Stopping the Death Spiral

Cory-BernardiSenator Cory Bernardi looks at the "brouhaha" over Gina Rinehart's investment in Fairfax:

The brouhaha over Gina Rinehart’s investment in Fairfax Media is simply astounding.

Fairfax has been in a business death spiral for at least a decade with declining circulation and lower advertising revenues. Many commentators suggest the business needs major changes to ensure its survival.

The confirmation of the rate of decay in a once mighty news organisation is reflected in the publicly quoted share price. As the fortunes of the Fairfax press have declined, so too has the value of its investors’ shareholding. 

The fact that Australia's most successful business person is prepared to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in an ailing organisation should be celebrated as a lifeline.

Instead, the bleating of the professional left has been deafening.

The most public rancor is over the issue of editorial independence. According to those who have presided over the fall of Fairfax, all board members must sign the charter guaranteeing not to interfere editorially with the operations of the empire.

That none of the current board have reportedly actually signed the charter letter seems to go mostly unmentioned. True to form, whether in business or in matters moral, the left apply different standards of accountability according to one’s political views. As Orwell wrote “some animals are more equal than others”.

Importantly, why would any shareholder, large or small, sit idly by while the business in which they invested was in a sustained decline. Any business on a downward path needs change if it is to endure. 

Click here to keep reading.

Senator Cory Bernardi is the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary Assisting the Leader of the Opposition and a Senator for South Australia. 

Australian Press Council Revisionists


According to Crocker.

The huge influx of boat people arriving upon our northern land points has prompted the Australian Press Council (APC) to provide writers with protocol on how such people should be described.

Advocacy groups and the usual spate of hankie-wringers have joined forces to bombard the APC with frivolous complaints about the media’s description of these interlopers. They don’t like the term, illegal immigrants; they say it smacks of criminality. Oh really? Their preferred term is, “asylum seekers”—a little sugar makes the medicine go down.

To placate the PC brigade, the linguistic vivisectionists at the press council seem to be rewriting the English dictionary to suit. Similar stuff, it seems, to Justice Bromberg’s Andrew Bolt decision.

Languages, however, are in perpetual evolution and those that resist fall from favour, even use. But that is for lexicologists, not the APC. Latin, Sanscrit, Coptic and Biblical Hebrew are some examples of tongues lost, although parts of those languages are still used in matters of church, legal and scientific.

On March 12 the APC instructed its members about what to call “illegal immigrants.” 

The APC states;  ‘Technically in Commonwealth immigration legislation they are referred to as “unlawful non-citizens”.  However, they are often referred to as “illegal immigrants”, or even “illegals”.’

Greg Sheridan, Foreign Editor of the Australian used a rogue descriptor twice in September 2011 and the vigilant APC word-cops pounced, just as it has several times on the Telegraph. I suppose naughty writers are sent to re-eduction camps.

Examine the APC’s determinations.

March update: lead paragraph. ‘The legal status of people who have entered Australia by boat without a visa is complex and potentially confusing. Their entry is not legally authorised but is not a criminal offence. The Australian Government usually refers to such entrants as “unauthorised boat arrivals” or “irregular maritime arrivals” but they are also “unlawful non-citizens” under the Migration Act.’ Got that?

The APC adds: ‘…terms such as “illegal immigrants” or “illegals” may constitute a breach of the Council’s Standards of Practice on these grounds.’

The Collins English Dictionary says: illegal—‘unauthorized or prohibited by a code of official or accepted rules.’ And, illegal—‘unlawful contrary to or prohibited by or defiant of law.’ Both unlawful and unauthorised mean illegal.

Furthermore, nearly every word in the English language has an antonym, an opposite meaning, and so does the Legal Thesaurus: “legal”. Antonym: “Illegal”, “illegitimate”, “illicit”, “unlawful”, “wrong.” Other dictionaries describe the antonym of “legal” similarly: “banned, prohibited bootleg, black-market, contraband, smuggled criminal, felonious.” 

Obviously, the APC chooses word pejoration (Latin, meaning “make worse”). 

“A Just Australia” advises: ‘a refugee’s claim for asylum has nothing to do with how they arrive in a country, but everything to do with the persecution that they are escaping.’ And there lies another “legal” point on “escaping.” With so many silks on their patron list one might have thought they would know the following.

Those from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and now the Maldives are not fleeing persecution. Sri Lanka’s civil war ended in 2009. Afghan President Hamid Karzai recently called for Afghans to return home and help build the nation. And, none of those countries appear on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) as having troubles. Most “illegal immigrants”, particularly those arriving by boat are economic migrants. Macmillan Dictionary on “economic migrant”: ‘someone who goes to a new country because living conditions or opportunities for jobs are not good in their own country.’ Seems clear enough?

Nevertheless, we shall hear much about “asylum seekers” during the coming weeks as Sri Lanka’s Controller-General of Immigration will deport about 600 of what he calls “economic refugees” who are expected to set sail for Hotel Australia. That’s in addition to the 400 already given notice to leave and a further 400 in the coming days.  The Tamil Tiger people-smuggling rings will to do very well, according to one Sri Lankan lawyer.

The Tamil departures from southern India are just the beginning for a new wave of people smugglers who send hopefuls off to their deaths on rotting hulks long considered useless as fishing craft. Nobody knows, or cares how many people now rest in Davey Jones’s locker. I wonder what the APC wants us to call “people smugglers”—“voyage facilitators”, perhaps?

The arrival of boat people is an irksome matter for most Australians who view them, regardless of legality, as queue-jumpers that should be stoped.

While the APC quibbles over what illegal immigrants should be called, that doesn’t solve the problem that they keep coming in ever increasing numbers, unidentifiable, via the smugglers’ route and that is illegal.

Perhaps a more fitting descriptor might be sea-urchins. What the APC will think about that?


Thought for the week: ‘The federal government has defended a program that gives asylum seekers living in community free accommodation and household goods packages worth up to $10,000.


Will the review be enough to break the silence?

Lori_Headshot_Danimezza_LRG-1Lori Dwyer asks whether a Darrell Morris was bulled by the Australian Public Service after working for the Liberals:

The recent announcement by Julia Gilliard of a nationwide review on workplace bullying was so well received, it was almost disturbing– it seems that the culture of harassment and stand over tactics within Australian places of employment is so engrained and accepted that the detractors of this government initiative were few, and their criticism at relatively low volume.
Quite recently, the story of Darrell Morris began to generate buzz within Australia's social media circles, despite the apparent reluctance of mainstream media to become engaged in the hierarchical warfare of our public service departments.
By his supervisor’s own admissions, with the evidence collaborated by formal reports, Morris had been consistently “performing well” in his role with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He's worked in the Canberra–based department for the better part of a decade. A quiet but contentious man, he admits that this is the only job he has ever wanted to do, and he relocated his wife and very young family to the ACT on finishing university specifically to cater to this career.
A fairly typical Aussie guy, Darrell forfeited his weekend rugby games and essential time with his kids in order to advance his employment– putting in the extra effort that is an unspoken requirement of being a ’good employee’ in this country.
It was during late 2009 and early 2010, while on leave with out pay working for Liberal Senator Helen  Coonan, that unfounded accusations of sharing classified information were leveled in Morris's direction. While DFAT issued him with a ’letter of regret’ over the incident, the subversive harassment continued and union officials report that the tone in meetings and other forms communication become between Morris and his superiors became increasingly hostile.

