My day

I have just got back from celebrating Australia day in the traditional manner — with a family BBQ. My brother joined us. We had lamb chops, sausages, salad, various cheeses and Tasnmanian Pate. So the food was good.

We had most of the lunch under shade in the garden but adjourned to air conditioning for our Pavlova dessert

We discussed the ever-growing "Invasion Day" movement and wondered why they cannot have their day while we had ours. Each to his own, we said

But the motivation for the protests is actually clear. They smell money in it. It's an ever louder call for "reparations". They seem to think that can get yet more money from the government for people with any Aboriginal ancestry.

The fact that the governent already gives them various types of support that are not available to other Australians is ignored. Gratitude? You'd be joking. The existing payments have simply made them greedy for more.

They think that more noise will produce more money. But that is unlikely to happen. Whatever they got they would want more and that should be obvious to anyone. One of the reports below asked for a million dollars for each aborigine. The whole thing is just contemptible money grubbing — JR

ABC kicks off Australia Day coverage with Aboriginal language national anthem – after it backed down on policy of calling Jan. 26 'Invasion Day'

The ABC has started their Australia Day coverage with a televised performance of the national anthem being sung in a local Aboriginal language – as the sails of the Opera House were lit up with indigenous art for the first time.

The WugulOra morning ceremony at Sydney's Barangaroo Reserve was broadcast live on the ABC on Tuesday, culminating in the singing of Advance Australia Fair.

The anthem was first sung in the Eora Sydney language by Aboriginal vocal performance group the KARI singers, which was followed by the English version.

Before dawn the sails of the Sydney Opera House had been lit up with an artwork from artist Frances Belle-Parker, a Yaegl woman from Maclean, northern NSW.

Her design was to represent the oldest living culture in the world.

Shortly after first light, the Aboriginal flag was also raised alongside the Australian flag just across the water from the spectacular artwork on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

As the country prepares for heatwave conditions for the day, marches are planned in many capital cities to advocate abolishing Australia Day and demand justice for First Nations people.

In Melbourne, an Invasion Day rally will go ahead despite the city's annual Australia Day parade being cancelled.

In Sydney, the NSW police minister has warned the thousands of people planning to march in protest that they face fines or imprisonment for violating COVID-19 public health orders.

Conservative lobby group Advance Australia said it planned to arrange for the words 'Aus Day' to be written in the sky above Sydney on Tuesday, to counter the 'Invasion Day rally'.

The country has again been embroiled in the annual debate about whether Australia Day's date should be changed or the name changed to Invasion Day.

As Australia woke up on January 26, the sun rose over the country's most famous building the Sydney Opera House spectacularly lit up with artwork in recognition of First Nations people

The wording of the Australian anthem was recently changed to replace 'for we are young and free' to 'for we are one and free' to take account of the long Aboriginal history on the continent.

The Eora Nation is the name given to the 29 Aboriginal clans that collectively make up the indigenous population of the Sydney Metropolitan Area. The word Eora means 'here' or 'from this place'.

WugulOra, meaning 'One Mob', was a ceremony on Australia Day to celebrate 'the world's oldest living culture through dance, music and language'.

The event honoured the traditional custodians of the land, the Gadigal people, and involved an ancient Smoking Ceremony, performances and talks from local Elders.

The ABC on Monday backed down on its policy of interchangeably using the terms 'Australia Day' and 'Invasion Day' after the government intervened,

The national broadcaster had published an online events guide using both terms to refer to the January 26 public holiday which commemorates the 1788 arrival in Sydney Cove of the First Fleet – a transportation of settlers, military, and convicts from Britain.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher attacked the use of the term by the taxpayer-funded national broadcaster. 'The ABC online article is incorrect about Australia Day,' he said on Monday.

'The name of our national day is well understood and supported, and for the ABC to suggest otherwise – that in some way Invasion Day is interchangeable with Australia Day – is clearly wrong.'

Hours later, the ABC issued a defensive statement regarding its policy.

'In light of some misreporting on this issue, to be abundantly clear: The ABC's policy is to use the term Australia Day, as it always has,' it said on Monday afternoon.

'As the editorial advice states, other terms can be used when they are appropriate in certain contexts. This does not mean they are used interchangeably.'

The ABC events guide on Sunday had described Australia Day as 'a contentious day for many' despite the national broadcaster's style guide recommending Australia Day as a 'default' terminology.

The initial article, which has now been amended, was titled 'Australia Day/Invasion Day 2021 events for Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Hobart and Darwin'.

Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt, meanwhile, acknowledged January 26 was a painful date for many Australians, but argued the day was an opportunity to reflect on the nation's story of reconciliation.

Meanwhile, Cricket Australia's decision to drop references to 'Australia Day' while promoting Big Bash League games also drew debate, with politicians and commentators weighing in.

Australia Day Arrests as police clash with Invasion Day protesters

Peaceful protests calling for a change to the January 26 Australia Day holiday turned ugly as police clashed with protesters and, on one occasion, a protester was forcefully removed by bikies.

Thousands gathered for Invasion Day protests in Australia’s capital cities and in regional centres.

After hours of speeches at the Domain in the Sydney CBD, where police told protesters they could gather but not march, a number of protesters were arrested.

In Canberra, a man wearing a Make America Great Again cap and waving an Australian flag was forcibly removed from an Invasion Day rally by three men in bikie colours.

As he drove away, the assembled crowd cheered.

In Melbourne, thousands marched from Parliament House down Bourke Street after a peaceful protest in which police refused to remove their hats, a stance in line with police procedure.

The clash between police and protesters at the Domain in Sydney followed a warning from police. “If you do the right thing, I’ll do the right thing,” an officer told an organiser as 3000 people gathered.

NSW Police said five people were arrested including an 18-year-old man who was not part of the gathering.

One man was charged with assaulting police and one woman was charged with hindering police in the execution of duty.

Two other men were each fined $1000 and released.

Earlier, in the Sydney suburb of Newtown, a fresh mural painted by acclaimed street artist Scott Marsh emerged at first light.

It shows Scott Morrison dressed as Captain James Cook next to two words, “Captain Cooked”, and the hashtag #ChangeTheDate.

A speaker at the Sydney event, Gwenda Stanley, told a crowd of more than 500 people that it was time Indigenous Australians were given proper reparations. “A million dollars for each black person,” she said.

“Don’t be fooled by the Uluru statement from the arse. Let’s do reparations before treaty. A million dollars for each black person and than we can talk treaty.”

NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing yesterday warned officers would not hesitate to ensure crowd numbers stayed under 500. “Do not come in and be part of that public gathering. Find another way to express your views and opinions,” he said.

“We are all aware that these are sensitive issues and they are very important issues to a lot of people, but we are still in the middle of a global pandemic and we’re asking people to abide by those health orders.”

Police will be able to issue on-the-spot fines upwards of $1000 but the penalty for breaching public health orders comes with a fine up to $11,000 and a six-month jail term.

The coronavirus pandemic this year saw Victorians unable to gather for an Australia Day rally because it was deemed a public health risk by the state government. But Melbourne City Council did approve an Invasion Day Dawn Service.

Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the seated, 250-capacity service at Kings Domain was “a way of supporting an event that reflects that ancient Australian history”.

The January 26 public holiday has in recent years seen thousands of Australians take to the streets to protest against Australia’s national holiday.

Thousands have gathered outside Parliament House in Melbourne for a demonstration where a minute of silence was observed. Huge crowds are also peacefully protesting in Brisbane.

Organisers of the Sydney protest told 3000 people turned up. “They allowed us to occupy the Domain and for the event to go ahead so long as there was a no marching so that wasn’t the compromise,” Ian Brown said.

Mr Brown, a Gomeroi man from Moree, said the Uluru Statement from the Heart which proposed a voice to parliament, was not the answer. “The statement doesn’t do enough. They have this idea the statement is a grassroots movement. There was no consultation done on my homelands.

The Invasion Day rallies call for, among other things, a changing of the date to reflect the fact that for some it represents more than the beginning of British colonialism when the First Fleet arrived at Sydney Cove in 1788.

They want it to be moved because that same date represents the “continued genocide of Aboriginal people”.

One of the key figures in the NSW Black Lives Matter movement has told changing the date of Australia Day from January 26 will not be enough.

Paul Silva is the nephew of David Dungay Jr, a Dunghutti man from Kempsey, who died in prison custody in 2015.

“I’m here to demand the abolishment of Australia Day. It’s not significant to us as First Nations people. Over 250 years ago the First Fleet come in and murdered, raped and stole children of our ancestors.”

Mr Silva said the whole day needed to be abolished. “Changing the date is not going to make a difference in my view. “That we allow Australia to celebrate a day when murders and criminal activity took place is just appalling.”

Mr Silva also hit out at Prime Minister Scott Morrison who last week stoked controversy by suggesting that those who arrived on the First Fleet didn’t have a “flash day” either. “Him making comments like that is just appalling. He basically condones what happened when the First Fleet come here.”

Lidia Thorpe, the first Indigenous woman in Victorian parliament, is using her platform to call for change. On Twitter, she wrote: “Too many Australians still think January 26 is a day of celebration, but for Aboriginal people across this country, it’s a Day of Mourning.

“That’s why I’m inviting communities, councils and organisations to fly the Aboriginal flag at half-mast on #InvasionDay.”

Invasion Day protests have been planned for Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Perth, Adelaide, Darwin, Hobart, Newcastle, Rockhampton, Lismore, Albury and Lithgow

Trade bully tactics fail as Australia's exports to China SURGE by 21 per cent in just one month – with wheat exports soaring to a record high despite tariffs

They can't do without our iron ore

Australia's exports to China surged by 21 per cent in just one month despite the nasty trade war with its biggest trading partner.

In December alone, almost $35billion worth of Australian goods and services were sent overseas, as the Communist power bought substantially more iron ore to make steel for its Covid recovery.

China's 80 per cent tariffs on barley have also done nothing to dent the agricultural sector, with other markets buying Australian cereals.

Last month, barley exports tripled while wheat exports surged to a record high as Russia battled a drought.

The China trade spat has clearly failed with Australian exports to China surging by 21 per cent in December to $13.3billion.

China bought 38 per cent of Australia's $34.9billion worth of exports

The monthly trade surplus of $8.956billion was the fourth highest on record

Chinese demand for iron ore saw exports of this commodity surge 21 per cent

Wheat exports hit a record high as Russia drought boosted demand from Saudi Arabia

China bought 38.2 per cent of Australia's overall exports of $34.9billion – which rose by 16.3 per cent, Australian Bureau of Statistics trade data showed.

Australia's monthly trade surplus also stood at $8.956billion – the fourth highest on record – as the value of imports fell nine per cent to $25.971billion.

'Exports of metalliferous ores and cereals are the strongest in history, resulting in the fourth highest goods trade surplus on record,' the ABS's head of international statistics Katie Hutt said.

China's insatiable demand for iron ore, the commodity from Western Australia used to make steel, soared by $2.2billion, or 21 per cent, in December to $12.5billion as Brazil continued to struggle with production.

Even more bizarrely, barley exports last month rose by $182 million, or 254 per cent, despite China in May imposing 80 per cent tariffs on the cereal in retaliation at Prime Minister Scott Morrison's April call for an inquiry into the origins of Covid.

That first round of trade intimidation sparked a December complaint to the World Health Organisation from former trade minister Simon Birmingham.

Saudi Arabia last month bought 42 per cent of Australia's barley exports as Russia, the world's biggest wheat exporter, suffered from a drought.

Australian wheat exports surged 423 per cent in December.

'December exports of cereals was the largest on record,' the ABS said.

'Favourable growing conditions in Australia, coupled with less favourable conditions in other wheat growing regions such as Russia has driven demand for Australian wheat to record highs.'

Despite the good news, Oxford Economics senior economist Sean Langcake said more Australian exports were vulnerable to more trade sanctions from China.

'Given these disputes are far from resolved, trade barriers could be in place for quite some time and may broaden to include other goods,' he said.

Oxford Economics concluded that while resources exports had a low vulnerability score, more rural exporters could be in danger if China could source them from other markets.

'A particular export is more vulnerable if China is a relatively important market (for Australia and globally) and/or if Australia is a relatively small supplier (to China and globally), which would allow China to substitute to supply from elsewhere,' Mr Langcake said.

Mr Morrison on Monday said he was prepared to meet President Xi Jinping to resolve the trade dispute provided China didn't demand concessions.

'We will remain absolutely open and available to meet, to discuss, any of the issues that have been identified,' he said.

'But those discussions won't take place on the base of any sort of preemptive concessions on Australia's part on those matters.'

Even before the Covid pandemic, China was upset with Australia over its decision in August 2018 to ban Huawei from installing 5G mobile networks.

In February 2019, Chinese customs authorities delayed shipments of Australian coal at its Dalian port to send a message. Similar tactics were tried in 2020 with Australian coal shipments.

China has also stymied Australian exports of timber, lobster, lamb and cotton as part of its intimidation tactics despite in 2015 signing the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement eliminating tariffs and trade barriers.




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The luckiest country: Australia…

The luckiest country: Australia goes a WEEK with zero coronavirus cases across the entire nation

Australia has gone a week without a single community transmission of Covid-19, as other nations across the world continue to buckle under the strain of the virus and its ever changing and increasingly dangerous mutations.

While a day without any local cases may seem impossible for other countries battling the virus, for Australia it is slowly becoming the new normal.

But experts are now fearing the Australian government has backed the wrong horse when it comes to vaccines, after not putting in a single order for the highly-effective Moderna jab – which is 94.1 per cent effective.

Instead, the government has bought 53.8 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, and only enough of the equally effective Pfizer jab to protect five million Australians.

NSW recorded three Covid-19 cases on Sunday all of which are in hotel quarantine, meaning the infected are returning citizens, after the state contained recent outbreaks in the Northern Beaches and Berala in Sydney's west.

In Victoria, the state has gone an incredible 18 days without a single community transmission case following fears the Northern Beaches cluster would completely ruin their long standing streak after it spread across the border.

After enduring a hard three-day lockdown in Brisbane, Queensland also recorded zero new cases of Covid-19.

The rest of the country have continued to record no community transmission as the virus is once again under control.

There is now a total of just 129 active cases of Covid-19 nationally with the rest in hotel quarantine as Australians enjoys some normalcy ahead of a vaccine rollout in February.

Most Australians will have the AstraZeneca vaccine and others will have access to Novavax, with just five million citizen getting Pfizer.

Moderna, of which Australia has zero orders for, and Pfizer have proved to be the most effective in clinical trials.

The reason for the government's failure to secure a Moderna order has been shrouded in mystery, with the nation's top doctor Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly only hinting that the company had been unwilling.

In the meantime, beaches around the country were packed over the weekend with restrictions eased many weeks ago, in stark comparison to the strict lockdowns experienced across Europe.

Many of Australia's close partners, including the UK and the US, are recording huge numbers of Covid-19 cases and deaths.

In the past 24 hours, the United Kingdom recorded a massive 33,652 new Covid-19 cases and has suffered a total 97,518 deaths.

