Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Climate policies helped kill manufacturing, says adviser

THE unprecedented cost of energy driven by the renewable energy target and the carbon tax had destroyed the nation's competitiveness, Tony Abbott's chief business adviser has declared.

Maurice Newman also says climate change policies driven by "scientific delusion" have been a major factor in the collapse of Australia's manufacturing sector. "The Australian dollar and industrial relations policies are blamed," Mr Newman said. "But, for some manufacturers, the strong dollar has been a benefit, while high relative wages have long been a feature of the Australian industrial landscape."

In an interview, Mr Newman said protection of climate change policies and the renewable energy industry by various state governments smacked of a "cover-up".

He said an upcoming review of the renewable energy target must include examination of claims made in federal parliament that millions of dollars were being paid to renewable energy projects that allegedly did not meet planning guidelines. Mr Newman's comments follow those of Dow Chemicals chairman and chief executive Andrew Liveris, who said Australia was losing its natural advantage of abundant and cheap energy.

"As far as new investments go, our primary energy sources of natural gas and electricity are now or will soon become negatives to any comparative calculation," Mr Liveris said.

"Average prices of electricity have doubled in most states in recent years and the unprecedented contraction in consumption threatens a 'death spiral' in which falling consumption pushes up prices even further, causing further falls in consumption," he said.

Mr Newman said Australia had become "hostage to climate-change madness". "And for all the propaganda about 'green employment', Australia seems to be living the European experience, where, for every 'green' job created, two to three jobs are lost in the real economy," he said.

"The scientific delusion, the religion behind the climate crusade, is crumbling. Global temperatures have gone nowhere for 17 years. Now, credible German scientists claim that 'the global temperature will drop until 2100 to a value corresponding to the little ice age of 1870'."

Mr Newman said the climate change establishment, through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, remained "intent on exploiting the masses and extracting more money".

"When necessary, the IPCC resorts to dishonesty and deceit," he said.

In Australia, Mr Newman said, Victorian Democratic Labour Party senator John Madigan had told parliament how politicians and bureaucrats were paying tens of millions of dollars annually to wind turbine operators that had not received final planning approval.

"It could be hundreds of millions of dollars and we have a government that is keen to rein in the budget deficit," he said. "If you can save a million dollars that should never have been spent, we should be doing it."

Senator Madigan said the issuing of renewable energy certificates to one of the non-compliant wind farms, at Waubra in Victoria, reflected "a culture of noncompliance arising from systematic regulatory failure that impacts every wind farm in Victoria".

He said the issue involved "the pain and suffering of little people living in rural Australia, environmental damage, fraud on a grand scale, deception, lies and concealment".

The clean energy regulator has defended the decision to allow the Waubra wind farm to receive renewable energy certificates.

Mr Newman's comments came as the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission revealed that in the 18 months since the carbon tax commenced, it had received 3132 complaints and inquiries in relation to carbon price matters.

The Coalition has committed to bolstering the watchdog's powers, with additional funding and new penalties to ensure that companies lower energy costs after the repeal of the carbon tax laws.


The blight that is excessive bargaining

There is a queue of corporate beggars forming at the door of government, but I am putting the people in that queue, and their wealthy international owners, on notice.

Try to get your hands on our money, and you will find me shining a great big torch up your jacksi.

Luckily for us, enterprise bargaining agreements are public documents; if you have voluntarily locked yourself into ridiculous arrangements with a high fixed cost base, the spectacular incompetence of your local management team will be exposed for all to see.

Public sympathy will turn to scorn and the government will subsidise you at its peril. As Tony Abbott says, before you come looking to us for help, get your own house in order. After all, there is a "budget emergency" on.

The narrative many in this country would have you believe is this: Australia's high wage costs and unproductive work practices are commanded by law.

All manufacturing jobs will have to be heavily subsidised.

Major projects cost a fortune because the Fair Work legislation mandates that they must.

Enterprise bargaining with unions is compulsory and you are forced to agree with everything they want.

The only way out is for Abbott to bring in individual contracts and abolish the Fair Work system.

He won't do this because he is a ninny and scared of the Work Choices label.

Therefore it is hopeless; there is nothing to be done but whinge about our slow decline.

This narrative is extremely misleading. The reason I constantly rail against it is because it provides a convenient cover for corporate collusion with unions, incompetence, ignorance and sloth.

Believe in it if you must, but you will only perpetuate failure if you do.

I believe we must all do better than this, and my experience tells me we can.

Yes, our minimum wages are high by international standards but our biggest problems don't lie there because fewer than 20 per cent of workers are on the minimum wage. Dropping the pay of the person who makes the bed in your hotel room from 16 bucks an hour to 12 will not solve Australia's biggest problems.

Our big issue lies with the dramatic excesses of voluntary enterprise bargaining: 50 per cent of workers are on these arrangements and many of them are unaffordable and unsustainable.

Corporate leaders have told me of their unskilled workers making things like beer and car parts earning about $150,000 per annum.

I have seen the group certificate of a road worker on $330,000 and interviewed an entry-level boilermaker on $130,000. There are plenty of high wage examples around.

None of these wages were gained at gunpoint. Companies agreed to them voluntarily. And of course, no one is going to begrudge anyone exorbitant wages, as long as their taxes are not paying for them.

SPC signed its enterprise agreement just under a year ago. At that time it would have known it was in strife. Why did it sign the agreement and why did it give out pay increases of 5 per cent?

Toyota signed its current enterprise agreement in late 2011. It expires in 2015, but the document binds it to start negotiations in January 2015 for yet another agreement beyond this one.

That is madness.

Toyota also agreed to not "make any further claims in relation to wages or any other terms and conditions of employment and take any steps to terminate or replace this agreement without the consent of the other parties".

When a judge recently enforced this clause, everyone blamed the judge, who is duty bound to interpret the obvious legal meaning of the words.

I blame the person within Toyota who agreed to put the clause in a document and sign it.

Companies with terrible enterprise agreements have a wide range of options open to them. They can cease bargaining and let wages and conditions be "frozen" for a few years.

They can seek to leave wages the same but bargain for more flexibility. They can bargain downwards and reduce pay and conditions or they can attempt to dissolve the agreement completely by application to the Fair Work Commission.

Unfortunately, and here is where publicly listed companies baulk, all options involve recasting or severing their relationships with unions.

This requires strong leadership and industrial discomfort.

Managing in the listed company environment is often little more than a popularity exercise. When you've played Santa with shareholders' money for years on end how can you turn around and start being Scrooge?

When unions have always been "stakeholders" who you've had a "good relationship" with, how do you suddenly tell them to get knotted?

When you've always let the unions veto your industrial relations advisers, how do you defy them and hire a good cost cutter they hate? When you've always managed your workforce through the union reps, how do you bypass them and engage with the workers directly?

The Fair Work Act is simply a piece of machinery. With the right driver, the right results can be delivered. Unions have just always been better drivers. Listed companies are going to have to start hiring people who are just as good.

There are quite a few of them around, but they've all been black-banned in the past by unions and the companies have stupidly observed the bans. Legislation is never perfect but our problems are more cultural than legislative. Legislative change will come in time, I suppose, but in the meantime, we need cultural change to occur.

This will happen only if the discomfort of change is less than the discomfort of exposure. That is where I and my great big torch come in. Happy New Year to all.


Anti-terrorism laws a test of Attorney-General George Brandis' commitment to freedom of speech

Federal Attorney-General George Brandis has embarked on a surprising mission. Rather than following the antagonistic path of his Coalition predecessors, he is seeking to champion the cause of human rights. His goal is to reshape and lead the debate.

Brandis' intentions have been signalled with two announcements.

He has directed the Australian Law Reform Commission to identify where Commonwealth laws encroach upon traditional rights, freedoms and privileges and to determine whether such encroachments are justified. This audit will show how the extension of laws and regulations into almost every facet of Australian life, unconstrained by anything like a bill of rights, has come at significant cost.

His most prominent announcement was the appointment of Institute of Public Affairs policy analyst Tim Wilson as a ''freedom commissioner'' at the Australian Human Rights Commission. Wilson's brief is unashamedly to promote rights such as freedom of speech, which Brandis argues has been neglected by the commission.

Wilson's appointment should be welcomed. Rather than take the expected approach of starving the commission of funds and driving it into political irrelevancy, Brandis is hoping to redirect it.

The commission has a strong record of combating deep-seated discrimination on the basis of a person's race, sex or age. On the other hand, it has been conspicuously absent from debates on other rights, including freedom of speech, because no commissioner has had responsibility for the area. The commission will be a stronger and more effective body for addressing democratic rights of this kind.

Australian law provides only weak protection for freedom of speech and it shows. The freedom has been eroded by a myriad of state and federal laws. This needs to be tackled and it can only be hoped that this will not be overtaken by the battle over racial vilification and section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. That section could sensibly be pared back but repealing it would be excessive and counterproductive.

Brandis' commitment to human rights will be tested in the coming year. Some challenges will stem from Coalition policies, including those on asylum seekers. Governments have become used to trampling upon the rights and freedoms Brandis hopes to protect and so he will quickly run up against the plans of his colleagues. It will be interesting to see whether he has the will and the clout to get his way.

The biggest challenge may arise from Brandis' own portfolio. His responsibilities include unresolved problems stemming from the numerous anti-terrorism laws passed since September 11, 2001.

These problems have been brought to light by several inquiries and reports, most notably by the government's own adviser on such matters. Two reports released this year by Bret Walker, SC, the independent monitor of Australia's anti-terrorism laws, reveal how key parts of these laws are ineffective or unnecessary.

