Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Dick Smith has come into his own

Dick Smith was undoubtedly the most popular man in Australia.  As a successful businessman he was known for his sense of humor and the comic stunts he did to publicise his electronics business. From Wikipedia: 

"Smith has also attempted a number of well-publicised practical jokes, including the April Fool's Day attempt to tow a purported iceberg from Antarctica into Sydney Harbour in 1978, a new source of fresh water. Smith appeared in several TV ads on a pogo stick, promoting his business. In the early 1980s, Dick Smith served as the conductor aboard a London double decker bus which jumped 15 motorcycles. The bus, driven by Hans Tholstrup, was a humorous poke at Evel Knievel, who had visited Australia in 1979 and jumped his motorcycle over buses. Dick Smith's presence on the bus was a last-minute decision by himself."

Additionally, he was often ready with a cheque for people in the news who had fallen on hard times.  He was a genuine philanthropist -- and still is.  When he speaks publicly it is news.

When a few years ago he sold his business to Woolworths for a large sum, his focus changed somewhat.  He had always been a keen patriot -- something else that tended to endear him -- and he now set about doing something about it.  Like Trump, he deplored the  way Australian businesses were being shut down by cheap inports from China and elsewhere. 

Unlike Trump, he can't impose tariffs but he could try to persuade people to "Buy Australian".  And he did.  And to encourage that process, he set up a retail business that exclusively stocked Australian products.  It had some success but struggled.  Dick turned his business brain to the project, however, and came up with various ways of making sales.

Dick advertises his new sandwich spread on his hat

One of his inspirations was to sell "hampers" of Australian-made food products -- jams, sauces etc.  The hampers included quite a lot of different products and came in a nice wooden box with a latch.  I bought one to give to Jenny on her birthday a few years back.  It cost me a bit but it was worth it to see Jenny's glee in getting it.

Eventually, however, most of the business faded away, though I see that Dick has persuaded Woolworths to stock a few of the products he sponsors.  They are dearer than competing lines but the Dick Smith name on them is prestgious and generates some sales.  I suspect that Woolworths stocks them mainly as good PR.

So when Dick saw the problems Australia was having with its high level of imigration, Dick spoke out -- pleading for a pause while Australia built the new roads and houses that had become necessary.  He was ignored.  Some Leftists even called him a racist. 

But he was proved right.  In the absence of much new housing, the price of existing housing stormed up to levels similar to London and Manhattan.  It was a disaster for young Australian couples wanting to get into their own first homes.

Do Dick lost a lot of love over his opposition to high levels of immigration.  For the first time, some people were saying bad things about him.  He was of course greatly hurt to be condemned for trying to help his beloved country to get off an unsustainable path.

Quite recently, however, the excreta has hit the rotating device and former PM Tony Abbott made a speech or two along the same lines that Dick had taken.  He stressed the housing shortage, the traffic congestion and the overstretched public hospitals that the immigration surge has brought about.  The authorities have actually been very diligent in buiding new roads, traffic tunnels and bridges but finding room for such things in already crowded cities was not easy so the traffic jams have lengthened.

And guess what?  Mr Abbott was called an racist too.  But that seems to have been the last hurrah from the abusive Left.  Even the Leftist ABC recently aired a big program pointing out the difficulties that immigration has caused.  And there have been other voices raised that no longer get condemned as racist. 

So Dick has been exonerated.  His warnings are now widely accepted as wise and in need of action.  We may not see much action immediately but there is now a pretty good consensus over the need for action.  Below are two of the recent articles in support of an immigration  slowdown.  The first is from the ABC "4 Corners" TV program

Is YOUR suburb at breaking point? Inside the areas DOUBLING in size as garden blocks vanish, roads are clogged, and home-ownership dreams end for Aussies - while baby boomers make MILLIONS

When John McCaffrey moved into Cliff Road at Epping more than 60 years ago there were cows, horses and a creek across from his home.

Now when Mr McCaffrey looks out from his front lawn he sees rows of four-storey apartments and he is ready to sell up and leave his little part of suburbia in Sydney's north-west. The 64-year-old can no longer resist the forces of huge urban population growth.

Sydney is still Australia's largest city but Melbourne is growing faster and both capitals will have populations of eight million by the middle of the century.

The fastest growing areas in Australia's two biggest cities are South Morang in Melbourne's north-east, and Cobbitty-Leppington in Sydney's south-west. Some suburbs in both cities have more than doubled in size in the past 10 years.

Mr McCaffrey, his mother, father and two brothers first crammed into their two-bedroom home in 1956. It had cost his parents just £5,000 pounds.

The recent death of his mother means Mr McCaffrey is selling up and leaving with an almost $4 million windfall.

'I've been here 62 years and when I first came here it was rural,' he said. 'When I first came to Epping there used to be a produce shop, a fish shop and some other little shops. On this street kids used to go down to the creek and catch eels and fish.

'On the other side of the road, was a meadow with cows and horses, a creek and farmland.

'I guess it was probably about two years ago I reckon that these units started popping up. I understand people need somewhere to live and I certainly understand people wanting to sell with the prices that are being paid.'

Sydney's population topped 5million at the end of June 2016, with an increase of almost 83,000 - or 1.7 per cent - over the previous year. It took the city almost 30 years - from 1971 to 2000 - to move from 3million to 4million. The next million took just 16 years.

Melbourne's population has grown by a third in just 15 years and added almost a quarter to its population in the past decade. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) estimates that in the 10 years to June 2016, the population of Greater Melbourne grew by 880,876, or 23.4 per cent.

Most of the growth is due to immigration. Australia's net annual immigration rate moved above 200,000 a year in 2012. A decade earlier it was 100,000. The country's immigration rate averaged 70,000 during the 20th century.

The number of Australians born overseas - 28 per cent - was a record, up from 24 per cent 10 years earlier.

An ABS estimate of net overseas migration for the year ended 30 June 2017 - 245,400 people - was 27.1 per cent higher than the net overseas migration recorded for the year ended 30 June 2016.

The population of Australia, which is now about 25million is set to hit 40million by the middle of the century. There were just 19million people living in Australia in 2000.

That year former New South Wales premier Bob Carr declared Sydney 'full'. Since then, the population of Greater Sydney has increased by 22 per cent, while its area has increased by less than 2 per cent.

Australia's capital cities grew faster than the rest of the country in the 12 months to June 2016, accounting for 82 per cent of the nation's population growth.

Sydney and Melbourne experienced 56 per cent of the entire nation's population increase.

ABS statistics figures released in March last year put the population of Greater Sydney, which includes the Blue Mountains and Central Coast, at 5,005,400.

Sydney is bearing the brunt of population increases in New South Wales, absorbing 78 per cent of the state's growth.

Four of the five fastest growth areas in the country in the 2015-16 financial year were in Melbourne and two in the top 10 were in Sydney.

Businessman Dick Smith warned of an end to the Australian way of life if the country continued to accept more than 200,000 immigrants a year. 'You're jammed like a termite in a high-rise, or I say battery chooks,' Mr Smith told Four Corners this week.

'Now we've got 20 storeys and presumably in 20 years' time, the 20 storeys will be knocked down and we'll go to 50 storeys.'

If the current trends continue Melbourne will pass Sydney as Australia's biggest city in the mid-2050s, by which time both cities will house more than 8million residents.

Mr Carr warned on Four Corners that unrestrained growth could create a dystopia.

'When you contemplate the eastern suburbs of Sydney, access to the beaches - which is a natural space, recreational space - what do you do?' Mr Carr asked. 'Do you have fences and turnstiles? When the population around Bondi, for example, reaches the sort of intensified level that means the roads are choked most days in summer, do you start to ration access to the coastal walking trails along the coast?'

A ReachTell poll conducted for Fairfax Media in October last year found more than two thirds of respondents believed Sydney was full.

At the same time, the Greater Sydney Commission said the city would need about 725,000 extra dwellings over the next 20 years to accommodate the growing population.

The growth means increases in housing density in some parts of Sydney and Melbourne. 

Greater Sydney has an average 405 people per square kilometre while Greater Melbourne has 465 people per square kilometre.

But Homebush Bay-Silverwater in Sydney's west has a population density of 1,773 per square kilometre, while Maroubra, in the city's south-east has 5,591.

Paddington-Moore Park in the east has 4,394 and the Concord-Mortlake-Cabarita area in the inner-west 3,706.

It is expected Green Square, in the city's inner-south, will have a population density of 22,000 people per square kilometre by 2030.

By comparison, the New York urban area has a population density of 1,800 per square kilometre. London is 5,600, Tokyo-Yokohama 4,400 and Paris 3,700.

Dhaka in Bangladesh has 44,100 people per square kilometre and India's Mumbai has about 26,000.

This week NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley called for a cap on Australia's immigrant intake set in consultation with the states and territories.

Experts are warning Sydney and Melbourne are becoming so big infrastructure, health services and education facilities cannot keep pace.

'We've done an abysmal job,' Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox told Four Corners.

