Monday, November 20, 2023

Queensland government doubles first home owner grant to $30k for new builds, including granny flats

That it is for new builds makes sense but given the shortage of tradesmen the effect may be small, if any

The Queensland government has doubled the first home owner grant to $30,000 for new builds until mid-2025.

The new grant only applies to buying or building a new home valued under $750,000, and comes into effect on Monday.

Announcing the boost on Sunday morning, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk described it as a "pre-Christmas bonus".

The grant can also be used for a granny flat or modular home.

Property prices in the state are at an all-time high, while rental vacancies have dropped to a record low.

"You can also use it for money towards a new home, a unit, a townhouse or even if your parents want to put a granny flat out the back, so it covers the whole range of the spectrum," Ms Palaszczuk said.

"This our big Christmas bonus for our first home owners and we understand that our families are hurting with big cost living pressures out there, and our government is making this small step to help people get into the market."

Ethan Hughes, 22, said he hoped to make use of the grant.

"The housing market is consistently going up so the earlier I can get in the better," Mr Hughes said. "This is a more than welcome increase, it's a very welcome handout."

Housing Minister Meaghan Scanlon said coal royalties had bankrolled the grant boost. "With signs that capacity constraints are now easing in the residential housing construction market, now is the time to act," Ms Scanlon said.

"And the reason we can do this is because of the strength of our budget. It allows us to take advantage of those changing conditions and to make the most of that emerging capacity."


Popular ABC Host Quits Live on Air, Says There Are 'Penalties for Speaking Bluntly'

A popular radio host in Sydney has quit live on air while making a thinly veiled critique of the national broadcaster's management and its listeners around “uncomfortable conversations.”

“Having truly rational, bull-[expletive] free conversations about controversial issues is risky these days,” Josh Szeps, host of ABC Radio Sydney, said just before the 3 p.m. news on Nov. 15.

“The penalties for speaking bluntly, the penalties for trying to coax people out of their thought silos and their echo chambers are very high.”

The radio host, who appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience show and famously entered into a heated debate with the American commentator on the COVID jab, said the fact that controversial topics are risky “makes it more important to me.”

“The fact I have found a way of doing it independently that is financially viable leads me to the question that I have been mulling over ever since chatter about the 2024 [ABC] line-up began—which is, where am I at most use to the national conversation?” he said.

Mr. Szeps added that regular listeners know him for thriving on controversial discussions.

“You know I am the kid who gets invited to Christmas lunch and then starts talking to people I’m advised not to talk to,” he said.

“Like Uncle Herbie who might have voted for Pauline Hanson—as that old codger farts his way through the potato salad I will have an uncomfortable conversation with him.

“Maybe all I do is make the prim and proper partygoers uncomfortable, but that is not my intention. My hope is that by understanding Uncle Herbie’s point of view I might better understand my own. Everyone might better understand their own.

He explained that his conversations have become somewhat of a “misfit” at the ABC.

“I’m a child of refugees, but I'm a white Australian. I'm a gay guy, but I hate Mardi Gras,” he added. “I have Holocaust-surviving grandparents but I'm conflicted about Zionism. I'm an ABC presenter but I don't like kale.”

Mr. Szeps urged journalists to be “contrarians” rather than “team players.”

“The way to expand the conversation is to expand the people having the conversation, not just in ways that prioritise superficial diversity but in ways that reward true idiosyncrasy,” he said.

Mr. Szeps also plugged his podcast titled “Uncomfortable Conversations,” and said he would launch a YouTube show after he finished up with the public broadcaster.

Steve Ahern, acting head of ABC Capital City Networks, said: “Josh’s mixture of playfulness, intellect and fearlessness is one of a kind. We wish him all the best and hope he can contribute his significant talents to the ABC again in the future.”

Mr. Szeps said he will continue with his role at ABC Radio Sydney Afternoons until Dec. 22.


‘I hope you die’: ABC refuses review into kids program after slew of complaints

The ABC Ombudsman is refusing to review episodes of the children’s news program Behind The News, despite receiving close to 100 complaints over its coverage of the conflict in Gaza.

Diary was alerted by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, which had observed the disquiet building in Jewish circles among parents of school-aged children, who began writing letters.

The issues all relate to segments broadcast in October following the terrorist attack in Israel. Parents of Jewish children have written to the ABC, some even directly to managing director David Anderson claiming the series included “bias” and “harmful” information regarding the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

There have been three BTN segments broadcast about the conflict – one specifically about the October 7 Hamas terrorist attack, one explaining the rules of war and one about international aid and what’s being done to help civilians.

