Thursday, August 31, 2023

Tyrannical childcare regulator blasted

Determined to make childcare unaffordable

A HUNTER child care service facing up to $50,000 in fines for failing to comply with "inequitable and impractical" Department of Education regulations has hit back, and won.

St Nicholas Early Education services, which operates 33 out-of-school-hours OOSH services for children at Catholic schools in the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese, as well as 12 early childhood learning centres, caters to about 5,200 children.

The service was taken to task over allegations it failed to properly manage children with asthma at six of its OOSH centres in Abermain, Branxton, Lochinvar, Maitland, Rutherford and Scone.

However, Supreme Court Justice Des Fagan criticised the department for inflicting "impractical burdens" on St Nicholas rather than adopting a sector-wide standard.

He described the laws regulating the industry as a "superstructure of minute regulation" which comes at "significant cost, and with considerable burden and absorption of resources - for government, for approved providers, and for the users of their services".

"The burden of heavy regulation is illustrated in this case by evidence of the manner in which authorised officers of the secretary have scrutinised the operation of some of the plaintiff's centres and by the documentary evidence of the plaintiff's painstaking and protracted efforts to reason with departmental offices about the impracticability of their enforcement directions," Justice Fagan said.

As it was, the centres operated on a not-for-profit basis, and there was evidence before the court that many of the clients of the business are "families wherein both parents work".

"There is a strong inference that the scope for the plaintiff to increase its charges, in order to cover additional operating expenses including the cost of complying with statutory requirements and departmental directions, is very constrained," he said.

In this case, the department was seeking for St Nicholas to keep on the premises asthma-related drugs which were only required to be taken once per day, at home.

"It appears unsatisfactory, to say the least, that medically untrained personnel should, in the name of the secretary, formally allege on medical grounds that an offence has been committed ... carrying a $50,000 fine, and issue a statutory notice for which non-compliance attracts a $30,000 fine ... (when) 'online research' was considered (upon review) sufficient to show that by following parental instructions, which accorded with the nature of the medication, the plaintiff (St Nicholas) took 'every reasonable precaution' as required by the Law," Justice fagan said.

"It is difficult to see why the inspector and (department) should not have been sufficiently trained either to refrain from making medical judgments beyond their expertise or to make the online inquiry themselves, before imposing upon an authorised provider the risk and burden of dealing with a compliance notice that was unjustified in this material particular."

The department's requirements were outside of accepted industry practise, medical advice and community standards.

Being forced to approach parents for updated asthma plans in an effort to appease the department, St Nicholas reported that four families withdrew their child's asthma plans saying they had outgrown them, and two families left the service citing the requirement of a new asthma plan where it was not a requirement at other services.

"A significant number of parents have expressed concerns around the cost and availability of accessing their GP/specialist to request a further update to the plan and whether this accessibility issue will threaten the ability of their child/children to continue attending care," the department's legal counsel said.

"Out of the responses received, less than 14 per cent have been able to provide updated plans that [meet] the requirements [the department] have outlined. We believe this to be further evidence that the department's current approach with the approved provider's services is outside of accepted industry practice, medical advice and community standards."

Justice Fagan ordered the department to pay St Nicholas's costs, saying the money it had spent on its approach to enforcement could probably have funded "an appropriately qualified medical specialist" to advise on standardised directions to all approved operators, taking into account the autonomy of parents to choose the extent to which they will authorise or require childcare staff to administer medication.

"The department's relationship with this provider has been one of enforcement, penalisation and legal disputation rather than guidance and support," he said.


Cyber Attack Cost Medibank $46.4 Million

Australia's largest insurer Medibank has sustained a $46.4 million (US$30 million) loss due to a cyber attack, according to the company's 2023 financial year (FY) results.

Last year, Russian cybercriminals launched a hacking saga against Medibank, stealing personal data from nearly 10 million Australians and posting them on the dark web.

In the results released on Aug. 24, the insurer revealed it incurred $46.4 million of costs associated with cybercrime, largely related to its incident response and the customer support package.

They added that it was expected to cost another $30 million to $35 million in FY24 for an IT security uplift, as well as legal and other costs related to regulatory investigations and litigation.

This, however, does not include the impacts of any potential findings or outcomes from regulatory investigations or litigation.

Following the cyber attack, Medibank lost nearly 13,000 out of about four million policyholders in the December quarter.

However, the company is swiftly recovering, with reported net resident policyholders increasing by almost 11,000 (0.6 percent) and net non-resident policy holders increasing by 78,400 (39.9 percent) in FY23.

The growth mainly came from families, younger people, and those taking out cover for the first time.

“In what was a very challenging year for our customers and our people, policyholder growth is back on track following the cybercrime event," Medibank CEO David Kiczkar said.

"Health insurance customers have surpassed 4 million for the first time in our 47-year history, and they continue to prioritise their health and wellbeing by using their cover more than in recent years."

Mr. Kiczkar said while many Australians were scaling back spending in many areas, health has not taken the same hit.

“People are still opting for private health insurance in record numbers," he said.

“We expect further policyholder growth in FY24 in what will continue to be a highly competitive market.

“We recorded our largest increase in non-resident policyholders in seven years, with policy unit growth of almost 40 percent bringing the total number to nearly 275,000."

Medibank also reported a net profit after tax of $511.1 million.


Minns warns giant overhead cables only way to deliver renewable energy future

Premier Chris Minns has vowed to push ahead with the construction of gigantic overhead power cables across the state, warning a delayed rollout of transmission lines could undermine the renewable energy transition and threaten supply and prices.

In an unusually blunt intervention into the fraught debate over how to connect regional wind and solar projects to the east coast grid, Minns said burying the cables below ground as some landholders have demanded could triple the cost and delay the government’s urgent effort to plug a looming hole in the state’s power supply caused by the retirement of coal-fired power stations.

Labor will have to consider how to resolve a stand-off with vocal community groups – including farmers and environmentalists – who strongly oppose overhead powerlines. This could see new policy measures to give more state control over local planning.

Speaking at a Business Sydney event, Minns acknowledged that regulatory and planning changes would be needed to accommodate above-ground transmission, but overhead powerlines were the only cost-effective option available to the government.

He warned that delays in connecting renewable energy projects in regional NSW to the eastern seaboard through new transmission could threaten energy supply and the cost of power bills.

Minns said the government could not “pretend that the difficulties of renewable energy can be just wished away, we gotta get on with those projects”.

The NSW Labor government has warned of delays and increased costs to many renewable energy zones.
The NSW Labor government has warned of delays and increased costs to many renewable energy zones.CREDIT:JANIE BARRETT

“Part of that is us looking at the impact and cost of underground cabling to get renewable energy projects to the eastern seaboard,” Minns said.

“Unfortunately, we’re going to have to go overland and the reason for that is it is three times the cost. If you do it underground, that’s going to add cost [and] is going to add delay.”

Minns and energy experts are increasingly worried that time is running out to build the thousands of kilometres of high-voltage transmission lines needed to connect renewable energy zones in regional areas to major cities.

Time to accelerate the development of renewable alternatives

The federal government wants to reach 82 per cent renewables by 2030 and to hit net zero by 2050. The Australian Energy Market Operator calculates the grid needs to grow by 10,000 kilometres.

However, transmission methods have been hugely divisive in NSW amid concerns from some groups that overhead powerlines would have negative impacts on property values, the environment and the landscape.

Those concerns prompted an upper house parliamentary inquiry into the feasibility of transmission infrastructure being built underground. A report from the Labor-controlled committee is due to be released on Thursday.

“We’ve got renewable energy zones in regional NSW, we have to transmit that power onto the east coast energy grid, which is largely hugging the eastern seaboard,” Minns said.

“The best way we can execute the renewable energy revolution while keeping prices as low as possible and ensuring supply is ensuring we get those connection points.”

The renewable zones were the brainchild of the former NSW Coalition government as part of its ambitious energy road map but costs and timetables of some projects have blown out.

The Labor government has said the capital costs for the zones are estimated to be about $9.3 billion, and warned some of those projects are likely to be delayed.

Costs for the Orana renewable energy zone in the state’s Central West have increased from $650 million to $3.2 billion, while the Hunter Transmission Project has risen from $880 million to $990 million.

As well as boosting supply to the grid by fast-tracking transmission infrastructure from the renewable zones, the government may be forced to intervene to help keep Australia’s biggest coal-fired power station open beyond 2025.

The government’s electricity network review is being finalised, but Minns has previously indicated extending Eraring’s shelf-life might be necessary because “the pace of renewable energy coming online in NSW has been so slow”.


Meta ends partnership with RMIT FactLab amid voice referendum bias claims

Slippery "facts"

Sky News presenter Peta Credlin says Meta’s decision to suspend its partnership with RMIT’s fact-checking program amid complaints of voice referendum bias has exposed the “sinister use of so-called fact-checking to deny legitimate debate”.

On Tuesday, the tech giant distanced itself from RMIT’s Fact­Lab amid a furore after a “false information” label from “independent fact checkers” was slapped on Credlin’s reports about the Uluru statement posted on Facebook.

Her editorial stated that the Uluru Statement from the Heart was not a single-page document but 26 pages long.

Meta executives said they had suspended their partnership with RMIT FactLab, “effective ­immediately”, after receiving complaints about bias and unfairness relating to the voice to parliament referendum.

The FactLab’s failure to have a current certification by the International Fact-Checking Network was also blamed for Meta’s decision to suspend ties with FactLab.

Credlin, a columnist at The Australian, said: “It is a vindication of my concerns about a lack of transparency from the Prime Minister and Yes proponents about what a vote for the voice really means, given what we now know is contained in the full Uluru statement.

“It is simply not credible for Uluru co-authors, like Professor Megan Davis and Pat Anderson, to have tried to deny the breadth of the document’s Aboriginal sovereignty ambitions when they have been on the record so comprehensively for over six years.”

