Monday, October 23, 2017


National electricity guarantee an exercise in politics

There’s a simple way to bring down energy prices, but the Coalition’s policy isn’t it

The National Electricity Guarantee announced this week is an exercise in political economy. If you simply were interested in ensuring cheap, reliable electricity on ­demand, the NEG would not figure among the policy options.

But the challenges of the government are many, including paying heed to the ill-judged commitment to the Paris climate agreement and the need to get states on board. An endorsement from Labor also would be helpful in providing confidence for investors, in the renewable and synchronous energy space.

Of course, the NEG still sticks in my craw. After all, when did central planning ever work? Has Malcolm Turnbull decided those experts in Gosplan, the Soviet Union’s state planning committee, and five-year plans were actually incredibly clever and we should be ­importing their ideas?

To be fair, electricity may be a special case. It is an essential service and there was always planning at the state level in years gone by, although it was undertaken chiefly by engineers rather than by people who think they know something about economics and business with nary any attention paid to the physics of the system.

You may say the only worthwhile part of the NEG is the ­reliability component — the requirement that retailers offset their purchase of intermittent ­energy with solid synchronous sources. By all means, purchase wind power, but the retailers will need to make sure there is available backup to deal with its intermittent nature.

Mind you, it’s important that this requirement is not fiddled by the retailers, which always would be a temptation. The detail will be particularly important.

So why bother with the emissions reduction part? Why would we not rely on market forces to achieve this outcome by believing the renewable energy sector that it will be able to out-compete all other sources of electricity generation? The answer is twofold. First, we should not necessarily believe the claims of the renewable energy sector. There is a high fudge factor in the assertion, including the failure to account for additional costs of transmission and distribution; the uncertain lifetime of some of the installations; and their actual load factors (the energy delivered as a percentage of their nominal capacity).

The second issue relates to what may be termed carbon uncertainty. In the absence of the government having a specific ­intervention to drive down emissions from the electricity sector, businesses will factor in a shadow price of carbon.

The expectation is a Labor government, with its pledge to double our Paris commitment and to have 50 per cent renewables by 2030, inevitably will introduce a form of carbon pricing, notwithstanding that such action has been political poison in the past. (Note that, in any case, the renewable energy target is a form of carbon pricing, at present sitting at about $80 a megawatt tonne.)

Banks and financiers also will be including carbon risk in their calculations, in turn affecting their willingness to provide finance for new electricity projects. Long-living coal-fired plants, even ultracritical ones with low-emissions intensity, will struggle to get up unless the funders can see a clear path into the future in terms of the handling of emissions reductions.

(A new high-efficiency, low-emissions coal-fired plant also will likely require gov­ernment guarantees, but that’s fine. It’s what the renewable energy sector is being given by state governments with their expensive reverse auctions funded by taxpayers.)

One of the upsides of the emissions reduction component of the NEG is that the price impact of high penetrations of renewable energy in particular states — for example, South Australia — will be sheeted home directly to consumers. Vote for a government that promotes high renewable ­energy penetration and pay the price. Not only is this fair but it is sending an efficient price signal in terms of the consequences of particular government policy stances.

That retailers will be able to meet the emissions reduction obligations by purchasing local or international carbon credits (rather than sourcing high-cost renewable energy) is probably the best economic feature of the NEG. With the price of international carbon credits so low at the ­moment — a few euros per tonne of carbon dioxide — this will be the way to go for many retailers. The option of buying credits should cap the cost of domestic abatement via the purchase of renewable energy.

Don’t forget climate change is a global issue and it doesn’t matter the source or location of the emissions reduction. Note also the government’s own Climate Change Authority has recommended this action as part of least-cost policy.

To be sure, there are some important issues raised by the parallel operation of a reliability obligation and the requirement to meet emissions standards on the part of retailers. Arguably, the gentailers — companies that operate in both the generation and retail space (think AGL, Origin, Energy­Australia) — will have a serious competitive advantage under the NEG, particularly in terms of ­accessing hedged contracts.

The worst case scenario would be the withdrawal from the market of some retailers, reducing the limited competition in this space. The option of forcing the gentailers to break up should be considered by the government.

Is the NEG just a form of carbon price in disguise? Is it really true that there will be no further subsidies for renewable energy?

For anyone who understands economics, whenever a constraint is imposed on an activity, an ­explicit or implicit price emerges. As noted, the RET throws off a carbon price of $80 a tonne of CO2, which is excessive by any standard. And recall that Labor’s carbon price started off at a tad over $23 a tonne. The way to judge the NEG is to ask the question: is the cost of abatement under the NEG lower than the adoption of the Finkel clean energy target? The ­answer is a clear yes. But this doesn’t mean there will be no further subsidisation of ­renewable energy. That’s what the emissions reduction guarantee does. It’s just that the degree of subsidisation will be considerably less than it is now, which again is a good outcome.

So should we believe that electricity bills will be $115 a year lower under the NEG? The short answer is that there can be no definitive prediction of this outcome. The Finkel proposition that bills would be lower by $90 a year clearly was manipulated and had no credibility. The $115-a-year figure is more simply derived: it is just the price response you would expect from getting more supply, particularly of reliable energy. The one missing piece of the jigsaw that the government should consider is the scope to change the bidding rules under the National Electricity Market. Under the ­existing arrangement, the highest bidder sets the price, which is paid to all the intra-marginal suppliers. The aim is to create an incentive to invest.

But it is clear the arrangement has failed to spur investment in reliable electricity while the RET has overwhelmingly driven investment in renewable energy.

The alternative is simply to pay all the bidders needed to meet market demand the actual price they bid. If this were to happen, then there would be significant scope for wholesale prices to fall.

To be sure, the renewable energy sector would complain. And the regulator would need to watch for strategic bidding. But this simple rule change offers the government the best chance to do something quickly rather than wait until after 2020. If I were them, I would be giving this option serious consideration.

SOURCE





Australia's big gas miners agree on supply for 2018

The country's biggest gas companies have agreed to "put Australians first" and boost domestic supply next year to help avoid a potential energy crisis.

But the prime minister warns that residents in Victoria and NSW will keep paying more for their power if their states don't free up their own gas resources.

Santos, Origin Energy and Shell on Wednesday committed to offering enough gas to the local market to cover an expected shortfall in 2018, following a meeting with Malcolm Turnbull and senior ministers in Sydney.

They will meet again next week to nut out the details of the agreement and an intended similar guarantee for 2019.

It means the federal government won't have to follow through on its threat to restrict exports, although it remains an option.

"They have stated that they will offer, as a first priority, domestic customers any uncontracted gas in the future," Mr Turnbull told reporters.

He says if the deal is honoured and there is not a shortfall of gas then there won't be a need for export controls - something that he doesn't "relish". "We want to see more exports, but Australians have to come first," Mr Turnbull said.

Two reports this week warned of a shortage of gas in 2018 of up to 107 petajoules - about three times larger than previously forecast.

Despite the deal, Mr Turnbull continued his push for Victoria and NSW to unlock their onshore gas resources.

Queensland produces most of the gas for the east coast, meaning those in the southern states have to bear the extra cost of transport.

"The failure of Victoria and NSW to get their onshore gas resources developed means residents of NSW and Victoria and businesses in those states are going to continue to pay more for gas than they otherwise would," he said.

It accounts for about 11 per cent of the gas bill for a typical Melbourne household, and about five per cent for the average Sydney household.

SOURCE





How to get the most out of school reform

Blaise Joseph

The focus of education policy must shift from 'more money' to instead investing in cost-effective, evidence-based practices. This is the purpose of the government's 'Gonski 2.0' review, but what does the evidence suggest schools should be investing in?
Give teachers fewer classes and more time outside the classroom.

Australian teachers typically spend an hour more teaching each day compared to the high-achieving countries. This means teachers have less time to plan, refine, and review their lessons, which have significant effects on teaching quality.

Early literacy and numeracy. Intervention to help underachieving students is most effective in early primary years. Teachers' education degrees do not equip them with the language knowledge necessary to effectively teach reading, and phonics instruction is not consistently taught well. Therefore, primary school teachers would be helped by attending professional development to improve reading instruction.

Classroom management training for teachers. Australia has high levels of classroom misbehaviour compared to the top-performing countries. Teacher education degrees do not consistently provide evidence-based practices to prepare teachers to handle misbehaviour. Teachers would benefit from attending professional development to learn and foster evidence-based classroom management techniques.

These investments would not have to cost the taxpayer more. For example, professional development in reading instruction and managing the classroom could be prioritised over less important training, and giving teachers fewer classes could be offset by increasing class sizes.

While theoretically smaller classes should facilitate better teaching, many recent studies indicate reducing class sizes has limited -- and inconsistent -- positive effects. Australia's class sizes are much smaller than several top-performing countries.

Technology is another common school investment not supported by evidence. Australian schools use technology significantly more than most of the OECD, but this hasn't stopped the decline in our literacy and numeracy results.

We must bring evidence back to the forefront of school spending; otherwise, the extra $23.5 billion of Gonski 2.0 funding will fail to improve student outcomes, letting down both students and taxpayers.

SOURCE





Aboriginal problems poorly addressed by governments

Indigenous service structures slowing progress


Charles Jacobs

A new QLD Productivity Commission report echoes CIS findings that a convoluted labyrinth of programs is creating a disconnect between service design and delivery for hundreds of remote Indigenous communities. This divide means that many services are failing to effect any actual change for those they are meant to help.

The problem lies with the structure of remote program design and delivery. In many cases there is a systemic dysfunction with the way service providers interact with Indigenous people. Programs aren't designed for the recipient, but for the provider.

