Monthly Archives: November 2022

Affordability of U.S. New Homes Reaches Record Low with Mortgage Rate Hikes

After taking a breather last month, the affordability of the typical new home sold in the U.S. nose-dived in September 2022.

That negative change is a consequence of two main factors. First, the price of a median new home spiked up about 8% to an initial estimate of $470,600 in September 2022, the second-highest figure on record (July 2022's $479,800 is the current record-holder).

The second factor is the surge of mortgage rates in September 2022. The interest rate for a 30-year conventional mortgage jumped from an average of 5.22% in August to 6.11%. The following chart shows the combined effect of these two factors, as measured by the percentage of a typical American household's monthly income would have to go to pay a mortgage payment on the typical new home sold.

Mortgage Payment for a Median New Home as a Percentage of Median Household Income, January 2000 - September 2022

At an initial estimate of 43.6% for September 2022's median household income, the cost of owning a typical new home has never been higher for a typical American household. That's also true in terms of raw affordability, where the median household income would only cover 17.1% of the sale price of the median new home sold in September 2022.

But the spike in ownership cost for a new home may not be over yet. Although the post-pandemic recession rise of new home prices is slowing, mortgage rates reached over the 7% threshold in October 2022. Unless the median price of new homes falls because of crashing demand as some observers anticipate, next month could see another new low in their relative affordability.


U.S. Census Bureau. New Residential Sales Historical Data. Houses Sold. [Excel Spreadsheet]. Accessed 26 October 2022. 

U.S. Census Bureau. New Residential Sales Historical Data. Median and Average Sale Price of Houses Sold. [Excel Spreadsheet]. Accessed 26 October 2022. 

Freddie Mac. 30-Year Fixed Rate Mortgages Since 1971. [Online Database]. Accessed 26 October 2022.

Political Calculations. Median Household Income in September 2022. [Online Article]. 1 November 2022.

Australian Politics 2022-11-02 02:03:00


Politics in sport is destructive

Once upon a time, sport was an international language. A child kicking a soccer ball in Argentina could communicate in the same terms as an Italian or Swedish junior – even one from Japan.

The language is one of sport: the love of the game. The universal code. The language applies to all religions, all people, all sports.

The language speaks of the challenge. The goal. The team unity. The individual strength. The soaring heights of victory. The lows of defeat. The hope. The possibilities. The dreams. The fans.

It is the international language where no words are needed to understand everything.

Sport raises us up.

But introduce politics, and the splendour fades. How have we allowed it to happen? Why have we allowed it?

Partisan politics and sport do not mix. Ideological politics and sport divide. Politics is the antithesis to sport.

The easiest example of that came to us with the Essendon Football Club saga. It appointed a CEO one day, and by the next, he was driven to resign. Andrew Thorburn’s Christianity was too much for the politically ‘correct’, the social elites who get to decide who and what is good.

It is a simple formula: someone is good if they agree with the virtue signallers and their beliefs – someone is bad if they disagree.

The tribe has spoken at Essendon. The Premier, Daniel Andrews, was part of that tribe, continuing his talent to represent some, but not all. When it comes to believers, Daniel Andrews is a religion of his own.

But the Essendon matter is wholly unsurprising: we had it coming. Supported by Woke boardrooms, the AFL has become both Creator and Guardian Angel of political intrusion and interference in sport.

Netball Australia and Cricket Australia have caught the bug. Their elite athletes cough and splutter with business-class hypocrisy.

In Netball Australia’s case, Gina Rinehart had every right to call an end to her $15 million gift. There are others who will respect her company’s brand, its bankrolling of the nation, job creation, and its extraordinary effort to fund the global dreams of our nation’s best young athletes including Olympic swimmers and rowers.

Tennis champion and Greatest Of All Time, Margaret Court, understands the dangers of expressing private thoughts publicly, thoughts deemed politically incorrect.

Who needs to watch a thrilling game of tennis when we now clap and revere according to how they vote in a referendum? Perhaps a quiet note to the marketing department: tickets might be harder to sell.

Diversity officers abound. Politically correct deeds flourish.

For the AFL, there was once a time when people simply went to watch the sport: a magnificent game with plenty enough happening not to require political sideshows or overtones.

But these days, there seems barely a round that isn’t dedicated to an approved cause.

There is nothing wrong with either the Pride or Indigenous rounds for example, but why pull them out of the hat that’s deep with a thousand good causes? Where is the round for CFA volunteers? Or the round for those who couldn’t attend funerals during lockdown? Or a weekend dedicated to maths and science teachers? Or for people with awful kitchens? For freedom of speech?

There are rounds dedicated to promoting health awareness – the most prominent being Motor Neurone Disease and Breast Cancer. Great causes each and deserving of attention and support.

These are the good things sport enables: the sentiments that unite and do not divide. Non-political.

But add politics, and all of a sudden, it’s not so much fun anymore.

The average Australian can sniff hypocrisy before they see it. They smelled it over Essendon’s Thorburn meltdown, the man who, as NAB Group Chief Executive Officer, introduced the Pride Round to the AFL in March 2015 to celebrate ‘…diversity and the LGBTQ+ community’.