She also said this applied to journalists, including ABC host Leigh Sales, who last week said in an email to staff at the public broadcaster that the Uluru statement was a one-page document and they should refute any arguments contrary to this.

The FactLab, which said it worked “hand in hand” with RMIT ABC Fact Check. claimed this month that Credlin’s reporting and commentary about the Uluru statement’s length were incorrect, despite Credlin, receiving a response to a Freedom of Information request from the National Indigenous Australians Agency confirming its length as 26 pages.

Meta’s regional director of policy, Mia Garlick, responded on Tuesday to an inquiry sent by Liberal senator James Paterson questioning the FactLab’s conduct.

“We have recently become aware that one of our Australian fact-checking partners – RMIT – did not have current IFCN ­accreditation and that there have been complaints made to the IFCN about possible bias or unfairness in some of the fact checks being applied by RMIT with ­respect to content relating to the upcoming referendum on the voice to parliament,” she said in the correspondence.

“In light of these allegations and the upcoming vote on the voice referendum, we are suspending RMIT as a partner in our fact checking program, effective immediately.”




Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Wrongly jailed father successfully sues judge for false imprisonment in landmark case

Salvatore Vasta finally went too far with eccentric judgments. He comes from an interesting family of ultimately Sicilian origin. His father, Angelo Vasta, was born in my home town of Innisfail and was also a prominent senior judge -- but was so tainted with apparent corruption that he was removed from office by by an act of parliament. An extraordinary family

A father who was wrongly jailed by a judge for an alleged contempt of court in a family law case has been awarded more than $300,000 in damages after he took the rare step of suing the judge personally.

In a landmark decision on Wednesday, Federal Court Justice Michael Wigney held Federal Circuit and Family Court Judge Salvatore Vasta could not rely on a judicial immunity and was personally liable for the man’s false imprisonment. The Commonwealth and the state of Queensland were also held liable.

The father of two, given the pseudonym Mr Stradford, was awarded a total of $309,450 in damages.

Vasta alone was ordered to pay $50,000 of the total sum in exemplary damages for false imprisonment and deprivation of liberty. Exemplary damages, which are punitive rather than compensatory, are awarded in rare cases.

Each of Vasta, the Commonwealth and the state of Queensland were ordered to pay a combined $59,450 of the total to cover Stradford’s personal injury and loss of earning capacity.

Vasta and the Commonwealth were also ordered to pay $35,000 for false imprisonment and deprivation of liberty, while Vasta and the state of Queensland were ordered to pay $165,000 for false imprisonment.

Stradford launched proceedings against Vasta, the Commonwealth and the state of Queensland in the Federal Court in 2020 after the Full Court of the Family Court overturned Vasta’s 2018 order imprisoning him in that state.

The Full Court said in a scathing judgment in 2019 that it would be “an affront to justice” to leave in place the declaration that Stradford had committed a contempt of court and the order imprisoning him for a maximum of 12 months.

“What occurred here ... constituted a gross miscarriage of justice,” the Full Court said at the time. It said Vasta had no power to make the declaration or order and no factual basis for doing so.

Vasta has been the subject of a series of excoriating appeal judgments, and is facing a second lawsuit brought by another man he jailed for an alleged contempt of court. That case was paused pending the outcome of the Stradford case.

The Federal Court heard Vasta told Stradford, whose former wife strenuously opposed him going to jail, to “bring your toothbrush” after he allegedly failed to hand over all his financial records in the family law case.

Neither Stradford nor his former wife had lawyers acting for them in the property dispute and the man insisted he had “in good faith tried to provide every aspect of my financial life”.

“Don’t tell me ‘I tried’,” Vasta told the man. “Rubbish ... I didn’t come down in the last shower.

“And that’s the strange thing, is you really don’t think that the court ever will jail you for contempt. You’re about to find that lesson is going to be a very hard one for you to learn.”

Stradford was held for seven days in police custody and prison, during which he said he was bashed in prison, became suicidal and woke up to his cellmate strangling him. He was eventually released from custody after obtaining a stay to prevent the order jailing him taking effect pending his court challenge.

Under the doctrine of judicial immunity, judges cannot ordinarily be sued for decisions they make, and Vasta sought to rely on this immunity in the Stradford case.

Wigney found this immunity did not protect Vasta. He said Vasta had engaged in a “gross and obvious irregularity of procedure” and denied Stradford “any modicum” of natural justice or procedural fairness.

Vasta was a Federal Circuit Court judge at the time he imprisoned Stradford and is now a judge of the Federal Circuit and Family Court, after the two courts were merged.


Who’s the Coalkeeper now? The renewables disaster rolls on...

‘Victoria joins NSW in saying no to “Coalkeeper,” ran the headline in Renew Economy in September 2021. ‘Coalkeeper’ was the disparaging name that Big Renewables and their political champions gave to a proposal to pay fossil fuel generators not just for the energy that they supplied but the critical backup they provided to highly subsidised renewables. Without that backup, Australians face blackouts and businesses face being pressured to load shed to help keep the lights on.

The plan was devised by the Energy Security Board (ESB) and backed by the then-federal Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor. The proposed mechanism was a capacity market to provide a stream of income to power companies that guarantee to provide energy which can backup renewables.

Capacity markets are commonplace in energy markets but the fact that the companies providing the backup were coal or gas-fired power stations infuriated the renewable-obsessed state governments of NSW and Victoria.

In September 2021 NSW Minister for Energy Matt Kean claimed there was no need for a capacity market or to ensure the continued operation of fossil-fuelled backup. In response to a call by the UN for wealthy countries to phase out coal by 2030, Kean said ending coal-fired generation by 2030 was entirely feasible. It was quite a boast given that NSW has the biggest coal-fired fleet in Australia, with more than 10GW of capacity. Kean put his faith in his legislated renewable energy plan – the biggest in the nation’s history – with five renewable energy zones to provide 12GW of renewable energy and 2GW of energy storage. He was also counting on the federally-backed Snowy 2.0 pumped-hydro project. By offering generous contracts guaranteeing that the state would purchase energy, NSW received expressions of interest to produce 34 GW of energy in New England and 27 GW in the Central West Orana zone.

Victorian energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio followed Kean’s lead. She claimed she wasn’t opposed to a capacity mechanism provided there were ‘no payments to incumbent fossil fuels generators’. This is absurd given that fossil fuel generators are the only energy suppliers in Victoria capable of backing up a grid supplied by 95 per cent renewable energy – the Victorian target for 2035.

In December 2022, a headline in Renew Economy gloated ‘Coalkeeper killed off as Labor states embrace Matt Kean’s auction and underwriting plan’. ‘Coalkeeper is dead,’ wrote Queensland energy minister Mick de Brenni whose state owns more coal-fired power stations than any other entity in Australia and has committed to closing them all by 2035.

But it’s one thing to legislate targets. It’s another thing for them to deliver reliable power in sufficient quantity. Renew Economy reported the gloomy news this week. Just 188MW of new capacity was approved in July and 1.2GW this year. That’s less than half the amount needed to reach Labor’s target of 82 per cent renewables by 2030 to fill the gap created by closing coal plants.

D’Ambrosio has been mugged by reality. She was forced to do a deal with AGL to keep open the Loy Yang A coal-fired power station which supplies a third of the state’s electricity until 2035. It was scheduled to close in 2048 but announced in February 2022 that it would close between 2040 and 2045. D’Ambrosio refused to disclose the cost of the deal. She also declined to disclose the cost of subsidies to keep open the Portland aluminium smelter – with power from Loy Yang – until 2035.

When AGL announced last September that the plant would close in 2035, federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said, ‘The reason that this is happening is because the cheapest form of energy in Australia and globally now is renewable energy.’ In reality, it is because renewable energy is the most heavily subsidised and fossil fuels the most heavily penalised. In addition, the energy shortages created by renewables create greater profits.

Each year, the CSIRO and AEMO work with the industry on the NextGen report which gives an updated cost estimate for large-scale electricity generation. It supposedly shows that wind and solar are the cheapest forms of energy, however the report substantially overestimates the low capacity factor of renewables and underestimates the cost of additional transmission, battery and pumped hydro storage, land, and backup.

We can get an idea of the gap by comparing federal Labor’s estimate of the cost of its 2030 renewable electricity target of 82 per cent which it claimed was $78 billion before the last election whereas Australia’s former chief scientist Robin Batterham put it this year at $1.5 trillion.

NextGen also overestimates the cost of nuclear energy which it says is more expensive than wind and solar. Compare Ontario, which gets around almost 60 per cent of its electricity from nuclear power, with South Australia which has the highest level of wind and solar in Australia. The cost of electricity in South Australia is more than three times higher than in Ontario.

In the NSW election in March, Kean suffered a 12 per cent swing against him in the primary vote and the government lost office so he didn’t have to face the embarrassment of negotiating with Origin to keep the Eraring power station open. It was originally slated to close in 2032 but last year its retirement was bought forward to 2025 because it was deemed unprofitable.

An independent report commissioned by the new NSW Labor government recommended the state keep Eraring open with the establishment of a mechanism to manage the orderly retirement of fossil fuel generators. That sounds like the establishment of a capacity market. Last year AEMO, which was managing the auctioning of Kean’s renewable energy contracts, warned that NSW would experience shortfalls in electricity if Eraring was retired in 2025.

Kean said in December 2020 that building new coal-fired plants was like going back to Blockbuster video after getting Netflix. That hasn’t worried China. Chinese imports of coal from Australia surged to their highest levels in three years in July after bans imposed in 2020 were lifted on 18 May. It approved the construction of an additional 106 gigawatts of coal-fired power in 2022, four times higher than in 2021.

