Sunday, July 31, 2022

Plans to light up one of Australia’s most famous war memorials in rainbow colours are SCRAPPED after ‘hateful’ threats and abuse aimed at staff

Plans to light up Melbourne's Shrine of Remembrance in rainbow colours have been abandoned after staff were subjected to 'hateful' threats and abuse.

The display was intended to commemorate LGBTQI people in service as part of the upcoming exhibition Defending with Pride, which chronicles their stories of denial and exclusion, along with recognition and inclusion.

The Shrine of Remembrance organisation announced on Saturday afternoon that while the exhibition and Last Post service scheduled for Sunday would go ahead, the lighting of its colonnades would not.

'Over several days, our staff have received and been subject to sustained abuse and, in some cases, threats,' chief executive officer Dean Lee said.

'We have seen something of what members of the LGBTIQ+ community experience every day. It is hateful.'

In the interests of minimising harm, the shrine sought guidance from partners and others including veteran associations, the Victorian government, and representatives of the LGBTQI veteran community.

Some media commentators and members of the community opposed the light show.

Mr Lee noted that, 50 years ago, creating a memorial to women's service was controversial and opposed by many, as was the introduction of an annual service commemorating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

'We are proud to recognise and celebrate the history and service of LGBTIQ+ people, something that has traditionally been absent or under-represented within Australia's war memorials,' he said.

'A decade ago, conversations around veteran suicide were taboo, yet today it is the subject of a Royal Commission.

'Society's values change, and the Shrine is a participant in that change and will continue its efforts to honour the service and sacrifice of all who have served Australia.'

The shrine's pride exhibition officially runs from August until July 2023.


Crazy primary curriculum

Stressed school principals are demanding changes to the new national curriculum, warning it is “impossible to teach” and can be nonsensical to students.

Blasting education bureaucrats for imposing “cruel’’ workloads, the Australian Primary Principals Association has blamed a confusing curriculum, red tape and “micromanagement’’ for driving teachers out of the profession.

“The current primary and early childhood curriculum is too crowded (and) impossible to teach if taken literally,’’ APPA has told the Productivity Commission review of the national school reform agreement.

“We call for rethink of the primary and early childhood curriculum (to create) a curriculum which is coherent and makes sense to teachers and students.

“Where is the space for play, for wonder?’’

Criticism of the curriculum, which was updated in April after a two-year review, comes as federal Education Minister Jason Clare prepares to meet his state and territory colleagues next month to troubleshoot the teacher shortage.

APPA said principals and teachers felt “confined by a morass of measurement which kills initiative and creativity’’.

“In recent years, the intensification of the workload for principals has been cruel,’’ it states in its submission to the Productivity Commission review.

“When the bureaucracy is organised in silos, each of which transmits their edicts to schools without the crucial test of practicality, this adds to the intensification of work.’’

APPA said education departments were “constantly measuring … in the hope that results come from increased micromanagement’’.

“Instead of creating flourishing organisations, this results in mediocrity, in a measurement-induced mire as schools struggle to respond,’’ it said.

APPA president Malcolm Elliott said literacy and numeracy must remain the “the foundation stones of learning’’.

But Mr Elliot described the revised curriculum – which had its content cut by 20 per cent in April – as a “millstone around people’s necks’’.

He said teachers were disappointed that former Coalition education minister Dan Tehan’s pledge to “take a chainsaw to the curriculum’’ had failed to make it much simpler.

“It’s a huge document and teachers are overburdened,’’ he told The Weekend Australian.

“The volume of the documentation is less, but the workload has been little reduced, if at all.

“It has to be cut back considerably and expressed much more simply in ways that everyone can understand and follow and implement.’’

The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority did not consult directly with APPA in revising the curriculum, but met regularly with the National Peak Parents and Principals Forum, of which APPA is a member.

ACARA chief executive David de Carvalho said the new curriculum had involved “extensive consultation and input from subject, curriculum and teacher experts, including primary teachers and experts’’.

“The primary years’ content was reviewed through two dedicated primary reference groups,’’ he said.

“In addition, 47 volunteer primary schools and their teachers tested the updated primary curriculum … to ensure it was user-friendly for generalist primary teachers.

“During the project, primary teachers said the new curriculum was more manageable and they particularly liked the separation of the Foundation year (kindy or prep) and appreciated the focused time to plan and develop a deep understanding of learning areas across Foundation to year 6.’’

The ninth version of the curriculum – the first update in six years – appears to be clearer than the previous version.

For example, the previous year 8 syllabus required students to “recognise that vocabulary choices contribute to the specificity, abstraction and style of texts”.

In the current version, they must “identify and use vocab­ulary typical of academic texts”.

The ACARA website describes the new curriculum as “three-dimensional; it includes learning areas, general capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities’’, with an “inline glossary with in-built definitions’’.

Mr Elliott warned that Australia’s teacher shortage was at crisis point, with a relief teacher in regional NSW having to teach five combined classes this week.

“In some schools in NSW, positions have been left unfilled for longer than a year because they’re unable to find people to take up those roles,’’ he told The Weekend Australian.

“Schools in NSW that would usually be regarded as very highly desirable are unable to fill positions because teachers can’t afford to live within commuting distance – they can’t find anything to rent and they can’t afford to buy.’’

Mr Elliott said some states had underestimated the teacher shortage because out-of-date teacher registration lists included those who had retired or died.

He said APPA’s survey of 2590 principals last year, conducted by the Australian Catholic University, found that half worked at least 56 hours a week, with a quarter working at least 61 hours a week during school term, and work during school holidays averaging 21 hours a week.


Trapped in a climate fantasy: We actually need coal and gas

Here are four fundamental, unacknowledged realities underlying our energy, climate change and economic situation.

One. Coal is not a stranded asset. It is booming worldwide. The amount of traded coal is increasing. The share of global electricity coal generates has barely moved in 30 years, despite intense Western efforts to end financing for coal.

Two. This is true of fossil fuels generally. The percentage of global electricity generated by gas is rising.

Three. Australia’s economy is totally dependent on exports of gas, coal, iron ore and other minerals. Nothing can replace this. Without it, our social spending, defence, aid would all be unaffordable.

Four. The push for renewable energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is overwhelming in developed countries and strong in developing countries. However, if the world, or Australia, is to get anywhere near net zero, this will come at enormous financial cost and reduced living standards. This may be a sacrifice worth making to save the planet, but enormous costs are inevitable.

It is perhaps surprising that the political leader making the strongest effort to integrate these disparate realities into some kind of coherent policy is actually the Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. It’s important if Australian policy is to have any coherence that Albanese holds sway within his own party. It’s a perplexing feature of the new government that Albanese seems to be alone in making the case that new coal and gas projects should be approved because Australian coal is cleaner – that is, generates fewer emissions per unit of energy – than any coal that might replace it. And gas is cleaner than coal. That Albanese seems alone in advocating this proposition, which is Labor policy, is dangerous for the ALP.

It may be that his long involvement with the infrastructure portfolio has endowed Albanese with a deeper familiarity and appreciation than most left-wing politicians have of wealth creation rather than just redistribution.

A great deal of our climate ­debate is based on falsehoods, ­ignores fundamental facts and avoids realistic international comparisons. It’s commonly claimed Australia has lost a decade due to the ­climate wars and most other nations are thus far ahead of us. This is complete baloney based on a failure to take note of the most ­elementary facts of international life. In most developed nations, ­including Australia, greenhouse gas emissions have been either steady or declining for more than a decade.

The great big growth in emissions is in developing and middle income nations like China, India and Indonesia. In case those who claim we are uniquely disadvantaged haven’t noticed, most of Western Europe, which has gone much further in de-industrialising and embracing renewables than we have, is suffering a crippling ­energy crisis.

Western Europe depends on Russian gas. Germany used Russian gas to enable it to close coal-fired power stations and, very foolishly, nuclear power stations. The most stable nation in energy is France, because it relies so heavily on nuclear energy. Germany, like other Europeans, has restarted coal-fired power stations.

Germany wants to sanction Russia, but then objects to Russia not selling it more gas. Germany demonises fossil fuels but is completely dependent on gas. There is a parallel in Australia. Victorian Premier Dan Andrews wants more Queensland gas. But Victoria would be producing its own gas if his government had not placed so many prohibitions, restrictions and moratoriums on gas.

Russia is making as much money as ever from its energy ­exports. It sells energy to non-Western nations which are not boycotting it, such as China and India. And the gas it still sells to Europe it sells at sky high prices. Far from the West crippling Russia through energy sanctions, Moscow has intentionally turned down the volume of gas it will send to Europe, both to put Europe under pressure and to prevent Europe from filling up its gas reserves heading into winter.

As a result, the European Union has made a deal among its members to voluntarily reduce gas consumption by 15 per cent. But if it’s a cold winter in Europe, watch out for big domestic political trouble. In Britain, Tory leadership front runner Liz Truss is promising to cut green energy levies because of soaring energy prices, and inflation generally.

And in the United States, far from the climate wars being over, Joe Biden cannot get his climate plans legislated. The Democrats won the White House and both the Senate and the House of Representatives and yet the US political system will not pass Biden’s climate measures. Republicans are overwhelmingly likely to win the House in November and more narrowly favoured to win the Senate. That puts Biden’s climate agenda into complete reverse.

Canada has less political division over the issue but its big adjustments are ahead.

More here:


Calls to review transgender treatment for kids after British Tavistock Clinic is closed

Australian gender clinics are under fresh scrutiny and face calls for an independent review of their prescription of puberty blockers to teenagers after a leading British clinic was closed down over safety concerns.

The ordered close of the Tavistock Clinic – the model for treating trans people around the world – on Thursday followed concerns raised by doctors that young ­patients were being referred on to a gender transitioning path too quickly and that there was insufficient evidence as to the long-term cognitive and physical impacts of puberty blockers.

