Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Australia Day trolls target indigenous activist over support for existing commemoration

Leftist hate never stops. It's Leftists, not Aborigines who want the Australia Day date changed

Former Northern Territory politician Bess Price has hit out at anti-Australia Day activists for fuelling cyber hate towards her daughter after she pushed to keep the national holiday on January 26.

The Australian revealed this morning that Indigenous Alice Springs councillor Jacinta Price has been targeted on social media since she helped former federal Labor leader Mark Latham launch a “Save Australia Day” ad campaign against those arguing it should be moved to a less contentious date.

In a Facebook post, Bess Price said the online vitriol directed at her daughter for “having a different opinion to those who want to remain in their victimhood mentality” was “disgusting”.

“I’m appalled,” she wrote. “All the ‘Welcome to Country’, all the ‘smoking ceremonies’ and all the made up bullshit rituals about ‘pay our respects to elders past and present’ is just one big lie! Shame shame shame!”

She criticised indigenous Australians for bringing their fellow countrymen down, taking aim at former deputy NT chief minister Marion Scrymgour.

Ms Scrymgour has suggested Jacinta Price is preparing to enter federal parliament to replace Nigel Scullion as an NT senator, and stressed that opposing voices “shouldn’t be quiet”.

“The voices in the communities that she continually bad mouths should have a voice too. She is a dud and our mob can see through that,” Ms Scrymgour said in a Facebook post.


Jacinta Price has been subjected to a torrent of vile social media abuse from anti-Australia Day activists over her push to keep the national day on January 26, including wishing her a “painful death” and insulting her disabled nephew.

The Alice Springs councillor said she had been “disgusted to my core” by the online messages she had received, and blamed “middle-class” Australians with indigenous backgrounds for fuelling the cyber hate.

Jacinta Price said the majority of Aborigines living in remote areas did not care about the date of Australia Day nor hold grudges against “white Australians”.

Indigenous leader Warren Mundine described the abuse levelled at Ms Price as “disgraceful” and said the public debate over Australia Day was not a first-order issue for Aboriginal communities.

Greens leader Richard Di ­Natale yesterday stepped up the minor party’s opposition to celebrating the national day on January 26, describing it as his top issue this year and saying he had told more than 100 Greens councillors across the country they would have his full support to launch campaigns aimed at moving celebrations to another date.

Senator Di Natale said he hoped to build on the momentum of the Greens-led Yarra and Darebin councils in Melbourne and the Fremantle council in Western Australia, all of which shifted Australia Day celebrations last year.

Mr Mundine, who personally believes the date should be changed, described the Greens’ ­renewed push to change the date of Australia Day as a joke. “I’m with Aboriginal communities every month and changing the date isn’t number one, two, three, four, fifth on their agenda,” Mr Mundine said.

“It is education, jobs, it is to get business activity happening, and to get better healthcare.

“If the Greens were fair dinkum they would concentrate on these issues rather than something that is not going to make a difference to anyone.”

Malcolm Turnbull said yesterday said he was disappointed by growing calls to change the date of Australia Day, as the government vowed to ban citizenship ceremonies in council areas that would not hold them on January 26, the date the First Fleet arrived in Sydney Harbour.

“A free country debates its history, it does not deny it,” the Prime Minister said. “I’m disappointed by those who want to change Australia Day, seeking to take a day which unites Australia and Australians and turn it into one which will divide us. Australia Day is a day to come together and celebrate what unites us, what inspires us, what gives all of us reason to be proud that we are Australian.”

Ms Price said she had received at least 80 abusive comments after posting about Australia Day on Facebook, including a message which said: “how bout you f..king die a painful death u sell out cocanut (sic)”.

She told The Australian: “A lot of them are likely to be middle class, they are definitely not from the Territory; they are from other parts of the country and it really exposes the amount of hatred and disdain that I think is hindering progress for Aboriginal people.

“It displays the divide between those that claim to be Aboriginal and Aboriginal people in remote communities. “Bush mob just wouldn’t ­behave or talk in such a way.”

Mr Mundine, former chairman of the Prime Minister’s indigenous advisory council under Tony Abbott and Mr Turnbull, said he had also received abuse from “academic, educated people sitting in Sydney and Melbourne” because of his views on indigenous issues.

“It is totally disgraceful,” Mr Mundine said. “This is coming from people who claim to be against racism, who claim to be against all this bigotry and yet they come out with the most bigoted racial taunts you will see.”

Citizenship Minister Alan Tudge said it was extraordinary that the Greens had made the date of Australia Day a priority, describing the party as being out of step with mainstream Australia. “Last year elements in the NSW Greens were advocating the burning of the Australian flag,” Mr Tudge said.

“On Australia Day we rightly celebrate the three core features of Australia: our indigenous heritage, our British foundation and our multicultural character.”

Mr Abbott tweeted yesterday: “There are 364 other days a year for the Greens to be politically correct. Why can’t they just ­accept that Jan 26 is the best available day to celebrate all that’s good about life in Australia.”

Bill Shorten, who previously said he would not support changing the date of Australia Day, yesterday would not comment on the Greens renewed push.

In the West Australian surf and wine region of Margaret River south of Perth, Greens mayor Pamela Townshend ­refused to follow Senator Di Natale’s request and impose an alternate date for Australia Day.

Ms Townshend said she had listened to the views of local indigenous men and women — the Wadandi people — as part of preparations for the council’s reconciliation action plan and so far she did not sense that changing the date of Australia Day was their priority. “They haven’t said ‘You have to change the date’; I haven’t felt a big groundswell about this,” she said. “I don’t have a big political agenda over it.”

Ms Townshend will attend three free Australia Day barbecues on January 26 in the Augusta-Margaret River shire.

Ms Price said she had also been targeted by Facebook page Shut Down Australia, following ­reports she might enter federal parliament if Nationals senator Nigel Scullion left.

“This would mean that the modern-day blacktracker would use her comprador white ­supremacy agenda on Blackfellas Australia wide,” it said. “This would place thousands of our people’s lives at risk. Genocide Alert!” [Note the use of Marxist jargon: "comprador"]


End of a free ride for electric cars?

In 2018, Australia's roads are plagued with problems: the long-term decline in the road death toll has slowed, congestion is tipped to increase and long commutes are linked to poor mental health.

And now a multi-billion-dollar road funding black hole looms.

It's caused by the growing popularity of fuel-efficient cars, prompting a multi-generational reset to national roads policy which will change how you pay to drive.

For the people who rely most on their vehicles, that means trouble.

Australians are big users of roads, and they pay for the privilege … even if most don't know exactly how.

Car is by far the most common way to get to work. About two out of three travel to work this way. And that number is increasing — it's up by more than half a million since 2011.

Behind the wheel, pulling out from your garage onto the street, it might seem like access to roads is free.

But the average vehicle is actually charged more than $1,300 by state and federal governments each year, according to information from the Productivity Commission.

That's on top of fees paid directly for toll roads or parking.

The largest component is fuel excise — the tax paid on every litre of petrol, of about 40 cents — which goes to the Federal Government.

All up, governments spend approximately the same amount of money on road infrastructure as they receive from drivers.

At more than $12 billion of new engineering work done for the public sector per year, it's greater than the spending on energy, telecommunications and water combined.

But even with today's road outlays, the cost of congestion — which covers environmental, health and social impacts, plus what you could be spending your time on otherwise — is tipped to increase more than 5 per cent annually over the next 15 years in a recent report by Deloitte.

Fuel excise means — for most drivers at least — the more they drive, the more they pay.

However, low-emission vehicles are letting some drivers get away charge-free.

The CSIRO has predicted revenue coming from fuel excise will drop by almost half by 2050.

Urban Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher argues the current road funding system has "some features that don't seem very fair".

If you are able to buy a $125,000 Tesla, the amount you pay through fuel excise to use the roads is zero.

"If you're buying a 10-year-old Commodore, the amount you're paying is effectively four-and-a-half cents per kilometre."

The Federal Government is looking at ways to more closely link how people use the roads with what they pay.

Mr Fletcher will soon announce the terms of reference of the formal review into this concept, known as "road pricing" or "road user charging", and similar trials for trucks are earmarked for 2018.

The ultimate solution might link how much drivers pay to their car's GPS tracker. Instead of a rough fuel-based taxation method, the result would be accurate to the metre: the further you drive, the more tax you pay.

In a trial in the US state of Oregon, all drivers were charged one-and-a-half US cents per mile — no matter how fuel efficient their car was.

An overhaul of road funding such as this would require support from the states.


Lunch box checks have kids too scared to eat

NUTRITIONISTS are calling for an easing of lunch box policing when school returns next week, claiming the inspections have some children too scared to eat.