No one has riled about that, or the NAB’s support of Climate Change legislation or sustainability awareness. It is only Thorburn’s religious associations that were trapped in the social jury’s snare.

But where were Premier Andrews’ words – his holier-than-thou indignation – for AFLW player and Muslim, Haneen Zreika, over her withdrawal from the round eight Pride match for religious reasons, and not for the first time? Crickets. Or as Richard Flanagan might put it, the sound of one hand clapping.

The Pride Round is political. The Australians I know don’t particularly care what someone’s sexuality is. They care that the person is happy and healthy. But by singling out the rainbow warriors, they are signalling a demarcation. Creating categories, division.

Similarly, why single out the Indigenous Round, when players on the field come from many corners and cultures of the world? Are the Italian or Irish players less suitable to celebrate? Every player has a history, a place, a culture. Celebrate them all by not singling one out. That’s real unity. That’s sport.

Sport is losing its ability to speak all languages.

I yearn for the days where we just cheer on outstanding athletes without wondering what they think in private.

Sport is great enough on its own. It doesn’t need politics.

But maybe politics needs sport. ?


Unreasonable war on anti-vaxxers

For the past two and a half years, Jack the Insider (Peter Hoysted), through his columns in the Australian, has waged a war on ‘anti-vaxxers’. Of course, he conveniently lumps into that category anyone who dared to point out the fact that the Covid vaccines, far from being the panacea he believes them to be, actually do very little, even when it comes to personal protection.

On October 27, he wrote a piece which so stood out for its lack of rigour that it has to be called out.

He started off with this statement:

When Covid-19 vaccines first became available in the summer of 2021, I argued that this was the end game for anti-vaxxers. The science and the data that followed would be irrefutable. I was right about the data. But I was wrong to think this shameless movement would put its cue in the rack.

Let’s leave aside the emotion about this ‘shameless movement’, who he says ‘are joined by a larger group of disaffected people who don’t read enough and listen too often’. Jack the Insider is the one who is not right about the data because he doesn’t read enough or listen properly.

He cites in his piece a string of US government data that supports the lie that Covid became ‘a pandemic of the unvaccinated’. Jack is a stickler. He even cites a study of prisoners (people who, unlike the vast majority of us, are confined and cannot move out and about in society as they please) to demonstrate ‘what we have now overwhelmingly shows that unvaccinated individuals are more infectious and for longer’.

Unlike Jack, let’s be honest and do the job properly.

If Jack wanted to do his job properly, he could have done far worse than read regular contributor to these pages and The Australian, Ramesh Thakur’s column in the latter on August 20 this year, and he would realise to his argument there is a very strong counter-argument, published by none other than NSW Health:

The Covid report from NSW Health for the week of July 10-16 says: “The minority of the overall population who have not been vaccinated are significantly over-represented among patients in hospitals and ICUs with Covid-19.” Just two pages later the same report gives the number of unvaccinated people admitted to hospital and intensive care units as zero. The sentence is repeated verbatim in the latest weekly report for July 31-August 6, with the number of unvaccinated people admitted to hospital at zero and to ICU just one.

Even by the standards of public health authorities across the world gaslighting the people to nudge them into docile – and often performative – compliance with official edicts, this level of internal contradiction of narrative with data is breathtaking.

Not a single Covid death under 40 was reported in the week to August 6. The total number of boosted people who died with Covid was 71.3 per cent of the 1,281 Covid deaths whose vaccination status was known, slightly above the “more than 68 per cent” of eligible people who have been boosted.

Thus the effectiveness of boosters in preventing death lasts only a short time.

People who have received two to four doses made up over 95 per cent of the over-16s and 98.1, 95.8, and 82.6 per cent of Covid hospital admissions, ICU admissions and deaths, respectively.

In the 11 weeks from May 22 to August 6, the unvaccinated comprised 0.2, 1.8 and 13.1 per cent of all NSW Covid-related hospital admissions, ICU admissions and deaths, respectively.

The double vaccinated and boosted made up 98.1, 95.4 and 85 per cent of the same respective totals. Just the boosted added up to 73.3, 73.4 and 69.9 per cent.

We are no longer in the realm of a pandemic of the unvaccinated.

Despite major protective benefits, Covid vaccines are undeniably leaky. Their real-world effectiveness lasts a disappointingly short time.

Strike one.

Then our Jack goes on a tirade against Rob Roos, whitewashing the anger over Pfizer executive Janine Small’s admission that there was never any testing done to demonstrate that the jab prevented transmission because ‘we had to move at the speed of science’. Jack dismisses the outrage at this as ‘shrieking’, and refers to, among other things, ‘peer-reviewed modelling’ (which he doesn’t reference) that suggested we couldn’t wait the usual five to ten years to produce a safe vaccine because ‘we would have to wear 14 million excess deaths a year if we waited’.

