Thursday, May 30, 2024

Nurses head off prostate cancer admissions

Hmmm ... I am not sure that prostate cancer sufferers will get good advice from nurses. Although I feel perfectly well, I have both prostate cancer and bone cancer: A penalty of old age. I saw a urologist about the prostate cancer but she was not very helpful. But the oncologist was. He prescribed something -- Xtandi -- that fixed my symptoms without any side-effects. So if even medical specialists can be unhelpful, what hope is there for nurses? Better than nothing, I guess

Emergency departments have seen a 60 per cent reduction in admissions from men suffering from prostate cancer who receive the care of specialist nurses, a groundbreaking report has shown, sparking calls to expand the service.

The findings from an independent report by the University of Queensland’s Centre for the Business and Economics of Health has also revealed providing specialist nurses to prostate cancer patients saves the healthcare system up to $20m each year.

Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia director of nursing Sally Sara, who is calling for the service to be expanded, said the hospital-based program provides an expert to turn to, as opposed to the emergency room.

“It’s about having that primary point of contact who men can to speak to on the phone, talk about what’s going on and get some advice before things become a problem,” Ms Sara said.

“Specialist nurses can initiate action early so issues are called and treated early before they get to the stage where someone might be quite unwell and ends up being admitted to hospital.

“It may be as simple as a man ringing a nurse after surgery and describing symptoms that sound like an infection, and the nurse can fax a pathology company so he can go straight away,” she said.

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the country, with 70 Australian men diagnosed each day.

Ms Sara has overseen the program grow from a 12-person pilot study 12 years ago to a nationwide service with 110 nurses based in all major regional areas and capital cities – trained by prostate cancer experts like herself.

She said the findings indicate an extension of the program will further benefit an overburdened healthcare system and the wellbeing of Australian men.

“The report recognised that having these nurses really helped with hospital avoidance and it came straight from the horse’s mouth. It’s oncologists, urologists, and other health professionals who are reporting back to us saying they noticed that since these positions have been in place, those unplanned admissions have dropped because of early intervention,” Ms Sara said.

“There is excellent evidence that the program itself has generated a positive return financially but also that there is a really big impact in health related quality of life … men have contacted us and said they wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for the nurse who kept them going, encouraged them to go to the appointments, or let them talk through their worries.

“It is a very trusted relationship the prostate cancer nurses build with the men they care for and their families as well.”

Husband, father, and Gulf War Naval veteran Paul Bain, 54, said highly-trained specialist nurses were helping men identify and cope with a disease that often goes unnoticed.

“As someone who’s going through having to deal with all the implications of the disease, a situation for me that came out of left-field completely, it has been quite a journey through various stages of treatment, emotion, and mental and physical fatigue that we’ve got to deal with,” Mr Bain said.

“We all appreciate nurses and people in the health community in general but to have some of these specialists that are obviously focused on the intricacies around this particular disease is just fantastic and good peace of mind during what can be a really tricky time.”

Mr Bain was first diagnosed with prostate cancer in June 2020 after his doctor decided to give him a prostate-specific antigen test (PSA) during a routine check-up, simply because of his age.

The Royalla father was fit, healthy, and asymptomatic despite having an aggressive form of cancer doctors said would have killed him before Christmas that year if not for the discovery.

Four years later, Mr Bain is recovering from another round of radiotherapy after the cancer metastasised to his ribs. He said his story speaks to the value of specialist care and greater awareness about the disease.

“Men aren’t great with talking about their health and if they don’t have support networks or family around them as they go through (cancer) it can be really difficult to deal with,” he said.

“The nurses have been amazing for me on my own particular journey and I talk to them at different times about how to approach treatment from the mental to the physical changes you go through.

“Generations ago a lot of men would have just died with prostate cancer and it is a slow growing disease in most instances so it can be overlooked … but I think it’s so important men don’t take it lightly.”


More rapists and sex offenders spared by Direction 99

Four more convicted sex offenders – including a child sex offender – and a prolific Sydney cocaine dealer were all spared deportation off the back of Immigration Minister Andrew Giles’ soon-to-be-scrapped Direction 99.

Mahmoud Younes, a Lebanese citizen who had dragged a woman into his car and molested her, had the cancellation of his visa overturned after the Administrative Appeals Tribunal found that the strength of his ties to Australia carried “considerable weight” in his favour. That finding came despite the fact he had spent three of his six years in Australia in jail.

The strength, nature and duration of an individual’s ties to Australia was elevated to a primary consideration under Mr Giles’ Direction 99, and that factor has since been cited in dozens of AAT decisions overturning visa cancellations for serious offenders.

In Younes’ case, the AAT found his extensive family ties in Australia warranted the revocation of his visa cancellation.

In another case, Steven William Morgan, a former ballet teacher convicted of indecent acts against one of his students, was spared deportation back to New Zealand due to his ties to Australia and the needs of his three disabled children.

Morgan was convicted in 2021 of historical offences against one of his young female students over the course of four years in the late 1990s. But the AAT ruled his longstanding relationships in Australia and the needs of his children were strong enough to warrant the overturning of his visa cancellation.

The cases of Younes and Morgan takes to 13 the number of convicted sex offenders found by The Australian to have had their visa cancellations overturned since the introduction of Direction 99 early last year.

After several days of revelations showing how serious non-citizen criminals – including repeat domestic violence perpetrators, drug traffickers and large-scale money launderers – were having their visas reinstated off the back of Direction 99, Mr Giles on Wednesday revealed that the direction would be replaced due to a lack of “common sense” in a number of recent AAT decisions.

The decision allowing Younes to remain in the country described how he had followed a woman walking along the road in his car late one night, persistently trying to solicit her for sex. She repeatedly refused, telling him she had a boyfriend, but he continued to follow her and eventually got out of his car, picked her up and carried her to the passenger seat.

There he placed his hands on her buttocks and breast. After he locked the door and walked around towards the driver’s side, the woman managed to open the door and run away.

AAT data shows the number of character-related visa decisions changed after review by the tribunal had spiked since the introduction of Direction 99. In the 2022 financial year – the last full year before the changes came into force – 39 per cent of visa decisions to go before the AAT were changed. That had jumped to 56 per cent in the nine months to March 31 this year. That figure may also end up being higher, with 76 – or almost 68 per cent – of the 112 decisions reviewed by The Australian so far all ending in visa cancellations being overturned.

Shortly before Mr Giles announced that Direction 99 would be replaced, The Australian revealed that convicted rapist Abu Bah had his visa reinstated after the AAT found his ties to Australia and the interests of his two children outweighed the protection and expectation of the Australian community. Bah’s drug-fuelled attack on a woman in 2017 drove his victim into a spiral of self-harm and homelessness but the AAT found his ties to Australia – including his time volunteering to help with the clean-up effort after the Brisbane floods – warranted the revocation of his visa cancellation.

Daniel Thompson, who arrived in Australia from Liberia in 2008 at the age of 30, also had his visa reinstated by the AAT after it was cancelled following his conviction on eight counts of rape.

All those charges related to one hour he had spent with a sex worker in a Brisbane brothel. Again, the AAT found the strength, nature and duration of ties to Australia and the best interests of minor children in Australia outweighed the primary considerations of the protection and expectations of the community.

Mr Giles originally expected his direction would crack down on the number of domestic violence perpetrators allowed to remain in the country. Documents released under Freedom of Information show that Mr Giles and the Department of Home Affairs chose March 8 last year as the start date for Direction 99 to coincide with International Women’s Day and the lead-up to Harmony Week.

“Issuance of the Ministerial Direction during this time would send a strong message to the community regarding the government’s commitment to combat family violence and protect women, particularly those from culturally and linguistically diverse communities,” says the correspondence from Home Affairs to Mr Giles on September 8, 2022.

The Australian’s review of the AAT’s decisions since Direction 99 came into effect, however, has identified at least 20 cases in which serious, repeat domestic violence offenders have been spared deportation.

In one case – Sefanaia Mitiani Tavola, whose criminal record includes multiple counts of domestic violence-related assaults – AAT deputy president Dennis Cowdroy stated that Direction 99’s instruction to consider an individual’s ties to Australia was the only reason the Fiji national was spared deportation. “The tribunal concludes that, taking into account that the applicant has resided in Australia since he was five years of age, was educated in Australia, has never returned to Fiji, has worked in employment in Australia, and has provided some positive contribution to his community in Australia, it would be contrary to the requirements of paragraphs 8.3(4)(a)(i) and (ii) of the direction not to revoke the decision under review, irrespective of the applicant’s criminal offending,” he wrote.

It is understood the government will examine the latest cases.

In a statement, Mr Giles said: “It’s clear that the current direction has not been used as the government had intended. That’s why we’re imposing a new direction to make the Government’s intention clear that the protection of the community outweighs any other considerations.”


Tradies hold the key to Australia’s future

It’s a question parents often ponder when considering their children’s education: what skills are required now to deliver job security in the future?

This is a bit like wondering what jobs might be needed in 2024 from the vantage point of the year 2000. The answer is nearly all skills and ever more workers are required today.

This is because at the turn of the century we didn’t envisage record levels of immigration triggered by a resources boom and the delivery of education services – at scale – to overseas students. Our cities surged as a consequence. More accommodation was required for students as well as a burgeoning bulge of Millennial knowledge workers.