 It was last year, 2011, that Darrell Morris first took medical leave for severe depression. While ComCare, the relevant workers compensation providers, declared his workplace a significantly contributing factor to his illness, they have a ’no fault’ policy and no blame was laid, or compensation sought.
Morris's return to work in late 2011 was plagued with accusations of poor conduct from senior staff members and inflexibility within his senior management in regards to providing a safe and secure work environment– every employers ethical duty of care to those in their employ.
Currently on his second round of medical leave for depression, the DFAT has instructed Morris that his claims of stigmatization are invalid and further claims will result in disciplinary action. On his return to work, he will be blocked from receiving any training or promotion within the Department for a period as yet undetermined– it could be as long as three years.
While stating that a blanket ban on individuals returning from medical leave is ’policy’, no formal evidence of such a policy existing has been presented, despite numerous requests.
On this story breaking in the social medias, the general reaction from readers was subtle disgust overladen with a cynical acceptance that this conduct is to be expected within Government departments and all layers of bureaucracy, not only within our country's capital but in our state departments as well– those employed within our public sectors often work under a cloud of silence and passive aggression.
Transparency in workplace practices is always welcome, and Gilliard’s review of workplace bullying is timely, significant and valid. But it needs to focus its attention on sectors that are publicly known for using discrimination and stand over tactics– the Government’s own recruitment, advancement, internal complaint handling and ethical practice policies in particular.
Is that even possible, with the current culture of terrified silence that surrounds the topic; when people are too afraid to put name to their experiences for fear of covert retribution? When the best advice anyone within the public sector can give Darrell Morris is to change jobs, change departments, walk away and don't make a fuss?
Results of the review, due out in October, may provide a clearer picture– But don't go holding your breath. Given the current atmosphere, it may take more than one government review board to break the covert ranks of conspiratorial silence that surrounds this bizarrely underground, curiously Australian phenomenon.

On School Chaplains and Religious Freedom

Bill-MuehlenbergBill Muehlenberg looks at today's High Court decision on school chaplain funding, and asks whether it might not be time for Christian organisations to start refusing taxpayer funding:

A High Court ruling has declared that government funding of the school chaplaincy program is invalid according to the Australian constitution. This ruling raises many issues and many questions, and is a very important decision indeed.

One news report covers the story this way:

The High Court has ruled that the national school chaplaincy program is constitutionally invalid because it exceeds the Commonwealth’s funding powers. In a landmark decision that could cast doubt on other areas of Commonwealth funding, the court this morning upheld a challenge to the scheme by Queensland father Ron Williams.

The Howard government introduced the scheme in 2007, offering schools up to $20,000 a year to introduce or extend chaplaincy services. One of Australia’s leading constitutional lawyers George Williams said the implications of the case were massive and could potentially affect any program directly funded by the federal government.

The ruling came about as a result of a challenge a Toowoomba father made about the chaplaincy program. The ramifications of this decision may well be far reaching, and it is too early to tell just what all the implications of this will be.

The report continues:

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott told reporters in Queanbeyan that he wanted the chaplaincy program to continue but noted that he hadn’t yet seen the court’s decision. ‘We invented the program, we support the program, we want it to continue,’ he said. ‘Let’s have a look at the decision and let’s see what the government has in mind. I think it would be a real pity if this program wasn’t able to continue.’

Scripture Union Queensland, Australia’s largest employer of chaplains, which was the defendant to the High Court action, said today’s decision was about a particular historical funding model. ‘Even though that model might be invalid, it does not keep chaplains from supporting school communities,’ chief executive officer Peter James said. ‘Instead, it means that a new funding model is needed.’

The High Court decision that government funding of chaplaincy in Queensland schools is invalid is only ‘a technicality’ and will not mean the end of the program, Australian Christian Lobby head Jim Wallace said today. ‘The government is committed to the program and I expect it will find an appropriate way of directing the funds,’ Brigadier Wallace said. ‘There’s no challenge to the religious aspect. I’d anticipate it will move quickly – we are talking about a bureaucratic solution’.

SU Queensland, which was the focus of this case, put out a press release saying in part:

“The High Court of Australia today ruled the Federal Government’s direct funding model is not valid. The Court left open the option for the Government to continue funding either under new legislation or a grant of funds to the states and territories. SU QLD Incoming CEO Peter James said the decision meant that the great work chaplains do across the nation will continue as long as the Government acts swiftly to ensure the funding continues.

“He said, although the historical funding model does not work, the court unanimously held there is no problem of ‘church – state’ separation from chaplaincy and that other funding models are possible. ‘Chaplains provide an important child and youth welfare role. This is recognised by the school principals and school communities who have chosen to have a “chappy”,’ he said.