With a number of schools around Queensland implementing so-called healthy eating policies to deal with allergies and fight childhood obesity, teachers have been turned into the “food police”, randomly inspecting lunch boxes for items such as lollies, cakes, sweets, chips, nuts and eggs and sending letters to parents who break the rules.

But nutritionists warn the practice has gone too far, with mums and dads stressed out about what to feed their child and children developing fears around food.

“People have been writing in to me on social media saying that their child is afraid to open their lunch box at school because they know the teacher is coming along to inspect the lunch box so they would rather just not eat,” Sunshine Coast nutritionist Tara Leong said.

“The parents are also afraid of what they’re sending to school because they might get a letter home.

“It’s definitely not the way to manage what parents are sending to school in lunch boxes and the health situation in Australia.”

Mrs Leong said labelling food “good” and “bad” could also be destructive to a child’s relationship with food in the long term.

“If the teacher comes along and says, ‘That’s a bad food’, then what this whole ‘bad food, good food’ situation sets up is that the child is then a ‘bad child’ for eating that ‘bad food’ or the mother is a ‘bad mother’ for sending that piece of food, so then there’s this moral link to the food and it shouldn’t be that way,” she said.

Brisbane nutritionist and dietitian Kate Di Prima said schools had gone “berserk” with their food policing, especially when it came to bans of allergy-causing foods.

“To simply fill the lunch box without making everything from scratch has become almost impossible,” she said.

“It’s getting silly because there’s six different allergic (groups), you’ve got nuts, eggs, shellfish, wheat, soy, dairy. Are we going to remove all of that because then we’re left with nothing? Everyone will have a gluten-free, paleo lunch box, which is not balanced for children,” she said.

What does a healthy school lunchbox look like?

The over-policing of lunch boxes and a general confusion among parents over what is healthy has also caused some parents to ditch entire food groups, such as dairy and carbohydrates, from their children’s diets, with potentially dangerous consequences, the experts warn.

“I’m frightened by the amount of children who aren’t being fed carbohydrates,” Mrs Leong said.

“It’s really scary because they need it to be able to think.

“Unless there’s a medical diagnosis that your child needs to maybe eliminate something then there’s no reason to cut it out and doing so can put children at risk of malnutrition.”

Both experts agreed that parents needed to take a simple back-to-basics approach with children’s lunches, opting for fruit and yoghurt for morning tea, and a main meal of healthy carbs, protein and good fats, like an avocado, chicken and salad sandwich.


Becoming a republic is no guarantee of greatness

Slime bucket Keating is so hate-filled that he is driven into irrationality and utterly specious argument

Australia is not a great country says former Labor prime minister Paul Keating. And neither is New Zealand or Canada. Why? Because, according to Keating: “No great state has ever had the monarch of another country as its head of state.”

Millions beg to differ. When Labor last governed the nation, more than 50,000 people risked their lives to arrive, uninvited, on our shores. It’s a fair bet that given half a chance, the rest of the estimated 63.5 million refugees, ­asylum-seekers and internally displaced people would also vote with their feet in favour of Australia compared with the republics from which they are all fleeing.

Because although Keating might not have noticed, of the major source countries of refugees there’s not a monarchy among them, their own or borrowed.

In first place, the Syrian Arab Republic (5½ million refugees), then the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (more than 2½ million), the Republic of South Sudan (almost 1½ million) and the Federal Republic of Somalia (more than one million); in the less than one million category, the Republic of Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, Eritrea (a ­single-party presidential republic), the Republic of Burundi, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the Republic of Iraq, the Republic of Colombia, the Republic of Rwanda, the Ukraine (another republic), the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of Mali and the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

As for economic migrants, Australia and Canada are two of the top destinations, so much so that 28 per cent of our population is foreign-born as is 22 per cent of the population of Canada.

And the top source countries? All republics — the Republic of India (15.6 million), the United Mexican States (12.3 million), the Russian Federation (10.6 million), the People’s Republic of China (9.5 million) and the People’s Republic of Bangladesh (7.2 million).

What makes these republics so great compared with constitutional monarchies, which include Labor’s social democratic pin-ups — Sweden, Norway, Denmark and The Netherlands?

Aha, you might say, the country that has accepted more migrants and refugees than any other is the greatest republic of them all, the United States of America. But that would not gladden Keating, who warns that a popularly elected president would be “a disaster”.

“We could end up with a Don­ald Trump personality as the singular presidential person in Australia,” he wails.

“The mere fact that that person is the only person popularly elected will draw all of the political power. The position of the prime minister and the cabinet will be mightily diminished.” Indeed.

But a former Labor prime minister should be able to see that a head of state appointed by parliament is also fraught with danger. Under such a model, Gough Whitlam could have appointed John Kerr president rather than governor-general, and perhaps been dismissed even more readily, since the president of a new Australian republic might be less likely to feel bound by law and would not be constrained by the weight of convention or precedent since there would be none.

Republics are less stable than monarchies precisely because they are not bound by tradition. France, one of the more successful, has had five republics since the revolution as well as the First and Second French Empires, the Bourbon Restoration and the ­ignoble Vichy regime.

Germany’s Weimar Republic succumbed all too quickly to fascism. As have most of the republics of Latin America and Africa, except for those that have been set up or taken over by communists or other despots who haven’t bothered with an ideology to justify their tyranny.

Keating’s objection to the British monarchy may be rooted, like that of many Australians of Irish descent, in a visceral antipathy towards the English, whom he has railed against for various sins including that during the darkest days of World War II, they “decided not to defend the Malaysian Peninsula, not to worry about Singapore, and not to give us our troops back to keep ourselves free from Japanese domination”.

Keating pays scant regard to the threats Britain was facing — London had been blitzed, the French had surrendered, even the Channel Isles were under the jackboot. Nor does he mention Ireland, “the land of his ancestors”, which cared so little as to whether Australia was invaded, or who won the war, that they didn’t even bother to fight. Indeed, when Hitler committed suicide, the Irish prime minister offered his condolences to the German embassy.

If Australia becomes a republic, there is every reason to hope that it will continue to prosper, thanks to strongly entrenched British institutions. If the nation has not opted for change to date, it is probably thanks to that great Australian principle: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Republicans, on both sides of the political divide, seem determined to ignore that advice rather than focus on the tasks that we elected them to tackle — cutting waste, ending the debt and deficit, keeping the lights on without sending us broke.

In that respect, Keating was right when he said that without a sensible economic policy, Australia will end up being a third rate economy, “a ­banana republic”. Amen to that.


Rising cost of Government services putting the squeeze on households

Government-led costs are squeezing household budgets much more than the private sector, with prices of essential ser­vices such as health and education far outstripping near-­record low inflation.

Outlays on childcare have doubled in the past six years, while primary and secondary education costs for the typical household are up 50 per cent, detailed household budget figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show.

Overall, households are spending 23 per cent more on ­essential services, with prices influenced by government, than they were five years ago, while spending on goods and services with prices set by the market is up by 15 per cent.

Analysis of the ABS household expenditure survey shows that where essential goods and ser­vices are provided purely by the market, their cost has been held down by the same forces that are keeping inflation below 2 per cent.

Intense competition among supermarkets has kept household spending on food to an increase of 15 per cent over six years, while households are spending almost exactly the same now on clothing as they were in 2009-10.

The household expenditure survey, which is conducted by the ABS every six years, shows spending on income tax rose 45.7 per cent between 2009-10 and 2015-16.

Consultant economist Saul ­Eslake says households are being helped by globalisation, which has brought price reductions for many goods, but are being hit by the escalating cost of services such as health insurance, which act like a tax, at a time when income growth is weak.

Household spending on health insurance has risen 50.7 per cent over the past six years.

Mr Eslake said the rising cost of essential services was hurting households, which are no longer getting any real income growth.

“It is absolutely clear that real income growth has been much flatter since 2012,” he said. Rather than handing out tax cuts, governments have since then been seeking to wind back benefits.

The cost of living has become a hot political issue over the past year, inflamed by the 20 per cent rise in electricity prices and the continuing escalation in the cost of childcare at a time of weak ­income growth. Scott Morrison has vowed this year’s budget will be about reducing living costs while Bill Shorten has attacked the government for its failure to control the cost of ­essential services and says Labor’s policies would rein in rising health, education and housing costs.

Analysis by The Australian of the ABS survey shows there are some areas of discretionary spending that have risen strongly, highlighting choices households are making about how they spend their income. Spending on holidays, for example,­ has risen 46.9 per cent, with overseas travel rising 70 per cent. Eating out at restaurants has risen 38.4 per cent. The ABS has introduced a new category for takeaway coffee, on which households spend an average $4.20 a week.

Households are spending 24.2 per cent less on gambling but 35 per cent more on sports fees and health and fitness charges.