No one connected the dots: more students, more knowledge workers and more (skilled) migrants results in a need for more housing. If this is to be Australia’s trajectory, we need the trade skills to deliver housing and city infrastructure.

In 2000 we did not question the logic of trade routes based on unfettered access to global supply chains. And, seemingly, nor did we consider the idea of buying and/or building nuclear-powered submarines. A pity, because such a project over the past 20 years could have deepened an engineering skills base aligned with the needs of a resources boom.

We need to be bold and lateral in our thinking about the future. I suspect we have followed a line of “safe future thinking” largely based on issues such as climate change and not enough on left-field events like a pandemic or a seismic shift in our strategic position.

Australians need to have confidence that someone, somewhere, is thinking about – is scenario planning, and actively war-gaming – a range of impacts that could shape our nation. It’s not enough to say “Oh, this is unexpected.”

What does Australia look like by the middle of the 2030s, when half of the Baby Boomer cohort is 80-plus? A decade of post-pandemic amped-up immigration, required to offset retiring workers, changes Australia.

We are focusing on the ramifications of artificial intelligence (AI) rather than scoping the need for jobs of the future. In the early 2030s we will need vastly more aged/disability carers, to the extent that this could replace shop assistant as this nation’s largest single occupation.

I have a contrarian view of the future of work: less focus on tech wizardry, more attention on delivery of basic human needs, such as security, care and shelter.

Repetitive jobs will continue to be replaced by technology. Petrol-pump attendants and ticket sellers disappeared a generation ago. Checkout operators are shrinking.

If Australia is to grow, defend itself, house its people and care for its aged, we need to allow a greater role to be played by those who deliver vocational training. The past 25 years have been the era of the university and knowledge worker (and the hipster); maybe the next 25 will be the era of the trade college and technical worker (the tradie).

This shift could start with parents being as supportive of their child choosing to pursue an apprenticeship or trade certificate as a university degree. I see an even greater need for technical skills in an Australia of the future.


Chinese tech could smash Australia's battery making dreams

If British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak loses the upcoming election, he will be the first major western political casualty to the global electric car mess that has been created by politicians misreading the market.

And here in Australia, as I will explain below, there is grave danger the Chinese technology will disrupt our plans to hose billions of dollars at battery making and “essential” raw materials, particularly nickel.

But the Chinese battery technology could help solve some of the problems facing the global electric car market.

Sunak listened to the green elite and their demand for electric cars and set rules for motor makers that completely misread the views and buying patterns of ordinary Britisher.

Sunak set a target of banning new petrol car sales by 2030.

And he went further with a Zero Emission Vehicle mandate that came into force last January and required car manufacturers to ensure that 22 per cent of the vehicles they sell in Britain this year are fully electric.

Hybrids don’t count. The carmakers are fined £15,000 for every vehicle sold short of the mandate, which will rise to 28 per cent next year and continue to rise until it hits 80 per cent initially by 2030.

The UK Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) says electric cars currently have a market share of only 15.7 per cent – about -the same as last year. Sunak gave fleet companies big incentives so they now buy five in every six EVs sold, but it can’t bridge the boycott by the majority of the population.

Sunak’s policies are set to push the British motor industry out of existence. Why have the ordinary British people told Sunak to jump in the Thames and refused to buy electric cars?

Via the SMMT, the carmakers and retailers in public statements try to explain to Sunak that his problem is that the ratio of charging points to EV drivers has not improved since last year.

Around 30 per cent of the population don’t have a dwelling garage so must park their car in the street so can’t charge EVs at home.

Meanwhile, the cost of electricity from a rapid charger is up by about 10 per cent so not only are EVs 40 per cent more expensive to buy than petrol cars, but they are also costlier to run, despite the big petrol taxes. Eventually, electric vehicles being charged must face “petrol” taxes because governments need the revenue.

Cornered, Sunak extended the “no petrol car sales” deadline from 2030 to 2035 which enraged his green supporters. But he has left in place the massive fines, so whoever wins the next election will need to decide between slashing the fine, subsidising electric vehicles on a massive scale or sending vast areas of the motor industry broke.

The Sunak mess is a warning for politicians around the world that pandering to elites against the will of ordinary people does not work. You need to fix the basics and bring the population with you. Then impose your penalties.

Meanwhile, China, the dominant force in making electric vehicles, not only flooded its own market with electric vehicles but shipped vast quantities to the UK and other countries that would take them.

In the UK, these unsold vehicles are clogging storage areas near the ports.

But out of China is coming a battery revolution that may make it possible to get ordinary people to buy electric cars.

A report from the International Energy Agency says China has developed a fast-charging “Shenxing” battery “capable of delivering 400km of range from a ten-minute charge”.

But the next generation of batteries will be able to travel almost 1000km from a ten-minute charge.

While these technology advances offer the opportunity to increase the popularity of electric cars beyond the elite, the technology advance is also likely to enshrine China’s dominance of the renewable energy market.

One of the few things President Biden and former President Trump agree on is the need to make America much less reliant on China in all areas.

But of course Trump will also encourage the production of oil and gas and the use of petrol. For US motor makers struggling with a similar scenario to the UK, a switch back to petrol will cause more chaos.

Meanwhile, Australia wants to be a leader in battery production, but it will need to match the Chinese in technology or Australia’s money will go down the drain.

And the new Chinese batteries use less nickel, which means that nickel may go into a period of great oversupply just as we are subsidising nickel mines.

The Sunak story has a lesson for Australia as well as the rest of the world




Wednesday, May 29, 2024

A twist in the free speech legal fight between X and Australia's eSafety bureaucracy

The eSafety vs X case just got messier

The eSafety Commissioner's fight against X over videos of the Wakeley stabbing just got messier, with two new groups granted leave to join the case.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) have pulled off a rare legal manoeuvre, winning the right to participate in Federal Court proceedings they caught wind of over in the United States.

Court allows terrorist attack vision to stay on X
The Federal Court has chosen not to extend a temporary order for social media company X, formerly Twitter, to hide videos of a Sydney terrorist stabbing globally.

It’s another knock to eSafety, which has been trying to force Elon Musk's company to remove or hide about 65 instances of footage showing a stabbing attack on Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel since April.

To recap briefly, X initially agreed to geoblock the posts, but refused the regulator's subsequent legal notice, which would have meant global removal.

At that point, all hell promptly broke loose.

Amid an intercontinental slanging match between Anthony Albanese and Elon Musk, the Federal Court granted a temporary injunction, which X ignored, ordering the social media platform to hide the material.

The stalemate lasted more than two weeks until Justice Kennett rejected eSafety’s bid to renew the injunction, after hearing arguments that the Commissioner had overreached.

It was enough of a commotion to attract two American interlopers, the EFF and FIRE, who jointly applied to "intervene" in the matter on behalf of internet users outside Australia.

Their bid has mostly escaped public notice so far, but this week Justice Kennett decided the parties had a right to be heard, despite arguments to the contrary from eSafety.

"It's not automatic and it's quite rare in the Australian context for intervention to be granted," said Kevin Lynch, a partner at Johnson Winter Slattery, the firm representing the two groups.

"Our clients won't be arguing for one side or the other," said Lynch, adding that they're only there to bring an "international perspective".

That perspective happens to overlap significantly with the case being made by X, centring on free speech and the appropriate limits of the Commissioner's powers.

"If an Australian court makes a global takedown order, it might signal to other countries that they can impose similar orders under their own laws," Lynch said.

In other words: if it can happen in Australia, there's nothing to stop it from happening in China, Russia, Myanmar or Iran.

EFF and FIRE now have a seat at the table, in recognition of the fact that this fight "has a major impact upon their interests as freedom of speech advocates", Lynch said.


The hopeless mission of the Australian Energy Market Operator

This year 2024 Daniel Westerman will become a well-known if not much-loved public figure.
In his role as the energy czar – the CEO of the Australian Energy Market Operator – his mission is to mastermind the great transformation of our energy system to deliver clean, reliable, and affordable energy to your home, business, and in due course, your car.

In fact, the decision to pursue that transformation is the greatest policy blunder in our history, wartime included. To anticipate the punchline of this bad joke: ‘It’s the wind supply, stupid!’ That is explained below.

Westerman’s predecessor laid the foundations for this ‘Great Reset’ of the energy market with a cultural revolution in AEMO, stacking the organisation with green activists and model builders to generate the Integrated System Plan for the transformation. This received high praise from the Net Zero industry and scathing criticism in a forensic review by a team of scientists and engineers associated with the Energy Realists in the parallel universe of energy policy.

The interaction between the two worlds is much like the dispute between two fishwives observed by Boswell and Johnson (literary lions of the time) shouting at each other from their front windows across a narrow street. Johnson remarked, ‘They will never agree. They are arguing from different premises.’

Perhaps a shared perception of impending disaster can provide a common premise for a constructive exchange between the two worlds. The possibility is there since the latest update of the AEMO Electricity Statement of Opportunities in late February flags an impending shortage of supply after Liddell power station closes in April to be followed by the biggest unit in NSW, Eraring, two years later. In less diplomatic language, get ready for blackouts! This is old news for energy realists, still, with the threat officially acknowledged, the time has come for an urgent review of the transition plan.