“‘This decision means that for the vital work of chaplains to continue, we need a new funding model. We will be working with the Federal Government to ensure that happens.’ Mr James said that over 2000 school communities across Australia have chaplains and many will lose their chaplains if a new federal funding model is not put in place.”

Because it is early days yet, and because I am certainly not a legal eagle, my thoughts on this must be both tentative and limited. But a few general remarks can be made. While a program like this has done a tremendous amount of good, and helped countless children, the new strident atheism which is growing in voice and militancy is a factor to be reckoned with.

This particular father who initiated the case is obviously not a great fan of the faith, and it was his objections that have led to this outcome. Such opposition to faith-based charitable works like this is rather recent. In the not-too-distant past most Australians – even non-Christian Australians – would not have taken offence at such a program.

But the new atheism popularised by people like Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens has resulted in a new activism by the secularists and misotheists. And given that the West is no longer just post-Christian but increasingly anti-Christian, we can expect to see more of these sorts of cases and decisions.

Moreover, given these realities, this case opens up the much bigger issue of just how dependent Christian groups of any kind – be they churches, Bible schools, charities, parachurch groups, and so on – should be on any form of government funding.

The simple truth is, as the saying goes, “he who pays the piper calls the tune”. That is, whenever groups receive state monies, the state can dictate how that money is used, and they can radically curtail or restrict what these religious bodies do and say. They pull the strings, and the groups must act accordingly.

This is a major theological, political and historical issue which cannot be fully entered into here. But one historical point might be noted. Many decades ago groups like the National Civic Council lobbied governments to extend education funding to Catholic schools.

This was seen as a real justice issue. Simply put, religious folks who sent their kids to non-government schools were facing double jeopardy. They had to pay their taxes to support the public school system even though they did not directly benefit from it. Then they had to pay for the Catholic education as well – so they were getting slugged twice.

So in the 1960s changes were made and government funding became available for Catholic schools. That seemed to work fine at first, but as I mentioned, as governments get increasingly secular and hostile to religion, and as various activist groups keep demanding and getting special rights, this then puts real pressure on any religious body getting government funding.

For example, the whole raft of equal opportunity laws and anti-discrimination legislation includes all sorts of pro-homosexual agendas, which many religious schools would not be happy with. Often there are now exemptions for these groups, but they are tenuous at best, and could be withdrawn at any time.

Thus given this adversarial climate, increasingly religious bodies getting public funds will be asked – or demanded – to do things which violate their own religious principles and scruples. So what is to be done? That is a question I will not seek to finally answer here, but it is a vitally important question which must be raised.

It seems to me as Christian persecution intensifies, and anti-Christian bigotry becomes solidified, including at government levels, then all real churches and religious groups need to ask themselves some hard questions. How long can they feed at the government trough and not be compromised? At what point must they reject such funding?

Maybe they need to fully trust God for their finances, and not put all their faith – or so much of it – in the state. Those religious bodies which are getting government funds: what will they do? Will they prefer to compromise their convictions and water down their beliefs and practises, simply to keep getting the money?

Or will they take a stand on principle, and renounce such funding in the interests of maintaining pure policy, teaching and practice? Many religious bodies have not yet reached this place of decision – but they may soon well. Thus it is incumbent on all religious groups to think through these matters hard and long, before it becomes too late.

Bill Muehlenberg is a Melbourne based author who lectures part time in ethics, theology and philosophy. He has an interactive blogsite called CultureWatch

Boat People: It’s About A Fair Go


Henry Innis discusses why you should be morally appalled about boat people:

You know, for all the pontificating people do over boat people, they really don't represent much of our intake for refugees.

Which is funny, really, because it has always been such a hot button issue with Australians. The idea of someone approaching our shores illegally has never really sat that well with anyone. And I think I have a pretty good idea of why that is.

Australian's can't seriously look at boat people and think they are the end of the world. That they are the single greatest cause of destruction to our economy that there can be. That doesn't seem right, particularly given how low level of an impact they are.

So why is this such a hot button issue? Why don't Australian's want boat people arriving in Australia?

I'll tell you why: because it isn't fair.

The criteria for boat people is quite interesting. They need to come from a country where circumstances aren't that good. And they need to have the money to pay the people smugglers to make it all worthwhile (which, if you think about it, has to be a fair amount, what with them losing boats, risking crew, distributing bribes… it's an expensive process).

When the media and politicians get up and sell me the plight of boat people then, I don't exactly buy it. That isn't to say these people are desperate. But having said that, they have money. They aren't the most desperate cases out there. Why? Because they have the money to pay for the services of people smugglers.

Which means, every time one boat person is accepted into Australia, one person who is desperate, without money, in a refugee camp, misses out.

And that's the crux of the issue. That's why you should be against people arriving by boat.

Because when you do the logic, it simply isn't fair. 

Henry Innis ia a Vice President of the Sydney University Liberal Club. He"dabbles in| entrepreneurial pursuits" and writes in his spare time, and can be found on twitter @henryinnis 


Starting Pistol Banned from Field Day — “Too Scary” for Kids

Hi Readers — Kids at an elementary school in England were all set for a big bang: The chief “starter” for the London Olympics agreed to kick off the races at their school with his official starting gun, according to The Telegraph.

Then the local council said: Put the gun down and back off slowly. They deemed the noise from the  gun would be too frightening for the kiddies.  As an alternative, first they suggested a RECORDING of the gun be used instead. (Huh? Yeah. They did.) Then they settled on the starter using a Klaxon. Because Klaxons don’t kill people, starter guns do?

The take-away message from the politicians is this: Kids, you are so vulnerable that you can’t handle even a simple surprise. Please go on to fall apart at the merest hint of something new or strange. A wobbly upper lip is what you need. Keep freaked and carry on


Sorry Tony Abbott, the Nationals are Right Again – the 20% RET also Needs to Go


Andy Semple argues that the Coalition shoule repeal its committment to the 20% Renewable Energy Target:

Whilst the Carbon Tax is as welcome as a turd in a swimming pool, there is no doubt whatsoever that the bipartisan support for the 20% Renewable Energy Target (RET) is the real culprit in allowing the price of power to skyrocket. The RET is illogical and economically reckless. Why Abbott and his shadow cabinet think its worth staying committed to the 20% RET is just mind boggling.

Below are the statistics on the cost of power generation in 2010 from the Australian Government’s own Productivity Commission:

  • Coal fired power station $79 per kw/h (kilowatt/hour)
  • Gas fired power station $97 per kw/h – or 1.2 times the cost of coal power
  • Wind power $1,502 per kw/h – or 19 (nineteen) times the cost of coal power
  • Solar power $4,004 per kw/h – or 50 (fifty) times the cost of coal power

You don’t need to be Einstein to work out that the high cost of Wind and Solar is the reason the public are being screwed with high electricity prices. The Carbon Tax just adds further pain.

The Liberals would be wise to heed again the warning from their coalition partners, the Nationals. If it wasn’t for National Senators Joyce and Boswell, Australia would have an ETS, Rudd would still be PM and Malcolm Turnbull would still be opposition leader.

Queensland senator Ron Boswell told a meeting of the Coalition joint partyroom in Canberra that the RET would have a bigger impact on the aluminium industry than the carbon tax, and the Coalition had to acknowledge higher electricity costs associated with the target were a serious problem for manufacturing.

Further, “renewables” are a con:

  • The solar industry has grown to become one of the leading emitters of hexafluoroethane (C2F6), nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). These three potent greenhouse gases, used by solar cell fabricators, make carbon dioxide (CO2) seem harmless.
  • The stark reality is that Solar is surprisingly inefficient when it’s dark and cloudy. Even these new Solar Thermal plants can only supply enough heat stored in the form of steam to allow power generation after dark for only an hour. Sure we use less energy at night then we do during the day, but when the Sun goes down do you really want the alternative to be infrequent wind energy to power the TV, refrigerator and the heater?
  • Each and every wind turbine has a magnet made of a metal called neodymium. There are 2,500 Kg of it in each of the behemoths. The mining and refining of neodymium is so dirty and toxic - involving repeated boiling in acid, with radioactive thorium as a waste product – that only one country does it – China.  This year it flexed its trade muscles and briefly stopped exporting neodymium from its inner Mongolian mines. Forget Middle East oil, how’s that for dangerous reliance on a volatile foreign supply.
  • Wind Turbines kill a massive amount of birds and bats. They also cause ill health effects on humans.
  • Wind Turbines blight the landscape.
  • Even the Productivity Commission spells out that mandated solar and wind won't knock out coal-fired power generation. All it does is displace cleaner but more expensive gas-fired generation, undercutting the fuel switch that has the most potential to cut Australia's emissions and needlessly raising electricity bills.
  • Wind power is intermittent and inefficient. Back in 1919 a smart German physicist named Albert Betz figured out that the most you can possibly get out of Wind Turbine is around 59% of the power in the wind. This is an unassailable bit of physics. Stop whining about it. I'm not going to prove it here but it is not hard to at least understand why we can never convert 100% of the wind's power. In other words, a perfect best-possible Wind Turbine would be able to convert almost 59% of the power in the wind into mechanical rotating power. But we can't achieve perfection. A given Wind Turbine has a "design point" that generally defines its peak efficiency at the wind speed for which the system is designed. At wind speeds above and below the design speed the efficiency is the same or less – maybe much less. If a turbine's best efficiency is 40% at a wind velocity of 10 meters per second it will be 40% only at that wind speed. At all other wind speeds it will be something worse. That wind turbine will generally operate at lower than its best efficiency, because wind speeds are never constant or average. When there is no wind, a turbine’s efficiency is zero.

Yes the Carbon Tax must be scrapped, but if Abbott is fair dinkum he needs to also scrap the 20% RET. One only needs to witness the financial disaster renewables have been inGermanySpainUK and the USA.

Originally published at Andy's Rant, and reproduced with permission. You can follow Andy on twitter


Climate Change Bureaucrats Jetsetting The World In Luxury At Our Expense

In just two weeks Aussie families will be slugged with a carbon tax to pay for a ‘green utopia’.

But where is this money really going? And are our carbon tax bureaucrats practicing what they preach?

We did a little digging, and discovered what many long suspected: While Aussie families are struggling, bureaucrats are living the high life and travelling to exotic destinations at our expense.

Documents released to the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance under Freedom of Information laws revealed that bureaucrats in the Department of Climate change flew 6,528,616km last financial year, costing us a staggering $3,274,286.40!

And while these very people are lecturing us to act like we’re back in the dark ages the carbon emissions of these flights equal over 1000 tonnes!

The hypocrisy is staggering – it’s one rule for them, and another rule for us.  No wonder they are happy to slug airlines with the carbon tax – they don’t have to pay the bill! 

So where were they flying to?

None other than the holiday resorts of Cancun, Vanuatu, Maiami, Fiji, The Maldives, Grenada, Maimi, Barcelona… Must be tough having to travel to places like the Caribbean & South Pacific all the time…

The actions of Department staff make one thing clear: the carbon tax isn’t about the environment, it’s about squeezing taxpayers for their own benefit. 

And of course, it’s only the best in luxury travel for our bureaucrats – no expense is spared! Many of these flights cost the taxpayers up to ten times what an online economy class ticket would cost.

A round trip from Sydney to Bali cost for one person $15,311!!!!! I had a look on Jetstar just now, and you could get economy flight for under $700! Then there’s the flight to Seaul ($15,688.57), Thailand ($13,093.74pp for two people), Chile ($12,805.46)…

And this doesn’t even include accommodation: From $21,115.69 for a 5 star hotel in Thailand to the whopping $265,000 for the delegation in Durban.

We asked who took these flights, but they refused to answer. It is no wonder that the department of climate change refused to reveal who took these flights – I’d be ashamed too if this was found out. We shall be appealing this decision, because the Australian public has a right to know whose holidays they are paying for.

This is just the first tranche of a series of documents we received under Freedom of Information laws, and thank you to everyone whose donation made this possible (we were charged over $750!) We shall be releasing further data discovered about waste and misuse of taxpayer funds soon.

One thing is clear though – we need to AXE THIS TAX ASAP!