The situation is even more dire in the United States, where its Centre for Disease Control predicts there will be 465,000 to 508,000 total COVID-19 deaths by February 13. So far, 417,000 deaths have been attributed to the deadly respiratory virus.

Brazil recorded almost double that of the UK total with 62,334 cases in the past 24 hours and a total of 216,445 deaths since the pandemic began.

ABC ‘clearly wrong’ on Australia Day call, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher says

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said “the ABC has clearly got this wrong”, referencing the national broadcaster’s publication of an article yesterday on its website about events being held on January 26.

The piece was headlined Australia Day/Invasion Day 2021 events, sparking upset among some Coalition MPs and conservative commentators.

The piece said January 26 was “one of the most polarising dates on the Australian calendar”.

However the ABC is sticking to its guns, saying while Australia Day is its “default terminology”, a “variety of terms” describe January 26 and “it would be inappropriate to mandate staff use any one term over others in all contexts”.

ABC personality Shaun Micallef said referring to protests as “Australia Day events” would have been inaccurate.

A prominent Indigenous activist has accused politicians of playing the “race card” against Aboriginal Australians, which he claims happens in the run to every Australia Day.

Many Indigenous Australians bristle at the date as it marks the arrival of the First Fleet from Britain, an event which led to many Aboriginal people being killed in massacres and suffering other ill treatment at the hands of colonisers.

Others argue the day marks the foundation of modern Australia and the freedoms enjoyed by all.

A new poll published today found fewer than one-third of Australians support shifting the day from January 26.

The ABC article listed celebrations held under the Australia Day banner as well as demonstrations billed as Invasion Day – hence the use of both terms in the headline.

“The name of our national day is well understood and supported, and for the ABC to suggest otherwise – that in some way Invasion Day is interchangeable with Australia Day – is clearly wrong,” Mr Fletcher said.

He added that the name Australia Day was used in legislation and was “reflected in the usage of the overwhelming majority of Australians”.

He conceded the public broadcaster had editorial independence but he urged it to “correct this inaccurate article” and to “be impartial”.

New South Wales Police Minister David Elliott also chimed in, saying it was “breathtakingly irresponsible” to even highlight that Invasion Day rallies were taking place.

Planned protests are not officially sanctioned due to COVID-19 restrictions that prohibit mass gatherings on health grounds.

“If you’ve ever wanted evidence that the ABC are out of touch with reality then yesterday was exactly the case,” Mr Elliott told Sydney radio station 2GB.

Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt said January 26 should be referred to as Australia Day.

“This Australia Day we should walk together, side-by-side, as one to reflect, respect and celebrate all that makes us Australian – Indigenous and non-Indigenous,” he said.

Indigenous leader and one-time Liberal Party candidate Warren Mundine said the history of January 26 wasn’t in dispute, but Australia should “stop focusing on things that divide us (and) focus on the real issues and making them better”.

That wasn’t a view shared by prominent Indigenous activist Dr Stephen Hagan, who was behind the long-running and ultimately successful campaign to have Coon cheese renamed.

He told he was “100 per cent” in favour of the ABC’s decision to use both Australia Day and Invasion Day.

“I support using both terms if for no other reason that it keeps up the conversation which leads to truth telling,” Dr Hagan said.

“When people say the ABC shouldn’t use the term Invasion Day, what they are saying is they do not support Aboriginal people”.

Dr Hagan noted that New Zealand’s national day, Waitangi Day, marked the signing of a treaty between Britain and the local Maori population which established the modern nation, rather than the day UK forces arrived in Kiwi shores.

Mr Hagan accused Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack for using the “race card” with their comments leading up to Australia Day.

“From the PM’s stupid and pathetic comments about the condition of (those in the First Fleet) to McCormack making a reference to all lives matter, they always use the race card – they never miss a beat”.

Labor’s Indigenous Australians spokeswoman Linda Burney also supported the ABC’s use of different terms for the day depending on what was being referred too.

The ABC did not respond to Minister Fletcher’s comments that the article was “incorrect”. But in an earlier statement it defended its use of several names for January 26. “The default terminology for the ABC remains ‘Australia Day’.

“We also recognise and respect that community members use other terms for the event, including ‘26 January’, ‘Invasion Day’ and ‘Survival Day, so our reporting and coverage reflect that.”

The broadcaster said that the term “Invasion Day” was not interchangeable with “Australia Day,” but rather was used in the context of events that are billed as such.

It added that both the Macquarie and Australian Oxford dictionaries listed “Invasion Day” and “Survival Day” as “roughly synonymous” with “Australia Day” particularly for Indigenous Australians.

“Given the variety of terms in use, and the different perspectives on the day that the ABC is going to cover over the course of the long weekend, it would be inappropriate to mandate staff use any one term over others in all contexts.”

Andrew Bolt: No Australia Day will satisfy activists determined to imagine Australia as an illegitimate state

Sky News host Andrew Bolt asks how trashing Australia and its history helps anyone move on and says “it just keeps us stuck in the past”. Mr Bolt said “terrible things happened but look around us, a hell of a lot of good…

Fine, change the date of Australia Day from January 26. Let race activists — even Cricket Australia — pick any other they prefer. I’ll happily go along with that if they agree to a deal: to then also celebrate the creation of this great country.

Think that will happen?

Trouble is, too many activists are against not just the date of Australia Day, the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet, but against the very idea of this nation.

That’s why no concession seems to work — not the apologies, the kneeling, the “barefoot circles’, the “welcome to country”, the smoking ceremonies, the acknowledgement of country, or even the $30bn a year of Aboriginal welfare spending.

The goalposts just get moved, and rage and division grow.

Just weeks ago we saw again how this no-win game plays out, when Prime Minister Scott Morrison decided, on his own, to change words of our national anthem from “young and free” to “one and free”. He said he’d bought the (false) claim “young and free” was offensive because it suggested there was no Aboriginal history before whites arrived.

But have the activists who once refused to sing our “racist” anthem now started to belt it out?

As if. Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe, who identifies as Aboriginal, sneered that changing “one word” would make no real difference, and the head of Sydney’s Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council said we actually needed a whole new anthem to “reflect the true identity of Australia rather than, in my words, a very terrible past”.

Labor frontbencher Linda Burney, who was raised by her great aunt and uncle, of Scottish descent, but identifies as Aboriginal through her father, simply demanded more concessions — such as changing our constitution so people with Aboriginal ancestors get a race-based advisory parliament.

Others now push for more changes to our anthem to get this elusive “unity”. They want a verse sung in one of the 300 or more Aboriginal languages.

But when the Wallabies decided last year to sing the national anthem in two languages before their game against Argentina, that wasn’t enough, either.

Latrell Mitchell, one of the NRL indigenous stars, raged: “When will people understand that changing it to language doesn’t change the meaning!”

An Australian anthem would not represent him in any language, because he was Aboriginal: “Understand what you’re being proud of. I stand for us, our mob!”

MITCHELL, at least, is honest about the real end game for many race activists.

Their problem is not with a few words in the anthem, the Union Jack in our flag, or holding Australia Day on January 26.

Their problem is with history. With Australia itself. With the creation of an essentially European nation on what was Aboriginal land.

This is why Australia Day is denounced as a “day of shame”, too embarrassing now for Cricket Australia to even mention in Mondays’s three Big Bash games.

This is why Tarneen Onus-Williams, an organiser of a big Australia Day protest in Melbourne three years ago, shouted, “F. k Australia” and “I hope it burns to the ground”.

This is why actor and playwright Nakkiah Lui screamed in front of an applauding ABC audience: “F. k whitey! Shit on your colonisation … Burn this place to the ground!”

This is why so many of our guilty-white — like writer Bruce Pascoe — prefer to call themselves Aboriginal, even when they have no known Aboriginal ancestors.

This rejection of Australia is now pushed by the ABC, our reckless national broadcaster, which on Sunday groaned: “For those whose history is being denied (on Australia Day), this isn’t a war of words, but an exhausting yearly exercise in defending the pain of their existence … Those are people who cannot cheer for a country that was built on the dispossession and loss of their people.”

No Australia Day will ever satisfy activists determined to imagine Australia as an illegitimate state that makes all Aboriginal Australians feel a constant “pain of their existence”.

What do they imagine will fix things? Evicting all non-Aborigines? A new apartheid, with different voting rights or homelands for different races? Forcing non-Aborigines to constantly apologise for their very presence?

Where is reconciliation if Australia is divided by race?

Right now, “reconciliation” is a fraud we should confront.

So, fine, let’s change the date of Australia Day. But only when activists agree that they, too, will then celebrate with our flag and our national anthem. That would be a brilliant deal.

I am genuine in wanting unity. Are they?

Postgraduate enrolments soar as jobseekers wait out competitive market at university

Australians are enrolling in postgraduate university courses in numbers tipped to reach record highs.

Max Kaplan hadn't had any luck landing a job after completing his engineering degree at the University of New South Wales.

Throughout 2020, he applied for several jobs a week, but to no avail.

"It was a little bit crushing at times when I was facing rejection after rejection," Mr Kaplan said. "You go through five years of uni, a year of work, and still can't find anything … it feels like you've wasted your time."

Despite graduating with honours from a university placed third in the nation for employment, he is now preparing to study a masters of mechatronic engineering at the University of Melbourne.

He believed further specialisation was the best way to spend the next two years while the job market bounces back. "I'm trying to wait out the bad job market and hopefully find myself in a bit of a better place," he said.

Postgraduate courses, on average, cost more than $20,000. "It's a risk I'm willing to take," Mr Kaplan said.

Last year, enrolments in postgraduate study rose sharply across the country.

The universities with the highest growth in enrolments for specialised courses included:

University of New South Wales — 26 per cent
James Cook University — 20 per cent
University of Queensland — 19 per cent
Charles Sturt University — 18 per cent
University of Melbourne — 13 per cent
Curtin University — 10 per cent

Professor Andrew Norton researches higher education policy at the Australian National University and said enrolments historically rose when the economy suffered. "In recessions more people look for education because it's harder to find a job," Mr Norton said.

The official unemployment rate has fallen by 0.9 per cent since its 7.5 per cent peak in July 2020. More than 900,000 Australians remain out of work.

Mr Norton expected university enrolments to hit record highs in 2021. "People with postgraduate qualifications generally do better than those with bachelor degrees, regardless of their subject areas," he said.

In northern NSW, Elizabeth Rose has returned to university to upskill after taking a three-year break from working as a counsellor. The 60-year-old has enrolled in a Graduate Diploma of Psychology at James Cook University in Queensland.

The university is forecasting a 24 per cent increase in both undergraduate and postgraduate enrolments this year.

"I just want to do something … I need to get my brain into gear and investigate more issues," Ms Rose said.

She saw an opportunity to boost her income and fill a gap in mental health support in the regional town of Grafton – a need she said had been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

"There aren't that many psychologists in town, and people are waiting sometimes four and five months to get in," she said.

She said age was not a barrier to achieving her career goals.




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Man who strained his back picking…

Man who strained his back picking up company car keys will receive workers compensation

How on earth is the employer responsible for this? Is the employer responsible for damage that he does to himself while he performs an everyday task? If he was acting on the instructions of his employer it would make sense. But he clearly was not. He was making a private decision about a private matter

It’s all an instance of the courts assisting people to target those who have deep pockets. If some one suffers in some way, lawyers look around for someone who is even tangentially involved and puts the reponsibility on him if he has significant resources. And judges allow that.

Liability is not dermined by guilt or responsibility but by ability to pay

A tribunal found the link between his work and his journey to work meant his injury was compensable
The South Australian Employment Tribunal has ruled that Robert Thelan, a works coordinator for SA Power Networks, must be compensated for the injury.

Mr Thelan was on call at home, on September 9, 2019, when he received a text message asking him to attend a job to fix a power line.

He got dressed for work and went out to the company Ford Ranger in his driveway, and sat down in the drivers' seat.

Mr Thelan accidentally dropped the keys to the four-wheel-drive ute onto the driveway, according to the judgment of Deputy President Judge Miles Crawley.

Staying in the seat, 90 centimetres above the ground, he leaned out the driver's side door to pick them up, straining his back in the process.

He drove to the Port Pirie SA Power Networks depot and reported the injury, and was taken to hospital soon after.

He was subsequently unable to work and incurred medical expenses, but SA Power Networks rejected his compensation claim.

The company, which builds and maintains the state's electricity infrastructure, argued that the injury "did not arise from employment and employment was not a significant contributing cause of the injury".

SA Power Networks said Mr Thelan was "merely undertaking activity preparatory to undertaking duties of employment".

But he submitted that his injury did occur when he was carrying out his duties of employment, and that he therefore deserved compensation.

Under his employment agreement, he started getting paid when he began his journey to a job, and he was required to use a company vehicle to get there.

In 2019, another judge had found that there needed to be a "real and substantial connection between the employment and the accident" as well as "a real and substantial connection between the employment and the journey" for an injury to be compensable.

But in this week's case, Judge Crawley said Judge Brian Gilchrist was wrong in his decision.

"I find that it is not a prerequisite to compensability that there be a real and substantial connection between the accident and the employment," the judgement reads.

SA Power Networks declined to comment.

New nuclear treaty will be 'ineffective': DFAT

Australia says a new United Nations nuclear treaty signed by more than 80 countries will be ineffective in eliminating nuclear weapons from the world.

The Morrison government has not signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which comes into effect on Friday.

The treaty, signed by 86 countries, bans signatories from testing, developing, producing, stockpiling or threatening to use nuclear weapons.

The Australian government decided not to sign the treaty on the basis that it failed to recognise the realities of the current international security environment.

Government sources confirmed there was concern about how the treaty would affect Australia’s dealings with the United States, including intelligence sharing through the Pine Gap satellite surveillance base near Alice Springs, because it banned signatories from doing anything to assist a nuclear weapon state in its nuclear plans.

New Zealand, which is part of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing agreement with the US, Australia, Canada and Britain, has signed the treaty.

As a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, signed in 1968, Australia is already prohibited from manufacturing or acquiring nuclear weapons.

A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said Australia shared the view of many other countries that the treaty “will be ineffective in eliminating nuclear weapons”.

“Australia is committed to the goal of a peaceful, secure world free of nuclear weapons, pursued in an effective, pragmatic and realistic way,” the DFAT spokesman said.

“Our long-held focus is on progressing nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament through a progressive, practical approach that engages all states, especially nuclear weapon states, in the process”.

Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong said Labor welcomed the treaty.

"After taking into account the need to ensure an effective verification and enforcement architecture, the interaction of the treaty with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and achieve universal support, a Labor government would sign and ratify the treaty," she said.

"Australia can and should lead international efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons. A Labor government would work with our allies and partners to this end and would always act consistently with the US alliance."

Helen Durham, director for international law and policy at the International Committee of the Red Cross, said all countries should sign the treaty as it was the “most explicit and clearest expression that the horrific weapons need to be banned”.

“It deals not only with their use but also with their threat of use, with their stockpiling, with their production, with their development and their testing,” she said.

“This treaty is a great opportunity to move a very stagnated, to date, agenda forward and we would encourage every state to take up this opportunity.”

