Monthly Archives: July 2021

Australian Politics 2021-07-04 15:19:00


Calls for the return of the one-year teaching qualification

The head of Catholic Schools NSW says a one-year graduate diploma of education should be reintroduced to make it easier for people who hold other degrees - particularly in maths and science - to become teachers.

A teacher shortage is already biting in NSW, particularly in regional and disadvantaged areas, and will get worse as a large group of older teachers retire and fewer young people elect to begin teaching degrees.

As the Herald reported last week, the number of students beginning education degrees in NSW dropped by almost a third between 2014 and 2019, and a national study found about half of students that do begin don’t finish.

A NSW Education Standards Authority study last year also found about 10 per cent of teachers leave the profession within six years of graduating.

Aspiring teachers can either study a four-year undergraduate degree, a five-year combined degree, or a master’s degree, which takes roughly two years. They must also pass literacy and numeracy tests.

They used to be able to do a one-year graduate diploma, but that was cut under a new, national approach to the accreditation of education degrees, phased in from 2013, which required all postgraduate programs be two years’ long.

“The trend in postgraduate completions since 2014 has seen a greater decline in ITE [Initial Teacher Education] completions relative to all fields (which have increased),” said a recent Commonwealth discussion paper, issued as part of a federal review of teaching degrees.

Catholic Schools chief executive, Dallas McInerney, said the teaching profession should be a standards-based one, and NESA and the Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership were already responsible for establishing and monitoring those standards.

But with standards in place, there should be flexibility in how potential teachers reached them. “If the standard is fixed, then the time meeting it or the way you meet those standards can be variable,” he said. “The variable could be the two-year master’s, a one-year dip ed, or recognition for past learning.

“I don’t think we should get rid of the two-year master’s. There’s a place for it, and those who want a more fulsome experience should have it. But we need to contemplate that the one-year dip ed is the right thing for some people … particularly in secondary settings.”

Many within the profession argue that a one-year course would be too short for primary school teachers, as they have to teach across the curriculum and understand child development. But it could suit secondary teachers who already have a degree in the subject they intend to teach.

However, Professor Mary Ryan, the president of the NSW Council of Education Deans, said governments should “be very careful” about reducing the time for a degree as much work has been done on quality preparation, “particularly in light of the increasing diversity of student cohorts and contexts”.

“We need teachers to understand how to gather, interpret and use multiple forms of evidence to improve teaching and student outcomes, including wellbeing outcomes,” she said.

“We can certainly look at flexible approaches that get teacher education students into paid positions a bit sooner while they continue their degree.”

But Professor Ryan said there were other reasons the profession was struggling to attract recruits, such as pay and lack of career progression, as it only takes six to eight years to earn the maximum salary.

Geoff Newcombe, the head of the Association of Independent Schools NSW, also opposed the re-introduction of the one-year qualification, saying teaching was more complex than ever and required a wide range of skills.

“We certainly need more teachers, but we need them with a new skill set,” he said. “Our teaching institutions have to graduate teachers as close to classroom ready, and our schools have to support them. Our focus has to be on quality.”

He said systems should look at alternatives such as a “sophisticated apprenticeship model”, and having more professional, non-teaching roles within schools, in areas such as wellbeing and mental health.


Weaponizing our criminal justice system against men

Bettina Arndt

I have a revelation for you – a tribute to the awe-inspiring success of the feminist juggernaut using our justice system to destroy men. Last week there was an important presentation by prominent Sydney barrister Margaret Cunneen. She was speaking at The Presumption of Guilt Conference run by the Rule of Law Education Centre.

As many Australians know, Cunneen is a woman with impeccable credentials to comment on the criminal justice system. She has spent well over 30 years at the coalface, decades as a crown prosecutor convicting some of our most prominent rapists and other villains and then, as a commissioner in charge of a large child abuse investigation. Now she’s back at the bar, successfully defending an endless queue of accused men, including many alleged rapists.

