Monday, July 31, 2017

Bill Shorten promises $17.2 billion tax crackdown on trusts

This attack on trusts takes no account of alternative tax avoidance measures. Say I own a business and have a non-working wife.  I simply give my wife a 25% share in the business.  So the profits are legally and properly shared in that ratio too.  So I have a smaller tax base and she pays little or no tax.  Voila! More money for the family and less to the tax man.  "Tax the rich" attempts always runs up against avoidance strategies.  And let us not mention the "black" economy. I might mention that I have a family trust but don't use it for tax avoidance so would not be hit by the new measures. Trusts have many uses

Bill Shorten will slam the door shut on tax loopholes that let high income earners legally use trusts to slash their tax bills, in a move designed to raise $17.2 billion over 10 years.

The new tax policy, foreshadowed by Fairfax Media a week ago, is the second-largest revenue raising measure announced by the federal opposition, after its ambitious plan to curb capital gains and negative gearing tax breaks, designed to raise $37 billion over 10 years.

Mr Shorten will tell Labor's NSW conference on Sunday that, if he wins the next election, he will introduce an across-the-board minimum 30 per cent tax rate on discretionary trust distributions to people over the age of 18.

The policy, Labor argues, will only affect 2 per cent of taxpayers and is a fairness measure that puts middle-income earners on level pegging with Australia's most wealthy.

The bold plan to change the rules for discretionary trusts – put in the too-hard basket by previous governments – will be framed as a tough but necessary decision to tackle Australia's ballooning debt, which is on track to pass half a trillion dollars under the Coalition government.

Discretionary trusts allow high-income earners to distribute money to family members on lower incomes and tax rates – for example, to adult children at university – and, by so doing, reducing their own tax liability.

This sort of income splitting is legal but, Mr Shorten will argue, it is effectively a subsidy for wealthy Australians paid for by middle-income earners and is unfair as ordinary PAYG workers cannot split their income in the same way.

Mr Shorten will say that, over four years, the changes will raise $4.1 billion in revenue for the Commonwealth and that, with Australia's AAA rating under threat, "we don't have the luxury of leaving everything in the too-hard basket".

"We need to make the tough decisions to build a fairer tax system, a stronger budget, a stronger nation. This must include cracking down on artificial income splitting to avoid tax.

"A healthcare worker at the Nepean Hospital can't go down to payroll and request that they split her income to reduce her tax. A hospitality worker in Blacktown doesn't get to give herself a tax cut by moving some money into her partner's account.

"I don't begrudge anyone the money they've made. But our system should not be subsidising those who are already wealthy, and our budget cannot afford to."

Labor says non-discretionary trusts such as special disability trusts, deceased estates and fixed trusts will not be touched and – in a move that will shut down a key line of attack from the Turnbull government – it will also not apply to farming or charitable trusts.

Similarly, Labor will attempt to firewall itself from criticism by arguing the policy change follows a change made by John Howard, when he was Treasurer in the early 1980s, that saw income distribution to minors taxed at the top marginal tax rate.

Australian Taxation Office figures from 2014-15 showed there were 823,448 trusts in Australia with assets of $3.1 trillion and revenue of $349.2 billion and that about 78 per cent, or 642,416, of those trusts were discretionary trusts used by high-income earners to reduce their tax bill.

According to research from the progressive Australia Institute think tank, the use of discretionary trusts may be costing the Commonwealth as much as $3.5 billion a year in revenue. University of NSW tax professor Dale Bocabella has estimated the figure at about $2 billion a year.

Labor's estimated revenue numbers, from the independent Parliamentary Budget Office, are well below these figures.

The Turnbull government is likely to attack the plan as another example of class warfare from the Labor leader that does nothing to grow the economic pie but, rather, relies on the politics of envy and serves only as a redistributive measure.

Taken together, these promises are a gamble by Mr Shorten but, also, demonstrate his determination not to repeat the mistake of Tony Abbott's "small target" strategy ahead of the 2013 election.


Bill Shorten vows to hold vote on republic during first term of a Labor government

The last referendum returned a big vote in favour of the monarchy so this should be a loser for Shorten

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will promise to give Australians a vote on whether to become a republic during the first term of a future Labor government.

The promise, to be made in a landmark speech to the Australian Republican Movement on Saturday, will dramatically reignite debate about whether Australia should have its own head of state.

In a move that will energise republicans and give supporters of an Australian head of state a clear choice between Labor and the Turnbull government ahead of the next election, Mr Shorten will pledge to hold a simple "Yes" or "No" vote.

The question would be: "Do you support an Australian republic with an Australian head of state?"

The promise means a first vote on the issue would be held sometime between 2019 and 2022, to be followed by a second vote after that would settle on the tricky topic of the best model.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said the republic debate should not be considered until after the Queen dies. But Mr Shorten will argue the debate does not require Australia to "wait for a change of monarch, we don't need to tip-toe around our future".

"I'm confident Queen Elizabeth would farewell us with the same affection and good grace she has shown every time a Commonwealth nation has made the decision to cut its ties with the monarchy. We can vote for a republic and still respect Queen Elizabeth," he will say.

Mr Shorten has previously said he would like to see an Australian head of state by 2025.

Mr Shorten believes Australia can retain its sporting and cultural links to the Commonwealth even if it voted to leave it.

"We can vote for a republic and recognise that Will and Kate have two seriously cute kids. We can vote for a republic and still binge watch The Crown on Netflix. And we can vote for a republic without derailing the business of government, or the priorities of this nation," he will say.

"I know an Australian republic isn't front-of-mind for everyone, but I don't buy the argument that we can't have this debate until every other problem in the nation has been's no good hoping for a popular groundswell – we must set a direction and bring people with us, and we have to do it early."


Residents fight to stop NBN and Telstra from axing 'state of the art' HFC network

For the residents of one of Sydney's tallest buildings, the arrival of the national broadband network has spelt the end of fast and affordable high-speed internet.

But last year, NBN ordered Telstra to scrap the HFC system and move customers onto its fibre-to-the-building (FTTB) technology, which it had installed using the building's 20-year-old copper phone lines.

One angry resident is well-known property developer Rick Graf. He is refusing to switch, aghast at the poor experiences of his neighbours.

"With the HFC backbone, I'm getting 120Mbps internet – over Wi-Fi," he said. "A neighbour of mine has switched to NBN and on a high-paying plan, and he can't get more than 50Mbps."

A quarter of Elan's 276 households are estimated to be using the HFC internet service.

Late last year, Telstra began telling Elan residents, via information sessions and letters, to move to the NBN and experience "fast downloads, better productivity, a brighter future", before it turned off the HFC system in February 2018.

NBN has the legal power to compel telcos such as Telstra to decommission their HFC and ADSL networks in return for compensation.

Mr Graf said NBN had effectively "downgraded" the building's infrastructure by choosing to connect the fibres to old copper lines instead of the HFC backbone.

"I'm not moving. Once we hear back from NBN about their reasons, we'll be taking this to the Ombudsman," said Mr Graf.

"It's counter-intuitive for NBN to downgrade the technology and give everyone half the speed."

The Elan building has become another flashpoint in the ongoing blame game between NBN and telcos over the escalating complaints about and general dissatisfaction with the $49 billion project.

NBN Co chief executive Bill Morrow last week sought to downplay growing complaints by admitting to a 15 per cent dissatisfaction rate among customers connecting to the NBN. This could add up to more than 2 million users.

Mr Morrow said complaints from that cohort were becoming more audible now that the network was being made available to about 100,000 new premises every week.

An NBN spokesman said FTTB was the "best fit" and the "easier" option from an engineering point of view.

He said FTTB was capable of delivering speeds of 100Mbps, but retailers had to buy sufficient capacity or bandwidth.

He claimed retailers, including Telstra, were automatically placing customers on 12Mbps or 25Mbps plans unless they specifically asked for faster speeds, causing speed and congestion problems.

A Telstra spokesperson said customers shouldn't see much of a difference if they remained on the same speed tier.

"We actively monitor and manage our capacity on the NBN network to ensure we have the right level of bandwidth to support customer speeds," she said.

"Speeds on the NBN vary due to quite a large number of factors ... some are managed by retailers, others are designed and controlled by NBN."

Another resident, electrical engineer John Flanagan, who is refusing to switch, said his neighbour's internet connection had dropped from 110 to 30Mbps.

He is paying $29 per month for 25GB of data, which is a relatively small amount, delivered at an enviable 100Mbps.

Based on flyers left in his mailbox, he would have to pay iiNet or TPG $100 per month to remain in the same speed tier. IPrimus' best offer was unlimited data at 25Mbps for $80 a month.

"It's ridiculous," said Mr Flanagan. "I'm not going to pay more for an inferior service."

He said NBN should use the HFC cables to provide internet services or upgrade the cables.

This is because elsewhere in Australia, NBN is upgrading HFC technology to "DOCSIS 3.1", which can deliver lightning download speeds of 1Gbps.

"NBN says that HFC is the way of the future, so why can't they upgrade our existing system so that we can get speeds of 1GB [1000Mbps] and 100Mbps upload speeds and beyond?" he asked.

Residents who have tried to switch back to the HFC network have been blocked by Telstra.

Emeritus Professor Rod Tucker, an electronic engineering expert at University of Melbourne, suggested NBN could take a more flexible stance and allow Elan to keep the HFC network. "This is an isolated case and it is not going to cause NBN any significant financial disadvantage," he said.

"If NBN can provide a high-quality service on their network, they might be able, over time, to attract some of the residents using HFC onto the NBN."

He said under Labor's NBN plan, any shortfall in the bandwidth provided to customers would be the retailer's fault, and the tensions now emerging could have been avoided. "The best possible outcome for the residents of this complex would be to upgrade their network to DOCSIS 3.1, and retain it for access to the NBN," he said.

NBN spokesperson Tony Brown said the logistics around new connections were more complicated than they used to be, when there was a good chance that a single company – Telstra – owned the relationship with the customer from the retail face to the copper and exchanges underlying it.

"Now you've got NBN Co, then 43 retail service providers buying directly from the NBN, and another 141 sub-resellers buying capacity from Optus or wherever it might be, so it's not as simple as it used to be," Mr Brown said.

Resident Pam Cassidy's plan is to "jump up and down" until NBN changes its decision. One afternoon, she popped into her neighbour's flat to compare internet speeds. Her neighbour's NBN-delivered internet was "extremely slow".

"Call me old-fashioned but if you've got a service that's good, why change it?" she asked.  "Why change it to something that is not good?"


