Monday, May 21, 2018

Because the government schools are so woeful in most instances, parents send 40% of Australian teenagers to private schools.  That is such a big voting bloc that no government would dare doing much about it -- as Mark Latham found out. 

But the Left see an easier target in State selective schools.  There are not many of them but the fact that you have to have a good record of academic achievement to get into them brings their standards up to about equal with private schools. And you don't have to be rich to afford them. They were conceived as schools that would give a private school education to the more able poor.

But the pupils who pass the adnmissions tests tend to be from affluent backgrounds so it is mostly they who get in.  The unmentioned fact in most discussions about this is that IQ and affluence are highly correlated -- so it will always be mostly  rich kids who can profit from a high-standard education.

But the numskulls below want to square the circle.  Because most of those eligible to attend selective schools come from well-off backgrounds they think the system is somehow "unfair".  So they want to let more poor students into selective shools -- which would make them less selective and therefore less able to offer an alternative to private schooling.

But surely, the obvious thing to do is to lift the game of the mainstream state schools, not try to pull down the selective schools.  That might seem blue sky but it is not.  At a small unselective country State school in the '50s I got an education modelled on Eton, including physical punishment for misbehaving.  And I profited greatly from what I learnt then.  I learnt stuff at primary school that these days is taught in High School, if at all.  I was a long way from Berkshire but I got something quite similar to an Eton education

How come?  In those days all politicians wanted "the best" for their schools and Eton was acknowledged as being the best.  I am inclined to think it still is.  So they simply modelled their syllabi on Etons'.  They even copied the Eton "house" system  as far as one could in a State school where all students went home at night.

So the problem is not privileged schools but the crazy ideology and unproved methods that most modern-day education theorists inflict on mainstream schools

Monica Garcia-Pineda remembers feeling as though the partially selective Sydney high school she attended was made up of two completely different places.

“I can’t describe it in any other way,” she says. “It felt like going to two schools. There was always this divide between the selective and community kids, because you weren’t treated like you were in the same school.

“The selective kids were always encouraged to choose more academically challenging subjects so there was very little opportunity for the cohort to kind of be alongside one another in class, which affects how you socialise when you’re not in class.

“We used to sit on different sides of the quad.”

Selective school policies have come under increased scrutiny in recent months as state governments grapple with evidence that the schools are overwhelmingly populated by students from advantaged backgrounds and may be reinforcing existing class differences.

The overwhelming majority of Australia’s selective schools are in New South Wales – 19 fully selective and 29 partially selective. Its education department last year announced a review of competitive entry tests to address concerns that the system was being gamed by wealthy families who could afford tutoring.

Garcia-Pineda was a selective student at Macquarie Fields high school in Sydney’s south-west. She grew up in Wattle Grove, only about 12km away but another world in the socially complex jumble of Sydney’s western suburbs.

“I never used to hang out in the area at all,” she says. “I really didn’t feel like I was part of it.”

Macquarie Fields is demographically typical of western Sydney. Unemployment is higher and wages are lower than the Australian average. Fewer people are university educated and the population is dramatically more multicultural than the rest of the country.

A few years before Garcia-Pineda graduated in 2008, Macquarie Fields made national headlines when teenagers threw stones and molotov cocktails at police officers during riots sparked by the deaths of two local teenagers who were killed during a police car chase.

The statistics are reflected in the makeup of most of the local public schools.

Education data published by the federal government breaks school populations down into four “socio-educational” advantage quartiles. At Ingleburn high school, 2km away from Macquarie Fields, 54% of students come from the bottom quartile while only 3% come from the top.

At another neighbouring school, Sarah Redfern high, the figures are almost identical.

Both neighbouring schools rank below the national average for educational advantage, a yardstick determined using the Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage, or Icsea, which measures factors such as parents’ occupations, education level and the location of the school.

But at Macquarie Fields only 15% of the students come from the lowest advantage quartile, and 27% are from the top. Its Icsea score of 1,054 is above the national average of 1,000.

It’s a trend which is reproduced over and over across Australia wherever selective schools are found.

Analysis of My School data by Guardian Australia reveals that students at selective schools are strikingly more advantaged than other nearby schools. They are overwhelmingly attended by the most educationally advantaged students and in many cases are dramatically unrepresentative of the suburbs in which they are located.

The divide is more pronounced in fully selective schools than partially selective. In fact, Guardian Australia’s analysis found that in some cases partially selective schools are less advantaged than their neighbours.

But at fully selective schools such as Penrith high school in western Sydney, the Icsea is 1,163, compared with an average score of 976 at the 20 closest schools. Only 1% of the school’s students are from the bottom advantage quartile. At Jamison high school, about 3km away, the figure is 42%.

The trend is even apparent for schools in highly affluent areas of Sydney and Melbourne, though these have the smallest gap between selective and non-selective.

The difference comes in part because selective schools do not have geographic catchment areas like public schools and can therefore be attended by students from anywhere in the state.

Education data suggests some selective schools may be becoming more advantaged over time. In 2013 the average score for students at Macquarie Fields was 1,047, rising to 1,054 in 2017.

But changes to the way the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (Acara) calculates disadvantage means it’s impossible to accurately assess how much the school’s demographics have changed over a longer period.

Christina Ho, an academic from the University of Technology, Sydney, says selective schools are reinforcing class and cultural divisions.

“They’re elitist. And not only are they elitist but they’re becoming more elitist,” Ho says. Any review of selective schools’ admissions would amount to “tinkering around the edges” of a system she says has become “warped”.

“There is obviously an education culture emerging that means these schools have a certain kind of status within the community which is quite different to what it was designed to be,” she says.

“Selective schools were supposed to be public schools that were accessible for gifted kids. The fact that there are almost no disadvantaged kids in these schools tells us they’re no longer accessible and they’re not genuine public schools because they’re not open to anyone except the most advantaged families in NSW.”

Not everyone agrees the system is broken.

Jae Yup Jared Jung, a senior lecturer in the school of education at the University of NSW, says the positive role of gifted education programs such as academically selective schools is backed up by research.

He points to a 2016 US academic paper which reviewed 100 years of research on ability grouping in education.

The study, published in the Review of Educational Research, looked at 172 papers on “ability grouping” published between 1922 and 1994, and concluded that the “preponderance of existing evidence” suggested special grouping for gifted students can “greatly improve K–12 students’ academic achievement”.

He says the process of choosing students for selective schools “isn’t perfect”, but that the system helps gifted students advance faster by coupling them with students of similar ability.

“There are certain selective schools with students from a higher socioeconomic background than other schools, but you could say the same thing about the Catholic and independent sectors,” he says.

“There’s no perfect way of selecting students for selective schools, but I have confidence in the NSW department of education that the current systems are such that someone who doesn’t deserve to be there isn’t being permitted to enter.”

Brendan Ma graduated from James Ruse Agricultural high school in 2015. The school’s Icsea value of 1,236 is one of the highest in Australia, and in 2017 87% of its students came from the top advantage quartile. [And most are Asian]

But Icsea doesn’t consider income, and Ma says it is wrong to assume that most selective students come from advantaged backgrounds.

“I had a lot of friends from my cohort who would have parents working double jobs, coming from an immigrant background where their parents still didn’t have a strong grasp of English,” he says.

For Ma, going to a selective school meant getting access to opportunities he never would have been able to afford otherwise.

“For a lot of people at my school who might have worked really hard or been academically gifted there were a lot of opportunities to advance those gifts,” he says.

“Study tours, musical events, things that cost a lot money. Usually it wouldn’t be something they could go to because their parents couldn’t pay for it, but our school made a really strong effort to make sure they could provide opportunities at low cost or for free.”

Guardian Australia’s analysis also compared the percentage of selective school students from a language background other than English with that of neighbouring schools.

It found that across fully selective schools the average proportion of students from a non-English speaking background in 2017 was 66.5%, compared with 36.2% at nearby non-selective schools.

In some schools the difference was more stark. At James Ruse, 97% of students come from non-English speaking backgrounds, compared with 38.7% at nearby schools.

In February Guardian Australia reported on research showing Indigenous students were disproportionately represented in Australia’s most disadvantaged schools. Christina Ho argues that the concentration of students – mostly from east Asia – in selective schools is another example of “monocultures” forming within the education system.

“Because these schools are now seen as ‘too Asian’ there’s been a real backlash from non-Asian families, so Anglo Australians are now saying ‘those schools are not for us’,” she says.

But Ma, the James Ruse student, says being at a selective school allowed him to explore his identity.

“I think for a lot of students who did come from immigrant backgrounds it did in some way support their development of an identity,” he says.

“My experience coming from a Chinese immigrant background was that as a young person you get conflicting signals about what your identity should be or how you fit into the Australian landscape.

“I found though that I could be more comfortable with my identity at school. All those doubts I had about being proud of my heritage or language I could be open with people who understood.”

In January the NSW education minister, Rob Stokes, said he was concerned selective schools could “create a rigid, separated public education system”, and raised the idea of opening more selective schools to local enrolments.