Walker's reports, along with the report of another committee convened by the Council of Australian Governments and led by retired judge Anthony Whealy, QC, identify a long list of laws that need to be fixed. Many trespass on the freedoms Brandis seeks to protect.

The list of changes includes abolishing preventative detention orders, under which a person can be held without charge for up to 14 days. Walker also argues that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation should no longer have an extraordinary power that enables it to detain in secret for up to a week Australian citizens not suspected of any crime.

Some of these laws have an invidious effect on freedom of speech. One bans any book, film or computer game that praises a terrorist act where this might lead a person, including a person suffering from mental illness, to engage in terrorism. Given that Australia's definition of terrorism encompasses the acts of people such as Nelson Mandela, there is real possibility that a book on his life could be censored.

Another law makes it an offence to disclose ''operational information'' about a person's detention by ASIO within two years of that person being detained. A journalist revealing such information, including the mere fact that someone was detained, can be imprisoned for up to five years. There are no exceptions for fair reporting or if a media story reveals ASIO has misused its powers or mistreated detainees.

A strong commitment to freedom of speech is not consistent with laws of this kind. Brandis has yet to make his position known but the early signs are not promising. When asked for his response to Walker's recommendations, he merely said that he would ''carefully consider'' them but that he otherwise had ''no plans to make material alterations to the anti-terrorism legislation''.

The Attorney-General cannot be a champion of human rights if he ignores prominent areas where such rights have been breached. He has made a positive start by engaging constructively in the debate but the real test will lie with his actions. His commitment to liberty and freedom will be compromised unless he tackles the hard cases, in addition to controversies such as section 18C.


Indonesia travel warning, citing terrorist threat

The Department of Foreign Affairs has issued a travel warning to Indonesia, including tourist hotspot Bali, because of the high threat of a terrorist attack.

The department's latest travel advice contains a warning that terrorists remain active in the country despite police efforts to stop them.

"Indonesian authorities have warned that extremists may be planning to attack churches in Jakarta, and elsewhere in Indonesia, during the 2014 new year period," the travel advice said.

Earlier this month national police chief Sutarman said there were indications that militants may be assembling bombs to target areas of worship.

"The terrorists have cells everywhere and they are active. We are continuing to pursue them," he told reporters, without giving details of specific targets.

DFAT warns the threat to Australians in Indonesia may reach beyond churches.

"Terrorists have previously attacked or planned to attack places where Westerners gather, including nightclubs, bars, restaurants, international hotels, airports and places of worship in Bali, Jakarta and elsewhere in Indonesia," it said.

There have been several attacks on Western targets in the past decade, including the 2002 Bali bombings which killed 202 people, including 88 Australians.

DFAT also notes that travellers to Indonesia could experience natural disasters like tsunamis, or be the victims of petty crime, drink-spiking and scams.

The advice does not recommend Australians stay away from Indonesia, but it does urge travellers to exercise a high degree of caution in the country.

However, Australians are urged to reconsider the need to travel to some areas including the provinces of Central Sulawesi, Maluku and Papua.


Monday, December 30, 2013

Featherbedded union wants taxpayer bailout

SPC Ardmona is going to be a big test in the new year

The government got off to a woeful start on this issue. Supporters are disgusted that Greg Combet was appointed to advise the Industry Minister on SPC's industrial relations.

The narrative that Combet will build around SPC Ardmona is likely to be this.

The workers are modestly paid, but our cost base in this country is far more expensive than New Zealand's, so we must give the company financial support to keep it here.

Comparisons between SPC and Heinz Watties in New Zealand will be made. Heinz Watties workers have base hourly rates ranging from $16.69 to $19.69.

From January 1, SPC workers' base hourly rates will range from $24.56 to $31.06.

What Combet won't tell the Prime Minister is that if SPC didn't have an enterprise agreement and just paid the modern award wage it would be paying base hourly rates in the $16.37 to $19.07 range.

This means the workers here could be cheaper than the ones in New Zealand. He won't say that the company voluntarily made its fixed cost base so high it now cannot function, and he won't use his skills to convince workers to go back to the award wage to save their jobs and the fate of the local growers that depend on them.

The entire SPC wages issue has been confused already. A figure of annual salaries about the $50,000 mark was floated and contradicts another figure about the $120,000 mark. Base rates are no indicator of true salaries in union agreements, which are cleverly written to pad salaries with loadings and penalties.

I would put my money on the $120,000 number, but to be sure the government should make the company show it the group certificates of every employee.

There are plenty of other morally questionable and fiscally irresponsible matters SPC has agreed to in its union agreement but I doubt Combet will be bringing these to anyone's attention.

Workers who start with the company must have a union official at their induction meetings; probably to heavy them to join.

All workers also are forced to purchase their own private income protection policy.

The union that covers SPC owns half of an insurance company that provides income protection, called U Cover. The union receives payments from U Cover annually in exchange for the workers it signs up. In 2011 the union's dividend from U Cover was $1,164,000.

SPC must allow the union to have eight delegates and must provide them with facilities and time to be unionists on site. Ten paid union meetings with workers can be held every year. Each union delegate is entitled to five paid union training days a year, capped at a total of 40 paid days per delegate.

If SPC workers are made redundant packages comprise four weeks' pay for each year of service plus notice and sick leave payout. Some workers' packages will be capped at 104 weeks, but some won't. If estimates of salaries at $120,000 are correct, that means long-term workers would be receiving packages of at least $250,000.

On the SPC issue, Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane and Liberal MP Sharman Stone have already jumped the fence to side with Combet and the unions against the taxpayer.

The remaining hope for us is that Abbott holds the line. Apparently he is going to read a book on Margaret Thatcher during the Christmas break. Let's hope he eats lots of protein, watches some films on Muhammad Ali and listens to Eminem music at top volume. Happy new year, everyone.


From baristas to barristers: would you like a lawsuit with your coffee?

Grumpy customers who give their barista a mouthful about a lousy cup of coffee beware - delivering a serve to the employee could soon land you in court.

From Wednesday, workplace bullies can be ordered to curb their bad behaviour or face a $10,200 fine - and lawyers warn that the new rules extend beyond bad bosses and co-workers to people on the other side of the counter.

"You do have a lot of workplaces where the public come in and out, such as restaurants and shops," said Drew Pearson, a partner at law firm Herbert Smith Freehills.

"Customers probably don't have a full appreciation of the impact of their behaviour and the fact that it's caught by this law."

In June the Gillard government overhauled workplace bullying laws to allow workers to apply to the Fair Work Commission for an order to stop bullying where the behaviour is repeated, unreasonable and a risk to their health and safety.

If a customer's browbeating persists, workers can go to the Federal Court to enforce the order. It can impose a fine of $10,200.

Mr Pearson said the government had intended the laws to apply broadly to different types of workers, including contractors and work-experience students, but it was unclear whether it "fully appreciated the extent" of their reach. It was possible that not "as much attention was given" to the effect of the laws in workplaces that were more accessible to the public. "A lot of industrial law is obviously prepared with more typical or traditional workplaces in mind," he said.

Insurance brokers, financial advisers, lawyers and others dealing with abusive clients were potential beneficiaries of the laws, he said, although to be defined as bullying, the bad behaviour would have to take place on a number of occasions.

The commission could order bosses to monitor customers' behaviour or to stop any bullying. A breach of that order would allow the Federal Court to impose a fine on a company of up to $51,000.

John Hart, the chief executive of industry association Restaurant and Catering Australia, said applying the laws to customers was "a bit of a stretch" but there was an obvious lack of clarity about how they would apply.

"If you can extrapolate a law that's designed to cover the obligations of an employer to cover customers, I think we're demonstrating quite clearly that the laws have gone too far," Mr Hart said.

"If we have to wait for landmark decisions and interpretations by the Fair Work Commission, it's going to make it very difficult for us to implement those requirements with any sort of certainty for employers. That is one of our real concerns."


Health consultant  flags emergency room fee to match GP co-payment proposal

A health consultant who called for a new fee to visit a doctor has suggested it could be extended to hospital emergency departments.

The Australian Centre for Health Research has made a submission to the Federal Government's Commission of Audit proposing a $6 fee for bulk-billed GP visits to keep the Medicare system going.

But the proposal has raised fears patients with minor health complaints would instead visit hospital emergency departments for medical advice, to avoid paying the GP fee, or avoid seeking help at all.

The author of the report, Terry Barnes, advised Tony Abbott on health policy when the Prime Minister was the health minister and an opposition leader.

"In terms of emergency departments, I think the simple way to deal with it is to allow the states to charge a matching co-payment for people who do go to an emergency department," Mr Barnes told ABC News Breakfast.

The report concedes co-payments will be "controversial and sensitive" if it deters people from seeking treatment for chronic and acute conditions but Mr Barnes says the likelihood of a small fee stopping people from seeking help is small.

"We think that $5 or $6 would not be enough to deter people from going to the doctors if they absolutely need to," he said. "We're saying this is quite reasonable to keep the whole system going.

"This is sending a price signal to people, there's no doubt about that... the level of co-payment we're suggesting is equivalent to a hamburger and fries or a schooner of beer, it's not a great deal."

Health Minister Peter Dutton has not ruled out a co-payment fee for patients visiting their doctors, saying in a statement the Government "won't be commenting on speculation around what the Commission of Audit may or may not recommend".

The report recommends capping the maximum number of co-payments to 12 per year which would mean the maximum extra burden for patients would be $72 per year.  Doctors would also have the right to waive the fee for any patient in financial hardship.

Asked if Mr Abbott would support the idea Mr Barnes said the Prime Minister would never support something that was not considered "fair and reasonable".

