We don’t have a youth problem on the Right. We have a language problem. No one understands what we’re talking about anymore.
If you’re 47 or under, you’re more likely to vote Labour than Conservative. I hate to break it to you Telegraph readers, but the generation born in the 70s and 80s are now comfortably middle-aged. We aren’t young anymore. It’s time to stop waiting for us abandon the folly of youth and come to our senses; we’re not going to.
The benefits of free-market capitalism are not self-evident.
It dawned on me recently, when I was preparing a speech making the case for free markets and conservatism to young people, that those of us on the Right don’t even understand each other anymore.
I asked two of my staff members what they thought of the increased enthusiasm for Corbyn. Separated by 30 years, I listened to these two Conservatives, argue about the problem with young people. It was illuminating.
My head of office vividly remembered going hungry every time there was a strike and her father lost his wages. The 3-day week, waiting months for a telephone line and how terrible British Rail was. The carnage after a Left-wing government was obvious. She had seen socialism fail, again and again. “Look at what’s happening in Venezuela!”. I watched my 23 year old researcher’s eyes deaden as she said that.
“Yeah, what about Venezuela?” he asked. “I don’t care about Venezuela. I care about what’s happening here. Yes, you waited 6 months for a telephone line, but my family’s been waiting years for a mobile phone signal in my house, the trains are still late but more expensive and I still live at home because a cheap flat is ten times my salary”.
The generational and political divides have never been wider, and some of this can be explained by how the Right uses language.
Pointing to Venezuela and thinking we’ve successfully won the argument defending capitalism against socialism doesn’t work. It was easier when people had lived through both.
My researcher was 3 years old when Tony Blair became prime minister. That’s the only left-wing government he’s ever known and it really wasn’t that scary. Arguing about the wonders of capitalism and the dangers of socialism seems a bit overblown in that context.
The benefits of free-market capitalism are not self-evident. In fact, it would be nice if we emphasised that free markets and capitalism are not the same thing.
You would have to be nearly 40 to have been an adult under John Major’s government, let alone Thatcher’s CREDIT: PAUL HACKETT/REUTERS
You would have to be nearly 40 to have been an adult under John Major’s government, let alone Thatcher’s Credit: Paul Hackett/Reuters
I’m a free marketer, but I cringe every time I hear the word “deregulation”.
When I ask anyone under 50 what they think “regulation” means, I get the same answers: “protection”, “safety nets”, and “rules”. I’ve heard business talk positively about deregulation, as if the meaning is obvious – getting rid of red tape, removing barriers to entry, that sort of thing.
Unfortunately, what the average person on the street hears is “getting rid of protections for me, so that crony capitalists can make as much profit as possible”.
“All taxation is theft!”. I remember the first time I heard this at an event for libertarians. As a healthy 25 year old with no obligations to anyone, I was inclined to be sympathetic. Less so now, as a 37 year old mother of two and one near-death experience in a maternity ward under my belt.
When people believe that more government is the solution to every problem, a small state isn’t an efficient one
As an MP, I have to be even more careful when talking about a small state and low taxes. Some of my constituents, think I’m talking about taking away their benefits, their safety nets, funding for their children’s schools and all the things that make their lives pleasant, bearable even.
How can I explain the benefits of low taxes to people who believe that the only reason some people are wealthy is because they’re not paying their fair share?
In a world where people genuinely believe the fixed pie fallacy – that a penny more for you means a penny less for someone else, that wealth is not created but distributed – policies to reward wealth creators make no sense. In fact, it’s not tax that’s theft, but wealth.
When people believe that more government is the solution to every problem, a small state isn’t an efficient one. It’s a lazy one.
Please don’t think this is yet another article about what the Conservative Party needs to do to win voters. The problem is much deeper than that, and the centre-Right is a movement much bigger than any political party.
It isn’t just young people who dig Jeremy Corbyn
It isn’t just young people who dig Jeremy Corbyn
I wish the private sector worked as hard at explaining its importance as much as the public sector.
Every party conference season, I’m struck by how much is spent on lobbying by the public affairs industry. All of it spent talking to politicians rather than to the public. If only, some of those big corporates spent a fraction of this talking to their millions of customers about the social good they do, instead of trying to get meetings with MPs to do that job for them.
Imagine if multi-nationals spent more time explaining that the majority of their shareholders are pension funds, and that many of the people criticising them have invested their futures in and are indirectly owners of the very companies they want closed down? Reducing taxes makes a lot more sense if you know it means more money going into your pension.
I believe the Right has the answers, but we are not properly explaining why the other lot have got it wrong.
We need to be seen to be offering something, not just attacking the idea of change
The key to future electoral success lies in change. Not just change in my party and its approach to campaigning, but change in the country and how the story is told.
We know that there are now more doctors, more houses and more outstanding schools than ever before but if that isn’t communicated effectively, especially to younger people, the dangers of facing a generation in the political wilderness are real.
When talking about Venezuela, Jeremy Corbyn’s questionable track record, free markets and so on we assume that people know what we mean without any explanation or comment on how we could do it better. These assumptions switch people off and dilute the message. Ditch them, I say.
We need to be seen to be offering something, not just attacking the idea of change. Simple language, simple ideas and a positive vision for the future – this holy trinity holds the key to unlocking the next generation.
Kemi Badenoch is the Conservative MP for Saffron Walden
The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, is apparently proposing radical measures to change public perception of the Government, notably among the young. Ahead of his Budget next month, he is courting ideas. Here, Rob Wilson, former Minister for Young People, offers some tips:
I am pleased that you are continuing the tradition of your predecessor and asking backbenchers for Budget ideas. As the first Budget in a new administration I know this one is particularly important; it will set the scene for economic success or failure over the period of this Government.
I am delighted that you have specifically asked MPs for their ideas about young people. The 2017 General Election result has finally created a healthy interest in this section of the electorate and a desire to find attractive and deliverable Conservative policies.
This is not surprising as it was very clear in the way they voted that young professionals and students have a very negative view of the Conservative Party.
Tax raids on the pensions and homes of older people would be an extremely bad idea that could finish this Government
My advice, Philip, is that you need some radical ideas for under 35s that reconnect to core Conservative philosophy.
These ideas need to deliver greater enterprise, a stronger more dynamic economy, home ownership and decent housing, while at the same time reducing the burden of debt on the young.
In essence Conservatives need to offer a new and fair deal for young people.
Unfortunately the ideas announced at conference failed to do so. I would also warn you that tax raids on the pensions and homes of older people would be an extremely bad idea that could finish this Government.
As a former Minister for Young People, Philip, I can tell you the first thing to understand about young people is that they are rarely party political and care about the same things as the rest of the UK electorate, although perhaps in a more idealistic way.