Laura Perry, an associate professor specialising in education research at Murdoch University, says schools with partially selective academic programs in specific subject areas such as music or sports are preferable to fully selective schools, because they have the dual benefit of keeping high-performing students in the public sector while “promoting socially mixed schools”.

For Garcia-Pineda, despite experiencing a social divide between selective and community students at her school in western Sydney, there were benefits in being exposed to students from different backgrounds.

“I think for a lot of kids who were in the selective part of the school it was a good experience for them because they mostly came from families with money and weren’t always exposed to that,” she says.

“I know for me it was confronting. When I came to high school I didn’t know people who came from single-parent households [or] grew up living in housing commission.

“I think that’s a major benefit of a school with a mixture of backgrounds. You become a different kind of person. It opens your eyes a little bit.”


High-profile business figure Chris Corrigan slams the push to vastly increase the number of women on company boards

And says that the besieged AMP chairwoman never would have got that job if she was a man

High-profile business figure Chris Corrigan has criticised the push to vastly increase the number of women on company boards.  

In slamming the campaigning for more women to be promoted within corporate Australia, Mr Corigran revealed the move was a major consideration when leaving the board of port and logistics group Qube Holdings last year.

He said besieged AMP chairwoman Catherine Brenner never would have got that job if she was a man, believing it was 'demonstrably the case' that she was advanced because of the 'mood of the moment' to pursue gender fairness, The Australian reported. 

'Can you imagine that a man with moderate investment banking experience at a second-rate ­investment bank would have got to be chair of the AMP?' he said.

Sharing that although he isn't opposed to equality, Mr Corrigan said he does mind when the ability to do the job is impacted. 

In July 2015 Mr Corrigan wrote in a letter for the board: 'I am uncomfortable about being bullied to add females to the Qube board irrespective of requirement, suitability and potential contribution but solely on the basis of their sex.'

He outlined new measures which could be taken to ensure a fairer process which included one where shareholders could nominate candidates and they could be voted in at yearly meetings.

'It provides an invitation to the social engineers to put up or shut up and it emphasises the role of shareholders in the choices for which they should take responsibility,' he wrote.

ACSI chief executive Louise Davidson said Mr Corrigan's claims were inaccurate, telling Newscorp that members have the right to oversee improvements in corporate governance.


The University of Queensland has been recognised as the top university in Australia for global research quality in the 2018 CWTS Leiden Ranking

This really means something.  The Leiden ranking is the only purely objective ranking.  UQ was my first university and I did well in publications so I find it easy to believe these findings

UQ ranked number one in Australia and 28th in the world as measured by one of the highly-regarded international ranking’s Impact indicators.

During 2013-2016, using fractional counting UQ contributed 11,793 publications in recognised journals, with 183 in the top one per cent of most frequently cited publications, which places UQ 28th globally, up five places from last year.

Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj said the University’s outstanding performance in the Leiden Ranking sent a strong signal to potential partners and collaborators that top-quality, highly cited research was produced across all disciplines at UQ.

“The Leiden Ranking does not rely on data obtained from reputational surveys, or the number of Nobel Prize winners on staff, or information provided by universities themselves. It focuses entirely on scientific impact and collaboration,” Professor Høj said.

“By this measure, no other university in Australia published more top one percent cited research than UQ.

“Of the 938 universities from 55 countries ranked by Leiden, only 27 institutions publish more top one per cent cited research.

“This is a tremendous result and I congratulate our researchers for the quality of their work, and their efforts to translate this work so that it  benefits people everywhere.”

Professor Høj said a number of Australian universities performed strongly in this ranking.

“If business and industry leaders want to partner with universities that can form expert teams from a wide range of disciplines, then Australia is a terrific place to start looking," he said.

UQ was also Australia’s top-ranked university in the research categories of life and earth sciences, and social sciences and humanities as measured by publications in the top one per cent cited globally.

The University’s life and earth science ranking jumped from 18th to 11th globally, with 2453 publications in recognised journals, including 42 in the top one per cent most frequently cited.

UQ’s social sciences and humanities leapt 14 places – from 44 in 2017 to 30 this year – with 1634 publications in recognised journals, including 23 in the top one per cent most frequently cited.

The 2018 CWTS Leiden Ranking measures the impact of research publications and collaborations of universities around the world, and is based on Web of Science indexed publications. This ranking system differs from others in that it separately reports scientific impact and collaboration rather than aggregating many dimensions of university performance into a single rank. The CWTS Leiden Ranking thus provides a more detailed perspective on university research performance.

UQ ranked number one in Australia and 28th globally based on the Impact indicator: P, P(top 1%), PP(top 1%), Ordered by: P(top 1%). Calculated using fractional counting. P(top 1%) = The number of a university’s publications that, compared with other publications in the same field and in the same year, belong to the top 1% most frequently cited.

The ranking offers insights into the scientific performance of 938 universities worldwide. It uses a sophisticated set of bibliometric indicators that provide significant statistics on the scientific collaboration and impact of universities.


Emboldened by passing 1 million jobs mark, Turnbull pushes for business tax cuts

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is set to launch a fresh lobbying blitz to get the Senate to pass the rest of the company tax cuts after beating a key performance benchmark months ahead of time.

The April employment figures show the Coalition has delivered 1,013,631 extra jobs four months ahead of its fifth anniversary in office, fulfilling a promise made by the former prime minister Tony Abbott to create one million new jobs in five years.

Humbled by exceeding the benchmark, Mr Turnbull acknowledged Australia's historically low-wage growth and that many Australians were still missing out due to underemployment.
"I appreciate not everyone is sharing in the benefits of our stronger economy," he told Fairfax Media. "There is more to be done and we must keep working on getting people into work."

He accused Bill Shorten of being a "job destroyer", warning the opposition leader would “go to war” with businesses by opposing the $35.6 billion remaining of the Coalition's company tax cuts.

Mr Abbott made the pledge in November 2012, almost a year before taking office, committing the next Coalition government to “creating one million new jobs within five years and two million new jobs over the next decade”.

Driving jobs growth would be the axing of the Labor’s “job destroying carbon tax” and scrapping the Gillard government’s mining tax, “restoring Australia’s reputation as a safe place to invest”.

But in Mr Abbott's first year in office from September 2013 employment barely grew, climbing only 75,900 at a time when the working age population grew 287,825; an even worse result than in the final year of the Gillard and Rudd government, as the mining boom was winding down. Only 10,600 of the 75,900 jobs were full-time.

Mr Abbott's fortunes turned around in his second and final year in office when employment surged an exceptional 240,200 at a time when the working age population grew 285,252.

In the Coalition's third year and Mr Turnbull's first, jobs growth eased to 154,800 before surging 380,100 in the forth year. In the year to April employment grew 332,200.

A slim majority of the jobs created in five years of Coalition government have been full-time: 532,216, or 52.5 per cent.
Most, 58.1 per cent, have gone to women. In the past year an extraordinary two thirds of the extra people to take on jobs were women. All but 67,000 of the 332,200 new jobs have been full time.

Labor's employment spokesman Brendan O'Connor said despite the strong employment growth Australians were still being stung by insecure work, record low wages growth, and cost of living pressures.

"Australians are feeling the pinch," he said. "The Coalition focus all their energy on advocating for an $80 billion tax cut to the big end of town."

Mr Turnbull said the jobs boom had delivered the budget a revenue bonus. "It is a million more Australians, that are paying tax," he said. "That's why the government's revenues are stronger."

Mr Abbott himself also took credit for the record rate of jobs creation saying it flowed "from being under new management since 2013 and once more open for business".

The Bureau of Statistics figures show 22,500 jobs have been created each month since Mr Turnbull took over the Liberal leadership. Around 13,200 a month were created under Mr Abbott, 12,500 under Kevin Rudd, 13,600 under Julia Gillard, 16,400 under John Howard, 12,700 under Paul Keating, and 13,000 under Hawke.

Treasurer Scott Morrison said the rate could not be taken for granted. "These one million jobs didn’t happen by accident," he told Fairfax Media. "They come from the hard work of Australians and businesses all around the country."

Mr Turnbull will use the figure to press for the Senate to pass the Coalition's company tax cut to 25 per cent for all businesses.

The government has so far been unable to secure the nine out of 10 crossbench votes required to pass the legislation despite renewed interest from the Centre Alliance party, formerly known as the Nick Xenophon Team.

It believes the tax cuts are necessary to meet the second promise Mr Abbott made in 2013: "Two million jobs in manufacturing as well as in agriculture, services, education and a still buoyant resources sector in a decade."

JP Morgan economist Tom Kennedy said the employment surge was due, in large part, to a flurry of hiring in the healthcare and construction sectors. "Together they contributed more than half of last year’s total employment growth."

The ABS figures showed full-time job creation has slowed, from 321,000 between December 2016-17 to 265,300 between April 2017-18.