For example, the  Community Development Programme (CDP) -- which sees Indigenous job seekers in remote areas undertake 'work-like' activities in order to receive income support payments -- is riddled with issues.

At face value, getting welfare recipients to be more proactive seems like a good idea. However, the running of the program is subcontracted to private providers, who both deliver and regulate the delivery of the service. Most of the providers are for-profit, and there can be a conflict of interest between sustaining their operations and achieving genuine outcomes for participants.

CDP providers receive per person payments from the government, and in many cases it makes more financial sense to keep someone on their books than to get them into actual employment.
Such structural flaws are present in countless areas of Indigenous service delivery, and reflect the significant detachment of many providers from the outcomes they are meant to achieve.

The QLD Productivity Commission recommends that to resolve this issue, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities need to become more 'ambitious' about improving outcomes for themselves.

One of the ways a number of Indigenous communities are doing this is through the establishment of business enterprises. An example from this week saw an Indigenous company awarded a $4.4 million contract for road development in Cape York. A proportion of the profits of these commercial activities are being used to fund social programs in communities, reducing the reliance on government funding.

Government has repeatedly shown it is incapable of providing services and programs to communities effectively. If there is to be real change on the ground, communities must be empowered to become actively engaged in the design and delivery process.

SOURCE

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, October 22, 2017



Great Barrier Reef recovering from coral bleaching

The Greenie panic was for nothing, as usual.  Julian Tomlinson didn't go to journalism school so he tells it like it is below -- supported by extensive video evidence

NEWS of the Great Barrier Reef’s demise have indeed appeared to be premature – as predicted. Cairns-based environmental science body, Tropical Water Quality Hub, released exciting news this month in an email titled: Signs of recovery on bleached coral reefs.

This is no surprise to reef operators, climate change sceptics and scientists who urged everyone not to believe the hype about the Reef’s certain doom.

The TWQH said researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science went back to 14 reefs between Townsville and Cairns they surveyed at the height of this year’s bleaching event and saw “significant” recovery. “The majority of coral colonies on the inshore reefs have regained their colour and some even appear to have developing eggs in their tissues,” said project lead Dr Line Bay.

This evidence is directly in line with the views of James Cook University’s Professor Peter Ridd who said this year that corals were experts at adapting to changing environments and that they would recover – as they had done in the past.

But still, Prof Ridd was dismissed by reef doom merchants and has even been threatened with disciplinary action by JCU because of his contrary views. One hopes the university will now apologise unreservedly to Prof Ridd for its treatment of him.  All he did was urge his colleagues to not take such an absolute and alarmist view of Reef health.

Hinchinbrook MP, Andrew Cripps, believes Ridd’s treatment was so bad that he raised it in state parliament this month and suggested JCU’s administrative procedures should be reviewed. “I have been offered some explanations for the actions taken by JCU against Peter Ridd, but they were most unsatisfactory to the point of being feeble,” said Mr Cripps.

Marine biologist Walter Starck has spent a lifetime studying marine ecosystems and made the same observations as Ridd in a Quadrant magazine article he wrote last year.

Starck is considered by naysayers as a scientific fringe dweller but anyone who challenges the alarmists is always going to be ridiculed and have their credibility questioned.

While the TWQH researchers say it’s still early days, news of coral recovery is fantastic for our tourism operators.

Cairns reef dive company, Spirit of Freedom, has also given activists reason to stand down. Just last month, the company released a video of Ribbon Reefs, Lizard Island and Osprey Reef.  Shot by Stuart Ireland of Calypso Reef Imagery, it reveals a truly spectacular undersea paradise.

Tourists also appear on the video saying they can’t believe how beautiful the Reef is after what they’d been told about its imminent demise.

Check it out for yourself at https://vimeo.com/229457310.

I can’t wait for Midnight Oil to come back to spread the good news and for my Facebook feed to be cluttered with ecstatic posts from The Greens and GetUp!

Somehow, I think I’ll be waiting a long time. They’ll still say we must stop human-caused carbon emissions to ensure the recovery continues.

But environmental scientist Bjorn Lomborg has backed opponents of attempts to force us all to toe the man-made global warming line.

In The Australian this week he wrote that if every country honoured its emissions promises, 60 gigatonnes of carbon would be stopped from entering the atmosphere… whereas 6000 gigatonnes needs to be stopped to keep temperature rises below 2C.

Again, all the pain of high power prices and being lectured to and attacked by fanatics is for nought.

Another recent study has backed critics of laboratory tests claiming ocean acidification caused by CO2 emissions is a coral killer. The critics say the lab tests expose corals to increased CO2 too quickly for the organisms to adapt, therefore exaggerating the results.

Now, in the Nature Communications journal, researchers say they have shown this is the case, and that coral in the wild is able to adapt to changes in ocean composition when they happen gradually.

With all this evidence, we should all – especially politicians and the media – be taking the reef alarmists with a grain of salt and reject claims that we’re all environmental vandals.

SOURCE






Coalition MPs edgy over ‘cap’ on carbon

"Targets" are placed on retailers -- but the targets could be watered down

Malcolm Turnbull’s new energy policy is fuelling anxiety among government MPs, who are liken­ing it to a “cap and trade” carbon scheme and demanding that emissions reductions be delayed as long as possible to minimise costs.

The Prime Minister yesterday rejected Labor claims that his National Energy Guarantee resurrected a carbon tax by stealth, through the establishment of a set level of emissions that retailers would be required to meet each year.

One of the regulators who proposed the scheme, Australian Energy Market Commission chairman John Pierce, said it would be “very hard” to argue there was a carbon price in the policy. “There isn’t one,” he said.

Labor used question time to needle the government over the policy, arguing that the overhaul would force energy retailers to begin trading in “carbon abatement obligations” — effectively establishing an implicit carbon price. Concerned Coalition MPs questioned whether the scheme was too similar to a “cap and trade” or “cap and contract” system because retailers would be required to enter new power-purchasing contracts to shake up their energy mix if they exceeded the emissions cap.

Liberal National Party backbencher George Christensen, who is calling on the government to “kick start” a new coal-fired power station in Queens­land, told The Australian he believed it was similar to a cap-and-trade scheme. “And if anyone thinks that anyone’s being fooled simply because it’s not called a cap-and-trade scheme or not called a clean energy target or an emissions trading scheme or something like that, they are kidding themselves,” Mr Christensen said.

The proposed National Energy Guarantee puts an obligation on electricity retailers to buy power at a set level of emissions intensity each year, to meet a 2030 reduction target — set by government — for the power generation sector. It also forces retailers to meet a percentage of demand from reliable power generation.

Craig Kelly, chairman of the Coalition’s backbench energy committee, said the policy was effectively a cap-and-contract scheme, and his support was conditional on the cost of the emission cuts being largely deferred until closer to 2030.

“It’s essential the trajectory of the reduction in the emission intensity of the electricity sector is done in a hockey-stick shape, where the majority of the heavy lifting or major reductions are backloaded towards the end of the next decade,” Mr Kelly said. “That way it will ensure that it is done at least cost and potentially no additional cost subject to the technological improvements in low carbon-emission technology.”

Mr Turnbull said yesterday the Energy Security Board would be able to advise on the “least-cost path” or trajectory for achieving the emissions reductions to 2030.

“There’s plainly the opportunity to back-end more of that as costs come down,” he said. “Retailers have many options — they can invest in generation themselves or enter into contracts with other companies. They’ll manage this as part of the electricity generation they already buy and sell. They will not be creating a certificate or another trading system.”

Mr Turnbull used question time to argue that retailers would continue to trade in electricity to meet their new obligations under the revamped policy, saying Labor failed to “understand the way the energy market works”. “It is not trading of permits; there are no certificates,” he said. “It is trading of physical energy which ... happens all the time.”

Mr Pierce said the policy should not be considered a carbon price. “What we’re pricing is reliability and what we’re pricing is the ability to dispatch,” he told the National Press Club. “You can’t really separate it out and say ‘this is a carbon price’ — we’re not pricing carbon.”

Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott argued that it was wrong to compare the NEG to an ETS, saying the new policy “used the same architecture” and market mechanisms already in place.

“There’s no new mechanism, there are no new certificates. It’s not the same thing,” Ms Westacott said.

Grattan Institute energy program director Tony Wood said “of course there is no explicit carbon price” in the new scheme. “My expectation is that derivative markets will inevitably emerge over time leading to implicit carbon pricing,” he said.

Labor’s assistant energy spokesman Pat Conroy said he believed the government’s policy was an emissions intensity scheme that assigned an “economic value” to emissions reductions, which he argued was a “price on carbon”.

SOURCE






Maximum $306,000 penalty imposed on ‘recidivist’ CFMEU

Thug union has no trouble paying fines.  They get a lot of "donations" from employers

A federal judge has branded the CFMEU “the most recidivist corporate offender in Australian history”, imposing maximum pen­alties of $306,000 over a heated clash between a former senior official and managers on a Brisbane building site.

Describing the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union’s history of law-breaking as “astounding”, Federal Circuit Court judge Salvatore Vasta said he would have imposed higher penalties on the union if the law allowed.

“This court has been asked to ensure that the industrial relations regime as created by parliament is observed and complied with,’’ the judge said. “The parliament has given the court only one weapon to ensure such compliance, and that is the ability to impose pecuniary penalties.”

He said that while this weapon had generally been of great value against employers, “this cannot be said of the CFMEU’’.

“The deterrent aspect of the pecuniary penalty system is not having the desired effect,’’ he said. “The CFMEU has not changed its attitude in any meaningful way. The court can only impose the maximum penalty in an attempt to fulfil its duty and deter the CFMEU from acting in the nefarious way in which it does.

