January 31, 2014 | Graham

One for new Human Rights Commissioner?

According to his own account (published in On Line Opinion this morning), Bernard Gaynor’s commission as a major in the Australian Army Reserve is to be terminated because of his conservative Roman Catholic views on homosexuality and Islam.

If his account is correct, and we’re happy to publish an Army response, then it appears to be a breach of his “traditional rights” of freedom of speech and freedom of conscience.

It is these rights that Tim Wilson has been appointed to the Human Rights Commission to defend, so this would appear to be a matter he should look into.

The army has looked at charging Gaynor for various his views, but this has come to nought:

My crime was to express personal opinions, based on my Catholic beliefs, regarding homosexuality and the Islamic religion.

In doing so, I did not breach any Defence laws or policies. In fact, Defence hierarchy tried charging me, but all 12 counts were discontinued when they reached the Director of Military Prosecution’s desk. He found that there was no prospect of conviction. Prior to this, the ADF Investigative Service reported that I had not breached any military laws. A second high-level administrative investigation with extensive powers examined whether I was anti-homosexual, anti-woman, anti-transgender and racist. It also concluded that allegations against me were unsubstantiated. However, despite being cleared in every investigation, the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF), General David Hurley, has proceeded with administrative action to terminate my commission.

This sets a dangerous precedent that is detrimental to ADF capability, internal discipline and retention of public support. This can be seen with the ADF’s approach to the controversial subject of Islam.

In our current society, Gaynor’s views are extreme, but that doesn’t mean he should be punished for holding them.

After surviving three tours of duty in the Iraq War, it would appear that he could be a martyr in another war – that of culture.

Posted by Graham at 7:42 am | Comments (3) |
Filed under: Uncategorized

January 30, 2014 | Graham

Travis Windsor for Griffith

I don’t like his chances, but for an Independent Travis Windsor looks to be making a reasonable fist of his run for Griffith.

This includes focussing on the one issue that ought to concern most Australians, but generally seems to get lost in debate – unemployment.

Travis has a list of policies to help in this area, that ought to have appeal to a lot of older and more working class Australians.

And at least he’s putting something forward.

Of course, there are a lot of other things that determine job prospects, such as general economic settings, and wage rates and flexibility.


Travis Windsor, independent candidate for the upcoming by-election in Kevin Rudd’s former seat of Griffith, today launched his Windsor Jobs Plan to put Griffith and Australia back to work.

“There are around a million unemployed or underemployed people in Australia right now.

That’s one in every twenty-three people, or more like one in ten of those who are of working age.

Unemployment and underemployment is expensive for government and causes major problems for individuals and society.

My background is in this field, having worked with schools, TAFEs, businesses and business groups and governments and I’ve seen first hand what works and what doesn’t.

We need to focus on what works and stop a lack of co-ordination between organisations getting in the way of getting people back to work. I have a seven point plan to do this.”

The Windsor Jobs Plan focuses on seven points:

  •  School – everything starts at school – the curriculum needs to be more focused on practical skills in the modern workforce; we need much closer ties between schools and TAFEs; will look at reintroducing the Local Community Partnership model set up during the Howard government
  • Unemployed – Job Services Australia is encouraged not to put recently unemployed people forward first, but it is this group that’s much more likely to be re-employed quickly – this needs to change
  • A generation of entrepreneurs – entrepreneurs and small businesses are the economic driver of Australia – we need to help people to set themselves up in business with a low cost business advisory service and create an environment where being a business owner is normal
  • Business – employing staff needs to be a lot simpler – national adversarial party politics distract from getting this done
  • TAFEs – TAFEs are measured on their ability to make money. This should not be the focus. In fact TAFEs should be seen as a viable alternative to the first year at university, at 10% of the cost, with a Diploma at the end of it, plus a year off the degree course
  • Government – Federal and State Government bodies need to work more closely together to avoid duplication of effort and expense and to achieve the best outcomes
  • Associated parties – Local communities and local media actively want to help get people back into work, like the ‘100 jobs in 100 days’ initiative on the Bayside. We need to do everything we can to encourage and support local communities that want to help local people get jobs

About Travis

Travis Windsor is one of the leading mentors in the Queensland government’s small business assistance program (Small Business Solutions).

He also has a hands-on business background including owning or managing businesses for over 20 years.