The role of Daniel Westerman will be crucial in that process. What manner of man is he? Does he have the qualifications and experience to lead a gruelling and divisive campaign to keep the lights on? Can he keep his head while all about him are losing theirs and blaming it on him?

He was born in Australia, graduated in Mechanical Engineering, and gained MBAs in Melbourne and London. He did some time consulting on energy at McKinsey before he moved to England in 2014 and rose to be the Chief Transformation Officer and President of Renewable Energy at London-based National Grid. He also ran the England and Wales electricity system as part of National Grid’s dual responsibility as electricity market operator. The UK was on a ‘rapid energy transformation pathway’ based on large-scale wind and solar, especially wind.

In 2021, he was appointed as the CEO of AEMO, arousing great expectations. The Financial Review reported that the AEMO chairman and the board members were very pleased with Mr Westerman’s experience. The voice of the Energy Network of Australia was effusive: ‘The northern hemisphere’s loss is Australia’s gain as we chart the path towards a clean, reliable and affordable energy future.’

Sarah McNamara of the Australian Energy Council opined that his knowledge of markets in the UK will be invaluable as we navigate the challenges, ‘Protecting the future security of the National Electricity Market and balancing the energy needs of today with the necessary changes for the future.’

What happened in Britain under his leadership to arouse so much hope for our future? Warning: We are now entering the parallel universe where the former Prime Minister of Britain, Theresa May, proudly legislated for Net Zero with practically unanimous support in the House.

Consequently, Britain went into free fall on the energy front, well over a year before the war in Ukraine started. Power prices went through the roof and energy-intensive industries are closing down or heading for the Exit door. Subscribe to Net Zero Watch from the Global Warming Policy Foundation to get a gruesome week by week account of the deindustrialisation of Western Europe, especially Britain, and Germany.

Can we expect to do better? The answer at present appears to be, ‘No!’ At the release of the Electricity Statement of Opportunities, Mr Westerman quickly resiled from the full implications of the report and reverted to the official script, calling for ‘urgent and ongoing investment in renewable energy, long-duration storage, and transmission to reliably meet demand’. This reflects the government commitment to more wind and solar, more ‘big batteries’, completing Snowy2.0, re-wiring the nation, and getting rid of coal.

What don’t they get about the Iron Triangle of Energy Supply? That is the nexus of wind droughts and lack of storage that guarantees blackouts on windless nights unless there is 100 per cent of conventional power available? Surely they appreciate the need for continuous input to the grid…

As for wind droughts, AEMO has all the information they need to document the phenomenon because they have continuous records of the output from all the registered windmills attached the grid. In 2012, Paul Miskelly documented wind droughts across SE Australia when highpressure systems linger, sometimes for days.

Anton Lang drew on the AEMO data to keep tabs on the wind supply and the performance of the other generators, which he documented in thousands of blog posts on his site from 2018 to the present.

It seems that nobody with influence in energy planning and policy took any notice of these public records which clearly signal that the green energy transition is impossible with existing technology. This means that the Net Zero policy is the greatest blunder in our history, wartime included.

Wind literacy is the key to public appreciation of the Iron Triangle. Regular weather bulletins could easily include the amount of wind power in the energy mix at the time. The figures at night and at breakfast and dinnertime, when there is little or no solar power, should be a wakeup call. Similarly, glancing at the NemWatch widget at those times signals how much we depend on coal and gas for hot meals and air conditioning.

The reporters and commentators in the mainstream media have scandalously kept people ignorant of the basic facts pertaining to the Iron Triangle, facts that are required to enable informed public debate. If the news doesn’t travel fast enough to stimulate timely remedial action, be prepared to move to Tasmania or hoard wood and animal dung for the time when household generators are banned or our diesel stocks run out.


Australians Abandon Physical Cash and the Freedom It Protects

The end of cash has been heralded for years—mostly by government officials eager to end the expense of minting coins and printing banknotes while pushing transactions to digital forms that can be tracked and taxed. The transformation has met varying degrees of acceptance or resistance from people around the globe. But Australians appear to be eagerly advancing down the road towards a cash-free world.

Disappearing Banknotes and Coins

"Cash was once a staple in the economy, but it's fast becoming a relic of the past," according to an April report on Australia's financial evolution from SBSNews. "Just a decade ago, more than half of transactions were cash. Now it's just one in seven, and it's happened at an alarming rate."

Various forms of digital payments now account for the lion's share of transactions, with a growing number of merchants now refusing coins and banknotes, and ATMs disappearing around the country. That means cash is increasingly difficult to find and use even for those who prefer physical money.

The transformation was turbocharged by COVID-19, as people moved away from any sort of contact. But usage of cash was already plunging, according to the Reserve Bank of Australia, from almost 70 percent of transactions in 2007 to less than 30 percent in 2019. "Cash payments accounted for 13 per cent of the number and 8 per cent of the value of all consumer payments in 2022," the bank finds.

While Australian consumers and central bank bureaucrats embrace the shift, there are serious downsides to an all-digital economy.

"Digital payments have shortfalls, including their reliance on the internet—which can prove problematic in times of crisis," cautions SBSNews. The report described the plight of people cut off from processing services by wildfires that severed communications; those with cash could still buy necessities.

Digital transactions also require people to have accounts in their names, which is a challenge for young people and immigrants. And budgeting can be easier with paper and coins than with abstract numbers.

Unmentioned in the piece are any concerns about lost independence when all transactions can be monitored and, potentially, blocked. But that's a major concern elsewhere.

'Printed Freedom'

"Printed freedom" is how German economist Lars Feld described physical money in 2015 while responding to a push in his country to abolish physical cash. He defended banknotes and coins on the grounds that people "should be entitled to an escape from all-out state control," as Hardy Graupner of German broadcaster Deutsche Welle put it.

Such concerns came to a head in 2022 when the Canadian government cut off Freedom Convoy protesters' access to their own bank accounts and blocked digital donations to their cause.

"It's a Western version of China's social credit system that does not altogether prohibit political dissent but makes it so costly that it becomes impractical to the ordinary citizen," commented David Sacks, former COO of PayPal. He had already warned that electronic payment processors were working with governments to deny access to the financial system on ideological grounds.

Canada's crackdown was dramatic, but it didn't stand in isolation.

Digital Transactions and Targeted Industries

In 2022, American Banker reported that "a new code identifying credit card sales of guns and ammunition has been approved by the International Standards Organization, creating a potential path for card networks to help law enforcement agencies identify suspicious sales of guns and ammunition."

Amidst concerns that banks would help government officials track gun owners, and several states banning the gun-specific merchant codes, the financial industry "paused" implementation.

The merchant code controversy was reminiscent of earlier government efforts, under programs including Operation Choke Point, to cut off businesses disliked by politicians from financial services.

"Operation Choke Point was created by the Justice Department to 'choke out' companies the Administration considers a 'high risk' or otherwise objectionable, despite the fact that they are legal businesses," summarized a 2014 House Oversight Committee report. "The sheer breadth of industries affected – including firearms and ammunition sales, adult entertainment, check cashing, and payday lending – has generated significant concern with the objectives and scope of Operation Choke Point."

Notably, physical money offers a workaround for businesses that government officials don't like. To this day, marijuana is a largely cash industry for businesses legal at the state level but still illegal under federal law—a serious concern for heavily regulated financial institutions. For pot growers and vendors, cash may not always be ideal (it's a target for thieves), but it offers the freedom to operate.

Use It or Lose It

That was the sort of concern that pushed Germany's Lars Feld to describe physical money as "printed freedom." It also inspired Swiss activists last year to urge their countrymen to vote "yes to a free and independent Swiss currency in the form of coins and banknotes." Swiss officials rejected the initiative as insufficiently specific, but they also promised to incorporate protections for cash into the constitution.

Many Australians appear to feel otherwise, and they're not alone. With demand plunging for cash, Denmark stopped printing and minting kroner in 2016 (private companies will be commissioned to produce more as needed).

"One of the reasons why it is no longer profitable to produce coins and banknotes in Denmark is that the Danes increasingly pay with either credit card or mobile phone," BT reported at the time.

There is no denying that digital transactions are easy—sometimes too easy—requiring only a card or app, and not sufficient paper in your wallet. But despite the still largely unrealized promise of Bitcoin and other cyber currencies, most digital transactions leave records and require processing by third parties. Those intermediaries, under political pressure, can turn our own funds into tools of control. The more accustomed we become to digital payments, the more likely physical money and the freedom it offers will slip away.

"If you don't use it, you're going to lose it," Steve Worthington of Swinburne University's School of Business, Law, and Entrepreneurship told SBS News. "The less and less we're able to access and use cash, the more likely it is that we will lose access to it the same way we have with paper cheques."

It's something to think about the next time you head for the store to make a purchase.


Changing native vegetation laws to allow burning on private land is good fire management

Bushfires cause catastrophic biodiversity loss across Australia. In the Black Summer of 2019–20 alone, 103,400 square kilometres of habitat went up in flames.

The irony is, laws to protect native vegetation did nothing to prevent this destruction. This is because, in most states, these laws make it hard for private landholders to burn on their own land, meaning more fuel is left to feed bushfires.