“If the community at large are not satisfied with the actions of the court to ensure compliance with the Fair Work Act, then the next step is a matter for the parliament.”

In May, Judge Vasta imposed the maximum possible $10,200 penalty on former Queensland CFMEU president David Hanna for breaching right-of-entry laws on a construction site at Fortitude Valley in 2015.

Mr Hanna admitted that when he was asked for his right-of-entry permit he raised his middle finger and said he didn’t need one.

When a site manager attempted to record the incident, Mr Hanna said: “Take that phone away or I’ll f..king bury it down your throat.” He squirted water at the manager which struck him in the face, shirt and mobile phone. When another manager asked Mr Hanna, “what are you doing here, you are here illegally, why didn’t you go through the right channels?” he replied: “I can do what I like.”

Mr Hanna resigned from the union in 2015 after an investigation found he obtained thousands of dollars from employers to pay for the IVF treatment of a union organiser and his partner.

Following evidence before the trade union royal commission, he and two former executives from construction giant Mirvac were charged with secret commission offences over the building of the unionist’s luxury home in 2013.

Judge Vasta noted submissions from the Australian Building and Construction Com­mission that the courts have sanctioned the CFMEU 120 times over the past 10 years for breaches of industrial law. The union had not tried to improve its behaviour. “It is no understatement to describe the CFMEU as the most recidivist corporate offender in Australian history,’’ he said.

SOURCE





VC hero Ben Roberts-Smith: I did nothing wrong in Afghanistan

Australia’s most decorated soldier, Ben Roberts-Smith, has  described a new Defence-facilitated history of special forces in ­Afghanistan that questions his battlefield role in the killing of a young Afghan as inaccurate, un-Australian and damaging to the legacy of a hero killed in action.

The book, No Front Line by celebrated journalist Chris Masters, revisits an incident in the perilous Chora Valley in 2006, during which then lance corporal Roberts-Smith and Sergeant Matthew Locke — a Medal for Gallantry ­recipient killed in action in 2007 — “neutralised” a young Afghan male who threatened to compromise their small and clandestine SAS patrol’s concealment.

Masters highlights contradictory accounts given by Mr Roberts-Smith years later about the killing, which occurred near an SAS observation post on a mountain overlooking Chora on June 2.

He cites an interview given to the Australian War Memorial in 2011 in which Mr Roberts-Smith described the incident as involving two men who walked up to within 30m of their position.

The Victoria Cross recipient, in the interview, said a decision had been made to eliminate the pair and he and Locke “hunted them down and got rid of them”.

Masters points to a subsequent interview with The Australian, also five years after the incident, in which Mr Roberts-Smith referred to a single enemy. The patrol ­report compiled immediately after the incident mentions a ­single ­individual, according to Masters.

Mr Roberts-Smith explained the inconsistency in correspondence to AWM director Brendan Nelson as stating he had confused the incident due to the fact he had done numerous tours of Afghanistan and it was five years after the fact. Dr Nelson, a former defence minister, said this week he had not read the book but expressed concern about it not being in the ­national interest in tearing down Australian heroes.

He also said the Defence ­Department had questions to ­answer over what previously ­secret material was provided for the book.

Mr Roberts-Smith has blamed the contradictory battlefield ­accounts in the book as being the recollections of a “bitter” former SAS member. He also raised concerns that Defence, which organised and screened the writing of the book, may have passed classified documents to Masters to ­assist the book.

“People are going to think and say what they like (about me),” Mr Roberts-Smith told The Weekend Australian.

“In regards to what the book means to other people, though, I’m a little bit disappointed. Particularly in a passage around myself and Matthew Locke in 2006, (Masters) is really affecting the legacy of an Australian hero killed in action … His son is in the army now. That’s not fair. He hasn’t spoken to anybody else who was in the patrol except for one guy who has obviously given a different version of events.”

“The person who has given their depiction of 2006 had nothing to do with me,” Mr Roberts-Smith said. “He was disciplined by the patrol commander and Matt Locke, and removed from our patrol, subsequently retested, and then removed from the SAS. And that was the person who is now making claims about what happened 11 years ago and I think that really says it all. There’s an agenda there against Matt Locke and, for whatever reason, because I’ve got the profile, it’s better to throw my name into the mix because you know it’s going to be a headline and that’s essentially why I’m being dragged into it. You can only go off the reporting at the time. It is critical to remember that, 11 years later, no two people will ever see the battle the same way. You just don’t.”

MORE HERE

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






Great Barrier Reef recovering from coral bleaching

The Greenie panic was for nothing, as usual.  Julian Tomlinson didn't go to journalism school so he tells it like it is below -- supported by extensive video evidence

NEWS of the Great Barrier Reef’s demise have indeed appeared to be premature – as predicted. Cairns-based environmental science body, Tropical Water Quality Hub, released exciting news this month in an email titled: Signs of recovery on bleached coral reefs.

This is no surprise to reef operators, climate change sceptics and scientists who urged everyone not to believe the hype about the Reef’s certain doom.

The TWQH said researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science went back to 14 reefs between Townsville and Cairns they surveyed at the height of this year’s bleaching event and saw “significant” recovery. “The majority of coral colonies on the inshore reefs have regained their colour and some even appear to have developing eggs in their tissues,” said project lead Dr Line Bay.

This evidence is directly in line with the views of James Cook University’s Professor Peter Ridd who said this year that corals were experts at adapting to changing environments and that they would recover – as they had done in the past.

But still, Prof Ridd was dismissed by reef doom merchants and has even been threatened with disciplinary action by JCU because of his contrary views. One hopes the university will now apologise unreservedly to Prof Ridd for its treatment of him.  All he did was urge his colleagues to not take such an absolute and alarmist view of Reef health.

Hinchinbrook MP, Andrew Cripps, believes Ridd’s treatment was so bad that he raised it in state parliament this month and suggested JCU’s administrative procedures should be reviewed. “I have been offered some explanations for the actions taken by JCU against Peter Ridd, but they were most unsatisfactory to the point of being feeble,” said Mr Cripps.

Marine biologist Walter Starck has spent a lifetime studying marine ecosystems and made the same observations as Ridd in a Quadrant magazine article he wrote last year.

Starck is considered by naysayers as a scientific fringe dweller but anyone who challenges the alarmists is always going to be ridiculed and have their credibility questioned.

While the TWQH researchers say it’s still early days, news of coral recovery is fantastic for our tourism operators.

Cairns reef dive company, Spirit of Freedom, has also given activists reason to stand down. Just last month, the company released a video of Ribbon Reefs, Lizard Island and Osprey Reef.  Shot by Stuart Ireland of Calypso Reef Imagery, it reveals a truly spectacular undersea paradise.

Tourists also appear on the video saying they can’t believe how beautiful the Reef is after what they’d been told about its imminent demise.

Check it out for yourself at https://vimeo.com/229457310.

I can’t wait for Midnight Oil to come back to spread the good news and for my Facebook feed to be cluttered with ecstatic posts from The Greens and GetUp!

Somehow, I think I’ll be waiting a long time. They’ll still say we must stop human-caused carbon emissions to ensure the recovery continues.

But environmental scientist Bjorn Lomborg has backed opponents of attempts to force us all to toe the man-made global warming line.

In The Australian this week he wrote that if every country honoured its emissions promises, 60 gigatonnes of carbon would be stopped from entering the atmosphere… whereas 6000 gigatonnes needs to be stopped to keep temperature rises below 2C.

Again, all the pain of high power prices and being lectured to and attacked by fanatics is for nought.

Another recent study has backed critics of laboratory tests claiming ocean acidification caused by CO2 emissions is a coral killer. The critics say the lab tests expose corals to increased CO2 too quickly for the organisms to adapt, therefore exaggerating the results.

Now, in the Nature Communications journal, researchers say they have shown this is the case, and that coral in the wild is able to adapt to changes in ocean composition when they happen gradually.

With all this evidence, we should all – especially politicians and the media – be taking the reef alarmists with a grain of salt and reject claims that we’re all environmental vandals.

SOURCE






Coalition MPs edgy over ‘cap’ on carbon

"Targets" are placed on retailers -- but the targets could be watered down

Malcolm Turnbull’s new energy policy is fuelling anxiety among government MPs, who are liken­ing it to a “cap and trade” carbon scheme and demanding that emissions reductions be delayed as long as possible to minimise costs.

The Prime Minister yesterday rejected Labor claims that his National Energy Guarantee resurrected a carbon tax by stealth, through the establishment of a set level of emissions that retailers would be required to meet each year.

One of the regulators who proposed the scheme, Australian Energy Market Commission chairman John Pierce, said it would be “very hard” to argue there was a carbon price in the policy. “There isn’t one,” he said.

Labor used question time to needle the government over the policy, arguing that the overhaul would force energy retailers to begin trading in “carbon abatement obligations” — effectively establishing an implicit carbon price. Concerned Coalition MPs questioned whether the scheme was too similar to a “cap and trade” or “cap and contract” system because retailers would be required to enter new power-purchasing contracts to shake up their energy mix if they exceeded the emissions cap.

Liberal National Party backbencher George Christensen, who is calling on the government to “kick start” a new coal-fired power station in Queens­land, told The Australian he believed it was similar to a cap-and-trade scheme. “And if anyone thinks that anyone’s being fooled simply because it’s not called a cap-and-trade scheme or not called a clean energy target or an emissions trading scheme or something like that, they are kidding themselves,” Mr Christensen said.

The proposed National Energy Guarantee puts an obligation on electricity retailers to buy power at a set level of emissions intensity each year, to meet a 2030 reduction target — set by government — for the power generation sector. It also forces retailers to meet a percentage of demand from reliable power generation.

