasting liberal democracies in the world.

That is why it is so remarkable that there are now some who wish to see Samuel Griffith’s name erased from places of public recognition. Even more remarkably, these calls for Samuel Griffith to be ‘cancelled’ are not coming from fringe elements, but from a symposium that took place this month at Griffith University in Queensland.

Inspired by a recent book by author Henry Reynolds, Griffith University Senior Lecturer Dr Fiona Foley argues that Griffith’s name should be removed from the University – and perhaps the federal electorate, Canberra suburb, and New South Wales town as well. Instead, Dr Foley suggests that the University should be called ‘Dundalli University’ in honour of the Indigenous warrior who led the resistance to European settlement in South-East Queensland.

But what was Samuel Griffith’s great crime? Reynolds alleges that Griffith was an ‘enabler’ of massacres because he does not think that Griffith did enough to prevent skirmishes between Europeans and Indigenous groups during his time as Attorney-General and Premier of Queensland.

Professor Geoffrey Blainey AC and historian Keith Windschuttle have both described Reynolds’ approach as adopting a ‘black armband view’ of Australian history. While it is certainly appropriate to reflect critically upon our past as we continue to grow as a society, in having these conversations we should be very hesitant to ‘cancel’ anyone in the absence of highly compelling reasons.

It simply isn’t necessary to agree with everything Samuel Griffith did or believed in order to acknowledge and commemorate what he did to make Australia what it is today. I certainly don’t agree with everything Griffith did as a politician, but none of that detracts from the significance and value of his work as a jurist and drafter of the Constitution.

It is appropriate to continue to commemorate and preserve Griffith’s legacy because we continue to enjoy its benefits. It will be an Australia that no longer appreciates the value of responsible government, robust democracy, and the rule of law that ‘cancels’ Sir Samuel Griffith.


AgForce chief Michael Guerin questions climate science, blasts NZ pledge to cut farm emissions

The head of Queensland's peak rural lobby group AgForce says the science is not settled on climate change as he criticises New Zealand's plan to reduce agricultural emissions.

New Zealand farmers have worked with government on a proposed farm-level levy system as an alternative to the industry being included in the country's emissions trading scheme.

Queensland AgForce chief executive Michael Guerin said he was "horrified" by the plan.

"One of the things I believe very strongly, having spent a lot of time working with scientists — and I'm not a scientist — but the belief I have is that the science is never settled," he said.

"By its very definition it's a process of continuous learning, so climate change is real [but] it's coming from a number of sources, the scientists tell us.

"There are a lot of examples where things have been decided in the past where [they have] changed their mind with updated science."

He said his personal views on climate change did not affect the work he did in his role representing the state's farmers.

"What I do is represent now about 6,500 members, and through a committee process represent their collective views into the core issues," he said.

"There are various views about where climate change comes from, but there's an unanimous view that we want to work collaboratively and productively with science and with government in some of these issues."

Carbon sequestration in cattle

Mr Guerin said agriculture was the only industry in Australia that had made a tangible reduction in net emissions since 1995, but he acknowledged there was more to do.

"It's a powerfully positive story that can be accelerated through incentives, rather than slowed up through taxes," he said.

He said grazing animals contributed to carbon sequestration and a new project, AgCarE (Agriculture, Carbon and the Environment), demonstrated that much of Queensland's cattle industry was positive sequesters.




Sunday, June 26, 2022

Divisive Greenies put reconciliation in peril

Albo spoke well to the matter but the flag is a side-issue. The hopelessly impractical Greenie climate policies are the big issue. And the Greens now have substantial representation in both houses of parliament so those policies matter.

The temptation for the Left is to ally with the Greens as both of them wish destruction on us. So we can only hope that Albo gets enough support for saner policies from the conservatives to resist that temptation

Anthony Albanese says the push for reconciliation risks being undermined by the refusal of Greens leader Adam Bandt to stand in front of the Australian flag.

The Prime Minister said every parliamentarian should be proud to stand in front of the national flag, urging Mr Bandt to “reconsider his position and work to promote unity and work to promote reconciliation”.

“Reconciliation is about bringing people together on the journey that we need to undertake.

“It is undermined if people look for division rather than look for unity,” Mr Albanese said.