'There has been really no serious integrated debate around all the key factors that population growth brings to our economy and our national way of life.'


Add new migrants and stir carefully

If Australia — or any other Western democracy — were able to have a grown-up conversation about immigration and integra­tion, then that conversation would start with difficult questions. One of them would be this: “Who do we not want to join us here?” If there are people who we do want then there must be people we do not want. And if we agree that we cannot take in the world then we must have this conversation.

As gang violence once again makes itself felt in Melbourne the Australian public will be mulling this matter. But few people in public life — and almost no one in mainstream politics — dares to even talk about this subject, or show they’re thinking about it. For the time being we all have to pretend that 10,000 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa will contribute no differently to a country than 10,000 arrivals from New Zealand. Such cowardly and immature public discussion — across all the Western democracies — is provoking disastrous mistakes.

In recent years I have researched and addressed questions of immigration and identity around the world, but particularly in Europe, whose situation is most similar to that in Australia. And I have often asked these uncomfortable questions. I once pressed an elected British official in public to tell me who they did not want in Britain. The only clear answer I could get was that Britain should not allow in people who had been convicted of war crimes. Which means we have a moral right to keep out about a half-dozen people, all of whom are spending the rest of their lives in jail in The Hague anyway. Is all of the rest of the world really welcome?

We have stopped ourselves being allowed to think out loud about these matters. The plain reason is that for the time being the social costs of speculating about this in public are just too high. And there are some good reasons. Nobody wants to alienate people who are not alienated already. Plus there are a small number of people around who genuinely hate people of different backgrounds and ethnicities. Nobody wants to provide cover or give succour to such people. But in attempting not to aid them, and while signalling that we are not such people ourselves, we have disabled our ability to have a sane public discussion. Simultaneously, “open borders” fanatics see how afraid everyone else is even of false accusations of bigotry and push their advantage, throwing around accusations of racism for short-term wins towards a long-term political goal.

Nevertheless, serious questions about immigration and integration will keep finding us out. Today in Europe they are finding us out all the time. Particularly in the aftermath of the German Chancellor’s 2015 decision to say that the world could come if it could make it to Europe.

In 2015 up to 1.5 million came to Germany in one year alone, adding about 2 per cent to the German population. Nobody thought the matter through. Nobody wanted to admit the consequences. Everyone was fearful of the discussion. But the German public is now living with the consequences. A report commissioned by the German government and released at the start of this year found that a double-digit increase in violent crime had occurred in the years since 2015 and that “more than 90 per cent” of this was due to young male migrants. Three years ago if you said that a huge influx of young male migrants from the developing world might cause an increase in violent crime you would be dismissed as a racist. Today it is clear that — whether you were a racist or not — you also were right in your prediction. Is it wise to depict accurate predictions as racist? Rather than address this conundrum, we shut it down.

For the time being there remains only one acceptable tone in which to talk about immigration and integration. That is to talk about it as an unending boon and one big success story. Merely signal that there are pros and cons and you land in a whole world of pain.

Australians are particularly keen to talk about the positive side of the ledger. And to some extent Australians have a right to do this. The country has much to be proud of. What country has coped better with a swiftly changing and pluralistic society? Can any of Australia’s numerous homegrown critics name one? And it has had a political class that has been willing — on occasion — to break the consensus, certainly far more so than its counterparts in Europe.

For instance, in a recent speech, Citizenship Minister Alan Tudge made one of the most important points that can be made — not only to praise what Australia has done well in the past but also to warn of the consequences of getting things wrong. Because a nation does not remain the same by some law of nature. It does not remain the same whatever you put into it. As with any recipe, change the ingredients and the whole thing will change. Some change may be good. But some may be retrograde. In Europe in recent years politicians have appeared to believe that you can do anything at all to a country — throw in whatever ingredients happen to arrive — and it will remain the same. It is a presumption for which the public — from Rotherham to Cologne — is paying.

The mistake is based on errors the public can see with our own eyes. For instance we can see that there are essentially only two things that matter in migration: speed and character. The speed matters because if you bring in people too fast then there is almost no chance of integrating them. They will congregate in areas with people like them and will have little or no interaction — or desire to interact with — the rest of the community or country. Anyone visiting the towns of northern England, suburbs of Marseilles or outskirts of Stockholm can see this for themselves. Australia may be coping with this better, but ask anyone in Australia where a particular ethnic community lives and you will get directions. That is not a sign of wholly successful integration but a form of segregation — whether self-imposed or not.

Yet even harder to discuss than speed of migration is the identity of migrants. But identity matters, because — and here is a great shibboleth to break — some identities are simply easier to integrate than others. There are 67 suburbs in Melbourne and Sydney in which more than half of the residents were born overseas. Melbourne is grappling with the problem of African street gangs. Some of these are refugees from South Sudan. Of these some — including the children of refugees — have been involved in violent home invasions in the city that gave them a home.

Similar stories occur everywhere. In London there has been a significant rise in knife crime in the past year, much of it gang-related. Last month in London, within a few kilometres of each other, and within just 1½ hours, two young men of Somali origin were stabbed to death in gang fights.

So some truths need to be considered, even if they are not accepted. One is that members of the Australian public, like members of the public around the world, are right to be concerned about the speed at which immigrants come into the country. The ability of a country to absorb people does not forever increase. And it is not the case that people in Australia become as Australian as the next person simply because they have arrived in Australia.

That mistaken presumption — the one that has guided (or misguided) Angela Merkel — is disintegrating in every modern liberal state at the moment. But another truth that must be considered, even if not accepted, is that it is unlikely that knife crime in London, or home invasions in Melbourne, would be at the same levels if Britain or Australia had imported the same number of native Scandinavians as they have Somalis or South Sudanese.

Here everybody gets understandably nervous. Somalia has had a brutal civil war in recent decades and South Sudan has been marked by ethnic conflict. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and hundreds of thousands of others have been involved in that violence or seen it first hand, with effects that will never leave them.

But here is the hard question. At what stage are we helping to save people from Somalia or South Sudan? And at what stage are we at risk of resembling those conflict-torn states ourselves? The hope of our time is that while the first generation may bring problems, the second generation will not. Of course the list of second-generation immigrants in Australia who went to join Islamic State should at least give pause. But fine: if not this generation then the next, or the one after that will be fully integrated. And if many refugees don’t find employment in five years (as is the case in Australia) perhaps the country will find a use for their skills in 10 or 20 years, or some other spot in the future.

Just one problem in considering this is that it is not a science. There is not a tipping point worked out by careful equation at which one can show that integration stops occurring and tribal and gang violence — as well as many other beliefs and behaviours people bring — begin to make themselves felt. In the absence of such an equation we have only one device to work with, which is the extent to which the public feels happy with the speed of change in society and the agility of the political class to respond to this.

In Europe the political class knows that it has done mass immigration against the will of its public. Partly as a result, politicians have done everything they can to disable the public’s response mechanisms. They have ignored expressions at the ballot box, ignored manifesto promises, and when something such as the Brexit vote occurs (a vote driven largely by concern about unrestricted immigration) much of the political class continues actively to berate the public.

It is easy to experiment on people (and even berate them for objecting) if you don’t live with them. In general politicians are able to live away from the situations they create. Few Australian cabinet ministers will have their homes invaded by African gangs. They tend to be luckier in the neighbourhoods they can choose to buy in. Likewise, when Merkel meets a migrant it is in a carefully vetted photo op. Her country’s citizens are not so lucky, as the rise in violent crime — including sex crimes — suggests.

All the time the public is having to think quietly. We wonder whether integration will ever happen for some groups, and what must be put up with to get to that nirvana. Others wonder whether the destination is worth the journey. Others worry whether some groups just don’t want to be integrated, and wonder what anyone can do if that is the case.

Though there are plenty of easy mistakes that can be made in thinking through all this, there are few easy answers. Yet what answers do exist, all originate from the same places. The first lies in re-finding the ability to talk all this through honestly, plainly and without fear. The second is to do so in a recognition that most countries aren’t like this. Tolerant, pluralistic liberal democracy is not the default state of humankind. What we have is a blip point in a world of violence and millenniums of chaos. So we should be careful with experiments that cause concerns about our future and develop better remedies for when our experiments go wrong.

A generation of Australians — like their European counterparts — have been told there is nothing so appalling, oppressive and racist as the society in which they have grown up. The most charitable response to that is to say these critics can never have been anywhere, and have zero idea of how lucky they are. Saving the rest of the world from misery is a precious ambition. But recognising your own good fortune and seeking to preserve it for the next generation is a precious ambition, too — and one that happens to be within the nation’s gift. So tread wisely, Australia.


Labor voter fury over losing 30pc of income under Shorten plan

Fully-self-funded retiree, Margaret Osborne, 64, is a rusted-on Labor voter but will abandon the party at the next election.

The former teacher, who lives in Sydney's Rozelle with her husband, said Labor's proposal that, if elected, it would make changes to the dividend imputation system, would see the couple's income drop by 30 per cent. "I'm very angry about this," she said.

