Thursday, June 02, 2022

Useless "Welcome to Country" ceremonies. A ‘Virtuous fad’

I have never seen the point of this. Just because one's ancestors once lived in a place, does that give them any rights? There is no legal doctrine to that effect yet that seems to be what is implied. It is just another bit of Leftist racism as far as I can see

“It is hard to hear the softest of voices,” she wrote, “in a room filled with clamouring chatter. Only in silence can the quiet truly be heard.”

These words, which were published over the weekend, belong to Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, who is the Indigenous Country Liberal Party senator for the Northern Territory and who went where few dare to tread in denouncing what she described as the virtue-signalling calls for Indigenous “voice” and “recognition”.

Ever sat through a Welcome to Country ceremony and wondered just what in real terms it contributed to the many challenges facing Indigenous women and children and thought that just maybe it was a piece of theatre designed to make everybody – individuals, corporations, governments, universities, councils – feel that they were making a contribution to “recognition”?

You might think it, but you dare not give voice to the thought for fear of being denounced as an uncaring, disrespectful racist. Senator Price does not run that risk and spoke for many, I suspect, when she wrote that Indigenous recognition has become “the latest virtuous fad”.

“On any given day in our nation you can be confronted with non-Indigenous Australians vying to have their virtues heard when they monotonously and mechanically pay their ‘respects to elders past, present and emerging’,” she wrote.

“Simultaneously, Australians with Indigenous heritage purport to be ‘proud’ members of some – or a number of – tribes belonging to fashionably termed ‘First Nations’.”

Her point is that it’s lovely to nod virtuously at such ceremonies while resisting the urge to look at your watch or check your phone, but something else entirely to do something about Indigenous social issues.

Politicians of all persuasions are quick to embrace such virtue signalling, but do little to combat the appalling level of physical violence and sexual assaults being perpetrated on Indigenous women and children at many times the rate of that in the non-Indigenous population.

There have been some horrific instances of domestic violence in Queensland and elsewhere in recent times and the issue has generated outrage, public outpourings of grief and demands for a more effective government action.

Senator Price puts this in an uncomfortable perspective when she says that her cousin was attacked with an axe for supporting her niece in a rape case against an Indigenous relative, an attack that was witnessed by schoolchildren.

If the attack had taken place in Brisbane or any capital city, she said, women would have taken to the streets demanding an end to what she described as this “patriarchy” – but nothing happened.

The electoral success of the Greens and Independents in the federal election has pushed climate change to the very forefront of the national debate. Younger voters and the well-educated and financially secure elite embraced the Greens and the allegedly independent teals as they might the latest in winter coats by Burberry.

In doing so did they ever pause for a moment and wonder just how large climate change concerns loom in the minds of Indigenous women and children who live in daily fear of being bashed or raped? Hardly, for as Senator Price opined, these victims are out of sight and mind to the virtue-signalling class. “These attacks cannot be fixed by ‘Welcome to Country or elders past, present and emerging’,” she says.

The superficially virtuous are also quick to champion the establishment of a separate Indigenous voice to federal parliament and a treaty with Indigenous people neither of which, as Price points out, make any reference to, suggest any solutions to, or even acknowledge the existence of the issue of violence and abuse.

Virtue, like talk, is cheap. It has replaced tree hugging as elements of our society proclaim their determination to save the planet while conveniently ignoring the issues that plague sections of our community.

Saving the planet is dead easy. You just cast your vote and all but bursting with virtue go home, put your feet up, pour a glass of vegan wine, turn on the reverse cycle aircon if it’s getting a bit chilly and relax – job done. It’s so much easier than confronting what Senator Price describes as raw and unpleasant truths.

The next time you sit through a Welcome to Country ceremony, you might ask yourself how deep your virtue runs. Talking the talk is one thing, but walking the walk is another


Enshrining race in Australia's political system

During the course of the next three years, an attempt will be made to add another constitutional chamber to the Commonwealth Parliament. The sole defining characteristic for membership of the new chamber, known colloquially as the ‘Voice’, will be a person’s race.

The idea has the full support of the Labor Party. One of the very first things Prime Minister Albanese said in his new role was that he supported a constitutional amendment that would enshrine the Indigenous Voice and would be calling for a referendum on the issue.