Please don’t make the mistake that Conservatives policies should simply focus on higher education. Young people want to understand Conservative values and have a positive uplifting view of why they should vote for the Party.
Decades ago, by winning the arguments over business, enterprise and entrepreneurship, Margaret Thatcher enthused a generation of young professionals and this is where you, Chancellor, in your budget can make the biggest difference.
Let’s begin with entrepreneurship. So many young people have great ideas and want to start their own business, but lack of capital and other very basic resources stop them ever getting off the ground. Your response should be, as part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy, that every major town and city should have an Enterprise Centre. It should offer free kitted out offices and meeting spaces: desks, computers, internet access, telephones. Business support and advice specialists should be based in the same building giving under 30s two years free support to get their idea off the ground. Fund it through existing LEP budgets or get big companies to sponsor it – it’s an attractive proposition and the economic dynamism unleashed would mean it pays for itself many times over.
Chancellor, you also need to look at the tax regime for young people to help stimulate hard work and dynamism. Due to high costs of housing, higher education and depressed wages, many young people struggle and, as you rightly identify, are burdened with debt. Young people should be better off voting Conservative, so introduce a zero tax rate and National Insurance on under-21s and a 10 pence band for under 25s. This encourages work by making it pay, but should also mean lower debts. It should over time generate higher tax income, but initially it could be funded by fiscal drag at the upper tax thresholds – and, if necessary, you could reduce the £several billion committed to raising the tuition fee repayment threshold to £25K.
Housing is a significant issue for young people and I have offered advice before, Philip. I strongly recommend the ambition of home ownership is brought back to the mass of young people through a Government-backed building programme targeted at under-35s. The Government should offer 40,000 new homes to buy by 2020/21 at the cost of build and then keep recycling the money. The Conservatives must create a new generation of young home owners to demonstrate the Party cares about and will deliver hope for those people often living in sub-standard accommodation.
On Higher Education, by and large the reforms made since 2010 are fair. You should keep interest payments on student debt as low as possible, but the bigger issue is that many students are being overcharged for courses. I would go further and say that in my view, paying £9,000 per year for most University courses is simply a massive cartel rip-off. The Government should not let Universities get away with it. Chancellor, you must get a grip on this unfairness and the reduction to £7500 announced at conference is simply not enough. I would advise that the previous £6,000 cap on annual fees is re-imposed, with up to 20 per cent of courses getting a exemption to £9,000 for courses with special circumstances, such as higher cost of delivery. But Universities would need to demonstrate this for each course to the Office for Students.
Philip, this Budget is your great opportunity to reassert core Conservative values of entrepreneurship, enterprise, fairness and decency to the next generation. If we give young people the chance to be dynamic, to create business and wealth they will take it. It’s time to get back to the values that have served the Conservative Party well.
Tattoo inks used in Australia are not regulated Eddie Jim
by Jill Margo 3 October 2017 AFR
When a woman was referred to Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital with numerous lumps under both arms, doctors thought she probably had lymphoma.
Apart from these swollen lymph nodes, which she’d had for two weeks, she was well.
At the hospital’s haematology clinic she was examined and given a PET-CT scan which produced the hallmarks of cancer of the lymphoid system.
It revealed several swollen nodes down her chest wall and between her lungs.
When a needle biopsy couldn’t confirm the cancer diagnosis, one node was surgically removed.
And it was black! “This was surprising,” said trainee haematologist, Dr Jad Othman. “It’s highly unusual and a fair assumption that the other swollen nodes were black too.”
The pathologist could find no sign of cancer in the node but did find black particles in it.
The woman,30, had a large black tattoo that covered her entire back and, after ruling other factors, her medical team concluded the particles had come from the black ink.
“The tattoo had been there for about 15 years, and we know the skin on the back drains into these lymph nodes,” says Othman.
She was having a delayed hypersensitive reaction to the accumulation of particles.
“It was a reassuring finding because there was no cancer and when we saw her ten months later, we could no longer feel the lumps.”
Othman is one the authors of her case study published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine, a journal of the American College of Physicians.
It comes just three weeks after the publication of an important German study on how nanoparticles from tattoo ink can travel into the lymph glands.
Using a synchrotron (a scientific instrument to size of a football field), German researchers showed this occurred with organic and inorganic pigments as well as toxic impurities from the ink.
It was already known that tiny particles of tattoo pigment can get through the collagen barrier of the skin, enter the blood stream and travel around the body.
There has, for some time, been visual evidence of lymph glands tinted with the colours of a tattoo.
What wasn’t known was that a variety of particles travel in nano form and because they are so much smaller than micro particles, they can get to and settle in more places.
“They may not have the same behaviour as the particles at a micro level. And that is the problem: we don’t know how nanoparticles react”, the researchers said.
For their study, published in Scientific Reports, in lymph nodes they found only nanoparticles.
There have been other reports of clumps of black pigment being mistaken for malignant melanoma in the lymph nodes, in one case 30 years later, and of pigments mimicking metastasis in female vulvar cancer.
“We don’t know if these inks can harm the body or cause cancer, ” says Terry Slevin, Chair, Occupational and Environmental Cancer Risk Committee of Cancer Council Australia.
“But with more than two million Australians now tattooed and many of them young, there is growing concern about the long term.”
There are new factors to consider: “the enormous increase in the number of people being tattooed and the enormous increase in the amount of skin being covered.”
“In the past, most people had fairly discrete tattoos in fairly band colours, usually blue.”
“Now we have an extraordinary range of colours and an extraordinary amount of ink needed to cover large areas. We have never had so many young people exposed to so much ink before and with such a long life span ahead.”
“The prospect of long term adverse effects has never been greater and it seems a good time to look at what we can do to reduce any potential harm.”
Adjunct professor Slevin believes infection is more or less under control in Australia although there are always a few non-compliant tattooists.
Studies have shown, across the board, there is a 5 per cent rate of infection of one kind or another associated with tattoos.
This includes bacterial infections such as staphlococci and streptococci, mycobacteria and, in rare cases, blood-borne viruses such as hepatitis B and C. Some people are allergic or hypersensitive to ink chemicals.
Slevin is also concerned with the removal of tattoos because lasers can shatter the inks and release particles into the body.
While most people seeking a tattoo are aware of the infection risks of tattooing, they are unaware of the chemical risks. They don’t know what’s in the ink.
Last year the government’s National Industrial Chemical’s Notification and Assessment Scheme released a report showing one in five inks in use in Australia contain carcinogenic chemicals.
Of the 471 inks in use, it selected 49 for a detailed chemical analysis. Only four of these complied with European standards for safe ink.
The major worry centred on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These carcinogens were present in 83 per cent of the black inks tested.