"I think the Prime Minister is somebody who is up for a fight for good outcomes and for good policy... but it's up to the Commission of Audit and the Government to make their own decisions," he said.


Male domestic violence victims need more support

Jamie*, a minister of religion in his 60s, spent his 36-year marriage "walking on egg shells". He'd had a very controlling childhood where he'd been told to do the opposite of what he felt was right.

"That's partly why I fell in love with my wife," he says. "She reminded me of my mother." Within weeks of their 1971 wedding, she was throwing things at him, screaming she hated him, walking out and saying she would never come back. "I was far away from where my parents lived, and I thought I would be kicked out of the seminary if the marriage broke down," he says. "So I felt trapped. I just tried to work inside the system, keep things calm. Once the children started arriving, it was too late."

The blow-ups happened once a month at the start, but were almost daily by the end. "I was trying to hang in there," he says.

But 36 years seems a long time to hang in. "Guys can run away to work. I did a lot of running away to work. At home … I did a lot of numbing out."

About 10 years ago, she got on top of him in bed and started hitting him - windmilling at him, screaming that she hated him and that she hoped he would go to hell. He had never told anyone what had been happening - he's marked off dozens of items on a domestic violence checklist, including financial control, using sex for favours, limiting his freedom, pinning him on the floor, kicking the pets, humiliating him, putting him down in front of the children, bagging him to friends and colleagues - but the next day, on his regular morning walk with a pastor friend, that changed.

He started crying and spoke up. "I love you," his friend said, "I support you, but this is on some weird planet." Jamie felt ashamed; men are supposed to be able to take care of themselves, and he was letting a woman beat up on him.

Uncovering the staggering depth of brutality women used to be subject to at home without question - and denouncing it - is one of the signature civilising social movements of the past 40 years. To this day, women are more likely to be severely injured, assaulted or killed at home. But are a smaller but significant number of men victims of domestic violence, too? And are they falling through the cracks?

"Reactionary, traditionalist, conservative, chauvinist, wanting to put women back in the kitchen, like I'm some sort of right-wing homophobic misogynist woman-hater who wants to take away everything feminism has achieved," says Greg Andresen - head of the One in Three campaign aimed at raising awareness of family violence against men - running through names he's been called. He starts chortling. "It hurts to be called that stuff, especially when you look at all of our actions, all of our campaign material, everything we've done - there's not a skerrick of that in any of it." The campaign takes its name from a 2006 Australian Bureau of Statistics Personal Safety Survey that found 29.8 per cent of the victims of current partner violence since the age of 15 were male. Andresen believes the current thinking that domestic violence is 90-95 per cent men against women is wrong.

We think men are bigger and stronger, and can inflict more damage in a fight. Indeed, he agrees women are more likely to suffer systemic, continuing abuse, but argues other forms of abuse such as social isolation and emotional abuse can be "equally as controlling and as debilitating for the victim because they feel equally as trapped. There's somebody curtailing their freedom in these ways and you don't need to hit someone to do that. Women can do that just as much as men."

So, does One in Three's "29.8 per cent" mean one in three men is a victim of the headline bashings we associate with domestic violence and women? No, it doesn't. It reports incidents of partner violence - violence that's domestic, rather than "domestic violence" - which can be a one-off slap or months of unrelenting, one-sided abuse.

Still, a man slapping a woman isn't culturally acceptable, so should the opposite be?

Relationships counsellor Toni McLean worries abusive relationships can teach children the wrong way to resolve conflict. Research shows abuse can be transmitted down the generations. "We need to shift our focus from women victims of partner violence to victims of partner violence, and provide resources for dealing with all victims and all perpetrators. Children suffer regardless of which parent is violent," McLean says.

After reading a few studies you feel like you're watching a heavily annotated bunfight between researchers trying to show women are the overwhelming victims and others trying to show men are copping it just as badly.

"The problems are that the different definitions and research methodology researchers use, plus the reluctance of men to report, lead to different findings," says Professor Alfred Allan, from Western Australia's Edith Cowan University, who co-wrote a 2010 report, Intimate Partner Abuse of Men.

Says sociologist Dr Michael Flood, from the University of Wollongong: "There are heated debates among various advocates addressing domestic violence." Flood criticises One in Three for not focusing on the wider issue of men's violence against men. Neither does he believe "there are tens of thousands of men out there living in fear of their female partners and not being able to access services".

Yet even if women make up 90 per cent of all prolonged coercive domestic violence cases, then so do several thousand Australian men.

"The question of men experiencing violence is one that hasn't really been discussed," says Randal Newton-John, at MensLine, the national telephone counselling service. "It's generally seen as only happening to women."

There is no doubt from MensLine's experience that "we receive calls from men who are experiencing violence. Really, the important thing is to those men, how do they receive the help that they need to deal with that situation?" Police don't always believe complaints of domestic violence against men.

ACT teacher Ross Burdon, 54, has a DVO out against his ex-wife, who he met in the Philippines. When they fought, police would arrest him - charges would be dropped or defeated in court. He went to police with a complaint. "They said, 'She's a woman and how big are you?'." He showed them a video he had taken of her holding a frying pan. She had bashed holes in the door. She used to throw things, smash doors, once tried to hit him on the head with a pot plant. "We could be in the same room, her anger escalating and I knew- she knew it, too - that if she called the police there would be problems for me."

Then there is social isolation. Nothing NSW teacher Matthew* did was right, from mixing cordial to putting sunscreen on his two children. His wife would say he was strange and embarrassing. She didn't want to be seen in public with him. He started to believe there was something wrong with him. He would escape verbal abuse by sleeping in his car and sneaking home at 5am to get clothes to take to a local pool for a shower and a shave before work. "I was scared to stay in the house and too scared to return until I thought it was safe."

Bill* had been told for 18 months he was lazy - he couldn't work following a viral infection - and no one wanted to be near him. Police advised him to think about leaving the house after a row in which his wife of 12 years bit his wrist to the bone.

He thought he had nowhere to go, so he slept in his van for six weeks. There was a sports field in Camden, a river in Campbelltown, at a park, sometimes out at Bargo. Occasionally he'd stay at a servo because they had free showers. When the weather was really bad, an underground car park. One day Bill felt suicidal, and called the DoCS domestic violence hotline. The woman who answered told him only men abuse women. Mates rolled their eyes and said "man up".

Jamie was the only man in a discussion group at an Anglicare-run domestic abuse seminar in the 1980s. He was told if he treated his wife with respect then she wouldn't act like that.

Will*'s first relationship was coloured by growing up in a home where both parents were violent - he didn't know about healthy relationships, so when he moved in with a 40-year-old man as a 22-year-old the control was there from the start. He had to have sex whether he wanted to or not. He woke up several times a week to a kick in the face. He'd leave and always come back. One time the ex tried to brain him with a VCR. He didn't want to go to a hospital. He was ashamed of what had happened. He had mixed feelings about his mother staying in her abusive marriage, and here he was doing the same thing.

Melbourne psychologist Elizabeth Celi says there are three misconceptions about male victims: that men must be aggressors, they can take it because they're bigger, and that they must have done something to deserve it. "This is a gross injustice to a man on the receiving end of abusive and violent behaviour, as it simultaneously invalidates his experience while blaming him for the damaging words and behaviour coming his way," she says.

"We would never do this to female victims, yet it seems OK for male victims to be subjected to it."

Emma, a Sydney hospitality worker in her 30s, once broke an ex-boyfriend's nose. She left home at 14 and grew up on the streets, where she had to fight to survive. And so when she started a relationship - and she was only ever attracted to men she knew would never hit her - they would become her family, her everything.

Her violence would be triggered by coming down off strong drugs, as well as a cyclical hereditary depression - once a week, once a month. She would break things, throw things, lash out, punch, knowing they'd never touch her.

A 2012 NSW government report on domestic violence trends found "while men are less likely to be victims, the experience of those that are is equally as bad as that of other victims" - and that services for them are lacking. Liberal MLC Catherine Cusack wants more money aimed at addressing the causes of anger - and early intervention to empower men and women with tools to stop abuse. "I would love to see that non-judgmental, ideology-free support available to all victims, male and female," she says.

In NSW and Victoria, the main domestic violence lines are for women.

Men are referred elsewhere, including MensLine, and in Victoria, to the Men's Referral Service, which is designed to stop aggressive behaviour by men. "The vast majority of men contacting us as victims are most likely the perpetrator," says executive officer Danny Blay.

Newton-John says: "It's not easy for men to approach health services at the best of times. Men need to wait for a crisis. If they're on the receiving end of violence it might throw up questions about their masculinity and whether they deserve help. They do, but they question it."

Other countries have set up men's refuges. The Netherlands began a trial program in 2008 in its four biggest cities, with 10 places in each. They are used by victims, men beaten by their children or stalked, and young gay men from immigrant cultures. Adrie Vermeulen, co-ordinator of the Utrecht shelter, says that when it opened, most victims were Turkish or Moroccan, although there are now more Dutch. "We take them in our care and try to make a new future for them." Physical injuries are easier to spot and prosecute. But relentless verbal abuse can also damage. Studies have shown emotional pain lasts longer than physical pain.

The definition of domestic abuse in Britain now includes psychological intimidation - nothing but good news for anyone, female or male, at the receiving end.

"We get a lot of calls talking about emotional, psychological and verbal abuse," Newton-John says. "It's sometimes very insidious and difficult to understand personally the impact it's having, because you're not seeing broken bones or black eyes."

Recognising male victims doesn't mean dishonouring any female victims or redirecting resources. It can help reduce family violence further.