The criticism of the Greens escalated further on Wednesday after the party’s First Nations spokeswoman, Lidia Thorpe, said she was only in the parliament to “infiltrate” the “colonial project”.

Incoming Northern Territory Country Liberal Party senator Jacinta Price said Governor-General David Hurley should investigate whether there were grounds to dismiss Senator Thorpe from parliament. “I think she has nothing but contempt for the Australian people and she doesn’t respect the position she is in,” Ms Price said.

“I personally feel that the ­Governor-General should take a closer look at what her real ­intentions are and consider whether this is possible grounds for dismissal.

“She doesn’t see herself as an Australian, she doesn’t see herself as being represented by the Australian flag. Therefore she is not the right person to be in a position to represent the Australian people nor does it indicate she has Aus­tralia’s best interests at heart.”

Indigenous leader Warren Mundine said he was “flabbergasted” by Senator Thorpe’s comments.

“She is carrying on like she is in a five-year-old’s spy game,” Mr Mundine said.

“I just shake my head at these people. We have got so many problems with Indigenous communities … They have got to have jobs and businesses operating, and education.

“So is she there to blow the place up? It is just bizarre.”

On Tuesday night, Senator Thorpe said both the flag and the parliament “does not represent me or my people”.

“It represents the colonisation of these lands. And it has no permission to be here. There’s been no consent,” Senator Thorpe told Network Ten’s The Project.

“I’m there to infiltrate.

“I signed up to become a senator in the colonial project and that wasn’t an easy decision for me personally, and it wasn’t an easy decision for my family either to support me in this. However, we need voices like this to question the illegitimate occupation of the colonial system in this country.”

RSL Australia president Greg Melick said Mr Bandt’s action on the flag was disrespectful to ­Australian service personnel and veterans. “The RSL condemns the ­actions of Mr Bandt in the strongest possible terms,” he said.

“Australians have served under our national flag, irrespective of their race, religion or political views, and it and all our present and past service personnel deserve the highest respect.

“Mr Bandt’s move was dis­respectful to all these people and the RSL rejects it as unfitting of a member of our national ­parliament.”

Labor Left senator Tim Ayres said Mr Bandt’s flag policy was “some of the most empty gesture politics”.

“University, Trotskyite-sort of politics,” Senator Ayres told the ABC.

“There ought to be a bit of growing up around the place and a bit of self-reflection is absolutely in order for Mr Bandt and his ­colleagues.


Australian influencer wants choice for abortions AND vaccinations

An Australian influencer is causing controversy over a post that conflated abortion rights with the Victorian government’s Covid lockdowns and vaccine mandates.

image from

Melbourne entrepreneur Mia Plecic reacted to Friday’s US Supreme Court decision to overturn abortion rights, saying it is no different to the loss of freedom Australians faced from Covid lockdowns and vaccine mandates.

On Saturday morning AEST, millions of American women lost the legal right to have an abortion after the US Supreme Court overturned a landmark ruling which for nearly half a century had permitted terminations during the first two trimesters of pregnancy.

Roe v Wade, which in 1973 provided the constitutional right to abortions up until foetal viability, was overturned on Friday local time. It is now up to each state to determine whether women can have legal abortions.

It’s sparked a wave of protests across the world and some views that were divisive.

Ms Plecic, 30, took to Instagram to share to her 16,000 followers what she saw as a double standard.

She quoted another user, who wrote: “I’m seeing more opinions from Australians on domestic issues in the US than I ever saw from people in Melbourne (or Australia in general) when Victoria Police were shooting rubber bullets at peaceful protesters last year or when Government-enforced mandates surrounding medical procedure were coming into play, for example.

“You want to have a public opinion on human rights, post them all over your stories and look like a hero on social media? Then pick a lane.”

Ms Plecic added: “Why is it ok to be pro choice about one human right but not the other? “The same people who are against freedom of choice with mandates are the same people who are screaming freedom of choice about abortions.

“It doesn’t work like that. Freedom of choice regardless of your narrative”.

In a follow-up Instagram story, Ms Plecic said she was pro-choice, which she applied to all situations, including vaccines or women’s bodies.

She also claimed more than 500 people had reached out to her to express agreement.

Ms Plecic, who is founder and CEO of Slick Hair Company, told “I’m pro choice. Your body, your choice. Period.”

