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HONOURS DEBATE: FOR SERVICES TO THE RICH AND POWERFUL

By Australian Newsletter

It ought to be a time for celebration of what it is to be Australian, of mateship, of selfless hard yakka and good old Aussie know-how.  Instead, the announcement of the nation’s top awards each Australia Day and Queen’s Birthday is often greeted with as many howls of derision as it is with applause. Last month, the focus was on potty-mouthed shock jock Mike Carlton, whose Member of the Order of Australia prompted outrage from Liberal MPs, given his history of attacking critics in torrid terms, such as “Jewish bigot”.  Last year, Carlton hit a new low, tweeting his mystification as to why Q&A panellist Jimmy Barnes did not “leap from his seat and strangle” Liberal MP Nicolle Flint.

However, the willingness of the Council for the Order of Australia, which makes the awards, to overlook such poor behaviour is hardly an isolated case. After the last Australia Day Awards it was the AM for Bettina Arndt that sparked outrage.  The gong came not long after the author and commentator was forced to apologise for suggesting Nicolaas Bester, a Tasmanian teacher who repeatedly abused a 15-year-old girl, had been “persecuted” by feminists.  Some schoolgirls, Arndt had further claimed, were “sexually provocative” towards male teachers.  Other past gong recipients have somehow included an alleged rapist, Liang Joo Leow.  The Sydney dermatologist was awarded an AM, despite having been charged in 2018 with raping a Victorian doctor.

Leow, who denies the allegations, is awaiting trial on one charge of rape and one charge of procuring sexual penetration by fraud.  Last year, an AM also went to far-right Fraser Anning Party candidate Adrian Cheok, who once described Labor senator Penny Wong as a “half man” and had been accused of making Islamophobic social media posts.  One of these captioned a picture of a burqa-clad woman alongside a polling booth with the words:  “Who or what is voting for what or whom?”  A range of people, from those who’ve been involved in the award process to those who study its outcomes, believe too many awards are being granted, too often to those who don’t deserve them, and that the entire system is flawed”.

The most prestigious awards, the Companion of the Order of Australia and the Officer of the Order of Australia, tend to go to big names; some would say the big end of town: ex-politicians, judges, high-flyer businessmen, media types, academics and esteemed medicos.  While the awards are meant to be for achievements of the highest order, it often seems these people are getting gongs primarily for doing their jobs, albeit very well, perhaps with a bit of charity support on the side.  Our most remarkable community heroes, those doing selfless voluntary work or going “above and beyond” in helping others, year-on-year, tend to receive the lowest award: the Medal of the Order of Australia.

A lucky few of these grassroots quiet achievers might receive the gong one level up, the Member of the Order of Australia.  While some argue this is just the way the awards are structured, and awards of all levels are valuable, there is a push for change.  “I don’t see why someone who has fostered 105 children for 28 years should receive a community service award and a politician walks away with what is considered a more national award,” says Kerri-Anne Kennerley.  “I think probably it is time for a review.”  The veteran TV presenter has inside knowledge, having unsuccessfully mounted such arguments while serving for several years on the Council for the Order of Australia.

“I believe the system does need a look at.  I think there are too many awards given and too many famous people get them just for being famous,” she said.  “It’s not the Logies.”  In the top two awards, the AC and AO, in the most recent Queen’s Birthday honours civil list, only four of 53 recipients gained their gong first and foremost for service to the community, rather than to a profession or area of work.  Economist Nicholas Gruen, visiting professor at University of Technology Sydney and Kings College, London, crunches the numbers in terms of who gets what each year.  He agrees the top awards are weighted to high-status Australians.

His analysis shows that from 2013-18, less than 30% of all AC recipients had done any community service, dropping to little more than 10% in 2019-20, not including last month’s Queen’s Birthday honours.  “If you look at the most senior ACs, I do sit and wonder why we should say that they are worth a better award than someone who has worked with their local community for 40 years and helped orphans find employment,” Gruen says.  He believes one way of tackling this bias would be a citizens’ council, to inject the values of “ordinary people” into the selection process.  “You ask 25 people from the Australian community who might be chosen at random, like we do with a jury, and you ask them to deliberate on the kinds of values they want to reward,” he says.

Very few recipients will publicly criticise the process.  A notable exception is former chief of the defence force, Chris Barrie, who not only served on the council for four years, but received an AM, upgraded to an AO and then an AC.  “I think the criticism that a lot of people get the higher awards because of what they do in their professions has quite a lot of substance to it,” Barrie said.  He says medical, legal and even military organisations see it as “very important” to secure awards and upgrades for their members and work “pretty assiduously” at pushing their person’s case.  Barrie strongly backs a system of national awards and believes a review could consider whether more of the higher honours should go to grassroots community achievers.

“The bulk of them (top awards recipients) are at the top of a profession or calling and most of the community people are down in the AMs and OAMs,” he says.  “This is egalitarian Australia but what we’re doing in the current system is sort of preserving a hangover of the British imperial system.”   The 19-member Council of the Order of Australia argues it is independent and fair.  Anyone can nominate anyone. However, the council does appear to be largely a creature of politicians and bureaucrats.  It includes 11 representatives of state and federal governments, as well as a chair.  Even the six or seven “community representatives”, sound folk though they undoubtedly may be, are appointed by the governor-general on the prime minister’s say-so.

Chaired by former Northern Territory chief minister  Shane Stone, AC, the council rejects much of the criticism, including the gripe that too few community heroes are receiving top gongs.  “The level of award does not denigrate the value of that service or the contribution that the recipient has made,” a council spokesman said.  Even so, the language of the awards suggests a clear hierarchy.  AC is “for eminent achievement and merit of the highest degree in service to Australia or to humanity at large”;  AO is for “distinguished service of a high degree or to humanity at large”;  AM is for “service in a particular locality or field of activity or to a particular group”, and finally, OAM is awarded for service “worthy of particular recognition”.

Of course, those community heroes who are awarded OAMs or, more rarely, AMs never complain they didn’t get an AO or an AC.  Like most Australians, many do not understand the distinction.  “I thought OAMs were higher because they have more letters,” says Sarah Brown, a Northern Territory remote area nurse awarded an AM in the recent Queen’s Birthday honours.  Stone’s council also denies ACs and AOs tend to be given to people simply for doing their jobs.  “The council generally looks for service of nominees over and above their paid employment, whether it be through direct volunteering, service more broadly to the growth of professional organisations, boards, research or educational roles, philanthropy or other endeavour,” a council spokesman says.