Dave Sweeney, co-founder of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, said the treaty was a “sign of hope for our planet”.

“The changed status of nuclear weapons means Australia faces a clear choice,” he said. “We either choose to be a responsible and lawful member of the global community or we remain silent and complicit in plans to fight illegal wars.”

Two alarming assaults on your freedom by a government that spruiks liberty

Coalition politicians who champion Donald Trump’s right to free speech have passed numerous laws making it a serious criminal offence to exercise this right in Australia. Labor parliamentarians have also helped pass laws criminalising speech that’s clearly in the public interest or simply innocuous.

When Prime Minister Scott Morrison was invited at a recent press conference to condemn far-right conspiracy theories promoted by government members such as George Christensen, he refused. He also defended another Liberal backbencher, Craig Kelly, who has undermined the government’s health message by spreading false information about COVID-19. At the time, Morrison said: “There’s such a thing as freedom of speech in this country and that will continue.”

In fact, there are severe constraints on free speech in Australia, more so than in North America or Western Europe.

The Coalition government’s 2018 security laws make it an offence to leak, receive or report a wide range of "information, of any kind, whether true or false and whether in a material form or not, and includes (a) an opinion and (b) a report of a conversation". Another clause makes it a serious crime to say anything that harms "Australia’s foreign relations, including political, military, and economic relations". Even if ministers should sometimes be circumspect, other people should be free to criticise any country without resorting to disinformation.

Jail sentences for some offences can be 15 or more years, even when little genuine harm results. There is no recognition that leaked information has never killed anyone in Australia. In contrast, secret intelligence generated by Australia and its allies has led to innocent people, including children, being killed in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Parliamentarians have endorsed the serious erosion of core liberties over recent years. The rot set in when they abjectly acquiesced in the Australian Federal Police’s raid on Parliament House in 2016, with police accessing IT systems and seizing thousands of non-classified documents to search for the source of leaks to a Labor opposition frontbencher. The leaks revealed problems with rising costs and delays in the National Broadband Network – information that should have been public.

In an earlier era, ASIO and the AFP would never tap phones in Parliament House, let alone raid an institution at the pinnacle of Australia’s democratic system. The Parliament should have found the AFP in contempt. Instead, the politicians squibbed it and the AFP was emboldened.

Last July, after a protracted investigation, the AFP recommended charging an ABC journalist Dan Oaks, co-author of the 2017 series "The Afghan Files", which exposed alleged war crimes committed by Australian special forces in Afghanistan. In October, the prosecutor declined to proceed. The law should clearly state the AFP should not conduct an extensive pursuit of a journalist who was unambiguously acting in the public interest.

Undeterred, the Morrison government is pushing for more powers that undermine free speech and civil liberties. Its International Production Orders bill would give ASIO and the AFP the right to order communications providers in "like-minded" countries to produce any electronic data they request and remove encryption. One downside is that the FBI and a wide range of American law-enforcement and security bodies will have reciprocal rights to access private data held by Australian people and corporations. A big stumbling block is that the US law, called the CLOUD Act, prohibits other countries accessing American data if they have weaker privacy and civil liberties protections than the US. Australia falls into that category. The protection in European countries is even stronger than in the US.

In a bold move, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton last month introduced a bill creating extraordinary new powers to affect a wide range of people, not just paedophiles as the government claims. The bill covers all crimes with a jail sentence of three or more years. This includes whistleblowers and journalists and innocent people expressing an opinion that falls foul of foreign influence laws.

If passed by our politicians, Dutton's bill will give the AFP and Australia’s Criminal Intelligence Commission the ability to covertly take over a person’s online account to gather evidence of a crime. Even more disturbingly, they will have an unprecedented “data disruption power” to add, copy, delete or alter data on the internet.

Law Council president Pauline Wright described the proposed powers as extraordinary. She said allowing a member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to issue “disruption warrants” is of “particular concern” – only superior court judges should be able to make such orders.

Both these proposed new powers should be severely curtailed. No Australian government should be able to destroy individuals’ online data without a court finding them guilty of a crime. Nor should foreign security agencies be allowed to access Australians’ private information under the US Cloud Act.

Hurrah for Mark Latham

Bettina Arndt

Now, here’s some positive news for a change. Mark Latham has achieved a real breakthrough in his role heading up an inquiry into Higher Education for the NSW Parliament. The inquiry’s final report, tabled today, includes Recommendation 36 which seeks to abolish the kangaroo courts in NSW universities.

Here’s what it actually says:

That the NSW Government ensure the rule of law and the processes of the NSW criminal justice system are respected by universities in dealing with alleged sexual offences. Universities must use the NSW Police as their first and most important point of reference in dealing with any allegation of the law being broken, in all instances, for all allegations. In particular, NSW universities must respect the presumption of innocence and not create their own ‘Kangaroo Court’ and tribunal processes that circumvent the rules and standards of natural justice established at law by the NSW Parliament. The NSW Government should establish a legal protocol for universities to follow in this regard and, if universities chose to ignore or breach it, the protocol should be legislated as mandatory for NSW universities.

This is the first time an Australian government has been asked to take action on the appalling system for adjudicating sexual assault in our universities, which usurps criminal law and denies accused students their legal rights.

That’s pretty exciting and it was good to see the submission from our Campus Justice group featuring prominently in the report. (See p80 – 81, 6.47- 6.49)

Next step is the report will be considered by Cabinet – which is where you come in. We must get a heap of letters into Cabinet Ministers to give them the backbone to follow this through. See here – a draft letter you can use to urge each Cabinet Minister to ensure action on this issue, plus email addresses of the ones we want to lobby.

So that’s your first task for 2021 – just a few minutes of your time to make sure we tip the balance on this critical issue. After the End Rape on Campus activists’ efforts to destroy me last year, I’m even more determined not to let these wicked witches win. But I need your help.

Coercive control inquiry closing next week

Mark Latham has put out a plea for more submissions to the NSW Coercive Control inquiry – the deadline is Jan 29 so that is coming up very soon. The feminists are swamping the inquiry with letters/submissions urging this to be added to the armory women can use to destroy the men in their lives. And they are out in force massaging public opinion to show women are never really perpetrators.

Look at this research by Melbourne University academics suggesting women never use force without having good reason – like a controlling husband. “There is only so much a person can take. Everyone has a breaking point,” they quote one woman who ended up in a violence program after breaking a window. She admitted she was intoxicated, “using alcohol to help with the fear and anxiety.” We won’t tolerate excuses for violence from men but with women it is different, of course.

I’ve been looking at some fascinating statistics from the UK. There were 24,845 coercive control incidents recorded in England and Wales in the year ending March 2020. But that resulted in only 305 convictions, 301 men and 4 women. That ratio is hardly a surprise. The coercive control legislation is supposed to be gender-neutral but most men are reluctant to see themselves as victims and know if they complain they are unlikely to be taken seriously by police and the legal system.

So here we have this flood of complaints chewing up valuable police time but most come to nothing due to either women withdrawing their complaints or difficulty providing evidence for nebulous crimes like economic abuse, “invasive surveillance”, “gaslighting” and “denying freedom”.

We certainly don’t need this nonsense adding a huge burden on our own stretched legal system.

That’s why I need you all to do another little job for me – and for the men of NSW. Here's the link to make a submission and here is background information you can use to object to new legislation on coercive control. At minimum you can just write a few sentences, or a paragraph or two.

We’ve allowed so much of our legal system to be weaponized against men. Here’s a chance stop it getting any worse.




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Google, Facebook think they are…

Google, Facebook think they are above Australian law

The editorial below is rather over the top. No matter how big it gets, a private company has little power over a sovereign state. And in this case the media companies' response to the threatened Australian legislation is mostly bluff. There are many alternatives to social media companies and the idea that anybody has to rely on Google et al. for their news is laughable. There are more news sites around the world than you could poke a stick at. Russian news site RT in particular delights in putting up stories that are little covered in the West.

And even search is far from a monopolized function. Bing, Duckduckgo and Yahoo are well established alternatives. Anybody who finds the offering of a major media company suddenly missing will quickly learn to log on to an alternative site.

And precisely that will cause Google et al. to back down. They would be very allergic to a loss of business to their competitors

The threats and bullyboy behaviour of Google and Facebook yesterday tore away any last facade hiding the tech titans’ true nature as virtual rogue states who consider themselves immune to fair law or regulation.

Both companies’ appalling tactics will be of deep concern to thinking Australians – who are the ultimate victims.

Over several years the several million Australians who use these platforms have become increasingly suspicious and disturbed at the way tech giants wield their power without any responsibility; from allowing the publication and distribution of extremist and harmful content and the proliferation of fake news, failing to cooperate with law enforcement authorities, and manipulating audiences at the end of their algorithms.

Yesterday both companies proved once and for all they believe they should not be answerable to the rule of law.

Before a Senate hearing examining a proposed code of conduct which will for the first time make the digital behemoths pay news organisations for the content which helps drive their superprofits, Google threatened to remove its search engine from Australia in retaliation.

It’s a crucial moment in time: Australia wants to apply a simple – and small – set of reins but both tech giants want to gallop away, unfettered by regulation or scrutiny.

The threat to withdraw Google Search follows on from Google’s decision a few weeks ago to hide some Australian news sites from its search results – a move interpreted in several quarters as another retaliation against an Australian government backing the payment proposal.

Google is now the third technology company behind Apple and Microsoft to exceed a value of One Trillion US dollars, putting it ahead of a few successful western countries when compared to their wealth as measured in GDP.

Independent Senator Rex Patrick has compared the company, which in a burst of idealism once incorporated into its mission statement the phrase, “don’t be evil,’’ to the oppressive leadership of China.

“Google’s behaviour is straight out of the Chinese Communist Party’s playbook, and it’s not appreciated,” Senator Patrick said.

Senator Patrick, who along with five other upper house colleagues was examining the merits of the proposed legislation, said he and his Senate colleagues took a dim view of Google’s threat to remove itself from the Australian market.

Senator Patrick, quite rightly, pointed out that Google was threatening to withdraw its service from the market place just as countries around the world were examining ways of sustaining public interest journalism.

Liberal senator Andrew Bragg, also a member of the Senate committee at yesterday’s hearing, warned of the dangers of big companies amassing the sort of global power which he compared to the oil companies of the last century.

“Their power and market reach is such that there needs to be intervention to redress the imbalance.’’

Google and fellow travellers in the tech world such as Facebook have grown enormously rich in the past two decades partly because they can harvest data valuable to the world of marketing.

But what began in 1996 as a Stanford University research project has become such a corporate juggernaut that it is beginning to become apparent that Google believes it can dictate terms, and decide the rules, of a game which it believes it controls totally.

Executive director for Reset Australia, Chris Cooper, gave a wonderfully illustrative quote on how the company’s corporate maturity may not have kept pace with its financial growth.

“Today’s egregious threats show Google has the body of a behemoth, but the brain of brat,’’ he said. “When a private corporation tries to use its monopoly power to threaten and bully a sovereign nation, it’s a sure-fire sign that regulation is long overdue.’’

While slightly more restrained, Prime Minister Scott Morrison had a blunt view of the latest development, clearly indicating he would not be intimidated by Google’s threat to limit the nation’s access to Google Search.

“Australia makes our rules for things you can do in Australia,” the Prime Minister said. “And people who want to work with that in Australia – you’re very welcome. But we don’t respond to threats.”

This case has implications that go far beyond our shores. It is a true test of whether these global tech titans can be brought to heal or whether they are above the law and unanswerable to the people of Australia.

Coronavirus Qld: Hi-tech quarantine solution

The State Government is pushing ahead with controversial plans to establish quarantine camps in central Queensland and Toowoomba.

Dr Anseline, together with epidemiologists Professor Marylouise McLaws and Dr Henning Liljeqvist, is lobbying for a similar national scheme.

They said recent evidence suggested hotels were far from optimal for quarantine, as the virus could easily spread among guests and workers.

Dr Anseline said locking people up in hotel rooms for 14 days – often without fresh air or exercise – was having a huge impact on mental health.

He said while state and federal governments had done a great job thus far containing the virus, changes were needed as the pandemic dragged on.

“Hotels have been a stopgap solution, but we have to look at the medium and longer term because even with a vaccine, this virus could be with us for years,” he said.

“There are still tens of thousands of Australians waiting to return home, as well as overseas students and tourists hoping to travel to Australia again in the not-too-distant future once travel bans are lifted.

“We need to come up with safer, novel and more effective solutions, and we believe that new technology and processes, which can be overlaid on existing hotel quarantine protocols, are the answer.”

Under Hemisphere’s plan, overseas arrivals would be rapid-tested on arrival in Australia, with those testing positive housed in separate quarantine accommodation.

Those testing negative would be quarantined in single-level cabins with their own kitchens, outside CBDs but close to airports and hospitals. “This would reduce worker and guest transmission but also significantly improve mental health outcomes,” Dr Anseline said.

The plan also involves guests and staff wearing new hi-tech wristband trackers to monitor movements and vital signs. The wristbands could also be used for home quarantine, Dr Anseline said.

Quarantine facilities would have COVID marshals and on-site sewage testing.

Dr Anseline said masks should be compulsory on all flights and quarantine facility staff needed to be given special COVID-19 safety training.

Relocating to Queensland? Get in line, Sunshine state builders record four-fold rise in new home enquiries

A building company says the level of inquiry for new homes in south-east Queensland is "phenomenal," with a mass domestic migration apparently underway to the Sunshine State.

Metricon Queensland general manager Luke Fryer said new homes sales were up 80 per cent and the level of enquiry in local property had been extraordinary.

"The major relocation companies are quoting 400 per cent increases in quotes to people who are wanting pricing to relocate from Sydney and Melbourne up to the Gold Coast and Greater Brisbane," Mr Fryer said.

Interstate migration and government stimulus measures have helped boost new homes sales and building approvals across south-east Queensland, he said.

"We are seeing a significant increase in domestic migration.

"The level of enquiry and level of people committing to building a new home on the Gold Coast and south-east Queensland has really been phenomenal."

"I'd suggest some 80 to 90 per cent up year on year.

"It's been an extraordinarily positive result and response from Australians who do have certainty around their employment."

While trades and product supply pressures were currently manageable, Mr Fryer said they could become an issue later this year when more building approvals will be processed.

"Certainly trades will come under pressure in 2021, because there's only so many plumbers, so many brickies, so many electricians to go around at the moment."

'Absolutely the biggest boom'

Darryl Meehan director of Q Coast Homes said demand for renovations was unprecedented and unlike anything he had experienced in over 40 years. "The renovation sector is doing even better than the new home market, especially on the Gold Coast," Mr Meehan said. "I think that has just gone in absolutely the biggest boom … its [ever] been."

Mr Meehan said 2021 was looking very positive and the Federal Government's HomeBuilder and JobKeeper programs had saved the industry. "Every builder on the Gold Coast that was able to survive through the pandemic has had an increase in volume, I would say somewhere between 20 to 25 per cent."

Mr Meehan said interstate migration was putting pressure on property prices for existing homes too. "Any existing house that comes onto the market, it's not on the market for very long."

