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November 2020


By Australian Newsletter

Australia’s spy agency has warned universities about the risk to ­national security from Chinese government recruitment programs, including the Thousand Talents Plan, and has alerted them to the ­potential for collaboration to turn into espionage. ASIO gave private briefings to universities urging them to strengthen their disclosure ­regimes and making them aware of the risks of foreign talent recruitment programs including technology transfer, security sources said. The revelations come as the deputy chairman of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, Labor MP Anthony Byrne, supported a demand by his Liberal colleague and committee chairman Andrew Hastie for an “urgent” inquiry into the Thousand Talents Plan.

Mr Byrne said the inquiry should take place through the parliamentary committee in order to obtain classified briefings from Australian and US agencies. An investigation has revealed dozens of researchers at universities across the country had been recruited by the Thousand Talents Plan, which in some cases pays hundreds of thousands of dollars to academics and provides other lucrative perks. In exchange, academics are bound by contract terms that can include a requirement to assign intellectual property to Chinese universities. Mr Byrne said: “This raises an alarm about our national sovereignty. It would appear that Australian universities have turned a blind eye to their own academics selling their knowledge to a foreign power through a program that the FBI have identified as a national security and economic espionage threat. This is totally unacceptable.”

Education Minister Dan Tehan has revealed that his department would in coming weeks brief two ­powerful parliamentary committees on the issue. The “Thousand Talents Plan” is a Chinese Government program to recruit top scientists from around the world. It was originally designed to reverse China’s brain drain. Under Xi Jinping’s civil-military fusion, the Thousand Talents Plan helps China achieve technological and innovation advances. Western academics have been recruited through their colleagues, superiors or even via LinkedIn. They are offered a lucrative second-salary, upwards of $150,000 a year, with generous research funding. Some academics are given an entire new laboratory in a Chinese university and team of research staff.

Many are proud of their Thousand Talents link and participate with consent of their universities. Others have not disclosed the link to their universities and do not publicly admit to being part of the program. Some Thousand Talents contracts stipulate they cannot disclose their participation in the Chinese Government program without permission. They continue to work full-time for their Australian university while making frequent trips to China to visit the affiliated Thousand Talents Plan university. They continue to apply for Australian Research Council grants, with no checks about where the research will end up. Their new inventions are patented in China, often secretly.The inventions may be commercialised, with China reaping the economic benefits. Thousand Talents academics may be required to recruit more academics.

“I am working to ensure Australia’s higher education sector has strong protections against foreign interference,” Mr Tehan said. “In the coming weeks, the Department of Education, Skills and Employment will be providing in camera briefings on the government’s work to strengthen protections against foreign interference to the Senate Standing Committees on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, and the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.” ASIO has briefed universities on warning signs relating to academics who had been recruited by the Chinese government and also expressed concerns about some specific academics. ASIO confirmed the briefings on the Thousand Talents Plan and similar programs in a rare statement.

“ASIO regularly engages with Australian tertiary institutions and academia on national security issues,” a spokesperson said. “The details of those discussions are sensitive and it would be inappropriate to comment further.” Pressure is mounting on the Morrison government to hold an inquiry into foreign interference. Mr Tehan and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton both declined to comment on whether they supported the push. Higher education sources citing the sensitivity of the discussions, said ASIO had twice provided high-level briefings about foreign influence in the sector, including Thousand Talents and similar programs. The agency had also provided specific briefings to universities when it had particular concerns about a researcher, said sources involved in these discussions.

Universities already have disclosure registers for secondary employment and other conflicts of interest, but all contacted during the investigation of the Thousand Talents Plan declined to make these available. A security source said universities needed to be careful international collaboration did not become more serious and that they needed to be aware “there may be an espionage element”. “The starting point is research collaboration is overwhelmingly a good thing,” a senior security source said. “There are risks and these programs are sometimes used as a way of Intellectual Property or technology transfer.” The “Thousand Talents Plan” has been described by FBI director Christopher Wray as “economic espionage”.

Under “Thousand Talents Plan” contracts, scientists legally sign away the rights to their intellectual property to China. A standard clause in the contracts states China: “owns the copyrights of the works, inventions, patents and other intellectual properties produced by Party B (the academic) during the Contract period.” Many contracts order the scientist to observe the Chinese legal system, stating the academic: “shall observe relevant laws and regulations of the People’s Republic of China and shall not interfere in China’s internal affairs.” Australian academics are also warned about religious practices, with contracts often stating: “Party B shall respect China’s religious policies, and shall not conduct any religious activities incompatible with his/her status as a foreign expert.”

They are offered a lucrative second salary, upwards of $150,000 a year, with generous research funding. Other perks include travel, tuition for their children and housing subsidies. Some academics are given an entire new laboratory in a Chinese university and team of research staff to work for them. They then have a “clone” team in China – often unbeknown to their Australian employer. The academic often makes numerous trips to China to conduct research. The aim of the program is to ‘own’ the research conducted and paid for by western universities. Another Thousand Talents contract states: “We anticipate that you will make several trips to China each year during the term of your engagement, but will perform much of your work remotely.”

China will benefit from the commercialisation: “Should Chinese scientists contribute to your discoveries in China, as we anticipate, our institutions will jointly own, protect and manage the commercialisation of these jointly-made discoveries.” While the FBI is investigating more than 1000 cases in the US involving real or attempted theft of intellectual property, with many involving the Thousand Talents plan, in Australia, there is no agency that combines intelligence and law-enforcement. The Thousand Talents Plan does not fall directly into ASIO’s remit and it also involves IP theft in exchange for money. This is not currently illegal in Australia, although it is open to police to make a case for fraud, if one exists.

There is also the question of Australian Research Council grant funding going offshore. There are no checks and balances to ensure this does not happen. Official regulation of the sector is patchy, with universities themselves left to police questions of foreign interference. Mr Sharma said the revelations about the Thousand Talents program were deeply worrying. “If you’re employing an academic, you have a right to assume they are loyal to you, some of these academics seem to have been serving two masters, without the knowledge of their Australian university employer,” the Liberal MP said. Mr Wilson said: “It’s essential to be vigilant against the Chinese Communist Party’s tentacles.  Senator Kitching said Australia was “playing catch-up with other jurisdictions” when it came to combating this problem.

Source: Compiled by APN from media article

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By Australian Newsletter

Indigenous leader Noel Pearson has warned that Government COVID 19 money such as the JobSeeker program and the ability to tap superannuation accounts is fuelling a surge in “drinking and gambling’’ in vulnerable communities across the nation. The Cape York Institute founder has also attacked governments for ignoring the pleas of Indigenous leaders to limit alcohol in their communities, a failure of policy that was driving misery, violence and hunger. After the West Australian government defied police and community leaders to implement a banned drinker register rather than blanket bottle shop restrictions in the Pilbara, Mr Pearson questioned whether state and territory governments were truly committed to the “shared decision-making” with peak Indigenous organisations that they signed up to in the Closing the Gap national agreement.

“There is grog chaos all over the country, from Cape York to the Pilbara,” Mr Pearson said. “With the JobSeeker supplement and superannuation withdrawals, the normal level of grog and gambling chaos has gone through the roof.” Mr Pearson questioned whether moves to ban problem drinkers would help curb the alcohol problem and accused state governments of being in thrall to hotel interests. “These state and territory governments are harlots to the Australian Hotels Association (AHA). The banned drinkers register will do nothing,’’ he said.  “It’s a fig leaf for a craven unwillingness to stop people from profiteering from misery, violence and hunger. “And these same governments have been charged with Closing the Gap? I thought these gov­ernments committed to ‘shared decision-making’ with the peak organisations?”

The McGowan government says the idea of the banned drinker register was floated widely, and that Indigenous people were among Pilbara residents consulted at public meetings. John Young, principal of the remote Catholic school in Wadeye, 400km southwest of Darwin, said school attendance had fallen to 30% since the federal government’s coronavirus supplement effectively doubled welfare payments. Teachers and school staff battled fatigue because they were kept up at night as alcohol wreaked havoc on the community. In the Pilbara, 1500km north of Perth, remote Aboriginal ­communities are dry but towns such as Port Hedland are not. Almost 12,000 of the region’s 60,000 residents are Indigenous. AHA’s WA chief executive, Bradley Woods, rejected Mr Pearson’s comments as unhelpful. His organisation championed the Banned Drinker Register.

It will also be rolled out on a voluntary basis in the far north Kimberley, where WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson and Indigenous leaders such as Ian Trust have called for blanket­ ­bottle shop restrictions on full-strength takeaway alcohol. “Targeted solutions are required to combat alcohol-related harm rather than blanket solutions that fail to direct the focus and resources of government towards those most in need,” Mr Woods said. The Northern Territory (NT) has had a banned drinker register since 2017. Stationing officers outside bottle shops who ask for identification has led to claims of racial profiling. Senior health officials believe it is not as effective as the NT’s floor price on alcohol, a first for Australia when it was introduced in Oct­ober 2018. It pushed up the price of cask wine from as little as 70c a standard drink to $1.30.

In April, a review found the NT floor price coincided with a fall in consumption of cask wine and a reduction in alcohol related violence. It did not affect tourist numbers. The NT government has flip-flopped on its support for a proposal for Darwin’s first Dan Murphy’s across the road from the city’s largest Aboriginal town camp. The fight over that bottle shop is in its fifth year. In the Pilbara, the latest debate over alcohol restrictions was prompted by confronting CCTV footage of women and girls being beaten by drunks in the streets of South Hedland. While Pilbara mining camps enforce restrictions on the amount and strength of alcohol its workers can consume while living and working on site, police said there was carnage in the towns of Port Hedland and South Hedland, where some people bought up to 3 cartons of beer on the day Centrelink payments arrived.

Ngurra Kujungka chair Bruce Booth said he was among Indigenous leaders in the Pilbara who favoured broad bottle shop restrictions so his people were not drawn to coastal towns, where they sometimes got stranded and in trouble. In his desert hometown of Nullagine, elders have a longstanding agreement with the hotel that full-strength takeaway beer can be sold from noon to 1pm only. If people want full strength beer after that, they must go inside the pub. “It keeps people safe, and the hotel can still make money,” Mr Booth said. The Coalition of Peaks, which rewrote the Closing the Gap agreement with the federal government, made shared decision-making with Indigenous people a priority reform.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

But like the hydra of Greek mythology, radical gender ideology seems to sprout new heads and find alternative ways into our children’s classrooms. It’s incredibly refreshing, then, to see Mark Latham tackling this issue head on. The former federal Labor leader turned NSW One Nation MP has introduced a bill to ban gender fluidity indoctrination from schools and to enshrine parental rights. While his proposed law only covers NSW, his stand is relevant to all state and territories. Here are some highlights of his recent speech on the subject.

“We hear a lot of talk in the political debate about colonisation, but the worst colonising practice in our society are attempts by social engineers, many of them in the education system, to take over the role of parents. It is part of the post-modernist attack on the nuclear family. In trying to unravel and remake our civilisation, they know the foundations of family are critical. If they can convince young people that things such as family and gender are socially constructed and that there is some kind of conspiracy to deny them their true identity, then no part of our culture is safe. Parents, not schools, are the teachers of the values of their children. There are some fine teachers in the education system, but at the end of the day they are strangers in the lives of families.

“They come and go while parents are there 24/7, loving, nurturing and celebrating the achievements of their children, and dealing with the problems late at night and on weekends, never with a six-week break. Parenting can be tough and, in the era of social media, it can be challenging. The main thing parents ask of schools in the social development of children is to do no harm. Do not confuse our children by telling five and six-year-olds that gender is as fluid as water and that they can be a boy one day and a girl the next; do not run classes in which 12-year-olds are told to pretend that they have come from another planet and arrive on earth without a penis or a vagina as Safe Schools did; do not confuse our children about the fixed biological reality of gender in that, other than a small number of cases, people are born male or female.

“Do not sexualise children, creating mental illnesses and other problems in their young lives; do not engage in the child abuse of promoting gender fluidity; and do not turn our schools into political indoctrination camps, imposing the personal views of educators onto students. Schools must deliver education, not indoctrination. The Government has some good intentions, but good intentions are not enough. The Berejiklian Government does not actually run the New South Wales school system. It is run by bureaucrats, the Teachers Federation and what I call the education establishment, the same group of academics who have given our State the fastest falling school results in the world. For such people, the 2017 decision to end Safe Schools was irrelevant. They run the education system, so they have simply found other ways of implementing the same policy.

That is why the bill is needed: to legislate the provisions that the Government has been unable to provide for itself and students and families in New South Wales. My bill outlaws gender fluidity teaching, course development and teacher training and ends the accreditation, and thus the employment, of any individual breaking that law. The time for audits is over; we need stronger action, legislated action, to protect our children and families. At its core, post-modernism drains the trust and confidence of students in what they are being taught. It tells them that everything they know about their family, their gender, their country and everything they might learn about history, science and other subjects is being constructed to mislead them.