Craig Kelly, chairman of the Coalition’s backbench energy committee, said the policy was effectively a cap-and-contract scheme, and his support was conditional on the cost of the emission cuts being largely deferred until closer to 2030.

“It’s essential the trajectory of the reduction in the emission intensity of the electricity sector is done in a hockey-stick shape, where the majority of the heavy lifting or major reductions are backloaded towards the end of the next decade,” Mr Kelly said. “That way it will ensure that it is done at least cost and potentially no additional cost subject to the technological improvements in low carbon-emission technology.”

Mr Turnbull said yesterday the Energy Security Board would be able to advise on the “least-cost path” or trajectory for achieving the emissions reductions to 2030.

“There’s plainly the opportunity to back-end more of that as costs come down,” he said. “Retailers have many options — they can invest in generation themselves or enter into contracts with other companies. They’ll manage this as part of the electricity generation they already buy and sell. They will not be creating a certificate or another trading system.”

Mr Turnbull used question time to argue that retailers would continue to trade in electricity to meet their new obligations under the revamped policy, saying Labor failed to “understand the way the energy market works”. “It is not trading of permits; there are no certificates,” he said. “It is trading of physical energy which ... happens all the time.”

Mr Pierce said the policy should not be considered a carbon price. “What we’re pricing is reliability and what we’re pricing is the ability to dispatch,” he told the National Press Club. “You can’t really separate it out and say ‘this is a carbon price’ — we’re not pricing carbon.”

Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott argued that it was wrong to compare the NEG to an ETS, saying the new policy “used the same architecture” and market mechanisms already in place.

“There’s no new mechanism, there are no new certificates. It’s not the same thing,” Ms Westacott said.

Grattan Institute energy program director Tony Wood said “of course there is no explicit carbon price” in the new scheme. “My expectation is that derivative markets will inevitably emerge over time leading to implicit carbon pricing,” he said.

Labor’s assistant energy spokesman Pat Conroy said he believed the government’s policy was an emissions intensity scheme that assigned an “economic value” to emissions reductions, which he argued was a “price on carbon”.

SOURCE






Maximum $306,000 penalty imposed on ‘recidivist’ CFMEU

Thug union has no trouble paying fines.  They get a lot of "donations" from employers

A federal judge has branded the CFMEU “the most recidivist corporate offender in Australian history”, imposing maximum pen­alties of $306,000 over a heated clash between a former senior official and managers on a Brisbane building site.

Describing the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union’s history of law-breaking as “astounding”, Federal Circuit Court judge Salvatore Vasta said he would have imposed higher penalties on the union if the law allowed.

“This court has been asked to ensure that the industrial relations regime as created by parliament is observed and complied with,’’ the judge said. “The parliament has given the court only one weapon to ensure such compliance, and that is the ability to impose pecuniary penalties.”

He said that while this weapon had generally been of great value against employers, “this cannot be said of the CFMEU’’.

“The deterrent aspect of the pecuniary penalty system is not having the desired effect,’’ he said. “The CFMEU has not changed its attitude in any meaningful way. The court can only impose the maximum penalty in an attempt to fulfil its duty and deter the CFMEU from acting in the nefarious way in which it does.

“If the community at large are not satisfied with the actions of the court to ensure compliance with the Fair Work Act, then the next step is a matter for the parliament.”

In May, Judge Vasta imposed the maximum possible $10,200 penalty on former Queensland CFMEU president David Hanna for breaching right-of-entry laws on a construction site at Fortitude Valley in 2015.

Mr Hanna admitted that when he was asked for his right-of-entry permit he raised his middle finger and said he didn’t need one.

When a site manager attempted to record the incident, Mr Hanna said: “Take that phone away or I’ll f..king bury it down your throat.” He squirted water at the manager which struck him in the face, shirt and mobile phone. When another manager asked Mr Hanna, “what are you doing here, you are here illegally, why didn’t you go through the right channels?” he replied: “I can do what I like.”

Mr Hanna resigned from the union in 2015 after an investigation found he obtained thousands of dollars from employers to pay for the IVF treatment of a union organiser and his partner.

Following evidence before the trade union royal commission, he and two former executives from construction giant Mirvac were charged with secret commission offences over the building of the unionist’s luxury home in 2013.

Judge Vasta noted submissions from the Australian Building and Construction Com­mission that the courts have sanctioned the CFMEU 120 times over the past 10 years for breaches of industrial law. The union had not tried to improve its behaviour. “It is no understatement to describe the CFMEU as the most recidivist corporate offender in Australian history,’’ he said.

SOURCE





VC hero Ben Roberts-Smith: I did nothing wrong in Afghanistan

Australia’s most decorated soldier, Ben Roberts-Smith, has  described a new Defence-facilitated history of special forces in ­Afghanistan that questions his battlefield role in the killing of a young Afghan as inaccurate, un-Australian and damaging to the legacy of a hero killed in action.

The book, No Front Line by celebrated journalist Chris Masters, revisits an incident in the perilous Chora Valley in 2006, during which then lance corporal Roberts-Smith and Sergeant Matthew Locke — a Medal for Gallantry ­recipient killed in action in 2007 — “neutralised” a young Afghan male who threatened to compromise their small and clandestine SAS patrol’s concealment.

Masters highlights contradictory accounts given by Mr Roberts-Smith years later about the killing, which occurred near an SAS observation post on a mountain overlooking Chora on June 2.

He cites an interview given to the Australian War Memorial in 2011 in which Mr Roberts-Smith described the incident as involving two men who walked up to within 30m of their position.

The Victoria Cross recipient, in the interview, said a decision had been made to eliminate the pair and he and Locke “hunted them down and got rid of them”.

Masters points to a subsequent interview with The Australian, also five years after the incident, in which Mr Roberts-Smith referred to a single enemy. The patrol ­report compiled immediately after the incident mentions a ­single ­individual, according to Masters.

Mr Roberts-Smith explained the inconsistency in correspondence to AWM director Brendan Nelson as stating he had confused the incident due to the fact he had done numerous tours of Afghanistan and it was five years after the fact. Dr Nelson, a former defence minister, said this week he had not read the book but expressed concern about it not being in the ­national interest in tearing down Australian heroes.

He also said the Defence ­Department had questions to ­answer over what previously ­secret material was provided for the book.

Mr Roberts-Smith has blamed the contradictory battlefield ­accounts in the book as being the recollections of a “bitter” former SAS member. He also raised concerns that Defence, which organised and screened the writing of the book, may have passed classified documents to Masters to ­assist the book.

“People are going to think and say what they like (about me),” Mr Roberts-Smith told The Weekend Australian.

“In regards to what the book means to other people, though, I’m a little bit disappointed. Particularly in a passage around myself and Matthew Locke in 2006, (Masters) is really affecting the legacy of an Australian hero killed in action … His son is in the army now. That’s not fair. He hasn’t spoken to anybody else who was in the patrol except for one guy who has obviously given a different version of events.”

“The person who has given their depiction of 2006 had nothing to do with me,” Mr Roberts-Smith said. “He was disciplined by the patrol commander and Matt Locke, and removed from our patrol, subsequently retested, and then removed from the SAS. And that was the person who is now making claims about what happened 11 years ago and I think that really says it all. There’s an agenda there against Matt Locke and, for whatever reason, because I’ve got the profile, it’s better to throw my name into the mix because you know it’s going to be a headline and that’s essentially why I’m being dragged into it. You can only go off the reporting at the time. It is critical to remember that, 11 years later, no two people will ever see the battle the same way. You just don’t.”

MORE HERE

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




Friday, October 20, 2017



Greens have the mind of a flea

Comment on opposition to a planned big new coal mine (Adani)

The Coalition has begun to restore a modicum of rationality to the electricity market in Australia. There is more to do. They must assault the green mindset.

Greens are shallow, short-term and anti-democratic, precisely the opposite of the ideals they claim to champion: deep, long-term thinking with liberal democratic souls and pure of heart.

Instead, Greens are shallow because they spend their lives campaigning on the basis of crises that never eventuate. Overpopulation, mass starvation, ruination by agricultural chemicals, mass extinction of species, ecosystem collapse and resource depletion never happen. The world refuses to succumb to the calamity du jour.

But Greens need a calamity to thrive. When one calamity fails to materialise, they invent another. The latest is the alleged threat to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef from the Adani Carmichael coalmine. The reef is an icon, the mine its bete noire.

A Morgan Poll suggests that most Australians do not think the Adani (Carmichael) mine should proceed. I have my doubts about the veracity of the result, especially as another ­Morgan poll of “issues of concern” showed that climate change was mentioned by ­8 per cent of Australians, about the voting strength of the Greens.

Why, when climate change is such a low priority, should Adani be such a target? The Adani polling result is a shocking indictment of the wilful misrepresentation of evidence in the Adani case. Australian Greens leader Richard Di Natale says he is prepared to stand in front of bulldozers and be arrested to stop it. Green activists allegedly are trying to recruit pro­fessional moles to infiltrate jobs in the construction of the mine.

Di Natale believes that “losing” the Great Barrier Reef would cost 70,000 jobs. How will the reef be lost? Greens conflate an alleged physical threat to the reef with a broader climate threat. Coal has been hauled across the reef for generations without harm. There is no physical threat to the reef from shipping Adani coal across it.

The Morgan poll on Adani reflects a deliberate conflation of direct and indirect harm. There is no direct physical threat and the indirect threat is a fast fading theory. Even “the brightest man in Australia”, Chief Scientist Alan Finkel, would know that if Australia were uninhabited there would be no change to the potential threat to the reef from burning coal.

