Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Male Muslim students at Sydney public school given permission to refuse to shake hands with women - because it is against their religion

Muslim students at a Sydney public school can refuse to shake hands with women even at an awards ceremony.

The Hurstville Boys Campus of Georges River College introduced the policy to allow Muslim boys to instead put their hand on the heart as a greeting.

The Year 7 to 10 school's two principals told guests at its 2016 presentation day, including notable community members, that students may decline the gesture.

The practice comes from the Muslim teaching of hadith that states: 'It is better to be stabbed in the head with an iron needle than to touch the hand of a woman who is not permissible to you.'

The NSW Education told The Australian it approved of the 'agreed protocol' that was developed through consultation between staff, parents and students.

'The department require­s its schools to recognise and respect the cultural, linguistic and religious backgrounds of all students, with the intent to promote an open and tolerant attitude towards a diverse Australian community­,' it said.

The department said principals were best placed to know the needs of their communities when following that requirement.

Such a literal interpretation of hadith, which describes the practices of the prophet Mohammed is controversial even among Australian Muslim leaders.

Australia's Grand Mufti Ibrahim Abu Mohammed shakes hands with women as did his predecessor, Fehmi Naji El-Imam, and Islamic schools do not even have the policy.

Former Islamic Council of Victoria secretary Kuranda Seyit said many young students were taught to take it 'too seriously' and it should apply in a school context. 'For some young adults, when they meet people of the opposite sex, to shake someone's hand suggests a friendship,' he said.

Mr Seyit said it was an issue because Australians do not understand the custom and could be embarrassed if they were 'left hanging'.

'Students should be able to shake hands with the teacher or the principal, or receive a greeting from a visitor to the school,' he said.


Shorten fails to specify cost of Labor's renewables policy when asked four times

Bill Shorten has declined to be specific about the cost of Labor’s goal to have 50% of Australia’s electricity generated from renewable sources by 2030.

In an early morning radio interview on Wednesday, Shorten was asked four times about the cost to consumers of executing such a transition, but the Labor leader deflected, pointing to the costs of not acting.

With the Coalition intent on making energy policy a point of sharp partisan difference, Malcolm Turnbull pounced on the interview, telling reporters in Canberra the Labor leader had admitted “he had no idea what his reckless renewable energy target would cost, or what its consequences would be.”

“He confirmed precisely the criticism that we’ve made about Mr Shorten, that he is literally clueless on this subject, mindless, just like South Australia has been.”

Labor’s 50% by 2030 policy is not a RET, it is an “aspiration”. Labor’s election policy says the 50% national goal would work in concert with state-based RET schemes, which the prime minister has blasted consistently since a storm plunged South Australia into a statewide blackout last year.

During an interview with the ABC Shorten was pressed repeatedly about the practical consequences of the shift – the costs to consumers of executing such a significant transition in Australia’s energy mix.

Shorten attempted to explain the broad rationale for increasing renewables in Australia’s energy mix, and he said Labor believed there was “a range of levers which assist, from having an emissions intensive scheme and the energy intensity scheme in the energy industry, having a market trading scheme and an emissions trading scheme [and] looking at the rate of land clearing.”

“Our answer is very, very straightforward. We think the cost of not acting is far greater.”

“We don’t think we could sustain the cost as the Liberals are saying, of building new coal-fired power generation on the scale which Mr Turnbull is saying and we don’t think that, from insurance to drought to extreme weather events, that we can simply go business as usual.”

Australian National University research associate Hugh Saddler in July 2015 estimated Labor’s policy would increase wholesale market prices by four cents per kWh above present levels in every state market except South Australia.

By signing on to the Paris climate agreement, the Turnbull government has committed Australia to reducing emissions by 26-28% on 2005 levels by 2030. Meeting those targets will impose costs on consumers.

The government has been advised by numerous experts that its Direct Action climate policy will not allow Australia to meet the Paris targets, and adopting an emissions intensity scheme, a form of carbon trading, would allow Australia to reduce emissions from energy at the least cost to households and businesses.

The government has thus far rejected that advice.


Traditional Aboriginal culture at odds with "closing the gap"

Nine years, tens of billions of dollars and tons of national goodwill have not made much impression on the appalling gaps in social outcomes between the most disadvantaged indigenous Australians and other citizens.

This is the depressing finding of the 2017 Closing the Gap report — which has prompted Malcolm Turnbull to announce yet another reinvention of the federal government’s approach to indigenous policy.

The annual ritual of acknowledging the failure to close the gap should prompt us to consider the well-meaning but contradictory character of our approach to indigenous affairs.

Indigenous policy continues to pull in different and hard-to-reconcile directions. Recognising the tensions and contradictions might encourage us to adopt a more realistic attitude towards closing the gap.

The Rudd government’s Closing the Gap strategy introduced in 2008 extended the Howard government’s idea of practical reconciliation. The idea was that if indigenous people, regardless of where they lived, were given access to the same standard of social services as other Australians, they would hopefully achieve the same health, education, employment and other social outcomes.

This mainstreaming of indigenous services replaced the policy of Aboriginal self-determination established in the 1970s, which involved indigenous-controlled organisations delivering services to indigenous people. By the mid-2000s, Aboriginal self-determination was widely acknowledged to have failed to improve outcomes, especially in remote communities with the highest levels of disadvantage.

It now seems that the Turnbull government has gone back to the future: it has pledged to empower indigenous communities and collaborate with indigenous organisations to deliver local solutions — a renewed focus on self-determination, in combination with a commitment to ensuring indigenous programs are properly evaluated.

The Howard, Rudd and Turnbull approaches have all been underpinned by the same principle: government support should be extended to allow indigenous people to continue to live on their traditional lands in order to preserve traditional indigenous culture and identity.

This was also the idea behind Kevin Rudd’s recent comments about the emergence of a “second stolen generation” if indigenous children continue to be “separated from their culture” at record rates due to abuse and neglect.

The worst social outcomes and disadvantage are among the 20 per cent of indigenous Australians who live in rural and remote homelands with the worst social dysfunction.

By contrast, the 80 per cent of indigenous Australians who live mainly in urban areas achieve social outcomes that are the same as their non-indigenous peers. Moreover, their indigenous identity is unquestioned, despite having little contact with traditional lands and traditional culture.

Yet many Australians continue to support the idea of indigenous people living close to culture on traditional lands. They believe this is the path to true reconciliation by making up for the historic sins of colonial dispossession. Yet these attitudes make the problems worse.

This is the great insight of anthropologist Peter Sutton, who spent many years working in indigenous communities in Cape York. He has shown how the problems in the homelands cannot simply be blamed on colonial oppression, lack of self-determination, or suppression of indigenous culture.

As Sutton argues, the remote communities with the worst problems are those that have been least, and most recently, touched by colonisation, and where people have continued to live closest to a traditional manner and on their traditional lands. In these communities, the persistence of traditional culture practices — such as hunter and gatherer-style hygiene and sanitation habits and permissively neglectful attitudes to parenting children — contribute significantly to poor health, child welfare, and other social outcomes.

Welfare, alcohol, drugs and pornography imported into indigenous communities through contact with non-indigenous culture continue to cause havoc.

But as Alice Springs indigenous leader Jacinta Price has powerfully emphasised, epidemic levels of domestic violence in indigenous communities are caused by the deep cultural roots of some indigenous men’s traditional, violent and misogynistic attitudes towards woman.

The implications for indigenous policy are confronting — namely that if we want indigenous people to continue to live remotely in order live close to culture, maybe we need to accept that the consequence will be gaps in social outcomes.

Adopting this realistic approach will not solve the intractable problem of indigenous disadvantage. But it may help bring clarity to discussion of indigenous policy, and what can and can’t be done to close the gap.


The new welfare state leviathan

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) was described in a CIS report five years ago as "the new leviathan"; "in budgetary terms, another Medicare"; and "a monster of a government program."

This has been confirmed in spades, and it is hardly surprising that paying for the $22 billion monster has become a contentious issue.

The scheme's most ardent advocates insist it is fully funded because various revenue and expense offsets were announced when it was launched. This is just so much sophistry.

The offsets were never enough, and in any case were not put into a jam jar labelled 'NDIS'. That is not how the budget works. As long as there is a deficit, nothing the government does can be said to be fully funded by current revenue, and all spending programs and all revenue sources are subject to scrutiny for ways out of the deficit hole.

The real issue is the NDIS has attracted such political support that even at birth it is a sacred cow of public policy. It has become politically incorrect to be critical of it or anything connected to it. The former CEO of Myer learned that when he dared state the truth -- that increasing the Medicare levy to help pay for the NDIS would be bad for retail sales.

Ideally, the scheme would have been deferred until it could be afforded, but that opportunity has gone. Still, the NDIS cannot defy budget arithmetic: it has to be paid for, and doing so as it ramps up over the next three years makes balancing the budget so much harder. To state -- as various ministers have this week -- that this means spending less elsewhere and/or raising more revenue is to state the incontrovertible.

It is to be hoped the government is not softening us up for another hike in the Medicare levy. This is just an increase in income tax by another name, and would make a mockery of this government's rhetoric in favour of lower income tax. If the NDIS is sacred, then the way to make room for it in the budget is to squeeze other programs.


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

Monday, February 20, 2017


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG has switched his loyalty to Cory Bernardi's Conservative Party

A good letter gets results

I have always found it easy to write and as a result I write a lot of letters, mostly by snail mail.  So when I see something happening that I don't like, I don't just bitch about it.  I send a letter to whomever is likely to be able to fix it.  And it will be no surprise that I have written to the big bosses of banks quite a lot.  As I think everyone reading this will know, banks can be very frustrating

One thing that has been bothering me a bit lately is the way Australian banks keep closing branches or downgrading the services that they offer from a branch.

For a while there was a sort of mini-branch of the Commonwealth babnk right next to where I often go for brunch so that was very convenient.  I rather liked the looks of one of the female tellers they had there too. Even we oldies can admire from afar.

But it was of course too good to last.  The tellers were abolished and you were expected to do everything through a sort of super-ATM they had installed.  There were however still some staff there to help people who could not do what they wanted with the ATMs.