Other worrying components included barium, copper, mercury, amines and some colourants.
Labels on some inks didn’t match the contents and one bottle plainly said it wasn’t to be used for tattooing.
Now that the content of inks is known and reported, the next step is adopting a standard to regulate them.
Slevin, who is on an advisory committee of this chemical notification assessment scheme says as Australia doesn’t have a standard, it wouldn’t be difficult for us to adopt the European standard.
“It’s quite a solvable problem. First we need to adopt the standard and second apply the rules to the importation of ink – because most ink is imported.”
“If we take these two steps, those who do chose to have a tattoo can at least be confident about what is being injected into their skin.”
His role on the committee allows him to have some input in to this work and reflect back to the broader community about what does and what doesn’t cause cancer.
In the last couple of weeks, social media has provided millions of users with a sober lesson on the hazards of tattooing the whites of the eyes.
Catt Gallinger, a Canadian model described her terrifying experience after the process went wrong. At 24, she may be left with permanent vision loss in one eye.
After the eye was tattooed, it began to exude purple liquid which ran down her face. The eye then swelled shut and soon became infected.
To warn others she posted pictures on social media. Her story went viral.
Last year there was another report on the compositions of inks from the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission.
Although many manufacturers declined to reveal all the ingredients of their inks claiming it a trade secret, the report found pigments that had been repurposed from textile, plastics and car paint industry.
“There are certainly really good producers of ink. But some of the inks on the market weren’t intended for tattooing,” one experienced tattooist told the report.
“They just put them in a fancy bottle, put a dragon on the bottle, and write ‘tattoo’ on it,”
The drubbing that the Mark McGowan-led Labor Party gave the Barnett government in Western Australia’s recent election will continue the secular slide in public policy.
Pro-lifers Margaret Quirk, left, and Kate Doust
missed out on ministries.
Two ALP pro-lifers, Margaret Quirk and Kate Doust, did not make the cut when it came to appointments in the 17-strong ministry, with 11 of those ministers coming from a trade union background. And Mr McGowan has pledged S1.4 million over the next four years to push the ill-named Safe Schools program into WA secondary schools.
This program, which can only be described as putrid, teaches among other things:
That the terms boys and girls should not be used and that being heterosexual is not the norm.
That they have two virginities, the first time with a boy and the first time with a girl (seemingly a contradiction given that terms like boys and girls are not deemed to be normative).
That homosexuality and transgenderism should be celebrated while traditional cultural, moral and religious beliefs are unacceptable.
A trivialisation of early sexual activity and the risk of STIs.
In short, it is not an anti-bullying program at all but rather a gender and sexual diversity plan and just another example of the Marxist-Gramsci adherents’ long march through educational institutions.
The ALP Left is firmly in control, holding three of the four top parliamentary positions in the Parliament, the Premier himself being the odd man out.
The Deputy Government Leader in the Legislative Council, Stephen Dawson (Environment and Disabilities), is the first homosexual minister in WA.
Ben Wyatt (unaligned) is the first Aborigine to occupy the Treasurer’s position in any Australian parliament. With total public debt heading past $40 billion, the new Treasurer will be sorely tested within a party not noted for restraint. There was little probing of him, and the ALP, during the election campaign by a media that ran dead on the issue.
The far left political action group, Emily’s List, now has 15 (of 23), female ALP parliamentarians as members.
Deputy Premier and Health Minister Roger Cook has already signaled that assisted suicide will be legislated on after a “conscience vote” in the Parliament. As Labor once supported a “conscience vote” on marriage, before it became binding on all ALP parliamentarians to accept the destruction of traditional marriage, one wonders how much tolerance will be shown towards dissenters on the death issue.
It now seems to be conventional wisdom that after two terms a government becomes stale and needs to be changed. While the previous three WA administrations – of Court, Gallop/Carpenter, and Barnett – have seemingly given proof of that dictum, it has not always been so and at present, in South Australia, Labor has been at the helm for 14 years.
There was a lot of pre-poll huffing and puffing over the Liberals’ preference deal with One Nation. Just who were the Liberals supposed to preference: the Greens?
The Liberals refusal in 2001 to deal with One Nation cost Richard Court his government. As it turned out, there was a 40 per cent drift in One Nation preferences to the ALP, thus proving voters can make their own decisions, particularly in parties like One Nation, which are not tied to left-wing orthodoxy.
The Labor and the Greens preference swap was apparently not worthy of mention. As Richard Nixon once said, if you are going to give a candidate (or party) the shaft, at least put one lone reporter on the job to give a modicum of fairness in the electoral battle.
There was no mention of the Barnett government’s achievement, building two desalination plants that have picked up the slack of providing WA with water as dams provide as only 7 per cent of the driest state’s needs.
Malcolm Turnbull also left Barnett in the lurch. Mr Turnbull completely reneged on his promise to fix WA’s GST predicament: WA receives only 34¢ back in every dollar raised in the state.
Mr Turnbull may find that WA voters have turned against him over this issue. If so WA will no longer be the “jewel in the crown” for the Liberals, who currently hold 11 of the 16 WA House of Representative seats at the federal level. The Coalition has a bare majority in the House of Representatives (76-74).
The McGowan Government, despite the big victory in the Legislative Assembly (41-18), will not control the Legislative Council. Labor and Greens (4) have 18 seats in the upper house and the other 18 seats are shared between Liberals, Nationals and three smaller parties.
Mr McGowan had hoped to tempt a Liberal to be council president, which would have given him a floor majority as the president only has a casting vote if there is a deadlock on the floor.
Liberal veteran Simon O’Brien MLC (most decently) refused that carrot.
Pauline Hanson insists addicts must cover the costs of their treatment
The West Australian 4 March 2017 PAUL MURRAY
Based on a recent opinion poll, more than half the West Australians who will vote for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation next weekend are driven by a dislike of both Islam and the major political parties.
So while those who will actually form government continue to spend like drunken sailors buying votes, One Nation gets the bulk of its support at no cost to the taxpayer.
As is usual with protest movements, Pauline Hanson’s is best known for what it opposes rather than for things it supports.
But many voters might be surprised that the fledgling WA arm of PHON has released a range of policies in recent weeks that have escaped widespread media scrutiny.
That’s despite the possibility Hanson could hold the balance of power in the Legislative Council in a week’s time and have an arm lock on the next government.
So even if PHON voters are not interested in policy detail — preferring Hanson’s broadbrush nationalism on things such as foreign ownership and immigration — everyone else should be concerned about the party’s platform.
That’s because the next Parliament might just be dancing on it to Pauline’s tune.
For example, PHON wants methamphetamine-addicted criminals to pay for their own compulsory — and indefinite — treatment. The cash will be taken by force if necessary.
