Wednesday, April 19, 2017
In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is celebrating the demise of the "Safe Schools" program in NSW
Homosexual promotion project to lose Tasmania funding too
Tasmania will scrap support for the contentious Safe Schools program, opting to focus on a comprehensive anti-bullying scheme for the schoolyard.
Tasmania’s Education and Training Minister Jeremy Rockliff has confirmed that his government would not fund the program — which has so far been adopted by 22 Tasmanian schools — once federal funding stops mid-year.
“The Tasmanian government is committed to providing a safe and inclusive school environment to support student learning and wellbeing, which is why we have invested $3 million over four years as part of the Combating Bullying budget initiative,” Mr Rockliff said.
“It is up to each Tasmanian school to make their own decisions about the programs used in their school, and government schools are encouraged to use the Department of Education’s own program.
“Given the significant investment in our own anti-bullying initiative, the state government has no plans to take over funding for the federal program.”
Tasmania’s defection follows the weekend’s announcement from NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes that his government would introduce a broader anti-bullying scheme to replace Safe Schools, leaving support for the La Trobe University-developed program resting largely with the Labor-governed states.
Financial support for Safe Schools was a key part of West Australian Labor’s successful election campaign last month, while a spokeswoman for Queensland Education Minister Kate Jones said yesterday that there were no plans to ditch the program.
In South Australia, the government is weighing up whether to take over funding the program, in much the same way the Victorian Labor government has done.
“We see value in having a specific program to support schools to tackle bullying against LGBTI students,” said a spokeswoman for the SA Department of Education and Child Development. “We expect to make an announcement shortly about the future of the safe schools program.”
While Victoria has committed more than $2m to roll out the program to all state schools by the end of 2018, questions are being asked about the level of its commitment following the decision to sever ties with La Trobe and run Safe Schools directly from its own Education Department.
Previously vocal supporters of the program Premier Daniel Andrews and Education Minister James Merlino have lately left the job of defending it to departmental staff and media advisers. And following widespread criticism over Safe School’s promotion of contested gender ideology and sexual politics, the department has taken to describing the program as a “pledge” or a “policy” to create a safe and inclusive environment, with schools having discretion over how “this commitment is realised”.
Victoria’s opposition education spokesman Nick Wakeling said it was time for Mr Andrews to “admit he got it wrong on this discredited program”.
He said the Liberal Party would scrap the program if elected and replace it with a program “that teaches kids the importance of respecting people of all appearances, sexuality, gender, religion and ethnicity”.
“Daniel Andrews is very naive if he thinks school bullying is only confined to sexuality and doesn’t include appearance, religion, ethnicity or gender,” Mr Wakeling said.
A spokeswoman for Safe Schools Coalition Australia, which is convened by the Foundation for Young Australians, declined to comment on the NSW decision, other than to say the organisation remained committed to supporting LGBTI young people.
Shark attack: conservation policies value sharks over human life
Our insane shark-conservation policies have cost another life, this time a 17-year-old girl who was attacked in front of her parents and siblings.
I would like to say that this incident will be the turning point in this debate, that our politicians will finally realise we need to reduce the increasing number of aggressive, lethal sharks in our waters, but this is unlikely.
The forces against such action are deeply entrenched in all our major organisations. For example, Surf Life Saving Western Australia, where yesterday’s attack occurred, recommends six responses to sharks: research, education, surveillance, communication, preventive action (“shark barriers”, which can be built only in placid waters) and emergency response. It does not recommend the reduction of sharks, despite many fishermen in the state saying the size and abundance of large sharks, especially great whites, off WA are alarmingly high.
Researchers and academics whose careers depend upon continued funding into the behaviour and fragility of these “apex predators” long ago convinced politicians and large sections of the community that to reduce the number of sharks in our waters would be an ecological disaster.
So a teenage kid, doing what Aussie teenagers have done for more than a century, has died instead. She won’t be the last.
The Senate’s environment committee, chaired by Green Tasmanian Peter Whish-Wilson, will coincidentally hold public hearings into shark mitigation strategies in Perth on Thursday. If, when the hearings begin, the committee expresses sympathy for the latest victim’s family, it will be an act of breathtaking hypocrisy.
As reported in The Australian this month, the committee has already reached a conclusion that its job is to help revive the number of sharks in our waters, downplay the dangers they pose, dismiss methods that have proven successful in Queensland and Sydney, and educate the public about these “wonderful” and “extraordinary” animals.