So recently I walked in with a big cheque that I wanted to deposit.  But the place was full of customers waiting for personal service.  So I decided to give up and visit a real branch the next day.  But where was there a real branch? It is not easy to look up.  They have a list of branches online but some of them have been abolished and there is no way of knowing what services the remaining ones offer.  In a couple of cases there were phone numbers I could ring but when I rang I got only an answering machine that had no answers that I wanted to hear.

What to do?  I also have an account at the Bank of Qld. and I have never had to wait long there.  So I went in to my nearest branch, found two tellers behind the desk and only one person ahead of me.  So I deposited my cheque, was given a printed receipt and walked out happy.  Because of their poor services, the Commonwealth missed out on getting my money despite considerable efforts on my part to give it to them.  Amazing.

So I wrote a letter.  Here it is:

28 December, 2016

Ian Narev

Dear Mr. Narev,

As a CBA shareholder and a customer I am appalled at how your standards of customer service have slipped.

I went into your recently downgraded Buranda branch today and found a big queue-up of people waiting for personal service.   I had a big cheque to deposit that I was not willing to entrust to your machines. I left rather than wait. Please reinstate its former status

I then went online to find an alternative branch near me.  I wanted to find one that had full service.  There were several possibilities.  But the phone nos. for them were not provided.  So I went through the rigamarole of calling your general number.  When I was eventually put through to the branches, however, all I got were answering machines that were as uninformative as your website.

After all the hassle I deposited my cheque with another bank.

Why can't you have more contact details available online?  Are you afraid your customers might talk to you? Can't you get it into your bald head that customer service matters?

In the absence of an accommodating reply from you, I will raise the matter at the next AGM.

I got a reply from someone called Emma Taylor who did little more than restate her bank's policies.  So I wrote another letter.  Here it is:

Dear Ms Taylor

Thank you for your letter of 19th.

I am disappointed that Mr Narev did not see fit to reply to my letter in person.  A year or so ago I wrote to Richard Goyder of Wesfarmers and got back from him a courteous handwritten note.  Perhaps Mr Narev has more dissatisfied customers than Mr Goyder has.

I have found your reply in which you do little more than restate the bank's policies quite unsatisfactory.  So I still have comments that I wish to address to Mr. Narev.  The following is for Mr Narev's eyes only:

Dear Mr Narev,

I am sure you find as revolting as I do the old stereotype of the fat Jewish banker smoking a cigar, wearing a top hat and looking contemptuously down his long nose at the simple people whom he exploits.

So why in G-d's name are you doing your best to validate that image?  You are Jewish, you are head of Australia's largest bank and you treat your customers with contempt by making it as hard as possible for them to contact you and your officers.

WHY do you not have on your website a phone number for each branch?  You are constantly changing your branches and what each branch does, so people need to enquire in advance to ascertain what services are available at a branch they intend to visit.

I myself some months ago was going to be in the Stone's Corner area so looked up your webpage and found the Stones Corner branch listed as fully functional.  It was not. I made the trip there to find it closed down.

So if it is such an enormous problem to provide phone nos., could you at least keep your website up to date with the level of service offered at each  branch?   It is surely an elementary courtesy.

And it might even be good business to upgrade your services.  The extra costs could result in happier customers who do more business with your bank.

In the absence of a reply from you, I am inclined to post a copy of this letter on the net.

Yours sorrowfully,

Dr John Ray

There was no reply.  BUT, today I had another large refund cheque to deposit.  So after my brunch I wandered in to the nearby Commonwealth branch that had given me problems previously.  Hey Presto!  Big change! A teller's counter had sprung up again, everybody in the branch was being helped and there was a lady standing at the teller's counter waiting to help me.  Very different!  Exactly what I had asked for!  Even though Mr Narev was too grand to reply to me, someone somewhere in the bank must have sprung into action. My letters got results.

A Leftist would of course have found my reference to Mr Narev's origins to be RACIST!  Even though I was writing with the intention of helping Jews.  I have in fact been a great supporter of Israel since I was a kid.  My immersion in the Bible made it permanently clear to me that Israel is the proper home of the Jews.

Some extended background on my thinking about that is here -- JR

Same-Sex Marriage Bill report strikes balance between freedom of religion and freedom from discrimination

It's a very lopside balance.  It provides that clergy will not be hounded but everyone else seems to be fair game.  You are still in the gun if you don't wish to provide services to queers

The Law Council today said the consensus Parliamentary report into the Government's Same-Sex Marriage Bill strikes a good balance between freedom of religion and freedom from discrimination and called on Parliament progress the report’s findings.

The Select Committee on the Exposure Draft of the Marriage Amendment (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill reached agreement on key issues, many of which align with recommendations made by the Law Council in its earlier submission. These areas of agreement include:

Ministers of religion should be able to refuse to marry same-sex couples;

Removal of 'conscientious objection' provisions;

Creating a new category of independent religious celebrants to cater for those people with religious beliefs, but requiring all other celebrants to marry same-sex couples; and

Strictly confining the exemptions available to 'religious bodies' to discriminate against same-sex couples.

Law Council of Australia President, Fiona McLeod SC, said the areas of agreement would, if implemented, improve the Bill significantly.

"The Law Council has been a long-standing supporter of same-sex marriage, however, changes to the Marriage Act need to carefully balance freedom of religion with the freedom from discrimination," Ms McLeod said.

"We are pleased to see that the Committee suggests that ministers of religion, and certain religious celebrants, should be able to refuse to marry same-sex couples in line with their beliefs. Civil celebrants on the other hand are performing a secular function and so have no other proper basis for exemption.

"We are also happy that the Committee agrees with the Law Council that 'religious bodies,' that were not specifically established for religious purposes, should not be exempt from anti-discrimination laws.

“We further note that the Committee did not recommend exempting individuals or commercial businesses from anti-discrimination law who hold a ‘conscientious’ objection to providing goods and services for same-sex weddings.

"Striking this balance between freedom of religion and freedom from discrimination is a challenging task. It is the Law Council's view that the Committee's suggestions achieve this balance well and should therefore be accepted by Parliament,” Ms McLeod said.

Media release. Patrick.Baume@lawcouncil.asn.au

DON'T feel sorry for the Muslim Rohingya

The Burmese certainly give the Rohingya a hard time but this ingrate may indicate it is deserved

A man accused of setting fire to a Commonwealth Bank branch and injuring 36 people has faced court on 92 charges.

The accused, 21, allegedly set fire to the bank branch in Springvale, in south-east Melbourne, in November last year.

Among his charges are counts of conduct endangering life, criminal damage by fire, gross violence and intentionally causing serious injury.

Staff and customers, including children, became trapped in the bank when a fire was lit. Dozens of people were treated for burns as a result.

The man appeared in Melbourne Magistrates' Court on Thursday evening and was remanded to appear again on May 11.

The 21-year-old is a Rohingya asylum seeker from Mynamar.


Lucky old Melbourne again:  Multicultural child molester

The offender

A 10-year-old girl was grabbed by the ponytail by a stranger who tried to lure her away in broad daylight, police said.

The man approached the girl on a Melbourne street corner and offered to 'buy her anything she wanted,' police wrote in a release on Saturday.

The girl, who was waiting with a friend near the corner of Springvale road and Windsor Avenue at 3.30pm, was then pulled by the hair after declining to go with the man.

She was able to run away after she kicked the man, causing him to let her go.

Investigators released a sketch of a man wanted for questioning in relation to the February 1 incident.

He was described by police as having 'dark skin with white pigmentation on his neck and arms, dark hair and yellow teeth.'

Detectives from the Dandenong Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team are investigating the incident.


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, February 19, 2017


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG likes President Trump

Australia's new political divide: 'globalists' versus 'patriots'

There is often talk that the old Left/Right divide is inadequate.  Eysenck made a big deal of that in his 1954 book. And libertarians too think a two dimensional description is needed.  A fairly typical example is below:

So the claims below are not very new.

I paid considerable attention to the matter in my research career, as you will see here but my conclusion was that a second dimension of attitudes did not emerge from the survey results.  Only the old Left/Right division could be found.

An important qualification to that is that OBLIQUE factors could be found.  In other words, the Left/Right domain was not totally homogeneous.  For example, there is a dimension of economic conservatism plus a dimension of moral conservatism.  Statements within those two domains correlate highly with one another but the correlation between moral conservatism overall and economic conservatism overall was weak:  Weak but not non-existent. 

In other words, economic conservatives also tended -- somewhat -- to be conservative on moral issues.  And those two dimensions are the chief sub-dimensions of the Left/Right continuum.  They emerge repeatedly in survey research.  Despite some wrangling, economic and moral conservatives do find common cause in everyday politics.  They have enough in common to co-operate with one-another.

So what are we to make of the findings below?  Clearly, they have identified two distinct factors.  But how oblique are those factors?  We are not told.  I am almost certain that the two factors will in fact be very oblique, very highly correlated.  Patriotism is normally a strong component of conservatism and internationalism is normally a Leftist ideal. Leftists continue to salute the United Nations despite the gross corruption in that body.

So all that I think the authors below have done is rediscover the old Left/Right divide. They have identified a group of statements that conservatives strongly agree with -- patriotic statements -- and a group of statements that get strong support from Leftists -- globalism.  Two particular subsets of Left/Right attitudes have come under sharper focus and gained greater importance recently

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

Openness. That is the word Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe chose to emphasise at his first public outing this year.

In Australia there is an "openness and transparency" not always found elsewhere, he told a high-powered business gathering at the Opera House on Thursday night.

And openness to trade and investment has been fundamental to the nation's prosperity.  Australia is "committed to an open international order," Lowe said.

Those sentiments might have seemed routine a few years back. But in the wake of Brexit and the election of Donald Trump "openness" to the world economy – often referred to  as globalisation – is now a hotly contested political issue.

A little over a year ago Marine Le Pen, the leader of France's far-right Front National party and a presidential contender, cast political battlelines as being no longer "between the left and the right but the globalists and the patriots". The globalists, she sneered, are for the dissolution of France into a "global magma".

Greg Ip, a Wall Street Journal economics commentator, wrote last month that Le Pen's remarks foreshadowed "the tectonic forces that would shake up the world in 2016".