Matthew emailed to say he'd called the police to try to resolve an access issue and was directed to a domestic violence liaison officer. "She offered me a referral to counselling for victims of crime. I broke down crying. It made me feel like my perspective that I had been a victim had been validated by someone within the system."


Saturday, December 28, 2013

No asylum seeker boat arrivals in past week, Scott Morrison reveals

The Immigration Minister says a total of 355 asylum seekers have arrived by boat this month - the lowest December number for five years.  Scott Morrison has released a statement confirming there have been no boat arrivals in the past week.

Since Operation Sovereign Borders began three months ago 1,106 asylum seekers on board 22 boats have been intercepted by authorities.  Mr Morrison says that is an 87 per cent decline on the three months preceding the policy.

"The Coalition's experience since coming to Government has shown that no single measure and no single partner is responsible for the dramatic fall in arrivals," he said in a statement.

"The boats have not yet stopped but they are stopping. The right policies are now in the right hands, and they are getting the right results on our borders, as we promised."

The population of the Government's offshore processing facilities includes 841 people at Nauru and 1,229 on Manus Island.


Jellyfish stings are best treated with nice hot shower

Important info for tropical Australia

After being stung by a jellyfish, many of us will apply vinegar or maybe an ice pack.

New research from the University of Sydney suggests those treatments might just make things worse. Hot water immersion in a shower or under a tap could be better.

Despite jellyfish stings being a common problem, a summary of good quality research has not existed to guide effective treatment, said the senior author of the paper, associate professor Angela Webster.

"Many treatments have been suggested to relieve the symptoms of jellyfish stings, however it was unclear which interventions were most effective," the university's associate professor Webster of the school of public health said.  "Our research showed that immersing the sting in hot water was 50 per cent more effective than ice packs in relieving pain," she said.

"A hot shower following bluebottle stings is the best treatment for pain.  "Treating the sting with vinegar or Adolph's Meat Tenderiser, compared with hot water, actually made the skin appear worse.''

The research would allow organisations like Surf Life Saving to make evidence-based treatment recommendations, she said.


Victorian students will get tough love lessons

VICTORIAN school students will be taught to toughen up and sort out their own problems amid concern too many lack resilience.

The delivery of sex and drug education will also be overhauled as part of the new schools initiative.  It aims to help youngsters better deal with life's setbacks.

The State Government will today announce experts from the University of Melbourne will develop the resilience program, to be rolled out to state primary and secondary schools from mid next year.

It follows findings that developing students' social and emotional skills is critical to improving their academic performance and success in life.

"Education is more than teaching numbers and words - it's about preparing students for life during and after school," Education Minister Martin Dixon said.

"Victorian schools already have a strong wellbeing focus - making sure every student is supported to succeed at school.  "The resilience framework takes the next step, teaching students how to make good decisions when faced with life's challenges."

Under the resilience initiative teachers and school leaders will get access to new online social, wellbeing and health resources which can be used in class or given to families to use at home.

Students will learn how to make informed decisions, when to ask for help and develop relationship and self-awareness skills.  Advice about "respectful" relationships and health promotion will also be included.

University of Melbourne project leader Associate Prof Helen Cahill said the institution had extensive experience in delivering such programs.

"The resilience framework will equip educators with evidence-based approaches to promoting social and emotional wellbeing and health education in Victorian schools," she said.

Training to help teachers handle students who have challenging behaviour and advice for principals to deal with aggressive parents are also part of the welfare push.

Content will be tailored to students' age


Qld. eyes new back-to-basics exams for kids to make grade

STATE school maths and science testing is set for a shake-up with the Newman Government supporting reforms including the potential for external, HSC-style exams.  The move could have wider implications for the future of Queensland's OP system, which is also under review.

Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek will today release his response to the parliamentary Education and Innovation Committee's inquiry into the way maths, chemistry and physics are being assessed in schools and its 16 recommendations.

The LNP asked for the inquiry after complaints from parents, teachers and academics about the current system.

Mr Langbroek said the Government backed the committee's recommendations and wanted the system to go "back to basics".

"The major outcomes of this will be a greater emphasis on numerical marking and a review of students' written assignments," Mr Langbroek said. "This is about getting back to basics, removing the confusion and allowing schools to make decisions about the best way to assess their students."

In a further indication the current OP (overall position) system for assessing senior students is on its way out, Mr Langbroek also expressed support for an external, HSC-style exam worth about 50 per cent of a student's overall mark in maths, chemistry and physics. All of the assessment is  school-based currently.

He has asked the independent inquiry into the OP system, being carried out by the Australian Council for Educational Research, to consider the move and it is due to report back by July.

Under the plan, the number of inquiry-based assessments such as essays will be capped, while the senior heads of maths and science departments from about 400 schools will be compelled to attend workshops early next year to address "challenges and confusions" identified in the parliamentary inquiry.

Mr Langbroek said the workshops will be held by the outgoing Queensland Studies Authority which is due to be replaced by new body, the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority, in July next year,

"The QSA will be directed to formally amend syllabuses to require that no more than two extended experimental investigations be conducted per subject per year as part of the implementation of the Australian Curriculum," he said.

"They will also write to all principals clarifying the use of numerical marking, and develop resources that explain how marks can be linked to syllabus standards and criteria."


Friday, December 27, 2013

The Human Rights gravy train

A lot of highly paid women

The Human Rights Commission annual report report for 2013 is here.  On page 150 we get to see the staffing profile – 143 employees (of whom only 38 are male) – and the salary rank those individuals earn. More than half of the Commission are on salaries above $72,900. That is well above the median income for Australia. Over 90 per cent of the Human Rights Commission employees earns above the median wage.

I imagine Tim Wilson will be one of the statutory office holders. How much they are paid is reported on page 101 of the report.

So the top nine employees are the SES Band levels and the Statutory Office holders. Between them they earn $2.3 million (basic salary) out of a total salary and wages budget of $12.3 million. So 6.3 per cent of the employees take out 18.65 per cent of the total salary budget.

What else can we say about the salary and conditions of this organisation? Employee Benefits (salary + super + on costs and the like) came to $16,384,000. The federal government pumped in $17,979,000. So 91 per cent of all government expenditure earmarked for the AHRC is spent of salaries and wages and super (plus odds and ends). Another $6.9 million came from the sales of services and operating a sub-lease (Really?). So I reckon they have some $8.5 million to provide whatever it is that the AHRC actually does.

I don’t want to comment on the value of that $8.5 million (except to suggest that it is probably less than $8.5 million) but even in an accounting sense we the taxpayer are paying some $16 million in salaries to get $8.5 million of human rights programs.



Canberra is broke. And it wants your money.  That’s the message from ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher, who is pleading for a Holden-style bailout package to rescue her ridiculous territory from the expense of public service redundancies.

In one way, Gallagher’s is an understandable call. Like Holden, Canberra is union-dominated, isolated from economic realities and produces nothing that people want. It’s a slow and subsidised Commodore in a world of speedy VW Golfs. So why shouldn’t it receive the same generous treatment as the cash-strapped carmaker?

Well, here are a few reasons.

Like Washington DC under Barack Obama, Canberra enjoyed a massive public sector growth throughout Labor’s six years in power. While the rest of the country watched a federal surplus vanish, Canberra grew ever fatter. As the Canberra Times reported just a few weeks ago:

"Employment in the ACT’s public sector has exploded by 30 per cent in six years, far outstripping the other states and territories.

The territory government wages bill has grown by $685 million in the same period, blowing out by $110 million each year.

New Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show the ACT’s public sector grew by more than three times the combined national average for state governments and local councils."

Having spent that money hiring public servants, Katy Gallagher now wants more money from you to pay out those public servants.

“It’s like the Holden package the Prime Minister just pitched to the Holden workers; they lost several thousand jobs in Melbourne and Victoria and we are potentially losing many many more from a smaller jurisdiction,” Gallagher claimed on the weekend.

The argument in favour of Holden’s package is that production line workers will need retraining to be employable in other areas. Is that even possible with public servants? Gallagher continued:

“And there is an equal argument to the Commonwealth; if your decision is going to force this on our community what are you going to do to support us through that change?’’

The poor community. It needs support during “change”. When it comes to begging, this is the most pitiful line since a stranger turned up at my house a few months back asking for a loan so he could visit his dying mother. Problem was, he’d forgotten that I’d already given him some cash just weeks earlier – and that was to retrieve his mum’s dead body from the hospital.

When you’re running a scam, it pays to remember the details. Back in May, for example, the ACT government easily found more than $300,000 to fund Skywhale, a grotesque but wholly accurate representation of Canberra’s reckless spending.

Maybe Skywhale could be wheeled out to cheer up depressed Canberra public servants as they face a bleak future of box wine and instant coffee. Problem is, having paid for the inflatable monster, Canberra has to pay for it again every time it appears. The fee for a Skywhale visit at Canberra community events is anything between $1800 and $7000, which is a lot to pay for giving your children nightmares that would frighten a meth addict.

If change is on the way for Canberra, the city is already well placed to cope without our help. A few years ago, the activist group GetUp! claimed that one in every 30 Canberra residents is a member. All GetUp! ever does is scream for change: to environmental policies, wages, transport, you name it. Seeing as they’re so well-versed on the subject, Canberra’s GetUp! lobby should become change consultants, helping public servants understand how debt happens when people stop giving you free money.

And Lord, how the money rolled in when Labor was in charge. At its peak, the completely pointless Climate Change Department sucked down $218 million per year. An impressive chunk of that cash was spent housing departmental staff in Canberra’s ritzy new Nishi building, now a monument to the ACT’s self-importance and Labor’s financial incompetence.

