Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Australian building approvals hit 11-year low in blow to hopes of solution to rental, housing crisis

There is actually no rental housing shortage in Australia. Huge numbers of dwellings have been taken out of long-term rental and advertised as holiday lettings, via AirBnb and the like. If all the holiday lettings were transferred into long term availability, the rental shortage would vanish. Governments are aware of that but cannot do much about it.

They need to ask WHY owners are putting their houses into a high-maintenance and intensive management situation. Why are owners making more work for themselves? There is only one main reason for that. Holiday lets escape the onerous regulations on long-term letting. It follows that replacing all the long term regulations with the same low level of control that prevails for holiday lets would rapidly see lots of dwellings back in the long-term market.

But governments love their extensive "pro-tenant" regulations so no change is likely. The rental shortage is goverment-created, not a deficiency in housing supply

Australia’s building approvals have hit an 11-year low, in a fresh new blow to hopes of a quick solution to our housing crisis.

According to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics: “the total number of dwellings approved fell 8.1 per cent in April, in seasonally adjusted terms, following a 1.0 per cent decrease in March”.

That April figure is the lowest monthly figure in over a decade.

“Total dwellings approved fell to the lowest level since April 2012,” Daniel Rossi, ABS head of construction statistics said. “The overall decline was driven by a fall in approvals for private sector dwellings excluding houses, which fell 16.5 per cent, to the lowest level since January 2012

Rising interest rates and inflation are affecting the number of new home builds. Picture: Brendan Radke

“Private sector house approvals also continued to decline, falling 3.8 per cent in April, following a 3.7 per cent decrease in March.”

The slowing rate of construction is likely to exacerbate Australia’s housing and rental crisis, at least in the short to medium term.

Master Builders Australia said the slowing rate of construction would “impact Australia’s ability to meet its housing target”.

The Albanese Government has pledged to build one million homes over five years from 2024.

“The reverses in new home building approvals come in the aftermath of twelve months of rising interest rates and inflation at its highest in over 30 years,” Master Builders Australia Acting CEO Shaun Schmitke said.

“The biggest drops were in higher density home building approvals and home renovations falling 16.9 per cent and 26.6 per cent respectively.

“Although demand for medium and high-density housing is surging, the pipeline of new stock is rapidly diminishing.

“The fall in new builds will exacerbate pressures in the rental market at the worst possible time with media reports today showing the portion of income needed to pay rent lifting to the highest level since June 2014

“To ensure we continue to supply enough homes to house all Australians, governments need to look at what impact their regulations and policies have on the cost of building homes and on the cost of building social infrastructure.”

Record high immigration is also set to put further strain on Australia’s housing market.

According to the PropTrack New Homes Report – May 2023: “While the government has committed to increasing housing stock, construction industry headwinds and fast population growth may hamper plans to provide a prompt solution to the housing crisis”.


Must not say a divisive issue is divisive

With a strong Left/Right split on the issue, how can it not be divisive?

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says the success of the Voice to Parliament referendum will depend on millions of conversations across the country.

Channel 9 has become the latest broadcaster to come under fire for its reporting on the Voice to Parliament, after the referendum was labelled “divisive” in a news bulletin.

Australians supporting the Voice have taken to social media to call out the “despicable” act that involved Sydney newsreader Amber Sherlock reading out the phrase “the divisive Voice to Parliament” at the start of an intro to the next story.

The incident occurred on Monday evening and was used to highlight Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s visit to Adelaide “for a special keynote speech”, the annual Lowitja O’Donoghue Orations.

In the speech, Mr Albanese addressed his support for the Voice and called on Australians to “do one better”, while dismissing claims it would divide the nation.

Sherlock later crossed to reporter Mike Lorigan to highlight Mr Albanese’s success at the talk, but pro-Voice supporters were upset with the use of the word “divisive”.

“So Channel 9 are now officially referring to The Voice as ‘the divisive Voice to Parliament’ in their news reports? Just disgraceful,” one Yes supporter tweeted.

They later added they heard the word “by chance” and initially believed they had misheard the comment.

“When I replayed, I couldn’t believe (Sherlock) said that,” they said. “It is kind of frightening.”

Another supporter labelled the wording as “despicable” and “outrageous”, stating she felt “quite shaken”.


Work until 70: higher pension age on horizon as life expectancy rises

Australia’s pension age will rise to 67 on July 1 this year and needs to increase further, new research has found, but it warns it should be a gradual climb spanning decades.

As France braces for more nationwide protests next week over its planned retirement age rise from 62 to 64, a new report by Macquarie University’s Business School says Australia’s pension system will require a pension age of 70 to be sustainable amid a fast-growing group of very old retirees.

However, it says the higher pension age of 70 should not be introduced until 2050, following a rise to 68 by 2030 and 69 by 2036.

“As Australians live longer than before, it presents a challenge to the government to fund retirees through a pension scheme,” said Macquarie University statistician Professor Hanlin Shang.

“Raising the pension age is the obvious way to sustain the current pension scheme without collecting more taxes,” he said.

The report’s suggested time frame for pension age increases is much slower than a 2014 Liberal Government plan to reach 70 by 2035.

That plan was abandoned in 2018, and Professor Shang said it had faced stiff public opposition and claims it was causing anxiety among older people.

He said raising the pension age to 70 by the mid-2030s would be “exceeding the increase in human life expectancy” and his analysis, conducted with Monash University professors Rob J. Hyndman and Yijun Zeng, found a slower gradual rise would sustain the current system without requiring extra federal government input.

“While it’s great that we are living longer, it may not be good for the government pension system.

“Who would have ever thought there would be so many centenarians? As people live longer, there is a longevity risk and they will consume more pension from the government.”

Professor Shang said government figures showed in 2021 there were 3700 centenarians in Australia, and this was expected to reach 50,000 by 2050.

Social researcher Mark McCrindle said Australia’s pension age would need to increase but “incremental change is the way to go”.

“People live for the present – if it’s happening down the track and if it’s in small steps, we are fine with that,” he said.

“We are living longer than we were a decade ago and the trend continues to point up.”

Mr McCrindle said average life expectancies for all Australians would exceed 85 by 2030, and seniors had more active lifestyles – people in their 80s were getting hip replacements and wanting to do more.

“It’s a good new story that’s driving the ageing of the population,” he said.

“People are active in work later. Because we are in a knowledge economy people can work later and retire later.

“It’s arguable that people’s skill set grows with age in a knowledge economy – their value becomes increased in the workforce as they age.”

Compulsory superannuation is also helping Australians enjoy active lives as seniors, although Professor Shang said most Australians reaching pension age still received a full or partial age pension.

He said Australia already had one of the highest pension ages in the OECD, on par with Iceland and Norway.


Federal Labor needs to make QLD inroads: PM

The Qld vote has often stymied Federal Labor

Labor will need to make inroads in Queensland at the next federal election, Anthony Albanese has told colleagues, but he made no mention of the upcoming Fadden by-election.

Labor will need to make inroads in Queensland at the next federal election, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has told colleagues, but he made no mention of the upcoming Fadden by-election.

Mr Albanese addressed colleagues in Labor’s caucus meeting on Tuesday, noting the resignation of WA Premier Mark McGowan.

Mr McGowan’s popularity helped sweep Labor to power federally, with the party picking up four seats from the Coalition in the western state – securing the PM a two-seat majority.

Despite Mr McGowan’s absence, Mr Albanese told MPs Labor could pick up at least two more WA seats at the next election, before naming target seats across the country.

While he named specific seats in other states, such as Menzies in Victoria and Banks in NSW, Mr Albanese did not refer to any particular Queensland seats.

Labor went backwards in Queensland in 2022, losing the seat of Griffith to the Greens while failing to win back any regional seats from the LNP.

It will face a battle on two-fronts in the state, as it seeks to fend off the Greens on its left while seeking to take ground from the Coalition to secure its hold on government.

The upcoming by-election in Fadden, to be held on July 15, was not raised.

Labor has yet to preselect a candidate for the safe LNP seat, but is expected to open nominations from Tuesday.

In the past two federal elections, 2022 and 2109, Labor has had eight target seats including Forde, Flynn, Dickson, Petrie, Dawson, Bonner and Leichhardt.

The Albanese Government increased its majority to three seats after it won the Aston by-election in Victoria earlier this year.




Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Covid censorship tyranny: fear and control used to ‘keep us safe’

What we saw with our own eyes during the pandemic pandemonium was bad enough – a pregnant woman arrested in her own home for daring to dissent online about lockdowns; police herding people off beaches and out of parks; rubber bullets fired at construction workers protesting against vaccine mandates – but the secret actions of government revealed this week are equally disturbing.

Under Coalition and Labor federal governments Australians have been subjected to covert, online censorship on Covid-19 related matters – and it is still happening.

That this has not escalated immediately into a national scandal tells us much about the way the political/bureaucratic/media class has colluded in a mutually beneficial orgy of fear and control since the early days of the pandemic. Sadly, it also reveals how complacent and compliant the public has become, enabling and encouraging the erosion of basic liberties.

We’ve simultaneously experienced the tyrannies of Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World. Police powers, blocked borders, lockdowns, rings of steel, school closures and curfews delivered an authoritarian, Orwellian subjugation, while it was Aldous Huxley who foresaw us buying into the fear porn and distractions, dobbing on our neighbours, meekly accepting the rules, propaganda and censorship.