Her online presentation focussed on the impact of the new sexual consent laws that Attorney General Mark Speakman aims to ram through NSW parliament. Speakman appointed the NSW Law Reform Commission to examine proposed changes to these laws but then ignored their warnings about the injustice that could result and proudly announced he is giving the feminists what they want

Feminist academics have been lobbying for years for a yes means yes affirmative consent model where enthusiastic consent must be given at every stage throughout the sexual encounter. Under the new laws an accused must now prove to have taken active steps to ascertain consent throughout the sexual proceedings. And as Cunneen pointed out, this renders most of the sex most of us have as potentially illegal.

A perfect system

But the main game here is to provide more cannon fodder – a new supply of accused men to face a justice system already weaponised against them.

That was the real bombshell in the Cunneen presentation – her expose of the extent to which the feminists have already succeeded in stacking the system by removing the filtering system which once ensured that only rape cases with sufficient evidence went through to trial. Now almost all cases are pushed through into court, where many get thrown out by juries.

That means conviction rates go down, inspiring more rage from the feminists, more politicians frothing at the mouth demanding more be done to ensure the safety of women and ever more legal measures to ensure rapists get their comeuppance.

It’s just perfect, a carefully calibrated system to ensure the feminist project just keeps gaining more momentum - very like the ever-expanding definition of domestic violence, soon to include “coercive control”, which ensures an unending supply of victims and an expanding cash cow as governments pour in funds to address the problem.

Have a look at the small video I’ve made highlighting some of Cunneen’s key points. I do hope you will really help this gain public attention. This is the first time a major player has blown the whistle on the dire state of one of our key institutions.

What Cunneen says really matters.

The zeal to convict

What’s very telling is Cunneen talks about how much things have changed since she worked as a crown prosecutor. “Even before things used to hit the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, police had a filtering process. They are no longer permitted to do that.” No longer permitted to determine on the basis of evidence whether the case had legs. No longer permitted to do proper investigations to see where the truth lies.

Police are now required to refer in their “facts sheets” to complainants as “victims” and treat them accordingly, says Cunneen, adding police have very little discretion or often, none at all, about proceeding to charge.

As Cunneen explains, “with ownership of the case the police then want the case to succeed.” After the complainant has been declared a ‘victim,’ the system then takes hold. “There's not much more investigation that goes on, there's just a zeal to get to the end and to convict the charged person.”

How frightening is that? I’ve seen how this works in cases that I regularly encounter through Mothers of Sons and supporting accused students on campus. The police are hiding evidence that might weaken the case against the accused, they coach complainants to try to trick the accused into confessing in taped phone calls, they refuse to interview witnesses or examine social media evidence that could help the accused. The zeal works just one way.

Margaret Cunneen spells out the fact that we are now seeing lower rates of conviction because so many weak cases are no longer being filtered out by the police and Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The result is more cases failing, complainants feeling let down by the system.

But wonderful data providing fodder for the feminists to feed to our captured media to make the case for more to be done about our failed justice system.

The international cabal

Perhaps this seems a little far-fetched, suggesting that there is a deliberate effort to drive down conviction rates to promote more measures to convict men of rape?

Well, have a look at what’s happening overseas as feminist lawyers play the same blame game. Look at the news from the UK last week where the Justice Secretary Robert Buckland came under pressure to resign if he can’t reverse the plunging rape conviction rates. Within days he was on the BBC apologising to victims and promising to "do a lot better".

Similarly, over the ditch activists in New Zealand are in the news complaining the rate of successful rape convictions in 2020 was the lowest for more than 10 years.

Diana Davison is co-founder of The Lighthouse Project, a Canadian non-profit that helps the falsely accused. She reported this week that Canada now has “an automatic charge policy on sexual assault complaints. The police have no discretion and must lay charges if the complainant describes a sexual assault. Investigation is discouraged. Of course, this results in fewer convictions.”