Recall Bjorn Lomborg’s observation of the Paris Accord, achieving the 1.5C global warming target “would require nothing less than the entire planet abandoning the use of every single fossil fuel in less than four years”.

Adani, as with so many other proponents for resource extraction in Australia, has complied with environmental legislation. Green activists assisted both major political parties to write such legislation. From the 1970s environmental impact statements have grown into extraordinarily complex studies, in the Adani case costing tens of millions of dollars and years to compile. And, after all the hurdles have been cleared, still green activists are unhappy. Democracy is ignored.

Instead, greens threaten to trash the law. Di Natale boasts: “You will see a campaign every bit as big as the campaign that stopped the damming of the Franklin.” The Franklin is a lovely river, most of it would have survived a dam, and Tasmania could have been energy self-sufficient with it. Instead, when drought hits Tasmania, the state must rely on coal generation from Victoria for electricity. Green Tasmania is bludging off the mainland.

Hydro is a renewable source of energy. Or at least it was until greens discovered wild rivers. And greens stopped nuclear power, the cleanest source of power. The trouble with greens is their thinking is so short-term.

The time has come to slap a writ on campaigners who set out to destroy others’ livelihoods. The time has come to confront, disrupt and punish environmental campaigners who break the law, ignore parliament and harm legitimate business and workers.

Civil disobedience has an honourable place in the world. It has helped to change attitudes and laws that ended slavery, secured the rights of women, and blacks, and gays. But it is an abuse of the noble tradition to suggest that civil disobedience is justified to prevent a theoretical harm at a far-distant time. Stopping an unrelated activity, a coalmine in Australia, at significant immediate cost to Australians and Indians will not stop climate change.

Activists are damaging Australia. It is about time politicians grew a backbone and confronted these latter-day Luddites.

SOURCE





Less than a quarter of refugees have found jobs

A snapshot of refugees resettling in Australia shows almost a quarter have found employment after two-and-a-half years but many have skills that are going to waste.

The Australian Institute of Family Studies has tracked 2400 refugees across the country, excluding the ACT, in an ongoing study.

A new report released on Thursday found 23 per cent had now found work, up from six per cent in the first six months.

It was easier for men to get a job compared to women, with 36 per cent of men employed compared to eight per cent of female refugees.

Many refugees have experienced trauma, and have spent time in camps and detention centres with interrupted education.

Institute director Anne Hollonds said those with higher levels of education and English skills fared better.

However, most were working in relatively unskilled occupations like labouring despite having been in more skilled work in their home countries, she said.

"Australia.. had forced them to skid down the employment ladder into low-skill jobs," researcher John De Maio said, adding better-targeted programs were needed.

Refugees' English language skills were also on the increase, with 37 per cent who did not understand the language upon arrival dropping to 11 per cent within the study period.

SOURCE





Australia Day: Victorian council ignores call to dump citizenship ceremonies

A COUNCIL under pressure to scrap Australia Day for “Survival Day” has ignored the push and the decision is being called a “slap in the face”

A COUNCIL has quashed a recommendation to immediately dump all January 26 Australia Day celebrations.

The Whittlesea Reconciliation Group, which wants the council to consider acknowledging January 26 as Survival Day while also ceasing citizenship ceremonies, made the recommendation in a joint letter tabled at the October 10 council meeting.

However, councillors resolved to note the joint letter with no further action to be taken, in effect quashing the recommendations.

WRG Co-Chair Andrew Morrison said he was “shocked” by the decision, claiming he received assurances from Mayor Ricky Kirkham and Cr Norm Kelly the recommendations would be given due diligence.

He also said Cr Kirkham had made a personal commitment to request a council officer report.

“What ensued on the night has left many within the group and the wider Aboriginal community shocked,” Mr Morrison said. “Whittlesea Council has historically listened to the voices of WRG and I am bitterly disappointed.

“The Mayor gave his word, to the group and to the local community, that sadly it seems he had no intention of going through with.”

Cr Mary Lalios, who is also president of the Municipal Association of Victoria, said the council didn’t have enough time to consider the joint letter as it needed to have a position for the MAV State Council meeting this Friday.

Cr Lalios instead opted to vote for a motion put forward by Frankston Council for the State Council meeting, which calls on the Federal and State Governments to reaffirm January 26 as the official National Day of Australia.

“I support the Federal Government in leading the debate as to an appropriate National day for all Australians,” Cr Lalios said.

“The Aboriginal community itself is divided on this issue — even within our own municipality there are varying views among Aboriginal people about January 26.”

However, Cr Lalios could not rule out the matter coming back to council in the future.

“It’s important that the conversation continues with all the community, not just the WRG.”

“It’s important that all residents are involved in such a debate, not just a few, because there are ramifications for the whole community, including a potential loss of citizenship ceremonies which is very important to our multicultural community.

“I support the continuation of established celebrations January 26 while the community decides if they wish to debate the issue.”

SOURCE






Are Chinese buyers driving up Australia's housing prices?

They're just a scapegoat.  It is the high level of immigration that is the problem

It's a common perception that Chinese buyers are descending upon Australia and driving up housing prices to unaffordable levels.

However, Chinese buyers had almost no impact on property prices, according to research by business consultancy Cross Border Management (CBM) and BIS Oxford Economics.

The study found that Chinese buyers accounted for less than 2 per cent of all Australian real estate transactions, and contributed less than 1 per cent ($122 out of $12,800) to the average quarterly housing price increase.

Their slightly more mundane conclusion is that the factors behind the nation's high property prices are record-low interest rates and strong population growth.

Chinese investment in Australia rose from $6.2 billion (in 2007) to $87.2 billion (in 2016), CBM stated in its report. That is a fourteen-fold increase in 10 years.

Although this is a rapid increase, the amount of Chinese investment is rather low, compared to the total amount invested by the United States.

America's total investment in Australia was at an already-high $433 billion in 2006. In the last 10 years, the US investment doubled to $861 billion, which is certainly slower than China's fourteen-fold boom in the same period. But when comparing the total value of investments in 2016, the US figure is 10 times higher than China's ($87.2 billion).

"While the growth in Chinese investment has been significant, it pales in comparison to investment flows from other countries," said CBM's managing director CT Johnson.

After the US, the next biggest Australian investors were the UK, Belgium, Hong Kong and Singapore, then China.

"Chinese capital flows into Australia have been almost negligible, accounting for just 2.7 per cent of inbound investment," he said.

"Where East Asians used to account for only 1 in 18 Australians, now they are 1 out of every 12," said Mr Johnson.

He also said the "East Asian" category included people from Japan, Korea, Vietnam and Malaysia, who are mistakenly identified as Chinese (which is a common experience).

Adding to the perception that Chinese buyers are flooding the Australian property market is the high concentration of Chinese residents in certain neighbourhoods.

For instance, almost every fourth person speaks Mandarin in the Melbourne neighbourhood of Clayton, while that figure is higher in the Sydney suburb of Burwood — every 1 in 3.

The CBM study also found there was no correlation between the number of Mandarin speakers and the annual rise in property prices (across 79 neighbourhoods with the highest proportion of Mandarin speakers).

Land squeeze a problem

"The other major factor in housing price growth is population relative to available land," Mr Johnson said, particularly as most Australians live around the coast, hemmed by geographical features like oceans and mountains.

He believes this makes it challenging to develop new land in response to population growth (up 18 per cent since 2006).

SOURCE
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





Thursday, October 19, 2017



Aboriginal poet fails to impress students


Though there's not much Abo in her.  Abos are black

Authors and poets have leapt to the defence of an award-winning Indigenous writer after she was allegedly abused online by year 12 students.

Ellen van Neerven also received messages asking her to explain her poem Mango from the book Comfort Food after students sitting the HSC English exam on Monday were asked to analyse the work.

The opening question in the exam asked students to "explain how the poet conveys the delight of discovery".

However, some students were less than delighted with the question, creating memes on social media inspired by the poem.

Other students expressed frustration and contempt for Ms van Neerven, whose first book, Heat and Light won a number of accolades including a NSW Premiers' Literary Award.

A post on the HSC Discussion Group Facebook page, purporting to be a message sent to the writer asking her to explain the poem: "In all honesty there wasn't much to analyse cos (sic) it reads like a 4 year wrote it."

Other comments descended to racist and vulgar abuse, prompting authors to criticise the actions of HSC students.

Evelyn Araluen, a poet and PhD candidate at the University of Sydney, said students had invaded Ms van Neerven's privacy and sent abusive messages: "It's not cute, it's harassment."

Author Omar Sakr called on the NSW Department of Education to investigate the online abuse directed at Ms van Neerven.

"[A]sking a poet to analyse their poem for you demonstrates a staggering lack of imagination and critical ability to engage with literature," Mr Sakr wrote in a separate post on social media.

Others criticised the NSW Education Standards Authority, which administers the HSC, for what they said was a poorly framed question.

David de Carvalho, the chief executive of NESA, condemned the treatment of Ms van Neerven. "I am appalled by the abuse of the author," he said. "This is a completely inappropriate response and I hope those involved see fit to apologise to Ms van Neerven."

SOURCE


 


PM Malcolm Turnbull blasts State Premiers, ABC journalist over National Energy Guarantee

MALCOLM Turnbull is urging State Premiers to listen to the “smartest people in the room” and not play politics on the federal government’s new energy plan.

A fired up Prime Minister today responded to the Premiers of Queensland, Victoria and South Australia who have already slammed the federal government’s new National Energy Guarantee.

Mr Turnbull said Australians were “fed up” with parties playing politics as their electricity bills soared.