With several major Australian gender clinics based at children’s hospitals having been strongly influenced by the Tavistock Clinic, some doctors say the findings of the British review by Dr Hilary Cass are likely to apply equally in Australia amid a dominance of a “gender affirming” approach to treating gender dysphoria.

Some of the nation’s leading trans clinics, including the centre at the Royal Melbourne’s Children Hospital, defended their methods on Friday and said they followed best Australian practice.

Queensland paediatrician Dylan Wilson said the closing of Tavistock should lead to Australian authorities reconsidering the treatment of children experiencing gender dysphoria.

“The concerns that have been raised with the UK Tavistock Clinic translate directly to the same concerns that can be applied to gender clinics here in Australia,” Dr Wilson said.

“The fact that Dr Cass noted that there is insufficient evidence to recommend puberty blockers but they have been used by gender clinics in Australia is of huge concern.

“They are now only going to be used in the UK as part of research trials with significant ethical oversight which is the same pathway that Sweden has followed, but the gender clinics in Australia continue unabated to prescribe them on a regular basis without any oversight or scrutiny whatsoever.

“The concern is that children are, as the Cass report found, instantly socially and medically ­affirmed without any exploration of any other diagnoses or contributing factors to their gender identity being considered, which means as soon as they are ­affirmed as children that are transgender, they are placed along a pathway which leads them to medical treatment, and medical treatment pathway leads them to lifelong medicalisation.”

The National Association of Practising Psychiatrists – which has adopted a cautious, psychotherapy-first approach to treating gender dysphoria – is also calling for a review of gender clinics in Australia.

“The longer-term studies of what happens to children and ­adolescents when they’re treated with puberty blockers is not known. The evidence base is lacking,” said association president Philip Morris.

Public gender clinics in Australia all say puberty blockers and hormone therapy is prescribed only after comprehensive clinical assessment.

The Royal Melbourne Hospital’s gender clinic led by Michelle Telfer, head of the hospital’s ­Department of Adolescent Medicine and director of the RCH Gender Service, developed the Australian standards of care for the treatment of gender dysphoria.

The hospital says the clinic’s service “is underpinned by research methodology to monitor outcomes that will continuously inform best practice”. Critics say published research on the long-term outcomes of hormone treatment of children is non-existent.

“We will continue to closely monitor how services nationally and internationally develop and evolve, and welcome all actions that ensure that trans children and young people continue to ­receive the highest possible quality of care, regardless of where they live,” a hospital spokesman said.

The Children’s Hospital at Westmead in Sydney, which has a trans and gender diverse service, said all patients referred to the clinic underwent a specialised and comprehensive assessment involving consultation with specialists in psychological medicine, adolescent medicine and endocrinology.

“Children are only ever considered for stage 1 treatment (puberty blockers) once this assessment has taken place and in close consultation with the patient, parents and treating medical teams. This treatment is reversible,” a hospital spokesperson said.

Transcend Australia, an organisation that supports trans, gender diverse and non-binary children, rejected the calls for a review and said Australian standards of care had been developed by best practice.

Transcend Australia chief executive Jeremy Wiggins said treatment often gave young ­people a chance to consider their identify for longer and said the ­effects of puberty blockers were reversible.

“The treatment is highly considered and given to people who demonstrate that they meet the criteria for gender dysphoria. It is considered for them to be lifesaving treatment so they can continue and get on with their lives,” he said.

“I’d be concerned for any government in any country to remove access to treatment for a highly vulnerable population.”

The close of the Tavistock Clinic comes as Dr Cass recommends a shift to a more “holistic” mode of care amid concerns that other clinical presentations including mental health issues were “overshadowed” when gender was raised by children referred to the clinic.

Puberty blockers will now only be able to be prescribed in the UK as part of a clinical trial that follows children until adulthood.

“Puberty blockers, rather than acting as a “pause button” allowing children time to explore their identity, seem to lock them into a medicalised treatment pathway,” Dr Cass’s interim report said.




Friday, July 29, 2022

Atheist Senate president Sue Lines wants Lord’s Prayer ‘gone’

I am an atheist but I think a reminder of the Christian origins of our culture is valuable. I think the prayer is theologically interesting but does anybody else think of that when they utter it?

New Senate president Sue Lines says she would like to see the longstanding tradition of reading the Lord’s Prayer at the start of each sitting day “gone”, as she prepares to put her mark on the chamber by warning senators she’ll be tougher on those who demean their colleagues.

Senator Lines, only the second woman elected to the role of president, said as an atheist she did not want to say the prayer, which has been read by the presiding officers in the lower and upper houses at the start of each sitting day since 1901.

“On the one hand we’ve had ­almost every parliamentary leader applaud the diversity of the parliament and so if we are genuine about the diversity of the parliament we cannot continue to say a Christian prayer to open the day,” Senator Lines said.

“Personally, I would like to see the prayers gone. I’m an atheist. I don’t want to say the prayers. If others want to say the prayers they’re open to do that.

“Personally I would like to see them gone but again it’s not something I can ­decree. It’s a view of the Senate.” Senator Lines said the abolition of the Lord’s Prayer was “certainly on the agenda” and would be raised with the Senate procedure committee, which considers any matter relating to procedures referred to it by the chamber or the president.

The Senate agreed on Wednesday that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags would be displayed with the Australian flag in the chamber.

The move infuriated One ­Nation leader Pauline Hanson, who walked out of the Senate, ­ declaring “no I won’t and I never will” while Senator Lines was making an ­acknowledgment of country, which follows the prayer reading.

The three flags are positioned next to each other on the floor of the House of Representatives for the first time, after Anthony Albanese and leader of the house Tony Burke made the change.

Senators and members are not required to be present or participate in the reading of the Lord’s Prayer.

There have been several unsuccessful attempts to change the standing orders to replace the prayers with a personal prayer or reflection, including by former Greens leader Bob Brown in 1997.

The acknowledgment of country was added to the standing orders in 2010.

It is understood the House of Representatives Speaker Milton Dick has no desire or plans to change the arrangements for the Lord’s Prayer or acknowledgment of country.

Mr Dick, 50, hails from the Anglican faith and has spoken at the parliamentary prayer breakfast. He is a known supporter of ­religious communities in his Brisbane electorate of Oxley.

Senator Lines said she had a particular interest in implementing the Jenkins review recommendations and making parliament a safer place to work, revealing she had been sexually assaulted when she was five.

While she has witnessed bullying and name-calling in federal parliament – having been called a “squawking seagull” – Senator Lines said she had never seen or experienced sexual harassment or assault in the building.

But she said the chamber was too accepting of bad behaviour and it was up to her and other ­Senate chairs to raise standards.

“The standing orders do say you can’t demean a person and I think in the past we’ve kind of let that go unless it’s been really ­particularly bad. We have to raise the standards as chairs, whether it’s me or the deputy president or the deputy chairs,” Senator Lines said. “We actually do (need to) start to pull people up a little more. That’s one of the areas we’ve ­developed too high a bar for moderating bad behaviour.”

She will push for the chamber’s hours to be brought into line with the house’s after the Jenkins ­review found long and irregular hours of work could exacerbate aggressiveness in the workplace.

Though Senator Lines conceded there would still be occasions when the Senate needed to sit for long periods.


Greenie lunacy

Power grids transitioning to renewable energy generates great debate, but no one is discussing the Australian government’s transition into madness, marked by bouts of delusion and dissociation from reality on any issue involving climate.

An obvious area of denial is the chaos in power grids, with wholesale electricity prices spiking and major users being paid to stay off the grid to balance supply. Yet in the midst of it all, as if nothing was happening, a minster or official will declare that the switch to renewables must be accelerated.

Another is the declaration by defence minister Richard Marles that climate change – specifically rising sea levels – is a greater threat to the Pacific than Chinese military aggression. Made during a visit to the US in mid-July the minister’s comments may have had more to do with maintaining harmony at the Pacific Island Forum then being held in Fiji and attended by Prime Minister Albanese and Foreign Minister Penny Wong, or cosying up to Beijing, but it was a strange statement for a defence minister to make.

As part of the forum the federal government followed the fad of declaring climate emergencies signing a joint forum declaration including the phrase. Now all they have to do is to produce an emergency, although they will probably settle for another State of the Climate report declaring that eco-systems are on the point of collapse, as they have for more than 30 years.

For island nations the declaration makes complete sense. Tuvalu, for example, sits on the peak of a submerged mountain top with poor soils, half way between Australia and Hawaii, where it is regularly visited by cyclones. So climate has always been a problem. But if the developed countries can be persuaded that the nation’s troubles are somehow their fault, they may contribute billions to a climate fund long promised during the endless series of international summits. Some of that climate money would be funnelled to the Pacific nations.

From the point of view of the minister of defence however, his declaration is madness. Satellites have tracked sea level increases world-wide for decades with the results publicly available on a site run by Columbia university. Since the early 1990s, when satellite monitoring began, sea levels have been increasing at an average rate of 3.3 millimetres a year. Such an increase, if extended over a whole century, adds up to an undramatic one third of a metre.

In addition, in a paper in the journal Nature Communications in February 2018 three New Zealand academics point out that there is growing evidence that islands are geologically dynamic, with features that adjust to changing sea level and climatic conditions. As a result, Tuvalu’s overall area has been increasing, not decreasing, although the island’s government strongly disputes that any of the additional surface area is usable land. Storms are another, obvious problem in the Pacific, but a paper in the journal Nature Climate Change in June, authored by 12 mostly Australian academics, states that the frequency of tropical cyclones has been declining due to climate change. The paper was reported straight-faced by the mainstream media without acknowledging that it contradicted decades of green propaganda.