As we knew reasonably early in the piece, the modelling could never be trusted. Here are the undisputed facts about Covid from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare from November 2021, published in these pages. The average lifespan of an Australian is 82.6 years. The average age of Covid fatalities in Australia is 85. Since the pandemic began, the Covid fatality rate for Australians under 50 is four in 12,000. Sixty-six per cent of Covid deaths have been in nursing homes. Seventy-three per cent of Covid deaths involved pre-existing chronic health conditions and a higher number involved non-chronic but somewhat serious health complications. It would be difficult, therefore, to justify discrimination on the basis of vaccine status, especially if one has no pre-existing conditions, or is not in a vulnerable category.

Strike two.

Mr Hoysted, continuing his crusade against the ‘shrieking’ states that we always knew the vaccines would never prevent transmission – noting an FDA study – and that this was taken over by ‘political hyperbole’ about ‘protecting grandma’. He even cites an Israeli peer-reviewed study which showed ‘the ability of the vaccine to prevent transmission waned with time and with the advent of the Delta variant’. Well, I, among many other in this publication and elsewhere, were saying that as far back as April 2021. To then, as our Jack does, gloss over the way politicians and health bureaucrats promised to make lives miserable for people on the basis that they saw no point in getting a jab because not only did it not prevent transmission, but that, based on their own age and health circumstances, they believed it wasn’t necessary, is, in the view of this correspondent, inexcusable.

However, our Jack doesn’t give up. He uses the same study to insist that those who were unvaccinated for Covid would be more infectious and infectious for longer. As we know, that has been shown to be wrong. Remember when two doses were enough, then three, now four? Maybe that is why Denmark halted its Covid vaccine program back in April. Even before then, Lancet published this article noting the futility of vaccine mandates in the face of transmissibility (I’ll refer to it again below).

But our Jack still insists that he is right and has ‘indisputable evidence’ to prove it. He writes:

In the Oxford Academic Open Forum on Infectious Diseases, three infectious diseases doctors, two from the US and one from Scotland, examined three randomised trials and found that “receipt of the vaccine was associated with a 70 per cent reduction in all SARS-CoV-2 infections 21 days after the first dose and 85 per cent reduction seven days after the second dose. A similar cohort study of 3,975 health care workers, first responders, and other frontline workers in the United States who were tested weekly found a 91 per cend reduction in infection risk after full vaccination by an mRNA vaccine and an 81 per cent reduction after partial vaccination.”

Jack goes on:

While vaccine mandates may have been excessively applied across a range of industries (I never quite understood why they were imposed on footballers or construction workers), that analysis provides hard evidence as to why vaccine mandates continue to be necessary for frontline health workers, emergency response workers and even more obviously, for those working in aged care.

Well, that Lancet study I cited above directly contradicts this assertion, when it found that triple vaccinated Israeli doctors and nurses were getting Covid and passing it on to their patients: ‘[T]he demonstration of Covid-19 breakthrough infections among fully vaccinated health-care workers (HCW) in Israel, who in turn may transmit this infection to their patients, requires a reassessment of compulsory vaccination policies leading to the job dismissal of unvaccinated HCW in the USA,’ it argued.

So much for ‘hard evidence’. Strike three.

A suggestion for our Jack. Since he has all the ‘hard evidence’ that the Covid vaccine is safe and effective, he might want to ask his ALP friends in the federal government why it is that the Budget, handed down last week, is warning that Covid vaccine injury payouts could reach $77 million. He might want to investigate why the CDC, which he places so much faith in, fought tooth and nail to prevent this data from being released.

Maybe then our Jack might put his cue in the rack.


Engineering disaster: Remaking the power grid to fail

Europe may be in the midst of a power crisis and memories of the chaos on the Australian grid in June still fresh, but that has not stopped billionaire activist Mike Cannon-Brookes and the state governments of Queensland and Victoria sowing the seeds of a major power disaster.

These players are engineering the closure of the bulk of the reliable coal-fired power supply of the eastern half of the continent within 13 years with nothing but intermittent renewable energy projects, most of which have yet to be built, to replace them.

To add to the air of fantasy which now pervades any decision involving energy in Australia, the Queensland and Victorian governments acknowledged that there has to be some means of storing energy for the changes to work, but then made proposals that were either completely inadequate (Queensland) or contained no details (Victoria).

To make matters worse the entire effort, including the many billions to be spent trying to replace coal power plants with wind and solar generators will have no benefit for Australia. As is widely known (except by Australian activists) few countries are paying much attention to their obligations under the Paris Agreement. Even those countries that have proved willing to undertake the major pain required to make real cuts in emissions (the UK and Germany) have backtracked in the past few months, thanks to the power crisis.

That means the sole result of all the money and effort spent on decarbonising the grid will be to make it more erratic and unreliable, and push power prices through the roof.

As was known before the announcements in September and October AGL’s 1.8-gigawatt Liddell power station in NSW will close in 2023, and its 2.6-gigawatt Bayswater plant will cease operations between 2030 and 2033. In addition, Origin Energy will shut the 2.8-gigawatt Eraring coal-fired power station in 2025, and Victoria’s Yallourn power station (1.48 GW, brown coal) is scheduled to close in 2028.

After a sustained campaign by Cannon-Brookes, who became AGL’s largest shareholder with the express purpose of getting the energy giant to accelerate closure of its coal plants, AGL has also announced they will shut the shut the 2.2-gigawatt Loy Yang A power station in Victoria’s La Trobe Valley in 2035, a decade earlier than planned.