Those involved in the vetting process insist due diligence, including trawling recent social media posts, does occur.  However, they argue any dodgy baggage must be weighed against the person’s achievements.  Brown, the Northern Territory remote area nurse awarded an AM, worked tirelessly for 17 years to get dialysis machines and nurses to 18 remote communities.  She is an example of the grassroots battler who Kennerley, Gruen and others would like to see given the nation’s top award.  For her part, Brown is simply thrilled at any recognition and the profile and support it provides for her Purple House organisation, based in Alice Springs.

She urges Australians to force change through the nomination process. “Nominate people, if you make a bit of effort, you might see a change, because they’ll be flooded by grassroots people,” she says.  Nominations are on the rise, but so too is the proportion of nominees granted an award.  Figures show an almost doubling of awards since 2000, while the number of nominations has failed to keep pace with the largesse.  Since 2000, the number of nominations has risen from 1462 to 2149 but the number of awards issued has soared, from 847 in 2000 to 1547 in 2020.  The percentage of nominations given the green light has increased from 58 per cent in 2000 to 72 per cent this year.

Governor-General David Hurley, who announces the awards, has taken a keen interest in fostering their status.  He welcomes debate and appears open to an “evolution” of the awards to best reflect Australia’s changing society.  “I am determined, across my term in office, to ensure that the Order of Australia is, and is perceived to be by the Australian public, the highest form of recognition of the efforts and achievements of Australians,” General Hurley said.  “At the end of the day the Order of Australia belongs to and represents all Australians.  They must have confidence in it.  It must continue to evolve, as our society does, and reflect and recognise the best of Australia.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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ADVOCATES ARGUE QUEENSLAND CHILD SAFETY CASE LOADS EXCESSIVE

By Australian Newsletter

The Queensland Government has defended its approach to child protection, arguing child safety worker case-loads are at their “lowest” level in years but the scourge of ice addiction and family violence is making the job harder.  It comes after frontline child safety officers voiced their concern about a department plagued by high workloads, staff turnover and inadequate training.  The Government said the average case load for the state’s child safety officers had fallen and was “under 18”. Child Safety Minister Di Farmer was not available to speak, but former child safety minister Shannon Fentiman said the work had become more complex.

“My understanding is case loads are the lowest they have been in decades, but of course the work is getting harder,” she said.  “So many of the children coming into care have one or both parents who use ice, there is escalating domestic and family violence, there is drug and alcohol abuse.  “Our child safety officers do a tremendous job and we are working to get them the resources they need.”  Current frontline child safety officers took the rare step of speaking out about their ongoing concerns, saying they were overworked and lurching from crisis to crisis.  Together union child safety delegate Vishal Chandani said high workloads were leading to mistakes.

“If you don’t have the time that you need to reflect, engage in professional supervision and really think these complex problems through, you’re going to make mistakes,” he said.  “The really sad thing is, not only do we make mistakes because of the high workload, we then don’t get the necessary time to reflect and improve our practices because we’re going to the next fire.”  He said he could think of at least half a dozen cases in the past five years where serious mistakes had been made.  “I’m not talking children who have died, I’m talking times when significant abuse or neglect has occurred that could have been avoided if there were better systems and workloads were more manageable,” he said.

In a statement Ms Farmer said the Government had made an “unprecedented investment” in the sector, including hiring 500 extra frontline child safety staff since 2015.  “Our child safety system is facing increasing demand, up by 10 per cent on last year,” she said.  “The deputy coroner’s inquest into the death of Mason Lee acknowledged the significant improvements made by the Palaszczuk Government to child safety since the little boy’s 2016 death.”  Ms Farmer said the Premier had asked her to work with the Opposition in a “genuine bipartisan way to see where, together, we can improve Queensland’s child protection system”.

“I met with Opposition members almost three weeks ago and asked them to send details of their plans to ensure our child safety system is the best it can possibly be, but I am yet to hear from them,” she said.  Opposition child safety spokesman Stephen Bennett told ABC Radio Brisbane the department “must adopt a hierarchy and rank structure similar to the Queensland Police Service, to make sure that oversight and accountability become part of everyday expectations”.  Child safety officers have told the ABC they could do a better job if they handled no more than 15 cases at a time.  Mr Bennett said he was committed to changing caseloads and processes within the department, but would not promise a cap on case loads.

“Let’s agree that an arbitrary number is aspirational but I don’t know that it should be arbitrary either because who knows what will happen in certain regional centres,” he said.  “I think we all need to agree that a 15, a 12 or whatever this needs to be, I’m a bit worried about putting arbitrary numbers on things, but again it’s way too much at the moment.  “Whatever we’re doing is not working.”  The executive director of child-protection body PeakCare Queensland, Lindsay Wegener, said there had been “incremental improvements” in the state’s child-protection system, but a more fundamental shift was required.  “We need to be attending to the workers and their concerns.  It’s a very, very difficult field,” he said.

Dr Cathy Kezelman from the Blue Knot Foundation centre for complex trauma said child safety workers were prone to burnout, which contributed to staff turnover and chaos within the system.  “Until the system invests adequately in the health and safety of its staff, introducing training and protocols reflect the nature and challenges of the work, very little will change for children at risk and the system as a whole,” she said.  Queensland’s Child Safety Department said about 10 per cent of the child and family services budget was allocated to early-intervention programs. Mr Wegener said it was a dilemma facing every government in the country.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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TRANSGENDERISM RISKS ALIENATING FEMALE ATHLETES

By Australian Newsletter

Australia’s peak sport agency has been rebuked for being evasive, dismissive and insulting to women after it failed to answer basic questions about the effect of transgender players on female sport.  Sport Australia’s acting chief executive Rob Dalton said in a parliamentary hearing he “didn’t have an opinion” when asked if allowing biological males in female sport would put off young girls.  The government agency refuses to say who was consulted over a contentious pro-trans guideline which urges more than 16,000 sporting clubs covering nine million players to re-organise on the basis of self-identified “gender identity”, and not biological sex.

