Wednesday, November 09, 2022

Australia's average life expectancy jumps to third globally behind Monaco and Japan, ABS data shows

It looks like the vastly "incorrect" diet most Australians live on -- sausages, burgers, steak, meat-pies etc -- cannot be too bad after all. We seem to thrive on what the wise-heads say will kill us

The life expectancy of Australians has continued its steady rise with the country now ranked third in the world, up from sixth last year.

New figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show life expectancy at birth is now 85.4 years for females and 81.3 years for males.

The combined male and female figure is 84.32 years, putting Australia behind only the principality of Monaco, and Japan, according to global data from the United Nations.

ABS director of demography, Emily Walter, said it is the highest ranking the country has achieved.

"That takes into account the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic and shows really that Australia's life expectancy has remained strong through that period," she said.

"It's important to understand though what that's showing is not only improvements or changes in life expectancy [here], but also changes in other countries' life expectancy."

The statistics cover 2019 to 2021 – so do not take into account this year, which has been Australia's deadliest period of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Head of the Australian National University's School of Demography, Professor Vladimir Canudas Romo, said based on mortality numbers so far in 2022, he expects life expectancy at birth will fall by about six months in next year's figures.

"It's actually OK news compared to the two years that they lost in the US, about the same in Spain," he said. "That said, I pay my respects to all the families that sadly lost relatives."

According to the ABS, life expectancy at birth estimates represent the average number of years that a newborn baby could expect to live "assuming current age-specific death rates are experienced through his/her lifetime".


Renewables-only is ideology in defiance of reality

Daniel Andrews has ripped away renewable energy’s cloak of economic and engineering respectability.

Unveiling his new energy policy for Victoria on 22 October, he began to rationalise renewables as the best option to replace coal-fired power but broke off mid-stream. Perhaps he was tired of the threadbare renewables-are-the-cheapest disguise Chris ‘Blackout’ Bowen still dons with peacock pride?

Exposing naked ideology, Andrews declared his government will ‘simply refuse to do anything other than replace [coal] with 100 per cent renewable energy’.

The renewables industrial complex has spent decades carefully weaving a cloak of respectability around its favoured technologies – solar, wind, and batteries. Its gossamer thread is simulated expertise, in which invented experts, backed by the apparatus of research and peer review, bury a foregone conclusion in a mound of pseudo-scholarship.

At the political end of this ideological fabric is the disreputable modelling of Labor’s Powering Australia Plan by Reputex.

Labor fought and won the election flaunting its conclusion that it would cut power prices for the average family by $275 by 2025 while achieving a 43 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions with 82 per cent renewable electricity and creating 604,000 jobs. Too good to be true? Not a bit of it, said Labor, donning the Reputex modelling as a bullet-proof vest.

But the modelling was bogus.

Reputex assumed that no coal-fired power stations would close earlier than the dates that were then scheduled – late 2021. This was despite a key plank of the policy being to increase renewable generation from its current 20 per cent share to over 80 percent. Fossil-fuel generation would necessarily have to decrease from its 80 per cent share to less than 20 per cent.

This obvious contradiction was virtually ignored by the Australian media. Predictably, Reputex’s assumption proved false within months of being released when Australia’s largest electricity company AGL announced in February 2022 it would bring forward the closure dates of its two largest power stations, Bayswater in NSW, and Loy Yang A in Victoria. Less than a year on, earlier-than-scheduled closures for all Australia’s coal-fired power stations have been announced.

Reputex also assumed the 212 large emitters subject to the safeguard mechanism would respond to Labor tightening its screws by investing in emissions reduction technologies or by buying offsets, while maintaining output and employment. The alternative, that they cut output, reduce employment, or close altogether, was not modelled. This scenario was simply assumed not to occur.

Labor’s hapless Minister Bowen is to do deals with the facilities to be stretched on the rack of Labor’s safeguard mechanism to determine their breaking point. Meanwhile, they are already under severe strain from higher prices for electricity and gas. The Australian Workers Union has warned Prime Minster Albanese that 800,000 jobs are at risk.

Having assumed away the major downsides of Labor’s policies, Reputex added up the benefits – billions of dollars of presumed investment in renewable generation, transmission, and storage infrastructures, together with industry investment in emissions reductions, are cashed out as jobs and totted up. Reputex’s conclusion that Repowering the Nation would achieve Labor’s emissions reduction targets, lower electricity prices, and create jobs always was a fairy tale.

Too many in the Australian media let Australians down by believing the modelling unthinkingly. People believed it because they wanted it to be true. They want renewables to be the magic pudding of 21st Century Australia.