National Australia Bank chief markets economist Ivan Colhoun said if the economy were performing poorly, people would not be lifting spending on holidays or restaurants, but he added budgets were still under pressure.

“If you’ve got the essentials that are government-related growing quickly and discretionary items that people are, for lifestyle reasons, spending more on, by definition what is left would be getting less of the pie.”

Overall households are only spending 6.4 per cent more on recreation than they were six years ago. Where households can, they cut back when prices rise ­excessively.

Mr Eslake noted that households have cut back their use of electricity. Although electricity prices doubled over the six years between the ABS surveys, total spending on electricity rose by 21.4 per cent.

One government-influenced cost that has not risen is mortgage rates, which follow the benchmark set by the Reserve Bank. Spending on mortgage interest has dropped by 1 per cent over the six years, but repayment of principal has soared 43.5 per cent.

“The benefit of lower interest rates has been more than offset by the effect of bigger mortgages. The fact that you need more income to service those mortgages forces people to outsource things like childcare that used to be done in the home,” Mr Eslake said.

Childcare has been the fastest growing item in the household budget, partly reflecting the significant increase in salary and staffing numbers dictated under legislation passed under the former Labor government.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham yesterday defended ­reforms to childcare arrangements that take effect from July 1, which will increase the subsidies to childcare centres and abolish the cap on the childcare rebate.

Labor has claimed, on the basis of documents obtained under freedom of information, that the reforms would leave hundreds of thousands of households worse off.

Education costs, which reflect both government and private sector influences, have risen rapidly. Households are spending 50.5 per cent more on primary and secondary education than they were six years ago, while they are spending 30.5 per cent more on tertiary education.

Health costs are taking 25.6 per cent more of the household budget than six years ago. One area where government influence has brought cost control is pharmaceuticals. Households are now spending 5.4 per cent less on medicines and therapeutic appliances than they were in 2009-10.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Bigoted opponents of bigotry

A bigot is sure they are right and is intolerant of other views.  The critics of Margaret Court below certainly fit that description.  They want her to be tolerant of their views but are not prepared to be tolerant of her views

TENNIS trailblazer Billie Jean King used the occasion of being named Australian Open woman of the year to call for the renaming of Margaret Court Arena while British professional Liam Broady also took aim at the Australian tennis icon.

Court attracted headlines last year for her outspoken criticism of homosexuality and as the first major of 2018 approaches, debate has once again raged over whether her name should still be used for one of the major stadiums at Melbourne Park.

Payers have also faced questions about whether they’ll boycott matches played on her arena.

Court likened gay rights activists to Hitler in 2017 and Broad — the World No. 173 who recently lost in Australian Open qualifying to Matteo Berrettini — took to Twitter to make his feelings about her known.

Comparing the LGBT community in tennis to Hitler and communism is the most offensive and unfounded comment I have ever heard in my life and it just sounds like she’s parroting learnt opinions. She is much too intelligent to come to those conclusions on her own. Real shame

King is being feted at Melbourne Park this month — on the 50th anniversary of her first Australian title — for her contribution to the sport and her pioneering support for women’s rights and social justice.

The 74-year-old’s advocacy extended to naming the showcourt after her friend Margaret Court, but King said she could no longer support the honour. “I was a proponent of hers, trying to get her to the best possible court,” King said.

“She won 64 grand slams ... more than everybody else. “When Rocket, Rod Laver, got given the arena, I said, ‘What are you going to do for Margaret?’”

King said Court’s “derogatory” attacks on sexually diverse people were the last straw. “I think it’s its really important, if you’re going to have your name on anything, that you’re hospitable, inclusive, you’re opening arms to everyone that comes to a public facility,” she said.

“I was fine until lately she said so many derogatory things about my community, I’m a gay woman; about the LGBTIQ community.

“That really went deep in my heart and soul. “I don’t think she should have her name (on it) any more.”

King ended her career with 12 major singles titles.

In 2006, the US Open facility was rebadged as the “USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre” in her honour.

She said a change of the facility might have already occurred if Court had targeted other groups.

“If you were talking about indigenous people, Jews or any other people, I can’t imagine the public would want to have her name on something,” she said. “Maybe it’s our community, the LGBTIQ community (why) people might feel differently.”

Court, a fundamentalist Christian, has targeted same-sex parents — including Casey Dellacqua — and has argued for conversion therapy for gay people. King said she would refuse to play on the arena if she was appearing at this year’s tournament. She foreshadowed player boycotts of the court, but wouldn’t counsel anyone to do so.

Australian ace Sam Stosur suggested there was little locker room chatter about the divisive issue. “I’ll play on whatever court I’m scheduled on,” she said. “I wouldn’t say too many players have spent time thinking about it.”

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said Tennis Australia didn’t have a view on the renaming of the arena.  “They’re not the views of our organisation ... they’re not the views of our sport. We’re inclusive, diverse and equal,” he said.

The arena is managed by the Melbourne and Olympics Parks Trust under the purview of the Victorian Government.


A puff of hot air from the Law Council below

They are just defending their patch of course but they exhibit no recognition of the cause of the problem:  violent African criminals being let off with a slap on the wrist.  Let the judges do a responsible job and there will be no problem

Ensuring the rule of law is respected and maintained is vital to the strength of Australia’s legal system, the Law Council of Australia has reiterated.

The national peak body, representing the legal profession, today backed colleagues at the Law Institute of Victoria in defending the rule of law, particularly the independence of the judiciary.

Law Council of Australia President, Morry Bailes, said recent attacks on Victorian judges were not useful and eroded public confidence in the judiciary.

“The Law Council shares the views of the Law Institute of Victoria. There is no place for political attacks on the judiciary undermining the independence of judges and magistrates,” Mr Bailes said.

“It is understood that in our free society informed comment on judicial decisions is part of normal discourse, but politicised criticism undermines the foundations of the democratic system which must be closely guarded by all, especially those in government.

“Judges and magistrates are experts in the law and to ensure the separation of powers must be allowed to perform their duty without interference and unwarranted criticism.”

The Law Council hopes all Australians understand the value of an independent judiciary and the importance of upholding the rule of law in legal decision making.

Media release

The hatred of selective government schools never stops

Instead of seeing such schools as a way to give bright kids from poor backgrounds the sort of education that private schools give, they are seen as offensive to the insane Leftist goal of "equality".  So reasons will always be found to downgrade them

Education Minister Rob Stokes says opening up selective schools to local students would create a more equitable education system, as the NSW Department of Education reviews the decades-old system for teaching the state's brightest students.

Mr Stokes said the selective system should not "create a rigid, separated public education system".

"While recognising that selective schools have a history and are popular, is it correct that local kids must walk past a local public selective school that is closed to them?" he said.

"We need to have public schools that are inclusive of everyone rather than deliberately separate children on the basis that some are gifted and talented and others are not.

"There may be merit in opening up selective schools to local enrolments and providing more local opportunities to selective classes in comprehensive schools."

It is understood the idea involves introducing comprehensive streams to selective schools.

It comes as the department continues a wide-ranging review of its gifted and talented policy for NSW public schools, including an overhaul of the entry test for selective schools amid concerns that wealthy families are able to game the system by engaging expensive tutoring services.

NSW currently has 19 fully selective and 29 partially selective schools, the most of any state, and the Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage (ICSEA) shows that the state's top-performing selective schools such as James Ruse, Baulkham Hills and North Sydney Boys are significantly more advantaged than exclusive private schools such as The King's School and Knox Grammar.

ICSEA scores are used by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) to assess the socio-educational background of a school's student cohort based on geographical location and parental education and occupation, with a higher score indicating a higher level of advantage.

The median ICSEA score in NSW is 1000.

James Ruse has an ICSEA score of 1240 and North Sydney Boys has a score of 1210, compared with King's score of 1160, and Knox's score of 1178.

Additionally, selective schools consistently outperform private and comprehensive schools in the Higher School Certificate, and comprised nine out of the top 10 schools by performance in last year's exams, including the privately selective Sydney Grammar.

Professor of education at the University of Sydney, Anthony Welch, said that a local intake to selective schools could ensure they better reflect the wider population.

"What we know about those schools is that they're increasingly selective not merely in academic terms but in social terms too," Professor Welch said. "Having a wider intake and more mixed classes would improve equity."

Professor Welch said selective schools also impact nearby comprehensive schools.  "They cream off all the high-achieving kids from the whole area, so the impact on neighbouring schools is quite the opposite," he said.

Mother-of-two Licia Heath, from Sydney's east, said having two selective schools, Sydney Boys and Sydney Girls, in the area has contributed to overcrowding at her local comprehensive school, Rose Bay Secondary College, which had 1132 students in 2017.

