Australian Politics 2016-07-31 15:42:00

Lenient judge in prison enquiry is too lenient according to some Leftists and Aborigines

Abuse of Aboriginal women (bashing, rape etc.) in Aboriginal settlements is rife and the law in the Northern Territory does little to help them.  When cases do get to court Northern Territory judges give out only token penalties to the men concerned.  And judge Brian Martin is the chief offender in that.  Read here, here and here of his woeful record.

But it depends whose ox is gored, as the saying goes.  The Left is fine about his leniency towards Aborigines but they are steamed that he might also be lenient to white officials.  Hence the rant below

Brand-new royal commissioner Brian Ross Martin says he’s the right man to look into allegations of abuse of young prisoners at the Don Dale facility, and that neither he nor any other Supreme Court justice had any inkling of what was going on there. But that turns out not to be true. In June 2014, the NT Supreme Court upheld the not guilty verdict of a guard at Don Dale — who had been accused of assaulting none other than its now most famous inmate, Dylan Voller.

And there are other thorny questions. Tucked away at page 240 of Brian Ross Martin’s 570-page door-stop report of the Inquiry into the establishment of a Northern Territory Anti-Corruption, Integrity and Misconduct Commission is the Instrument of his Appointment, dated 14 December 2015.

Consistent with the appointment of Commissioners in similar inquiries in the NT–reference the appointment of former Federal Police Deputy Commissioner John Lawler to the NT’s Stella Maris inquiry–Brian Ross Martin’s appointment was made by the Administrator of the Northern Territory following the receipt of advice from the NT government’s Executive Council.

So far, so good.

The appointments of John Lawler and Brian Martin to their respective inquiries share another element. Below the signature of the NT Administrator on both Instruments sits another, larger and more florid signature. That signature–perhaps an affectation, perhaps adopted from a nickname–simply reads “Elf.”

Brian Martin appointment 14-12-2015

The “Elf” is Johan Wessel “John” Elferink, the NT Attorney-General and, until Tuesday this week, the NT’s Minister for Corrections at the centre of the scandal that saw him sacked by NT Chief Minister Adam Giles following the broadcast of the 4 Corners report last Monday night.

To be fair, the Elf was, as Brian Ross Martin’s Instrument of Appointment makes clear, acting on behalf of Chief Minister Adam Giles. But it was John Elferink as Attorney-General who three and a half months earlier on 26 August 2015, introduced a Motion in the NT Legislative Assembly that led to the establishment of the Inquiry he signed off on in mid-December that year. Brian Ross Martin’s report on the Anti-Corruption, Integrity and Misconduct Commission inquiry was tabled in the NT Legislative Assembly by Adam Giles on 27 June 2016, the last day of sittings for Adam Giles’ troubled minority government.

Yesterday afternoon Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that Brian Ross Martin–known as the “Black Prince” in some circles–had been appointed as Royal Commissioner to inquire into the NT’s youth justice system.

I’ll bet London-to-a-brick that Elferink will be called to appear before the Martin Royal Commission as a witness. Elferink’s involvement in the establishment of the anti-corruption body inquiry, and his role in the appointment of Martin as Commissioner to lead that inquiry–may well result in some uncomfortable moments in the commission–both for Commissioner Martin and for Elferink.

The NT Supreme Court website records that Brian Ross Martin continues to serve as an additional Judge of the Supreme Court of the NT since his appointment in December 2010.

None of this should be seen as a reflection on Commissioner Martin’s capacity to conduct a thorough and rigorous Royal Commission. He is widely regarded as a jurist–particularly in relation to criminal matters–of the highest order.

That does not mean that Commissioner Martin cannot misstep or mistake. His appointment has already attracted criticism and will no doubt attract more in coming days.

Aboriginal organisations in the NT have lined up to demand some role in forming the composition of the Commission and in the drafting of the Terms of Reference. There have been any number of calls for the Commission to cast a wider net and examine similar concerns about youth detention outside of the NT.

There were also early suggestions that this Royal Commission provided Turnbull with an opportunity to cast a wider net of his own in choosing a female Commissioner–former High Court Justice Susan Crennan has been mentioned–to run the Commission. And rightly or wrongly, Adam Giles will–by the appointment of an NT judge to oversee a narrowly focussed and “quick and dirty” inquiry–be seen by many as having very much got his way.

