Australian Politics 2020-02-13 15:41:00
Lunacy protects foreigners over us
More racism from the establishment
The lunacy at the heart of the latest decision by the High Court comes down to this: this is pure racism built upon an illegitimate exercise of judicial power.
By the narrowest of margins, the nation's highest court haS elevated a racial distinction to a position of constitutional privilege that would never be acceded if such a question were put to the people at a referendum.
Four of the court's seven judg es have preempted the people of this nation by injecting a new racist concept in the Constitution that can only be overturned by referendum or a future High Court.
This shameful ruling has punched a hole in the principle that everyone is equal before Australian law and has eroded the federal government's ability to protect the community from foreign criminals who have never tried to become citizens.
Even when born overseas and holding the citizenship of another country, foreign criminals with Aboriginal ancestry can no longer be treated as aliens for the purposes of migration law.
There will be those who will say the impact can be confined to the specific facts of the case. But a dreadful precedent has been set. In this case, the High Court majority has effectively created a new right for foreigners that comes at the expense of Australians who expect their governments to protect them from criminals, regardless of their race.
The majority has decided that foreign citizens with Aboriginal ancestry have such a special connection with Australia that it would be inconsistent with that special connection to treat them as aliens for the purposes of migration law.
This principle was applied even though the men who brought this challenge never tried to become Australian citizens.
Common sense has gone out the window. The majority has invented a new, illogical category in migration law that applies only to Aborigines who hold foreign citizenship: they can simultaneously be non-citizens and non-aliens.
Because a crucial part of the test for Aboriginality depends on the views of communities or their leaders, this means Aboriginal communities — and not parlia ment — will have the power to determine when the normal migration law will apply.
This was too much for Chief Justice Susan Kiefel, who differed strongly with the majority and pointed out that such a mechanism "would be to attribute to the group the kind of sovereignty which was implicitly rejected by (the Mabo decision)".
Kiefel's dissent goes a long way to limiting the damage to the court's reputation. Four judges went off on a frolic: Geoffrey Nettle, Michelle Gordon, James Edelman and Virginia Bell. Kiefel was steadfast, backed by Stephen Gageler and Patrick Keane.
The Chief Justice points out in her dissent that it is settled law that it is up to parliament, relying on the Constitution, to create and define the concept of citizenship and determine who is an alien. She also argues that "questions of constitutional interpretation cannot depend on what the court perceives to be a desirable policy regarding the subject of who should be aliens and the desirability of Aboriginal non- citizens continuing to reside in Australia".
"In the absence of a relevant constitutional prohibition or exception, express or implied, it is not a proper function of a court to limit the method of exercise of legislative power," Kiefel wrote.
The great tragedy of this decision is that it will inevitably be used to attack the arguments of those, like this writer, who have argued for a constitutionally entrenched Aboriginal voice to federal parliament.
The judges in the majority are massively out of step with community values and the core principle of equality before the law. They have done a disservice to the legitimate aspirations of indigenous Australians.
From "The Australian" of 12 February, 2020
Pauline Hanson doubles down on her claim about 'lazy' Aboriginal parents - and says Australia is failing to protect indigenous children who get raped
This is all true and known to be true but you are not supposed to say it
Pauline Hanson has doubled down on her controversial rant about Aboriginal people and said children who get raped should be taken away from their communities.
The One National leader slammed the government's Closing the Gap initiative to improve Aboriginal communities in a fiery speech in the senate on Wednesday.
Labor and Greens senators called her racist after she suggested Aboriginal people were addicted to 'grog and drugs' and failed to turn up to work or take their children to school.
But in an interview with Sky News host Paul Murray later that night, Senator Hanson stood by her views and said government efforts were not working.
She recalled the case of a two-year-old girl who tested positive for an STD in the Northern Territory town of Tennant Creek after she was allegedly raped by a 24-year-old family friend in February 2018.
'We have problems with kids being raped. How can a two-year-old have an STD?' Senator Hanson said.
The two-year-old girl in this case was removed from her family's care by the Department of Child Protection South Australia.
But Senator Hanson said neglected and abused children should be taken from their communities more often. 'If that was happening in white society, Paul, they would take the children away and we don't,' she said.
'We turn our back, you can't get involved because of cultural issues, we're not protecting the children.'
Senator Hanson again said the Closing The Gap initiative was failing and that nothing has changed since her maiden speech in parliament in 1996.
'The inequality is still happening [even though] we are throwing tens of billions of dollars at this,' she said.
Urging the government to spend less on the initiative, she added: 'Closing the gap is about treating people equally.'