Its priority is the safety of sharks first, people second.
Of the six people invited to the Perth hearings, two are conservationist academics (UWA professors Shaun Collin and Rebecca Meeuwig); one is selling an unreliable personal electronic deterrent (Shark Shield); one advocates the immediate abandonment of drumlins and nets in Queensland, the presence of which has coincided with an almost complete absence of fatal attacks for 50 years (Sea Shepherd); and another is SLSWA, whose timid six-point plan is outlined above.
The committee’s hearing in Sydney last month repeatedly heard witnesses say that surfers and other ocean users must accept the risk of entering the water. Even surfers are spouting this line these days.
“Real surfers understand that sharks are extraordinary beasts and that we are in their environment,” Surfrider Foundation representative Brendan Donohoe, from Sydney’s North Narrabeen beach, told the committee during its Sydney hearings last month.
Whish-Wilson jokingly responded: “I would be more scared of the locals at North Narrabeen than I would be of sharks.”
Mr Donohoe also told the committee that “there are a lot of morons around”, by which he meant there were many people who blamed governments for the shark crisis currently affecting Australia. “The idea that it is someone else’s fault is astounding to me. Everyone knows the risk, and the risk is not statistically lessened by anything we do.”
Committee member Lee Rhiannon responded by saying: “Thanks very much. It is a really interesting discussion.”
Rhiannon’s concern was not reducing the increasing number of aggressive sharks in our waters, but making surfers “alert to the environment”.
This is another example of how dramatically this debate has shifted towards shark, not human, safety. Originally, the opposite was the case.
In 2000, the CSIRO’s chief great white researcher, Barry Bruce, told the ABC he was conducting research that hopefully would “predict the areas where encounters… are more common and understand more about their populations”.
He said something similar in 2006, that his research might predict “where sharks are likely to be” so resources for “looking after people” could be “better targeted”.
Researchers, including Bruce himself, last year conceded that such predictions are impossible. A report for the WA Department of Fisheries, co-authored by Bruce after conducting one of the biggest shark tagging and tracking projects in history, found that great white behaviour is “highly variable” and “not consistent”.
Similarly, Bruce’s counterpart in NSW, the Department of Primary Industries’ Vic Peddemors, compared shark movements to a dropped bag of marbles - “they go everywhere”.
The focus among researchers and politicians now is to find ways that minimise attacks without killing sharks or other marine creatures. Many of these methods are astonishingly expensive and mostly unproven.
All this research and inquiry has achieved little for beach safety. Meanwhile, Australia’s international reputation as a great coastal tourist destination is dying. So too are our formerly happy coastal surfing towns.
It would be encouraging if the Senate committee shifted its focus towards reducing the number of sharks off our waters, but the signs suggest this is extremely unlikely.
Leftist leader's stance on new coalmine doesn’t stack up
Just because you’re spending other people’s money doesn’t excuse you from making choices.
Should the government lend $900 million to help lay 189km of heavy rail track in central Queensland capable of transporting 60 million tonnes of premium thermal coal a year?
Or would it be better to splash out on a 12km tram line to convey beret-clad Canberrans between coffee shops on Northbourne Avenue?
The carbon fearmongerers are implacably opposed to the first option but are crazy about the Gungahlin tram, a green vanity project adopted by the ACT Labor government that will fleece an estimated $937m from taxpayers during its lifetime.
It is the type of project that ticks all the boxes for the modern Labor Party, satisfying the romantic yearnings of its progressive base and the anti-competitive tendencies of its union sponsors. Construction work on Capital Metro is effectively a Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union closed shop — inflated pay packets, fanciful allowances and abundant rostered days off.
Fixed point-to-point transport projects are unlikely to “stack up”, as Bill Shorten would put it, in a city with a population 12 times smaller than Melbourne and one of the highest car ownership rates in the country.
Even on the most optimistic assumptions the line is expected to generate less than $340,000 a month in revenue across its first 20 years, meaning that for every dollar a passenger pays, the taxpayer will be throwing in a tenner.
If there were a prize for egregious public investment, the Gungahlin tram, cruising at a stately 29km/h across broad acres of Canberra’s median strips, would be hard to beat.
Enter Shorten, the leader of what was once called the workers’ party, who raves about public transport but is unsure if the business case for the Adani Carmichael line “stacks up”. “I am not convinced the taxpayer of Australia should underwrite the risk of the project through a billion-dollar loan,” he told reporters in Brisbane last week.