“One Nation WA proposes a ‘two strikes and you’re out’ policy to help tackle the methamphetamine scourge in our community,” the policing and community safety policy says. “If a meth user is caught two times, they will be sent to a rehabilitation facility and kept there until their addiction is under control.
“Addicts must cover the costs of their treatment, either by having assets seized, or if on welfare, payments will be forfeited to the state. No debt will be wiped or worn by the taxpayer, even if the user is on welfare payments after release.
“Monies will be taken from their account until paid in full. If users hold a job, it will be taken from their wages on the same basis as maintenance payments.”
Juvenile criminals, too, are in for a shock, with a promise to introduce controversial “broken windows” laws in WA. They crack down on minor crimes to create an atmosphere of law and order but are criticised for being inherently unjust and not addressing the causes of disorder, which are often racial.
“A philosophy of coming down hard on minor offences with juveniles in particular in order to deter future offending,” is how the PHON policy describes the approach.
The party also promises to examine new laws making parents accountable for the criminal behaviour of their children. It also supports a “Fagin’s Law” approach which targets those procuring young people to commit offences.
PHON also wants to build more prisons, for punishment rather than rehabilitation, and to make life inside tougher.
“Prisons are no longer a deterrent to crime,” the party says. “Society as a whole needs to consider what role prisons play in punishment and rehabilitation.
“Prisons should not be the home prisoners never had. We believe sufficiently punitive measures should exist for lawbreakers.”
Tough-on-crime promises are standard at election time, but the One Nation policies released so far miss several hot-button issues such as debt reduction and WA’s GST share and strangely ignore health, the biggest spending part of the Budget. There’s nothing yet on electricity prices, other than keeping Western Power in State hands — which doesn’t stop costs rising and won’t cut debt — but it wants to drive down gas prices by reserving more for domestic use.
On affordable housing, PHON says the key is to cut immigration levels and deter foreign buyers with a 20 per cent penalty tax. Labor wants a 4 per cent surcharge which it says would raise $21 million.
PHON wants no “racial/ethnic preferences” in public housing allocations and promises a minimum of 15 per cent of all government land and home developments would be targeted at low-to-moderate income households.
The party also blames immigration for Perth’s congested roads and services.
So to “ease congestion, lift productivity, generate economic growth and jobs and keep our assets in Australian hands”, it is proposing to start its own bank.
“A WA Infrastructure Finance Corporation would be financed with seed funding and direct public funding and operate on a commercial basis,” the party says, clearly forgetting Brian Burke’s similar experiment with the WA Development Corporation.
“It would help finance infrastructure projects in our State, at concessional interest rates, thus spreading the costs across the generations who would benefit from these projects.
“This method would allow WA to finance and construct major projects while earning a return for the taxpayer. It would allow the government to cut its Budget expenditure, freeing up funds either to pay down debt or to invest in education, health, families, policing and other areas.”
Most of these policies are highly contentious — and in some cases deeply flawed — deserving scrutiny against the likelihood that One Nation will have enough influence in the coming Parliament to exert substantial pressure on whoever forms government.
One Nation believes that communities and governments must take a strong stance if we are ever to maintain control or stop this epidemic.
Solutions for Ice Addicts
One Nation proposes a three strikes and you’re out . If an ice user is caught three times, they will be sent to a rehabilitation facility and kept there until their addiction is under control.
Addicts must cover the costs of their treatment, either by having assets seized, or if on welfare, payments will be forfeited to the state. No debt will be wiped or worn by the taxpayer, even if the user is on welfare payments after release. Monies will be taken from their account until paid in full. If users hold a job, it will be taken from their wages on the same basis as maintenance payments.
Solutions for Dealers
Extremely harsh penalties should apply to anyone selling ice.
Each gram of ice sold, should equate to a mandatory year in prison.
Their assets will be sold to offset the costs and will be recoverable, even after time spent in prison.
If foreign nationals are convicted of drug crimes, a treaty will be sought for jail time to be done in their own country. Too many foreign nationals commit crimes within Australia because the rewards are far greater, and prison sentences are no deterrent.
It’s widely known as ICE, yet it’s also referred to as Crystal Meth or Methamphetamine. No matter how it’s referred to, the drug is with certainty, followed by misery.
Statistics now show there are 270,000 regular ‘ice’ users in Australia and the numbers are growing rapidly. Wherever I go throughout the country, the main issue raised by people is ice. Nurses and doctors are having to deal with ice users in our already overrun and understaffed hospitals, while other patients are forced to wait. A nurse informed me she was aware of a man losing his life due to a heart attack while waiting for doctors attending an ice user. This is simply unacceptable!
Our police and ambulance officers face regular abuse or attacks from overdosed ice users. Some of you might say this is a State Government issue, however this drug in particular is having national consequences and it’s about time the Federal Government encouraged the states to take a unified approach in combatting ice.
Two young mothers at Tweed Heads (NSW) told me the drug is out of control and ice can be purchased in a matter of 5 minutes in their community. They are in genuine fear for their children and themselves. It appears no place in Australia is free from ice and the devastation that comes with its use. Small country towns in the outback are also under attack. These once peaceful communities are being destroyed by crime, abuse and fear associated with ice. The Vulnerable and youth are being targeted, leaving parents and loved ones not knowing what to do, or where to go.
I have no sympathy for drug users. I do however for their families, friends and communities who deal with the destruction they cause. The ice users are ‘bloody idiots’ to say the least. Everyone has a choice in life. Being depressed, out of a job or feeling sorry for yourself is no reason to take ice. There are many people who can claim these ailments that turn to drugs. People have to start taking responsibility for their actions.
I am fed up with the innocent and taxpayers having to pick up the pieces for thugs and idiots, or irresponsible and selfish non-contributors in our society. I cannot understand the reasons why someone who is a hardworking, family person, wants to take ice?
Communities and governments must take a strong stance if we are ever to maintain control or stop this epidemic. I propose three strikes and you’re out. If an ice user is caught three times, they will be sent to a rehabilitation facility and kept there until their addiction is under control. They must cover the costs, either by having assets seized, or if on welfare, payments will be forfeited to the state. No debt will be wiped or worn by the taxpayer, even if the user is on welfare payments after release. Monies will be taken from their account until paid in full. If users hold a job, it will be taken from their wages on the same basis as maintenance payments.
Extremely harsh penalties should apply to anyone selling ice. Each gram of ice sold, should equate to a mandatory year in prison. Their assets will be sold to offset the costs and will be recoverable, even after time spent in prison.
If foreign nationals are convicted of drug crimes, a treaty will be sought for jail time to be done in their own country. Too many foreign nationals commit crimes within Australia because the rewards are far greater, and prison sentences are no deterrent.