"We think the school's going to be in absolutely dire straits," said Ms Heath, who is a spokeswoman for the Community for Local Options for Secondary Education (CLOSE), which is calling for a new comprehensive co-educational high school for the area.

Ms Heath said she'd be happy to send her sons Jude and Leo Jungwirth, aged 9 and 6, respectively, to Sydney Boys if it was opened to local students. "I've had a look at the academic requirements and possibly one of our sons would get into it, but we want them to be at the same school," she said.

Labor's spokesman for education Jihad Dib said that he supports opening up selective schools but is also pushing for more selective streams in comprehensive schools. "Opening up selective schools to students who are otherwise excluded will ensure they've got the opportunity to go to a high-performing school," Mr Dib said.

"But what I'd really like to see are selective streams in every school so kids who want a selective school education can go to their local school."


Any lie will do

Premier Andrews is a Leftist

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has blamed 'interstate thugs' for the 'African gang violence' sweeping Melbourne.

Mr Andrews implied young children from Sydney were the cause of violence hitting the western suburbs of Victoria, including Tarneit. 

In past weeks, the city has seen a spike in gang violence and criminal activity across Melbourne despite the issue first surfacing in 2012 after the Apex gang emerged.

'When we get dozens or more young kids playing up from Sydney who are here in Melbourne, if we've got a database we'd known about those kids and what they're history is, what their status is,' Mr Andrews said according to The Australian.

Regular patrols are taking place in Tarneit while a mobile police station was set up by Victoria Police in an attempt to curb the crime rates.

A group of African youths who call themselves Menace to Society (MTS) trashed the Ecoville Community Park by smashing windows, furniture and walls and spray painting their signature 'MTS' across the property shortly after Christmas.

An AirBnB house in Werribee, in Melbourne's west, was also trashed and tagged with 'MTS'.

Police were forced to retreat from the Werribee property after more than 100 South Sudanese children threw rocks at them and cars were smashed.

Another police officer was attacked and left with face injuries in a separate incident when a young African teenager kicked him in the face on Boxing Day at Highpoint Shopping Centre.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told media last week Mr Andrew's government was responsible for the gangs terrorising Melbourne residents.

But Premier Andrews the Prime Minister had not raised Victoria's youth gang problem with him privately, and had only criticised him publicly.

The publication reported Victoria Police would not comment on whether they were investigating NSW people in relation to the offences.


Move over Manuka! Rare Jarrah honey halts ageing by stimulating collagen production and boasts skin repairing properties (and it even TASTES sweeter)

Manuka honey has been hailed as 'liquid gold' with the power to delay ageing and help with skin repair, coughs and colds -and even fight the bacteria that cause stomach ulcers.

But now it's got competition in the form of Jarrah honey, a rarer product harvested from a species of eucalyptus tree, which is found only in the most remote parts of Western Australia.

Research by the Australian government has found that its level of antibacterial activity is higher than that of Manuka honey, and that's it's effective against the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus - which causes bugs such as MRSA - as well as being a natural treatment for wounds, burns, sunburn and skin infections. 

It has two to three times higher levels of antioxidants compared to Manuka, which makes it an ideal natural anti-ageing treatment for boosting collagen and elastin production and supporting cell renewal.

Other studies have shown the honey to be more effective against Candida fungi, which causes wound infections as well as oral and vaginal thrush, than Manuka. 

Better still it tastes even sweeter as its naturally occuring hydrogen peroxide doesn't affect the taste.

By comparison, Manuka's active component methylglyoxal, gives it an earthy and more bitter flavour.

All honey has anti-bacterial properties because of the hydrogen peroxide it contains, and the fact its sugar molecules soak up water, which starves bacteria of the moisture they need to survive.

Unlike ordinary hydrogen peroxide, used as a disinfectant, the hydrogen peroxide in honey stays active over several days, killing bugs and preventing others growing.

Despite the sweeter taste, the raw honey is high in fructose and low in glucose, and its low GI index means it doesn't spike the blood sugar. 'It's quite a unique honey compared to all other eucalypts,' Dr. Rob Manning told Vogue.

The former researcher for Australia's Department of Agriculture and Food spent 30 years studying Jarrah honey and comparing its benefits with New Zealand Manuka honey.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

Monday, January 15, 2018

‘Creeping Stalinism’: secrecy law could imprison whistleblowers and journalists

The article below is lengthy but is from the Leftist "Guardian" so, as usual tells only half the story. The laws discussed are regrettable but the whole reason for a crackdown is that Leftist public servants ignore their duty to be politically impartial and so will do anything to embarrass a conservative government.  They are an Australian version of the anti-democratic "deep state" that is doing its best to hobble America's duly elected President Trump

Government whistleblowers and journalists who report on leaked information could face 20 years’ imprisonment if changes to Australia’s official secrecy laws pass parliament.

The overhauled offence provisions, introduced to the House of Representatives in December just hours after marriage equality became law, form part of the Coalition government’s broader crackdown on treason, espionage and foreign interference. If passed, the reform will increase tenfold the maximum penalties for anyone communicating information potentially harmful to the national interest, where that information is obtained via a government official without authorisation.

“This is ‘creeping Stalinism,’” said Ethicos Group specialist Howard Whitton, who has advised governments and the United Nations ethics office on whistleblower policy. “The absolute protection of principled disclosure of wrongdoing – unfettered by government – must be preserved, or Australia will become a laughing stock internationally.”

Australia’s existing official secrecy laws date back to 1914, when sections 70 and 79 of the federal Crimes Act were hurriedly introduced following the outbreak of the first world war. Describing prior prohibitions as “shamefully lax”, the attorney general (and future prime minister) Billy Hughes imposed a penalty of two years’ imprisonment on public servants who disclosed any government information without authorisation. No defences were made available.

Despite the draconian nature of such wartime provisions, that legislation has remained law in Australia over the following century with only minimal amendment. In 2008, the Rudd government asked the Australian Law Reform Commission to hold an inquiry, which resulted in modest reform proposals in its report Secrecy Laws and Open Government in Australia.

“Reform of Australia’s secrecy laws is long overdue,” said Hugh de Kretser, executive director of the Human Rights Law Centre. “After a careful and comprehensive review, the ALRC concluded that our secrecy laws were excessive and needed to be better targeted to protect legitimate government interests. Instead of acting on the ALRC’s recommendations, the Abbott government intensified our secrecy laws with the introduction of the Australian Border Force secrecy provisions and expansive Asio secrecy laws.”

The reality is public interest defences to alleged criminal acts are few and far between

That trend looks set to continue. The proposed legislation criminalises communicating or otherwise dealing with information where that information was obtained by a public servant and is “inherently harmful” or likely to harm “Australia’s interests”. The former is defined as including any information produced by a security agency, while the latter includes prejudicing Australia’s international relations “in any way” or damaging relations between the federal government and a state.

“These broad definitions, coupled with penalties of up to 20 years in prison, raise serious risks of stifling the free flow of information and leaving Australian people ignorant of important matters in the public interest,” de Kretser said. “Open government is a foundational principle of democracy. Australians have a right to know what their government does in their name. Of course, some information must remain secret to protect our security and national interests. But these proposed laws have not got the balance right.”

The new provisions are primarily directed at commonwealth officers, defined to include current and former public servants, contractors, defence force personnel and employees of businesses who provide services to the federal government. But the expansive wording of the offences means any person who comes into contact with information obtained by a commonwealth officer could fall within the legislation’s scope.

The prescribed penalty ranges from five to 15 years’ imprisonment for standard offences, stretching to 20 years for aggravated offences. Aggravating circumstances include where the relevant information was classified secret or above, the person committing the offence held a government security clearance, or the offence involved five or more records each with a security classification.

These aggravation provisions appear intentionally designed to target Edward Snowden-type leakers. The bill’s explanatory memorandum even provides an example strikingly similar to the Snowden case, a contractor who leaked extensive American intelligence information to the Guardian and other publications. “Person A is employed as an IT systems administrator at a commonwealth government intelligence agency,” the explanatory memorandum hypothesised. “Throughout his employment Person A copied 1,000 electronic files from the agency’s internal holdings to a personal hard drive … Person A publishes all 1,000 documents on the internet.”

This impetus for the new offences mirrors that of stalled attempts to reform official secrecy laws in the UK, which were described last year by Open Rights Group chief executive Jim Killock as “a full-front attack … squarely aimed at the Guardian and Edward Snowden.”

“The suggested changes take the wrong lessons from the Snowden and other revelations, and ignore the reality of the connected, global information environment in which we now live,” said Gill Phillips, director of editorial legal services at Guardian News and Media. “If public interest journalism is made harder or even criminalised, there is a real risk that whistleblowers will bypass responsible journalists altogether, and simply anonymously self-publish data leaks online, without any accountability.”

