Monthly Archives: June 2022

Australian Politics 2022-06-03 07:13:00


Brisbane 2011 flood class action win of $450 million to be distributed by early 2023

A 12 year wait to get compensation for government bungling. The genesis of the problem was a decision by the Bligh Labor government to use the flood compartment of the Wivenhoes dam for water storage

Victims of the 2011 Brisbane floods have started receiving part of the $450 million settlement won in a class action against dam operator SunWater and the state of Queensland.

In November 2019, the Supreme Court in New South Wales found flood engineers operating the Wivenhoe and Somerset Dams in Queensland were negligent and failed to follow the manual they had helped draft.

While the court ruled in favour of the negligence claim against the Queensland government of the day, as well as Seqwater and SunWater, other aspects of the case failed.

The class action alleged the dam operators failed to follow their own manual and did not make enough room for heavy rainfall until it was too late, heightening flood levels and damaging more properties.

Maurice Blackburn lawyer Rebecca Gilsenan told ABC Radio Brisbane's Steve Austin some of the almost 7,000 claimants had received an interim payment.

She said the total payout would not be distributed until all legal matters associated with the case were finalised. That could take until the end of this year or early 2023.

"We are releasing partial payments now so people can get something," Ms Gilsenan said. "We've paid about 300 people so far and we are paying on a rolling basis — when people accept their loss assessment, we can pay them."

Maurice Blackburn developed a settlement scheme which informed how the money would be distributed among the claimants and took into account their location and the damage sustained.

Ms Gilsenan said most people accepted their assessment and wanted to "move through the process". "There are a small number of people who have appealed and asked us to look at that assessment again and we've done that," she said.

"They're only ever going to get half of what they lost, at most, because we only settled half the case, half the case we lost, so I can understand why some people are angry. "But more than 95 per cent understand and accept what's being allocated."

Describing the initial payouts as a "conservative amount", Ms Gilsenan said most were valued at just several thousand dollars.

She acknowledged the decade-long legal process was too long and left victims without a sense of closure for many years


Barnaby Joyce issues a dire warning to Australia NOT to ditch coal with the country in the grips of an energy crisis as Germany announces that it could switch on coal power plants once again

Barnaby Joyce has called for Australia to generate more coal-fired power to ease the energy crisis as power bills soar.

The former deputy prime minister said Australia should follow European nations including Germany, Italy, Bulgaria, Romania and the Czech Republic which plan to burn more coal as a temporary measure while they reduce reliance on Russian gas.

Sanctions on major oil and gas exporter Russia over its invasion of Ukraine as well as soaring demand after Covid-19 lockdowns have seen global energy prices skyrocket.

Germany has drawn up a bill this week ordering coal power plants that were due to shut down to be maintained on standby in case they are needed at short notice.

Financial comparison group Finder is predicting Australian electricity prices could double in July, taking average monthly bills in NSW from about $120 to $240.

Mr Joyce, who is against Australia's net zero carbon emissions by 2050 target which his own government implemented, said one solution is to burn more coal and gas.

He blasted the Coalition for not building more fossil fuel plants or nuclear power stations which are banned in Australia.

'We've sort of gone off on this tangent that we don't need coal fired power, we don't need baseload power,' Mr Joyce told 2GB on Thursday morning.

'And of course that's like saying you don't need a roof, that you can live alright in your house if you just wear a coat and unfortunately these chickens are coming home to roost.'

Labor Treasurer Jim Chalmers takes the opposite view, insisting that a 'decade of inaction' on renewable energy under the Coalition government has left Australians paying more for their power.

'These are the costs and consequences of almost a decade of a former government which had 22 different energy policies, a range of different energy ministers, and didn't take the steps that we needed them to take,' he told reporters on Thursday.

Dr Chalmers said the Coalition had failed at 'improving transmission, getting cleaner and cheaper energy into the system, or injecting some certainty in the market so that we can get the investment that we need.'

The new Labor government wants 82 per cent of the nation's electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030 and believes this will bring down power prices because hydro, solar and wind energy is cheaper.

Currently about 60 per cent of Australia's electricity comes from coal, 32 per cent from renewables and eight per cent from gas.

Mr Joyce, who was toppled as Nationals leader on Monday, said he wants to change public opinion to garner support for more coal and gas.

'What we have to do now is get the attitude change in the public that you want to get baseload power up and running,' he said.

'You want to get the coal fired power stations up and running. You have to seriously consider nuclear because the alternative is coming to you in the mail and it's called the power bill and it's going through the roof.'


Perth pick for Northern ministry draws wrath of Bob Katter

LABOR’S lack of talent north of the Brisbane Line has been underscored by its selection of an MP from Perth to be the next Minister for Northern Australia.

The Member for Brand, Madeleine King, was sworn in as Minister for Resources and Northern Australia on Wednesday in a Cabinet lacking representation from the North.

Even Cairns-based Labor Senator Nita Green,appointed Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef, did not make the Outer Ministry.

The selections drew fire from North Queensland MP Bob Katter who described Ms King’s appointment as “complete lunacy”.

“I’m trying to get a message to my fellow North Queenslanders, it’s not that they hate you or that they have higher priorities, it’s that you don’t exist for them. We are not on their radar, that’s the whole issue,” Mr Katter said.

Ms King said she was honoured to be named as the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia and denied she lacked experience in the North.

“Having held the resources portfolio in Opposition, I have spent a great deal of time on the ground at mine sites and mining communities across Australia, including in Northern Australia, and met regularly with local government representatives in places like Karratha, Isaac, East Pilbara and Gladstone,” Ms King said.

“Before that, I visited Northern Australia regularly to undertake parliamentary committee work, including Darwin, Katherine, and remote communities in the Northern Territory and WA. I have family in Far North Queensland, and I am delighted that my sister, who lives in Cairns, could join me for the swearing (on Wednesday).”

