Friday, December 30, 2022

US comedian's controversial Welcome to Country clip saying 'give it back or shut up' divides Australians

It's just tedious tokenism as far as I can see. It accomplishes nothing but it seems to give Leftists a warm glow. Tokenism is their thing: Very shallow

An American comedian's take on traditional land acknowledgements has exposed division among Australians over whether they are worthwhile or empty of meaning.

A video by US comedian Bill Maher talking about land acknowledgement - used in America and Canada as it is in Australia - on his show Real Time includes him telling the audience the statements are void of meaning when actual action isn't taken.

'To all the people who start every public event now with one of those land acknowledgements where they say, 'I'm standing on land that was stolen from the proud Indigenous people of the Chumash tribe', I say either give it back or shut the f*** up,' Maher said.

The clip has gained more than 48,000 likes since it was uploaded on Sunday.

The acknowledgement of land, or acknowledgement of Country, is typically used in Australia to recognise the traditional owners of the land on which an official ceremony is held. It is usually spoken at the beginning of an event.

While Maher was referring to Native Americans, his words also struck a chord with Australians who flocked to the comments section to share their thoughts.

'Australia has been doing this for years. I think the same thing every time,' one person wrote. 'It reminds me of a prayer before dinner or something,' another said. 'Every single event in Australia, at first I was like 'cool', now I'm like 'I'm done'. 'I did a course at TAFE and every single class our trainer had to do it,' another wrote.

However, not everyone was convinced stripping away the acknowledgement is the right way forward. 'Not exactly in our power to give it back. It's the least we can do,' one person commented. 'Honouring the treaties and relationships,' another said.

Earlier in the episode, Maher said he wished there was more focus on the progress countries - specifically the US - has made in its relationship with Indigenous people than its bloody history.

'That's what's so odd about this time that we're living in,' he said. 'For all the talk of fighting for the soul of America, nobody seems to like it very much.

'A country that started out bad and will always be bad and unable to change, but we have changed. A lot.'


A young woman has died from complications related to contracting Covid on a holiday with her partner

Heart damage was long played down as an effect of Covid but it is no myth

image from

Sad to lose a redhead

The 24-year-old woman from Aldinga in South Australia, Hayley Beadman, passed on Thursday, December 27 at an Adelaide hospital after going into a myocarditis-induced cardiac arrest.

Ms Beadman and her partner, Ben Moore, unknowingly returned Covid-positive from Bali on November 23 and soon after, she started experiencing chest pains.

Her family and friends believed she was 'slowly coming back' after her condition seemed to improve in mid-December.

She is being remembered by friends and family as 'one in a million', with a GoFundMe page started by Ms Beadman's friend, Moni Burrell, raising over $11,000 for her partner.

Ms Burrell wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday: 'You have left a hole in all of our hearts.'

Ms Beadman was rushed to Flinders Medical Centre in Adelaide's south when she couldn't control her breathing and was experiencing chest pains.

She went into cardiac arrest soon after reaching emergency, doctors diagnosing her with myocarditis due to a positive Covid test.

'We didn’t know we had Covid because we didn’t have any symptoms,' Mr Moore told The Advertiser.

She then underwent 50 minutes of CPR before doctors places her into an induced coma, one nurse dubbing Ms Breadman as 'one of the sickest patients in Adelaide'.

She stayed in the coma for just under a month, waking on December 16, responsive and blinking her eyes. Her family were hopeful for her future.

'She is now awake. She is blinking on demand and her eyes are moving around the room watching everyone,' an update from Ms Burrell on the GoFundMe reads.

Just under two weeks later, Ms Beadman would unfortunately suffer a lethal second cardiac arrest.

She and Mr Moore had been together for five years and recently purchased a house together in Aldinga, south of Adelaide.

'Do the right thing, wear a mask if you're in areas with lots and lots of people, you never know who has COVID,' Mr Moore told the ABC.

'It can happen to anyone.'


Christian couple who were banned from adopting after saying they would force their child to 'fight the sin' of homosexuality win payout

A devout Christian couple denied the chance to have a foster child because they believe homosexuality is a sin, have been awarded hefty compensation for their 'humiliation and hurt feelings'.

Byron and Keira Hordyk, from Perth, sued the Western Australian government for religious discrimination and received a $3000 payout each, after Wanslea Family Services denied their application in 2017.

The independent agency contracted by the state refused their request after the couple, who have kids of their own, said they would tell a child who says they are gay to 'fight the sin'.

The Hordyks are members of the conservative Free Reformed Church, a denomination that told the Tasmanian law reform institute in February 2021 that they practiced 'conversion therapy' for which they issued 'no apologies'.

Conversion therapy, which has been banned in the ACT, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia, attempts to change a person's identified sexual orientation through Bible study and prayer.

The Hordyks had responded to a theoretical question about fostering a gay child by saying they would try to convert them to heterosexuality and that if this was unsuccessful the placement would have to be terminated, the State Administrative Tribunal heard.

'We certainly would not drop them off that day to another home,' the Hordyks said. 'However, we are taught and do believe that all LGBTQ identities are wrong and sinful but there will be people who have to fight against this sin,' they wrote in their answer.

'We will therefore offer our help and try and do what we can to help this child, but if the child continues to be gay and goes on to date etc. the placement will not work as this goes against our beliefs.'

Wanslea denied the Hordyks a foster child on the grounds that they could not provide a physically or emotionally safe environment for a young person who might identify as LGBTIQ+.

In response the Hordyks took the agency to the State Administrative Tribunal claiming religious discrimination. They asked for $3000 each in compensation 'for hurt feelings and humiliation'. Mrs Hordyk told the tribunal she felt 'gutted' and 'devastated' that her beliefs were labelled 'dangerous'.

In his testimony Mr Hordyk said the rejection of the core principles of his life left him feeling 'deflated'.

'It feels unfair for me to have to throw away my beliefs on these issues just so I can be acceptable to Wanslea. My religious convictions take centre stage in all aspects of my life,' Mr Hordyk told the hearing.

Wanslea argued that the couple's rigidity on issues of homosexuality and gender did not flow from their religious convictions.

However, the tribunal did not agree and ordered both the Hordyks be paid 'for the loss and damage they suffered as a result of Wanslea's discrimination'.

At the time they were knocked back by Wanslea, the Hordyks said they were speaking up for other people of faith.

'We do feel we have been discriminated against and also we felt that if we were quiet about this and didn't say anything about it, it could potentially harm or limit any people with the same Christian values as ours from fostering,' Mr Hordyk told The West Australian.

'We hold traditional Christian views on how the Bible teaches us on sexuality and marriage.


Backpackers in priority lane as numbers near pre-Covid levels

Working holiday visas are being rushed through within an average of 24 hours, lifting backpacker numbers closer to their pre-Covid levels as the government faces calls to raise the eligibility age to 50 to plug critical labour shortages and attract more skilled professionals.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles said the number of backpackers working in the country had bounced back from lows of just 20,000 during the pandemic to about 120,000 as of last week.

Mr Giles said that, in addition to fast-tracking holiday-maker visas, he had changed the rules to allow backpackers to stay with a single employer for as long as they remained in the country rather than limiting them to one job for six months at a time, arguing Australia was in an international competition to attract talent.

“This is not simply an Australian skill shortage, so it’s important that we have our system moving effectively, because we’re in a global market,” Mr Giles said.

“We’ve got to make sure that we’re competitive with countries like Canada and like the UK.”

“And I’m really pleased that we are in that space now, that people are getting their visas turned around quickly and that employers can now approach this competence as well.”

The changes come as new figures from peak tourism bodies show more than 70 per cent of Australians will be holidaying domestically this summer, ratcheting up demand on tourism and hospitality businesses across the country which have already been struggling for months to find workers.

Tourism and Transport Forum chief executive Margy Osmond sounded the alarm, saying she was pushing the government to halve or remove all visa fees and increase the age of those eligible for working holiday visas from 35 to 50.

“A lot of businesses are still suffering in terms of getting the number of people optimal to run them,” Ms Osmond said.

“This is a massive competitive global market. Many countries have halved or removed visa fees.”

Increasing the age eligibility for working holiday visas to 50 would also give businesses a “wider pool of people with a bit more money likely to be able to afford to travel”.

“We need to fill other jobs as well. It’s not just pulling a beer at front of house; we need professionals,” Ms Osmond said.

Australian Chamber of Industry and Commerce chief executive Andrew McKellar welcomed the faster visa-processing times, but called for new requirements forcing backpackers to work in the sectors that needed them most.

“With many businesses unable to satisfy the demand for workers, the government should consider including three months of work in the tourism and hospitality sectors as qualification for extending working holiday maker visas,” Mr McKellar said.

Prior to the pandemic, Working Holiday Maker visas contributed about $3bn a year to the economy, with a usual pool of backpackers of between 150,000 and 200,000. But border closures during the Covid-19 outbreak drove down the number of working holiday visas by 85 per cent – the biggest drop of any visa class.

To fill skills shortages quickly, the government has prioritised Working Holiday Maker visas over others such as international student visas, which the Home Affairs Department in November reported were processed in about 14 days.