'We don't need any more organisations that are set up. They don't need any more programs. They need to be held account for the money that's been given to them.'
In her speech in the senate, Senator Hanson slammed the program as 'complete rubbish' and a 'joke'.
'The biggest problem facing Australian and Aboriginal Australians today is their own lack of commitment and responsibility to helping themselves,' she said.
Senator Hanson attacked indigenous mums and dads for being behind poor school attendances, noting one school with 400 children enrolled often had a 50 per cent attendance rate.
'Whose fault is that? Lazy parents. You can't blame the whites when it's your own negligence,' Senator Hanson said.
Labor frontbencher Jenny McAllister said Senator Hanson's speech was not OK. 'Her racist comments - and they are racist - have no place in this chamber,' she told the upper house.
Greens Senate leader Larissa Waters apologised to anyone listening to Senator Hanson, saying a code of conduct was needed to stop hate speech in parliament. 'It's the racism that we've come to expect from her and her party,' she said. They don't reflect the sentiment of this chamber or vast majority of Australians.'
Senator Hanson insisted she was speaking on behalf of 'quiet Australians' and claimed her comments were echoed by many indigenous people that meet with her.
'When you spend billions of dollars a year on any group of people you expect outcomes but sadly those billions have gone to the non-productive, unrepentant aboriginal industry,' she said.
She said Closing the Gap was a marketing term used by politicians and bureaucrats to pretend they're doing something to 'lift remote First Nations people out of their self perpetuating hellholes.'
The One Nation leader said indigenous people should 'stop playing the victim.' 'If you want to close the gap start taking some responsibility for your own people,' Senator Hanson said.
'We've provided the schools - it's now up to you to send your own kids to school. We've provided the jobs but it's up to you to turn up when you're rostered on, not when it suits.
'It's up to the Aboriginals to stay off the grog and the drugs.'
Senator Hanson has been criticised throughout her career for racism but denies she discriminates against people.
Mark Latham slams solar power as an 'irresponsible experiment' and claims it powered ZERO per cent of the grid after heavy rains left 150,000 without electricity
Mark Latham has slammed solar energy and claims it did nothing to help after the heaviest downpour in 30 years sparked widespread power outages.
The One Nation New South Wales leader blasted the renewable resource on Tuesday after severe wet weather battered New South Wales over the weekend.
He said 'solar bottoms out' and is the 'most irresponsible' public policy 'experiment' in Australia's history.
'When it does rain, it shows how ineffective solar panels can be,' Mr Latham wrote on Facebook.
'Currently in NSW, the energy grid is being powered up 93% by Black Coal, 4% hydro, 2% wind and ZERO solar.
'In truth, renewables are the wildest, most irresponsible experiment in the history of Australian public policy.'
Data from the Australian Energy Market Operator appears to support Latham's claim solar power played almost no role during the height of the deluge on Sunday afternoon.
At 6am on Sunday morning, according to the AEMO data, solar energy in New South Wales represented zero per cent of fuel usage.
Black coal usage sat at 83 per cent, with solar power generating 0MWh towards the state's consumption.
Later on in the day though, the data shows an increase in solar power usage to six per cent at 1pm and three per cent at 5pm as the storm continued to lash Sydney and surrounding regions.
The AEMO also pointed out their fuel mix graph did not include any power 'generated by rooftop solar' as it 'exists behind the meter'.
The NSW government has also reported the use of solar, wind and bioenergy power has more than doubled from four to nine per cent between 2013 and 2017.
Utility and large commercial solar operations - those over 100kW - have also shown large growth in that time period, according to a report by the state government.
In 2017, large operations generated 400MW of the state's solar output per year.
Total solar growth across all scales has grown nine-fold from 200MW per year in 2010 to 1800MW per year in 2017, the report said.
Solar advocacy body Solar Citizens told Daily Mail Australia in response to the politician's comments Australians were tired of 'people like Mark Latham playing petty politics with energy'.
'It's time to get on with the transition to clean low cost fuels like wind and solar. Millions of Australian households investing in solar panels can't be wrong,' the body's national director Ellen Roberts said.
'Renewables enable a more stable energy supply during extreme weather events.
'Community microgrids, connecting local renewable energy sources, will mean that towns and communities to keep their electricity supply even if poles and wires are impacted by storms and fires.'
Free speech: It’s time for a higher education shake-up
It is with much humility that I announce my candidature for the forthcoming vacancy of chief executive of the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency.
TEQSA wields extraordinary power to decide what institution can call itself a university or college. It is responsible for enforcing the Higher Education Standards Framework, which includes requirements ranging from admissions and course design to facilities and infrastructure. This framework also requires that a university articulates “a commitment to and support for free intellectual inquiry in its academic endeavours”.