At about the same time as the AGL announcement, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk declared that her government would end the use of coal power in the state by 2035. There are eight coal-fired plants in the state, the newest of which is the 30-year-old 1.4-gigawatt Tarong station, which will now close more than a decade ahead of schedule.

Then in October, Victorian Premier Dan Andrews declared that if he is re-elected in the looming state election he will introduce tough new emission targets that are likely to end coal-powered electricity generation in the state by 2035.

To replace this gaping hole in generating capacity, the Palaszczuk government has announced that it will develop a $62 billion renewable energy ‘super grid’ which includes a new transmission line and two new pumped-hydro projects. About half of that investment is expected to be public money, including $9 billion from the state government and (hopefully) the rest from the federal government.

The plan commits to two new pumped-hydro power stations. The Borumba project, near Gympie, in south-east Queensland and the Pioneer-Burdekin project near Mackay. Borumba is expected to store the equivalent of 48 GWh but the only figure available for the Pioneer-Burdekin is the output figure of 7 GW (a facility which generates 7 GW for seven hours produces 49 GWh – commentators, activists and even government press releases routinely confuse GW and GWh).

Assuming the combined total storage will add up to 100 GWh, however, it is still equivalent to perhaps ten hours worth of operation by the coal plants the Palaszczuk government wants to close down. The Snowy Hydro 2.0 project, which is proving a ridiculously expensive white elephant, may add another 300 GWh, but these are all still inadequate amounts especially given the growing evidence of a weather phenomenon known as a wind drought.

As previously noted in this publication (‘Transition loses traction’, 9 July, 2022) there is evidence that wind can die across the whole of the National Energy Market (the east coast grid) for up to 33 hours – as far as anyone knows – meaning that it will require at least twice the amount of storage now either being built or in proposal documents to get through a wind drought period, and ideally several times that. Proper grid planning should also take into account major wind droughts occurring during periods of cloudy days and during rain droughts where there will not be much fresh water to fill the pumped-storage facilities.

In October, the Victorian government announced that it would revive the old State Electricity Commission but this time as a renewable energy agency with $1 billion to develop 4.5 GW worth of renewable energy projects. In late September the Victorian government had also announced that it would increase its renewable energy storage capacity target ‘to 6.3GW by 2035’, although it’s not clear from the announcement or any of the breathless media stories generated by it just how this target will be achieved, or even what it means. Does the Victorian government mean gigawatts or gigawatt hours? If it means gigawatt hours, it does not help very much. Three battery projects in various stages of development amounting to about one GWh are mentioned, and the state government is tipping in $167 million of taxpayer money, although it is not clear what the money is to be spent on. Otherwise, the announcement seems to be a statement of intentions.

While governments make muddled announcements about what they may be going to do, the power grid with its collection of aging fossil-fuel plants continues to stagger along somehow, and probably will until the Liddell plant ceases operation in 2023.

However, the June crisis in the power grid was in part due to the simultaneous failure of major coal-fired units. As the coal power stations are aging it is not surprising that they are off the grid, for one reason or another, more often. The forced closures will make such crises more likely and more frequent.

Instead of acknowledging this point, commentators descend into fantasy about how more renewables and extensive use of hydrogen will fix the problem. It seems that consumers must wait until they are left in the dark in freezing homes for extended periods until policy makers finally concede that renewables might not be the answer to everything.


Victoria’s infrastructure con job

I like to think I’m pretty good at spotting a con, but not always. Just days before the Federal election Labor’s Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Catherine King, made what the media called a ‘$4 billion power play’.

She announced that an elected Albanese government would keep the $4 billion the Liberals had set aside for the East West Link. Very reasonably, she said that money would be used towards projects backed by the state government of the day – Labor or Liberal.

This is wonderful, I thought. I wrote to Minister King on her very first day in the job, thanking her for her bipartisanship and seeking an opportunity to meet, so we could work together.

Turns out it was a con. On just her second day as Minister, King ripped away that $4 billion in infrastructure funding from Victoria. Perhaps naively, I didn’t see it coming. I also didn’t see the $900 million of other Victorian road and rail cuts by the new federal government.

Instead, through the budget Labor is committing $2.2 billion towards the Andrews government’s pet project: the Suburban Rail Loop (SRL) – a massive rail tunnel through Melbourne’s middle suburbs. Stripped of the obvious political overlay (helping your Labor mates down here in Victoria) this was an odd decision.

Mr Albanese did some good things when he was Kevin Rudd’s Infrastructure Minister. One of the best was setting up Infrastructure Australia (IA). The idea was to take the politics out of infrastructure spending by appointing an independent, expert group to scrutinise proposals and their business cases.

Sounds good. So, what does IA have to say about the business case for the SRL? In short, nothing. That’s because even though the project was announced on Daniel Andrews’ Facebook page – naturally – four years ago, his government has never asked IA to carry out an assessment of the business case.

Curious. Well, not really. Other experts bodies have scrutinised the SRL and what they’ve found isn’t pretty.