On the board of SCIPS (School Community Industry Partnership Service), Travis organised work experience and school-based apprenticeships and traineeships.

He lectured at Latrobe University for 5 years and at Charles Sturt University for one year, and was a teacher in the TAFE systems in Queensland, NSW and Victoria for over eight years. He also has MBA and Bachelor of Business degrees.

Travis understands that Australia and Queensland are not achieving their optimal outcomes and that politics in lieu of policy is making it worse. His commitment is free of ties to major political parties, major sponsors or major media. Travis Windsor is genuinely independent and he seeks to represent and support individuals.

Media Contact: David Bateson 0402 332287


Vote for Travis on Facebook

Posted by Graham at 11:31 am | Comments (4) |
Filed under: Uncategorized

January 29, 2014 | Graham

Ethics does not mean ethical

Clive Hamilton is at it again – trying to stigmatise anyone who disagrees with his version of global warming as a “climate change denier”, and in this case likening them to opponents of vaccination.

Clive’s a nasty piece of work, and once urged a boycott of On Line Opinion merely for publishing articles by people who disputed some aspects of big environment’s version of global warming.

At that stage Clive was purporting to support the IPCC4’s version of climate change (although representatives of big environment like Al Gore were at the time making up their own facts). Now this version has been replaced by IPCC5, with claims of an increase in severe weather events, for example, withdrawn, along with a long list of other claims, including the retreat of glaciers in the Himalayas.

I’m not sure what Clive supports now. If it is still IPCC4, then he himself is a “climate change denier”, and if IPCC5, then he owes some of those he labelled “climate change deniers” at the time an apology.

Surely that would be the ethical thing to do.

But don’t expect ethics from a professor of ethics, because being a professor of ethics might even make you less ethical than the next academic.

In a 2006 study, Eric Schwitzgebel noted that ethics academics were more likely to steal library books than other academics. In January 2007 he refined his study to find the evidence even stronger. If book stealing is a good proxy for honesty, then, at least as far as US ethics academics are concerned, they’re less ethical than most.

But why expect the study of ethics to make people more ethical, Perhaps, rather than establishing what is ethical, it is merely the study of how to complicate ethics in such a way that what was thought to be unethical becomes perfectly acceptable?

Whatever the case, it makes you realise that teaching ethics in schools is no substitute for teaching morality.

Not only would you be teaching students from the works of Hamilton, whose attempt to demonise (and even criminalise) dissent, should put him at odds with the science curriculum as well as any serious ethical system, but others like Peter Singer, who believe in infanticide and eugenics.

Posted by Graham at 1:39 pm | Comments (9) |
Filed under: Uncategorized

January 21, 2014 | Graham

If they’re not looking at the aged they’re not serious

Kevin Andrews has announced an inquiry into the social welfare system, but has immediately ruled out considering the aged pension. This will be a waste of time and an unmitigated disaster.

Total welfare spending in the last budget was predicted to be $138 billion, of which only $9.55B goes to the unemployed, while $25.5B goes to people with disabilities. The lion’s share is the $54.8B, or 39.7% of the social security budget, which goes to the pension.

If you are going to make a significant dint in social security outlays you are not going to get there attacking the Newstart recipients. Indeed, the best way to get Newstart payments down would be to get employment up, which is not in his portfolio.

How do you take money away from people with disabilities when you’ve already promised to increase assistance to disabilities through the NDIS (or whatever it is now being called)? How many promises are you going to keep in the letter and break in the spirit?

No, the only area where there is likely to be much to be saved is in the aged pension.

And this can be done reasonably simply and equitably over the next few years.

The fact is that we have a pension system which was designed for an early C20 demographic who died not long after they retired.

Not only are we living longer lives, but we are healthier and fitter much longer. There is no justification for making a pension available to someone who isn’t disabled much before 75 years of age these days.

The other issue we should look at is the tax advantages that older Australians get, including the benefit to partly pay themselves from a tax advantaged superannuation stream once they are older than 55. 

Writing as a 55 year old, that is not a time when you ought to be accessing any part of your retirement savings, let alone being encouraged to do so by a generous tax treatment of your resulting income stream.

The idea that we will all be able to sit around, doing our round Australia trips and occasional overseas tours, leveraging against the kids inheritance and taking a taxpayer funded pension, augmented by our seniors’ card for the last 20 to 30 years of our life while generations X, Y and Z, and AA, AB and AC pay the bills is a pipe dream.