She said there were clear complementarities between the Resources and Northern Australia and that she looked forward to engaging with communities to address the challenges and grasp the opportunities.

Gold Coast-based Queensland Senator Murray Watt, previously Labor’s Northern Australia spokesman, was appointed Minister for Emergency Management and Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

One of the problems for Labor is that it has few representatives in Northern Australia although it does have two MPs in the Northern Territory, including Darwin-based MP Luke Gosling.

Mr Katter said that like all parties Labor would have been trying to appease its factions.

“We don’t count at all. Nor did we in the last government,” Mr Katter said.


Liberal: We're not dead yet!

Kevin Donnelly

In response to the federal election and to paraphrase Mark Twain, the death of centre-right parties, including the Liberal Party, is much exaggerated.

The Australian’s Paul Kelly’s pompous claims the Australian electorate is facing the ‘great realignment’ and the ‘decapitation of the liberals in their heartland’ plus describing Anthony Albanese as the ‘realignment Prime Minister’, while colourful, are far from the truth.

Richard Flanagan’s article in The Age, in addition to being characterised by bitterness, also misses the mark in claiming the arrival of an ALP government heralds the end of conservatism and the triumph of progressive, Woke ideology.

Much of the commentary in response to the election is also misplaced and dangerous when suggesting the sole aim of political parties is to get the numbers to win government. Instead of developing policy based on what best serves the common good, Dave Sharma in The Age suggests if parties are to win government they need to ‘ensure their values keep in step with the electorate’.

While it’s true Edmund Burke may have retained his seat if he accepted Sharma’s advice, it’s also true the primary duty of a Member of Parliament is to act according to his or her conscience and not the demands of the electorate. Burke writes in his speech to the electors of Bristol:

‘Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests; which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates; but parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole; where, not local purposes, not local prejudices, ought to guide, but the general good, resulting from the general reason of the whole.’

Burke’s view is politicians must act according to their conscience and what is best for the nation as opposed to a Machiavellian view of politics where gaining and retaining power is the sole objective. Such a belief explains why the Liberal Party allows parliamentarians a conscience vote.

While there’s no doubt the Liberal Party suffered a heavy loss to the Teal faux-Independents, as argued by Peta Credlin, it’s also true the ALP suffered a significant decline in its primary vote. Based on the election result, only a third of Australians voted for Albanese as their first choice as Prime Minister.

Credlin also notes while left-of-centre parties won 47.9 per cent of first preferences, the equivalent figure for centre-right parties was also 47.9 per cent. Talk of a progressive, Woke landslide ignores the reality so many voters preferred the more conservative alternative.

As political history tells us politics is dynamic and as societies evolve and change old parties either disappear or reshaped and new parties arise. Sir Robert Menzies, after serving as Prime Minister for the United Australia Party, founded the Liberal Party in 1944. In 1955, the ALP split with the newly established DLP ensuring Menzies became Australia’s longest-serving Prime Minister.

Donald Chip in 1977 became leader of the Australian Democrats. More recently, the Greens Party and now the Teal faux-Independents have arisen as a political force. In many ways, the most recent election result is simply a playing out of the cultural changes impacting Australian society and the fact political parties too often become ossified and dominated by apparatchiks and power seekers.

While many of the LINO Members of Parliament who lost their seats argue the way ahead is for the Liberal Party to out-Woke-the-Woke, the greatest danger facing centre-right parties, especially the Liberal Party, is to try and mimic the policies of the LGT alliance (Labor, Greens, Teals). Trying to regain seats like Kooyong where Millennials indoctrinated with Woke alarmism, radical feminist, and gender ideology are living in increasing numbders is pointless.

As argued by Peter Dutton, the new leader of the Liberal opposition, far better to appeal to voters in suburban and rural Australia where the LGT parties either do not exist or are most vulnerable. Central to this will be engaging and motivating voters by developing a coherent, carefully thought through, and persuasive case for change.

A narrative grounded in firmly held ideas and beliefs that embody what is best for the nation and future generations. A government that is fiscally responsible and less intrusive, where small businesses and communities are supported and that acknowledges the institutions and way of life that underpin what makes Australia unique in an increasingly dangerous world.

A government committed to the liberties and freedoms too long taken for granted and prepared to defend the nation’s sovereignty against the global push to dominate and control evidenced by the Great Reset, the IPCC’s climate alarmism, and global behemoths including Facebook, Google, Instagram, and Twitter.


Outrage idiocy takes root in unexpected field

You will be surprised to learn, as I have, that the study of plants is a field beset with structural racism. But so insidious is this malaise that it has infiltrated professions you would least suspect.

As the ABC reported last week, the International Congress on Plant Molecular Biology (IPMB) is the latest institution to be indicted. A single tweet from that organisation has put in doubt its ability to host an international conference in Cairns this October as planned.

Specifically, it concerns IPMB conference committee chair, plant biochemist, and Curtin University professor Josh Mylne, who has been meticulously planning the conference for over four years. In January, the IPMB tweeted a collage of 94 images of headline speakers and session chairs.

“We had one of the best gender balances I’d seen, career-stage diversity with younger and older scientists, so much different science — more than ever before — chairs from all around the world, including for the first time Africa and India,” Mylne later reflected.

But he was bemused when replies to this tweet alleged under-representation of black American, South American, and Africans. When one person angrily tweeted “International and no Africans!” he replied, “Look harder”.

That was it. Not “Look harder next time before you make a goose of yourself” or “It’s not my fault you don’t have the intelligence to think before you tweet”. Nevertheless Mylne’s response angered the critics, who accused him of being “disrespectful”. His deletion of the tweet the next day only made matters worse, prompting accusations the organisation was attempting to forestall discussions about diversity.