Firstly, the independent, apolitical Parliamentary Budget Office popped the bonnet. It found that the loop – well, just the first two thirds actually – will cost $125 billion to construct, a lazy $75 billion more than Andrews said the whole loop would cost. Whoops.

At a time when Victoria has more debt that New South Wales, Queensland, and Tasmania combined, and with interest rates rising further still, such reckless spending would be mad as a bag of bees.

Then Victoria’s Auditor General had a look as well. He found that the project will be staggeringly expensive and that, as a result, its Benefit-Cost Ratio is 51. That means the Victorian taxpayers’ return on investment will be 50 cents in the dollar – a catastrophic rate.

Given it is crystal clear the SRL doesn’t stack up, it’s odd that the federal government wants to sink over $2 billion into it – to say the least, all the while cutting $1 billion from other Victorian infrastructure projects.

But, for the SRL, that’s where the money will stop. Andrews and co. want a further $10 billion from the Feds. Yet Minister King – quite sensibly this time – has said she’ll only cough up more if Infrastructure Australia gives its seal of approval. Unless Albanese stacks out the board of IA (always a possibility, I suppose) this is never going to happen.

As a result, Victoria’s budget has a new $10 billion black hole. We’ve become rather desensitised to waste here in Victoria. The Andrews Labor government has already wasted over $30 billion of taxpayers’ money on blowouts on major projects.

That’s over $20,000 for every Victoria family; more when you factor in the, rapidly rising, interest bill. That will look like small beer if Andrews wins next month’s election and starts constructing the SRL.

It’s interesting – over the last decade or so we’ve all started to care much less about debt and budget deficits. The recession of the 1990s and double-digit interest rates are a distant memory. Australia sailed through the Global Financial Crisis in much better shape than comparable countries, and many economists confidently predicted that the good times would just roll on.

But things have changed. Interest rates are rising and Victoria’s debt is so big, so unsustainable, that many people are rightly starting to worry. In my role as Shadow Minister for Youth I speak with groups of young people all the time.

I often hear about the need to address climate change and deliver better mental health support. But more than anything I hear about the state of the economy, the budget, and what this means for their futures.

They haven’t been conned. And nor should we be.




Median Household Income in September 2022

Political Calculations' initial estimate of median household income in September 2022 is $78,595, an increase of $457 (or 0.67%) from the initial estimate of $78,075 in August 2022.

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

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

Adjusted for inflation, September 2022's estimated median household income of $78,595 represents a new record peak for this demographic characteristic, exceeding the previous peak of December 2021 by $641.

Since there's growing attention on the rising risk of recession in the United States, we were curious to see how the country's average personal earned income is changing because that measure is more sensitive to changing economic conditions. The next chart tracks the average income earned by individual Americans during President Biden's tenure in office and tells a different story about how working Americans are faring.

Average Individual Earned Income During Biden Era: Nominal and Real Modeled Estimates, January 2000 to September 2022

This chart reveals the average American's earned income, after adjusting for inflation, has fallen well below its December 2021 peak in terms of constant September 2022 U.S. dollars. We see that real earned income increased during the third quarter of 2022, after having fallen during the first six months of 2022 while the U.S. economy experienced a "technical" recession.

The chart also reveals that nominal income growth since December 2021 has slowed substantially compared with how fast it grew during 2021 as the nation's economy recovered from the lifting of state and local government lockdown measures imposed during 2020's coronavirus pandemic. The gap between actual average income growth and a simple linear projection of 2021's income growth if it had continued has steadily widened throughout 2022.

In other words, nominal income growth has slowed and President Biden's inflation has very noticeably eroded the buying power of individual working Americans during 2022.

Analyst's Notes

After last month's multi-year revision, the BEA only made very minor downward adjustments to its aggregate wage and salary data for the months of July and August 2022, which were marked down by less than 0.02% and 0.04% respectively.

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: 28 October 2022. Accessed: 28 October 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: 28 October 2022. Accessed: 28 October 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: 13 October 2022. Accessed: 13 October 2022.

Australian Politics 2022-11-01 09:59:00


Why do few people have positive views of Aborigines?

Noel Pearson says that few do and he is undoubtedly right. Helen Trinca below reinforces that point and tries to explain it. Her explnation is however a work of desperation. She mimics American blacks in saying it is all due to the past -- to the bad treatment of their ancestors. She appears unaware that NOBODY has had ancestors as badly treated as the Jews -- 4,000 years of persecution! -- and yet present-day Jews flourish mightily. Blaming the past is rubbish. It is the present that counts.

Psychological research has repeatedly shown that impressions we have of others are highly malleable. We are strongly influenced by what we have most recently seen. It even has a name: "The recency effect". Our views rapidly move towards what we ourseves have recently experienced. Expectations and stereotypes rapidly give way to actual experience. Some of the academic research findings to that effect is summarized here and here

So whatever view we have of Aborigines will be strongly founded in our experience of them. And we DO have some experiences of them, even in the cities. And if I can summarize that experiences briefly: We see them mainly as drunks and beggars and layabouts. We do not like WHITE drunks and beggars and layabouts so there is no likelihood that we would like that in blacks.