Speaking of monuments, that’s one of Gallagher’s plans for Canberra’s tax-funded renewal. “In 1996 the National Museum was the project, it drove jobs, it did get the economy moving along,” she claimed on the weekend. “That’s the sort of discussion we need to have with the Commonwealth.”

Let’s hope it’s a short discussion, ending with the word “no”.

But maybe I’m being too hasty. Perhaps a grand monumental project in the ACT would actually be beneficial to all of us.

I’m thinking it could possibly be something like a massive wall, sort of like the avant-garde structure that once dominated Berlin so impressively. This freedom wall, featuring artistic curls of barbed wire and uniformed “interactivity guides” in fortified turrets, could circle the whole city of Canberra.

After all, if they like socialism so much they should be allowed to enjoy it all by themselves.


The myth exposed: another “stolen generations” case fails in court

Yet another “stolen generations” case is lost in court, this one brought in Western Australia by two parents and seven of their children claiming the state failed in its fiduciary care.

The case has familiar elements, including claimants who’d constructed a memory of being the largely blameless victims of nasty officials, when in fact contemporaneous documents reveal the children were removed not because they were simply Aboriginal but because they were in great need. Those officials first stepped in when one child was taken to hospital as a six month old weighing half a kilogram less than she had at birth. Those officials acted under the Child Welfare Act which applied to all children, and they had monitored this family repeatedly after finding it lived in a dirty humpy with beds for just three.

Said the judge:

"The documents to which I have referred support three findings. First, Don and Sylvia’s living conditions, and their home environment relevant to the care of their children, were being monitored by officers of the Child Welfare Department in the years after the Siblings were removed from their care.

Secondly, the observations made by those officers, or information provided to those officers, was to the effect that until approximately mid-1970, Don and Sylvia continued to live in the humpy in circumstances which were largely unchanged (as compared with when the Siblings became wards) that they engaged in heavy drinking and that their relationship was marred by domestic violence.

Thirdly, that information was relied upon by officers of the Child Welfare Department in considering whether the Children should be permitted to return to live with Don and Sylvia."

The parents are listed in documents as having admitted most of their children into care themselves after being threatened with being taken to court for neglect. The father agreed to pay maintenance.

No “stolen generations” case has ever succeeded in court. The one case that is sometimes claimed as an exception - that of Bruce Trevorrow - in fact establishes that in South Australia there was no law permitting the taking away of children just because they were Aboriginal. In that case, a female welfare worker secretly broke the law by giving away to a foster family a baby she thought had been half-starved and badly neglected by a father she’d falsely assumed was a “habitual drunkard” and a mother she’d heard had “gone walkabout” from her family and had not visited her baby in hospital.

As the judge in that case ruled:

"Mrs Angas may have been well-intentioned ... but was well aware, or ought to have been aware, that the removal of the plaintiff from his family, and his placement with the Davies family, was undertaken in circumstances that were understood to be without legal authority, beyond power and contrary to authoritative legal advice."

But had Trevorrow been left where he was...

The “stolen generations” are a dangerous myth. No one has yet identified even 10 children stolen just because they were Aborigines, but so powerful is this myth now that I can identify children who because of it have been left in terrible danger - only to be killed, raped and die of neglect.


Western Australia to kill sharks  -- Greenies disgusted

SHARKS bigger than three metres will be "humanely destroyed" with a firearm and discarded offshore, the tender for the State Government's baited drum line strategy reveals.

Commercial fishermen have until the end of next week to bid for the contract to deploy, manage and maintain up to 72 shark drum lines one kilometre off popular beaches in Perth and the South-West.

An "experienced licensed commercial fishing organisation" is sought for the service, which was announced following the death of surfer Chris Boyd, 35, at Gracetown last month.

The tender request includes new detail about the measure, including:

* Any white shark, tiger shark or bull shark greater than 3m total length caught on the drum lines will be "humanely destroyed";

* Current direction on the humane destruction of large sharks "involves the use of a firearm";

* Any sharks that are dead or destroyed will be tagged and taken offshore (distance to be confirmed) and discarded;

* In the initial stages of the program a number of sharks may be brought to shore;

* All other animals taken on the drum lines will be released alive "where possible";

* Any animals which are dead, or considered not in a condition to survive, are to be humanely destroyed, tagged and taken offshore for disposal;

* Drums will be supplied by the Department of Fisheries, but the bait will be supplied by the fishermen and preferably sourced from shark;

* The drum lines will be patrolled for 12 hours each day, between 6am and 6pm, seven days a week;

* Drum lines will be baited at both the commencement of, and prior to the end of, each patrol day, will all used baits disposed onshore;

* Exemptions from "various state legislation" which prohibit the take, or attempted take, of protected shark species will be provided;

* It is likely a 50m exclusion zone will be implemented around each drum line. Only vessels operated by the contractor will be allowed within the exclusion zone;

The successful firm will also respond to shark threats, including the deployment of additional drum lines within 30 minutes.

The document, issued by the Department of the Premier and Cabinet, says the measure is a "direct response to the unprecedented shark fatalities that have occurred in Western Australia over the last three years".

Shark kill strategy 'disgusting'

Sea Shepherd Australia managing director Jeff Hansen described the measures as "absolutely disgusting" at a time when the rest of the world is moving towards shark conservation.

"I just don't know how the West Australian Government is getting away with what they are doing. We need more legal people to look into this to see how this is legal in this day and age," Mr Hansen said.

University of Western Australia shark biologist Ryan Kemptser, the author of an open letter calling for a rethink on the shark-bait policy, said: "Popular beaches and surf breaks can be protected just as effectively by simply moving sharks alive offshore instead of killing them and then dumping their bodies offshore, which is what the Government proposes to do.

"It would require exactly the same resources but it wouldn't result in killing any sharks, therefore protecting our local ecosystems."

Fisheries Minister Ken Baston today said since 2011 the State Government had invested $5m on taggging, deterrents and other innovations to better understand sharks.

"I agree research is important, however, we have seen seven fatal shark attacks over the past three years and it's time to put human safety first," he said.

"Western Australians who use the water expect the Government to take action to decrease the risk of shark attack at our popular beaches.

"Our new policy of setting drumlines to target sharks deemed a threat at these beaches will be in place very soon. The Government has committed to taking immediate steps, while continuing long term research."

As announced earlier this month, drum lines will be deployed 24 hours a day, initially from January until April.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is skeptical of both big government and unions

Judgment a pyrrhic victory for car workers

Mordecai Bromberg, a net detriment to the quality of Australian life.  One hopes his Melbourne Jewish community is not proud of him.  In keeping with his Labor party connections, he is clearly loyal only to minorities rather than to what he probably sees as "the great dumb mass" of the Australian population

JUDGE Mordy Bromberg of the Federal Court is following a long tradition in Australian industrial relations - he has delivered an outcome more likely to see the workplace to close than allow common sense to prevail. The preservation of union-imposed wages and conditions is sacrosanct, even if it leads Toyota Australia to shut down its local operations.

In 1909, in the famous BHP Broken Hill mine case, the president of the commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court, HB Higgins, made this famous remark: "I face the possibility of the mine remaining closed with all its grave consequences, but the fate of Australia is not dependent on the fate of any one mine, or on any one company, and if it is a calamity that this historical mine should close down it will be a still greater calamity that men should be underfed or degraded." The mine was suspended for two years.

More than a century later and the mindset of industrial relations regulators has not changed a jot: better for workers to be unemployed than allow a company to introduce cost-saving changes to work practices.

By way of background, Bromberg was asked to consider an application by four Toyota employees with union connections to prevent Toyota Motor Corporation Australia from asking the workers whether they would accept changes to a range of conditions set out in the present enterprise agreement.

According to Toyota Australia president and chief executive Max Yasuda, the local operation is under significant commercial pressure and, next year, head office will decide whether the Altona plant will maintain its export volumes.

To offset the cost of wage rises set out in the agreement, several changes were proposed that would "remove outdated and uncompetitive practices and allowances that increase the (company's) costs and reduce global competitiveness".

The company's original plan was that the proposed changes would be put to an employee vote on December 5. This vote has been indefinitely suspended as a result of Bromberg's decision. The changes being canvassed are significant. There are 22 items in all, including: reducing the minimum Christmas shutdown period from 21 days to eight days; cutting the number of paid trade union training days; removing specific wage allowances, such as working in dirty conditions; and eliminating annual leave loading.

In fact, the thing that strikes you most when reading through the 22 items is how Toyota let these egregious arrangements become part of the agreement in the first place.

Having said this, many of these conditions have accumulated through the years and the underlying award itself has some very restrictive elements.

In full knowledge of the pending closure of General Motors Holden, Bromberg still could not bring himself to conclude that Toyota had the right to ask the workers whether they agreed to the changes. There was always the possibility that the workers would have voted to refuse some or all of the changes, but the honourable judge decided that even asking was out of the question.

In a rambling and confusing decision, Bromberg declares that clause 4, dealing with no further claims of the enterprise agreement, means the company cannot ask the workers to consider the changes. This is notwithstanding the provision in the Fair Work Act that permits a reopening of agreements and the alteration of terms.

Of course, many of us believe that a deal's a deal. But as long as there is mutual consent, it is completely reasonable for the terms of a deal to be reconsidered if events alter significantly and changes to the agreement cannot be mandated by one side. This is the Toyota scenario.

But Bromberg's judgment is that the company can ask the workers only if they are happy to see clause 4 of the agreement altered or deleted. If they so agree, then the company can proceed to ask them whether they agree to all or some of the 22 changes.

Given the unions' role in the matter - principally the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union - you can bet your bottom dollar that the workers will be advised to vote against any change to clause 4.