Unlike in Australia, these projects are being built in a matter of months. For the foreseeable future, it seems we are all Coalkeepers now. ?


Vacant land shame: 100k blocks sit idle as housing crisis deepens

Almost 100,000 blocks of land are sitting idle across Queensland – including 879 owned by the government for social housing – as the state sinks further into its housing crisis.

Data held by Queensland Treasury reveals that of the 97,845 blocks waiting to be built on, 59,750 of those are in South East Queensland.

And new figures show that while the average wait time for social housing is 19 months some of the 879 owned by the Department of Housing have been vacant for more than a decade.

Shockingly, two blocks in Mt Gravatt East have been left barren since back in 2013 when fire destroyed the homes.

Opposition spokesman for housing Tim Mander said Queenslanders living in tents and cars, without a roof over their head would find it inconceivable the Palaszczuk Government has done nothing with the idle land.

“As the Queensland Housing Crisis deepens, the Palaszczuk Government has been sitting on 879 vacant blocks,” he said.

But the Housing Minister Meaghan Scanlon defended the hundreds of empty blocks saying “More than 57 per cent of that land is now programmed for construction”.

“There are a number of historic parcels owned by the department, in many cases for decades, that are simply unsuitable because they’re flood-prone, are contaminated or been impacted by historic mining,” she said.

Single father Greg Fellows said there wasn’t enough being done to give incentives to private investors to create housing for average Australians.

Mr Fellows has moved multiple times in the past few years while trying to budget and looking after three boys.

“It’s a challenge not only to locate something but to qualify for something,” he said. “As a single parent with a single income, it’s hard to be favourable to get a property. “That’s why I’ve had to pay three months rent to secure a property.

Mr Fellows said his last rent increase was $50 in April this year, which was a year after he had already moved from another place which increased their rent more than $60.

Mr Fellows also works as a program coordinator for youth service programs and says he sees the struggles for youth up to 25.

“It’s very difficult for them to get a start. They simply do not get enough money to pay their high rent,” he said.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles said his government would be “working closely” with council and industry in coming months to see more homes built.

“Market conditions are also a key factor in vacant lots with the residential construction industry in Queensland facing significant challenges due to supply chain disruptions and shortages and lack of suitably qualified labour,” he said.

Urban Development Institute of Australia Queensland chief executive Kirsty Chessher-Brown said there had “always been an excess of approvals over delivery”.

“There are many reasons why some dwellings don’t get completed, or built,” she said. “This has been exacerbated by the current difficulties in the property development and construction industry.

“A recent survey undertaken by the institute found that the top five reasons that were currently hindering or preventing project delivery were: increased construction costs, insufficient or unavailable contractors or consultants to undertake the work, delays in approvals, skills shortages, and market uncertainty.”

The large swathes of land left undeveloped in South East Queensland has sparked three major councils to lash the State Government over its inadequate funding of vital infrastructure to better support current and future large-scale housing developments.

Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding said developers were pushing for certainty around the location and timing of public transport links so they could bring forward affordable housing.

Ms Harding said her city’s population was expected to more than double in the coming decades.

“The critical factor for Ipswich to reach these growth targets and support affordable housing coming to market is certainty and access around the delivery of public transport to support this growth,” she said.

“Housing is not affordable if a family needs to own and maintain two cars in order to get to work, school and services, and this is why public transport connections for growing areas are so important.”

Redland City Council Mayor Karen Williams said she believed some developers were “land banking” in but supply chain issues and the huge increases in building costs were also factors in the large number of vacant blocks.

Ms Williams said her region had not been given enough infrastructure, such as public transport or road upgrades, to sustain the growth it has already experienced, let alone to make way for the extra 50,000 people projected under the recently released Southeast Queensland Regional Plan.

Ms Williams called for more transparency around how the government planned to support the projected population growth

“Really, the State Government hasn’t planned anything in regards to policing, to education, to connectivity to public transport to go with the plan and if they if they were local government, we would be requiring them to say every time someone builds a house, you need to tell us how you’re going to support that particular dwelling with the infrastructure required to maintain a sustainable lifestyle,” she said.


Schools force Anglican backdown on statement opposing same-sex marriage

Principals at Sydney’s Anglican schools will no longer be forced to sign a document affirming they believe marriage should only be between a man and a woman under a new proposal by the church that is set to abolish the controversial requirement.

In a draft policy statement, the Anglican Diocese of Sydney says incoming school heads must instead show they are of Christian faith and character, be actively involved in a Bible-based church and sign “a personal commitment to organisational faithfulness”.

The plan to scrap the clause opposing gay marriage – which was inserted into a general statement of faith in 2019 – comes after the matter sparked an outpouring of anger and frustration among Anglican school leaders and provoked intense backlash from parents.

The review of the rule forms part of a major governance overhaul of all Sydney Anglican diocese-run organisations, including more than 30 schools across the state.

In a report to be presented at its Synod next month, the diocese says the marriage clause has become a lightning rod for concerns about how the church imposes rules on schools.

“Feedback has focused on the relational difficulties it has created in school contexts ... with communities and alumni who are deeply influenced by a modern culture hostile to traditional Christian beliefs and practices,” the report says.

“This may create a barrier for the recruitment of governors and leaders, who, while personally agreeing with the statement, may face sanctions from their employer or be prevented from taking up these voluntary roles.”

The conservative Sydney diocese oversees a number of high-fee Sydney schools, including Shore, King’s, Barker College, Abbotsleigh, Trinity Grammar and St Catherine’s. Their councils are made up of volunteers, and are dominated by representatives of the diocese.

The extra clause, which surprised principals and councils when it was added by the Sydney diocese in 2019, said: “faith produces obedience in accordance with God’s word, including sexual faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman, and abstinence in all other circumstances”. New school heads and board members were forced to sign the statement as a condition of their employment.

Last year, parents at Australia’s oldest private girls’ school, St Catherine’s, lobbied its council to scrap the rule after it was revealed that its next principal could only accept the job if they agreed to the terms. Former Abbotsleigh head Judith Poole was brought out of retirement to serve as interim principal at the $40,000-a-year school until the end of 2024.

A similar backlash followed at Illawarra Grammar, where frustrated parents took the matter to its school council to raise their concerns the edict fails to “align with the values of mainstream Australia”. Parents at both schools say the communities were not consulted on the statement.

This month, Illawarra Grammar appointed a new principal, Julie Greenhalgh, who had recently retired after 16 years as head of inner west private girls’ school Meriden. In a letter to parents, the school said Greenhalgh was originally a member of the selection panel for the role but stepped down from the panel so that she could apply for the head position.

The school had previously told parents that more than 220 “educational leaders” had expressed interest in the principal role.

A spokesman for the Sydney diocese said while it had received feedback on the clause, it had “already been discussing ways in which the policy could be improved”.

“The review of the governance policy is ongoing. A school’s executive leadership will need to be Christian in faith and character, following the teachings of Jesus and beliefs and tenets of the diocese, but the commitment they make will be a commitment to organisational faithfulness,” he said.

School board members appointed by the diocese, and new principals, must be of “Christian faith and character” and “attend regularly and be actively involved in a Bible-based Christian church”.




Tuesday, August 29, 2023

UN corrects 40-year error claiming Tasmanian Aboriginal extinction

This "correction" can only be made because Australian law says that just one drop of Aboriginal blood makes you an Aborigine. The last full-bloods died out over a century ago. None of the alleged Tasmanian Aborigines these days even have dark skin. Mansell (below) is a blue-eyed blond

A United Nations (UN) agency has rectified a longstanding historical inaccuracy that had claimed Tasmanian Aboriginal people to be extinct for more than four decades.

The erroneous statement was discovered in a document related to the nomination process for the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area declaration in 1982.

The document, which carried the inaccurate claim that “Tasmanians are now an extinct race of humans,” has finally been removed.

The flawed reference came to light during the technical evaluation of the temperate wilderness area by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a part of the process to secure its place on the World Heritage List.

The IUCN report also suggested the thylacine’s survival, a creature believed to have vanished in 1936.

The reference to the extinction of Tasmanian Aboriginal people and the potential existence of the thylacine were tied to the uniqueness of the wilderness area.

In May, it was reported by The Australian that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) had initially declined to remove the inaccurate reference.

However, UNESCO later clarified that it had not been approached regarding the matter and promptly removed the document from its World Heritage website upon being informed of the issue.

A spokesperson from UNESCO confirmed that the document had been removed for revision by IUCN, the advisory body responsible for producing the document in 1982.

UNESCO emphasised its commitment to recognising and respecting Indigenous populations in the context of protecting world heritage sites.

The organisation acknowledged that it had agreed with IUCN to amend the 1982 report in order to incorporate scientific data collected since then, which validates the ongoing existence of Tasmanian Aboriginal people.

The inaccuracy in the document has been seen as a reflection of the historical mistreatment of Aboriginal people.

Rodney Dillon, a Palawa elder and the chair of Tasmania’s Aboriginal Heritage Council, expressed his people’s sadness and hurt due to this misrepresentation.

Dillon criticised the need for more sensitivity displayed by organisations like the UN and questioned how such institutions can effectively represent Indigenous communities.

“Our people feel the sadness, the hurt. It’s pretty typical of people in these positions … they’ve been doing it for hundreds of years,” he told Guardian Australia.

Michael Mansell, chair of the Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania, stressed the need for the original inscription to be revised to acknowledge the insult and correct the historical record.

In May, he asserted in The Australian’s report that “World Heritage listing needs to be overhauled to acknowledge that the 1.5 million-hectare area is substantially World-Heritage listed because of its Aboriginal cultural values.”

ALCT manager Rebecca Digney told ABC the 1982 document was “dehumanising” and an example of “racist rhetoric” that exists today, though news of UNESCO’s amendment was welcomed.