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, May 20, 2018

Number of Australians who earned more than $1m a year yet paid no tax surges 30%

This story no doubt refers to gross income.  There are many reasons why net income could be lower.  A failing business might for instance have a very large gross income but practically no net income

Sixty-two Australians who earned more than $1m in the 2015-16 financial year paid no income tax. That represents a 30% increase from the previous financial year.

New data from the Australian Tax Office, released on Friday afternoon, shows that despite a political focus on wage stagnation and income inequality in recent years, the ranks of Australia’s millionaires paying no income tax is growing swiftly.

The data shows Australia has 12,706 taxpayers earning more than $1m, the vast majority of whom have paid some sort of tax on their taxable income.

But in the 2015-16 financial year, 59 millionaires claimed to have taxable income below $6,001, one claimed to have taxable income between $6,001 and $10,000, and two claimed to have taxable income between $10,001 and $18,200, putting them all below the tax-free threshold.

None of them paid the Medicare levy.

Twenty-two reduced their taxable income to zero by claiming a combined $4.34m for the “cost of managing tax affairs” – nearly $198,000 each.

Fourteen claimed gifts or donations worth $54.9m to help them do so.

A tax office spokesman said there were legitimate reasons why a wealthy taxpayer may not pay tax in a particular year, including prior year tax losses (which are able to be carried forward indefinitely), large costs associated with the production of assessable income (such as the start-up phase of a business), and the cost of managing tax affairs.

The “cost of managing tax affairs” includes the cost of getting advice from a registered tax agent, barrister or solicitor, the cost of preparing and lodging tax returns and activity statements, and the cost of court appeals.

“Notwithstanding this, a wealthy taxpayer who does not pay tax is more likely to attract the ATO’s attention and be subject to further scrutiny to assure they are complying with their tax obligations,” the spokesman said.


The PC sickness in Australia

“I’M GOING to miss this,” said the comedian. And for a moment nothing was very funny anymore.

We had been chatting about our respective mongrel ancestries when we realised we were both part Scots-Irish.

“I never understood exactly what Scots-Irish was,” I said. “As far as I can tell some Scots went to Ireland because they didn’t like the Scottish and then when they got there they decided they didn’t like the Irish — or the English for that matter.”

“Yep,” he said. “They basically just rocked up and said to everyone: ‘If you don’t like it then f*** off!’”

“They’re so disagreeable!” I said. And that’s when my friend paused.

“I’m going to miss this,” he said.

For a moment I was scared he was about to tell me he had some terminal disease but then the penny dropped — and like a true Scotsman I noticed it.

“Soon we won’t be able to talk about this anymore,” he said. “We won’t be able to laugh or take the piss out of people for their differences. Everybody will just be exactly the same.”

It was an extremely depressing thought and for a moment I wished he really had told me he had a terminal disease.

Comedians are of course notoriously melancholy creatures but there have been several recent developments that make me more sure than ever that my mate is on the money.

One was a report this month that the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions had ordered his Newcastle office to complete a sexual harassment course after a lawyer “tweaked” a colleague’s nipple.

Sounds fair enough, you might think, until you read on. You see, it wasn’t a lecherous old man groping a young vulnerable clerk. It was a female solicitor mucking around with a male colleague when she gave him a little nipple-cripple over his shirt. Call the prosecutors!

And it gets better. It wasn’t even the bloke who had his nipple tweaked who made the complaint. He wasn’t fussed at all. Instead it was someone in the office who witnessed it and reported it as “inappropriate”.

As a source rather plaintively told The Daily Telegraph: “It was just a joke.”

But as my comedian mate now knows, there are no jokes anymore. There’s just appropriate and inappropriate behaviour.

And so, as a result of a playful exchange between two friendly colleagues who were completely untroubled, dozens of legal experts have to sit through an interminable sexual harassment lecture delivered perhaps by some po-faced bureaucrat or perhaps by a disembodied online portal. It’s hard to know which would be a bigger waste of the taxpayer’s time or money.

Moreover, the female solicitor is said to be “highly embarrassed” by the whole affair. So well done to the #metoo mole who called it in. You’ve just humiliated a woman for having too much fun at work. What a victory for progress that is.

It would be tempting to write this off as just a rogue PC absurdity — even if it did come from the highest prosecutor in the nation’s biggest state. If only this were so.

Recently I learned of colleagues at another government organisation who were forced to undergo cultural awareness training after an eerily similar incident.

In this case, two people, one white and one black, were talking about how absurd it was that a certain derogatory racial term was still allowed to be used in some contexts. Another person in the office overheard the conversation and reported them.

And so it was back to the re-education camps for that happy little workplace. Yes, even a black person discussing a racist word can now be sanctioned for racism.

Again, you could be forgiven for thinking that this is as dumb as society could possibly get but, again, you’d be wrong.

Because just last week an educator infamously suggested that parents should ask their babies for consent babies before changing a nappy [diaper]. Needless to say, in any such exchange it would not just be the nappy that was completely full of it.

I had words about this on Studio 10 and apparently it became a “Twitter Moment”, so I don’t want to add further to the mob frenzy. All I would offer is that anyone who compares changing a nappy to rape needs to seriously consider their world view.


NAPLAN much more gain than pain

More than a million Australian students sat NAPLAN tests this week, assessing their standards in reading, writing, language and numeracy.

Despite some hysterical criticisms, the national assessment program remains a vital educational tool and there is no rigorous evidence it has widespread negative effects on students. And in general, parents groups continue to support the tests.

Claims that it harms students are at best superficial, and at worst downright misleading. There have been very few studies to date on the impact on students, and the existing research is mostly based on surveys or samples so small as to be insignificant.

There is a world of difference between serious mental health issues and the low levels of nervousness associated with any school assessment.

The other target of NAPLAN naysayers is the MySchool website, where school results are published and can be compared to other schools and the national average. It is argued MySchool harms schools by making them focus excessively on NAPLAN test results. But again, there is little evidence to support this claim, and ultimately schools focusing more on literacy and numeracy is almost always a good thing.

MySchool is important for parents. Parents choose schools based on multiple factors, including academic achievement. Having access to NAPLAN results allows parents a more informed choice for their children’s education success.

And when we’re constantly told parents should be more engaged in their children’s education, it would be bizarre to tell parents they shouldn’t know how their local school is performing compared to national standards.

NAPLAN helps improve schools and teaching, by identifying problems in the school system over time and enabling potential solutions — from the national level all the way down to individual students. It also provides transparency for school results. And it holds governments and schools accountable for the more than $50 billion of taxpayer money invested in the school system every year.

So what is the future for NAPLAN?

It is reasonable to investigate how NAPLAN data can be used more effectively to help students. A possible review of NAPLAN — which education ministers are currently considering — should focus on such issues, rather than simplistically scrapping the whole program.


High hopes for economic boost from Australian Space Agency

AUSTRALIA is placing a big bet on space technologies with the creation of our own space agency — and the pay-off could be huge.

TECHNOLOGISTS, university researchers and start-up companies are expected to benefit from the establishment of an Australian space agency that could provide a boon for things like precision agriculture and autonomous mining vehicles.

The government officially launched the Australian Space Agency on Monday, setting up the agency to capitalise on the $420 billion aeronautical industry and create thousands of hi-tech jobs, with a review forecasting that the industry will be worth $12 billion by 2030.

Dr Rosalind Dubs is the former Chair of the Australian Space Industry Innovation Council and current Board Director of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE).

She said the cash, and more importantly the government commitment, will foster investment and allow burgeoning Aussie tech companies to tap into the growing global space industry.

“In terms of industry there are a lot of small players already in Australia but they don’t have a champion at the big table ... a space agency will be sitting with its peers with NASA, with the European Space Agency, with the UK Space Office to prosecute their case,” Dr Dubs told

She hopes it will stop a brain drain of top engineering talent leaving Australia to work in space-related industries in the US, Canada and the UK.

“On the research side, there are a number of universities looking to create critical mass around their own space technology capability,” she said.

ASX-listed Electro Optic Systems (EOS) is a Canberra-based defence and space company that, among other things, works with international partners on solutions to the issue of space junk.

“They look at what’s called the space environment and use laser technology to monitor space debris ... and are working on methods to actually push dangerous space junk out of the way of valuable satellites that create vital services for the world,” Dr Dubs said.

While EOS is “already successful in their own right,” she believes the new agency will provide a focal point for research and innovation, allowing other small companies to emulate that success and get a piece of the pie.

She is hopeful the policy certainty anchored by the space agency will encourage large overseas aeronautical and space players such as Boeing, Northrop Grumman and others to “start investing here, in local technologies”.

“It will enable partnerships and allow smaller companies to grow,” Dr Dubs said.

The global space industry is growing at about 10 per cent a year worldwide, an expert review panel estimated Australia accounted for only 0.8 per cent of the industry.

Dr Dubs thinks Australia can reach 2 per cent within the decade.

The review into the coming space agency recommended Australia build on its strengths in communications technology, debris monitoring and space services including situational awareness, ground stations, and other areas where the domestic industry could “leapfrog” other countries.

