Friday, February 24, 2023

Negligent bureaucrat tries some blame shifting

She was largely responsible for the Robodebt debacle but tries to excuse herself as doing the will of the government at the time. She portrays Morrison and his ministers as unsympathetic to welfare clients. But the only evidence for that that she notes is that the government was always focusing on cost savings.

But a focus on cost savings is a rare virtue in a government. The alternative is runaway spending and the inflation that comes with it. There was little inflation under Morrison. If only the present Labour government had done a bit of cost-saving!

There's a long Twitter thread about the article below that blames and condemns Morrison's religion for his cost saving. All that shows is the lengths to which Leftist hate will go. The article below does not mention religion

Former prime minister Scott Morrison was looking for budget cuts ahead of policy, and showed little empathy for welfare recipients in the process, the robodebt royal commission has been told.

Serena Wilson, former a deputy secretary to the Social Services Department, told the inquiry into the illegal scheme it was her recollection that the government rarely started policy discussions about the problems but rather focused on “finding cost savings”.

Asked on Thursday about Mr Morrison’s comments of being a “welfare cop”, she said the government “appeared to be looking for a problem”.

In December, Mr Morrison told the inquiry that he was focused on tackling welfare fraud and not privy to departmental discussions over the legality of the disastrous robodebt scheme. He said being the “welfare cop” was “one of my many responsibilities”.

“That’s how I colloquially described it often. I’m the son of a police officer,” he said.

In one email, Ms Wilson wrote: “They (the former government) had a strong view of ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor. In my opinion, there was little empathy for, or understanding of, those needs [of disadvantaged people] within the Coalition government and ministerial staff.”

Ms Wilson said this was exemplified in Coalition budgets between 2014 and 2018, where the vast majority of her work involved identifying savings options to cut social security expenditure.

She said the government held a “fairly pejorative view” of many people on welfare, particularly those on Newstart – now JobSeeker – or youth allowance who were receiving the payments due to being unemployed.

The commission has been told senior bureaucrats were aware of the potential illegality of the scheme but were either overruled by the people in charge of deciding the department’s policy or too scared to come forward.

Earlier, the Human Services Department’s former acting chief counsel Tim Ffrench said “the culture and environment at that time prevented people from asking the questions that they should have asked because of the fear that those questions would be seen as potentially impertinent”.

Ms Wilson also denied deliberately looking the other way to palm off responsibility to other bureaucrats.

She said she failed to pick up income averaging was being used in a document – which she had marked by hand – that outlined more than 860,000 “likely incorrect payments” from tax file data between 2010 to 2013.

The income averaging method using tax office data was later ruled to be illegal. She said it wasn’t deliberately ignored.

“I regret that it slipped through,” she said.

Ms Wilson said she had been distracted by other tasks, as Commissioner Catherine Holmes said it looked like it was “right under your nose”.

“It wasn’t a ‘hear no evil, see no evil’ situation. We were an extremely stretched area of the organisation,” Ms Wilson said in response to the accusation she turned a blind eye.

She said the fact a lot of opportunities to raise concerns and act to stop a legally dubious program “falls very heavily on me”.

She said she had the impression former ministers Marise Payne and Mr Morrison were keen to progress the compliance program despite warnings that possible legislative change would have been needed.


Traffic pollution could be far more dangerous than previously thought, researchers say

And pigs could fly. Studies aiming to prove that traffic pollution is bad for you come out at least once a year -- and the evidential base for them is always poor. So no wonder they hav given up on facts and rely on models instead. So I have to agree with their admission, "more robust data was needed". Models prove nothing.

So why is it so hard to find bad effects of traffic pollution? Simple. It does not usually have bad effects. For maybe a million years, mankind evolved sitting around wood and dung fires, which give off a LOT of smoke pollution. So we have evolved to cope with air pollution. Basically, we just cough it up, spit it out and are none the worse for it. It might be a problem in some parts of the Third world but levels of pollution in Western cities are low relative to what could cause illness in otherwise healthy people

Traffic pollution likely causes more than 11,000 premature deaths in Australia a year, new modelling by climate researchers has revealed.

The grave estimate from the study means that death from air pollution in Australia is 10 times more likely than a fatal road accident.

"With these high levels of mortality and morbidity impacts, we look to our leaders to make the decisions required to reduce the social, economic and human costs of vehicle emissions," co-lead researcher from the University of Melbourne Clare Walter said.

The study conducted by the Melbourne Climate Futures used a peer-reviewed New Zealand study of particulate matter — or PM 2.5 — and nitrogen dioxide levels, to assess the risk for Australia.

The New Zealand study estimated that country's traffic pollution death toll at 3,300 premature deaths per year.

A 2021 study had estimated that all air pollution caused around 2,000 deaths a year in Australia – a number that has been widely used since then.