But Commissioner Martin may have already made at least one misstep. A transcript of the joint press conference held by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Attorney-General George Brandis and Commissioner Martin yesterday afternoon announcing Commissioner Martin’s appointment has this question directed to Prime Minister Turnbull.

    REPORTER: Prime Minister, given nine out of 10 children in the Northern Territory in the detention system are Indigenous and I haven’t heard the word ‘racism‘ once in the terms of reference, are you all satisfied racism doesn’t play a role here?

    BRIAN ROSS MARTIN: Look, I think it is appropriate for me to answer that question. Whether racism does or doesn’t play a role will be part of the inquiry.

It is a brave man indeed who presumes to answer for a Prime Minister.

Later a reporter posed this question of Commissioner Martin aimed directly at his familiarity with the NT and the potential for claims of bias:

    REPORTER: Given you have spent so much time in the Northern Territory in this justice space, are you concerned there may be any perception of conflict of interest?

    BRIAN ROSS MARTIN: I don’t think so. I can’t see how that would arise. There’s never been any suggestion that this sort of treatment was brought to my attention or the attention of other Supreme Court judges. I don’t see that at all. I see the advantages of a knowledge of the Territory. And to answer the question earlier, those who are disillusioned I encourage to come forward. There’s their way in to make their views and their concerns known so that they can be properly assessed, and addressed, as best we can. (emphasis added)

There is no reason to doubt Commissioner Martin’s statement–made presumably in relation to his time sitting as a judge of the NT Supreme Court–that he had not dealt with any matters involving claims of abuse of youth in detention, but in the course of his duties as a Supreme Court judge he would have invariably received pre-sentencing reports from Corrections officers and had young defendant’s before him facing serious charges.

But the underlined statement above–that concerns about the treatment of juveniles in detention had never been brought to the attention of his colleagues on the NT Supreme Court–is wrong.

As 4 Corners showed on Monday night 13 year-old Dylan Voller was assaulted while in custody at Aranda House in Alice Springs in December 2010.

Three years later, in December 2013, Derek James Tasker appeared before NT Stipendiary Magistrate Daynor Trigg in the Court of Summary Jurisdiction in Alice Springs charged with the unlawful assault of Dylan Voller, with the aggravating circumstances that Dylan Voller suffered harm, that Dylan Voller was under 16 years of age and that Derek Tasker was an adult and that Dylan Voller was unable to effectively defend himself due to age and physique.

In finding Derek Tasker not guilty as charged Magistrate Trigg held that in all of the circumstances of the case he was not satisfied that the prosecution had proved beyond all reasonable doubt that Tasker applied unreasonable and/or necessary force to Voller, leading to the conclusion that he could not find that Tasker “unlawfully” assaulted Dylan Voller.

In June 2014 the prosecution appealed to the NT Supreme Court before Justice Peter Barr, who dismissed the appeal, finding that the appellant had not established any error in Daynor Trigg’s findings or in the conclusions he reached.

Late yesterday the Northern and Central Land Councils* and the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT) released a statement condemning the Martin Commission as being “compromised from the start.”

AMSANT Deputy Chair Olga Havnen said that:

    The appointment of Brian Martin does not satisfy any threshold of independence.  On the facts and on perception, the appointment is unacceptable.

    Only a few weeks ago Brian Martin delivered to the NT Government a report about the establishment of a regime to investigate corruption, at the instigation of the now disgraced and former NT Corrections Minister, John Elferink.  Mr Martin accepted that commission and was paid for it, so how can Mr Turnbull boast his independence from government?

    This appointment is wrong for all manner of reasons, and Aboriginal people in the Territory will not have confidence in the appointment of Brian Martin. As Chief Justice, he sat at the apex of the NT’s justice system.  He presided over all judicial officers who sentenced young Aboriginal offenders to detention, and he knew them all; he himself sentenced juveniles to detention.


Turnbull does the right thing to block Rudd's UN bid

Rudd's own party booted him out of office -- so Turnbull should be more lenient??