In Canada too there are media headlines despairing that despite more rape victims coming forward these are resulting in fewer convictions. There’s a big push on for affirmative consent laws as well as specialized courts for sexual assault accusations. How’s that for a great idea to do away with pesky juries that mighty let rapists off the hook? The feminist inventiveness holds no bounds.

A criminal law is not a social work convention.

It’s highly significant when the first law officer for the state of NSW announces that his new sexual consent laws “send the message that survivor's calls for reform have been heard.”

Cunneen did a great job explaining that a criminal trial “is not a social work forum or a psychology convention. It's not there to provide the complainant with some kind of solace or affirmation or tremendous triumph. It's not about the complainant.” Cunneen explained that as a defence council, she tells juries that “it is a very nice and a lovely kind thing to believe your child or your neighbour or your friend if he or she says that they've been sexually assaulted. … But a jury has to act judicially.”

That means understanding that the criminal case is not about the victim: “It's the accused whose liberty is at stake in a criminal trial. It is he – generally it’s a ‘he’ - who's been arrested and thrown into custody until bail can be sought, who has had his home raided and searched by police, who's had to pledge his life savings or have his parents mortgage their house to get out for legal fees and whose life is on hold for two or three years.”

The stakes are high, warns Cunneen. “We are really blurring lines here and men, all men and mothers and sisters and friends of men ought to be very concerned because what wasn't rape last year may be rape next year if the purpose of these reforms is simply to increase the numbers of people who are convicted of rape.”

And that is the point. This has nothing to do with promoting justice. It is all to do with punishing men.


The environmental case that was too confusing even for judge

A major criminal case stalled when a judge said the summary of the essential facts presented by the prosecution was gobbledygook.

District Court judge Leanne Clare SC told a pre-trial hearing she had difficulty understanding the case brought by the Crown against four Linc Energy directors charged with Environmental Protection Act breaches.

She struck out the particulars presented Ralph Devlin QC, instructed by the Director of Public Prosecutions, and asked for a new set to be presented to the court later this month.

Clare said: “I had expected that the Crown would distil its case in a way that was comprehensible by a jury.

“I just can’t leave a case to the jury in terms that you’ve expressed so far. It’s just so broad and so long and I had struggled to understand what is actually being said.

“I have to go through a process of translation for myself, but it’s just gobbledygook.’’

Clare said there needed to be more clarity and told Devlin “the Crown has to tie its colours to the mast, and it has to say what this case is about that can be grasped’’.

The charges relate to allegations of pollution caused at an experimental underground coal gasification plant at Hopeland on the Darling Downs.

In 2007 the venture was hailed by then premier Peter Beattie as a project of state significance using Smart State “clean-coal technology”.

Linc directors Peter Bond, 58, of Razorback, NSW, Donald Schofield, 70, from Texas, USA, Stephen Dumble, 60, of Dalkeith, Western Australia, and Daryl Owen Rattai, 61, of Maribyrnong, Victoria, now stand accused of failing in their duties as directors on various dates between 2007 and 2013.

It was alleged their wilful and unlawful activities contributed to serious environmental harm around the plant near Chinchilla on the western Darling Downs.

Devlin said the case was complex.

He said the prosecution would rely upon its expert evidence in relation to the deleterious impact on environmental values.

Clare said the alleged adverse impacts were not expressed in ordinary language.

She told the court: “It has to be in English and it has to be … something that is capable of being proved.

“You need to set out your core facts in a way that can be understood. And unless you can do that, I can’t send this case to trial.’’

She added: “I cannot direct a jury on these particulars in a way that I am confident they would understand.

“The Crown case needs to be clear; needs to be crystallised.”

The underground coal gasification process involved igniting coal underground and drawing off the gas through a series of wells.

Linc told investors it also wanted to produce gas-to-liquid fuels, including diesel and aviation fuel.

The court heard the trial due to start in December was complicated and would take four months, possible six. There were at least 30 witnesses. It is shaping up to be one of the longest and most expensive in Queensland history.