The guideline stresses the risk of legal actions that can lead to uncapped compensation damages under federal anti-discrimination law, warns that reliance on its advice will not protect clubs from a successful complaint, and urges them to get their own legal advice.  In a letter to Mr. Dalton, Liberal Senator Claire Chandler said the trans issue had “major implications for women and girls and their engagement in sport” and the agency’s stone-walling of her questions in a Senate estimates hearing was “evasive, dismissive and insulting”.  Sport Minister Richard Colbeck has put distance between the government and the guidelines, saying he knew nothing about them until he took over the portfolio in May 2019 stressing they “were not launched by the government”.

“While generally the government wants to see all Australians have the opportunity to participate in sport, it is important that the integrity of women’s sport is maintained,” he said.  Senator Colbeck also contradicted the Sport Australia line that the term “women’s sport” had passed its use-by date now that society supposedly recognised more than two genders.  “Minister Colbeck does not agree that the term ‘women’s sport’ should no longer be used,” his spokesman said.  In her letter Senator Chandler said Sport Australia and the Australian Human Rights Commission, which ran the consultation, had “refused on multiple occasions” to say which outside organisations were allowed to influence the document.

The commission led the drafting of the guideline with a “review panel” of unidentified third parties.  The guidelines cost at least $20,000 in direct public funding.  Athlete Tamsyn Lewis, who represented Australia at three Olympic games, said she understood “the importance of inclusion” but the issues had to be openly discussed so that careful decisions could bring about a fair outcome.  “The category of female sport has been around for so long, and it’s been there for a reason,” she said.  Few women in sport will go public on this issue.  Sceptics of self-identified trans risk being attacked as “transphobic” at a time of “cancel culture”.

“When you look at the online abuse that JK Rowling has received recently over biological sex and trans, you can understand why female athletes might feel hesitant to speak out on this,” Senator Chandler said.  She said trans inclusion had to be approached in a way that protected the interests of female players, and the government’s top sport officials should “go back and have another go”.  The human rights commission said its consultation for the trans guideline was “targeted, respectful and confidential”, and more than 100 bodies had input, including a single unnamed women’s group involved in “sport advocacy”. Women Sport Australia, which bills itself as “the peak national advocacy body for women in sport”, refused to say if it was involved.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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ECONOMIC IMPACT OF CORONAVIRUS MAY LAST FOR YEARS

By Australian Newsletter

Reserve Bank (RBA) governor Philip Lowe has warned post-pandemic Australians will be more risk averse and less willing to spend, borrow and invest, and “unless we change something we are going to be in a world of lower economic growth”.  Speaking at an Australian National University (ANU) Crawford School event, Dr Lowe again flagged an urgent need for reform to improve the country’s productivity, and said he had been “encouraged” by the Morrison government’s talk of reform to industrial relations, boosted infrastructure spending and a greater focus on deregulation.  “We can borrow to build a bridge but without reforms we will meander along with mediocre growth and we can’t borrow our way out of that,” Dr Lowe said.

The “shadow” cast over the economy from the pandemic “will last perhaps for years”.  “We can move out of that shadow slowly or quickly,” Dr Lowe said, and the reinvigoration of the economy will depend on the pace of technological advancement in the wake of the crisis, and how well we can implement policy reform.  Dr Lowe said that during the coronavirus crisis it had been “entirely appropriate” to “throw “everything” at building a bridge to the other side of the severe economic downturn.  Despite surging government debt levels, the RBA boss said it was the “right thing to borrow now to build a bridge and it’s the right thing to borrow to make investments in our future”.

Dr. Lowe also said he would like the Australian dollar to be weaker but that it was “really hard to argue it is overvalued”.  Dr. Lowe has pushed the cash rate down to 0.25 per cent and signaled he is not prepared to cut again.  The RBA in March also implemented its own version of a bond-buying program.  But what Dr. Lowe called an “extraordinary intervention in capital markets” in the US by the Federal Reserve, the US Fed has announced it would begin buying corporate bonds, has led to a weakening greenback and a stronger Aussie currency.  “If all central banks ease and we don’t, we would expect the dollar to appreciate,” Dr. Lowe said.  “At some point that could become a problem, but I don’t think we’re at that point yet.”

He flagged he was open to rethinking the central bank’s monetary policy framework of inflation targeting in the coming years, but said irrespective of any potential changes, rates would stay low for the foreseeable future.  Dr. Lowe has previously said that monetary policy has passed the baton to fiscal measures to drive the post-COVID recovery and manage the business cycle.  Nonetheless, the central bank chief said “I don‘t think it’s the right time to change the monetary policy framework”.  “As things develop over next few years, it might be worth looking at it again but it was “not clear there is a better framework than the one we have.”  Whatever monetary policy framework the country may or may not adopt, rates will remain “at current levels for years”.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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INDIGENOUS APPROACH TO POLICING MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN REMOTE WA

By Australian Newsletter

Policing in remote indigenous communities has a troubled history, but one police station is doing things differently.  Warakurna is the only police station entirely run by indigenous officers, and it features in the new documentary Our Law.  Screening as part of the Sydney Film Festival, it shows the difference that a respectful approach to policing can make, following two indigenous Noongar police officers who are working hard to earn the trust and respect of the local community.  Producer Taryne Laffar said, “Going into Indigenous communities with an understanding that there is a language, and there is a culture that exists in different parts of the country, helps create mutual respect and understanding between both sides of law and culture.”

Warakurna’s police are the first to use approaches such as learning the local indigenous language, and finding out how Australian law intersects with Aboriginal lore and traditions.  The work being done at Warakurna is ground-breaking.  The two police officers, Senior Sergeant Revis Ryder and Sergeant Wendy Kelly, have spent years building trust with the community.  Taryne said when law enforcement authorities work to form relationships with people, and not just ‘catch criminals’, “it allows the opportunity to connect more easily with the majority of people in those places.  And that in effect will help you do your job properly.”

The release of Our Law has also unintentionally come at the same time as global conversations about racism and the Black Lives Matter movement in the USA, which Taryne hopes will allow it to start conversations about local attitudes toward race.  “There’s definitely some media around deaths in custody being brought to light in the mainstream,” said Taryne.  “The timing is traumatic, and terrible, and the fact that these conversations are happening because of the death of someone is not something you’d ever want.  But we’re grateful to be able to share in a different way of doing business, and to show people that there are solutions to bridging the gap.”