It is only because dissident Liberal senator Alex Antic pursued Covid-19 censorship through a Freedom of Information application that we know the basics of what transpired in online information surveillance. But we still do not know the full details or extent of the government’s social media thought control.

To December last year the Department of Home Affairs had intervened 4213 times with digital platforms to have pandemic posts removed. We know that not all bids were successful; we know very little about what was deleted; but, worryingly, we know it is still occurring and will continue until funding expires at the end of next month.

Thanks to Elon Musk’s exposure of the Twitter files, Barcelona-based journalist Andrew Lowenthal has been able to reveal a small sample of the federal government’s interventions on that platform. One tweet showed Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews sporting a medical mask emblazoned with the words “This mask is as useless as me.” Our government’s submission to Twitter argued this amounted to “potentially harmful information” that contradicted “official information on face mask efficacy”.

The scientific basis of this call is highly debatable, and censoring such a view was an attempt to silence a medically important and contentious debate that never should have been banned during the pandemic.

We cannot ignore the political context either and the possible aim of shielding the premier from ridicule. Canberra clearly was also keen to ensure public debate allowed no room for dissent, and delivered only meek compliance with its extraordinary interventions.

It is outrageous that such a harmlessly contrarian post could be censored secretly by government. There has been no transparency or accountability on these matters.

Other tweets the government asked Twitter to delete include an observation that then health minister Greg Hunt had used “emotionally manipulative language” and one ridiculed people over queueing for seven hours to take a Covid-19 test. Our government even asked Twitter to take down an overseas tweet retweeted into “Australia’s digital information environment”.

The arrogance and unaccountable overreach of government here is breathtaking. Not only were they on a mission to “keep us safe” but also to protect us from any debates about their methods for doing so – presumably the politicians and bureaucrats believed open debate of contentious medical and public health decisions might have turned a locked-down and acquiescent population into an unruly mob in festering dystopia.

Asked about the revelations in Senate estimates this week, Emergency Management Minister Murray Watt said he was “comfortable” with this digital censorship, which was a “really good thing”. Watt said it was about “governments providing and ensuring the Australian public receives information based on science rather than … on the fringes of the Twittersphere.”

Yet this is not about disseminating government information; this is actually about meddling online to ensure nobody can question or disagree with the government’s proclamations. We are talking about crucial issues such as vaccine efficacy, risks and mandates, as well as masks, lockdowns, border closures and other measures that were highly contentious in scientific debates at the time and on which in some cases the official lines subsequently have been proven incorrect.

We were constantly told, for instance, that there was a community benefit in vaccination for those who were not vulnerable because it would prevent infection and transmission – we were constantly told about the “pandemic of the unvaccinated”. But from early on it seemed this was not true and so it has been proven.

Yet it seems this vital debate, too, must have been covertly curtailed through this secret government censorship. With political consensus from the major parties, media buy-in and public debate corralled, where was the opportunity for proper consideration of pandemic response alternatives?

That politicians who would claim to be liberal-minded or conservative would defend this overreach is extraordinary. Yet, with very few exceptions, politicians of all stripes defend these secretive and unaccountable intrusions on free speech or turn a blind eye (either that or all their strident protests are being censored from their Twitter accounts).

The mechanics for this insidious intrusion on our free speech belong to counter-terrorism measures. Civil libertarians have long argued that laws introduced to combat terrorism could curtail freedoms more broadly – in this case they have been proven right.

The Home Affairs Department runs an online surveillance function to spot terrorism and violent extremism material so it can work with the digital giants to have it taken down. In the early days of the pandemic, the Health Department – presumably at the behest of the cabinet – tasked Home Affairs to watch out for Covid-19 misinformation too. How very convenient.

Across six years there have been more than 13,000 requests to delete material, with more than 9000 of them related to terrorism and extremism. But in just under three years there have been more than 4000 related to the pandemic.

Lowenthal has accessed 18 emails to Twitter focusing on 222 tweets, which must be the tip of the iceberg because the department says most of the requests went to Facebook. He notes the public servants doing this undercover fact-checking repeatedly misspelled the word extremism in their job title, which is less than reassuring.

The unit conducting this work could have been named by George Orwell himself – the Social Cohesion Division. Alarmingly, the email correspondence refers to the government and the social media platform as partners and deliber­ately invokes the Five Eyes terminology of our intelligence sharing with the US, Britain, Canada and New Zealand.

The world’s most prominent Twitter files reporter, Matt Taibbi, has written about the revelations under the headline “Australia’s Creepy Covid Cops”. And the leading lockdown and vaccine mandate critic, Stanford University epidemiologist Jay Bhattacharya, welcomed the reports as some “sunshine” in Australia after “three long years”.

Taibbi wrote that the Department of Home Affairs emails “show a stricter, more nakedly dystopian approach to speech control” than was seen in American intelligence communications.

“Australian authorities in these emails are seen trying to cast a wider net over potential speech violations than we’re used to seeing, targeting hyperbolic language (eg a claim that PCR tests are ‘shoved up into your brain’), jokes, tweets from people with literal handfuls of followers, and medical recommendations that were either merely controversial or later proved correct,” Taibbi wrote.

Yet in Australia, who cares? My report on Monday hardly set the world on fire. Ben Fordham followed up on 2GB the following day, and Antic joined me on Sky News but he has not been inundated with interview requests.

Antic got more media attention back when he tried to turn up to parliament without proof of vaccination. One of the few politicians to highlight his revelations is One Nation leader Pauline Hanson, who continues to call for a Covid response royal commission.

This was not the only censorship that occurred during the pandemic. Social media activists and anti-News Corp campaigners weaponised the digital giants’ pandemic rules and the edicts of the World Health Organisation to challenge what Sky News put to air.

At Sky my colleagues and I had to waste huge amounts of time and energy haggling with lawyers about what facts, opinions and dissent we could share while ensuring compliance with the broadcasting codes of practice or without having our videos banned from digital platforms (some clips were taken down and many others not posted to comply with the platform policies). The public debate suffered and crucial information was either suppressed or downplayed.

We are talking about scientific experts questioning vaccine efficacy, disagreeing with mandates, suggesting more liberal lockdown and social distancing strategies, and discussing the potential of alternative treatments. These were vital debates, with some of the dissenting views proven correct over time – yet they were constantly thwarted.

Not only was this an affront to freedom of expression, it probably prolonged the unnecessary suffering of many citizens. It might have cost lives, too, with too many healthy young people convinced to get the jab on the basis it would deliver a community benefit.

We had governments drastically overreact to the pandemic with illiberal bans on travel, lockdowns, school closures and the like. And all the while they overtly and covertly suppressed dissent.

This is another reason we simply must have a full national royal commission into our pandemic response. Anthony Albanese promised an inquiry from opposition and confirmed this intent in government but has done nothing about it. Neither the major parties nor most media are agitating for this. Perhaps they would rather not examine their three years of co-operation in fear and control.

We must fight back against this insidious trend of censorship in public debate. It is already being leveraged to stifle discussion of global warming and climate change policy, as well as debate on the Indigenous voice.

The unimpeded and unendorsed expansion of government power, unauthorised contraction of citizens’ rights and unannounced restriction of media freedom might have done more harm to our society than the virus. It is a dramatic demonstration of the fragility of our hard-won democratic ideals and a reminder that freedom can be wasted on the free.


Energy dreams trump reality

Michael de Percy challenged Chris Bowen in person at the Sydney Institute regarding whether or not the government had a Plan B to keep the lights on if their Plan A fails. No coherent reply was forthcoming, and it looks as though the best we can expect from Bowen are more subsidies to keep the coal fires burning.

The official energy story is not likely to have a happy ending. The time has come for a new energy narrative based on realism and concern for the welfare of people and the planet. Let’s be energy realists and responsible stewards of the environment.

Energy realism rules in China and the rest of the developing world where they scramble for all the coal, oil, and gas they can get. Meanwhile, the nations of the West emulate the mythical farmer who incrementally reduced the rations of his workhorse until it died. We run down coal power and gas until there is not enough conventional power and parts of the grid are likely to die on nights when there is little or no wind.

Britain and Germany have passed that point and they are rapidly de-industrialising. Their collapse is cushioned by power from neighbours like Norway, France, and Poland who are well-served with conventional power.

Australia has recently reached that point, but we don’t have the benefit of extension cords. Our cushion is de-industrialisation as billions of dollars of investment in power-intensive industries has been outsourced to the US where energy is much cheaper.

We will be in dangerous territory if another coal plant closes while demand is boosted by population growth and the electrification of cars and households in places like the ACT where gas is banned.

The official Plan A is to increase the amount of wind and solar capacity, plus battery, however, we know that while renewable energy can displace coal, it cannot replace it.

The exit from coal is not accelerated by increasing penetration on good days because it is limited by the lowest level of output on nights with little or no wind, as a convoy travels at the speed of the slowest vessel.

Turning to the moral case for fossil fuels and the petrochemical industries. They enable people to live lives of ease and comfort that were inconceivable for the masses in the past. They are the basis of modern life, providing thousands of products that are ubiquitous in modern society. These include items that we use practically every minute of the day from putting on our makeup and cleaning our teeth to undergoing medical treatment. Imagine the pharmaceutical industry without petrochemical products.