He made the remarks today after a fiery clash with an ABC journalist on breakfast radio where he once again dodged questions on whether the strategy would slash power bills $115 a year.

“My message for the Labor premiers is put the politics aside for a moment, or put it aside for quite a while in fact,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in Canberra.

“Let’s focus on Australian families, let’s focus on delivering a genuinely bipartisan energy policy that will be enduring, that’s based on engineering and economics, and that will deliver affordable power, reliable power and meet our international commitments.”

Mr Turnbull refused to speculate on what would happen if the states blocked the NEG at the next Council of Australian Governments.

“I am confident that common sense will prevail,” he said.

“Australians are fed up with all of the political partisanship, that’s why we went to the Energy Security Board and we asked them to consider how we ensure we achieve this affordable, reliable and responsible outcome.”

The Prime Minister had earlier clashed with ABC journalist Sabra Lane on her AM program when asked whether he could guarantee prices would come down based on the modelling of the Energy Security Board.

In the heated interview, Mr Turnbull accused Lane of disrespecting the “distinguished Australians” on the ESB when she questioned the price cuts and why the experts were being touted as the saviours of Australia’s energy market when they had overseen the last decade of “disastrous policy”.

She claimed their bodies — the Australian Energy Market Commission, the Australian Energy Regulator, and the Australian Energy Market Operator — had overseen over-investment in poles and wires that had driven power bills up and the failure of the national energy grid to be fit for purpose today.

“I think we owe them the respect that their credibility and expertise deserves,” Mr Turnbull said.

“You can go through the history of it but you will find much of the over-investment was done at the instigation of state governments that gold plated their networks and then overcharged for them,” he said.

“There were mistakes made in the past but ... I can’t say how disappointed I am that rather than talking about the substance of the policy I’m sitting here with you on AM and you are attacking the credibility of the people ...”

“I’m not,” Lane said. “I’m sceptical. I’m a journalist and I am sceptical and these bodies have failed Australia to date and suddenly they are now the saviours to this.”

She asked: “What is plan B if the states do not support this?”

“Why don’t you ask ...” Mr Turnbull started to say, before Ms Lane interjected: “The mic is open and it is yours. You talk to the states.”

“This is the message, the states and the Commonwealth around the COAG table set up the Energy Security Board,” Mr Turnbull said.

“We all agreed to put the smartest people on the board and to take their advice. “COAG has sought their advice, so did we. “We have received the advice and we are following it. The same advice will go to COAG.

“Are the Labor states going to say, ‘We established the Energy Security Board, we put the smartest people on the board, now we will ignore their advice?’ I don’t think that is defensible.”

Meanwhile, Labor Senator Sam Dastyari questioned the suggested savings for households under the NEG.

In a stunt outside Parliament this morning, Senator Dastyari said a cheeseburger or a McDonalds soft serve ice cream were about all households could afford for the 50c to $2 savings per week they were likely to get from their power bills going down from 2020.

Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg also revealed this morning he had called former Prime Minister Tony Abbott about the policy before a party room meeting yesterday.

Mr Frydenberg told Sky News he explained the policy and asked Mr Abbott to keep an open mind.

The NEG, announced yesterday, includes a reliability guarantee that aims to deliver the right level of dispatchable power — from sources such as coal, gas, pumped hydro and batteries — needed in each state.

The level will be set by the Australian Energy Market Commission and Australian Energy Market Operator, and penalties for retailers missing the guarantee have yet to be determined.

Energy retailers such as AGL, Origin and Energy Australia would also face deregistration from the market if they failed to meet a new emissions guarantee.

The mechanism would force the energy companies to source a portion of their supply at a set emissions level.

If they persistently failed to meet their obligations — which would be set by the federal government and enforced by the Australian Energy Regulator — they would be deregistered.

SOURCE





Voters want courage, not Turnbull’s tentative approach to energy

When Malcolm Turnbull announced his new cabinet in September 2015, he declared his was a “21st-century government and a ministry for the future”. He said: “We have to remember we have a great example of good cabinet government, John Howard’s government … I am absolutely determined that we have a proper consultative ­cabinet system.”

He signed off that press conference assuring us that this was an exciting time to be an Australian, surely more an insight into the newly minted and very excited Prime Minister than into how voters felt after five prime ministerial changes in eight years.

In any case, not many are excited now. Turnbull’s recipe for returning Australia to a Howard model, by making decisions “in a collaborative manner”, was a good start. But it’s like throwing a cup of flour in a bowl without the necessary binding ingredients. For two years now, and reflected in 21 downward trending Newspolls, Turnbull’s formula for good government is missing two critical ingredients: conviction and courage.

The current mess of energy policy is a prime example of why Turnbull’s recipe for government has fallen flat since he became Prime Minister.

This week’s announcement — energy retailers must buy a minimum amount of baseload power from coal, gas or hydro for every megawatt of renewable energy — was preceded by endless delay and vacillation over the biggest policy and political no-brainer in the country. The Prime Minister called for a review by Chief Scientist Alan Finkel that was always going to support rent-seekers in the renewable energy business rather than look after people who pay for those subsidies through higher electricity bills.

Then the Prime Minister departed from any belief in free markets by threatening to control gas exports. In question time on Monday, Turnbull lauded his government’s “character and commit­ment” to bring energy heads to Canberra last month, demanding they deliver discounts to their customers. Except that these discounts are illusory; they will be swallowed by new price rises.

Last week, the Turnbull government came up with a real policy stinker, promising financial incentives, including free seats in an air-conditioned cinema, if people turn off their home airconditioners in the blazing heat of an Australian summer. The poor, especially the old and poor, will be the ones to turn off their airconditioners, hardly a policy win for the country.

You can consult all you like, but without conviction and the courage to implement real reform it’s simply not the Howard model. If Turnbull had equal doses of conviction and courage, he would have settled long ago on what he now claims to understand as the bleeding obvious: abolishing the renewable energy target, no new clean energy target and no more subsidies for renewables after 2020. In fact, none of this required much courage, unlike floating the dollar or introducing a GST.

Showing early and determined leadership, rather than being dragged to it yesterday, could have been an early and exquisite confluence of good policy and even better politics, given that voters are fed up with rising energy prices and the government sits on a primary vote of 36 per cent, down six percentage points from the election last year when it scraped in with a one-seat majority. Instead, Turnbull’s endless vacillation means voters may still wonder: what does he really believe in?

Turnbull’s scaredy-cat approach to energy policy infiltrated cabinet ranks, too. A chorus of cabinet ministers, from Scott Morrison to Barnaby Joyce, has preached to voters that we must meet our “obligations” under the Paris Agreement, the same agreement that is driving up energy ­prices while doing nothing to genuinely reduce emissions.

It’s tempting, then, to lay part of the blame for the Turnbull government’s woes at the feet of his cabinet. Where is today’s Peter Costello, the treasurer committed to genuine fiscal prudence by cutting spending? Or Peter Reith, the warrior who took on the waterfront unions and oversaw labour market reform? Or Alexander Downer, who as a former leader and foreign minister was an equally determined champion of the economic reforms overseen by Howard’s government?

Where’s a Tim Fischer or John Anderson, who as Nationals provided the political backbone to those same reforms, which were not always popular in the bush?

Howard’s cabinet included other determined reformers: Ian McLachlan, John Fahey and then Nick Minchin as respective ­finance ministers; Philip Ruddock, John Moore, Jocelyn Newman and Amanda Vanstone, who in cabinet were all committed to the same economic vision for the country. Sure, there were quibbles at the edges but, together with Robert Hill’s leadership in the Senate, Howard united his team with equal doses of consultation, conviction and courage.

On the 25th anniversary of his first election victory, Bob Hawke said he had “the best cabinet in the history of federation”. Ol’ Silver would say that, but it’s also true that plenty in Hawke’s cabinet had serious political and policy clout, from treasurer Paul Keating to John Button in industry, Peter Walsh in the finance portfolio and others. These cabinet ministers oversaw tangible economic reforms for the good of the nation.

As Paul Kelly has remarked, “the public wanted change — but it was not protesting in the streets for a floating dollar, free trade and low inflation. The intellectual momentum for the 1980s reforms were elite-driven.” In other words, genuine reform would not have happened except for the policy and political leadership that Hawke and later Howard brought to the cabinet table.

That’s why comparing the Howard and Hawke cabinets with Turnbull’s cabinet is not entirely fair. A strong prime minister makes it easier for cabinet ministers to shine, revealing their policy and political strengths. There are good, potentially great, ministers in Turnbull’s cabinet and outer ministry. Christian Porter and Alan Tudge are doing great work in the welfare space largely, perhaps, because Turnbull doesn’t appear to have a strong interest in the area. Peter Dutton is a strong Immigration Minister because even Turnbull knows not to mess with border protection policies that have stopped deaths at sea.

Elsewhere, it’s a different story. Mathias Cormann could be a very effective Finance Minister but he’s hampered by Turnbull’s lack of conviction so he’s forced to sell one levy after another as fiscal prudence. Same with Michaela Cash, the Minister for Employment. When, time and again, Turnbull refused to make the case for reform of penalty rates as a job-­creating policy, instead blaming Fair Work Australia for the recommended cuts, Cash was left with little support at the head the cabinet table. And Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg may well be champing at the bit to deliver a sensible energy policy that serves the national interest. But when the leader lacks policy conviction and political courage, what’s a cabinet minister to do?

In fact, two years and 21 dismal Newspolls later, it’s hard to discern what Turnbull brings to the leadership of the Coalition government. That’s why more dissatisfied voters support those wildlings in the Senate. The Prime Minister is not the great communicator he thinks he is: his press conferences are waffle and smiles rather than political clout and conviction. ­Decisive? Determined? Politically savvy? None of the above. Turnbull’s poor interpretation of the Howard model is missing so many ingredients, this latest energy policy may not be the saviour for the blancmange Prime Minister.