But in recent years TEQSA’s leadership has become a free-speech denier. It has repeatedly played down concerns from parliamentarians, academics, students and the broader public about the ability to express a wide array of opinion at our universities. Like practically every regulatory body, TEQSA has become captured by its sector and a certain left-wing, misnamed “progressive” perspective.
TEQSA chief executive Anthony McClaran will step down at the end of next month to take up the vice-chancellorship of St Mary’s University in London. The federal government must avoid simply appointing an individual from the sector, someone who will continue business as usual. It needs new leadership from outside the groupthink that epitomises higher education.
Across the English-speaking world, universities are becoming hotbeds of ideological extremists which reject the legitimacy of alternative perspectives. Across the past four years, in the Institute of Public Affairs’ Free Speech on Campus Audit, I have extensively catalogued how university policies and actions undermine freedom of expression. This has been acknowledged, even by its critics, as they point to the key report that first brought attention to free speech issues at universities.
Last year, the government released a review into free speech by former High Court chief justice Robert French. This report pointed to substantial issues within existing policies, including many previously raised by the IPA. It recommended universities adopt a model free-speech code, partly in the spirit of the University of Chicago. While some universities have acted, such as the University of Sydney, most have not. This is despite an IPA poll of university students last year finding that three in five students say they have been prevented from voicing their opinions on controversial issues by other students.
Nick Saunders, the chief commissioner of TEQSA, told Senate estimates last year that TEQSA would not be playing a “regulatory role, in the sense of imposing penalties” on universities that failed to adopt French’s code. Saunders also played down the possibility of future enforcement on the basis that he did not think freedom of expression on campus was an issue. All carrot and no stick (billions of dollars of public money without any responsibility) make for a pathetic lack of freedom of expression at our universities.
Last year, Peter Ridd was found to have had his freedom of speech impinged by James Cook University after it sacked him for criticising the quality of his colleagues’ work on the Great Barrier Reef. Ridd was awarded $1.2m after winning the unfair dismissal case. Despite the significance of the precedent-setting case, TEQSA has also yet to mention Ridd. TEQSA has also refused to issue a guidance note on freedom of expression or academic freedom, despite maintaining an extensive note on “diversity and equity”. This guidance typically focuses on every type of diversity other than diversity of viewpoint.
Free speech is not the only challenge facing our universities. They appear to be ferociously dependent on foreign funds, leading to substantial influence opportunities for the Chinese Communist Party. This is epitomised by the Confucius Centres and the slow reaction to thuggish pro-CCP students last year at Hong Kong democracy protests, particularly at the University of Queensland. There are also concerns that dependence on overseas students has lowered educational quality.
Gerd Schroder-Turk, an academic at Murdoch University, claimed universities, including his own, admitted international students who did not meet English language standards. “Admitting students who don’t have the right qualifications, or right prerequisites, or correct language capabilities, is setting them up for failure,” Schroder-Turk said. Academics are then pressured to pass these students, including many who stand accused of cheating, despite an inadequate quality of work.
Once again displaying the lack of tolerance for contrarian opinions, Schroder-Turk was sued by Murdoch University for daring to critique its approach. The response by TEQSA to these issues has been wholly inadequate.
Meanwhile, the “replication crisis” continues, with half of all published academic articles likely being unreplaceable and false. There are also concerns about students being sold degrees costing tens of thousands of dollars despite getting limited educational value or a high-paying job at the end. Many students simply drop out, leaving themselves with large debt and no degree to show for it.
The extent of red tape imposed by TEQSA makes it almost impossible to start up competitor universities that would bring real competition to the sector, thereby decreasing tuition costs and increasing educational quality.
The appointment of TEQSA’s next chief executive is a perfect opportunity for the Morrison government to give the Australian university sector a significant shake-up. And I am the person to do it.
Blind spot in BoM’s seasonal forecast
They couldn't get the weather right a few months in advance but they still claim that they can predict how hot it will be in 80 years time
When the start of potentially drought-breaking rains finally came this month they were not predicted by the experts — but they should not have been a total surprise.
The bushfires that blazed across the landscape from November last year may well come to be seen in retrospect as the final act in a set of weather conditions that parched the continent and scorched the earth.
After years of below-average rainfall, the end of last year saw two systems wring the last gasp from a bone-dry land.