“Denying somebody’s existence is probably the cruellest thing you can do to a class of people, particularly a class of people who are the survivors of genocide,” she said.

Ms Digney added Indigenous Tasmanians have been fighting the myth of extinction since the death of Truganini in 1876.

Truganini was an Aboriginal Tasmanian woman documented as one of the last native speakers of the Tasmanian languages and solely of Aboriginal Tasmanian descent.

“The quickest way to undermine Aboriginal people, particularly in Tasmania, is to tell them that they don’t exist,” she said.

“It silences their voices on a political and social level. It denies them their claims on any sort of legal or economic level.”

Tanya Plibersek, the federal environmental minister, expressed her shock at the initial claim of Tasmanian Aboriginal extinction and welcomed UNESCO’s corrective action.

“Generations of Australians were taught the wrong thing at school. They were taught a history that isn’t true,” she told the ABC.

The corrected version of the UNESCO statement, known as the Retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Value for the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, is expected to be adopted in September.


First COVID Deaths Were Fully Jabbed, Australian State Records Reveal

In light of a court case launched by a group of doctors challenging the Queensland government's COVID-19 vaccination mandates, records have revealed that the first deaths in the Australian state were individuals who were fully vaccinated.

A list of the state’s first 183 COVID-19 deaths from the pandemic's start on March 13, 2020, until Jan. 27, 2022, produced by Queensland’s chief health officer in an affidavit, indicates it was known to authorities as early as Jan. 2022 that the vaccines may not be preventing deaths.

The list shows that the first locally acquired COVID-19 death was one in their 80s and another in their 30s, with both having received two doses of the vaccine in December 2021 and January 2022, respectively.

While Queensland recorded seven deaths early in the pandemic, these cases were acquired outside of the state and before vaccine rollouts began.

Queensland's border opened in December 2021 after 80 percent of the state population vaccination was reached. By Dec. 31, 2021, nearly 90 percent of the population over 16 were fully vaccinated.

The case, which was launched against the state, calls for the September 2021 directive requiring employees in public health and aged-care facilities to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to be revoked.

A specialist from the case, psychiatrist Peter Parry, said that in the three decades of his career, he had never been subject to disciplinary action until now.

“I graduated from medical school 40 years ago and in all that time have never had a single complaint about me presented to a medical board or AHPRA,” he said.

The reason he chose to decline the COVID-19 vaccines was because these are “not normal vaccines.”

“We hope, by bringing evidentiary material and expert witness testimonies before the Supreme Court, that the Justices will look at the evidence and rule in our favour. If successful, large numbers of experienced nurses, allied health, and doctors will be able to return to assist an overstretched Queensland public health system,” he added.

In addition to enforced work mandates, Premier Annastacia Palazczuk barred the unvaccinated from accessing services and freedoms such as hospitals, disability services, aged care, libraries, and hospitality venues.

This was enforced by proof of vaccination requirements at venues, which the Queensland government said was to keep Queenslanders safe.

Messaging Shifts to Reducing Severe Illness

Initially, in 2021, the Queensland Government closed the state's borders and encouraged people to get vaccinated against COVID-19. They aimed to reopen the borders once 80 percent of the population was vaccinated, with the goal of stopping the virus's spread and safeguarding vulnerable citizens.

However, when the borders reopened after reaching the target, COVID-19 cases surged instead of decreasing. When it became clear that the vaccines didn't entirely prevent infection or transmission, the focus of the messaging shifted to highlight the vaccines' effectiveness in reducing severe illness and death.

It is still a condition today for most Queensland health staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to ensure the ongoing safety of employees, patients, visitors and the wider community.

“The overwhelming benefits of COVID-19 vaccination continue to outweigh the potential risks, and this is substantiated by enormous amounts of safety data based on billions of doses worldwide,” a spokesperson for the TGA told The Epoch Times in an email.

Pfizer Dismisses Concerns Over Vaccine Mandates

The news of the deaths follows a parliamentary inquiry into the COVID-19 mandates heard from the Australian heads of Pfizer Australia that the vaccine mandates coerced Australians into getting vaccinated for COVID-19, saying they had a choice.

Appearing before an Australian senate inquiry into the COVID-19 vaccine mandates, Pfizer Country Medical Director Dr. Krishan Thiru and Dr. Brian Hewitt, the head of Regulatory Sciences for Pfizer, dismissed concerns of senators that Australians had been coerced into getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

"I believe firmly that nobody was forced to have a vaccine," Dr. Thiru said.

"Mandates for vaccine requirements are determined by governments and health authorities. I believe everybody was offered an opportunity to get a vaccine or not get a vaccine. I don't believe that anybody was forced to take a vaccine."

Meanwhile, Dr. Hewitt, when asked if he believed Australians in states that were subject to large-scale mandates—like Western Australia or Victoria—were not forced into getting the shot even when they found they were unable to earn a living without receiving a vaccination, replied he did not believe mandates compelled individuals into vaccinating.

"The mandates for vaccine requirements are determined by governments and health authorities. I don't believe that the mandates actually forced individuals to get vaccinations," he said.


Old-school teaching styles make struggling students successful

Seated in rows, the young students at St Vincent’s Primary School are watching their teacher, all eyes on the prize of learning something new. “A verb is a doing and action word,” the teacher says, and the entire class chimes in repetition before each child turns to repeat the words to a classmate. Every student writes a verb on a small whiteboard to show the teacher, who calls on them at random to describe a verb.

“It does sound old school,” says Monique Egan, acting principal of the Canberra Catholic school. “But there’s no doubt it helps children focus. There’s less opportunity for kids to hide and not engage. There are no long teacher explanations – students have to listen, and they’re responding, thinking, doing, making, showing and writing. I’ve never seen the school do this well.”

St Vincent’s school has embraced a teaching method known as direct or explicit instruction, derided for decades as “drill and kill”. It involves teaching children to read by phonics, sounding out words instead of memorising or guessing words from pictures. Homework is minimal but students are encouraged to read books at home and recite their times tables, the foundation of mathematics.

The method is gaining momentum as it dawns on schooling systems that quality teaching may be the solution to Australia’s ever-declining educational outcomes. Progressive ideology, the inquiry-based learning that sets tasks for students to discover facts and skills using their own initiative, has failed a generation of the most vulnerable children who stand to gain the most from a sound education.

St Vincent’s Primary School is part of the nation’s biggest experiment in using explicit instruction to lift student results.

It is one of 56 schools in the Catholic Education Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn, whose director Ross Fox has transformed teaching styles through a program called Catalyst.

No longer do children sit around tables where they must bend their necks to see the teacher, and are easily distracted by a cheeky classmate pulling a face or snapping a pencil. Now they sit in rows, with plenty of space for teachers to walk and check on progress. Any children struggling with their schoolwork are placed upfront, and taken out for small-group remedial instruction if they fall behind.

Based on the scientific concept of cognitive load, lessons are delivered with clear instructions from the teacher and constant questioning of students to test their understanding. Concepts are repeated and practised, then reviewed regularly, to help children remember. Teaching materials are shown on smartboards, stripped of any distracting animations that stop kids concentrating.

Catholic Education has spent $3000 to $4000 training each teacher in the explicit instruction methods, including phonics, that universities failed to teach them in a four-year degree.

Lessons are far from dull because teachers don’t drone on at the front of the classroom but keep kids constantly involved.

“There’s so much repetition, but the skill of the teachers is to make that repetition enjoyable in an engaging lesson,” Fox says. “There’s a benefit to sitting in rows and facing the teacher because attention during that precious instructional time is so important. If you want a child to learn new knowledge, the most effective way is to tell them clearly and precisely what you want them to learn.”

The improvements are eye-opening. An Equity Economics analysis shows that in reading, 42 per cent of year 3 students in Catholic schools in Canberra and Goulburn were behind kids in similar schools across Australia in 2019. Last year, just three years after Catalyst transformed classrooms, only 4 per cent of year 3s were underperforming.

Inspired by this success, Catholic schools in Tasmania and Melbourne also are adopting the Catalyst model, the brainchild of Knowledge Society chief executive Elena Douglas, a self-described evangelist of explicit instruction.

“There are 9500 schools in Australia and 6500 are primary schools – every single one of them has to be changed,” she tells Inquirer. “We are getting close to influence over 1000. Once every state has 50 or so schools doing it there will be a systemic effect, and it is looking likely that Catholic systems will be the vector (for change). The first step is to teach the teachers.”

Shocking results from this year’s national literacy and numeracy tests reveal how children are falling off the escalator of education. One in 10 students is defined as requiring additional support to catch up with classmates. One in four students is described as developing their skills – a polite way of saying they have failed to meet the minimum standards set in NAPLAN.

All up, one in three students is below the benchmark set by the nation’s education ministers. Half the nation’s students fall into the strong category, meaning they meet the standards, but only one in six students exceeds them. Boys are likelier than girls to need support. First Nations students underperform at three times the rate of their classmates and a quarter of children require remedial support if their own parents had dropped out of high school.

What has gone wrong? Taxpayers have poured $662bn into schools since Labor prime minister Julia Gillard faced down education unions by mandating the national testing of every student in years 3, 5, 7 and 9. Apart from a slight lift in literacy standards in years 3 and 5 following the uptake of phonics-based reading instruction in more schools in recent years, the results remain dire. Australian students are now more likely to fail than to excel in the basics of reading, writing, mathematics, spelling, grammar and punctuation.

Children from disadvantaged backgrounds – First Nations students, kids in regional and remote areas, those with unemployed or poorly educated parent – have fallen behind the furthest. If NAPLAN results are extrapolated across all four million school students, 1.3 million children are failing to meet minimum standards for the basic subjects of English and maths.