The couple have all their savings in Australian-listed investments through their self-managed super fund. About 85 per cent of their money is the big dividend-paying shares such as Telstra and the big banks.

Under the plan announced by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten on Tuesday, imputation credits would no longer be refundable. These are tax credits attached to dividends of Australian-listed companies where shareholders can claim a cash refund from the Tax Office if the value of the tax credits exceeds the shareholder's tax liabilities.

Most retirees have tax liabilities and without refundable tax credits, lose the benefit of the credits.

"We were encouraged by successive governments during our working life to set aside for our retirement and not become an added burden on the economy by accessing the age pension," Margaret said.

It is not only a major problem for better-off retirees like Margaret and her husband, but also for other retirees, many of whom are likely to be pushed onto the age pension, she said. "I don't think Labor has thought this through," she said.

If Labor wins the next election the change to dividend imputation would start from  mid-2019.

It is not only the better-off retirees who would be affected. Andrew Stark, who is in his "mid-50s", came out of a divorce with a modest amount of money which he invested in Australian shares.
He lives off about $150 per week after paying the rent on his home on the NSW Central Coast of $210 a week.

"I am a Labor supporter and to vote for the Liberals at the next election will gut me, but I will have to do it, look at my situation," he said.


Labor victory fuelled by Catholic education backing

Bill Shorten has privately hailed a Catholic education sector ­campaign days before the Batman by-election as a key factor in Labor’s win.

The Catholic intervention, which helped fuel the nearly 8 per cent primary vote swing to Labor, is already being taken as a warning to the Turnbull government that it could lose seats over the school-funding issue at the next federal election.

The Australian can reveal that the Opposition Leader called Catholic Education Melbourne chief executive Stephen Elder on Saturday night after the bigger-than-expected win over the Greens. Mr Shorten thanked the sector for its support in the by-election campaign after the Catholic body made 30,000 robocalls to almost every household on Thursday, urging a vote for Labor. The campaign helped propel the ALP’s Ged Kearney to a win with a two-party-preferred vote of about 55 per cent to 45 per cent.

Northcote resident and working mother of three Vanessa Lania said she had been compelled to vote Labor for the first time in more than three years after receiving a letter for her children’s Catholic school telling her that its funding was at risk under the Liberals.

“You don’t want to say panic set in or anything, but we were made aware that the school could be facing funding cuts, and it worried us,” Ms Lania said. “And so you do what you can to try and stop it.”

Having young children and paying school fees means her priorities have shifted, she says. “The Greens and what they say and their values align to my values, but your priorities change and education is higher on my agenda at the moment,” she said.

Catholic Education Melbourne has been at war with the Coalition over funding reforms it says have robbed millions of dollars from Catholic schools, threatening to campaign strongly over the issue at the next federal election.

During the Batman campaign, CEM wrote to every parent of the 5000 Catholic schoolchildren that make up more than a quarter of all school students in the seat, claiming Labor was the only party that would provide an extra $250 million in funding to Catholic schools over the first two years if Mr Shorten was elected to office.

It is understood that Labor’s poll tracking a week ago was pointing to a loss in the seat.

Mr Elder said he believed the issue played a significant role in the outcome, having run similar campaigns in Victorian state by-elections.

“(Bill) sat down and listened to us, got across the detail and worked out we had a fair case unlike Turnbull and (Education Minister Simon) Birmingham,” he said. “People who dismiss the church forget we are on the high moral ground when it comes to school funding. Birmingham is taking hundreds of millions of dollars off Catholic schools and many parents can’t afford to pay.”

Senior Labor MPs have seized on the by-election win to spruik the party’s chances in the next federal election. Malcolm Turnbull and senior Liberals batted away suggestions the result sent any message about Labor’s chances on federal polling day.

“We weren’t involved in that election, and I guess it tells you a lot about Bill Shorten’s situation in that he’s crowing about holding a seat the Labor Party have had for 50 years,” the Prime Minister said.

Labor’s initial plan trained the party’s sights on trying to retain traditional Labor voters in the north while attempting to win back younger families and more socially progressive voters living in the comparatively affluent suburbs in the south.

Australian Electoral Commission data reveals the strategy worked, with the party netting some of its biggest swings in the south and areas close to schools.

The Northcote West polling booth at Northcote High School experienced a swing towards Labor of 34 per cent, delivering Ged Kearney a final tally of 62.5 per cent to 37.5 per cent over the Greens in that booth.

Labor picked up a swing of more than 10 per cent at the Westgarth Primary School polling station in southern Northcote.

Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives secured 6.37 per cent of the primary vote, with most of the preferences flowing to Labor, ALP sources estimated.


Australian PM 'disappointed' the Greens linked destructive wildfire to climate change

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has expressed his "disappointment" that the Greens linked the catastrophic bushfire that ripped through Tathra overnight to climate change.

"I'm disappointed that the Greens would try to politicise an event like this," the Prime Minister told reporters, speaking from the fire-ravaged town this afternoon.

“You can’t attribute any particular event, whether it’s a flood or fire or a drought or a storm – to climate change."

As Tathra residents waited to hear if they'd lost their homes, businesses, and or livelihoods, Greens leader Richard Di Natale rose in the Senate and linked the catastrophic bush fires to climate change.

"We are seeing climate change in our every day lives have an impact on the risk of bush fires in our communities," he said.

"We can't any longer be complacent about risk of bush fires once the end of summer comes around. "And yet here we are with bush fires racing through my home state and indeed my community."

But Malcolm Turnbull said such intense fires are part and parcel of life in Australia.

“We are the land of droughts and flooding rains, we're the land of bushfires,” he said. “Nature hurls her worst at Australians – always has and always will."

“We saw from the air how the fire had not just leapt over a river, but had leapt over streets of houses, apparently without any damage, and then landed on a group of houses which had been burnt out. So, you can see how unpredictable it is.

“We have an environment which has extremes. Bushfires are part of Australia, as, indeed, are droughts and floods.”

Coalition Senator, Ian Macdonald, called the speech "hypocritical and a fraud". "These events happened before. They will happen in the future," he said.

The official New South Wales bush fire season ends at the end of March.



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


Monday, March 19, 2018

A win for the major political parties; defeat for minorities, including Greens

The X-man is dead; South Australians finally get rid of their painful Greenie government.  The Leftists will be out for a long time in S.A. now.  They hung on for so long because of a gerrymander.  The new government will be sure to reverse that ASAP

Voters have given the minor parties the flick in two key elections this weekend.

In the end, Nick Xenophon failed to make much impression on the South Australian state election when pollsters and commentators had predicted he would hold the balance of power.

When he first stepped down from the Senate to lead SA Best, there was even talk of him becoming premier.

Instead, the Liberals, led by Steven Marshall, look to have won sufficient seats to govern in their own right, ending 16 years of Labor rule.

Departing Labor premier Jay Weatherill conceded it was always going to be difficult for Labor to win a fifth straight election.

However, Labor still held on to a rump of seats and it wasn't the usual landslide associated with the end of a long-term government.

In the inner-Melbourne seat of Batman, Labor unexpectedly held off another attempt by the Greens in the by-election caused by sitting MP David Feeney being forced to step down over his citizenship.

Labor candidate and former ACTU president Ged Kearney actually managed a swing towards her party.

In both cases, it could be seen as another vote of confidence for Opposition Leader Bill Shorten after being attacked on all sides for announcing a risky policy that will end cash handouts on non-taxpaying shareholders just days out from the elections.

It puts Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on course for an inevitable 30 consecutive Newspolls showing the coalition behind Labor - one benchmark he set on rolling Tony Abbott for the leadership.

This weekend's results may also be a sign that the minor parties are losing their appeal having made a big impression on the 2016 federal election.

It was the sixth attempt by Greens candidate Alex Bhathal to try an secure Batman.

Such a disappointing outcome from what was seen as an "unloseable" election came hot-on-the-heels of the party's poor showing in the Tasmanian election earlier this month, the strong-hold of the Green vote.

Friction within the party - such as between Lee Rhiannon on the extreme left and traditional Green voters of the Bob Brown ilk - may put pressure on Richard Di Natale's leadership.

But it's not just the Greens.

Pauline Hanson's One Nation also flopped in both the Western Australian and Queensland state elections last year, and again in SA, having promised so much after scoring four Senate seats in the 2016 federal poll.

And SA Best, aka the Nick Xenophon Team, having nothing to shout about either.

Could it be that rather than holding the big parties to account, voters realise that other than griping from the sidelines, the minor parties will never actually govern and would rather put their cross against someone who perhaps will?

The next test will be the Victorian state election in November, unless there are further federal by-elections from the dual-citizenship fiasco or in the unlikelihood Turnbull bites the bullet and goes for an early election.


Batman by-election: Bickering Greens blew it

The Batman result is a disaster for the Greens and a significant campaigning achievement for Labor.

The extent to which the Greens blew it is in Richard Di Natale’s brief statement on the party’s Batman debacle.