NSW ALP set to back Palestine despite 'furious' lobbying by Israeli government

The Left love Muslims because they both hate the rest of us

Labor leader Bill Shorten will be under increasing pressure to recognise Palestine after the party's NSW conference appears set to make an "historic" push to do so, despite some MPs complaining about "extraordinary interventions" and lobbying against the motion by the Israeli government.

On Friday afternoon shortly before NSW Labor Right figures met to negotiate on the wording of a proposal that would "urge" a future federal Labor government to recognise a Palestinian state, state MPs who were delegates at this weekend's NSW party conference received an email.

"Time and again throughout its history Israel has extended a hand of peace only to have it rejected by the Palestinians," the three-page document from the Public Affairs Section of the Israeli Embassy labelled as a fact sheet and obtained by Fairfax Media, reads. "The international community must speak up against the culture of oppression, genocidal rhetoric, terror and incitement that is prevalent among the Palestinians."

Former Premier Bob Carr told Fairfax Media there had been a "furious" lobbying campaign against the motion, which will "urge" a future federal Labor government to recognise Palestine and be voted on by 800 party conference delegates on Sunday.

"How did they know which MPs were delegates [only up to one-third of caucus go to conference]?" one NSW MP told Fairfax Media on condition of anonymity, saying the list was not publicly available.

An email and phone call to the Israeli Embassy in Canberra was not returned.

Former foreign minister Bob Carr said: "It's an honour to be asked by the party to move an historic motion that supports recognition of Palestine and to do so in the face of a furious lobbying campaign."

The final motion, unlike that originally presented to conference, includes an affirmation of a two-state solution and supports Israel's right to exist "within secure and recognised borders" something pro-Israel Labor MPs said was a significant addition to the party's original approach and a significant watering down of a provocative motion.

Some MPs in the right dismissed the addition as mere boilerplate but another observer said the phrase "within secure and recognised borders" could prove highly significant.

Pro-Palestinian NSW MPs claim they were subject to other lobbying last week from official and back channels, such as suggestions of alternative motions including that Australia only acknowledge Palestine when that country's institutions improve.

Mr Carr caused a fissure in the Gillard government by advocating abstaining on a motion before the UN on upgrading Palestine's official observer status, when the then-PM advocated voting against the proposal.

Mr Carr later wrote in his memoirs that the former prime minister was overly influenced by the Israel lobby and constituents in Melbourne.

Backers say the motion is an historic break for Labor, whose support for Israel dates back to its the 1940s and backing from party legend and former UN General Assembly President, Doc Evatt.

But that support, particularly in the NSW Right, has been weakening recently, particularly as the party relies more heavily on voters descended from middle-eastern countries in Sydney's west for its supporter base.

Earlier this month frontbencher Tanya Plibersek said foreign affairs was a matter for the party's national conference and would not be influenced by state branches.

But state conferences can influence policy debate significantly, party insiders say. Queensland Labor's conference this weekend also reportedly backed recognition.

At Labor's last national conference leader Bill Shorten's Victorian Right faction opposed any change to policy on Palestinian recognition.


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

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Powerful ‘after rape’ pics show university problem (?)

I don't quite see why pictures of young women holding signs is "powerful". Given the pro-female bias in the educational system, I doubt that the story is true.  University culture from top down is pro-female so the claim that universities have a rape culture and even cover up rapes on campus could not be true per-se, but making the claim fits perfectly with university feminist mentality. It is an example of feminist detachment from reality and a needing to see things in a negative way, even the opposite of how they really are.

So the women with signs are just attention-seeking, more likely. 

And as we see from many British court cases, false rape cries are common so --  in that context -- at least initial skepticism displays proper caution.  Many innocent men have had their lives ruined by false accusations -- even after being exonerated

RAPE survivors and other university students have launched a powerful social media campaign to expose how Australian universities have mishandled rape and sexual assault complaints.

Holding messages condemning university inaction and cover-up, the survivors and other students are photographed holding signs calling out their institutions.

“My university punishes plagiarism more harshly than rape” wrote one student from the University of Sydney.

“I was sued for defamation for speaking out against a college covering up rape” wrote another. has confirmed the woman’s claims.

End Rape On Campus Australia, along with myself, designed the campaign to ensure that the voices and views of students are not sidelined next week, when a national report into rape at universities is released by the Australian Human Rights Commission.

After all, it’s often all too easy to forget that behind every statistic there lies a real person.

All too often, the temptation is to reduce sexual assault survivors to mere numbers without recognising the horror and complexity of each survivor’s story.
Students’ powerful plea to #EndRapeOnCampus

University students pose with signs in support of the End Rape on Campus campaign.

By putting a face on the issue, we not only humanise students’ stories, but importantly, it makes it much more difficult for universities to dismiss concerns via damage control strategies aimed at whitewashing the issue and protecting their own reputations.

And some of the stories we have heard at End Rape On Campus are absolutely harrowing.

One rape survivor called out her head of college for disbelieving her when she reported her rape to him.

“This does not sound like a boy who just raped a girl” the head of college allegedly remarked.

As for me, having spent a solid year reporting on sexual assault and rape at Australian universities — including revealing cases where staff members have raped students — the message I most want to send to all survivors next week is a very simple one:

I believe you. It’s not your fault. You’re not alone.

We’ve got your backs.


Prof Peter Ridd: the Great Barrier Reef recovers, our science institutions are failing us, science needs to be checked

Who is Peter Ridd? Some context first:



When marine scientist Peter Ridd suspected something was wrong with photographs being used to highlight the rapid decline of the Great Barrier Reef, he did what good scientists are supposed to do: he sent a team to check the facts.

After attempting to blow the whistle on what he found — healthy corals — Professor Ridd was censured by James Cook University and threatened with the sack. After a formal investigation, Professor Ridd — a renowned campaigner for quality assurance over coral research from JCU’s Marine Geophysics Laboratory — was found guilty of “failing to act in a collegial way and in the academic spirit of the institution”.

His crime was to encourage questioning of two of the nation’s leading reef institutions, the Centre of Excellence for Coral Studies and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, on whether they knew that photographs they had published and claimed to show long-term collapse of reef health could be misleading and wrong.


Alan Jones, interviews Peter Ridd,  James Cook university professor of physics about the state of the Great Barrier Reef

The coral reef recovers.

Peter Ridd: Coral Reefs recover — “the scientists make hay when it dies in a spectacular way but they are quiet when it recovers.”

On symbionts — “There is a large variety of symbionts and some allow coral to grow faster but are more sensitive to bleaching.”

All the corals on the Great Barrier Reef live and grow much faster in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Thailand where the water is much hotter than it is on the reef and the corals just juggle these symbionts.  

Corals have a little thermometer built in them, when you take a core of them from many years ago we know what the temperature of the water was back when Captain Cook sailed up the coast, it was actually about the same temperature then. It was colder 100 years ago, but it has recovered from that. The temperatures on the reef are not even significantly warmer than average on a hundred year timescale.

Corals that bleach in one year will be less susceptible to bleaching in following years.

On the failure of modern science:

Peter Ridd: We can no longer rely on our science institutions. This is a very sad thing.

We are like a ship upon the ocean when our science fails and we need to do something about it. … This science is almost never checked.

Alan Jones: All these things [bleaching, crown of thorns] have been around for millennia, I love this line, as you write “long before scientists got hold of any scuba gear.”

Peter Ridd: These things only became a problem when scientists pop up on the scene.

Scientists are trying to close down, or affect adversely the sugar cane, the cattle, and the coal industry, and they are also telling the world the reef is dead which affects the tourist industry in Queensland.

Like a bushfire… It [bleaching] looks terrible when it happens but it grows back.

On the future:

Peter Ridd: There needs to be a properly funded group of scientists who sole job is to find fault in the science with which we are basing expensive public policy decisions ….


Australian liberalism is conservative in sense Disraeli would appreciate


A dogma, Groucho Marx might have said, is a man’s best friend. After all, no one could deny that a fixed set of beliefs can sustain good combat, soothe defeat and simplify hard choices.

But in democratic politics, the blinkers dogmas impose are the surest road to ruin.

Malcolm Turnbull was therefore right, in his recent Disraeli Prize oration, to raise the fundamental question of what the Liberal Party stands for. And the mere fact that his speech fuelled yet more debilitating infighting does not detract from the importance of the issues he raised.

Yes, disunity can be death; but suppressing debate is a recipe for extinction.

Of course, Labor doesn’t have that problem. As a coalition of rent-snatchers — going from the thugs of the CFMEU through to the interest groups that live off the taxes of others — the only dilemma that seems to torment it is how to extract the resources needed to fund its many promises.

Little wonder then that any real thought perished long ago, smothered in the rhetoric of fairness, with Julia Gillard’s effort at articulating the ALP’s raison d’etre highlighting the intellectual collapse: Labor, she famously declared, is as it is because “we are us”.

But Labor’s determination to imitate the sea squirt — which starts life swimming with the aid of a brain but once it finds a home, ­digests the now redundant organ and basks in the life of a vegetable — cannot excuse the Liberal Party from re-engaging with its history, values and principles.

To say that is not to suggest those form a monolithic whole, whose meaning can be discerned by consulting a sacred source. For all his enormous merits, Menzies was not a prophet, and nothing he wrote or said amounts to holy writ.

Indeed, it is hard to conceive of an approach more antithetical to liberalism than the belief that, as Isaiah Berlin put it, “somewhere, in the past or in the future, in divine revelation, in the pronouncements of history or science, or in the simple heart of the uncorrupted man, there is a final solution” to the practical problems of governing.

It is precisely because liberalism dismisses that Promethean conceit that it respects institutions that have stood the test of time, rejects grand projects of social transformation and accepts the inevitability of trade-offs between equally meritorious ends.

Like Dr Bernard Rieux, the hero of Camus’s The Plague — who says: “Salvation is just too big a word for me. I don’t aim so high. I’m concerned with man’s health; and for me, his health comes first” — its goal is not to endow life with splendour and greatness.

Rather, in resisting the temptation to put too high a hope on political achievement, it contents itself, as Michael Oakeshott suggested, with providing a framework for “the gradual readjustment of human relationships by fallible men”.

That is necessarily a matter of time and place.

And Menzies’ genius lay precisely in grasping the changing realities of postwar Australia and attracting the social forces Labor had ignored and ill-treated. It is that achievement the Liberals need to emulate, instead of descending into scholastic disputes about Menzies’ views.