To the west, the Indian Ocean Dipole was in extreme territory. The IOD is the difference in ocean temperatures between the west and east tropical Indian Ocean. In a positive phase the IOD can shift moisture towards or away from Australia towards Africa. A positive IOD in 1982 coupled with an El Nino weather system in the Pacific produced southeast Australia’s driest year on record.
Alongside the extreme IOD system were record warm temperatures above Antarctica.
Apart from warming the Antarctic region, the higher temperatures shifted the Southern Ocean westerly winds towards the equator.
For subtropical Australia, which largely sits north of the main belt of westerlies, the shift results in reduced rainfall, clearer skies and warmer temperatures.
The strongest effects were felt in NSW and southern Queensland, where springtime temperatures increased, rainfall decreased, and heatwaves and fire risk rose.
When the two weather systems finally broke down at the end of last year they were replaced by a new set of conditions that, though shorter lived, have swamped the east coast of the nation.
Monsoon rains finally moved south and a low-pressure system along the east coast brought rough seas and heavy falls.
The breakdown of the IOD and Antarctic systems was noted by the Bureau of Meteorology in its forecasts for the first quarter of the new year.
However, the BoM did not foresee in its seasonal forecasts the extent of what was to follow.
Soaking rains have drenched the east of the continent from Queensland to south of Sydney with downpours of hundreds of millimetres recorded, mainly along the coastline.
Big waves have again played havoc with beachfront areas.
And for the first time in years, farmers have had something to celebrate. Several major rivers feeding the Murray-Darling Basin have started to flow, including the Condamine and Balonne in Queensland and the Namoi and Barwon in NSW.
Much of that water ultimately enters the Darling, which has not flowed solidly for years.
The Murray-Darling Basin Authority says, among other revivals, the Moonie River in Queensland is flowing for the first time since April 2018. Parts of the Weir, Macintyre and Dumaresq rivers of the Queensland-NSW Border Rivers region also are flowing, while in NSW water is passing through large sections of the Gwydir, Castlereagh and Macquarie catchments.
Already there is controversy, with conservation groups outraged at the NSW government’s decision to allow big irrigators to take millions of litres of flood water from the Barwon-Darling river system.
The heaviest falls have been on the eastern side of the Great Dividing Range and will flow into the Pacific rather than inland.
And with a cyclone still brewing off the coast of Queensland the dramatic weather conditions are far from over.
Whether the drought has broken is an open question. Much will depend on follow-up rains.
In a letter to Simon Birmingham, the minister responsible for the BoM at the time, scientist Jennifer Marohasy said: “This, of course, provides an enormous range of actual outcomes where any given forecast can be regarded as ‘correct’ or successful from the perspective of the bureau.”
On the BoM’s more recent performance, Marohasy says it “could not bring itself to apologise for the wrong and totally misleading recent forecast” and this is “a reflection of the very sad state of affairs”.
“There needs to be some accountability. Australians deserve to know if the bureau has any capacity to provide skilful season rainfall forecasts or not,” she says.
The compounding risk in Australia’s transition to new submarines
Two questions are frequently raised about the process that selected Australia’s preferred partner for the design and build of the future submarine.
The first is why the Defence Department didn’t pursue a ‘son of Collins’, that is, an evolution of the successful Collins design, with the questioner’s underlying assumption being that evolving an existing design should be cheaper and faster than starting an entirely new design. The second is why the Swedish shipbuilder Saab, which had acquired Kockums—the company that designed the Collins—wasn’t invited to participate in the competitive evaluation process (CEP), given that it (other than the Japanese) was the only entity with demonstrated experience in designing and building large conventional submarines.
It’s worth revisiting these questions because they’re relevant to the Collins life-of-type extension (LOTE) program, which is the key to Defence maintaining an effective submarine capability throughout the long transition to the Attack-class submarine.
The two questions are distinct but related. The Australian National Audit Office’s 2017 report on the CEP is silent on why Saab wasn’t offered the opportunity to participate in the competition. The report simply says that Defence determined that the three entities that were invited to participate (TKMS of Germany, the Japanese government, and the ultimately successful DCNS of France) were the only ones that met Defence’s requirement that the future submarine be ‘designed and built by a proven submarine designer with recent experience in designing and building diesel-electric submarines’. The report doesn’t assess whether that was an appropriate requirement or explain why Saab didn’t meet it.
But there was a more fulsome discussion at Senate estimates in February 2015, only two weeks after then Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced the CEP, followed by Defence’s written response to the Senate’s questions on notice. On the first issue, Defence testified that a study into the possibility of evolving the Collins ‘demonstrated that the design effort involved would be similar to a new design’. Ultimately Defence concluded that an evolved Collins ‘would not provide a beneficial, nor a low cost and low risk solution for the Future Submarine’.