There is no question that Kevin Rudd was the wrong person to be UN Secretary General. But that has never been a disqualification for consideration for political preferment. The shock is that Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has dispensed with the old rules and done the right thing.

"Suitability" for such a high office was his No1 consideration in declining to nominate Kevin Rudd as a candidate to lead the UN.

What a fantastic example to those actually selecting the next Secretary General.
There is a ring of hollowness to those in Labor who claim partisan politics is at play. Rudd divided the Labor caucus as much as the current Government and the public of Australia.

Turnbull points out that the Coalition renewed the term of Kim Beazley, another former Labor leader, as Ambassador to Washington. This was not about Rudd being a former Labor leader and Prime Minister.

The fact is this is all about Kevin.

You just needed to follow the public debate over the past two weeks to know that the guy remains a magnet for vitriol and conflict, not someone respected enough to be the world's top diplomat.

The public debate may have been decisive for Turnbull.
Until the debate went public, there had been a conventional wisdom that despite his failings, it would be unthinkable, even "unpatriotic" for Turnbull not to nominate Rudd.

It has reportedly been the view of Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop and so Turnbull's decision was not without some cost. But it was going to be a costly decision politically either way.

The pro-Tony Abbott faction in his Government would not sit by quietly if Turnbull had given the nod to a clearly unsuitable opposing Prime Minister when he could not find a place for Abbott within his newly formed cabinet.

Assuming that merit played at least a tiny part in the selection process, Rudd stood no chance of winning the job.


Ricky Muir calls out “political correctness gone mad” after advertising watchdog upholds complaint against golliwog ad

Victorian politician Ricky Muir has come out in support of a Beechworth Sweet Co’s television advertisement that featured an animated toy golliwog, labelling a decision by the Advertising Standards Board to uphold a complaint against the ad as “political correctness gone mad.”

Muir, a representative of the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party who appears unlikely to retain his Victorian Senate seat, posted a photo of him with his childhood toy golliwog named “Wally”, stating, “the sheer notion that somehow my childhood toy or mothers hobby is ‘racist’ is simply ridiculous”.

Speaking to SmartCompany, Muir says that the situation was “really political correctness gone mad” and that it was clear the advertisement was not intended to offend or hurt.

“The company had this in place for a very long time, it’s clear they mean no ill intent at all,” Muir says. “It’s very disappointing to see this very extreme measure be made.”

Muir believes that the Beechworth Sweet Co should appeal the decision by the Ad Standards Board, and also encourages the company to seek public support. “I’ve had lots of responses on social media, and many people agree that it’s nothing more than a doll and a fond childhood memory,” Muir says.

“My mother was a keen collector of golliwogs, I would go as far to say even a bit fanatical. At one point we did a count, and there were in excess of 200 dolls in the house.”

Muir says he is “disappointed” that one complaint could “stamp out the voice of the rest of the nation”.

“The people who dwell on this are those with a strong politically correct nature about them,” he says.

“It’s a childhood memory associated with fun and acceptance, as a child you don’t discriminate.”

New South Wales politician David Leyonhjelm was among those that commented on Muir’s post, expressing his support for the company’s advertisement saying it is “insane” to claim golliwogs were racist. “For those who choose to take offence by assuming it is racist, I recommend they choose another feeling,” said Leyonhjelm.

The advertisement depicts an animated version of the confectionary company’s logo, which features a number of animals and toys surrounding a lolly jar with the golliwog character reaching in.

The complainant who contacted the Ad Standards Board said the golliwog is a “racist symbol” and it had “shocked me deeply. I truly believe casual racism like this is so damaging to the community and this commercial should never be aired again,” said the complainant.

In their response to the complaint, the board agreed that the golliwog “represents a symbol that humiliates and ridicules a person on account of the colour of their skin” but clarified that the animation of the logo is the reason the advertisement was pulled down.  The board holds no jurisdiction over company logo designs.

After SmartCompany first reported on the board’s decision, a number of readers posted comments in support of the company and expressed their concerns over the board’s decision, also labelling it “political correctness gone mad.”

“I saw this complaint and immediately ordered online a quantity of sweets from the Beechworth Sweet Company. Strike back against political correctness gone mad with the most powerful weapon at your disposal – your own money,” said one commenter.