Opposition to globalisation – the increasing movement of goods, money and people across international borders – was a key theme of Trump campaign to become president of the US. From now on it is going to be "America First", he says repeatedly.

In Australia, Pauline Hanson has globalisation in her sights. In her maiden speech to the Senate in September she accused national leaders of giving away our sovereignty, our rights, our jobs and even our democracy.  "Their push for globalisation, economic rationalism, free trade and ethnic diversity has seen our country's decline," she said.

In pitting globalists  against patriots Le Pen neatly summed up a new and unpredictable political fissure that cuts across old divisions between left and right.

Ip predicts the tussle between globalism and nationalism "will shape the coming era much as the struggle between conservatives and liberals has shaped the last".

This political split has emerged during a period of rapid global economic integration. In the two decades before the onset of the global financial crisis in 2007 international trade in goods and services grew by 7 per cent a year on average – a much faster rate than global GDP.

This has been a period of great prosperity for Australia, which has not experienced a recession for a quarter of a century. But there has also been a marked shift in the structure of the economy. Since the mid-1990s manufacturing's share of Australia's economic output has fallen from 14 per cent to about 7 per cent. 

Meanwhile, the importance of knowledge-intensive service industries such as finance and professional services has grown significantly. Similar trends have been at work in other advanced economies.

The flow of migrants to Australia – another factor many associate with globalisation – has also been strong. The proportion of Australians born overseas reached 28 per cent in 2014-15, the highest proportion in more than 120 years.

There are now signs the tussle Ip describes between globalist and nationalist sentiment has become an important political fault line in Australia.

Polling for the Political Personas Project commissioned by Fairfax Media and conducted by the Australian National University and Netherlands-based political research enterprise Kieskompas, shows public opinion is divided over the merits of trade liberalisation, one of globalisation's fundamentals.

The statement "free trade with other countries has made Australia better off" could not muster support from the majority of the 2600 voters surveyed – 44.7 per cent agreed (but only 7.1 per cent strongly), 27.5 per cent disagreed and 27.8 per cent were neutral.

There is a similar split when voters are asked to assess the impact of globalisation.

A separate Ipsos survey released in December found 48 per cent of Australians considered globalisation a "force for good" while 22 per cent said it was a "force for bad", with 29 per cent undecided.

Carol Johnson, professor of politics and international studies at the University of Adelaide, said many voters have, over time, become more aware of globalisation's drawbacks.

"Twenty years ago, the electorate seemed prepared to believe that while there were some risks to opening up the economy, there would also be benefits," she said.  "Part of what happened is that people are now more aware that many of our competitor countries, including Asian countries, are more than capable of developing these [high-tech and service] industries themselves.

"The assumption that Western countries will always be superior has started to come undone and voters are becoming worried that government hasn't got right the mix of balancing the benefits and downsides of globalisation."

Polling for the Political Personas Project found more than eight in 10 voters believe "we rely too heavily on foreign imports and should manufacture more in Australia". This statement received more support than any other proposition in the survey, which covered dozens of hot-button political issues.

Jill Sheppard, a researcher from the ANU's Centre for Social Research and Method who was involved in the project, said public concern about the decline of manufacturing was linked to perceptions of globalisation.

"Globalisation seems to manifest in people's minds as manufacturing and jobs going offshore. They think about cheap labour in Asian countries, which seem like a direct threat to us."


Lawyers pissing into the wind

They admit that discrimination is hard-wired so how do they think they can change that?

The Law Council of Australia is launching a major new program to help lawyers understand and address unconscious bias.

The Law Council has been working with diversity and inclusion specialists, Symmetra, to construct an unconscious bias program customised for the legal profession. It will be offered to all lawyers and legal practices via face-to-face workshops, train-the-trainer modules, and online courses from March 1 2017.

Law Council of Australia President, Fiona McLeod SC, said a series of national diversity and equality projects had been embraced by the legal profession and this program was an essential element of the whole strategy.

"Human beings are hardwired to notice personal characteristics and to prefer those with attributes or experiences similar to our own without conscious awareness,” Ms McLeod said.

“Research demonstrates that this can lead to skewed decision-making concerning recruitment, promotion and allocation of work and entrench inequity.”

Ms McLeod said that addressing unconscious bias could be the key to unlocking future diversity that would advantage the Australian legal profession – in terms of gender, and also in other fields of diversity.

"Addressing unconscious, or implicit bias encourages better decision making and new approaches to problem solving. A deliberate focus on diversity enables organisations to better attract and retain top talent, allows for the use of a greater talent pool and can boost productivity," Ms McLeod said.

The Law Council's new unconscious bias initiative follows a series of major national diversity and equality projects that have been led by the Law Council and embraced by the legal profession, including: the Diversity and Equality Charter and an Equitable Briefing Policy for barristers.

Last month, the International Bar Association announced it would be using the Law Council of Australia's landmark National Attrition and Retention Survey of lawyers as a template for its global investigation into the reasons why so many women lawyers are leaving law firms.

Via email from Patrick.Baume@lawcouncil.asn.au

The big South Australian blackout revisited

Reliance on "renewables" was the problem

Let’s recap on exactly what happened based upon the actual reports written after people knew what had happened, rather than before. First a little background on South Australia’s electricity system.

We had about 6,000 mega watts (MW) of capacity in 2015-16; which means when all of these sources of electricity were running flat out, we could light up about 60 million 100 watt globes. But because about 2200 MW of this capacity is wind and solar PV, then that would be impossible except perhaps on a hot and very widely windy day. On a windless night, that 2200 MW will produce bugger all. Since then, we have lost about 1,000 MW of baseload capacity. The word baseload is a little misleading, the right word is despatchable… meaning you can choose when you want it rather than with wind and solar, which operate according to the whims of the wind and weather.

Our maximum demand is only about 3,400 MW, but because of our high renewable mix, we not only need interconnectors to handle windless nights, we needed to upgrade the biggest of these in 2016. The flow of electricity into South Australia over the past decade has been steadily growing as our despatchable power stations close.

If all of our 4,800 mega watts was despatchable power, then we’d never need either of our interconnectors; Murraylink (220 MW) and Heywood (recently upgraded to 650 MW).

On the 28th of September, the Heywood interconnector was supplying 500 MW with Murraylink running at 110 MW. When the storm knocked over the transmission towers and some wind farms shut down, the system lost 445 MW of capacity.

Imagine sucking a drink through three straws and one of them blocks, then the suck on the other two rises. This is what happened when the wind farms shut down; the combined demand, the suck, was transferred to the interconnectors. Remember, Heywood was upgraded to handle a 650 MW suck and was running at 500 MW. When the wind farms died, the suck on Heywood surged to 850 MW and it turned itself off to prevent catastrophic damage. The rest is history; a cascade of failures.

Had we had 4,800 mega watts of despatchable power, then we wouldn’t have had such a load on the interconnectors and they would easily have had the capacity to absorb the additional load when the wind farms shutdown.

Was the SA generation mix a factor in the blackout? Of course. Are there generation mixes which would have prevented it? Of course; I just gave one.

The great thing about the interconnectors is precisely that they can function to satisfy demand during the loss of capacity. But if that function isn’t available because your interconnectors are already saturated making up for renewables which aren’t currently doing much, then you have a problem.

What enrages me so much about the debate on this issue is that everybody has an opinion about why the blackout occurred without understanding what actually happened. If you don’t know the simple facts of what happened, they how can you imagine you understand why?

I’ve deliberately ignored important things like frequency control and spinning reserves in an effort to keep things simple. But our renewable mix has various other complicated effects on our grid to make it less robust in the face of disturbances.

The short-term answer to our problems is to change the NEM rules which discriminate against despatchable systems. This will allow gas operators to make money and stay running. This will also allow investment in clean despatchable systems, meaning nuclear, that can solve both our reliability and climate problems simultaneously. Remember, the main reason that the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission found that nuclear would be uneconomic in SA is that under the current NEM rules, all despatchable power is uneconomic. When reliability isn’t considered worthy of a price premium then it will vanish, exactly as we have seen.


Debunking Inheritance Tax

An inheritance tax idea was floated by Tim Ayres this week in a speech to the Fabian Society. Tim Ayres is the NSW Secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union and a member of the ALP National Executive, which is somewhat of a cause for alarm as he is someone with genuine power to influence the ALP, and yet here he is discussing a marxist dream.

Debunking socialist ideas is a thankless and never-ending job, but every now and then I think it’s worth drilling into one to show how little economic knowledge and common sense these ideas demonstrate. The segment of the speech I’d like to focus on is below:

“I support Thomas Piketty’s proposal to use an inheritance tax to fund a one-off capital grant for every citizen at the age of 25. According to the Community Council of Australia, a 35% estate duty on all estates over $10m would raise at least $3.5bn in government revenue, while affecting only a fraction of the top 1% of Australians. A universal inheritance would give millions of young people a future: they can put it to a house, they can start their own business, they can pay off their university fees.”

Tim has relied on a quote from a Community Council for Australia Federal Budget submission, which is as follows: “ATO figures suggest around 25,000 families have assets above $10 million. If 4% of these families paid 35% in estate duties, it would equate to a minimum of $3.5 billion.”

At first glance, this looks like it makes sense, 4% of 25,000 families x $10,000,000 x 35% rate = $3.5 billion. The problem is it’s nonsensical.

The first difficulty, is the concept of a family or household paying an estate duty or inheritance tax, as this implies a household or family is capable of dying. To clarify, families and households do not die; the people who constitute them do. It’s actually hard to design how a government might tax a household on death, but if I give the statistic the benefit of the doubt I think one way it could work is if the government maintained a register of assets and their values and when a spouse died, they transferred all the wealth to the surviving spouse, so that when that second spouse died that would be the time when any duty could be applied.

Now I can already hear readers who are paying attention noting, that if the first spouse to die simply bequeathed assets to anyone other than their surviving spouse, then these removed assets may never be subject to a household estate tax as they aren’t there when the surviving spouses dies. To which I reply, you’re right! Therefore not only would this government register need to keep track of what assets people own, it would also need to keep track of any gifts given outside the household, so it could apply an imputed estate tax on these external gifts when the surviving spouse dies. (Now you can see just one of the ways socialism tends to create larger and larger government, but I digress).