International students have played a major part in plugging skills gaps during the pandemic, following a move by the former government to lift the working cap of 20 hours a week.

However, higher education experts have expressed concern that the ­uncapped hours were creating a “de-facto work visa” for students coming to Australia ­primarily to earn money rather than study.

While Mr Giles said the practice of visas being used for collateral purposes was of concern and the capping of hours would return by June next year, Ms Osmond called for the uncapped hours to remain for at least all of 2023, if not longer.

“While I perfectly understand this was an interim measure because of problems we were facing, we’re not over those problems,” Ms Osmond said. “The measure should be in place for the full year. That would give industry and students certainty.”

Mr Giles said “people coming here to study should be coming here to study”.

“We have through the pandemic extended the hours that students can work,” he said. “That will continue through to 30 June (next year).

“We are constantly working with universities and other providers to make sure that the integrity of the system – and then fundamentally also the integrity of our schools and education system – is maintained.”

Mr Giles said the decision to process working holiday visas within a 24-hour timeframe was the result of new processes and investments in human resources in the department, arguing the shake-up had “finally got our visa system moving”.

“It’s got people connected to jobs and critically connected ­people to businesses … to address the skills shortage we are facing,” he said.

However, he recognised the challenges of backpackers getting to Australia, given the cost and availability of flights and accommodation.

“All of these are issues,” he said. “I don’t presume for a minute that changing the migration system in Australia can deal with all of these issues. But … the availability of visas … and turning around working holiday maker applications in less than a day, we are giving certainty to people who are coming here.”

Mr Giles revealed the government had fulfilled its promise to get the total visa backlog down to 600,000, with the number of visas now on hand down to about 599,000.




Thursday, December 29, 2022

Kamahl slams ABC host as a 'bully with a black soul' amid calls for him to be sacked over 'disgusting' comment about the singer and cricket icon Don Bradman

Adams is is a Leftist so I am reluctant to defend him but I think he was misunderstood here. He was clearly criticizing Bradman, not Kamahl. He was comparing Bradman to a South African Apartheid believer. Bradman has recently been "outed" as very conservative.

But any mention of race is taboo these days. Adams should have known that. But he was too anxious to get in a dig at Bradman

Legendary singer Kamahl said he feels 'humiliated' by the ABC's Phillip Adams after the broadcaster claimed cricket icon Don Bradman treated him as 'an honorary white'.

The host of ABC Late Night Live created a storm of controversy by making the claim on social media.

In the tweet on Thursday, Adams compared the cricket icon's 13-year friendship with the popular entertainer with his reluctance to meet Nelson Mandela.

'Clearly, Kamahl, [Bradman] made you an Honorary White. Whereas one of the most towering political figures of the 20th century was deemed unworthy of Bradman’s approval,' Adams said in a tweet on Tuesday morning which later went viral.

The comment was blasted on Twitter, with Aboriginal leader Warren Mundine calling Adams 'a disgrace' and leading calls for his sacking.

A tearful Kamahl, now 88, broke down as he told Daily Mail Australia he felt 'humiliated' by Adams' hurtful remark.

The iconic entertainer, who has enjoyed a successful 55 year career in Australia, labelled Adams 'a bully'.

'I think he wanted to put me down, how dare I be so successful? How can I be black and be successful?' Kamahl told Daily Mail Australia.

'He was being flippant but he’s a bully, ironically Adams has possibly the best command of the English language and he chooses to be mean-spirited. I think he was trying to be nasty.'

'Daring to suggest that Sir Donald Bradman invited me to his home in August 1988 as a 'token white' is disgusting at best.

'You may be white, but oh your soul is black!'

Kamahl said he was proud of his 13-year friendship with Bradman, which began with the singer name-checking the cricket icon in a 1988 song 'What is Australia to Me?'

The pair exchanged almost 80 letters and Kamahl was a regular guest for lunch and dinner at Bradman's home in Kensington Park, Adelaide.


Some Australians spend Boxing Day trashing famous cricketer

Social media’s love affair with cancelling long-dead celebrities has reared its head again, this time with Australian cricket icon Don Bradman in the firing line.

Bradman, known as one of history’s greatest sportsmen, has been dead for 21 years. But now, a dusty old letter addressed to Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, two days after the 1975 dismissal election, has apparently “exposed” the former cricketing great as a “right wing nutjob”.

In the letter, which was unearthed by Federation University’s Verity Archer, Bradman urged the new PM to scrap regulations on capital and warned of the risks inflation poses to Australia.

“A marvellous victory in which your personal conduct and dignity stood out against the background of arrogance and propaganda indulged in by your opponents,” Bradman wrote.

“Now you may have to travel a long and difficult road along which your enemies will seek to destroy you.”

Bradman — who was 67 at the time of writing the letter — also warned Mr Fraser about the power of unions and urged for the public to be “re-educated to believe private enterprise is entitled to rewards, as long as it obeys the rules”.

“What the people need are clearly defined rules which they can read and understand so that they can get on with their affairs,” Bradman continued.

“The public must be re-educated to believe that private enterprise is entitled to rewards as long as it obeys fair and reasonable rules laid down by government. Maybe you can influence leaders of the press to a better understanding of this necessity of presentation.”

Social media users and journalists expressed shock that Bradman — who was born in 1908 and raised in an era when horses outnumbered cars on the road — had conservative leanings.

Sydney Morning Herald writer Daniel Brettig described the letter as “extraordinary” and said it showed Bradman’s attempt at an “intervention at an explosive moment in Australian political history”.

Broadcaster Phillip Adams wrote, “Sad. Lost letter from Bradman to Fraser after Whitlam’s dismissal reveals ‘the Don’ to be a RWNJ [right-wing nutjob].”


Tony Abbott: There are already Indigenous voices in parliament

Goodwill towards Aboriginal people has never been greater and there is all-but-universal support for recognising Indigenous people in the constitution.

But this proposal for a constitutionally entrenched Indigenous voice to the government and to the parliament is way beyond recognition.

It’s a special body for some, but not all, based on how long your ancestors have been in Australia.

Is that what we really want in our constitution: two classes of Australians, based on race? That’s why the coming referendum is almost sure to be the most important issue our country faces next year and why it deserves far more debate in detail than it’s had so far.

Actually, Indigenous people already have a voice.

It’s called the Australian parliament, which now has 11 Indigenous MPs, a record number, all of whom have been chosen and elected in the normal way. Because Australian voters have become so lacking in prejudice and are now so appreciative of the qualities of Indigenous people as to disproportionately put them into our national parliament.

Although our country has never tried harder to give minorities a fair go, Indigenous people especially, that’s not enough for the Albanese government.

Hence this push for a separate and special Indigenous body, over and above the Indigenous MPs already in the parliament, the national Indigenous “coalition of peaks”, and all the Aboriginal land councils that already cover the whole country and represent the traditional owners in whom authority used to rest.

This can’t be because Aboriginal people currently lack a voice. Many Indigenous people speak out powerfully and effectively in our public life.

Nor is it because Aboriginal people currently aren’t being listened to. As the now almost ubiquitous acknowledgements of country, routine presence of the Aboriginal flag alongside the national flag, and angst over Australia Day show, officialdom takes some Indigenous concerns very seriously indeed.

This new voice that the government wants to put to a referendum in the second half of next year is not about listening more closely to Indigenous views or about finally recognising in our constitution that Aboriginal people were here first.

It’s about introducing a kind of co-governance where nothing can be done for 100 per cent of the people without taking into account the concerns of that 4 per cent, some of whose ancestors came before 1788.

As the Prime Minister has said, only a very “brave” government could ignore the voice’s representations. That’s why, should this voice be approved at a referendum, it would constitute something approaching a “third chamber of the parliament”, as Malcolm Turnbull has said.

In fact, the government has two distinct and contradictory positions on the Voice: one, pitched to the wider Australian community, is that the Voice is really no big deal, and that not to support it would be disrespectful to Indigenous people — and perhaps even racist.

The other, pitched to Indigenous leaders and its own activist supporters, is that the Voice would start to redress the shame of dispossession and might help to close the education, employment and life expectancy gap between Indigenous people and the wider Australian community.

Paradoxically, in one of its first decisions, the same government that’s pushing this new Voice totally ignored all the Indigenous voices pleading with it not to scrap the cashless debit card and not to end the alcohol bans in remote Australia which were helping to keep vulnerable women and children safe.

It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the Indigenous voices that this government heeds are largely urban activist ones that want to change the date of Australia Day, rewrite history, conclude treaties between the Commonwealth and groups of its own citizens, and press for reparations; as opposed to those in remote areas whose focus is on getting Indigenous kids to school and adults to work, and keeping communities safe.

Unless the government plans to release a lot more detail — about exactly who could stand and who could vote for this new body; exactly what will and what won’t be within its scope; how much its members might be paid and its deliberations resourced; and how it’s going to be possible to avoid extensive litigation about whether its representations have adequately been considered and responded to (and that’s a lot to think through) — people will be expected to vote essentially on the “vibe”.

And that’s hardly a safe way to make potentially far-reaching changes to the way we are governed.