“Maybe everyone should buy a golliwog and sit it on the idiot that made this complaints doorstep. So many bad things happening in this world and they get offended by a golliwog, what a fool,” said another.

In response to the complaint, the Beechworth Sweet Co told the Ad Standards Board golliwogs “were very popular toys at the beginning of the 20th century and were characters in many children’s books.  We believe we represent gollies as part of happy childhood memories in a tasteful [and] respectful way,” the company said.

Beechworth Sweet Co has stopped the TV advertisement, pursuing “further correspondence regarding the processes and the possibility of a review”. On contacting the Advertising Standard’s Board, SmartCompany was told that there would be no public comment made until the case is resolved, implying that the company may be still pursuing a review of the decision.

Advertisers and marketers have a 10-day window to appeal board decisions after a ruling is made, and appealing costs advertisers $1000 or $2000 if they do not pay the Advertising Standards Bureau’s levy. An independent reviewer is assigned to undertake a review of the board’s decision.


How one school ditched drugs and violence to became a "grammar school"

Sounds like a big committment of personnel worked.  Would have been expensive

Just days into his new job as principal of North Geelong Secondary College, Nick Adamou was calling the cops on his students.

Students showing up to school, supposedly to do their VCE, were skipping class to deal drugs in the corridors. "When I say it was visible, I mean visible," Mr Adamou recalls.

But cleaning up the school's drug problem didn't prepare him for the challenges ahead.

In 2014, a female student was stabbed with a knife at the school, for which a fellow student was charged.

Violent and aggressive parents regularly descended on the school grounds, threatening to beat either their own children or other kids they didn't like (invariably, those from ethnic minorities).

The principal was soon in court, seeking restraining orders against the parents.

Eating an orange during an interview with Fairfax Media, Mr Adamou reflects on just how far his school has come.

In the five years since he took the job, the public school has earned the reputation as a "grammar school" among locals, with the VCE completion rate leaping from 50 to 93 per cent.

Over the same period, student numbers have nearly doubled, and the school which was once avoided like the plague is now over-subscribed.

Mr Adamou believes that in revolutionising his school, he is offering a brighter future for his students. "Education is the only way out of poverty, and we do have a lot of that here," he said. "This is why I work in schools."

A Fairfax Media analysis has revealed that schools which have most improved their VCE completion rate – that is, the number of students starting their VCE in year 10 that actually finish the course in year 12 – are located in working class areas.

The most improved schools (nearly all are state schools) have improved by up to 10 per cent over the past five years. They include Carrum Downs Secondary College, Epping Secondary College and Wyndham Secondary College.

These schools are not snagging the state's top VCE marks.

But they're quietly raising the profile of their students, by boosting the number of students doing their VCE, and by extension, broadening their students' tertiary and career options.

They're doing this by offering students mentors, introducing helpful learning apps and computer programs, applying principles of "positive education" (a fusion of positive psychology and best practice teaching), and with the help of Gonski funding, investing in youth workers and education consultants.

Teaching experts also believe that the sector has experienced a "sea change" in the past decade, as younger teachers adopt a practice Melbourne University's senior lecturer in education policy, Dr Glenn Savage, called "clinical teaching".

"It's this idea of diagnosing and understanding where a young person is at, and taking them forward using strategies that are based on evidence. Across Victoria and nationally, we are seeing a difference in the way principals are trying to measure the impact of learning in the classroom."

Dr Savage said teachers are being held "more accountable" by principals and parents, for their students' results.

"Teachers are being asked to provide evidence to show how young people are going, and how the evidence can be used to plan ways forward and make improvements for those students. While this should always have been the bread and butter work of teachers, I don't think it has been."

Mr Adamou admits that he expects a lot from his staff.

As the school grew in size, he hired a fresh crop of talented teachers, and asked them to start tracking their students' performance from year 7 to year 12, in order to identify areas where students were consistently struggling.

The teachers would involve careers counsellors in the process of working with students and their parents, in helping them develop their strengths.

Mr Adamou also launched an accelerated program and a vocational course for non-English speaking students, and word quickly spread about changes at Geelong North.

Families from Golden Plains, West Geelong, Manifold Heights, Essendon, Reservoir and Dandenong started enrolling their students.