Reality has begun to show through with Labor’s mini-Budget of October 2022. Its commentary on inflationary pressures acknowledged the contribution being made by higher energy prices. The Budget forecasts assumed electricity prices rise 20 per cent in 2022-3 and by a further 30 per cent in 2023-4. Treasurer Jim Chalmers seems not to have realised this was a direct challenge to, if not a clear repudiation, of Labor’s pre-election commitment. For one so adept at spin and the contemporary politics of ‘the narrative’, he seems to have been caught flat footed – surprised, dismayed even, that post-Budget media headlines and interviews have been dominated by Labor’s breach of faith on electricity prices.

In response, Labor has turned to scapegoating and intimidation. Chalmers blamed the war in Ukraine, saying it has created ‘absolute havoc’ in energy markets. He peddles this as a discontinuity separating the present circumstances of Labor in government from those when Labor was in opposition, despite Labor repeatedly making a feature of its idiotic $275 price reduction commitment well after Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine all the way through to the election in May. Prime Minister Albanese took attack as the best form of defence, seeking to intimidate Dutton by blasting the former Coalition government for failing to deliver any of the energy policies it developed over its decade in office, which Labor pans as a decade of energy policy chaos. This obscures the reality that the Albanese Labor government itself has yet to deliver a single energy policy.

Already, the post-Budget fallout has shredded Resources Minister Madeline King’s month-old heads of agreement with the gas industry. To head-off calls for direct subsidies to blunt the impact of spiralling prices, Chalmers is now threatening intervention with ‘a broader range of options in ways beyond what might normally be considered’. Labor’s energy plans are yet to pass the Senate, where the Greens have warned the price of their support, at a minimum, is a ban on all new fossil fuel developments. It is hard to see how Labor will square this with its pre-election support for the coal industry and its commitments to our key customers and allies including Japan to be a stable and reliable supplier of energy.

The election of Albanese Labor will not end the climate wars. And neither will it end the energy policy chaos. The disconnects between the fairy tale promises of renewables-only ideology and the reality of our deep dependence on fossil fuels will smash policy after policy to smithereens.


Australians Outraged at Schools Renaming Grandparents as ‘Grandfriends’

The decision by a growing number of schools in New South Wales (NSW) to rename “Grandparents Day” to “Grandfriends Day” to be more inclusive has upset and disappointed many Australians.

Ian Barnett, the founder of the National Grandparent Movement, said rather than being inclusive, the decision excluded one of the “most significant groups in the family.”

“It’s strange to do it, and I don’t know the reasoning behind it either,” he told Nine’s Today show.

“Grandparents day” is an opportunity for children to invite their grandparents to join them at school and celebrate their contributions and importance.

Many primary schools, including Spring Farm, Concord, Drummoyne, and Newtown, have changed the annual events’ name.

However, by renaming the event, Barnett said the implication was that the next step was for “parents” to become “friends.”

“I can understand maybe they want to make it easier for others to come on board, but even little ones who have lost their grandparents do have others in their life that take on the role of a grandparent,” Barnett said.

“It’s such a significant phrase and concept, and it’s disappointing to actually think that we can no longer use that and we’re changing into something like grandfriends.”

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet criticised the move as “ridiculous.”

“We should be acknowledging our grandparents, grandmothers, our grandfathers; they do a wonderful job, particularly now with busy parents, balancing work and family life and juggling kids,” he told the Daily Telegraph.

One Nation MP and chairman of the NSW parliamentary education committee Mark Latham said grandparents of students at Spring Farm Public School had contacted him about their complaints on the name change.

“What exactly is a ‘Grandfriend?’ A term nobody has heard of,” he wrote on a post on Facebook. “Why have grandparents been rubbed out in the new, silly, woke world of Spring Farm Public School near Camden in Sydney?”

Latham said the school was undoubtedly worried about offending “someone” unspecified, which was “totally unwarranted.”

“Parents and grandparents at the school have complained, and I don’t blame them,” he said. “It’s an insult to grandparents and the wonderful love and support they provide.”


The national broadcaster behaves as a lobby group for the trans community, not an impartial news organisation

A few weeks back, actor Ralph Fiennes remarked that cancel culture had become dumb. “It has no nuance,” he told The New York Times. The same could be said of our stunted conversations on the intersection of medicine with trans culture, especially where it concerns children. Only it is worse than dumb. Censorship in this area has become dangerous. The failure to consider nuance, areas of grey and complexity will harm vulnerable people, again, especially children.