Shorten’s decision to align himself with the fanciful claims of the fruitcake fringe and against the interests of private industry is a seminal moment for the ALP.
Labor’s ideological journey from a socialist party that merely wanted to take over the means of production to a deep green party that wants to close down the whole lot is complete.
Construction of the Carmichael mine would boost sluggish regional economies from Gladstone to Townsville, lifting wages and employment. A concessional government loan for the rail link would mean that up to five more mines might follow.
Yet Shorten is content to let the green reactionaries triumph and leave the Galilee Basin coal reserves untouched. The interests of the workers are sacrificed for environmental populism.
Labor’s flirtation with the green movement began in the early 1980s when Bob Hawke decided to stand with Bob Brown in opposing the Franklin Dam. It was a popular move on the mainland, where Hawke won the 1983 election with a 4 per cent swing. There was a 4 per cent swing against Labor in Tasmania, however, where the dam meant progress and jobs.
Hawke’s finance minister, Peter Walsh, warned that no good would come from trying to satisfy the insatiable demands of ecological activists. Labor, he wrote in his memoir, had knowingly put Tasmanian blue-collar workers out of work “to appease the bourgeois left and middle-class trendoids in the gentrified suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne”.
What Walsh and others did not predict was that the workers would eventually be squeezed out by the middle-class trendoids, just as they were squeezed out from the workers’ cottages in inner-Sydney Chippendale.
Nor could anyone have foreseen in 1983 that the kayak-paddling nature lovers blockading the Franklin would spawn a protest industry with a nine-figure turnover, or that demonisation of dams would be eclipsed by the demonisation of coal, a combustible sedimentary rock that gave us modernity.
By the mid-1980s, the green movement, radicalised by its own success, was congratulating itself on locking away every hectare of untamed wilderness and was looking for new targets for its righteous anger.
The marginal, drought-prone pastures of the Galilee Basin became a cause worth fighting for once the Greens had succeeded in portraying coal as public enemy No 1.
The anti-coal campaigners met their match in Gautam Adani, a university dropout from India’s Gujarat state who set up his own diamond brokerage at 20 and traded his way to become a multi-billionaire.
The Adani Group’s stubborn refusal to let green spoiling tactics stop its plan to open Australia’s largest coalmine makes its tenacious chairman a true Aussie hero.
There is far more at stake in this fight than the fate of one coalmine, just as more rested on the Franklin campaign than the future of one dam. It is a test of strength between ideology and pragmatism, a choice between deep-green dogma and progress.
If the environmentalists were to win this fight it would put an effective moratorium on the expansion of coal for the next 30 years, just as Franklin put a stop to large-scale water storage.
By refusing to offer material support to the project, Shorten, on behalf of Labor, has effectively thrown in the towel. He presumes to know better than private sector investors prepared to risk billions of dollars of their own capital in the project by declaring that the project doesn’t stack up.
He is prepared to fight Malcolm Turnbull over the allocation of money from the Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility, controlled by an independent board charged with offering concessional loans to projects that pass a public interest test on which they can reasonably expect a return.
In his 2016 book, For the Common Good, Shorten dismissed the future of thermal coal and instead declared his ambition to make Australia a “clean energy superpower”. The growth in mining exports is fading, he declared. Renewable energy is “the biggest business opportunity in the history of business”, and Labor, in time, will be shown to be “on the right the side of history”.
Now that Shorten has revealed his intention to put the kybosh on Adani, the portent of his extravagant rhetoric is a little less opaque.
Two Vic cops in court on assault, perjury
Two Victoria Police officers who allegedly assaulted a pair of teens and lied about it are expected to front court in Melbourne.
Senior Constables Simon Mareangareu and Dennis Gundrill face charges of assault, false imprisonment, perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice over an altercation involving two teenage boys near a Vermont convenience store on Christmas Day 2014.
The pair are expected in Melbourne Magistrates' Court for a committal hearing on Tuesday.
Court documents allege the officers deleted a video and audio recording from a mobile phone belonging to one of the teens, made a false statement and compiled false evidence against the teenage boys.
Among seven witnesses listed to testify is the father of one of the boys.
Mareangareu, 52, and Gundrill, 58, were initially charged with assault, but conversations between the OPP and Professional Standards Command found it would also be appropriate to lay other charges, police have previously said.
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.). For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me here