In fairness to the critics, I too identified diversity shortfalls in the collage concerned. It did not appear the Asháninka people of Peru were represented nor the Uriankhai Mongols for that matter. Neither did I spot a single Sentinelese botanist of the Andaman Islands but given that tribe’s habit of throwing spears and shooting arrows at outsiders, I assumed an invitation would have been problematic.

Within a few days, IPMB officially responded. The script – well, I hardly need detail it – is depressingly familiar. “This experience has been a wakeup call and we have listened,” the release read. Pledging “to do better with respect to diversity, equity and inclusion,” and effect “structural change” to end discrimination and promote inclusion, the organisation declared it was “deeply sorry” for its “initial and poorly conceived responses from leadership”.

But even this was not enough to appease the screechers. Five days after the IPMB’s capitulation, the American Society of Plant Biologists announced it was withdrawing support for the Congress. “ASPB has an obligation to advocate not only for plant science, but also for plant scientists,” the board declared. “We are not fulfilling our obligations to the latter if we stand by as members from groups that have been historically marginalised continue to face exclusionary practices, taunting, and harassment from others in the community.”

According to APSB president-elect Gustavo MacIntosh, one of the main reasons for the decision was a private email sent from the Congress leadership team to an APSB member which implied, as the ABC reported, “that it was up to people of colour to fix any problem with the diversity of speakers”.

“Again it’s not understanding the problem, and then compounding the problem, by just keeping the same attitude that is aggressive towards a person of colour,” said MacIntosh, although he later conceded this was a perception only. “Is the person that did it trying to be aggressive? I don’t know,” he said. So why go the nuclear option?

Revealingly, MacIntosh also conceded the accusations that the Congress did not provide a diverse field of speakers had not been substantiated. “The criticisms could have been valid or not, but independent of this, the problem we have is what happened afterwards,” he said.

And there’s the rub with identity politics. Racism as well as other prejudices are alleged ad nauseam, but they are secondary to the real issue, which is the urge to dominate the mainstream through virtue bullying. Its practitioners are often indifferent to actual racism but highly attuned to the threat posed by those who challenge their narrative. As we see in this case, the Congress’s cardinal sin was not the collage poster but its chair’s refuting the accusations that the conference lacked diversity.

But kudos must go to Diversity Council of Australia CEO Lisa Anesse for her woke confounding of this incident. As the ABC reported, she maintains Australia “is lagging behind countries like the US when it comes to talking about race”.

“We’ve raised generations of Australians without race-based language and without an understanding of how to have conversations about race,” she said. And how did this reticence come about? According to her, it is the “shame of the White Australia policy”.

Never mind that the last vestiges of that policy were abolished nearly 50 years ago. As for the absence of race-based language or the disinclination to obsess about race, who aside from the grievance industry regards that as a bad thing?

Spare a thought for poor Mylne, who hopes to salvage the conference by holding it next year instead. “We can and will do better,” he said.

But you have done nothing wrong, professor. If the aggrieved ASPB members do attend, you should treat them politely and acknowledge the importance of Black Lives Matter activism. And then you should immediately go on to talk about delicate petals and other native flora. “That reminds me,” you could say. “Did I mention the Cairns region is home to the parasitic strangler fig species Fichus virens, which wraps itself around a perfectly good tree and sucks the life out of it?”

As for the ASPB, it clearly sees an opportunity for its activists to flex their muscles, saying “This ordeal has caused ASPB to reflect on what a global plant meeting looks like, and we look forward to sharing a reimagined vision for a truly global convention in the future.”

I’m no botanical scientist, but I can tell you what this outrage idiocy means for the profession. A global plant meeting overflowing with diversity, tolerance, and harmony? More like something from The Day of the Triffids.




Dividends by the Numbers in May 2022

Dividend paying firms in the U.S. showed unexpected strength in May 2022. More dividend-paying firms either increased their dividends or paid extra dividends than in previous months, while fewer firms announced dividend cuts. It's the kind of combination that typically produces good outcomes for the owners of dividend-paying stocks.

Here's May 2022's dividend metadata for the U.S. stock market:

  • 4,041 firms declared dividends during May 2022, a decrease of 453 over April 2022's count and 2,188 more than did a year earlier in May 2021.
  • May 2022 also recorded 85 firms that announced special (or extra) dividend. That's 32 more than in April 2022 and 38 more than in May 2021.
  • There were 156 companies that announced dividend rises during the month, an increase of 29 above April 2022's figure and 8 more than May 2021.
  • The number of companies announcing dividend cuts dropped to 9 in May 2022, 17 fewer than April 2022's total, but 3 more than May 2021's recorded value.
  • For the eleventh consecutive month, zero firms omitted paying dividends.

Overall, these figures suggest May 2022 saw a reversal of a trend that has been a developing cause for concern in recent months. But the question remains of whether that marks the start of a new trend or if it's the calm before the storm.

Regardless, here's the latest update for our chart tracking the U.S. stock market's monthly number of dividend increases and decreases since January 2004.

Number of Public U.S. Firms Increasing or Decreasing Their Dividends Each Month, January 2004 through May 2022

Here's the short list of firms that announced dividend cuts in May 2022:

We can't help but notice there's a distinct lack of firms from the oil and gas industrial sector compared to previous months. Since many of these firms pay variable dividends that automatically rise and fall with their earnings, which in turn are greatly affected by oil and gas price trends, their absence points to a relatively good period for this sector of the U.S. economy. We'll see soon enough how long that situation might continue.


Standard and Poor. S&P Market Attributes Web File. [Excel Spreadsheet]. Accessed 1 June 2022.

Australian Politics 2022-06-02 09:57:00


Useless "Welcome to Country" ceremonies. A ‘Virtuous fad’

I have never seen the point of this. Just because one's ancestors once lived in a place, does that give them any rights? There is no legal doctrine to that effect yet that seems to be what is implied. It is just another bit of Leftist racism as far as I can see

“It is hard to hear the softest of voices,” she wrote, “in a room filled with clamouring chatter. Only in silence can the quiet truly be heard.”