Federal Education Minister Jason Clare has declared the results “make it blisteringly clear that we need serious reform in education”. As he prepares to broker a long-term funding deal with the states and territories next year, Clare has insisted the federal government will no longer write blank cheques. In December, education ministers will consider a review of key targets and specific reforms to be tied to spending on schools, after a review headed by Australian Education Research Organisation chairwoman Lisa O’Brien, a former chief executive of The Smith Family educational charity.

Catch-up tutoring for struggling students – individually or in small groups – is emerging as Clare’s favoured solution to help school strugglers. The minister has seen small group tutoring succeed at Chullora Public School in his western Sydney electorate of Blaxland.

“If you fall behind in third grade, it’s very hard to catch up by the time you’re in year 9,” he said this week, citing an AERO study that tracked the performance of 185,000 students across seven years of NAPLAN testing and found only one in five managed to catch up in high school. “If you take them out of the class – one teacher, a couple of kids – they can learn as much in 18 weeks as you would normally expect to learn in 12 months.” Clare provided federal funding to central Australian schools this year to pay for phonics-based reading instruction and catch-up tutoring for some of the nation’s most disadvantaged children.

Catching up is essential, but so is turning off the pipeline of failure by stopping kids from falling behind in the first place. Educational success begins at home. Children who don’t attend preschool or whose parents spend more on beer than on food – let alone books – are starting from behind. Kids are less likely to learn if their families are blighted by domestic violence, disability, homelessness, addiction or mental illness. Children can’t choose their parents and have no control over the choices of adults. Society and schools mustn’t blame the victims of disadvantage and dysfunction.


Net Zero is a revolutionary idea, but not all revolutions are a good idea

There is a saying that revolutionary ideas are first heretical, then they become interesting and controversial, until suddenly they are old hat. Or as Rowan Dean put it, ‘Today’s denounced conspiracy is tomorrow’s undisputed truth.’

So let’s get interesting and controversial about Net Zero.

Net Zero is not necessary, it’s not happening, and it’s not possible until nuclear power is in the mix. In the meantime, why don’t we burn our beautiful black and brown coal that generates the cheapest power in the world?

The push for Net Zero is driven by two propositions. The first is that the increase in global temperatures has to be kept below 1.5 or at most 2 degrees Celsius, and the second is that this warming is being driven by human activities that produce emissions of (mostly) CO2.

From there, everything follows down the chain of Net Zero policies to reduce the production of airborne plant food and a few other things, like animal farts.

What if we test the foundational assumptions? Among critical rationalists inspired by Karl Popper and Bill Bartley, this is called ‘the check on the problem’. Essentially, this check is undertaken to confirm the problem is real and alternative responses (including doing nothing) are on the table for cost-benefit analysis and due diligence.

We want to avoid the process that Roger James observed when the postwar British Labor government was building a New Jerusalem by central planning.

James coined the term ‘solutioneering’ for the process of jumping straight from a perceived problem, usually described as a crisis, to a solution before investigating the problem (if indeed there is one at all), and exploring a range of possible solutions.

Jumping to a solution before clearly formulating what the problem is (or indeed if there is one at all) or how success or failure are to be judged. Achievement of the solution then becomes the goal; and, when opposition develops, the problem becomes how to get the solution accepted, while the question of how best to solve the original problem, if there was one, never gets discussed at all. I call this mistake solutioneering

Anticipated benefits are over-estimated, the costs are under-estimated, everything is urgent, time is of the essence, it will cost more later on if it is delayed.

If all else fails, someone might decide to describe the costs as investments in a ‘glorious future’.

This process is now standard procedure for left-wing and conservative administrations, as though Key Performance Indicators are the number of new programs and the pages of legislation and regulations added to the books.

Running a check on the global warming problem and Net Zero solution reveals some concerning realities.

The first question we have to ask is, has the planet been warming?

If the answer is ‘no’, then go on with business as usual.

If ‘yes’, we require the follow up questions of how much has it warmed and is this a problem?

Some will say the planet has warmed by 1.3 degrees over the last 120 years and this has been a good thing. It may have stopped warming already and another degree or two more in the next century will most likely do more good than harm.

So again, if this is the case, the sensible thing for humanity would be to go on with business as usual, including genuine research in the field of climate science.

Others say that this warming period represents an existential threat and, because it’s our fault, the onus is on Australia to do everything we can to reduce our 1 per cent share of the world’s emissions. Never mind what China, India, and the developing nations are doing.

The next question is a no-brainer, knowing that our efforts will make no measurable difference to the climate of the world. (Alan Finkel told us as much when he was the Chief Scientist.)

Why would we spend a single dollar of public money, let alone a trillion, to press on boldly with decarbonisation?

Admittedly, we have produced a lot of remarkable achievements even at this early stage of the long march.

We have doubled, maybe tripled the cost of power with a lot more to come as we rewire the nation.

Billions of dollars of investment have gone offshore (think balance of payments, jobs, tax revenue, local skills development).

Would anyone dare to add up the cost of the new public entities in Canberra and elsewhere to mastermind and supervise and report on our Net Zero strategies? Would anyone count the new state and federal agencies, the special units in universities, or the grants handed out for new initiatives like carbon capture and pumped hydro? Not to mention hydrogen and green aviation fuel…

Look at the work big consultancies have picked up to advise firms across the nation to implement the data collection and reporting systems to satisfy the demands from every regulatory agency to consider ‘climate risks’ and ESG protocols.

All of the above add to the cost of doing business. They undermine the productivity of the private sector which is the goose that lays the golden tax eggs to pay the bills for government spending.

And there is more. We have seen the corruption of scientific research. The trashing of education from kindergarten to Year 12 and beyond. Then we have the travesty of reporting standards by stenographers and commentators in the mainstream media, especially in the public broadcaster. All this comes as the public starts to lose faith in the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology.

Is there any need to go on? All we can do is look forward to the time when everyone says ‘we were always climate and energy realists’.




Monday, August 28, 2023

A real estate agent has turned heads after claiming bad tenants are partly to blame for increasing the rates of homelessness

Ashleigh Goodchild, who is a director at Perth-based company Soco Realty, made the shock claim as Australia is crippled by a housing crisis.

Long queues have become a common sight at rental inspections with residents forced into a fierce bidding war as they compete for vacant rooms.

Families are among the growing number of Australians that have been forced to take drastic measures and live out of caravans, tents or even their cars.

Mission Australia recently claimed over 122,000 Australians experience homelessness on any given night and that demand for its housing help services has spiked 26 per cent since 2020.

Ms Goodchild, whose company bio boasts she 'worked her way from the reception desk to business ownership', said there is another side to the homelessness picture that the media is missing.

'I know that no-one deserves homelessness, I get that, but there's a big fact that the media is missing that is contributing to these people being homeless,' she said in a TikTok video. 'And it is that they have done the wrong thing by landlords.

'The pool of tenants that are applying for properties at the moment in the Perth residential market are way below standard.

'We're talking tenants that have done the wrong thing. They have trashed properties, they lie on their application, they don't pay rent and these are the people that are more at risk of being homeless.'

Ms Goodchild posted the clip to TikTok after reading an article about homelessness. 'This fired me up this morning,' the video title read.

Perth's rental market is among the tightest in the country, with prospective tenants taking to social media to share images and videos of queues with up to 100 people waiting to inspect the city's few vacant properties.

Last month Perth's rental vacancy rate - the percentage of all rental properties that are vacant or unoccupied - was at 0.5 per cent.

Nationally the rate is just 1.3 per cent. The lower the rate, the more difficult it is to find a home.

Ms Goodchild's opinions received a mixed response, though many people working in real estate agreed with her. 'OMG this! I work as a leasing agent and this is exactly what I'm dealing with in day in and day out!' one said.

However two mums did not and firmly disagreed with Ms Goodchild's claims bad tenants were partly to blame.

'You're wrong,' a mother of six children said. 'There are so many dual income families, with A+ rental record [who] cannot get homes.'

Another Queensland woman, who is currently looking for a home, chimed into the debate. 'Sorry but I have always paid rent on time never trashed a house yet good references I have a dog and 3 adults and 3 kids and we still miss out,' she said.

Ms Goodchild responded if the woman was in Perth and could provide a rental ledger 'and a copy of your last inspection report' she would have found her a property


The newly elected Labor Minns government has commissioned a report to provide a handy excuse to try and slow down the currently manic net zero transition.

What is it about the relentless pursuit of so-called renewable energy by our leaders that they overlook the need to provide affordable and reliable electricity supply to Australians?

Especially at a time when the cost of living is front of mind.

In a first-world country blessed with huge energy resources, the unreliability and cost of energy is a national scandal.

Even if one accepts the need to "transition" from fossil fuels to other forms of energy there is the foundational requirement to keep the lights on and our factories and farms producing at an affordable price.

Time and again warnings have been provided that inherent in the word "transitioning" is the imperative that energy supply and affordability need to be maintained.

Those who have correctly sounded those warnings of commonsense have been decried as "deniers" and economic vandals along with all sorts of other descriptors to avoid the discussion.

In that scenario leaders of all stripes have virtue signalled how quickly they can decommission coal-fired power stations and set zero emission targets.

Decommissioning and net zero targets can be achieved overnight by simply turning off all the power stations.

But the hugely more difficult task, with its accompanying cost factors, is the provision of alternate, affordable, and reliable energy.

An unwelcome reminder of this monumental task is the concern around the slated closure of the Eraring power station in New South Wales in 2025.

The newly elected Labor Minns government commissioned a report to provide a handy excuse to try and slow down the currently manic net zero transition.

Why a report was needed is obvious. It was to cover the government’s proverbial backside from being kicked by the citizens who feel betrayed by the hype and propaganda associated with "transitioning."

In a completely unsurprising finding the recommendation has been made to extend the life of Eraring.

Apart from that there was also the "groundbreaking" insightful suggestion that a mechanism to orderly manage the retirement of coal-fired power stations be established.