Di Natale _ who hid from most of the media yesterday _ lamented that ``we have to get our own house in order if we’re going to win back traditional Greens voters who were turned off by the leaking and sabotage from a few individuals with a destructive agenda’’.

On the back of that disunity, Labor’s Ged Kearney mustered a 6.5 per cent swing and a two-party preferred vote of 52 - 47 against the Greens’ Alex Bhathal.

Bhathal, after umpteen attempts at the seat, is officially a dud candidate.

With Bhathal at the helm, the Greens had a horror campaign with internal bickering detracting from their core message.

The Greens have wasted an epic opportunity to cement themselves in Melbourne’s inner north and it will only get harder when the Liberals run a candidate at the next general election.

Labor started the campaign trailing the Greens by as much as six percentage points, spooking Bill Shorten and others.

But Labor strategists said even the southern end of Batman — a Greens stronghold — had failed to deliver sufficiently for the minor party in the numbers needed to oust the ALP.

There was talk last night that Labor’s Ged Kearney was the antidote to the negatives that swirled around former MP David Feeney, who quit over the citizenship crisis. It certainly looks like her campaigning worked.

But it wasn’t until the last week of the by-election campaign that the Labor vote pulled back. Shorten will be elated.

The result will keep Anthony Albanese at bay and refocus the attention on the cost of living, which was at the heart of the ALP win.

Labor’s Ged Kearney mustered a 6.5 pr cent swing and a two-party preferred vote of 52 - 47 the the Greens’ Alex Bhathal.



Four current reports below

Graduates slam ‘meaningless’ degrees, dismal career prospects and crippling debt

Data released by the Good Universities Guide late last year revealed about 30 per cent of undergraduates left university without any job prospects and struggled to break into the competitive job market.

While Charles Sturt University had the best employment outcomes followed by Charles Darwin University and Notre Dame, Australia’s worst-performing institutions were Southern Cross University followed by Curtin and La Trobe.

Research from the National Institute of Labour Studies at Flinders University also revealed that between 2008 and 2014, the percentage of recent graduates in full-time employment dropped from 56.4 per cent to 41.7 per cent, with the 2017 Graduate Outcomes Survey finding the courses with the lowest full-time employment rate immediately upon graduation were creative arts and science and mathematics.

However, Universities Australia Deputy Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said an improving labour market had led to a “steady improvement in graduate job rates”.

“The data shows that graduates, like everyone entering the labour market, need time to establish their careers,” Ms Jackson said.

“But this immediate outlook can shift quickly — within three years of finishing their studies, nine in 10 graduates are employed full-time.

“Employment rates after four months differ by field, but after three years, graduates with generalist degrees have largely closed the gap.”

Nevertheless, Queensland mum of three Susan Jane still hasn’t found work more than six years after graduating.

In 2009, she hired a manager for her natural therapies business, rented out her home and moved from Gympie to the Gold Coast to pursue her dream of studying at Griffith University.

As a 48-year-old mature-age student, Ms Jane enrolled in a bachelor’s degree in Public Health, majoring in Health Promotion.

At the time, Ms Jane and her fellow students were told there was an abundance of jobs in the industry.

But by the time Ms Jane graduated at 50 in 2011, a change in government had already ended the Health Promotion career boom, with the private sector quickly snapping up experienced workers from the public sector who suddenly found their positions redundant.

It meant recent graduates were forced to either relocate to other states, or abandon their careers altogether.

Ms Jane said she had given up looking for a job she was qualified for two years after graduating in the top five per cent of her cohort.

She has never worked in the field, and is saddled with a $25,000 HECS debt she has little hope of paying off.

“I absolutely loved uni; I worked three jobs doing it, and I went in with the right attitude because I wanted to get ahead,” Ms Jane said.

“They told us there were heaps of jobs available and because it was a new area, they were screaming out for people.

“I did three years of full-time study, but by the time I finished, there was absolutely nothing there at all.”

Ms Jane said out of her university peers, she only knew of three people who had found jobs in health promotion — although all three had moved across the country to Victoria.

She stressed that her studies had been a positive experience that had given her a lot of confidence, and that she did not blame the university for her career outcomes.

But she said given the rapidly changing nature of work, it made more sense for universities to provide broader qualifications in areas such as “leadership” or other areas that would be useful in a range of careers, instead of providing rigid degrees for specific careers.

Since graduating, Ms Jane has published a book and now organises personal development and goal setting workshops in schools and in the community.

She said she had used the skills she learned while studying as much as possible — but admitted her struggle to find a job had been “challenging”.

“I wasn’t expecting to add more financial stress — getting a degree was supposed to ease that,” she said.


Nightmare of the 'ed tech' jungle

Regarding the recent backlash against the common sense suggestion by the Australian Education Minister, Simon Birmingham, that schools should ban mobile phones:

We were told by academics this would ‘take us back in time’, ‘there are so many new ways that mobile devices can add to the classroom’ and ‘we can’t let fear control everything we do’!

Yes, pity those poor students who lived before the 2000s and didn’t have access to the vital educational resource of smartphones. How did students ever learn before education apps were invented?

A Melbourne school recently banned student mobile phones, and the principal said the effects during recess and lunch were startling: ‘I hadn’t anticipated the level of noise. There was laughter, people were actually interacting and socialising.’ What a crazy idea. More radical than the Communist Manifesto of 1848. But that school is not alone in scepticism about the benefits of technology in classrooms. The prestigious Sydney Grammar School in 2016 banned laptops in class, and required students to handwrite assignments and essays until Year 10.

Cases like these provide some perspective on the fashionable trend of schools using education technology, or ‘Ed Tech’ as hip people call it.

According to the latest international education datasets, Australian schools use classroom technology far more than most other countries

But there is very little evidence to indicate more computers in classrooms actually improve student results. Recent studies have come to conflicting conclusions, but there is no clear link between school technology usage and student performance. While the novelty of the latest technology may get people excited, that doesn’t mean it helps students learn.

Furthermore, ‘21st century learning’ isn’t cheap. Investments in technology — like laptops and tablets for every student — can become obsolete quickly, require a great deal of maintenance, and are expensive.

Just look at the Rudd-Gillard governments’ ‘Digital Education Revolution’ program, with an original cost of $1.2 billion which blew out to over $2 billion. Remember the incredible transformation of schools and all the amazing improvements in student results? Neither do I.

Interestingly, some studies suggest education technology in fact has a negative impact on student achievement.

And recent research has found students using laptops in class has a damaging effect on other students who aren’t using laptops because they increase distractions (this concept has been called ‘the new second-hand smoke’).

It’s not hard to understand why. Try sitting at the back of any lecture theatre in a university these days. Most students have their laptops open — so they can ‘better follow the lecture slides’ and ‘take digital notes’ — but all you will observe is a sea of scrolling Instagram feeds, not to mention multiple people with earphones plugged in and surreptitiously catching up on the latest Walking Dead episode. Generally the poor lecturer at the front is completely oblivious and carries on about his fascinating area of expertise, satisfied because at least all the students are quiet.

A similar phenomenon occurs in many school classrooms. Some teachers are happy their students have laptops because it helps keep them serene during lessons; and of course students aren’t wasting time since the school’s IT system blocks social media sites (and obviously, the kids will never figure out how to get around it, right?).

Most fellow young people I talk to agree laptops are a source of distraction that hinders rather than helps learning. It’s mainly only cool older education academics with a piercing in their ear (or other places) who still go on about the supposed monumental benefits of 21st century learning.

Of course, education technology is not useless. In the right circumstances, and in moderation, it can be beneficial to student learning. But the focus should be on using it better rather than using it more. Technology addiction is already a problem, and ‘Ed Tech’ (with its limited benefits) could create even more young people who are hopelessly attached to technology, at the expense of deep subject knowledge.

The best way to help students be prepared for the 21st century is to ensure they leave school good readers, fluent writers, competent in maths, and with a sound and well-rounded knowledge of the core disciplines. These are the fundamental skills people will always need to be successful. In contrast, learning with, and about, new technologies can quickly become outdated, due to the rapid pace of technological change. A wise senior teacher once revealed to me the greatest irony of education: ‘If you teach kids the latest thing, then that will be the first thing you’ve taught them which becomes out of date.’


Private sector innovation in education

The federal government is implementing Turnbull’s National Innovation and Science Agenda, but the real innovation is that the National STEM Education Strategy is prioritising industry collaboration and pathways to employment rather than ‘fads’ such as iPads and mindfulness.

Following the success of the US education program Pathways in Technology (P-TECH) — which partners high schools with industry to develop STEM skills — the federal government has provided $5.1 million in funding to pilot the program here, with 14 Australian sites to be operating by mid-2018.

The P-TECH program has students undertake hands-on workplace learning and receive classroom instruction focused on the STEM skills employers need.

Despite the programs benefits, taxpayer support for P-TECH must be removed. It is inappropriate to use taxpayer funds to provide industry participants the opportunity to future-proof their workforce at the expense of their competitors.