The Our Law documentary also comes not long after the recent apology issued to Indigenous people by West Australia’s Police Commissioner Chris Dawson, on behalf of the WA Police Force, acknowledging the mistakes and abuse committed by law enforcement in the past, that have contributed to the traumatic history of indigenous communities in remote Australian.

Source: Hope 103.2

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SOUTH AUSTRALIAN LEADERS NOT SWAYED BY PRO-ABORTIONISTS

By Australian Newsletter

In response to many letters requesting the Government not use the Covid 19 emergency to change abortion laws, South Australia’s Chief Public Health Officer wrote: “The current legislation on abortion was not specifically changed by the Covid-19 Emergency Response Act.  Accordingly, the legislation governing pregnancy terminations remains as agreed by Parliament prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The decision to not change the legislation on abortion was influenced by the fact that there was no evidence that this health service had been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”  This is clear evidence that the authorities considered, but decided against, changing the SA abortion laws under the Covid-19 Emergency Powers.  They are to be commended for this.

It is also a great encouragement for the hundreds who wrote asking that the emergency powers to change the SA emergency laws be not used.  There is no doubt that this response was influential in the decision to not change the laws.  There is also no doubt that the many prayers that were offered were answered.  It remains true that the effective fervent prayers of the righteous have much effect (James 5:16).  But the abortion proliferators are not done.  Last week a new “Coalition” was again calling for loosening of medical abortion laws under the pretext of the Covid-19 including the removal of the need for ultrasounds to assess the stage of the pregnancy.  Let us pray that the coming abortion-to-birth bill will be defeated!

Source: Australian Christian Lobby

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AUTISTIC KIDS DRASTICALLY OVER-REPRESENTED IN TRANSGENDER STATISTICS

By Australian Newsletter

Professor Tony Attwood, a Brisbane psychologist, has called for a “searching inquiry into the dramatic overrepresentation of teenagers with autism in gender clinics.”  Attwood is the author of a guide known globally as the “Asperger’s bible”.  He is concerned about the dramatic rise in the number of autistic children seeking to transition.  He said it is time to move beyond politics and assess the psychological outcomes.  “Once they’ve changed gender, they still have autism and when (gender) transition doesn’t solve their problems they think, oh no, that was the only option I had, what’s the point of life?” he said.  “One of the characteristics of autism is what we call a single-focused mind, and sometimes the issue of gender dysphoria (discomfort with one’s body) and changing gender becomes a special interest with a phenomenal knowledge and determination.”

The figures are staggering when it comes to the high number of children with autism seeking to transition.  In the country’s busiest youth gender clinic, at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, 45% of 383 patients, 275 of them born female with an average age just under 14, showed mild to severe autism features on a screening test.  Just under 50% of a group of 104 patients at the Perth Children’s Hospital gender clinic, with an average age of almost 15, and 76% of them born girls, showed mild to severe autism features.  Australia’s other large specialist clinic, at the Queensland Children’s Hospital, would not comment on the autism issue, and told a member of the public last year it kept no data on how many biological girls given puberty blocker drugs were autistic.

Radical gender activists continue to push their agenda without regard for evidence-based studies or the science beyond someone’s feelings.  They use intimidation tactics to discourage opposition or critical analysis. Multiple autism clinicians and advocacy groups refused to talk on the record about autism in gender clinics for fear of being branded “transphobic” and hauled before professional bodies and health regulators.  Binary spokeswoman, Kirralie Smith, said Attwood’s claims are very disturbing.  “Autism is clearly not resolved with surgery or potentially harmful medications.  Political ideology must be put aside for the sake of these vulnerable young people.  Vigorous research and thorough studies must be undertaken before these clinics can be permitted to proceed with these radical transgender treatments.”

Source: Binary

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QUEENSLAND LNP TO REVIEW STATE’S ABORTION LAWS IF ELECTED

By Australian Newsletter

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has welcomed the Queensland LNP (Liberal/National Party) announcement that, if elected, they will review the state’s recently changed abortion laws.  A LNP spokesperson flagged that provisions on abortion coercion, gestational limits and counselling requirements were the main targets for a review.  “The ACL applauds the LNP for taking a strong stance to support women and unborn children,” ACL Queensland director Wendy Francis said.  “Women are the second victim of the current heartless abortion laws.  Women have no protection when they are under coercion to abort their child.

“Vulnerable women need maximum support and information given to them when they are faced with an unexpected pregnancy.  Railroading them on a one-way fast-track to abortion is not pro-choice, nor does it respect the long-term impact of that choice.  Women and indeed all Queensland voters have a clear choice at the October election, with Labor’s controversial architect of the scheme, Jackie Trad, vowing to oppose any rollback of the radical new abortion laws.”

Source: Australian Christian Lobby

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VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES A SECOND LEGAL INJECTING ROOM

By Australian Newsletter

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) says all Victorians should be alarmed by the Andrews government launching a second legal injecting room near Victoria Market.  “The Andrews government broke a pre-election promise by establishing the North Richmond injecting room, and it has been an abject failure of public policy,” ACL Victoria spokesperson Jasmine Yuen said, “Just as ACL previously warned, drugs have become more prevalent near the injecting room, creating a hotspot for drug dealers.  Little wonder there is public outcry and resident protests.  Yet the Premier continues to foist these social experiments on Melburnians for political purposes.  Victorians are entitled to ask, what’s stopping more injecting rooms across the state?”

“The ACL calls upon the Andrews government to abandon this proposal and close the failed North Richmond injecting room experiment.  The government should instead send the clear message that illicit drugs are never safe, make drug rehabilitation mandatory for addicts and strongly police street selling.”

Source: Australian Christian Lobby

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ANYONE CAN BE A WOMAN ACCORDING TO AUSTRALIA’S TOP SCIENCE BODY

By Australian Newsletter

The Australian Academy of Science, whose president John Shine is seizing on COVID-19 to campaign for accurate science against “made-up stuff”, has quietly adopted a definition of a woman as “anyone who identifies as a woman”.  The academy’s formula includes transgender people whose “personal gender identity does not correspond with sex assigned at birth” and who remain biological males.  Earlier this month, the academy joined a host of expert bodies in warning Science Minister Karen Andrews that the domestic and childcare burden of dealing with COVID-19 could undo “hard-won gains” made by women in science, technology, engineering and maths.

