Australian Politics 2020-06-20 15:35:00

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Enemies of the people reveal their true colours

The ferals of Seattle have done us a favour. So have Australia’s rule-flouting, anti-social-distancing protesters and their comrades, the history-hating statue vandals.

The chaos and inanity seen across liberal democracies these past weeks are the best thing that could happen to Western civilisation. Those of us who have long argued the need to nurture and protect our culture can never again be scoffed at as alarmists.

The connoisseurs of cancel culture have demonstrated how ­intellectual integrity is under constant threat. Public institutions that should strengthen our society — think of the universities and the ABC — have outed themselves as enemies of the people.

When politicians argue society would be better off without police, local governments surrender precincts and property to anarchists, and commentators justify violence and vandalism, we know we have crossed the Rubicon. Culture warriors must take the field because we can see, ever so clearly, that there are powerful forces willing to usurp democracy, abandon freedom of speech, unlearn history and undercut the rule of law.

Readers and viewers often respond to my commentary by saying, yes, we see the problems, but what can we do about it? Let me make a start. A proper response involves all aspects of society, from preschools to university, public institutions from the courts to the bureaucracies, all levels of government, artistic institutions, media and private corporations. They all need to learn, recognise and value the strengths of our sovereign, liberal, democratic model, rather than virtue signal on the back of its perceived flaws.

We learned the power of positive reinforcement for our children but decided the best way to nurture our society was to run it down. This is institutional self-harm, societal suicide — and you see it in businesses torched in New York City, police locked out of a Seattle precinct, students rejecting history, activists staining Australia with slavery, universities de-platforming speakers and online warriors attacking a brewery for using the word colonial.

Soon they will want to turn our national day into one of shame. Woops, too late.

When Chinese diplomats unfairly smear us as racist, they echo the rhetoric of our own academics and human rights commissioners who have made careers from ­inflaming identity issues. There is no critic of this country, no matter how strident, who will not be ­lauded or amplified by our own media/political class.

Teachers need to educate children about our flaws, sure, but they might want to buttress them with little morsels like how we fashioned perhaps the least imperfect democratic and federal system on the planet, or explain we are the most successful multicultural nation, or boast about how indigenous women in South Australia had the franchise in the 19th century, decades ahead of even the most well-to-do women of Europe.

Many of our most prestigious universities rejected a centre for the study of Western civilisation but queued up for Confucius Institutes that kowtow to Beijing or centres for Asian or Islamic studies. We have activists, politicians, journalists and academics campaigning against our largest ­export industry, and when UN agencies produce tendentious reports slamming our migration, border protection, climate or pandemic policies, our chattering classes damn their own country rather than defend it with facts.

Like Australian Cypriot performance artist Stelarc, who grotesquely hangs from hooks in his skin, we do terrible things to our country to showcase our own inadequacy. It is painful to watch.

Those of us who care, the silent majority, need to do the opposite; we should trumpet our strengths and strive for improvement. The dichotomy between self-loathing and self-confidence is perhaps the pivotal battleground for Western civilisation — if the miserable side wins, there will be a downfall.

Politicians must argue harder and with more courage; bureaucrats need to understand what underpins their wages; artists and writers, too, might want to ponder self-reliance; and, importantly, private enterprise needs to stand up for core business rather than sue for peace by appeasing sanctimonious activists. Complacency creates a vacuum happily filled by revolutionary progressives and their socialist, communist and ­anarchist running mates.

And this is where we need to focus on the most important cultural institution in the nation. The ABC, combined with SBS, soaks up about $1.5bn annually and should be a force for good.

But instead of fulfilling its charter, adding to the cultural and intellectual ballast of the nation, it throws our achievements overboard and chips away at our hull. Instead of being a cultivator of our national project, the public broadcaster chooses to be an enemy of the people.

Interviewing Jacinta Price this week I was dismayed (but not surprised) that despite weeks of controversy around Black Lives Matter and indigenous deaths in custody, and despite countless ABC platforms and programs claiming an interest in indigenous issues, she had not been sought out. Price is an Alice Springs councillor, a former federal Coalition candidate, a columnist, a commentator, and an advocate who heads up the indigenous program at the Centre for Independent Studies.

She is articulate and strong. The only conceivable reason for the ABC to shun her is because it does not agree with her — she ­focuses on self-reliance, personal responsibility and the need to tackle the problems within Aboriginal communities where most of the violence, disadvantage and deaths occur.