The school still has a "long way to go" in terms of achieving competitive grades, the principal said. But to have catapulted from a 50 per cent participation rate in VCE to achieving VCE marks that nudge the top ten per cent in the state, is no small feat.

"We are now concentrating especially on getting students study scores above 40. It's not going to be long, this year will be the beginning of outstanding results."

Education academic Dr Savage said there was a common misconception that teachers at poorer schools had low aspirations for their students.

While there were unfortunate cases of this occurring, he said many schools in poorer areas were being run by passionate principals and teachers who were trying to change the culture in their community.

The best teachers were continually changing their teaching methods to suit the individual needs of the students, he said. 

Richard Jones, who has been principal at Laverton College P-12 for the past 14 months, applies that principle at his school, where 30 per cent of the students are refugees from Sudan and war-torn countries in the Middle East.

These students come to class with varying levels of knowledge, and yet the school's VCE completion rate hit 100 per cent for the first time in 2014.

Mr Jones said the key was constantly seeking student feedback – asking students to rate how well they understood a lesson at the end of each class, and explain topics in their own words.

Teachers at Epping Secondary College dealt with a 30 per cent VCE drop out rate and chronic absenteeism using different strategies.

In a bid to appeal to tech savvy students, they rolled out programs called Edrolo and Your Tutor, which give students 24/7 access to teachers and tutors online. The virtual teachers answer questions and offer supplementary classes that revise class content.

The school also runs tutorials teaching about the power of positive education – a technique increasingly used by educators (including at elite private school Geelong Grammar) to encourage students to focus on their strengths and build motivation.

"A lot of students think maths is not my forte," said principal Helene Alamidis. "The philosophy of positive education is about changing that, and showing them that they can. It's about the effort that they put in, and the strategies that they put in place to achieve."


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

Australian Politics 2016-07-30 15:35:00

Greenie moans about the Barrier Reef are putting tourists off  -- NOT

As with the boy who cried wolf, most people probably discount the incessant Greenie moans

FAR North tourism operators are flat strap as cashed-up visitors take advantage of easy access to Tropical Queensland.

Data released by Cairns Airport this week shows about 43,000 passengers travelled through the international terminal last month, marking a 13.3 per cent rise from June last year.

Domestic passengers last month topped 335,600, about 14,400 more than the previous June.

According to the data, European passports used when clearing immigration at Cairns Airport have exceeded 68,600 over the past 12 months, a growth of 75 per cent.

A record number of international competitors also contested the 2016 Cairns Ironman in June.

Tourism Tropical North Queensland director of business and tourism events, Rosie Douglas, said the June growth continued to reflect the trends being experienced by the region’s industry.

“The addition of direct flights from Hong Kong and the Philippines has given greater access to the Asian and European markets, which also have been using the direct flights from Singapore,” she said.

“This increase in aviation capacity from Asia was instrumental in Cairns winning the right to host the prestigious Ironman Asia-Pacific, the feature event of the Cairns Airport Adventure Festival during June.

“June also marks the start of the school holidays for the United Kingdom, Northern Europe and Australia, bringing stronger numbers from those markets.”

Cairns Airport last month celebrated a milestone five million passengers for the year, with the total number now having reached about 5,011,000.

The influx of international and domestic visitors is being felt throughout the Far North.

Skyrail general manager Craig Pocock said the tourism heavyweight was experiencing “pre-global financial crisis” numbers.

“We’ve certainly seen strong growth across all markets,” he said. “This season we’ve also been strong both before and after the school break, and now we’re benefiting from the Japanese holiday period.

“This is a bright and optimistic period we’re experiencing, and bookings indicate that it will continue for some time.”

Mr Pocock said Skyrail was having to “ramp up” its operations to cater for the ongoing growth.

“We’ve had to increase resources, staffing and modify the way we operate to cater for the volume of visitors,” he said.


Stop the over-reaction. This was not ‘torture’

John Heffernan writes:

After more than 33 years working in both adult and juvenile corrections I feel I am qualified to present an informed opinion on this situation.