From the Heartland Institute challenged the United Nations after the climate conference COP 27 in 2022:

The UN needs to have a plan to be able to support the demands of the eight billion on this globe for all the products and infrastructures that exist today that did not exist a few hundred years ago.

Efforts to cease the use of crude oil, without a planned replacement, could be the greatest threat to civilisation’s eight billion.

That is demonstrated by the overwhelming dominance of fossil fuels in the total energy use for Britain. (Electricity accounts for about a third of total energy consumption.)

Alex Epstein is a leading protagonist of the new energy narrative. In 2014 he published The Moral Case For Fossil Fuels and last year he released Fossil Future to explain that hydrocarbons and nuclear power are cheaper than (firmed) intermittent energy. They are reliable and have less environmental impact.

As for the environmental credentials of ‘clean energy’, look at the trail of environmental and human damage from the beginning to the end of the life of batteries, turbines, and solar panels. The cleanliness of ‘clean’ energy is one of the Big Lies of our time. Wind and solar power are not cheap or energy-efficient, after taking account of the energy required for mining, transport, processing, construction, and disposal of the hardware at the end of the line.


The renewables backup problem

In the Snowy 2.0 project,‘Florence’, the gigantic tunneller, has fallen through some soft ground and become hopelessly stuck. She is now wedged in tonnes of earth and rocks and appears to be immovable.

But who can forget the promises made by Malcolm Turnbull, then prime minister, about the potential of Snowy 2.0? Pumped hydro would be one of the missing jigsaw pieces that would enable a deep penetration of wind and solar generation in our electricity grid. It was going to cost around $2 billion, although this had the same credibility as the original estimates of the cost of the NBN, which were devised on a drink coaster.

Moreover, the figure of $2 billion never included the cost of the additional transmission needed to hook the project up to the grid. That would cost more billions and would be subject to fierce local opposition as the required pylons and cables cut an ugly swath through rural land.

Even so, those were the salad days for the project. Water would be pumped up during the day to the upper dam – electricity prices would be cheap and generated mainly by renewable energy – and released when needed to the lower dam, thereby generating electricity. OK, there’s a lot of energy lost in the process and, of course, no new electricity is actually generated. And given the capital costs, it’s not clear it would ever generate a rate of return. But what the heck, when you are saving the planet.

We were told that Snowy 2.0 would act like a giant battery, providing needed backup to intermittent renewable energy. The nominal capacity was around 2,000 megawatts, about the size of a standard coal-fired power station, although it would only be able to operate for several hours each day. It was to be ready in 2023-24, which now sounds hopelessly optimistic.

The most likely scenario now is that the project will be completed by the end of the decade and the total cost, not including transmission, will be around $10 billion. Let’s not forget that stuck-Florence is costing an arm and leg because this type of specialised machinery – she was built in Germany – is leased and daily fees will still be ticking over. One way or another, the operators will find a way around the Florence problem.

The bigger picture is this: renewable energy will simply not work without sufficient backup and it’s the backup conundrum that has everyone stumped. Even if Snowy 2.0 had gone well, it is only a tiny part of the backup solution. The trouble is that Australia’s topography simply doesn’t lend itself to multiple pumped hydro projects.

The Kidston project in far-north Queensland has been nearly a decade in the making and this was starting, by chance, with two dams at different levels that existed because of a former mining operation. The biggest capital contribution to the project has come from governments, with the investors contributing a smaller amount. When it is eventually finished, it will help power households in the area but any cost-benefit analysis would show that this project should never have gone ahead.

The hope of the side was always batteries, the bigger the better. But the assumed technology leaps have simply not occurred. They provide a few hours of power and do help with stabilising the grid through frequency control. But given the components required to build these batteries – think lithium, cobalt, nickel – and the shortage of them, it’s not clear that batteries are a universal solution. They also remain expensive, in part because so many countries around the world are following the same path: renewable energy plus batteries.

Gas plants are the obvious solution, but they of course emit carbon dioxide. While closed-cycle gas turbines are much more efficient than the open-cycle ones – they use less gas and emit less carbon dioxide – it is the latter which are best designed for backup because they can be cranked up at short notice to cover shortfalls from renewable sources. In other words, to make solar and wind viable means of generating electricity, they need to be backed up by relatively emissions-intensive gas plants. You know it makes sense.

It’s also important to note here that the buildout of land-hungry wind and solar means that any existing coal-fired plant is made obsolete before its time. That is because these plants are simply not designed to provide backup power; rather they are designed to provide continuous power with constantly turning turbines. When made to provide backup power, their operating and maintenance costs skyrocket.

The fact is that even the pious Climate Change and Energy Minister, Chris Bowen, cannot make the wind blow or prevent the sun from setting. Even in his true-believing world, there is a need for backup power. Building more and more solar and wind installations doesn’t overcome this problem and is highly inefficient of itself.

A number of countries, including the UK, Canada and France, have become very lukewarm about nuclear energy but are now having second thoughts. These governments are committing to substantial investments in new nuclear installations, which are not necessarily well-designed to provide backup but can do so without any emissions.

Over time, these governments may conclude that it’s just easier (and cheaper) to go fully nuclear and forget the turbines and solar panels. After all, these renewable installations wear out quickly – probably off-shore turbines last only 15 years – and will need to be replaced. This will leave Australia in a pickle, with a motley collection of wind, solar, gas plants, ugly big batteries and possibly Snowy 2.0, adding up to unreliable and expensive power.

Just perhaps a future government will see sense and take a different path that involves nuclear power. This could be about the same time that Florence is finally rescued from her uncomfortable resting spot.


The silencing and vilification of women and girls

Edie Wyatt

The UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, Reem Alsalem has issued a statement voicing concerns about the silencing and vilification of women and girls who are attempting to engage in debate about the human rights of women and girls.

Ms Alsalem said that ‘women and girls who emphasise the specific needs of women born female and who call for and engage in discussions around the definitions of sex gender and gender identity and the interaction of rights’ should be able to ‘express themselves and their concerns on these issues in safety and in dignity’.

It shouldn’t be an astounding statement, but it is, and at a time when the Australian government is ramping up censorship toward the very people Reem Alsalem is refereeing to, gender-critical activists…

Let me take you back, if I may, to the dark days of November 2022. I was still in a Twitter dungeon, banished from the bird app for stating that men pretending to be lesbians is rape culture. My appeals were falling on the deaf ears of soon-to-be unemployed community safety moderators.

It was as if the ABC knew they would be facing the dark shadow of women like me emerging from the musky underworld to say the things in the light that should only be spoken of in the dark.

The headline read, Australia’s eSafety commissioner writes to Elon Musk concerned about Twitter’s direction. In the story, our ABC warned about the risk of jeopardising ‘safety online, and allowing misinformation to flourish’. The eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, was pictured next to Musk, who was referred to in the article, and by Grant herself, as the ‘chief twit’.

‘If the first week of the chief twit’s tenure is any indication, I think they have a bumpy ride ahead of them. It’s said that content moderation is not rocket science but in some ways it’s more complex and nuanced than that,’ Ms Inman Grant said.

According to feminist publication Reduxx, the eSafety Commissioner has now begun a ‘censorship rampage’. Reduxx claim that they were told to ‘censor or delete an article’ by the eSaftey Commissioner, before having it hidden from Australian audiences. I have no idea if that is true or not, but if it is true, that raises potential infractions of Australian law.

For engaging in political action in the gender debate, Kirralee Smith also allegedly found herself disciplined by the eSafety Commissioner, allegedly having her Facebook page deleted. She has now received attention from the NSW police, with the issuing of an Apprehensive Violence Orders to Smith.

The UK’s Daily Mail described Smith as a ‘campaigner fighting to “keep blokes out of women’s sport”’. You would never see Smith described that way in the Australian media. The national broadcaster covered the issue, their headline read, ‘Football Australia to accelerate trans-inclusive high performance policy following anti-trans harassment cases in NSW.’

Gender-critical feminists like me, now happily tap away on the bird app, while facing the very real prospect that the Australian government censor or a member of our state police will punish us for our words.

Last week a notice was given to my friend and former breastfeeding counsellor Jasmine Sussex by Twitter, advising her of an Australian law infraction. I met Jasmine in person just over a year ago at a Brisbane radical feminist conference, but she first contacted me in 2021 when I wrote an article in The Spectator Oz titled On “Chestfeeding”.

At this time Jasmine’s long relationship with the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) was ending in some level of pain and bitterness. As I wrote in my article, the ABA was collaborating with an organisation called Rainbow Families. The result was the adoption by the ABA of some gender identity ideology-based practices that Jasmine found problematic and dangerous.

Jasmine raised concerns with the ABA, that the inclusion of men in their purview meant an alignment with very shoddy and experimental medicine, just to name one of the many red flags that she raised. Jasmine lost her position as a breastfeeding counsellor and has become entrenched in activism on the gender identity vs sex issue.

Reem Alsalem said that she is concerned about the reprisals women face for speaking on this issue such as ‘censorship, legal harassment, loss of jobs, loss of income, removal from social media platforms, speaking engagements and the refusal to publish research conclusions and articles’. I now know dozens of women in Australia who have faced these kinds of reprisals because they refuse to yield the factual definition of sex.

