Monday, September 19, 2022

Scurrilous journalism award

At least it cost the lying media a bundle. Dr Laming has an account here telling how grievously the media lie hurt him. He shares there what it's like be the centre of a media stitch-up. Australia's defamation laws have their problems, but in Laming's case they ensured that some justice has been done him.

Had the journalists concerned just checked with Laming before rushing into print the story would never have been published -- as it was an easily refuted story.

But the opportunity of sliming a prominent conservativre was just too juicy to miss. Leftists hate those dreadful conservatives who keep puncturing their balloons so horror stories about conservatives seem obviously correct to them

The contentious entry criteria for the Walkley Awards could be overhauled as part of the independent review into a reporting prize given to a since-discredited story about former federal MP Andrew Laming.

Last Wednesday, Dr Laming won a defamation case against Nine in relation to one key element of its award-winning report, after the network accepted that it was untrue.

On Friday evening, the foundation directors announced a review into the Walkley Award won earlier this year by Nine journalists Peter Fegan and Rebeka Powell for their March 2021 reports about Dr Laming, one of which falsely claimed the then politician had committed the criminal act of “upskirting” – taking a sexually intrusive photograph of someone without their permission.

In one of three reports about Dr Laming’s alleged misconduct in March last year, Nine quoted a witness who said he’d seen the MP take an inappropriate “upskirting” photo of a female staff member while she was stacking a bar fridge at her Brisbane workplace.

The woman was wearing shorts, not a skirt, at the time. The photo was deleted before anyone from Nine could view it. Dr Laming was questioned by police about the alleged incident, but was never charged.

Dr Laming has always strenuously denied any wrongdoing in relation to the matter.

Fegan and Powell won the 2021 Walkley Award in the television/video news reporting category for their report on Dr Laming’s alleged misconduct; the pair also won a Clarion (at the Queensland media awards) for their investigation into the MP.

In its statement on Friday, the Walkley Foundation said it would commission an independent review of the “particular award” given to Fegan and Powell, but it is widely expected that the review will also scrutinise the wider issue of whether journalism that is the subject of ongoing legal proceedings should have caveats attached as part of its conditions of entry.

Currently, entries for major journalism awards in Australia, such as the Walkleys, require a disclosure if the reporting is the subject of ongoing legal action.

But there are no rules governing the overturning of awards if subsequent legal action finds the story to be untrue, as was the case with the Laming “upskirting” claim.

Dr Laming has claimed that Walkley organisers had known for “nearly a year” of his complaint that a story submitted for the awards had made “baseless” upskirting claims against him.

Dr Laming told The Australian on Sunday that he wants to play a key role in the review. “Through my lawyers I have notified the Walkley Foundation that I wish to submit materials to it for their consideration,” he said.

Dr Laming is unhappy that the Walkleys – which he describes as “Australian journalism’s highest honour” – lent weight to the Nine story by publicising comments that lauded the story when it won the prize.

“The comments made by the judges at that time lauding the network and journalists for their work in the face of ‘legal pushback’ is hard to reconcile with the complete abandonment of Nine’s defences and its subsequent unconditional public retraction and apology to me,” he said.

“Despite being on notice at the time of a legal dispute and the waves of retractions, apologies by others over republications of Nine’s story, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (which oversees both the Walkleys and the Clarion Awards) persisted with both a state and a federal award – and as of right now, even despite announcing a review, they continue to refuse to rescind what is now an award for effectively a story that been withdrawn, deleted and has been accepted by all as a work of fiction.”

Dr Laming said that he initially made allegations to the MEAA in October last year.

“We first notified the MEAA of baseless allegations in the Nine TV news story in October 2021, so they have been made aware of our complaint for nearly a year,” he said. “The MEAA would know that Nine publicly abandoned its unmeritorious truth and honest opinion defences last month, and in my view, from that moment the awards … became completely untenable.”

Dr Laming says he has so far received no response to a letter he addressed to Walkley Foundation chief executive Shona Martyn last week. He asserted in the letter that the Walkleys needed to do more than simply leave it in the hands of award recipients to return them.

“There is already sufficient evidence at hand to rescind the award, and leaving it in the hands of recipients to return awards is weak,” he wrote. “By continuing to promote these awards, the Walkley Committee further harms my reputation through imputation that the stories were true. Nine now admits they were not, and these court documents are public.”

He concluded his letter to the Walkleys: “I reserve my rights in this regard.”

Dr Laming’s former LNP colleague James McGrath has also written to the Walkley Foundation, calling for Nine’s award to be withdrawn.

“The broadcaster has admitted the allegations against Dr Laming were untrue,” Senator McGrath wrote.

“Why haven’t you withdrawn the Walkley Award from Ch9? In light of the above admission from Ch9 I ask you to withdraw the associated Walkley Award.

“If you are not prepared to withdraw I would ask you justify your reasoning.”

Despite repeated requests from The Australian for further clarification around the parameters of the independent review, the Walkley Foundation declined to comment.

Nine also declined to comment.

The terms of Dr Laming’s settlement with Nine, which included an apology, were confidential but the network is understood to be liable for more than $1m in damages and legal costs.