Who would have thought it necessary? Order. Management. These two previously quite foreign concepts to the renewable energy pushers and political leadership have finally mugged them and not before time.

The Eraring inquiry suggested that negotiations be entered into with the owners of the power station to prolong its life to prevent reliability gaps and guarantee no adverse price impact.

That such an inquiry was at all necessary is a complete exposure of the manic nature of the irresponsible renewable push.

Where was the leadership willing to state the bleeding obvious—we need reliability and affordability in any transition.

The false narratives are being slowly but relentlessly exposed as the predictable chickens called reliability and affordability are coming home to roost.

All this is happening at a time when speculation is rife that the Australian Energy Market Operator will soon alert the unsuspecting public that all the promised essential infrastructure and up-grading of the grid to cope is falling way behind schedule.

The management debacle of the renewable energy transition is now being witnessed on a daily basis.

A debacle that could have been easily avoided by true and responsible leadership willing to level with their citizenry about timelines, capital costs, and power bills.

The owners of Eraring will undoubtedly rub their organisational hands in glee knowing that the commodity which they were being pressured to close is now all of a sudden in demand.

The shortfall cannot be made up from elsewhere so Eraring's owner, Origin Energy, has some sway and negotiating cards with which to play.

The public is at the mercy of the provider.

This lack of foresight and deliberate denigrating of those providing the warnings by the leadership of our country is at best negligence writ large.

The fact similar stories flooding out of Europe were ignored to the detriment of Australia’s family budgets, jobs, and national well-being requires a national apology and for the responsible people to be brought to account.

The realistic fear for Australians is that Eraring will be one of many more cases to emerge over the next few years.


On campus, there is no room for dissenting views on Indigenous voice to parliament


Some readers may harbour a sneaking suspicion that Australia’s universities have a serious problem with collapsing viewpoint diversity among their professors and lecturers, to the extent that whole departments on campus have become conservative-free zones. They also may suspect that many university students, as well as academics, self-censor and keep their dissenting views to themselves. Spoiler alert: these suspicions are well founded.

Let me use the upcoming constitutional referendum on the voice to illustrate. Recent polls show the No side has a considerable lead. I mention these polls of the wider public’s view simply to contrast it with the very different world on our campuses. Many Australian universities officially have come out in favour of the Yes side and have done so despite the two main political parties taking opposite sides in the referendum – thereby making this a party-political matter and so the taking of sides by any publicly funded university, in part, a choosing by them and their governing boards between the political positioning of the two main parties. The University of NSW even has lit up one of its main buildings with a big “Yes”, emblematically transmogrifying the institution’s name into “UNYesW”.

It’s bad enough when big corporations use shareholder money to support one side in this referendum (virtually always the Yes side, and to the tune of tens of millions of dollars), and likewise when charities do so (arguably calling into serious question whether they are straying outside their charitable purposes, and also huge amounts of money virtually all to the pro side). But when taxpayer-funded universities use your tax dollars to take a side on a crucial constitutional referendum issue that splits the country, well, that’s even worse. It’s not just a form of virtue signalling with other people’s money; it comes close to being an improper use of taxpayer money.

Now, truth be told, some of our universities have opted not to support the Yes side. They’ve opted to stay officially neutral. Needless to say, neutrality is the best we can hope for. You see, I don’t know of a single Australian university, not one, that has come out for No. And this despite plenty of our tertiary institutions breaking cover to support the Yes side. Heck, it’s despite the majority of polled voters being against this proposal.

Now move down to a more granular level, to what things are like on campus. As a longtime out-of-the-closet political conservative (and cards on the table here, an outspoken No proponent from day one), I get a fair few people calling me to tell me what things are like on campuses around the country. Get this: most universities seem to have decided to put on “information sessions” about the voice.

I do not know of a single university that is putting on one of these events where there are the same number of No speakers as those for Yes on these panels. By contrast, I do know of a good few where every single speaker is (or, if you look up the resume, sure seems likely to be) a Yes speaker.

Let that sink in for a moment. It’s wall-to-wall supporters of the voice supposedly giving students some sort of balanced information about the voice. It would be laughable, if it weren’t. And if you query this you get this sort of basic answer: “We’ve briefed one of the speakers to give the No side.” Got that? Because the great free-speech philosopher John Stuart Mill is rolling in his grave.

No one can seriously believe that a person strongly committed to one side of a highly contentious and moralised issue can do even a half-decent job of giving the other side’s case.

Moreover, when a university purports to be giving a disinterested information session to faculty and students where the views expressed cover the whole range of outlooks from A all the way still to A (“Getting to Yes”, as it were), students and faculty notice. Many will say nothing; they’ll self-censor; they’ll think about what is most prudential given the upcoming promotion application or essay to hand in. And they’ll keep shtum.

I’m going to be blunt. Today’s universities are not overly congenial places for those with conservative political views. There are myriad studies out of the US and Britain showing that viewpoint diversity is collapsing on university campuses – because maybe, for a start, those with right-of-centre views would prefer we flew just the national flag, that there be some respite from the incessant acknowledgments of country, and to see the paring back of the diversity, equity and inclusion bureaucracy that forces everything to be seen through the prism of identity politics.

US author Jonathan Haidt, himself of the centre-left, details this loss of diverging outlooks on campus chapter and verse, and greatly laments it. Because universities aren’t meant to be factories of monolithic orthodoxy and groupthink. But more and more that is exactly what we’re seeing. If you doubt me, maybe because your memory of university life goes back three decades or more, go and find out how your old university is handling the voice referendum issue. And realise just how much of the Yes case is being run by employees of universities (second spoiler alert: nearly all of it).

Of course, when the progressive-left orthodoxies become held by the preponderance of academics and near-on all the senior managers, that also affects free speech on campus. You won’t see it by looking at university codes of conduct, policies, statutory frameworks and the like. The collapse of viewpoint diversity works more indirectly and insidiously. Many dissenters and apostates from the university orthodoxy (students included) learn to self-censor, to keep quiet, to ride out the one-sided indoctrination sessions (aka, on occasion, voice “information sessions”). Or they quit and do something else. In the context of institutions supposedly dedicated to the free flow and competition of ideas it’s a sad state of affairs.


Gary Banks: falling living standards risk triggering ‘electoral backlash’

A failure to pursue meaningful economic reform by both major parties is driving down living standards and could trigger an “electoral backlash”, according to a new warning from the nation’s inaugural Productivity Commission chair.

Delivering the annual Shann Memorial Lecture in Perth on Wednesday, Gary Banks critiqued plans to transform Australia into a renewable energy superpower and develop a sovereign manufacturing capability as risking a return to “old think” industry protectionism.

He argued the clean energy transformation was not delivering a more productive economy – arguing there was “not even the consolation that we are at least making a difference to the climate” – and rejected government assurances its workplace changes would enhance enterprise dynamics.

Professor Banks instead argued that an “anti-productivity bias” had infected policy development and a backlash was now possible.

“If there is to be reform of a kind that would make a difference to Australia’s productivity performance, it will require a change in the politics,” he said. “Governments follow or anticipate public opinion more than leading it.”

“How the public reacts to the stagnation or decline in living standards ... remains to be seen. But an electoral backlash cannot be ruled out – as we have just seen here in WA against the ill-conceived ‘heritage’ legislation,” he said.

Professor Banks said that governments were now “spending more over regulating better” and the pay-off from public investments was diminishing, pointing to the NDIS and Gonski education reforms.

He said the established relationship between productivity and non-inflationary wage growth had also been “brought into question” and took aim at Anthony Albanese’s claim the recent 15 per cent pay rise for age-care workers “would not be inflationary and would actually serve to increase productivity.”

“Given that the majority of workers to receive the wage rise are the existing ones, an overall increase in productivity is unlikely,” he said. “Indeed, with the introduction of a new visa category for migrants committing to a union-linked stint in aged care, it may decrease.”

Professor Banks said it was “hard to see” either major party embracing a real pro-productivity agenda. He warned that Coalition reforms had been stymied in the Senate while, under Labor, “devotion to big government, a suspicion of market forces and strong union influence are proving even more challenging.”

Echoing the Productivity Commission’s recent trade and assistance review, Professor Banks expressed concern over plans to turn Australia into a “renewable energy superpower”, arguing the goal had been conflated with the post-Covid push to develop a sovereign manufacturing capability.

“Though portrayed as a new, forward-looking approach to industry policy, there is much that is ‘old-think’ about it,” Professor Banks said. “For example, a ‘local content’ scheme, a form of non-tariff protection ... is being contemplated to promote battery manufacturing.”

The PC review found that total industry assistance increased 3.4 per cent to $13.8bn in 2021-22 and that a domestic processing capacity was “unlikely to create an appreciable cost advantage” for the local battery-making industry.

Ahead of ALP national conference, Professor Banks criticised a union push to change the way free trade agreements were negotiated and the suggestion Australia could impose new green tariffs on products from countries with weaker climate policies.

But his most serious criticism was reserved for policy failures in the areas of workplace relations and energy policy.

“In the case of energy, the determination to meet overly ambitious emission targets while suppressing our only base-load energy sources will inevitably mean further price increases and less reliability,” he said.

Unless there was a change of mindset, the government would need to resort to further “price controls and other regulatory interventions that can only exacerbate supply-side problems.”

Professor Banks said subsidies for intensive electricity users to ‘stand down’ at times of inadequate supply and subsidies to enable coal-fired power stations to remain on call resulted in an energy system requiring “far more capital to produce less reliable power — the antithesis of a pro-productivity approach.”

“Indeed, to the extent that production activity shifts offshore, global emissions are more likely to rise,” he said.

On industrial relations, Professor Banks noted the government’s agenda “aligns closely with the ACTU’s own wish list” and that Labor’s workplace changes meant industry deals could be forced on individual firms – undermining flexibility.