We have a chance to change that now in South Australia, where the Native Vegetation Act is under review.

With greater knowledge and understanding of the role of fire in the Australian landscape, we can take better care of native vegetation on private land as well as public parks. There’s a strong case to be made for private landholders to conduct their own cool burns, for dual purposes of reducing fuel load and restoring ecosystems.

Fire can be good for biodiversity

A wide range of species will benefit from good fire management, which creates a patchwork of different ages of vegetation.

Some plant and animal species are found only in long-unburnt vegetation. Others need recently burnt areas. Many shrubs only occur in areas burnt in the past 15–20 years.

Fire is also needed to maintain food supplies for many threatened animals. For example, the glossy black-cockatoo feeds almost exclusively on the seeds of drooping sheoak trees. But seeds become scarce in long-unburnt vegetation.

Breaking up the landscape should also mean fewer animals will be caught in each fire, because they have places to which they can escape.

Managing fire at landscape scale

Proactive burning can reduce wildfire risk under most conditions, when managed at the whole-of-landscape scale. This requires everyone to manage fire on their own land in a coordinated way. Such an approach emulates Indigenous land management and was partially adopted by land managers in southern Australia until the 1970s.

Private landholders are no longer allowed to contribute to these efforts, perhaps because the community distrusts both farmers and fire. However, without landholder involvement, fire management capacity is severely limited.

For instance, National Parks and Wildlife Service South Australia’s Burning on Private Land program has managed only 28 hectares of fuel reduction burns on Kangaroo Island since Black Summer. Given forest fuel loads can reach dangerous levels six years after bushfire, the next big one may not be far away.

Climate change means catastrophic bushfires will happen more frequently. Addressing this escalating risk requires allowing landholders to manage fire hazards on their own land.

The devastating Black Summer wildfires

The Black Summer fires killed an estimated three billion animals and drove at least 20 threatened species closer to extinction.

Human lives were lost, livestock perished. More than half of Kangaroo Island burned, including areas that had not seen fire since the 1930s. Along with 96% of Flinders Chase National Park, about 40,000 hectares of native vegetation burned on privately owned land.

While nothing could prevent the spread of fires under catastrophic weather conditions, many of Black Summer’s fires started earlier. They may have been better controlled, or stopped altogether before conditions got out of hand, if the vegetation was not so thick and connected. The very small amount of fuel reduction being undertaken on private land is inadequate.

Burning does not equal land clearing

In 1985, SA introduced the first laws in Australia to protect native vegetation. These effectively stopped the widespread clearance of native vegetation in the state.

However, they have done little to maintain or restore its ecological condition. Since the laws were passed, we have learned more about the effects of fire in Australian landscapes. We now know proactive use of fire can make vegetation more complex and biodiverse. So, fire needs to be actively managed, not excluded.

While well-intended, the existing legislation discourages burning by private landholders, making it almost impossible for them to take responsibility for reducing fuel loads on their own land. This is because South Australia’s Native Vegetation Act defines all burning as clearance.

What do other states do?

Both New South Wales and Western Australia also classify burning as clearing. In Victoria, approval for burning on private land is managed at the local government level and appears to have no provision for ecological burning.

Elsewhere, burning is only considered to be clearance when it is intentionally used for the purpose of destroying native vegetation, as in Tasmania, Queensland and the Northern Territory, or remnant trees, in the case of the Australian Capital Territory.

All states and territories allow exemptions for the purpose of bushfire prevention or fire fighting. None has incorporated fire management for ecological purposes into their native vegetation legislation.

So far, proposed changes to the SA Native Vegetation Act have missed an opportunity to reduce wildfire risk across the state.

This could be fixed by simply changing the definition of clearance to exclude fire used for ecological purposes. This is effectively the case in Queensland, where fire is only considered to be clearing when it is specifically used to destroy native vegetation.

SA’s Native Vegetation Council would then need to provide guidance on how landholders should burn to both reduce fuel loads and benefit biodiversity. This should extend the current advice to provide the type of detailed ecological and operational information that is provided in Queensland.

Changing South Australia’s Native Vegetation Act to facilitate fire management by landholders is one step we can take to minimise the risk of catastrophic wildfires. The next steps are trusting landholders to take this responsibility seriously and help them do so. This would bring South Australia back to the forefront of native vegetation management in Australia.




Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Rising number of men ignore domestic violence orders

I am not going to be popular for saying this but we need to recognize what lies behind attacks by men on ex-partners, murder-suicides in particular. It the man's sense of loss. Usually the pair have had a relationship that the man is pleased and proud about, accompanied by a probably realistic feeling that if he loses that relationship he will never be able to get another such relationship. So when a woman takes that away, he is hugely angered by the loss. And anger does often motivate violent and revengeful behaviour.

So that does point the way towards a possible solution to the problem. In brief, the man's needs should be recognized and all possible steps taken to minimize his sense of loss. I am not going to say exactly what steps should be taken as that will vary with the individual circumstances but one simple thing that could work well in some cases would be for an ADVO to trigger a visit by a social worker to talk to the man in a supportive way. That should be automatic and urgent immediately an ADVO is granted. Ever since Freud, psychiatrists have recognized the curative power of talk and that may be all that is needed to save the woman's life in some cases

I hasten to add that what I have just said does not in any way reflect my own experience. My four marriages all ended amicably and even now at age 80, I still have an attractive girlfriend

Domestic violence offenders are increasingly disregarding ADVOs at alarming rates in NSW, new analysis shows. The first three months of the order are the most dangerous period for victims.

The Herald’s analysis of ADVOs over a five-year period has found a rise in the number of offenders breaching ADVOs even amid a police crackdown, while punishments are becoming less severe.

The number of orders breached was up 35 per cent from 17,057 to 22,969 in the five years to 2023.

The proportion of offenders being sent to jail for breaching an ADVO, when that was their principal charge, also showed a decline, according to NSW Criminal Courts Statistics from July 2018 to June 2023.

Over the same period, fine penalties increased as a proportion of court outcomes from 12 per cent to 21 per cent from 523 to 1412.

However, this data fails to capture every ADVO breach in NSW, as it counts only those defendants who have been found guilty of and sentenced for breaching an ADVO if that is their main offence.

The danger period for victims, the analysis found, was the three months after an ADVO was issued. The rate of ADVO breaches or domestic violence reoffending was highest in these three months.

Last year, the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research found that extending the length of an ADVO from 12 to 24 months was linked to a decrease in the probability of further DV offending. However, longer ADVOs were associated with significantly higher breach rates.

Experts say the increase in breaches is concerning and that it could be reflecting a combination of more actual breaches, a rise in breach reporting, as well as a targeted police crackdown on domestic violence, including the formation of a squad targeting the worst offenders.

Domestic Violence NSW senior policy officer Dr Bridget Mottram said the perpetrators of violence were often at their most angry and vengeful in the immediate aftermath of an ADVO being taken out. She said the rise in reporting of breaches to police and more proactive policing also would have resulted in the number of offences increasing.

“It’s also an element of boundary testing – the perpetrator seeing what they can get away with, which a breach charge reasserts the boundaries for,” she said.

“It’s significant to note, as well, that the NSW Domestic Violence Death Review Team have found that most women who are murdered by a previous partner had ended their relationship within three months of the homicide. This is an exceptionally dangerous time and where it’s imperative that we have systems in place to keep victim-survivors safe.”

Man raped ex-wife as children slept next door

In another disturbing example of an ADVO failing to protect a woman, one offender broke into his ex-wife’s home several months after being handed the order and raped her for hours as their children slept in the next bedroom. Sentencing documents released by the NSW Supreme Court detail how the offender, who had recently separated from his wife, had been barred from going near the victim or finding out where she lived.

His breaches started with texts asking if he could visit her house to pick up a scooter for their child. On another date, he asked to collect a beach towel. The mother declined both requests.

On October 25, 2021, he asked the young child where his mother lived, and after hours of drinking, he broke into the house and walked into his ex-wife’s bedroom.

The sentencing remarks read: “She came face to face with the offender, who grabbed her by the throat and said, ‘hello [woman’s name]’.

“It caused the victim pain. The offender pushed the victim towards the bedroom, leading her by holding her throat, and said, ‘guess I’m really going through with this after all … My heart is racing’.”

He was sentenced last month to a maximum of 12 years in jail.

Women’s Legal Service NSW principal solicitor Philippa Davis said police and courts must take all breaches seriously.

“If victim-survivors are not believed, or they are told it is just a ‘minor’ or ‘technical breach’, the seriousness of the ADVO is downplayed, and this can lead to perpetrators continuing to disregard the ADVO,” Davis said.

While Davis was pleased to see an increase in the number of ADVO applications being made by police, she said the legal service consistently heard from clients who felt police failed to respond appropriately to their reports of violence.

“[This data] doesn’t tell the whole story because it doesn’t capture those circumstances where police don’t take action,” she said.

Davis said a combination of factors might cause repeat offending within the first few months of an order being issued.

“For some, it could be a lack of understanding as to the particular orders and the restrictions placed on what they can do and where they can go,” she said.

“For others, though, it will be a blatant disregard for the AVO as they continue to assert power and control over a victim-survivor and ensure she continues to fear for her safety and that of her children.”