The expert advice points out women are already underrepresented in these fields and touts the academy’s 10-year “Women in STEM” plan to achieve “gender equity” by inspiring girls to study these disciplines.  A glossary at the end of the taxpayer-funded report redefines what it means to be a girl or woman.  Evolutionary biologist Madeleine Beekman, a professor at the University of Sydney, said she doubted her female colleagues would be aware of this redefinition.  “I find it surprising that it comes from the academy of science, which should be based on science and not on some social, political agenda so, I’m shocked,” she said.  “If you’re going to change the definition of a woman to something that’s no longer based on a biological fact, what are you doing?”

A spokesman for the academy said the definition was in line with the federal Sex Discrimination Act and treaties signed by Australia that “promote equality between women and men”.  Chief Scientist Alan Finkel backed the academy, saying he supported “an inclusive culture within science”.  Ms Andrews, who trained as an engineer, would not be drawn on whether she agreed with the definition, but said the economy needed “the biggest talent pool possible to help solve challenges and capitalise on opportunities”.  Professor Beekman said the academy’s redefinition undermined attempts to understand the role of biology in the career obstacles faced by women, such as child-bearing, default caring, and men wanting to pursue careers involving extreme competition.

“Unless we understand the underrepresentation of women, we can’t do anything about it.” Beekman said.  She said the position taken by the academy was “potentially damaging” to confidence in science, and an unacceptable risk when scientific inquiry was under attack.  She said there was growing realisation that biological sex was a key variable in health and medical treatment, as shown by the higher male mortality rate from COVID-19.  “What this definition of a woman is saying is, biology doesn’t matter, you can be whatever you choose.  “I’m teaching 3rd year evolutionary biology and animal behaviour, and I always make this point, why would you assume that selective pressures that have led to differences in males and females in other organisms don’t apply to us?

Professor Shine, a molecular biologist who ran Sydney’s Garvan medical research institute, is in the middle of a public education campaign, pointing out that challenges such as COVID-19 and climate change cannot be overcome without scientific understanding.  “The only way out for humanity is to apply science, to apply it in a sensible way, to make sure it’s facts, not just made-up stuff,” he says.  He says social media can be a problem because “it gives opportunity for various small groups with particular biases or agendas to cherry pick bits of information and pretend they’re talking real science”.  There are “33 gender identities”, according to the top result for a Google search.

Victorians are able to change their official birth sex once a year by paying $110.50 and filling in an online declaration.  Victorian Equality Minister Martin Foley argues that doing away with the requirement for sex-reassignment surgery allows transgender people to have “their true self” on birth certificates.  In 2013, federal human rights law was changed to allow people to make complaints of discrimination on the basis of their “gender identity”, regardless of their biological sex.  Labor’s then attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said at the time he was satisfied the definition of gender identity was “meaningful” but Christians and radical feminists warned it was subjective and would weaken the rights and protections enjoyed by women on the basis of their biological sex.

Political scientist Sheila Jeffreys, in arguing against Labor’s bill said “Persons who wish to express a gender identity not associated with their biological sex need to be accommodated in ways that protect them, but do not conflict with the rights of women.”  The change in the Sex Discrimination Act flowed through into federal public service guidelines, and “gender identity” has come to overshadow biological sex across many institutions from universities and schools to sporting organisations and big corporations.  Some women’s groups argue that the privacy and safety of women and girls in toilets, change rooms and dormitories are put at risk by the injection of a nebulous gender identity into laws and policies.  Trans activists reject this as scaremongering.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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ABORTION CLINIC PEDDLES FAKE NEWS

By Australian Newsletter

Describing people who pray outside abortion clinics as ‘picketers’ is fake news, said Peter Abetz, WA State Director of the Australian Christian Lobby.  He was responding to claims made by a spokeswoman from an abortion clinic.  “The police permit that allows the vigil requires participants to be 4 metres from the edge of the driveway that leads into the abortion clinic car park,” Mr Abetz said.  “Misrepresenting what the prayer vigil groups do is part of the abortion industry’s propaganda campaign to pressure the state government to introduce their unnecessary exclusion zone legislation.”  “In WA, vegan activists can demonstrate outside restaurants and intimidate diners and workers without a permit. Yet activists want to ban groups praying outside abortion clinics.

As to the claim that police had been called to the clinic, Mr Abetz said the most recent call to police from an abortion clinic that he was aware of, arose in dubious circumstances.  An abortion clinic staff member allegedly stopped their car in the driveway of the clinic, calling out to one of the participants and asked for an information pack.  The group makes these packs available to anyone on request.  A group member walked up to the staff member’s car and gave them the pack.  “The clinic then allegedly called police on the basis that the vigil participant had violated the 4-metre exclusion zone!  The Australian Christian Lobby opposes exclusion zones around clinics as there is no evidence for their necessity.

Source: Australian Christian Lobby

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JOURNALISTS AND MEDIA COULD FACE TRIALS OVER GEORGE PELL’S CONVICTION

By Australian Newsletter

Journalists and media organisations could face a number of trials over contempt charges for alleged reporting on Cardinal George Pell’s conviction, with the first trial tentatively scheduled for November.  Cardinal Pell was convicted by a jury in the Victorian County Court in December 2018 of child sexual abuse charges while the subject of a suppression order.  Cardinal Pell was acquitted by the High Court earlier this year.  The suppression orders were in place because of a pending second trial which did not proceed, allowing the outcome to be reported in February 2019.  But a number of media outlets allegedly published stories referring to the case by including information about the conviction of a high-profile Australian and referenced court orders.

Victoria’s Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Kerri Judd QC has charged 11 corporations and 19 individuals with contempt over the publications.  Charges have already been dropped against five individuals and one media outlet.  Barrister Matt Collins QC, who is representing all 30 accused it was likely multiple trials would be sought.  All would be heard by a judge alone.  Dr Collins said his clients were anxious for the case to be resolved.  If convicted, organisations face significant fines while individuals face up to five years in prison.  Dr Collins previously described the charges as “serious as it gets” said guilty findings could have a “chilling effect” on open justice.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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GOD’S OWN COUNTRY – AS VIEWED BY AN AMERICAN

By Australian Newsletter

Editor’s note: We thought we would give you something a little different this week.  It does us good sometimes to give thanks to God for what we are able to enjoy in our own land.  Do that as you read what one American sees compared to his own land.