The difficulties that lie in the way of replicating Menzies’ achievement are formidable.

In the postwar world, the threat of communism created a natural fault line; today’s adversaries are less sharply defined. Australian society is also far more heterogeneous, and has lost all sense of a shared past or a common future.

Moreover, although liberalism is not tied to any religion, its underlying premise — that men are not gods, and that salvation, like ultimate truth, is not of this world — clashes with the unbounded self-assurance of a secular age.

Yet the threats Liberals need to confront are as great as ever. At one end are the jackboots of the unions, whose lawlessness has been condoned by the ACTU secretary; at the other, the new totalitarians whose belief in the ability to reshape the messiness of human affairs along “rational” lines, whatever the cost, reaches its peak among the climate change zealots.

How Benjamin Disraeli would have reacted to all of that is impossible to know. What is certain is that many viewers would have felt an element of irony in watching Turnbull receive a prize honouring a man of whom it was said, only slightly unfairly, that “he never thought seriously of anything except his career”.

That Disraeli coined the phrase “the greasy pole” was therefore unsurprising; and it was unsurprising too that in his rush to dislodge Robert Peel, he launched what David Cesarani, in a brilliant study, terms an “unprecedented parliamentary vendetta”, with his triumph of “intellect and unscrupulousness” transforming the Tories into “a party in chronic revolt and unceasing conspiracy”.

Yet it is equally certain that no one better understood that, as Disraeli himself put it, “Great politicians must feel comfortable both in themselves and in their times.”

Whatever his flaws, he forced the Tories to adapt to a society reshaped by the Industrial Revolution; and his greatest political achievements — the Reform Act of 1867, which gave ordinary working men the vote, and the avalanche of social legislation that followed it — reflected a conviction that workers, far from wishing to destroy society, were natural conservatives, united in their respect for national institutions and in the aspiration for a better future.

In that sense, Australian liberalism has also always been conservative: not in trying to preserve the past but in balancing continuity and change, stability and aspiration, self-reliance and mutual assistance.

Reasserting its core principles requires lucidity, not dogma, and mature reflection, not personal attacks.

Whether our political class is capable of that remains, at best, unproven.


Our students and teachers deserve better

Jennifer Buckingham

I had the privilege of travelling to England to speak with some of the world’s best researchers on how children learn to read, and to observe how high-performing schools use this research to get all children reading.

There is no longer any serious debate in England about the need for explicit phonics instruction in early reading instruction. In fact, it is mandatory for all English primary schools to teach synthetic phonics — a method of instruction that systematically shows children the connection between spoken and written language, and how to use the English alphabetic code to read and spell.

The quality of synthetic phonics instruction is still uneven. Not all teachers have sufficient depth of knowledge and expertise yet. Nonetheless, there is evidence via the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check (PSC) that instruction has improved. In the first year of the national PSC in 2012, 58% of Year 1 students achieved the expected standard. In 2016, 81% of students achieved the standard.

England’s progress in implementing effective early reading instruction was accelerated by the ‘Rose Review’ of early reading by Sir Jim Rose, published in 2006. It strongly endorsed the ‘Simple View of Reading’– a conceptual model which emphasises the importance of both decoding (word reading accuracy) and comprehension — and found that synthetic phonics was the most effective method of instruction, especially for children from disadvantaged backgrounds or with language difficulties.

The Simple View model is strongly supported by research from multiple disciplines. UK Schools Minister Nick Gibb was influenced by this research and has relentlessly pursued the adoption of effective reading instruction, firmly believing that reading is key to educational success and social mobility.

Australia had its own review of the teaching of reading — the National Inquiry into Teaching Literacy (NITL) — the report of which was published in 2005. Its findings were remarkably similar to the Rose Review.

Yet it\ has had very little impact on reading instruction in Australia. Instead of citing the recent scientific research of Professors Maggie Snowling, Kate Nation, Anne Castles, or Charles Hulme, our Australian literacy academics drag out the outdated, unsubstantiated socio-theoretical views of Ken Goodman and Stephen Krashen.

Australia has many outstanding teachers of reading, but they are too often swimming upstream against poor quality reading programs and policy. Australian teachers and students deserve better.


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

Friday, July 28, 2017

Christmas cards and the word 'Jesus' could be BANNED in schoolyards in a bid to increase religious inclusiveness

The Queensland government are moving to ban Christian references from school events and playgrounds in sweeping changes to education practices.

The Department of Education have conducted a review into the system and educating students about religion.

Officials are concerned non-religious children are being exposed to and forced to immerse themselves in Christianity, with even references to Jesus to be banned from the schoolyard, The Australian reported.

The Department of Education's report stated the responsibility of the school 'to take appropriate action if aware that students participating in Religious Instruction are evangelising to students who do not.'

'This could adversely affect the school's ability to provide a safe, supportive and inclusive ­environment,' the report earlier this year stated.

Examples of evangelising, as explained in the report, including sharing Christmas cards themed with Jesus' birth and life, making bracelets to share 'the good news about Jesus' and making ornaments to give to each other.

Education Minister Kate Jones promised to clampdown on religious practices, and Christian groups are becoming increasingly concerned at the government's agenda to remove their influence from schools.

Neil Foster, a religion and law professor, told The Australian the government's changes are 'deeply concerning' and 'possibly illegal'.

Independent Studies research fellow Peter Kurti said it was a 'massive assault on freedom of speech and freedom of religion' and believes the government's fears are a total overreaction.

'I don't think that children have the maturity to comprehend let alone evangelise.' 


Labor’s version of equality is to punish talent

I had the great pleasure of attending a 60th birthday and a wedding in the past week, at which numerous young adults made speeches. They celebrated family, love and loyalty, and, yes, exuded success.

They were superb. Australia, your future is in good hands. These young adults will continue our great good fortune, despite the worst efforts of cringe-worthy government decisions.

And cringe-worthy government decisions are all around. Tony Abbott’s cringe was to impose a temporary levy on the top marginal income tax rate. This measure, to address the deficit, gave licence to those who think that government — that is, other people — have a right to your money. Abbott gave licence to class envy.

This error, on the part of a Liberal leader, was so inexcusable as to be politically fatal. To this point, Malcolm Turnbull has made no such error. Mind you, his bank tax came close because, among other things, it gave licence to the execrable South Australian Labor government to do the same.

As to the alternative government, Shorten Labor is moving unerringly left. More cringe-worthy government decisions await.

Bill Shorten is running on inequality. For this, read class envy. The only way to satiate class envy is to tax those who have and give it to those who have not.

The consequences, however, are that talent is punished and bad decisions and behaviour are rewarded. And remember, the talented can leave Australia, others cannot. Shorten runs the risk of telling talented young Australians that it is not worth getting ahead in Australia.

Egalitarianism in Australia must be the “have a go” version, not the “screw the rich and talented” version.

My old colleague Graham Richardson supports the Shorten agenda on inequality and contrasts the circumstances of the wealthy man and the single mother living out of a car as proof of inequality. To which we are entitled to inquire: what is the relationship between the two? So far as we know, absolutely none.

Unless the rich man was in a relationship with the poor single mother, he is no more responsible for the mother than any other ­citizen. He will, however, by dint of our highly progressive taxation system, have already contributed to her parenting payment, should she be in receipt of one, helped pay to chase support from the absent male partner, if he has failed to do so, and helped pay for numerous other forms of government ­assistance.

So, why do we throw in these illustrations inferring that the rich cause poverty? They do not.

While family is the first call for help, in Australia the rich pay the bulk of taxes, the poor receive the bulk of taxes, and charity picks up the rest: it has been so for decades.

This scenario was the subject of a thoughtful speech last week by Human Services Minister Alan Tudge, in which he remarked that “the formula that worked in the past of continual increases in welfare and further services will not provide the step-change improvement needed to address modern impoverishment”.

Modern impoverishment, as he calls it, is attributed to “family breakdown, worklessness, drug and alcohol addictions, education failure, and indebtedness and lack of financial capability”.

If the rich man did not cause the single mother’s plight, who did? Best not go there … it gets very personal and very judgmental. Better to think about what to do to prevent her plight.

Poverty is intergenerational. It runs in families, and relatively few at that. Indeed, the minister has to tell the full story about the families who collectively cost the taxpayer dearly. They require serious and prolonged intervention.

We can intervene to help, we should intervene to help, but at the right time and in the right way. And for goodness’ sake, let’s not be squeamish. The taxpayer is not responsible for bad choices and bad behaviour. The taxpayer is entitled to say so.

To intervene or not to intervene is not the great schism between left and right any more — both sides are at it. The purpose and effectiveness of the intervention is what counts. Labor’s inequality gambit blames the rich: it makes no pretence of understanding the cause of poverty. And Liberals have lost their ability to inspire the aspiring classes.

The young and gifted become the rich of tomorrow. Praise them, don’t tax them more, and don’t blame them for others’ misfortune. I want to witness more great speeches.


Government makes Aboriginal problems worse, not better

According to Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane, Australia remains a racist country because ethnic minorities are not perfectly statistically represented in the upper ranks of politics, the media, and business.

However, by calling for race-based quotas to end ‘Anglo-Celtic domination’ in these fields and ensure equality of outcomes based on racial-background, Soutphommasane is trivialising the issue of racism.

The real racism we confront in Australia is not how many ‘Asian’ CEOs there are. It is the reverse racism Indigenous children are subjected to in relation to child protection.

Indigenous children who need to be removed from their parents are treated differently to non-Indigenous children in ways that compromise their well-being and prospects in life — a form of racial discrimination about which ‘human rights’ activists like Soutphommasane are silent.

Thanks to our egalitarian values and modern attitudes towards race, we do not have anything that resembles a racial underclass denied equality of opportunity in this country — with one glaring exception.

The exception is the most disadvantaged Indigenous Australians who predominately live in rural and remote ‘Homeland’ communities.

Established in the 1970s under the policy of Aboriginal Self-Determination as implemented by the Whitlam government, the Homelands experiment in separatist development was designed to allow Indigenous people to return to their ‘country’ to live on their traditional lands and practice traditional culture.

In reality, however, these communities have long suffered from a well-known array of social problems — despite the billions spent on Indigenous programs and support services — including major concerns for child welfare due to high levels of child abuse and neglect.

As a result, Indigenous children are removed from their families at 10 times the rate of non-indigenous. Of the 45,000 children living into care across Australia, one-third are indigenous, and total more than 6% of all Indigenous children.