Ms Plecic’s comments were quickly picked up by Instagram page Aussie Influencer Opinions, which has more than 70,000 followers.

One person jumped onto the comment section, writing: “Yeah it’s totally the same thing because being slightly delayed in when you could go eat in restaurants is definitely the same as being forced to see a pregnancy to term, give birth and then raise the child all while taking on the cost and physical burden of what the pregnancy and delivery and recovery does to your body. Totally the same”.

“Covid is contagious, and pregnancy is not. Simple really,” said another..

Last year, Ms Plecic made headlines for her strong anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination stances but ended up issuing an apology over her “political view” after receiving some backlash.

According to her Instagram stories, she attended an anti-lockdown protest and also claimed she would find a “black market doctor” to give her a fake vaccine passport.

“What the media won’t show you,” she wrote on Instagram in 2021, according to a screenshot of her among a crowd of protesters. “30k+ Victorians protesting for their rights for freedom.”

In June, she wrote “I’ll pay a black market doctor to sign my ‘covid passport’ if I have to. IDGAF [I don’t give a f**k].

“I’ll go as far as I need. Nobody will bribe me to jab poison in my body in order to be free.”


Energy reality is now biting hard

Turning a blind eye to the limits of "renewables" no longer works. We may be getting close to their practical limit

Energy crises have a useful ambiguity to them. Each crisis creates an opportunity for everyone to claim that, ‘It would never have happened if we’d just done what they said all along!’

Everyone, that is, except the people who actually did do what they said – they have to sit down and explain why it was both unforeseeable but will resolve if we just continue doing what they say.

Reality always wins. Politicians can argue, investors can throw around money, and journalists can spin dramatic headlines. Energy does not care.

What we knew was coming

Several years ago, I attended a Lunch & Learn by the CEO of the Clean Energy Council. He put up a slide listing all the Australian coal-fired power stations that would be reaching the end of their design life in the next thirty years. It looked something like this:

He then put a question to the group: ‘Why wouldn’t we replace these with the cheapest form of energy available?’ It sounds obvious. At the time, a wind farm had been approved with an agreed price of only $55/MWh, which is a very low cost.

The problem with this argument (as I previously pointed out here) is that you may be paying less for wind and solar, but you aren’t getting the same thing. Coal-fired power stations not only provide energy, they provide available capacity when the wind isn’t blowing, frequency stabilisation, and a single connection for a large energy supply.

If we replace them with wind then we need wind farms, but we also need energy storage, frequency control systems, multiple connections – some of those with long transmission lines.

I challenged the speaker with expensive reality after his presentation. He replied, ‘Yes, but nobody knows the cost of those things.’ How is that an acceptable answer? If nobody knows the cost, you can’t just assume it is zero. That is beyond moronic, it is flagrantly dishonest.

Here is a useful bit of information – the larger the portion of supply that comes from wind and solar, the more supplementary infrastructure is required.

When renewables are supplying less than 20 per cent of total capacity, their shortcomings can be accommodated elsewhere in the electricity network. Above this, they begin to create significant issues.

South Australia had to install a battery, synchronous condensers, additional backup generation, and relies heavily on its connection to the rest of the NEM through an interconnector. The Grattan Institute report Go for net zero showed that even achieving 90 per cent renewable would be significantly easier than 100 per cent.

For this reason, after attending the IEA lunch, my conclusion was this: For now, we may be able to replace the coal generation we have lost with a combination of renewables, supplementary infrastructure, and other flexible backup generation (i.e. gas-fired open-circuit generators). So far we have indeed handled the closures of one-third of our coal plants, equivalent to about 20 per cent of energy supply.

This is unlikely to continue.

The sheer volume of energy that we will need to displace is large. The question is not whether the network can handle more renewables, but where they will even be installed and whether they can be built fast enough.

Eventually, the storage problem will be revealed as just that – a problem. We may have to hold our noses and build more coal-fired generators. If we aren’t willing to do that then the only remaining compromise, as conservative commentators have been saying forever… may be to build some nuclear power plants.

Yet the clear and loud objective of the clean energy council (which is a lobby) and many other parties, is to ensure this doesn’t happen. Their firm belief is that we can replace our fossil fuel generation with renewables. Worse, however, the attitude of many is that if they directly oppose coal-fired power, then they will force the change that they want.