These words, which were published over the weekend, belong to Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, who is the Indigenous Country Liberal Party senator for the Northern Territory and who went where few dare to tread in denouncing what she described as the virtue-signalling calls for Indigenous “voice” and “recognition”.

Ever sat through a Welcome to Country ceremony and wondered just what in real terms it contributed to the many challenges facing Indigenous women and children and thought that just maybe it was a piece of theatre designed to make everybody – individuals, corporations, governments, universities, councils – feel that they were making a contribution to “recognition”?

You might think it, but you dare not give voice to the thought for fear of being denounced as an uncaring, disrespectful racist. Senator Price does not run that risk and spoke for many, I suspect, when she wrote that Indigenous recognition has become “the latest virtuous fad”.

“On any given day in our nation you can be confronted with non-Indigenous Australians vying to have their virtues heard when they monotonously and mechanically pay their ‘respects to elders past, present and emerging’,” she wrote.

“Simultaneously, Australians with Indigenous heritage purport to be ‘proud’ members of some – or a number of – tribes belonging to fashionably termed ‘First Nations’.”

Her point is that it’s lovely to nod virtuously at such ceremonies while resisting the urge to look at your watch or check your phone, but something else entirely to do something about Indigenous social issues.

Politicians of all persuasions are quick to embrace such virtue signalling, but do little to combat the appalling level of physical violence and sexual assaults being perpetrated on Indigenous women and children at many times the rate of that in the non-Indigenous population.

There have been some horrific instances of domestic violence in Queensland and elsewhere in recent times and the issue has generated outrage, public outpourings of grief and demands for a more effective government action.

Senator Price puts this in an uncomfortable perspective when she says that her cousin was attacked with an axe for supporting her niece in a rape case against an Indigenous relative, an attack that was witnessed by schoolchildren.

If the attack had taken place in Brisbane or any capital city, she said, women would have taken to the streets demanding an end to what she described as this “patriarchy” – but nothing happened.

The electoral success of the Greens and Independents in the federal election has pushed climate change to the very forefront of the national debate. Younger voters and the well-educated and financially secure elite embraced the Greens and the allegedly independent teals as they might the latest in winter coats by Burberry.

In doing so did they ever pause for a moment and wonder just how large climate change concerns loom in the minds of Indigenous women and children who live in daily fear of being bashed or raped? Hardly, for as Senator Price opined, these victims are out of sight and mind to the virtue-signalling class. “These attacks cannot be fixed by ‘Welcome to Country or elders past, present and emerging’,” she says.

The superficially virtuous are also quick to champion the establishment of a separate Indigenous voice to federal parliament and a treaty with Indigenous people neither of which, as Price points out, make any reference to, suggest any solutions to, or even acknowledge the existence of the issue of violence and abuse.

Virtue, like talk, is cheap. It has replaced tree hugging as elements of our society proclaim their determination to save the planet while conveniently ignoring the issues that plague sections of our community.

Saving the planet is dead easy. You just cast your vote and all but bursting with virtue go home, put your feet up, pour a glass of vegan wine, turn on the reverse cycle aircon if it’s getting a bit chilly and relax – job done. It’s so much easier than confronting what Senator Price describes as raw and unpleasant truths.

The next time you sit through a Welcome to Country ceremony, you might ask yourself how deep your virtue runs. Talking the talk is one thing, but walking the walk is another


Enshrining race in Australia's political system

During the course of the next three years, an attempt will be made to add another constitutional chamber to the Commonwealth Parliament. The sole defining characteristic for membership of the new chamber, known colloquially as the ‘Voice’, will be a person’s race.

The idea has the full support of the Labor Party. One of the very first things Prime Minister Albanese said in his new role was that he supported a constitutional amendment that would enshrine the Indigenous Voice and would be calling for a referendum on the issue.

We also know that Australian church leaders have endorsed the idea of a constitutionally enshrined ethnic advisory chamber. It is not known whether or from whom church leaders sought advice or whether they simply relied on the power of prayer, but the introduction of a third, racially based chamber into our colour-blind Constitution suggests a complete absence of reflection on its likely effects.

Perhaps it is an example of how the gods destroy by first sending men mad. Or less theatrically, these exceedingly pious individuals have demonstrated once again that, by relying on their feelings and avoiding any careful thought as to what they are supporting, the road to hell really is paved with good intentions.

Some other well-intentioned people might claim that we should wait and see what the amendment will contain before we rush to judgment. This does seem to bear out my point that that detail is usually where the devil will be found. By the time this detail arrives, it will probably be too late. There will be no referendum unless the polls tell Mr Albanese that the likelihood of success is high.

It is probably impossible to overlook the inherent racism of a separate, constitutionally protected voice for Indigenous Australians; particularly when those same Australians can also vote for and participate in the national and state Parliaments. That would, at my reckoning, give them two voices.

Is it possible for a democracy to overlook a proposal that would give an ethnic group a separate advisory voice which is denied to the rest of the nation?

Perhaps someone should ask each state government whether they can see the benefit for a separately enshrined state Indigenous chamber? My bet is the suggestion would be met with a resounding raspberry. Power is only shared when it is compelled to be shared. That was the principle of the Commonwealth Constitution, before the 1920 High Court decided to change it.

So, if we set the racism apart, the most obvious reason why such an advisory chamber will not lead to good government is because Indigenous advisory bodies in each state have been failing Indigenous peoples for a century. The reason for that failure is the calibre of the people chosen to sit on those councils.