This will mean that the present agreement will run on to 2015, by which time it will probably be too late and Toyota also will have announced its intention to cease producing cars in Australia.

One of the ironies of the Bromberg decision is his reference to the scope for liberal interpretation of the clauses of agreements in industrial relations.

The judge, however, opts to interpret clause 4 in a strict and literal sense, thereby preventing common sense from prevailing.

Of course, decisions of one judge can always be overturned on appeal. In an important recent case, the judges of the Full Bench had this to say about another decision by Bromberg, which had restricted the Victorian government's ability to impose a mandatory construction code of conduct: "Conclusions of this kind appear to us, with respect, to reflect value judgments rather than legal conclusions. In the circumstances of the present case, we do not agree that the state interfered with 'free bargaining'.

"It was open to the state to specify the conditions upon which it would consider tenders for each of the projects at issue and to make contracts including those conditions. In our view, there is no basis for any declaration that the policies, or the proposed contractual conditions, adopted or announced by the state were invalid."

If that is not the ultimate smackdown, I don't know what is.

When it comes to the Toyota case, it is true the company behaved irresponsibly in the past by permitting costly and restrictive work arrangements to build up.

But we are fast approaching D-day. Unless significant changes are made, and made quickly, then the last man standing in Australian automotive manufacturing will be out of here, just like the others.

Good one, Mordy.


Aboriginal deputy Ombudsman to focus on cutting waste

Don't hold your breath

An Aboriginal candidate will be appointed as a deputy to the state Ombudsman to help reduce the millions of dollars wasted in the battle to reverse chronic disadvantage in indigenous communities.

Ombudsman Bruce Barbour - who has highlighted the frustration of Aboriginal communities with the waste and condemned the "poor return" on the billions invested from state and federal coffers - has welcomed the NSW government's decision to address weak accountability for spending.

"Having an Aboriginal person in a statutory role of this type will allow my office to continue to strengthen its work with Aboriginal communities across the state and sends a strong message about the importance of improving the circumstances of Aboriginal people," Mr Barbour said.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Victor Dominello said: "This is an Australian first and demonstrates that the NSW government is serious about being held accountable for its actions. No previous government, state or federal, has opened itself up to this level of independent scrutiny of its Aboriginal-specific programs."

In 2011, the state Auditor-General and Ombudsman released reports highlighting inefficiency in government programs despite good intentions. Mr Barbour's report said more money was "not the solution" and he noted that, since 2008, federal, state and territory governments had committed an extra $4.6 billion to close the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous communities, and that the NSW government spent $2.65 billion in 2008-09 on delivering services to Aboriginal people.

He attacked poorly integrated services between agencies and "a disparate 'grab-bag' of programs without adequate accountability". At the same time, Aboriginal unemployment was three times greater than for the rest of the population; more than half of all juveniles sentenced to detention were Aboriginal, and they accounted for more than 80 per cent of young inmates in parts of western and northern NSW; many youths were skipping school; and indigenous children were at much higher risk of sexual assault.

"Community leaders have repeatedly told my office that they want 'the truth' to be told about the problems they continue to face and the reasons why," Mr Barbour reported.

They were "tired of seeing much-needed resources poorly targeted" and mostly blamed the absence of local decision-making and "clout" to direct services.

Local decision-making is among the ambitions of the government's plan for Aboriginal affairs, OCHRE (Opportunity, Choice, Healing, Responsibility, Empowerment). Mr Dominello said it was an Aboriginal leader who had advocated most strongly for an Aboriginal deputy ombudsman.

One of four Aboriginal members of his ministerial taskforce on indigenous policy, Stephen Ryan, said "accountability for service delivery was raised repeatedly by Aboriginal communities" and the role would allow more regular reporting and independent scrutiny.

Legislation will be introduced next year to enable the Ombudsman to appoint his Aboriginal deputy. Mr Dominello said it would help avoid the "train wreck" reports of the past.

In a report released on January 1 this year, Responding to Child Sexual Assault in Aboriginal Communities, Mr Barbour said the single biggest investment under an inter-agency plan, the $22.9 million Safe Families program, had "high expectations" of addressing abuse in five communities in western NSW but "fell well short on delivery".



Written by Dr Judy Ryan & Dr Marjorie Curtis

Below is a letter from Drs Judy Ryan and Marjorie Curtis to Mr Mark Scott, the Managing Director of the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC). Up to 200 political, media and other interested, or possibly, concerned,  parties such as the BBC, are openly copied in. Mr Scott is the first member of the Australian  public to to be held accountable by public letter.ABC

Judy and Marjorie have been holding prominent Catastrophic Anthropogenic  Global Warming (CAGW) alarmists such as David Karoly, Tim Flannery, Will Steffen and Lesley Hughes individually accountable for close to one year now. The letters and email lists are on Judy’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/judy.ryan.75457?fref=browse_search.  They will also be on the Galileo Movement Facebook page soon.

As many interested parties are openly copied in;  the  lack of response from the alarmist  does not look good on the public record. A legitimate question is:- Why don’t they respond with the evidence to support their  hypothesis? It should be easy. The case  for holding CAGW alarmists individually accountable is building.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Mr. Mark Scott

Managing Director

Australian Broadcasting Corporation GPO Box 9994

Sydney NSW 2001

Dear Mr. Scott:

We are writing this public email to you to express our concern regarding the biased, inadequate, incorrect, and alarmist reporting by the ABC on the subject of ‘Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming’ (CAGW), or any other weather related event.

We notice that you were made aware of this matter on the 15th February 2013 by notice delivered by registered post from Mr. Malcolm Roberts http://www.conscious.com.au/docs/letters/ABC-ManagingDirector.pdf.

In that notice you were asked to ensure that unless you, as the managing director of the ABC, have empirical scientific evidence that damaging warming is caused by human emissions of CO2, the ABC should cease making direct or implied public claims that it is. You were also requested to retract past such claims and associated claims if you did not have the evidence to back them up. You were further requested to ensure that future ABC broadcasts on climate and the environment be objective, factual, balanced and correct.”

You did not respond to that notice or act upon any of the reasonable requests therein. Under your stewardship, the ABC has continued the policy of biased alarmist, reporting on CAGW. As the ABC chief executive receiving a handsome salary from the taxpayers you are the one person most responsible for ensuring that the ABC reports truthfully, factually and in accordance with the ABC Charter.

As managing director of the ABC you are required to provide reliable, evidence-based information. That means no exaggeration of effects, no misleading allegations and no omission of evidence that does not support the CAGW hypothesis.

The definition of fraud is, according to Black’s Law Dictionary, quote: “a false representation of a matter of fact, whether by words or by conduct, by false or misleading allegations, or by concealment of that which should have been disclosed, which deceives and is intended to deceive another so that he shall act upon it to his legal injury.”

The Australian people are experiencing financial disadvantage as a result of the Carbon Tax/ETS/Direct Action Policy and a host of other policies and administrative decisions driven by advice regarding the science of climate change. Much of that advice has been reported to the people via the ABC under your stewardship. Is that advice false or misleading? Does it deceive by concealing relevant facts?  Has the ABC reported the evidence for and against CAGW in a balanced impartial manner?

A recent example of the ABC reporting (Dec 3rd 2013) can be seen here; http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2013/s3903815.htm

Another example; http://australianconservative.com/2010/03/their-abc-gags-bob-carter/

Under Australia’s strong democracy no one is above the law. Judges, politicians, scientists, academics, senior public servants, and managing directors can be held to account for breaching their fiduciary duty.

For this reason it is important that you read and respond to the evidence provided below:-

The first few bullet points are links to the evidence for the null hypothesis versus CAGW. They are three references out of many, many thousands.

Wolfgang Knorr (no significant change in the airborne fraction of human caused CO2 since 1850) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2009GL040613/abstract

Murry Salby (temperature, not man-made CO2, drives CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. ) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YrI03ts--9I&feature=player_embedded

Since replicated by Pehr Björnbom http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com.au/2013/07/swedish-scientist-replicates-dr-murry.html

Roy Spencer and John Christie (all the IPCC models have failed validity testing) http://www.drroyspencer.com/2013/06/epic-fail-73-climate-models-vs-observations-for-tropical-tropospheric-temperature/

Green, Armstrong and Soon  found that errors in the projections of  the IPCC’s scenario of exponential CO2 growth for the years 1851 to 1975 were more than seven times greater than the errors from a no change from previous year extrapolation method.). http://econpapers.repec.org/article/eeeintfor/v_3a25_3ay_3a2009_3ai_3a4_3ap_3a826-832.htm

The next few bullet points provide the evidence that indicates that from as early as 1998 there was no overwhelming scientific consensus supporting CAGW. There are only a few studies that claim to have measured overwhelming scientific consensus for CAGW. We have read them and their critiques. The two main earlier ones are:-

(1) Doran and Zimmerman http://probeinternational.org/library/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/012009_Doran_final1.pdf (where the researchers selectively whittled down a sample of over 10,000 geologists to just 77 then measured scientific consensus on the basis of two questions neither of which mentioned carbon-dioxide).

(2) The Anderegg et al study 2010 was not a survey. It was merely a methodologically flawed, subjective count and categorisation of publications. (Ref ‘Taxing Air 2013 ‘by Robert Carter and John Spooner).

(3) The 2013 study by Cook et. al. is also a methodologically flawed count and categorisation of publications. http://joannenova.com.au/2013/08/richard-tol-half-cooks-data-still-hidden-rest-shows-result-is-incorrect-invalid-unrepresentative.