So why are so many blacks like that? No mystery. They are the victims of their separate development (Yes. I know of another usage of that phrase). For 60,000 years, they have evolved in geographical isolation as superb hunter gatherers and have some quite eeries abilities in consequence of that. But they have NOT evolved the abilities that allow them to fit in easily with the differently evolved people of the Eurasian continent. They are like fish out of water in a modern Western society. Many thousands of years of fierce competition among the many people of Eurasia has enforced an adaptive evolution in them that very few Aborigines can easily co-exist with. They don't "fit in".

Just a final and relatively minor point: Trinca mentions the hard time that football fans gave Aboriginal player Adam Goodes and blames it on racial prejudice. She omits much in that. See here and here

Noel Pearson opened a new front in the story of Indigenous Australia when he used his first ABC Radio National Boyer Lecture to talk about the unpopularity of First Nations people.

It was a shocking statement that came early in Pearson’s impressive opener to the four-lecture series delivered first on television on October 27 and repeated on radio on Sunday, and it’s worth quoting at length

“We are a much unloved people,” Pearson said. “We are perhaps the ethnic group Australians feel least connected to. We are not popular and we are not personally known to many Australians. Few have met us and a small minority count us as friends. And despite never having met any of us and knowing very little about us other than what is in the media and what WEH Stanner, whose 1968 Boyer Lectures loom large over my lectures, called ‘folklore’ about us, Australians hold and express strong views about us, the great proportion of which is negative and unfriendly.

“It has ever been thus. Worse in the past but still true today. If success in the forthcoming referendum is predicated on our popularity as a people, then it is doubtful we will succeed. It does not and will not take much to mobilise antipathy against Aboriginal people and to conjure the worst imaginings about us and the recognition we seek. For those who wish to oppose our recognition it will be like shooting fish in a barrel. An inane thing to do – but easy. A heartless thing to do – but easy.”

Many non-Indigenous Australians would have felt a stab of recognition on hearing those words but, worse still, despair for the future. Pearson was calling it as it is, not in anger but with a profoundly sad pragmatism that reminds us that he is not just good at rhetoric, he’s also a good thinker.

Pearson is urging us to go beyond the truth that racism has in various ways helped shape many views of Indigenous people to a more subtle but perhaps more damaging truth – that lack of familiarity and friendship with First Peoples could determine votes in the referendum on the advisory body, the voice to parliament.

The 2022 Boyer lecturer drew on the horrible sledging of former AFL great Adam Goodes to make his point. What happened to the footballer reminded Pearson of the trouble people had with Indigenous Australians, trouble that could readily be called racism and “certainly racism is much to do with it, but the reality is not that simple”.

“Unlike same-sex marriage there is not the requisite empathy of love to break through the prejudice, contempt and, yes, violence of the past. Australians simply do not have Aboriginal people within their circles of family and friendship with whom they can share fellow feeling.” It does not detract from the truth of Pearson’s comments to see this as an inspired tactic – sidelining the unhelpful argument about what is or is not racially motivated behaviour and staking out far less threatening ground for a conversation with opponents of the voice. Yet it has rarely, if ever, been articulated.

Most non-Indigenous Australians – even those committed to the voice and a treaty, those who value the deep culture of Aboriginal people; those who want in every way to atone for the wrongs of the past – know Pearson is right when he says Aboriginal people are simply not in the friendship and family groups of the overwhelming number of Australians.

It is difficult for many non-Indigenous Australians to even meet an Aboriginal person, given that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders comprise less than 4 per cent of the population. Many Australians will never see an Indigenous Australian other than in a media photograph or on television. Views are formed through news stories or cultural products such as paintings, dance, literature, film and music or exhibitions or books. There’s sport of course, the great Australian equaliser, which allows for largely positive recognition – except in cases such as that of Goodes. In country areas, First Nations people are more visible, but again class, economic differences and the social problems in many Indigenous communities mean the distances between the groups can be even more pronounced. The reality is unless you work in the arts, universities, the public service, or you are an elite sports person, you may have little chance of finding an Indigenous friend. It’s very different when it comes to homosexual people, for example.

A colleague reminds me that more than a decade ago we were at an election event at Rooty Hill in outer suburban Sydney when a woman got to her feet and asked Julia Gillard, the prime minister at the time, why she could not marry her same-sex partner. The crowd erupted with clapping and one knew then the experience of many families was dramatically shifting attitudes. Legislating for same-sex marriage is not the same as amending the Constitution, but Pearson’s point is well made.

Time, then, to come to terms with the reasons behind this “enduring antipathy against my people” – in short, that the colonial project required the first settlers to deny the rights of Aboriginal people to succeed. There are other reasons why Indigenous Australians may not be popular, but terra nullius underpins them all. That original denial and its tragic consequences are well documented yet still so little understood by many Australians offered little or inadequate history across so many decades. Australians need to accept and absorb this if we are to have any chance of exercising good judgment in the forthcoming referendum.


Greenie fanaticism in the schools is hurting kids

The Age of Anxiety has dawned. While this may be easy to dismiss as a natural corollary of the recent pandemic, when one looks a little closer, it’s not hard to see where this phenomenon manifested and where it is sustained.