Women like Jasmine speak up because they can’t turn from what they see. In the world of breastfeeding, the inclusion of gender identity ideology in women’s support infrastructure, is leading to the assumption that male people can produce milk suitable for an infant, and these males should be supported in the pursuit of feeding an infant from their body by the entirety of the medical profession, including birth and lactation specialists. Apart from the coercion that is required to implement such a practice, the process by which endocrinologists are getting human males to exude a substance from their nipples, seems to be ethically debased and scientifically unsupported.

Jasmine Sussex and a Brisbane women’s rights activist recently took to Twitter to highlight the disturbing promotion of males feeding infants through an untested chemically induced process. Both women have received notices that their tweets are in violation of Australian law, and the tweets are now hidden from Australian audiences.

When I raised this issue on Twitter recently, a trans activist posted a study in response, as an argument for the support of men ‘chest-feeding’. It was called Case Report: Induced Lactation in a Transgender Woman and it involved experimentation on an adopted human infant.

Isidora Sanger, who is a medical doctor and author of Born in the Right Body, says that the study is not only unethical but ‘fraught with incomplete and misleading information, disingenuous analysis and undeclared conflict of interest’. In what could be a warning to health professionals in Australia, Sanger said the study is ‘an example of how transgender health clinics prioritise emotional needs of trans-identified males over the welfare of women and children’.

If what the women are saying in the censored tweets is true, endocrinologists could be conducting unaccountable experiments on human infants in this country, and there is not a news outlet in the nation that would cover this using actual words that mean what they say.

The smoke and mirrors of ‘inclusive’, ‘queer’, and ‘diversity’, mask an unpalatable tale of misogyny and abuse of power that is told only when we are permitted to use words with correct meanings. The reality is that gender identity cannot survive without linguistic subterfuge and the broadscale censorship of women declaring their bodily needs and political interests.

Reen Alsalem said in her statement:

‘Sweeping restrictions on the ability of women and men to raise concerns regarding the scope of rights based on gender identity and sex are in violation of the fundamentals of freedom of thought and freedom of belief and expression.’

How we allowed Australia to lag so badly in the human rights of women and children is baffling to me.

Alsalem also raised concerns about the smearing of women who are organising politically to raise issues of the protection of women and girls, specifically their smearing as ‘Nazis’. Our national broadcaster is leaning heavily into this narrative, with a story recently published about neo-Nazi groups, strongly linking them to women who organise to fight against gender identity laws.

Former Attorney General of Queensland Shannon Fentiman refused to meet with groups of gender-critical women when changing legislation for birth certificates, saying openly in Parliament that such groups ‘cloak their transphobia in the guise of women’s safety’.

Having been involved with such Brisbane-based women’s groups, I find it strange that Fentiman would believe that a bunch of left-leaning, gainfully employed, middle-aged women have decided to risk their jobs, social standing, and physical safety to meet in secret, pool their resources, and engage in political action, with the single objective of picking on a minority group that have no firm definition.

After being in this fight a few years, I can report that trans activists are some of the meanest, nastiest individuals I have ever encountered in my life, and no woman would pick a fight with them without serious consideration. The most aggressive of the activists, stripped of identity signifiers, are mostly straight white men.

We are facing a failure of democracy and a corruption of liberalism and a time when we have a chronic dearth of liberals. The recent problems with John Pesutto and the Victorian Liberals show just how quickly the testicles of the Australian Liberal man will shrink back into his body when he is threatened. It has become obvious that some Victorian Liberals are fleeing for safety in appeasement to gender identity ideology in the face of aggressive state power, or what we used to call tyranny.

Maybe we should send the Victorian Liberal ‘moderates’ away from their Melbourne Pinot Grigio swilling mates for a few days to attend John Stuart Mill Camp, where they could listen to On Liberty on repeat and be subject to images from the Russian gulags, just to remind them what the people of Victoria pay them to be in favour of, and what they are meant to be against.

I hear political commentators regularly citing ‘the trans issue’ as a fringe or minor issue, but if the state can re-define the sex of our body, the role of a mother, and the purpose of a baby, and we are not permitted to critique that, we have already yielded essential liberties. Liberties that we need to politically organise and bring our requests to the state that we fund, to the liberal democratic state that is supposed to be accountable to the people, including women people.




Monday, May 29, 2023

Rolf Harris

There are very many articles currently in the media about the late Rolf Harris -- and all of them excoriate him for his pedophilia, which consisted mostly of non-violent sexual relationships with teenage females.

It seems to me however that we should consider that a man who was a beloved entertainer for most of his life was not wholly bad. I myself was no follower of his but I always wondered at his improbable skill with a large paintbrush.

So what should we think of him as an artist? Predictably, his art has been scorned by critics but I disagree. I just want to make the single point that his portrait of the Queen was exceptionally good. I have seen innumerable pictures and portraits of the queen but, in my view, the Harris portrait best captures her essence, which is the normal goal of portrait painters

The arty-farty establishment will never be able to find in themselves any praise for that picture. They will probably call it "chocolate-boxy". But that is their problem. Much that they praise seems moronic to me. But we are both entitled to our opinions. De gustibus non disputandum est


Bravo! Albanese knows what a woman is

British broadcaster Piers Morgan asked the Prime Minister the question on his new show 'Piers Morgan Uncensored' on Sky News in early May.

Mr Albanese gave a very simple answer to the question, defining a woman as 'an adult female'.

'How difficult was that to answer?,' Morgan then asked.

'Not too hard. I was asked during the campaign actually, but I think that we need to respect people for whoever they are,' Mr Albanese said.

The 'what is a woman' question has become controversial in recent months, with many politicians struggling to answer in fear of upsetting critics or supporters of trans rights.

However Mr Albanese's answer continues to anger many in the transgender community, with some calling him a 'transphobe' and claiming he is using talking points echoed by TERF (Trans-exclusionary radical feminist).

The CEO of Equality Australia, Anna Brown, suggested that the prime minister shouldn't answer a question designed to 'attack' transgender people.

'But when any leader is asked a question designed to attack trans women, they should first call it out for what it is,' she told media.

'They can instead speak to trans people in Australia and directly let them know that they will not be part of the punching down.'

Greens MP Stephen Bates said the prime minister needed to 'get a spine and stop mumbling platitudes in an attempt to placate the transphobes'.

'You don't get to march with us in Mardi Gras and then ignore us when things get tricky for you,' he wrote.

During the interview, Albanese was also grilled by Morgan on the issue of transgender athletes in women's sport.

'That's an example in that the sporting organisations are dealing with that issue,' Mr Albanese said. 'My view is the sporting organisations should deal with that issue.'


Gender transition insurance cover cut for GPs

That would effectively bar them from assisting with gender transitions. They may be able to find another insurer but that may not continue.

One of the country’s biggest medical insurers will no longer cover private practitioners prescribing gender-affirming care to adolescents, in a move that could leave young people languishing on already-stretched public waiting lists.

MDA National, one of four major medical indemnity providers insuring GPs and other private practitioners against legal claims, updated its policy this month to exclude cover for claims “arising from aspects of gender transitioning treatment for under 18-year-old patients”.

Dr Michael Gannon, the organisation’s president, said young people experiencing gender dysphoria should be initially assessed by multidisciplinary teams in hospital – not by GPs.

“This is the same hospital system that is very, very comfortable placing greater demands on general practitioners,” he said. “It’s simply not fair to ask individual GPs in the suburbs or the bush to be making these complex decisions on their own.”

Gannon said the decision was made in response to legal cases overseas, including the high-profile inquiry into, and subsequent closure of, Britain’s only children’s gender clinic.

“We’re not taking a moral stance or an ethical stance – this is very much an insurance decision,” he said. “We don’t think we can accurately and fairly price the risk of regret.”

Dr Michelle Dutton, a GP in Fitzroy North in Melbourne, said she was leaving MDA National for a different provider before the change takes effect on July 1. “It’s disappointing ... I need to be covered for the work that I do as a GP, and if that work is no longer covered, I need to find a different provider,” she said. “I would have changed anyway because I fundamentally disagree with the decision.”

Dr Portia Predny, a GP at Sydney’s Rozelle Medical Centre and vice-president of the trans health advocacy body AusPATH, said she was concerned the change would further limit the options available to transgender adolescents by discouraging private practitioners from treating them.

“There are very few clinics who actually service this group of patients,” she said. “There’s already barriers to care for this age group – this is care that’s often life-saving, and that’s not an exaggeration.”

She said AusPATH had been reassured by two other major insurers, Avant and Medical Indemnity Protection Society (MIPs), that they would continue to cover GPs prescribing hormones to transgender patients under 18.

Predny said GPs were already working with other healthcare providers, such as psychiatrists and endocrinologists, to provide safe care to young patients.

“To state that the only way for people to access interdisciplinary care is through a multidisciplinary clinic [at a hospital] is misleading,” she said.

NSW has publicly funded gender clinics at Westmead Hospital and Maple Leaf House in Newcastle.

As of March 2023, there were 139 clients aged under 25 waiting for treatment at Maple Leaf House, though a spokesperson said not all those patients would be seeking medical-affirming care.