In its apology, which was read to the court, Nine said: “9News unreservedly withdraws those allegations about Dr Laming and apologises to him and his family for the hurt and harm caused by the report.”


Electric vehicles might be booming in cities but diesel remains king on the land

How do you run a battery-powered machine for 24 hours straight?

While passenger car manufacturers are rapidly moving to electric power to meet emissions regulations and market demand for cleaner urban transport, machinery dealers in Western Australia are raising concerns that similar pressure to switch their equipment to electric will prove unworkable in remote and regional areas.

Diesel still powers the majority of machinery in the state's agricultural sector, and dealers do not see that changing anytime soon.

Dealers and buyers of agricultural equipment also are concerned about what will eventually replace the current generation of conventionally powered tractors and headers sourced from US and European manufacturers.

"It will be determined by what happens overseas," Farm Machinery and Industry Association of WA executive officer John Henchy said.

"Because Australia is a relatively small market, manufacturers aren't going to develop something specifically for us, so it just depends on what happens overseas."

Electricity supply a challenge

Mr Henchy said the state's agricultural sector was unique in many respects.

Tractors, headers and self-propelled sprayers around Western Australia operate around the clock during seeding and harvesting, something existing electric systems would not currently be able to do.

"The size of our operation, particularly in WA, where we have big farms, there are distance challenges, and critically, electricity supply challenges," he said.

"So overseas might develop something but it's got to be compatible with the way we do things in WA."

Athol Kennedy, from an Esperance machinery dealer, said there were no signals from government about the future of fuel in agriculture.

"We hear and see nothing to guide us," he said. "I don't think they have a plan for us."

Mr Kennedy said there were concerns about using batteries in agriculture, particularly given 24-hour working cycles and pressure on regional power grids.

"I cannot see how we in Australia can use electricity to run our agricultural sector," he said.

"Our infrastructure through the whole of WA wheatbelt is struggling to run our houses and our workshops."


Potemkin emission controls

They are not nearly as tough as they seem. Loopholes mean that lots of big polluters will skate

Labor may fail to hit its 2030 climate target because flaws in the Albanese government’s proposed safeguard mechanism have created a “large hole” in its emissions reduction policy, the firm which modelled the target has warned, with half of all major polluters gaining a financial benefit from the scheme.

The operators of 215 large ­industrial facilities – contributing 28 per cent of Australia’s emissions – are weighing up Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen’s overhaul of the mechanism, which anchors Labor’s 2030 pledge to cut emissions by 43 per cent and is due to kick in from July 2023.

Carbon and electricity adviser RepuTex, which initially modelled the 2030 target, said a government plan to provide free carbon credits to high emitting companies – without requiring them to represent pollution cuts – could see Labor fail to hit its flagship climate change policy goal by the end of this decade.

According to RepuTex, companies would not be required to demonstrate any emissions reductions and would instead receive credits simply for being better than average. The credits would be used by the government to provide a financial subsidy to “cleaner” facilities.

“The plan to provide free credits to facilities where their emissions are below an ‘industry average’ could lead to other undesirable outcomes, with half of Australia’s 215 largest emitting facilities in line to receive a financial windfall – instead of being required to reduce their emissions,” RepuTex said.

The modelling firm said the financial benefit would seek to make ‘cleaner’ products and processes cheaper, but in reality it would be spread across the board. It would mean half of Australia’s giant LNG export industry – which makes up 10 of Australia’s top 20 highest-emitting facilities – would be given free credits and would not be penalised for emissions increases.

“By definition, half of all LNG facilities perform better than an industry average, even though they are among the country’s largest-emitting facilities,” RepuTex managing director Hugh Grossman said.

“These facilities would not be accountable for their emissions. Instead they would receive free credits, which could be banked, or sold to realise a windfall gain. While this aims to reward ‘cleaner’ processes, in practice, half of all fossil fuel producers could simply receive a financial benefit, instead of any emissions constraint.”

Amid an intensifying debate over the long-term use of oil and gas in Australia’s energy mix, the move could lock in fossil fuel production by creating a new ­subsidy. Current definitions suggest nearly 80 per cent of covered emissions and over half or 118 of all safeguard facilities could be classified as emissions-intensive and trade-exposed industries, with exemptions potentially undermining climate change goals.

Mr Bowen, who is expected to finalise the government’s plan within four to six months, said high-emitting companies, many with their own net zero by 2050 targets, must get on board to drive emissions 43 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Australia’s $4.5bn carbon market is also under the spotlight, with former chief scientist Ian Chubb leading a review probing integrity issues after whistleblower Andrew Macintosh described the scheme as a rort.

The review of Australian Carbon Credit Units follows allegations from Mr Macintosh, the former chairman of the Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee, that a majority of carbon credits issued by the Clean Energy Regulator were flawed.

“Integrity of crediting is key to any emissions market,” Mr Grossman said. “If credits used by industry do not represent one tonne of emissions abatement, and that credit is used to offset emissions – as is the case here – then we would not see any real emissions reductions. Emissions reductions would occur in accounting terms only.”