In 2021, The Lancet published a global survey of responses from 10,000 young people, aged 16–25 years from Australia, Brazil, Finland, France, India, Nigeria, Philippines, Portugal, the UK, and America.

The survey found that 84 per cent of young people aged between 16-25 were ‘moderately to extremely worried’ about climate change. More than 50 per cent of respondents reported feeling sad, anxious, angry, powerless, helpless, and guilty.

Over 75 per cent said that they think the future is ‘frightening’. Climate anxiety and distress were correlated with perceived inadequate government response and associated feelings of betrayal.

Yet despite decades of technological and medical advances and the raising of hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, the natural question that arises is, where did this anxiety come from?

You need look no further than our education system and what is being taught to students of all ages on a daily basis.

For years the University of Sydney’s Environment Institute (SEI) has been at the forefront of Woke ideology and radical climate activism. According to the SEI’s worldview, radical climate activism is an antidote to falling education standards and eco-related mental health problems.

Ultimately, activism-driven anxiety is a product of the left-wing vanity project to achieve Net Zero emissions by 2050.

It’s a dream being fuelled by Australia’s oldest and most prestigious sandstone university and its treatment of the climate debate.

Who cares about numeracy and literacy? We have a global apocalypse on our hands! This is the mantra repeated by the Greta Thunbergs of the world and supported by SEI research.

The upshot: schools should be replaced with climate activism camps.

According to SEI Postdoctoral Fellow Blanche Verlie and Melbourne University’s Alicia Flynn, ‘ecocidal global socio-economic systems’ can be blamed for most problems in the modern world.

Verlie and Flynn ask, ‘What if education is not the solution, but part of the problem?’

They question whether education has ‘young people’s best interests at heart’ and claim schools constrain ‘cultural and political agency and effect’.

‘The transformative response is to reorient educational structures, practices, and relations towards those that sustain life on Earth. It is time for education to reckon with its role in the climate crisis and its entanglement within colonial-capitalist extractivism.’

In other words, the likes of Verlie and Flynn believe schools should be turned into centres where future social justice warriors can be trained the transform the ‘ecocidal’ structures from within.

Verlie and Flynn also remain stubbornly attached to the notion that there is ‘insufficient climate change education in schools’.

Perhaps they have not read the latest version of the National Curriculum, which is liberally littered with environmental content, thanks to the presence of ideologically driven cross-curriculum priorities like ‘sustainability’.

The criticism doesn’t just stop at schools, it extends to universities as well.

‘Our ecocidal global socio-economic systems (namely colonial-capitalism) are largely the result of work by people with BAs, BSs, LLBs, MBAs, and PhDs,’ Verlie and Flynn claim. ‘The transformative response is to reorient educational structures, practices, and relations towards those that sustain life on Earth.’

Well then, out with the old and in with the new!

Such extreme rejection of the Western intellectual tradition also undermines the SEI’s role as a department of research, but we cannot be surprised. After all, it was the University of Sydney that promoted the Unlearn campaign encouraging students to ‘demolish social norms and rebuild new ones in their place’.

To promote research and innovation, the University of Sydney said that preconceived ideas about ‘truth’, ‘love’, ‘medicine’, and ‘criminal’ must be questioned. Calling for students to ‘unlearn’ basic fundamental ideas of knowledge will leave young and impressionable Australians unaware of the basic principles which built our way of knowing and way of life.

Similarly, advising students – terrified that the end of the world is nigh – to attend climate rallies, is a recipe for disaster.

More activism is the last thing that Australian children need at school right now. The most recent report from the OECD Program for International Student Assessment confirmed that Australia has continued its 20-year decline in education standards.

Throwing education out the window entirely and replacing it with more climate activism is not the answer. Neither is it the answer to the growing mental health crisis among younger generations.

The educated SEI elite, living in a world of ideas, rather than reality, must start to present real solutions to the problems they identify.

Obliterating the entire ‘ecocidal’ system which includes Western literature, culture, education, morals, values, institutions – to make way for a green new world – is a fine example of Einstein’s observation of infinite ‘human stupidity’, not progress. ?


Is Mt Warning closure anything other than reverse racism?

Another small slice of Australia was roped off the other day, reserved for the enjoyment of a few and off-limits to the community at large.

It occurred just across the border in the Tweed Valley with the permanent closure of the National Parks and Wildlife Service’s Mt Warning hiking trail following a claim by a group of Indigenous people that it was not “culturally appropriate” for non-Indigenous Australians to walk the trail or climb the mountain.

World heritage-listed Mt Warning is the first point in Australia to catch the day’s sunrise and has been popular with hikers for decades.

But according to the self-named Indigenous Wollumbin Consultative Group, “public access is not culturally appropriate or culturally safe”.

“Wollumbin should not be a recreational space for the public to visit or use for tourism, including use of the image of Wollumbin for advertising purposes,” it declared, demanding the immediate closure of the site.

Predictably, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, which has been denying rumours of a proposed closure for the past year, rolled over and shut the gates.

No case had to be made. Just a demand by an unelected body to lock out all non-Indigenous people.