Last year, when the International Energy Agency released its first Net Zero by 2050 report, it said the following: ‘There is no need for new investment in fossil fuel supply in our Net Zero pathway.’

In the pathway, there were two milestones for 2021: ‘No new unabated coal plants approved for development’ and ‘no new oil and gas fields approved for development’. Considering the two energy crises that have occurred in 2022 – oil and gas shortages and coal shortages – they appear to be getting what they wanted.

The Australian energy stalemate

The future of our existing fossil-fuel assets has been topical for a long time. Back in 2017, it raised its head with the announcement of the closure of Liddell. You may recall that several conservative politicians (Tony Abbott, George Christensen, etc.) fought for Liddell to remain online and tabled nationalising it as a means to force its sale rather than closure. This was based on a kind of compromised view – if we are not going to build any new coal power, then at least we must try to get our current coal power to last as long as possible, to reduce the shock to the system.

Some green idealists, however, responded with the opposite aim. They desire to close the coal plants as fast as possible to fulfil their primary goal – leaving coal in the ground. The most notable manifestation of this view is Mike Cannon-Brookes’ recent actions. Having earned billions from software development, he tried to team up with a Canadian investment company Brookefields to purchase AGL. The stated aim was to accelerate coal power-plant closures.

AGL rejected his bid, and the board advanced a demerger proposal. The demerger would result in two companies, only one of which would hold all the coal generation assets. AGL has been responsible for building and managing a large number of renewables projects all around Australia, yet because they also own coal assets, they are demonised and considered untouchable for green investment. In response, Mike Cannon-Brookes bought 10 per cent of the company and sent a letter to the rest of the shareholders asking them to vote against the demerger. The board gave up the plan for the demerger, and several board members announced their impending resignations.

AGL is in an unworkable position – no one wants to invest in their work. At the same time, as a major generator, they have obligations to the market operator. They are required to retain generation capacity or replace capacity that they remove, without compromising grid stability.

Further evidence of the stalemate that has existed in the energy business over the last few years is the Kurri-Kurri project. When the federal government realised that the NEM would need more generation capacity once Liddell closes, they were essentially forced to construct the new Kurri-Kurri power plant themselves, because the private sector wouldn’t do it. It should have been the safest investment around – critical infrastructure with government backing. And yet the political and social climate has everyone terrified of putting money into fossil fuels.

The project has faced continuous negative media, including Matt Kean.

Hopefully, the projects detractors can now feel egg dripping off their chins. The current energy crisis is clear evidence that additional generation capacity will be welcome and possible not even enough (SA’s state-owned diesel generator has certainly been getting a workout over the last month!)

Machines don’t suddenly fail the day that they reach their design life. Power plants are really just giant engines, similar to the one in your car. Imagine you were driving your car continuously for 50 years. Would you expect it to start needing maintenance at the end of that? Eventually, your car would need so much care that the maintenance costs would exceed the value that the car returns, and you are better off getting a new one.

Currently, we have two simultaneous crises. The first is international. The entire world is facing a fuel availability crisis caused simultaneously by the after-shocks of the Covid pandemic (demand recovered at a rapid rate after the pandemic) and the Russia-Ukraine war. This has been exacerbated by some government policies and a hostile investment climate. The latter two issues work together in a negative feedback loop stoked by green activists – the more government policy is hostile, the more reluctant everyone is to invest. This international energy problem is felt mainly through the current high prices.

The second crisis is local. The energy market operator reports on reserve capacity. This is the amount of additional electricity generation that is available to the market if needed. If reserve capacity becomes less than the two largest generators in the system, this is called a Loss of Reserve (LOR) level 1 event. This means that if we had a sudden shutdown of our two largest generators, the system would have insufficient capacity to meet demand.

If capacity goes below the single largest generator, this is called a LOR 2, and means that losing the largest generator could trigger a supply shortfall. LOR 3 occurs when there is an insufficient reserve, and the operator expects to have to trigger intentional blackouts for load-shedding.

This local crisis is only tangentially related to the international one. It occurred mainly because some ageing infrastructure had issues and needed to shut down. As can be seen on the following graph, Bayswater, one of the largest suppliers to the system, lost two generators between June 7-9, reducing it to a third of its registered capacity (one of them came back online just two days ago). Since late May, Liddell has been running only 2 of its 4 generator trains. Gladstone in Queensland is also operating well below its registered capacity.