HomeBuilder figures show the grants have been most popular in Victoria, Queensland then NSW.

Mr Fryer said real estate agents have been inundated with eager buyers and many existing homes are being sold before they even hit the market. "They've got a book of buyers that have given them very clear instructions that if they find a property that fits their criteria to purchase it."

"Properties are selling before their listed for sale," Mr Fryer said. "In the olden days that would be sight unseen but now with modern technology with virtual walk throughs and the like, they're able to view the property digitally and they're purchasing."

Violent women are mad but violent men are bad

Bettina Arndt

Our captured media really showed their bias in the reporting on the tragedy at Tullamarine, in Melbourne where the bodies of a mother and three children were discovered last Thursday. The ABC led the charge, with their thinly veiled account which highlighted the fact that the father of the children was “assisting police with inquiries”. Using the classic journalist’s fake nod to fair reporting, the story mentioned that there was no history of family violence but then featured prominently a list of family violence support services bang in the middle of the article.

All the media stories waxed lyrical about this caring, protective mother who adored her children, and wasted few words on the devastated father who had called the police to report the tragedy. One report in The Australian suggested the father had been led away in handcuffs by police, which wasn’t true. He was apparently never really a suspect and certainly was not charged.

By the next day, police had released their conclusion that this was a murder/suicide perpetrated by the mother. Boy, did that take the wind out of the sails of these prejudiced reporters. Within two days the story was forgotten with only the occasional piece appearing, often featuring heart-wrenching letters written by schoolfriends of the little children. No one seems to want to write about this devoted father who has seen his entire family wiped out. No investigatory reporting on how and why this happened.

Now that we know the mother was the perpetrator, how come we see absolutely no reporting about exactly how these poor children were killed? If the father had been responsible, the media would have delighted in exposing grisly details of why crime scene cleaners were required at the house.

Naturally, most of the media isn’t interested in highlighting the fact that women are just as likely as men to commit filicide, killing their own children. Currently mothers are actually more likely to do so than fathers in Australia. But have a look at this telling piece from Denise Buiten, a sociology and social justice lecturer from Notre Dame – “Men and women kill their children in roughly equal numbers and we need to understand why.”

The answer is pretty simple, according to Buiten. When it comes to perpetrators of filicide, the women are mad and the men bad.

It’s all part of our biased justice system where the gender of the perpetrator influences the outcome from the moment a crime is reported.





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Would-be Canberra car salesman…

Would-be Canberra car salesman wins $46k after tribunal finds he was discriminated against over road rage offences

A person with convictions for road rage is fit to be a car salesman?

A Canberra man has successfully sued the ACT Government for more than $46,000 after he was refused a car sales licence because of two prior road rage convictions.

Last week the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) found the ACT Commissioner for Fair Trading had discriminated against the man when they rejected his application for a motor vehicles sales licence in 2018.

The would-be car salesman successfully argued two "irrelevant" criminal convictions were used as basis to reject his application, which he said led to financial and emotional distress.

Road rage incidents

ACAT heard the man had applied for the licence in 2018, but two separate criminal convictions for property damage and assault showed up during a police record check.

The tribunal heard first offence took place in 2016 when the man hurled a small sledgehammer through the front windscreen of another driver's vehicle during a road rage incident.

The second conviction was from an incident two months later where the man spat in another driver's face during a dispute, resulting in a good behaviour bond.

The man told government staff in an email that he suffered from a permanent back injury and had suffered a deterioration in his mental and physical health in the lead up to the incidents.

"Metaphorically speaking, the overloaded ship had set sail and had now entered a storm en route to its destination," the man wrote. "As I reflect on the events and how I handled them, my only option at the time was to hang on to what I could as I embarked through this storm."

The man also claimed he had been "blinded by ego and pride" and had since addressed his behaviour. "I am no longer the invincible young brave man I used to be," he told Access Canberra staff.

"But the hardest battle for me has been to not allow the negative notions of the subsequent criminal records imposed on me to affect me mentally. "I have been a law-abiding citizen … Now I am labelled a criminal and have this stigma attached for the rest of my life."

ACAT heard after discovering the man's criminal record, the Commissioner for Fair Trading refused the man's application due to the seriousness and "nature" of his previous offending.

Senior ACAT Member Heidi Robinson found that amounted to discrimination, and awarded the man $46,766 in damages.

"The intention of the amendments to the Discrimination Act are clear: a person's criminal conviction should not ‘hound' them for their whole life, keep them out of employment, or cause them to be subject to discrimination," she wrote in her decision.

"I am satisfied that the applicant was treated unfavourably because of his irrelevant criminal record."

The government was also warned not to reject any of the man's future applications based on his criminal convictions.

Thousands of tutors register to help kids who fell behind due to coronavirus in Victorian schools

There's growing excitement about the start of the school year as Victorian public school students prepare to return to the classroom on January 28.

Some things will return to normal, like interschool sports and choir practise.

Other things will look very different as schools across the state hire thousands of tutors to help kids who fell behind during remote learning.

Overall, parents, teachers and students are feeling pretty "optimistic" about the new school year, said David Howes, the deputy secretary of Victoria's Department of Education and Training.

Teaching staff were exhausted at the end of the 2020 school year but after a well-deserved break they are "re-energized" and ready to go, he said.

"There's a fair bit of excitement around. There's a lot of enthusiasm just for getting back to school productions, school sport, school concerts — all of those things that were so very difficult last year," he said.

"People are pretty optimistic."

'Huge' interest surrounding tutors in schools program
The Victorian Government is spending $250 million to recruit and deploy more than 4,100 tutors at state schools to help students who fell behind last year.

Catholic and independent schools are getting similar funding.

It is the single biggest boost to individual learning in the state's history.

It is estimated about 20 per cent of children will need help to catch up.

"Schools are going through the process of selecting tutors to match their programs, and particular students," he said.

Mr Howes said there was also a desire to capitalise on the use of digital technology to enhance student learning.

"There's a lot of schools looking forward to taking that learning and putting it into place without the necessity of the pandemic to drive that," he said.

"I think overall, people are reenergised, certainly refreshed."

Teachers will get a mental health checklist to identify any student who needs additional help.

"That checklist is important — teachers are not professional psychologists and we don't want them to be," Mr Howes said.

"What we do want [teachers] to do is look out for any warning signs that students might need that extra support and then they can be referred on."

Mr Howes said it was clear some kids suffered from anxiety last year and schools reported a large number of young people were unsettled when they returned to school.

"There was this pattern that kids were really excited to first come back and then they found they had to adjust … to being around a large group of people," he said.

"Then there were some kids who really thrived and learned at their own pace."

When classes resume, school life will look a lot more normal, Mr Howes said.

Masks will be recommended for secondary school students, but they won't be mandatory.

Things like choir and interschool sport are now back on the agenda.

"Kids can participate in full contact sport and non-contact sports," he said.

"Woodwind instruments — that there was a lot of interest in — will be back.

"We're asking schools to be cautious around that. So make sure there's adequate ventilation, limiting the number of students who might participate at any one time."

Drinking fountains will be working again and parents will be allowed back on to the school grounds — something particularly important for prep students.

"Parents and carers on that really important day when they send their children off to school," Mr Howes said.

Parents will have to register their details if they are at the school for more than 15 minutes in case contact tracing is necessary at a later date.

Virtue signalling does nothing to make lives of indigenous Australians safer

Moves to change the date of Australia Day, or ignore it altogether at the cricket, is pointless, divisive — and won’t help indigenous Australians, writes Aboriginal Jacinta Price

Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon has declared Zali Steggall will only be a one-term MP after her comments surrounding a minute silence on Australia Day clearly “does not reflect the views” of her electorate.

Right now the lives and wellbeing of all Australians depends on a unified nation, and Australia Day is more important than ever.

In Abraham Lincoln’s words: “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” And with the threat of COVID — coupled with the economic damage threatened by China — we have to come together in order to stand strong. To do otherwise would be a deliberate act of narcissistic self sabotage.

Arguing to change the date of Australia Day is arguing to establish yet another superficial and ineffective act of symbolism that will change nothing for the plight of marginalised indigenous Australians.

And virtue-signalling sporting associations like Cricket Australia, who claim to want to make next Tuesday’s Big Bash “culturally safe” by not mentioning Australia Day — perhaps in the spirit of “don’t mention the war” — are doing nothing to make the lives of actual indigenous Australians safer.

Would changing the date have prevented the recent tragic death of an Alice Springs woman, allegedly murdered in a brutal domestic violence attack? Will a different date halt the continued bashings and child sexual assault in our remote communities? Will it stamp out the destructive alcoholism and welfare dependency?

No. It’s pointless window dressing. A curtain that simply works to conceal the real problems indigenous Australian face by giving a superficial matter centre stage under a bright spotlight; while in the wings, women and children continue to be molested, battered and killed.

Nor will making such a change appease the aggrieved and offended minority whose goal is seemingly not to solve our most critical problems or attain unity, but to spark and maintain division.

Along with the continued planning for Australia Day protests, we have the recent example of the rabid campaign to force the makers of Coon Cheese to change its name — which ignored the brand’s innocuous origins acknowledging the cheese process pioneer Edward Coon.

And were the complainants happy when the name was changed to the equally inoffensive ‘Cheer Cheese’? No … they then whinged that indigenous people should have been consulted about the new name. And Sky News has reported the main activist in the case plans to sue for $2.1 million in damages.

This proof that bending to the will of the ‘offenderati’ never appeases them is likely to be repeated if we capitulate to their campaign against our national day.

But the arguments they put forward don’t stack up, in any case.

They claim we Aboriginal Australians, or ‘First Nations People’ as termed by the elitist politically correct, are not recognised enough within our nation.

If you are Aboriginal or of Aboriginal descent you are told by activists and self-flagellating sycophants that we are victims of our colonial past and continued imaginary white oppression. This false depiction removes our agency and fails to recognise our individual abilities as human beings.

It also plays ignorant to the forms of recognition of Aboriginal Australia that Australians participate in whether wilfully or forcefully year in, year out.

There are 11 official days of the year and one entire week all dedicated to recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Not to mention every single event, program, sporting game, theatre performance, school assembly, Council meeting, conference and email salutation where there is a ‘Welcome to Country’ or ‘Recognition of the Land in which we are so very privileged to be gathered on’.

To suggest Australians don’t do enough to recognise Aboriginal Australia is to suggest the sun rises in the west: it simply is not true.

If they can get beyond being perpetually offended, they may instead find they could invest their energy into supporting practical outcomes to overcome family violence, child sexual abuse, youth suicide, alcohol and substance abuse in our indigenous communities and providing genuine help for those who suffer real world disadvantage and trauma.

It would also be wise not to invest in an action that is capable of spreading COVID to some of the most health-vulnerable members of our community — Aboriginal Australians.

Our nation provides the right for us to celebrate Australia Day how we see fit.

No one has the right to suggest on your behalf what you do on this day and why you do it. No one has the right to attempt to gaslight you into believing you are celebrating genocide if you eat some lamb or sport an Aussie stick-on tattoo on January 26.

It is everybody’s choice as to how they choose to recognise what Australia Day means to them.

By all means choose how you wish but do not impose your choices on others; and don’t put others lives at risk.

I will be celebrating Australia Day with my Warlpiri, Celtic, Mauritian, Asian and African family. I urge everybody else to come together with the people most important to them, and celebrate what Australia is and help foster what it can be.

Daniel Andrews opposes Australia Day honour for tennis legend Margaret Court because of her LGBTIQ views

More harassment of Christians

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says he does not support former tennis great Margaret Court being recognised with an Australia Day honour.

In recent years, Ms Court has come under fire for her views on the LGBTQI community.

"I do not support that. I do not believe that she has views that accord with the vast majority of people across our nation, that see people particularly from the LGBTQI community as equal and deserving as dignity, respect and safety," Mr Andrews said.

The Order of Australia has four levels, of which Ms Court's new status as a "Companion" is highest.

Ms Court won 24 Grand Slam singles titles and was the first female Australian to win Wimbledon in 1963.

The 78-year-old, who is now a reverend in Perth, wrote an open letter in 2017 saying she would boycott Qantas over its support of same-sex marriage. "I teach what the Bible says about things and you get persecuted for it," she said in an ABC interview last year.

In 2013, Ms Court wrote a letter to the editor in a newspaper lamenting the birth of Australian tennis player Casey Dellacqua's child in a same-sex relationship. "It is with sadness that I see that this baby has seemingly been deprived of a father," Ms Court wrote.

Her honour was supposed to be revealed next week, but news of the decision broke this morning.

Mr Andrews said he would prefer not to be giving oxygen to Ms Court's views. "But I don't give out those gongs, that's not a matter for me, that's for others," he said.

"You might want to speak to them about why they think those views, which are disgraceful, hurtful and cost lives, should be honoured."

One of the main stadiums at Melbourne Park — home of the Australian Open — is named in her honour. Mr Andrews said the name of Margaret Court Arena was a matter for other people




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The Left-led destruction of…

The Left-led destruction of standards in the schools

We will MAKE you equal, they implicitly say — even if we can do that only by dumbing everybody down to a low common denominator. Their "all men are equal" gospel is truly pernicious but is part of their general disconnect from reality.

Reality is unimportant to them. They see only what they want to see. And what they want is to see everyone as miserable as they are. As Gore Vidal once said: "Whenever a Friend Succeeds, a Little Something in Me Dies"

In my university teaching career I saw several instances of the sort of thing mentioned below. I was in a very Leftist Sociology department and I saw student marks upgraded on all sorts of flimsy grounds

A friend of mine walked away from his job as a teacher recently, turning his back on career spanning over three decades.

He told me he was leaving because he was tired of being forced to give good marks to indifferent students, as there existed an unwritten but understood direction that no one was allowed to fail.

He said he was tired of coaching sporting teams to take part in competitions in which there was no scoring, so that everybody was a winner and no one suffered the ignominy of coming second.

If everyone passes and nobody loses, then the students are happy and parents are happy and the headmasters and education bureaucrats are happy.

Little Johnny never acquires the discipline inherent in study, but sails through high school without raising a sweat because the system says he must. He also thinks he’s great at sport as his team never lost.

His lack of commitment to learning doesn’t matter, because as long as he can sign his name and apply for a student HECS loan, universities will welcome him into their folds.

He spends three lovely years watching online lectures in between playing video games, going to the beach and hanging out with his mates.

His tutors give his barely comprehensible assignments a pass mark because they know that their superiors expect everyone to pass.

Tutors know that if they fail students, particularly those from overseas, they will be accused of having a bias against a particular group.

It doesn’t matter that these groups have poor written and spoken English language skills, and engage in wholesale cheating.

It’s much better to give everyone a tick and move on, rather than risk a career-threatening confrontation.

Three years and $30,000-plus later, Johnny emerges from the sun-drenched halls of academia with a degree and zero skills.

He has been in the education system for 15 years and learnt absolutely nothing because no one forced him to pursue goals and strive for excellence.

He eventually gets a job in retail or a call centre, and looks at the degree hanging on his bedroom wall and gets angry because he feels the system has failed him.

What happened to that high-paying job to which his degree entitles him?