In an expert position statement released on Friday, the researchers said more robust data was needed to quantify the health and economic effects of traffic emissions.

Air pollution is caused by both man-made and natural sources including heavy industry, vehicle emissions and wood fire heaters as well as dust storms and bushfires.

Particulate matter formed by combustion processes is particularly small and can enter the bloodstream leading to systemic inflammation and detrimental effects on organs throughout the body.

Air pollution can cause a wide range of harm to the human body. It has been linked to illnesses including stroke, diabetes, asthma, lung cancer, premature birth and low birth weight.

Nitrogen dioxide is a gas formed from high temperature combustion, such as emissions from vehicles, power stations and industrial processes.


Biased reading list for Australian High School students

Of the five Australians who have won the Booker Prize, which one is on the NSW HSC English set text list? Of course you knew it was Aravind Diga whose novel White Tiger won in 2008. The other four winners of the Booker have yet to make it on to the racist NSW HSC reading list. Why DBC Pierre (Vernon God Little), Richard Flanagan (The Narrow Road to the Deep North), Thomas Keneally (Schindler’s Ark) and Peter Carey (Oscar and Lucinda, 1988, A True History of the Kelly Gang, 2001) are not on the list is worth considering.

Diga is on the list and the other four aren’t because of racism. The faceless bureaucrats who set the curriculum are obsessed with ethnicity and give preference to books by non-whites or books by white authors about the problems of non-white people belonging in mainly white societies. It sounds absurd but look at the list. Consider who is on the list of approved texts and, more importantly, who isn’t.

While DBC Pierre’s selection was controversial, there can be no doubt that the books of Flanagan, Carey and Keneally will stand the test of time because of the quality of their writing. In particular Flanagan’s book is recognised as a masterpiece but all three are examples of writing of the highest order and must stand among the best novels ever written by an Australian.

Why then are these brilliant novels not on the NSW HSC reading list? Instead the ideologues who compiled the current farce prefer works such as Swallow the Air by ‘Wiradjuri author’ Tara Winch and Journey to the Stone Country by Alex Miller or Small Island by Jamaican writer Andrea Levy which are all concerned with the awful way that white people treat black people. The books by Miller and Winch were probably selected because the curriculum specifies that the books studied must include, ‘a range of Australian texts, including texts by Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander authors and those that give insights into diverse experiences of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples’. The book by Levy was presumably selected because it shows that the awful way that black people are treated extends across the globe and is not just limited to the racist cesspool which some people call Australia. These books, and the others like them on the reading list, are not bad novels, but neither are they great works of art and it would be interesting to hear from the people who selected them as to why they consistently prefer second-rate novels when there is an abundance of great literature available.

It is not only great Australian writers who are absent from the HSC reading list. We see the same reluctance to include great writers on the list when we consider British and American authors. Any list of the very best of contemporary or recent fiction by northern hemisphere writers must include people such as John Updike, Phillip Roth, Cormack McCarthy and Ian McEwan.

The funniest book about male adolescent sexuality ever written is incontestably Portnoy’s Complaint and perhaps it may be too risqué for a high school audience but The Human Stain and American Pastoral, also by Roth will be read generations from now for an insight into post-World War II America in the same way that we look to Balzac for insight into post-Napoleonic France. Updike’s novels cover the same territory with equally majestic and insightful prose which makes the stuff the HSC students have to digest seem amateurish. Cormack McCarthy’s The Road about the journey of a father and his son across post-apocalyptic America, was probably not written with the NSW HSC syllabus in mind but, if ever a book was written to capture the imagination of an adolescent male, this is it.

There are dozens of writers around the globe whose work offers us great insight into our contemporary world and who demonstrate the power and the beauty of ideas expressed in precise prose. Instead of putting the best of modern writing before HSC students, by focussing on works by non-white writers who are mainly concerned with issues of race, the NSW Board of studies is simply going to leave most HSC students bored with studies.

The decision to promote second-order fiction and to ignore the abundance of contemporary great literature that would capture the imagination of students must produce the same sort of disengagement we see in Chinese students who are required to immerse themselves in the riches of Xi Jinping Thought. The difference is that while Xi Jinping is steadily crushing any form of public dissent, for the moment, in Australia, we still have the ability to produce open debate about the relationship between ideology and power. The furore over the establishment of university courses focusing on Western Civilisation is a manifestation of that ideological struggle. The HSC reading list which is a product of the current academic ruling class, and which pushes an ideological barrow not supported by most Australians, is another. Step by step and book by book, the academic Left is chipping away at the legitimacy of the ideas that have shaped the modern world.