If this really was likely to produce hitherto unknown solutions to all the scandalous problems afflicting remote Australia, and if this really was likely to generate a hitherto unprecedented united resolve to make a difference, it might just be worth the risk.

But instead of the appreciation that lasting change for the better happens person-by-person, institution-by-institution and community-by-community, and is akin to slow-boring through hard wood, this new body is likely to reinforce separatism and the quest for instant solutions. That’s when it’s not acting as an echo chamber for grievances or a gravy train for activists.

That’s why I hope you will join people like Senator Jacinta Price, a proud Celtic, Warlpiri Australian woman, not just to oppose this unnecessary Voice which would be wrong in principle and bad in practice, but in finding better ways to recognise Aboriginal people in our constitution and to have the original Australians participate more fully in the great life we have here.


Tesla chaos strikes: Long Christmas holiday queues for charging station reveals the harsh reality of owning an electric vehicle in Australia

The people caught out must be either gullible or a bit dim. Electric vehicles are just not suitable for long-distance travel

Australian Tesla drivers have been forced to wait in 90-minute queues at charging stations as thousands take to the roads over the holiday period.

Queues for charging stations have been spotted nationwide, including in Victoria and NSW.

The huge queues have angered Tesla owners, with many blasting Australia's lack of electric vehicle infrastructure.

ABC reporter Phil Williams shared a video of the electric cars all lined up at a charging bay in Wodonga, on the border of Victoria and NSW on Wednesday. 'Wodonga Tesla charge points overwhelmed with wait times around 90 mins,' he said.

In the footage, Tesla owners can be seen aimlessly standing around their cars as they wait for a charge before getting on their way more than an hour later.

There were similar scenes at a Coffs Harbour charging point in northern NSW on Wednesday, with Teslas stretching through the carpark as drivers waited their turn to power up.

Many Aussies were quick to call out electric vehicles after seeing the footage. 'Think I'll stick to a petrol powered car. Takes less than 5 minutes to fill up my car's tank, pay for the petrol and to then be on my way again,' one said.

'Why anyone would want an electric car that can take up to an hour to fully recharge is beyond me,' another declared. 'They obviously have way too much time on their hands to just wait either waiting to recharge or recharge!'

'So how do you travel during peak periods in an EV? Just be prepared to add 3 hours to your trip? That won't help with the take up of the technology?' a third said.

'I'm an expat Australian and this is the reason I left. We're 10 years behind the rest of the world with EV and innovation,' added another.

Others called for an expansion of the charging network across Australia to solve the problem of long wait times.

'There are eleven petrol stations in Wodonga, multiple outlets for every major brand, and only one place to charge EVs which is just outside the council offices.'

Another suggested: 'Every petrol station should have to fit charging points.'

Others suggested the long wait times were due to the Christmas holidays, while some said it was likely the scenes in Wodonga were from a Tesla club meet-up.




Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Rogue antibody and mystery pathogen behind AstraZeneca blood clots: study

A rare gene combined with exposure to a mystery pathogen may have caused the blood clotting issues that plagued AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine.

Australia pinned much of its COVID-19 response strategy on AstraZeneca’s vaccine, with 50 million doses produced by CSL’s Broadmeadows plant.

But at the height of the pandemic last year, as millions of Australians were preparing to roll up their sleeves, the vaccine was linked to an extremely rare but deadly blood clot disease.

It left many with a tough choice: get jabbed and take the three-in-100,000 risk of clots, or decline the vaccine and take your chances with the virus. In total, 173 Australians suffered clots, and eight people died.

Exactly what caused the clots has remained a mystery. But this month a team of Australian scientists led by Flinders University’s head of immunology Professor Tom Gordon reported in the journal Blood that they had traced the culprit down a single gene – and a mystery pathogen.

“This was very unusual,” Gordon said. “In 35 years of looking at blood autoantibodies I have never seen anything like this.”

“Exceptionally dangerous”

AstraZeneca’s vaccine is built around an adenovirus vector – a harmless virus modified to carry the genetic code of COVID-19’s spike protein.

After vaccination, the virus infects our cells, which then use the genetic code to produce copies of the spike protein. In turn, our immune system learns to recognise the spike and builds an arsenal of antibodies designed to fight it.

But scientists suspect the adenovirus itself can accidentally bind to a crucial natural protein in the body known as PF4. A small signalling molecule, it’s used to get blood to thicken – important in repairing cuts, for example.

In rare cases, people develop antibodies that can recognise and bind to this combination of adenovirus and PF4. By binding, the antibodies activate PF4, causing it to signal platelets in the blood to clump together.

“Once you clump platelets you get widespread clotting. So they are exceptionally dangerous,” Gordon said.

But that explanation leaves a gaping hole. We all have PF4. Why did only a few people get clots?

A rogue antibody

Working with rogue antibody samples from five people in Adelaide who suffered clots after the vaccine – including one person who died – Gordon’s team made several key discoveries.

First, they discovered the rogue antibodies slotted perfectly into a groove on PF4 that was only exposed when PF4 was exposed to AstraZeneca’s adenovirus.

Then they found the antibodies from the five people were almost identical.

Antibodies vary a lot from person to person; the immune system can make perhaps a million trillion unique types. Pulling identical antibodies from five unrelated people is extremely rare and suggests genes are playing a role.

Genetic sequencing revealed each patient was expressing a gene known as IGLV3-21*02, which was likely responsible for the unique antibody.

Case closed? Not quite.

About four people in every 100 have IGLV3-21*02, but the risk of clotting from AstraZeneca’s vaccine was a fraction of that. Something more must have been going on.

The final clue was hidden in the disease’s speed. It can take weeks for antibodies to be generated to a new virus, but some people suffered clotting just days after getting vaccinated. That suggested, Gordon said, their immune systems had already experienced this strange combination of adenovirus and PF4 – or something that looked a lot like it.

“How can it be? We don’t know. That’s one of the great mysteries,” he said.

Professor James McCluskey, an expert on the genetics of immunity and a deputy vice-chancellor of the University of Melbourne, called the study “rather remarkable”.

“Antibody genes … can vary genetically from one individual to another. For all these patients to have the same [gene] is just intuitively improbable by chance. So it looks real,” he said.

AstraZeneca’s vaccine remains in use in Australia, but official health advice is to opt for Pfizer or Moderna if you’re under 60. But AstraZeneca continues to be distributed, particularly in low-income countries.

Gordon hopes his study will open up new ways to either test people for genetic susceptibility to the condition or design medicines to treat it.


Gas crackdown already halting new investments

Future gas and LNG projects valued at $32bn are under threat of having investment stalled or pulled under the Albanese government’s “hostile attitude to Australia’s resources sector” after the Gina Rinehart-backed Senex paused its $1bn Surat Basin ­expansion project.

Up to 12 gas projects listed in the government’s resources and energy major projects investment pipeline report on Monday are considered to be facing “significant uncertainty” following the government’s crackdown on gas companies.

Amid industry concerns over the government’s one-year $12-a-gigajoule gas price cap, mandatory code of conduct on gas producers and tougher environmental approval regulations, there are rising fears that other companies could suspend projects.

Senex’s decision to halt work on its coal seam gas projects is the latest hit to Queensland’s resources industry, where coalminers Glencore and BHP have shelved or frozen investment amid a running brawl with the state’s Labor government over a shock royalty hike announced in its July budget.

Opposition resources spokeswoman Susan McDonald said “more than $15bn in future east coast gas projects are under a cloud of uncertainty due to Labor’s hostile attitude towards Australia’s energy resources sector”.

Nine projects planned to supply east coast domestic gas, and another three LNG projects that could supply gas to the east coast, are valued at $32bn.

Senex, jointly owned by POSCO and Ms Rinehart’s Hancock Energy after they sealed a $900m takeover of the ASX-listed company in March, announced the $1bn coal seam expansion project four months ago around the same time the federal government was drafting its plans to combat high domestic gas prices.

The coal seam expansion was aimed at pumping more gas into the domestic market by lifting its Atlas project to 60 petajoules within two years.

Senex has left open the possibility of returning to the $1bn ­expansion if the federal government rethinks its gas industry plans. However, it has paused ­recruitment and spending on long lead items “pending the outcome of the Albanese government’s mandatory code of conduct consultation process” on February 7.

A spokesman for Resources Minister Madeleine King said the government was “confident Senex will continue to engage constructively with the government as they design and implement the gas code of conduct”. He said the government’s gas price cap applied only to existing projects and not “new projects like Atlas”.

“The government wants to ­design a measure that does not have a chilling effect on investment, and ensures investment continues to flow to new products,” Ms King’s spokesman said.

“The gas code of conduct, once it enters into force, is not about stripping profits off producers. It’s about ensuring that where gas ­enters the domestic market, Australian households and businesses are not subject to the exponentially skyrocketing prices that we have seen throughout the course of this year. “That’s not on, and the code will prevent those runaway prices that we have seen previously.”

Acting Treasurer Katy Gallagher this week authorised the gas price cap to begin from Friday, with the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission tasked with “closely monitoring” the east coast gas market and enforcing the cap.

Senator Gallagher said without capping gas and coal prices, “the average family would be paying $230 more on their electricity bill next year”.