Then there is the ongoing power crisis which has affected most Western countries. In Australia, the lack of a power capacity market, which pays generators simply to be ready to produce power, combined with relentless green propaganda against coal-fired power plants means no new plants have been built for years, there are fewer coal-fired generators capable of delivering on-demand power, and those still operating are increasingly unreliable due to age and lack of maintenance.

Those problems, combined with massive increase in energy prices, have resulted in spikes in wholesale power prices, particularly in Queensland, with advisor Energy Edge noting that wholesale power prices in the state more than doubled to an unheard-of average of $323 a megawatt-hour in the June quarter. When coal-fired power stations ruled the old state grids 20 years ago, wholesale power cost about $40 a megawatt hour. A few years ago, it was $80 a megawatt hour.

The chaos, and revelations that the government may pay some $1.7 billion to major power users who agree to stay off the grid during the crisis, has not affected the worldview of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. In a recent conference in Sydney, as the crisis was unfolding, he talked of the shift to net zero and ‘the transformative role of clean energy technologies’.

Activists claim a big part of the problem is the increase in prices for gas and coal, but they bear the blame, having repeatedly attacked new coal mines and gas projects, and their financiers, using propaganda, protests and legal actions designed to deter or delay projects.

Thanks to their efforts, no one should be surprised that developed countries are dependent for energy supplies on the likes of Russia, where green activists trying to shut fossil fuel projects get into serious trouble. In 2013, for example, the Russian government charged Greenpeace activists who tried to interfere with an oil platform above the Arctic circle with piracy. The charges were dropped after two months but activists have stayed away from Russian oil platforms.

Threatening to throw activists in jail for up to 12 years is unlikely to happen in the West but any government serious about energy security must recognise that the grid will require base-load fossil fuel power for many years to come, and do more to stand up to climate trouble-makers. Along the way they could try to regain their sanity.


The Left is winning the language wars

Judith Sloan

Once upon a time, we – or most of us, at least – knew what words meant. Needless to say, from society’s point of view, this was very useful – we were all working from the same page.

If someone had used the term economic rationalism, the typical response would have been to query the need for repetition. Yep, economics is about making trade-offs and who would sign up to irrationalism? What happened, in fact, was that economic rationalism became a term of derision, the message being that economics is a heartless discipline that should be ignored by both politicians and concerned persons.

While the term economic rationalism has luckily gone out of fashion, the connotation lives on. Social justice was another term that became wildly fashionable a while back. I’m not sure who is against social justice, but hands up all those who know what social justice actually means. The main point is that social justice is just a short-hand term for everything that progressives regard as important and woe betide anyone who disagrees.

There are plenty of murky, even meaningless, words and terms that have been captured by the Left to throw stones at those who disagree with them. To describe economics as neoliberal makes no sense at all. But it is a way of casting economics as a callous discipline based on absurd assumptions. The fact that right-minded economists don’t ever describe themselves as neoliberal is irrelevant to activists pushing greater government intervention.

Extraordinarily long-serving economics editor at the Sydney Morning Herald, Ross Gittins – succession planning is clearly not the long suit of the editors – is always at pains to distance himself from neo-liberalism. As he puts it, ‘economics has many useful insights to offer the community. It must be rescued from neoliberalism because neoliberalism is simply bad economics.’ We can’t be sure why it’s bad economics because we don’t know what neoliberalism is – well apart from it being bad.

Austerity is another term purloined by the Left to attack any politician who attempts to cut government spending. Actually, make that cut the growth of government spending. Where once austerity might have been interpreted as responsible behaviour, particularly after a period of excess, these days it is another abridged term for merciless pruning of government expenditure.

Recall those 365 economists who wrote to the Times in 1981 complaining about Maggie Thatcher’s economic policies. They were confident that the fiscal and monetary tightening that was being implemented ‘will deepen the depression (sic)’. They even went as far as to suggest that Thatcher’s 1981 budget would ‘threaten social and political stability’. As events panned out, inflation came under control and unemployment began to trend down. Oops for the ‘experts’ (another misused term).

The Australian Labor party also has form in terms of misrepresenting austerity and spending cuts. At recent elections (but not 2022), Labor would claim that the Coalition had plans to cut spending on education, health and other areas. Who could forget the vacuous Tanya Plibersek making this claim when in fact federal government spending on education under the Coalition had increased and was forecast to increase further?

The trick was for Labor to foreshadow ridiculously rapid increases in spending and judge Coalition plans against this fabrication. Of course, there were always fine words attached to Labor’s plans like removing the impact of socio-economic background on educational outcomes. Yeah, right! But the point is that Labor was able to misuse language to score political points. Arguably, this tactic forced Tony Abbott to agree, during the 2013 election campaign, that there would be no cuts to education, health or the ABC (!) under a Coalition government.

Nimby – not in my backyard – is another term that has been snaffled by the Left to push for any of their preferred developments while denigrating those who oppose them. The objective is to delegitimise any preferences that locals have in order to achieve ‘progressive’ objectives. (Yes, there’s another word that’s misused – progressive.)

The Grattan Institute has long promoted high-rise developments in inner and middle suburbs as a means of providing housing for a rapidly growing population, the latter mainly the result of very high rates of immigration. For people living in those suburbs who object to these developments – gosh, doesn’t everyone want a 30-storey apartment building next to their freestanding house? – the argument is that they should be ignored as selfish, privileged buffoons.

Because Nimby-ism is bad, so the Left’s argument goes, governments should be able to ignore the preferences of locals and simply force through new developments. It’s like China’s modus operandi, when you think about it. Nimby arguments are reaching a crescendo in some regional areas. Proposals to build massive transmission lines across farms or close to cities or towns are understandably causing disquiet among locals.

Recently, there was a well-attended protest in Ballarat objecting to the construction of huge pylons in western Victoria. This has put local federal member, Labor’s Catherine King, in something of a quandary, particularly as she is also minister for infrastructure. Weirdly, two state shadow ministers from the Victorian Liberal party turned up too, notwithstanding their party’s bizarre embrace of net zero by 2050 and a 50 per cent cut in the state’s emissions by 2030. Who ever said politicians needed to be consistent?

There is also a great deal of disquiet about a solar farm proposed for the outskirts of Goulburn, with many locals unhappy that a large chunk of the Gundary Plain should be used for this purpose. Apart from the loss of land, there is anxiety about glare from the panels and the ambient heat effect. Energy behemoth, BP, is a partner in the project.

The broader point about the promotion of renewable energy is that those living in regional areas are expected to bear the external costs of developments with any objections being written off as mere Nimby-ism.

So language matters. But the sensible centre-right has been totally outgunned and has completely lost the contest.


Energy prices smash records as coal generation slumps

The scale of Australia’s energy crisis has been laid bare with wholesale power and gas prices surging to new highs after coal generation plummeted to its lowest level of supply on record.

Wholesale electricity prices more than tripled in the second quarter of 2022 to average $264 per megawatt hour compared with $87MWh in the first three months of this year, the Australian Energy Market Operator said, with Queensland and NSW posting the highest prices.

Gas prices across the east coast markets also soared to more than $28 per gigajoule on average from less than $10/GJ in the first quarter, and peaked at more than $41/GJ on June 30, exceeding international LNG netback prices in both May and June as Russia’s restrictions on supply roiled global markets.

The collapse of black coal-fired generation contributed to the price hit with a string of plant breakdowns and supply shortages resulting in the fossil fuel recording its lowest second quarter output since the national electricity market began in 1998. Coal, which normally accounts for 60 per cent of supply, fell to 43 per cent in the three months to June 30.

The amount of coal out of action hit a peak of 4600MW in June, nearly 10 per cent of the entire capacity of the power grid.

The supply squeeze, along with high gas prices, saw wholesale energy prices jump which forced AEMO to impose a price cap. Some high cost producers refused to supply the market over fears of running at a loss, eventually forcing the entire market to be suspended amid accusations from Anthony Albanese that generators were essentially “gaming the system”.

READ MORE:Solar installations dip as costs bite
More than 400 separate lack of reserve conditions were declared by AEMO in the second quarter, compared with 36 in the March quarter and 73 a year earlier.

While the suspension was lifted after a week, a gas price cap remains in place for Victoria while an emergency guarantee mechanism was triggered to help arrest shortfalls in the state where demand surges threefold in winter.

Gas and renewables filled the gap left by the coal generation sitting on the sidelines. Gas generation jumped 27 per cent or 472MW from the same time a year ago to reach its highest second quarter level since 2017, while clean energy supply grew by a fifth over the same period although it remained seasonally lower than the first quarter of this year. “Wholesale energy price hikes and volatility were driven by multiple factors, including high international commodity prices, coal-fired generation outages, elevated levels of gas-fired generation, fuel supply issues, and many east coast cities experiencing their coldest start to June in decades,” AEMO executive Violette Mouchaileh said in its quarterly energy dynamics report.

AEMO reinforced its call for Australia to accelerate a move away from coal to renewables and storage and urgently sanction more than $10bn of transmission projects to escape the ongoing threat of blackouts and high power prices amid a national energy crisis.

“What’s clear is the urgent need to build-out renewable energy with diversified firming generation – like batteries, hydro and gas – and transmission investment to provide homes and businesses with low-cost, reliable energy.”

Separately, rooftop solar installations fell to their lowest level in three years for the three months to June 30 with households paying $1000 more for the same system due to higher costs and supply snags, the Australian Energy Council said.

Solar installed on rooftops fell by more than half in the second quarter of 2022 to 52,950 systems from 109,000 for the same time a year earlier and 86,000 in 2020. A reporting lag means this year’s figure will likely be bumped up to 80,000 installations, indicating just over a quarter fewer systems put in place.

Households in 2022 are typically paying $1000 more for the same solar set-up their neighbours paid last year, fuelling hesitancy which has been amplified by cost of living pressures and economic jitters.