David Mason is a Writer, a Professor, and a Poet Laureate from Colorado, USA.  He says “There’s a lot to admire about Australia, especially if you’re a visiting American.’  ‘More often than you might expect.  Australian friends patiently listening to me enthuse about their country have said: “We need outsiders like you to remind us what we have”.  So here it is, a small presumptuous list of what one foreigner admires in Oz.’

1. Health care.

I know the controver sies, but basic national health care is a gift.  In America , medical expenses are a leading cause of bankruptcy. The drug companies dominate politics and advertising.  You can’t turn on the telly without hours of drug advertisements, something I have never yet seen here.  And your emphasis on prevention, making cigarettes less accessible, for one, is a model.

2. Food.

Yes, we have great food in America too, especially in the big cities.  But your bread is less sweet, your lamb is cheaper, and your supermarket vegetables and fruits are fresher than ours.  Too often in my country, America , an apple is a ball of pulp as big as your face. The dainty Pink Lady apples of Oz are the juiciest I’ve had.  And don’t get me started on coffee.  In American small towns it tastes like water flavoured with burnt dirt, but the smallest shop in the smallest town in Oz can make a first-rate latte.  I love your ubiquitous bakeries, and your hot-cross buns.  Shall I go on?

3. Language.

How do you do it?  The rhyming slang and Aboriginal place names are like magic spells.  Words that seem vaguely English yet also resemble an argot from another planet.  I love the way institutional names get turned into diminutives, Vinnie’s and Salvos, and absolutely nothing’s sacred.  Everything is an opportunity for word games and everyone has a nickname.  Lingo makes the world go round.  It’s the spontaneous wit of the people that tickles me most.  Late one night at a barbie my new mate Suds remarked:  ”Nothing’s the same since 24-7.”  Amen to that.

4. Free-to-air TV.

In Oz, you buy a TV, plug it in and watch some of the best programming I’ve ever seen, uncensored.  In America , you can’t get diddly-squat without paying a cable or satellite company heavy fees.  In Oz a few channels make it hard to choose.  In America, you’ve got 400 channels and nothing to watch.

5. Small shops.

Outside the big cities in America corporations have nearly erased them.  Identical malls with identical restaurants serving inferior food.  Except for geography, it’s hard to tell one American town from another.  The ”take-away” culture here in Australia is wonderful.  The human encounters are real, people love to stir, and stories get told.  The curries here are to die for.  And you don’t have to tip!

6. Free camping.

We used to have this too, and I guess it’s still free when you backpack miles away from the roads.  But I love the fact that in Oz everyone owns the shoreline and in many places you can pull up a camper van and stare at the sea for weeks.  I love the ”primitive” and independent camp-grounds, the life out-of-doors.  The few idiots who leave their stubbies and rubbish behind in these pristine places ought to be transported in chains to the penal colonies.

7. Religion.

In America , it’s everywhere, especially where it’s not supposed to be, like politics.  I imagine you have your Pharisees too, making a big public show of devotion, but I have yet to meet one here.

8. Roads.

Peak hour aside, I’ve found travel on your roads pure heaven.  My country’s ”Freeways” are crowded, crumbling, insanely knotted with looping overpasses – it’s like racing homicidal maniacs on fraying spaghetti!  I’ve driven the Hume Highway without stress, and I love the Princes Highway when it’s two lanes.  Ninety minutes south of Bateman’s Bay I was sorry to see one billboard for a McDonald’s.  It’s blocking a lovely paddock view.  Someone should remove the MacDonald’s Billboard.

9. Real multiculturalism.

I know there are tensions, just like anywhere else, but I love the distinctiveness of your communities and the way you publicly acknowledge the Aboriginal past.  Recently, too, I spent quality time with the Melbourne Greeks, and was gratified both by their devotion to their own great language and culture, and their openness to an Afghan lunch.

10. Fewer guns.

You had Port Arthur in 1996 and got real in response.  America replicates such massacres several times a year and nothing changes.  Why?  Our religion of individual rights makes the good of the community an impossible dream.  Instead of mateship we have ”It’s mine and nobody else’s”.  We talk a great game about freedom, but too often live in fear.  There’s more to say, your kaleidoscopic birds, your perfumed bush in springtime, your vast beaches.

These are just a few of the blessings that make Australia a rarity.  Of course, it’s not paradise, nowhere is, but I love it here.  No need to wave flags like the Americans, and add to the world’s windiness.  Just value what you have here in Australia and don’t give it away!

Source: Compiled by APN from media article.

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MELBOURNE CAFE OWNER TARGETED FOR LOCKDOWN VIEWS

By Australian Newsletter

Editor’s note: There are far too many incidents these days where people who express a view that is not in line with the views of left wing activists are castigated and punished.  This loss of free speech in our nation should be a matter of continuous prayer, hence the publication of this story.

Melbourne cafe owner Matt Lanigan says the community response was initially positive after he gave several interviews to TV stations and local online publications calling for uniformity between Victoria’s COVID-19 lockdown laws and those in other states.  But after he recorded a social media video with Victorian Liberal frontbencher Tim Smith, his business was swamped with dozens of one-star online reviews, amid a campaign from the Australian branch of international left-wing activist group Sleeping Giants.  The attack on Mr Lanigan’s business comes as other Victorian cafe owners say they fear small and mid-sized hospitality businesses will be “destroyed” by the rule of having one person every 4sq m, which will continue to apply even after restrictions are lifted sufficiently to allow up to 100 people into larger venues.

When other states announced that cafes and restaurants would be able to serve eat-in meals to small numbers of customers, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews opted to keep hospitality takeaway-only until at least the end of May, saying businesses had told him it would not be viable to open for just 10 patrons.  Mr Lanigan said he had spoken out, because he believed businesses should have been able to make that decision themselves.  “We were disappointed the rest of the country was given an opportunity to decide if they could open viably and generate some more revenue, but we weren’t given that same opportunity,” he said.

Mr Andrews announced that Victorian cafes, restaurants and pubs would be able to serve meals to up to 20 customers from June 1, with up to 50 patrons from June 22 and 100 from the second half of July, subject to the 4sq m rule.  Mr Lanigan said “If we had been told, ‘you can’t do this but this is the plan’, then there wouldn’t have been any need for the lobbying that we did the week before” he said.  But by the time Mr Andrews made his announcement, a tweet from Sleeping Giants Oz accusing “Tim Smith’s great mate” Mr Lanigan of appearing in TV interviews to provide “all the right anti-Dan Andrews answers” was already doing the rounds online.

This resulted in a flurry of negative reviews that cut his cafe’s rating, earned organically through six years of positive customer reviews, from 4.7 stars to 4.3.  “Our brand’s stronger than these nuisances, but almost none of them are locals or have ever visited the cafe,” Mr Lanigan said.  “A lot of them have profiles which say they’re from Sydney.”  Mr Lanigan said he had been speaking as a business owner in the interests of struggling hospitality employees and employers.

Source: Compiled by APN from media article

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CHINESE FIRM IN LEGAL ROW OVER LIZARD ISLAND CORONAVIRUS SHUTDOWN

By Australian Newsletter

Editor’s note: We are aware of the recent attacks from the Chinese Communist Government against Australia in the area of trade, but this story also shows how Chinese companies are also on the attack against individual Australian businesses.  Our prayers should be directed towards turning these unreasonable attacks away, and protecting Australian businesses in the process.

A Hong Kong-based Chinese company is threatening to move on the operator of one of Australia’s most famous five-star resorts after it closed down to comply with COVID-19 restrictions.  The operator, Delaware North, is accused of breaking a $2m-a-year sublease to run the luxury getaway on north Queensland’s Lizard Island and faces punishing financial damages unless the resort is immediately reopened.  The demands are spelled out in a lawyer’s letter from the island’s primary leaseholder, Hong Kong’s SEA Holdings group, which insists the Great Barrier Reef retreat should have stayed open in defiance of the infection risk and travel bans.

This is an impossible request when Australia’s international borders are sealed, and Queensland has banned travellers from interstate.  As well, the northern section of Cape York Peninsula has been declared a biosecurity zone to protect the vulnerable indigenous population, making for few if any takers for the up to $5000-a-night rates that come with Lizard Island’s status as a playground for the rich and famous.  The Queensland government is examining the 1997 lease on the coral-ringed island 240km northeast of Cairns to rein in the company.  The international property conglomerate is controlled by Hong Kong-Chinese business identity Lu Wing-chi and son Lambert Lu.

The dispute with SEA Holdings erupted after the resort closed on March 29 with a notional reopening date in June.  Delaware North sought rent relief, in line with the mandatory code of conduct put in place by Scott Morrison to cover commercial leasing during the COVID-19 period.  The operator cited safety and environmental requirements in shuttering the Lizard Island facility, rebuilt after Cyclone Yasi razed the site in 2011, at a cost of $45m.  SEA Holdings’s lawyers pushed back, arguing there were no “lawful directives” requiring resorts or hotels to cease trading.  Disputing this, the operator said travel restrictions and other anti-COVID measures effectively cost Lizard Island its well-heeled customer base.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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DANIEL ANDREWS CLAMS UP ON FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ADVICE ON CHINA

By Australian Newsletter

Daniel Andrews’s Department of Premier and Cabinet has refused access to details of crucial national security advice it received before signing up to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).  Documents obtained by the Victorian opposition under Freedom of Information laws show emails were exchanged between the Andrews government and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade just months before the deal in October 2018.  The substantive content of the emails has been blacked out, with Mr Andrews’s department claiming its publication would “prejudice relations between Victoria and the commonwealth”.

Victoria is the only Australian jurisdiction to join the BRI by signing an MOU in 2018.  Canberra sees the scheme as a vehicle for Chinese regional and global expansion.  The four-page MOU said Victoria would work with China to promote infrastructure, trade and finance, while acknowledging the state was “welcoming and supportive” of the BRI and would promote “the Silk Road spirit”.  A Melbourne-based organisation, the Australia-China Belt & Road Initiative, persuaded Mr Andrews to ink the deal.  They hired former federal Liberal minister Andrew Robb and federal Labour minister Lindsay Tanner to help sell its message.  Its founder and CEO is former Chinese journalist Jean Dong.

Its website says: “This organisation will engage business leaders from China and Australia with a purpose of articulating the relevance of the Belt & Road strategy to Australian industries and identifying practical opportunities for expanded trade and investment.”  Before defying federal government security advice and signing up to the BRI, Mr Andrews spoke enthusiastically about closer business ties between China and Victoria, saying: “There’s an energy in Victoria-China relations that’s not been there in the past, there’s a real sense of the opportunities of this relationship, a complex, multilayered relationship, one based not just on transactions, but one about trust … a true partnership.

“It’s such a competitive market, so many parts of our region and world are vying for an increased share of Chinese investment and influence over Chinese policymaking.  Whether it be in construction, design or professional services, we have a unique perspective, a wealth of knowledge and a hoard of experience to lend.”  The Andrews government has continually refused to confirm whether proper security or risk assessments were undertaken ahead of the deal being struck.  In an email dated June 8, 2018, to DFAT’s China Economic and Trade Section, a senior adviser in Mr Andrews’s department states that a colleague has been in verbal contact “regarding a draft Belt and Road MOU”.

“Please find a marked-up version, which reflects our feedback,” they write.  “Look forward to hearing your thoughts.”  A DPC “East Asia and Latin America manager” followed up on June 12: “Thanks (redacted) for your help on this.  My executive director is keen to land this ASAP and is under some time pressure from further up.  Do you have a sense of when you might be able to come back to us with a view.  This is a high priority for Victoria.  Apologies for being so pushy.”  The Andrews government said all FOI requests were managed in accordance with relevant legislation.  “We don’t comment on security matters,” a spokeswoman said.

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PARENTS WANT VETO OF TRANS LESSONS IN SCHOOLS

By Australian Newsletter

A strong majority of voters polled across both major parties want parents to have a veto over classes teaching children they can change gender.  In the first national survey on so-called “gender fluidity” at school, 88% of Coalition supporters and 72% of Labor loyalists agreed parents should have the right to know what is being taught and be free to pull children out of class.  “Parents’ groups say they believe confusion in class about the unchanging reality of biological sex is part of the reason for the exponential global surge in often troubled teenagers, chiefly girls, declaring themselves transgender and seeking life-changing medical treatment in children’s hospital gender clinics.