What is less well-known is how Indigenous disadvantage – appalling social outcomes in health, housing, education, and employment concentrated in rural and remote communities – is perpetuated by Indigenous-specific child protection policies.

Under the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle (ACPP) practiced in all states and territories, the preferred option is to place Indigenous children into ‘kinship care’ with relatives or local community members in the name of ensuring children maintain contact with traditional culture.

This is consistent with the separatist principles of self-determination. Yet the complying with the ACCP means that the priority given to ‘culture’ can outweigh child welfare concerns.

In Indigenous communities in which there are more maltreated children needing care than there are functional adults capable of providing suitable homes, children can end up being placed in accordance with the ACPP in unsafe kinship placements that do not meet basic standards, and into which non-Indigenous children would not be placed.

As the last inquiry into child protection in the Northern Territory (the 2010 Bath Report) found, the ACCP had justified “Aboriginal children in care receiving a lesser standard of care than non-Aboriginal children.”

These findings have been echoed by the recent evidence given at the Western Australian coroner’s inquiry into high rates of Indigenous youth suicide.

The common threads in 13 cases of Aboriginal children and young people who killed themselves between November 2012 and March 2016 in the Kimberley region include family homes featuring alcohol abuse and domestic violence; long histories of safety concerns ranging from chronic neglect of basic needs to sexual abuse; and “frequent moves between households of various family members and guardians”.

This is to say that, due to the ACPP, Indigenous children are taken out of the frying pan of family dysfunction only to be placed back into the fire of broader community dysfunction.

Recognising these problems, and the tragic consequences for many children, the South Australian government recently proposed an amendment to the state’s child welfare laws that would have enabled Indigenous children to escape being caught up in the present system.

The plan was to remove the application of the ACPP if an Indigenous child made an “informed choice” not to identify as Aboriginal in relation to placement decisions. This would, it follows, have allowed Indigenous children to be placed with safe and suitable non-Indigenous foster carers outside their communities.

However, the government dropped this provision from the new child protection act passed this month  in response to protests by offended Aboriginal groups,  who nonsensically argued that allowing children the right to opt-out of the ACPP “reeks of forced assimilation”.

The emotive claim that upholding the ACPP will prevent another Stolen Generation may look noble.  But denying the most vulnerable children in the nation the freedom to choose to leave Indigenous communities — such as the notorious APY lands in South Australia — is deeply inequitable, and locks them out of accessing the benefits and opportunities of life in mainstream society that all other Australians take for granted.

Continued compliance with the ACPP is nothing less than a recipe for trapping another lost generation of Indigenous children in dysfunctional communities, and keeping open the gaps of Indigenous social outcomes that remain a blot on our proud national record of delivering a fair go for all.

We should take the issue of racism seriously because racism is inconsistent with the nation’s core values. Eradicating Indigenous disadvantages is the number one social challenge we face. Recognition of Indigenous children’s right to relocate, if they so wish, would protect their human right to equality of opportunity regardless of race.

A Race Discrimination Commissioner serious about eliminating real race-based social disparities should stop fretting about ‘non-Anglo’ CEO numbers, and start focusing instead on fixing Australia’s highly discriminatory child protection regime.


'They'll become terrorists': Millionaire entrepreneur Dick Smith says high immigration will create an angry underclass of unemployed - and likens population growth to cancer

Millionaire entrepreneur Dick Smith predicts Australia will suffer from a spate of terrorist attacks if it continues taking in 200,000 migrants a year.

The 73-year-old businessman and philanthropist told media commentator Mark Latham that high population growth and robots taking jobs could see 40 per cent of the nation living in poverty in coming decades.

'Those really poor people, especially the ones who can't get jobs, they'll be the ones that become terrorists because you have two or three generations without any satisfying work to do and you get angry,' he told the Mark Latham's Outsiders program.

Mark Latham was Labor leader when John Howard as prime minister increased immigration

Mr Smith, the businessman behind Dick Smith Foods and OzEmite, said Australia's population would quadruple from 24 million now to 100 million people by 2100 at the current annual population growth pace of 1.7 per cent.

This would see 40 million 'really poor people' who could potentially resort to violence.

'When you get such incredible difference between the rich and the poor, the pitchforks come out. We'll end up with people being killed,' he said.

In a separate interview with Daily Mail Australia, Mr Smith likened Australia's high annual net immigration rate to cancer which could upend democracy.

'Only cancer cells grow forever and they mostly end up killing their host,' he said.  'We will destroy Australia as we know it today.'

He accused the Liberal Party of being in the pocket of big business and Labor of bowing to the ethnic lobby groups.

Australia's annual net immigration rate stood at 82,500 in 1996 but crept above 100,000 a year in 2003 when John Howard was prime minister. It reached 190,000 a year in 2013 when Julia Gillard was national leader. 

Mr Smith called for the major parties in government to return to Australia's annual net migration rate to 70,000, the average level of the 20th century.

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson is calling for a much more drastic zero annual net immigration pace for Australia.


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

Thursday, July 27, 2017

More Leftist hysteria

The Leftist version of reality is borderline insane -- with very little connection to actual events at all.  It suits their need for grievance but it is  totally unbalanced

Gillian Triggs, a stupid old hate-filled bag

LOOK, it’s her last day, and one is tempted to just let it go …

But the outgoing president of the Human Rights Commission, Gillian Triggs, has made assertions so outlandish this morning, it’s just not possible.

In an interview with the ABC’s Fran Kelly Triggs declared to listeners that the Turnbull government “is ideologically opposed to human rights.”

I’m not misquoting.

“We have a government that is ideologically opposed to human rights.” Those are Triggs’ exact words, and it’s on video, so there can be none of that coming back in a few days’ time to say she was misquoted.

Malcolm Turnbull and the government he leads — a democratically-elected government in the House of Representatives, which is held in check by the good folk of the Senate, men and women from every conceivable walk of life and human experience — is “ideologically opposed to human rights.”

Which ones, though? Not the right to vote. Or stand for parliament. Or read a newspaper. Or even start your own. Or be tried by a jury of your peers in an open court of law.

We’re not a junta. We’re not a fascist state. We have a robust media, and a democratically-elected parliament.

We could go on, but that was not the worst of the interview.

Triggs also said that human rights had “regressed” in Australia under her leadership. She’s been head of the Human Rights Commission for five years, and we’ve “regressed on almost every front” and “one is extremely disappointed about that.”

One?  What is this queenly "one" business?

Also, if one is extremely disappointed, shouldn’t one be taking responsibility? Triggs has had five years to advance the cause of human rights. Lord knows, she’s not without a platform. If we’re regressing, who is to blame?

Not the Human Rights Commission, no. It’s the Turnbull government, which is, as we’ve just heard, implacably opposed to human rights.

Moving now to the subject of how the world sees Australia, Triggs said: “One would have to be very careful indeed before we assume that we are well regarded in human rights circles internationally.”

There’s that one again. But does one really believe that? I am myself completely opposed to the detention of children under any circumstance. It’s a stain on our good name.

But surely Australia still stacks up okay against, say, Aceh, where gay men were last week being flogged on podiums before cheering crowds; or Saudi Arabia, where women are routinely denied the right to travel, including behind the wheel of their own car, without a male guardian; or China, which allowed the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize to die in custody after jailing him for eight years for thought crimes, after a trial in which he was not permitted to speak in his own defence?

Or North Korea, for sending Otto Warmbier back to the US in a body sling?

Are we seriously to accept membership of this club? Australia makes mistakes. But we’re not a junta. We’re not a fascist state. We have a robust media, and a democratically-elected parliament.

Get a grip, Gillian.

Also interesting was how Triggs would, in a perfect world, address the problem. She says we need a Bill of Rights. Okay, and what should be on it?

Freedom of speech?

It’s the cornerstone of democracy. Western values can’t thrive without it. But it was the Human Rights Commission, under Triggs, that went hell-for-leather after a couple of college kids in Queensland, for writing Facebook posts; and it was the Human Rights Commission under Triggs that suggested the government make a massive compensation payment to an asylum-seeker who beat his pregnant wife to death; and it was the Human Rights Commission, under Triggs, who toyed prettily with the inquisition of a political cartoonist.

So perhaps we need a Bill of Rights that includes freedom of speech with a range of conditions, as set by one?

There’s more — like the bit where Triggs said she decided to launch an inquiry into the children in detention because “the new government was not going to release these children” — but let’s end on Fran Kelly’s final question: any regrets?

“No regrets. I believe we’ve done a terrific job,” said Triggs.

Well, it’s a democracy! One is of course entitled to one’s own opinion.


Dangerous Victoria police

A 16-year-old girl has reportedly taken out an intervention order against a senior constable she has accused of raping her in a park.

The order – preventing the officer from contacting or approaching her - was issued after the girl made multiple sexual assault allegations against him, according to The Age.

The incident in a park in Mildura is the latest allegation of serious predatory behaviour being investigated by an internal taskforce.

A Victoria Police spokesman confirmed the investigation with Daily Mail Australia.

Detectives from Taskforce Salus arrested the policeman on January 25 and he was suspended with pay, she said.

'The male senior constable from Western Region was interviewed in relation to sexual offences and misconduct in public office,' the spokeswoman said.

She added the alleged offences date back to December last year, but declined to comment on whether they are said to have occurred while the officer was on duty.

'The victim has been referred to appropriate support agencies,' she added. 'As the investigation is ongoing, it would not be appropriate to make further comment at this time.'

According to The Age, it took two months after the complaint was made for detectives to interview the girl.

It is also not clear whether she is the only alleged victim in the case.

Taskforce Salus was set up in November 2014 by then chief commissioner Ken Lay to crack down on sexual predators inside the force. It is responsible for handling internal complaints as well as those made by civilians. The taskforce's detectives have charged a number of officers with rape and child sex offences.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that 144 claims of sexual abuse or harassment have been made against serving officers in the year since the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission gave its reports after reviewing sexual discrimination within Victoria Police in December 2015.

Last year, chief commissioner Graham Ashton said Victoria Police was facing its 'biggest journey of cultural change' to overcome the sexism and predatory behaviour ingrained in the force.


High school CANTEEN menu features turmeric lattes, smashed avo on artisan bread and vegan salted caramel

A big improvement on Mrs Obama's dismal ideas

An elite all-ages school is offering its students vegan chocolate mousse, dumplings and even smashed avocado on toast at its canteen.

Northern Beaches Christian School, in Sydney's far north, has been open to change in recent years, with teachers calling themselves everything from 'learning activists' to 'pedagogical wizards'.