In addition to the $41 million allocated to kickstart the establishment of the space agency, Dr Dubs praised the government’s $260 million investment in global positioning system (GPS) technology and satellite imagery as part of its 2018-19 federal Budget.

“Satellite data are vital for everything from the monitoring of the environment, to understanding the weather, border security and emergency response, precision farming and time-stamping of financial transactions,” Dr Dubs said

“Every $1 million spent on satellites can drive up to $5 million in economic benefits back on Earth.”

Minister for jobs and innovation, Senator Michaelia Cash, said Australia’s move to join the global space industry had the potential to be worth as much as $12 billion by 2030.

“We have an extraordinary opportunity to increase our share of the growing global space economy,” she said.

“Space technologies are not just about taking people to the moon; they open up opportunities for many industries, including communications, agriculture, mining, oil and gas.

“An Australian space agency will support the long-term development of space technologies, grow our domestic space industry and secure our place in the global space economy.

“Through our $300 million investment in space industry and technology, the Turnbull government is allowing businesses across the economy to prosper, enter new markets and create jobs.”


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, May 18, 2018

The word 'Aboriginal' is REMOVED from birth, marriage and death certificates after politically-correct bureaucrats rule the term is offensive

What an insult to Aborigines!

The word 'Aboriginal' is being removed from birth, marriage and death certificates after politically-correct bureaucrats ruled the term offensive.

The practice of eradicating the word was implemented by the Western Australian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages when it made its records digital between 2007 and 2015, the ABC reported.

The practice came to light when family historians Garry Smith, from Perth, and his cousin John Chandler, from Queensland, discovered the word had been whited out on their ancestors' certificates.

Mr Smith claimed a staff member told him the word Aboriginal was removed because it was deemed offensive. He said it made him feel as if he should be ashamed of his aboriginal heritage.

Mr Smith also slammed the movement as hypocritical. 'If you're Aboriginal, it's offensive and deemed offensive – but the government calls us Aboriginals,' he said.

Mr Smith's cousin, Mr Chandler, said the news brought back painful memories for his family. 'We feel like we have people making decisions on behalf of us, just like in the past,' he told the ABC.

The men called for the registrar to stop whitewashing documents and apologise for any offence caused.

Mr Chandler and Mr Smith have together lodged a claim of racial discrimination against the registrar in the Federal Court, however their claim was unsuccessful.

History Council of Western Australia's Dr Cindy Solonec said the practice repulsed her. She said the movement was 'hogwash' and would undoubtedly offend every Aboriginal person in Australia. 

University of Western Australia history professor Jenny Gregory said she would contact the WA Attorney-General to call for the 'bizarre' practice to be stopped. 'The registrar is tampering with history,' Dr Gregory said.

WA Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages' Brett Burns told Daily Mail Australia there was no legal requirement to note the race or ethnic background of a person on documents such as birth certificates. 'This applies whether a person is Aboriginal, Greek, Italian, or from any other heritage,' he said.

Mr Burns said the practice was in no way fuelled by racism. 'I completely refute any suggestions that I, or my staff, have acted in a racist way in this matter. That suggestion is ridiculous and hurtful,' he said.

He said the change was made after offensive terms were used by past registrars. Mr Burns said offensive terms such as 'Abo', 'Chinaman', 'native', 'nomad' or 'half-caste' were once used on official documents.

'That has prompted the removal of all references to race, which were never required to be included in the first place, from the Registry's records,' he said.

'This does not just apply to Aboriginal people and any suggestion we are 'white-washing' history is wrong.' 


Australia needs to stop fantasising about high-speed rail and build medium-speed rail instead

AUSTRALIA’S obsession with massively expensive high-speed rail between the east coast’s major capitals is “pie in the sky” and the country should instead be focusing on connecting our largest cities to regional centres.

That’s the view of transport boffins who have said the focus on 300km/h Japanese style bullet trains and even the Elon Musk championed 1000km/h Hyperloop system has blocked the way for less ambitious, slower — and certainly less sexy — but far cheaper and game-changing rail projects.

By some estimates, a high-speed rail network linking Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne could cost north of $100 billion.

Cutting train times from Sydney to Newcastle by an hour would cost far less and open up the possibility of commuting between the two centres for many currently put off by travel times.

“We’ve been talking about high-speed rail in Australia since the 1980s and nothing ever happens. So maybe it’s time to look at more affordable options,” Professor Rico Merkert, from the University of Sydney’s Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies, told

He said the level of funding the Federal Government had so far dedicated to higher speed rail to regional cities was “disappointing”.

In the 2017 Budget, $20m was committed to prepare three studies to look at speeding up trains times between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane and specific regional cities. Of the billions in the 2018 Budget for rail, very little was earmarked for regional passenger rail.

However, Associate Professor Philip Laird, an Honorary Principal Fellow at the University of Wollongong, said some $125m had been spent by successive governments on high speed rail studies and yet not a skerrick of track had been built.

“It is now time for Australia to commit to medium-speed rail, trains operating on new or existing tracks at speeds of between 160km and 250km/h,” he wrote in The Conversation this week.

In NSW, modern Intercity trains can go as fast as 130km/h but rarely reach anywhere close to that speed. A 2013 report found the average speed of trains in Sydney was just 43.3km/h.

When, last year, Labor asked Transport Minister Andrew Constance for the average speed of the state’s trains, he said speeds “were affected by such a significant amount of variables … there is no value in calculating it”.

Nonetheless, trains in NSW can take longer to get to their destination than in other states. A trip from Sydney’s Central station to Gosford takes almost 90 minutes by train, while a train from Melbourne’s Southern Cross to Geelong, a similar distance, takes less than an hour suggesting V/line trains are speeding along at around 80km/h.

But even that isn’t fast enough with the Federal and Victorian Governments commissioning a study to see if a line with a top speed of 250km/h could be feasible.

“A fast rail link from Geelong to Melbourne would slash travel times between Victoria’s capital and its second biggest city,” the Andrews Government said.

In Britain, a rail journey between London and the regional city of Ashford, 93kms from the CBD, takes just 35 minutes on a true high-speed line.

Undoubtedly Sydney is cursed with a challenging topography of national parks and mountains that will make cutting travel times tricky.

But Professor Merkert said the fact there were three flights a day between Newcastle and Sydney airports, just 160km/h distant, was a sign not enough had been done to improve rail links between NSW’s first and second cities.

He said the Hyperloop low pressure system, that could see pods shoot through tubes that have been almost completely expunged of air, was “pie in the sky” though.

“Hyperloop is way too expensive; it’s not feasible at the moment because you need a very straight line and any curve in it would be unpleasant for passengers and the sheer distance between the capitals destroys the economics.

“We currently talk about slow (suburban) trains and at the other extreme Hyperloop; maybe it’s worth thinking about something in between. “(Medium-speed rail) would be better for regional development.”

Speaking earlier this year to, Professor Merkert said this was because: “The idea would be to get people moving into regional centres such as Goulburn and then commuting into Sydney.”

Yet, to compete with airlines, very fast trains would be under pressure to not stop in any regional centres.

Consultants HKA, who work with Virgin Hyperloop One, a company building the new technology, have said regional areas needn’t miss out because the system uses on-demand individual pods which could service, say, Goulburn as long as a station was constructed.

Professor Laird said while the private sector had shown some encouragement for high speed rail, “at all levels” government was not supportive.

“Despite many studies recommending the need to identify and protect a corridor for a future high-speed rail network, government has failed to reserve any.”

In contrast, the move towards medium-speed rail in regional Victoria had been a huge success. Costing around $4.5bn the investment in new track, trains and stations over the last decade has seen jumps in passenger numbers to and from regional centres.

Regional NSW was now the laggard. “The rail situation in Australia’s most populated state is not good for its regions,” he said. While a growing Sydney was overflowing with infrastructure projects, such the Sydney Metro and light rail, connections to the surrounding areas were lacking.

“The State Government is getting new intercity electric trains and has committed to buying new regional trains. But it’s yet to commit to track upgrades to help the new trains go faster than the present slow ones.”

Professor Merkert said the Government’s regional rail priority seemed to be the 1700km Inland Rail route between Brisbane and Melbourne which aims to reduce the number of trucks charging up and down coastal motorways.

But once that was done, more should be focused on how we bring our regional cities to within commuting distance of the capital.

“There’s lots of infrastructure in the cities but not much connecting the cities,” he said.


Coalition won't ban live exports and has delayed report's release

The Turnbull government will not announce a summer ban on live sheep exports when it releases a report into the live export trade on Thursday.

The planned release of the report by livestock veterinarian Dr Michael McCarthy was abruptly cancelled on Wednesday after cabinet deliberations.

A government spokesman has confirmed the report is now scheduled for release on Thursday morning, and a second confidential briefing for stakeholders has been arranged after the initial briefing, slated for Wednesday morning, was put off.