The Herald recently joined police on a four-day domestic violence blitz as they arrested 226 people for serious offences.

At the time, Superintendent Danielle Emerton, commander of the domestic and family violence registry, said police treated all ADVO breaches seriously.

She said her team used criminal profiling to detect “dangerous offenders” who posed an elevated threat of causing serious harm to victims and they performed regular compliance checks on offenders serving out ADVOs.

The Herald also recently revealed Lismore man James Harrison had been served an ADVO to protect his ex-partner, doctor Sophie Roome, three months before he allegedly killed himself and their two-year-old son.


Deck was stacked as CSIRO estimated the cost of nuclear power

The cost of nuclear energy is twice the cost of renewables, so sayeth the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. But why is the CSIRO in the non-scientific game of providing assumption-driven estimates of the cost of generating electricity in different ways?

On the face of it, it looks like a bit of buck-passing by the Australian Energy Market Operator, which enlisted the assistance of the CSIRO some years ago. This is a task for engineers, economists and accountants – not scientists.

Modelling is not science, and ­estimating costs is also not science. By rights, the CSIRO should have declined the request. Its reputation has been markedly sullied.

Let’s consider the latest version of the CSIRO’s GenCost report. As with all modelling, it’s a case of garbage in, garbage out. The assumptions in it range from the plausible to the absolutely ridiculous.

The most glaring errors in the report are the assumptions about the upfront costs of nuclear plants, their rates of utilisation and their lifespans. The assumption on the capacity of wind power is also laughable and the assumed life­spans of both wind and solar are too long.

It looks suspiciously like a tail-wagging-the-dog exercise: how to ensure that nuclear power looks extraordinarily expensive compared with the preferred renewable energy option of the federal and state governments.

The fact that Australia is the only country of the largest 20 economies in the world not to have nuclear power didn’t seem to awaken the curiosity of the CSIRO team. Should we be assuming that all their governments are simply stupid by having such an expensive form of generation?

And how could it be the case that a very large number of countries are now aggressively in­vesting in more zero-emissions nuclear plants?

Indeed, our main ally, the US, has a target of tripling the amount of nuclear power by 2050.

The international figures are clear: countries with high wind and solar shares in their generation of electricity actually have relatively high electricity prices. They include Germany, Britain, Spain, Denmark and Italy, as well as the states of California and South Australia. By contrast, those countries with very low renewable shares have the cheapest electricity: Russia, United Arab Emirates, Korea and India.

It is worth pausing here to briefly outline the methodology of the GenCost report. It uses levelised cost of electricity, or LCOE, as the key metric – a measure that includes both the cost of installation as well as the expected lifetime of the asset. The cost of the fuel is added, which is zero for wind and solar but material for other means of generation.

The capacity factors of different means of generation are then taken into account. They should vary between 25 and 33 per cent for wind and solar but the GenCost report has onshore wind at 48 per cent and offshore wind at 52 per cent, which are both clearly errors. The capacity factor for nuclear should be in the 90s but in one scenario, the CSIRO puts the figure at 53 per cent, another clanger.

But the key is this: the LCOE is the wrong measure to use. What is required is a system-wide LCOE because of the inherent intermittency of wind and solar and the inviolable objective of 24/7 power. When the wind blows and the sun shines, the cost of generating electricity by these means is very low. But because the wind doesn’t blow all the time and the sun sets, ­expensive back-up (or firming) is required.

This back-up must be added to the cost of both wind and solar. And account must be taken of both extended wind droughts and cloudy periods – short-duration batteries will simply be inadequate. In practical terms, the option of long-­duration, affordable batteries simply doesn’t exist and affordable pumped hydro is not possible in this country.

Last year’s GenCost report was a major hit job on the highly prospective Small Nuclear Reactors which are still being developed, although Canada is further down this path than other countries.

By choosing just one pilot scheme in Utah that was subsequently abandoned, the report was based on the worst-case scenario. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that this was quite deliberate. This time, the decision was made to include tried and tested large-scale nuclear plants in its comparison of generating costs. The upfront costs of building nuclear plants are very substantial and they can also take some years to complete. There are also quite a few examples of cost blowouts and delays – in Finland and the UK, for example.

The GenCost report uses the relatively successful example of Korea’s nuclear program to estimate the expected capital cost of a large-scale plant. The figure is put at $8700 per kilowatt, which sounds reasonable enough. But the figure is then arbitrarily doubled because it would be the “first-of-a-kind” in Australia. It is simply asserted that “FOAK premiums of up to 100 per cannot be ruled out”.

This is absurd. After all, Australia would be importing the expertise from experienced players were nuclear plants to be built here. And as the nuclear energy industry enjoys a significant renaissance around the world, the number of companies and the depth of talent involved are increasing markedly. By the time Australia is in a position to consent to nuclear plants, it is inconceivable that the FOAK would be double. This assumption makes a substantial difference to the final results.

Stung by the criticism that previous GenCost reports failed to take into account the cost of transmission needed to get renewable energy to the grid, this latest version makes some effort to do so. But instead of focusing on the entire cost of transmission, which feeds into retail prices, only the cost of additional transmission is included in the analysis. Again this is a bias in favour of renewable energy.

Of course, one of the advantages of nuclear plants is that they can be located where existing transmission lines exist; the cost of foregone investment in transmission by rights should be included as reducing the cost of nuclear.

They can also last more than 80 years, even though the GenCost report bizarrely gives them a lifespan of 30 years. Solar and wind are assumed to last 25 years, which is far too long.

Of course, no serious investors would take much notice of the GenCost report or any of the other selective pieces of analysis put out by various government departments. Their analysis would be based on carefully derived figures subject to sensitivity analysis. The key now is for both the federal and state government bans on nuclear power to be lifted so the potential investors can sharpen their pencils and get to work.


Islamist ‘invasion’ is already happening by stealth

There are similarities between the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Intifada protesters shouting “from the river to the sea” in response to the war between Israel and Hamas. For a start, the original Taliban knew almost nothing about their own country or history except that which they were fed by manipulative, charismatic cult-like leaders.

While Australia sent more than 30,000 soldiers to Afghanistan during the 20-year War on Terror, with 41 killed, hundreds wounded, and countless with invisible scars, little did we know, the Taliban were building a base right here in our own country.

The literal translation of Taliban is “student”. During their origin in Afghanistan these students were obsessed with cleansing their society through brutal enforcement of sharia law. Its leadership also provided a sanctuary to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, who planned the September 11 attacks from his Kandahar compound.

In Australia today, we are witnessing the emergence of a new form of Taliban on our streets, at political conferences, universities and at places where Jews may gather. While their claims appear to be about the plight of the Palestinians in Gaza, this is a moral cover. Their real aim is to extend the Islamist global insurgency’s power and influence. Their narrative is based on conspiracy, humiliation, justice, oppression, survival and duty. All cosy intellectual affiliates of the modern left-wing, victim-based movements overrunning Western institutions.

Of course, most of these spoilt, lost little souls in Australia are far from being anything like the warriors of Afghanistan: they wouldn’t last five minutes in a Ghazni village. Their privileged cries would be met with stones of justice.

Anyone who participated in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force there will tell you the Taliban maintained and extended control of towns and villages by co-opting or killing the three nodes of leadership – political, security and religious. This is the classic insurgency framework. In a northern Cote D’Ivoire town bordering Mali, I created a community web of protection around these nodes of leadership as they were threatened by al-Qaeda affiliates in their attempt to assume a new region of control. The immediate reaction to this anecdote might be that we are in Australia; not Afghanistan or some far flung African borderland. But it doesn’t matter – the application of this insurgency framework is the same. And not only Australia. Look at this year’s local government elections in the United Kingdom where Islamist candidates shouting “Allahu Akbar” won several seats.

In Australia we have growing numbers of Islamist sympathisers and Jihadist supporters changing the minds of Federal and State politicians, universities and senior leaders across civil society, business and the media. Our foreign policy is changing because of this influence.

What we missed in the War on Terror, but what the Taliban, al-Qaeda and Hamas understand, is the most transformative components of conflict are moral and mental. Being a member of the Taliban is a state-of-mind. The weak can be lured by fantasies. This is the jihad we are witnessing in Australia and other Western countries October 7. Governments assumed our national security and our freedoms could be protected by a strong defence force, borders, and police. As if like a gas, without front or back this movement bypassed all of that. It didn’t even need to sneak in.

One of the least known, yet most strategically influential al Qaeda figures was Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, also known as Abu Musab al Suri, arrested during a 2005 counter terrorism raid in Pakistan. No other individual did more to transform al-Qaeda’s strategy into a globalised umbrella. Now jihad is becoming mainstreamed into many aspects of Western society, involving not just physical acts of terrorism, but also the kind of struggle we see around Western cities.

Abu Musab al Suri recognised there would need to be a great mobilisation to achieve mass participation in a jihadist movement. He saw the Palestinian Intifada as the “prototype” but on a broader basis reaching the home of the American invaders and their infidel allies from every race and place.

The phenomenon has been successful because it is coinciding with the denigration of everything that made the West great since the Enlightenment. This includes the slow removal of borders through the creation of anti-sovereignty constructs such as the “Global South” and mass migration. These debase the value of our citizenship. Even Afghans know not to, as they say, let snakes live in your sleeve.