In Victoria, the Monash Health Gender Clinic is the only specialist public service available to transgender people between the ages of 16 and 18.

Associate Professor Ruth McNair, from the University of Melbourne’s department of general practice, said requiring every young person experiencing gender dysphoria to go through a public gender clinic first would place an even greater strain on waiting lists. “The system is overloaded,” she said. “Kids are left with nowhere to go.”

McNair said GPs who prescribe hormones to underage patients were already very cautious, and any patients with complex clinical histories, such as pre-existing mental health problems or past trauma, were urgently referred to public clinics for specialist treatment.

For young trans people, early support ‘could save a life’
“I consider the risk to be higher if I’m blocking a young person from care,” she said. “What’s the real risk? It’s to the health of the young person.

“It’s a bit short-sighted really. They’re trying to capture the [minority] of cases [where patients regret].”

MDA National will still cover GPs providing repeat prescriptions for gender-affirming hormones and general healthcare for patients with gender dysphoria.

The company said the decision would affect “well under a hundred” of its 40,000 members.

In 2021, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists released a position statement defining a “gender-affirmative approach” as one that accepts rather than questions a child’s statements about their gender identity.

In a rare local case, a Sydney woman is suing her psychiatrist for professional negligence relating to her gender transition, which she began at age 19.

However, the regret rate for people who medically transition in childhood or adolescence remains low.

Last year, a Dutch study published in The Lancet found 98 per cent of 720 transgender participants who started gender-affirming hormones in adolescence continued their treatment into adulthood.

A 2021 systematic review of 27 studies with a combined 7928 transgender patients found about 1 per cent expressed regret after undergoing gender-affirming surgeries.

Eloise Brook, the policy and communication manager at the Gender Centre in Annandale, said the decision jeopardised the “hard work” and investment that has been put into making gender-affirming care more accessible through family GPs.

“This is a moment where I’m fearful for families,” she said. “Insurance should not be the space in which medical decisions should be made.”

Dr Mitch Squire, a GP who provides gender-affirming care to adolescents at his clinic in Sydney’s inner west, said he would have no choice but to move providers if his insurer no longer covered him for the service.

“It would be a pretty straightforward decision for me,” he said. “There is a small but quantifiable regret rate, and given that changes can be permanent, that cover is absolutely essential.”


Bleaching the truth about the reef

For years, the Australian public has been subjected to an unremitting narrative that the Great Barrier Reef faced an existential threat from climate change. Last year a UN-backed mission concluded the world’s biggest coral reef system should be placed on a list of endangered world heritage sites saying, climate change presented a ‘serious challenge’.

Who knew that last year, to very little fanfare, the Australian Institute of Marine Science found, despite six serious bleaching events since 2016, coral cover was the highest it had been in its 36 years of monitoring? Certainly not the Australian public. An Australian Environment Foundation survey of 1,004 Australians found only three per cent were aware of this reality.

Following a relentless campaign of formal complaints by former prime minister Kevin Rudd, the Australian Communication and Media Authority obligingly censured a segment on Sky News’s Outsiders programme for failing to mention that the reef’s splendid recovery was still at risk.

Perpetuating the image of a threatened Barrier Reef is critical for those who see global warming as a vehicle for social change. They worry that the AIMS report could lead impressionable adults to question the claims of climate change ‘experts’, thereby undermining the credibility of emissions abatement policies.

Australia’s state broadcaster, the ABC, is a serial worrier. Despite its declining audiences, it remains a reliable and important megaphone and a go-to for like-minded political advocates like the Bureau of Meteorology. It dutifully carried the AIMS report along with an environmentalist’s warning, ‘that unless fossil-fuel emissions are drastically cut, the reef remains in danger from rising temperatures and more mass-bleaching events’. In other words, don’t be misled.

Fear is an important weapon in the centralist’s arsenal and the ABC, and the mainstream media generally, are willing accomplices in uncritically spreading it. That’s not a conspiracy theory but reality. In this echo chamber only one view is allowed. After all, weighty issues like global warming, healthcare, education and pronouns are beyond the ken of most ordinary people and should be left to experts.

Thomas Jefferson was right. ‘The price of freedom is eternal vigilance’. That vigilance is visibly absent. Indeed, bribed with their own money and falling prey to a divisive political agenda, the public has become ever more obedient and dependent upon government. Likewise business. With the media ideologically aligned, carrots and coercion are deployed to control it. Political careerists conflate their desire for power with the national interest and recruit like-minded bureaucrats to further regulate an already over-regulated society. It’s a self-perpetuating coalition which thrives on controls and complacency.

Australia may not yet be China where there is a facial recognition camera for every five people, but as government expands, Australia’s political class is demonstrating an insatiable taste for power and, with it, a growing contempt for the rule of law.

For example, during Covid-19, governments seized extraordinary powers when they employed apps and QR codes to collect personal data. It was on the basis that information gathered was for ‘public health purposes only’. It would be destroyed 28 days after collection.

We now know that the Victorian government lied about access and tried to suppress a secret Supreme Court ruling which confirmed personal data did not have ‘absolute protection’. Then acting premier, Jacinta Allan, reassured Victorians that the government’s repeated and deliberate attempts to hide the information were to avoid a ‘baseless scare campaign’– never wrong, never accountable.

Still, there was no public outrage. Nor in South Australia when it was revealed its government had secretly kept personal data beyond the mandated four weeks. Nor in Western Australia after its police had used this information as part of criminal investigations. Where is that data now?

Contempt for the law and disdain for civil liberties thrived under Covid. Doctors who put their professional judgement ahead of health bureaucrats’ advice were threatened with disciplinary action if they undermined the national vaccination programme. Contrary views, however well-credentialed, were characterised as sourced from anti-vaxxers’.

Now it has come to light that the regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, knew that vaccines carried greater risks than it disclosed. Rather than ‘undermine public confidence’, it withheld vital causality data from health professionals and the public. This included hiding the deaths of two children, aged seven and nine, who died after Pfizer vaccinations.

In such an environment, wherever political authority can be established or expanded, it will be. Like the new monetary policy board which will politicise the Reserve Bank and deprive it of its traditional independence. Just one more subtle level of control.

Not even the justice system escapes political influence. The trial of Cardinal George Pell and, the ACT’s Sofronoff inquiry into the conduct of criminal justice agencies, demonstrate how the political vibe can override the presumption of innocence and the rules of evidence.

With their parents and grandparents behaving like frogs in slowly boiling water, seemingly in denial of the unrelenting intrusion of government into every aspect of their lives, younger generations believe this is the way things are around here. Indoctrinated in the classroom about their evil colonial heritage and the prospect of an uninhabitable planet and, the need for a more ‘caring’, and a ‘fairer’ society, they accept big government is good whilst believing that capitalism leads to selfishness and environmental destruction.

Banking on continued public complacency, Australian governments have gone where, outside of emergencies, they have never gone before. The blurring of lines between the major parties along with a divide-and-rule political agenda have created a de facto one-party state where opposition to the continuing erosion of civil liberties is not tolerated.

But in the end, even boiling frogs start to jump. When that time will come is difficult to determine. However, whenever it will be, Covid emergencies and climate change directives may have so weakened the public’s resilience and determination it may be unable to escape the pot. In which case, investing in facial recognition camera makers may be a wise precaution. ?


Who is an Aborigine? The single most important question about the Voice

A provision in the constitution that references, or rather preferences, a certain group of people, must make it beyond doubt who those people are. If the current criterion – self-identification – is applied, that would open up a can of worms. We need to know who exactly qualifies as an Aborigine and how those persons establish their bona fides. For example, would any degree of Aboriginality in one’s ancestry suffice? If so, then the Aboriginal population can only continue to expand indefinitely, to the point where this will become less and less about disadvantage and more and more about entitlement. If not, then where is the cut-off? 50 per cent Aboriginality? 25 per cent? 12.5 per cent? Wherever it is set, someone is going to be aggrieved. To further complicate the issue, prominent Aboriginal academic, Dr Suzanne Ingram, suggests that as many as 300,000 of the currently reported Aboriginal population of 800,000 may not be genuine.

If this issue is not adequately addressed in the referendum question itself, that alone should be a deal-breaker. I cannot stress this enough. It cannot be left up to parliament, or worse the High Court, to define, expand or contract this demographic at whim. If the Voice goes into the constitution, then it must be the constitution (by means of a referendum) that defines and redefines – over time and as necessary – who is an Aborigine.

To underscore this point, let me refer to Section 15 of the constitution. This covers casual Senate vacancies. The gamesmanship that followed Gough Whitlam’s political opportunism in appointing Senator Lionel Murphy to the High Court caused this section to be rewritten in 1977. That reworked Section 15 is now the most voluminous and prescriptive section of the Constitution, occupying some two pages. My point is this: if a simple matter such as the filling of a casual Senate vacancy requires such a detailed treatment in the constitution, how can we possibly leave the definition of who is an Aborigine so open-ended? It will further entrench tribalism within the Aboriginal community and will become a lawyer’s picnic.