“That is a disease in most Western education systems and the core reason Asian systems have moved so far and so quickly ahead of us. How can our students and schools possibly succeed if the evidential base of knowledge is consistently undermined by telling students that such things are not real and factual, and that it is not really knowledge?  To properly ban Safe Schools, the New South Wales Government needs to kill cold dead the core premise on which it was based, that teachers have a legitimate role to play in shaping the morality of children on personal identity questions such as gender and sexuality. These matters must be the sole preserve of families. Since I was elected to this Parliament 16 months ago, my office has had a constant stream of complaints about politics in schools. Parents are sick and tired. They want this Parliament to make its choice.

Source:  Australian Family Coalition

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By Australian Newsletter

Mark McGowan’s COVID-19 border ban and social restrictions have smashed the West Australian drug trade and driven down crime rates in the state, including in Aboriginal communities. Border restrictions imposed by the WA Premier have blocked the importation of drugs into the state from the east coast, doubling the price of methyl amphetamine and forcing drug users to source other illicit substances. In a submission to a federal parliamentary inquiry into COVID-19 criminal activity, the WA Police Force said closing the state’s borders had disrupted “the movement of illicit drugs across regional WA”.  “Illicit drugs became increasingly difficult to source, increasing prices within the metropolitan and southwest areas. It was reported in May 2020 that methyl amphetamine was extremely difficult to source,” the submission said.

“The price of methyl amphetamine effectively doubled at this time. Addicted users are suffering the effects of reduced supply, with reductions in purity also being reported to maintain drug sales. “The State of Emergency restrictions have undoubtedly impacted on the capacity of drug trafficking syndicates to import illicit drugs into WA.” The shortage of drugs has triggered “ongoing tensions” in the state’s prison system, triggering a spike in attempts to smuggle illicit substances through prisoner mail. WA police said the border ban had forced them to redirect “significant operational resources from core law enforcement activities. The inability to devolve these functions to persons other than police has adversely impacted on organisational capacity and delivery of policing services.”

Under COVID-19 biosecurity zones, where people returned to their primary Aboriginal communities between March and June, Kalgoorlie reported a 71.5 per cent decrease in burglary offences, 59.6 per cent reduction in stealing offences and a 33.5 per cent fall in property damage offences compared to the same period last year. WA police said the four-week COVID-19 temporary liquor restrictions on the sale of takeaway alcohol “had a positive impact on alcohol-related offending” with reported offences and anti-social behaviour decreasing across the Kimberley. With retail shops and licensed venues closing and more people staying at home, WA police said there had been a “steep decrease” in burglaries, stealing, assaults and drug-related offences in Perth.

“In contrast, Metropolitan Region crime statistics have shown a significant increase in family violence assaults and threatening behaviour offences since the beginning of March 2020. “The Women’s Council is expecting a large spike in refuge demand after the COVID-19 crisis is over and when women are feeling safer to leave.” The WA police submission said there had been an increase in reports about the “prevalence of COVID-19 related instances of racism and racist criminal activity”, particularly in Asian-Australian communities.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

The Australian Christian Lobby has written to the Premier highlighting a serious breach of the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 by the LotteryWest board which unanimously rejected the grant application of Victory Life Community Services Inc. The grant to enable a freezer van to be purchased to help support needy families, was rejected on the grounds of Pastor Margaret Court’s (Pastor of Victory Life) ‘biblical views on same-sex marriage’.  The WA Director of Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), Peter Abetz, said, “The LotteryWest board is not above the law. Section 62 of the Act makes it a specific offence to discriminate against another person in the provision of grants on the grounds of a person’s religious convictions.” “This rejection will affect all faith-based charities that hold traditional Christian, Muslim, Sikh or similar beliefs on human sexuality.

Any group which publicly upholds faith-based beliefs on human sexuality at odds with the board’s views will no longer be eligible for a grant. “At a meeting with LotteryWest,  two staff from Victory Life were told they need not apply in the future, that LotteryWest is a major sponsor of the Gay Lesbian Mardi Gras and that their applications would not be successful on account of Pastor Court’s views on marriage and gender issues. “It is an abuse of the Board’s decision-making power to punish people like Margaret Court for public commentary contrary to their own views,” Mr Abetz added. ACL calls on the Equal Opportunity Commission to instruct  LotteryWest, on their legal obligations under the Equal Opportunity Act 1984. The Premier needs to install a Board that genuinely values the multi-ethnic and multi-religious nature of WA society.

Source: Australian Christian Lobby

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