Gender dysphoria is a serious and complex issue. It ought to invite serious and complex responses, and reporting of a similar standard. In the past six months, there are critical signs the orthodoxies are being challenged by those who work closely with children who say they are suffering from gender dysphoria. These developments could mark a turning point in how vulnerable children are treated by the medical profession. And yet our national broadcaster, comprised of thousands of journalists, editors, producers, researchers and other staff, has failed to report these important changes.

In Britain, the National Health Service has recently released a guidance note for doctors in which it switches to a “watchful approach” and asks doctors to “explore all” underlying health problems, including mental health issues, to better reflect the complexity relating to gender identity development in children.

This is an important change from the earlier “affirmative approach” adopted by the Gender Identity Development Service in Britain where a child’s claim that he or she was born with the wrong gender was used to explain other complex problems the child may be facing. The increasingly discredited affirmation approach was practised at London’s Tavistock clinic, the NHS’s main gender identity clinic for young people in England.

An interim report by Hilary Cass, a former president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, documented the concerns of many medical professionals that the NHS was too quickly prescribing irreversible puberty-blocker medication to children.

This report led to the closure of the Tavistock clinic. And these two developments led the NHS to review its treatment of children and issue new interim guidelines.

NHS England’s new approach, dated October 20, states: “The clinical management approach should be open to exploring all developmentally appropriate options for children and young people who are experiencing gender incongruence, being mindful that this may be a transient phase, particularly for prepubertal children, and that there will be a range of pathways to support these children and young people and a range of outcomes.

“A significant proportion of children and young people who are concerned about or distressed by issues of gender incongruence, experience coexisting mental health, neurodevelopmental and/or family or social complexities in their lives,” it goes on to say.

Our national broadcaster has been silent on these advances in the use of medical treatments on children who claim to suffer from gender dysphoria. It has resources no other media organisation in the country has. Many ABC journalists, especially high-profile ones, spend publicly funded airtime pursuing issues about the trans community. And yet, across the entire organisation, there was no news report when Tavistock was closed in July following the Cass review. On August 15, Media Watch drew attention to the ABC’s failure to cover that important development. Two days later, the closure of Tavistock was mentioned on an afternoon chat show in Melbourne.

Having failed to report this important news, the national broadcaster has, again, failed to report recent changes in Britain to the medical treatment of such children. The ABC’s silence is a disgrace, not just to journalism.

These are matters of importance for our society. Yet the taxpayer-funded ABC behaves as an activist lobby group for the trans community, not as an impartial news organisation. These reporting failures are compounded by clueless leadership. In an interview with Stellar magazine last weekend, ABC chairwoman Ita Buttrose said she is “not supposed to be friendly to anyone in politics … I’ve always thought journalists need to be apolitical. We’re meant to be unbiased. We’re meant to be able to deliver both sides of the story and let the public decide. We’re meant to deal with facts and not opinions.”

Buttrose still has not grasped the fundamental problem at the ABC. The issue is less about politics and more about culture. Is she blind to the slow-burn cultural activism on show daily at the ABC?

From climate change to sexual politics to programs that start with “we come to you from Gadigal land”, many ABC journalists and producers shamelessly use our public broadcaster to drive cultural change to suit personal agendas. It is bad enough that staff have hijacked the joint to use it as an instrument of social and cultural engineering. These are garden-variety derelictions of the ABC’s legal duty to present news that is accurate and impartial.

The failure to report on matters of medical significance concerning gender dysphoria is a different, more dangerous, genre of cultural activism. By censoring news of medical developments, the ABC news division is letting down vulnerable children.

Medical treatments of all kinds must be open to scrutiny. And scrutiny within one country must be reported in other countries. In other words, developments in Britain deserve to be understood and reported in Australia so our own medical professionals and regulators can learn from the experiences of others. This is the essence of medical advancements, be it treatments for cancer or medical treatments aimed at gender dysphoria.

When an orthodoxy becomes so cemented it cannot be challenged, where developments elsewhere are not reported, we stand on dangerous terrain. If the intellectual failures at the ABC were repeated across society, we would be assured of a new dark age. Not just a dumb one, but a dangerous one. Too many ABC journalists who call themselves progressive routinely reject intellectual curiosity when it interferes with their cultural agenda.

When the pattern of omission concerns critical developments in the medical treatment of children, it is time for Buttrose to rip off her staff-tinted glasses.

We don’t need a friendly ABC. But we are entitled to demand our national broadcaster impartially reports important news about the medical treatment of children.




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