Divorce, bankruptcy and citizenship issues – these are all matters that might land you in court. But not all courts are created equal.

Crown Law had earlier identified 3000 documents it considered relevant to the case, said Justin Greggery QC, for Bond, a former chief executive at Linc Energy.

However, the defence had not received a crucial document pertaining to G1, or gasifier one, where the initial underground trials began.




Dividends by the Numbers in June 2021 and 2021-Q2

Going by the U.S. stock market's dividends, both June 2021 and the second quarter of 2021 registered robust growth.

The following chart shows the market's dividend increases and decreases from January 2004 through June 2021:

Number of Public U.S. Firms Increasing or Decreasing their Dividends Each Month, January 2004 through June 2021

Here is the U.S. stock market's dividend metadata for June 2021:

  • 2,723 U.S. firms declared dividends in June 2021, an increase of 870 over the total recorded in May 2021. That figure is also a decrease of 1,294 from the 4,017 recorded in June 2020.
  • Some 59 U.S. firms announced they would pay a special (or extra) dividend to their shareholders in June 2021, an increase of 12 over the number recorded in May 2021 and an increase of 46 over the 13 recorded in June 2020.
  • Standard and Poor counted 81 U.S. firms announcing dividend rises in June 2021, a decline of 67 from the 148 recorded in May 2021, and an increase of 7 over the 74 recorded in June 2020. The reduction from May 2021 was expected, because of the seasonal pattern where June is typically the month that records the second-lowest number of dividend increases during the year. The month that typically sees the fewest dividend increases is September.
  • A total of 6 publicly traded companies cut their dividends in June 2021, the same as the number recorded in May 2021 and also a decrease of 65 from the 71 recorded in June 2020. With so few dividend cuts during the month, we're going to omit listing them, but will note that most occurred with firms who pay variable dividends. Overall, the low total for the month is consistent with robust economic growth.
  • One U.S. firm omitted paying their dividend in June 2021, an increase of one over the zero firms that suspended paying their dividends in May 2021. That figure is also a decrease of 26 from the 27 recorded in June 2020.

Looking at the quarterly data, with just 28 dividend cuts, 2021-Q2 saw 31 fewer dividend reductions than the first quarter of 2021, confirming the continuing improvement for the U.S. economy.

Speaking of which, for 2021-Q2, 384 firms increased their dividends, down 242 from 2021-Q1 when many firms turned their dividends back on or raised them as the U.S. economy continued gaining strength after exiting the coronavirus recession. Although the National Bureau of Economic Research will be the final arbiter for determining when that recession ended, the dividend metadata suggests that event occurred during 2020-Q3.


Standard and Poor. S&P Market Attributes Web File. [Excel Spreadsheet]. 1 July 2021.

Median Household Income in May 2021

Political Calculations' initial estimate of median household income in May 2021 is $68,526, an increase of $738 (or 1.1%) from the initial estimate of $67,788 for April 2021.

The latest update to the 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 May 2021. The inflation-adjusted figures are presented in terms of constant May 2021 U.S. dollars.

Median Household Income in the 21st Century: Nominal and Real Modeled Estimates, January 2000 to May 2021

May 2021's increase in median household income continues to be accompanied with rapidly rising inflation. With respect to April 2020's inflation-adjusted peak, the purchasing power of the U.S. median household income in May 2021 falls $1,023 short of that level after adjusting for inflation.

The good news is that relative gap peaked in March 2021 and has shrunk considerably in the months since, indicating faster growth in incomes.

Analyst's Notes

The BEA's estimates for aggregate wage and salary data from January 2021 through April 2021 were revised slightly from the Bureau's previous estimates. The estimates for January and February 2021 were adjusted downward by 0.01% and 0.02% respectively. The estimates for March and April 2021 were revised upward by 0.01% and 0.04%.


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 May 2021. Accessed: 28 May 2021.

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 May 2021. Accessed: 28 May 2021.

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: 12 May 2021. Accessed: 12 May 2021.