I am not interested in do-gooders supporting the ‘rights’ of these criminals. When greed and disregard overshadows the impact on human life and society as a whole, they should forfeit all freedoms.
JUDGES will pocket up to $500 a week extra in plump pay rises next year after blaming ice addicts for worsening workloads and job stress.
Federal Circuit Court judges have demanded a bonus two weeks’ holiday and a doubling of superannuation contributions and service leave.
The Remuneration Tribunal yesterday gave federal judges a 4.8 per cent bonus from January 1, swelling the salary of Australia’s first female High Court chief justice, Susan Kiefel, to $573,046 next year.
Other High Court judges will pocket an extra $23,818 — bumping their pay to $520,028.
Family Court Chief Justice Diana Bryant told the tribunal cases had “increased in complexity”. Picture: Hollie Adams
Family Court Chief Justice Diana Bryant told the tribunal cases had “increased in complexity’’ due to an increase in drug use — especially methamphetamine — as well as mental illness and allegations of sexual abuse and family violence.
She said some litigants posed a “real/significant threat’’ to judges.
And she warned the “extraordinary number of cases’’ involving family violence “has put the courts under considerable pressure’’.
“The parenting cases … require difficult fact-finding about contested issues including sexual abuse of children, family violence … mental health issues and substance abuse,’’ Chief Justice Bryant states in her submission, kept secret for a year and made public yesterday after a Freedom of Information request by The Daily Telegraph.
The Chief Judge of the FCC, John Pascoe, told the tribunal that Federal Circuit Court judges receive only four weeks’ holiday a year, compared to eight weeks for Family Court judges and 10 weeks for Federal Court or NSW District court judges.
He called for at least six weeks holidays — as well as six months long service leave after five years in the job.
“Annual leave of four weeks a year is inadequate given the demands of trial judge work,’’ his submission states.
“Failure to deal with these issues to date has had a deleterious effect on the health and wellbeing of judges of the court.’’
Cartoonist Warren’s perspective.
Chief Judge Pascoe said the Federal Circuit Court — which hears family law cases, refugee and migration claims, consumer lawsuits and counter-terrorism issues — was the “primary face of federal justice’’ and its judges should be paid 90 per cent of a Federal Court judge’s salary.
“The average Australian experiencing difficulties in family life, at work, or in their business will appear before this court,’’ he said.
Chief Justice Pascoe said Federal Circuit Court judges’ superannuation contributions should double from 15.4 per cent to 30 per cent of salary, because they were missing out on the usual judicial pension of 60 per cent of their salary after 10 years’ service.
But the tribunal rejected the claim, handing Federal Circuit Court judges a $17,046 pay rise instead of the $23,599 they asked for, and ignoring the holiday and superannuation demands. The Remuneration Tribunal ruled that a 4.8 per cent pay rise “recognises the increased complexities faced by judges … in an environment of continued economic and wages restraint’’.
Federal Circuit Court Chief Judge John Pascoe said superannuation contributions should double from 15.4 per cent to 30 per cent of salary. Picture: Renee Nowytarger
The judges’ pay rise is double the 2.4 per cent awarded to Australia’s poorest workers this year, and comes on top of a 2 per cent pay rise for federal judges in 2016. The federal Attorney- General’s Department fought the proposed increase, noting that Federal Circuit Court judges’ salaries had doubled between 2002 to $355,130 this year, while the average wage had risen 71 per cent to $80,415.
“Given the large number of judicial officers and the generous level of remuneration they receive, any percentage increase in judicial remuneration will affect the government’s budget position,’’ it told the tribunal.
The NSW government complained that any federal pay rises will trigger “me too’’ pay claims from judges in this state. NSW Statutory and Other Offices Remuneration Tribunal head Richard Grellman warned if NSW failed to match federal pay packets, it “may have an adverse impact on the ability of … NSW … to attract and retain the best available people to the NSW courts’’.
NSW judges are paid more than judges interstate, with the Chief Justice of the NSW Supreme Court earning $482,470 this year.
Microbes living in people’s bodies can tell when you when they died
By John Ross – The Australian 23 Dec 2016
Higher Eduction Report Sydney @JohnRoss49
The balance of bugs in the body is crucial to quality of life. Now scientists are turning to bugs to get a better measure of death.
US researchers have found that the “microbiome” — the bacteria and other microbes living in and on people’s bodies — provides a surprisingly accurate gauge of how long they have been dead.
They say the discovery could sharpen forensic methods, shedding new light on murder investigations and corroborating or disproving alibis.
The team based its findings, outlined in the journal PLOS ONE, on DNA analyses of bacterial swabs from 21 bodies at various stages of decomposition. They used a “machine learning” approach to develop an algorithm equating microbial composition to time since death.
Team leader Nathan Lents said while it was a proof-of-concept study, the results had exceeded expectations.
“In a few years we’ll have a good idea of how to use this in forensic applications,” said Professor Lents, a molecular biologist with City University of New York. Recent research has uncovered links between the microbiome and Parkinson’s disease, bowel cancer, mental illness and autism, with microbes in the gut even harvested for new antibiotics.
Professor Lents said existing methods of determining time of death were accurate to within about six hours for the first two days after life.
From then on they mainly depended on analyses of insects in dead bodies, yielding “solid guesses” that often ranged over a few days.
“Beyond a week, no one really trusts the methods,” he said.
The new approach could estimate time of death to within about two days, even after four weeks of decomposition.
Microbiome analysis could also supply information such as a victim’s drug use, “even when the traces of the drug itself are long gone”.
He said it could possibly help determine cause of death or provide insights into places victims had recently visited.
In a study published last month, Californian researchers showed microbes on people’s mobile phones could be used to help identify their owners.
65 per cent of Americans say their economic system “unfairly favours powerful interests”
Maurice Newman 14 Oct 2016 The Australian
In the late 19th century, Russia’s aristocrats adopted French as their preferred language. While the starving were forced to eat rats, the ruling class merrily decorated palaces in gilt and amber. Unsurprisingly, this splendid isolation resulted in revolutionary change.
In the US, Washington’s understanding of the plight of the average family suggests a similar sense of detachment.
While not eating rats, according to a February survey conducted by the Pew Research Centre 65 per cent of Americans say their economic system “unfairly favours powerful interests”. It is a view that crosses party lines.
Yet, listening to Barack Obama campaigning on behalf of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, those Americans are just whingers. The President boasts of falling poverty rates and rising wages. He claims credit for economic growth. “Thanks, Obama,” he yelled, should anybody miss his genius. But a stump speech is one thing. In reality, racial division and the gap between rich and poor in the US has widened more under Obama than under any other president.