Senator McDonald said the government was “joining forces with the Greens to implement unprecedented price controls, hand over more power to unions, ­increase environmental red-tape and fund anti-mining lawfare groups”.

“Coal and gas alone are forecast to earn Australia $223bn but under Labor’s war on conventional energy commodities, 18 coal and gas projects have been reopened for environmental assessment after already receiving approval, and 43 oil and gas projects have been required to redo their consultation,” Senator McDonald said.

“Our regional partners, like Japan and Korea, will be very concerned about Australia’s approach to providing the energy commodities they need to power their economies. All this sends strong signals to international companies that they are not welcome here, so we can expect them to consider halting their investment.”

Liberal Senator Paul Scarr says “basic economics” is all it takes to realise imposing gas price caps at “less than… the market-prevailing price” will create a shortage of investment and, consequently, energy reserve. “It’s an investment-killing concoction,” Mr Scarr told Sky News host Gary Hardgrave. “The consequences are disastrous, especially More
In the government’s major projects report, prepared before the national cabinet slapped a $125-a-tonne price cap on coal, 33 coal projects were stalled in the feasibility stage as lenders and investors, led by pension and equity funds, pull f­inance for thermal coal projects.

Global mining giant Glencore earlier this month pulled the plug on plans to build its $2bn Valeria thermal coalmine, citing Queensland’s royalty rate increase as a major cause. BHP is also considering the impact of the royalty rate hikes on the life of its Queensland coal operations.

The mining giant has already said it will not invest in Queensland growth projects while the windfall royalty rates are in place, and set aside $US750m in its annual financial accounts for potential early closure and rehabilitation costs.

Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association chief executive Samantha McCulloch said the Senex decision highlighted risks involved with the Albanese government’s gas market intervention.

“No new gas supply means no downward pressure on prices and an increased risk of future gas shortages,” Ms McCulloch said.

“Without this kind of investment, Australia misses out on crucial new gas supply to ease east coast energy system pressures as well as substantial economic ­returns including hundreds of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars of local investment in regional communities.”

Opposition treasury spokesman Angus Taylor said market ­interventions were “adding to red tape and complexity for investors both domestically and abroad”.

“The billions of dollars of projects on hold or under question shows that when we are in a global race for capital, more regulation leads to less investment, which means fewer jobs, less work for small businesses and a slower economy,” Mr Taylor said.

After the Office of the Chief Economist on Monday revealed that resources and energy export earnings will fall by $68bn in 2023-24, down from a record $459bn this financial year, Mr Taylor said it was imperative for the budget bottom line to avoid ­future slides.

“This makes it all the more alarming that the government is cutting funding support for our resources sector and making extreme interventions that energy experts are warning will cool investment and decrease supply,” he said.


RBA warning: Our supply-side problems have only just begun

In one of his last speeches for the year, Reserve Bank governor Dr Philip Lowe has issued a soberingwarning. Even when we’ve got on top of the present inflation outbreak, the disruptions to supplywe’ve struggled with this year are likely to be a recurring problem in the years ahead.

Economists think of the economy as having two sides. The supply side refers to our productionof goods and services, whereas the demand side refers to our spending on those goods and services, partly for investment in new production capacity, but mainly for consumption by households.

Lowe notes that, until inflation raised its ugly head, the world had enjoyed about three decades inwhich there were few major “shocks” (sudden big disruptions) to the continuing production and supply of goods and services.

When something happens that disrupts supply, so that it can’t keep up with demand, prices jump –as we’ve seen this year with disruptions caused by the pandemic and its lockdowns, and withRussia’s attack on Ukraine.

What changes occurred over the three decades were mainly favourable: they involved increasedsupply of manufactured goods, in particular, which put gentle downward pressure on prices.

This made life easier for the world’s central banks. With the supply side behaving itself, they wereable to keep their economies growing fairly steadily by using interest rates to manage demand. Putrates up to restrain spending and inflation; put rates down to encourage spending and employment.

What’s got Lowe worried is his realisation that a lot of the problems headed our way will be shocks to supply.

The central banks were looking good because the one tool they have for influencing the economy –interest rates – was good for managing demand. Trouble is – and as we saw this year – managing demand is the only thing central banks and their interest rates can do.

When prices jump because of disruptions to supply, there’s nothing they can do to fix those disruptions and get supply back to keeping up with demand. All they can do is strangle demand until prices come down.

So, what’s got Lowe worried is his realisation that a lot of the problems headed our way will be shocks to supply.

“Looking forward, the supply side looks more challenging than it has been for many years” and is likely to have a bigger effect on inflation, making it jump more often.

Lowe sees four factors leading to more supply shocks. The first is “the reversal of globalisation”.

Over recent decades, international trade increased significantly relative to the size of the global economy, he says.

Production became increasingly integrated across borders, and this lowered costs and made supply very flexible. Australia was among the major beneficiaries of this.

Now, however, international trade is no longer growing faster than the global economy. “Trading blocs are emerging and there is a step back from closer integration,” he says. “Unfortunately, today barriers to trade and investment are more likely to be increased than removed.”

This will inevitably affect both the rise in standards of living and the prices of goods and services inglobal markets.

The second factor affecting the supply side is demographics. Until relatively recently, the working-age population of the advanced economies was steadily increasing. This was also true for China andEastern Europe – both of which were being integrated into the global economy.

And the participation of women in the paid labour force was also rising rapidly. “The result was asubstantial increase in the number of workers engaged in the global economy, and advances intechnology made it easier to tap into this global labour force,” Lowe says.

So, there was a great increase in global supply. But this trend has turned and the working-agepopulation is now declining, with the decline projected to accelerate. The proportion of thepopulation who are either too young or too old to work is rising, meaning the supply of workersavailable to meet the demand for goods and services has diminished.

The third factor affecting the supply side is climate change. Over the past 20 years, the number ofmajor floods across the world has doubled and the frequency of heatwaves and droughts has alsoincreased.

This will keep getting worse These extreme weather events disrupt production and so affect prices – as we know all too well in Australia. But as well as lifting fruit and vegetable prices (and meat prices after droughts break and herd rebuilding begins), extreme weather can disrupt mining production and transport and distribution.

The fourth factor affecting the supply side is related: the transition from fossil fuels to renewables. This involves junking our investment in coal mines, gas plants and power stations, and new investment in solar farms, wind farms, batteries and rooftop solar, as well as extensively rejigging the electricity network.

It’s not just that the required new capital investment will be huge, but that the transition from the old system to the new won’t happen without disruptions.

So, energy prices will be higher (to pay for the new capital investment) and more volatile when fossil-fuel supply stops before renewables supply is ready to fill the gap.

Lowe foresees the inflation rate becoming more unstable through two channels. First, shocks to supply that cause large and rapid changes in prices.

Second, the global supply curve becoming less “elastic” (less able to respond to increases in demand by quickly increasing supply) than it has been in the past decade.

Lowe says bravely that none of these developments would undermine the central banks’ ability to achieve their inflation target “on average” - that is, over a few years – though they would make the bankers’ job more complicated.

Well, maybe. As he reminds us, adverse supply shocks can have conflicting effects, increasing inflation while reducing output and employment. The Reserve can’t increase interest rates and reduce them at the same time.

As Lowe further observes, supply shocks “also have implications for other areas of economic policy”. Yes, competition policy, for instance.


Low-fee private schools rival expensive counterparts in HSC

At Alpha Omega College, a co-ed school in a suburban office block, students don’t wear uniforms, teachers are called by their first names and there is no bell to round up pupils to class.

“It’s not a normal school,” says deputy principal Wesam Krayem. “We do things differently and it makes students feel like there are fewer barriers. We also open the school on weekends and holidays for extra tutoring sessions.”

The western Sydney college is one of multiple lower-fee private schools across NSW that had similar — or better — HSC success rates than schools where fees tip over $20,000 a year, a Herald analysis has found.

Catholic schools that charge fees of about $6000 a year or less — including Randwick’s Brigidine College, Hurstville’s Bethany College and Parramatta Marist High — had a similar or a higher portion of students achieving band-six HSC results as St Joseph’s in Hunters Hill and the Scots College in Bellevue Hill, where parents pay about $40,000 for year 12.

St Clare’s College in Waverley — which charges about $7000 for year 12 — was the highest-ranked systemic Catholic school at 31st out of the 143 top private schools analysed, based on the past two years of HSC results. It had a success rate similar to Barker College and St Ignatius College Riverview, where final-year fees are more than $32,000.

Former chair of NSW Education Standards Authority Tom Alegounarias said fees did not necessarily correlate with consistently high academic performance.

“Results likely reflect all sorts of dynamics beyond the socio-economic backgrounds of students. It could be about the relative effectiveness of the school, and if there is healthy competition among staff and students. Schools might be focusing on academic achievement and the rigours that are needed to get those results. Band sixes are also only one indicator, and are not a reliable indicator of range achievement in schools,” Alegounarias said.

At Auburn’s Alpha Omega College there is an intense focus on academic results and a strict no mobile phone policy for the 500-odd students at the school.