On the second question, Defence officials repeatedly argued (pages 109 and 129, for example) that while the French and Germans had not designed or built a large conventional submarine, they along with the Japanese had demonstrated continuous submarine design and build activity.
In contrast, the Swedes, despite previously designing and building submarines both large and small, hadn’t completed a full design and build program since 1996–97. Even though they were well into the design of their own A26 class, had been involved in the build of the Collins into the 2000s, had an extensive record of major upgrade activities (including inserting entirely new ‘plug’ sections into submarines), and employed over 3,000 naval and submarine engineers, that hiatus was judged to be an unacceptable risk.
Whether or not you’re convinced by Defence’s reasoning to exclude the Swedes (for me, it is one of Defence’s most bizarre capability decisions), its argument is clear—submarine design, even modifications to an existing design, is difficult, and deep expertise is needed to undertake it successfully. There are no easy wins in submarine design, and mistakes create major cost, schedule and capability risks.
Which brings us to the Collins LOTE. To recap, the Collins submarines were meant to be progressively withdrawn from service every two years from 2026. Since it’s been clear for some time that the future submarine wouldn’t enter operational service until the 2030s, again on a two-yearly cycle, some of the Collins fleet would need to undergo a LOTE to avoid a capability gap. In essence, the LOTE is the mitigation strategy to address the schedule risk in the future submarine program.
It’s also been clear that the LOTE would be based on an additional full-cycle docking, which means taking a Collins boat out of the water for two years of deep maintenance and upgrades so it can keep operating for the next 10 years. What hasn’t been clear is how many of the six Collins would need to undergo a LOTE and what its scope would be.
As the future submarine schedule has developed, with the first Attack-class boat now not expected to be operational until 2034, Defence’s Senate estimates testimony has moved from saying one to three LOTEs would be required to five. Theoretically, doing all six Collins could mitigate a further two-year slide in the program, but beyond that total submarine numbers could fall below six.
Defence has also started to reveal the scope of the LOTE—see here (page 31) and here (pages 17–22). In addition to all the usual maintenance and obsolescence management of a full-cycle docking, Defence wants to replace the Collins’ main motor, diesel generators, and electrical conversion and distribution system with new hardware made by the suppliers for the future submarine.
Interestingly, Defence has also said that these are three of the five most important systems on the future submarine. It is also looking at mast and sensor updates (for example, replacing periscopes with modern digital optronics masts) as well as combat system updates.
In short, the LOTE concept is starting to look a lot like a son of Collins—which Defence told the Senate in 2015 wasn’t worth the cost and risk involved. This poses serious questions about Defence’s risk-mitigation strategy for the submarine transition.
First, the Collins maintenance cycle is a finely tuned process. Between full-cycle, mid-cycle and intermediate dockings, two of the six boats are almost always out of the water in deep maintenance. If the amount of work required for the LOTE exceeds the two-year window for full-cycle dockings, Defence will have to choose between having more than two boats out of the water—with a consequent impact on the number of boats available—or deferring LOTEs and continuing to operate 30-plus-year-old boats with mounting obsolescence and reliability issues. Can all the regular maintenance plus replacement of three of the submarine’s five major systems fit in that two-year window?
Second, this potentially poses second-order and third-order effects on the submarine transition. For example, to train the much larger uniformed workforce needed to operate the larger and more numerous future submarines, Defence needs boats in the water. If submarine numbers or availability falls, submariner numbers won’t increase at the rate required to transition to the eventual 12 boat future fleet.
Third, who has the design expertise to replace three of the five major systems on the Collins? ASC, which maintains the boats, is the design authority for the Collins, and has started early design work on the LOTE. But it has never done anything like this, and—as the government’s shipbuilding program ramps up—ASC has been losing its engineering workforce.
Since the LOTE will use systems made by the future submarine’s suppliers, then presumably Naval Group, the future submarine’s designer, will need to be involved. Defence may also need to involve Saab, which inherited Kockums’ Collins design pedigree, but Saab could have its hands full should it win the submarine programs it is bidding for in Europe. And if Defence’s original assessment that getting the Swedes to evolve the Collins wasn’t worth the risk, how confident should we be that this is a safer approach?
It may be that the LOTE will ultimately be a straightforward affair despite Defence’s testimony that even small changes to submarine designs can have great consequences. And commonality of key systems between the Collins and the future submarine is probably a good thing.
But the prospect of Defence pursuing something like a son of Collins to mitigate the risks involved in designing and delivering a new submarine from scratch does give pause for thought.
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