P-TECH has already had early successes. The Skilling Australia Foundation reports that while government funding for the Geelong pilot expired in June 2017, the program continues to operate with financial support from local industry and community groups.

As the excitement about STEM continues, it is easy to miss what is truly important about P-TECH: industry collaboration. Workplace learning has been a central component of vocational — and to a certain extent, university — qualifications, but has been ignored at school level.

The workplace learning component of P-TECH should be extended. Students would benefit from the opportunity to undertake workplace learning in sectors that have not traditionally participated in work-based learning at school level, such as logistics.

On-the-job training teaches students the relevance of their education to the employment landscape and prepares them for the workforce.

Further, the implementation of hands-on learning in communities with high youth unemployment would strengthen local economies and teach at-risk students the benefits of work.

As industry develops new pathways to employment, it has never been more important that Australia avoid the latest education ‘fads’ and deliver tangible outcomes for students by expanding workplace learning.


Prominent lawyer to investigate sacking of an elite high school deputy principal for the cutting of a student’s hair

Ray Finkelstein QC, will be investigating the sacking of a long-standing deputy principal at Trinity Grammar. A letter was sent to the school community on Friday afternoon, informing them investigation proceedings will begin immediately.

Mr Brown, known as Brownie, was dismissed from his position at prestigious private boy's school Trinity Grammar in Melbourne's east last week.

A group of 50 former captains and vice captains have penned a heartfelt letter calling for the reinstatement of a long-standing teacher.

The letter accompanies a student protest on Tuesday in which students donned brown armbands and smart casual attire in support of their fired deputy principal.

He was sacked after video surfaced of him trimming a student's hair with scissors before school photo day at the beginning of term.

The decision to let Mr Brown go outraged parents and students, who have started an online petition and wore brown armbands on Tuesday in protest.

The letter was sent to the principal and the school council chair on Monday, and raises concerns held for the direction of the school.

'We are writing to express our profound disappointment at the School Council's decision to dismiss Rohan Brown after an exemplary 30 year career,' they wrote.

'Many of us are former students of Rohan's and have directly witnessed his exceptional personal qualities.

'His defining characteristics define the school's traditional core values: he is courteous, fair and humble, wholly dedicated to the wellbeing of the school's students. 'He can be firm, but he is not a bully. He wants boys to be their best.'

The letter went on to question the school's aims, and noted a change towards a performance-based school.

'In recent years, the school's executive leadership has made clear its intention to change the school's vision and direction.

'This has seen a dramatic shift from Trinity's position as a non-selective, not-elite school dedicated to holistic personal development, to an institution focused on "exceptional" performance defined by ATAR excellence, growth and profit.'

Students taking part in the brown armband protest insisted they did not want to disrupt class, but felt the need to make a 'unified statement of solidarity'.

'He is a pretty integral part of this school. We all really love him, he is such a big presence at the school and he will be sorely missed,' a student told the Today show.

'He was only upholding the school rules and the school values, which he loves and cares about so much,' said another.

'A lot of the boys are planning to have a protest at the school and everyone is wearing brown arm bands for Mr Brown and we all think that the punishment clearly does not fit the crime,' said a third student.

The armband protest comes after hundreds of angry parents and former students challenged the decision at a special meeting on Friday 9 March.

Meanwhile, more than 5,000 people have signed an online petition urging the school to 'Bring Brownie Back.'

Trinity Grammar will now appoint an independent expert to review its procedures, ABC News reports.

On Monday, the school's headmaster Dr Michael Davies issued a statement saying students, staff and other stakeholders will be consulted about the review

He added the school 'takes seriously its duty of care to students, staff and the wider community.'

Dr Davies said: 'We have reached out regularly to the boy involved in the February incident, over the past few days. 'We have also been in touch with Rohan Brown over the weekend.'


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, March 18, 2018

Must not mention child abuse in Aboriginal families

The usual unbalanced response to the issue is coming from the Leftist Aboriginal industry.  The official policy is to leave abused black children with their families and if that does not work the kid is left with other black families, usually relatives. Where all that has been tried the kid may in rare cases be fostered by a white family. 

Adoption is usually considered only as a last resort.  Of the four Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children adopted between 2016 and 2017, three went to white families, according to government figures.

The protesters act as if the latest call is to place ALL abused black kids with whites, which is not being proposed at all. The proposal is for the most endangered kids to be placed with white families.  There have been deaths among children whom the authorities have simply shuffled around among black families.

A protester below says: "Aboriginal children are being taken away at exponential rates and these rates have grown every year"  --  as if that exonerates the existing procedures.  Surely it in fact shows that the problem is getting worse and in need of fresh thinking

The real driver behind the protests is of course the strange leftist belief that "All men are equal". Mentioning that child abuse if rife among blacks defies that foolish gospel

[TV program] Sunrise has sparked intense backlash after a commentator suggested Indigenous children should be taken from their families

The comments were made on Tuesday morning as part of the breakast show's 'Hot Topics' segment. Samantha Armytage kicked off the discussion by bringing viewers up to speed on assistant minister for children David Gillespie calling for non-Indigenous families to adopt at-risk Aboriginal children.

"It's a no-brainer", Sunrise commentator Prue MacSween supports federal minister David Gillespie's proposal for white families to adopt at-risk Aboriginal children.

"Post-Stolen Generations there's been a huge move to leave Aboriginal children where they are, even if they're being neglected in their own families," she said.

The Sunrise co-host then asked controversial commentator Prue MacSween and Brisbane radio host Ben Davis what they thought. MacSween made headlines last year after she said she was "tempted to run over" former ABC host Yassmin Abdel-Magied.

McSween claimed there was a "fabricated PC outlook" among some people who believed it was better to leave Aboriginal children in abusive homes than have them adopted by white families.

"It's just crazy to just even contemplate that people are arguing against this," she said. "Don't worry about the people that would cry and handwring and say this would be another Stolen Generation. Just like the first Stolen Generation where a lot of people were taken because it was for their wellbeing... we need to do it again, perhaps."

The comments have been slammed as false and misleading by prominent members of the Indigenous community.

South Sea Islander and Darumbal journalist Amy McQuire said the two minute segment was "packed [with] so many mistruths". "The idea that Aboriginal children are not being placed in white families is a lie," she wrote. "The greater lie is that Aboriginal children are not being taken away and are being kept in dangerous situations for fear of a 'stolen generation'.

"That does not gel with the statistics: Aboriginal children are being taken away at exponential rates and these rates have grown every year since Kevin Rudd gave his apology to the Stolen Generations and promised it would never happen again."

Black Comedy's Nakkiah Lui, meanwhile, has accused Sunrise of "bottom-feeding off people's pain". "If you're talking about the removal of Aboriginal children from their families, communities and culture, maybe speak to Aboriginal children, families and adults that have been affected," she wrote. "Not white people who have zero knowledge."


Bill Shorten’s ‘left behinds’ actually got ahead

Low-income households have ­enjoyed the biggest improvement in standard of living since the ­financial crisis, challenging Bill Shorten’s claim that inequality is rising and large parts of society are being “left behind”.

The bottom fifth of households ranked by income have had an 11 per cent rise in their living standards since 2007, more than twice as fast as those in the top income group, according to analysis ­undertaken at the Australian ­National University Centre for Social Research and Methods.

A comprehensive analysis of more than 20 different household types found those with incomes made up mainly of social security benefits have enjoyed an 18 per cent jump in living standards since 2007, wage earners enjoyed a 5 per cent jump and those with mainly business income recorded an almost 8 per cent fall.

The analysis, produced by ­researcher Ben Phillips, also shows that even the 20 per cent of households on the lowest ­incomes received on average $110 a year in franking credits in 2016, highlighting the political difficulty Labor faces as it seeks to end cash refunds for franking credits for all taxpayers. “Some low-income households do receive them but they are quite small in the scheme of things, with almost 80 per cent by value going to the top share of households with large portfolios,” Mr Phillips said.

The figures come amid an ­escalating battle between the ­government and opposition about the impact of Labor’s new policy, which the government says will hurt more than a million shareholders, mainly low-income retirees, and have far-ranging unintended consequences.

In a bid to tackle what he described as “the growing inequality in this country, the growing wedge of disparity”, Mr Shorten announced plans to scrap cash ­refunds for tax credits on franked share dividends for those paying no income tax, saying it would save $59 billion over 10 years.

The value of the tax increases combined would provide Labor with a war chest to cut personal income tax for workers, most of whom have experienced zero real wage growth since 2012.

The ANU analysis found that 9 per cent of households in the bottom income quintile received franking credits. The average payment received by that 9 per cent was $1250, with a median payment of $231. Among top-earning households, 38 per cent received credits. Among that group of households, the average payment was $13,300 and the median payment was $870 in 2016.

Mr Phillips said all types of households had “overwhelmingly” enjoyed large increases in their living standards over recent decades, while high-income households had seen “virtually no real growth in living standards since the GFC”.

His new research is based on a series of biennial income and ­expenditure surveys conducted by the ABS of up to 30,000 people.