I have assumed (so that I can press on with the analysis) that the 4% is what makes the revenue figure they specify annual and hence being able to fund the capital grant Tim Ayres is advocating. By that I mean, they expect 4% of rich households to die each year. For the record the ABS notes that the death rate per 1,000 people in 2015 was 9.8, which implies a death percentage of 0.98%. This is obviously lower than 4% but I think it stands to reason that rich households are likely to be older due to the time it takes to accumulate sufficient wealth to be in that demographic, and therefore rich households would have a higher death percentage. The ABS rate does not debunk the use of 4% in the quote, but they have essentially just picked 4% out of the air, as there is no demographic data on rich households from which to obtain a death rate.

The 25,000 families looks like a reasonable number based on the ABS wealth data, so we have one okay aspect! Then we get to the notion of a 35% rate, I note that they have applied it on a flat basis above $10,000,000, which perversely means, if your household dies with $9,999,999.99 wealth, you’re not wealthy enough to pay, but if it dies with one cent more, the tax would be $3.5 million, meaning your intended beneficiaries get $6.5 million. This is why in practice, estate taxes are often charged on the portion of the estate over a specific threshold, rather than “if above a certain value the tax is applied to the whole estate”. Yet another example of why the quote is unrealistic and isn’t of use in determining the revenue amount an estate tax may generate, as in practice the government would not implement it as the quote describes.

Tim has not specified how much the capital grant might be, but if we take the below figures from the ABS and approximate that 350,000 people are 25 in Australia each year, and accept the $3.5 billion each year is the minimum revenue, and we assume that cost of the asset register above and the cost of administering the payment is nil, then the grant can be $10,000 each.

Jun-2013: 340,097
Jun-2014: 345,661
Jun-2015: 356,056
Jun-2016: 355,120

Is $10,000 enough to “give millions of young people a future: they can put it to a house, they can start their own business, they can pay off their university fees”? Arguably the Australian youth receive amounts not unlike $10,000 via the first home owners grant, youth allowance and HECS.

To be fair, as the $3.5 billion figure is based on the assumption all the households being taxed have $10 million exactly, obviously the policy could generate more any given year if the dying households is higher. The government would be in for quite a pay day when the Rinehart household dies.

The cost to ensure compliance would be insane, as people would remove assets from the government’s remit as they approached the $10 million point. The situation is likely to spiral further, as the government attempts to gain data on people at lower and lower points of wealth in order to prevent anyone not being in the system. The government can barely run a Medicare database of willing participants now; it would be hard to fathom them maintaining an up to date database of unwilling participants and ensure all the valuations are appropriate. As all inappropriate valuations would be subject to legal challenges, that of course would require another government legal department to be created.

The worst part of this socialist thought bubble is the idea that this policy could be implemented and that no one affected would change behaviour. Arguably, this is the fundamental issue with Socialism: the theory assumes that you can compel people to not act in their best interests into perpetuity. Trusts, corporate structuring, off-shoring and other methods of avoiding hungry governments are already a major issue; the level of brain-drain and capital flight that would occur with an estate tax set to 35% is impossible to comprehend.

This is a very long-winded post, but it takes a lot longer to debunk an idea then it does to say it, which is why people are still advocating socialist policies and even saying that “socialism has never been tried”.


Are multi-vitamins a WASTE of money? Medical Association president says they just create 'very expensive urine'

Sales figures and research shows that seven in 10 Australians take some form of vitamin supplement each year, but many could be getting ripped off.

Dr Michael Gannon, president of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) slammed the promotion of multi-vitamins, saying they were unnecessary for most people.

The medical expert told ABC's Four Corners program that people who regularly take multi-vitamins just have 'very expensive urine'.

Monash University Adjunct Associate Professor Ken Harvey also weighed in on the show, saying that there was 'no benefit' for the average person taking multi-vitamins.

According to the AMA president and Professor Harvey, specific vitamins do have benefits when prescribed by doctors to treat specific deficiencies.

For example, many doctors will recommend folate supplements for pregnant women, Vitamin D for people with low sun exposure, or iron for people who are vegetarian or deficient in the vitamin.

Doctors generally agree that taking specific vitamins for this reason is helpful, but that multi-vitamins are not.

According to consumer website Choice, there are certain groups of people for whom vitamins  are helpful:

Pregnant women: Folate

People with limited sun exposure: Vitamin D

Vegans: Vitamin B12

But for ordinary public, who are spending billions each year on the vitamins, they could be useless.  'What you need is a good diet, you’re pissing the money down the toilet for no benefit,' Professor Harvey told the ABC.

Doctors believe that many people are being led to believe that they need complementary medicines as their diet isn't sufficient, when this isn't actually the case.

This, combined with celebrity endorsements by Olympians and foodies means that Australians are spending more on vitamins and supplements than prescription medicines each year.

But both representatives for the supplementary medicines industry and retail pharmacists have claimed that the products can have a positive impact.

'We're a nation living on tea, toast and takeaways. 90 per cent of us are deficient in our essential diets or vegetables and fruit, so of course a multivitamin plays a role,' an industry spokesperson said.

A retail pharmacist told the program that he was happy to provide complementary medicines, as it was his job to help consumers get what they want. 


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, February 17, 2017

Mediscare push back

In an absolutely disgraceful episode during the last Federal election, Labour party operatives sent messages to large numbers of people which contained outright lies about the coalition planning to cut back Medicare.  It probably influenced the vote.  The coalition now is trying to criminalize such lies

Labor has berated a push to criminalise falsely representing government entities such as Medicare as "the longest dummy spit in Australian political history".

The Turnbull government is poised to introduce harsh penalties, including jail time, for anyone caught falsely representing a government body - a tactic Labor harnessed in last year's "Mediscare" election campaign.

"Malcolm Turnbull needs to stop fighting the last election. He needs to stop worrying about this sort of campaigning and get on with government the country," Labor frontbencher Mark Dreyfus said on Thursday.

It is understood Attorney-General George Brandis is working on two pieces of legislation - one dealing with ways to authorise non-printed electoral communication such as text messages, and one tackling the false representation of a government body.

Existing laws around impersonating a commonwealth officer carry a penalty of up to five years in jail.

In December, a parliamentary committee found electoral laws should be changed to ensure parties were made responsible for their political statements, the authorisation rules applied to all forms of communication, and those who authorised electoral materials were identifiable and traceable.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull described Labor's "Mediscare" as an "extraordinary act of dishonesty" but the federal police declined to take any action after investigating the campaign.


Donald Trump PRAISED Malcolm Turnbull as a 'brawler' after explosive first telephone call with the Australian PM

Donald Trump praised Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull as a 'brawler', according to one of the U.S. President's staffers. 

Mr Trump made the comment after the two leaders' infamous first telephone conversation earlier this month, in which the US president reportedly berated Mr Turnbull for pushing a Obama-era refugee deal that would 'kill' him politically.

The February 2 phone call was supposed to last for an hour, but was reportedly cut short to just 25 minutes. 

The recent comments were made by Mr Trump to a staffer, and suggested the president was impressed with Mr Turnbull's conduct during the call.

'There is a brawler there,' Mr Trump reportedly told the senior staff member. 'Not what I expected of him. He is no shrinking poppy (sic).'  The president reportedly added he has 'no issues with the Aussies.'

Mr Trump's comments were reported by the Australian.

The president's phone conversation with the Australian prime minister should have been a formality - but turned into another headache for the new White House administration, after it was reported that the call was contentious and drastically cut short.

During the call, Mr Trump reportedly lashed out at Mr Turnbull over a deal the prime minister struck with former president Barack Obama, which involved the US accepting a group of refugees currently detained under squalid conditions on the islands of Manus and Nauru.

According to a report in the Washington Post, Mr Trump said it was 'the worst deal ever' and would get him 'killed' politically, and added Australia was trying to send the US the 'next Boston bombers.'

Mr Turnbull has disputed this version of events, saying the phone call was 'forthright' and 'very frank.'

The US and Australia have historically strong relations, described by the US State Department as 'a robust relationship underpinned by shared democratic values, common interests, and cultural affinities.'

The two nations have fought side by side in every major military conflict since World War I, the State Department fact sheet points out.


Government to end funding for SA Islamic school

The federal government has axed funding for a controversial Islamic school in South Australia.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham announced today that his department will no longer fund the Islamic College of South Australia in Adelaide from April 13.

Senator Birmingham said the school had failed to comply with financial reporting requirements, including the submission of quarterly reports.

"It is disappointing that after the number of chances this school has been given and the constructive work the Department has been doing with the authority since November 2015 the school has still failed to meet the reasonable standards and expectations placed on them," Senator Birmingham said.

He said the government had not taken the decision lightly but was left with no choice but to withdraw funding.

"The school authority is not meeting the strict conditions placed on them in April 2016, which included obligations around improvements to governance and financial management and regular reporting on progress in making the required changes."
The Commonwealth Government provided $4 million to the school during last year.


Opposition’s 50 per cent renewable energy aim suddenly gets complicated by the political heat

Labor’s renewable energy policy used to be so simple it could be reduced to street-march chants.

“What do we want?” “Fifty per cent renewable energy.” “When do we want it?” “2030.”

But now it has been complicated by the intensification of the political debate over energy security, and Labor has had to lose the simplicity of a “target” with the addition of terms such as “aspirations” and “goals”.

It no longer sounds like a guaranteed destination.

“What do we want?” “An aspirational approach to renewable energy goals.” “When do we want it?” “Some time in the future we hope but first we have to see where we are in 2020.”

Try chanting that. In fact, try defending and defining it in a political debate.

“What we have is, there are two Labor policies: there’s the renewable energy target and there’s the goal of getting to 50 per cent renewable energy,” shadow treasurer Chris Bowen told Sky News yesterday.

“Now 50 per cent renewable energy is underpinned by a range of policy measures.”

Tested on definitions Mr Bowen said: “Well, there’s the renewable energy target and then we have the 50 per cent aspiration which is separate to our renewable energy target.”