For every worthy soul like Noel Pearson, whose strategies have been the most successful, there are a hundred who are only there for the wages and the hubris. That will not change with an elected council. It will likely be worse. And the Voice they want will appeal above the elected Parliament directly to the media. The advice may go to the government, but the media will amplify any negative aspects throughout the country.

That combination of Indigenous Voice and the media megaphone will ensure government entente if only to silence the baying viewers.

There are many good reasons to oppose this mooted change to our Constitution, but the most important must surely be the democratic principle on which it is based, a principle expressed by the equality of representation among our citizens, shared across two parliamentary chambers.

The Uluru Statement envisages a third chamber of Indigenous representatives elected by Indigenous Australians. In its haste to repair pandemic indigenous problems, the Uluru Statement proposes to introduce apartheid into our Constitution and to dilute the equality on which it stands. It is not a louder voice that Indigenous peoples need, just more effective action.

We cannot say where the Liberal Party stands on this issue, but there will be many in the party who will oppose it, as they did Malcolm Turnbull’s ‘republican’ constitutional reform some twenty years ago. Given the electoral results in New South Wales, where so many woke Liberal members were voted from office, I am hopeful that the new leader, Peter Dutton, will be courageous enough to confront this constitutional ignorance.


Legislating Net-Zero by 2050 Unnecessary: Nationals Leader David Littleproud

Newly elected National Party leader David Littleproud has said while his party is committed to net-zero by 2050, implementing legislation around it is unnecessary.

Speaking to ABC Radio National on Tuesday morning, Littleproud said that he doesn’t believe the federal government needs to tell Australians what to do.

“Australians are doing this by themselves,” he said. “I mean, we set a target of 26 to 28 percent and Australians by themselves, not only rooftop solar, but Australian industry themselves, are taking the leading role.”

Littleproud stressed that households and industry are doing it anyway because they’re part of a global community.

“I trust Australians; I actually back Australians,” he said. “I don’t need to walk into this place and put a piece of legislation over them,” Littleproud said.

“I think Australians are far more sensible than we give them credit for,” he said, adding that what’s most important is to put the environmental infrastructure around them to achieve emissions targets.

Littleproud went on to say that he has a lot of confidence in the Australian public because emissions have already been reduced by 20 percent, and most of that has been achieved through rooftop solar, while industries are also doing it because they have to be competitive and market their product in international marketplaces.

“So I don’t think government needs to tell everyone what to do all the time. I think Australians have had a gutful of that,” he said.

“They’ve had two and a half years of being told what to do. And if governments just get out of our lives but put the guide rails around us to go and do the things that we need to do, we’ll do it because we’re good people.”

This comes after now Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced before the election that Labor had a plan to reduce carbon emissions by 43 percent by 2030, topping Liberal’s 35 percent by 2030 target.

Labor’s Powering Australia plan includes upgrading the national electricity grid, making electric cars cheaper, and adopting the Business Council of Australia’s recommendation that facilities reduce emissions gradually and predictably over time.

Labor will also provide direct financial support for measures that improve energy efficiency within existing industries and develop new industries in regional Australia, as well as work with large businesses to provide greater transparency on their climate-related risks and opportunities.

Former Liberal MP Trent Zimmerman told ABC Radio National on Monday that the new Labor government was elected with a clear mandate about its 2030 emissions reduction target, and the Opposition—Liberals and Nationals, if a coalition is once again formed—should go along with it. “There is now bipartisanship on the end goal, which is the net-zero commitment by 2050, ” he said.

“But for me, I think that the easy early step that the Opposition could take is to recognise that the Labor government does have a mandate for its 43 percent target and that it will accept the outcome, the verdict of voters on that.”


More than 20 per cent of NSW students fall below acceptable standards

More than one in five NSW public school students are below the lowest acceptable standard in reading and numeracy, and the gap between the most and least advantaged students is widening.

The NSW Department of Education admitted it needs to do better after it again fell well short of the government’s achievement targets. Its 2021 annual report showed students improved slightly on some measures and went backwards on others.

“We will need considerable improvement across all cohorts and schools in our systems,” the report said.

One target involved increasing the proportion of public school students above the minimum standard for reading and numeracy in NAPLAN to 87.9 per cent, but average results were almost nine percentage points below that target.

The gap between the highest and lowest socioeconomic status students increased slightly between 2019 and 2021, making the target of narrowing the gap in the top two NAPLAN bands even more difficult to achieve.

More than half the students in public schools are from low socioeconomic backgrounds, the report said. “We will need to show significant improvement across all years and learning domains to reduce the widening gap,” it said.

The department was also more than 10 percentage points below its target of ensuring two-thirds of students achieved the growth expected of them in reading and numeracy. While year 3 and 5 students were on track, years 7 and 9 were significantly below.

However, the system fell only slightly short of its target of more than two-thirds of students making it into the top two HSC bands. It was also on track to achieve its 2022 target of ensuring almost 92 per cent of school-leavers were in higher education, training or work.

Craig Petersen, the head of the Secondary Principals Council, said NAPLAN was a simplistic measure and measured basic skills rather than the more complex things students were taught at high school, such as critical thinking and problem-solving.

He also said the past two years were highly disrupted due to COVID-19. “I think the targets were always highly ambitious, and [then came the] the challenges of COVID and, even more significantly, staffing [shortages],” he said. “If I haven’t got qualified maths or science teachers in front of every class, I’m not going to meet those targets.”

A NSW Education spokesman said the ultimate goal was to ensure improvement for every student in every school.

“It is pleasing to see that our NAPLAN results are heading in the right direction despite disruptions to learning over the past 2.5 years due to COVID-19.

“We know there is more work to do which is why we have given teachers and principals more time to focus on students’ attendance, literacy, numeracy and wellbeing outcomes by taking a number of requirements off their plates.”

He said the department invested $256 million, through the School Success Model, in targeted support to lift literacy and numeracy results.