By contrast there are several robust measures of scientific rebuttal of CAGW

The online petition which was launched in 1998 by the first group of dissenting scientists and has over 31,000 scientists signatures http://www.petitionproject.org

The annual reports of the Non Governmental panel for Climate Change NIPCC (which is a scientific body founded in 2003 ) http://climatechangereconsidered.org/about-nipcc/#tabs-1-2

Various other methodologically sound surveys

The next few bullet points refer to evidence that indicates that CAGW is the current politically driven global scam.

Climate gate Emails 2009 (their content reveals scientific misconduct. The various investigations that found no misconduct BUT found that those scientists had refused to share their supporting data which shows a lack of transparency inconsistent with good science) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climatic_Research_Unit_email_controversy

Armstrong, Green and Soon (Their audit found that the IPCC procedures violated as many as 72 of the 89 relevant forecasting principles (p. 997))http://www.forecastingprinciples.com/files/WarmAudit31.pdf

Kesten Green (identified 26 historical alarmist movements. (None of the forecasts proved correct. Twenty-five alarms involved calls for government intervention. The government imposed regulations in 23. None of the 23 interventions was effective and harm was caused by 20 of them.) http://www.ipa.org.au/publications/1964/a-history-of-scientific-alarms

Impending legal action a possibility (John Coleman’s interview) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9HOlS0PPcw .

In our opinion the ABC is deteriorating into a malicious, self -interest group, led by you. As recent events have shown, you are prepared to place the security of the ABC’s salary structure above the national security of Australia and its people.

You have allowed senior ABC journalists to conduct a smear campaign against scientists and citizens who are skeptical of CAGW. http://catallaxyfiles.com/2012/12/18/will-maurice-newman-be-australias-lord-mcalpine-ii/



Having digested all of the above we allow you 21 days to either publicly renounce your alarmist claims on the ABC news, or publicly provide empirical data-based evidence, that is available for scientific scrutiny, to support them.

It is on the public record that we issued a similar opportunity to Professor David Karoly in March this year. You received a copy by registered post with delivery confirmation. As we said in that letter, if CAGW turns out to be a politically driven scientific scam “every day that you delay is one day longer that the Australian people will hold you accountable”.

In closing, if there is anything we have said that you think is untrue please click reply all and let us know and we will apologise.


Heiner Affair: Carmody Says Labor Covered Up Child Sex, PM To Be Charged

On Monday, 1 July, 2013, the 11th and, hopefully, final investigation into the ‘Heiner Affair’ concluded with Justice Carmody handing down of the final report of the Queensland Child Protection Commission Of Inquiry.

The Heiner Affair has been etched into the Australian psyche: it involves allegations of criminal conduct at the highest levels of Australian government, even Constitutional stewardship. Caught in the nebulous orbit of the nefarious matter sits successive Queensland Premiers, Chief Justices, a serving Prime Minister and a serving Governor-General. The latter two being the highest positions in Australian government.

On Monday, Tim Carmody handed down his report: it has received almost no media coverage, has appeared on only one radio program, but it is, without doubt, the most contentious report ever handed down on Government since Federation in 1901.

Carmody makes clear that those stewards, those at the very apex of Australian Government, be prosecuted for the wilful destruction of documents with the express purpose of covering-up the pack rape of a fourteen year old girl, a ward of the state, in the 1980s.

On 24 May, 1988, 7 children, 3 teachers, a staff psychologist and a youth worker, all attached to the John Oxley Youth Centre in Queensland, undertook a scheduled outing. By the end of the day, four boys had absconded (to be later captured by police) and a fourteen year old Aboriginal girl had been pack raped. A litany of judgement errors, failures of policing, and a scared teenage girl, all culminated in no person, even to this day, being charged with the sexual assault of that young girl – or even charges being laid against any of the 5 supervisors who oversaw the criminal rape of a minor in their care.

No one even lost their job.

A year later a special ministerial commission of inquiry was established, under Noel Heiner. From 1989 until this week, in 2013, there have been 11 separate enquiries on the matter, allegations of cover-ups at the very highest levels of the Australian Government, illegal destruction of documents, and the Australian Labor Party refusing the presentation of key Judicial matters to Parliament.

The Heiner Inquiry revealed systemic emotional, physical and sexual abuse of wards of state at the John Oxley Youth Centre, and a culture of child abuse within Queensland child welfare services in general. When it became clear that criminal and civil actions could proceed against it, in 1990, the Wayne Goss Labor cabinet, then under the control of now Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, ordered the destruction of all materials and evidence pertinent to the Heiner Inquiry including all Government communications regarding the matter.

The matter shifted immediately from Heiner Inquiry to Heiner Affair.

Here was a Government, openly and recklessly, destroying papers it had been court ordered to preserve for future criminal and civil proceedings.

Carmody found that the order for the destruction had been “most likely” authorised through a billet-doux. This is a meeting of the Premier’s Office with key public service personnel to discuss the upcoming Cabinet meeting, to agree on a position for each item on the Cabinet agenda. Crucially, it was in this meeting that the decision to order the shredding and destruction of all the evidence relating to the John Oxley Youth Centre and Heiner inquiry.

Kevin Rudd, the now Prime Minister of Australia, was then Chief of Staff to the Queensland Premier, a position he had held since 1988. The billet-doux was his baby, he would have been involved in it, completely.

The State Archivist was ordered to destroy the documents and evidence on the grounds it may have been “defamatory” to individuals if publicly released. The order did not indicate that the evidence was under a preservation order, the subject of an official Commission of Inquiry; nor did it reveal that solicitors had specifically requested the documents be made available to them.

On 23 March, 1990, a State Archivist accompanied the Cabinet Secretary, Ken Littleboy, to the Family Services Building with a box of evidence, audio and video tape and data tapes – and destroyed it all.

Tim Carmody found that the order to destroy these documents, and the act of their destruction, was a criminal offence: “On 5 March 1990 wilfully destroying a document that is known to, or may, be required in a ‘judicial proceeding’ so as to prevent it from being used in evidence was a Criminal Code offence under section 129.”

Interestingly, Carmody’s final report does not mention Kevin Rudd by name.

In 2003, the then Queensland Governor, Quentin Bryce, ordered on behalf of Labor Premier Beattie (who had taken over from Labor PremierWayne Goss) a report into the Heiner Affair. Upon completion of the report, Bryce and Beattie refused to make the report public, only adding fuel to the fire that the cover-up now reached the highest office in Queensland.

Interestingly, as a corollary, both Bryce and Beattie did make a similar report into child sexual abuse within the Anglican Church public, as a purely political device to embarrass the Liberal Federal Government under John Howard and force the then Governor-General, former Anglican Archbishop Peter Hollingsworth, to resign.

On 5 September, 2008, Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd appointed Quentin Bryce as the Governor-General of Australia.

From 1989 until 2010, a series of enquiries were undertaken into the matters of paedophilia, rape and child abuse within Queensland’s child welfare and protection organisations. It was not until the Labor Government was blown out of office that a new Liberal National Government could start digging into the truth: and a shocking truth had been revealed. It shows that Labor Ministers actively covered-up and may have participated in the serial sexual abuse of children, creating a culture where sexual abuse was tolerated, even promoted, within the services – and investigations were doomed from the outset.

In 2010, the 14 year old victim of 1989 received an ex gratia payment of $140,000 from the Anna Bligh Labor Government. Payment she describes as hush money.

All she has ever wanted was for the boys that raped her and the people that covered it up to be prosecuted for their crimes.

First she was raped by her peers; she was raped again when those charged with protecting her refused to be her voice; only to be raped again and again by the system, over the next 22 years.

In 2012 the then Prime Minister Julia Gillard established the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Abuse. The matters resulting from the Carmody report must be urgently reviewed under the broader auspices of the Royal Commission.

Next, the Queensland Government needs to establish a Parliamentary Inquiry that has the power to call Kevin Rudd, Quentin Bryce and many other prominent Labor officials and appointments to account for their role in covering-up the wide-scale child sex abuse under their own command.

Finally, the Queensland Department of Public Prosecution must order a criminal investigation by Queensland Police into the destruction of documents and the systemic cover-up of paedophilia by successive Labor governments, Ministers and political appointees across that State.

Labor must be held account; it is the only political party in Australian history to have so many convicted paedophiles in its ranks – and the only Governments to so outrageously and blatantly cover up  these heinous crimes against children. It is a political party that has found itself at the centre of the biggest corruption scandal in western democratic history, anywhere, ever.

With such a tawdry criminal record the Labor Party would, in any other democracy on Earth, be labelled a criminal syndicate, banned from ever again contesting civil elections.

This is not a politically partisan attack, this is just a statement of fact.

We can not, as a society, allow such people to ever again hold power and authority over children its members see only as sexual chattel; to do anything less will mean we condemn future generations to the same depravity and fate we see parading before our courts, here and now.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013


...while interpreters still side with the illegals on Christmas Is.

A Christmas Island resident has expressed disgust to The Pickering Post at how Salvation Army employees, supported by Iranian and Afghani interpreters, have been instructing arrivals on how to cheat the system. “It’s beyond belief how we are paying them to actually coach the illegal arrivals to circumvent Australian regulations”, he said.

The Left wing Guardian On-line has dishonestly reported how distressed Iranian “asylum seekers” had made the journey without sanitation and arrived covered in faeces.  “That’s simply not true said the resident”, who asked not to be named. “I’ve seen every boat arrive here and it seemed like most had been shopping at Harrods.

“Many women had bandages on their noses which we later found to have been nose jobs undergone en route in Malaysia. Some women had recent breast augmentations and had demanded mirrors so they could see how they looked.”