That is one small example of the ABC’s delinquency — but think of the damage. Indigenous disadvantage must be the gravest social challenge facing our country, yet the ABC ignores honesty, diversity and intelligent debate in favour of the politics of grievance and victimhood.

There is perhaps no area of ­national policy where the ABC could do more good, but it chooses to play the politics of division and self-loathing instead.

Likewise, on border protection, the ABC has never allowed itself to comprehend what the bulk of the population has always understood — that the bedrock of a successful multicultural society is confidence in the integrity of the immigration system. The national broadcaster overwhelms us with a hypercritical stance against strong borders, animated by false claims about torture by our navy and sexual assault by the people of Nauru.

On climate the ABC actively censors crucial facts about our relative achievements on emissions reductions, the financial and practical costs of those efforts and their futility when it comes to the global environment. Instead it runs endless fear campaigns blaming everything from damaged reefs and bushfires to droughts and floods on climate change.

While our emissions are cut and global totals rise, the ABC simplistically urges our country to do more. It insults our intelligence daily; and it does not occur to the broadcaster that in every election since 2007 voters have favoured parties vowing not to put a price on carbon.

The ABC campaigned against the Adani coalmine, disregarding the poor of India as well as the aspirational of central Queensland. With highly dubious journalism built around footage supplied by animal rights activists, the ABC has tried to destroy industries such as the live cattle export industry, live sheep trade, greyhound racing and horse racing.

The ABC spent a fortune and precious prime-time hours on ­Donald Trump and Russian collusion; it seems to be more interested in mulesing than female genital mutilation; and more concerned about the treatment of livestock than the plight of women in the Muslim world. Instead of embracing a plebiscite on same-sex marriage, the ABC hyperventilated about how the country was too spiteful to debate such issues.

Despite employing more than 4000 people the ABC had no one who understood why Trump might win in 2016, or why the Brits might vote for Brexit, or Scott Morrison might win the election last year. For all its focus on politics it constantly fails to pick the currents because it is detached from mainstream values and intent on tearing down the nation rather than understanding it.

One ABC television host, Julia Baird, wrote a piece last weekend justifying the destruction of statues — she perceived the mob as the enlightened rewriters of the next phase of history. The ABC is obsessed with identity but shuns diversity.

It recruits people with disabil­ities to report on disability issues; puts an indigenous person on set when it realises it has been talking race issues with white panels; and even assigns Muslim reporters to cover issues in Muslim communities. It cannot see its own tokenism.

When will it understand that people are more important than their skin colour, faith or gender? When will it listen to Martin Luther King Jr about the content of people’s character? And when will it ever foster a plurality of ideas rather than trot out the same views from different identity kits?

The second story on Wednesday night’s main Sydney ABC TV news bulletin was about a police welcome to country joke. This was not worthy of a mention, let alone a significant news report, but it was dressed up to portray our ­nation and our police as racist.

Civilisations do not survive just because they were once successful. Complacency can bring them undone through sclerosis and vulnerability to outside attack and ­internal subversion.

When we spend $1.5bn annually on public broadcasters that seek to demean and diminish us, rather than consolidate and improve us, we are asking for trouble. If the ABC cannot add substance to the national project, then we would be better off spending the money elsewhere; we should leave those who want to undermine our country to find or fund their own platform.

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Acknowledge past injustice without rewriting history

What to do with ­memorials to members of the left-intelligentsia who supported communist ­regimes led by mass murderers?

On Wednesday, ABC News and on television and the influential ABC AM radio program made much of an incident where a member of the NSW Police Force tactical operations unit had done a parody of the Aboriginal “welcome to country” ceremony.

The occasion was a rowdy Christmas party in December last year at an inner-city hotel in Sydney. No mention was made of Aborigines but a senior policeman referred to the “TOU nation” and its role as protectors (not custodians) of Australia in place of the traditional words.

It was an insensitive and untimely moment. But it took place well before the impact of the Black Lives Matter protests in the US and their take-up in Australia.

Nevertheless, NSW Police Force assistant commissioner Mark Walton has said that the TOU will undergo reassessment and training. For its part, the ABC interviewed indigenous leaders Yvonne Weldon and Larissa Behrendt, who criticised the police involved and the culture that made such behaviour possible.

Clearly the times are a-changing, as Bob Dylan wrote a half-century ago.