SOURCE




Most migrants from Asia

India has been revealed as the Australia's biggest source of skilled and family migrants, as new figures reveal the nation accepted fewer migrants this financial year.

Around 6,400 fewer permanent skilled and family visas were granted in 2016-17 compared to the previous year from a total of 183,600 visas.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the figures were in line with the government’s strategy of “ensuring that migration levels are consistent with Australia’s genuine labour market needs”.

Just over 20 per cent of migrants came from India, with about 38,854 visas granted - down from 40,145 in 2015–16.

Meanwhile, China accounted for 15.4 per cent of migrants, with 9.3 per cent coming from the United Kingdom.

Southern Asia; India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and others, now accounts for 30 per cent of the migrant program. This is slightly lower compared with the previous year.

The number of Chinese Asian migrants – from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau and Mongolia – rose from 16.9 per cent to 17.1 per cent.

Most of the visas were granted to skilled migrants, with a substantial number of those sponsored by employers. Employer-sponsored visas accounted for 39 per cent of the skilled migrants stream.

Families sponsoring loved ones accounted for 30 per cent of the total number of migrants, most being applications for partners.

SOURCE

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

Wednesday, October 18, 2017



Government to omit clean energy target from energy policy

They are just focusing on keeping the lights on

GOVERNMENT figures insist its new energy policy will meet Australia’s Paris agreement emissions target while saving households more than $90 a year.

Coalition MPs will be briefed on the scheme at a meeting in Canberra today following cabinet’s decision to reject a clean energy target as recommended by Chief Scientist Alan Finkel.

Instead, it has backed an idea from the new independent Energy Security Board. The head of the coalition’s backbench energy committee, Craig Kelly, was briefed on the new approach after Monday night’s meeting, welcoming the focus on dispatchable switch on/switch-off power.

“The problem with solar and wind, as wonderful technologies as they are, when there is no wind you get no electricity generation and as soon as the sun sets you also get zero electricity generation as well,” he told ABC radio this morning. “So as good as technologies as they are, you’ve got to have them backed up in some way and that’s either got to be a coal-fired power station, a gas generator or some form of battery.”

He defended the idea to ditch the clean energy target, as recommended by Dr Finkel. “The Finkel report contained 50 recommendations. If we’ve recommended 49 that’s a 98 per cent strike rate,” he said.

However supporters of the clean energy target — recommended by the country’s chief scientist as a way to reduce the future cost of energy — slammed the move to disregard the idea.

It is understood economic modelling of the alternative to the clean energy target — expected to be called the National Energy Guarantee — delivered price cuts deeper than under Dr Finkel’s mechanism.

The annual benefit from the CET came in at $90 a year for households, while large industrial users were expected to pay about 20 per cent less a year. At the same time, the modelling showed the new mechanism would enable Australia to achieve its commitment of a 26-28 per cent reduction in 2005 emissions by 2030.

Blackouts would be minimised with power generators and storage providers, such as hydro and batteries, covered by a new “generator reliability obligation”, as recommended by Dr Finkel.

Adequate dispatchable power would be required in all regions of Australia to ensure consumer demand is met, with the obligation being met using a variety of technologies.

Power prices have risen in real terms by 63 per cent during the past decade.

Labor leader Bill Shorten says Malcolm Turnbull was endorsing a clean energy target only four months ago. “Why on earth did we ask the chief scientist of Australia to give us a report,” he told reporters in Canberra.

SOURCE






Australian researchers show virtual puzzles can teach kids to solve real-world problems

Young children can apply puzzle solving skills learnt from touchscreen tablets to real-world scenarios

Findings contradict most previous research and suggest different screen learning media could have different effects on skill transfer

Swinburne researchers have shown that children can apply the skills they learn on a tablet to the real world.

The research shows that when four to six-year-olds learn how to solve a puzzle using a tablet, they then apply this learning to the same puzzle in the physical world.

The findings contradict most previous research and suggest that the real world skill learned by a child from a device depends on the actual game played.

"These results demonstrate that 'screen time' is not a useful umbrella phrase, as what children can obtain from different types of screen media will vary, and numerous factors can impact their learning outcomes," says Swinburne researcher Dr Joanne Tarasuik.

In a previous study, Dr Tarasuik and colleagues found that children in Australia could learn how to solve a puzzle on a touchscreen device, and successfully transfer these skills to completing the same puzzle in the physical world.

As this finding was contradictory to most previous research, the team repeated the study with new children with different languages and cultures to confirm it. In the replication study, recently published in Frontiers in Psychology, the Australian team collaborated with researchers in Croatia to repeat their original study.

The study used the 'Tower of Hanoi' puzzle, which involves moving discs between pegs so that they line up in order on a different peg, using the smallest possible number of moves.

The children practised the puzzle on a touchscreen app, or with a physical version using wooden pegs and discs. The researchers measured how many moves they took to complete it, and how long they spent doing it.

Some of the children practised the puzzle several times on the tablet before trying it on the wooden version. This allowed the researchers to see if the kids' virtual practice could improve their skills in the physical world.

The children all needed a similar number of moves to complete the wooden puzzle, regardless of whether they had practised using the virtual puzzle, the physical puzzle, or a combination of the two. From the first to final attempt at the puzzle, all the children also improved their speed.

"We successfully replicated our previous findings that four to six-year-old children can apply knowledge of this puzzle from practice using a touchscreen device, to the physical version of the puzzle," says Dr Tarasuik.

“We would like these results to guide future research into how and what children of different developmental stages can learn via touchscreen technology, and then apply in the physical world."

Media release from Swinburne University of Technology





Senate urged to reject mandatory sentences in bills

I don't have much respect for the Law Council but they are right on this -- JR

The Law Council of Australia is urging Senators to reject new mandatory minimum sentences included in bills to be debated this week, due to the very real risk of unintended consequences with potentially life-shattering outcomes.

The bills, targeting sex crimes against children and firearms trafficking, are intended to better protect the Australian community from the dangers of such grievous conduct.

Law Council of Australia President, Fiona McLeod SC, said that while these aims were laudable, mandatory sentencing has been shown to have no effect on crime rates, while undermining the independence of the judiciary and creating unjust and unintended consequences.

“Sex crimes and gun trafficking are all patently serious offences and it is absolutely appropriate that harsh maximum sentences are available to our courts,” Ms McLeod said.

“But mandatory sentencing is always likely to trigger unintended consequences that are at odds with the intention of the laws and fundamental principles of justice.

“The idea of a standardised mandatory sentence may be appealing on a theoretical level, but in practice, mandatory sentences can see people doing life-shattering stints in prison for actions that might have significant mitigating circumstances.

“For example, a 15 and 17-year-old might be sharing sexual images with each other in a consensual relationship, yet the day the older partner turns 18, under this legislation that 18-year-old would be looking at an automatic five-year sentence,” Ms McLeod said.

“Teenage years can often be marked by rash decisions and regrettable mistakes. A blunt instrument like a mandatory minimum sentence will not take this into account.”

In the case of the firearms bill, Ms McLeod pointed to other potential unintended consequences.

“Former Victoria Police Chief Commissioner, Simon Overland, inadvertently carried a magazine containing live rounds of ammunition on a flight from Melbourne to Canberra in 2010. Prior to travelling, Mr Overland had removed a firearm from his bag, but forgot to take out the magazine. Under the proposed laws he could be facing a mandatory five-year jail term,” Ms McLeod said.

“Judicial discretion is a core principle of our justice system for a very good reason.

“When you take away the ability of a judge to take into account the seriousness of the offence, the degree of culpability of the offender, their personal circumstances or the explanation for offending, you generate disproportionate and, often, unconscionable outcomes.

“Furthermore, there is no evidence that mandatory sentencing is effective at driving down crime, but ample evidence of its long-term criminogenic effect. The US and other jurisdictions are winding back mandatory sentencing regimes because they don’t work.

“Mandatory sentences actually make it harder to prosecute criminals, by removing the incentive for anyone to plead guilty or to provide information to the police. There is every incentive to fight on and appeal against convictions,” Ms McLeod said.

Media release from the Law Council





Tradies – powerhouses for the future

When it comes to careers for school leavers, tradies get a bad rap

But just why is it that four in five Australian parents (79%) 1. want their kids to go to uni after leaving school, rather than do an apprenticeship? To those already enjoying the apprenticeship lifestyle, it’s a no-brainer.

At a time when Australia is desperate for more skilled workers, school leavers are going to university based on the idea that this is the only way to a secure future.

But more times than not, they would be better suited to doing something they’re truly interested in, earning while they learn, and with little or no debt at the end of their training.

“We’re unnecessarily setting up a generation with unrealistic job expectations and large student debts,” says Colin Fitzpatrick, CEO of the Timber and Building Materials Association (TABMA) and TABMA Apprentices and Trainees.

“There are thousands of great and rewarding jobs out there that don’t require a degree, with well-paying, upwardly mobile careers.

“And given the rising cost of formal education, a traineeship is a far more cost effective training option.”

Most Vocational Education & Training (VET) students get priceless industry experience in a genuine work environment, while earning, making it easier for them to find relevant employment at the end of their studies.

TABMA Apprentices and Trainees employs apprentices and trainees in hundreds of vocations and specialises in placing them within the timber, construction, forestry, furnishing and manufacturing industries across Australia.