The NSW government has provided an additional $383 million for a renewed COVID-19 Intensive Learning Support program in 2022, as well as $337 million provided for targeted small group tuition for students in 2021, he said.

The department also came under fire from the NSW Teachers Federation over its use of consultants, with its consultancy bill more than doubling to more than $10 million from $4.5 million in 2020.

They include almost $5 million to Encompass Consulting Services for “department portfolio and program optimisation” and $3.3 million to KPMG for “transformation of support services operating model”.

“It beggars belief that so much money is being squandered on consultancy after consultancy and, beyond that, one has to ask what is it that the department actually does other than manage contracts,” said president Angelo Gavrielatos.

The department said it only engaged consultants when it was unable to deliver outcomes or when it needed independent advice.

“The $10.7 million consultancy expenditure in the 2021 annual report represents around 0.05 per cent of the department’s total expenses budget (about $20 billion) over this period,” the spokesman said.




Median Household Income in April 2022

Political Calculations' initial estimate of median household income in April 2022 is $76,563, an increase of $1,024 (or 1.36%) from the initial estimate of $75,539 in March 2022.

The latest update to Political Calculations' chart tracking Median Household Income in the 21st Century shows the nominal (red) and inflation-adjusted (blue) trends for median household income in the United States from January 2000 through April 2022. The inflation-adjusted figures are presented in terms of constant April 2022 U.S. dollars.

Median Household Income in the 21st Century: Nominal and Real Modeled Estimates, January 2000 to April 2022

The pace of inflation slowed from previous months in April 2022. Adjusted for inflation, median household income rose by $299 from March 2022's revised estimate of $76,264 in terms of constant April 2022 U.S. dollars. Inflation eroded nearly 71% of the nominal month-over-month gain for American households.

Analyst's Notes

The BEA significantly revised its aggregate wage and salary data upward for the six months preceding April 2022. The adjustments affected the estimates for October 2021 (+0.4%), November 2021 (+0.7%), December 2021 (+0.8%), January 2022 (+0.8%), February 2022 (0.8%), and March 2022 (+0.9%).

For the latest in our coverage of median household income in the United States, follow this link!


U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Table 2.6. Personal Income and Its Disposition, Monthly, Personal Income and Outlays, Not Seasonally Adjusted, Monthly, Middle of Month. Population. [Online Database (via Federal Reserve Economic Data)]. Last Updated: 27 May 2022. Accessed: 27 May 2022.

U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Table 2.6. Personal Income and Its Disposition, Monthly, Personal Income and Outlays, Not Seasonally Adjusted, Monthly, Middle of Month. Compensation of Employees, Received: Wage and Salary Disbursements. [Online Database (via Federal Reserve Economic Data)]. Last Updated: 27 May 2022. Accessed: 27 May 2022.

U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. Consumer Price Index, All Urban Consumers - (CPI-U), U.S. City Average, All Items, 1982-84=100. [Online Database (via Federal Reserve Economic Data)]. Last Updated: 11 May 2022. Accessed: 11 May 2022.

Australian Politics 2022-06-01 06:00:00


Murdoch University will review its controversial decision implemented last year to stop offering majors in maths, physics and chemistry, according to new vice-chancellor Andrew Deeks

Sanity returns. Crazy Finnish lady gone to Ireland. Lucky Ireland

He distanced himself from the decision made in 2020 under former vice-chancellor Eeva Leinonen, saying “it was perhaps a particular view of the management at the time”.

“It wasn’t a view of the broader academic community,” said Professor Deeks, who started as vice-chancellor in April.

The changes, which also curtailed Murdoch’s engineering degrees, abandoned the majors previously offered in maths, physics and chemistry in favour of offering less specialist STEM subjects more broadly.

The Australian Institute of Physics and the Royal Australian Chemical Institute – both accrediting bodies for university courses – said at the time that they “strongly objected” to the move.

Professor Deeks, who is by background a civil engineer, said the maths, physics and chemistry majors had been suspended rather than cancelled completely.

He said he had asked to see the business case for bringing them back, as well as other subjects such as Indonesian, radio, theatre and drama that were cut as part of Covid cost-saving measures.

“I’ve put the challenge to the heads of discipline right the way across the university to go back and have another look at this and see where it makes sense,” Professor Deeks said.

“I’ve said to bring back programs if they will work or to bring back replacements which are enhanced for the current age.”

He said Murdoch would not be focused solely on STEM but “more of the STEAM concept (science, technology, engineering, arts and maths) of ensuring we have that engagement with the humanities and social sciences”.

In an interview with The Australian Professor Deeks said Murdoch University was now on a different course to when it sued a whistleblower staff member, Gerd Schroder-Turk, in 2019 after he questioned the university’s standards and revealed that international students who were not academically ready for their courses were being enrolled via a questionable education agent.

The university withdrew the action against Professor Schroder-Turk, a physics academic who is also a member of the university’s governing body, in 2020.

“I think that was a very unfortunate incident in the university’s history. There were obviously some failings which were revealed at that time,” Professor Deeks said.

“The university’s taken very strong action on the back of that and has put in place robust processes to ensure the quality of all the students that we’re admitting, and especially the international students and especially students that would be coming to us through agents.

“We’re no longer working with the particular agent concerned.”

He said he was meeting regularly with Professor Schroder-Turk, who continues as a member of the university’s Senate.

”It was an unfortunate decision by the then management at the university to pursue one of its academics legally. I can assure you that under my watch we will not be going in that direction.” Professor Deeks said.

As proof of the university’s new direction he pointed to the fact that the higher education regulator, the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency, had renewed Murdoch’s registration for the full seven years in March after last year limiting it to four years registration while it demonstrated “the effective implementation of improvements”.