Our own democracy is being cultivated, coerced, and co-opted to support one of the most anti-democratic, anti-Western, anti-Christian movements in the world. We have every right to question this Intifada movement in Australia. Because none of this came via Chinese, or Russian or Iranian cruise missiles, battleships, or drones. It is by our own ruling class of elites who are even making us question freedom of speech. Some people realise videos of priests being stabbed in our suburbs awakens the busy mums and dads and grandparents to the fact that something is not quite right.

The gut-wrenching irony of it all is we sent some of our best this country produces to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan. We convinced ourselves the fight was over there. If only we knew a sanctuary for Islamist extremism was being built right here. A sanctuary to undermine all that is good, and decent and generous about Australia.


Fears key trades overlooked for new skilled visa

Quite insane. Probably the result of union pressure

The building industry has raised concern it will be worse off than initially thought under Labor’s shake-up of skilled migration, amid fears that key trades such as plumbers and plasterers will not even make the second tier visa stream.

Master Builders Association chief executive Denita Wawn has urged the government to ensure all trades are included under the new core skill visa stream, after a draft list of confirmed eligible occupations overlooked bricklayers, cabinet-makers, stonemasons, painters and roof tilers.

Instead the trades were included on a list of professions under “consultation” to decide if it will be included in the new visa category, which was announced under Labor’s review of the migration system.

Tradies were also carved out of the highest paid visa stream for workers earning more than $135,000, following pressure from the union movement.

Ms Wawn said without an adequate workforce of skilled tradespeople the government would not reach its goal to build 1.2 million homes in five years.

“It seems inconsistent with all the data that departments and government agencies are putting out that we’ve got such a massive shortage of tradies,” she said.

“The government funded Build Skills Australia recently said we need 90,000 trainees in 90 days to be able to build the 1.2 million homes.

“And yet, we’re still on a consultation list for many of the trades for immigration when we know immigration is so incredibly vital.

“It’s definitely perplexing as to the process.”

Australian Hotels Association chief executive Stephen Ferguson has urged the government to include chefs and cooks on the list of occupations eligible for the visa, after the occupations were also included on the list for consultation.

“At present, there is still no certainty that chefs and cooks will be included in the final migration eligibility list,” he said.

“With over 12,000 chef and cook vacancies, it would be a massive loss to the hospitality industry if they were not included in the final list.”

The warnings come amid mounting concern the Coalition’s plan to cut net migration to 160,000 next year, will lead to cuts in the number of overseas skilled workers arriving in the country. Labor has also predicted net migration will fall to 260,000 next financial year.

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Andrew McKellar warned that dramatically tightening migration could damage the economy, urging both sides of politics to “avoid a boom bust cycle”.

“We need a reasonably stable, sustainable level of migration coming in,” he said.

“We don’t want to bust now. We’ve had a boom in the last 12 months, as we’ve swung out of Covid and the pandemic impact as the borders reopened, they’ve got to get back to a sustainable level.

“There’s got to be some changes to the migration program to get it to that level.”

He cautioned against slashing international student intakes as a measure that would harm the nation’s “largest non-commodity export industry”.




Monday, May 27, 2024

ABC star Laura Tingle sparks outrage after labelling Australia racist

Typical Leftist hatred of her own country. I see falsification of her assertion in front of me most days. In the cafe where I eat several times a week it is common for me to see Asian women on the arms of Caucasian men and EVERY day my pink skin is greatly atypical of my fellow diners. The patrons are clearly greatly varied in origins -- a real United Nations -- and I have NEVER seen an aggressive incident there. Asians, Indians and Middle Easterners are all frequent diners there and nobody bothers anyone else or shows any attitude to anyone else

A high-profile ABC presenter has come under fire for labelling Australia 'racist' and been accused of bias after pinning the blame on the Opposition.

The national broadcaster's chief political correspondent Laura Tingle made the comment during a discussion panel for the Sydney Writers' Festival on Sunday.

'We are a racist country, let's face it. We always have been and it's very depressing,' she told her audience at Carriageworks.

Tingle repeatedly accused Liberal leader Peter Dutton of fanning the flames after he called for a reduction in immigration to ease the strain on the housing market.

Her comment has sparked criticism with Tingle accused of breaking her responsibility of remaining impartial as a political reporter.

Tingle was appointed to the ABC board as the staff-elected director in 2023 and is obliged to 'act in good faith at all times and in the best interests of the ABC'.

In March, ABC chair Kim Williams shared a blunt message saying staff should leave if they broke the national broadcaster's code to be balanced.

Tingle said she couldn't remember the last time a major party leader was seen 'to be saying … everything that is going wrong in this country is because of migrants'.

'[I] had this sudden flash of people turning up to try and rent a property or at an auction and they look a bit different - whatever you define different as - (and) that basically he (Dutton) has given them licence to be abused, and in any circumstance where people feel like they're missing out,' she said.

Tingle accused Mr Dutton of 'dog whistling' and said his call to cut immigration didn't make 'rational sense'.

Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians Jacinta Nampijinpa Price told 2GB Ben Fordham Live on Monday that Tingle's comments 'create division'.

'I'm really disappointed in this continued narrative that is being pushed within our country that does not provide any sense of pride for our children,' she said.

'It absolutely creates division and we had enough of it during the referendum.

'Leading journalists, well supposedly leading journalists, like Laura Tingle should know better than to use that sort of rhetoric.'

Senator Price also accused Tingle of political bias, despite her duty to be impartial as a political reporter.

'She says "we're a racist country, let's face it, we've always been, it's very depressing",' she said.

'That is not a reflection of the country, that is her opinion.

'Laura has demonstrated her bias and I think Kim Williams (chairperson of the ABC) needs to explain why having someone so blatantly partisan sitting in the top political commentator position is acceptable.'

Fordham went on to read a list of comments sent in by listeners who unanimously disagreed with Tingle.

'I live in a block of units with neighbors of Indian Filipino, Chinese and African backgrounds, not an issue, just sensational people. Laura is wrong,' one of the comments read.

Another added: 'Laura tingle's warped and miserable view of this country ignores the fact that people come here in drones because it's the opposite of the picture painted by her'.

Environment and Water minister Tanya Plibersek told Channel Seven's Sunrise program she did not believe Australia was racist.

'I think it's a fantastic multicultural country but we have to protect against incidents of racism which occur in our community as they do in every community,' she said.

'My parents came to Australia after the Second World War from Europe and I am so grateful every day that Australia took them in and that we were born here and able to grow up in this fantastic country.

'Of course, there are Australians who have experienced racism. Of course that is absolutely true.'

Tingle also attacked shadow treasurer Angus Taylor's address to the National Press Club on Wednesday, which she moderated.

'I said to him (Taylor), "so you are saying we're relying on migration for growth … what does that imply about growth if you are going to cut migration?",' she said.

'He (Taylor) said something about Labor and the unions buying up all the houses, which I really didn't follow.'

Tingle also appeared at the Melbourne Writers Festival this month during which she accused Australian journalists of asking 'questions that are simply unanswerable, in the name of political or media sport'.

She appeared less critical of Labor: 'It's not just about whether they got rid of Scott Morrison, they are actually trying to govern, they are trying to run a government, they are actually trying to do policy.

'Whether you think the policy is s**t or not, that's another issue.

'We are not running the sort of stupid ideas that we are seeing out of the Coalition now from the platform of government.

'All of this absolute crap that used to run from government on a day-to-day basis, don't underestimate the value of not having to put up with that.'


Our F35s have STILL not been fixed

After 18 years of fixes they may never be. Trying to make them do everything has led to a complexity that may be too great for it ever to work properly. The F-35 first flew long ago in 2006 and entered service with the U.S. Marine Corps F-35B in July 2015, followed by the U.S. Air Force F-35A in August 2016. It has flown successfully with the Israeli airforce but Israel faces very little air opposition

The very idea of a "stealth" aircraft is idiotic. Nothing could hide the huge heat output of a modern jet engine. It may not be detected on the way to its target but as soon as it turns around to go home it will be detectable and able to be shot down by even simple missiles. It is as much a single-use device as a ballistic missile -- only slower. It could be used safely to fire missiles from a long standoff but even B52s can do that

The perilous state of Australia’s air defence was dramatically revealed earlier this month in a series of US government submissions.

And what makes the crisis more serious is that the deficiencies that impact Australia are duplicated in the US, plus with European and other allies.

Thanks to Australia’s premier defence research organisation Air Power Australia and US reports over many years, I have been highlighting to my readers the deep technical problems confronting Australia’s $20bn, plus investment in the Joint Strike Fighter F-35.

Air Power predicted these problems would arise because the planes developer Lockheed Martin supplied planes to Australia and other US allies before the serious shortcomings had been overcome.

Rather than believe the experts, the various Australian parliamentary defence committees believed Australia’s defence officials who were concealing the shortcomings (last year those and other past defence officials were discredited by Defence Minister Richard Marles).

Australia’s current defence officials must be staggered at the mess that is unfolding in the US as gradually the truth comes out.

Accordingly, “cap in hand”, defence officials will need to confess to Treasurer Jim Chalmers that he needs to allow for huge outlays to rectify the serious technical problems in the aircraft that have been supplied to Australia by the US.