One final point. Chris Kenny claims the Voice is not a race-based division. That may not be the explicit intent, but the outcome is the same. Only members of one particular race may aspire to sit on this Voice or to vote for it. Dr Suzanne Ingram – well-educated, well-remunerated and residing comfortably in Sydney – may sit on or vote for it. Dave Price – married to an Aboriginal woman, the father of Aboriginal children, a long-term resident of Alice Springs and directly and personally affected by its special problems – may not. That sounds like racial division to me.

We should want no part of it. ?




Sunday, May 28, 2023

Special report: There has been a modernization of the financial system, which has already satisfied many citizens in Australia

This appears to be the latest scam. The site looks like it is a legit ABC site but is in fact from a one-page address in Spain. Definitely too good to be true

Aussies call this event a "revolution of their lives", but only 1% of them are familiar with the opportunities that modernization has brought and use it to pay off their debts.

The big banks are concerned, because the government has made a move against them with financial modernization. In addition to monetary reform, the parliament, having broad powers, made drastic changes, they decided to pay attention to the cryptocurrency and launched a project based on blockchain technology called "Immediate Edge". The goal of the launch was to support the economy, but this project also had an impact on the lives of citizens. Many people have "made money" due to the Immediate Edge project.

Immediate Edge is a governmental platform that automatically recoups on the fall of the currency by buying cryptocurrency at the most favorable rates. In simple words, it plays on the "cryptocurrency boom".

According to political experts, all members of parliament unanimously voted FOR this project, it will not only help the economy, but also replenish state reserves. While the project is completely under the control of the state, trial launches are currently underway about reduced requirements for participants for up to 90 days. Then a limited number of people will be able to participate in the project.

The requirements are very simple, the prospective applicant needs to make an initial deposit of A$ 390 to become a full-fledged participant of the project, the government considers it a very reduced tariff, it is assumed that it can grow. After making a deposit, the applicant becomes a full-fledged participant on the Immediate Edge platform

Immediate Edge is a program that has artificial intelligence, it analyzes the markets itself, self-learns, predicts to get to the exact time of the decline of bitcoin for its profitable purchase. It determines when to buy cheaper and sell more expensive. The user, as a third-party observer, observes the transactions and makes a profit from the transactions.

Financial experts are whispering behind their backs, saying that in Australia everyone can become a millionaire due to the Immediate Edge platform in 4 months, the forecasts are impressive! The banking sector is perplexed, because it may lose its customers. Banks have always known about the project, which the government put on ice, but the times have come when the state and its citizens need financial support.


Australian judge apologises after claiming that colleagues are appointed regardless of merit

Too much truth

A federal and family court justice who planned to deliver a speech at an international conference claiming that progressive governments appointed diverse judges regardless of merit has been forced to apologise to his colleagues and told he can no longer attend the conference.

The speech by Justice Joshua Wilson had been uploaded on the court’s website before Justice William Alstergren, the chief justice of the family court and chief judge of the federal circuit court, was alerted to its contents and ordered that it be removed this week.

The speech was dated 17 April, and Wilson planned to deliver it in September at the International Association of Judges annual general meeting in Taiwan.

“Is it correct to say that the brightest and the best are appointed to judicial office, independent of political persuasion? The answer is in the negative in the case of the overwhelming majority of appointments,” Wilson, a division one judge, wrote in the speech.

“It sometimes occurs that a government appoints a person to judicial office who is aligned with the opposite party’s politics. That is a rarity.

“Occasionally, an attorney-general appoints a person as a judge who is wholly apolitical. Again, that is a rarity. Appointment to judicial office is a political activity.”

Wilson went on to say that appointments to state and territory courts were highly political, and that “progressive governments are more likely to appoint to benches based on gender and ethnic diversity, irrespective of merit or expertise”.

Alstergren said in a statement to the Guardian that he was alerted to the paper, which had been uploaded without his knowledge or permission, by a number of judges.

He said Wilson had been planning to attend the conference as a member of the association, not as a representative of the court.

He said that as soon as he was alerted to the paper it was immediately taken down from the website, and that a statement was made to all judges indicating that it did not reflect the views of the courts and that protocols were in place to make sure this could not happen again.

“Further, Justice Wilson will not be providing a paper at this conference nor will he be attending, and I have taken steps to ensure there is no further publication of the paper’s content,” Alstergren said.

“The judge has apologised to the judges of both courts for the comments.


Labor’s coal-fired green dream

With cost-of-living pressures really starting to hurt Australians, Labor’s green dream would be a complete nightmare if it wasn’t for coal.

When then Treasurer Scott Morrison brought a lump of coal into the House of Representatives, the left-leaning media were quick to respond:

‘What a bunch of clowns, hamming it up – while out in the real world an ominous and oppressive heat just won’t let up.’

Fast forward to 2023 and Labor’s budget surplus has little to do with sound economic management, and much to do with unexpectedly high prices for exports of fossil fuels. And this is despite Labor’s running mates, the Greens, doing everything to demonise coal and gas.

In the real world, it takes more than just dreams to power the nation.

But the economic bonus provided by plentiful coal and gas reserves is only the most obvious benefit. Our ability to provide coal and gas to Korea and Japan provides energy security for our strategic partners. This is important for the energy sector in Korea and Japan if they are to avoid Germany’s fate. The disruption of supply in coal and gas in Europe resulting from the war in Ukraine should be proof enough that Australian exports of coal and gas are more important than ever.

The government’s approval of a new coal mine in Queensland’s Bowen Basin has barely raised an eyebrow from the major news media players. Nor should it. This is good news for the economy but confirms that Labor is facing up to the reality of its green energy dream.

Countries that pursued carbon emissions strategies by relying heavily on wind and solar farms are now changing tack. Nuclear is back on the agenda everywhere except for Germany and Australia it seems. The green dream is also impacting European farmers who are protesting against tax burdens created by ‘radical environmentalists far away from farms’. This trend is now starting to impact farmers in Australia.

Australian farmers make a major contribution to our budget bottom line, with wheat production reaching record levels in 2022-23. Although next year’s crop is expected to remain steady (a bit below record levels), Labor was quick to dip into farmers’ profits with a new ‘biosecurity tax’. It makes no sense for farmers to pay a tax to ensure imports from their offshore competitors do not create a biohazard. What’s worse, the levy will ultimately increase the price of fresh food at the checkout when the cost of living is already biting struggling families.

Europeans are starting to turn against Net Zero policies, led by French President Emmanuel Macron with his call for a ‘“pause” of more EU environmental red-tape’. The UK, however, appears to be pushing beyond the EU’s aspirations with goals to end internal combustion engine vehicles by 2030 compared with the EU’s later and less stringent vehicle laws lobbied for by the likes of German manufacturers BMW, Audi, VW, and Mercedes-Benz.

Labor’s push for increased fuel efficiency standards for vehicles is another area where the green dream can easily turn into a gas-guzzling nightmare. Fuel efficiency standards are meant to encourage smaller, fuel-efficient vehicles. The reality or indeed the perverse outcome of such policies is that vehicles are becoming bigger and more powerful.

The idea that consumers can’t wait to get their hands on an EV is not reflected in Australian vehicle sales, with the Ford Ranger currently the biggest selling vehicle, followed closely by the Toyota Hilux. Woke city folk forget that many Australians can’t get around in regional and remote communities on an electric scooter or in the best-selling EV that has a range of barely 500km.

The big problem at the moment is that there might not be enough electricity to live the green dream where everything is powered by renewables. With no Plan B, Australia’s energy security is at risk should Labor’s ‘crash through or crash’ approach to energy policy fail.

Energy industry leaders such as Dr Kerry Schott have cautioned against demonising coal and gas as part of the energy transition to renewables. And former head of Snowy Hydro Paul Broad recently called BS on the 80 per cent renewables energy target. But Warren Mundine summed it up most succinctly on Spectator TV last week, when he said ‘if you believe in climate change and you don’t believe in nuclear power, then you don’t believe in climate change’.

But Labor is pushing a certain type of green dream without facing up to the reality that Europeans are now realising – renewables alone can’t do the job. With some of the largest reserves of uranium in the world, it’s a no-brainer for Australia to embrace nuclear energy now rather than waiting to learn Europe’s lessons.

The Albanese government is happy to claim the glory for a budget surplus due to responsible economic management while minimising the importance of coal for the nation’s continuing prosperity.

In the meantime, without coal there is no green dream.


Political and corporate defeatism

Charles Mackay’s 1841, titled Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds has enduringly served to refute claims of collective wisdom. He described events like Dutch tulip mania and the 1711-22 South Sea Bubble as frenzies of collective investment hysteria.

In the modern era, every decade or so we have seen more such investment delirium, including the build-up to the 1929 Wall Street crash with lesser events like the 1970s Poseidon mining boom/bust and the 2007 collapse of US leveraged housing funds.

In all cases, investment frenzies ramped up share prices to stratospheric levels. Lessons have not been learned. The next debacle will centre on puncturing the carbuncle of funds focused on virtue signalling their Environment, Social, and Governance credentials (ESG), the apogee for which is fossil-fuel-phobia and renewable-energy-philia.

Collective madness is not confined to money markets. Even before media control hid reality, huge majorities of Germans, Russians, and Chinese willingly supported leaders who were promoters of violence and destroyers of economic stability.