The cost hike was triggered by supply chain issues, the increased cost of polysilicon which is used to make solar cells, and a reduction in subsidies paid through small-scale technology certificates.

The number of STCs a rooftop solar system creates falls each year through to 2030 when the scheme ends.

The average installed solar system size for residential households has more than tripled over the last decade to 9.54 kilowatts from 2.65kW in January 2012.

The Victorian postcodes of 3029 – Hoppers Crossing, Tarneit and Truganina – and 3064 – Donnybrook – were first and second respectively for the biggest solar uptake in Australia while the NSW postcode of 2765 in Sydney’s northwest was third.

South Australia and NSW account for more than half the market for those combining solar and batteries, with Queensland lagging after its incentive scheme was exhausted in 2019.

Over 3.1 million households have added solar to their rooftops since the turn of the century, adding 15 gigawatts of capacity to the national electricity market.




Thursday, July 28, 2022

Desperately short of qualified staff, childcare centres ask to bend the rules

The requirement that child care staff must be university-educated is a nonsense. How many mothers have relevant degrees? Some training would probably help but a tech college certificate in the subject should suffice. The shortage of staff is a government-created one

The latest data reveals that 8.1 per cent of childcare providers operated with a staffing waiver in the first quarter of 2022. They could not meet the legal requirement for suitably qualified early childhood teachers on staff.

The staff shortage is likely to get worse and could undermine the Albanese government’s promise to lower childcare costs.
More childcare centres are operating without enough qualified early childhood teachers because of a worsening staff shortage that could undermine the federal government’s pledge to make childcare more affordable.

The latest data from the national early childhood education regulator reveals that 8.1 per cent of childcare providers operated with a staffing waiver in the first quarter of 2022 because they could not meet the legal requirement for suitably qualified early childhood teachers on staff. Four years ago, the figure was 3.9 per cent.

A further 3.1 per cent of service providers received a waiver because the physical environment of their centre was not up to standard. Four years ago, that was 2.3 per cent.

Long day care centres, preschools and kindergartens are required by law to have a certain number of qualified early childhood teachers, based on the number of children being educated or cared for.

Centres that cannot meet this staffing obligation need a waiver from the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority.

Jobs data indicates the shortage is likely to get worse, and could affect the sector’s ability to deliver on the Albanese government’s promise to lower childcare costs, which is, in turn, expected to increase demand.

National Skills Commission data also shows that in May, the number of vacancies in early childhood education and care hit a record 6648 positions. The figure has more than doubled in the past three years.

John Cherry, head of advocacy at Goodstart, Australia’s largest not-for-profit early learning provider, said pandemic border closures had deprived the sector of a pipeline of qualified staff from overseas. Most Australian states were also failing to invest enough in building a domestic qualified early learning workforce, he said.

“More services have been struggling with some of the requirements to have a certain percentage of your educators with a diploma qualification because there’s just not enough educators out there,” Cherry said.

He said attrition was also a serious problem for the sector, with many qualified early childhood educators moving on to better paid careers elsewhere.

“The award rate for a teacher in early childhood is $10,000 to $20,000 less than the award rate for a teacher in the government school sector,” Cherry said. “So when you look at those numbers, you rapidly realise why we keep losing people – our rates of pay just aren’t where they need to be.”

Federal Education Minister Jason Clare said finding enough early childhood educators to meet demand was a big challenge.

“We have a shortage of early childhood education and care workers now and this is expected to get bigger,” he said.

Clare said the Albanese government’s fee-free TAFE and additional university places would help to train more early childhood education and care workers.

Early childhood educators are planning to strike on September 7, highlighting low pay and poor conditions. Hundreds of centres around Australia are expected to have to close on that day.

Laureate Professor Marilyn Fleer, the foundation chair of Early Childhood Education and Development at Monash University, said qualified early childhood educators helped to set children up for a better start to school.

“There is such long-standing evidence that shows there is a qualitative difference in how a university-qualified early childhood educator interacts with children,” she said.


UNSW top of the world as a comprehensive research university

I both studied and taught at Uni NSW so I am pleased by this

Australian universities have shone in the the world’s top research ranking system by subject, with UNSW maintaining its run of having the highest number of academic disciplines ranked worldwide.

This year’s Global Rankings of Academic Subjects, produced by the prestigious ShanghaiRanking group, ranked more than 5,000 universities across 96 countries and regions.

For the sixth consecutive year, UNSW appeared in 52 out of 54 subject areas, tying for the greatest number of ranked subjects globally with the University of British Columbia.

The university also had 10 subjects ranked first in Australia, including chemistry, civil engineering, psychology and finance.

“To be up there as the world’s most comprehensive university for six years on the trot is a remarkable achievement,” said UNSW deputy vice-chancellor (research), Nicholas Fisk.

“Such broad firepower across both humanities and social sciences and STEM positions UNSW as a multidisciplinary powerhouse in tackling the planet’s grand challenges.”

Griffith University ranked second on the globe for nursing and third for hospitality and tourism for the third year in a row.

For mining and mineral engineering, the University of Western Australia ranked 4th worldwide.

The University of Melbourne had a number of subjects appear in the world’s top 50, with geography 5th, public health 12th, clinical medicine 14th, and finance 37th.

Monash University ranked 15th worldwide for education, 19th for pharmaceutical sciences, 35th for business administration, and 41st for economics.

The Australian National University was the only Australian institution to rank in the global top 50 in physics, securing 28th place.

In computer science, the University of Technology Sydney was the highest ranked in Australia, taking 17th place globally.

The University of Sydney had a total of 28 research areas ranked among the world’s top 100, with nursing placing 7th, telecommunications engineering 9th, and transportation science and technology at 10th.

“These results reflect the breadth and depth of Sydney research and cements us as one of the world’s top research institutions,” said University of Sydney deputy vice-chancellor (research), Emma Johnston.

Worldwide, Harvard University was ranked the top university for the 11th year in a row, followed by Stanford, Cambridge and MIT.


Convicted union ‘thug’ Scott Vink cosies up with Labor leaders

Labor’s attempts to distance itself from the CFMEU have again been undermined as photographs have emerged of senior ALP figures meeting a militant unionist who was banned for two years from ­entering work sites over what a judge called “sheer thuggery” ­towards non-union workers.

The man, Scott Vink, was known as the union’s Gold Coast “enforcer” and now works for the CFMEU in South Australia as part of the contingent of interstate officials who have taken over the once-moderate SA branch.

Mr Vink attended the March 19 election victory party for SA Premier Peter Malinauskas where they were photographed together celebrating Labor’s win, which was backed by the CFMEU with a $125,000 donation to SA Labor from the union’s John Setka-­controlled Victorian division.

Mr Vink was also photographed with Foreign Minister Penny Wong at the May Day rally in Adelaide just weeks before the May 22 federal election.

He has also been photographed with the newly elected Labor member for the federal seat of Spence, Matt Burnell, who visited the CFMEU’s Adelaide office last month to thank the union for its support at the federal election.

Mr Malinauskas offered a spirited defence of what SA Labor ­insists was a “chance encounter” with Mr Vink who, it says, was one of “dozens” of people seeking selfies with the Premier at Labor’s Adelaide Oval victory party on March 19.

In his first comments about SA Labor’s acceptance of the $125,000 donation from the Victorian CFMEU, Mr Malinauskas said he had no relationship with its state secretary John Setka, who is now also running the SA branch.

A spokesman for Mr Malinauskas also said that he had no knowledge of Mr Vink’s identity nor of his legal history.

“The Premier does not know the man in the photo,” his spokesman said. “Clearly, the Premier condemns any criminality in the workplace and has never met or spoken with John Setka, ever.

“The Premier has a strong track record of working collaboratively with business and unions to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.”

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Minister said Senator Wong had attended this year’s May Day rally where she was approached by some CFMEU members seeking selfies – but that she also had no idea who Mr Vink was. “She does not know him and has no knowledge of his prior convictions,” the spokeswoman said.

Mr Vink and the CFMEU were fined $57,000 in 2016 over an obscenity-laden confrontation with non-union workers at the Pacific Fair shopping centre ­development on the Gold Coast in 2014.

The trigger for Mr Vink’s rage was his discovery that the non-union members were putting their lunch boxes in a fridge in a staff lunch room which he believed should have been used only by CFMEU members.

When approached by the site’s health and safety manager, Mr Vink launched a tirade, saying workers who were not CFMEU members were not allowed to keep their lunch in site fridges. He then threw their lunch boxes out of the fridge and padlocked the site shed, denying them access.

An audio file of the exchange tendered to the court included Mr Vink saying: “Get out of the shed, you scab – you’re a f..kin’ piece of shit, mate, that’s what you are”, and “What did I just say, mate? Get this shit out of the f..kin’ shed. Don’t make it any worse.”

Federal Court Judge Salvatore Vasta found the behaviour of Mr Vink was designed to reinforce the notion that non-union membership would not be tolerated, and he banned Mr Vink from ­entering work sites for two years.

Justice Vasta said it was “hard to imagine a more blatant single breach” of the Fair Work Act.

“It would be apt to describe the behaviour of (Mr Vink) as sheer thuggery,” Justice Vasta said.

“Such thuggery has no place in the Australian workplace. Contraventions of the FW Act that ­involve such thuggery cannot be tolerated.”

Mr Vink was one of several CFMEU members who campaigned against the Marshall Liberal government ahead of the March 19 SA election by putting up posters with slogans such as “Libs Tell Fibs”.

One poster depicted former premier Steven Marshall as a rat, featuring his head superimposed on a rat’s body with the caption “Marshall doesn’t give a rat’s”.