Today opposition environment spokesman Mark Butler had a crack at explaining the policy but also seemed to add qualification to qualification.

The aim, from what he told Radio National, seems to be to promote the shift to renewables with the wish and the hope the momentum will produce the goal in 15 years. The hope is that a combination of early backing and the retirement of fossil fuel generators will see Australia coasting to 50 per cent renewable energy use.

Well, that’s the aspiration. There is not dedicated plan to fix a target for 2030.

First task is to reach 23.5 per cent renewables by 2020, as proposed by the Paris Agreement Australian signed last year. By then, the task will have been done, said Mr Butler.

“By the 2020s though, this technology on all the modelling will be able to stand on its own two feet, compete in the market without subsidy from government or without subsidy effectively from consumers through a government legislated scheme, providing that there is a proper policy framework that gives investors a long term price investment signal that is compliant with our carbon pollution reduction efforts,” he said.

That momentum combined with emission reduction targets, Mr Butler said, “will require, in my very clear view, about half of our electricity by 2030 will be zero emissions”.

The political debate, which has been condemned by industry and the ACTU, also had hidden the fact there isn’t much difference between Labor and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Mr Turnbull said Monday: “Renewables have a very big place in Australia’s energy mix and it will get bigger. The cost of renewables is coming down.”

The key difference is the Government has yet to offer a “target” as the Prime Minister knows that would require some form of emissions trading, and Coalition colleagues wouldn’t allow that.


More trouble for Gold Coast police

ONE of the police officers accused of snooping at the personal file of a former bikini model has previously been convicted of the bashing of an elderly homeless man in Brisbane.

Former model-turned justice crusader Renee Eaves last month launched a lawsuit with the District Court of Queensland, amid allegations her personal QPRIME file was accessed 1400 times.

Police officers are only allowed to access the files during the course of work and some have faced disciplinary action or even criminal charges for unauthorised access.

In the lawsuit, Ms Eaves names five individual officers, including Constable Benjamin Arndt, who was convicted over the 2006 bashing of Brisbane homeless man Bruce Rowe.

Constable Arndt, who had originally been cleared of any wrongdoing by an internal affairs investigation, was eventually fined $1000 over the assault and lost a subsequent appeal.

Ms Eaves, whose own criminal history contains little more than the odd traffic offence, says she has been forced to move house amid fears hundreds of Queensland police officers had accessed her personal information, including her home address.

She is seeking $400,000 in damages.


Ballarat police officers charged with assault over kicking of drunken colleague

This appears to be the tip of the iceberg at Ballarat.  There have been other accusations of police thuggery there

Two police officers have been charged with assault and stood down from operational duties after a damning IBAC report into an alleged excessive use of force at Ballarat police station.

A drunk off-duty colleague was allegedly stripped, kicked and stomped-on in custody, an Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission report revealed last year.

An IBAC hearing into police conduct in Ballarat has been shown CCTV footage of the abuse of a female police officer arrested for drunkenness.

Footage shows her drinking from the toilet, allegedly after the officers refused to give her water.

When it released its report in November last year IBAC recommended  police consider whether assault charges should be laid in relation to the incident.

A female leading senior constable has been charged with one count of assault and a male senior constable with two counts of assault, Victoria Police said in a statement released on Thursday.

Both officers are from the Western region.

The charges relate to an alleged assault that occurred at Ballarat police station in January 2015. The members have been transferred to non-operational duties, Victoria Police's statement said.

In November, IBAC released a report into allegations of excessive use of force by several people at Ballarat police station.

A serving police officer, Yvonne Berry, was arrested before allegedly being stood on and kicked inside the station's cells.

"IBAC's Operation Ross exposed the concerning casual disregard and at times alarming mistreatment of a vulnerable woman in Ballarat police custody that was captured on CCTV," IBAC Commissioner Stephen O'Bryan QC said when the report was released.

"Importantly, Operation Ross also revealed broader systemic issues and missed opportunities by Victoria Police to address similar patterns of conduct at the station."

Both police officers will appear in Ballarat Magistrates Court on March 6.


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, February 16, 2017

Centrelink no longer requires immediate payment from those sent robo-debt letters

Centrelink’s debt recovery system will no longer demand immediate payment from individuals who believe they have wrongly billed, the government has announced.

The change is one of a number of amendments designed to improve the fairness of the controversial system, which were announced by human services minister, Alan Tudge, on Tuesday night.

The system is facing inquiries by both the commonwealth ombudsman and a Senate committee, prompted by repeated complaints that the system is wrongly issuing debts before putting the onus on the recipient to prove their innocence through a complicated, unfair and at times broken system.

A key criticism is that the system forces individuals, often vulnerable and on low incomes, to begin paying the money back even if they are disputing the debt. That would now change, Tudge said.

“This has been a longstanding practice for successive governments, whereby – and not just for this online compliance system, but for all debt which is owed to the government – that as soon as a debt notice is issued you have to enter into a repayment schedule,” Tudge told the ABC.

“I’ve recently made the decision to say that, well, if you ask for a review then you don’t have to enter into a repayment schedule. It’s only after the review is completed and you still owe the debt that you’ll have to enter into that repayment schedule.”

Tudge has previously defended the system as fair and working as intended. He said the government would also attempt to make it easier for individuals to get in contact with Centrelink once they received the initial letter generated by the automated debt recovery system, which notifies them that a discrepancy has been detected between income reported to Centrelink and income reported to the tax office.

People targeted by the debt recovery system have complained of being unable to reach Centrelink through its overloaded phone system to dispute discrepancies within the required 21-day window. That has led to many being landed with inaccurate debts.

Users would reportedly no longer need to use the troubled MyGov portal to confirm their income details with Centrelink, but instead would be able to log on directly to the online service that allows them to check and confirm their income details. Bank statements can also now be used to prove income, reducing the onerous requirement on welfare recipients to retrieve years-old payslips from past employers.

The government estimates 75% of welfare recipients would be able to access bank statements online. A new website upgrade also included “simpler language and better screen flow”, the government said.

It’s the second round of changes the government has announced to the system since problems began to emerge in early December. Last month, Tudge announced the system would take further steps to ensure that initial letters generated by the debt recovery system were being received. He said registered post would be used, as would more current addresses from the electoral roll. That sought to prevent debts being raised automatically against people who had not received Centrelink’s initial letter.

Tudge said he had always said the system would be constantly refined.

“I’ve always said all along that we’ll constantly make refinements to the system so that we can be reasonable to the Centrelink recipients, but also fair and reasonable for the taxpayer who’s paying for it,” he said on Tuesday.

Tudge defended Centrelink’s phone system, which has previously been found to have let a quarter of all calls go unanswered. The minister said he had been calling Centrelink’s phone line personally to check wait times. He said he had never had to wait to get through.

“I have been calling it almost every day myself to check on this, and I have never, ever had to wait,” he said. “Now, I’m not saying that that will be the case for evermore, but it is a very short wait time to be able to get through to somebody for them to give you a bit of reassurance as to what the process is.”


Asylum seekers can come home, Sri Lankan PM says

MALCOLM Turnbull and Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe have reiterated their joint commitment to combating people smugglers in the Asia-Pacific.

But the Sri Lankan Prime Minister has some frank advice for his citizens in Australia’s offshore detention centres: come home.

Mr Wickremesinghe issued the message while speaking at a joint press conference with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Canberra this morning.

Brushing off concerns about alleged human rights abuses his citizens may have faced in detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru, Mr Wickremesinghe said Sri Lanka was “quite safe” now and they could simply come back.

“They left Sri Lanka illegally, they are welcome to return to Sri Lanka and we won’t prosecute them,” he said.
Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe says asylum seekers will not be prosecuted if they come home. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

“They can come back to Sri Lanka and we will have them but remember they broke the law attempting to come to Australia.”

Mr Wickremesinghe said some of the asylum seekers had left Sri Lanka from areas that had never even seen conflict and that many were not Tamils.

He also made it clear the Asia Pacific region should be strongly opposed to illegal immigration.

“We should not make a mess of ourselves like they’ve gone and done in Europe and the Middle East,” Mr Wickremesinghe told reporters.

Today’s meeting at Parliament House celebrated 70 years of diplomatic relations between Australia and Sri Lanka.
Australia and Sri Lanka have celebrated 70 years of diplomatic relations. Picture Gary Ramage

The two leaders signed a memorandum of understanding to continue Australia’s assistance in supporting Sri Lanka with its development goals and another to deepen co-operation between the two countries in sport, including sharing anti-doping technologies.

“We are looking at investments to further develop Sri Lanka, there is no need for people to be coming here,” Mr Wickremesinghe said.

The Sri Lankan Prime Minister also reiterated his criticisms of the former Abbott Government for not being tough enough on human rights abuses in Sri Lanka under his predecessors when asked.

He said there was no long-term damage to the two countries diplomatic relations but Australia should have put more emphasis on the human rights abuses.


High company tax rate holding Australia back

Australia faces a potential investment crunch with Treasury analysis revealing that foreign ­direct investment has already crashed almost 50 per cent on 2015 levels.

The downward trend is more concerning because it runs against growing global flows; Australia’s share of the $US1.8 trillion ($2.36 trillion) global foreign direct investment pool tumbled from 3.2 per cent in 2011 to 1.3 per cent last year as other countries became relatively more attractive.

Seeking to intensify the ­urgency of the debate over the government’s corporate tax plan to cut rates to 25 per cent, Scott Morrison told The Weekend Australian the analysis showed that Australia was already on a worrying slide down the world investment rankings, partly because of its high company tax.

A senior government source said that while Australia had weathered the worst of the fall since the end of the mining ­investment boom, the concern was that it was failing to pick up its share of the investment recovery since the end of the global financial crisis. Of equal concern was that conditions could further ­deteriorate, with the US, our largest source of investment, headed for a company tax rate of 15 per cent — half Australia’s — which could cause a flight of capital back to the US.

According to the Treasury analysis, foreign direct investment had begun falling even during the mining construction boom — by an estimated 15 per cent from 2006 to 2015 — but the downward trajectory had since steepened despite global ­direct investment flows increasing 25 per cent since the end of the GFC and 38 per cent year-on-year in 2015.