As reported here last week, the Salvos have been infiltrated by Green activists in Nauru who were advising male Tamil inmates on communal masturbation techniques. Since that report, the Government has cancelled The Salvation Army contract.

Illegal arrivals are being convinced to convert to Christianity (or at least to say they have) because the chances of being sent back home are far less if they can claim religious persecution.

Interpreters on Christmas Island are also telling women that their chances of getting to the Australian mainland are greater if they get pregnant.

“It’s a bloody joke”, said the Christmas Island informant. “This lot didn’t like the bloody toothpaste so a whole pallet load of Colgate was dumped in landfill and a new pallet of the preferred Macleans was flown in from Perth.  “They didn’t fancy cricket as a sport either (they had permission to use the local residents’ cricket ground) so they demanded hockey sticks. Canberra agreed and quickly despatched 40 hockey sticks.  "The trouble was that they were ice hockey sticks complete with a box of pucks.”

What is disturbing is that Green activists, operating as “Pink Salvos”, have undermined the good work the Salvos were doing. As a result they have suffered ignominious reputational damage and have been told their services are no longer required.

But most disturbing are the thousands of genuinely destitute refugees whose places are being taken by queue-jumping, well-heeled, illegal immigrants who are chauffeured around Jakarta airport duty-free shops before being escorted to smugglers’ boats, sans life jackets.

The loopy Greens, Gillard and Rudd have much to answer for


The Labor party's legacy of debt and destruction will hit us all

JOE Hockey must feel like a two-time victim of history.  When he was first elected to parliament in 1996, the Coalition had just inherited an economy and a budget in trouble.

Labor had left John Howard and Peter Costello facing a deficit of $8 billion and a trade imbalance that had racked up a foreign debt of around $180 billion.

At least Labor had left them with the tools to fix it - in the macro-economic and productivity reforms undertaken by Keating and Hawke.  They were also blessed to have stepped into government as the mining boom was about to get into full swing. They also still had big government assets to sell, such as Telstra.

Now, 17 years later, the Coalition has come to power claiming the burden of once again having to clean up a fiscal and economic mess left to them by a Labor government.

This task now falls to Hockey. And it is gargantuan.  The fundamental difference between the tasks given to Costello and Hockey is that while Gillard and Rudd may have left Hockey with the problems, the economic cycle is in reverse.

There are few if none of the high value assets left to sell.

And the next wave of reforms that were needed to set the budget up to handle it were left to chance, which should be recognised as a fundamental failure of the Rudd/Gillard government to make the same sort of “express declaratory policy”, as Paul Keating once described his reform agenda.

Instead they wound back workplace flexibility, re-regulated financial services, dragged the chain on free trade, re-regulated taxation policy and introduced 22,000 new regulations.

The simple storyline is that Australia has come to the end of its terms of trade boom with falling productivity and an impenetrable sea of regulation.  And the government has no money left to respond.

The perfect storm will come when all these factors converge with the ageing population and a declining tax base.

For people who can’t make sense of all the numbers that the government has thrown around this week to drill home the point that the country is in for a period of pain, Reserve Bank boss Glenn Stevens provided words that anyone should easily understand.

We are all going to have to change the way we think about government. It can no longer pay for the things people have come to expect them to.

Most Australians would have become familiar with the term “underlying structural deficit”. It is a problem in the budget that has been talked about for at least the past decade, although it started long before that.  But it is now coming home to roost.

Both Labor and the Coalition government before it are to blame for it.  The social spending and middle-class welfare that began under Howard and accelerated under Labor has become unsustainable.

Hockey knows that this will be politically difficult to unwind. His success ultimately can only be measured in levels of unpopularity.

The biggest drag on the economy over the next three years will be a lack of political will - and bipartisanship - to get it done.

This week’s mid-year budget update was as much a political manifesto for the Coalition as a financial record of the state of the nation.

With only a few days to Christmas, Hockey’s fear will be that its message will be lost over summer.  So in case you weren’t listening, this is the message that the Treasurer wants Australians to take to Christmas:

"People are going to have to start taking personal responsibility for their lives."

This will come as a shock to an entire generation of Australians who have never experienced rising unemployment.  But the culture of government bailing people out is over.

If this wasn’t clear enough in the attitude that it has taken to Holden, Qantas and SPC, it will become blindingly apparent when it starts hacking into the transfer payments system.

The changes to come that Hockey was trying to soften the nation up for this week will require a dramatic cultural change in Australia.

And it is as blunt as this: government will not be there to help us out.


Racist Muslim spokesman loses defamation case against radio station

The report below is from 4 years ago.  I report it here because Trad has just lost his final appeal against the judgment.  He will be up for hundreds of thousands of legal costs but the Lakemba mosque will no doubt help with that

KEYSAR Trad, the longtime spokesman for Muslim cleric Sheik Taj bin al-Hilaly, has been described as "racist" and "offensive" by a judge who today rejected his defamation claim against radio station 2GB.

Mr Trad sued the top-rating Sydney station in the NSW Supreme Court after presenter Jason Morrison described him "gutless" and " just trouble" for his conduct at a rally after the Cronulla riots in December 2005, The Australian reported.

Mr Trad's comment about the "shame of tabloid journalism' caused the crowd to boo and harass a 2GB journalist near the stage.

The reporter told Mr Morrison he feared for his safety, prompting the presenter to deliver his tirade the following morning, in which he also described Mr Trad as "disgraceful and dangerous individual who incited violence, hatred and racism."

In August 2007, a jury found Mr Morrison had defamed Mr Trad but Justice Peter McClellan found for 2GB in the second - or defence - phase of the trial that was heard in May, saying the statement were true and also protected as comment based on fact.

"There is little doubt that many of the plaintiff's remarks are offensive to Jewish persons and homosexuals," Justice McClellan said in his judgment.

"Many of his remarks are distasteful and appear to condone violence.   "I'm satisfied that the plaintiff does hold views which can properly be described as racist. "I'm also satisfied that he encourages others to hold those views. In particular he holds views derogatory of Jewish people.

"The views which he holds would not be acceptable to most right-thinking Australians."

Mr Trad, who founded the Islamic Friendship Association, faces up to $400,000 in court costs and there are question marks over his credibility after Justice McClellan's scathing judgment.

During the trial he was subjected to close scrutiny about his public profile as Sheik Hilaly's right-hand man and he frequent statements he made to "clarify" the controversial views of the cleric.

These included comments that women who dressed provocatively were "uncovered meat" inviting the attention of rapists.

Mr Trad suggested Hilaly was "talking about people who engage in extramarital sex."

Neither Mr Trad or Mr Morrison were at Sydney's Supreme Court to hear the judgment.  Outside court, a representative for Mr Trad said he planned to appeal.


Human rights narcissism: time for the axe

In recent days, there have been two appalling mob-frenzy attacks on Twitter, one attacking a young American woman, Justine Sacco, who was sacked from her job as a result of a single inept, mis-interpreted tweet. The other was an American reality TV star, Phil Robertson, of Duck Dynasty, for criticising homosexuality, while at the same time saying people should treat gays with kindness. He has been suspended by his network, A&E.

Free speech has never been more contested terrain. It does not help that there is a creeping rise of more bureaucracy, more direction, more codes and more compunction that are, by their very nature, an intrusion by the state into the lives of its citizens. Look no further than the scorching of Tim Wilson for having been appointed a Human Rights Commissioner last week, as if a libertarian has no place in the culture of human rights.

In a caustic analysis in Saturday's Herald of how Wilson, the director of policy at the Institute of Public Affairs in Melbourne, was appointed a commissioner, someone at the Human Rights Commission was quick to smear Wilson, anonymously:

"He has got no relevant qualifications at all. He has been a climate change denier, has done no law, little policy, he has an arts degree and a masters in something but he had no technical qualifications in this field at all. I would say most of the staff are better qualified than Tim is."

Meow. Anonymous quotes are the most dubious tool in the journalist's toolbox as there's so little accountability. I avoid them and use them sparingly. When journalists quote sources inside the bureaucracy or government it is nearly always near the top of the organisation because these are the people journalists deal with.

So this smear gets to the core of what is wrong with the Human Rights Commission and why the Attorney-General, George Brandis, is naive to think that by appointing a libertarian like Wilson, who is also gay, he is going to start to turn this deeply, slyly ideological organisation around. It is implacable.

In the last financial year, the commission spent $33.6 million running itself. Looking at the highlights in its latest annual report, the commission did some good work but nothing that could not be handled by a division of the Attorney-General's Department. It also did a great deal of make-work. It is clearly a bureaucracy in search of relevance.

The annual report, like the smear on Wilson, reflects the institutional narcissism of the commission, which exhibits the same characteristics of the individual functional narcissist:

1. An overdeveloped sense of one's unique worth.

2. An ability to talk a good game and elicit support.

3. An ability to express sympathy, but not empathy.

4. A deep self-absorption, masked by 1, 2 and 3.

5. Highly critical of others.

6. Yet easily aggrieved when criticised.

7. Incapable of taking blame.

Having observed the actions of human rights commissioners for more than 20 years, I believe Australia would be better served if the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 was repealed and the commission disbanded. Even such complete liquidation would not compensate for the commission's role in facilitating the greatest calumny ever made against Australia: that Australian governments committed genocide against the Aborigines. When this claim was tested in the courts it disintegrated. The commission has never paid a price for this divisive, corrosive and counterproductive lie. Like all narcissists, it cannot even see what it did wrong, let alone admit it or atone.

The Wilson gesture will probably prove to be a sideshow. With the new government facing a debt and deficit mountain, it should be taking a chainsaw to redundant bureaucracies and redundant laws. But that would require real steel, and Brandis, by tinkering, has just shown it is not there.