Mr Vink was also involved in a social media campaign last year against sidelined former SA CFMEU secretary Aaron Cart­ledge, in which Mr Cartledge was labelled a “dog”, a “sellout parasite”, “c..t”, “filth” and “maggot” for working as an industrial law adviser to the building industry.

The money of Australia's "most lawless union" talks loudly with Anthony Albanese's new Labor government, Sky…
Mr Vink and other CFMEU officials were sought out for a meeting at their Adelaide CBD office by the newly elected Labor member for Spence, Matt Burnell, after the election of the Albanese federal Labor government.

“Was great to see the federal MP for Spence Matt Burnell visit the CFMEU SA office yesterday where we congratulated him on his recent successful campaign,” Mr Vink posted on Facebook with an accompanying photograph of the meeting, adding: “A man that will stand up for workers rights and conditions!”

SA opposition Treasury spokesman Matt Cowdrey dismissed Mr Malinauskas’s claims that the photo was innocent.

“The consistent close-knit links between the militant CFMEU and Peter Malinauskas’s Labor Party are growing stronger every day,” Mr Cowdrey told The Australian.

“Peter Malinauskas sat back and watched John Setka’s takeover of the SA CFMEU branch knowing full well it will send construction costs skyrocketing.

“Anthony Albanese managed to draw a line in the sand and distance himself from John Setka but Peter Malinauskas clearly doesn’t have the same standards.

“Instead, Peter Malinauskas happily posed for a photo with a pal from the CFMEU.”


A far-Leftist mental bubble in Victoria

If you want to understand how far left the Australian mainstream media has gone, consider this article in The Age newspaper about newly endorsed Victorian Liberal candidate Moira Deeming.

Ms Deeming has been chosen to replace dumped Liberal MP Bernie Finn in the contest for the upper house Western Metropolitan Region seat in the upcoming state election.

The headline in Friday’s paper read: Liberals choose councillor with controversial trans views.

Really? That sounds outrageous. I wonder what her controversial views were…

Brace yourself.

Deeming once dared to suggest, as a City of Melton councillor, that separate bathrooms should be created for transgender people as a ‘civil compromise’ to the debate on bathrooms.

Separate bathrooms…? Talk about extreme right-wing nut job! (That was sarcasm, obviously.)

But wait, Deeming has even more controversial views.

According to The Age:

The teacher and mother of four was elected to the council on a platform that included: ‘I will never support rates being used to promote radical policies like banning Australia Day, drag queen storytimes for toddlers, or letting biological males who identify as female use female toilets and change rooms.’

According to this article in The Age, is it controversial to support Australia Day, it is controversial to baulk at drag queens (who are adult performers from a highly sexualised industry) reading stories to preschoolers, and it is controversial to think women deserve safe bathrooms away from biological men.

If those positions are considered far right by the Australian media, God help us. They are essentially declaring most Australians ‘far right’.

Of course, readers of The Age disagree with me and agreed wholeheartedly that Deeming is a dangerous radical.

One reader wrote:

‘The Victorian Liberal Party is quite simply unfit to even be considered for government whilst they select individuals like this one. Not sure what percentage of the population share her views.’

Actually, outside of the bubble who read The Age, the overwhelming majority of the population share Deeming’s views.

It is precisely for this reason that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese promised before the election that he was ‘not Woke’.

And it is for this reason that senior Labor MP Bill Shorten moved quickly last week to fix Medicare forms that referred to ‘birthing parent’ rather than mother.

Victorian Liberal leader Matthew Guy might like to stop reading The Age and pay attention to Mr Albanese and Mr Shorten.

Mr Guy, who recently announced a climate policy even further to the left than his left-leaning opponents, used up enormous political capital to dis-endorse outspoken MP Bernie Finn.

Mr Finn’s sin was to voice his stance against abortion publicly.

It seems local Liberal Party members don’t read The Age. They responded by selecting Ms Deeming from 10 candidates to replace Mr Finn in what can only be interpreted as a massive rebuke to Mr Guy who, as it turned out, burned all that political goodwill for nothing.

Returning to the pages of The Age newspaper, readers pointed out the real problem with the state Liberal Party. See if you can detect a common theme here:

‘The out of control Right wing religious fanatics are still in power in the Victorian Liberal Party!’

‘The Liberal Party has chosen a path it thinks will strike a chord in Melbourne’s Bible Belt. It has already forgotten the recent electoral spanking that Gods Chosen One got. Instead of divisive unproductive hate, bigotry, and intolerance it should be uniting us, Victorians prefer it.’

‘Would appear that the Libs have learnt nothing about church and church like involvement in secular politics.’

Those damn Christians seeking to impose their divisive, unproductive, hateful, bigoted, intolerant views on fair-minded Victorians.

Most Victorians, according to readers of The Age, just want to be left alone to erase gendered language, indoctrinate children, and undermine Australia without being bullied by Bible-thumping weirdos.

And if the Victorian Liberal leader has his way, decent Victorians will have no other choice.




Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Churches back boycot by football players against being forced to endorse homosexuality

Reverend Dr Ma’afu Palu has never met the seven Manly players who chose to boycott Thursday’s game rather than wear a rainbow jersey that challenged their personal beliefs about sexuality.

But he’s proud of them. “Christianity takes a very strong root in our people,” said Palu, from the Tongan Evangelical Wesleyan Church in Greenacre. “Whatever the bible says is very authoritative to us. Personally, I’m very proud.”

When it told players to wear the jersey without consulting them, Manly unwittingly created the latest flashpoint in deepening tensions between some Australian religions and the mainstream community over sexuality and same-sex marriage.

A similar battle has been happening in schools, in politics and even inside the churches themselves as secular and progressive religious communities embrace sexual diversity – but the more theologically conservative, such as Palu, think it contradicts the bible.

Almost 50 per cent of National Rugby League players trace their heritage back to the Pacific Islands, where many people are actively Christian as a result of a significant push by missionaries in the past few centuries.

Reverend Hedley Fihaki, the National Chair of the Assembly of Confessing Congregations, said Christianity was “ingrained into our culture. It’s not just a matter of going to church on Sunday, it’s part of our DNA, it’s part of our culture, it is who we are.

“I think the club has no right to force their particular ideology on all the players. I am very proud of them for standing up against the strong push to embrace something that we cannot.”

The Anglican and Catholic Archbishops also weighed in. A spokesman for Catholic Archbishop Anthony Fisher said forcing a player to wear a jersey that contradicted their faith or values failed to demonstrate the inclusivity the club wanted to promote. “It has also created unnecessary hurt and division for all involved,” he said.

Anglican Archbishop Kanishka Raffel said Sydney had a pluralistic community that had seen rapid social change. “We are still having a conversation and working out how we are going to have respectful difference,” he said.

Many in the pride community were frustrated by Manly’s failure to consult the players over the jersey, which replaced the traditional white stripe against the maroon background with rainbow colours, but supported its intentions.

Coach Des Hasler has apologised for the lack of consultation and communication with the players, and said he was concerned about the welfare of the men who chose to boycott the game.

Andrew Purchas, from Pride in Sport, said Manly would be the first rugby league team to play in a pride jersey, even though there was a precedent in other codes. “It’s a pity that the players have taken this approach [of boycotting the game],” he said.

“We respect the right for players to have their own views. It’s quite a nuanced topic and it needs to be done comprehensively, [and] needs to be supported by a whole bunch of other activities as well.

“Clearly [the furore] is not great for those who are struggling with their sexuality. I would encourage them to look at the players who are wearing the jersey.”

The chief executive of Pacific Rugby Players Welfare, Dan Leo, said players should not be forced to support a position with which they did not agree. “The power of the rainbow flag has always been that it’s been promoted by people who want to wear it, not forced to wear it,” he said.

“If Manly said we were promoting Christianity without consulting the playing group, if everyone had to wear jerseys saying ‘We Love Jesus’, there would be equal protest. You can’t impose that on people without proper consultation.”

Leo also hoped the issue would not be regarded as just a Pacific Islander one. “There are a lot of people who identify as Christian in this country.”


Pauline Hanson’s office issues a statement after she walked out of the Senate during the absurd "Welcome to country" ritual

Her statement:

Senator Hanson considers that ‘acknowledgement of country’ perpetuates racial division in Australia. Like many non-Indigenous Australians, Senator Hanson considers this country belongs to her as much as it does belong to any other Australian, Indigenous or otherwise.

From this point forward, Senator Hanson will refuse to acknowledge country in the Senate. Senator Hanson does not accept that acknowledgement of country is any sort of Indigenous Australian tradition, given that at most it has only been in use for the past 25 years (and in parliament only 12 years).

Senator Hanson will also oppose a motion in the Senate today for the Aboriginal flag to be displayed in the Senate. Senator Hanson considers that only one flag, the Australian national flag, truly represents all Australians.


Five is too young for radical gender theory

Kevin Donnelly

The Sydney parent of a 5-year-old child attending Roseville Kids Care complaining about his child being indoctrinated with radical LGBTQ+ gender theory has done Australian parents a great service.

On being interviewed by the Daily Telegraph the parent complained, ‘There was a giant out-size pride flag, it was the biggest flag in the room, far bigger than the Australian flag.’ And, ‘When I went in there was an entire wall describing different sexualities giving definitions of things like pansexual and lesbian.’

Parents have every reason to be fearful and anxious. Proven by the National Quality Framework Approved Learning Discussion Paper pre-schools are the latest ground in the cultural-left’s long march pushing radical gender and sexuality ideology.

This can be seen in the documentation.

Outcome 1: Children have a strong sense of identity
Children have multiple and changing identities. There is a push for strengthening the identity of children and young people as Australian citizens with connection to the identities of others. Aspects of identity formation that encompass gender identity and gender expression (with a non-binary dichotomy) and family diversity are also critical.

Pre-schools and kindergartens across Australia have to abide by the Discussion Paper and there’s no doubt, compared to the previous guidelines, the proposed new framework represents a radical change.