“To the extent that the current government’s policies continue to be influenced by union concerns, we could expect to see further measures to increase union coverage and ‘say’, and limit the ability of management to secure productivity-enhancing changes,” he said.

Since Labor won office, Professor Banks observed “successive waves of regulation have emerged with the ostensible purpose of ‘getting wages moving’ or achieving greater ‘job security.’”

“Looking beneath these aspirational headings, much of what is proposed appears more likely to impede than promote the enterprise dynamic on which, as Treasury has stressed, productivity growth and well-paid jobs depend.”


Harry Garside: Justice, lies and a knockout videotape

False accusations from angry women can be very dangerous

When star boxer Harry Garside locked himself in the spare room of a Sydney apartment and hit “send” on his phone, launching off to his mum a 33-second video of an argument with his girlfriend, he couldn’t know he’d just saved his boxing career.

Not that it would spare him being very publicly arrested and shamed for the “assault” he had just filmed; not that it would stop Boxing Australia suspending him from competition; and not that he will ever recoup much of the $500,000 he lost in sponsorships.

But the cautionary tale of how Garside came so close to losing everything – including his freedom – is the latest of many that raise uncomfortable questions about whether police and prosecutors are properly investigating allegations before pursuing charges.

As the now 25-year-old boxer discovered, even a petty argument – in the hands of a skilled liar – can be ­manipulated to destroy a career.

The colourful, heart-on-sleeve athlete was on the ascent, both in and out of the ring, when his ­trajectory was suddenly and stunningly derailed.

Garside turned up at the GQ Men of the Year Awards last year dressed in a pleated grey skirt, long black boots and bare-chested under a formal black jacket.

On that occasion Garside was arm in arm with his then girlfriend, Ashley Ruscoe.

Ruscoe is a wellness coach and fitness expert, with more than 26,000 followers on Instagram, thanks to a role on the 2019 season of Ten Network’s The Amazing Race. The now 35-year-old martial arts expert – with a black belt in karate – runs a self-defence business called Hit Like a Girl.

A fixture on Sydney’s social scene, Ruscoe had been in ­relationships with a number of high-profile men, including Sidney Pierucci, her partner in The Amazing Race.

But when she and then 23-year-old Garside met on Instagram in early 2021, it seemed to be love at first sight, despite the nine-year age gap. When the boxer left for the Tokyo Olympics, they spoke every day on FaceTime.

The pair met up again in Sydney, and in March last year Garside moved into Ruscoe’s Bellevue Hill apartment.

Earlier this year, Garside decided he was going to devote himself to winning gold at the 2024 Paris Olympics. Ruscoe was unhappy. They’d talked about having children, but for Garside that was much further down the track. He had a dream and was intent on pursuing it.

The couple announced they were splitting up but continued to meet – and have sex.

On March 1 this year, when Garside returned from a month-long trip to Europe, Ruscoe sent him a text saying: “Ok, let’s try really rough sex, Like semi bash me hahaha, Like maybe a slight black eye.” Garside declined. Later that day they met at the apartment to discuss their relationship. They had an argument. It started outside the flat, continued inside and became increasingly heated.

Garside won’t discuss the incident while court proceedings are afoot, but the details are now all on record.

Ruscoe grabbed a suitcase Garside hadn’t unpacked from his trip and threatened to take it outside and burn some of his things. Garside, concerned things were getting out of hand, recorded two short video clips on his phone. Garside says he made these recordings because he was worried Ruscoe would try to suggest he was the aggressor.

The first video shows Ruscoe coming out of a room towards Garside holding the suitcase, then dropping it when she realises he is filming her. After Garside retreated into the bathroom the second clip, which runs for 33 seconds, shows Ruscoe lunging to grab his phone as he pleads with her to stop.

“You’re psychotic,” Garside says, “stop f..king touching me like that … stop, stop, stop, leave me alone, leave me alone.”

When Garside tried to leave the apartment, an increasingly aggressive Ruscoe shut the front door and told him he couldn’t leave until he deleted the videos of her.

Garside headed for the spare room, locked the door, and quickly sent the videos to his mother via Facebook.

When he unlocked the door and came out, Garside showed Ruscoe he was deleting the videos. Only then did she let him leave the apartment.

Garside left for South Africa three weeks after the incident, on March 25, to film I’m a Celebrity.

Ruscoe went to the police the same day.

Kate Garside has no doubts why she did it.

“I think she was in such fear that Harry would say something that it would ruin her reputation, that she sort of thought, well, I’ll throw the first punch here and go to the police.”

Much more here:




Sunday, August 27, 2023

Spinning the myth of Global Warming for corporate gain

The myth of human-induced global warming has always been a mixture of scientific chicanery and businesses, seeking to leverage a competitive advantage over their rivals.

For scientists – at least those in the public sector – global warming provided the opportunity to be listened to by politicians and the public, to attend international gatherings, and be shown the respect they felt was previously lacking.

For businesses, the possibility of subsidies and imposts on rival suppliers was irresistible. Indeed, the nuclear industry was among the early proponents of the greenhouse myth, seeing it as an opportunity to ride renewable energy’s coattails and gain regulatory advantages over its fossil fuel competitors.

But the main commercial impetus came from the renewable industry, which was confident that the declining costs of the energy produced from wind farms and solar systems would fall over time, and eventually be cheaper than energy derived from coal and gas. All that was needed was a bit of a nudge from the government to get the technology over the edge.

That competitive price parity never came about. Agencies like CSIRO produce data, which indicates wind might be as cheap as coal. However, this can only be so if others build the transmission lines to get that wind power into the market, provide the balancing mechanisms within the electricity system to allow it to avoid disrupting the entire network, and, above all, supply the means by which it could be ‘firmed up’ by energy supplies not dependent on the wind and sun.

These costs rise exponentially with the forced increased penetration of renewables. A full renewable system is unfeasible at any cost.

The Australian Energy Market Operator, long supportive of the Net Zero agenda, is now alarmed by it and is calling for subsidies for transmission, subsidies that would increase the cost of the network from its current $23 billion to $100 billion. Similarly, to shore up supply the Victorian government is taking steps to subsidise coal generation that is becoming insolvent as a result of the subsidies to wind/solar that it supports.

An early estimate of the direct costs imposed by regulations and by budgetary support to renewables was a 2014 submission from the IPA to the 2014 Warburton review. This projected the annual costs by 2020 at $6-7 billion. The assessment was refined for the Australian Environment Foundation’s (AEF) response to the 2017 Finkel Review.

In his 2017 report, Finkel claimed that the transition to wind and solar PV ‘is reflected in a fall in their costs’ – even though wholesale prices doubled that year. The AEF compiled the support costs for 2016 at $4.9 billion.

The costs were updated to $6.9 billion for 2019, in a report commissioned by Senator Malcolm Roberts; that estimate was also published in Chapter 22 of Pinto et al Local Electricity Markets, Elsevier 2021.

Updated for price and budget changes, annual current renewable program costs are now over $10 billion

Initially greeted with hostility by vested interests, who recognised such analysis as a threat to their ongoing subsidies, recent reaction has been subdued. The methodology is followed by the Productivity Commission in its latest Trade and Assistance Review, though the Commission declines to put an aggregate value on the subsidies.

This cost is imposed at various points of the economy: on taxpayers and on electricity consumers but the major impact is upon the generation component – overwhelmingly on coal that formerly comprised 85 per cent of supply (and now comprises 63 per cent). Before the policies started to bite, national electricity generation cost less than $11 billion a year or about $40 per Megawatt hour. Contrary to ministerial statements, the coal supplying this remains both abundant and largely non-tradeable, while plant costs are fundamentally unchanged. Hence without government interference, coal-based generation supply would be less than half the $100 plus we pay today and to deliver it to customers, we could dispense with many of the additional system, subsidy, and transmission costs that we are incurring.

How have the costs and implications of policies designed to replace low-cost, controllable coal-generated electricity by high-cost intermittent wind and solar taken so long to be recognised and even now are officially judged to be affordable? More than anything else reversion to policies that provide cheap energy could drive the cost reductions and productivity increases are vital for increased wages. But while both the Business Council and Treasury, in its Intergenerational Report claim to understand this, their prescriptions involve subsidising energy sources (renewables, green hydrogen) that will raise costs.


The Aboriginalisation of Australia

Very Left-driven

Isn’t it about time we start demanding of our taxpayer media why they are subtly driving the Aboriginalisation of this country?

SBS shows weather maps with name changes to all our capital cities. Radio National is calling us from Gadigal country. Place names such as Fraser Island are being changed to Aboriginal names. Why? With whose permission?

This is straight out of the Marxist-Leninist handbook where you tear down statues, change familiar place names, and rewrite the past.

Many claiming Aboriginal ancestry include a tribal origin in their name. People are ‘proud’ Indigenous men and women. But where does that leave us? Are non-Indigenous Australians allowed to be proud of their heritage? Why proclaim it? The insinuation is divisive.

It creates a situation where ethnicity permeates every crevice of Australia’s social fabric.

We are forced to listen to ‘Welcome to Country’ messaging on every flight, every gathering, every sporting match, and at every government event. Smoking ceremonies are conducted at every formal opening, for a charge, of course. Tributes are made to elders past and present. They are described as custodians of the land where we work and play. It is a story presented to Australians as though we are being granted a privilege to be here despite all of us being equal citizens.

There are over 3,700 registered Aboriginal corporations embedded in the social fabric of this country. The multiplier effect of their influence is vastly out of proportion to the citizens of Aboriginal descent.

Why is there any special treatment based upon heritage (instead of need)? Why are the majority made to feel as if they are aliens in their homeland?