What he didn’t say is that real median household income is lower today than in 2007 and remains lower than the peak reached in the 1990s.
Actual unemployment is nearer 10 per cent than the advertised 5 per cent, and home ownership is the lowest since 1951.
This attrition of the middle class continues to leave behind increasing numbers of average Americans.
If the people on the street are hostile, Obama’s preferred successor, “business as usual” political insider Clinton, is the ruling class’s favourite.
Many senior Republicans prefer her and are united in their disdain for the blunt, vulgar, anti-establishment and erratic political outsider Donald Trump, who disrespects women and whose policies they fear will upset their supporters’ taxpayer-subsidised apple carts.
After the weakest expansion in history, the US economy is again slipping into recession.
Manufacturing capacity utilisation remains below 75 per cent. Profits have been in retreat for six straight quarters and show no sign of improving. Wage growth is slowing, productivity is down and gross domestic product growth for the past three quarters is the lowest outside of recession. Forecasts continue to be downgraded.
According to the Heritage Foundation, “over the last 10 years, federal government spending has been at the highest level it has ever been in American history”. Eleven states have more people on welfare than are employed. With monetary policy producing no noticeable dividends, Treasury officials will be tempted to run bigger deficits and rack up even more debt.
As Albert Einstein observed, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Not only will the next US president have to deal with social tensions and a weakening domestic and global economy, but a Federal Reserve chairwoman who believes social objectives are part of her role. Having fuelled the dotcom bubble and the subprime crisis, Janet Yellen’s Fed continues on its reckless ways, rewarding speculators and widening inequality as it goes.
The Fed is so in Wall Street’s thrall that keeping the market up has become an unquestioned mandate. No wonder average Americans think the system is rigged against them.
Yet the election campaign, the debates and media coverage scarcely deal with this. They concentrate on sizzle, such as Clinton’s scandalous neglect of national security, the Clinton Foundation pay-to-play allegations and her alleged forked tongue.
But it is Trump’s juvenile objectification of women, his alleged misogyny, racism and bigotry, and refusal to release his tax returns that dominate mainstream media headlines and send the Twittersphere into a twitter. The media and the debate moderators shamelessly favour Clinton.
Whatever the intention, the various claims and counterclaims simply emphasise the unsuitability of both candidates for the role of commander-in-chief. But, short of an unforeseen event, one of them will be president.
There is no doubt the international community would rather deal with a president Clinton than a president Trump.
Trump is seen as unpredictable and the US’s enemies would prefer Clinton who, as former secretary of state, knows how the game is played and will be easier to deal with. The Iranians will certainly prefer her.
A president Trump would renegotiate trade deals and require US allies to contribute more to defence arrangements. A Trump presidency would be more inward looking and less reverential to international bodies such as the UN. At home, he is the only candidate seriously talking cuts to federal spending, reining in the Federal Reserve, eliminating burdensome business regulations, reducing corporate tax rates and enforcing border security.
But the reality is, his economic plan falls short on spending cuts. To quote former director of the Office of Management and Budget, David Stockman, it is a “dog’s breakfast of some plausible ideas (and) really bad fiscal math”.
That said, it promises more hope than Clinton’s proposal, which is right out of an Obama-Bernie Sanders playbook: a mix of status quo and rank populism, including tax cuts for middle-income earners, means-tested “free” tertiary education, increases in the minimum wage and tax hikes for the rich.
Stockman’s overall assessment of the scene is dismal. He says: “After two decades of massive monetary stimulus and monumental expansion of global debt … we are now in the payback cycle.”
He believes “beltway magic has pushed the nation to the fiscal brink” and that “the nation’s sputtering remnant of a capitalist economy will be crushed by the welfare and warfare states on which the imperial city feeds”.
Clinton is a creature of the beltway and offers even more unaffordable magic. Trump is the heretic and only candidate who, given the opportunity, could rein in the corrosive, powerful interests that drive Washington and divide the US.
Voter turnout will be crucial but, despite the deplorable nominees, Trump may still be the US’s better bet.
The West Australian Government has released a comprehensive policy aimed at combatting ice. The policy includes rehabilitation, prevention – focused on education in schools – and interdiction by the police. Drug legalisation and smoking rooms, similar in concept to injecting rooms, have been ruled out.
With encouragement from the Family Council of WA, the Council for the National Interest (CNIWA) hosted a Drugs Forum in Perth on August 14, 2016, featuring three speakers covering different aspects of the epidemic of illicit drugs that is sweeping Australia.
In preparing for this forum, the CNIWA investigated the evidence of the past 40 years and found that the policy of harm minimisation, instead of harm prevention, was the root cause of the increase in demand for illicit drugs.
Drug Free Australia chief executive Jo Baxter prepared an extensive presentation as to why Australia has achieved the status of ice capital of the world and how we can get fix this. Jo provided stark comparisons between Australia’s illicit-drug industry growth and Sweden’s reduction in drug use brought about by implementing a policy of reducing demand.
Statistics from the latest United Nations World Drug Report (2015) bear out the assertion that Australia’s per capita rate of drug use for 15–64 year olds is the world’s highest. Sweden, with 40 per cent of Australia’s population, has 29,500 problematic drug users. Australia has 220,000 dependent cannabis users and over 200,000 ice users.
The mantra of drug legalisers that prohibition does not work is clearly given the lie by the Swedish figures. Australia’s focus on minimising harm by giving priority to treatment instead of prevention and early intervention has resulted in the ice problem reaching pandemic proportions.
West African and Chinese organised crime gangs view Australia as a soft touch, with a lack of political will and leadership creating a demand for a highly profitable illicit drug business. Australians are paying world record prices for illicit drugs so it is no wonder organised crime syndicates are flooding the market. Ice is extremely addictive even when knowing the effects are extremely harmful.
Ice smoking leads to brain damage, increased risk to safety in workplaces, increased danger on roads, increased violence in communities, families and relationships. (Hospital emergency departments are on the front line of this drug scourge.)
To repair the damage of 40 years of harmful promoting of illicit drug use Australia should adopt the Swedish compassionate policing model, with court-enforced rehabilitation as against enforced prison, and with an emphasis on rehabilitation of all problem drug users. Sweden went from having the highest rate of drug use in Europe in 1970 to the lowest by 2000.
Australia can emulate Sweden with a restrictive drug policy while maintaining criminal use of drugs to emphasise the harm of illicit drugs, especially methamphetamines.
The WA Government Methamphetamine Strategy is a good start to combatting the scourge of illicit drugs. However, the emphasis still seems to be focused on rehabilitation rather than primary prevention if funding is any indicator. The Australian anti-smoking campaign is evidence of a successful social modification program that can apply to a concerted effort for combating illicit drug use.