The ABC “Four Corners” program a few nights ago showed just a few seconds of edited footage which has now resulted in politicians from all over the country jumping on the bandwagon and declaring years of torture and cover-up in the management of juveniles offenders in the NT.

As evidence of this “torture” the ABC presented an image of a detainee in a chair with a hood over his head and proclaimed this is the way prisoners of war are treated, not kids.

I’m sorry, but through my experienced eyes I see a juvenile offender, who has obviously been acting out, being provided time out, restrained in an approved chair, with an approved “spit hood” covering his head.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I would never condone the use of excessive force and a couple of incidents shown on video would suggest that staff may have crossed the line and gone too far on those occasions.

But that said, force must be used in certain instances within adult and juvenile correctional centres, that is a fact of life. These juveniles are not locked up for stealing lollies from the local corner store. By the time they are actually incarcerated they have been given every possible chance by the courts.

I find it somewhat ironic that society demands of our governments and the judiciary that both adults and juveniles that commit extremely serious crimes receive the maximum penalty available. Our politicians respond to these requests and talk tough in the process and vow to protect the community by ensuring the offenders are put behind bars for as long as possible.

Yet, when those same offenders, when incarcerated, choose to behave in the same manner that resulted in their imprisonment by kicking, punching and spitting on gaol staff, politicians want to become all self-righteous when prison staff are forced to address that behaviour within the limited means available.

The policies and procedure relating to the use of force with gaols and detention centres are very specific in nature. They are also very restrictive in the amount of force that can be used, particularly when it come to juveniles.

There are approved levels of force and permission must be gained from the relevant authority as the level of force to be used increases. Departmental heads have approved those policies and politicians are aware of them, however, it appears now right now everyone in authority is ducking for cover leaving officers on the ground to assume the responsibility.

Correctional centres and juvenile detention centres, by their very nature, are dangerous places to work. Everyday staff are abused and quite often assaulted by those that are housed within. The work the officers perform is difficult and demanding.

When it comes to the management of young offenders, I have found some of the most compassionate people work in these centres. Officers trying their best to manage these offenders are often dealing with the consequences of young offenders who have absolutely no respect for the law. By the time the offender reaches a point where a magistrate decides incarceration is the only answer the damage is well and truly done.

In my opinion what is happening now is completely unfair to those staff tasked with managing young offenders.

There is another side to this story. A side that I do not believe for a moment to be as sinister and as secretive as what certain people would have us believe. It should not require a royal commission to determine the full facts of this matter. A full investigation at a fraction of the cost, I believe, would achieve the same result. Talk about using a sledgehammer to crush a walnut.


Muslim migration to Australia: the big slowdown

When it comes to immigration, the government and opposition are in agreement. Our migration program is proudly non-discriminatory and that is how it should remain.

Yet the Australian government is pursuing a migration strategy that makes it extremely difficult for large numbers of Muslims from the Middle East to settle here, even if that is not the policy’s aim.

While governments of all stripes insist Australia’s migration program is non-discriminatory, an analysis of available data by The Australian suggests that the migration of Muslims from Lebanon, in particular, has slowed to a trickle, with no sign of a rush coming anytime soon.

Immigration officials tell The Australian that the low number of Muslim immigrants from the Middle East arriving in recent years has nothing to do with their religion, since applicants are not asked to state their faith when they apply to settle.

Instead, they say, it’s an unintended consequence of a migration policy that is almost entirely focused on attracting skilled and family reunion migrants from countries such as India (now Australia’s No 1 source of permanent migrants, with 34,874 arrivals last year) and China (27,874).

The strategy, which both major parties insist is not deliberate, means that while Islam was once the fastest growing religion in Australia, there are now more Buddhists (2.5 per cent of the population) than there are Muslims (2.2 per cent), and the Hindus are rapidly catching up.

“There are officials and politicians who openly favour Christians including Orthodox Christians (and Jewish migrants over Muslims),” one of Australia’s most eminent scholars on immigration, James Jupp of the Australian National University, tells The Australian. But, he says, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection “will never admit bias as many decisions are made locally” — that is, by officials in the country of origin.

Islamic Sciences & Research Academy Australia’s director Mehmet Ozalp says the local community could not help but notice that “the Muslim population from the Middle East was at one point growing fast, but that was about 10 years ago, and now it is slowing, whereas the Buddhist and Hindu population was pretty low but has increased dramatically.