While journalists are partially protected by a defence established in the new laws, this safeguard has been derided as insufficient. Journalists prosecuted under the offence would be required to satisfy a court that their reporting met vaguely defined criteria, said the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) chief executive Paul Murphy.

“The explanatory memorandum states that journalist protections are lost if they are not engaged in what is deemed to be ‘fair and accurate reporting’ and in circumstances where it is alleged their reporting is ‘distorted,’” he said. “The protection is entirely unavailable if the subject matter is said to not be in the public interest. This is a very broad term.

“A further issue is the definition of ‘journalist’ used in the bill. The MEAA acknowledges that this definition covers journalists not regularly employed in a professional capacity and may include a person who self-publishes news or news analysis, but anchoring the definition of journalists to the dictionary meaning could well prove a mistake down the track and lead to legitimate coverage being excluded from the bill’s modest protections.”

The proposed legislation additionally provides that the public interest test will not be met where the information concerns the identify of intelligence officers, or if the journalist’s conduct could endanger public health or safety. The draft statute is also ambiguous about the legal test to be applied: whether the reporting must objectively be in the public interest or whether it is sufficient for the journalist to reasonably believe it to be so.

“It is always hard to know how this type of defence will work until you see how a judge interprets it,” said Phillips. “On the face of it, it is a good thing that thought is being given to the inclusion of a public interest defence, especially as there is not one presently available. However, the reality is that public interest defences to alleged criminal acts are few and far between. What we do know from our experience in other areas of the law is that it can be hard for journalists where the evidential burden, as I understand is being proposed here, rests on them.”

Public servant whistleblowers will not enjoy the benefit of a public interest defence. While the offences are not applicable where the information is disclosed through appropriate channels via the Public Interest Disclosure Act, the federal whistleblower protection scheme, that law has often been criticised as ineffective and is awaiting reform.

The approach taken in the proposed reform, according to Murphy, “ignores the inherent weaknesses of these laws to protect complainants and preserve their rights. These changes represent a substantial threat to whistleblowers and journalists who seek to publish critical public information. Whistleblowers in Australia get punished; it is as simple as that. Laws like these create further disincentives for people who witness wrongdoing and corruption to air their concerns.”

“This is a corruption issue, not a free speech issue,” added Whitton. “Australia is at serious risk of state capture if whistleblowers are not protected.”

Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s second reading speech to the House of Representatives gave little attention to this element of the amendment bill, with the term “secrecy” appearing just once.

A spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Department said: “The government is committed to striking the right balance between openness and transparency in government and the legitimate need to protect some commonwealth information.

“Protecting Australia from espionage and foreign interference relies heavily on having strong protections for our information, especially where disclosure causes harm to an essential public interest. The unauthorised disclosure or use of certain information can prejudice national security and defence, or our relationships with other countries, and as such criminal offences are necessary to deter such disclosures and punish them if they do occur.”

The Commonwealth Ombudsman’s office said: “Given that unauthorised disclosures do not receive protection for disclosers, the ombudsman encourages public officials to make their disclosures in accordance with the Public Interest Disclosure Act.”


Fixated with Finland

It may be a new year, but we’re still stuck with the old myth that Finland is an education utopia Australia must emulate.

Pasi Sahlberg from Finland, who has joined the new Gonski Institute for Education at UNSW, argued this week that his country’s school system has a lot to teach Australia. Basically, according to Sahlberg, Finland has more student play time and less standardised testing.

It is true Finland consistently outperformed Australia on all the international standardised tests in 2016, and of course we should be willing to learn lessons from the top-performing countries.

But Finland’s international test results have declined in recent years, and — as Steven Schwartz has pointed out — there are many reasons why Finland’s school system would be difficult, if not impossible, to emulate here. For example, Finland has little cultural or racial diversity, and has a much lower immigration rate than Australia.

Finnish is also a much simpler language than English, which means learning early literacy skills is relatively easier, boosting school results in later years.

Other countries like Singapore, which is the top-performing country in literacy and numeracy — not to mention collaborative problem-solving — potentially have many lessons to offer Australia as well.

Analysing high-achieving school systems is useful, but it is a fantasy to suggest Finland is the epitome of good education. This is part of a much broader myth that the Nordic countries are socialist paradises (ignoring the fact that most socialists wouldn’t be happy with Finland’s corporate tax rate of only 20%).

In any case, is more play time and less testing the key to boosting Australia’s school results?

No evidence has been presented to suggest Australian kids don’t have enough play time at school — recess and lunch are actually quite common practices in our schools, and there isn’t exactly a dearth of sports options for students.

And blaming NAPLAN for the lack of improvement in Australian schools is like blaming the thermometer for the fact that it was 42 degrees in Sydney last Sunday. NAPLAN identifies problems; it doesn’t solve them by itself.

Finally, it’s interesting that we’re told we should be like Finland and have fewer standardised tests, on the basis that Finland’s school system performs well — which, ironically, we only know because Finland performs well on international standardised tests.


Sharp drop in Australian teenagers’ use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco

The consumption of alcohol and tobacco has dropped among Australian teenagers and they are also using fewer drugs than 20 years ago, according to a new study tracking adolescent health since 1999.

The study, from Deakin University and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, found the number of teenagers who had consumed alcohol fell from 69% to 45% between 1999 and 2015.

Tobacco use dropped from 45% to 10% over the same period – the steepest decline of all substances – and marijuana use fell from 15% to 4%.

The study’s authors attributed the drop to stricter parental attitudes regarding alcohol, and law reforms that reduced the availability of substances.

Parental supply of alcohol dropped from 22% to 12% between 2007 and 2013, and underage purchases of alcohol fell from 12% to just 1% between 1998 and 2013.

Lead researcher Prof John Toumbourou said it was a success for Australia’s public health campaigns over the years.

“We can see that parents are taking on the advice from our national health guidelines,” Toumborou said. “It shows parents are making radical changes in their attitude to underage drinking and also how they model their own drinking behaviour.”

The study surveyed 41,328 adolescents – with an average age of 13 and a half – between 1999 and 2015 in Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland. Data was collected from anonymous surveys where students self-reported drug and alcohol use.

Of those surveyed, 82.8% were from Victoria, 10.1% from Western Australia and 7.1% from Queensland.

The study’s authors said a “normative change” in attitudes towards teen drinking might have been influenced by a 2009 change to Australia’s national health guidelines.

Between 1998 and 2007, the parental supply of alcohol rose from 15% to 22%. From then, it dropped to 12% by 2013.

“In 2009, the national health guidelines were changed to clearly say young people shouldn’t drink until 18,” Toumborou said. “They were widely promoted from that time onwards.

“By 2011, a number of states had brought in legislation making it illegal for adults to provide alcohol to young people without the parents’ permission. That was a game-changer. Parents realised they needed signed permission if they were going to host a party serving alcohol.”

Australia’s success could also send a message to other countries, Toumborou said, as it had outperformed Britain and Europe in reducing alcohol use by teenagers over the same period.

“The United States led this movement, and then Australia has been the next one,” he said. “Internationally we probably need to encourage other nations to look at this as an achievable public health target.”


How Australia’s strict laws have made smokers social outcasts

A wail from an air polluter below.  He has no real beef.  He could give up his obnoxious habit

As a smoker, I remember it well. The lights dazzled on the dance floor, Rihanna raged over the sound system and I, gin and tonic in hand, hurriedly puffed away on what was to be my last cigarette in a club.

That was Oxford St in 2010 — the night before smoking was banned in all indoor pubs and clubs in NSW.

Little did any of us know it was just the beginning of the battle to get rid of cigarettes for good as, law by law and tax by tax, Australia adopted some of the most stringent smoking regulations in the world.

By today’s standards I feel a virtual pariah. Smoking is not just considered a dirty habit, but a danger to others.

That was the position cricketers Shaun Marsh and Jackson Bird found themselves in this week, dubbed bad role models for smoking in public while celebrating the Ashes series win against England.

The fact is smokers have nowhere to hide from the growing public reproof.

Best-selling author Nikki Gemmell has called smoking “a public declaration of stupidity” and described smokers as “relics of a bygone age”.

It’s true the war on smoking in this country is led by health concerns. And 15 years ago there were some 15,000 deaths a year attributed to smoking from illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer and respiratory conditions such as asthma, emphysema and bronchitis.

But — importantly — it’s not illegal. So are the increasingly draconian laws about where you can smoke, or even what can be published about smoking, justified?

Civil Liberties Australia’s Mark Jarratt says: “The government acts like they own the atmosphere and they don’t. The coverage of smoking is almost one-sided.