The Morrison government made a major change to the carbon offsets market in March, allowing owners of land-based schemes to sell ACCUs on the open market rather than at lower prices to the Commonwealth. As a result the price of ACCUs crashed by more than a third, given market fears of an oversupply of the carbon units over the next few years. Prices have recovered by about a quarter and are trading at $30 per tonne.

The Minerals Council of Australia has warned the Albanese government against adopting a “one size fits all” safeguard mechanism amid concerns that exporters could be left behind by international competitors. Whitehaven Coal chief executive Paul Flynn has warned that Labor’s plan to drive down emissions in the industrial sector was a “carbon levy by stealth”.


Diversity "training" -- aka brainwashing

It is not just young and impressionable university students who are being compelled to attend virtual re-education camps before being permitted to proceed with their degrees, but also older and considerably less impressionable members of society whose university days are but a distant memory. Apparently, you can never be too long in the tooth to have your thinking checked.

It has recently come to light that volunteers at the State Library of Western Australia have been on the receiving end of a passive aggressive email which ‘encourages’ them to take part in an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island cultural awareness training module. If for any reason, said volunteers decide to decline the offer, their names will be put on a list of troublesome dissenters, and they can expect a phone call asking them to explain why it is they are bigoted racists.

According to the recipient of the communication, this is not the first woke imposition that staff have had to endure. The question is, how long will it be until the library does what the Art Institute of Chicago did last year, which was to shut down its volunteer program and fire more than 150 white unpaid staff in the name of ‘equity and diversity’?

As it turns out, this kind of coercion is quietly taking place within numerous Australian organisations. Staff at the Department of Prime Minster and Cabinet, Gold Coast Health, the Fair Work Ombudsman, Libraries Tasmania, City of Melton, and the Royal Life Saving Society have also been compelled to undertake an Indigenous Cultural Training module developed by the SBS Inclusion Program.

A few of the model’s components will teach you how to ‘recognise the importance of spirituality in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures’, to ‘grasp the impact of colonisation on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ and to ‘comprehend the trauma felt by the Stolen Generations and the intergenerational trauma still being felt today’. Finally, it will you give you the ‘tools to move forward in the reconciliation process as both an individual and a business’. This module it seems, works wonders. It promises that in just half an hour, you will be transformed from a knuckle-dragging, cultural philistine into a fully enlightened and culturally proficient human being.

Clearly however, the Royal Life Saving Society has decided that half an hour of cultural competence training simply won’t do the trick. Under the guise of ‘Diversity and Inclusion’, it directs interested parties to a LinkedIn page which is a veritable smorgasbord of identity politics, critical race theory and radical gender theory. Among the offerings are six hours and thirty minutes of ‘Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging for all’, 28 minutes of ‘unconscious bias,’ 55 minutes of ‘using gender inclusive language’, 15 minutes on how to fight gender bias at work, and 3 hours and 52 minutes of ‘how to engage meaningfully in allyship and anti-racism’. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

It goes without saying that not one of these training modules is designed to teach you how to swim, spot a rip or develop techniques in advanced resuscitation. They are specially designed to train you to think in a different way, to alter your attitude and to question your beliefs. They are, to all intents and purposes, meant to brainwash you. This is a recalibration, designed to shift your loyalty from one moral code to another through hours and hours of relentless, mind-numbing ‘training’.

In his book A Time to Build, Yuval Levin puts forward a theory that when institutions fail to fulfil their essential roles in society and instead focus on trivial matters outside their remit, trust in them declines. The basis for Levin’s thesis is a distinction between formative institutions serving a social role and performative institutions that only provide a stage for partisan politics. As Levin notes, ‘When we don’t think of our institutions as formative but as performative – when the presidency and Congress are just stages for political performance art, when a university becomes a venue for vain virtue-signalling, when journalism is indistinguishable from activism – they become harder to trust. They aren’t really asking for our confidence, just for our attention.’

The revelation that Ambulance Victoria spent $760,000 on diversity officers while 33 Victorians died because there were not enough people to take emergency calls makes that particular institution very hard to trust indeed.

There has not been a push by the Victorian public for Ambulance Victoria to spend countless hours on obscure theories about gender, power, and race. Rather, the orders to pursue the woke agenda have come from the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, which was handed down in March this year in a diabolically lengthy Volume II of its ‘Workplace Equality in Ambulance Victoria’.

The reason why employers are pursuing this agenda so vigorously is because they have the full support of the permanent political class occupying government agencies and departments. There is no way that Ambulance Victoria would be focusing on ‘unconscious bias’ and ‘diversity and belonging’ if the government was not leading by example.

Australian governments ought to be the custodians of a rich liberal democratic tradition of freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and equality before the law. The federal government has also expressed its commitment to these values in international law, by becoming a signatory of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 18 of the ICCPR outlines a signatory’s commitment to protect the right of individuals to think freely and entertain ideas and hold positions based on conscientious, religious, or other beliefs.

This entails protection against brainwashing or indoctrination. Agencies such as the Australian Human Rights Commission have been specifically established to uphold these values.

But instead of defending the civil and political rights of individuals, the AHRC has become one of major proponents of radical and divisive ideologies which have become the established norm in the public service, and are now taking root in the private workplace.




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