Labor has announced a controversial swag of tax increases on trusts, high-income earners, multinationals and property investors in recent months. “In 2018, my side of politics is going to lay out our ­vision for that Australia — fairer, stronger, more inclusive — where no one gets left behind,” Mr Shorten said in January, echoing language used by British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Mr Phillips’ analysis provides a clearer picture of changes in living standards for different groups by comparing disposable income (after tax) with the cost of living. The lowest earners, who tend to spend more of their incomes on essential services, had experienced the biggest cost-of-living increase — 25 per cent since 2007 — but incomes, propped up by a hefty increase in the age pension in 2009, had more than kept pace.

Single, middle-income households aged 50 to 64, in Queensland and South Australia, appeared to have done the worst over the past decade. Single parents with a mortgage, living in ACT or NSW, appear to have done the best, relatively, the analysis suggested. “Middle and higher-income single parents did particularly well over the long term with a strong increase in workforce participation, helped along by changing ­cultural attitudes and increases in family payments as part of the Hawke government poverty-­alleviation measures,” Mr Phillips said.

When grouped according to age, households over 65 enjoyed the most rapid growth in living standards, up 16.5 per cent or almost three times that of those under 35 over the past decade.

“The main driver here has been a more generous taxation system for older Australians and large pension increase in 2009 under the Harmer review,” he said.

The new analysis reveals how previously booming resource states were now struggling. Western Australia was the only state or ­territory where households went backwards since 2007 while Queenslanders’ living ­standards rose 1.2 per cent — masking sharp surges and retractions in income. By contrast, real incomes in the ACT and the NT, which have relatively large government sectors, rose 14 per cent and 11 per cent, more than any others.

Against a backdrop of sluggish wage growth and high house prices, Mr Phillips showed living standards for all Australians had still risen substantially since the last recession in the early 1990s.

“A key point is that overall living standards, which are defined as income growth adjusting for cost of living, have increased dramatically since 1988, rising around 68 per cent, ” he said.

He noted they had risen more slowly in the past decade.

“Lower-income single parents have not fared so well over the past decade following cuts to welfare payments by the Howard government in 2005 and Gillard government in 2013,” he said.


Marginals pain for Labor as tax grab hits thousands of voters in key electorates

Bill Shorten has risked igniting a backlash in key election battlegrounds, with official data revealing that almost 90,000 voters across 13 of the most marginal seats in the country would lose an average $2000 a year in refundable tax credits under his policy.

As the Labor leader yesterday defended the $59 billion tax grab amid pressure from pensioner and retiree lobby groups, Treasury analysis of tax ­office data reveals seven marginal Labor seats could be vulnerable at an election.

Those seats have an average of ­almost 6000 voters who would lose thousands of dollars of income a year under the Labor plan.

In the country’s most marginal seat of Herbert in north Queensland, which Labor won at the 2016 election by only 37 votes, there are 4700 people who on average ­receive $1994 a year in refunds on tax credits from share dividends.

The ATO data suggests that the issue could also be a deciding ­factor in tomorrow’s by-election in the suburban Melbourne seat of Batman, which Labor is at risk of losing to the Greens, with 5284 voters receiving an average of $1471 a year in refunds. The same scenario could play out in the Queensland seat of Longman if Labor were forced to a by-election over questions about ALP MP Susan Lamb’s citizenship, with 5491 people collecting $1563 annually. Labor won the seat by just 1390 votes.

Treasurer Scott Morrison told The Australian: “Labor were hoping they would get away with it and try and slide this past hundreds and thousands of pensioners who depend on their tax refund to pay everything from their power bill to their grocery bill.

“Either Bill Shorten didn’t know, or he didn’t care. But either way he is going to pocket the tax refunds of pensioners and ­retirees.”

Mr Shorten and his Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen yesterday briefed opposition MPs about the details of the policy shake-up in a 30-minute phone hook-up of the Labor caucus after MPs were inundated with feedback from concerned constituents. The Australian understands that no one spoke out against the shake-up, but some were drawing up case studies to help explain the impact of the policy. “They went through the policy and we all had a chat,” a Labor MP said. “We have to ­explain it to the community and what the benefits are ... there were a number of people who were asking questions.”

Mr Shorten, speaking in Melbourne with the Labor candidate for Batman, former ACTU president Ged Kearney, branded government attacks on Labor’s plan a “ hysterical scare campaign”. But Ms Kearney was forced to back away from earlier comments that the plan could be reviewed, instead attempting to talk down the tax grab’s impact.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale moved to exploit Labor’s confusion ahead of the Batman by-election, saying the proposals “look like they could have a range of very serious unintended consequences”.

“It’s very clear here that we have a situation with Bill Shorten who is quite rightly raising the issue of inequality,” Senator Di Natale said.

“The Greens are very concerned that these changes could hit struggling pensioners — pensioners with low income, low assets — and make their lives harder.

“The Greens will do everything that we can using our power in the Senate and our numbers in the House to ensure that we scrutinise every aspect of Labor’s policy.”

In Batman, the ATO data shows it is home to 1052 pensioners receiving tax refunds.

Mr Morrison took aim at Mr Shorten after the Opposition Leader denied that he would seek to provide additional compensation to low-income pensioners who lose their refunds, following a report in The Australian revealing it was being considered.

“We’ve seen the circus of yesterday. They (Labor) are saying, ‘we’ll be compensating pensioners’. And today they say they won’t be compensating pensioners. They have no clue,” Mr Morrison said.

Tony Shepherd, who headed the Abbott government’s National Commission of Audit and is a ­former president of the Business Council of Australia, also spoke out against the dangers of making one-off ­alternations to the tax and superannuation systems. “There is considerable room in Australia for taxation reform but that must be done on a comprehensive basis with a thorough examination of the consequences,” Mr Shepherd told The Australian.

The ATO data shows about 84,000 NSW pensioners stand to lose money. Nearly 8000 of them are in the marginal seats of ­Gilmore, Robertson and Page, and 40,000 live in ALP seats.

More than 20,000 pensioners living in Labor seats in Victoria and almost 10,000 in Labor-held seats in Queensland would also lose out, according to the data.

The data shows that six Liberal and LNP-held marginal seats, which the government would ­likely lose in an election based on current polling, had similar numbers to the Labor marginal seats of pensioners and retirees who would be affected.

In the Queensland seat of Forde, which the LNP won by 1062 votes, there are 4074 voters receiving an average refund of $1604 while, in the central Queensland LNP seat of Capricornia that the Nationals’ Michelle Landry won by 1111 votes, there are 6209 voters ­receiving an average refund of $2079.

Mr Morrison will today visit the NSW south coast seat of Gilmore — won by Liberal MP Ann Sudmalis by 1503 votes — where there are 10,903 voters who receive an average refund of $1397.

The other marginal Liberal seats most affected by the policy include the central Queensland seat of Flynn — where there are 5939 voters receiving an average refund of $2461 — and the NSW central coast seat of Robertson where there are 9331 voters ­receiving an average refund of $1799.

The second-most marginal seat in the country — the Labor-held ­Adelaide electorate of Hindmarsh — has 8850 voters who receive an average refund of $2140.

Labor has warned that the value of the refunds at $6bn a year is unsustainable and will claw back $59bn in revenue over the decade by scrapping the measure initially introduced by the Howard government in 2001.


Australia bans bolt action rifle because of its scary 'appearance'

Gun owners often argue that “assault weapon” is just a term made up by politicians to ban guns that look “scary.”

The designation is made up, they say, to confuse consumers into thinking that machine guns are available off the shelf at local sporting goods stores. The so-called assault weapon, they say, is simply a semi-automatic rifle with certain cosmetic features.

Australia's government is giving ammunition to this argument by beginning to confiscate rifles simply because they look scary. The Australian Border Force ordered its citizens to turn in a bolt action rifle, 7 News Brisbane reports, “due to the firearm being substantially the same in appearance as a fully automatic firearm.” In other words, the guns are now illegal because they look like so called assault weapons.

This is, of course, ridiculous.

The rifle in question is a Riverman Operator Assisted Firearm. It cannot fire fully automatic. It cannot even fire semi-automatic. It is a bolt action rifle, meaning that a shooter has to manually chamber a cartridge before taking each shot. Aside from its pistol grip, tactical stock, and scope, it has more in common with Lee Enfield rifles of the Second World War than M16s or AK-47s of today’s conflicts.

But because looks can be deceiving, the gun has become illegal.


"Ping Pong" is racist?

A new Asian-themed gastropub called Hotel Longtime has sparked outrage on social media, with critics calling its name and theme racist.

The owners, married couple Alex Fahey and Tin Chu, have denied the Adelaide pub is racist, and said their Ping Pong Club Room has nothing to do with sex shows.

Critics slammed the pub's name, which they say references a scene from the movie Full Metal Jacket in which a Vietnamese prostitute says 'Me love you long time'.

They claimed the Ping Pong Club Room was prostitution-themed, referring to 'Asian strippers performing demeaning acts', as was a 'brothel madame' poster.