He’s right, of course. The system did fail him. It thought it was doing him a favour by protecting him from the emotional damage he might suffer if he was told that if what he was offering up was his best, it wasn’t good enough and he would have to go back and give it another shot.

He never learnt that there are winners and losers in life, and that the difference between the two is that winners try harder.

We know the system is failing these kids because it’s evident in the studies that compare the performance of our students with those in other countries.

This evidence is incontrovertible, but no one seems particularly interested in changing anything.

In 2019 almost one in every 10 student teacher university graduates failed an online literacy and numeracy test.

How difficult is the test? Here are two sample questions.

* This year a teacher spent $383.30 on stationery. Last year the teacher spent $257.85 on stationery. How much more did the teacher spend this year than last year?

* A surf shop has surfboards for hire at $15 an hour up to a maximum of $60 a day. What is the cost of hiring a surfboard from 9.30am to midday?

Challenging? I don’t think so.

Surely a system that produces high school graduates who then progress through a degree at the completion of which they are unable to perform simple intellectual tasks is flawed.

They then go on to teach others and the process is perpetuated.

Many teachers do great work and it could be, I imagine, the most demanding of professions but that is not the point.

The concern is that far too many of our kids are completing their high school education ill-equipped to make their way in the world, and then drift into meaningless degree courses that qualify them for Centrelink payments and little else.

In a few weeks, thousands of Queensland children will part company with their tearful mothers and pass through the school gates for the first time.

We want these kids – all of our kids – to be winners in every sense of the word, but it falls to parents to instil the understanding that success is hard won because a system that seeks to please all and disappoint none will never do it.

Scott Morrison attacks Cricket Australia for decision to drop term 'Australia Day' from BBL promotions

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has criticised Cricket Australia (CA) for its decision to avoid using the term "Australia Day" in Big Bash League promotions.

Three Big Bash clubs will wear Indigenous jerseys and Cricket Australia decided to drop the term in a bid to normalise conversations over the date's history.

The move to abandon references to "Australia Day" prompted a rebuke from Mr Morrison, who is touring a refinery in Queensland on Thursday.

"I think a bit more focus on cricket, and a bit less focus on politics would be my message to Cricket Australia," he told radio station 4RO. "I think that's pretty ordinary but that's what they're putting on their press releases."

He said Cricket Australia should listen to any backlash from fans opposed to the decision and reverse it.

The Sydney Thunder, Perth Scorchers and Melbourne Renegades will all wear their special strips in matches on January 23, 25 and 26.

A barefoot circle, Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony will also take place before some games, with CA leading the initiative backed by the clubs.

The moves form part of several recommendations by the sport's National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cricket Advisory Committee, with three games to be played on January 26.

"They thought it was pretty important to not remove cultural elements we have celebrated all season on a day like that," Cricket Australia's diversity and inclusion manager Adam Cassidy told AAP.

"Obviously it's a bit of a challenge when you have matches being played on a day of mourning for a lot of people."

CA is well aware the issue is a sensitive one and is desperate for it not to prove divisive, but for it to encourage open discussion.

"When you are a business operating under a Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan, it does come with responsibility and accountability to lead on key reconciliation issues," Cassidy said.

"In an ideal world what we're trying to do is create a safe and inclusive environment for everybody."

Indigenous jerseys have been worn across different sports for some time, but it is the first time they will be used over the Australia Day period.

The move has been firmly approved by the game's players, with Sydney Thunder's Brendan Doggett championing the cause through his own Indigenous history.

"I hate conflict. So I am of the opinion if we can all merge forward together that's ideal," Doggett said. "The way we're going to do that is by starting conversations and talking about it and acknowledging the history of what's happened. "If we wear the kit and hopefully even start one conversation then that is a win."

The Thunder have long referred to the public holiday as the January long weekend and have been a leader in multicultural initiatives through the Thunder Cup.

Doggett, meanwhile, has grown increasingly aware of his Indigenous history in recent years, after only discovering his mother's family's links to the Stolen Generation around five years ago.

That, too, has changed his perspective on the day, which he says is now far different to when he was a carpenter in Queensland.

And it's with that perspective he believes it is possible to become more united, and that wearing the Indigenous jerseys could help prompt that.

"For me now it's more of a day to just recognise and acknowledge the history and everything that has happened. And do it respectfully," he said. "It makes me want to make sure that everyone's moving forward together.

"It's a pretty dark past but if we can move forward, together and united then in my opinion that's the best result."

Medevac detainees freed from Melbourne hotel after years in immigration detention

At least 26 refugees and asylum seekers have been freed from immigration detention in Melbourne, where some have spent more than a year detained in inner-city hotels, advocacy groups say.

The men were allowed to leave the Park Hotel and the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation (MITA) on Wednesday, according to Ian Rintoul from Refugee Action Coalition.

Legal representatives for some of the men who were still detained said they had been told they would be freed on Thursday.

"We've got 100 cases where people are still in detention, and the minister has indicated that he's considering granting the visas in a number of other cases," Daniel Taylor from Sydney West Legal said.

Most of the men had cases pending in the court, where lawyers planned to argue they were being illegally detained.

The men who are being released were brought to Australia under the now-repealed medical evacuation law — widely referred to as the Medevac law — which allowed refugees and asylum seekers in offshore detention to enter the country for urgent medical treatment.

Ramsi Sabanayagan, a Tamil refugee from Sri Lanka, learned that he will be freed on Thursday after eight years in immigration detention. "Tomorrow morning, I am released," the 29-year-old refugee said. "I can't believe, really, I can't explain our happiness. Really, very exciting."

Mr Sabanayagan said he arrived on Christmas Island in July 2013 and was later transferred to Manus Island in Papua New Guinea where he spent more than six years in Australian immigration detention.

In November 2019, he was transferred to Australia under Medevac to receive treatment for mental health issues and severe headaches caused by shrapnel wounds.

Mr Sabanayagan said in recent months he had made multiple requests to immigration officials to be returned to PNG but didn't receive a response.

Police cars lined the streets outside the Park Hotel in Melbourne on Wednesday as officials prepared to move the men to the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation (MITA) to be processed.

Images showed at least one man waving to supporters as police escorted him to a waiting bus. Within hours, some walked out of the gates of MITA, according to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC).

"The entire refugee movement is feeling a great sense of relief that people are finally being released," Jana Favero from the ASRC said. "People's mental and physical health rapidly deteriorated over the past year, especially with the pandemic."

The Home Affairs department has long maintained the men's stay in Australia would be temporary, and that as soon as their treatment was over they would be returned to PNG, Nauru or another country that was willing to take them.

Before being transferred to Australia for medical treatment, the men had spent years in offshore immigration processing centres on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.

Under Australia's immigration policy, asylum seekers who arrive by boat are told they will never be settled in the country.

The Medevac legislation passed in February 2019 was short-lived, as the Government opposed it and repealed it in December 2019, months after the federal election.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton claimed the legislation offered a "back door" into the country that refugees would exploit to stay here.

On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the Home Affairs Department said Australia's policy remained unchanged. "No-one who attempts illegal maritime travel to Australia will be permanently settled here," the spokesperson said.

The Home Affairs spokesperson did not confirm what visas the men had been given, but said final departure bridging visas give holders the right to temporarily reside in Australia while they finalise their arrangements to leave.

Mr Taylor from Sydney West Legal said all of his clients who had been in detention had asked to return to PNG or Nauru, but their requests were ignored.

Hundreds of people were transferred to Australia under the Medevac legislation. Most were held in Alternatives Places of Detention (APODs), namely hotels in Melbourne and Brisbane while they received medical treatment.

Some of the refugees said they did not receive adequate medical care and were confined to their rooms for 23 hours a day.

Fishermen reject Greenie claims Australians are 'eating endangered sharks' under the guise of flake

Queensland shark fishers have rejected an Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) campaign encouraging Australians to stop eating flake.

The Give Flake a Break campaign urges people to choose sustainable seafood alternatives, as there is no legal obligation to disclose what species of shark is being sold, or where it has come from.

Margaret Stevenson, who owns a fishing business with her husband Graham at Burnett Heads in Queensland, says there should not be any concern as fishers are already heavily regulated.

"We've got a total allowable catch that restricts how much we can catch," she said. "We have to call in and give out how many sharks we've caught, even if it's only one, and that's every trip. "We can't leave the boat ramp for an hour after we've called in so boating and fisheries patrol can inspect our catch.

"We have to identify each species of shark that we catch in our logbooks and report on it and we have to do that on the phone as well — we have to give them the numbers before we get in."

Senior sharks campaigner for the Australian Marine Conservation Society Leo Guida argued the seafood labelling system was "broken".

"Fishers do record what species they catch, and there are fishers out there who do a fantastic job and provide us with sustainable alternatives," he said.

"But by the time it gets to the plate, somewhere along the way, the information as to what species — particularly with sharks — that people are eating gets lost or is very difficult to find.

"We know this because there are quirks in our national environment laws that allow the harvest and sale of endangered fish. "These include the endangered school shark and the critically endangered scalloped hammerhead."

Mrs Stevenson said what AMCS was implying was simply wrong. "It just can't happen with these claims that we're selling product that we shouldn't be — that it's threatening an endangered species," she said.

"If they [boating and fisheries patrol] come and inspect our catch and we have something that we shouldn't have or there's an error in what we've told them over the phone — we're liable to get fined. "Our whole livelihood, our whole business then is on the line."

A handful of species are listed as threatened under Australia's Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, including the grey nurse shark and the speartooth shark, which banned them from being fished in Australian waters.

But while the scalloped hammerhead shark is classed as globally critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, it is legally allowed to be caught in limited numbers in Australia under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

In Queensland, recreational fishers are prohibited from catching scalloped, smooth and great hammerhead sharks, but commercial fishers are not.

Graham Stevenson explained that they were not catching endangered species of shark. "The species of sharks that we catch here primarily are spinner sharks, which are a school type shark — they're in the thousands out here," he said.

"We get black-tipped sharks and weasel sharks — weasel sharks only ever eat octopus, they're very similar to the southern gummy. "At different times of year we do get a lot of hammerhead sharks — they're very prolific in this area."

Mrs Stevenson said she was frustrated that there did not seem to be anything they could do about it. "We're guilty until we're proven innocent and we've got no mechanism available to us prove our innocence as an industry," she said.

"The only thing I can say to consumers is to put the onus back onto these greenie organisations and demand the evidence, demand the proof of what these claims are.

"A few years ago, we had a really good market for shark and they [AMCS] came out and did a big campaign and because of it that whole business that used to buy our shark went bust."




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Is Novavax the dark horse of…

Is Novavax the dark horse of Australia's COVID-19 vaccines?

Experts say early clinical data on Australia's third COVID-19 vaccine, Novavax, is promising enough to suggest it could play a significant role in the nation's pandemic strategy.

The federal government has signed up to buy 51 million doses of Novavax’s two-shot vaccine and those involved in trials say it is expected to be made available as early as the middle of this year, in addition to COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and AstraZeneca that will be available in coming weeks.

Australia's Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly on Tuesday confirmed the nation's drug regulator was in direct talks with European and Norwegian authorities after several elderly people died after receiving Pfizer's vaccine. It is not yet clear if there was a link between the deaths and the vaccine.

While large phase three studies for the Novavax vaccine are ongoing, early data released in December suggests it is likely to offer strong protection against COVID-19. There are even hints it may do something other vaccines have struggled with: stop the coronavirus' spread.

"The phase one data was really convincing. The immune responses were really strong – up there in the realms we saw with the mRNA vaccines. That level of immune response tends to be a bit of a correlation … those are the vaccines that have ended up giving very strong efficacy," said University of Sydney professor of medical microbiology James Triccas.

Paul Young, co-leader of the University of Queensland's aborted COVID-19 vaccine project, agreed the data "does look promising".

"The preclinical animal data showed that viral titres in the upper respiratory tract were lower in vaccinated animals, suggesting but not proving that infectivity and transmission may be lower," he said.

Paul Griffin, medical director of the Nucleus Network – contracted by Novavax to conduct clinical trials in Australia – said if all went well, the vaccine could be available for use by May or June.

"I think this is one, just based on where it’s up to timing wise, that has fallen off the radar in this country. There has been a lot of attention on Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna," he said. "It is looking very safe and effective."

It is difficult to directly compare phase one trial results, but data reported in the New England Journal of Medicine in December suggested Novavax’s vaccine produced an immune response similar to vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.

"They were able to induce higher [antibody] titres than recovered COVID patients. And that’s a really good sign. When we were seeing results like that, it did highlight Novavax is one to watch, and a really promising formulation," said Kylie Quinn, an RMIT vaccine designer.

Griffith University virologist Adam Taylor said the trials showed the vaccine was safe and generated good antibody responses. "Certainly, this is a useful candidate."

Other vaccines have already shown themselves capable of inducing strong immune responses and protecting people from the virus.

What makes Novavax different is a hint in the early data it could not just protect people but also stop the virus spreading. Stopping or reducing transmission of the virus is valuable to protect people who cannot or will not get vaccinated. At this stage, it remains unclear if any of the vaccines available can prevent transmission.

In a small study, Novavax’s vaccine effectively prevented COVID-19 growing in the noses of monkeys. Results in animals often do not translate to humans. But other vaccines have struggled to repeat the achievement; they effectively protect the lungs but still allow the virus to grow in the nose, where it could spread.

While other vaccines quickly moved from phase one to phase three trials and then approval, Novavax's progress has been slower. The company started its key phase three trial on December 28 after several delays due to issues scaling up vaccine manufacture.

Novavax has had a chequered history. Two failed vaccine trials in recent years led to the company’s stock plunging; it sacked 100 employees and closed two manufacturing plants. In its near-30-year history it is yet to develop an approved vaccine.

Nevertheless, the company is aiming to produce 2 billion doses of vaccine this year.

Novavax’s jab combines traditional and cutting-edge technology. Inside each vial are copies of COVID-19’s spike protein – the cellular harpoon it uses to attach to and enter our cells – and a dose of the company’s adjuvant. The adjuvant triggers the immune system, which recognises the spike protein and builds antibodies and immune cells capable of defending the body against the virus.

"It’s more of a traditional vaccine – the same type we have used for other vaccines we have in use," said Professor Triccas.

Novavax produces the spike proteins using moth cells, and then studs them on a nanoparticle, creating a shape that looks much like the spike-covered virus. In theory, immune cells should be much more likely to spot and attack these nanoparticles, as they look just like little viruses.

The company used similar technology in a flu vaccine it is developing. In a late-stage clinical trial, it produced much stronger antibody results than a current flu vaccine.

Addressing the deaths in Norway, Chief Medical Officer Professor Kelly said on Tuesday: "In a normal week, 400 people do pass away in their aged care facilities.

"In general terms, they were very old, they were frail, some of them were basically terminally ill."

It is not yet clear if the deaths are linked to the vaccine, and Australian experts have already said they are no reason to slow the vaccine's rollout.

Professor Kelly said it was possible Australia's drugs regulator would advise against giving the very elderly and frail the vaccine.