The antidote to unsound business investments is that an accumulation of investors recognises them and sells them. For political malfeasance, such a cleansing is more difficult. Thus, even with an independent media and Parliamentary accountability, a likely majority of US citizens support the obviously corrupt and incompetent President Biden. More parochially, Victorians have sequentially re-elected a Premier who has squandered public funds, including by increasing public service employees by twice as much as other states.

Modern vulnerabilities to political turmoil stem from political hubris in claiming expertise in where the economy’s structure should be heading. Previously, politicians could not credibly claim expertise in the innovations and investments necessary to drive economic growth. The developments that have created the modern economy’s wealth – in transport, automation, energy, health, and communications – took place with little direct political input.

But today’s electorate seems to accept politicians’ claimed expertise in controlling the vital area of energy policy. The genesis of this control started with confected concerns about global warming. These are easily dismissed – there has been no increase in climate emergencies, no increase in hurricanes, no loss of coral, no rise in the oceans, no loss of ice cover, and so on. Blind to such evidence, political measures have been assembled to counteract the phantom threats.

Political leaders ranging from UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to our very own John Pesutto say they concluded they must act after listening to climate sermons from their teenage daughters, which were canalised from teachers in their private schools. This, a fractured thread from climate science to political action, is representative of a broader march of the green left through educational institutions as well as those of media and the civil service.

The susceptibility of politicians to climate hyperbole is heightened as a result of their assigned role to combating it. For the first time outside of war-like conditions, they have an issue that offers them a hero’s role, one far more attractive than buying support by addressing mundane local matter and balancing budgets.

The theme’s potency is much enhanced by the numerous, much publicised international meetings which place the seal of approval to proposals crafted by hand-picked bureaucrats..

Hence, outside of the US there are few politicians who have not bought the narrative. Even Britain’s Conservative Party’s leader-in-waiting, Lord Frost, argues that current policies are ‘hurtling towards Net Zero at any cost’, instead of recognising the energy ‘transition’ to wind/solar as a constantly receding mirage. He says he believes that the UK is simply proceeding towards the renewables ‘transition’ too quickly. For his part, Mr Albanese is linking his own policy to a reinforcement of the American alliance alongside access to US subsidies.

And the thread wends its way throughout national fabrics. Authorities and sloganeers alike are almost unanimous in seeing the elimination of coal as one essential building block of future economic sustainable prosperity.

Even coal company representatives seem to feel obliged to denounce their product, much like terrorised Chinese ‘capitalist roaders’ facing Red Guards and wearing dunces caps. In its Annual Report the coal miner Whitehaven acquiesces in the death of coal, claiming it supports the Paris Agreement’s aims of limiting global temperature rises to well below 2 degrees, the corollary of which is the elimination of coal. Similarly, Yancoal, in its 64-page ESG report, claims to be ‘demonstrating its commitment to renewable energy opportunities’ and support for the Paris Agreement.

New Hope, however simply says, ‘Achievable emissions abatement opportunities with positive value will be the first to be considered for implementation’.

Net Zero CO2 emissions is the clarion call but its costs are colossal. BloombergNEF, in promoting ‘investment opportunities’, estimates that to achieve Net Zero by 2050 Australia will need to spend $413 billion on renewables and their back-up, plus $300 billion on transmission. The existing coal-based supply would cost only $80 billion on plant plus maybe $30 billion on transmission!

Even adding in the coal input and operating costs means the system from which we are being transitioned provides energy with far greater reliability at one-third of the cost of the wind /solar system that our political elites favour.

Government regulations on mining and environment have brought electricity and gas price increases at double that of general inflation. This is notwithstanding Australia having the world’s lowest cost coal and gas resources. And the upward electricity price trajectory continues with a further increase of over 20 per cent in place for next month.

Widespread support for manipulating markets to achieve this dismal picture is testament to Charles Mackay’s recognition, nearly 300 years ago, that popular delusions sometimes replace human rationality. But the higher the delusions fly, the harder they fall.


Why free speech and offensive expressions are too important to be left to legislation

Dachau concentration camp was established just outside the city of Munich in March 1933, less than two months after Adolf Hitler became German chancellor.

It has been preserved, along with some of the other later camps, as a reminder of the regime that ruled Germany from 1933 until 1945. Its location rebuts any suggestion that the German people were somehow unaware of their government’s policies over this period. In the early 1970s I visited Dachau with a small group of recent graduates from the University of Melbourne on a camping tour of Europe.

We didn’t spend much time in those days reflecting on history but our normally boisterous behaviour was replaced by complete silence as we walked past the barracks where the prisoners had been housed and contemplated what had happened to most of them. I have sometimes thought of that visit whenever there have been calls in recent months for legislation to prohibit the Nazi salute, particularly after it was used by some of the participants in a demonstration in Melbourne.

The salute was not in fact confined to Hitler’s administration but a similar version was used, for example, by the regimes of Francisco Franco in Spain and Benito Mussolini in Italy after they took power in the years before World War II.

Any public imitations of the Hitler period are, however, especially offensive to Jewish members of society in any country because of their enormous losses at the hands of the Germans.

It is not an especially popular position to raise questions about this kind of banning legislation but the problem about freedom of speech is, if it is accepted as an important value, it does not allow for picking and choosing between different kinds of speech, even those that may be offensive to almost all members of the community.

None of this is to say that incitements to violence against individuals or groups in the community should not be unlawful – and they have always been a crime under the common law. In addition, there are statutory provisions, for example, under the NSW Crimes Act, where it is an offence for a person by a public act to intentionally or recklessly to threaten or incite violence towards another person or group of persons on the ground of race, religious belief, sexual orientation or gender identity.

But it is the expression of utterly offensive views that provides the real test for a belief in freedom of speech. As American jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes said in a judgment of the US Supreme Court in 1919: “All life is an experiment … while that experiment is part of our system I think we should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe.”

It is not as if the handful of persons in Australia who seem to have some affection for this period of German history are taken seriously by the general community. No regime in modern history is more discredited, and anyone displaying Nazi salutes or symbols would rightly be considered an embarrassment to himself or herself by almost every member of Australian society.

This kind of legislation also raises the question of how offensive a symbol has to be before its display should be prohibited by law. What about the hammer and sickle – the flag of the Soviet Union – a regime under which millions were killed or sent to gulags? Or what about the Confederate flag, the banner of the old south, in a war fought to preserve the institution of slavery? Should the music identified with these regimes, such as The Internationale and Dixie, be banned as well?

There have also been calls for those calling themselves Nazis to be declared by legislation as members of a terrorist organisation.

There is, of course, a large volume of legislation at both the federal and the state level in Australia on the subject of terrorism, but this is designed to deal with individuals or organisations who are dedicated to acts of carefully planned violence, often on a large scale that might result in the deaths of hundreds of individuals through bombs placed at public events or the sabotage of airline flights.

It is hardly suitable to apply to political agitators, however offensive and misguided. Dachau and its like should never be forgotten, but freedom of speech is an important legacy of Western civilisation and worth preserving, no matter how unworthy some of those who make use of it.




Thursday, May 25, 2023

ABC fears for Indigenous staff as ‘evil’ comments on the rise in lead-up to voice referendum

The abuse that Stan Grant and the ABC copped over their coronation coverage was to be expected. Such hate-filled commentary was totally inappropriate to the occasion and deserved replies in kind. Hate elicits a return of hate but the Left can't take that. Hate should be their sole prerogative, they seem to think

And criticism of the ever-whining Grant is well overdue. As a man who has achieved success and prominence in white society, he does not have much to complain about. And he deserves real ridicule for his heavy use of fake tan these days. He was originally only light brown in skin colour. One wonders how much more of him is fake

image from

Picture from 2016

The ABC is worried about its Indigenous staff in the run-up to the referendum on the voice to parliament, managing director David Anderson has told parliament.

“I’m worried about Stan [Grant] but I’m also worried about our other staff,” Anderson said.

“I’m worried about our First Nations staff as we head towards a referendum on the voice to make sure that they are sufficiently protected.”

Grant recently stood down as Q+A host after receiving racist abuse that worsened after he spoke about the impact of colonialism in the lead-up to King Charles III’s coronation.

The ABC told a Senate estimates committee that Grant had taken eight weeks’ leave.

Anderson said the ABC had protective measures in place for staff, including blocking emails and turning off notifications, but “evil” comments still got through and were increasing.

Radio presenters who were live on air had watched their chat stream – a radio text line – fill up with racial abuse, Anderson said he had been told in recent days.

The ABC’s news director, Justin Stevens, revealed that every time Grant appeared on television there was a “particular spike” in the amount and volume of the racial vitriol received. The volume had increased since he appeared on the pre-coronation panel earlier this month.

Stevens said the ABC wanted to do more to support staff and to champion Indigenous perspectives, and one recent move had been the creation of the Indigenous reporting team led by Suzanne Dredge.

“She’s a fantastic journalist and editor who I’ve also appointed to my executive,” Stevens said.

Anderson and Stevens were asked why they invited journalists from News Corp on ABC shows such as The Drum, Insiders and Q+A when the company was a major critic of the public broadcaster.

They said they would not censor journalists or put a “blanket ban” on anyone who works for News Corp, despite earlier singling out the company out for its “relentless campaign” against the ABC.