“There is a ‘never give up attitude’ ... students get constant feedback on how they are going. The school is open on some weekends for study groups and algebra workshops,” said Krayem. Parents pay about $13,000 for year 12 at the school.

The Herald’s analysis compared fees with HSC success rates — the ratio of band six results at a school compared to the number of students that sat exams. It used this year’s fees published on school websites, and if these weren’t available took the most recent fees and charges reported or used data from the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority to estimate fees.

Authorities only release the names and schools of students who achieve in the top band of their subject. Private school sectors have previously suggested the NSW government release more data to reflect the efforts of all students, not just the top achievers.

Fees at Al Noori Muslim School in Greenacre and Al Faisal College are roughly $3000 a year, and those schools had a similar portion of students in the top HSC bands as Knox Grammar and Kincoppal Rose Bay.

Chief executive of Catholic Schools NSW Dallas McInerney said the sector aimed to provide choice for parents through a system of low-fee comprehensive schools.

“HSC results do not account for socio-economic background, fees or enrolment policy, therefore the results of these schools and students are really an against-the-odds story,” he said.

‘We set the bar high’: How Reddam House blitzed HSC maths
Robyn Rodwell, the principal of Catholic systemic school Bethany College, said the school had high expectations of the girls.

“Before we teach a new topic we do pre-testing to find out what they already know, and that way after we’ve taught the unit you can see how much they’ve grown. We also invest in really solid teacher development programs,” she said.

Head of the Association of Independent Schools of NSW Geoff Newcombe said the median fee collected for private schools in NSW was around $5200 a year. “These schools are not selective, and their regular success reflects the commitment of the students, their families, teachers and principals to strong academic outcomes at all levels.”




Friday, December 23, 2022

‘Not reflective’: Former Nationals MP Andrew Gee turns on party over Voice to Parliament stance

This is good for the No vote. It will make clear that the refererndum proposal is controversial -- and controversial refereda tend to be lost -- which will be good riddance to racist legislation

Long-serving Nationals MP Andrew Gee has turned on his own party, claiming it is “not reflective” of regional Australian communities after quitting to join the crossbench in federal parliament.

Mr Gee, who holds the federal NSW seat of Calare, announced on Friday he would quit the Nationals to sit as an Independent.

He said the party’s opposition to the Indigenous Voice to Parliament, along with the wake of devastation from recent flooding, was the catalyst for his decision.

Speaking with reporters later in the day, he said he had “lost the faith” in the Nationals amid their dwindling numbers year on year. “The National Party today is very different to the National Party I grew up with,” he told ABC News.

“The National Party you see today is not necessarily reflective of the way our regional communities are growing and developing.”

A month ago, Nationals leader David Littleproud announced the party would be opposing the Voice policy as it would not deal with the real issues faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. “It will not economically empower Indigenous people,” Mr Littleproud said.

“We believe this will be a voice for Redfern, not for Indigenous communities in regional, rural and remote Australia, in places like Cunnamulla, Alice Springs and Carnarvon.”

Mr Gee said he supported the Voice and had made his position clear to members. “Any party needs opposing political points of view … it makes for a robust discussion and good policy,” he said.

“What was purported to be a united front opposing the Voice was put forward, which was not my position. I don’t know why it had to happen so quickly.

“The rest of Australia will get a free vote at a referendum, yet for National Party MPs, a party position has been taken with an expectation we will fall behind that, and vote accordingly. “There just comes a point where you can make too many compromises.”

In a statement, Mr Littleproud said he was “disappointed” in Mr Gee’s decision to leave the Nationals but said he had always been free to make his own decision and vote accordingly on the Voice.

“We will continue to work hard for western NSW and find a candidate who will best represent them at the next federal election,” he said.

Mr Gee has held the NSW seat of Calare since 2016. He was also elected to the NSW Legislative Assembly for Orange in 2011 and served as the Defence Personnel Minister from 2021 to 2022.

Mr Gee said he felt the Nationals’ decision to oppose the Voice to Parliament and witnessing the devastating NSW floods “really brought home to me the importance of being able to stand up and be counted”.

“I can’t reconcile the fact that every Australian will get a free vote on the vitally important issue of the Voice, yet National Party MPs are expected to fall into line behind a party position that I fundamentally disagree with, and vote accordingly in Parliament,” he said in his statement.

“While I respect the views of my colleagues, this just isn’t right.

“As the discussion on this issue around Australia builds, I want that freedom to put forward my point of view as I don’t foresee the Nationals’ policy on the Voice changing.

“While I accept that in politics compromises have to be made, there comes a point where not speaking out freely can compromise the interests of those we represent.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said it was an “extraordinary political development” but that he respected Mr Gee’s position. “Andrew Gee’s statement is one of principle,” he said.

“I look forward to working with him and members of the Liberal Party, crossbenchers across the board who want to recognise – who see this as an opportunity to unite our nation.”

He said he was pleased Mr Gee would be pushing for a “yes” vote on the change. “Andrew Gee has made a principal statement about his commitment to constitutional recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, but also a constitutionally recognised Voice to Parliament,” he said


The tiny Australian town gripped by a child sexual abuse crisis: 'If this was happening in Melbourne or Sydney it'd be front page news'

Reading between the lines, the offenders were Aboriginal. Aborigines tend to be treated leniently by the courts. It's "the soft bigotry of low expectations"

The tiny Northern Territory town of Tenant Creek has been rocked by the actions of two vile rapists who are set to be released from detention mere months after they were convicted of their horrific crimes.

Ezekial James, 28, who sexually assaulted a 12-year-old girl in a community near Tennant Creek in the Top End in 2017, causing her to fall pregnant, is eligible for parole only four months after he pleaded guilty to the grisly crime.

In another case close by, a teenager who raped a seven-year-old girl while he was out on parole for arson back in May last year is set to be released less than two months after conviction.

Both cases have sparked outrage over the leniency given to the rapists.

Sky News Australia's Rita Panahi, who spoke to the network's Darwin Bureau Chief Matt Cunningham who covered both crimes, relayed her shock. 'Frankly, if this was happening in Melbourne or Sydney it'd be front page news,' she said. 'It'd be leading the news service for a week.' 'How can such horrific crimes see such lenient sentences?' she asked Cunningham.

Panahi claimed there was difficulty in speaking out against these cases due to fears of being labelled 'racist'. 'How can we elevate these issues?' she continued.

'We'll talk about it on this program, we'll talk about it on Sky News but it seems so many people are terrified to broach this subject because there can be blowback.'

The pair referred to comments made by senator Jacinta Price on the network who suggested that 'until there's an end to domestic and family violence, there won't be an end to these sorts of issues'.

Ezekial James pleaded guilty to raping a 12-year-old girl when he was 23-years-old in 2017. He approached the child near a football ground at night and lured her back to his family's residence where he assaulted her.

The victim returned to her grandfather's home after the traumatising incident and discovered later on that she was pregnant. The girl gave birth at Alice Springs Hospital in August 2018 after being in an 'extremely anxious' state.

Justice Barr described the girl's situation as 'horrible' and the birth as 'very traumatic for a young teenager who did not have the psychological resources to deal with the very stressful situation'.

James was taken into custody by police in December 2021, four years after the 2017 rape, when DNA evidence linked him to the child. He has previously been in prison for multiple offences including two cases of aggravated assault against women and recklessly endangering life.

Justice Barr said it was unlikely he would reoffend before his sentence was suspended.

In the other case, a 16-year-old boy groped a seven-year-old girl while she was watching TV at a house in the Top End.

The teen, who was out on parole for arson, then forced the child into a bedroom where he raped her.

The girl was later flown by the Royal Flying Doctor Service to a clinic in Alice Springs for treatment. She currently struggles to sleep, is too scared to go outside and wants to leave Tennant Creek.

The boy was arrested four days later and was sent to a youth detention centre. He pleaded guilty to the assault and was sentenced in the Northern Territory Supreme Court on November 30.

The boy, who is now 18, is set to be released from detention less than two months after his conviction.


Why ‘abusive’ dating app users are being outed on Facebook

While our governments dilly dally on a national domestic violence perpetrator database, women across the country are finding innovative ways to alert others about the abusive men on dating apps.

It’s not ideal for citizens to be taking matters into their own hands - not the least because the women at the forefront of this movement are doing so at great risk legally and exposing themselves to trolling and possible payback.

But as the country’s domestic violence toll climbs higher with every passing week and the policy leadership void grows ever deeper, it’s pretty clear females fear they have little choice but to take action.

By my count, 55 women have been killed unlawfully this year. At least 24 of died as a result of violence allegedly perpetrated by current or former partners.

I can’t help but wonder, how many women could have been saved if we did have a national DV perpetrator database accessible by normal Australians.

Sucha database it could also connected be to dating apps to ensure businesses like Tinder, Hinge, Her, Bumble and other online connection tools are blocking abusive people from their platforms.

The death this week of Dannielle Finlay-Jones really rams home the need for a federal database.

Dannielle - a 31-year-old student support office and dedicated women’s footy advocate - was staying overnight at a friend’s place in Cranebrook, NSW, with Ashley Gaddie, who she had only been dating for a short time.

Dannielle did all she could to remain safe, including ensuring she was with others when seeing her new lover.