The kids won’t stand for it, and neither will our financiers.

But it’s unlikely that any of the current crop of politicians, on either side, has the skill, fortitude or foresight to deal with it.

Which is bad luck for my kids, and bad luck for me, because in 20 years time, when I might need some assistance, the baby boomers in front of me may well be pulling up the ladders, leaving the rest of us to drown, and I’ll be at a stage in my life when keeping afloat will be hard.

Posted by Graham at 11:09 pm | Comments (16) |
Filed under: Uncategorized

January 18, 2014 | Ronda Jambe

Under the Moruya Moon (16)

Midsummer, raging bushfires and record breaking heatwaves. But at Moruya Heads it has been mild, not passing 30C. We could use some rain now, but the tanks are holding up and my experiment with growing Warragul Greens has succeeded on the second try:

mm16 greens

It is safe to assume these interesting greens do not need protection from the kangaroos, as they were taken from an area near a beach. What does need protecting is parsley, silver beet, mizuna, and my precious raspberries, which are now enclosed by an electric fence:

mm16 rasp

Not that I am getting many raspberries yet, but more than last year, and next year there will be more again. A very knowledgable permaculture and organic gardening local is working with me to establish good planning and planting. We came to the electric fence option after discarding the idea of me sitting there with a shotgun on my lap, as I would have to sit up all night waiting for the roos to arrive (and besides I don’t have a shotgun). But now I think the better solution would be ex-CIA surplus drones, trained to spray them with capsicum. So far, only my poor puss seems to have encountered the live wire, but seems none the worse for it.

It is too hot today to do any gardening, and now that I have an app that tells me when high tide is, I go then for a swim at one of the prettiest beaches I can imagine:

mm16 beach

Is there anything more delightful than cool ocean water on the skin on a hot day? Then back to our ‘shed’ to sip tea, play table tennis with a visiting friend and read a book. The historical context of easy Islam and Christianity is laid out in fascinating detail in a book by Tom Holland: In the Shadow of the Sword. Violence elsewhere is the steady backdrop to my peaceful life here: ancient violence, endless violence against women (I’m never going to India again) and of course the horrible violence of stupid, uncaring, drunken louts (women not necessarily excluded from that lot).

Pulling together a submission from my Canberra peak oil group for the Government’s Energy Issues White Paper also exercises my mind (but not much, as the paper is based on a riskfree future of endless growth, too easy to debunk). Still maddening to know that the people in charge, who claim to be pro-business, are unplugged from the realities of economic prudence.

My havens are the local people, the wide expanse of bush around me, and the tedious but very real pleasures of gardening. One step at a time, one salad at a time, lots of zucchinis, all at once.

No fires near here either, or another app would let me know, just for the checking. But the extreme weather elsewhere is no laughing matter. It saddens me that there is still so much denial of the dangers of climate change, but that won’t stop me from developing as much water storage and food production potential as I can. Already I am planning for beyond my life span, a humble way of attempting to adapt and leaving a decent, if not fully sustainable, footprint.

There is no way I will stop travelling once a year, at least while my mother is alive. Carrying a bit of the inspiring bits of civilisation in my heart is good for inspiration and motivation. But we all have our weaknesses, and looking at the world’s great art is one of mine.

This year has been marred by illness, not mine, but of dearly treasured friends. So much that cannot be influenced, or changed. Almost time to get ready for the Corn Harvest Fiesta in town tonight, another humble pleasure. And more visitors, here I let an old friend wear the silk robe I picked up at Vinnies in town for $20 (new! tag still on it!) while she completes her crossword puzzle:

friend in robe

Enjoyment of simple treats and friendships, and keeping the kangaroos at bay. Ingredients for a fine season, the rest of the world can wait. If I get enough takers, I’ll be running a seminar style course in climate change this term. Wish some of you deniers could join in, as morning tea will be served along with lively discussion of the research….

Posted by Ronda Jambe at 2:07 pm | Comments (3) |
Filed under: Uncategorized

January 10, 2014 | Ronda Jambe

Polar vortex or absent cortex?

Some simple minded folk are saying that the current cold weather
in North America 'proves' that climate change doesn't exist. 