On Monday Stevens accused News Corp of targeting the ABC because it was “trying to chip away [at] people’s sense of trust in what we do because we threaten their business model”. News Corp Australia has denied it played a part in Grant’s decision to stand down from hosting Q+A and has accused Stevens of misleading and unsubstantiated claims.

Stevens said the Murdochs employed some good journalists who had gone on to work at the ABC, including political reporter Nour Haydar, RN Breakfast host Patricia Karvelas and Insiders host David Speers.

“It’s not the journalists who work for these businesses who are necessarily making the decisions,” Stevens said.

Anderson confirmed the ABC had received 59 editorial complaints about the coronation coverage which would be investigated by the ABC ombudsman but he stood by the decision to have the discussion panel on the day of the coronation.

Grant along with lawyer and Indigenous writer Teela Reid, Liberal backbencher and monarchist Julian Leeser and co-chair of the Australian Republic Movement Craig Foster were invited to discuss the relevance of the monarchy and the impact of colonialism. The panel discussion lasted 45 minutes in the lead-up to the coronation and was over hours before the event itself.

Anderson said some “good faith” complaints had said it was “not appropriate to have the discussion”.

“It just was not what they were expecting, really reflecting that we hadn’t set the audience expectation about this,” Anderson said.

Anderson said the ABC received 169 “good faith” responses from viewers, 59 of which have been referred to the ABC ombudsman for a possible breach of editorial standards.

However, “hundreds” of others were racist attacks on Grant, he said.

The total number of audience contacts about the eight-hour coronation broadcast was 1,832 but 1,663 of those were discarded because they were comments not requiring a response – such as criticism of a presenter’s outfit – or they were “racist, abusive or insubstantial”, according to ABC figures.


New push to lower speed limits for SUVs and other high-emission vehicles in Australia to combat climate change

Lowering the speed limit for larger vehicles must seem easy for an academic but would be murder for drivers. A less onerous policy might be to make the registration costs so high that only those who need big vehicles for work would buy them

A top professor has called for Australia to lower motorway speed limits for SUVs and other high-emission vehicles to combat climate change.

Australia's love for dual-cab utes, large SUVs and older vehicles is making the country one of the biggest petrol consumers in the world, a new report by The Australia Institute found.

Professor Lennard Gillman from Auckland University of Technology said one way to drastically reduce petrol consumption and carbon dioxide emissions is to drive slightly slower.

He believes Australia should introduce differential speed limits for high-emission and low-emission vehicles so cars that put out more pollution are forced to drive slower to reduce their environmental impact.

'Lowering the speed limit for high emission vehicles has the double effect of cutting emissions but also incentivises people to buy low-emission cars,' he told Daily Mail Australia.

'In a vehicle like the Ford Ranger V6 you'll be expending 260g (of fuel) per kilometre. That's more than twice as much as a Toyota Corolla.'

He believes Australia should introduce differential speed limits for high-emission and low-emission vehicles so cars that put out more pollution are forced to drive slower to reduce their environmental impact.

'Lowering the speed limit for high emission vehicles has the double effect of cutting emissions but also incentivises people to buy low-emission cars,' he told Daily Mail Australia.

'In a vehicle like the Ford Ranger V6 you'll be expending 260g (of fuel) per kilometre. That's more than twice as much as a Toyota Corolla.'


Qld schools accused of covert gender counselling without involving parents

Queensland parents have come forward to accuse school guidance officers of advising students as young as 12 on how to go about changing their names, pronouns, and gender – without including parents.

School guidance officers are advising students as young as 12 on how to go about changing their names, pronouns, and gender – without including parents.

Two Queensland families say they were cut out of the process for weeks, with one claiming a guidance officer encouraged their child to lie to support a potential case to cut ties with their parents.

The Department of Education said consent is needed for students to receive ongoing guidance officer support, but officers can judge whether a child be considered a “mature minor” – a legal test of a child’s intelligence and understanding – and consent to services themselves.

The allegations come after The Courier-Mail revealed teachers are being forced to deceive parents when a student asks the school to help them change their gender, pronouns or name.

In fresh claims, a mother to two daughters who both changed to male names and pronouns, said her younger child was “groomed” by the guidance officer at her Queensland state school.

The mother said her daughter – referred to as “Claire” – was groomed into believing her home was not safe if her parents did not affirm her new identity.

The mother claims Claire was encouraged by the guidance officer to make a false allegation against her mother’s husband, to support her case if she wanted to be considered a “mature minor” and move out of home in the future. In the end, Claire withdrew the allegations.

“It is telling anxious kids that their mother and father are not safe because they will not affirm (their new identity), they’re being exploited by these school counsellors,” Claire’s mother said.

Meanwhile, a father said his daughter spoke to her state school in late 2020 about changing her name and pronouns. Plans were made for this change to take effect in Term 1, 2021.

But the father was only informed by the school days before it resumed about his daughter’s planned name and pronoun changes and that she would wear a boy’s uniform.

The father believes his daughter spoke to the guidance officer for three months before he was informed. He said his daughter did not want him to know.

“They were going to put it (new gender identity) in place without telling me initially, just a flick of the switch. There was no communication and no support plan,” he said.

“I felt that the school took over that parental role.”

A Department of Education spokeswoman said guidance officers may refer students who require specialised support, for a range of reasons, to external support services.

“Consent for students to receive ongoing support from a guidance officer must be obtained,” the spokeswoman said.

“The Department provides comprehensive information to assist school staff, including guidance officers, in making decisions that ensure gender diverse students receive appropriate support, tailored to their individual needs.

“While consent is often provided by parents, guidance officers use their professional judgment to determine if a student has sufficient maturity and understanding to be considered a mature minor and therefore consent to services.”


‘It’s like they are trying to change the meaning of property ownership’: Landlords threaten to sell up over further reforms

Leftist governments can be truly moronic at times

MORE than 80 per cent of property investors have warned they may sell up altogether if the Queensland government continues to hit them with reforms, in what is a troubling outlook for the state’s already strained rental market.

A survey of more than 3300 Queensland property investors, conducted by the Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ), canvassed sentiment towards some of the ‘hot button’ changes proposed in the State Government’s stage two rental law reforms.

Those proposed reforms include making it easier for renters to install safety, security and accessibility modifications, to make minor personalisation changes, balance privacy of tenants with owners’ entry rights and need for information on their investment, changes to the rental bond process and to what fees and charges can be passed on to a tenant.

The REIQ survey revealed that 81.4 per cent of respondents said that recent and proposed tenancy law changes had influenced the likelihood that they will sell up.

To put that number into perspective, if all of those 81.4 per cent of the 3300 landlords who responded to the survey followed through on their threat, Queensland could lose nearly 2700 rental properties from the market.

While 62 per cent of respondents said they had considered selling their rental property in the past two years, 27 per cent said the primary reason for doing so was on account of rental law reforms.

REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella said they had received an overwhelming and passionate response from Queensland rental providers, who may walk away from property investment due to yet another round of rental law reforms.

“The REIQ is concerned with ongoing and consistent rental law reforms in Queensland which are progressively eroding property investor rights along with their confidence,” Ms Mercorella said.

“Further withdrawal of properties from the rental pool amid the critical rental crisis in Queensland will have dire consequences on the market in both the short and long term.

“This wholesale reform of the rental market is in direct contradiction with what all stakeholders seem to be in furious agreement about – the need to boost rental supply.”

The survey revealed that 98.6 per cent of rental providers were opposed to tenants making any property modifications without their consent – citing various concerns regarding property value, safety regulations, unqualified works, costs to rectify or fix damages and insurance implications.

Further, if rental providers could only refuse a property minor modification by going through the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT), 83.7 per cent said it would impact their decision to keep the property.

More than half (64.5%) were opposed to minor personalised changes to rental properties without the owner’s consent and were apprehensive about the lack of definition of ‘minor’.

For example, 79.8 per cent of the survey respondents did not consider painting walls of the rental property to be minor.

Other concerns surrounding minor personalisation changes related to the risk of costly damages and repairs falling back onto property owners to rectify.

The potential cost burden of the various changes were frequently referenced in the respondent’s commentary, with the survey revealing that 75.6 per cent said that the current rent they charge does not cover all of their outgoings to hold the property.

The REIQ said that private investors were doing the majority of the heavy lifting when it came to the provision of rental housing in this state, and is cautioning against further reforms.

Ray White AKG CEO Avi Khan, who has over 2000 rental properties on his books, said the survey reflected what his team were hearing on the ground. “It is like they are trying to change the meaning of property ownership,” he said. “I had one landlord saying he felt like he was losing control of his own asset.

“Landlords are feeling like they no longer have 100 per cent ownership of their own properties as reforms move in favour of the tenant and it is causing huge confidence issues for investors in Queensland.

“It is like the people making these proposals don't own investment properties.”

Mr Khan said the number of investors seeking appraisals was “through the roof”, adding that the vast majority were interstate investors who perceived that the government was taking control of their own assets away from them.

“And if that continues, it will only make the rental crisis worse,” Mr Khan warned.

“We have to keep in mind that with interest rates rising as fast as they have, and borrowing capacity crashing, it is not like it will be tenants who will be buying these properties if an investor decides to cash out.

“In terms of trying to address the housing crisis, they (the government) are just shooting themselves in the foot.”