Parents are up in arms but the kicker, and most tragic part, is that a number of students have also put their concerns in writing, including a year 3 student, whose father wrote to the ABC on her behalf asking for BTN to show “all sides”. The letter was then signed by the entire class.

They did not receive a response.

Another complaint was from the father of a nine-year-old public school girl in Sydney who said she was confronted after BTN was shown in class recently.

“A boy came up to me. I didn’t know who he was. He asked: Are you for Israel or for this other place … I didn’t quite get it. I told him Israel, and he said to me ‘I hope you die’,” the letter from a concerned parent said, calling the show “Palestinian propaganda made PG”.

Diary understands the ABC has not replied or responded to that or any of the complaints.

Ombudsman Fiona Cameron on Thursday rejected a written request from Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-chief executive Peter Wertheim to have the show reviewed.

“The ABC’s editorial standards for impartiality do not require that every facet of every argument is presented within a single discussion or piece of content. Rather, the ABC aims to present, over time, content that addresses a broad range of subjects from a diversity of perspectives reflecting a diversity of experiences, presented in a diversity of ways from a diversity of sources,” Ms Cameron wrote.

Mr Wertheim told Diary that following the ABC “sidestepping” the issues put forward, he now believed the TV show was “feeding children intellectual poison.”

“There was no mention of the well-documented cases of Hamas using Palestinian civilians as human shields, or using civilian structures such as homes, mosques, hospitals and schools for storage of weapons and munitions, or firing missiles from within densely populated locations within Gaza. These matters were omitted but were highly relevant to the episode’s emphasis on the devastation and suffering in Gaza,” Mr Wertheim said.

“The episode was calculated to trigger emotional responses among impressionable schoolchildren through a selective presentation of the facts, instead of following the weight of the available evidence. It was like feeding children intellectual poison.”

An ABC spokeswoman said the show was “committed to impartiality and consulted a wide range of expert sources for these reports”.

“Some complainants have expressed concern that the story on international aid did not mention the Hamas terrorist attack. “This is not the case. The attack was mentioned – albeit briefly – in the story, which focused specifically on the international aid effort,” she told Diary.

“BTN went into detail about the October 7 terrorist attack by Hamas. It clearly showed Israel was the target of deliberate terrorism. It also conveyed Israel’s statement about rocket attacks. It referenced Hamas being described as a terrorist organisation and its history of violence.”

Diary understands the ABC employs an education adviser to ensure the appropriateness of BTN content and it also provides resources to help young people with “upsetting news”. On its website, BTN suggests that teachers of younger students preview stories to make sure they are age appropriate.


Doctors step up calls for gender care re-examination

The battle over gender-affirmative medicine in Australia has intensified with a call to arms by two experienced psychiatrists for their fellow doctors to resist the pressure of activism that has triggered the widespread “subordination of clinical governance to social and political goals” in the rush to affirm distressed children’s chosen gender.

The psychiatrists used an academic paper in a top psychiatry journal to urge the medical profession to heed the “cautionary tale” posed by the healthcare scandal that unfolded at London’s Tavistock clinic and in British compensation cases they say are directly relevant to Australia.

Monash Medical Centre child and adolescent psychiatrist George Halasz and Andrew Amos, an academic psychiatrist who has previously held a training role with Queensland’s health department, went as far as to remind doctors of their obligation to observe the Hippocratic oath in questioning the evidence base of affirmative medicine.

In an article in the journal Australasian Psychiatry, They urged doctors to examine the ethics of a model in which powerful hormone drugs are prescribed despite a lack of evidence that the affirmation of a child’s perceived gender identity and subsequent medical transition eases teenagers’ mental distress.

“The natural history of gender dysphoria suggests two critical ethical questions: first, is the ‘transition pathway’ – social, medical or surgical – in the best interest of the child?” the two psychiatrists wrote. “Second, is that pathway consistent with the principle ‘first, do no harm’?”

But even as the explosive article was published, paediatricians and their colleagues at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne – home of the nation’s leading experts in gender-affirmative medicine and the self-appointed setters of quasi-national guidelines adopted by most of the country’s children’s hospitals – quietly published an updated version of their standards of care that endorse a radical expansion of the affirmative model.

The new guidelines endorse the prescription of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones by general practitioners, outside a multidisciplinary model led by specialist children’s hospitals – the model explicitly endorsed as of utmost importance by the Cass Review in the UK.