The details of the report are not yet known but Guardian Australia understands the government is not likely to recommend banning the live sheep export trade between May and October, despite a recommendation from the Australian Veterinary Authority.

Government response will instead focus on the requirements for greater ventilation and air conditioning on ships, and a reduced stocking density. Both of those issues were terms of reference for McCarthy’s inquiry.

The federal opposition and the Western Australian state government have both called for a summer ban.

There are conflicting accounts about the surprising 11th-hour decision to delay the report on Wednesday. Nationals sources say it was a unanimous decision by the five Nationals in cabinet to delay the report, and that they presented their argument to their cabinet colleagues on Tuesday and it was accepted.

Separate reports suggest the agriculture minister and Nationals MP David Littleproud was rolled by Liberals in cabinet and the delay was imposed over his head.

McCarthy was appointed by Littleproud to conduct the review of the live cattle trade on 10 April, two days after 60 Minutes aired footage of sheep suffering extreme distress on the Emanuel Exports stocked ship Awassi Express, which left Fremantle on 1 August 2017 and lost 2,400 sheep to heat stress.

His scientific report contains recommendations about how many sheep can be safely transported on live export ships during the Middle Eastern summer.

The report contains a “very complex formula” that people will need time to think about. It is understood the Nationals wanted to receive more scientific advice about the formula before releasing the report.

Matt Canavan, the resources minister, said the government simply wanted to properly consider the review before responding to it.

“The key thing we would like to avoid is making the same mistake as has been made in the past, as has been made by the former Labor government and seemingly repeated by the Labor opposition today, and that is not to make a knee-jerk response here,” he told ABC radio on Wednesday.

“This is an industry that employs thousands of people. Their livelihoods and jobs are reliant on governments that make well-informed and considered decisions and I’m confident that Minister Littleproud is doing exactly that.”

Animal welfare organisations raised concerns last month about McCarthy’s appointment to conduct the review into conditions experienced by sheep on live export ships, saying there was a perceived conflict of interest.

McCarthy has more than 30 years experience as a livestock veterinarian and has worked most of his career in the live export trade.

He has acted as shipboard veterinarian on 65 live export voyages for eight major Australian exporters, including Emanuel Exports; conducted industry-funded research for Meat and Livestock Australia and LiveCorp; and acted as an expert consultant for Murdoch University and the University of Queensland.

But animal welfare groups say McCarthy’s extensive working history as a paid contractor to the live export industry created a perceived conflict of interest.


Renewable energy investment surges as Australia on track to exceed RET

There's nothing like a juicy government subsidy to guarantee your profits.  This is tax mining

Investor appetite for renewable energy projects, such as large-scale solar and wind projects, is set to help Australia exceed its 2020 Renewable Energy Target two years ahead of schedule.

While coal and gas-fired power are still the dominant fuel source in the National Electricity Market, investors are voting with their money and backing more than $20 billion in renewable projects as Australia moves to a less carbon-intensive economy.

But the surge in renewable investment is not expected to remain at record levels unless the Turnbull government becomes more ambitious with its emissions reduction targets under its proposed National Energy Guarantee, which is currently set at 26 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Although conservatives in the Turnbull government party room would like a new coal-fired power station to be built in Australia, the private sector has shown no interest in funding a $5 billion, new, high-efficiency, low-emissions power plant, a fact acknowledged by Treasurer Scott Morrison and federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg.

The Turnbull government is attempting to push through the NEG to replace the RET after 2020. The energy sector is keen to ensure a new mechanism will help keep renewable investment flowing out to 2030 and beyond, and to end 10 years of uncertainty over climate change and energy policy.

The latest update from the Clean Energy Regulator this month found there was 6553 megawatts of capacity from renewable energy projects under construction or already built – this is above the 6400 megawatts of capacity required to meet the RET.

The RET requires 23.5 per cent of Australia's energy – or 33,000 gigawatt hours – to come from clean energy sources by 2020, with key investments to keep flowing out until 2030.

The CER said there was also an additional 1454 megawatts of projects subject to power purchase agreements that are likely to be fully financed and under construction this calender year.

Almost half of the 6553 megawatts under construction has already been accredited and generating large-scale generation certificates (LGCs), with a further 1592 megawatts having applied for accreditation and expected to soon be generating them.

"We expect the 2020 Renewable Energy Target to be exceeded at current build levels," the Clean Energy Regulator said.

"The judgment that the RET will be exceeded takes into account the effect of updated AEMO marginal loss factors and expected curtailment as a result of network congestion. The Clean Energy Regulator is aware of other projects that are likely to be announced in the near term."

The rush to invest in renewable projects past 2020 is also likely to result in a big drop in the price of LGCs, which will embolden clean energy industry advocates to debunk claims that renewable projects can only get off the ground if they have heavily subsidised by taxpayers.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance said there was a record $12 billion in renewables investment in Australia in 2017, with $3.2 billion so far this year. But Green Energy Markets Renewable Energy Index estimated there was more than $20 billion projects under way, contracted or under tender that would add 9691 megawatts of new capacity to the NEM by the early 2020s.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance's Australia head Kobad Bhavnagri said there was likely to be a tapering of renewable investment in the lead-up to 2020 given the target had been met and even exceeded. The price of LGCs were likely to stay low now the RET has been met.

He said the investment was likely to be lower in future years unless the federal government increased the 26 per cent target under the NEG, either from a change of heart from the Coalition or an in-coming Labor administration.

"It's likely to taper in 2018 and then collapse after 2020 because the National Energy Guarantee requires very little investment to be met," Mr Bhavnagri told The Australian Financial Review.

"It's more likely to be stop-start in the future to replace the exit of coal-fired generation [like AGL Energy's Liddell in 2022 and Delta Energy's Vales Point in 2028]."

Surge in solar

Under Bloomberg's projections, Australia will reach 23 per cent below 2005 level emissions by 2020 – meaning Australia will only need to achieve 3 percentage points over a decade to achieve the NEG target, something which Mr Bhavgnari believes will be achieved through the on-going rollout of small-scale solar.

A Climate Council report released this week found there were now 40,000 commercial solar systems installed in Australia, an increase of 60 per cent between 2016 and 2017.

Pacific Hydro's 80 megawatt Crowlands wind farm near Ararat in Victoria, which secured $80 million in project financing this week, is an example of the money flowing into renewable energy projects.

The Crowlands wind farm, which will comprise 39 wind turbines and create enough energy to power the yearly needs of about 50,000 Victorian homes, was financed by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and the National Australia Bank. It is the first project to be supported by a long-term power purchase arrangement with a group of corporates through the Melbourne Renewable Energy Project.

Planum Partners managing director Shaun Newing, who helped pull together the finance for the Crowlands project, said there was strong interest from banks to invest in renewable projects.

"We are seeing a lot of activity in that space. These projects are never easy to do. It depends on the quality of the sponsor and the quality of the revenue streams. But all the banks are well set up to finance renewable projects. They are keen to get involved," Mr Newing said.


Genomics and nanotechnology to benefit from $393m research funding boost

Nanotechnology, genomics and remote ocean sensors to improve the health of the Great Barrier Reef are among the projects that will benefit from $393m over five years in new federal research funding.

On Tuesday, the federal government released its response to the national infrastructure roadmap, allocating funding to its research priorities after recommendations by an expert group led by the chief scientist, Alan Finkel.

The plan was submitted to the government in February 2017 but was allocated an additional $393m over five years – or $1.9bn over 12 years – in the 2018 budget on 8 May.

New funding announced in the current round includes grants over the forward estimates of:

$36m to the Australian National Fabrication Facility for nanotechnology manufacturing research

$22m for marine observation systems used by international marine and climate science communities, as well as $31m for the research vessel RV Investigator to operate for an extra 120 days at sea

$14m for microscopy and microanalysis equipment for applications including health and biomedical research

$48m for Bioplatforms Australia’s work in the field of gene sequencing

The government response states the public benefit of the research will include: improving weather forecasts; increasing the identification of cancer; better management of the Great Barrier Reef by using remote sensor data to detect coral bleaching; and using genomics to increase wheat yields and agricultural returns.

The program also includes “expansion of the southern hemisphere’s unique nuclear capabilities to drive world-leading advances in biotechnology, agricultural, chemical and material sciences”.

The government estimates the investment will create about 500 new jobs over the next 10 years, including for science, technology, engineering and maths graduates.

Finkel said: “The interdependence between national research facilities and scientific breakthroughs is a virtuous merry-go-round that that has been given a boost in the budget to spin faster for the common good.

“The benefits include new diagnostics for earlier disease detection, micro-sensors used in advanced agriculture, and new metal alloys for construction and machinery.”

In a statement the education minister, Simon Birmingham, said the Turnbull government “is partnering with researchers across our world-leading universities and other research institutions that will deliver a stronger economy, a healthier environment and cutting-edge medicines and treatments”.

“This is the single largest and most comprehensive investment in research by any Australian government,” he said. “Australia’s prosperity depends on the work being done in these research labs today and into the future.”