And now the $15,000-a-year private school has also bid goodbye the days of writing lunch orders on a brown paper bag, with the school's canteen better resembling a beachside cafe with its variety of gourmet options.

Founded in the early 1980s, Northern Beaches Christian School (NBCS) became an independent and not-for-profit organisation in 2004. Today it has more than 1,300 students, with its practices seeing it 'highly regarded by educators across the world'.

And part of the school's efforts to 'empower' its students from primary school to Year 12, has been the inclusion of its independently-owned canteen - 'Grounded'.

While many parents' memories of school canteens involve brown paper bags, meat pies or devon and tomato sauce sandwiches, times have definitely changed.

It is joined on the canteen's winter menu by artisian fruit loaf, tapioca pudding, Vietnamese rice paper rolls, 'Nonnas meatballs', deli sandwiches on sourdough, as well as turmeric and chai lattes.

Promoting the canteen on its website, the school spruiks its 'great food and coffee' while also encouraging parents to pay a visit.

'The cafe aligns with our core value of being a learning community built on strong, meaningful relationships – food is a great catalyst for shared community,' the website reads.

'Grounded is an independent business, with a vision is to provide healthy, delicious food, prepared daily on the premises.' 


‘Self-aware’ Army officers to get coached in ‘cross-cultural competence’

Wotta lotta bullshit.  A soldier has to be ready to fight, not to hold hands

THE Australian Army is hiring private “executive coaches” to teach its senior officers “self-awareness”, “emotional intelligence”, “cross-cultural competence” and “interpersonal maturity” in an effort to combat perceptions that they are too “authoritarian, assertive and angry”.

It has also commissioned “psychometric and psychological testing” as part of the Australian Defence Force’s push to transform its culture to fit with modern standards.

The Department of Defence has tendered for “executive coaching services” for private and group sessions with its top brass that would not be out of place on the bureaucratic satire Utopia.

The top priority referred to in the tender documents is “Self Awareness of Strategic Leadership Style”.

Defence describes this as: “Exploration of personal values, beliefs, attitudes and associations and their impact on personal leadership behaviour.”

The 12-month contract — which can be extended for further years — is for a program of up to six sessions for 24 officers, with individual coaching for Brigadiers and Major-Generals and group coaching for Lieutenant Colonels and Colonels.

In an accompanying document entitled “Why the Australian Army needs a co-ordinated Executive Coaching Program”, the tender refers to an open letter by Chief of Army Lieutenant General Angus Campbell to his senior leadership group.

“General Campbell reflects that perceptions of Army officers as bureaucratically authoritarian, assertive and angry do not fit with the evolving cultural requirements of Army and are not helpful in a joint strategic environment,” the document states.

“General Campbell suggests that what is helpful is ethically informed, values based leadership that inspires, resources and enables subordinates to achieve their best work.”

One characteristic the Army is seeking to instil in its officers is described as “cross-cultural competence”, which it defines as “understand(ing) cultures beyond one’s professional and national boundaries”.

Officers will be expected to “work effectively with those from other cultures, generations, departments and gender”.

Another is called “interpersonal maturity”, which is described as “the ongoing development of self-awareness and emotional intelligence”.

It also seeks to develop “‘small p’ political sense”, which is “exerting influence across organisations and teams” and communications skills to “succinctly help others to understand complicated issues” and exert “interpersonal influence”.

The document also expects officers to know their “identity” which is “understanding of one’s own values and how they shape leadership style”.

Australian Defence Association executive director Neil James said it was a mistake to think the Army needed to change its leadership style. “You don’t want your army to change too much,” he said. “You want your army to win wars.”

Mr James, who served in the army for 31 years, also said it was a popular misconception that the Army was full of officers who were too aggressive. “Armies don’t work because people yell at people,” he said. “It’s teamwork that drives the army, not shouting.”

He said leadership skills were already taught extensively within the Army and this program seemed to be more directed at officers dispelling that misconception when dealing with other people and organisations, rather than actually changing themselves.

“It doesn’t matter what coaching you give, there’ll be people out there in society who think that. But that’s society’s problem, not the army’s.”

The individual coaching would apply to 10 Brigadiers and/or Major Generals for six two to three hour sessions each in one year. The group coaching would involve six four hour sessions for 14 lieutenant colonels and/or colonels.

The tender also asks for providers to have expertise in applying psychometric testing during the coaching sessions.

“It is preferred that the supplier is also able to demonstrate suitable qualifications and expertise in the use of a range of psychometric and psychological testing and assessment tools for use within coaching, as determined by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency or similar body,” it states.

It also raises the question of officers being psychologically re-evaluated over their careers and whether this should be included in the course, stating: “Defence does not have a standardised program that assesses personality styles or psychological types throughout officers’ careers.”


Aboriginal whiner Cindy Prior avoids bankruptcy by paying court debt

Probably the work of a kind donor

The university administration worker who lost a $250,000 racial discrimination lawsuit against three students has escaped bankruptcy.

The Federal Circuit Court in Brisbane this morning heard that Cindy Prior, who claimed damages over Facebook posts, had paid her debt this week.

On Monday, a hand-delivered cheque for $4900 was sent to the office of Anthony Morris QC, who is representing two of the former Queensland University of Technology students Jackson Powell and Calum Thwaites.

Ms Prior, a Noongar woman from the Ballardong nation in Western Australia, was indebted after Federal Court judge John Dowsett ordered she pay $10,780 in court costs when she lost her bid to appeal against the students, causing bankruptcy action taken against her.

The former QUT university staffer, who worked in the Oodgeroo Unit at the Gardens Point campus, sued students Alex Wood, Mr Powell and Mr Thwaites for hundreds of thousands of dollars over Facebook posts in 2013, claiming the online posts contravened section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

Ms Prior lost the case. She recently set up a crowd-funding page asking for donations to support the court costs she owes.

The string of legal challenges followed an incident where Ms Prior ejected non-indigenous students from an indigenous-only computer lab at QUT’s Brisbane campus on May 28, 2013

Mr Morris said Ms Prior paid the balance of the amount owed and under those circumstances, bankruptcy action could not go ahead.

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

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

'The education system is broken': Teacher who quit her job after 30 years reveals why she intends to home-school her grandchildren

Rather unclear what she wants changed.  More staff and less assessment is part of it but the rest is unclear. 

I think she fails to understand that continuous assessment is designed to circumvent reliance on a "sudden-death" examination at the end of the year.  That was once the system but was often protested against as being an unfair measure of a pupil's ability.  Lots of students who did poorly were said just to be having a "bad day".

And teachers "taught to the test" back then too.  It would be irresponsible to do otherwise.

And she ignores the function of the NAPLAN (national) exams in detecting and hopefully improving failing schools.  There are many quite bad schools in the government sector.  That is why 40% of Australian teenagers go to private schools.

It is of course possible to have a school environment where students feel relaxed and learn in their own way.  I once taught in such a "progressive" school myself. It had a great staff/student ratio and friendly teachers  but, even so, one half of my pupils did well and the other half learnt nothing.  And the school did not survive that.  It closed down after a few years.  A school system meant to serve all just cannot be run that way.

The classic example of such a school, "Summerhill", still struggles on but it still has only 60-70 pupils and is too expensive for most parents -- meaning that most pupils come from rich homes -- and they are above-average pupils anyhow.  The school is also said to be "surprisingly strict" these days. The school has been around since the '20s but has few imitators today.  It is clearly not a viable model for government schools

She set the internet alight last year, after she penned a damning essay about the state of the Australian education system and why she was quitting after 30 years in the profession.

And now the Queensland-based teacher, Kathy Margolis, has said she has absolutely no intention of letting her grandchildren into the school system either: 'The education system is broken,' she said.

'I have said to my three sons, "If you guys one day have kids, and I haven't managed to get the system changed, then I’m going to home-school every last one of them",' she told Mamamia on Monday.

In her latest statement, Ms Margolis has said that one of her biggest concerns about the school system is the fact that kids are being expected to read and write in their first formal year of schooling.

'There are kids who are saying, "I'm stupid, I can't do this,"' Ms Margolis said.

'They can see their friends who know all the sight words. Not only that, we're giving them report cards that are telling these parents, "Your child hasn't met this standard," when really, what we should be saying to the parent is, "It's okay, they're just not ready yet, don't stress." But they're not hearing that and they're going out and getting tutors.'

Ms Margolis added that she would have 'lost her job' if she had told parents that their child merely needed an 'extra year'.

'Parents want their kids to do well and to be okay, so they're coming from a place of helping their kids. Really, the kids just need extra time,' she said.

Since Ms Margolis quit teaching, she has started working for the organisation, Protecting Childhood. 

This stands for play-based learning till the age of six, no set formal homework until the age of eight, and no standardised testing which is used to 'pass or fail' kids.


Education in Australian schools is in crisis and someone has to listen to those who are game enough to speak up. I have been a primary school teacher in Brisbane schools for over 30 years. This year, after much thought, I have decided to look for another job, not easy for a woman in her 50s. I cannot continue to do a job that requires me to do what is fundamentally against my philosophy of how it should be done. I love my students and they love me. I know how to engage children in learning and how to make it fun. It’s what I do best.

Teachers have very little professional autonomy anymore. We are told what to do, how to do it and when it has to be done by. Never have I experienced a time in my profession where teachers are this stressed and in real fear for the mental health of not only themselves, but the children that they teach. The pressures are enormous. And before we get the people who rabbit on about our 9 to 3 day and all the holidays we get, let’s get some things straight. No teacher works from 9 until 3. We are with the students during those hours. We go on camps, we man stalls at fetes, we conduct parents/teacher interviews, we coach sporting teams and we supervise discos. And of course there is the lesson preparation, the marking, the report cards. Full time teachers are paid 25 hours a week. Yes you read that correctly, 25 paid hours a week. In any other job that would be considered part time. So now that I have justified our holidays, many of which are spent doing the above, let’s talk about what is going on in classrooms across this great nation of ours.

Classrooms are overcrowded, filled with individuals with all sorts of needs both educational and social. Teachers are told we must differentiate and cater to each individual. Good teachers try desperately to do that but it is near impossible and we feel guilty that we are not doing enough to help the children in our care.