Gone are the days when pre-schools and kindergartens focused on finger painting, learning to socialise, physical play, and learning the alphabet and rudimentary numbers. Instead, pre-schools and kindergartens are told ‘children have multiple and changing identities’.

In a similar manner to the Marxist-inspired Safe Schools gender fluidity program, the Discussion Paper states, ‘Aspects of identity formation that encompass gender identity and gender expression (with a non-binary dichotomy) and family diversity are also critical.’

At a time when most pre-schoolers want to enjoy childhood and lack the ability to conceptualise and understand complex ideas, gender activists want to weaponise the early years of childhood to indoctrinate sensitive minds to adult concepts that require sexual knowledge.

Ignored is the science proving the overwhelming majority of babies are born as girls and boys with XX and XY chromosomes respectively. Also ignored, according to Identity matters: sexual identity in Australia published by the Commonwealth’s Parliamentary Library, heterosexuality is the norm with only 4 per cent of the population aged over 15 years identifying as non-binary.

Proven by the rationale underpinning the gender fluidity Safe Schools program, funded under Labor and Liberal governments, parents need to realise that the campaign to undermine human biology and radically change how society views family, gender, and sexuality is Marxist in origin.

One of the founders of the Safe Schools program, Roz Ward, admits the school program has nothing to do with stopping bullying, rather, ‘Marxism offers both the hope and the strategy needed to create a world where human sexuality, gender and how we relate to our bodies can blossom in extraordinary, new and amazing ways.’

As argued by the Italian philosopher and cultural critic Augusto Del Noce, the origins of radical gender theory can be traced to the Marxist academic Wilhelm Reich whose book The Sexual Revolution was published in 1936. Reich argues traditional sexual morality is used to reinforce capitalist control and domination.

To bring about the socialist utopia Reich argues people must be sexually liberated and empowered to express themselves free of what he describes as ‘repressive morality’. Concepts like the nuclear family and human biology are condemned as oppressive, restrictive, and binary in nature.

During the cultural revolution of the late 60s and early 70s Reich’s book was re-discovered leading to a sexual revolution epitomised by the slogan ‘Make Love, Not War’, the birth control pill, free love, and the emergence of the gay/lesbian pride movement.

Parents also need to realise the campaign to impose this radical gender ideology now infects primary and secondary schools from preparatory to year 12. In English classrooms, students are taught that traditional fairy-tale stories like Cinderella and plays like Romeo and Juliet are guilty of heteronormativity and cis-genderism.

The Australian Education Union for over 30 years has argued ‘homosexuality and bisexuality need to be normalised’, it’s wrong to assume being male or female is ‘natural’ or ‘normal’ and the school curriculum must embrace ‘non-heterosexist language’.

While unfair discrimination is wrong and all, regardless of sexuality and gender, must be treated without prejudice, what parents are facing is a doctrinaire campaign by the cultural-left to condition children to accept its radical ideology.

Whereas education was once based on the premise the curriculum should be balanced and impartial, and that teachers should refrain from proselytising, pre-schools and schools have become one of the front lines in the Culture Wars.

As a result, instead of parents being their children’s primary educators and moral guardians the cultural-left is all pervasive. It’s time for Australian parents, as they are doing in American states including Florida and Virginia, to reassert their right to teach their children and for schools to focus on education and not Marxist-inspired indoctrination.

Childhood should be a time of innocence and wonder, a time when children can enjoy being happy, playful, and creative instead of being burdened by cultural-left ideology riven with identity politics and victimhood.


Volcanoes, oceans, and weather

Viv Forbes

Despite Green/ABC propaganda, recent Australian floods were not caused by coal, cattle, or cars. Weather is driven by winds; solar energy powers the winds and draws moisture for them from the oceans. These eternal natural rain-making processes have been aided recently by two extra factors.

Firstly, a big La Niña weather event in the Pacific Ocean has left warmer water closer to Australia.

Secondly, there is increased underwater volcanism in this region as evidenced by the volcanic eruptions near Vanuatu.

Earth’s climate history is written in the rocks. Anyone who cares to read that record will see that recurring Ice Ages, not global warming, pose the greatest threat to life on Earth. Even in today’s warm Holocene Era, the Little Ice Age was a time of war, famine, and distress whereas the Medieval Warm Period heralded a time of peace and plenty.

Earth’s weather is driven by winds powered by convection currents which get most of their energy from the Sun.

Eastern Australia is currently under the influence a large La Niña event in the Pacific Ocean. These periodic ENSO (El Niño-Southern Oscillation) weather cycles are Earth’s most significant short-term weather events and have been identified in Earth’s climate as far back as 1525, well before the Model T Ford and the Watt steam engine.

The great El Niño of 1877-78 heralded China’s Great Famine, brought droughts to Brazil, and caused failures of the Nile floods and the Indian monsoon. Even the Titanic was an El Niño casualty when it met an iceberg blown far south by El Niño winds.

Australia’s famous weather forecaster, Inigo Jones, was well aware of the natural cycles in climate as far back as 1923 – long before coal, cattle, and cars could be blamed for ‘Global Warming’.

ENSO oscillations are not driven by atmospheric conditions or human activities – they react to the beat of a geological drum. ENSO timing and strength is largely determined by volcanic activity and the movement of tectonic plates, particularly along the Pacific Ring of Fire and the mid-ocean ridges splitting both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

But largely hidden from view is another huge weather-maker – sub-sea volcanoes.

Right now, volcanic activity (mostly sub-oceanic) is melting parts of polar ice sheets as well as releasing volcanic dust and other natural gases into the oceans and atmosphere. The warmed sea water expands, raising sea levels and increasing the evaporation which produces clouds and rain. Right now, the Tonga volcanic eruption is evaporating sea water that is probably adding to the record La Niña rains of Eastern Australia.

Volcanic hot spots can also melt ice-bound methane from the sea floor thus releasing large unmeasured quantities of methane gas into the atmosphere.

Man’s coal, cars, and cattle are puny compared to what nature can do.

Hysterical children and political agitators keep bleating about ‘man-made global warming’. But climate history shows that the real danger to life on Earth is ‘global cooling’ – a return of the great continental ice sheets creating a frigid zone north of a line from London to Chicago. Russians and Alaskans know about frozen mammoth bodies in the ice, and understand this threat, but the western world continues to worship Saint Greta.

A bleak northern winter approaches. As blackouts beckon and the lights start to flicker, coal is suddenly okay again. But Europeans and Australians still plan a Net Zero ritual sacrifice of their farmers on the alarmist altar. None of these sacrifices will deter La Niña, or stop the volcanoes, or feed the people.

Someone should ask the new Green Government of Australia:

‘If emissions of CO2 are the problem, why have we banned emissions-free nuclear power?’




Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Manly football players to boycott NRL match over objection to club's pride jersey

They are entirely justified. The club had no right to impose political views onto its players -- JR

Seven Manly Sea Eagles players have withdrawn from selection for Thursday night's NRL match with Sydney Roosters over the team's decision to wear a gay pride jersey in the fixture.

On Sunday, the Sea Eagles announced they would become the first team in NRL history to wear an LGBTQIA+ jersey for the match, with a rainbow design replacing the strip's traditional white hoops.

But that decision has caused some unrest among players who are unhappy they were not consulted by club management.

According to Sydney Morning Herald, the boycotting group are Jason Saab, Tolutau Koula, Haumole Olakau'atu, Josh Schuster and Kiwi players Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Alioai, and Toafofoa Sipley.

Their objections are reportedly based on respective cultural and religious grounds.

Kieran Foran, Reuben Garrick and Sean Keppie were among those to help launch the strip but other players claim they learned about the move over social media on Sunday night.

Coach Des Hasler has reportedly supported his players' decision.

Club great Ian Roberts, who in 1995 became the first rugby league player to come out as openly gay, told The Daily Telegraph he was disappointed by the response of the players objecting to wear the jersey.

"I try to see it from all perspectives but this breaks my heart," Roberts said. "It's sad and uncomfortable. As an older gay man, this isn't unfamiliar. I did wonder whether there would be any religious push back. "I can promise you every young kid on the northern beaches who is dealing with their sexuality would have heard about this."

Rugby league broadcaster Paul Kent put the onus back on the club for trying to inflict its own political stance on the players. "The players, according to my understanding.. only became aware they were wearing these jerseys when they read about it in the newspaper," Kent said on NRL 360.

"The Manly club did this without any consultation of the players, they did it without board approval. It's basically a marketing decision and they've just assumed everything was okay.

"The club has imposed its own politics on these players and these players have inadvertently been embroiled in this scandal and they will be, hopefully, protected. But they will be under pressure now through no fault of their own.

"It's an embarrassing look for the club and it's a difficult one. This talk about inclusion, wearing the Manly jersey for me is inclusion.

"To inflict their own political views on the players who may not share that and are now being forced to deal with the consequences of that is a real oversight by the club and it’s something they should be embarrassed about."


Time to question Australia's pandemic response

Tell me how this ends? This question was posed in 2003 by General David Petraeus during America’s invasion of Iraq, and it cut to the dead heart of that catastrophic campaign.

It’s a handy mental tool for probing almost any public policy so let’s apply it to the latest spike in cases of COVID-19.

Unsurprisingly, it has prompted another epidemic of “expert” demands for yet more overweening government intervention in the lives of the vast majority who have nothing to fear from this disease. And, given the mob has now worked that out, the only argument for mask mandates is to protect the hospital system.

Cast your mind back to 2020 when the first lockdowns were imposed, expressly for the purpose of preparing the hospital system for the pressure that was bound to come. Then, we were assured, intensive care capacity would be buttressed, so it could be surged to more than 7000 beds.