Vietnamese-born co-owner Ms Chu said their critics made associations that were never imagined when Hotel Longtime was designed, The Advertiser reported.

'It is worth remembering that I am a director of this licensee company and I am a proud Asian woman who has worked hard to build my business,' she said.

'There is nothing in our name which is in any way intended to insult or offend women. If anyone has felt that, then we humbly apologise.'

Mr Fahey denied the Ping Pong Club Room was a deliberate reference to sex shows involving ping pong balls, and said the name means 'stay for a long time'.

'It's meant to be like a clubroom, like a football clubroom, where you go and have a drink after playing ping pong. It's nothing to do with the Thailand ping pong shows,' he said.

Alice Whittington - who started a petition on Change.org demanding the pair change the name of the pub - said the theme perpetuated negative Asian stereotypes.

'All I wish for on behalf of Asian people and in particular women, is a change of venue name, as well as the acknowledgement that this name and concept blatantly reaffirms the stereotype.

'I too am a proud, half-Asian woman born and bred in Adelaide. Here and around the world, I have been subject to horrific slurs and racial and sexual harassment directly related to the quotes that are associated with the film Full Metal Jacket.'


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, March 16, 2018

Shorten scambles to reverse great tax blooper: To give back with the left hand what he takes with the right hand

Which leaves him with no budget "saving" after all.  He should just admit that he got it wrong and do a complete 180.  But Leftist hate to admit it when they are wrong, which they often are.  Where were his political instincts when he decided to hit 600,000 poor people?  It shows that the Labor Party is no longer the party of the worker

Bill Shorten is considering a supplement payment package for up to 250,000 pensioners to make up for annual cash refunds they stand to lose, as the Opposition Leader comes under mounting pressure over Labor’s plan to scrap $59 billion in refundable tax credits on share dividends.

As Labor faces pushback from seniors and self-managed super fund lobby groups, The Australian understands that a financial sweetener will be considered for the 10 per cent of pensioners on the lowest annual incomes who may lose their modest imputation credit refunds.

This would likely come in the form of a payment supplement in addition to Labor’s promise to ­restore the energy supplement linked to the carbon tax, which the Turnbull government scrapped for new welfare and pension recipients.

“We will make sure that pensioners are OK, full stop,” Mr Shorten said yesterday after hinting that Labor’s budget strategy would ensure pensioners were not left out of pocket.

Association and the Association of Independent Retirees yesterday urged their members to write to Labor MPs and warned of a ­national campaign against Mr Shorten’s tax grab.

The Opposition Leader yesterday acknowledged his policy would affect about 250,000 pensioners, amid new warnings the changes would force more people onto the Age Pension and possibly undermine the expected revenue gain of $59bn over a decade.

Mr Shorten’s claim that part pensions would rise to compensate low-income earners for the loss of their rebates was also ­attacked by National Seniors Australia. It declared the comment “incorrect” and argued it showed a fundamental misunderstanding of “how income is calculated for pensioners”.

National Seniors Australia chief executive Ian Henschke said he wanted Labor to “reconsider the full effect of this policy” and provided research showing that some part-pensioners would be more than $900 worse off once their rebates were removed.

Analysis provided exclusively to The Australian shows that a single person who qualifies for the part pension under the assets test may be substantially worse off under the Labor plan.

In one case study, an individual with $451,000 in assets — including $1000 cash from a refundable dividend tax credit — would receive a $3 increase in their fortnightly pension payment (from $302.65 to $305.65) once the refund was scrapped. While this would lift the part-pension payment by $78 a year, it would still leave the individual $922 worse off overall.

Centrelink makes an assumption about the income that investments will generate. In another case study, the analysis suggests that a single person who qualifies for a part pension under the income test is assumed to receive a return of 1.75 per cent on their first $50,200 of savings and 3.25 per cent on anything over that.

Changes in the person’s actual income are irrelevant to this calculation, so the abolition of cash imputation refunds would make no difference to the pension, ­although it would directly affect the pensioner’s total income.

National Seniors Australia’s senior officer Basil La Brooy said: “There doesn’t seem to be an understanding of how income is calculated for pensioners. And this is a policy that’s been in place for many years.”

Malcolm Turnbull yesterday accused Mr Shorten of launching a targeted attack on lower and middle-income earners in a “Labor cash grab” he said would hit more than 3.5 million superannuation accounts and affect more than one million people, including more than 200,000 pensioners.

“He’s seeking to take money from pensioners and self-funded retirees, money they’re entitled to,” Mr Turnbull said. “Think about that — 50 per cent of the individuals that will be hurt by this tax grab are on incomes of less than $18,000. These are pensioners and self-funded retirees.

“This is not a tax loophole or anything like this. This is a case where companies have paid tax, they’ve paid tax. They pay a dividend with a franking credit and if somebody doesn’t have other tax liabilities to offset that, they’re entitled to get the difference in cash. That is completely fair. It’s been the case for nearly 20 years.”

Writing to The Australian yesterday, former Treasury secretary John Stone backed Mr Turnbull’s criticism.

Mr Stone said Paul Keating had not gone far enough after introducing dividend imputation relief in 1987 to correct the “injustice” of double taxation whereby “dividend recipients had no or ­insufficient other taxable income against which to offset their ­credits”.

Mr Stone said this was “finally rectified” by Coalition treasurer Peter Costello in 2001, after the budget had been taken back into surplus. He warned that Mr Shorten’s policy on franking credits would “restore that injustice”.

The Association of Independent Retirees warned the Labor policy could “push more retirees onto the Aged Pension much earlier than would currently be the case” and “negate the short-term revenue gains anticipated”.

“You need to engage with your federal member of parliament and bring to their attention the concerns described above that AIR has with Labor’s announced policy on dividend imputation credits,” it said in a letter to its members.

The Self-Managed Super Fund Association produced figures showing that a single homeowner with $580,000 in superannuation (who had saved enough to forgo the Age Pension) could lose $5357 in franking credits — a reduction in yearly income from $28,357 to $23,000, or a cut of 18.8 per cent.

SMSF Association head of policy Jordan George said the drop to $23,000 in income was only $112 above the full Age Pension and Age Pension supplement of $22,888 which can be accessed by a homeowning single person with assets of less than $253,750.

“Self-funded retirees who have assets just above the Age Pension assets test thresholds may be worse off under the Labor proposal than those with less assets but receiving the Age Pension,” Mr George said. “This is a perverse outcome.”


Batman Labor voters vent fury over Shorten tax grab

Lifelong Labor voters living in Batman have called Bill Shorten’s radical tax plan the “final straw” ending their support for the ALP as the party road-tests new superannuation changes days ahead of a critical by-election.

Pensioners and low-income retirees living in the north Melbourne electorate say the latest ALP plan to abolish cash rebates for tax credits on shares held by retirees, investors and ordinary taxpayers will hurt those who can ill afford it. “Apparently it won’t affect me that much because I only hold shares through my super fund, but it’s possible those returns will go down and that hurts,” retired marine engineer Jim Robertson told The Australian yesterday. The 78-year-old, on a full pension supplemented by a small amount of super in an ­industry fund, has voted Labor in every state and federal election bar one since emigrating from Scotland more than 50 years ago.

Come polling day on Saturday, he will vote for either the Australian Conservatives or the Australian Liberty Party, saying the tax plan Mr Shorten unveiled in an address to the left-wing Chifley Institute this week was more evidence of Labor ditching traditional values.

“It wasn’t looking good before, but now I’m even less inclined to vote for Labor,” he said. “It’s like Labor has lost its roots and needs to get back to what it used to stand for: the working man. I don’t think the party of old would have gone about (tax reform) like this.”

Analysis of the new tax plan conducted by Treasury revealed that more than 610,000 Australians on the lowest annual incomes stand to lose an average of $1200 a year in tax refunds under the proposal to abolish cash rebates for tax credits.

Analysis of official tax data also showed the largest group of people to be hit by the $59 billion tax grab will be those receiving annual incomes of less than $18,200, the majority of whom receive the Age Pension.

Within the Batman electorate, voters over 65 make up almost 19 per cent of the voting population. In the last federal election, Labor would have lost the seat if it had sustained a net loss of just 927 voters on the two-party-preferred vote.

The by-election is a close contest between former ACTU president Ged Kearney for Labor and Greens candidate Alex Bhathal, who is making her sixth attempt on the seat.

Northcote-based financial planner Anthony Galle fielded calls from clients concerned about the changes. “I had one client who called it ‘political suicide’ because so many people — not just in the electorate, but around the country — are going to be affected,” he said.

Another Northcote-based planner, Jeff Yacoub, also fielded calls from concerned clients, and said he was personally concerned about how super returns would dip as a result of the policy.

“Sure, the impacts will be more visible to people with an SMSF, but people with money in super funds will also see returns go down. It might be 4.8 per cent last year and then its 4 per cent this year. It’s less obvious, but they’re still getting hit,” he said.