The budget papers stated the injection of $1.9bn over 12 years would bring to $4.1bn the total cost of government investment in national research infrastructure projects.

The plan will be reviewed every two years to keep investments in line with research priorities.


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, May 17, 2018

Muslim values on display

A sexual predator who took part in one of Australia's worst gang rapes has refused to apologise for his heinous crimes, saying: 'Mate what am I sorry about? I've done my time.'

Belal Hajeid was part of the 'Skaf' gang of teenagers aged 15 to 19 who raped young women in parks and public toilets in the build-up to the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

In June 2002, he was sentenced for 10 offences in one of the gang's attacks on two female teenagers. He served 14 years in jail before being released on parole.

Now 36, Hajeid, of Lebanese descent, is working in maintenance for a council in Sydney's inner west. A Current Affair tracked him down and asked if he wanted to apologise to the woman whose life he destroyed - but he refused more than 12 times.

Unaware of the irony, he told reporter Steve Marshall: 'You know what you are, you're the lowest of all kind. You're lower than scum.'

Hajeid was ordered to pay his victim $100,000 compensation but talked this down to $6,000 in a tribunal by claiming he was too poor to pay.

Asked by A Current Affair if he could afford to pay more, he said 'of course.'

After the attacks, which were racially motivated, judge Michael Finnane described the offences as 'worse than murder'.

One of the victims was raped 25 times by 14 men at Bankstown, west Sydney during a six-hour ordeal in which the attackers subjected her to racist taunts.

Nine of the rapists were found guilty and sentenced to an unprecedented total of more than 240 years. Five of the rapists were never caught.


Retirees to underwrite Labor spending splurge

Bill Shorten’s tax hit on self-­funded retirees will underwrite a spending spree that ­includes cash handouts for low-­income earners, with the scrapping of franking credit refunds forming the biggest revenue raiser in Labor’s $30 billion short-term tax ­measures.

As Labor Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen prepared to outline today Labor’s plan to match the government’s early return to surplus and tackle the nation’s debt bomb, Scott Morrison accused the opposition of using older Australians to fund a spending splurge.

Treasury and parliamentary budget office ­estimates suggest that Labor’s tax hit from scrapping imputation credit refunds — a policy that will largely target self-managed super funds — will amount to a third of Labor’s new tax grab over the current forward estimates, to 2021-22.

The Treasury and PBO numbers, which have been disputed by the opposition, show the retiree tax raising $10.7bn over four-year budget forward estimates, working on a baseline year of 2018-19.

A policy to reverse the legis­lated company tax cuts for businesses with between $2 million and $50m in turnover, and not proceed with the remaining cuts proposed by the government, would raise $6.2bn in the four years to 2021-22, although Labor has not revealed yet what its election policy will be.

The re-imposition of the 2 per cent debt-and-deficit levy for high-income earners — taking the effective tax rate from 47 per cent to 49 per cent — would raise $5.25bn. And the winding back of negative gearing tax breaks for property investors would raise $1.35bn over the first four years. A total of $5.6bn would also be raised from superannuation contribution taxes and changes to family trusts.

Mr Morrison claimed that this meant retirees would be contributing more to Labor’s spending plan over the first three years of an ALP government than the reversal of company tax cuts, the winding back of negative gearing or tax rises for high-income earners.

Mr Bowen, in a National Press Club address today in response to last week’s federal budget, will pledge to return the budget to balance in the same year as the ­Coalition — 2019-20, a year ­earlier than originally forecast — while returning larger surpluses than the Coalition over the following years.

Labor’s costings would be overseen by an independent ­expert panel.

Mr Bowen will admit to preparing for a “backlash” over Labor’s tax policies, but say it is the right thing to do. “Australians probably didn’t know that you can get an income tax refund, even if you didn’t pay any income tax, and can get the tax paid by a company you own shares in repaid to you so that no net tax is paid. Removing a concession worth $6bn was, we knew, bound to cause a backlash,” he will say. “But we didn’t do these things for fun.”

Mr Bowen will add that Labor will go to the election achieving budget balance in the same year as the government while delivering bigger cumulative budget ­surpluses over the forward estimates, as well as “substantially” bigger ­surpluses over 10 years.

“The majority of savings raised from our revenue measures over the medium term will go towards budget repair and paying down debt,” Mr Bowen will say in his speech. What the eventual savings will be is yet unknown as Mr Bowen has not committed to whether Labor would repeal any or all of the legislated company tax cuts for small to medium-sized businesses. Over the medium term of 10 years, the government claims that Labor’s extra tax revenue would amount to $219bn. But Mr Morrison said extra taxes raised over the first three years by a Labor government would be $30bn.

“The biggest slug will be on retirees and pensioners, with more than $10bn coming from their plan to rip away their tax refunds they receive from their investments,” Mr Morrison said. “If elected Labor’s biggest tax in their first term will not be on multinationals and big banks, as they pretend, but on retirees and pensioners.”

Mr Bowen said Labor’s budget priorities would be to “deal with debt and deficit” and “fund policies we regard as important for economic growth”.

In an attack on the Turnbull government, Mr Bowen will declare that a surplus not reaching at least 1 per cent of GDP until 2026-27 would fail to “adequately protect Australia against the ­potential roiling seas of inter­national uncertainty”.

“The greatest failure of the government’s official ‘fiscal strategy’ has been the persistent watering down of its 2013 commitment to get to a surplus of at least 1 per cent of GDP by 2023-24,” Mr Bowen will say. “The government’s fiscal strategy was originally to reach a surplus of 1 per cent of GDP by 2023-24. This was then downgraded to a surplus of at least 1 per cent of GDP ‘as soon as possible’. Now, on the government’s current numbers, they still don’t get there for eight years, in 2026-27.”

Labor will also announce today that it will engage a “panel of ­expert and eminent Australians to review our costings and assure their efficacy”. The panel will include Bob Officer (a finance and accounting academic), Mike Keating (a former Department of ­Finance and Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet secretary) and James Mackenzie (businessman and fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and Institute of Company Directors). They were engaged by Labor ahead of the 2016 election.

“The costings panel provide a final assessment and verification of our budget bottom line, over the forward estimates and the ­medium term,” Mr Bowen will say. “The panel will also assess the ­robustness of our costings and the assumptions that underpin them.”


Study finds Australian weather experts have been getting it wrong preparing for severe events

Yet they reckon that they can tell us what will happen in 100 year's time

From scientific research to the community response, a new study out today outlines just how at risk Australians have been — and will continue to be — because of the “bad job” experts have been doing predicting and preparing for extreme weather.

The research warns events can often come as a “double whammy” and stress now is the time to realise most major weather and climate catastrophes are caused not by one hazard at a time, but by a combination of processes.

In their paper published in Nature Climate Change, the scientists say we may be underestimating the risks and a better understanding of the combination of factors contributing to a weather event may improve projections.

The research comes as the country is hit with an autumnal big chill, with temperatures forecast to drop again this week.

Both Adelaide and Darwin recorded their coldest starts to the day this year on Monday morning, a shiver inducing 5.9C in the South Australian capital but an almost balmy 19.7C in the tropical Top End.

University of Adelaide lecturer in civil and environmental engineering, Dr Michael Leonard, said traditional planning and modelling had looked at one weather event occurring on its own rather than multiple factors.

Dr Leonard highlighted the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria and the Brisbane floods of 2011 as examples.

He said while the fires were brought about because of drought and a heatwave, they were driven by a high pressure system and resulted in hospitals being stretched, so there were multiple considerations.

“With the floods it was two storms in quick succession and there wasn’t enough appreciation for the quick succession of storms,” Dr Leonard said. “The problem is we need to look at multiple extreme things happening together.

“There’s something that catches us off guard and as a professional community, we could do it better and try come up with these possible combinations to avoid getting caught out like that.

“It’s very easy to invent a doomsday scenario and dismiss it because it’s not practical, saying: ‘I can’t plan for that, then what’s the point?’ so people are reluctant.”

Dr Leonard said in terms of being prepared for floods, planning could be better and systems updated because computing power to test the variability of storms had come a long way.

He also said the risks of hazards needed to be better understood.  “There’s really a need to revise our critical infrastructure and use computing power to come up with events that are possible to get a better idea of what can possibly go wrong,” he said. “I think we do a bad job with that.

“People have not done as good a job of ‘what’s the chance of some of these things happening together?’”

The international paper was led by the Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science in Switzerland with Australian researchers from the University of Adelaide and ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes with the University of New South Wales.

They recommend ways climate scientists, engineers, social scientists, impact modellers and decision-makers can work closely together to understand complex weather events.

“Usually when we experience these catastrophic failures it’s not one thing that’s gone wrong, it’s a whole sequence of things that have gone wrong and we need to guard against that,” Dr Leonard said.

“But there's also lots of practical challenges if we have multiple extremes happening together. “When hazards impact communities we’ll hear, ‘the one that caught us by surprise’ and ‘we didn’t see it coming’ or ‘this wasn’t like the ones we’ve seen before’.