“Between 2011 and 2015 Australia was the 10th largest destination for investment, but has fallen to 18th in 2015,” the Treasurer said.

Mr Morrison made a direct link between the falling level of foreign direct investment and Australia’s company tax rate, which had failed to keep pace with the lower tax environments being pursued by other OECD countries.

He seized on a speech by ­Reserve Bank governor Phillip Lowe on Thursday in which he implicitly rejected Labor’s claim that the budget could not afford corporate tax cuts. Mr Lowe ­argued Australia needed to ­respond to lowering tax rates among competitor nations.

“The independent RBA has made it clear that Australia must have a competitive business tax rate,” Mr Morrison said.

“We need to be internationally competitive to attract investment, to encourage business to set up or expand their operations in Australia, to hire more and to buy more machines and equipment that boost our economy.

“Fifteen years ago we had the ninth lowest business tax rate among advanced economies. Today just five of the 35 OECD ­nations have a business tax rate higher than Australia’s.

“With the largest source of ­investment coming from the US, our tax rates must remain competitive because our attractiveness as a place to invest may be impacted by a reduction in the US corporate tax rate that might reduce outward investment from the US and divert ­investment away from Australia to the US.”

Mr Morrison said that while indirect foreign investment remained healthy, direct investment, such as foreign companies setting up Australian operations or expanding existing ones, was in a worryingly decline.

“The RBA governor makes it clear that our tax system is becoming uncompetitive and that we risk becoming stranded internationally and constrained in our efforts to increase investment in jobs and wages.

“Governor Lowe has sounded an independent warning that Australia is falling further behind our international competitors in being able to attract the critical investment we need to grow Australian jobs and lift wages.”

In 2015, global foreign direct investment flows jumped 38 per cent to an estimated US$1.8 trillion, their highest level since the GFC, but in Australia the same year the flow fell 44 per cent.

Even during Australia’s mining construction boom the flow of foreign direct investment fell 15.4 per cent from $US26.3 billion in 2006 to $US22.3bn in 2015. Mr Morrison cited the International Monetary Fund’s recent claim that foreign investment increased 4.4 per cent for every percentage point cut in the business tax rate.

It suggested a 10 per cent ­increase in foreign direct investment over the period 2010 to 2020 would increase real GDP by 1.2 per cent.

In his speech to the A50 Australian Economic Forum, his first for the year, Mr Lowe said Australia was built on the free flow of capital. “For more than two centuries now, capital from the rest of the world has helped build our country,’’ he said. “If we had had to rely on just our own resources, we would not be enjoying the prosperity that we do today.”

Labor infrastructure spokesman Anthony Albanese yesterday dismissed Mr Lowe’s assessment that company tax cuts were needed, instead citing the Reserve Bank chief’s calls for more infrastructure investment.

“Given the need to fund education and healthcare, given the need to provide support for the economy, what the government shouldn’t be doing is pursuing the $50bn of cuts, most of which, as a result of the structure of their proposal, will go to the very large corporations,” Mr Albanese said.

“Philip Lowe has repeated the comments that he has made, and that were made by his predecessor Glenn Stevens, that what Australia needs is a significant increase in infrastructure investment. He correctly has identified the fact that borrowing can be made and funds made available at a very cheap rate at the moment because of the record low interest rate environment.”


Scared Melbourne residents want new ‘vigilante’ group

Cops are useless

A MELBOURNE man is starting a vigilante group to “take back our streets” from ethnic street gangs that are terrorising locals.

Hayden Bradford believes police and the justice system are not to doing enough to protect Victorians and has started recruiting potential members for the group.

Some of the recruits are so desperate for action they have already pledged thousands of dollars to finance the group, which Mr Bradford hopes will be patrolling streets soon.

He told news.com.au the first meeting could take place within days.  “I think it’s getting to that stage people are just sort of saying ‘if we have to take back our streets then fine — we’ll do it our way’.”

Mr Bradford said there was “no doubt” there was some strong right-wing views in the community, but what he was proposing didn’t involve any law-breaking or taking the law into their own hands. “That’s not what we’re about. What we’re saying is put a presence there because the gutless bastards won’t do anything if there’s a presence.”

The ‘people power’ illustrates the dramatic escalation in the tension and fear that exists in some sections of the community in the Victorian capital.  Youth gangs, including notorious Apex, have been unleashing mayhem on city streets for months including bashings, home invasions and carjackings.

Anxiety over the rising crime rate — and perceived disconnect between authorities and citizens — was most evident after six people were killed when a man on bail allegedly mowed them down in Bourke St Mall.

At the weekend dozens of Sudanese youths rampaged through a family festival, punching and kicking people and stealing their belongings.

One mum told The Herald Sun the gang was intimidating.  “They have no fear. There’s a police station right next door, but it doesn’t seem to deter them,” she said. “Once the fireworks started it was like the Running of the Bulls.”

Mr Bradford, whose occupation is investing and writing, said: “It started as the odd home invasion, or carjacking ... But what we are seeing now has gone past that. We have gangs of these people [taking part in] planned attacks. They deliberately target people and want to cause mayhem and hurt people.”

Since he put the call out through social media for a “vigilante group” he had been contacted by dozens of people who either want to take part or finance it.  Mr Bradford said about $10,000 had been promised so far. The money raised would help expenses like petrol volunteers would use.

“A number of people have actually said to me there were already vigilante groups operating in their suburbs. So they are there, despite what the Andrews Government might say.”

Recent promises of boosting the number of police were a long-term fix — but locals were desperate for action now.  “This is why people have these vigilante groups patrolling their areas because there isn’t enough police.”  It was something he never thought could happen in Melbourne. “People are fed up, they realise something has to be done.”

The people who wanted to join his group were a cross-section of society. “They’re from all walks of life and various backgrounds. The thing you have in Melbourne [now] is people are scared and frightened for their security.’

Asked about the nature of what he was proposing, Mr Bradford said they were not encouraging illegal activity.

“Vigilante is an American term where you think of people walking around with shotguns shooting people. Nothing I fund would do anything illegal. Someone suggested there was a peace through presence, just being there could hopefully mean these gutless little sh*ts wouldn’t do anything if they see a couple of blokes sitting in a car. They won't go anywhere near homes because they are gutless.”

He said his group would be “more like Neighbourhood Watch where people go to designated areas”.

It isn’t the first time vigilante-style groups have been suggested in Melbourne. In July last year the Police Association secre­tary Ron Iddles told The Herald Sun he feared frustrated residents could take “matters into their own hands” after a resident patrol group began.

“I don’t call them vigilantes, but concerned residents who patrol and report to the police,” he said.  “Police stations are operating at a reduced capacity and they can’t respond, it’s putting members under stress,” Mr Iddles said.

Also last year, the Soldiers of Odin — an offshoot of a far-right Finnish group — confirmed they hold nightly patrols in the CBD and outer suburbs.  They wear black jackets emblazoned with a Norse war helmet and an Australian flag and appear to operate similarly to the Guardian Angels network, founded in New York City in the late 1970s, to patrol the subway system.

“Today our citizens are at fear when they leave there (sic) home, some don’t even feel safe there,” the group says on its Facebook page.  “We will not look away, we will not turn a blind eye.”

They say they are against racism and Nazism, and don’t support anti-semitism.

But they also say they’re against Islam. Their Facebook page says they are against “the fact it is okay to be” proud to be black, Asian, homosexual or transgender.

Mr Bradford said he’d been told the Melbourne division wanted to meet him, which he was happy to do.  “I’m open to meet with anyone and will be ... The point is we have got to do something.”

His feedback from people was a growing frustration about the “way the law works in Melbourne.

“ ... The police can arrest a gang member for a crime, but the court system releases the punk on bail to reoffend. The state Government of Victoria does nothing except to ask for a report. We’re sick of reports, we want action now.”

He said he had written to the Victorian Police Minister Lisa Neville and Premier Daniel Andrews, but no one was prepared to meet with him to discuss his concerns.

A Victoria Police spokeswoman told news.com.au said private ‘vigilante’ groups were not encouraged. “We do not recommend people confront offenders as this places you at risk of harm. Police have extensive training which equips them with the skills and resources needed to respond to safety issues.”

The spokeswoman said people should ring triple-0 if they were in danger or witnessed a crime. [And be ignored]


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, February 15, 2017

Australia's winter wheat crop looks set to be the largest ever recorded

Looks like the food shortages that Greenies are always predicting will have to be postponed once again.  From Malthus to Hitler to Paul Ehrlich to the New York Times the false prophecies never cease

It’s been a record-breaking winter season for Australian grain producers with the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) sharply revising its production estimates for wheat, barley, canola and chickpeas higher in its latest Australian crop report, released on Tuesday.

ABARES estimates that total Australian winter crop production increased by a mammoth 49% in 2016–17 to 58.9 million tonnes, some 12 higher than the previous estimate offered in December.

“The revision was the result of yields being higher than anticipated and reaching unprecedented levels in most regions,” it said, adding “generally favourable seasonal conditions pushed national winter crop production to a new record high”.

By crop, ABARES said wheat production is estimated to have increased by 45% to a record high of 35.1 million tonnes. Barley production was up even more, jumping by 56% to 13.4 million tonnes, again a record high.

Canola production rose by 41% to 4.1 million tonnes, equalling the record of 2012–13, while chickpea production increased by 40% to 1.4 million tonnes, again a record high.

A record breaking season for Australia;s major crops, and one that bodes well for agricultural output in Australian GDP.

This table shows the estimated production levels for 2016/17, comparing the results to those seen in the previous two years:


Hate speech from the media's favourite Muslim

The term "bogan" is an Australian slang word to describe an uncouth or unsophisticated person regarded as being of low social status

The Project host Waleed Aly has sparked a social media storm after labelling people who work in administration jobs as "bogans".

The 38-year-old and his co-panellists Carrie Bickmore, Peter Helliar and Gretel Killeen were talking about a Perth small business' job ad on Gumtree which asked for "no bogans or rough people" to apply.