The review by pediatrician Hilary Cass of the Tavistock clinic’s Gender Identity Development Service began in 2022 and triggered the institution’s closure. It confirmed a limited evidence base for gender-affirming care, systemic failures of clinical governance, and unjustifiable risks of harms to children and families, amid re-examination of the affirmative model in academic literature and policy in countries throughout Europe.

Despite this, the new RCH guidelines do not reference the Tavistock fallout at all, or the fact puberty blocker drugs are only able to be prescribed in the context of a clinical trial now in England. Nor do they mention the growing caution that has prompted a rollback of the medical model in countries that had previously adopted it, including Finland, amid the recent scientific discrediting of the Dutch “affirmation model” on which Australia’s approach is still based.

“It is unrealistic that all trans and gender-diverse adolescents in Australia will be able to directly access comprehensive specialist paediatric services, especially with these specialist disciplines co-located within a public health service,” the new guidelines state. “Provision of a multidisciplinary team approach with co-ordination of care from general practitioners, private specialist practitioners and community-based clinicians can be an effective alternative in ensuring best practice and accessibility to medical intervention.”

The RCH was approached for comment and declined.

Clinicians pushing for clinical accountability and transparency said they were stunned that the new guidelines fail to consider any of the newly emerging evidence or systematic reviews post-2020 that have dismantled the credibility of the original Dutch model that underpins gender-affirmative medicine and also cast doubt on the efficacy of the approach, highlighted in Australia this year by research clinicians at the The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

In interviews with The Weekend Australian expanding upon their academic paper, Professor Halasz and Dr Amos expanded upon their concerns that there were “major risks associated with gender-affirming care”. Yet the new version of Australia’s guidelines “reads as if there is simply no controversy”.

Professor Halasz said it was beyond time for Australia’s children’s hospitals – in particular in Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth – to review their approach.

“I think it’s wise that any hospital that has been following what’s happened to the Tavistock to start to distance itself as much as possible, as urgently as possible, lest they suffer the same fate,” Professor Halasz said. “What I would ask is, where is the transparency? Where (are) the outcomes of the procedures, whether they are social transitioning procedures, or medical procedures of prescribing puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones?

“And where is the data on the number of surgical interventions that follow after the Royal Children’s Hospital care is finished and these patients transition over to adult services? Where is the data? Or the follow-up to document detransitioners? Where is the evidence?”

The psychiatrists said the rise of gender-affirmative medicine had been heavily influenced by trans activist groups whose lobbying was aggressive and intimidatory. And that culture had flowed through into medical training. “As someone involved in the education of training psychiatrists, I am particularly concerned at how effective trans advocacy has been in training young doctors to reflexively reject any evidence that there might be negative consequences to gender-affirming care,” Dr Amos said. “Trainees appear to believe that simply acknowledging there are alternative approaches to gender dysphoria actually threatens harm to the transgender community. I would describe that as magical thinking.

“I think there’s been a failure of leadership across medicine. Individual practitioners have been able to have huge influence because medical colleges have not stepped in to provide guidance.”

Professor Halasz, who trained in the UK and was in close contact with doctors who watched the Tavistock scandal unfold, described the rise of gender-affirming medicine as taking place within a radical form of social activism. “It was a culture of intimidation, silence, and I think threat,” the professor said. “And I just thought ‘this is so outside of my understanding of what medicine is about’.”

The psychiatrists said they were concerned by the suspension of Queensland specialist child psychiatrist Jillian Spencer, who had come into conflict with hospital bosses at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Brisbane over clinical practice in treating gender-questioning children.

Dr Spencer, a vocal critic of affirmative care, has been stood down from her role as a senior staff specialist at the hospital for months following a patient complaint – a fact that concerns Dr Amos.

He said it has been very difficult to get psychiatrists to make public statements about gender dysphoria even though the majority appeared to share a more moderate, exploratory approach. Doctors were afraid for their professional reputations.

“The major reason for this fear is that trans advocates appear to be both aggressive in their rhetoric, and unwilling to engage in any discussion that does not adopt their basic viewpoint,” Dr Amos said. “While I do not know the specific details, the protracted suspension of child psychiatrist Jillian Spencer for expressing an alternative view of the approach to gender dysphoria appears to have confirmed the real threat behind such fears.”

And the overriding of parents’ frequent gut instinct for caution over affirmation had damaged psychiatry as a profession, according to Professor Halasz.

“Our profession is entrusted by parents to do what’s in the best interest of their child,” he said. “The trust that we have built up with families over years, I believe, actually has been absolutely shredded by this process.”




No comments: