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Tuesday, 20 September

23:01

Don’t look here, look over there. "IndyWatch Feed Politics.au"

Now I am not a particular fan of ASX.  Their supernormal profits (EBITDA margins of more than 75% for the last 10 years) are a drag on the Australian economy and on superannuation.  But the reaction, particularly the bureaucratic (ASIC) and political (ScoMo) reaction, to their system outage of earlier this week is completely out of proportion.

Reported today in both Fairfax and Australian newspapers today, ASIC will be conducting an investigation.  But the cherry on top is that the Treasurer, Scott Morrison, who has extensive business and technology experience (ie none) is:

demanding answers to Monday’s stockmarket outage.

That’s right.  The Treasurer is demanding answers from a private business engaging in private business amongst other private businesses and citizens about what happened.

I don’t seem to recall such hairy chest thumping demands to know what happened with the ABS Census – you know, the agency that is within his Ministerial performance?

And that ASIC will be investigating.  Yeah right.  These people struggle to investigate matters they are supposed to be familiar with (Corporations Act matters).  Now they want to investigate matters they are completely unfamiliar with (technology matters).

Hmm.  What will they do?  ASIC will engage consultants to advise them and said consultants will come from the same gene pool of consultants that ASX probably be consulting.  Probably crowding out the ASX meaning that both ASX and ASIC will pay more than necessary for the investigation.  Which in turn means that Joe Public will be paying even more.

For heaven’s sake.  Get over yourselves ASIC and ScoMo.

What’s next.  ASIC will want to set up a technology compliance function, at a cost of millions, to check the technology of every Australian business?  And they will be verily supported by the Treasurer.

Hey ScoMo.  Clean up your own back yard before you start meddling in others.  Perhaps you start investigation what is going on in Government departments you have oversight over.  Why don’t you get ASIC to investigate the ABS.

16:16

Law Council of Australia: further parliamentary scrutiny necessary of new counter-terrorism laws "IndyWatch Feed Politics.au"


Medianet Logo
AAP Logo
 Medianet Release



15 Sep 2016 4:37 PM AEST - Special advocate regime a vital inclusion in new counter-terrorism bill, but further parliamentary scrutiny necessary




The Law Council of Australia has commended the Government for including a special advocate regime in new counter-terrorism laws introduced to the Senate today....

16:15

DYI biohacking rears its ugly head in Australia? "IndyWatch Feed Politics.au"


Gene Ethics, 8 September 2016:

DIY biohack threat

US biohacker Ellen Jorgensen, of Genspace New York, toured Australia in Science Week to promote DIY gene hacking, in informal labs, and to encourage untrained nerds to do genetic manipulation. The OGTR promised to tell her audiences that Australian GM laws require training, contained labs and expert supervision, but did not. The OGTR has also failed to define new 'gene editing' techniques and their products as GM, so they remain unregulated. We advocate tough laws banning any DIY genetic manipulation of living things. Humans invented computer programs but they fail, are hacked and virus infected for fun. Untrained, risk-takers, aspiring to be the next bio-Gates or Jobs, must be stopped.


University of Sydney, Faculty of Science:

Biohacking events at Sydney Science Festival
Get down with DNA
10 am, Thursday 18 August, Royal Botanic Garden Sydney
Stage 6 biology students and their teachers will meet Dr Ellen Jorgensen and spend the day exploring exciting DIY bio techniques and the amazing things biohackers do. The DIY bio movement gives bio-entrepreneurs low-cost access to facilities for proof-of-concept experiments. Hands-on science workshops will be delivered by Sydney’s leading science organisations including the Royal Botanic Garden, Taronga Conservation Society, UTS Centre for Forensic Science and the Australian Centre for Wildlife Genomics. Students will also experience a behind the scenes tour of the Royal Botanic Garden’s Plant Pathology...

07:01

Can the Immigrant Crisis Be Solved? "IndyWatch Feed Politics.au"

UK prime minister Theresa May will address the UN General Assembly on Tuesday. She seeks UN Action to Control Mass Migration Flows.

In contrast, I propose a 10-point “common sense” solution, not UN action.

Let’s start with May’s proposal.

Theresa May will use her first appearance as British prime minister at a United Nations General Assembly meeting starting Monday to urge fellow leaders to do more to control mass migration, which she’ll argue hurts both refugees and the countries they enter.

May will say the migrants should be encouraged to claim asylum in the first safe country they reach.

Meanwhile the EU’s open internal borders have allowed large population flows, with many Eastern Europeans traveling to richer countries in search of a better life. It was partly resentment at this that led Britain to vote to leave the EU in June. May will call for a better distinction between these two groups.

“This is an urgent matter — more people are displaced than at any point in modern history and it is vital that we provide ongoing support for those people most in need of protection,” May said in a statement released by her office. “While we must continue our efforts to end conflict, stop persecution and the abuse of human rights, I believe we also need a new, more effective global approach to manage migration.”

Simple Question

What the hell can the UN do?

Myths, Misunderstandings and Outright lies about owning Gold. Are you at risk?

The answer, of course, is nothing. And asking a political body that cannot possibly do anything useful to solve a problem is like hoping a wish-granting magic genie will pop out of the bottle.

Some readers may be thinking “stop criticizing and offer a solution”. Fair enough.

Mish Ten Point Refugee Plan

  1. Don’t start wars. This especially applies to the US.
  2. Don’t nation build. This especially applies to the US.
  3. Don’t interfere in the internal politics of other nations. Universal
  4. Don’t welcome refugees with open arms. This especially applies to the EU
  5. Don’t pay bribes to halt refugee flows. This especially applies to the EU.
  6. Don’t demand other countries accept refugees they do not want. This especially applies to the EU.
  7. Don’t criticize other countries for controlling their borders. This especially applies to the EU.
  8. Do recognize the difference between economic refugees and political refugees. Universal
  9. Do be willing to accept Australian-style solutions of forcibly stopping refugees from entering a country. Universal
  10. Do Recognize a nation’s first priority must be the safety and welfare of its own citizens. Universal

If point 6 had been followed, Brexit would never have happened.

Instead of seeking UN action, how about a little common sense?

Reprinted with permission from Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis.

 

The post Can the Immigrant Crisis Be Solved? appeared first on LewRockwell.

06:23

The Business of Politics "IndyWatch Feed Politics.au"

Late last week Satyajit Das wrote an interesting piece in Naked Capitalism titled The Business of Politics.  I generally like Das’ writings.  He is usually quite insightful and pithy, notwithstanding his penchant for frequent quotes and his leftist policy leanings.

In this piece, Das writes about the generally false proposition that successful business leadership seldom translates into successful political leadership.  This is a timely point to discuss this because part of the alleged appeal of Malcolm Turnbull is his alleged success in business.

Das deconstructs his argument into 6 points explaining why (in his opinion), business leadership does not really translate into political leadership.

I think Das is generally right and his article generally good (despite his bias for an interventionist state) but he over complicates things too much.  It seems that that success in politics is essentially about achieving things through influence whereas in business (as an executive) is achieving things through authority.

The closest thing to political leadership in a business context is being a Chairman of a complex organisation.  As a Chair, you too are first among equals and you have a very close relationship with the executive officers (bureaucrats).  It is also quite common that successful business CEOs make very bad directors and Chairman.

Looking back through my memory vault, I can’t seem to recall a successful political leader who spent most of their career in business – Menzies, Hawke, Howard, Reagan, Thatcher.

It is possible that Turnbull will be successful, but …..

04:59

In which the pond worries about the miserable prospects of certain migrants and their unhealthy dependence on grants .. "IndyWatch Feed Politics.au"


Thanks to the reptile splash for the Caterists, the pond was immediately alerted to the deeply problematic issue posed this day for lunchtime reflection.

In its gracious and giving, almost infinite,  generosity, the humanitarians of Oz had allowed a British sociology student - is there a lower form of academia? - laundry van driver, trainee studio manager, and wretched  refugee reptile into the country, but as might be expected from these precedents, it turned out that the Caterist had miserable prospects.

As a result, the country has had to turn over almost a cool quarter million a year to a sheltering institution - as a grant, not, as is the current welfare fashion, as an investment - in order to house and feed the Caterist ...

Dismal and miserable indeed, and even worse, to supplement this meagre lifestyle, the Caterists are wont to scribble furiously for the lizards of Oz ...


Indeed, indeed. Why is it that certain people come into the country with the assumption that a silver spoon grant is some kind of right of birth?



The pond is bewildered, perhaps even bemused. 

Is this why the Caterist often travels with a nick name, Nick "PC" Cater, where the pond is given to understand the initials stand not for Paw Cash, but for Pork Chop?


Yes, it's hardly surprising they should hie off to grant-laden lifestyles rich in glasses of port (or perhaps an amontillado sherry) and creaking leather chairs ...

Of course the pond is constantly reminded that it shouldn't recycle its simmering resentment for jumped up Pommie bastards and the unfathomable terror they produce in the pond, but sometimes, it can get very hard ...

...

04:57

Monstrous "IndyWatch Feed Politics.au"

Between 2012 and 2014, Brian Balzer raped and sexually exploited a female prisoner at the prison he worked as a guard at. Unlike many victims of sexual violence in US prisons, she complained about it on her release. And as a result, she's back in prison, detained indefinitely as a "material witness":

A former guard at Oregon's only women's prison is awaiting trial on accusations that he had sex with an inmate – but it's the alleged victim in the case who's in jail.

Washington County Circuit Judge Charles Bailey this week ordered that the 41-year-old woman remain in custody on a material witness hold because of the state's fear that she won't show up to testify at the Oct. 4 trial.

Jail records show she's been held since Aug. 16.


And a Guardian article yesterday shows that she is still being detained.

Jailing a victim is simply monstrous, and seems calculated to discourage future complaints. And I can't think of a better way to guarantee unhelpful testimony from an uncooperative witness than that.

04:16

Defending the indefensible "IndyWatch Feed Politics.au"

Last week the government released a damning review of MPI's decision not to prosecute fishers for illegal fish dumping, high-grading and under-reporting of catches. Today, unbelievably, Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy is defending their failure:

"In this one particular case I am disappointed. The director general is now making a raft of changes within MPI in terms of different processes and procedures to ensure this doesn't happen again."

Despite the changes - including fast-tracking more electronic monitoring equipment on boats - Guy said MPI did a very good job and the public could have full confidence in their fisheries enforcement.

"I have trust in MPI because, by and large, they do a good job as the regulator. But you need to understand...dumping and discards has been an issue [they] have been grappling with for a long period of time."


A good job as regulator? Yeah, right. MPI is completely captured by the industry it is supposed to be policing. Guy should be working to eradicate that culture, not defending it.

04:05

Another camp-guard quits "IndyWatch Feed Politics.au"

A third organisation has decided that it no longer wants to help Australia to run concentration camps for refugees:

A company contracted to provide support for refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru is pulling out, after deciding it would not re-tender for the contract.

The Guardian reports sources on Nauru saying Connect Settlement Services told workers and refugees at a meeting on Monday it would be gone by Christmas.

The agency, which took over after Save the Children pulled out last year, is believed to have consistently raised concerns about poor mental healthcare and child protection services on Nauru.

CSS is the third major contractor to announce a pull out in recent weeks after the security contractor, Wilson Security, and the main contractor, Ferrovial, which took over Broadspectrum, announced they would not seek to renew contracts.


Which means Australia either needs to find new gulag guards, or run the camps itself. Or shut them down. And they're clearly anticipating the latter by moving to ban any former gulag inmate from ever entering Australia - a move which would allow New Zealand to take these refugees, and protect Australia from the implausible scenario that, having built a new life here, they might choose the society which rejected, abused and tortured them over the one which welcomed them. Its an illuminating illustration of just how titanic Australia's ego is - they seriously think that, having tortured people, their victims will still be trying to join their putrid, racist country.

As for how we should respond, banning any Australian who has worked in the camps, or (more importantly) voted for them would be a good start. But you'd expect them to fail the "good character" test in any case.

02:32

Who to vote for in Palmerston North "IndyWatch Feed Politics.au"

My local body voting papers arrived yesterday, meaning that I need to decide who I'm voting for. So, here's my take on Palmerston North local body politics.

The mayoral race is a waste of time. On the one hand, we have a rugby meathead who thinks stadiums are more important than social housing. And on the other, a convicted child-beater who "claimed to be God, to be emperor and land lord, and said he could print money", who sounds like a character from "The Repairer of Reputations". Neither of those is a good choice; fortunately the ballot paper includes an "informal" option you can circle.

City Council is interesting, with 28 candidates competing for 15 spots in an STV election. That's a big field, and there's some easy ways of winnowing it down: first, exclude anyone who voted for at-large election rather than wards, which gets rid of Baty, Broad, Dennison, Findlay and Jefferies. Second, exclude anyone who voted for the (now dumped) plan to hire thugs to intimidate beggars, which eliminates Baty, Findlay, Hapeta and Meehan. Scrubbing anyone who promises low rates (i.e. to underfund council services) gets rid of Bowen, Egan, McLaughlin and Naylor as well. I recommended Duncan McCann last election, but him being in bed with the meathead doesn't make him appeal. Which has almost reduced us to a manageable number.

Of the rest, we have a Green candidate, Brent Barrett, and four Labour candidates - Zulfiqar Butt, David Chisholm, Sheryll Hoera and Lorna Johnson. Sue Pugmire and Aleisha Rutherford are also left-wing candidates. Abi Symes might be worth it if you want a youth voice, but scores poorly on the Generation Zero scorecard. Tangi Utikere and Elizabeth Paine are people I'd rank lowly (but at least rank). Joseph Poff supports wind fams, but sadly the wrong one (PNCC's corrupt little deal with Mighty River to put one in the Turitea Reserve) - he might be OK in another year, but not while the Turitea windfarm is on the table (looking back I also see he was a farmer candidate for Horizons last time. Which suggests he's an anti-green candidate and a definite "no"). I haven't worked out my exact ordering yet - do I do the obvious and go Barrett 1 because he's the candidate I want to see elected, or do I try and be tactical and give Symes my top vote in the hope that it saves her from early elimination? - but ranking women before men seems to be a good way to help address the monoculture of dead white men in local government.

(If you're looking for material on the candidates, NZ Election Ads has a good collection of stuff from the PN election this time, including every newspaper ad and flyer I could scan in).

Which brings us to Horizons. The state of the river is still the key issue (and is overflowing into city council politics because of PNCC's poor sewage arrangements). Unfortunately they still use the block vote, so its tick up to four boxes from a choice of six candidates. At this stage I should make an embarrassing admission: last election I recommended Rachel Keedwell as a clean water candidate. Turns ou...

01:00

Open letter on inflation "IndyWatch Feed Politics.au"

Yesterday the AFR published a magnificent open letter to (new RBA governor) Philip Lowe. This in particular caught my attention:

There seems to be a view that fostering asset inflation creates sustainable, long term wealth in an economy. In our view, this is certainly not the case. The extremely loose monetary policy of recent years, both here and overseas, has had the effect of redistributing wealth amongst the community to asset owners. Hence home owners or share owners, both domestically and abroad, have benefited at the expense of renters and younger people.

Asset inflation does not foster sustainable growth. What is required is saving which can fund long term investment in productive capital, both physical and human.

It seems the current orthodoxy is all about stimulating even greater borrowing and consumption rather than saving and investment. It should be clear by now, given the experiences overseas such as in Japan and the European Union, that the extremely low and negative interest rates have not stimulated borrowing to fund investment in productive capital. Instead, what it has done is keep alive inefficient businesses, as well as allowing companies to financially engineer their capital structures through share buybacks – particularly in the United States.

Disincentive to save

In addition, low and negative rates have removed almost any incentive to save. In fact, the current environment of excessively low interest rates around the world, including Australia, is punishing anyone who has painstakingly saved money for their retirement, while on the other hand it is perversely rewarding those who want to borrow heavily to buy what in many cases seem like inflated assets. As the bastion of our financial system, is this the message that the RBA wants to transmit to the Australian people? That heavy borrowing is to be encouraged while saving should be discouraged? This doesn’t seem to be a very prudent message that any responsible central bank would want to be associated with.

Classical economists could never have justified the interference in the financial system that removes the reward for deferring consumption, and removes a key metric for the efficient allocation of scarce resources.

Well said.

00:06

In which the pond spends quality time with the fundamentalist Hastie ... "IndyWatch Feed Politics.au"


What's remarkable about live streaming on YouTube is not that it exists - or is allowed to exist - but that it's a reminder of how dire 24/7 news services are in the United States.

The pond dropped in last night to check up on the latest mad bomber and was bombarded with misinformation; breathless, panting 'breaking news' ignorance which contained nothing breaking nor newsworthy; panellists shouting at each other; and those infamous walls of screens which sees prattling pundits stuffed into every corner of the coverage.

And then there was the relentless advertising, with a heavy emphasis on medical. There was supposed to be a mythical time when pay TV meant you paid to be free of advertising, but that's long gone, like King Arthur's court ...

Fox was the worst of it, but CNN was just as bizarre, while MSNBC was simply weird. It brought back the pond's drive across the States like a bad acid trip.

The whole experience was infantalizing, and after half an hour, the pond gave up ... only to be surprised this morning to discover the police had only arrested one perp when the coverage suggested that there was a major terrorist cell with a dozen or so active suspects at work ...

No doubt it would be the same if exposed to Sky or 24 here for any period of time, or Q and A for ten minutes ... though it has to be said that the pond feels the same after a few minutes contemplating the lizards of Oz.

They never give up ...


... whereas fully funded, fully religious, government funded chaplain activism has a place in every classroom ...

The reptiles seize on anything doing the rounds ...


And they faithfully regurgitate Q and A ...

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Monday, 19 September

16:16

Refugee children need protection now "IndyWatch Feed Politics.au"


The Lancet, editorial, 17 September 2016:

Amel Emric/AP 
In a new report—released on Sept 7, UNICEF paints a grim picture. Worldwide, an estimated 50 million children are refugees or migrants, with the number of child migrants having doubled and the number of refugees having increased by 21% in the past 10 years. The most vulnerable of these children are unaccompanied, and have often fled war, insecurity, and poverty under harrowing circumstances. They might be alone or they might have lost or become separated from their family during their journey.

In one terrifying account, published on Sept 9 (Why are you keeping me here?) Human Rights Watch describes how unaccompanied migrant children are detained in police custody in Greece in unsanitary and degrading conditions. Germany's national investigative police agency, the Bundeskriminalamt, has admitted in new figures that by the end of August almost 9000 unaccompanied children who were registered entering the country are officially missing. And while some of these children may be safe with relatives somewhere, there is the very real danger of exploitation and abuse. The UK has only managed to extricate 50 of 220 unaccompanied children stranded in the camp in Calais and who have a legal right to be reunited with families in the UK. This delay and inaction is unexplained and shameful.

We agree with Zulfiqar Bhutta and colleagues' strong plea in a Correspondence letter, published online on Sept 5, that it is now time “to take the strongest action possible to protect children”. The UCL–Lancet Commission on Migration and Health, announced in this week's issue, promises to tackle key issues that affect the health and wellbeing of migrants, including unaccompanied children. Children not only need safe environments and access to health care, they need education and special psychosocial attention to mitigate the atrocities of war and persecution, including experiences of being uprooted into d...

16:15

This is how Senator Pauline Hanson loves her country "IndyWatch Feed Politics.au"


Liberal Senator for WA and Minister for Women embracing Senator Hanson after her first speech in the Senate


On 14 September 2016 Hansard recorded that Senator Pauline Hanson ‘loves’ her country.

She has an odd way of showing it.

Endorsing a compulsory national identity card complete with an identification chip, photo and electronic fingerprint. Demonising single mothers and women who divorce. Condoning the murder of women by husbands/ex-husbands. Supporting penalising the young unemployed. Calling for a ban on the burqa and the building of new mosques. Calling for a halt to immigration to Australia by people professing Islam as their religion.

Excerpt from the Senator for Queensland’s first speech in the Australian Senate:

I love my country, culture and way of life. My pride and patriotism were instilled in me from an early age when I watched the Australian flag raised every morning at school and sang the national anthem; watching our athletes compete on the world stage, proud to salute the Australian flag being raised to honour them as they took their place on podiums. It is about belonging, respect and commitment to fight for Australia. This will never be traded or given up for the mantras of diversity or tolerance. Australia had a national identity before Federation, and it had nothing to do with diversity and everything to do with belonging. Tolerance has to be shown by those who come to this country for a new way of life. If you are not prepared to become Australian and give this country your undivided loyalty, obey our laws, respect our culture and way of life, then I suggest you go back where you came from. If it would be any help, I will take you to the airport and wave you goodbye with sincere best wishes.
Australia is predominantly a Christian cou...

11:28

Last chance on climate change policy "IndyWatch Feed Politics.au"

With August 2016 setting yet another record for global temperatures, the need for action on climate change is obvious. The good news is that most national governments are finally recognising the urgency of the problem. The bad news is that Australia is not among them. Having commissioned a Special Review from the Climate Change Authority (of which I’m a member) and received recommendations designed with the current policy as a starting point, the government’s response has been that it might take another look at the problem in 2017.

I’ve written the statement over the fold in response. Comments very welcome. I won’t engage in discussion; in this context, I’d rather let the statement speak for itself.

Statement by Professor John Quiggin regarding government response to Climate Change Authority Special Review report
1. The Climate Change Authority is an independent body responsible for delivering independent expert advice on climate change policy within the principles set out in the Climate Change Authority Act 2011. In my view, the Authority’s primary obligation is to provide the Parliament, which established it, with a basis on which Parliament can adopt, and the government can implement, policies to meet Australia’s international obligations. As stated in previous reports by the Authority, and reiterated in the current report, our commitment to internationally equitable policies consistent with holding global warming below 2 degrees will require emissions reductions of 40 to 60 per cent below 2000 levels by 2030. This is consistent with the evidence of climate science and with the actions being taken by other countries to meet their commitments.
2. It is therefore appropriate, in my view, for advice on the design of climate policy to take account of the existing settings of policy, the general desirability of consistency and stability in policy, and the policy commitments already made by parties and members of Parliament, . That is, it is appropriate to recommend a policy or policy toolkit that is:
(i) able to be implemented in the short run and scaled up over time to meet Australia’s international obligations, bearing in mind that our existing indicative commitments will themselves be scaled up over time; and
(ii) based on existing policies and capable of commanding broad support in Parliament
even if, in the absence of the constraints imposed by the history of policy in this field, other policies might be regarded as more cost-effective and reliable.
3. Conversely, it is not appropriate for the Authority, as an independent advisory body to accept political constraints that would be inconsistent with the obligation to make recommendations consistent with our international obligations.
4. I believe that the toolkit proposed by the Authority meets the criteria set out in point 2 and I therefore commend it to the Parliament.
5. The Authority’s report has received favourable responses from stakeholders including the Business Council of Australia, AIGroup and the Australian Energy Council.
http://bca.com.au/media/business-council-statement-on-climate-change-authority-report
https://www.aigroup.com.au/policy-and-research/mediacentre/releases/CCA-Report-Sept1/
https://www.energycouncil.com.au/news/market-based-policy-for-climate-still-the-way-to-go-1/
6. However, an effective response to Australia’s international obligations is feasible only if the major parties, and particularly the government parties, understand the urgency of the problem and are committed to adopting a comprehensive response as soon as possible.
7. Unfortunately, government’s response so far suggests that
(a) the government is unlikely to contemplate any further action before the completion of a review scheduled for the second half of 2017; and
(b) even in the context of this review, the g...

11:22

Monday Message Board "IndyWatch Feed Politics.au"

Another Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

10:00

Malcolm Turnbull's great weak "IndyWatch Feed Politics.au"

Malcolm Turnbull's great weakThe Canberra Press Gallery are unanimous — Macolm Turnbull had a terrific week last week. Managing editor Dave Donovan is not in the Press Gallery. read now...

08:43

Thinking outside the box "IndyWatch Feed Politics.au"

There was an oped in the AFR today by a university qualified individual working in the area of his technical qualification suggesting that:

Business-related university degrees are failing graduates in the workplace. The world of accounting and finance has rapidly innovated, but the university degrees associated with these disciplines have not moved forward.

This is the type of oped that’ll have the administrators running around like chooks. But I’m not really concerned.

The oped writer has qualifications in accounting and finance from a G8 university. I know those disciplines well. If you don’t know double entry book keeping, or the Modigliani-Millier theorems, you know nothing. So double entry book keeping is a technology that is several hundred years old. The MM theorems were developed in the late 1950s and early 1960s. (If you take the view that they are simply finance applications of the first and second welfare theorems, then they’re even older). Now students can excel and app as much as they like, but unless students sit down with plenty of paper and a pen (or pencil) and grind through the principles they simply do not know the material.

That brings me to the next bugbear: thinking outside the box.

Handwritten answers are also not conducive to students learning to think “outside the box”.

Two points. One. You can’t teach people to think outside the box. Two. Before anyone can think outside the box they do need to know what is inside the box. Deep and profound understanding of what is inside the box leads to people thinking outside the box. If a student wanted to become a mechanic nobody would question the need to take an engine apart and put it back together again, yet people assume this is unreasonable when studying accounting or finance.

What our intrepid oped writer wants is for the university system to teach entrepreneurial insight. But if it could be taught, it would be bureaucratic insight. He also wants the university system to teach everything that could ever be known or useful in his career. I’m just wondering why any employer would ever want to employ someone with no capacity or desire to learn on the job?

So a superficially profound oped, but really lots of heat and no light.

08:00

Russia and Europe "IndyWatch Feed Politics.au"

As some of you have realised I’m off conferencing in Russia and Belgium. I have long wanted to visit Russia – St. Petersburg particularly, but Moscow is good too. On the other hand, I’ve never particularly wanted to visit Brussels but there’s a conference on and why not? On the way home I’ll be catching the train to London in time for 2000AD‘s 2000th prog celebrations, and catching up with my sister.

Posting may be light or heavy. Clearing out the spam filter and clearing new comments may take longer than usual.

 

06:48

Correlation, Causation or Cluelessness? "IndyWatch Feed Politics.au"

There is a very interesting publication out there call The Mandarin.   In their own words:

The Mandarin is for public sector leaders and executives and the many stakeholders and suppliers interested in their work.

Fair enough.

It is often an interesting read, but occasionally, like today, they come up with corkers:

‘Huge increase’ in quality job applicants: the diversity dividend.

If what is represented in this article is the quality of analysis in the Australian public sector, then god help us all.

Get this.  From the article:

Promoting diversity and flexible working isn’t just about feeling good — if done well, it might increase the number of talented people wanting to work at your organisation.

At least that’s the experience of Claire Foo, chief information officer at the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, and the only female CIO in a Victorian government department.

Foo, who recently won a TechDiversity award for her advocacy for women in technology and public service management, has noticed a “huge increase” in both the number and calibre of job applicants thanks to DELWP’s promotion of diversity.

Howz that for scientific.  The CIO “noticed a huge increase”.  Or should that be a yooooooge increase.

Like a mosquito at a nudist farm, where does one start.  There are just so many ways to rip apart such nonsense.  To claim that the increase in applicants is due (entirely) to the diversity policy.  Really?

Has anyone asked the applicants why they are applying or is “fact based policy” in the Victorian government based on what is “noticed” by a single executive?

Could it be that the Victorian government just pays too much for their staff and hence is taking them from the private sector?  Could it be that government policy has destroyed the economy leaving nowhere else to go but the public sector?  Is it at all possible applicant numbers are changing because of something other than this diversity policy?

Diversity policies make people feel good, so they must be the reason.  Otherwise, why have them?

I am just shaking my head here.

Is turning on the Victorian de-sal operation about diversity?  You know, it can’t be good to have just normal water?

06:36

Pacific and PNG Greg Taylor scholarship – call for expressions of interest "IndyWatch Feed Politics.au"

Scholars from PNG and the Pacific are invited to submit expressions of interest in the Greg Taylor scholarship program for the 2016-17 round. Applicants would be expected to undertake research for a period of up to three months at the Development Policy Centre at ANU, most likely in the summer, and in close collaboration with a researcher from our centre (or possibly from the broader ANU).

The fellowship covers travel, living costs and a modest honorarium. Applications are accepted from students already studying at ANU or elsewhere in Australia, and from new and emerging scholars in the area of economics in the Pacific and PNG.

Applicants are asked to submit expressions of interest to Matthew Dornan, Deputy Director of the Development Policy Centre (matthew.dornan@anu.edu.au). Expressions of interest should be accompanied by a resume and short research agenda (1-2 pages) outlining the research topic proposed by the applicant. Applicants are also asked to suggest researchers within Devpolicy (or the ANU) with whom they may be able to collaborate on the project.

The call for expressions of interest for this round closes on 17 October 2016.

The scholarships are made possible by a generous donation from an anonymous donor, and are named in the honour of Greg Taylor AO, whose former positions include: Executive Director of the IMF for both Australia and PNG, Secretary of various Australian Government Departments, advisor to the PNG Treasury Secretary, Chairman of the PNG Superannuation Task Force, and Director of PNG’s largest superannuation fund.

More details on the scholarship, and on past recipients, are available on our website.

The post Pacific and PNG Greg Taylor scholarship – call for expressions of interest appeared first on Devpolicy Blog from the Development Policy Centre.

04:41

An Oreo snack for lunch ... "IndyWatch Feed Politics.au"



Now the pond, it has to be said right up the front, is totally onside with the Oreo on this one ...

The pond still treasures very fond memories of voting in the nationwide plebiscite called by John Howard before he dared to change the Marriage Act back in 2004.

It was as classic an example of democracy in action as could be imagined ...


What could be more democratic?

Strange, the pond would have sworn blind it voted in that plebiscite. Perhaps it's like that well known phenomenon of the phantom limb or the phantom pain ...

Never mind, it's on with that promised Oreo treat ...




Really, she is splendidly barking mad, is she not? Is not an Oreo treat for lunch one of the finer, refined treats of a modern civilisation?

Alas then the Oreo turns to hapless Freedom Boy ...



The pond uses the word "hapless" advisedly because, as previously noted by the pond, Freedom Boy has oscillated wildly when it comes to the matter of the plebiscite, before understanding that his place in life was to grovel before fundamentalist right wingers ...



Alas, even as he was wormin...

04:14

David Leyonhjelm guest post on free speech "IndyWatch Feed Politics.au"

I recently lodged a complaint under Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act in response to an article written by the journalist Mark Kenny.

What he wrote was unlawful under that section. My objective, in lodging the complaint, was to show that the law needs to change. It should not be unlawful to call me or anyone else rude names, whether or not our feelings are affected.

The basis of the complaint is that Kenny said I demonstrated “certitude” as a consequence of being an “angry white male”, I was a “rank apologist for the resentment industry” and a “hate speech apologist”. Since S18C makes it unlawful to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person because of their colour, and white is a colour, this is sufficient to make it unlawful.

Kenny also described me as “gormless”, “boorish, a supercilious know-all with the empathy of a Besser block”, “wacky”, a “self-promoting misanthrope” and subject to “infantile reasoning”. These were not as directly attributed to my colour and so might not be unlawful.

A great deal of commentary was prompted by the complaint, from both sides of politics. Much of it has been poorly informed and indicates that many people have a poor understanding of the meaning of free speech. As a consequence, they cannot understand why S18C should go.
One commentator claimed that S18D of the same act provides a defence of fair comment, which I was ignoring. I agree fair comment is a well-recognised legal concept, but in my opinion Kenny’s remarks about me were outside the court’s narrow interpretation of ‘fair comment’.

I was accused of engaging in a stunt. This discounts my libertarian beliefs. In the last parliament I co sponsored a bill to remove “insult and offend” from S18C, and have done the same this parliament. Yesterday I introduced a bill to repeal S18C entirely, and I will be introducing bills to repeal constraints on free speech in other legislation.

Some suggested my complaint will fail because I was not offended. This overlooks the fact that offence is not required for a comment to be unlawful. All it requires is to be “reasonably likely” to offend.

Perhaps the most interesting comments were from those who applied racist reasoning. One was the suggestion that S18C is not meant to be used by white males like me, but is for the benefit of minorities. This is pretty much the point of Kenny’s article – as a white male (like Kenny), he suggests I have not lived with “entrenched discrimination” and therefore have nothing to complain about.

Another was the interviewer who suggested that without S18C there would be unchecked racial vilification leading to increased mental illness in non-whites. Non-whites, it was implied, are more susceptible to mental illness than whites.

There were also those who viewed my annoyance at the ABC’s Chaser accosting me outside my house with homophobic slogans as indicating my hypocrisy regarding free speech. This is a concern, as it is based on the misconception that free speech requires a willingness to listen or even approve of what is said. That is not the case; just as blocking someone on Twitter or Facebook says nothing about free speech, free speech imposes no obligation to listen. Indeed, the only obligation is to refrain from inhibiting it from being said.

A comment I take more seriously is the suggestion that racial vilification will increase if it is not suppressed via laws such as S18C. This relies on a Hobbesian view of the world, in which humans are only saved from perpetual war by laws and strong government. It is also misguided. Just as the law does not oblige us to say please and thank-you, neither does it need to prevent us from insulting each other.

Furthermore, to the extent that racist attitudes are present in society, it assumes these will change if it is unlawful to express them. This is false; unless it can be heard and robustly challenged, racism will......

04:00

More horror-stories from Nauru "IndyWatch Feed Politics.au"

Another week, another leak containing more horror stories from Australia's refugee concentration camp on Nauru:

Child and adult refugees held on Nauru under Australia’s offshore detention regime are continuing to report allegations of sexual abuse and engage in self-harm, new leaked documents reveal.

The new incident reports, seen by the Guardian, include a harrowing account of the alleged rape of a refugee, who refused to report the encounter to Nauruan police. The reports also tell of children stubbing out cigarettes on their arms, trying to jump off buildings and attempting suicide by other means.

The reports make reference to “ongoing, significant risks” to children held on Nauru between January and March this year. The leak follows the Guardian’s publication of the Nauru files, incident reports revealing the trauma and abuse inflicted on children held by Australia in offshore detention.


There's full (and unpleasant) details in the article. One of the things it makes clear is that the refugees do not feel they will receive justice from the Nauruan police. This of course is then used by the Nauruan and Australian governments to dismiss all claims of abuse and victimisation as fabricated, when really its just another example of how they are victimised.

This abuse and victimisation of refugees by Australia and Nauru constitutes an ongoing crime against humanity. It has to stop. And those responsible for it need to be held to account for it in The Hague.

03:12

The Quota Management System is broken "IndyWatch Feed Politics.au"

New Zealand's Quota Management System is often held up as a gold standard of sustainable fisheries management. But it turns out that that's only true if you ignore massive, pervasive cheating of the system by our criminal fishing industry. MPI thinks the problem is so bad that if they enforced the rules, they would put half the industry out of business:

The Ministry for Primary Industries has admitted that illegal fish dumping is so widespread that if the rules were properly enforced over half of inshore fishers would go out of business.

The suggestion is made in an email between two top MPI managers, which forms part of a damning report, released on Friday, into its failure to prosecute fish dumping.

The email was sent as MPI debated whether to prosecute the illegal dumping of tonnes of fish by five of six boats it was monitoring in 2012.

In it, director of fisheries management David Turner said fish dumping was systemic and something MPI had never been able to get on top of.

"Fisheries Management can't quantify the tonnages involved but we suspect they are significant to the point that they are impacting on stocks.

"We estimate that if we found the golden bullet to stop discarding, we would probably put over half of the inshore fleet out of business overnight..."


Which invites the obvious question: why don't they? It would be better for the environment, and better for the long-term future of the industry if these criminals were shut down and locked out, and their quota taken up by honest participants. The fact that MPI is refusing to do this tells us that they have been completely captured, not just by the industry, but by its current criminal incumbents. And that simply is not acceptable.

As with dirty dairying, the law should be enforced. And if this puts cheating fishers out of business, that's a benefit, not a loss.

02:50

The effects of dairy intensification "IndyWatch Feed Politics.au"

Over the past two decades Canterbury has been taken over by the dairy industry. Dry, drought-prone planes have been covered in massive pivot irrigators, sucking the rivers and aquifers dry to feed to thirsty cows to produce milk powder for export. The cows, of course, produce shit, which goes straight into the local rivers, turning them into toxic sewers. What does this mean in practice? Places where people used to swim can no longer be used. And holiday communities are being abandoned as a result:

A tiny, century-old community built around a river can no longer swim in it because it has become too polluted.

A rope swing dangling uselessly by Canterbury's Selwyn River is a reminder of a better time in the tiny community of Selwyn Huts – when families spent long summers in the river, before it became too polluted for swimming.

The lower stretches of the river have become toxic and shallow. The water is so green it glows in the sun.

For about a century, people swam and boated in the river, southwest of Christchurch, but doing so now could make you sick.

[...]

Last Christmas, for the first time, the river was empty. Families stayed out of the river and played games on a nearby tennis court instead.


You can't swim, you can't fish, and its only safe to kayak if you decontaminate afterwards. Dairy farmers have destroyed all the other possible uses for the river, effectively stealing it for themselves.