We also know that Australian church leaders have endorsed the idea of a constitutionally enshrined ethnic advisory chamber. It is not known whether or from whom church leaders sought advice or whether they simply relied on the power of prayer, but the introduction of a third, racially based chamber into our colour-blind Constitution suggests a complete absence of reflection on its likely effects.

Perhaps it is an example of how the gods destroy by first sending men mad. Or less theatrically, these exceedingly pious individuals have demonstrated once again that, by relying on their feelings and avoiding any careful thought as to what they are supporting, the road to hell really is paved with good intentions.

Some other well-intentioned people might claim that we should wait and see what the amendment will contain before we rush to judgment. This does seem to bear out my point that that detail is usually where the devil will be found. By the time this detail arrives, it will probably be too late. There will be no referendum unless the polls tell Mr Albanese that the likelihood of success is high.

It is probably impossible to overlook the inherent racism of a separate, constitutionally protected voice for Indigenous Australians; particularly when those same Australians can also vote for and participate in the national and state Parliaments. That would, at my reckoning, give them two voices.

Is it possible for a democracy to overlook a proposal that would give an ethnic group a separate advisory voice which is denied to the rest of the nation?

Perhaps someone should ask each state government whether they can see the benefit for a separately enshrined state Indigenous chamber? My bet is the suggestion would be met with a resounding raspberry. Power is only shared when it is compelled to be shared. That was the principle of the Commonwealth Constitution, before the 1920 High Court decided to change it.

So, if we set the racism apart, the most obvious reason why such an advisory chamber will not lead to good government is because Indigenous advisory bodies in each state have been failing Indigenous peoples for a century. The reason for that failure is the calibre of the people chosen to sit on those councils.

For every worthy soul like Noel Pearson, whose strategies have been the most successful, there are a hundred who are only there for the wages and the hubris. That will not change with an elected council. It will likely be worse. And the Voice they want will appeal above the elected Parliament directly to the media. The advice may go to the government, but the media will amplify any negative aspects throughout the country.

That combination of Indigenous Voice and the media megaphone will ensure government entente if only to silence the baying viewers.

There are many good reasons to oppose this mooted change to our Constitution, but the most important must surely be the democratic principle on which it is based, a principle expressed by the equality of representation among our citizens, shared across two parliamentary chambers.

The Uluru Statement envisages a third chamber of Indigenous representatives elected by Indigenous Australians. In its haste to repair pandemic indigenous problems, the Uluru Statement proposes to introduce apartheid into our Constitution and to dilute the equality on which it stands. It is not a louder voice that Indigenous peoples need, just more effective action.

We cannot say where the Liberal Party stands on this issue, but there will be many in the party who will oppose it, as they did Malcolm Turnbull’s ‘republican’ constitutional reform some twenty years ago. Given the electoral results in New South Wales, where so many woke Liberal members were voted from office, I am hopeful that the new leader, Peter Dutton, will be courageous enough to confront this constitutional ignorance.


Legislating Net-Zero by 2050 Unnecessary: Nationals Leader David Littleproud

Newly elected National Party leader David Littleproud has said while his party is committed to net-zero by 2050, implementing legislation around it is unnecessary.

Speaking to ABC Radio National on Tuesday morning, Littleproud said that he doesn’t believe the federal government needs to tell Australians what to do.

“Australians are doing this by themselves,” he said. “I mean, we set a target of 26 to 28 percent and Australians by themselves, not only rooftop solar, but Australian industry themselves, are taking the leading role.”

Littleproud stressed that households and industry are doing it anyway because they’re part of a global community.

“I trust Australians; I actually back Australians,” he said. “I don’t need to walk into this place and put a piece of legislation over them,” Littleproud said.

“I think Australians are far more sensible than we give them credit for,” he said, adding that what’s most important is to put the environmental infrastructure around them to achieve emissions targets.

Littleproud went on to say that he has a lot of confidence in the Australian public because emissions have already been reduced by 20 percent, and most of that has been achieved through rooftop solar, while industries are also doing it because they have to be competitive and market their product in international marketplaces.

“So I don’t think government needs to tell everyone what to do all the time. I think Australians have had a gutful of that,” he said.

“They’ve had two and a half years of being told what to do. And if governments just get out of our lives but put the guide rails around us to go and do the things that we need to do, we’ll do it because we’re good people.”