And yet, 18 months into the pandemic, it emerged that hospitals in states such as Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia could not cope with even routine demand. Maybe that’s because the number of acute care beds in Australia has more than halved in the last 28 years.

That is a reason to change negligent governments, not licence for politicians and health bureaucrats to impose restrictions on populations to mask their breathtaking decades-long incompetence.

Exactly a year ago, this column said that, soon enough, the great lie at the heart of Australia’s COVID-19 elimination strategy would be revealed because “the disease can’t be eliminated”. It was the only rational conclusion and yet, at the time, a parade of luminaries were still clinging to the intellectual corpse of COVID-zero and those arguing against it were vilified.

In August 2021, the best minds in New Zealand’s health system decided the COVID elimination strategy could be continued indefinitely and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared it “a careful approach that says, there won’t be zero cases, but when there is one in the community, we crush it”.

Pause for a moment and consider the staggering stupidity of that statement in hindsight. But the point here is, the “expert” advice was self-evidently ridiculous at the time. Just three months later, after Ardern crushed her people and not the disease in a seven-week lockdown, she accepted the bleeding obvious: that not even a plucky island nation at the end of the world could live in isolation forever.

The Chinese Communist Party has soldiered on with COVID-zero and the despotic lockdown regime it exported along with the disease. Predictably, China’s economy has tanked and the misery the party has inflicted on its people is beyond measure. Perhaps the best result of that is it has prompted even the CCP cheer squad at the World Health Organisation to question its wisdom.

In May, Mike Ryan, the WHO’s emergencies director, made the startling observation that the effect of a “zero COVID” policy on human rights needed to be taken into consideration alongside its economic effect.

Parts of the city went into lockdown from March 28 before city-wide restrictions were indefinitely extended on April 5 in response to the number of COVID cases.

“We need to balance the control measures against the impact on society, the impact they have on the economy, and that’s not always an easy calibration,” he said.

Some have argued that those considerations had to be at the heart of the response from the outset and that the cure imposed risked doing more damage than the disease. Too often the Australian solution punished the many for the few. It preferred the very old over the young, reversing the risk equation most societies wager is the best way to protect their future.

So, the answer to the Petraeus question on coronavirus is clear and has been for more than a year. This only ends with Australian governments lifting all restrictions and actually learning to live with COVID-19 as just one more risk in a dangerous world. It is a decision other nations, such as Sweden and Norway, have already taken.

This is not, as eejits [idiots] would have it, “letting the virus rip”. To claim that is to wilfully ignore that we have endured more than two years of their miserable prescriptions racking up a taxpayer-funded bill probably somewhere north of $500 billion to keep the economy on life support and hit a vaccination rate of more than 95 per cent, precisely to prevent the virus from ripping through the community.

So now it is past time to ask another question: Where is the royal commission into the pandemic? This was a once-in-a-century moment that left no one unaffected, so there is no argument against holding the most rigorous test of how this nation fared.

It demands a panel of the best minds we can assemble to look dispassionately at what happened, how we responded, how we succeeded and where we failed. All Australian governments should participate and offer every assistance.

They have nothing to fear but the truth.


Crony capitalism in Australia: Big business, unions and government cut cosy deals to suit themselves

Son to father: I’m thinking of going into organised crime. Father to son: private sector or government?

Crony capitalism – it’s one of the most depressing aspects of modern market-based economies and I use the term market cautiously. It’s no longer about producers supplying quality, keenly priced goods and services to canny but grateful consumers, it’s about producers seeking regulatory and financial favours from politicians, and consumers simply having to make do.

Another sad fact is that the tendency to crony capitalism is not dependent on the political hue of the government. To be sure, centre-right governments may be slightly less inclined to enter into deal-making, but there’s not much difference compared to left-leaning governments. Let’s face it, most centre-right governments don’t govern according to their principles – the UK Johnson government is a case in point.

But with the election of the Albanese Labor government, it’s worth forecasting in what way our crony capitalist system will develop given the influences on elected Labor parliamentarians. The golden rule is follow the money so it’s reasonably certain what favours will be doled out quickly.

Of course, these favours always have alternative rationales – ensuring fair and equitable outcomes for battlers; acting on climate change; reducing the gender pay gap; reducing indigenous disadvantage and the like. But scratch the surface and you find preferential deals being handed out left, right and centre that provide financial gains and positions of power and public adulation to the designated beneficiaries. They often knock out competitors giving a substantial leg-up to incumbents.

The Labor government was quick to talk of lifting the superannuation guarantee charge from 12 per cent to 15 per cent. The union-related industry super funds will be licking their lips. It has also been decided that the timid super reforms of the Coalition may need to be rescinded, including the requirement that funds act in the best financial interest of members.

Labor will press on with legislation to define the role of compulsory superannuation which will exclude any discussion of members accessing their balances to pay for a home deposit or cover an unexpected catastrophe. The definition will focus solely on providing retirement incomes to lock in members’ funds until retirement and keep industry funds in clover forever.

On the other hand, what the hell was former Coalition industrial relations minister, Christian Porter, doing overseeing a classic exercise in crony capitalism with his exclusive roundtables on industrial relations? When something is called tripartite, the stench of crony capitalism is putrid. What gives puffed-up representatives the right to decide what is in the interests of businesses and workers, particularly as most of these representatives have never been elected?

When the ACTU and the Business Council of Australia went behind everyone’s back to seal a preferential deal – enterprise agreements would only be facilitated for union-backed arrangements – the disapproving shouts were loud. But what would you expect? It’s just typical of crony capitalism.

Climate change is a particularly fruitful space for rent-seekers in which to operate. Most of the time, the government won’t even know it is being taken down a peg or two, at taxpayers’ expense. And the ‘wise’ bureaucrats advising ministers will generally be on the side of the rent-seekers.

One current kerfuffle is about the carbon offset program whereby emissions-intensive producers can purchase carbon credits locally or overseas, as it may be more expensive (or impossible) to lower emissions in Australia. No doubt, the quality of overseas credits varies, although some UN agency is involved in their accreditation. But the real point is that the renewable industry hates them because they mean potentially less lucre for them and that will never do.

The billionaire chairman of Spanish renewable energy company Acciona, which has extensive investments in Australia, was recently bleating about the offset program because it would mean fewer handouts for his company. His supporters, academics and climate think tanks, peddle the same line.

It’s not just the federal government that is party to crony capitalism. State and local governments are up to their eyeballs making deals with mates. Arguably, that is the point of being in office – to hand out favours to companies, organisations, and individuals and, in return, the post-political careers of parliamentarians are sorted.

A recent proposed legislative amendment in Queensland takes crony capitalism to new heights – or should that be depths. You may recall my Speccie piece about ‘fake’ (aka the real deal) unions that have set up in competition with Labor-aligned registered unions. The new unions, which come under the Red Union Support Hub, have made real inroads into the membership of registered unions, particularly nurses in Queensland. (Charging considerably less than registered unions helps.) Naturally, the registered unions are not happy. Nor is the Labor party, which partly depends on direct and indirect contributions from the old unions. To them, competition is for the birds and should be regulated away.

Lip-service has to be paid to freedom of association for workers, in part because Australia has signed various international conventions. But here’s the logic of the proposed legislation. Any organisation can seek to be registered but the rules state that as long as there is an organisation to which workers can conveniently belong (that is the existing registered unions), then the application for registration by a new organisation will be denied. Geddit: the Red Unions can but they can’t.

And here’s the real sting in the tail: unless a union is registered, it cannot represent members on an industrial matter. Indeed, it will be an offence to do so. It’s a slam-dunk for crony capitalism – a win for Labor-aligned unions and a guarantee of the uninterrupted flow of money to the Labor party. What’s not to love, if you are a Labor parliamentarian in Queensland? It’s just a pity the power of competition is completely extinguished and the rights of ordinary workers count for naught.


Lost in the secular desert: Christianity under siege

We are on the way to becoming, for the first time, an avowedly anti-Christian nation. Not just non-Christian, but anti-Christian. The census tells us. The culture tells us. The law tells us.

The 2021 census represents an explosive dam burst, with a flood of biblical proportions to follow. For the first time in the modern nation’s history, only a minority of Australians identify as Christians.

This is not a gentle decline. It is a bus hurtling over a cliff. As recently as 25 years ago, nearly three-quarters of Australians called themselves Christians. In 2011, 61 per cent was still a solid majority; five years later it was 52 per cent, last year just 44 per cent and still falling.

That’s a staggering 17 per cent fewer of the population who are Christian in 10 years. Nothing as dramatic and consequential has happened in Australian belief and outlook since 1788.

To be sure, there are nuances in the census. “No religion” does not equate directly to formal atheism. The National Church Life Survey suggests a small majority of Australians believes in God. That’s consistent with the census. Non-Christian religions – Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Judaism and others – take total religious affiliation above 50 per cent.

The census also has some surprises. Sydney, sin city, is the most God-loving part of Australia, just as London is the most religious part of Britain.

But difficult as it may be for some Christians to accept, and much as some secular commentators may want to play it down, claiming that Christian affiliation was formerly overstated or to avert the public gaze from the radical wave engulfing us, Christians must understand they are a minority. That should free them to become a creative, dynamic minority, offering something magnificent to society. They also should get the same rights as other minorities, but that’s another story.

In his brilliant 2021 book, Being the Bad Guys, Perth evangelical pastor Stephen McAlpine presents the dramatic transformation in Christianity’s standing: “Wasn’t it only yesterday Christianity was regarded as a societal good? Now? It’s not only unpalatable; it’s positively toxic.”

In a justly famous blog post a few years ago, McAlpine suggested most Christians accept that Christendom – with all its virtues and all its villainies – is over and they are now in exile. They envisaged this exile in a metaphorical Athens, debating their beliefs in polite and interested company. That was Stage One Exile. Now, Stage Two Exile, is in a much more hostile Babylon, where they confront a state and culture uninterested in their ideas, determined instead to bludgeon them into submission.