According to US academic Ambereen Dadabhoy, ‘Shakespeare is implicated in the hostility and violence, the currency of racism, experienced by those “of dark skin”.’ She is not alone. Google ‘Shakespeare and racism’ and hundreds of articles addressing this issue are available. The same applies if we ask Google if Shakespeare was a misogynist or an antisemite. There are hundreds of articles investigating these issues. From my unscientific reading, approximately half come to Shakespeare’s defence and find him not guilty but that still leaves 50 per cent of the people who examine these issues inclined to consider the greatest writer in the English speaking world for the past one thousand years, guilty of at least one of the wokerati’s trio of capital sins.

People in power all too often seem unable to distinguish between racist plays and plays about racism and the higher up the academic hierarchy one goes, the more the ‘experts’ judge the work of Shakespeare against the current race-obsessed intellectual climate rather than in relation to the Elizabethan age in which he wrote.

The idea that Shakespeare was a racist, misogynist or antisemite was rarely considered until recently. But increasingly, The Shrew, The Merchant and Othello are seen less as masterpieces and more as problematic plays unsuitable for study in secondary schools. The madness must be stopped. ?


Students suspended from Sydney University for disrupting Turnbull speech

They and other students used megaphones to prevent Turnbull from speaking

Two students who protested against a speech by Malcolm Turnbull at Sydney University last year have been suspended after a university investigation found they violated the former prime minister’s freedom of speech.

Sydney University administrators told student activists Maddie Clarke, 22, and Deaglan Godwin, 23, they would be suspended for one year and one semester respectively, for their roles in disrupting an event run by the university’s law society, in which law school alumni Turnbull was invited to speak to current students.

About a dozen student protesters converged on the room where Turnbull had just started to speak in September last year.

“Can I just ask, how many of you would like me to speak today, or how many of you would like me to leave?” Turnbull asked the room of students.

“How many of you would like to pay $100,000 for university?” retorted now-suspended Godwin. “F--- back off to Mosman, F--- back off to Wentworth.”

The university launched an internal investigation following the event, during which a private lawyer interviewed witnesses and the two protesters, before preparing a report for the university’s registrar. The students were bound by strict confidentiality agreements and were not allowed to talk about the investigation. The university ultimately found the students had violated Turnbull’s freedom of speech and made him and other students afraid.

Clarke, who had previously been given a suspended suspension (a sort of final warning that does not involve a student being suspended from classes) for protesting in front of a pro-life stall last year, was suspended for one year, and is not allowed to participate in classes.

Godwin was suspended for a semester.

“I fully accept the right for people to hear Malcolm Turnbull,” he said. “The aim of the protest was never to shut it down, but to present an alternative point of view that has now been silenced by the university.”

“The university talks about being a marketplace of ideas, but when ideas that are critical of the status quo are put forward ... they’re shut down, and the people that put them forward face intimidation and disciplinary procedures.”

While the university said it cannot comment on specific cases, a spokesperson said: “We have a rich history of activism and protest on our campuses, and all students and staff have the right to express themselves freely, as long as it’s done safely and in accordance with our policies and the law”.

“We don’t take any disciplinary action lightly, knowing it has consequences for our students. Our Discipline Rule governs how we manage misconduct matters and clearly describes our rules, procedures, the impact of penalties and appeal rights.”

At the time, Turnbull decried the protest as “fascism”, saying it was a “dreadful state of affairs” and a “very sad day” for his alma mater. He was approached for comment.


Victorian duck hunting season to go ahead despite growing opposition

The duck hunting season in Victoria will go ahead this year with a reduced daily limit of birds shooters can kill. The Victorian government decision, confirmed on Friday, comes after increased efforts from community groups to get the yearly practice banned.

The season will run from April 26 to May 30 inclusive from 8am until 30 minutes after sunset, with a bag limit of four birds per day. There will also be changes to start times and the species that can be hunted, the Game Management Authority said.

The blue-winged shoveler and hardhead species were recently listed as threatened so are not allowed to be hunted.

The parameters for the 2023 season have been informed by concerns regarding rates of wounding ducks, poor behaviour by some hunters and that bird habitats are in environmental decline, the government body said.

Committee to examine recreational bird hunting

As the duck hunting season for 2023 was confirmed, the government simultaneously announced plans to establish a special body to examine the social and economic impact of duck hunting.

The Legislative Council select committee will hold public hearings to hear from hunting associations, animal welfare groups, and regional communities.

The government will introduce a motion in the upper house of parliament to establish the committee during the next sitting week, and if it passes, a final report will be tabled by August 31.

Hunters and the general public can report irresponsible behaviour and illegal hunting to the Game Management Authority via its website or by contacting police.

Illegal behaviour includes hunting threatened or protected wildlife, hunting in prohibited areas, hunting outside the designated season dates and times, use of toxic shot and failing to immediately retrieve a shot bird.

Hunters must have completed a Waterfowl Identification Test as well as holding a valid game and firearms licence before being permitted to hunt ducks.




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