"If you're not taking bogans, where are you going to get good admin people?" Waleed asked the panel. "Where are they going to get them from?"

Carrie agreed and said he had a "good point", but members of the studio audience could be heard saying "ooooh" to his remarks.

Peter Helliar responded: "There's maybe a few people in the crowd who aren't happy with that, Waleed."

You could say that again. Twitter erupted with angry viewers who felt he went too far.

"Ummm did Waleed just say that? I work in admin and I am the antithesis of a Bogan. Get off your high horse," tweeted a user named Dom.

"Rude, Waleed @theprojecttv. I've two degrees, including one in Latin and Ancient Greek & all I'm looking for is an admin position. #nobogan," tweeted Donna Taylor.

"Waleed Aly called administrative staff bogans. Yep, you've returned yourself to the town of D---head in one piece," wrote 99.Boris.


Q&A: Jacqui Lambie and Yassmin Abdel-Magied exchange barbs over sharia law

A debate on migration has led to fireworks on tonight's Q&A program, with outspoken independent senator Jacqui Lambie getting into a screaming match with Islamic youth leader Yassmin Abdel-Magied over sharia law.

The face-off occurred after an audience member asked if it was time to define new rules surrounding migration to avoid community conflict, leading Senator Lambie to reaffirm her position that anyone that supports sharia law be deported from Australia.

Ms Abdel-Magied interjected, asking the Tasmanian senator if she knew what sharia law was, before the two fought over its definition and women's rights.

"My frustration is that people talk about Islam without knowing anything about it and they're willing to completely negate any of my rights as a human being," Ms Abdel-Magied said.

"Islam to me is the most feminist religion. We got equal rights well before the Europeans. We don't take our husband's last names because we ain't their property."

Senator Lambie replied forcefully, saying there was only one law for Australians.  "The fact is we have one law in this country and it is the Australian law — not sharia law, not in this country, not in my day," she said to cheers from the audience.

Ms Abdel-Magied retorted, saying Islam taught people to follow the law of the land they are on, before the pair sparred again, forcing host Tony Jones to put an end to the fracas.

The pair also traded barbs when US President Donald Trump's ban on Muslim immigration was brought up, with Senator Lambie saying she supported a similar ban being introduced into Australia.

"This is what the majority want — the majority want to feel safe, be safe. And Donald Trump, if he wants to put that and put those on hold for three months, he has every right to do so," she said.


We want freedom of speech. And we want it now

Pollies and elite media are finally getting the message: when it comes down to the views of ordinary Aussies, freedom of speech matters — and we don’t want to be told what not to say.

Last year saw a tipping point. Bill Leak was attacked for drawing a cartoon intended to highlight indigenous disadvantage. Students at QUT got caught up in a silly computer-lab spat.

And then the Race Discrimination Commissioner appeared to be out and about touting for business by getting people to expand the meaning of racism. Finally, even the PM saw it was becoming a joke.

How did we get into this mess? For years, so-called ‘progressives’ have been telling us that Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act is all that stands between us and civil collapse.

Added by the Keating government in 1994, the new section made it an offence to offend, insult, humiliate, or intimidate someone on the basis of race, colour or ethnic background.

It was originally intended to stop acts inciting hatred or contempt, but not relatively minor things such as “a light-hearted racist joke”, the then Attorney-General said in his 1992 Cabinet paper.

But history took a different course. Aided and abetted by the Human Rights Commission, 18C has become our greatest threat to freedom of speech: a weapon used by anyone claiming hurt feelings.

Parliaments pass laws with the best of intentions; but some laws are applied in very different ways to what parliament intended. 18C was never intended to silence students and cartoonists.

Nor was it intended to prevent sensible debate about  social issues such as the plight of indigenous youths in custody, or what drives some disaffected Muslim youths to try to kill police officers.

Politicians kept telling us freedom of speech was a fringe issue. Tony Abbott flunked his chance to reform the law. Malcolm Turnbull tried “jobs and growth” to distract us from reform.

Then late last year, the Prime Minister finally set up a parliamentary inquiry about reforming 18C. It has received several thousand submissions. Not all are to be welcomed.

Australia’s  Grand Mufti, Dr Ibrahim Mohammed, wants to see 18C extended to protect religion —  a bad idea that would create a new blasphemy law. Picture what could happen…

Many submissions call for major 18C reform, some call for repeal. New research commissioned by the Institute of Public Affairs indicates as many as 95 per cent of us rate free speech highly.

Yet 18C is already stifling serious public discussion about pressing social matters. When we want to express opinions about culture or immigration, 18C can be used as a gag to silence debate.

Advocates for reform of 18C are scolded for defending bigotry. But if real hatred or real violence is incited, the criminal law stands ready to intervene and to prosecute.

When I tell American friends that in Australia it is unlawful to offend someone, they look at me with utter disbelief. They say using law to protect how I might ‘feel’ about something is a fool’s errand.

And they are right. Freedom of speech has never been about bigotry and offence: it is about a basic freedom underpinning our democracy — the freedom to speak openly.

We’ve had enough of that freedom being curtailed and patrolled. 18C needs serious reform — now.


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, February 14, 2017

Deep green climate evangelist resigns from Australia's  Climate Change Authority over coal power

Should we be concerned?  Hardly.  He's about as dedicated a Greenie as they come.  And, as such,  he is a great prophet of doom.  So much so that he shoots himself in the foot at times. He says, for instance, that "the world is on a path to a very unpleasant future and it is too late to stop it".  If it is too late why bother?  Why not just give up his Greenie warbling and kick the cat?

The Turnbull government's recent embrace of coal-fired power shows it has "abandoned all pretense of taking global warming seriously", Climate Change Authority member Clive Hamilton said, explaining why he resigned from the agency.

Professor Hamilton, who teaches public ethics at Charles Sturt University, sent his resignation letter to Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg on Friday, saying it was "perverse" that the government would be boosting coal when 2016 marked the hottest year on record.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull used his National Press Club speech last week to call for support for so-called "clean coal-fired power plants" to provide "reliable baseload power" while meeting Australia's carbon emissions goals.

Professor Hamilton said the comments were "completely irresponsible and perhaps the sharpest indicator yet just how completely Malcolm Turnbull has capitulated to the hard right of the Liberal Party".

"If the new coal-fired power plants were built, it would make the government's already weak 2030 [carbon] reduction target unattainable," he said in his letter.

"Deeper cuts in the subsequent decades, essential to limit the worst impacts of warming, would be off the table.

"Professor Hamilton told Fairfax Media the authority "no longer has any role in the development of climate change policy in Australia".

Mr Frydenberg said the government was "unapologetic that our priority as we transition to a lower emissions future is energy security and affordability".

"We are smashing our 2020 target by 224 million tonnes and we have an ambitious 26 to 28 per cent emissions reduction target by 2030 on 2005, which on a per capita basis is one of the highest in the G20," he said.

The Senate blocked repeated efforts by Abbott government to scrap the authority. In October 2015, then environment minister Greg Hunt appointed five new members including Wendy Craik as chairwoman in a move the Greens said amounted to a stacking of Coalition-leaning appointees.

"In its first years, the authority did great work," Professor Hamilton said, including recommending Australia should aim to cut 2000-level emissions by 40-60 per cent by 2030.

The current government target is for a cut of as much as 28 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030, which amounts to about 20 per cent below 2000 levels.

The authority, though, "has become a shadow of its former self", particularly since the departure of former Reserve Bank governor Bernie Fraser as its chairman, Professor Hamilton said.

Last September, Professor Hamilton and fellow authority member David Karoly, issued a dissenting report, accusing the authority of failing to give the government independent advice.

The two claimed its Special Review of Australia's climate goals and policies was based on "reading from a political crystal ball" rather than meeting its own terms of reference.


African Melbourne

The outrage below is common African behaviour, well-known in both the UK and the USA.  In Britain its is called "steaming".  Why were they allowed into Australia?

A teenage boy was injured after dozens of Sudanese youths went on a stampede through a family festival in suburban Melbourne and stole mobile phones.

Video footage captured the moment up to 70 African youths, some as young as 10, ruined Summersault 2017 on Saturday night as the fireworks started at 10pm.

Jack McLaughlin, 16, a student at Lake View Senior College, was 'jumped on' as his mobile phone was stolen outside Caroline Springs police station, in Melbourne's northwest.

His mother Debbie Tesoriero said her son needed brain scans, after having no recollection of the stampede at the recreation reserve, but was able to go home on Sunday evening.

'We are on our way home, his tests were all clear,' she told Daily Mail Australia. 'We are so relieved right now.'

'Our understanding is that he was knocked out,' she told 7News from her son's hospital room earlier on Sunday. 'He didn't know where he was, didn't know what day it was.

'The police were there, they called an ambulances and the ambos said we should definitely take him to the hospital and check him out.'

Jack said he just wants his mobile phone back.

'We're very lucky, very fortunate it wasn't worse. As a parent this is terrifying,' she previously told the Herald Sun.

'Some of these kids are as young as ten years old, there were hundreds there … but not one parent. To me that is shocking.'

A witness, who didn't wish to be identified to protect her safety, said the youths stole mobile phones from people filming Melton City Council's fireworks display.

'They were only Sudanese, there were no other cultures in the pack,' the mother of two told the Herald Sun. 'It was intimidating, they have no fear.' The woman claimed a police station nearby did nothing to deter them.

Victoria Police confirmed an investigation was underway into a large youth of groups who ran through a crowd during a fireworks display, snatching smart phones from people who were filing the event.

'Six people have reported their mobile phone being stolen and two reports of assault has been made to police,' spokeswoman Leonie Johnson said.

Residents of Caroline Springs has slammed police for not deploying more officers to patrol the event. Only six officers were patrolling the event, which thousands attended, the Herald Sun said.

A boy named Tom said his friend was kicked in the head, but authorities did nothing.  ‘There was hardly any police there and security just sat there and did nothing,’ said 16-year-old said.

Seventeen-year-old Shannon needed six stitches after suffering a gash on his chin when he was ‘hit out of nowhere.’

But Melton City Council’s acting chief Maurie Heaney told the Herald Sun that police and security had been on site until ‘large crowd numbers vacated’ the festival site.