In November 2009, leftist comedian Julian Morrow delivered the 2009 Andrew Olle Media Lecture. This annual event is sponsored by ABC Radio 702 in Sydney. Morrow began his lecture as follows: “In this most esteemed forum of the Australian media, I would like to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners: the Murdoch people of the Delaware incorporation.”

Laugh? The audience — comprising, among others, the ABC’s best and brightest — burst into spontaneous laughter. Moreover Morrow, who was a constant presence on the ABC at the time, was not forced by the public sector broadcaster’s management to re-education as to sensitivity.

Primarily, but not exclusively, it’s the members of the left who are now campaigning for the remaking of history. But the call is fraught with double standards.

Take the left-wing Guardian, for example. This week conservative British writer Tony Parsons initiated a lighthearted petition for the closure of what was originally called the Manchester Guardian.

The paper was established in the early 19th century by John Edward Taylor, who made his fortune from cotton production that profited from slavery. Taylor supported the south in the American civil war and depicted US Republican president Abraham Lincoln as “abhorrent”.

Asked about this by The Daily Telegraph’s Clarissa Bye, Guardian Australia’s editor Lenore Taylor went into no comment mode. She directed attention to an article written by Katharine Viner, the paper’s global editor, in November 2017. Viner however, merely referred to The Guardian’s pro-slavery past as “this period of complacency”. Yes, just complacency. But, to Taylor apparently, Viner’s rationalisation is good enough.

The evasion of Viner and Taylor serves as a reminder that in the US it was the Democratic Party that was the supporter of slavery and it was the Democrats who were involved in the creation of the racist and murderous Ku Klux Klan. Racism is not the preserve of conservative movements.

At times of widespread anger, rationality invariably exits the debate. Take the issue of the statues of founding fathers of what became Australia — the likes of James Cook, Lachlan Macquarie and Arthur Phillip. By the standard of their time, none of this trio was a racist who deserves to have his statue destroyed.

The point is, without those who created European settlement in Australia, most of us would not be here. And this includes many who identify as indigenous. In this sense, many of the invaded were also invaders.

Any indigenous Australian who has even one European ancestor would not be around today were it not for 1788 and all that. That’s why it makes sense for contemporary Australians — while acknowledging the, at times, brutal past — to also recognise what we have in common today and not dwell on past injustices.

Take the contemporary issue about slavery in Australia, for example. In the common sense of the term, slavery means the effective kidnap of people from a foreign land to make them live and work for no pay in a new land. Viewed in this light, Australia’s only involvement with slavery turned on what was termed indentured labour in the final decades of the 19th century.

Many Pacific Island labourers — mainly from Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands — were forced or tricked into working on the Queensland sugar and cotton fields. It was a wicked practice that was condemned at the time by, among others, the leaders of the Christian churches and the trade union movement.

Blackbirding, as it was called, occurred before the formation of the Commonwealth of Australia. It was outlawed by the first act of the new Australian parliament and coincided with the introduction of the White Australia policy.

Put simply, the leaders of the trade union movement did not want the pay and conditions of Australian workers undercut by cheap labour from southern Asia or the South Pacific. The Pacific Island labourers were repatriated.

So the ending of the evils of indentured labour was made possible by the injustices of the White Australia policy (which prevailed until the mid-1960s). Life is complicated since human nature and utopia are incompatible.

Soon, no doubt, there will be an attempt to tear down the statues of those who supported the White Australia policy. This would include every politician, including Labor heroes such as John Curtin and Ben Chifley, up until but not including the Liberal Party’s Harold Holt.

And then there’s the problem with what to do with ­memorials to members of the left-intelligentsia who supported the communist ­regimes led by Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union, Mao Zedong in China, Cambodia’s Pol Pot and so on. All were mass murderers and Stalin was a racist with respect to minorities.

Take for example, the plaque in memory of Jessie Street (1889-1970) in Sydney. Street did some good work for the poor. But she also supported Stalin’s totalitarian regime when it was at its most repressive. I would not dismantle this memorial. But, then, I’m not into double standards.

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Cost of an arts degree set to DOUBLE while students will pay less to study nursing and IT

The price of an arts degree is set to double while students with better job prospects will pay less for their education in a huge university overhaul.

Education Minister Dan Tehan will today announce school leavers will get financial incentives to choose 'job-relevant' degrees such as IT, health, teaching, science and mathematics from 2021.

Nursing qualifications will cost just $3,700 per year while IT, science and engineering degrees will drop by $2,000 per year.