McAlpine says: “The elite framework that drives the culture is increasingly interested in bringing the church back into the public square, not in order to hear it, but to expose its real and imagined abuses and render it naked and shivering before a jeering crowd.”

Of course, the culture is not uniformly hostile to Christianity, but the “elite framework that drives the culture” certainly is.

I saw this in Hobart a few weeks ago. The so-called Dark Mofo, put on by the Museum of Old and New Art, MONA, was in full swing. A strand in Dark Mofo, much subsidised by innocent Tasmanian taxpayers, celebrates nihilism and ugliness. It frequently mocks and contemptuously misuses Christian symbols and terminology, and sometimes celebrates the repulsive and evil. One representative caption says: “Satanise your hands.” The Mofo jamborees have used inverted crosses, an old anti-Christian symbol; they have buried an artist underground for three days in mimicry of Christ’s resurrection; displayed a simulated man being hacked to death; re-created pagan customs; used foul animal carcasses; and much else.

No doubt there is great technical expertise in Mofo, but this dopey, second-rate, pretend radicalism – in truth about as radical as a ride in a limousine to a Hollywood fashion show – indicates a distressed and confused culture. It displays all the aesthetic insight and emotional maturity of an over-indulged teenager trying ever more offensive swear words to shock the parents who indulged him. When swearing no longer shocks, he lights a cigarette and stubs it out on their bed. That’s so cool, provocative, cutting-edge, subversive (the rank weasel word of our time). And so, so courageous. But on the Hobart waterfront, in counterpoint to Mofo, I attended a Christian exhibition titled Miracles. It was sublime, challenging, beautiful in design, with a quietly building narrative, engaged fully with science and reason. It examined the history of Christian miracles and explored their scientific investigation. Naturally it was subject to minor hostile demonstration.

So just who was authentically countercultural here? Who had something to say, an original vision? Who was serving truth and beauty?

Consider the ridiculous reaction to former prime minister Scott Morrison preaching a sermon at Margaret Court’s Pentecostal church in Perth. Morrison’s faith is the centre of his life. When he was PM, there was not one speck of effort to enforce, impose or privilege it. Morrison told the Perth congregation they could place a higher trust in God than in government, or even the UN, not that he said anything remotely against, much less delegitimising, government. He echoed the famous words of the psalm: “Put not thy trust in kings or princes.”

Scott Morrison delivers a sermon at Margaret Court's church.
Scott Morrison delivers a sermon at Margaret Court's church.
A welter of absurd criticism followed on commercial TV, radio and the ABC, denouncing Morrison for “inappropriate” and “jarring” comments. We live in an age of spectacular cultural and religious ignorance. Did any commentator acknowledge that secular politics was invented by Christianity (“Render unto Caesar …”)? Christians have always placed a higher trust in God, even as they pledge to obey all legitimate earthly authorities. Jesus himself said: “My kingdom is not of this world.”

Morrison’s sermon dealt constructively, sympathetically and theologically with anxiety. Did any denouncer bother listening to it? Most disheartening was Anthony Albanese’s criticism, which wrongly implied Morrison was spreading conspiracy theories.

Morrison tells Inquirer: “Having a strong faith and belief has always meant dealing with mockery and misrepresentation. It is increasingly going with the territory in Western societies, including Australia. History shows this has only ever served to make faith communities stronger.”

Christianity’s enemies in Australia stand poised to prosecute a bewildering range of legal attacks against Christians and their institutions, designed mainly to prevent them speaking in the public square. The NSW euthanasia law obliges Christian retirement homes to welcome kill teams into their homes. Legislation in some states, especially Victoria, makes it extremely difficult for Christian schools to hire Christian teachers other than for the principal, chaplain and perhaps religious knowledge teachers.

Schools are a huge battleground because the Bible is full of “dangerous statements”. Consider St Paul in his letter to the Corinthians: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.” This is a spectacular rejection of today’s zeitgeist.

No Christian expects the state to legally enforce their morality. And it’s certainly true that Christians routinely fail to live up to Paul’s ethos. But is it now a bureaucratic or even criminal offence for Christians even to speak and teach their beliefs?

If a Christian school merely teaches the New Testament, it could be sued for discrimination. If a school asks a boy transitioning to be a girl to just slow down and think things over, and instead of wearing a dress perhaps wear the sports uniform that is non-gender specific, it could be sued under several states’ anti-repression laws. Pastors have told me that if a man, suffering mentally and spiritually from confusion over sexual matters, asks the pastor to pray with him, the pastor can be prosecuted.

Most states have outlawed the seal of the confessional for Catholic priests, though there is no evidence this will help in the battle against child abuse. The confidentiality of the confessional has been a Catholic sacramental doctrine for many centuries. Priests have gone to their death rather than break it. Such confidentiality is allowed to lawyers and doctors. But good priests are to be criminals.

There are many more legal assaults on Christianity, under way or in preparation.

One question for Christian institutions is whether they bend the knee to the new state religion or continue the teachings of Christ and the Apostles found in the New Testament. The early Christians faced similar choices.

Under Roman rule, Jewish communities had an exception from paying homage to Roman gods, the official state religion. Once the Roman Empire distinguished Christians as a separate group, they lost that exemption. Early Christians were not looking for trouble, much less martyrdom, but they would not worship the divine god Caesar as Roman authorities designated their emperor.

Christianity in the past has frequently been at a low ebb and it has showed a genius for bouncing back. This always takes courage, resolution, shrewdness, innovation. New missions for new times. Despite today’s decline, there are many green shoots in the Christian garden. Jesus instructed the first Christians to proclaim his message, but also told them: “Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”

The Australian’s Foreign Editor Greg Sheridan says former prime minister Scott Morrison has been “irreverent… about the UN in a culture which abuses Christianity” when delivering a sermon at a church in Perth. “Every contempt and contumely is heaped on Christianity you can imagine,” he told Sky News More
Giving life to both halves of that injunction is challenging. How Christians respond to their newly difficult cultural circumstances will determine much of what happens to them, and to the truths they offer.

The Australian Catholic Church recently held a plenary council, a national consultative meeting. Its preparatory documents, emerging from a “new class” of Catholic institution bureaucrats, made a few gestures to the zeitgeist but was chiefly concerned with internal governance, positions of power and changing liturgy.

Philippa Martyr, a Perth academic who is a columnist at the Catholic Weekly, in a tough-minded judgment tells Inquirer: “One of the themes of the plenary council was that Catholicism doesn’t have to be this hard (in opposition to the culture). But in fact it does have to be hard (to be true). These gabfests are basically setting up income streams for people in future jobs. It’s all piffle. It’s got nothing to do with salvation.”

In the end, Christian denominations choose between surrender to the ideology of the culture or faithfulness to their beliefs. It’s not possible to do both. The Christian movements that accommodate the culture on its key points inevitably disappear, for if they are only offering what the culture already has, why would anybody bother?

Sydney’s Catholic Archbishop Anthony Fisher, at the start of the plenary council, admonished the preparatory documents for their lack of attention to three crises: the decline of Christianity produced by secularism and exacerbated by the abuse crisis and disengagement brought on by Covid; the need to protect “the unborn, pregnant, refugees, trafficked, frail elderly, dying and other invisibles”; and the growing cultural hostility to Christianity.

The early Christians, notwithstanding all the changes of 2000 years, faced similar challenges. I asked Melbourne’s Catholic Archbishop Peter Comensoli whether there were lessons from the early Christians for the church today: “Yes. I spend a lot of time in the Acts of the Apostles, to find ways to be active and Christian when you’re unknown. There’s a great ignorance of Christianity these days. Acts gives the church ways to be a faithful disciple when you’re small and not necessarily of interest, and if you are of interest you might be getting a bad rub.

“Life as a Catholic is a life of exile at the moment. That will be the way for some time. Identification with the faith is often with big institutions, schools, health care. But these are not the sites where we will rebuild faith. That will be in families and small communities.”

John Dickson, an Anglican cleric and a prolific and brilliant historian of the ancient world, believes profoundly in the example of the early Christians. It’s a theme of his superb new book, Bullies and Saints.

“The early Christians were cheerful being a minority,” he tells Inquirer.

“They were reconciled to having no power and being frequently insulted. They thought of themselves as a tiny minority which had stumbled upon a vast treasure. Of course the rest of the world didn’t have it, so they wanted to share it. They were characterised by cheerfulness, confidence, humility.

“The early Christians didn’t have social credibility, or emperors or senators who professed Christianity. All they had was prayer, service, persuasion and suffering.”

Dickson cites non-Christian sources from the early days of Christianity recounting Christians’ compassion and generosity, their care for the sick, their philanthropy. Women flocked to early Christianity. Celsus, a second century Greek philosopher who wrote the first systematic denunciation of Christianity, mocked it as a religion of women and slaves.

“Everyone found a social lung in the early church,” Dickson says, “everyone could breathe a bit easier.”

The Christian sexual ethic, of marriage as an institution of mutual love, of women equal before God to men, of girl babies valued, of restraint on the gratifications and brutalities of men – these were radical but ultimately deeply attractive to a pagan world that had elevated self-indulgence for the powerful, and especially male gratification, very high.

Edward Gibbon, in his classic and intensely anti-Christian Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, lists five reasons for Christianity’s triumph: the zeal of Christian belief; the promise of eternal life; the miracles, though the age of miracles was brief; the virtues of Christians; and finally the unity of the Christians, with people, priests and bishops working to a common vision.

Today’s Christians, like anyone else, would find these qualities hard to emulate. But history shows Christianity’s ability, metaphorical and literal, to rise from the dead. It’s done it before. In our society, will it happen again?