It’s alleged Gaddie assaulted her sometime between the evening of December 17 and the morning of December 18.

It is also alleged he left her injured in the bed and fled from the scene by crawling out a window.

Dannielle’s friends found her in a critical condition. Sadly, she could not be saved.

Gaddie was arrested after a 12-hour intensive stand-off with cops in the Blue Mountains.

Had Dannielle been able to request his domestic violence history from a federal database, she might still be alive.

But that database does not exist despite extensive lobbying of state and territory governments and the federal government by high profile Australians including journalist and former MP Derryn Hinch.

Joining Hinch in his crusade are the loved ones of domestic violence victims, including Lee Little whose daughter was killed by her partner in late 2019.

A national database can only work if every police force, court and government across Australia works together to share information.

Currently, there are major issues with information sharing between police and courts in each jurisdiction.

Even when details are shared between authorities, civilians are not able to access it.

In Australia, about one quarter of women experience emotional abuse in their relationships, one in three are sexually violated and the same number are assaulted by current or former lovers.

In other words, everyone knows a woman who has been abused and in most cases that woman is themselves.

With such high levels of violence against women, it makes sense to have a shared domestic violence database - accessible under strict circumstances - by women who have concerns about their, or another’s, safety.

Broken Crayon’s Still Colour Foundation founder Rach Mac is a survivor of intimate partner violence.

She is also the creator of a large social media group offering Aussie women the chance to find information on men they are planning to date.

Run at great risk by Rach, the group is the only one in Australia. It’s membership sits around the 4000 mark and it grows daily.

Members post photos and domestic violence histories of the men they know in the group so others can be aware of who they should avoid.

And other women post photos and the dating app profiles of their would-be dates as well as their names, locations and any other relevant information. In someone in the group knows the guy, they will point out any red flags.

Obviously, Rach faces major legal issues including the potential to be sued for defamation should a man find out he has been wrongly spoken about and the risk some women might make untrue allegations.

But Rach says she takes every precaution, including asking to view criminal histories or domestic violence orders.


Microdosing may be on the rise, but what are the dilemmas?

Many Australians start their working day with a strong hit of caffeine. Sam, a 32-year-old filmmaker, sometimes prefers to take a small amount of LSD instead. "It's like having a strong cup of coffee that last[s] the whole day without the crash," he says.

Sam's not alone. In Australia and around the world, there's been increased interest in people experimenting with tiny doses of illegal drugs in the hope of improving their productivity, creativity and focus at work.

It's a practice known as microdosing.

It involves taking small amounts of psychedelic substances, such as LSD or psilocybin, on a regular basis, explains Vince Polito, cognitive psychologist and senior research fellow at Macquarie University.

Dr Polito is among the academics leading microdosing research in Australia.

"People vary in how often they do it, but ... people tend to microdose a couple of times a week," Dr Polito tells ABC RN's This Working Life.

"It's a completely different ballpark to the type of experience that you might typically associate with psychedelics. People are taking doses that are almost imperceptible."

He says the average Australian microdosing may be "a bit older than what you would expect".

Dr Polito's research published in 2019 tracked 98 people who practised microdosing.

"The average age was mid-30s. They were fairly well-educated, and about 75 per cent had some form of tertiary education, and roughly 70 per cent were either working or studying," he says.

"The sort of broad picture that we got was of people who were microdosing [as] pretty normal members of society."

Dr Polito says the potential negative impacts of prolonged use are still unknown, as more long-term research needs to be done in this area.

Sam, who also works as a university lecturer, says microdosing allows him to drop into a "deep, flow-like state" with his work.

He says creativity is "a big part of my work" and something he can access "a lot more easily with the LSD".

"So rather than having to sort of stick it out for six hours and getting distracted, I [can] drop in for two hours in really deep work and accomplish more than I could otherwise."

Photographer and retail worker Trina, aged 51, has also felt an improvement in her productivity at work since she began microdosing with psilocybin six months ago.

"My productivity was sort of heightened [while microdosing] ... because I was processing ideas quite quickly and had this impatience to bring them to fruition," she says.

"Something that it might take me [about] three hours to put together and photograph would probably take me half the time."

But she's hesitant to mention it to anyone in her workplace.

"I just have a sense with the kind of … people that I work with that they wouldn't really understand what it was, and they probably would just think that I'm taking drugs," she says.




Thursday, December 22, 2022

QIMR Berghofer scientists could have found the ‘masterswitch’ to kill cancer

As I have benefited greatly from immunotherapy, I am pleased to hear of another imunotherapy advance. Specific substances are needed to energize attacks on specific types of cell. Keytruda worked like a charm on my SCCs

Queensland medical researchers are on the brink of a staggering breakthrough that sees palpable tumours completely melting away, offering hope to sufferers of two of the deadliest types of cancers.

QIMR Berghofer scientists have potentially found the “masterswitch” that turns on the immune system to target disease in patients with triple-negative breast cancer and the most common form of bowel cancer, Micro Satellite Stable (MSS) bowel cancer.

The remarkable research findings could finally provide hope for a new, effective therapy but funding is desperately needed to progress the exciting preclinical results into clinical trials.

Associate Professor Michelle Wykes, group leader of Molecular Immunology at QIMR Berghofer, discovered the potential “masterswitch” that turns on a key type of immune cell called dendritic cells while researching immune responses to malaria.

Dendritic cells act like the generals of the immune system waking up other immune cells such as T cells and telling them what to attack and the weapons to use. However, cancer cells are very good at hiding from the immune system. In preclinical testing, the “masterswitch” antibodies make the cancers visible again, so the dendritic cells can go back to work and ‘organise’ the T cells to kill the cancer.

Associate Professor Wykes said further testing of the “masterswitch” antibodies on cancer patient blood samples produced similar results to the testing in preclinical lab work.

“We’re seeing palpable tumours that completely disappear and melt away. In our preclinical lab models, 80 per cent of both the triple negative breast cancers and colon cancers were cleared and hadn’t grown back after ten months. We’re seeing similar results from our tests on samples taken from patients with colon cancer,” she said.

“These patients urgently need help and I have something that I think could really help them, but we need funding to bring us together with a treatment. We’re appealing to the generosity of Australians this Christmas to help us advance this vital research and bring hope to patients and their loved ones,” Assoc Prof Wykes said.

Brisbane mum Justine Dillon was at peak physical fitness when she was diagnosed with highly aggressive stage four bowel cancer and given 18 months to live.

The researchers are working with clinicians at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital who collected samples from patients for the researchers to test in the laboratory.


Palmer announces sale of Yabulu refinery

Clive Palmer has announced he has entered a share purchase agreement for the sale of the Yabulu Nickel and Cobalt Refinery in Townsville for an undisclosed sum to Zero Carbon Investek.

Mr Palmer is selling his joint venture shares in QNI Resources Pty Ltd and QNI Metals Pty Ltd to Zero Carbon Investek — a special purpose vehicle formed to undertake the acquisition, based in Switzerland.

Mr Palmer said the sale would bring enormous economic and environmental benefits to the people of North Queensland and wider Australia.

“I am happy to announce that this first-class asset has found enthusiastic and expert new owners in Zero Carbon Investek,’’ Mr Palmer said.

“I look forward to the Queensland government and all relevant authorities lending their full support to the new owners. This is a big win for the people of North Queensland providing jobs and economic benefits,’’ Mr Palmer said.

Yabulu operated for about 40 years before its operating company was placed in administration and then liquidation in 2016. About 800 people lost their jobs.

According to Mr Palmer’s statement, it is regarded as a world class, large-scale, globally significant nickel and cobalt refinery asset.

It previously represented a large part of the gross regional product of the North Queensland economy, contributing $1.37bn per year for Townsville and 3960 full-time equivalent jobs across Queensland, with more than half those jobs in and around Townsville.

The statement says the refinery was placed into a high-level of care and maintenance since 2016 and is now looking to restart.

“The Yabulu restart plan is designed to optimise refinery operations, including realising extensive tonnages of nickel and cobalt contained in the tailings storage facility. In September 2022 Yabulu secured a 30-year port access agreement with the Port of Townsville,” the statement says.

It says an 18-month restart plan positions Yabulu to rapidly become among the top 10 largest nickel assets in the world with a production capacity of 53,500 tonnes per annum of nickel and 3700 tonnes per annum of cobalt. Both are strategic and critical minerals playing a major role in industrial processes, global decarbonisation and electrification.

Nickel and cobalt are used for the production of electric vehicles, renewable power generation, battery manufacturing, energy storage, aerospace, defence and health.

According to the statement, Zero Carbon Investek is currently in advanced discussions with a number of globally significant strategic players who are seeking product offtake opportunities, alongside investment.

“Under Zero Carbon Investek, the refinery will directly employ about 800 staff, upon restart of operations, and many more during the construction period,” the statement says.

“To this end, in the longer-term, Zero Carbon Investek is hopeful that the site may unlock opportunities for new domestic industry, including battery or electric vehicle manufacturing.”