Australia to be hit hard by European attempts to hurt Russia

Business leaders have warned companies face “apocalyptic’’ damage from spiking gas prices as motorists confront months of pain at the bowser, with petrol to ­remain above $2 a litre, driven by Europe’s oil blockade on Russia.

The rise in energy costs, coupled with a predicted 10 per cent rise in food prices, threatens to deepen cost-of-living pressures and extend a surge in inflation, which reached a 20-year high of 5.1 per cent in the March quarter.

The rise in global oil prices to above $US120 a barrel came after the European Union said it would ban all imports of Russian oil by ship in retaliation for the Ukraine war, a move that would block about two-thirds of Russia’s oil ­exports.

The Australian Energy Market Operator on Tuesday scrambled to impose a cap on gas markets in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane after wholesale prices soared 80 times normal levels.

Anthony Albanese said briefings with Treasury and finance included issues of cost of living. “We will give proper consideration with proper advice to any policy moves that are made,’’ he said, “but we’ve been very conscious about the issue of cost of living.’’

The spike in wholesale gas prices followed a cold snap that drove demand higher, exacerbated by last week’s collapse of energy ­retailer Weston Energy. The rise in energy prices came as David Williams, an investment banker specialising in agribusiness, predicted food prices would soar 10 per cent this year.

Speaking ahead of The Australian’s Global Food Forum, Mr Williams said many producers would need to secure price rises to cover soaring input costs.

“One-off significant increases in grain costs will drive food inflation and increase the cost of stock feed and therefore beef and other proteins. The effect of this will be that the unbelievable success of ­increasing incomes in developing countries will now be undermined by pushing people back into poverty and starvation for others,” Mr Williams said.

“Compounding all this, I expect to see significant increases of up to 10 per cent in many food companies’ costs from Covid-related effects alone.”

Mr Williams said there would be a “perfect storm” with the failure of a large part of the Chinese crop because of floods at the same time as India halted wheat exports and some Canadian farmers cut back their plantings — all while Ukrainian exports stalled due to the Russian invasion.

Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox warned that persistently higher energy costs had the potential to devastate energy-­intensive industries.

“Apocalyptic rises in energy prices threaten chaos for industry and pain for households,” Mr Willox said. “They demand a national, integrated and strategic response. With Europe announcing further steps today to wean itself from Russian energy, we can ­expect international factors to sustain high energy price pressures for years to come – especially in natural gas.”

Mining companies are among the biggest fuel users in Australia, with Fortescue Metals Group alone consuming up to 450 million litres of diesel each year to run its fleet of giant trucks and diggers in the Pilbara. However the rise in energy costs will be a boon for Australian oil and gas producers, with analysts estimating that each $US10-a-barrel rise in the global price of oil would add up to $US500m in earnings to Woodside Petroleum and Santos.

Australian Logistics Council chief executive Brad Williams warned that the compounding pressures felt by logistics firms across rail, road and air would ­inevitably feed through to even higher consumer prices.

“Most businesses operate with low margins, which means they have limited capacity to absorb significant and ongoing price increases,” Mr Williams said.

“Labour shortages, exacerbated by international border ­closures and heightened with Covid and influenza absenteeism continue to put cost pressure on the supply chain. It is inevitable these costs will be felt across the supply chain, including at the consumer end.”

RBC Capital global energy strategist Michael Tran said the EU’s decision to ban member states from purchasing Russian crude and refined products by sea had moved European action from “virtue signalling” to “up-ending” the global oil trade.

“This policy is perhaps a foreign policy win for the West, but it will prove economically inflationary for all nations involved, given that the reshuffling of global flows is likely to be structural as long as the war remains a slow burn,” Mr Tran said.

The price of 91-octane unleaded fuel once again breached $2 a litre earlier this month, despite the 22.1-cent fuel excise cut delivered in the March budget.

CBA commodity analyst Vivek Dhar said he expected the Brent crude price to average $US110 a barrel by the end of September, and to ease only to about $US100 by the end of the year.

Mr Dhar said movements in the Australian dollar would influence how high oil prices would translate to the bowser, but added that “the risk is that we stay around $2 a litre”.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers has said the Albanese government is “unlikely” to extend the excise cut beyond September, pointing to its $2.9bn six-month price tag in the context of huge, ongoing levels of debt and deficits.

While rising energy costs have lifted inflation, analysts predict the national accounts figures will show the economy expanded by 0.7 per cent in the March quarter, and by 3 per cent over the year. A big drag from net exports – as a result of disruptions to mining exports and a solid lift in spending on imported goods – is expected to be offset by a stronger than anticipated boost from government spending and business inventories, underpinned by robust domestic ­demand.

ANZ senior economist Felicity Emmett projected that the national accounts’ broader measure of worker pay – including bonuses, overtime and allowances – would paint a more positive picture of household income growth.

The widely quoted wage price index pointed to only 2.4 per cent growth over the year to March, but Ms Emmett said business profit figures, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday, suggested average hourly earnings for workers jumped by 2.6 per cent in the March quarter, and by 5.3 per cent over the year. “Today’s data suggest that 2022 got off to a solid start, and that a tight labour market is feeding through more quickly into wages than the wage price index suggests,” she said.


Labor deliberately designed climate policies to thwart Greenies

New Energy Minister Chris Bowen insists voters gave Labor a mandate to deliver its “ambitious” climate plan, warning independents and Greens that his crossbench-proof climate policy won’t require negotiating an end to coal and gas.

Greens leader Adam Bandt is demanding that Labor step up its climate targets, including a ban on new coal and gas projects. However, Bowen said he deliberately designed the party’s Powering Australia climate policies so they could be implemented without the support of the Senate, where the Greens hold the balance of power.

“In relation to the Senate, a lot of the stuff in Powering Australia doesn’t need legislation; there’s a lot of stuff we’ll just be getting on with,” he told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.