“It’s the result of decades of taxpayer-funded negative conditioning which has created the impression among the wider population that one whiff of smoke and you’ll drop dead on the spot.

“There’s no middle ground for these people. What’s next? Are we going to have to sing the national anthem and do 20 push-ups before we go to work?”

For decades cricket and other sports in Australia were sponsored by tobacco companies and promoted by our top sports people and entertainers. The country’s favourite comedian when not promoting Fosters was selling cigarettes.

Planes and trains had smoking sections, and smokers were catered to as valuable patrons. The perennial of any gift shop was the souvenir ashtray.

Anyone remember Fags — the lolly? Tobacco was so much a part of day-to-day life kids were sold candy cigarettes at newsagents.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that’s a good thing. But in the context of a long history, smokers have been brought to an almost cold- turkey stop.

Today I find myself in a secret society, forced out of clubs and cafes, hiding down laneways, our numbers dwindling with each puff.

Smoking is banned in all enclosed public places and certain outdoor public areas around NSW, under the Smoke-free Environment Act 2000 and the Smoke-free Environment Regulation 2016.

Currently I can’t even smoke a cigarette outside licensed cafes and pubs legally, or within 4m of the entry of any public building.

Public pools, sporting grounds, shopping centres, public transport stops and platforms, including taxi ranks and all commercial outdoor dining areas are out of bounds. Goodbye freedom.

In a year-long City of Sydney smoke-free trial in Martin Place, four out of five people surveyed supported the trial and supported an extension of the trial to other areas of the city.

On top of that, in NSW, anything that gives publicity to, or promotes the purchase or use of tobacco can be considered a “tobacco advertisement”.

Even this article you’re reading cannot be seen to encourage smoking. It can’t reproduce old ads or show scenes of smoking unless it is in a negative context.

Even to speak of how, historically, smoking was made cool by Hollywood stars and the ever-present fug in dimly-lit jazz clubs runs the risk of glorifying it.

Yet everyone wants a piece of this “dirty habit”. According to analysis by comparison website, smokers usually pay 50 per cent more on their monthly life insurance premiums than non-smokers.

When I started smoking, more than 15 years ago, cigarette packs cost a measly $8, instead of the overtaxed $40 you pay now (the government managed to rake in $10.69 billion in tobacco excise last year alone). No one had heard of plain packaging and, if you really wanted, you could shop up a cigarette storm at duty free. Now you’re allowed to bring just a packet or two into the country.

Since then I have travelled across the globe from Samoa to Sweden, Antarctica to Abu Dhabi, Berlin to Bondi — and never felt so shunned as a smoker than here, in judgment town Australia.

Maybe it’s because we are a nation of fitness freaks, of sex and skin, that we care so much about our health that we choose to rain judgment upon those who light up.

At a New Year’s Eve party I found myself stuck in an incredibly frustrating conversation with a non-smoker who “just didn’t get it”. I sat there and listened with gritted teeth while she criticised me for my choices in life. Happy new year, me.

Last year I was regularly sprayed with a Super Soaker by a crazy yogi whose studio sat above a quiet smoking spot I would adjourn to. Today, it’s a wasteland devoid of smokers.

Now, I’m all for quitting and getting off the cigs, but in my own time and when I want to.

According to the 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey, daily smoking rates for Australians aged 18 and over dropped from 20 per cent in 2001 to 13 per cent in 2016. People who have quit smoking outnumber people who currently smoke: in 2016, 61 per cent of people who had ever smoked had quit. The last national health survey in 2014-15 found 2.6 million adults (14.5 per cent) smoked daily, down from almost 25 per cent in 1995.

The writing is on the wall for cigarettes as we know them, but it won’t mean the end of bad habits.

A national survey of adolescent drug use in the US found while cigarette smoking had dropped, marijuana use had risen.

One of the world’s biggest tobacco companies, Philip Morris, has already announced plans to “quit” for good, and hopes to stop production of cigarettes, in place of vapes and heated tobacco products, by 2020 in a bid for a “smoke free” Australia.

“I hope by 2020 we stop selling conventional cigarettes if not completely, then handing them over to someone else to worry about,” Paul Riley, president of Philip Morris Japan, told me last month. “If we can go hard enough, we’ll be close by the end of 2020 not to have to sell the conventional product (cigarettes).

“The reality is you can’t get away from the fact the WHO (World Health Organisation) itself says that even if they continue with the same methods they have today, like plain packaging, higher taxes, the number of people smoking in 20 years’ time is not going to be too much different from today.”

I try to hide my smoking as best I can these days. I’d rather a cigarette in silence than socially. It’s become my own secret shame in a weird way. It seems I might be fighting a losing battle.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

Sunday, January 14, 2018

No African gang crisis? Wrong, says victim Val

The victim of a violent home ­invasion in Melbourne’s west, who was slapped and threatened while the family house was ransacked, says the government and police are “wrong” to deny the state is facing an African gang crisis, urging leaders to visit victims of crime.

Val, who did not want her surname published, was minding her nephew’s family home last week when a group of more than 10 youths of African appearance shattered the glass back door and trashed the home, forcing her to sit in the front room while they threatened her with baseball bats and stole technology and money.

Nine days after the attack, 59-year-old Val has watched with ­increased concern as the state government and police have stepped back from labelling a recent of spate of youth crime as a “crisis”. Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton at a press conference on Thursday rubbished claims that Melburnians felt unsafe to go out to dinner.

“I got very angry when I saw the police press conference. I thought you really need to open your eyes and look at what’s happening. You need to visit these areas which are quite highly populated,” Val told The Weekend Australian.

“They are gangs. You talk about bad motorcycle boys, well hang on a minute, these are no better than the motorcycle boys. They are running around and terrorising people, and they’re saying they are not gangs, they are saying there is no problem in Victoria. They are wrong.”

Her comments come as Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton ­yesterday said Premier Daniel ­Andrews had created the crime “mess” through appointments of magistrates and judges and not having adequate sentences and deterrences.

“The solution in part is to make sure that the appointment that you’re making to the magistrates court are people that will impose sentences and will provide some deterrence to people repeatedly coming before the courts,” Mr Dutton told 3AW.

“If you’re appointing civil libertarians to the magistrates court over a long period of time, you will get soft sentences and that’s the ­reality ... I’m blaming the state government for making appointments which I think you’re seeing the consequences of now.”

Victorian Attorney-General Martin Pakula later called Mr Dutton’s comments “completely unwarranted and untrue”.

“No government in recent memory has done more to appoint former prosecutors to our bench than this government and that has been something that we have done very consciously,” he said.

Victoria’s African community leaders and police met yesterday for the first time in a series of taskforce talks to tackle the issue. ­Before the meeting, Deputy Commissioner of Regional Operations Andrew Crisp told the ABC there was “not a crisis in this state in relation to crime, or the behaviour we’re seeing of a relatively small number of people of African background”.

Staying at her sister’s home in Melbourne’s west, Val said these kind of comments were sidelining a real problem.

“It’s only the victims that can tell them what’s happening, and how they feel,” she said. “I’d like to say, how would you feel if it was your mother, in your home?

“They need to have the resources; the police that can police the area. And the government need to really recognise the fact there is a problem in the community, there is problem in the African community.”

Val has taken six weeks leave from her volunteering job at the Red Cross while she recovers. She says she hopes something constructive can be done so the rest of the ­African community doesn’t suffer from the actions of a few.

“Where I work in the Red Cross I do work with a lot of African people, and they are beautiful people, really sweet natured. When my husband got carted off to hospital they went into the tea room and they prayed for him,” she said.

A petrol station in Narre Warren in Melbourne’s southeast was held up in the early hours of yesterday by two men of African ­appearance armed with a machete and large rock. They demanded cash from the register and fled.


Migrants must integrate — that’s a fact

Melbourne is seemingly only now finding out what Sydney has long known: ‘politically correct’ multiculturalism hinders integration and leads to social problems.

Melbourne’s African gang crisis shows how lucky we are that Australia has never practiced the kind of mushy-headed multiculturalism long preached by many inner-city elites.

The politically correct argument is that newcomers should retain and practice the customs and habits of their homeland, and Australian society should adapt to accommodate this in the name of tolerance.

But when forced to confront real cultural ‘diversity’ — marauding gangs of Sudanese youths whose behaviour suggests warring tribesmen in violent clan struggles — proponents of multiculturalism have engaged in mass denial.

This has been exemplified by the tweets from an ABC journalist and a prominent left-wing judge, downplaying the crisis and claiming that no-one they know or who lives in their suburbs is fearful of gang violence.

This might actually be true: high property prices in well-off locations allow many elites to buy their way out of direct exposure to the problem.