The Zero Carbon Investek syndicate is headed by Dr Richard Petty whose career spans more than 30 years in business and academia. He has served on more than 20 public and private company boards and has advised multinational companies and several governments on projects with an aggregate economic impact in the hundreds of billions of dollars. He previously served as a member of the Business20 and was a member of the B20 Financing Growth and Infrastructure Taskforce.

Dr Petty said the Yabulu refinery was positioned for an exciting future. He said Zero Carbon Investek would invest an additional US$800m ($1.19bn) in capital expenditure, post acquisition, further enhancing the facility including transitioning to net zero carbon through the replacement of coal and gas fired steam and power generation with solar, saving up to 500,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per annum.

“Whilst the restart of the refinery is the key strategic priority, Zero Carbon Investek is also targeting the development of a large scale, 1.5Gw solar photovoltaic plant and battery storage facility at the refinery site to create new industry opportunities and sustainable environmental benefits,’’ Dr Petty said.

“Reducing the carbon intensity of operations through the development of solar PV is a key priority for Yabulu moving forward.

“The Yabulu large-scale solar project will be situated in the Northern Queensland Renewable Energy Zone and is set to become a main contributor to the Queensland Government’s new Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan which has a target of 70% renewable energy by 2032 and 80 per cent by 2035, representing an $85bn investment into the energy system.

“Helping the Queensland Government to achieve such targets whilst boosting the economy and providing jobs is an important part of Zero Carbon Investek’s mission.”

In pursuit of this ambition, Zero Carbon Investek says it has successfully developed agreements with leading researchers at some of the world’s top universities, including Imperial College London and University of Cambridge, who are developing game-changing industry-leading solar technology capable of unparalleled solar power conversion efficiency of 41 per cent, at a small fraction of the cost.

The PV plant will employ more than 50 people and will generate surplus grid scale power, which can be sold locally or interstate.

An associated battery plant will employ more than 50 people and will also allow sales in other states for domestic, industrial and grid scale power generation.

“We look forward to working with the people of North Queensland and relevant authorities to fully realise the potential of this world class asset,’’ Dr Petty said.

The sale is conditional on regulatory approvals, including the Foreign Investment Review Board.


No greenhouse gas limits for Victoria's coal-fired power plants as Supreme Court rejects challenge

Victoria's coal-fired power stations will not face new limits on how much greenhouse gas pollution they can emit, after the Supreme Court today rejected a challenge brought by an environmental group.

The plaintiff, Environment Victoria, argued the state's environmental regulator had failed to properly consider climate change law when reviewing the operating licences for the state's three coal-fired power stations.

Environment Victoria argued the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) had an obligation to impose limits on the amount of greenhouse gas pollution the plants could emit.

Victoria's Climate Change Act 2017 requires people making certain decisions to consider the effects of climate change.

But in his written decision, Justice James Gorton said he rejected Environment Victoria's argument that the EPA had failed to do so.

He found that the EPA had considered climate change when it decided not to set a target.

Community expectations 'shattered'

Environment Victoria policy and advocacy manager Bronya Lipsi said the decision showed the state's climate laws needed to be fixed.

"I think it sends a message that the Climate Change Act in Victoria is not living up to community expectations," Ms Lipski said.

"We have an expectation that our climate laws will mitigate climate change and reduce carbon pollution."

She said the decision "shattered" community expectations and Environment Victoria would consider the judgement before making a decision about whether to appeal.

In a statement, the EPA thanked the court for its decision and said it was also considering its next steps.

"We have already taken steps to strengthen our processes and ensure climate change is demonstrably considered in all our regulatory decisions," a spokesperson said.

"Scrutiny from organisations like Environment Victoria can only make us better."

Energy Australia, which owned the Yallourn power station, said it welcomed the decision.

AGL, which owns the Loy Yang A plant, and Alinta, owner of Loy Yang B, did not respond.

Plants headed for early closure

Grattan Institute energy program director Tony Wood said it would not have been possible to cheaply curb the station's greenhouse gas emissions if the court had ruled the other way.

He said Victoria's energy policy was already geared towards the early closure of the three coal-fired plants to address climate change.

"If you look at the Victorian government's most recent policy positions, before and after the most recent election, you will conclude that these power stations will all be shut down in about 10 years' time, maybe even earlier," Mr Wood said.


‘Materially misleading’: ABC rebuked over Fox News investigation

An ABC report was one-sided! What a surprise!

The ABC has launched a scathing attack on Australia’s communications watchdog after it ruled the national broadcaster had misled viewers in a Four Corners investigation about cable TV network Fox News and its coverage of former US president Donald Trump.

A year-long investigation by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) found the two-part program presented by Sarah Ferguson nearly breached standards of impartiality, and that key facts were omitted in a way that misled the audience. The ACMA said the program also included views that were expressed in “strident terms” and were “subjective”, but said the ABC Code of Practice did not apply to opinions.

While Fox News welcomed the ACMA’s findings, the ABC warned the ruling would have negative implications for public interest journalism.

In a statement responding to the ruling, the ABC said it had “serious concerns” about the decision, which could have “negative consequences for the future production of strong public interest journalism.”

It also said it was “deeply concerned” by ACMA’s “subjective characterisation” of the investigation and raised concerns this might affect its statutory role to review the ABC’s compliance with its code of practise.

ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said the national broadcaster did not give viewers the opportunity to “make up their own mind”.

“Both audiences and participants are entitled to the full picture. In this case, by omitting information the ABC did not do justice to the story or provide all relevant facts to its audience,” O’Loughlin said.

“Current affairs programs such as Four Corners are not precluded from presenting a particular perspective ...but that needs to be balanced against requirements to gather and present information with due impartiality. The ACMA considers that ABC could have taken greater care in striking that balance in this program to avoid perceptions of partiality.”

The ACMA found two breaches of ABC’s Code of Practice, criticising the national broadcaster for “materially misleading” its audience by omitting relevant context about the appearance of two Fox News presenters at a campaign rally for Trump.

ACMA’s report also said the ABC had failed to include contextual material about the role of social media in inciting the Capitol riots on January 6, and had breached honest dealing requirements for the way it approached Fox News host Jeanine Pirro at her offices, and for failing to disclose the nature of her participation in the program.

But the ACMA agreed with the ABC on a range of other matters, including the accuracy of its reporting of Fox News’ ratings and a decision to broadcast statements that Fox News had supported Trump’s claims of election fraud. It said the ABC did not breach impartiality standards and did not unduly favour one perspective over another.

“The presenter asked probing questions during interviews but overall maintained a measured tone,” the report said.

The ABC said it stood by its journalism and disagreed with all three breaches. It said the findings would have negative consequences for the future public interest journalism, by putting pressure on content makers when selecting an editorial focus. The broadcast also took aim at the ACMA’s characterisation of the program, and whether this aligns with its role in reviewing compliance.

It argued it did not believe it was obliged editorially to include an assessment of the role of social media in the Capitol riots and the expectation it should feature a PR statement by Fox that did not answer questions related to the topic at hand.

ABC news director Justin Stevens said the ABC disagreed the program was not “impartial”.

“This was a comprehensive investigation analysing the role Fox News played in helping promulgate the ‘big lie’ – that the 2020 US Presidential election was stolen. It is as relevant now as it was when it was first broadcast,” Stevens said.

“It is important the public does not lose faith in the democratic process of free and fair elections and journalism like this plays a key part in that.”

A Fox News Media spokesperson said the company was pleased with the findings.




Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Australian Cardiologist Calls to Halt mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines, Citing Heart Damage

Melanie Leffler, a mother of two in Sydney, Australia, had four COVID-19 vaccines. But on Nov. 19, 2022, after coming down with a sore throat and a runny nose, Leffler tested positive for COVID. She said goodnight to her family—her husband, Mick Hogan, and their two daughters, Clemmie (age four) and Lottie (9 months).

They would never speak to her again.

Died In Her Sleep

Although she didn’t seem particularly sick, the 39-year-old healthcare worker died in her sleep that night. Even though she was quadruple vaccinated, a Dec. 3 article about her death described it as a “Covid tragedy.”

Eighteen-year-old Australian Monica Eskandar couldn’t wait to take her end-of-the-year exams. Instead, Eskandar was rushed to the hospital with severe chest pains. The pain, according to reporting by, started just hours after she received a COVID-19 vaccine.

Doctors diagnosed Eskandar with COVID-related pericarditis. Pericarditis is a condition that involves inflammation of the tissues lining the heart.

Eskandar’s symptoms were so severe that she was not able to sit for her exams. Ironically, the reason she got the COVID-19 vaccine in the first place was because it was mandated in order for her to take the exam.

COVID-19 Vaccines Cause Myocarditis and Pericarditis
A growing body of peer-reviewed scientific evidence links heart issues with the mRNA vaccines.

So much so that the CDC and other government authorities in the United States and around the world now recognize that the COVID-19 vaccines are causing myocarditis—heart inflammation which is considered more severe than pericarditis because it causes inflammation of the heart muscle.

In June 2022, the FDA’s Tom Shimabukuro, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., identified as part of the CDC COVID-19 Vaccine Coordination Unit, reported that: “Current evidence supports a causal association between mRNA COVID-19 vaccination and myocarditis and pericarditis.”