The curriculum is so overcrowded. Prep teachers who used to run lovely play based programs (which might I add work beautifully) are teaching children sight words and how to read and write alongside subjects like history and geography. As a teacher and a mother of 3 sons, this scares the proverbial out of me. We all know that boys this age need to be moving around doing things that interest them, not sitting at desks. And what about the notion of readiness? I fear those little ones who are not ready are going to be left behind. And here’s the problem with our crowded curriculum. There is not enough time to consolidate the basics. Every teacher on this earth will tell you that the early years should be about the 3 R’s. My own children went off to year one after having had a lovely, enriching play based year of learning back in the days of pre-school. They didn’t know any sight words; they could write maybe a few letters and guess what? They learnt to read and write without being pushed at such an early age.

In my teaching career I have never seen so many children suffering from stress and anxiety. It saddens me greatly. Teaching at the moment is data driven. We are testing them and assessing them and pushing them so hard. I get that teachers need to be accountable and of course we need assessment but teachers have an innate ability to know what kids need. A lot of it is data for data’s sake. Don’t even get me started on NAPLAN. Teachers wouldn’t have a problem with NAPLAN if it wasn’t made out to be such a big deal by the powers that be, the press and parents. It has turned into something bigger than Ben Hur.

So why am I writing this? I’m writing this because teachers need to speak up but we are often afraid of retribution. We need to claim back our profession but we are powerless. Teachers teach because we love children and are passionate about education. Our young teaching graduates enter the profession bright eyed and bushy tailed, energetic and enthusiastic, ready to make a difference. So why I ask are they only staying for an average of 5 years? Of course that question is rhetorical. I know the answer. They are burnt out and disillusioned. Older teachers like me have seen better days in the classroom so in a way it’s harder for us to see all the joy slowly being sucked out of learning. But we also have a wealth of experience to draw from and we know which hoops you don’t necessarily need to jump through. We occasionally speak out. We are not as easy to “control”. But we are tired and also burning out with disillusionment.

I write this in the hope that we can spark a public discussion. We need the support of parents, who I know agree with us. I write this because I love children and I can’t bear to see what we are doing to them. Last year, as I apologised once again to my class for pushing them so hard and for the constant barrage of assessment, one child asked me “if you don’t like the things you have to do then why are you still a teacher?” That question got me to thinking long and hard. I had no answer except that I truly loved kids and it was with a heavy heart that I realised that wasn’t enough anymore.

The teacher's original 976-word essay was published on her Facebook page last year. In it, she said the system was in 'crisis' and added that she wrote the post in the hope of sparking public debate.

'Classrooms are overcrowded, filled with individuals with all sorts of needs both educational and social. Teachers are told we must differentiate and cater to each individual. Good teachers try desperately to do that but it is near impossible and we feel guilty that we are not doing enough to help the children in our care,' she wrote at the time.

'Teaching at the moment is data driven. We are testing them and assessing them and pushing them so hard. I get that teachers need to be accountable and of course we need assessment but teachers have an innate ability to know what kids need. A lot of it is data for data's sake.'

The post swiftly went viral and was shared thousands of times online.

Daily Mail Australia has reached out to the Queensland Department of Education for comment.

In a recent statement issued by the state's education minister, Kate Jones, to ABC Radio, she said: 'I have to ensure that early year teachers feel that they have the flexibility to do the appropriate age learning for students in their class.

'Also in the recent budget we announced that there will be a fully funded prep teacher aide in every classroom in Queensland.

'The statements will identify any issues they believe the prep teacher should have and we will provide that directly, and this is something prep teachers have asked for.'


More than 68,000 people risk having their power cut as electricity prices skyrocket - forcing the government to step in with emergency financial help

Australia used to have some of the cheapest power in the world -- until the Greenies got involved

Tens of thousands of Australians are at risk of having their power cut off as they are unable to afford their bills.

A report by the Daily Telegraph has revealed 68,400 residents across New South Wales are set to lose their electricity as energy bills continue to skyrocket.

The state government are having to step in with emergency funds, with Western Sydney suburbs the hardest hit.

New South Wales homes pay more for power bills than any developed nation in the world.

The Energy Accounts Payments Assistance was implemented in 2012 as a measure to prevent an eletricity bill crisis, with each home to receive $50 in vouchers towards their energy bill. The new report suggests the average household needs five vouchers.

The suburb of Campbelltown is in need of the most help, with an estimated 1,619 homes needing financial assistance to continue their access to electricity.

The government are setting aside $404,750 for Campbelltown alone.

Auburn is not far behind, with 1,270 families needing assistance at a cost of $317,650.

The report estimates Blacktown and Bankstown are the next suburbs with the most risk with 1191 and 1156 homes in trouble respectively.

Western Sydney suburbs have been the worst effected because of the large number of fibro homes combined with uncommonly low winter temperatures.

Don Harwin, the NSW Energy Minister, has approached the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal over the crisis to ask whether the continually increasing prices are the result of a fair and balanced market.

'We are concerned about national energy rises and we are pushing our federal counterparts hard to ensure there is a sensible plan to fix the broken national energy market,' Mr Harwin told the Telegraph. 


Father battling Christian school after they banned his son, five, from wearing his traditional Sikh turban because it breaches uniform policy

He likes the school enough to pay money for his kid to go there but then disrespects what has made the school a good one -- an insistence on standards

A Sikh family in Melbourne is taking action against their son's Christian school - after they banned the five-year-old from wearing his traditional turban.

Sagardeep Singh Arora is fighting on behalf of his young son Sidhak, five, believing that he is being denied a basic human right outlined in the Equal Opportunity Act because he can't wear his 'patka' - which is the turban for children.

'I believe students should be allowed to practice their religion and should be allowed to wear their article of faith,' Mr Arora said, ABC reported.

'I was very surprised in an advanced country like Australia, they are still not allowing us to wear patka in the school,' he said.

Sidhak was enrolled to begin school at Melton Christian College, at the start of the year however the school's uniform policy does not accept his head covering.

The principal of the school David Gleeson said that multiple Sikh students go to the school but none are given an exception to wear the religious head covering.

'I think one of the real strengths of the college is that we're blind to … everyone is blind to religious affiliations,' he said.

Mr Gleeson likened the situation to a child who likes to wear a New Balance cap but is not permitted.  

He said anything additional to the uniform is not acceptable and this policy does not breach the Equal Opportunity Act. 

Mr Arora's son is now on the class list at another school but hopes the Christian school will change their minds so Sidhak can attend school with his cousins, who do not wear the turban. 

The hearing will continue on Wednesday.


Liberal Party members support Abbott’s ‘Warringah motion’ for plebiscites to decide candidate preselection

A TRIUMPHANT Tony Abbott last night declared the Liberal Party was finally wrenching power away from “factional hacks”, after his one-member-one-vote push scored a decisive victory.

The former prime minister last night insisted the move was “not about me” after rank-and-file members overwhelmingly voted at a special party reform convention in favour of his “Warringah motion”, which would allow ordinary Liberal members a say in who gets to run for office.

The proposal would mean preselections for candidates would be decided by plebiscites in which each member would get a direct vote in deciding who stood at the election, including for seats occupied by sitting MPs.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph after his charge to water down the influence of factional bosses within the party proved a success, Mr Abbott said it was time to steer away from the current “insiders club” that involves “rorting, racketeering and factioneering”.

“We won’t have factional stitch-ups putting factional hacks into safe seats,” he said.

“This is a huge rebuff to the faction bosses. It’ll mean a bigger, stronger Liberal Party and it will mean more talented, more representative people going into Parliament as Liberals.”

Asked if the victory could be seen as a big win for the former prime minister, Treasurer Scott Morrison this morning extended the congratulations beyond Mr Abbott.

“You can read it as a win for everyone who thinks that plebiscites are a good idea and that includes Malcolm Turnbull, Tony Abbott, Scott Morrison and a whole range of other members,” he told ABC radio.

Those on the other side of the argument, such as federal MPs Alex Hawke and Julian Leeser, attempted to put up alternative motions at the convention, which were effectively diluted versions of the Warringah motion.

“The people on the other side wanted a few tentative steps in the right direction and the party said ‘let’s embrace it — let’s go all the way to being a party that the members can be proud of’,” Mr Abbott said.


ASIC boss Greg Medcraft struggles with sums

It is astonishing, really quite extraordinary and more than a tad disturbing that we have as our top corporate regulator somebody who apparently doesn’t understand the financial system and the most basic operating realities of our banks.

This in itself might seem an extraordinary observation, but how else is one to interpret some of the key remarks made by outgoing ASIC chief Greg Medcraft in an interview, purportedly to “mark his 6½ years as chairman”, in itself a somewhat odd milestone.

Once again in the interview he attacked banks for so-called “out-of-cycle” rate increases on their property loans. He said banks that repriced their existing loan book without increases in the official (RBA) cash rate were “just profit-taking”.

And to drive this point home, he finished with what he clearly thought was a powerful rhetorical flourish, that the “recent rate rises did not pass the front-page test” — in effect, saying that “shock jocks” and overexcited media more generally should be the test of the appropriateness of rate changes.

There are two very simple points — in the sense, one would have thought one could have assumed that an ASIC chairman understood them — to be made about Medcraft’s assertion.

First, the RBA’s cash rate might well be the most important influence on bank funding costs, and so indirectly on their lending rates, but it is not the only influence.

Doesn’t the ASIC chairman understand that our big four banks fund their balance sheets broadly 60 per cent by domestic deposits and 40 per cent by a variety of others sources including shareholder funds and, most importantly, global capital markets?

Yes, domestic deposits might largely be directly priced off the cash rate, but even with them and quite appropriately, not entirely. But surprisingly perhaps to the ASIC chairman, investors on Wall Street do not price their interest rates off the RBA’s cash rate.

Then there’s the cost of hedging non-Australian dollar borrowings into Aussie dollars, which can fluctuate. In short, and keeping it simple for our ASIC chairman, bank cost of funds can change even when the RBA has not touched its cash rate. Goodness me, how radical.

Now yes, the mantra “passing on the RBA’s rate cut/hike” has got locked into the media culture — and the banks themselves have from time to time used it as an unfortunate and obviously not totally incorrect shorthand.

But that does not excuse the corporate regulator, who should know better from adopting it as the basis for a bit of egregious and misleading bank-bashing.

There is a very clear, very simple metric to judge the bank rate pricing: their NIM, or net interest margin. If they are raising their lending rates without a commensurate increase in their cost of funds their NIM will rise.

Guess what: it hasn’t. In the latest six months the NIM of three of the big four banks went down. The NIM of the fourth, NAB, was unchanged but it was also the lowest at 182 points, or 1.82 per cent.