The official cost of our JSF-F35 aircraft is about $19bn (the real cost is around $27bn) and it may now need to be doubled. But even if and when that cash is sent to the US, in any conflict situation the plane will still be no match for Chinese aircraft, so represents a serious risk to crew and ships that require protection.

A new book “Trillion Dollar Trainwreck” has been published which details the incredible mismanagement by US and world defence officials plus the high marketing pressure applied by the plane’s developer, Lockheed Martin. Despite the past warnings, last month’s revelations take the crisis to a new level.

The shortcomings of the JSF -F35 can be broadly classified into two areas.

The first is the software that controls the intricate operation of the aircraft. These base problems have existed for many years and, as I understand it, they started as base computer hardware deficiencies.

Instead of being rectified at the source which would have required admitting a huge error, Lockheed and its contractors tried to rectify the deficiencies with different software, which is always a hazardous path.

Not surprisingly, the so-called “Tech Refresh 3” software changes are constantly being delayed.

Lockheed wants another year or so, but given the inaccuracy of previous estimates and the complexity of the task it represents a guess.

But then comes the fundamental deficiencies in the plane itself. This rectification program is called “F35 block 4 upgrade” and covers 80 “improvements”.

This is not an easy process because, according to Airpower Australia, the JSF -F35 does not have an ideal shape for the tasks that were required of it in the original planning.

US defence officials admit that this correction program will take until the 2030s to be to completed, but it can’t start properly until “Tech Refresh 3” is completed, whenever that might be

In the “F-35 block 4 upgrade” more than 80 improvements will require test and evaluation, not including power and thermal testing of the JSF F-135 engine.

Lt. Gen. Michael Schmidt told the US Congress in budget testimony that “Block 4” is being reimagined and some elements of it planned to be fielded this decade will be will slip into the 2030s.

Six aircraft have been set aside to be devoted to the testing, but Lockheed and its contactors have been allocated another nine aircraft to try and speed up the process, particularly as the original six are ageing because of the delays.

The view of Lockheed Martin has been that the problems could be overcome, and so over the last ten years the aircraft and its problems have been sold around the world.

But the delays in fixing the problems are causing buyer resistance, particularly from the US itself.

Official reports reveal that at least 70 aircraft (about the size of Australia’s fleet) have been built but remain on the tarmac and not delivered. The actual number maybe around 100.

The multi-billion dollar outlays in these stocked aircraft is going to strain the Lockheed balance sheet, so a bizarre plan is being devised so that the JSF-F35 community will pay money for these deficient aircraft which will be called “combat training capable”.

The overall problem is so serious, but many in the JSF-F35 Community will take these aircraft, which delays admitting error and takes the burden off the Lockheed Martin balance sheet.

But it is only papers over the problem and the truth must come out.

Thankfully, Australia has stopped buying the aircraft, so we will not have to send cash to the US for so-called “combat training capable” aircraft.

But we have 72 aircraft that require both the “Tech Refresh 3” and the “Block 4” upgrade. Because Lockheed Martin will take well into the next decade to complete these programs (if the task can be done) no one knows what that it will cost, but it is not unreasonable to expect that our official outlay of $19bn will double And it could be a lot more. We should never have accepted the aircraft until the deficiencies were overcome.

To the great credit of Israel, they would not take the JSF F-35 aircraft unless their technology experts could revamp the whole aircraft.

I would ask readers to forgive me for making fun of a serious subject, but perhaps the US needs to send a note to the Chinese asking them not invade Taiwan until Lockheed fixes JSF-F35 deficiencies. In our comedy exchange, the Chinese might reply that delaying doesn’t help because even when all the deficiencies are fixed, the plane is no match for the top Chinese aircraft.


Australian government lets criminals, abusers make themselves at home

Leftist madness

Earlier this month, a Sudanese migrant who self-identifies as Aboriginal received the good news that he would be allowed to stay with his newly adopted tribe.

His protection visa had been revoked because of a string of convictions for violent, drug-related offences, including family violence. Yet RCWV, as he is known in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal’s records, is among scores of serious criminals who avoided deportation thanks to Direction 99 – an extraordinary edict issued by Immigration Minister Andrew Giles in January last year.

Direction 99 allowed RCWV to appeal on the grounds that he became part of the Australian community in the 15 years he has spent here. Never mind that eight of those years were spent on a violent drug- and alcohol-fuelled crime binge or that a year and 12 days were spent in prison. The Tribunal took Giles’s edict at its word and decided RCWV should stay.

His long record of knife crime, car theft and serious driving offences could have proved fatal. In 2014, he caused an accident that resulted in the victim having life-threatening injuries and being admitted to intensive care. He was also found guilty of breaching apprehending violence orders, stalking and a violent attack on his partner, an Aboriginal woman identified as A.

Yet under Direction 99, RCWV convinced the Tribunal his 10-year relationship with that same partner and the three children he has fathered in this country were grounds on which he could stay.“ I self-identify as an Aboriginal person and consider Australia to be my country,” he wrote in a submission to the Tribunal. “I have been accepted by the Indigenous people of this country through its customs and tradition in a smoking ceremony.

“I also learnt a lot about Aboriginal culture, was taught how to paint Aboriginal art and have also played digeridoo (sic) in the past.”

The applicant, who was born in Khartoum and spent the first 20 years of his life in Africa, accepted he could not claim biological descent. However, the Tribunal found that an Indigenous partner, Indigenous children, and the honour of being recognised at a smoking ceremony were “indicative of his having solid ties to Australia”.

As Paul Garvey revealed in his story in The Weekend Australian, Direction 99 was a decisive or contributing factor in almost all of the Tribunal’s decisions to revoke the cancellation of criminals’ visas in recent months. Of the 40 decisions Garvey reviewed, 28 applicants managed to get their cancelled visas returned. Of those, 27 cited the “strength, ­nature and duration of ties to ­Australia” as a factor in that ­outcome.


Furious anger from Leftist journalist

Anger is what the Left do. It is not a good base for rational thinking

The Guardian Australia’s political reporter Amy Remeikis was getting extremely worked up at the Sydney Writers Festival on Sunday over various policies, telling the audience members she will come bashing on their front doors if they don’t hold the nation’s politicians to account at the next ­election.

“If you do not hold your politicians to account at the next election, I swear to God this will not be the only rant you hear from me,” she warned the crowd, who applauded wildly at the idea of a home visit from the journo.

“I will come to everyone single one of your houses and yell out over your kitchen tables, because for God’s sake, this is the only thing the ­matters.”

Er, what? Remeikis is entitled to her own opinion, of course, and she has plenty of space to air her views on the Guardian’s website each week.

But she is also in the privileged position of being a senior political journalist at a supposedly professional, mainstream media organisation.

How is it OK for her to don her activist hat at a writers festival? Does hysterically lecturing a bunch of (mostly) oldies about political dos and don’ts add anything to the public discourse?

Imagine for a moment if a political journalist from News Corp or Nine pulled a similar stunt. The public outrage machine would explode.

We put questions to the Guardian Australia’s editor-in-chief Lenore Taylor about Remeikis’s fiery diatribe, but we didn’t hear back.

Remeikis appeared on the festival’s panel on Sunday alongside former Labor hack and ABC presenter Barrie Cassidy, the national broadcaster’s Laura Tingle and Bridget Brennan, and Sydney Morning Herald columnist Niki Savva.

The Guardianista also issued a stern warning that climate disasters are headed our way, and declared the “heating of the planet” is to blame for the recent Singapore Airlines incident that left one person dead and at least 70 people injured after the plane hit severe turbulence.

“I can guarantee you there is going to be another huge natural disaster in the next year or so, everything is pointing towards it, we are going to get them more and more frequently,” Remeikis stated as fact.

“I know people laugh about this but turbulence is going to increase because of climate change, it’s already happening, the Singapore Airlines flight where that poor person died … that is another part of climate change because we are literally heating the planet.”

Remeikis didn’t cite her source, but hey, the internet is full of ­surprises!

Remeikis labelled Peter Dutton’s nuclear policy as a “dead cat to try and delay energy transition”, and she wants it gone. Now. And she said Anthony Albanese needs to ditch gas ASAP.

“It’s so disappointing that you still have the government going ‘yeah, we’re also going to do gas to 2050’ because we don’t need to,” she told the adoring crowd.

“We are going to be having the most horrendous conversations in five years time about how we live in this country, how we try and save the islands around us that are already going under water, how we actually plan a future for our frickin’ children. I mean do you think about the world they are ­inheriting?”

The hour-long panel was filled with plenty of anti-Dutton and anti-Coalition content, with Savva also taking a swipe at the Opposition Leader for “vent(ing) about the number of migrants that are coming into Australia”.

“To my mind it’s a tool that he uses to say, ‘if you can’t buy a house it’s because there’s too many migrants’, ‘if you can’t get in to see your GP it’s because there’s too many migrants’.”




Sunday, May 26, 2024

Why UK nurse Kelly Wainwright took an Aussie health job in Mount Isa 'nobody wanted' but was forced to flee the country within months

There are large groups of Aborigines in and around Mt Isa and their young people have learned that they are largely immune from prosecution for violent acts. Official racism has a lot to answer for

A British nurse who got a job in an Australian country town thought she would be living her dream, but it very soon turned into a nightmare.