The irony is that many of the same people, so complacent about gang violence, took to the streets in protest when journalist Jill Meagher was raped and murdered in the fashionable suburb of Brunswick by serial offender Adrian Bayley.

But when the citizens of outer-metropolitan areas complain regarding gang violence and about essentially the same problem — lax administration of law and order — they are condemned as racist ‘deplorables’.

The reality of immigration is that culture matters, and will determine how easily (or otherwise) migrant and refugees can fit in.

Fortunately, our immigration policies have been based on the common sense principle that newcomers should be expected to adapt to Australian culture — not the other way around.

Due to factors such as the skills-based nature of the immigration programme, most migrants have easily conformed to core Australian values such as the rule of law, parliamentary democracy, and the ‘fair go’ for all.

The successful integration of migrants from around the globe has made Australia perhaps the most harmonious multi-racial nation in the world.

This has been aided by migrants being self-selecting. Those who choose to start a new life are generally likely to have the will and ability to fit in and make a go of the opportunities afforded by their new homeland.

Refugees, however, are a special case. They have not come by choice, but have been forced to leave their countries because of war or political turmoil, and may therefore lack the skills and knowledge needed to cope with life in a very different society.

This is borne out by the unemployment statistics recently released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

One in three recent immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa, who are mainly refugees, are unemployed. The unemployment rate for this group is six times higher than the national average, and much higher than for newcomers from Asian and Southern and eastern European countries — most of who arrive as immigrants not refugees.

Refugees need far more intensive support and government-funded services to make the transition to living here.

The extra expense to taxpayers is why we need to cap the number of refugees accepted each year — and is also why we need strong border protection policies to enforce those caps.

This is also why we need to be hard-headed about immigration policy and reject unrealistic policies, such as the 50,000 annual refugee intake proposed by the Australian Greens.

The kind of debate about immigration that has been sparked by the recent events in Melbourne is commonplace in many European countries, where Middle Eastern and north African newcomers’ failure to integrate has frayed the social fabric.

Australia, thankfully, does not face anything like the same challenges France, Germany, and Sweden do.

Sydney-siders are, however, more familiar with these kinds of problems than those in other states.

This is due to the well-known unemployment, crime and other social problems that exist in parts of Western Sydney centred around Lakemba. The sad fact is that some Lebanese Muslim Australians, mostly from refugee backgrounds and families, have failed to repeat the successful path of education, work, and integration that is the norm for most immigrant groups — including the wave of Christian Lebanese who preceded them.

Community concerns about immigration have also been reinforced by recent instances of home-grown Islamic terrorism that have usually involved offenders from Middle-Eastern backgrounds.

In response, politicians are increasingly rejecting fluffy multicultural sentiment. And it isn’t only Coalition hardliners such as Peter Dutton who are preaching the need for all Australians to be held to the same cultural standards.

Labor MPs have also acknowledged the need for a robust commitment to Australian values. Hence, even Labor opposition education minister, Tanya Pilbersek recently said a future Labor government will encourage all schoolchildren to learn and recite Australia’s citizenship pledge — to promote commitment to our democratic beliefs, laws, and liberties.


Victoria Police establish African-Australian community taskforce to tackle youth crime

Talk is cheap

Victoria Police have established a community taskforce with African-Australian leaders to tackle youth crime, amid what the Chief Commissioner has described as an increase in public disorder and misbehaviour.

The taskforce will meet for the first time on Friday and is supported by senior African leaders in Melbourne.

Returning from a period of sick leave following a fatigue-related illness, Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said he had met with community leaders to discuss how African-Australian youth crime had changed in recent times.

Chief Commissioner Ashton said the force had been dealing with home invasions and car-jackings for some time, and generally "catching the offenders quickly".

    "What's changed over and above that … has been an increase in public disorder and public behaviour, misbehaviour in public by groups of young people," he said. "That's been a bit different to what we've been dealing with.

"We've had a number of instances where we had to call out our public order response teams.

"There's been plenty of footage in the media of recent times with that occurring. That's probably changed a bit."

Victoria Police said the taskforce would assist law enforcement by:

    Providing information to police on emerging issues and hot spots, allowing police to act swiftly

    Establishing a more efficient channel for police to engage with African-Australian leaders and provide advice on how they can assist in preventing youth crimes and antisocial behaviour

    Providing police with information on incidents of racial vilification and other hate crimes aimed at African Australians

Assistant Commissioner Andrew Crisp said the third element of the taskforce was necessary due to threats being made to law-abiding members of the African community.  "I know [that] a number of people here today and others in the community have been subjected … to death threats," he said.

"I think it's really important this community has the opportunity to connect with Victoria Police to look at how best we can protect the community, how we can investigate these matters, if it's to do with racial vilification or hate crimes."

African-Australian Kot Monoah said the media coverage of the issue in recent weeks had negatively affected a broad range of community members. "Yesterday we were at Eagle Stadium in Werribee," he said. "We saw a young person from an African community coaching young people and someone approached [and said] 'if you ever touch my child, we're going kill you'.

"The other incident is … a group of young people who are doing very well at university saying 'we don't have a chance with the sorts of reporting that is happening. We'd better move overseas … where this sort of coverage is not there'."

Crime committed by African youth has received nationwide media attention in recent weeks, after Federal MP Greg Hunt described African gang crime as being "out of control" in Melbourne.

His comments came after several recent headline-grabbing crimes which were blamed on groups of young African men, including the trashing of an Airbnb property in Werribee and the repeated destruction of a community centre in Tarneit.
An orange substance is seen splashed on the wall of a bedroom.
Photo: Damage caused to an Airbnb house in Werribee after a party got out of control. (ABC News: Joanna Crothers)

They were followed by similar concerns voiced by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton, who claimed Melburnians were too frightened to dine out because of the problem.

But Chief Commissioner Ashton described claims that Victoria was not a safe place to live as "complete and utter garbage".

"There are people being affected by crime, and that's always been the case and it's the same in every city in Australia ..., [but] Victoria is one of the safest places in the world to live," he said.  "The concept that somehow it's unsafe to go out of dinner … I think everyone in this room would go out places for dinner, I don't think anyone's sitting with the sheets cowering over their heads.

He acknowledged that people were concerned by what they had read and seen on the issue but said the crime rate in Victoria was actually going down.

"I don't think it's a crisis ... I think if you put it into context you've got a few hundred offenders engaging in offending in a city of 4.5 million people," he said.

"If you look across the totality of the Victorian crime situation, the last two quarters we've reduced total crime in the state. We're continuing to do that."

Chief Commissioner Ashton said Victoria Police would continue to take a "zero-tolerance" approach to youth offending, which he said was often the result of complex issues of social disadvantage and unemployment.

"We will continue to make arrests, we will continue to investigate and crack down on criminal behaviour, like we have been doing," he said.

But he reiterated that while police were describing the incidents as "street gang behaviour", the force did not consider the crimes as being committed by "structured, organised gangs" of people.

"What this is, it's young people coming together, networking through social media, coming together and engaging in criminal activity," he said.  "It's much more loosely organised than many might think in that regard. I think that's the point — it's not structured and organised, like a bikie gang or other gangs in Victoria."

Community leader Richard Deng also criticised politicians for using the term "African gangs". "We love to call them gangs, African gangs, and the majority of these kids are born here, they're bloody Australian. Let's call them that way."

Mr Monoah acknowledged there were behavioural issues some young people, often compounded by the use of drugs and alcohol, that needed tackling.

There's a problem with the over-representation of young Sudanese men in Victoria's justice system, but tackling the issue would be easier without hyped-up political rhetoric, Richard Willingham writes.

But he criticised politicians and the media for their handling of the issue. "These sorts of issues, it is our duty and responsibility as a society to address them without obviously mixing them with politics or without mixing them with any other messaging," he said.

He said a number of young people had been racially profiled in shopping centres and parks as a result of the recent attention to the issue. "It impacts on a number of law-abiding, innocent people," he said.

Mr Deng also called on politicians and the media not to divide the community over the issue.  "I would like to say again to the politicians — it is time you join hands with the community, engage, let's put politics aside and work together," he said.

"Using crime for political gain is not acceptable. As a community, we call on all politicians to work with us, work with Victoria Police, as a way forward."


The facts versus Leftist flim-flam

For all the millions of conversations and communications happening every minute of every day, there are two distinct national conversations occurring. They are totally divergent in source and substance and both lay claim to truth. Yet only one can be true; only one can be rooted in reality.

They are opposites — like Seinfeld’s Bizarro Jerry. On Sydney radio 2GB this week, host Mark Levy was commenting on the hype about Oprah Winfrey running for president. “Despite all the doom and gloom around the Trump presidency, what’s he done wrong so far?” asked Levy. It was an unremarkable reflection that generated no contention and was not intended to do so. For that audience it was a statement of the obvious.