“We need to appreciate the variability in conditions we can experience and therefore avoid false complacency or false security — last time there was a fire it didn’t come near us, we got out with plenty of time — the next time there’s an alert it can diminish the implications of it.”


Hardline feminist Clementine Ford's Lifeline speech is CANCELLED after thousands demanded the charity remove her as keynote speaker for tweeting 'all men must die'

Clemmie is a troubled soul.  On her own admission she had a mental health crisis recently. Definitely not someone to be advising others

Suicide prevention group Lifeline has cancelled an event featuring hardline feminist Clementine Ford after a petition against her appearance attracted almost 14,000 signatures.

A petition, set up last month, argued her previous tweets saying 'kill all men' and 'all men must die' made her unsuitable to address the 'Recognise, Respond, Refer' event in Melbourne on May 29.

A Lifeline spokesman Alan Woodward said the event, which was to be moderated by former Ten newsreader and Australian #MeToo campaigner Tracey Spicer, was cancelled because they regarded it as 'divisive'.

'The decision was made following feedback we had received and our assessment the event had drawn strong views,' he told Daily Mail Australia on Tuesday morning. 'We felt we couldn't proceed in the spirit of open discussion as intended.'

Mr Woodward said the 'nature of the views expressed' in the petition had made the forum untenable, but he stressed the cancellation was not related to Ms Ford's previous tweets.

'Lifeline does not want to do anything that could create division in the community,' he said.

'It was more the response within the wider community that led us to cancel the event, not any views expressed by the speaker.'

Adam Smith's campaign against Ms Ford's appearance at the Lifeline event had amassed 13,917 signatures by Tuesday morning, three weeks after his petition went live.

'It is extremely important that they remain distant from the hateful comments previously made very loudly and consistently by Ms Ford,' it said.

'She MUST be removed from the speaking lineup for the protection of the very people you are funded to support.'

Petition author Adam Smith had included screen shots of the Fairfax Media columnist's inflammatory tweets and argued she was synonymous with the hashtag, '#killallmen'.

'Lifeline is a service that is crucial to people experiencing high levels of emotional distress, many of them suicidal over bullying experiences,' he said.

In October 2015, Clementine Ford tweeted 'kill all men' after a woman suggested on Twitter her 'blind hatred of males' made it hypocritical of her to be an advocate of equal rights.

One woman questioned how Lifeline could give her a platform, considering many men with mental health problems relied on the service.

'It's hard enough for men to call a helpline to talk about how they are feeling,' she said on the Facebook page of former Labor leader Mark Latham. 'Now I feel men may not utilise this important lifeline for them.'

Last month, Lifeline said it did not necessarily agree with Clementine Ford's views on men. 'It is common place for a range of views and perspectives to occur in a discussion panel,' it told Daily Mail Australia.  'Lifeline does not necessarily agree with any particular panel member or commentator's views.'

Clementine Ford said in April she had 'addressed the intention behind these statements numerous times'.

'If we lived in a world where women were murdering men en masse and men genuinely had reason to fear they might be murdered in their beds by a gang of marauding feminists, I would agree with your concern,' she told Daily Mail Australia on Monday.

'As it is is, we live in a world where it's women who are being murdered by men at a minimum rate of one a week in this country, not to mention the countless circumstances of sexual violence, physical harassment and ongoing domestic violence perpetrated against women.'

The author of 'Fight Like A Girl' has also previously tweeted 'I bathe in male tears' and last year wrote 'Have you killed any men today? And if not, why not?' in a book signed for a fan.


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, May 16, 2018

It’s racist for white people to lodge complaints…

By Bernard Gaynor

About: "Offending White Men: Racial Vilification, Misrecognition and Epistemic Injustice"  by Louise Richardson-Self"

It ended with these words:

"As such, members of the culturally dominant group must commit to engaging with resistant imaginings with a critical openness to the other and their testimony, and they must develop their capacities as listeners and a propensity to epistemically esteem the other in recognition of their alterity, if we are to prevent such injustices in the future."

If you don’t understand any of that, don’t worry. I don’t really either. But let me attempt to unpack it for you anyway.

As far as I can tell, according to Louise Richardson-Self, a lecturer in philosophy and gender studies at the University of Tasmania, I am a racist because I lodged a complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission regarding Linda Burney’s statement that opponents to 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act were ‘white men’.

One way of arriving at that conclusion was reading the abstract of her latest work, Offending White Men: Racial Vilification, Misrecognition and Epistemic Injustice:

"In this article I analyse two complaints of white vilification, which are increasingly occurring in Australia. I argue that, though the complainants (and white people generally) are not harmed by such racialized speech, the complainants in fact harm Australians of colour through these utterances. These complaints can both cause and constitute at least two forms of epistemic injustice (willful hermeneutical ignorance, and comparative credibility excess). Further, I argue that the complaints are grounded in a dual misrecognition: the complainants misrecognize themselves in their own privileged racial specificity, and they misrecognize others in their own marginal racial specificity. Such misrecognition preserves the cultural imperialism of Australia’s dominant social imaginary—a means of oppression that perpetuates epistemic insensitivity."

The second and perhaps easiest way to get there was the fact that my name is mentioned 21 times in the 25 misery-filled pages of feminist woe that make up this little ‘study’.

Louise also made a few other comments that caught my eye.

"For instance, in the very first sentences of her work she implied that the Racial Discrimination Act is flawed because it permits a person of any race to lodge a complaint. No doubt, that’s evidence of some kind of ‘imaginary’ yet all-too-real white privilege and, after all, she did go on to note that white people are lodging complaints because of the ‘ostensibly’ neutral language of the Act."

And she does have a point: what’s the bloody point of a Racial Discrimination Act if white people can complain?

Fortunately, the courts have interpreted the Act in such a way that labelling somebody a white so-and-so is not deemed to be racist because the majority of Australians are white.

That makes sense in a totally progressive way. It also explains, by the way, why the Australian Human Rights Commission did nothing with my complaint against Burney.

It is perfectly fine to claim that the only people who want to get rid of this Act are white but it is decidedly risky to make an assessment about the race of those who want to keep it.

And it’s also racist to ‘celebrate’ Australia Day, but it is hunky dory to get up on a stage on ‘Invasion Day’ and claim that white Australians are responsible for land theft, child stealing, state-sanctioned murder and that the nation as we know it should be burnt to the ground.

And the reason for this is simple: according to Louise, holding the view that all should be treated equally before the law is nothing more than white privilege and fails to understand that such concepts constitute ‘cultural imperialism’.

Louise even went out of her way to make this clear, stating:

Here I am assuming that the complainants genuinely believe that ‘white vilification’ and non-white vilification are qualitatively equivalent.

I’ll take her assumption away. Racism against a white person is exactly the same as racism against any other person.

Louise obviously disagrees and, instead, yearns for a world where people are treated differently as a result of their skin colour.

There is a word for that worldview. Unfortunately, it has lost all meaning today because it’s been completely high-jacked by feminist loonies intent on cultural suicide…


The rapidly disappearing subsidies for wind and solar in Australia

This sounds like very good news

One of the loudest, most controversial and misinformed debates around Australian energy policy has been the level of subsidies for wind and solar farms.

It is mostly based around the renewable energy target and the market price of its principal pricing signal – the certificates known as LGCs, which have been trading at or above $80/MWh for some time.

This has led to some outrageous claims about the amount of money that is supposedly being pocketed by renewable energy developers, such as the Saudi company that owns the Moree solar farm.

Conservatives, and the Murdoch media in particular, continue to parade and parrot the false story and fake news that the renewable energy target will pocket some $45 billion of subsidies out to 2030.

It’s nonsense. Such claims are based on the assumption that all LGCs attract the market price – currently around $80/MWh. But in reality only a small percentage of “merchant” generators do that.

And those claims also assume that the price will remain at those inflated levels until 2030. Clearly, they are not.

The price of LGCs is already showing signs of significant decline as it becomes clear that the RET – which seeks 33,000GWh of new renewables by 2030 – will not just be met, but could be significantly exceeded.

That has pushed the future price of LGCs down sharply

Many analysts expect that the price will fall to zero once the new build is completed and the excess of certificates flood the market. It is not a matter of if there is a price crash, says Tristan Edis of Green Energy Markets, but when.

What is often forgotten in the tirades against wind and solar is that many project developers have already forgone any subsidies, because they have signed long-term contracts, known as PPAs (power purchase agreements), for between 12 and 15 years.

Most of these contracts, particularly those signed in the last 12 months, provide effectively zero value to the LGCs. These include projects such as the 530MW Stockyard Hill wind farm, the 200MW Silverton wind farm, and the 470MW Cooper’s Gap wind farm.

Those contracts – like most others for wind and solar farms – were signed with the realisation that the LGC market price was heading to zero, or negligible, value in the 2020s.