Kelly Wainwright had always dreamed of working in Australia, but at the age of 43 her visa options were limited - until she took a role 'nobody else wanted' in the Queensland town of Mount Isa.

Within months, she was back on a plane to the UK, fleeing Australia not because of 'the weather or the creepy crawlies' she thought might be hard to cope with, but because violent crime made her feel unsafe in her own home.

Before she arrived in the outback town, Ms Wainwright was not aware of its high levels of crime and violence.

When she arrived, she thought it 'just looked like any dusty old cowboy town in the middle of the outback', but she soon found out the looks were deceiving.

Ms Wainwright took a manager's role in the sexual health unit of Mt Isa Hospital, a position that had been vacant for almost two years before she arrived.

She told 9News that not 'for one second' did she think 'the volatility of the area' would soon see her flee the town and the country.

Six weeks after she arrived, Ms Wainwright's government-provided home was broken into.

Not long after that, her home was targeted by teenagers, who allegedly brutally assaulted a 14-year-old relative staying with her.

Footage of the alleged attack showed a vicious brawl with kicking, punching and slapping between at least three teenage girls at the house.

Ms Wainwright reported the attack to police but said she was told: 'You live in Mt Isa, I suggest you go and learn how to fight.'

Her employers were so concerned for her safety they asked senior health officials to move her and her teenage cousin to a safer home.

But the request was denied, she said.

Emails obtained by Nine revealed the nurse's manager writing: 'I have fears for Kelly and her family's immediate emotional wellbeing as a result of informing them that their request to move was not supported.'

Ms Wainwright soon found she could not cope with the situation any longer, but as her visa was specifically tied to the Mt Isa Hospital job, she decided her only option was to go home to the UK.

She left in such a hurry that she just packed her bags and got out of there.

'I just gave all (my possessions) away and off we went with just our suitcases,' she said.

Not being supported in 'the way that we should've been' was 'really disheartening', she said.

North West Hospital and Health Service would not comment on individual matters but said it provides 'safe' accommodation that 'meets the needs of our employees'.

In a recent crackdown on youth violence in Mt Isa, more than 30 young people were arrested between April 26 and May 3, resulting in 84 charges.


Sydney pro-Palestinian students suspended after classes ‘significantly disrupted’

Two Sydney University students have been suspended after classes were “significantly disrupted” by protesters last week, as the encampment on the institution’s quad lawns enters its fifth week.

In a letter of support, the Sydney University Student Representative Council (SRC) said the university was attempting to silence protesters by handing the two students immediate one-month suspensions.

The SRC said the suspensions were a result of the students making announcements at the start of classes about the university’s ties with Israel and encouraging students to be involved in the campaign for Palestine.

“Such announcements before classes begin do not seriously disrupt teaching activities and usually finish before staff are ready to begin class,” the letter read. “They are a routine part of campus life and have been given around many political issues in the past.”

In a letter to staff and students last week, the university said some individuals had gone beyond the bounds of acceptable political announcements before classes began.

This included deliberately covering their faces to conceal their identity, not allowing classes to commence at the scheduled time, and acting in a way that was considered intimidating.

It said it was also aware of counter-protesters allegedly engaging in intimidatory behaviour towards the encampment overnight and was co-operating with police in their investigations of this behaviour.

A university spokeswoman on Thursday confirmed that two students had been temporarily suspended pending disciplinary proceedings, after two incidents of classes being significantly disrupted last week.

One affected subject has had its in-person lectures for the remainder of the semester cancelled.

“We continue to be very clear about our expectations of behaviour on our campus, writing to students and staff again last week about acceptable and unacceptable conduct,” the university spokeswoman said.

The students are demanding the university disclose and end all ties with weapons manufacturers and Israeli universities over the war in Gaza. Members of the local branch of the National Tertiary Education Union earlier this month voted overwhelmingly to support an institutional boycott of Israel in alignment with the student encampment demands.

Protesters at the university’s encampment have vowed to continue until their demands are met. Vice Chancellor Mark Scott has said he would meet protesters this week, but an agreement is yet to be reached.

‘Too little, too late’

It comes as University of Melbourne protesters agreed to end their encampment after the institution agreed to provide more transparency around its research partnerships.

Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-chief executive Peter Wertheim said the suspensions were welcome but were “far too little and come far too late”.

“The constant noise from their shouted slogans and incessant beating of drums has disturbed and disrupted classes and created a pervasive atmosphere of fear and anxiety among students and staff,” he said.

“Today, a number of buildings went into lockdown. Under state legislation, the university senate has the management and control of all university property, including crown land, but the university has been too timid to use its powers to order external demonstrators to leave its grounds.

“This has emboldened the protesters and made the situation progressively worse.”

A few dozen students and external protesters have been camping out each night, with the university moving to cancel some ID cards that have been shared with non-student campers to give them access to facilities, including bathrooms, overnight.


ACT govt to explore dropping character references for child sex offenders

Good character is unimportant in a Leftist scale of values

There will be a roundtable on Friday with key justice stakeholders to discuss alternative options to references.

The possible change has been prompted by Your Reference Ain't Relevant campaign, which has been seeking to drop good character references for those convicted of child sexual abuse across the country.

Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury committed to the roundtable in his response to a petition led by the campaign's founder Harrison James.

The roundtable's purpose will be "to identify changes that could be implemented which align with the objectives of sentencing, and address the legitimate concerns raised by those with lived experience".

Alternate options could include revised language or "reviewing court processes to mitigate the risks of re-traumatisation for victim-survivors".

A character reference can be taken into account by a magistrate when determining a sentence for a person convicted of a crime.

The option for a good character reference is not available to some convicted child sex offenders such as teachers and religious leaders but can be used by others, including relatives and family friends.

Mr James will take part in the roundtable. He said the aim of the campaign was to shift focus to the seriousness of the offence rather than the perpetrators apparent good reputation.

"This roundtable signifies a crucial milestone in our campaign's trajectory, and I sincerely hope the legal community, the government and survivors can all come together in solidarity and commit to legislative reform," he said.

"It's time to forge a path forward that ensures no other survivor of child sexual abuse suffers the trauma of having their experiences dismissed and invalidated by irrelevant character references."

Mr Rattenbury's responded to Mr James petition earlier this month.

"I recognise the significant impact that the presentation of 'good character' references during sentencing of child sexual abuse offenders has on victim-survivors," he wrote in the response.

"I agree it is timely to consider what reform could look like in the ACT to make the sentencing process more trauma-informed."

The ACT Bar Association has spoken out against the proposal, saying "evidence of prior pro-social conduct of an offender is relevant to the sentencing exercise".

"Sentencing is a nuanced, multi-factorial exercise. One of the factors to which ACT courts are obliged to have regard, and properly so, is the 'character, antecedents, age and physical or mental condition of the offender', the association said in a statement.


Broke Aboriginal footy legend who once earned almost $300,000 a season opens up about having to explain to his kids why he doesn't own a house or car after stellar 11-year career

Aborigines are notoriously poor at handling money. It is because of that that goverments have made many attempts to regulate how they spend welfare payments

Footy great Byron Pickett has opened up about his heartbreaking financial troubles since retiring, and having to explain to his children why he doesn't own a car or a house.

The dual premiership star who played for North Melbourne, Port Adelaide and Melbourne was a human-highlight reel in his prime, with his bone-rattling bumps and huge kicks giving opponents nightmares.

While playing for Port, he was getting paid almost $284,000 a season before tax, but nowadays Pickett has nothing to show for his 11-year career.

The 46-year-old West Australian still rents, doesn't own a car and had to explain to his kids where all the money went.

'The kids asked me over the years: "Where's the money? What happened? What did you do?",' Pickett told The Advertiser.

'Dad, you played AFL for 11 years but we don't even have a car, we don't have a house. Where's all the money gone?

'I didn't have an answer for them.'

The footy champ claims his former agent Kym Richardson stole more than $250,000 in cash from him - and Pickett is now taking legal action against the AFL Players' Association, claiming that its duty of care to him was breached.

Pickett alleges Richardson withdrew $253,920 without his permission from a bank account opened in trust for him in December 2001.

'Kym had sole control over the ATM card, chequebook and internet banking for the Pickett account,' a statement of claim lodged with the South Australian Supreme Court alleges.

The footballer is accusing his former agent of profiting from real estate deals that he didn't understand.

Pickett intends to 'get back what I deserve' and will continue the legal action.

'I'm not actually doing it for myself,' he said. 'I'm doing it for my kids, for my family.'

Richardson has said the allegations against him are 'absolutely false'.

'I respected Byron and looked after him tremendously, even saving or resurrecting his AFL playing career on a number of occasions,' he said.

'To the best of my knowledge as a considerable time period has elapsed, Byron looked after his own finances from his first year in 1997 through to 2001. The trust was only opened in 2001.'

The big-game player starred in 204 AFL games, and was a huge part of flag-winning seasons for the Kangaroos in 1999 and Port in 2004.

He won the Norm Smith Medal as best on ground in the Power's 2004 grand final victory over Brisbane and is a proud member of the Indigenous Team of the Century.

Pickett retired after playing the 2007 season with the Demons, ending his career with 204 games and 177 goals to his name.