This comes after now Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced before the election that Labor had a plan to reduce carbon emissions by 43 percent by 2030, topping Liberal’s 35 percent by 2030 target.

Labor’s Powering Australia plan includes upgrading the national electricity grid, making electric cars cheaper, and adopting the Business Council of Australia’s recommendation that facilities reduce emissions gradually and predictably over time.

Labor will also provide direct financial support for measures that improve energy efficiency within existing industries and develop new industries in regional Australia, as well as work with large businesses to provide greater transparency on their climate-related risks and opportunities.

Former Liberal MP Trent Zimmerman told ABC Radio National on Monday that the new Labor government was elected with a clear mandate about its 2030 emissions reduction target, and the Opposition—Liberals and Nationals, if a coalition is once again formed—should go along with it. “There is now bipartisanship on the end goal, which is the net-zero commitment by 2050, ” he said.

“But for me, I think that the easy early step that the Opposition could take is to recognise that the Labor government does have a mandate for its 43 percent target and that it will accept the outcome, the verdict of voters on that.”


More than 20 per cent of NSW students fall below acceptable standards

More than one in five NSW public school students are below the lowest acceptable standard in reading and numeracy, and the gap between the most and least advantaged students is widening.

The NSW Department of Education admitted it needs to do better after it again fell well short of the government’s achievement targets. Its 2021 annual report showed students improved slightly on some measures and went backwards on others.

“We will need considerable improvement across all cohorts and schools in our systems,” the report said.

One target involved increasing the proportion of public school students above the minimum standard for reading and numeracy in NAPLAN to 87.9 per cent, but average results were almost nine percentage points below that target.

The gap between the highest and lowest socioeconomic status students increased slightly between 2019 and 2021, making the target of narrowing the gap in the top two NAPLAN bands even more difficult to achieve.

More than half the students in public schools are from low socioeconomic backgrounds, the report said. “We will need to show significant improvement across all years and learning domains to reduce the widening gap,” it said.

The department was also more than 10 percentage points below its target of ensuring two-thirds of students achieved the growth expected of them in reading and numeracy. While year 3 and 5 students were on track, years 7 and 9 were significantly below.

However, the system fell only slightly short of its target of more than two-thirds of students making it into the top two HSC bands. It was also on track to achieve its 2022 target of ensuring almost 92 per cent of school-leavers were in higher education, training or work.

Craig Petersen, the head of the Secondary Principals Council, said NAPLAN was a simplistic measure and measured basic skills rather than the more complex things students were taught at high school, such as critical thinking and problem-solving.

He also said the past two years were highly disrupted due to COVID-19. “I think the targets were always highly ambitious, and [then came the] the challenges of COVID and, even more significantly, staffing [shortages],” he said. “If I haven’t got qualified maths or science teachers in front of every class, I’m not going to meet those targets.”

A NSW Education spokesman said the ultimate goal was to ensure improvement for every student in every school.

“It is pleasing to see that our NAPLAN results are heading in the right direction despite disruptions to learning over the past 2.5 years due to COVID-19.

“We know there is more work to do which is why we have given teachers and principals more time to focus on students’ attendance, literacy, numeracy and wellbeing outcomes by taking a number of requirements off their plates.”

He said the department invested $256 million, through the School Success Model, in targeted support to lift literacy and numeracy results.

The NSW government has provided an additional $383 million for a renewed COVID-19 Intensive Learning Support program in 2022, as well as $337 million provided for targeted small group tuition for students in 2021, he said.

The department also came under fire from the NSW Teachers Federation over its use of consultants, with its consultancy bill more than doubling to more than $10 million from $4.5 million in 2020.

They include almost $5 million to Encompass Consulting Services for “department portfolio and program optimisation” and $3.3 million to KPMG for “transformation of support services operating model”.

“It beggars belief that so much money is being squandered on consultancy after consultancy and, beyond that, one has to ask what is it that the department actually does other than manage contracts,” said president Angelo Gavrielatos.

The department said it only engaged consultants when it was unable to deliver outcomes or when it needed independent advice.

“The $10.7 million consultancy expenditure in the 2021 annual report represents around 0.05 per cent of the department’s total expenses budget (about $20 billion) over this period,” the spokesman said.




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