But the key is that the prices for both the electricity and the LGCs have been struck below the prevailing cost of electricity, sometimes as low as $55/MWh.

This has also been the case for the ACT’s goal of sourcing the equivalent of 100 per cent renewables for its electricity by 2020. That program requires the LGCs to be surrendered at no cost to ensure the ACT’s efforts are additional to any national target.

So far, the ACT has done well out of its contracts because the first two wind farms have actually been returning money to ACT consumers, rather than requiring a top up over the market price.

It is important to note that the price of LGCs actually have little to do with the actual cost of the solar farms or wind farms, but are merely a financial instrument that provides an incentive for retailers to meet their obligations.

So, why are the LGC’s at such a high price of $80/MWh when that level of subsidy is not needed, and renewable energy projects can be developed and operate at an all up price of $55-$70/MWh?

Simply, it’s yet another example of where the incumbent utilities, in this case the retailers, are playing the market. Not illegally, but simply because the rules allow them to do so.

The price is high because not enough renewable energy generation has been built to meet the progressively higher annual targets, creating a shortage of LGCs.

This occurred because of the three-year investment strike that was caused by the Abbott government’s attempts – supported by many energy incumbents – to try to scrap, and then reduce the RET, from 41,000GWh to 33,000GWh.

That investment delay meant there was a shortfall in LGCs, so prices hit the market cap – it had nothing to do with the cost of building wind and solar farms.

Because of this, some retailers are still taking advantage of the rules. ERM power, for instance, in 2016 chose to pay the “shortfall charge” for not meeting its required number of LGCs.

It was a quite deliberate move. ERM has a three-year grace period to make up that shortfall, so while it paid a $150 million fee, that fee is fully refundable, and ERM will make a handsome profit – already estimated at $45 million – by buying the LGCs when the price falls.

Indeed, ERM CEO Jon Stretch discusses this very strategy in our latest Energy Insiders podcast, which you can listen to here.

According to the Clean Energy Regulator, around $238 million of shortfall charges have already been paid, and will likely be redeemed. Mark Williamson says retailers are likely to take a similar approach if the spot price for LGCs remains high this year and next.

“We’re pointing out the reality that the longer the spot price stays in the mid-$80 range, well above the $65 penalty price, there will be some temptation for some to pay shortfall, or to use the flexibility to carry forward less than 10 per cent of their liability,” Williamson says.

“And there is the prospect of more shortfall to come the longer it’s up there.”

Tristan Edis, from Green Energy Markets, predicts there could be a surplus of 80 million LGC once the RET is met.

“Across the life of the RET scheme to 2030 we are looking at a massive oversupply,” he says. “The question isn’t if we’ll see prices collapse but when.”

Edis agrees that because projects are still to be completed, a shortfall could continue until 2019, ensuring that the price stays high, and retailers paying the shortfall charge.

Even as late as 2020, retailers could still elect to pay the penalty price, or shortfall charge,   judging that the oversupply in 2023 will be so big that they can pick-up lots of them very cheaply.

They can then use these cheap LGCs to make good on the shortfalls they incurred in 2020 to claim back penalty refunds from the regulator, as ERM is doing.

The other complication is the structure of the proposed National Energy Guarantee, or any other scheme, and whether that allows generators to “double dip” into creating both an LGC and a NEG emissions obligation.

(That much may be academic if the Coalition retains its meagre emissions targets for 2030, as it has promised to do. Most analysts say the 26 per cent emissions target will be largely met by 2020 by the build out of the RET)

“If the NEG were to allow double dipping where a generator can create both an LGC and a NEG emissions obligation entitlement from the same megawatt-hour of generation then LGCs become worthless pieces of electronic paper that don’t mean anything for abatement purposes,” Edis says.

“If instead, they follow the prior recommendation from the AEMC for a baseline & credit scheme, where a renewable generator would have to choose between either an LGC or a NEG entitlement but couldn’t create both from the same MWh, then LGCs retain an ongoing value equal to a NEG entitlement.

“The second option that disallows double dipping will provide a far smoother transition that avoids pulling the rug from underneath participants in the secondary market for LGCs.”

So, if renewables don’t need subsidies going forward, then what’s the problem?

The problem is that without further incentives, or reasonable emissions reduction targets, the main energy retailers will have little or no reason to build new wind or solar, and will be happy to keep spinning maximum profits out of their fossil fuel generators.

That leaves only the household and corporate market as potential parties to contracting new wind and solar farms, and additional demand created when coal generators are due to retire.

There could be plenty of activity in the corporate market – with Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance contracting one solar farm already for its Victorian steel works and planning to build 1GW of new solar and storage for its South Australian assets.

Numerous other corporates are turning to wind and/or solar, with companies like Carlton & United Breweries committed to 100% renewables, and others to follow.

And they can be sure that the costs of wind and solar will continue to fall, even below the mid $50/MWh pricing that has been reported for projects like Snowtown and Murra Warra in Victoria.

As the CER’s Williamson told RenewEconomy on the sidelines of Australia Energy Week: “I’m also hearing that even the ultra-low prices we’ve heard disclosed in PPAs (power purchase agreements), that we may see lower prices further to come.

“I guess that’s going to be interesting to watch, in the context that wholesale prices are decreasing, but are currently still above those prices of new-build variable renewables.”


Immigrants forced to live in 'struggling' rural areas rather than overcrowded Sydney or Melbourne under new visa rules

Immigrants coming to Australia on a regional-sponsored visa would be forced to stay in the country under a new policy being considered by the Federal Government. 

Sydney's population increased by more than 100,000 people in 2017 and more than 80 per cent were from overseas.

The Home Affairs Department is looking into how they can 'bind people to a regional area,' First Assistant Secretary David Wilden told the Daily Telegraph.

'One of the complaints we often get from sponsors is that migrants come as permanent residents and are not actually bound under law to stay in a regional area,' he said.

The Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme 187 visa allows skilled workers to apply for permanent residency with the sponsorship of an Australian employer.

Citizenship Minister Alan Tudge told the Daily Telegraph he has been discussing the issue with his Coalition colleagues during recent regional visits.

'Many migrants are sponsored for permanent residence on the basis of an intent to live and work in regional Australia but don't stay long in the region once they have their permanent visa,' he said.

'This has been a key issue for discussion during my recent visits to regional areas over recent weeks.' 


'Best and brightest' flee Australia in search of lower tax: Peter Costello

The "best and brightest" are heading for Hong Kong to escape a top tax rate that will soon kick in at just 1.7 times average weekly earnings, former treasurer Peter Costello said.

Speaking at the Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney on Monday, Mr Costello said it made no economic sense to deny high income earners tax relief.

"It's not just companies where we're in competition, it's for individuals as well," he said. "These are the people you do want to build and carry your economy."

Mr Costello applauded the Coalition government's income tax plan but queried whether Malcolm Turnbull would win the next two elections in order to deliver it.

"If you announce a tax plan for 2024, you have to get home in two elections to actually deliver it and nobody can control the political cycles," he said.

Mr Costello again pressed the Turnbull government to make lowering the top marginal rate – 45 cents in the dollar for those earning over $180,000, on top of which the 2 per cent Medicare levy applies – a priority.

"I'm always amazed how many young Australians are living in Hong Kong," Mr Costello said. "During their high income earning years they're in Hong Kong and then when they're ready to draw down on the social welfare system they're back in Australia. "You never see any Australian retirees moving to Hong Kong."

As treasurer in the Howard government in 2007, Mr Costello laid out a five-year plan which would have reduced the top income tax rate from 45 cents to 40 cents.

The Howard government lost the 2007 election to Labor headed by Kevin Rudd, who said he would pursue the plan in his second term.

At the time, the top rate of 45 cents cut in at 3.5 times average weekly earnings.

That has since dropped to 2.2 times. If the government's plan comes to pass, the figure will drop to 1.7 by 2024. If not, it will settle at 1.9.

"In the US, you go on the top rate at eight times average weekly earnings," Mr Costello said.

"All I'm saying is if we could keep our income tax rates more competitive we'd keep more of those [high-income earners] here," he added.  "I want the best and brightest not to feel they have to go somewhere else but to feel they can stay here."

The Turnbull government has not proposed changes to the 45 per cent rate, but it does want to lift the threshold at which the rate cuts in, from $180,000 to $200,000.

Aside from a temporarily expanded low- and middle-income tax offset, the biggest changes would occur to the second top tax bracket, which has a present rate of 37 per cent.

The bracket's upper threshold would be progressively lifted until 2024-25, when it would be scrapped entirely.

A mega bracket, with a tax rate of 32.5 per cent spanning incomes from $40,001 to $200,000, would be created.

Critics say the plan does not amount to tax reform and will make the system less progressive.

"[Mr] Shorten says it's unfair because a nurse would pay the same tax as a CEO," Mr Costello said.

"The nurse wouldn't pay the same tax as a CEO. They would pay the same tax rate as a CEO. Thirty per cent of $40,000 is not nearly as much as 30 per cent of $200,000."


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