Six months later, as of Dec. 2, 2022, there have been a total of 35,718 cases of myocarditis/pericarditis reported to the government’s Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System.

An Australian Cardiologist Speaks Out
After witnessing as many as 70 cases of vaccine-related heart conditions similar to Eskandar’s, Australian Cardiologist Dr. Ross Walker is now saying publicly that he believes there should be a ban on the use of mRNA booster vaccines.

According to Walker, the mRNA vaccines are “very pro-inflammatory,” he told Daily Mail Australia. “ He contended that The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization should never have mandated mRNA vaccines.

“I’ve seen many people getting vaccine reactions, who get symptoms for about three to six months afterwards,” Walker said. “I’ve seen 60-70 patients in my own practice over the past 12 months who have had similar reactions.”

Those reactions have included shortness of breath, heart palpitations, and chest pain, he continued.

Eskandar said that even though her symptoms began immediately after the vaccine, doctors originally denied the connection, telling her it only happens to teenage boys.

“You can’t breathe,” she said. “You can’t sit, you can’t lay down. It’s horrible. You actually feel like you’re having a heart attack.”

Changing Recommendations

After conducting a thorough review of the scientific evidence, Dr. Joseph Ladapo, the Florida Surgeon General, directed his state to no longer recommend any COVID-19 vaccines for men under 39 because of safety concerns.

Drs. Walker and Ladapo are not the only medical professionals voicing concerns about the safety, efficacy, and necessity of the COVID-19 vaccines, especially for children and young adults.

Among the doctors who have called for the COVID-19 vaccination campaigns to be halted is Japanese cardiovascular surgeon Dr. Kenji Yamamoto. In a letter published in the peer-reviewed journal Virology, Yamamoto argued that the COVID-19 booster shots are not safe.

In particular, Yamamoto voiced concern over an adverse effect of the vaccine known as vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT). Not only that, but since the administration of the vaccine, Yamamoto has seen an increase in the risk of infection among his patients at the Okamura Memorial Hospital in Shizuoka in Japan. Specifically, he cites that many of his patients have contracted severe infections due to “inflammation after heart surgery.” Yamamoto believes that his patients’ suppressed immunity is a result of COVID-19 vaccination.

A Turning Tide?

Several high-profile medical doctors have themselves experienced severe side effects after being vaccinated.

Vaccine researcher Dr. Gregory Poland from Rochester, Minnesota has been struggling with life-debilitating tinnitus.

Belgian immunologist, whom The Atlantic described as “one of Europe’s best-known champions of medical research,” Michel Goldman, was battling lymphoma. He had devastating side effects after his third Pfizer vaccine: severe night sweats, exhaustion, and engorged lymph nodes.

A scan taken after the vaccine revealed that the 67-year-old had a barrage of new lesions, “like someone had set off fireworks inside [his] body.”

Goldman suspected that the COVID booster had made him sicker. His brother, who is also a doctor as well as the head of nuclear medicine at the Université Libre de Bruxelles hospital, suspected as much as well.

The rapid progression of Goldman’s angioimmunoblastic T cell lymphoma following the BNT162b2 mRNA booster was published as a peer-reviewed case report in the journal Frontiers in Medicine in November 2021. Since its publication, the case study has been viewed 383,411 times.

While Poland and Goldman still seem to be champions of COVID-19 vaccines, many doctors who once advocated for universal COVID-19 vaccination have since changed their minds.

British cardiologist Dr. Aseem Malhotra initially encouraged the widespread use of COVID-19 vaccines.

But then Malhotra’s father passed away suddenly of cardiac arrest after receiving the jab.

His father’s death prompted Malhotra to begin researching the safety profile of the vaccines. Based on his findings, he no longer believes the theoretical benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh the very real risks.

Politicians are also becoming more vocal about ending vaccine mandates.

On Dec. 7, 2022, Senator Ron Johnson led a roundtable discussion called Covid-19 Vaccines: What They Are, How They Work, and Possible Causes of Injuries.

The next day, the House voted for an $858 Billion Defense Bill that included a repeal of the vaccine mandate for the military.

COVID-19 Infection Milder, COVID-19 Vaccines Not Safe or Effective

Cardiologist Dr. Ross Walker called to halt only the mRNA vaccines for young adults in favor of non-mRNA options. But a growing body of scientific literature (some of which has been retracted for political reasons), as well as state data and testimony from clinicians, has shown that none of the existing COVID-19 vaccines is as safe or effective as advertised.

At the same time, with Omicron and other strains replacing the other, more virulent SARS-CoV-2 variants, COVID-19 infection seems to be becoming milder.

Dr. Malhotra said in a recent interview “… this vaccine is not completely safe, and has unprecedented harms”. He concluded in a peer-reviewed article published in the Journal of Insulin Resistance that a “pause and reappraisal of global vaccination policies for COVID-19 is long overdue.”


ACT government announces inquiry into Bruce Lehrmann trial

It should find that there were no good grounds for a trial

The Territory’s Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury and Chief Minister Andrew Barr announced the independent inquiry on Wednesday, after a number of “complaints and allegations” were made in relation to the trial.

The inquiry will consider whether the functions of criminal justice entities were “discharged with appropriate rigour, impartiality, and independence”.

Mr Lehrmann, who was accused of sexually assaulting Liberal colleague Brittany Higgins, pleaded not guilty to a single charge of sexual intercourse without consent.

Mr Barr said a full inquiry was the most appropriate response given the “high-profile” nature of the trial and the “serious” allegations made.

“I want to make clear that this inquiry is not about revisiting the trial, any evidence in the trial or the outcome of the trial,” Mr Rattenbury said.

The inquiry will instead consider elements including the decision not to proceed to a retrial and the conduct of police investigators and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

It will also consider whether the support provided by the Victims of Crime Commissioner to Ms Higgins aligned with the relevant statutory framework and the legal framework for addressing juror misconduct.

The inquiry will be able to hold hearings - both public and private - issue search warrants, compel the production of documents, and compel the attendance of witnesses and take their evidence on oath.

ACT Policing, the DPP and Victims of Crime Commissioner have all indicated their intention to cooperate with the Inquiry.

The ACT Government has yet to identify an “eminent legal expert” to conduct the inquiry.

The terms of reference and key timeframes will be finalised in consultation with that expert in January 2023, and a final report is due by June 30.

Whether that report will be made public is a matter for the inquiry, Mr Barr said.

Lehrmann was alleged to have raped Ms Higgins inside Linda Reynolds’ ministerial office at Parliament House after a night out drinking with work colleagues in March 2019.

Mr Lehrmann strenuously denied the allegation and denied ever having sex with Ms Higgins.

He faced trial earlier this year but the jury was discharged in October after misconduct of one of the jurors was uncovered.

Mr Lehrmann was scheduled to face a retrial in the ACT Supreme Court in February next year before the prosecution dropped the rape case against him due to the “unacceptable” risk to Ms Higgins’ life.


Macquarie Dictionary reviews definitions of 'man' and 'woman'

The editors of the Macquarie Dictionary are considering the definitions of "man" and "woman" in light of shifting modern usage.

It comes after the Cambridge Dictionary quietly updated its definition of "man" and "woman" to include anyone who "identifies as male/female" regardless of their sex at birth.

A spokesperson for Macquarie Dictionary said "the editors are looking at ensuring the entries for woman and man are reflective of Australian English usage" as well as various related terms, including female, male, girl, and boy.

They added while "Cambridge is predominantly concerned with providing a reference for learners of English ... Macquarie seeks to describe Australian English as it is used in the community".

"To fulfil these goals, both dictionaries need to examine a range of different texts, from academic works to social media, from fiction to news reports, and beyond.

"Our intention is to have any necessary changes made to these entries by the update in mid-2023." Macquarie updates words twice yearly, according to their website.

The current Macquarie Dictionary definitions of "man" include "the human species", "the human race", "a male human being (distinguished from woman)" and "an adult male person (distinguished from boy)", while the definitions for "woman" are "a female human being (distinguished from man)" and "an adult female person (distinguished from girl)".

When asked if the definitions of "man" and "woman" would be broadened to include those who "lives and identifies as male/female though they may have been said to have a different sex at birth" as Cambridge did, the spokesperson said, "that is certainly part of what we're looking at".

The spokesperson said, however, they were not yet in a position to discuss any specific changes that may be made next year.

The Macquarie Dictionary currently defines "female" as "belonging to the sex which brings forth young, or any division or group corresponding to it" and "of or relating to the types of humans or animals which, in the normal case, produce ova which can be fertilised by male spermatozoa".

When the Telegraph UK revealed the Cambridge Dictionary changes last week, a spokesperson told them they had "carefully studied usage patterns of the word 'woman' and concluded the definition is one that learners of English should be aware of to support their understanding of how the language is used".

It follows various dictionaries updating definitions to keep up with modern usage.

In 2020, Merriam-Webster included an additional definition for "female" as "having a gender identity that is the opposite of male".

The Oxford dictionary also altered its definition of "woman" to include they could be "a person’s wife, girlfriend, or female lover”, not only a man’s, to be inclusive of same-sex relationships. The entry for "man" was also changed to include gender-neutral language in the example of a relationship.