Meanwhile humanities degrees are expected to jump from $6,804 per year to $14,500.

The cost of a maths or agriculture degree will fall by 61 per cent, while students in humanities will pay 113 per cent more.

Teaching and nursing degrees are expected to drop by 45 per cent, while a law degree will cost 28 per cent more. 

There will also be 39,000 new places available to prospective students next year, with Mr Tehan expected to say it will 'give students a choice'.

'Their degree will be cheaper if they choose to study in areas where there is expected growth in job opportunities,' Mr Tehan will say in a speech to the National Press Club.

The ranks of the unemployed swelled to 927,600 - the highest number since December 1993

The overhaul comes as Australia's employment rate hit a two-decade high, surging to 7.1 per cent in May.

Up to 227,700 Australians last month either lost their job or felt so bleak about their prospects they gave up looking for work following the COVID-19 shutdowns.

'We are facing the biggest employment challenge since the Great Depression,' Mr Tehan will say.

'And the biggest impact will be felt by young Australians. They are relying on us to give them the opportunity to succeed in the jobs of the future.'

New official payroll figures show 980,000 jobs were lost between mid-March, before the coronavirus shutdowns, and the end of May.

The official jobless ranks are now the highest since December 1993.

Following the grim economic news, Prime Minister Scott declared: 'This is the biggest economic challenge this country has ever faced.'

He said the figures were 'heartbreaking,' adding: 'The sad truth is these numbers are not surprising in these circumstances.'

Mr Morrison said these 'are our dark times'.  'I can see that ray of light … but we have to keep moving towards it and work harder each and every day.' 

Inner-city Sydney and Melbourne have been the worst-hit by COVID-19, with new Australian Bureau of Statistics maps showing one in ten or 10.6 per cent of jobs in these areas were lost in just 11 weeks.

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Humanities graduates earn more than those who study science and maths

But medicine and dentistry still get top spots

Undergraduates who study physiotherapy and occupational therapy have the highest level of employment (98.8 per cent) three years after finishing their bachelor degree, while creative arts graduates the lowest (89.3 per cent).

Of the study areas where the government is proposing students contribute more, law graduates (95.8 per cent) and business graduates (95.5 per cent) are employed at rates above the average. Humanities graduates are employed at a rate of 91.1 per cent (above science and maths).

The median salary for university graduates differs as well. After three years, medicine graduates earn the most ($100,000) along with dentistry graduates ($97,400).



As the graph above shows, humanities and social science graduates ($70,300) earn more than maths and science graduates ($68,900).

During a recession many people look to study while the employment market remains weak. In his speech, Mr Tehan said “we know that people turn to education during economic downturns and we also know the Costello Baby Boom generation will begin to finish school from 2023”.

In 2017 the Australian government effectively put a cap on university places, after five years of “demand driven” funding (where government essentially funded the amount of places students were enrolled in).

In practice, this means there are now limits on the number of government subsidised places at universities.

Because of demographics and previous growth in enrolments, the cap was not expected to restrict the number of people going to university until 2023. But the COVID-19 pandemic means these assumptions may no longer apply.

Normally school leavers follow a number of pathways into the workforce (including going straight to work, or studying a university of vocational education and training course first). Most young people take the university pathway.

However, these school leavers don’t start their courses at the same time.

Around 20-25 per cent of school leavers who go to university before working take a gap year. Travel restrictions and a weaker employment market may mean this year’s school leavers will bring forward their study plans.

There may also be more school leavers who choose to study at university instead of entering the workforce directly after school. For instance, 44 per cent of 18 and 19 year olds who are not studying work in retail, accommodation and food services, and trade.

These industries have suffered large job losses because of the coronavirus pandemic.

A reduction in new apprenticeships and traineeships, fewer jobs and higher youth unemployment mean school leavers may look to enrol in education and training.

Before COVID-19 hit, the number of year 12 students was only projected to go up by around 1-2 per cent in the next few years – meaning minimal demand for extra university places. However, due to COVID-19, there already has been a reported doubling of year 12 students in NSW applying for a university course compared to the same time last year.

The government believes 39,000 extra university places will be created by 2023 because of these changes. But this number is not specifically designed to meet a projected increase in demand because of the coronavirus. Therefore, it is unclear (without the government lifting the cap) whether there will be enough funded university places for school leavers whose plans have been displaced by the pandemic.

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 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