Peter Lyndon-James of Shalom House
A complete contrast to the clinical analysis by Jo Baxter was the presentation by Peter Lyndon-James, founder and director of Shalom House Rehabilitation Centre in Perth. In a very forthright manner Peter described the conditions of addicts and his Christian ethics-based, cold turkey treatment of addicts who voluntarily enter his rehabilitation process.
Demand for his service is overwhelming, encouraging a growth in facilities to accommodate the number of damaged men seeking freedom from illicit drug use. Peter emphasised the importance of the addict asking for help, until which time the addict will not commit to the rehabilitation program that may take 12 months or more to achieve success.
Associate Professor Dr Stuart Reece presented an extensive review of research assembled in association with Professor Gary Hulse of UWA.
Professor Reece’s expose of marijuana and the negative genetic influences needs a full forum of its own to do justice to the material presented. The experience of the generation of the 1960 and ’70s experimentation with drugs that “did me no harm” distorts the reality of the cannabis market of today, with product 80 per cent stronger in cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the two main active ingredients in cannabis.
When combined with a vigorous illicit drug industry peddling brain-destroying methamphetamines, the wrong messages are being conveyed to today’s youth. Professor Reece offered damning research evidence that pregnant women and sexually active males should not be using marijuana. Otherwise, Australia’s next generation will suffer the deadly consequences of genetic defects from the use of cannabinoids.
Professor Reece’s message for Australians, and for the next three to four generations hence, is to ignore the evidence at your peril.
Gradually, the masses are realising something is wrong
Maurice Newman 27 September 2016 The Australian
When your news and views come from a tightly controlled, left-wing media echo chamber, it may come as a bit of a shock to learn that in the July election almost 600,000 voters gave their first preference to Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party.
You may also be surprised to know that still deluded conservatives remain disenchanted with the media’s favourite Liberal, Malcolm Turnbull, for his epic fail as Prime Minister, especially when compared with the increasingly respected leader he deposed.
Perhaps when media outlets saturate us with “appropriate” thoughts and “acceptable” speech, and nonconformists are banished from television, radio and print, it’s easy to miss what is happening on the uneducated side of the tracks.
After all, members of the better educated and morally superior political class use a compliant media to shelter us from the dangerous, racist, homophobic, Islamophobic, sexist, welfare-reforming, climate-change denying bigots who inhabit the outer suburbs and countryside — the people whom Hillary Clinton calls “the deplorables”.
They must be vilified without debate, lest too many of us waver on the virtues of bigger governments, central planning, more bloated bureaucracies, higher taxes, unaffordable welfare, a “carbon-free” economy, more regulations, open borders, gender-free and values-free schools and same-sex marriage; the sort of agenda that finds favour at the UN.
Yet history is solid with evidence that this agenda will never deliver the promised human dignity, prosperity and liberty. Only free and open societies with small governments can do that.
Gradually, the masses are realising something is wrong. Their wealth and income growth is stagnating and their living standards are threatened. They see their taxes wasted on expensive, ill-conceived social programs. They live with migrants who refuse to integrate. They resent having government in their lives on everything from home renovations to recreational fishing, from penalty rates to free speech.
Thomas Jefferson’s warning that “the natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground” is now a stark reality.
The terms “people’s representative” and “public servant” have become a parody. In today’s world we are the servants and, if it suits, we are brushed aside with callous indifference.
Like the Labor government’s disregard for the enormous emotional and financial hurt suffered when, overnight, it shut down live cattle exports on the strength of a television show.
Or like the NSW parliament passing laws banning greyhound racing in the state. There was no remorse for the ruined lives of thousands of innocent people, many of whom won’t recover. Talk of compensation is a travesty.
Or like the victims neighbouring Williamtown and Oakey air force bases, made ill from toxic contamination of groundwater. Around the world it’s known chemical agents used in airport fire drills cause cancer, neurological disease and reproductive disorders, yet the Australian Department of Defence simply denies responsibility. The powerless are hopelessly trapped between health risks and valueless properties.
Similar disdain is shown for those living near coal-seam gas fields and wind turbines. The authorities know of the health and financial impacts but defend operators by bending rules and ignoring guidelines.
If governments believe the ends justify the means, people don’t matter.
When Ernst & Young research finds one in eight Australians can’t meet their electricity bills, rather than show compassion for the poor and the elderly, governments push ruthlessly ahead with inefficient and expensive renewable energy projects.
This newspaper’s former editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell reveals in his book, Making Headlines, how Kevin Rudd, when prime minister, brazenly attempted to use state power to investigate “the relationship between my paper and him”. Rudd’s successor, Julia Gillard, wanted to establish a media watchdog to effectively gag journalists.
None of this is fantasy and it explains why people are losing confidence in the democratic system. Australians feel increasingly marginalised and unrepresented. They are tired of spin and being lied to. They know that data is often withheld or manipulated.
As they struggle to make ends meet, they watch helplessly as the established political class shamelessly abuses its many privileges.
It appears its sole purpose in life is to rule, not to govern. This adds weight to the insightful contention by the Business Council of Australia’s Jennifer Westacott that Australia is in desperate need of a national purpose.
It’s no wonder, to paraphrase American author Don Fredrick, that a growing number of Australians no longer want a tune-up at the same old garage. They want a new engine installed by experts — and they are increasingly of the view that the current crop of state and federal mechanics lacks the skills and experience to do the job.
One Nation may not be the answer, but its garage does offer a new engine.
This is Australia’s version of the Trump phenomenon. Like Donald Trump, Hanson is a non-establishment political disrupter. However, unlike Trump, who may soon occupy the White House, Hanson won’t inhabit the Lodge.
This leaves Australia’s establishment and the central planners very much in control. It means we will remain firmly on our current bigger-government path, financed by higher taxes and creative accounting.
Nobel laureate economist FA Hayek observes in his book The Road to Serfdom: “The more planners improvise, the greater the disturbance to normal business. Everyone suffers. People feel rightly that ‘planners’ can’t get things done.”
But he argues that, ironically, in a crisis the risk is that rather than wind back the role of government, people automatically turn to someone strong who demands obedience and uses coercion to achieve objectives.
Australia is now on that road to tyranny and, with another global recession in prospect and nearly 50 per cent of voters already dependent on government, the incentive is to vote for more government, not less.
The left-wing media echo-chamber will be an enthusiastic cheerleader.
It was at a retreat in the middle of nowhere in Canada that two young entrepreneurs unveiled the next big thing in tech. They called it “the least advanced NoPhone ever”. The device inside the sleek, slimline packaging had no buttons, no screen and no way to tweet, take a selfie or even make a call.
In fact, the NoPhone Air was nothing but an empty package, the size of a smartphone.