‘Round them up and get them out’: Pauline Hanson calls for deportation of African gang members

PAULINE Hanson has called for African gang members to be deported following the latest incident of violence in Melbourne at the weekend.

A gang of up to 40 youths of African appearance stormed the family-friendly festival Summersault, in Melbourne’s west on Saturday night, kicking and punching some festival goers and stealing wallets, bags and phones.

It is the latest in a string of gang crime allegedly committed by African youths in Melbourne and Ms Hanson said she had a simple solution to curb it.

“I’ve got the best solution to this. Round them up and get them out!” the One Nation leader posted, attracting more than 300 comments largely supporting her view.

The Queensland senator’s radical views are attracting plenty of support across the country, with weekend polling showing her party may win up to 20 seats in the Queensland parliament at this year’s election.

In Western Australia, her party has also struck a preference deal with the Liberal Party, which will preference One Nation above the Nationals in the upper house.

The cessation of African migration has long been a key policy of Ms Hanson’s, however a spokesman confirmed she did was not calling for the deportation of “law abiding immigrants of any ethnicity” but those who commit crimes.

Back in 2009, she described refugees as “incompatible with our way of life and culture”. “They get around in gangs and there is escalating crime that is happening,” she said.

“If we want to do things for the Sudanese people, then let us send medical supplies, food, whatever they need over there — but let them stay in their own country.”

While her deportation stance unsurprisingly attracted the support of her followers, African leaders say parents in their communities are continually seeking help to control their children.

Late last year, ABC’s 7.30 program reported that some African parents had resorted to sending their children to boarding school in Uganda and Kenya to prevent them becoming involved in violent crime in Australia.

“There are a lot of African children now in jail. There are a lot of children now in the street, they drink, they do whatever,” South Sudanese woman Akec Mading told the program, after sending her son and daughter to Africa to school.


Adani coalmine project frozen by shock land rights ruling

Adani’s $16 billion coal project in central Queensland has ground to a halt after the freezing of a critical land-use agreement with traditional owners that was to pave the way for construction of the massive mine.

Cancellation of yesterday’s scheduled registration of the deal by the National Native Title Tribunal is the first consequence of a shock Federal Court decision last week that has invalid­ated native title deals across Australia.

More than 120 indigenous land use agreements have ­already been identified by the ­tribunal as under threat in an ongoing audit of the ramifications of the precedent-setting ruling over a native title deal in Western Australia.

Indigenous groups, the mining industry and the Queensland government this week demanded that federal Attorney-General George Brandis introduce amendments to the Native Title Act in response to the ruling.

The “McGlade’’ decision applies to agreements with indigenous groups which have made a native title application — and enjoy full legal rights over their land — but are still waiting for a Federal Court determination.

Under the decision, any agreement without the signed approval of every designated claimant in the clan’s native title claim is invalid, despite the many years that majority decisions were accepted.

Adani’s controversial Carmichael project — set to be Australia’s largest ever coalmine — is among at least 40 proposed or ­operating resource projects in Queensland alone that are hit by the decision.

The tribunal was yesterday set to formally register a lucrative land-use agreement between Adani and the Wangan and Jagalingou people that had taken years to negotiate.

Registration is required for the agreement to have legal effect, ­following an independent vetting, to allow Adani to mine on ­traditional land in exchange for jobs, training and business support for the indigenous clan.

Traditional owner Irene Simpson said the Turnbull government needed to take urgent legislative action to “fix the mess’’ and get the project moving after years of legal challenges, mostly by environmentalists.

Although the 12 formal native title applicants were split 7-5 over supporting Adani a formal “authorisation meeting’’ last year of clan members voted 294-1 to ­endorse the agreement.

“We followed the letter of the law in ensuring that this agreement was properly and legally supported by the mob,’’ Ms Simpson said.

“The deal we struck with Adani would allow the mine to go ahead, which is good for Australia, the region and our people.

“It stood to benefit our people for the next 60 years with jobs and small business.

“The government has to do something, or it will be lost.’’

In the past two years, The Weekend Australian has revealed evidence that a foreign-funded group of Australian environmentalists offered financial support to members of the Wangan and ­Jagalingou people — including native title applicants — to oppose the Adani mine.

A spokesman for Senator Brandis this week said the federal government was considering amendments to the Native Title Act in response to the ruling.

Until the McGlade decision — which related to a $1.3 billion deal struck between the Noongar clan and the West Australian government — the 2010 “Bygrave’’ ­decision in the Federal Court made clear a majority of applicants was sufficient for a legally binding indigenous land-use agreement.

The tribunal yesterday confirmed there was a freeze on registering land use agreements and that an audit of agreements affected by the decision was under way.

“To date, the audit has identified a possible 123 area ILUAs that relied on QGC v Bygrave (2010),’’ the tribunal said in a statement.

“The majority of these ILUAs are in Queensland.

“The McGlade decision raises a number of complex legal and procedural issues which the Acting Native Title Registrar (Robert Powrie) is currently examining.

“In the meantime, the Acting Native Title Registrar has declared a moratorium on the registration of all area ILUAs currently in the registration/notification stage that may be affected.’’

Adani yesterday declined to comment, but earlier in the week the Indian company issued a statement saying it was considering the decision.

“It is important that these laws operate to meet the aspirations of the majority of native title holders and can’t be used by minority ­elements to simply disrupt projects,’’ the company added in its ­statement.


Hanson not a one-issue wonder: Turnbull

Malcolm Turnbull has defended working with One Nation, saying it's not a single issue or personality-based party.

The Liberal Party is facing questions over its West Australian division preferencing Pauline Hanson's party ahead of the Nationals, and the possibility of other states and the federal division doing the same.

In 2001, then prime minister John Howard insisted One Nation be preferenced last on Liberal how-to-vote cards in the wake of suggestions of racism.

However, Mr Turnbull told reporters on Monday the minor party - which has three seats in the Senate and is set to have four after a court-ordered recount in WA - deserved respect.

"It is a substantial crossbench party in the Senate and it is taking a policy position on a wide range of issues," he said.

"It is not a single issue party or a single personality party. We deal with it constructively and respectfully because we respect the fact that each of those One Nation senators has been democratically elected."

It was a far cry from May last year, when on the election campaign trail Mr Turnbull said Pauline Hanson was "not a welcome presence on the Australian political scene".

The Queensland Liberal-National Party is considering a deal with One Nation in the wake of a poll showing the minor party could win up to 23 per cent of the primary vote on the back of votes from traditional Liberal and Labor voters.

"That's a fair swag of voters ... we can't be dismissive of that," Queensland-based federal minister Steven Ciobo told ABC radio on Monday

That didn't mean the coalition should embrace or "cuddle up" to One Nation policies, just as Labor would argue it didn't adopt all the "kooky" polices of the Greens when it preferenced the minor party.

"What we've got to do is make decisions that put us in the best possible position to govern, ideally obviously with the support of the vast majority of people in Queensland," Mr Ciobo said.

Mr Turnbull said preference decisions were up to individual state Liberal divisions.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott said he would never support preferencing One Nation above the federal coalition partner, the Nationals.

"I'd certainly be putting One Nation ahead of Labor and I'd be putting the National Party ahead of everyone," he told 2GB radio.

Victorian Liberal president Michael Kroger said the relationship between the Liberals and Nationals in WA was not as "watertight" as it was in other states.

He didn't believe the Nationals would be put below One Nation beyond WA.

Treasurer Scott Morrison said Labor should be under fire for preferencing the Greens, as the minor party represented a "clear and present danger" to Australia's security and prosperity.

Mr Morrison said his focus was on delivering "good government" which would inevitably attract voters' first preference.

Senator Hanson said her party wanted to work with others in the federal parliament. "We can actually negotiate on issues, we are not extremist," she said.

Labor has vowed not to preference One Nation, which among other things advocates a ban on Muslim immigration.

Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese said the government was ignoring the potential impact on tourists from overseas in its sidling up to One Nation.

"Back when Pauline Hanson and One Nation rose to prominence on the previous occasion, the coalition government had to engage in a full court press in our region ... as a direct result of people hearing the message that Australia wasn't a welcoming country," Mr Albanese told reporters in Canberra on Monday.

It was wrong to describe One Nation as "sophisticated" when it advocated a ban on Muslim immigration, denied climate change and advocated higher trade barriers. "It's about time Malcolm Turnbull called this out," Mr Albanese said.


Australian conservative politicians cowed by political correctness too

Jeremy Sammut

The irony of Cory Bernardi's defection from the Liberal Party should be acknowledged.

The political shocks of 2016 have rocked the political establishment in Western democracies. Trump, Brexit, and the revival of One Nation have exposed the divide between significant numbers of ordinary voters, and the political class across all parties who subscribe to the prevailing left-progressive consensus on many social, cultural, and economic issues.

One would think a mainstream political party would be keen to keep conservatives -- who are clearly in tune with the current mood of  public opinion -- 'inside the tent' in the interests of electoral self-preservation.

However, the reality is that while conservative ideas and traditional values appear to be on the right side of history, they are not culturally ascendent.

The commanding heights of the culture -- especially in the media -- remain firmly controlled by elites who endorse so-called 'progressive' ideas and values.

Hence the vast majority of politicians are risk-averse; they toe the politically correct line to avoid negative and embarrassing coverage for expressing 'controversial' or 'knuckle-dragging' views.

Giving in to political correctness is thus perceived to be a political 'win' ... (see, for example, the renewed push by some MPs to have parliament pass gay marriage to "get the question off the agenda"). This strategy helps maintain politician's elite status among their peers in the political class, but is achieved at the expense of faithfully representing the attitudes and interests of voters.

These political calculations are now producing diminishing electoral returns, given that increasing numbers of disenchanted citizens are voting for minor parties to express their dissent from the establishment consensus.

Bernardi's decision to create his own political party indicates that he believes the anti-establishment trend will continue. If so, the hard numerical realities of politics will ultimately force the political class to reconsider its risk-averse, 'surrender whilst declaring victory' approach to contentious issues.

In order reconnect with voters, political elites will have to stop bowing to political correctness and start fighting the culture war instead.


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