On an unweighted basis the average NIM of the big four went from 202 points in the first half of the 2015-16 year to 198 point in the first half of the 2016-17 year: hardly evidence of rate gouging. We will see what happened in the second half.

To explain to the uninitiated — and, it seems, the ASIC chairman — the NIM is the difference between what a bank charges borrowers and what it pays depositors and other lenders; a difference that has been, obviously, the basis of banking for hundreds of years and of every bank’s very existence.

There are two further critical points to be made about the big four’s individual and group NIM.

It has been falling consistently over time. As noted it is now around 200 points on an unweighted group basis. Five years ago it was more like 215-220 points. A decade ago, before the GFC, it was closer to 250 points. And at the turn of the century it was around 300 points.

Second, it is very similar to the only rational international comparator. According to research by the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis, the NIM of Canadian banks has run at around 200 points for most of this century, apart from an extraordinary spike up to 400 points briefly after the GFC.

It’s outside the scope of this column, but I’ll happily brief the ASIC chairman on why the NIMs of the major European and US banks are not a relevant comparison.

I would note an interesting chart in the speech yesterday by RBA assistant governor Michelle Bullock that showed the bottom line profitability comparison of banks from several countries.

First, Canadian and Australian profitability ran in lock-step year after year. Secondly, before the GFC those US and European banks were just as profitable as our banks. They haven’t been since: I wonder why?

Now, in his interview, Medcraft also went on to make one utterly ludicrous observation about bank hybrid securities and one basically silly observation.

The ludicrous one was that they would eventually cause problems for the financial system, the silly one was that they were a ridiculous product for retail investors.

Some gratuitous advice: get a grip Greg. There is no way they could cause problems for the system; they are just too small. The total on issue is less than $30 billion. The big four banks have balance sheets well in excess of $2000bn.

But what’s the worst that can happen? They are compulsorily turned into bank shares. How would that be a problem for the system? And trust me, we’d all have much bigger things to worry about.

As for their “ridiculousness”, Medcraft’s rejection/hysteria would also apply to ordinary bank shares themselves. Given bank gearing; given bank exposure to global capital markets.

To validate your claim on the basis they had been banned in other markets like Britain is hardly convincing: did Medcraft notice what happened to British banks in the GFC?


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

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

University funding rationalization provokes controversy

Universities have accused the Turnbull government of muddying the waters as it prepares for a fight over higher education funding.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham on Monday released figures showing what students will pay under planned changes would more closely match the benefits of getting a degree.

The federal government's overhaul of higher education includes increasing student fees by up to $3200 over a four-year degree, cutting university teaching funding by 2.5 per cent in 2018 and 2019, tying a portion of funding to performance measures, and lowering the threshold when student debts must start to be repaid.

Senator Birmingham said the report, prepared by Deloitte Access Economics, "injects facts ... into a debate that has at times been dominated by platitudes and sound bites".

It showed about 45 per cent of the benefits from a higher education were private, such as securing a well-paid job.

The government says its planned fee increase will mean students contribute 46 per cent of the cost - up from 42 per cent now - with taxpayers covering the rest.

Senator Birmingham took aim at university groups that supported the coalition's previous proposal for full-fee deregulation but oppose the package now before parliament.

They had "tried to walk both sides of the street in this debate".

The minister characterised the increase in funding to universities since 2009 as "a river of gold".

The group of six Innovative Research Universities disagreed, telling a Senate inquiry on Monday the river of gold was down to more enrolments, not any boost to per-student funding.

"If anyone's being inconsistent here, it's the government that previously embraced the concept we did need more resources," executive director Conor King told a hearing of the inquiry in Melbourne.

"In this (package) it goes down; of course we're opposed."

The Group of Eight - representing the nation's research-intensive universities - said the government's package was not coherent and would leave students paying more for less.

The government had a track record of releasing reports such as the Deloitte research to the media without showing the sector first, chief executive Vicki Thomson said.

"We find we're responding to claims about rivers of gold or vice-chancellors' salaries or surpluses which are muddying the waters when we're wanting to talk about actually what sort of university sector do we actually want in this country," she told the committee.

The Senate inquiry will also hear from the academics union, education department officials, business representatives and higher education experts on Monday and Tuesday.

It's expected to report when parliament resumes in August, clearing the way for the bill to be debated.


Why the ABC is at odds with us

Jennifer Oriel

If the ABC were audited for diversity, the report might read something like as follows: “Evidence suggests that the ABC’s organisational culture ­reflects structural discrimination. The staff profile is unrepresentative and produces marginalisation of outsiders or ‘others’. This marginalisation persists due to ­apparent discrimination in recruit­ment and promotion practices. As a consequence, the ABC’s program content reflects bias that reinforces the privilege of insiders while stereotyping and demonising those excluded from the existing power structure. ­Cultural change is required to transform the ABC from an unrepresentative public institution to an organisation that puts the public good ahead of in-group power and privilege.”

From my early years in the ­university sector, I worked for various equal opportunity and anti-­discrimination units. As a part of that work, I conducted ­organisational audits of equity and diversity. After several years, I saw that the movement for equity was ­destroying diversity of the kind that matters in education: ­intellectual diversity. Universities ­replaced the West’s civilisational wellspring of freedom of thought and speech, mastered by learning the art of public reason, with the comparatively superficial culture of skin ­diversity.

In the 21st century culture of public education and media, ­diversity is often measured by skin colour or gender. Diversity of thought is devalued, especially in the arts and humanities.

Despite the spread of discrimination and affirmative action policies across the public sector, little attention is paid to intellectual and political diversity. Rather, the ­equity and diversity agenda has come to resemble what former Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau considered the Maoist approach. In the book Two Innocents in Red China, he praised Mao Zedong’s approach to racial minority groups because it did “not try to assimilate them but … make them understand the ­blessings of Marxism”. Trudeau pioneered a nationwide policy of ­multi­culturalism. The multi­cultural ideal was a diversity of races united in ideological conformity to ­Marxism.

The diversity agenda sometimes reflects the founding ideal of multicultural policy: a culture where race or gender diversity is encouraged as long as members conform to PC ideology. Islamic activist Linda Sarsour is celebrated as a leader of the US women’s march despite appearing to wish for violence against women who disagree with her. On Twitter, Sarsour wrote of two dissidents: “I wish I could take their vaginas away — they don’t ­deserve to be women.” One of her would-be victims was ­author Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who ­suffered ­female genital mutilation as a child. Apparently that wasn’t enough.

The ABC has not admitted to a lack of political diversity in its staff profile or systemic political bias in its programming. Yet the largest survey in 20 years of political attitudes among journalists found that 73.6 per cent of ABC journalists support Labor or the Greens. The Sunshine Coast University ­research also found that 41.2 per cent of ABC staff surveyed voted for the Greens. As Chris Kenny wrote in The Weekend Australian, the “federal vote ceiling” for the Greens is just over 10 per cent. On those figures, the ABC’s staff ­profile is highly unrepresentative of the Australian general public.

The ABC’s political bias seems most apparent in stories related to border security, immigration, iden­tity politics and Islam. Many believe that the ABC pushes the PC party line backing porous borders, minority politics and the ­censorship of dissenters under dis­crimination law while demonising border integrity, conservatism, ­Judeo-Christianity and Western civilisation. In 2014, the broadcaster admitted that its reports that the navy had burned refugees were wrong. A previous audit found bias in ABC reporting on Tamil asylum-seekers.

Last week’s 7.30 was criticised for bias against Christians after presenters inferred that evangelical or conservative Christianity could lead to domestic violence. ABC presenter Leigh Sales said: “We talk about women in Islam but statistically it is evangelical Christian men who attend church sporadically who are the most ­likely to assault their wives.” To my knowledge, there is no cross-country research comparing male violence against women in Islamic and Christian communities. The relevant study cited was by American researcher Steven Tracy.

A series of lies by omission ­resulted in the perception that conservative or evangelical Christianity can lead to domestic violence. For instance, the ABC omitted Tracy’s related finding that: “Conservative Protestant men who attend church regularly are … the least likely group to ­engage in domestic violence. The ABC also omitted interviews that conflicted with the presenters’ line of commentary.

Ean Higgins ­reported that Sydney’s Anglican Archdeacon for Women Kara Hartley was interviewed for over an hour by Julia Baird. Hartley spoke at length about the church’s positive work in combating domestic violence. Her comments were excluded from the program.

Brisbane’s Catholic Archbishop Mark Coleridge responded to an ABC ­request for comments about a ­related essay by Baird and Hayley Gleeson. The ABC reported falsely that he had not responded.

It should go without saying that domestic violence is an abhorrent form of abuse to be condemned without reservation. Research on causation should be funded where preliminary research finds specific attributes correlated with higher rates of abuse. The public often funds such research and should be informed also when certain ­attributes are correlated with lower rates of abuse. The ABC ­neglected its public duty when it omitted the positive work of ­Christian churches in preventing domestic violence and the ­research finding that: “Conservative Protestant men who attend church regularly are … the least likely group to engage in domestic violence.”

In the coming 7.30 on violence against women in Islam, we might expect the ABC to consider the status of women under sharia. It might look at the prevalence of ­female genital mutilation and child marriage in Islamic countries and communities. It might consider why Islamic states enter the most reservations to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and justify it by appeal to sharia. Alas, we’re more likely to hear yet another version of: “We talk about women in Islam but … ” and find the blame shifted to the standard victims of politically ­correct thought.


NBN installation not up to speed

Kevvy's expensive brainwave is not performing

Martin Lack knows a few things about technology, having spent almost 50 years in the computer industry, first as an installer, then as a technical project manager and finally, before retiring, running the nation’s biggest computer conference company.

He also knows a “disastrous” internet product when he sees one. Living on a 1ha block in Brisbane’s affluent Kenmore Hills, Mr Lack has taken it upon ­himself to represent all 31 households on his street in their ­struggles with the rollout of the National Broadband Network.

The street, with multi-million-dollar homes housing senior ­executives and powerful business people, had pay-TV internet ­cabling — now known as HFC — installed in 2003.

They are being forced across to the NBN, and the six that have done so — connected via a variety of different telco providers — have had a “terrible” experience, Mr Lack says, with faulty connections and speeds below what they were achieving before.

“On Telstra HFC we were consistently getting 115 megabits-per-second download speeds ... during the day now we are consistently getting 94Mbs, but after 6pm things get very ­erratic,” Mr Lack said.

He has a 100MB NBN package provided through Telstra, and has documented speeds his home has been achieving before and after having the NBN installed.