This is the legacy National's pandering to the dairy industry has left us - and what is at stake in this year's local body elections. Dairy pollution and intensification is happening in regions all over the country - in Hastings, in Manawatu, in Marlborough and in Christchurch. Who you elect to regional councils will make a difference to whether your children can use the rivers in the same way you did. Remember that when you get your voting papers, and vote to clean up the mess and shut down the farmers.

02:38

You shouldn't have to go to court to get the law enforced "IndyWatch Feed Politics.au"

Two years ago, the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council finally approved its "One Plan" after a 10 year struggle. The new regional plan imposed tough controls on nutrient leaching - cowshit - and required resource consent for intensive farming. The aim was simple: less shit would mean cleaner waterways, particularly the Manawatu River. But instead of enforcing its plan, Horizons then turned around and helped farmers to evade it, rubber-stamping consents allowing them to keep on polluting (and then trying to cover up the fact). And now, they're being taken to court in an effort to get them to enforce the law:

Legal proceedings are being filed against Horizons Regional Council over the implementation of its One Plan.

The council will be challenged in the Environment Court by the Environmental Defence Society and Fish & Game.

"We are concerned Horizons hasn't been implementing its regional plan lawfully, particularly when dealing with resource consent applications for intensive farming and dairy conversions," EDS chief executive Gary Taylor said.

[...]

The court will be asked to make a declaration on "legal questions" about the implementation of the plan in relation to [the] Resource Management Act, the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management and the One Plan.


The EDS should not have to do this. There's effectively a law on the books, and Horizons' job is to enforce it. Their refusal to do so to pander to a large sector group is frankly corrupt, and the idea that they're wasting ratepayer's money arguing that they should be allowed to do so utterly perverse. And with an election coming up, it will be fascinating to see where the various candidates stand on it.

01:40

Shriver, Abdel-Magied, and writing fiction. "IndyWatch Feed Politics.au"

    I’ve spent the last few days thinking about cultural appropriation and the writing of fiction, as a consequence of the controversial keynote speech given by author Lionel Shriver at the Brisbane Writers Festival, and the distress expressed by Yassmin Abdel-Magied that caused her to walk out of Shriver’s presentation. Briefly, Shriver stated her hope […]

01:38

Effective Altruism Australia conference – videos online "IndyWatch Feed Politics.au"

If you didn’t attend the Effective Altruism Australia conference (EAGxAustralia) in Melbourne earlier this year, the videos of panels and keynotes are now online. The event attracted one of the biggest names in effective altruism – Peter Singer – as well as a range of other presenters on topics such as indigenous health, animal rights and more.

Our Director Stephen Howes also spoke on foreign aid policy – you can see his presentation below.

The full playlist of videos is available here.

The post Effective Altruism Australia conference – videos online appeared first on Devpolicy Blog from the Development Policy Centre.

01:19

Why hasn’t the politics of immigration in Australia gone feral? "IndyWatch Feed Politics.au"

As one contemplates the rise in anti-immigration parties in Europe, and the fraught politics of immigration in the US, it is very striking how little political angst Australia’s very high level of immigration has caused. True, the nationalist One Nation Party recently scored 4 Senators in the 2016 Federal Election, but that was on 4.3% of the national vote.

With the collapse of socialism as a serious alternative to capitalism, and the consequent convergence in the economic policies of the (centre-left) ALP and the (centre-right) LNP Coalition (part of a wider pattern across Western democracies), there has been a floating “not them” vote in Australian politics which has latched on to various vehicles over the years: this is just another iteration.

The ALP and Coalition still scored almost two-thirds of the Senate vote, and over three-quarters of the House of Representatives vote: that the result was so close said much more about the Coalition campaign and incumbent PM Malcolm Turnbull‘s Premiership than something deeper.

So, the question is why does Australia’s high immigration levels (much higher than the US, for example) cause remarkably little political angst?

The why can be understood by focusing on three individuals.

Talking it out, thinking it through

The first is Arthur Calwell (1896-1973) Immigration minister from 1945-49 in the postwar Chifley Labor Government. A good Labor man, Calwell was a staunch advocate of the White Australia policy (famously saying, over a wrongful deportation case, that “two Wongs don’t make a White“).

Calwell was the primary political architect of Australia’s postwar immigration policy. The crucial element being that Australia had a serious and open debate among migration policy: it was not an ad hoc response to various pressures, but a considered (and publicly debated) national strategy.

There were considerable adjustments along the way (notably the abandonment of White Australia) but, as the original political architect of Australia’s postwar immigration policy, Calwell openly embraced the notion that Australia would deliberately look beyond the British Isles for migrants, famously coining the term New Australians. The Australian national identity...

Sunday, 18 September

23:42

In which a star is born and slouches towards a bunker in Surry Hills ... "IndyWatch Feed Politics.au"


(Above: and more thinking Rowe here).

The pond has been revitalised and energised on a Monday.

Oh sure, there are the usual diligent reptiles going about their daily duties ...


And it wouldn't be a good day if someone didn't ask when someone had stopped beating their wife ...


But the pond has always believed in the star theory, the need for someone with charisma to burst on to the scene and stop the traffic ...

Who'd have noted the astonishing resemblance between the  young Nicole Kidman and the Order of Lenin hunter?

  

Oh sure there's a difference in age marking the time when Nicole did her first shows as a juvenile and the once retiring and shy OOL hunter stepped out of the shadows ...

But otherwise the resemblances are remarkable, even startling ...

And now he's hit his straps, the OOL hunter can't be held back ...


Nonsense! 
...

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