Labor has committed to legislating its target of hitting net zero emissions by 2050 – a goal with bipartisan support. However, it has not promised to do the same for its 2030 target, which is to cut greenhouse emissions by 43 per cent from 2005 levels, even though that is the party’s preference.

No new laws are required to implement the key elements of Labor’s Powering Australia climate policy over the next three years.

“We designed that very deliberately so that we would have scope to just get on with the policy and not get bogged down in the climate wars,” Bowen said.

He has designated two areas to do the heavy lifting in Labor’s first term in government under the Powering Australia plan.

One involves tightening the Safeguard Mechanism, which lay dormant under the Coalition government, to impose caps on Australia’s 215 biggest polluters.

The other is a $20 billion Rewiring the Nation fund that will pour money into the electricity grid and expand its capacity so that it can handle a near-tripling of renewables, which are expected to comprise 82 per cent of the grid by 2030.

Bowen said Labor’s win, which delivered the party a majority in the lower house, represented a mandate for the climate policy it took to the election. Bending to the Greens’ demands to veto coal and gas projects would be a betrayal of the electorate, he said.

“I find that argument just a little bit odd,” he said. “The [Greens’] argument goes something like this – to oversimplify it: ‘Congratulations on winning the election. The first thing we’d like you to do is trash the policies you took to the election.’ ”


My son was found not guilty

Bettina Arndt

Last week, a long ordeal finally ended for an ordinary Australian family. Their son, Lucas, was found not guilty of sexual contact with a child. The female judge who delivered this verdict said she believed Lucas’ version of events – not the vile accusations that led him to spend seven months in prison, nor the vicious rumours in the local paper describing him as a ‘pedo’ and leading to death threats on social media.

I’ve just made a video with Lucas’ mother, Debbie Garratt, a brave woman who has made the considered decision to go public with what happened to them, to warn other parents of dangers awaiting young men in this hypervigilant anti-male culture. Her story suggests we are reaching the point where it is just too risky for men to take jobs caring for children.

Debbie is actually a step-mum to Lucas, but he’d had been part of their large, blended family since he was a small child. He was in his early twenties when he decided on a career in childcare, a prospect which made his parents somewhat nervous, but they knew children had always flocked to this easy-going, considerate young man and he thrived in the job, with families often seeking out his babysitting services after hours.

One evening in August 2018 he was babysitting for a family he knew well, having cared for their children many times, including the five-year-old girl he’d looked after since she was a toddler in nappies. During the evening, he noticed the little girl seemed to be ‘fiddling’, apparently bothered by an irritated vulva. When he found her scratching herself half asleep in bed, he quickly swiped the area with a baby wipe, hoping the moist towelette would ease the irritation.

It didn’t occur to him that this could create a problem until the police came and interviewed him at work the next day. It transpired that early that day the little girl had mentioned to her mother that, ‘Lucas licked me.’ The mum went on high alert, told the girl to stop talking, screamed for her husband, and then subjected the child to a grilling, recorded on an iPhone.

In her verdict, the judge commented that the parents’ reaction contributed to setting in place the whole disastrous sequence of events that followed, which sadly included the girl being interrogated at the police station and taken for internal examinations. When initially questioned by the police, the child denied that Lucas had put his head near her vulva, or even that he had touched her, but these negative responses were omitted from the evidence used for the charges and not conveyed to the child’s parents.

I hope you will listen to this whole extraordinary story as there are important lessons to be learned.

It’s quite something to hear how the legal aid barrister sold out this young man, bullying him in a corridor outside the courtroom, telling him he had to plead guilty to avoid further distress to the child, convincing him that he was bound to be convicted and this was the only way to get a reduced sentence.

Any parent would identify with Debbie’s emotion as she describes the result – Lucas was convicted and simply whisked off to prison. They weren’t even able to find out where the authorities had taken him for ten days, by which time his guilty plea was all over the newspapers and social media alive with advice about hanging the ‘scumbag animal’.

We can all imagine the family’s relief when the judge affirmed Lucas’ version of events, stating a number of times that the child must have been mistaken. This was not a case of the accused being found not guilty due to insufficient evidence but rather, a female judge determining a male was to be believed. And that’s quite something.

What’s inspirational is Debbie’s advice to Lucas during the years he spent living at home with his parents, unable to get a job, and nervous about leaving the house. Debbie would make him come with her to the supermarket, telling him to ‘put your head up’ and demonstrate to everyone that he had no reason to hide away. ‘It’s important not to be caught in shame,’ she told him.

But the same applies to parents. Most parents like Debbie, even after their sons are found not guilty of this type of allegation, get caught in shame. The whole ordeal is so overwhelming that they choose to just hide away and try to get on with their lives – which is perfectly understandable.

How rare it is for someone whose child has slipped the noose to come out fighting, willing to subject herself and her family to still more public scrutiny in the hope that others will take heed.

A word of caution – I know some people reading this will be shocked at the naivety shown by Lucas. Many smugly assume their own children would have the good sense never to touch a child in that way, even though the judge agreed this had been done ‘for hygienic purposes and in good faith’. Men today know good faith isn’t enough to protect them.

Yet in this current climate, with false allegations rampant, all men working with children are at risk, however they behave. Talk to a few teachers and you hear the stories. Like the newly graduated teacher working in a school in Port Macquarie who ran into problems with a female student who refused to finish the assignment he’d set for the class. ‘If you try to make me, I’ll tell them that you touched me,’ the little miss told her teacher. He was lucky. He reported her to the school principal who suspended her. The teacher’s story was believed because she was a known troublemaker but it could easily have turned out badly for him instead.

It’s a tragic irony that just as the world is finally waking up to the damage to children who miss out on masculine influence in their lives, the moral panic over sexual abuse is driving away the very few men still working with them – men who play a particularly vital role for kids in single mum households. Naturally, this sad state of affairs receives no public scrutiny