“It is concerning because there are calls for stopping Muslim immigration,” Ozalp adds. “It’s not too far to assume that people in parliament may agree with these calls, and we need to worry: are these numbers indicative of an underlying problem?”

Muslim immigration came to the fore during the recent federal election when Senate candidate Pauline Hanson called for a complete ban. A debate kicked off just last week, when Nine Network presenter Sonia Kruger said she, too, wanted a ban on Muslim immigrants coming to Australia.

And this week Liberal senator Eric Abetz sent out a tweet saying: “We need an open and frank discussion on the future of immigration.”

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton insists, however, that Australia’s migration program is proudly non-discriminatory. “We don’t focus on religion. We focus on skills,” he tells The Australian.

The question of how many Muslim immigrants come to Australia each year is difficult to answer. The Department of Immi­gra­tion says it does not ask newly approved migrants to state their religion and therefore does not keep statistics.

In an effort to find an answer, The Australian studied immigration statistics from 1974 to last year and compared them with census data held by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, specifically on the religious affiliation of overseas-born Australians. The two sets of data are not a complete match, making a precise extrapolation impossible, but some trends immediately become clear.

While Lebanon once provided Australia with 2000 to 4000 migrants a year, that number had dropped by 2010-11 to 1143 people (last year’s figure was 1242). The department says it does not know how many of these people were Muslim, but according to ABS data most of the Lebanese migrants who arrived in recent years (57.2 per cent) are not Muslim. If that trend is holding — and there is no reason to suppose that it is not — then Australia is taking as few as 550 Lebanese Muslims a year.

The situation for Iran is similar: while figures show Australia continues to welcome immigrants from Iran (4093 people in 2013-14), the ABS data suggests that as many as 62 per cent of those who arrive are not Muslim but Christian or of the Baha’i Faith.

Halim Rane, associate professor in the school of humanities at Griffith University, who worked for the Department of Immigration for six years, says the trend towards non-Muslim immigration is not new.

“Even in the 1990s, before Islamic extremism was even on the radar, the majority of people coming to Australia from Muslim-majority nations were not Muslim,” he says. “Take Egypt: it is majority Muslim, but Australia takes mostly Coptic Christians because they tend to have more of the skills Australia needs.

“But I don’t believe there is a policy or an anti-Muslim bias because they don’t even ask the question. They wouldn’t know if you’re Muslim or not. What happens is, the government of the day will focus on attracting certain skills — say, technology — and those immigrants will come from China or India, where there are not a lot of Muslims.”

The focus on skills means Australia takes more people from Ireland (5541 in 2013-14) than from Iraq (4304), and more from Nepal (4470), whose population is about 80 per cent Hindu, than from Bangladesh (2569), where most of the population is Muslim.

There is one clear exception to the general rule: Australia welcomed 8281 immigrants from Pakistan in 2014-15, most of whom are assumed to be Muslim, since ABS data shows that 87.7 per cent of Pakistani-born Australians identify as Muslim.

On the other hand, ABS data shows that Hindus are experiencing the fastest growth, with numbers increasing by 189 per cent to 275,500 across a 10-year period, mostly because of immigration.

By contrast, while the number of Muslims in the community is still increasing, it is doing so at the much lower rate (69 per cent across the same 10-year period) and most of that growth would seem to be coming not from immigration but from a high birthrate.

Muslim community leader Jamal Rifi tells The Australian that migration from Lebanon has definitely slowed in recent years, but “it is for a couple of reasons, including that not as many people are trying to come”.

“For some families, it’s expensive to apply, but also because the Lebanese community in Australia is very integrated now,” Rifi says. “There aren’t as many people going back (to Lebanon) to find a partner. It’s better to find a partner here, who will be more educated and liberal and compatible. The marriages between here and there, we have seen failures.”

Rifi says the local community supports the rigorous, skills-based program. “We don’t want anyone who might end up being radicalised. It’s not an anti-Muslim policy, it’s a conscious decision to take people who will contribute, and that is why we don’t have the same problems here.”