“And it’s a bad political stunt because it’s probably going to be supported by people who don’t understand the implications, because they’re not active or direct investors.”

At Quarries Park in Clifton Hill, self-managed super fund beneficiary Geoff Griffiths fumed at the changes which he said had the potential to drive the price of shares down across the Australian equities market.

The Clifton Hill resident, who owns a house in Batman but isn’t a resident for voting purposes, said he had been a near lifelong Labor voter, but this had turned him off the party for good.

“Now I’ll have to vote for whoever will be strongest against Labor,” he said.

Ms Kearney kept a low profile yesterday. In her absence, Greens leader Richard Di Natale said the Greens were wary of unintended consequences for the elderly and pensioners.


Perth's back-to-back cooler summers belie warming trend, say forecasters

While its counterparts in the east sweltered, Perth had one of its mildest summers in 18 years, recording just 10 days over 35 degrees Celsius.

Residents in the WA capital can normally expect about 20 days where the temperature reaches 35C or higher, and three or four days hotter than 40C.

However the hottest day this summer, January 14, was a mere 38C — the lowest maximum since the summer of 2001-02.

Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne and Canberra all recorded higher summer maximums, with each experiencing days exceeding 40C.

Sydney sweltered through the hottest day of the season, with a top of 43.4C, its highest temperature in 79 years.

The average maximum for Perth this summer was 30.2 degrees, half a degree below the average since recording began at the Mount Lawley weather station 25 years ago.

The long-term average for the city is 29.3 degrees.

It has also been Perth's fourth-wettest summer, after heavy falls from ex-Tropical Cyclone Joyce dumped 96.2mm in the gauge on January 16, bringing the summer total to 147 millimetres.

The Bureau of Meteorology's Glenn Cook said the cooler weather was partly due to the mobility of weather systems to the south.

"We've had high-pressure systems moving fairly steadily to the south and not sitting in the Bight for any length of time," he said.

"Hotter summers will usually have more easterly winds and more static high pressure systems in the Bight, building up heat over the west coast."

Perth's wetter, cooler summer is the second in a row for the city.

2016-17 saw a record wet summer, with 192.8 millimetres of rain over three months, exceeding the previous record of 180.4mm set in 1954-55.

It was also a season of mild daytime and overnight temperatures.

Several sites across the metropolitan area had their lowest daily maximum temperatures ever on February 9, 2017, with temperatures in the 13-18C range.


Australia to get a new German-designed light tank

Much faster than a tracked vehicle

Australia’s top political military figures have announced the largest purchase in the history of the Australian Army which Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said was based on “lethality and survivability”.

The Turnbull Government plans to use the new Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle (CRV), known as “The Boxer”, to replace the Army’s current crop of substandard products, the Australian Light Armoured Vehicle, or ASLAV for short.

“We’ve put them in the heat, we’ve put them in the cold, we’ve put them in the wet, we’ve put them in the dry, we’ve shot at them, we’ve tried to blow them up,” Defence Minister Marise Payne said.

The move follows the Army being left forced to use substandard products in combat, threatening the lives of Australian soldiers by using older products not suited to modern day warfare, a security expert has told news.com.au.

“This is a large step up in terms of size and capability from the vehicle they are replacing,” Marcus Hellyer, senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute said.

“You could technically say that defence has undercapitalised its armoured vehicle fleet for decades.

“The Army got to the point where they couldn’t take ASLAVs any more to Afghanistan because they couldn’t withstand the blast of an improvised explosive device (IED).

“The kinds of vehicles that the Army currently has, the ASLAV, and M113, are just not capable of surviving on a modern battlefield, they can’t survive even in lower threat environments such as Afghanistan.

“We had ASLAVs blown up in Afghanistan and soldiers killed to the point where Army chose not to deploy any more. It didn’t even deploy its M113s to Afghanistan at all.

“The M113 is really a vehicle with a 1950s pedigree, and we still have M113s in the Army today that went to Vietnam. They are a much older technology.

“The Boxer will provide protection against those IEDs as well as rocket propelled grenades.”

In January, decorated war hero Ben Roberts-Smith told The Courier-Mail troops under attack would stand a better chance at survival if the Government used the Boxer.

“They are going to have to live and die by their own decisions,” he said at the time.

According to The Courier-Mail, “it is understood Rheinmetall’s Boxer CRV was the far superior vehicle and has a bigger export footprint to South-East Asian countries and the potential to break into the US”.

The vehicle, dubbed “highly lethal”, can survive direct bomb hits while its cannons can fire up to 200 rounds of ammunition in one minute.

It also uses a “pulse” technology which blows up incoming missiles and soldiers have noted its “astounding accuracy”.

Mr Turnbull said the new vehicles ensured “the best protection for our soldiers on the battlefield” and will “undertake a range of missions, from regional stability and peacekeeping through to high-threat operations”.

“This is a decision based on the capability of the vehicle both in terms of lethality and survivability,” he told soldiers during the announcement on Wednesday.

“What we’re doing is ensuring you have the vehicle that will enable you to complete your missions with the best capability, the greatest lethality but also will protect you and ensure that when you have completed your mission you will come home safely.”

Yet Mr Turnbull’s choice of words has sparked concern over the fate of Australia’s future at war.

“Things take a long time and if you decide to start getting these things the day before the war starts, it’s too late,” Mr Hellyer said. “If you want to be ready for a war that starts in 2025 you need to start preparing now.”

What the Prime Minister didn’t mention in today was that the announcement is in fact phase two of a four phase “megaproject” which according to experts will cost three to four times as much as phase two.

The next phase, according to the Department of Defence, is to replace its current crop of M113 vehicles.

“This is actually the small part of the project, despite the $5 billion price tag,” Mr Hellyer said.

According to a statement from the Defence Department, the next phase of the program is to replace the M113, otherwise known as an Infantry Fighting Vehicle, which will have the job of carrying soldiers on the battlefield.

The cost of the next phase is estimated to be close to $20 billion.

Queensland has been picked to build $5 billion worth of the vehicles, which according to the Department of Defence will “support the next generation of Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFV) with the firepower, protection and mobility to defeat increasingly lethal and adaptive adversaries well into the future”.

Ms Payne said it took three years of “rigorous testing” to determine which vehicle would fight best in warfare.

“The outcome of that assessment is that this is the best capability to provide the mobility, the lethality and the protection that will support the men and women of the ADF in doing the job that we ask them to do every day.”

The vehicles will be “manufactured and delivered by Australian workers, using Australian steel,” according to a statement from the Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne.

Mr Turnbull made the announcement this morning, revealing German contractor Rheinmetall will build 211 Land Combat Vehicle Systems at a new facility in Ipswich, southwest of Brisbane.

Major General Gus McLachlan tweeted Australian soldiers were “grateful” for the new multipurpose Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle.

“A tough competition delivered us a great vehicle to start the process of modernising our Armoured Fighting Vehicles. Make them well, Rheinmetall, because they will protect our most precious asset, our soldiers.”

Despite looking like a tank, the Army will use the Boxer in a different, more mobile form during combat.

“It’s going to be out in front of the tanks, scouting out ahead and doing reconnaissance, it’s not meant to get into a battle with the enemy. A vehicle like this is going to lose a fight with a tank very quickly,” Mr Hellyer told news.com.au.

The federal government said the project would “create jobs across Australia, including 330 in Queensland, 170 in Victoria and 140 in New South Wales during acquisition”.

An additional upgrade of facilities in Puckapunyal and Bandiana in Victoria, Adelaide, and Townsville and Enoggera in Queensland, where the vehicles will be used, will commence at a cost of $235 million.

The first CRV’s are not expected to be rolled out until mid 2020.

“In years gone by we would have bought these vehicles from overseas and import them into the country, Mr Pyne said. “54 per cent of the acquisition will be valued to our economy and 70 per cent of whole project.”


Lenient sentence for African menace

Tempers have flared outside court after an unlicensed driver who killed a teenage boy escaped a prison sentence.

Ayou Deng was driving when knocked 13-year-old Jalal Yassine-Naja off his skateboard in Brookfield, west Melbourne in March 2017.

The mother-of-seven wasn't charged for the fatal collision as it was deemed an accident, but on Tuesday she was sentenced to 80 hours of community work for driving without a licence, Nine News reported.

She was also sentenced for unrelated unlawful assault and criminal damage offences.

Deng was heckled by members of the far-right group True Blue Crew as she walked from court.

Group member Kane Miller was heard yelling: 'If her family wasn't on the road the boy would still be alive... child killer'.

Jalal's mother Olivia Yassine said Deng should have been charged over her son's death.

'I want it to be acknowledged that she killed a person - my son - and she ran over him. And she did wrong. You do the crime, you do the time,' she said.

Conservatives MP Rachel Carling-Jenkins was also outside court and she was critical of Victoria's judicial system.

Ms Yassine said she wants the case to be re-examined so charges can be pursued against Deng.

'That's not right. I will fight for my son. It doesn't matter what it takes. I will get answers out of this and I will appeal it,' she said.


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