And our enlightened government has put out an energy white paper
which manages not to mention either climate change or peak oil. 
Does that also confirm their non-existence?

Or try these below, as the leaders of the UK and the US acknowledge
that climate change has indeed played a role in recent extreme weather
events. Does that mean they have had their brains eaten by self-serving
scientists or worse, tree-hugging fanatics (a label which allows you to
dismiss my postings.) 

BBC News - Cameron 'suspects' floods linked to climate change

At Prime Ministers questions yesterday afternoon, David Cameron
 told MPs he "suspected" the recent spate of floods were linked
 to global temperature changes.
The Guardian
and Times
also cover the story, saying the prime minister 'defied' Tory 
critics in making the statement.

 BBC News

White House: Global Warming Caused The Polar Vortex

Obama's science advisor posts a video on the White House website 
saying “If you’ve been hearing that extreme cold spells, like the
 one we’re having in the United States now, disprove global warming,
 don’t believe it”.

The scientists are now predicting 4 degrees C of warming for this century,
 but that may be optimistic. And begs the question of 2100 onwards.

Anyone willing to place bets on no climate change, step right up. You can 
make my day, and perhaps my fortune. But I advise you have your brain 
(and facts) checked first.

Posted by Ronda Jambe at 10:19 am | Comments (25) |
Filed under: Environment

January 07, 2014 | Graham

Climate in Australia but only weather in USA?

Australia’s credulous media is at it again, assisted by the Bureau of Meteorology and a smattering of academics. Australia has the warmest year in a hundred, and it is “proof” that global warming is on the way.

Yet what would they say about global warming if we were having the coldest winter in 20 years? Nothing, appears to be the answer, judged on their coverage of the extremely cold weather assailing North America.

The principle behind global warming is that if it is occurring it must be global. Local warming doesn’t count – that’s not climate, it’s just weather.

So neither the North American event, nor the Australian ones, can be claimed to show anything on their own, and it is irresponsible for media organisations, academics or weather bureaux to say anything else.

No wonder we can’t have a sensible conversation on this subject when so many in positions of authority and power are determined to distort it.

For the record, globally last year was hot, but not the hottest, and while there have been three peaks in the last 16 years, temperature has essentially gone nowhere.

Global temperatures as measured by satellite

The mystery as to why there has been an unpredicted standstill is what media coverage ought to be concentrating on. Climate, not weather.


Posted by Graham at 10:23 am | Comments Off on Climate in Australia but only weather in USA? |
Filed under: Uncategorized

January 06, 2014 | Graham

Jumping the shark on cultural nihilism

4,000 people protesting WA government plans to cull large sharks around surfing beaches is a sign that something has gone seriously wrong with Australian culture.

These 4,000 apparently think that shark lives are more important than human lives.

There are always a few people who think that the world would be better off without mankind, there are always people on the margins. But 4,000 people is a pretty wide margin.

Their concerns are cloaked in environmentalism:

Environmentalists argue there is overwhelming evidence that killing sharks will not prevent attacks.

“There is going to be other marine life caught in the bait lines, not just sharks and there’s going to be sharks under three metres also caught in the bait lines,” protest organiser Natalie Banks said on Saturday.

“We are ruining the marine ecosystem.”

There is little evidence for these intimations of devastation. If they want to see the “devastation” caused by line fishing for sharks off popular surfing beaches they can come to Queensland where we have been doing just that off Gold and Sunshine Coast beaches since well-before I was born.

Queensland still boasts some of the best marine environmental attractions in the world, and there are virtually no shark attacks off popular surfing beaches.

The facts are against the protestors.

This is the sort of thing that happens when cultures lose faith in themselves. Man has been making the world safer for mankind for tens of thousands of years, but suddenly a significant number of us are opposed to it when it involves culling another species, notwithstanding the fact that culling species is a large part of how we make our living.

Over centuries we’ve eradicated threats like lions, tigers and malaria bearing mosquitoes, and our biology is based on nutrients and energy derived from a range of domesticated and wild animals.

As an animal and as a culture, culling is central to what we are.

However, it is apparently OK for sharks to just be sharks, but not for humans to be humans. This is a sign of serious problems for humans as humans, and Australians as Australians.

An organism not prepared to contest its right to live against all others is on the way out.



Posted by Graham at 10:31 am | Comments (9) |
Filed under: Environment