Tricky to talk about the sexually confused

Today host Karl Stefanovic has apologised unreservedly for using the slur "tranny" while on-air on Thursday, calling himself "an ignorant tool".

Stefanovic was slammed by the LGBTQI community for using the term - considered a derogatory way to describe transgender women - while joking with colleagues.

The Today Show host apologises for using a transphobic slur and 'crossing a line'.

"I was an ignorant tool. And when I say 'ignorant', I really mean it. Yesterday I got it very wrong," he said on Friday morning.

The slur occurred on Thursday when Stefanovic and co-host Sylvia Jeffreys were interviewing Today reporter Christine Ahern, who was robbed by two transgender women while covering the Rio Olympics in Brazil.

"By using the word 'tranny', I offended an awful lot of beautiful, sensitive people," he said. "I honestly didn't know the negative and deeply hurtful impact that word has, not only on members of the LGBTQI community, but on their family and on their friends.

The 41-year-old presenter - who in the past has used his public platform to call out sexism and xenophobia - said he was wrong in assuming the transgender community would laugh along with him.

Not-for-profit organisation GLAAD states that 'tranny' is a defamatory word used to "dehumanise transgender people and should not be used in mainstream media".

'Transvestite' is also considered an outdated term, often used in the past to describe cross-dressers, and should not be associated with transgender women.

"Like so many other words we used in the past, it's time to throw that one in the bin," Stefanovic continued.

"I have no understanding of what it's like to feel like you are born in the wrong body, to feel uncomfortable in your own skin or the extreme courage it takes to accept yourself and live the life you've always wanted to live."

Critics rounded on Stefanovic on Twitter on Thursday, telling the presenter they'd be happy to buy him a beer and educate him.

Encouraging viewers at home to join him in educating themselves, Stefanovic called for tolerance.

"Given the events of the last year, now more than ever we need to educate ourselves, laugh together and embrace each others differences and live with tolerance, compassion and most of all, love and respect for everyone."


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

Why Splinter? Parties that Split from the FSLN, FMLN and URNG

While there has been a good amount written about the transitions of the FSLN, FMLN, and URNG to political parties, we have not seen much written on what happened to those groups that splintered from the original revolutionary coalitions to follow their own political projects. That is, until now.

I have a new paper at the Journal of Latin American Studies on Why Splinter? Parties that Split from the FSLN, FMLN and URNG.
Following the ends to the civil wars in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala, the revolutionary coalitions that had led the fight against authoritarian regimes began to fracture. However, none of the splinter parties that broke from the Sandinista National Liberation Front, Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, and Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unit has succeeded on their own as political parties.
In this article, I argue that there is no single reason to explain the poor performances of the Democratic Party (PD), the Renovating Movement (MR), and the Democratic Front Party (FDR) in El Salvador, the Sandinista Renovation Movement (Renovate-MRS) and the Movement to Rescue Sandinismo (Rescue-MRS) in Nicaragua, and the New Nation Alliance (ANN) in Guatemala.
However, their limited financial resources, alliances with non-revolutionary centrist and centre-right parties, and voter tendency to overlook internal ideological and personal debates within the original political parties, especially the FSLN and FMLN, have not helped.
The paper was a challenge. I probably wrote the first drafts in 2011 and 2012 before submitting it for the first time in March 2013. It was one of the first things that I accomplished on my Fulbright to Guatemala that year so I remember it. I went back and forth with the reviewers and editors for nearly three years before it was finally accepted. The team at JLAS were great but it was still a struggle.

As we went through the process, I had to respond to reviewers' questions about ongoing, events such as the elections in El Salvador (2014 and 2015) and Guatemala (2015) and the rise of GANA in El Salvador.

One reviewer claimed that GANA was another failed political party and therefore that I should include some discussion of that party in the paper as well. I won the argument that GANA has actually been a successful political party but it took awhile and I had to include a few paragraphs in the paper. A long three-year process.

If you'd like a copy of the article, shoot me an email and I can forward one to you.

29/7/16: Tax Regime, Apple, Fraud?

We have finally arrived: a Nobel Prize winner, former Chief Economist and Senior Vice-President of the World Bank (1997-2000) on Bloomberg, calling Apple's use of the Irish Tax Regime 'a fraud':