For over 230 years, Australians of all creeds sacrificed their lives to fight off foreign tyranny. They did their best to develop the nation for the benefit of all, regardless of race.

Pre-colonial Australia was not a peaceful Utopia, nor was it a coherent, unified nation. To suggest so is to re-write the past for political interest. It was a land with over 500 tribes speaking different languages, largely engaged in constant conflict with each other which is evident from the vast array of Aboriginal weaponry and first-contact accounts from those who travelled with peaceful tribes.

Despite brand new claims to the contrary, there was no evidence for agriculture or permanent settlement. They were not in perfect harmony with the land but rather used it to their advantage the same as any other human settlement. Animals went extinct under their watch, others are still hunted toward their doom today, such as the dugong, for cultural reasons. Much of the animal killing is what we modern sensibilities would call brutal and cruel. Aboriginal culture was, and used to be valued as, a preserved hunter-gatherer society. A piece of history.

If anyone questions the re-invented Utopian version of Aboriginal history, they are decried as racist. This is an attempt to misuse a fictional version of history for political power.

And what of Aboriginality? How is it assessed and upon what criteria? As it stands, if the ‘mob’ accepts you, you are in. But with no genuine definition, the number of people claiming Aboriginal heritage has expanded well beyond believable levels to the point Aboriginal communities are concerned it is being used to gain access to special rights and opportunities that were meant to be reserved for those in need. Which is why it is always a terrible idea to use race as a qualification.

Why is Prime Minister Albanese supporting a voice that is potentially undermining the Australian democracy? Is he that foolish? Or is this a negotiation with a powerful bureaucracy for mutual benefit between what Labor wants and want a small panel of selected activists are prepared to give?

When it comes to the question of this new type of Aboriginality, isn’t it about time our politicians call out what amounts to state-sanctioned racial privilege?

It was W Edwards Deming, the architect of the post-war Japanese economic miracle, who said create a system that is open to abuse and abused it will be.

Where is our wise and honest leadership?

The Voice does not pass the pub test, yet there seems no will to address its serious flaws. Is it because Australia doesn’t have an identifiable culture and the Indigenous activists have taken the opportunity to fill the void? It is a huge irony that the very people who seek retribution have got to that position through the benefits of Western Civilisation, yet now turn on the very institutions that provided their education and prosperity. But logic does not register with the activist class.


Reparation and apology nonsense

People are starting to wake up to not only The Voice, but the philosophical reasoning behind it, which is ironically, deeply racist. Douglas Murray, in a stand-out article for The Australian, persuasively argues: ‘Australia feels like it is stuck in an apology loop because it is. And the reason that it doesn’t seem to be getting the country anywhere is because it never could – however many cycles of this you want to go around for.’

As an Englishman – and descendant of those dreaded ‘colonisers’ – Murray has the benefit of the outsider’s perspective as well as the uncanny ability and courage of speaking truth to power, especially when he observes that the emperor has no clothes. And as such, his insight into our cultural malaise really does bell the cat. As Murray writes:

As I have found when travelling the country, the typical Australian no longer seems to me to be that striding, sensible, happy-go-lucky figure of old. They seem – in my experience – to be guilt-ridden people, forever caveating their thoughts and self-conscious to an often excruciating degree.

Why? Because if you browbeat any group of people for long enough you will get that result. A cringing, creeping-through life person, who subdues their thoughts and distrusts their own speech and actions.

What’s happened to us as a nation? We used to be internationally known for our larrikin spirit which delighted to call out authoritarianism and its associated pomposity. Just think, Crocodile Dundee. But if Covid showed us anything, it’s that we now want Big Brother to tell us what to do. We’re okay for the government to take away our freedoms. And we’re more than willing to say ‘Sorry’ to people we haven’t personally offended. And not just once, but again and again and again and again.

This is where Murray really puts his finger on the heart of the issue. As Murray argues in his book The War on the West, there is a profound ethical problem with current generations apologising from the mistakes of the previous generation. And that is, they themselves are not responsible. This also means that it’s disingenuous of those who are benefiting from the confession to even ask for it. As Murray writes:

As a number of the most serious and profound ethicists of the last century have agreed, an apology can work only when it comes from someone who has done a wrong and is accepted by someone who has been wronged. If it comes from someone who has themselves done no wrong and goes to someone who has not actually been wronged, then the deal is a fraud. If such an apology is offered and accepted it is a fraud on both sides. Someone who has done no wrong is pretending to be speaking for the dead and people who have suffered no direct wrong are pretending to be able to accept an apology on behalf of people they did not know.

Sadly, even my fellow Christian brothers and sisters have fallen into this self-flagellating apology loop. Which is particularly strange – as well as more than a little troubling – when the Bible itself says that only the soul who is guilty of sin should be punished (i.e. Ezekiel 18:20).

What’s more, if reparations are to be paid, then just how many nations will be expected to financially contribute? What’s more, should we set up a genetic database to discern who is in fact eligible? This ever-diminishing inherited guilt is almost impossible to calculate and if attempted, the potential consequences would be disastrous. As Murray rightly points out:

The issue of reparations now comes down not to descendants of one group paying money to descendants of another group. Rather, it comes down to people who look like the people to whom a wrong was done in history receiving money from people who look like the people who may have done wrong. It is hard to imagine anything more likely to rip apart a society than attempting a wealth transfer based on this principle.


Destructive Leftist influence on Australian education

One in three Australian school children, according to the latest Naplan results, are falling well behind in literacy and numeracy. A cynic might be tempted to compare that number with the approximately one in three Australians who voted for Labor at the last election. For sure, it’s a facetious comparison, but, alas, not an inaccurate one. There is no question that now, fifty years on from the Whitlam government and its disastrous experiments in corrupting young peoples’ minds with socialist claptrap, we can safely conclude that the modern Australian left has wilfully damaged the intellectual development of two generations of Australian children.

That is not to say there aren’t any bright kids out there. There most certainly are. Australian ingenuity, resilience, optimism, determination, entrepreneurialism and go-getter qualities still thrive amongst many of our great youth. But they have been egregiously betrayed by an academic system that has starved them of the great minds and works that should be their birthright. Denied them the critical thinking and academic robustness that is essential to living a positive and productive, not to mention an intellectually fulfilling, life.

Even those kids who do thrive academically and achieve good results have been seriously damaged thanks to a shockingly low standard of education built largely upon leftist ideology and Labor/Greens dogma. Gay propaganda fills the walls, anti-white racist theories abound and our extraordinary academic traditions are wilfully ignored. Only this week we learned of a school in Sydney’s Sutherland Shire where pre-school kids are forced to write essays apologising for British colonialism. This is intellectual child abuse; Marxism’s ‘long march’ at its most pernicious.

As with everything the left touches, and pours money into, the results are invariably the same: failure. So more money is poured in. And the failures continue to mount.

The reason is simple. The entire modern leftist approach of ‘we know what is best for you’ is wrong. They don’t know and never did know. Individuals must be free to make mistakes, be free to bounce back, be free to explore unorthodox ideas, be free to challenge and be free to dream of a better way. Sadly, the entrepreneurial flame of so many of our youth is now being wasted in the dead ends of eco-alarmism and woke ideology. Schools and universities teach unrelenting propaganda and ‘consensus’ rather than the free thinking that is critical to genuine progress and insight.

Bedwetters of the Liberal party fool themselves that the ‘times have changed’ and that in order to attract younger ‘more progressive’ voters the right needs to adopt left-leaning policies and priorities. The opposite is true. Having marinated in a sludge of toxic environmentalism and grievance politics throughout their entire childhood, what young intellectually-deprived minds desperately require is alternative stimulation, not more of the same.

For sure, many kids will lazily hang on to the dreary, soul-sapping self-loathing of wokeness, complete with its climate doom-mongering and sinister Malthusian ideology. But exposed to the tantalising and forbidden spark of an alternative, positive, optimistic, freedom-loving, modern conservatism, many young minds are capable of being inspired. Having spent most of their childhoods being brainwashed into believing there is no future worth striving for because the planet is doomed to disappear in an imaginary climate inferno sometime in the next (5? 12? 20? 50? It keeps changing) years, and having been convinced that their ancestors were either blood-thirsty racists or imprisoned slaves, it must surely be wonderfully refreshing to hear the alternative conservative perspective: climate change is at best a hoax, at worst a manageable phenomenon, we are not doomed, we have all the available technology already to hand to reduce emissions to zero if we are so inclined, not that we necessarily need to, and our ancestors, black and white, were extraordinarily gifted and caring people, many of whom gave up their own lives to ensure we get to enjoy the nourishing fruits of our culture and our history.

Indeed, what is needed from the Liberal leadership is not more pandering to the left, but quite the opposite: a determination to vociferously and energetically oppose the left’s fraudulent agenda wherever and whenever it pops its ugly head up.

Youth and rebelliousness have always gone hand in hand. The cunning trick of the modern left has been, through our education system, to convince these adolescents that ‘climate activism’ and ‘being an ally to LGBTQ+’ or ‘supporting the Voice’ is somehow a rebellious action. It is not. It is as mainstream and as boringly unimaginative as you can possibly get. These gullible kids have been hoodwinked into supporting the big, pampered, all-powerful, elitist and monied end of town.

During the late 1970s, the rebellious rock ’n’ roll culture had itself become bloated, pampered, self-indulgent and lazy, unrecognisable to the original rebels of the early 1960s. Appalled that these cocaine-addled, squillionaire LA rock stars somehow represented them, angry kids found their own way to rebel, as punks.

The only credible radicalism and anti-authoritarianism on offer to today’s youth is to oppose woke intolerance and the left’s brainwashing and racist grievance ideology. Call it ‘punk conservatism’ if you will.

Let’s hope the indomitable Aussie spirit can once again rise to defeat the freedom-hating socialists ruining our children’s future prospects and prosperity.