Local Indigenous leader Fiona Noble has questioned the processes of the WCG and the lack of consultation and says that “false naming and false stories” are being used to ban access to the region’s natural attractions.

Local businesswoman Peggy Lemaire says up to 90 per cent of the area’s national parks could not be accessed and that locals had rarely been informed in advance of a series of arbitrary site closures over the past three years.

Meanwhile, over on North Stradbroke Island, Queensland Parks and Wildlife has stipulated that part of a popular camping and fishing spot about 10km south of Dunwich be reserved for the exclusive use of local Indigenous people.

QPWS has said that the new rules provided “an opportunity for all Queenslanders, including the Quandamooka People, to immerse themselves in this unique natural and cultural setting.” It is difficult to see how it is an opportunity for “all Queenslanders” when the site is divided along racial lines.

Were a caravan or camping park operator to divide their property into White and Non-White sections, there would be justifiable outrage.

But when the reverse occurs, everyone looks the other way.

Some, including former local federal MP Andrew Laming, have called the move reverse racism. “If we’re really serious about reconciliation, why wouldn’t you share the site and camp together?” he asks.

In Victoria, the trend is the same as large areas of national parkland popular with hikers and rock climbers are gradually been closed to non-Indigenous people on cultural grounds.

In Queensland, it’s only a matter of time before Mt Tibrogargan, just north of Brisbane in the Glass House Mountains National Park, is closed to anyone who can’t claim Aboriginal heritage and it would naive to think that what is happening on North Stradbroke Island will not spread to Moreton Island and Fraser Island.

No one is in the business of denying the embrace and celebration of culture but it’s a strange thing when a particular group declares that the only way it can preserve its culture is by erecting racial borders.

The debate surrounding the referendum seeking approval or disapproval of the establishment of an Indigenous-only voice to parliament is gathering momentum.

If approved, it seems that it will only add to the Them and Us attitude that is becoming pervasive and which creates division while preaching inclusion.

The creation of a publicly funded body elected only by non-Indigenous voters in 2022 is unthinkable, yet we are told by some that the reverse, creating two classes of Australians, would be a good outcome.

Many years ago, as a callow youth wandering wide-eyed around the US on my first trip overseas, I walked into a cafe in the main street of a town in Mississippi. The black American man behind the cafe counter took one look at me and said: “Boy, ya’all got y’self in the wrong place.”

He was right. I’d unknowingly walked into the Blacks Only eatery. The Whites Only one was a little further down the street, past the Whites Only park bench and the Whites Only water fountain.

I remember thinking back then that you would never see Australia allow divisions to be put in place which were decided by race.

How wrong I was.


‘Cheaper childcare’ to get more Qld mums, dads back to work
More than 7000 Queenslanders will be able to get back into workforce, amid a labour shortage, off the back of Labor’s childcare reforms, the federal Treasurer claims

Positive predictions by politicians are usually to be viewed skeptically and this one is no exception. Cheaper care will mean more demand and, under existing regulations, that will require more staff to be hired. So the new measures will both expand and reduce the available workforce. Which number will be greatest? Who knows?

More than 7000 Queenslanders will be able to get back into workforce, amid a labour shortage, off the back of Labor’s childcare reforms according to new data from Treasury.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers seized on that data as he began his post-budget sales pitch.

He started a budget roadshow in Brisbane on Monday, as he prepared to hit five cities in four days.

Dr Chalmers is seeking to sell a “family-friendly budget”, after the nation’s finances last week revealed gloomy economic figures and rising inflation preventing the Albanese government from using cash handouts to ease growing cost-of-living pressures.

Labor’s policy to increase the maximum childcare subsidy to 90 per cent, while increasing the subsidy rate for all families earning up to $530,000 a year, will benefit up to 280,000 Queensland families, according to the data.

But Dr Chalmers said it meant more Queensland mums and dads would be able to get back to work sooner or do more hours – the equivalent of 7000 full-time staff across a range of fields.

“With high and rising inflation and rising interest rates, we know that Queensland families are doing it incredibly tough right now, which is why our family-friendly budget is focused on responsible cost-of-living relief that doesn’t make our inflationary challenge worse,” he said.

“Cheaper childcare is cost-of-living relief with an economic dividend – easing pressures on families while unlocking thousands of workers for Queensland businesses.”

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said young families, self-funded retirees and pensioners were feeling real pressure at the moment.

“A lot of people heard the Prime Minister on many occasions – in fact, 97 occasions – say before the election that power prices would go down by $275,” Mr Dutton said.

“Now, the problem is that the Prime Minister has never mentioned that figure since the election.

“I think there is a level of growing disenchantment of people who are really dismayed that the Prime Minister was so adamant that he was able to deliver this promise, and people voted for him on that basis, and now, it really becomes a question of trust.”

Dr Chalmers also revealed money in the budget meant there would be 2811 additional places at Queensland universities.

This includes 932 places at Southern Cross University, 780 at the Queensland University of Technology, 379 at the University of Queensland, 364 at Central Queensland University, 123 at James Cook University, 120 at the University of the Sunshine Coast and 113 at the University of Southern Queensland.