Under the NBN connection his download speed at 9.22pm on June 1 was 22.38Mbs — less than a quarter of the rate he is paying for — while at 9.34pm on June 14 his connection fell to 22Mbs.

A key problem facing the NBN is telco providers of the network — of which there are more than 400 — buy both data from the NBN as well as relatively ­expensive “bandwidth”.

Many providers have failed to buy enough bandwidth — a ­financial decision to cut costs — to ensure speeds don’t plummet when usage rises, such as after 5pm on weekdays.

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission has announced it will place physical internet speed monitors in 4000 homes nationwide and publish the results to improve transparency in the marketplace.

For its part, the NBN has data detailing how fast each NBN-connected home’s internet should be, but is refusing to ­release it publicly, saying it is a wholesaler and the telcos have the relationship with customers.

Mr Lack said his dealings with Telstra in installing the NBN had been highly unsatisfactory.

A Telstra spokesman said the company had spoken to Mr Lack and had “apologised for issues he’s experienced”.



Three current articles below

Piers Akerman: Climate change is being served up to unsuspecting Australians

IN August 1973, the term Stockholm syndrome was coined after four hostages who had been held in a bank vault during a failed robbery later ­refused to testify against their captor Jan-Erik “Janne” ­Olsson, who, as it happens had been “on leave” from prison when he attempted the heist.

Nils Bejerot, a Swedish criminologist and psychiatrist coined the term.

Brainwashing was not unknown but the manner in which the hostages developed positive feelings toward their captors and negative feelings toward the police or authorities, was something new, Beje-rot guessed. The term took off.

A year after Olsson’s crime (for which he served a term and later committed further crimes), Patty Hearst, the granddaughter of publisher William Randolph Hearst, was taken and held hostage by a drug-addled crew of misfits who called themselves the Symbionese Liberation Army.

Hearst was filmed denouncing her family as well as the police under her new urban guerilla name, “Tania”, and was later seen working with the SLA to rob banks in San Francisco. She publicly asserted her sympathetic feelings towards the SLA.

However, after arrest following a fiery shootout in 1975, her celebrity lawyer F. Lee Bailey said his client was suffering from Stockholm syndrome.

But, until now, the greatest example of Stockholm syndrome was the mass suicide by followers of American cult leader and Communist Jim Jones, who was the founder and leader of the People’s Temple, another loopy group with strong ties to the Democratic Party and the Californian counter-culture.

Jones took his flock to an old plantation in Guyana but when reports of human rights abuses started emerging, he had his followers drink poison, flavoured by the soft drink mix Kool-Aid.

Among the 918 dead were nearly three hundred children.

Stockholm syndrome plus Kool-Aid was a potent ­combination.

But not as potent as the ­global warming — now called climate change — mixture that is being served up to the Australian public by the Greens, Labor and now the Turnbull faux Liberal government.

Swept along by the global hysteria generated by the UN and a claque of compromised scientists who have been ­exposed as manipulating temperature modelling, Australians are in the process of committing mass suicide as they sip the Kool-Aid sweetener of renewable energy.

South Australia — remember Snowtown, the mysterious disappearance of the Beaumont children, the other creepy instances of unsolved crimes involving children — has long worn a reputation for weird but with its closure of its coal-powered fire stations and its embrace of a huge battery to meet its risky energy supply needs, is leading the way in this suicidal endeavour.

Believe me, the world is not following South Australia or Australia, in this insane folly.

Research from the Global Coal Tracker via the Comstat Data Portal uploaded on January 12, 20017, shows that there were 5973 coal-fired power station units globally. A unit is considered to be one or more boilers where coal is burned to create steam, plus one or more turbine generators which convert the steam’s heat ­energy into electricity of a minimum 30MW (megawatts).

NSW’s Liddell power station, for example, has four 500MW units.

Australia has in total 73 units, according to the Comstat Data, China has 2107.

Germany, where we have seen anti-coal demonstrators rioting in recent days, has 155 units. India, who the Adani mine will service with coal, has 877, and Indonesia has 125, while there 783 operating in the US.

The numbers that really highlight the futility of the South Australian lunacy and the madness of Australia signing up this psychosis are those which reflect where the world is heading — the number of coal-fired power units under construction.

China, for example, has 299 power stations in preparation or under construction. India has 132, Indonesia has 32, the Philippines has 22, Vietnam has 34.

In all, the data lists more than 30 nations actively ­engaged in building 621 new coal-fired power units.

That’s more than 10 times more power than the current 26,783MW produced by ­Australia’s 73 units. South Australia’s moonstruck Premier Jay Weatherill thinks that ­installing Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s battery will solve the problems created by his government’s destruction of its coal-fired power plants and its embrace of erratic wind and solar plants.

It won’t. At best, the big battery may have sufficient reserves to power around 30,000 homes while repairs are made to the network.

There are about 730,000 homes in South Australia, almost all of which lost their power last September. The big battery will be connected to a big wind farm but wind is notoriously variable and South Australia consistently records the highest power prices in the nation ­because of its foolhardy reliance on renewable energy.

In fact, it relies on the coal-fired power plants in the rest of the country for constant power. The federal government knows this, that’s why its building a $50 million generation plant to give the submarine building program a reliable ­energy source.

But for South Australians, and the rest of the nation, the Kool-Aid is kicking in.

Despite the flawed data on which the global warmists rest their case, Australia is still ­closing coal-fired power plants as our economic competitors build their coal-fired capacity.

The big battery may ­become a tourist attraction in South Australia but so, in time, will be the mass grave that ­buries Australia’s industry and the economic fortunes of ­future generations.


No Australian weather site has recorded a daily max of 50° this century


I had Lance staying overnight and this subject came up – me opining after watching too much ABC TV news for years – that some site must have hit the 50° in the last several years. When Lance pointed out on BoM pages that the last 50° plus was in 1998 – I felt somewhat conned.

We searched Google and sure enough we found this article “The proof Australia is getting hotter” – which includes this rather specific claim – Quote “While Western Australia had a cooler than average year in 2016, some parts of the giant state did hit 50 degrees, Australia’s observation of such heat a first in two decades.”

Well if 50 was hit it was not noticed in official BoM daily data. Screen saved. What an amazing lie – “fake news” indeed. Part of my conning was BoM news early in 2013 of the extension of temperature scales up into the 50’s. Oddly this neat animated map from Feb 2016 does not extend to cool temperatures around -10 that are quite common this winter. What other plus 50’s (122F) are there that the BoM should recognize?


Climate change scaremongering based on ‘minuscule’ sea level rises

THIS weekend on Sky News, Connie Fierravanti-Wells, the Liberal minister for International Development and the Pacific, having just returned from a junket handing out vast sums of our money to beautiful Pacific Islands to “combat climate change”, said: “It’s interesting to see that, according to real data, the changes to (sea) levels are actually very, very minuscule.”

That’s right. Very, very minuscule. Or, perhaps what she really meant to say was “non-existent”. The whole climate-change hype about rising sea levels, as being touted by the likes of Al Gore and his new horror flick – er sorry, “documentary” – about climate change, simply doesn’t tally with reality. This has been confirmed by climate scientists themselves, who are sitting around scratching their heads trying to work out why reality doesn’t match their alarmist modelling.

Here’s my bet: these measurements that show “very, very minuscule” rises in sea levels actually mean nothing out of the normal is happening in the oceans.

Climates do change, and there’s nothing we can do about it. We are handing hundreds of millions of dollars (that we don’t actually have, by the way) to our dear Pacific neighbours for no genuine reason at all.

Also last week, another Liberal MP, Sarah Henderson, mocked the idea that elderly Australians would die this winter because they couldn’t afford to pay their heating bills. This came after one of the only sensible Liberal MPs, Craig Kelly, pointed out on Sky News – to me, as it happens – that our renewables energy policy would kill people.

Mr Kelly, who is chairman of the backbench energy committee, caused a furore by stating what is backed up by real data: more people die in Australia during July and August (the coldest months) than at any other time of the year, and that the numbers have been increasing in direct correlation to rising electricity prices. Those price rises, which ultimately stem from both Liberal and Labor policies demonising coal and making it too expensive to be worthwhile, have seen a record number of household disconnections.

Even the ABC admits: “The first detailed analysis of electricity disconnections in four states paints a grim picture of areas under extreme financial stress, with hundreds of households unable to pay their bills.”

What makes the situation even more maddening is that the Government’s chief scientist, Alan Finkel, admitted to Parliament that all of Australia’s efforts to combat climate change will, in the end, make virtually no difference to global temperatures. So why on earth do we bother?

Five weeks ago, writing on this page, I upset some people by linking climate change zealotry to deaths.

“It’s not climate change that kills. It’s the zealotry of those who believe they are on a Gaia-given mission to save the planet that is capable of causing economic mayhem, poverty, and even death,” I wrote, using the ghastly Grenfell Tower fire in London as “an extreme, but apt, metaphor for climate change alarmism”.

My point – that thanks to excessive climate change alarmism, energy-efficiency (or “green”) requirements tend to get prioritised over safety measures – has yet to be refuted.

My thinking was also driven by Queensland’s horrendous “pink batts” scandal in 2010. I hardly need remind readers that when Kevin Rudd embarked on a harebrained scheme to “save the planet” by installing pink batts into Australian rooftops, four young men tragically lost their lives.

Recently, The Australian reported that: “The owner of a Sydney-based solar-panel maintenance company said he had seen ‘hundreds’ of fires caused by solar panels in the past five years.”

Mercifully, nobody appears to have yet died from such fires, but that doesn’t make the danger of household solar panels, installed again to “save the planet”, any less real.

John Howard – viewed correctly by many as one of our greatest prime ministers – recently confirmed that he remains sceptical about climate change. Who can blame him?

Mr Kelly’s comments not only had Sarah Henderson mocking him by claiming he was “killing her with his humour”, they had Labor minister Mark Butler calling for his sacking “because of his scaremongering”.

Hang on a tick! Labor, the Greens, and even the bedwetters of the Turnbull Coalition, have been “scaremongering” us silly about climate change for the past decade and longer. The entire energy policy of both major parties is built on unproven, scary predictions of catastrophic rising sea levels, deadly droughts, killer storms, fatal floods, murderous cyclones, dying coral, and a whole host of terrifying disasters, all of which rely on the claim that, at some distant point in the future, “people will die”.

Now we learn that rather than being terrifying, those very same impacts from climate change are, in the minister’s own words, “very, very minuscule”. What a joke.


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