Writers for The Guardian, RenewEconomy, many journalists at the ABC, and probably every Teal Independent, argue that the current crisis proves that coal is the problem. After all, the coal infrastructure is to blame, so we wouldn’t have these issues if it wasn’t there, right? But the current issue is being caused by only a partial supply shortfall of coal power. What if we lost it all?

At the risk of repeating myself, I must stress: wind and solar can’t solve this problem. 100 per cent supply shortfalls of solar are a daily occurrence. It’s called nighttime. Supply shortfalls of wind are a weekly occurrence at least. The NEM was operating on only 1 per cent wind just two days ago. Comparing solar/wind supply with coal is to make a category error. One cannot replace the other until we have bulk energy storage infrastructure, which currently, simply, does not exist.


Last year, the IEA ‘Net Zero’ roadmap received two different receptions. Some perceived it as what it claimed to be: a pathway for Net Zero 2050. Where the report said that all government, people, private sector across the whole world would have to ‘work together’ to ‘act immediately’, they believed that this is what must surely happen because Net Zero by 2050 is the only option.

Others (like me) received the report as a clear statement that Net Zero by 2050 is doomed. When it listed seven things that would all have to happen in order to achieve Net Zero by 2050, and all of them were virtually impossible, and on further inspection, its assessment of the state of technology was even optimistic… It didn’t look like a roadmap to a place this planet is going anytime soon. In my view, unless a significant technological advancement comes along, we will not be achieving Net Zero by 2050.

The current buzzword is ‘the energy transition’. Note the definite article ‘the’ – it is spoken about as if it is a fact, and yet it is not a transition driven by natural causes. Any natural drivers for change – such as scarcity or competitiveness of new technology – are many decades away. This is a transition that requires a forced change. Hence, the persistent focus of its proponents on government action and divestment.

Yet this is our power supply that they are messing with. When there are supply shortfalls in the electricity market, people die. And they don’t die in twenty years due to global temperature rises, they die tomorrow. Unlike the ‘climate emergency’, electricity supply shortfalls actually meet the definition of an emergency.

If Australian billionaires and investors wish to effect an energy transition, then they are free to build the technology needed to do it. They can build batteries and develop tidal technology, geothermal, or solar, they can support better housing insulation, they can make hydrogen or ammonia or biogas, they can make electric vehicles… They can do whatever floats their boats. But until they have, they need to stop demonising and sabotaging the infrastructure that already exists and is keeping us alive.

That’s the reality, and reality always wins.


Australia: The greenest lemmings in the world?

Viv Forbes

Australia’s new ALP/Green/Teal government has a Zero Emissions plan, putting them on track to be the victor in the Great Green Lemming Race.

America’s John Kerry was previously a strong contender to win the Great Green Lemming race, but he was given a stiff handicap by United Nations organisers due to America having access to reliable coal, oil, gas, hydro, and nuclear power, not to mention plus cross-border pipelines and power lines.

Biden is trying to close these loopholes. Literally.

Eight nations have withdrawn from the Green Lemming Race. Russia has joined China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Iran, and Turkey in forming a new and powerful G8. This hard-headed group ignore Net Zero dogma unless that suits their business plan. The G8 members have diverse reliable energy supplies – oil, coal, gas, hydro. and nuclear. They use wind and solar primarily for virtue-signalling or to earn billions making and selling millions of green toys to Net Zero Lemmings like us.

Europeans were disqualified from the Great Green Lemming Race when they were caught cheating. They pretended to run on intermittent energy from windmills and sunbeams, but whenever these failed they quickly filled the power shortfall with reliable energy from French nuclear, Scandinavian hydro, Polish and German coal, Iceland geothermal, North Sea natural gas, and (sanctions permitting) Russian gas, oil, and coal.

Australia has ageing coal plants (marked for demolition), wildly unstable supplies of disruptive and intermittent green electricity, oodles of gas (but unwelcome in local markets), and abundant uranium for export (but none for local nuclear power). Australia is also a remote island with no extension cords to neighbours with reliable energy. They remain a clear favourite in the Great Green Lemming Race.

Sometime soon, at dinner time on a cold still night, the Aussie winners of the Great Green Lemming Race will be acclaimed by widespread blackouts and a failing economy.