"That is a very tricky balance. We know elderly people, as is the case in Norway, elderly people in aged care facilities are towards the end of their life. We know from our own data from the Australian pandemic, of the 900 people who have died, they have mostly been in the very elderly group, they are of the greatest risk of severe infection," he said.

"The mortality rate is very high once you get over 80 or 90 if you get COVID-19. It's that risk balance equation which the [regulator] will need to do around which people should be excluded from the vaccine."

Barley finds a home in Mexico after China ban

Despite the trade tensions with China and the massive tariff imposed on barley exports, there are some good signs for grain growers on international markets.

West Australian grain handler CBH Group has sent a shipment of malt barley to Mexico, which is a first for the Australian grains industry.

The shipment of 35,000 tonnes of malting barley, used to make beer, was loaded at the port of Albany in WA and sent to Mexico.

CBH Chief Marketing and Trading Officer Jason Craig said other shipments could follow. "While it is early days, this shipment to Mexico signals a potential new market for malting barley. However, this will need to be developed over time."

There is an opening in Saudi Arabia, which is the second-largest barley market globally, importing approximately 7 million tonnes each year.

"Australian feed barley has become very price competitive compared to barley from alternative origins, such as Russia and the Ukraine that have dominated exports to the country for the past few years," Mr Craig said.

There is good news for Australian growers in the feed sector as well. Australian feed barley exports to Thailand and Vietnam are expected to double in 2020-21, according to CBH.

WA produced a big crop of barley, but growers were alarmed late last year when China, their biggest market, imposed a massive 80 per cent tariff. That dispute is heading to the World Trade Authority for resolution.

World wheat prices are also set to rise after Russia imposed a second levy on exports and cancelled some contracts for Russian wheat.

Commonwealth Bank Commodity Analyst Tobin Gorey said it was all being driven by domestic politics. "The Russian President doesn't want to see food prices in Russia continue to increase and he wants to keep more grain for local use."

Russia is the world's biggest exporter, so this latest action is expected to push world prices up.

"There will be a reduction in the amount of Russian wheat sold into the Middle East and South East Asia and it will pave the way for Australian grain sales," Mr Gorey said.

World wheat stocks have been running down over the last few years and Australian farmers on the eastern seaboard have had a big harvest.

It is a serendipitous moment, according to Tobin Gorey. "It's the best [harvest] for probably 10 years, and the world needs our wheat, so the prices have started to go up."

After three years of drought and the worry over the China trade dispute, it is good news for growers.

"We are still recovering from a three-year drought so having a bumper harvest and good prices are exactly what Australian farmers in Qld, SA and NSW were hoping for," Mr Gorey said

Government slams proposal to hold a minute's silence on Australia Day as the idea to recognise Indigenous Aussies will only 'increase division'

The Morrison government has slammed a proposal to hold a minute's silence on Australia Day.

Independent MP Zali Steggall wanted the silence to recognise the suffering of Aboriginal communities during and after colonisation.

But new citizenship minister Alex Hawke said the idea will only increase divisions. 'It is disappointing to see an ill-considered proposal from the Member for Warringah that plays negative politics with our history and which can only perpetuate divisions between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians,' he said in a statement.

'The truth is Australia Day unifies us all, because of our shared history – the good and the bad.

'Regardless of the failings in our history, Australia has become one of the most free, egalitarian, safe and diverse societies today, and our shared commitment to continuing this journey together is what matters most.'

Ms Steggall – who was an Olympic skiier before turning to politics – wrote to mayors in her Sydney electorate asking they observe a minute's silence on January 26.

The day celebrates the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet of British ships into Port Jackson in 1788.

Ms Steggall has written to the Australian Local Government Association along with the mayors of the North Sydney, Mosman and Northern Beaches councils.

But Alice Springs councillor and Warlpiri woman Jacinta Price condemned Ms Steggall for 'painting Indigenous Australians as helpless victims'. 'Zali needs to learn a bit more about our country's history, instead of using shallow, PC, woke-ish ways of dealing with these particular issues,' she told Jim Wilson on 2GB. She said Australia Day is a time for unity with people who have travelled across the world to become Australian.

Last week, Scott Morrison's government warned councils not to use the Covid as an excuse to cancel Australia Day celebrations to appease Invasion Day activists who want the date changed.

Local councils are required to hold citizenship ceremonies on January 26 and could have their citizenship powers revoked by the government if they fail to comply.

While most councils are still holding citizenship ceremonies on Australia Day, some have announced they have called them off in either solidarity with Indigenous people or the Covid pandemic.

Minister Hawke said local councils should not divide Australians over the contested date after a tough year marred by the pandemic.

'For any council seeking to play politics with Australia Day citizenship ceremonies, our message is simple – don't,' he told The Australian. 'Australians need this sort of negative bickering less than ever at this challenging time.

'We know the vast majority of councils across the country will do the right thing when determining whether to hold online or physical citizenship ceremonies.'

Inner-city Melbourne councils Yarra and Darebin will not be holding citizenship ceremonies on January 26.

The two councils voted to stop referring to January 26 as Australia Day in 2017, which resulted in their citizenship powers being stripped.

Yarra and Darebin councils will also hold events commemorating Indigenous people in place of Australia Day events.

According to a recent survey of 1,038 people by think tank Institute of Public Affairs, two thirds believed Australia Day should be celebrated on January 26.

Only 11 per cent were in favour of the date being changed.

About 72 per cent of people interviewed thought the day was an authentic way of of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to celebrate being Australian.

Aboriginal man slams the 'noisy minority' fighting to change the date of Australia Day – and says the event 'doesn't exclude indigenous people'

A proud Aboriginal man has slammed calls to change the date of Australia Day and says January 26 doesn't exclude indigenous people.

Indigenous affairs commentator and Australian Catholic University researcher Dr Anthony Dillon weighed into the debate this week when he said the date neither includes nor excludes people.

Dr Dillon has since publicly lashed the 'noisy minority' who want the date changed.

January 26 marks the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet into Port Jackson in 1788.

'For most of them it's a celebration… but you've got this minority who are trying to make out that the white man is yet again guilty and that it's a terrible day for Aboriginal people,' Dr Dillion told Sydney radio station 2GB on Wednesday.

'It does nothing for reconciliation, it does nothing for racial relations. It's ridiculous.'

He doesn't believe changing the date would change the situation. 'How would it?' he asked.

'The problems affecting Aboriginal people aren't going to be fixed by changing the date.'

He says it isn't the date that includes or excludes but individuals themselves.

'We are told that celebrating Australia Day on 26 January is not inclusive. Well actually, dates neither include nor exclude people. Individuals do that themselves. If you want to exclude yourself from celebrating Australia Day, go for it,' Dr Dillon tweeted earlier in the week.

He plans to celebrate next Tuesday's public holiday with friends. 'It will be a happy day for me but I guess ultimately, I will reflect on what a great country we live in,' he said.




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University humanities students…

University humanities students sold short on riches of their heritage

Gender and race are legitimate themes for study, analysis and debate in universities’ humanities courses. Disciplines such as history, literature and social science should encourage students to take a broad view of the world and think independently, grounded in a deep knowledge of their subjects. Humanities courses overrun by identity politics and ideology, however, fail to provide the liberal arts education students are entitled to expect. To the contrary, such courses narrow students’ understandings of the world around them. The problem fuels divisions within the general community, evidenced by perennial controversies around Australia Day and “cancel culture’’ campaigns for the removal of public statues associated with European settlement. The trend is then perpetuated in schools, as a high proportion of humanities graduates become classroom teachers.

An audit of Bachelor of Arts subjects at 10 top universities last year by the Institute of Public Affairs found 572 subjects, or 44 per cent of 1181 subjects analysed, were concerned with identity politics. A further 380 featured critical race theory, a US-born framework for studying race and power. It coined such concepts as “white privilege” and “structural racism”. About 25 per cent of subjects focused specifically on gender issues. Such themes were dominant in humanities courses at Macquarie (70 per cent), and Melbourne (61 per cent) and Sydney universities (59 per cent). The dominance of such themes — which should be fair game for critical scrutiny — short-changes many students. Only a quarter of English literature subjects involved the study of great works comprising the Western canon, Rebecca Urban reported. And just 23 per cent of history subjects covered Western civilisation, from Ancient Greece to the modern world. Only 10 per cent of political science subjects surveyed taught students about the history of ideas and political thought. And freedom, a concept highly valued in democracies and traditionally a key tenet of the study of the social sciences, was featured in just 10 per cent of a possible 524 subjects.

IPA director Bella d’Abrera, who carried out the review, said academics obsessed with identity politics had turned the humanities into a political project. Subjects had become “homogenised” to the extent it was “almost impossible to differentiate’’ between sociology and English literature; philosophy and sociology. Regardless of the subject, the same worldview, of identity politics and critical race theory, was repeated through all disciplines. For example, one course on the history of sport examines the meaning of sport across “class, racial, gender and ethnic groups”, including “the rise of female, LGBT and transgender athletes”. The major problem is not that or any other particular subject — it is the preponderance of the trend, and the exclusion of much of the riches of history, literature, philosophy and political science. For many taxpayers, the trend underlines the sense of the Morrison government’s lifting fees for humanities courses in a bid to steer young people to nursing, maths, science and engineering courses, which offer greater job prospects.

It also shows that the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation, which sponsors great books-style courses at several universities, and Campion College, a private liberal arts university in Sydney, are filling a major gap in the nation’s education. Campion College president Paul Morrissey is correct when he says disciplines such as literature and history should be studied for their own sake, using a wide range of interpretative lenses.

Activists wield ‘I’m uncomfortable’ like a sword

The guidelines for movie casting recommend that the director begins with some searching questions. For example: “Can this role be played by a woman, someone who is trans or gender non-conforming, someone with a disability, a person of colour, an older person, etc?”

The National Australia Day Council’s “Reflect. Respect. Celebrate” campaign advertisement has followed the advice up to and including “etc”. And why not? As the ad says, “we are all part of the story”.

Sadly, however, this well-intentioned call for national unity has been pulled from the schedule at Nova Cinema in Carlton, Melbourne. Like everything that gets cancelled these days, the action took place on Twitter.

“Hey @cinemanova,” wrote a person by the name of unaustralian native © @MerikiKO. “I love coming to your cinema to switch off and watch a good film at a great venue.

However, we were made uncomfortable by the Australia Day ads that you have screening. This is highly inappropriate for mob to have to pay to sit through. I hope you reconsider.”

Cinema Nova replied apologetically, claiming that “reduced in-office hours” meant the ad “may not have been vetted with our usual care”.

We would never intentionally make our valued customers feel uncomfortable, so we will remove the associated propaganda from further sessions. We hope to welcome you back soon

That’s all it takes these days to get something that makes you “uncomfortable” pulled from the cinema. Just a single, ungrammatical Twitter message complaining that a 60-second ad is “inappropriate for mob to have to pay for”.

It would be just as futile to ask what makes a Cinema Nova audience uncomfortable. Presumably not the currently screening R18+ movie Possessor, which portrays a man stabbing himself in his head before killing another bloke with a meat cleaver. Yet an innocuous message from a federal government-funded body is declared “propaganda” and pulled down.

The ease with which a single slacktivist from the fruitcake fringe can force commercial businesses to take the knee is one thing. The damage this does to the cause of reconciliation is another.

The National Australia Day Council is damned if it leaves Aboriginal faces out of its ad and damned if it puts them in. Popular support for an Aboriginal voice to parliament begins to crumble when the demands for inclusiveness reach the level of the absurd.

If Saputo Dairy thought it could settle the argument about Coon Cheese by simply changing the name, it was mistaken. The cheese is named after its inventor, Edward William Coon, not the common name of the butterfly Astictopterus jama or the Maine coon, an energetic breed of domestic cat that tends to pounce unexpectedly.

Saputo, however, was not prepared for an etymological fight, even with a lone activist who claims that a walk down the supermarket dairy aisle hurt his feelings. Saputo announced last week that the product will henceforth be known as Cheer.

“We trust our valued consumers and those who are new to our products will embrace this new name,” Saputo’s commercial director, Cam Bruce, cheerfully announced, bringing a new dimension to the word cheesy.

“Cheer Cheese … brings that extra little bit of happiness. Whether it’s a sliced snack, a part of your family’s dinner time favourite or a melty midnight toastie (sic).”

Anti-Coon campaigner Stephen Hagan was not satisfied. “I would have liked it to be something a bit more inclusive of First Nations people,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald. “We weren’t even consulted on names. We would like to have contributed.”

This is not what Indigenous leaders had in mind when they signed the Uluru Statement from the Heart in May 2017. They wanted a structural mechanism to give Indigenous Australians input on policy and legislation, not fatuous campaigns on the nomenclature of dairy products.

The Morrison government has committed to a constitutional referendum to put just such a mechanism in place. Like all such questions, it should be considered on its merits, unclouded by distractions.

The biggest risk to the “yes” vote will not come from conservatives. It comes from the activist fringe dwellers who have co-opted Indigenous interests as one of a suite of causes with which to attack the status quo.

These play-fights over symbolic issues devalue the seriousness of purpose behind the Uluru Statement in the public eye. These people are as unserious as the social media platforms they frequent. They could choose to campaign to end the welfare and alcohol dependency that is endemic in many rural and remote communities. They could take a stand against the vandalism and violence symbolised by the boarded-up shops of towns such as Walgett and Brewarrina in NSW.

These, however, are not things you can fix on Twitter. Perhaps an Indigenous voice to parliament can.

The yes campaign must filter out calls to make Australia Day a Day of Mourning, flying flags at half-mast or dressing in black, as Greens MP Lidia Thorpe proposed in The Age last week. A yes vote will only succeed if Australians can be convinced that this is a permanent step towards a better future, not just a stick of shame with which to beat the rest of us over the head.

The Greens are already saying the proposed Voice to Parliament does not go far enough. They are seeking a legally binding treaty under which the elected parliament would be bound to adopt Indigenous advice.

This kind of crazy talk will all but guarantee the referendum’s failure. It comes from people more concerned about projecting their own virtue than winning a popular vote. It is why supporters of the Voice must take on the radical voices in favour of a yes vote, not just those arguing no.

Aboriginal man attacking woman had to be pulled off her by police

A man has been tasered and charged with attempted murder by police after he allegedly attacked a woman in a rural Queensland town overnight.

A call for help was made after 9pm on Monday in relation to a domestic violence disturbance at a home in Aurukun, in far north Queensland.

According to police, the 37-year-old man was allegedly attacking a 51-year-old woman, who is known to him.

A police issued statement said the man had to be tasered upon the arrival of police.

“Officers arrived to find a man allegedly attacking a woman known to him and consequently deployed an electronic conductive device before he was taken into custody,” the statement said.

The woman suffered serious non-life-threatening injuries, while the man was taken to the watch house where he was refused police bail.

He will appear at the Cairns Magistrates Court later today on charges of attempted murder offence (domestic violence) and assault occasioning bodily harm while armed with an offensive instrument.

No slowdown in scary climate prophecy phenomenon

The beginning of every year often triggers the release of doomsday predictions. You know the sort of thing: there will be no polar bears in 50 years, parts of the world will be uninhabitable within two decades, the world will run out of oil/gas/water very soon.

If you bother to tune into the ABC, you will regularly learn about these various catastrophic prophecies because they are very popular with the program producers. Add in a bit of scary music and the picture of a forlorn koala or parched landscape and the story writes itself. It has become almost a vocation for some jumped-up types who think their opinions should be taken seriously because of their accomplishments or positions in completely unrelated fields. Think Al Gore, Prince Charles, Greta Thunberg, Tim Flannery and plenty of others.

I was reminded of this when I came across a recent article with the juvenile title “Underestimating the challenges of avoiding a ghastly future”. Oh no, I thought, not a ghastly future. And who should be among the list of authors but Paul and Anne Ehrlich, who are still going strong with wild, over-the-top predictions. Who can forget The Population Bomb, published in 1968?

According to these authors, hundreds of millions of people were going to die in the 70s because of overpopulation and the world’s inability to feed everyone. But here’s the bit I really love about this book: Paul Ehrlich still thinks he was largely correct but his timing was just a bit askew. In 1986, Ehrlich doubled down by predicting that in 2020, one billion people would die as a result of climate change. That’s right: one billion.

Let me be clear: I’m not recommending you read about avoiding a ghastly future. Yes, overpopulation is still a big issue for the authors, even though all the demographic predictions point to falling world population around the middle of the century.

There is an unproven assertion in the article that COVID-19 and climate change are somehow linked because of increased interaction between different animal species because of changing climate patterns. That sounds scary.

Of course, Ehrlich doesn’t have a mortgage on barking out doomsday scenarios. Who can forget Al Gore, who has become extremely wealthy undertaking his climate change evangelism?

During the first decade of this century — his film, An Inconvenient Truth, was released in 2006 — he repeatedly declared there would be no ice in the Arctic by 2013 or 2014. As it turned out, there was actually more ice than ever in those years.

And we can’t go past our own Professor Tim Flannery, a mammologist by training, predicting in 2007 that cities such as Sydney and Brisbane would run out of water because of climate change and that “even the rain that falls isn’t actually going to fill our dams and our river systems”. This, sadly, was not an accurate prediction for the citizens of Brisbane, who endured a ghastly flood in 2011. And, while drought remains a perennial feature of Australia’s climate, most parts of eastern Australia have had above-average rainfalls in the past year and the landscape is green and lush.

I’m not exactly sure why we should pay any attention at all to Prince Charles and his climate change fanaticism. But in 2019, he stated: “I am firmly of the view the next 18 months will decide our ability to keep climate change to survivable levels and to restore nature to the equilibrium we need for our survival.” The good thing is the 18 months is up and we can all move on without his opinions.

Embarrassing though these false predictions might be, they are perhaps slightly less excruciating than those made by actual experts — OK, so-called experts — in the field. Take this forecast in 2000 by Dr David Viner, senior research scientist at the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia:

“Within a few years winter snowfall will become a very rare and exciting event.” (This is the same unit that was the subject of an email scandal in 2010.) Sadly for Viner, but happily for the rest of us, winter snowfalls are very much with us. The UK is enduring a particularly cold winter with snow in various parts of the country. So neither rare nor exciting, it would seem.

And let’s not forget the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change declaring in 2007 the Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035, only to then retract this projection. But it wasn’t a problem according to the IPCC because “in drafting the paragraph in question, the clear and well-established standards of evidence, required by the IPCC procedures, were not applied properly”. Unsurprisingly, nothing happened as a result of the error and readers of the larger report were encouraged to accept the rest of the material as gospel.

The cannier experts in the field tend to project much further out than the next few years or decades because the chances of being tripped up by curious commentators checking for inaccuracies are very slim. Take the UK Met Office, a zealous climate change agency much like our Bureau of Meteorology. Dr Lizzie Kendon, a science fellow at the Met Office, has predicted by 2080 the hottest days in the UK will peak above 40C and the number of cold days will decrease. “We’ll still have cold days, but features like lying snow will become an increasing rarity …” Luckily for Lizzie, 2080 is in the very distant future.

Gratuitous and unverified projections are not science. They are not based on the testing of refutable hypotheses and generally reflect personal biases of the person making deliberately alarming forecasts to promote their preferred set of actions. The media should either ignore them or treat them with the scepticism they deserve There’s plenty of good science around but also plenty of rubbish. Claims that the end is nigh should be treated with the same level of respect given to the speakers in Hyde Park Corner.




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Left selective in showing…

Left selective in showing contempt, outrage


It was the incorrect answer to a politically correct question. On Wednesday, ABC Radio National Breakfast presenter Sally Sara interviewed New York-based Anti-Defamation League vice-president Greg Ehrie. The ADL is a leading anti-hate organisation, profoundly opposed to white supremacist groups and other extreme domestic ideologies.

Discussion turned on the decision of Twitter and Facebook to ban Donald Trump following the riots at the US Capitol on January 6. Sara ran a recording of acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack comparing the storming of the Capitol with “those race riots we saw around the country last year”. She asked Ehrie, “what’s your response to that comparison?”.

Ehrie replied: “Certainly, it’s very hard not to compare. They happened almost contemporaneously, one after another. And there were a lot of similarities — other than the ideologies — involved with the genesis. How they formed and how the crowds …”

At this stage Sara interrupted: “Hang on, this is storming the Capitol building …” The message was clear; Ehrie had given a response Sara did not want. As it turned out, he went on to condemn the January 6 riots. All he had said was that, in this time of social media, the strategies adopted by rioters of various ideologies were similar.

It is true Trump’s “Save America” speech, delivered in front of the White House, was designed to overturn the result of the 2020 presidential election as determined by the vote in the electoral college. Trump lost narrowly to Joe Biden in 2020 as Hillary Clinton had lost narrowly to Trump in 2016.

It was a Trump-like rambling but captivating 75-minute address. At about the 18-minute mark, the US President said: “We have come to demand that congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been fully slated, lawfully slated. I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”

Clearly, Trump called for a peaceful demonstration. However, in view of the dynamics of the rally, his overall comments were irresponsible. There are such phenomena as unintended consequences, and they took place with a vengeance on January 6. But they do not make Trump a terrorist, as some of his political opponents now assert.

Trump has reason to query the predominance of mail-in ballots in the 2020 election, conducted at a time of pandemic. In November 1960, Republican candidate Richard Nixon had reason to query the validity of some ballots in Illinois and Texas, which led to Democratic rival John F Kennedy entering the White House. Nixon accepted the decision with little dissent; Trump chose another tactic. On Wednesday (US time), Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives — with about 5 per cent of Republican members supporting the unanimous Democrat turnout led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It remains to be seen if he will be convicted by the Senate, but this seems unlikely.

To win elections, Republicans need their traditional voters plus lower-income Americans, including those of African-American and Latino backgrounds, whom Trump got on board. That’s why it will be difficult for the Republican Party to distance itself from Trump and his supporters if it wants to win in 2024.

In recent times, Australia has had its own violent political riot, when left-wing demonstrators attempted to break down the doors of Parliament House in 1996 as part of a protest against John Howard’s recently elected Coalition government. The story is well told by Tony Thomas in the current issue of Quadrant Online. Fortunately, the Australian Federal Police was better equipped to repel rioters in 1996 than was the case with Capitol police in 2021.

It should be remembered that during the period of the Trump presidency, demonstrators invaded the Capitol building in 2018 while protesting over the President’s decision to nominate Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court. They also demonstrated outside the court.

Previously, Trump had succeeded in getting another conservative, Neil Gorsuch, appointed to the US’s superior court. In March 2020, leading Democrat senator Chuck Schumer declared at a left-wing rally: “I want to tell you, Gorsuch, I want to tell you, Kavanaugh, you have released a whirlwind and you will pay the price.” An irresponsible statement, to be sure.

Obviously, the overwhelming majority of the 74 million Americans who voted for Trump were not present at the “Save America” rally. And the overwhelming majority of those who were did not storm the Capitol. Even so, many of the wealthiest and well-educated left-liberal types despise so many of their fellow Americans.

We are familiar with Clinton’s 2016 reference to the Trump-supporting “deplorables”. In the wake of January 6, CNN presenter Anderson Cooper sneered at the demonstrators, violent and peaceful alike. He told viewers: “And they’re going back to, you know, the Olive Garden and the Holiday Inn that they are staying at.”

The Holiday Inn in Washington DC is a three-star hotel. Olive Garden is a moderately priced dine-in and takeaway food chain. Cooper is a left-wing multi-millionaire, born to the Vanderbilt family. Like so many contemporary left-wing journalists, he expects everyone should agree with him. In the event, the Americans making most sense in recent times were the likes of Ehrie, who got the correct perspective, and VicePresident Mike Pence who did his constitutional duty in ensuring an orderly transition to the Biden presidency on January 20.

Phoenix of hope rises from ashes of pandemic disaster

For much of the past decade the pace of innovation underwhelmed many people — especially those miserable economists.

Productivity growth was lacklustre and the most popular new inventions, the smartphone and social media, did not seem to help much. Their malign side-effects, such as the creation of powerful monopolies and the pollution of the public square, became painfully apparent. Promising technologies stalled, including self-driving cars, making Silicon Valley’s evangelists look naive. Security hawks warned that authoritarian China was racing past the West and some gloomy folk warned that the world was finally running out of useful ideas.

A dawn of technological optimism is breaking. The speed at which COVID vaccines have been produced has made scientists household names. Prominent breakthroughs, a tech investment boom and adoption of digital technologies during the pandemic are combining to raise hopes of a new era of progress: optimists giddily predict a “roaring Twenties”. Just as the pessimism of the 2010s was overdone — the decade saw many advances, such as in cancer treatment — so predictions of technological utopia are overblown. But there is a realistic possibility of a new era of innovation that could lift living standards.

In the history of capitalism, rapid technological advance has been the norm. The 18th century brought the Industrial Revolution and mechanised factories; the 19th century railways and electricity; the 20th century cars, planes, modern medicine and domestic liberation thanks to washing machines. In the 1970s, though, progress — measured by overall productivity growth — slowed. The economic impact was masked for a while by women piling into the workforce, and a burst of efficiency gains followed the adoption of personal computers in the 1990s. After 2000, though, growth flagged again.

There are three reasons to think this “great stagnation” might be ending. First is the flurry of recent discoveries with transformative potential. The success of the “messenger RNA” technique behind the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, and of bespoke antibody treatments, shows how science continues to empower medicine. Humans are increasingly able to bend biology to their will, whether to treat disease, edit genes or grow meat in a lab. Artificial intelligence is at last displaying impressive progress; spectacular falls in the price of renewable energy are giving governments confidence their green investments will pay off.

The second reason for optimism is booming investment in technology. Having shrunk for years, public R&D spending across 24 OECD countries began to grow again in real terms in 2017.

The third source of cheer is the rapid adoption of new technologies. It is not just that workers have taken to videoconferencing and consumers to e-commerce — significant as those advances are — the pandemic has also accelerated the adoptions of digital payments, telemedicine and industrial automation. It has been a reminder that adversity often forces societies to advance.

Alas, innovation will not allow economies to shrug off structural drags on growth. As societies get richer they spend a greater share of their income on labour-intensive services, such as restaurant meals, in which productivity growth is meagre because automation is hard. The ageing of populations will continue to suck workers into low-productivity at-home care. Decarbonising economies will not boost long-term growth unless green energy realises its potential to become cheaper than fossil fuels. Yet it is reasonable to hope a fresh wave of innovation might soon reverse the fall in economic dynamism responsible for perhaps a fifth of the 21st century’s growth slowdown. Over time that would compound into a big rise in living standards.

Although the private sector will ultimately determine which innovations succeed or fail, governments also have an important role to play. The state can usefully offer more and better subsidies for R&D, such as prizes for solving clearly defined problems. The state also has a big influence over how fast innovations diffuse through the economy. Governments need to make sure regulation and lobbying do not slow disruption, in part by providing an adequate safety net for those whose livelihoods are up-ended by it. Innovation is concentrated among too few firms. Ensuring the whole economy harnesses new technologies will require robust antitrust enforcement and looser intellectual property regimes. If governments rise to the challenge, faster growth and higher living standards will be within their reach, allowing them to defy the pessimists.

Aussie cherry growers hit back at China report

Australian cherry growers have hit back at China’s claims their fruit is inferior to other countries, as the sector hopes to avoid being the next target in Beijing’s trade war.

It follows a report in Chinese state-owned media that the taste and quality of Australian cherries had dropped, prompting buyers to turn to other countries’ products.

Cherry Growers Australia president Tom Eastlake rejected the claim, saying: “We are positioned as the premium cherry product in the world.

“Seventy-two hours from hanging on a tree, it is in the market.”

Growers did not send fruit to international markets when the quality had been affected, such as during extreme weather events, because they did not want to damage the industry’s reputation, Mr Eastlake said.

He also said the sector had received no complaints from Chinese customers.

The Global Times reported fruit traders had claimed Australia’s share of cherries in the market had dropped due to “inferior quality”.

But Mr Eastlake said the fall in exports to China during 2020 was due to the grounding of planes during the pandemic.

His first thought after the Global Times report was “this doesn’t sound good”. But buyers told him they actually needed more fruit.

“The most reassuring thing for me is when you ring your key people in China and say is everything OK?

“And they say, ‘Well look, Mr Tom, if you could send us more that would be wonderful.’

“We don’t have a plan B for China. Not because we don’t have any other options, we’ve got plenty.

“We want to keep working with them, which we will, to see our product get there.”

While other luxury products have fallen victim to worsening trade tensions between the two countries, Aussie growers believe they will continue to thrive in the Chinese market because of their decade-long connection with buyers.

“Trade tension or diplomatic relations is not one of our principal concerns because we are an industry that is built on relationships,” Mr Eastlake said.

“The federal government should, and does, maintain their relationship with China and we, as an industry, do the same.

“Everything has been clearing, everything has been going in and everyone has been really happy.”

Publicity-seeking academics on social media are influencing school policy

A social media-driven "cult of the guru" within education is giving flashy "Kardashian" academics disproportionate influence over schools at the expense of more complex ideas and research, new research argues.

Scott Eacott, an associate professor of educational leadership at the University of NSW, applied the "Kardashian Index" to 50 education researchers from around the world, including 11 from Australia, and found almost a quarter – eight men and four women – had a score high enough to qualify them as a social science Kardashian.

Three were from Australia, and eight were frequent keynote speakers at education conferences.

Named after influencer Kim Kardashian, the index was developed in 2014 to measure the discrepancy between a scientist's social media profile and their publication record. A high index increased the likelihood that they were famous for being famous.

Dr Eacott said this guru culture threatened to undermine the sector. "My big concern is education de-professionalising itself from the inside," he said.

He also examined academics' Twitter mentions, as tagging like-minded gurus can create "cumulative advantage". Seven like-minded researchers out of the 50-strong sample contributed half of all the mentions exclusively among themselves.

Dr Eacott's paper, published in Leadership, Education, Personality: An Interdisciplinary Journal, argued Twitter presence was conflated with expertise in education, and became a means of influencing and shaping the sector's direction.

It did not name any of the alleged Kardashian researchers, but cited University of Kansas Professor Yong Zhao, University of Toronto Professor Michael Fullan and Boston College Professor Andy Hargreaves as examples of gurus in education.

Dr Eacott said social media was an easy way for time-poor teachers and principals to interact with research. "[Social media] devalues the role of regular research, because it reduces everything to slogans," he said. "They say things at face value that are difficult to argue against. Who doesn't want to 'foster creativity'? But they give you nothing to operationalise.

"You need systemic leaders, and professional associations that are more research literate. We say schools are complex, but we ignore that for simple solutions. If schools are complex places, then you need complex solutions not simple solutions. That takes time."

But Professor Hargreaves, who has more than 80,000 citations in peer-reviewed journals and more than 40,000 Twitter followers, said it was important for academics working in professional fields to share their findings in an accessible way, as epidemiologists have done during the pandemic.

"I would be very opposed to anyone saying it was a bad thing to have an impact in the public square, virtually, in print, or physically. Indeed, it would be irresponsible," he said.

Public intellectuals should also not be confused with gurus, Professor Harvgreaves said. "Whenever someone calls me a guru (in a positive way), I am very clear they should call me a teacher as my job is not to get them to follow my ideas, but to engage with those ideas then think and learn for themselves."

"When social media are well used, they are a way to draw people [and] followers into longer, more substantive reads, including academic papers, and to move knowledge around. Some people use social media simplistically. Many in our field don't."

The Kardashian Index was a lighthearted attempt by biologist Neil Hall to highlight the growth of the rock star researcher on the conference circuit, and suggest scientists should be less concerned about social media and focus more on traditional research.

Critics of the Kardashian Index say neither citation numbers nor any other metric adequately measures an academic's value. Professor Zhao declined to comment and Professor Fullan did not respond to the Herald's request for comment.




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Young woman appears in court…

Young woman appears in court after allegedly obstructing police and breaching bail

What gives these people the right to disrupt other people’s lives? There is no such right but you would never know that from the decisions of the courts

The affinity between Leftists and environmentalists was well on display here. From Napoleon and the Socialist Hitler onwards, both groups cheerfully disregard the rights of others in pursuit of their own interests. Many completely innocent people were greatly put out by the traffic holdups but did the demonstrators care about that? Not as far as one can see. Obtaining their own goal — personal publicity — ruled supreme

That personal publicity was the aim can be seen from the pointlessness of their “cause”. The people they were championing were NOT refugees. They were people who claimed to be refugees but whom the authorities and the courts had ruled NOT to be refugees. They had already had full attention to their fraudulent claims

A refugees rights activist charged after a protest in Brisbane has been bailed following a night in custody. Emma Jade Dorge, 24, appeared in Brisbane Magistrates Court charged with obstruct police and a breach of bail condition.

About a 100 protesters marched in the streets of Kangaroo Point yesterday blocking peak hour traffic as the Gabba Test finished.

The protest began about 5pm at the Kangaroo Point Central Hotel where scores of immigration detainees have been warehoused since last year. The protesters headed down Main St chanting “we won’t stop until we free the refugees”.

A Queensland Police spokeswoman said there was no permit issued for the demonstration and it was “an unauthorised protest”.

Dorge was the only person charged following the incident.

Representing herself in court this morning Dorge indicated during a bail application that she was likely to plead not guilty to the charges.

If refused bail today she would spend months in custody for offences that are likely to only attract a fine if found guilty, she told the court.

“All of my alleged offences and history are for peaceful protesting. I don’t pose a risk to the community in being let out on bail,” she said.

Magistrate Annette Hennessy granted bail stating she did not consider Dorge an “unacceptable risk”in the community.

Australian 'excess' deaths lower than expected, despite coronavirus pandemic

Australia recorded fewer deaths than expected from medical conditions in 2020, despite being in the midst of a global pandemic.

So, what's behind the numbers. What type of deaths are we talking about?

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released provisional mortality figures in December for deaths certified by doctors.

According to the ABS, "excess mortality" is the difference between the number of deaths in a period of time, and the expected number of deaths in that same period.

The ABS's December report showed there were 116,345 deaths registered by doctors between January 1 and October 27, 2020, compared with the 2015-19 average of 117,484.

Doctor-registered deaths include deaths associated with respiratory diseases, dementia and chronic conditions such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

"In 2020 when the initial wave of the pandemic hit, we had an increase in the number of deaths and the increase was sustained only for around a month," ABS health and mortality statistics director James Eynstone-Hinkins said.

"After that, what we've actually seen is a lower number of deaths through the winter months pretty much right the way through until October, which is the latest data that we have now.

"What we can see is that the causes that have the lowest numbers of deaths in comparison to previous years are mostly in the respiratory disease group so that can include chronic lower respiratory diseases, things like influenza and pneumonia.

"It certainly points to a lack of transmission perhaps of some normal infectious diseases during the winter months that may have contributed to a lower-than-expected number of deaths during that period."

The statistics do not include deaths referred to coroners, such as accidents, assaults and suicides, which Mr Eynstone-Hinks said usually accounted for about 10-15 per cent of deaths in Australia.

What happened with influenza?

Federal Health Department figures show that of the laboratory-confirmed influenza cases last year up to late November there were 37 deaths, a 50 per cent decrease from the five-year mean.

There were 21,266 notifications of laboratory-confirmed influenza to the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System in the year to the end of the 2020 influenza season, which was almost eight times fewer than the five-year average of 163,015.

Deakin University chair in epidemiology Catherine Bennett said Australia was heading into an early influenza season before COVID-19 arrived, but restrictions introduced in response to the pandemic slowed transmission not only of coronavirus, but also of other infectious diseases.

"Because we went early and hard with our restrictions, we not only prevented many COVID deaths — we did see 900 or so [COVID-related] deaths — but at the same time we prevented many more," Professor Bennett said.

"In the process, by bringing in an early vaccine for flu and just the effects of the restrictions, the isolation, the extra hygiene people were practising, we also reduced our flu deaths and other communicable, respiratory in particular, deaths really noticeably."

Without restrictions and physical distancing, Professor Bennett said Australia would have recorded similar numbers of influenza deaths to previous years, as well as "many more" COVID-19 deaths than the 900.

Is drilling in Lake Torrens the next Juukan Gorge?

Can a Premier who is also Minister for Aboriginal Affairs really refuse an inquiry sought by Indigenous people into his state’s native title organisations because he says he respects Aboriginal self-determination — yet then approve mining exploration in an area his own Aboriginal heritage body recommended against?

It’s a bob each way on self-determination and it’s at the heart of this month’s decision by South Australian Premier and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Steven Marshall to grant Argonaut Resources subsidiary Kelaray permission to drill on the western shores of Lake Torrens, 450km north of Adelaide. It’s a decision some insist is potentially South Australia’s version of last year’s Juukan Gorge destruction by Rio Tinto in Western Australia.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, one of the nation’s most experienced native title lawyers says: “In some ways Torrens is not directly comparable with Juukan because the destruction of the caves is far more damaging to traditional culture than exploratory drilling at Torrens. Yet, in another way, it is far worse. While it can be argued neither the WA government nor Rio Tinto properly understood the importance of Juukan ahead of the blasting, the Lake Torrens situation is the opposite. The Marshall government has approved drilling of a site even though it had extensive knowledge from the state’s Aboriginal Heritage Commission warning it of the potential destruction of sacred sites.”

The issue is divisive politically and for local people. ABC Online on September 28 reported comments from Kuyani woman Regina McKenzie, who said her people “had a deep connection with the lake”.

“The Kuyani were the law holders of what anthropologists would call the lake’s culture people,” McKenzie said.

Her brother, Malcolm “Tiger” McKenzie, completely disagrees. He is unequivocal that cultural issues need to be traded off to maximise economic benefits to local Indigenous people.

“There’s a lot of people, especially the Greens, that stop Aboriginal people advancing in this country. There are important cultural issues associated with the lake, but without mining how are we going to build the capacity of Aboriginal people to work and to contribute to this country?”

Tiger, 68, lives in the Aboriginal community of Davenport north of Adelaide. He believes concerns about a possible repeat of the Juukan Gorge disaster could be alleviated if people from the various tribal groups associated with the lake could sit down and negotiate with the company and state government.

“That’s what we blackfellas have got to do. Sit down and negotiate. We should not be saying no from the very beginning. Otherwise we are always going to have our arms out for a handout.”

For its part, Argonaut is treading warily; CEO Lindsay Owler, acknowledged by all sides as a thoughtful executive who has good relations with government and local Aboriginal communities, saw no benefit in going on the record for this story. Argonaut wants good relations with local Aboriginal people and is willing to pay royalties to any group that eventually secures native title.

Argonaut’s Kelaray sent a draft Native Title Agreement to the Kokatha in October 2019. A royalty framework agreement and proposed heritage arrangements were sent to the Adnyamathanha, including the Kuyani subgroup that may make its own claim for the area, and the Barngarla in late 2016. None of Argonaut’s draft agreements has been executed.

Professor Peter Sutton, anthropologist with the South Australian Museum, gave evidence in the Overlap case that the Kuyani had the strongest connection to the Lake Torrens area.

As in all things native title since the original Wik Ten Point plan devised by John Howard in 1998, negotiated local agreements are the best way forward. With that in mind, Koolmatrie hopes Marshall’s indication last year that he may be prepared to look at some form of parliamentary inquiry will proceed by mid-2021. Andrew Thomas says Marshall should “be meeting with the Kokatha law and culture committee regularly”.

The complexity of the anthropological evidence considered by Justice Mansfield suggests to reform group members that the path of legal action is not the best way forward for Aboriginal native title holders and those without title who nevertheless have legally recognised cultural connections with proposed mining sites.

In the Lake Torrens matter that process would be complicated by the state’s history of mining approvals in the area. A spokesman for the Premier said records indicated the first exploration hole at the lake was drilled in 1960 and 282 exploration licences had been granted over the area since the 1970s. As well, “previous Section 23 authorisations had been approved in 2010 and 2018 by the former Labor government”. The spokesman said any proposed mining would mean “a separate Section 23 authorisation would have to be sought by Kelaray”.

The Marshall government could lose a lot of political skin pleasing neither side, whatever the anthropological justifications for the Premier’s latest decision. An inquiry and a new, more co-operative approach could benefit miners and Aboriginal groups while minimising political damage. A good place to start might be splitting Marshall’s portfolio responsibilities. Many people spoken to for this story believe it is inappropriate that a Premier with power to override Aboriginal heritage recommendations is also Minister for Aboriginal Affairs.

Nor is there much support for the opposition. The most recent drilling at Lake Torrens was approved three years ago by ALP minister for Aboriginal affairs Kyam Maher, who told ABC radio on Thursday he now believes Marshall’s decision went much further than his own. The present Aboriginal Heritage Act was introduced by Maher in 2016.

Greens upper house MLC and spokeswoman for Aboriginal affairs, Tammy Franks, said in response to Maher’s comments, “We rushed through the Aboriginal Heritage Act in the first place in 2016. It didn’t have the support of the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement or the SA native title services at the time. We didn’t even wait for Law Society advice. It was rammed through the parliament and they got it wrong.

“I will be moving to open up the Aboriginal Heritage Act when parliament resumes in the first week of February. I would hope Labor would be willing to have a respectful conversation that actually listens to Aboriginal voices.”

This issue will only get politically hotter. Lake Torrens is not Juukan Gorge, but activists are keen to make it seem so.

Recovery gathers pace as nation heads back to work

CBD baristas, lunch bar operators, shop keepers and suppliers are geared up and raring to go. Monday in the third week in January traditionally signals a large-scale return to work after summer holidays. This year it is more significant. Many Australians will be stepping out of the shadows of COVID-19 and returning to the workplace for the first time in nine or 10 months. The conditions are auspicious. No new cases of community transmission were recorded on Friday. The US, Britain and Europe can only envy our position. Foot traffic in the Sydney CBD increased this week; Victoria will allow 50 per cent of private sector workers and 25 per cent of public servants on site from Monday. Are the latter more delicate?

Important decisions for employers and governments lie ahead on matters such as workplace rules about vaccinations. Employers, we have reported this week, are seeking clarity. The principle of choice is important. And Scott Morrison and Health Minister Greg Hunt have made it clear that COVID vaccines will not be compulsory. At the same time, employers such as nursing home operators have long insisted that staff receive an annual flu shot. A sensible, co-operative approach in individual workplaces will help. The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is being proactive. In a blueprint that has been well received by Treasury, the Health Department and other business groups, it is proposing that after the inoculation of the elderly, Indigenous Australians and frontline at-risk workers, that staff in manufacturing, international education and other major export sectors receive the vaccine in the second phase, ahead of the general population. Ensuring export supply chains do not become a source of infection and allowing international travel to restart as soon as possible would make sense.

Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox, who represents the nation’s larger employers, says governments will need to issue advice “so employers and employees know what their rights and obli­gations are’’. Fair enough. Vaccination programs will take months to complete; in the interim, social distancing and other precautions will remain vital. Practical decisions will be needed, at some stage, in regard to those who decline or postpone vaccinations because of pregnancy or medical conditions. Workplace layouts, working from home and masks will be part of the mix. Much will depend on Australians’ take-up rate for vaccines. Rolling out vaccines later than other countries is a positive; useful lessons will be learned from overseas experience.

As the nation opens up, we endorse Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ plan, to go to national cabinet on February 5 to allow international students to re-enter his state. It should be adopted nationally. COVID cases are negligible and the higher education sector faces crippling losses if overseas students are locked out in the first semester. Victoria, sensibly, wants a separate entry quota for overseas students, on top of the current quota for international arrivals. Australia’s success in suppressing COVID should be a comparative advantage in a competitive field, which is also Victoria’s largest export industry. Students, including some from China, Malaysia and Pakistan, are backing campaigns to return. They are ready to pay up and follow quarantine rules.

Mr Andrews should extend his thinking to scrapping Victoria’s Stasi-like domestic border regime. It is denying Victorians the chance to return to their own homes as dates for resuming work and school loom large. Out of more than 11,000 people who have applied for exemptions since January 1, about 8000 are yet to be processed. Such tardiness on a matter that is costing Victorians dearly is inexcusable. On Friday, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce accused the Andrews government of “hypocrisy’’ for denying Victorians the right to come home, with some basic precautions, while allowing in more than 1000 overseas tennis players. Provided it is staged safely, with restrictions for preventing the spread of coronavirus applied rigorously, we applaud the holding of the Australian Open and welcome its competitors. But Mr Joyce’s concern about Qantas and Jetstar being forced to cancel almost 3000 flights between Sydney and Melbourne, the nation’s busiest air corridor, with significant social and economic consequences, is valid. Victoria closed its border to NSW on January 1 in response to Sydney’s northern beaches cluster. The move was excessive then and is now out of all proportion with the risk of COVID transmission. As the broader national economy bounces into the new year from Monday, state leaders should be looking outwards to consider how they can safely promote economic recovery and mobility.




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