It was a joke. But the dig at the relentless pace of reinvention in the mobile phone industry, at the same time as Apple launched the iPhone 7, tapped into something very real: the growing desire to turn off, tune out, unplug.
The signs suggest smartphone addiction has hit iPeak. Next month, the Light Phone — which is the size of a credit card and can make calls, store ten numbers and do nothing else — will be launched in the US by two friends who met at a Google “incubator” for whizzkids and grew jaded by the constant pressure to come up with increasingly addictive and life-consuming apps.
The Light Phone Video
In London, Liverpool, Berlin and Los Angeles people are participating in “killyourphone” workshops, creating their own signal-blocking pouches with glue and copper-coated cloth, and dipping their devices into cement to take a symbolic time-out from Tinder and Twitter.
Even Kanye West has called time on his timeline, declaring: “I got rid of my phone so I can have air to create,” in a tweet that has so far been retweeted 38,000 times by people who have, presumably, yet to embrace his example of digital detox. The singer Katy Perry appeared to agree, replying: “Unplug to connect.” The actor Eddie Redmayne also confessed to having swapped his smartphone for an old-fashioned handset because he was sick of “being glued permanently to my iPhone”.
Given that the average user taps their phone 2,617 times a day, with 89 per cent of us unable to resist checking our device at least once between midnight and 5am, it is perhaps inevitable there has been a reaction that has prompted a surge of interest in “retro tech”.
Your phone away from phone
Dumbphones are now de rigueur, with old, trusty, uncrackable Nokia handsets selling for hundreds of dollars on eBay. About 4,700 Nokia 3310s, a classic, 16-year-old model, have been sold on the online marketplace in the past three months — two every hour. And 23 Nokia N70s have been sold every day over the same period.
It was partly rebellion against the Apple ethos and partly a desire to return to something that had been lost, that encouraged Joe Hollier, a 26-year-old skateboarder and graphic designer from Brooklyn, and his friend, Kaiwei Tang, who spent a decade designing phones for Motorola, to launch their own bare minimum device.
The pair met on a Google program for new talent two years ago.
“Everything was about creating apps to get users hooked, rather than developing something people needed,” said Mr Hollier. “We felt that is not how it’s supposed to be.” Worst of all, he said, “they were trying to frame it as if we were making the world a better place, by getting people addicted and selling them more stuff. I couldn’t help but call B.S on that. We felt they were missing the point.”
They created the Light Phone — a dollars 100 device, available in the UK by the end of the year, which shares the same number as your main number, forwarding on calls and offering little else, for the times when email and gadgetry may not be necessary. They call it “going light”.
“Do I really need a computer in my pocket when I’m skateboarding, or going out for dinner with my girlfriend? No,” said Mr Hollier.
He realised that constantly checking what other people were doing on Instagram and Facebook was chipping away at his own contentment.
“I found I was getting lost in these scroll holes. I would always come out of them feeling not necessarily good about myself. My smartphone was sucking me in. As soon as I stepped away — I call it breaking through the fomo threshold, getting over the fear of missing out.”
“I felt free. I realised I was happier in those disconnected moments, when I can watch a sunset, appreciate my friends. We want to make a product that helps people appreciate their lives, not control their lives.”
He stressed that the Light Phone was not a substitute, but simply a supplement. “It doesn’t have to mean going completely off-grid. It could mean just taking 20 minutes to get a coffee.”
He insisted his product was refining, rather than regressing. “We’re sparking a conversation. What do I want my technology to do for me?”
Aram Bartholl, 42, a conceptual artist in Berlin, started his killyourphone workshops a couple of years ago. “We all have these little computers in our pockets but we don’t really know how they work or who’s recording our data. For me, the pouch is a way to think a little more about what they do, and how we live with them.
“Suddenly, you have a person who’s used to technology sitting down with scissors and glue and a sewing machine — a machine from another revolution — in a completely different social situation. It gives connection a whole different meaning.”
Lucy Bannerman,The Times – The Australian 24 Sept 2016
Sydney University law professor Patrick Parkinson.
REBECCA URBAN The Australian September 19, 2016
A leading family law and child-protection expert has criticised the teaching of radical gender theory in classrooms across the country, likening the “odd and unscientific” beliefs promoted by groups such as the Safe Schools Coalition to those espoused by Scientology.
Sydney University law professor Patrick Parkinson has called for an extensive overhaul of the Safe Schools program, having taken issue with its promotion of “exaggerated statistics” on the prevalence of transgender and intersex conditions in the community to support its creators’ “belief that gender is fluid and can even be chosen”.
In a research paper to be published today, Professor Parkinson notes that gender ideology, which lies at the heart of Safe Schools, has become a widespread belief system, particularly in Western countries.
With its origins in university philosophy departments rather than science, it has no place in the primary or secondary school curriculum, which is required to be evidence-based, he argues.
“There would be an uproar if the beliefs of Scientologists … were being taught in state schools through state-funded programs,” he says, referring to the controversial religion.
“Yet the belief system that what gender you are is a matter for you to determine without reference to your physical and reproductive attributes might not be dissimilar.”
Professor Parkinson’s damning review comes as the NSW Education Department investigates the inclusion of gender theory in its own official curriculum, including its mandatory sex education program for Years 11 and 12.
Last week state Education Minister Adrian Piccoli asked his departmental secretary, former ABC boss Mark Scott, to look into whether there was a scientific basis for claims made throughout the Crossroads program that gender was “a social construct”, neither fixed nor binary.
A spokesman for the Education Department said Mr Scott would report back to the minister’s office “as soon as possible”.
While originally touted as a program designed to stamp out homophobia in the schoolyard, it has divided parents, politicians, religious groups and even the LGBTI community.
Prominent transgender advocate Catherine McGregor faced a backlash when she recently spoke out against Safe Schools, claiming that it would not have helped her as a young person grappling with gender issues.
Professor Parkinson is also concerned that its teachings may harm some young people.
The former member of the NSW Child Protection Council, who has advised government and other organisations on matters related to child safety, says a school-wide program that normalises transitioning from one gender to another creates a risk that some children will become confused unnecessarily.
“Gender dysphoria in childhood and adolescence is far too complex to be addressed by pop psychology or internet-based self-help materials,” he says.
“While a program of this kind may offer benefits for some young people, there is reason to be concerned that it may cause harm to other young people who experience same-sex attraction or gender confusion.
“This is not good enough for an educational resource.”
Professor Parkinson believes it is unlikely that concerns raised by the community will go away.
He says politicians who have supported it based on its origins as an anti-bullying program would likely face a backlash from their constituencies unless the program was reviewed and significantly reformed.
More than 500 schools across the country have signed up to be Safe Schools members, and the program has attracted federal and state funds.