Yet could you imagine such an observation being made on the ABC? Not only is it inconceivable that any ABC host would make such a call but we know any guest arguing the same would be treated as a heretic. The proposition would be howled down as controversial, partisan and absurd. Despite its charter obligations to objectivity and plurality, the ABC could not entertain such a reasonable point of view.

On the day of the US election, one of the ABC’s leading political analysts, former Labor staffer Barrie Cassidy, tweeted the “nightmare” was over and Donald Trump couldn’t win. He then echoed CNN’s take that Trump’s election would trigger the biggest stockmarket crash since 9/11. As we know, not only did Trump win but the markets are breaking records — on the upside.

Over the past few weeks I have been hosting radio on 2GB and 4BC across NSW and Queensland, speaking with up to 70 callers a day and receiving as many email comments on issues as diverse as the proposed sugar tax, African youth gangs, immigrant integration, education policy, energy costs, climate change and sexual harassment. Across the field the perspective of the audience would be as divergent from the ABC view on these issues as the Trump example.

Callers are concerned about immigration and poor integration, sceptical about government interventions, opposed to new taxes, worried about energy prices and phlegmatic about alarmist claims on the climate. They are professionals, public servants, retirees, tradespeople and teachers with differing experiences and observations to share. But few, if any, of their views are the sort you could ever expect to hear on ABC, SBS or other “love media” staples.

This is an extraordinary divide. Where the public broadcasters, academics and political/media class see “extreme events” and dangerous “climate disruption”, the mainstream see weather and crippling electricity prices. Where the mainstream sees obvious African gang-related crime and worries about failed integration of South Sudanese refugees, the so-called elites and even leading Victorian police see only “networked youth offenders” and standard delinquency.

Where one narrative sees interfering politicians, overbearing government and burdensome taxation, the other sees the need for extra levies to force us to limit our sugar or alcohol intake. One narrative watches the Golden Globes and sees sanctimony, hypocrisy and trial by media while the other sees Hollywood taking a brave stand.

Perhaps no discussion better demonstrates this divide than the response to an article published in The Sydney Morning Herald last week about volunteering. It was based on a speech by Catherine Walsh, billed as a writer and teacher, who argued that volunteering was counterproductive, undercut paid work and relieved governments of their responsibilities.

Walsh urged us to “stop volunteering” and to campaign for laws to “abandon” fundraising, volunteers and charities so that future generations could be relieved of the “expectation” to support these “inefficient” systems. I don’t know what was more astonishing, that an adult would say or write such a thing or that a media organisation would publish it uncritically.

When I read excerpts on radio the reaction was understandable. People from all walks of life who were volunteers or had benefited from their generosity called to voice their dismay. State emer­gency service workers, fire fighters, library volunteers, art gallery guides, Meals on Wheels workers, St Vincent de Paul helpers — the list was endless. They were astonished at the lack of gratitude, and the stupidity.

How could this country function without rural fire volunteers, Country Women’s Association branches or surf lifesavers? Conversely, how could we ever amass enough tax to run such vital community organisations as paid professional outfits? It is as insulting as it is absurd.

Yet it perfectly encapsulates the schism. Only someone deeply embedded in the publicly funded political/media class — that artificially created reality — could ­entertain or share such thoughts. The only volunteers Walsh ­admired were activists protesting to change laws and policies. This truly is bizarro world. Walsh ­lauded the attention-seekers and troublemakers while she dissed the people who quietly improve the daily lives of fellow citizens.

It is not hard to see which view is right. And it is not a matter of opinion. The facts support the case for volunteers. Whether you ­assess the quality of their outcomes — tangible and intangible — or the cost of replacing their services with paid employees, you can see the inestimable value of their contribution to the nation. We know the overwhelming sway of public opinion would support the volunteers. It is a no-brainer.

This is the clue for our politicians, especially on the right-of-centre. If they don’t have the instincts to know which narrative should guide them on any issue — if they are lured off course by the false narrative of the so-called elites — they just need to concentrate on the facts. Go with the ­argument that is right. Go with the practical approach — this is the ­essence of conservatism.

Malcolm Turnbull has had difficulty doing this. His instinct is to accept the plaudits of the political/media class and run from the frankness, or even coarseness, of the matter-of-fact mainstream ­approach. Occasionally he shows encouraging signs. He has been forthright on the African gang problem. Strength is required, ­because to be frank on these issues is to invite vile abuse.

Turnbull’s one hope to extend his prime ministership is to ­strongly identify with the mainstream narrative on core issues and, more importantly, provide tangible proof that he understands the arguments by delivering ­action. Energy policy provides the greatest opportunity but his complicated National Energy Guarantee is insufficiently divergent from existing or Labor policy to create a sharp contest. He could end up with endorsement from Labor states, leading to a moderately improved system compared with the present mess but with the issue politically neutered.

The Prime Minister’s energy policy is still beholden to futile Paris targets, despite the US withdrawing and the international community asking next to nothing of China or India. While he backs Paris at the expense of ­affordable and reliable energy, he fails to give the mainstream what they really need and want — the cheapest and most reliable electricity.

Our competing narratives can broadly be described as left and right. But we can imagine a series of Venn diagrams where the flanks of the major parties overlap to share and swap members on various issues. Even business leaders fuel the left side of some ­debates because of corporate posturing, dinner-party imperatives or fear of social-media-driven reputational damage.

Turnbull and the Coalition need to have faith that the numbers are with the mainstream and common sense. Sure, the left narrative — with its academic and political/media class support — makes most of the noise and generates its own momentum. But Brexit, Trump and even Tony ­Abbott circa 2013 demonstrate that voters can flock to mainstream candidates no matter the hectoring and prognostications of the so-called elites. John Howard could never have won a single election unless this were true.

This requires strong advocacy from conviction politicians to give mainstream voters a guiding light through the deceptions of the political/media class. It demands leadership, not opinion poll watching.

Yet this is not a matter of theories, ideology or complex plans. Rather, it is about the facts.

In the issues mentioned earlier the facts support the mainstream view. Every weather event we are seeing has been seen before — from thousands of bats dying in Sydney heatwaves as they were observed doing back in 1792 to a freezing arctic winter in North America. Those seeking to talk up daily events to suit a narrative are constantly caught out — the ­Bureau of Meteorology’s homogenisation fiddles are still largely unexplained and last weekend it claimed an all-time maximum for the Sydney region before having to correct the record with a hotter day in 1939 (homogenised or not).

And facts tell us Australia’s ­energy policies cannot have a discernible effect on the global environment but can make us economically uncompetitive. Facts tell us poor or elderly Australians are more likely to die of heat stress or cold exposure if they cannot afford to use their heating or cooling. Mainstream voters are right to demand politicians focus on what they can change rather than on what they pretend to be able to influence — they don’t buy the gesture politics.

If not for the publicly funded ABC, SBS, subsidised magazines, universities and bureaucratic ­interventions, the false narratives of the virtue-signallers would be soundly defeated in the open marketplace of ideas. Instead, their nonsense dominates.

For much of last year journalists and commentators on the ABC spoke of a “reckless” Trump increasing the risk of “thermonuclear war” because of his sabre-rattling over North Korea. Radio National this week interviewed Christopher Hill, the US diplomat who led the six-party talks and other efforts under George W. Bush and Barack Obama to end North Korea’s weapons programs. Host Hamish Macdonald and Hill joked and mocked Trump’s efforts at diplomacy. Yet it was Hill and the West who had been played for fools by North Korea, leaving the world with this nuclear-armed ­legacy, and it is Trump who has ­delivered stronger sanctions from the UN, US and China.

With the small but welcome ­development this week of the North and South holding talks, the ABC dropped its theme of Trump as the dominant and ham-fisted player and busied itself explaining why he could not claim credit for what had transpired. One moment its narrative had Trump bringing us to the brink of war (when things looked ominous) and the next we had the bellicose diplomacy of the world’s most powerful leader being irrelevant (when there were promising signs). This deception might pass muster on Q&A but it does not pass the pub test.

The national broadcaster quotes Al Jazeera, Buzzfeed and CNN to mock and sneer at Trump and the daily confected scandals but seems to have missed the ­import of what is happening with American taxation reforms, the global economy and other developments in international relations. If this is how jaundiced and inaccurate it can be on issues where we can all see the facts, ­imagine what it might be getting away with on education policy, healthcare issues, border protection controversies and the climate and energy debate.

Turnbull must be wary of the false narratives, eschew posturing, follow facts over ideology and connect with mainstream views. If he doesn’t, we will see another ­bizarro administration and the mainstream will wait longer for a more momentous reckoning.


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here