These are industries based on the ultimate renewable resource: timber; sophisticated industries at the cutting-edge of innovation, with sustainable forest management programs, advanced robotic precision manufacturing, biomaterials, engineered/cross-laminated timbers and more, all with exciting job prospects.

And when it comes to employability, money and earning potential, a trade option also often comes out on top.

Of 2014’s apprentice and trainee graduates, 84.1 per cent were employed after completion2. By comparison, just 68.8 per cent of university graduates from the same year looking for full-time work found it within four months3. And the median full-time income for a (VET) graduate is often substantially more than that of a uni graduate4.

Jake Wiggins is an apprentice with McKay Timbers, in Tassie. Jake went straight on to do his Certificate III in Sawmilling and Processing through TABMA Apprentices and Trainees after finishing Year 12 in 2015, and not only enjoyed learning about different types of timber, but also being paid to learn!

“I would recommend a timber traineeship to anyone who is interested in gaining a qualification while working full-time in a hands-on role,” says Jake. “I’ve learned skills for life.”

Choosing VET does not mean you will be stuck in one place either. "Training for a trade equips you for jobs all over the world,” Colin says.

The VET sector currently provides training courses for 9 out of 10 occupations predicted to have the greatest growth of new jobs over the next five years5. It is definitely equipping Aussies with the skills employers need.

The top trades experiencing skills shortages in Australia in 2017 6 are:


• Bricklayer
• Stonemason
• Painters
• Glaziers
• Fibrous plasterer
• Solid plasterer
• Roof, wall and floor tilers
• Cabinetmaker
• Air-conditioning and refrigeration mechanic
• Baker
• Pastry cook
• Butcher
• Arborist
• Hairdresser
• Automotive electrician
• Motor mechanics
• Sheetmetal trades worker
• Panelbeater
• Vehicle painter
• Locksmith

Media release by TABMA via Colin Fitzpatrick, colin@tabma.com.au


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, October 17, 2017



'Climate change isn't because of humans!': Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young accuses Pauline Hanson of living in 'La La Land' as the pair clash on Sunrise

Pauline Hanson has clashed with a Greens senator after rubbishing climate change and claiming everyday Australians can't afford clean energy.

The One Nation leader told South Australian MP Sarah Hanson-Young she was very 'skeptical' about the link between pollution and climate change. 'I'm very skeptical of this (climate change) because the science isn't there, and that's been proven,' Ms Hanson said on Sunrise.

'Climate is changing, but it's not from humans Sarah – get this through your head.'

Ms Hanson-Young hit back in disbelief, accusing Ms Hanson of living in 'La La Land.' 'Thank goodness most Australian's disagree with you. Are you really lining up with the tin-foil hat brigade Pauline?,' she asked.

Interrupting the heated discussion, host David Koch pointed out the government's Chief Scientist Alan Finkel believed in climate change.

But Ms Hanson said everyday Australians were sick of paying enormous power bills, stressing her party would not support the Coalition's proposed clean energy target.

'People can't afford it, it's putting so much pressure on families and businesses,' she said. 'How can a fish and chip shop afford $14,000 a quarter in electricity? How can these pubs in outback Longreach afford $20,000 electricity a quarter? Wake up.

'We can't do it at the moment, I won't see any more people lose their jobs and I won't see any more businesses shut down because of this.'

Taking to social media after the interview, Ms Hanson-Young posted a link to the debate and wrote: 'On Sunrise this morning Pauline Hanson tells me get it through your head Sarah climate change 'isn't because of humans' #OneNationFail.'

Cabinet on Monday is expected to discuss the government's new energy policy, including whether to adopt a version of the clean energy target recommended by Mr Finkel. The coalition party room could examine the proposal on Tuesday.

It follows a new report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which highlights huge increases in power bills over the past decade. The report says power is putting unacceptable pressure on Australian households and businesses.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims cautioned the clean energy target was designed to cut emissions, but it was hard to say whether it would also bring down prices.

It was important to understand the trade-offs between the various objectives if the nation was to have an effective energy policy.

SOURCE 






Church sprayed with vile graffiti telling people to 'bash bigots' and 'crucify No voters' - even though it ISN'T urging parishioners to vote against gay marriage

A church has been tagged with vile 'bash bigots' graffiti - even though it isn't telling parishioners how to vote on gay marriage.

Drew Mellor, the head pastor of Glen Waverley Anglican Church in Melbourne's south-east, discovered the spray can attack early on Sunday morning. He was particularly upset with a tags which had threats of violence via the phrases, 'Vote Yes, bash bigots' and 'crucify No voters'.

'That's very unsettling for some of our older members of our church this morning,' Dr Mellor told Daily Mail Australia on Sunday. 'Some asked, 'Does that mean we're going to be bashed?'.

Dr Mellor also took exception to a cross and a Nazi swastika being sprayed on either side of an equals sign.

'To see Christians in that light, that somehow we hold a view that if people don't agree with us then we're going to do something to diminish them, that's not what people of the Gospel think,' he said. 'It conveys a message that as a Christian church we are intolerant.'

Dr Mellor said he was 'saddened' to have found the graffiti at 6.30 on Sunday morning, adding he repudiated any suggestion Christians are 'bigots' who sought to harm those with different views.

The Glen Waverley church isn't telling people how to vote on gay marriage, with Dr Mellor releasing a statement in September, which said recognising gay relationships was 'the respectful thing to do' for those inclined to vote 'Yes' to redefining marriage.

While Dr Mellor is opposed to gay marriage for Biblical reasons, he said his parish welcomed gay members. 'We certainly have ministry with, long connections with people that would align themselves with personally with the gay community,' he said.

'We wouldn't conduct a marriage service for a gay couple ... nor would we exclude anyone if they happen to be a gay couple in a marriage relationship.'

The Coalition for Marriage, which is leading the 'No' case against gay marriage as part of the $122 million postal vote survey, said the graffiti attack highlighted the intolerance of 'Yes' campaigners.

'One thing that this process has revealed is that, despite the rhetoric, 'Yes' campaigners do not actually believe in a tolerant society, where people are allowed to 'live and let live',' spokeswoman Monica Doumit told Daily Mail Australia.  'Rather, they will target those who disagree for abuse, for boycott, or for some other type of punishment.'

However, Dr Mellor said he would forgive the vandals adding the graffiti attack was not a reflection on all 'Yes' voters. 'I don't believe that's where the majority of those who are advocating equality in marriage would be coming from,' he said.

This graffiti attack comes two weeks after a Mormon church, west of Sydney, was defaced with 'Vote Yes' graffiti even though it hadn't even told its parishioners how to vote in the gay marriage postal survey. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at Leura, in the Blue Mountains, was sprayed with red and black tags.

SOURCE





Inquiring about the elephant in the classroom

It is easy to understand why people find the idea of inquiry learning so appealing. It’s a lovely notion that children can and will learn important concepts and knowledge simply by being given an opportunity to discover them for themselves.

This is allegedly the education of the future — a future in which children need only to learn how to find what they need at the time they need it.

But is it true that children learn best by inquiry? You would think so if you listened to Andreas Schleicher, the Director of the OECD Education Directorate, which runs the Program for International Assessment (PISA).  Professor Schleicher was in Australia recently, giving interviews and speaking at events and forums. Disappointingly, he did not mention the pedagogical elephant in the room — that OECD reports show that inquiry learning is strongly negatively associated with PISA scores.

A deeper analysis of the PISA scores by McKinsey and Co found that the ideal balance is for almost all lessons to be teacher-directed with a small number of inquiry-based lessons. This fits well with the cognitive science-informed framework in which novice learners need more highly structured, explicit teaching, with a gradual shift to independent inquiry as they consolidate their knowledge and develop expertise.

The PISA data is supported by numerous other studies showing that explicit, teacher-directed instruction is more effective than inquiry learning.

Strangely, however, the more evidence stacks up against inquiry learning, the more it seems to take on a mythical status of being unassailably superior.

This week the long line of heavy weights endorsing inquiry learning included the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers, and a German maths professor who happily acknowledged that her version of inquiry learning is not based on cutting edge research but on a centuries-old theory that was refined in the 1920s and popularised in the 1960s.

Inquiry learning can be useful when administered in the right doses at the right time in the learning process. It is not a miracle cure for a new age.

SOURCE





What's the connection between Immigrants and Aborigines?

Sunrise presenter Andrew O'Keefe has slammed a Sydney council's plan to hold citizenship ceremonies during an indigenous celebration week instead of Australia Day.

The Greens and Labor-dominated Inner West Council wants to move citizenship ceremonies from January 26 to the first Sunday in July.

However O'Keefe, who One Nation leader Pauline Hanson accuses of being too left-wing, is skeptical of holding citizenship ceremonies during NAIDOC Week.

'If you don’t feel an attachment to the British realm, because of your background, why've you got to feel an attachment to being Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander?,' he asked on Sunday.

Sydney ABC radio presenter Richard Glover was also skeptical of moving citizenship ceremonies to appease Aboriginal people upset at commemorating the arrival of the British First Fleet in 1788.

'I do want to argue back a little bit,' he said. 'Maybe we need to have a different tone about Australia Day but it’s still the day that everything changed.

'You can say it's the beginning of both European colonisation but also the beginning of Aboriginal survival.'

Glover said it was a 'wrong step' to move citizenship ceremonies to that week in July, commemorating National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee Week, arguing Aboriginal dispossession could be acknowledged on Australia Day.

Inner West Council is considering moving citizenship ceremonies from January 26 after the Greens failed to get support for an indigenous advisory committee to examine whether the local government should withdraw from Australia Day, The Sunday Telegraph reports.

Inner West Council could join three Melbourne councils and Fremantle in dumping Australia Day celebrations.

SOURCE

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