Almost half of those who voted Greens (46%) backed parents’ rights over gender fluidity teaching.  Concern in the survey about teachers telling students they can change gender “based on how they feel” cut across age groups, reaching almost 80% among young people around the age of marriage, and was strongest in Western Australia and Queensland, and least pronounced in Victoria.  These three states have the biggest children’s hospital gender clinics and promote self-identified trans rights in school, although states outside Victoria shun the Safe Schools brand, which was damaged by media scrutiny in the run-up to the Turnbull government stripping it of federal funding.

Victoria’s education minister James Merlino pleaded “confidentiality” when asked how many children had been referred without parental approval to the Royal Children’s Hospital gender clinic’.  These visiting doctors have had gender training from the Royal Childrens Hospital (RCH) clinic.  “The same rules apply to doctors in schools as they do in the community, medical information is kept confidential and not disclosed to schools or the department,” a spokesman said.  The RCH clinic director Michelle Telfer promotes The Gender Fairy, a booklet by former teacher Jo Hirst, which tells young children: “Only you know whether you are a boy or a girl. No one can tell you”.

Safe Schools at the federal level has been defunded by the Coalition, however program materials are still endorsed by the federal education department which includes them on its Student Wellbeing website aimed at teachers, parents and students.  A spokesman for federal education minister Dan Tehan said the material had been given the all-clear as “educationally sound” after an independent review by former education academic Bill Louden.  Shadow minister Tanya Plibersek refused to answer any questions about gender fluidity teaching.  “After weeks of disruption to schooling, my focus is on getting kids up to speed on their reading, writing, and maths,” she said.

One brochure on the federal website encourages teachers to allow students to change gender without parents’ approval, saying, “The person who understands most about their gender transition is the student themselves”.  This is among Safe Schools material used to train WA public school teachers but rebadged with different graphics as “Inclusive Education WA” and delivered by the WA Aids Council with taxpayers’ funds.  It acknowledges Ms Ward as an author.  A spokeswoman for WA Education Minister Sue Ellery said: “Principals make local decisions regarding the materials used to deliver the school’s teaching program.  Parents are encouraged to discuss their child’s school program with their school”.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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OUR UNIVERSITIES IN TURMOIL

By Australian Newsletter

Editors comment: An article like this would not normally find a place in a newsletter put out by a prayer network. The COVID 19 crisis however has exposed many issues that has given Australia a unique opportunity to tackle problems within society that had been previously hidden. Many of these issues play a role in shaping the destiny of our nation and which therefore require much prayer. In coming weeks we will expand our coverage to expose some ingrained problems that have been brought into the light by the impact of the virus. We may not always agree with every sentiment expressed by the writers, but issues we cover we believe are in need of much prayer so that change can occur into the future.

These are tumultuous times for Australian universities.  At the University of Adelaide, the vice-chancellor has taken “indefinite leave” and the chancellor has resigned.  In unrelated moves, other Vice Chancellors (VCs) signalled their intent to move on even before the COVID-19 crisis hit.  Michael Spence is leaving the top job at the University of Sydney at the end of the year.  There are departures by other university leaders, including at the University of Queensland.  Is it foolish to hope for different, improved leadership at our major universities?  Certainly, if incoming VCs are smart, they will turn their attention to domestic students who have long been ignored in favour of cash cows in China.

To understand what prevents Australian students from obtaining an excellent university education, one needs to understand the entrenched problems at our biggest tertiary institutions.  This week I spoke to someone who knows first-hand how universities are run, what their motivations are and what has gone wrong in the past 15 years. This professor of media and communications, says Australia’s major universities are run essentially by the worst forms of authoritarianism and the pursuit of money.  Before unravelling that, first understand that this prominent professor says she would normally put her name to what she says. Except for one thing: “I would get sacked,” she says.

“My contract says that I cannot bring my university into disrepute so if I put my name to this, my job would be in jeopardy.  And I have a mortgage to pay.”  Put another way, these are escape clauses for poorly run universities to avoid scrutiny by people in the know.  The authoritarian fist was particularly evident in a tutorial room at the University of Technology Sydney for first-year communications students.  A few weeks ago, a young student, we will call him David, as he doesn’t want to get blackballed by university administrators, decided to quit his communications degree.

He sent a thoughtful and honest email to his lecturer explaining why.  He said he hoped the feedback would be used in a constructive way.  David wrote that he “found the course and tutor extremely prescriptive in opinion, presenting very niche ideological standpoints as absolute objective fact, and this was reinforced by a proactive effort to shut down any opposing point of view.  Anytime I suggested anything that went against the consensus, I was shut down and even laughed at.”  The young law student says he enrolled in communications expecting respectful, philosophical discussions about our political systems.  It didn’t turn out that way.

Going by David’s experience, tutorials should be renamed dictatorials about identity politics, victimhood and shame.  Instead of encouraging students to think, and discuss issues, the tutorial room in David’s communications degree became a place where his different views were mocked and ignored as “inherent ignorance from a white male”.  He said even putting aside the silly politics of the course, what are students going to do with guff about the world being a battleground where every smaller group is oppressed by a “dominant group”?  “Never did I expect to be alienated from class discussion because of my skin colour or my gender.

I cannot believe that in this day and age my identity was held paramount in deciding if I was correct, not what I had to say.  I wonder what the response would have been had I suggested a fellow student’s opinion was inherently invalid purely because she was female,” David wrote to his lecturer.  The lecturer wrote a cursory response, saying she was pleased that he was able to withdraw without incurring course costs. Monolithic thinking is dangerous, particularly at universities.  If tutorials cannot accommodate a genuine diversity of views, including those of David, then universities don’t deserve a dime from taxpayers.

Alas, it’s not just lecturers running dictatorials who are dumbing down a university education for Australian students.  As the professor of media and communications said, the greedy corporatist agenda of university administrators, relying on a gravy train of international students, mostly from mainland China, is also lowering standards at universities that crow about their rankings.  She says chasing fees from international students has been under way for 15 years, with foreign agents acting for our universities to arrange “huge parties and junkets” for potential overseas students and also the “doctoring” of English language tests.

The professor says she has seen hundreds of foreign students arrive with band 6 scores, meaning competent, on the standardised speech, reading and writing tests known as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).  She would give them no more than a band 3, which is “extremely limited” according to the International English Language Testing System.  These results have big ramifications for foreign students who are out of their depth, struggling in a foreign country away from families, without the skills to learn properly.  And the consequences for local students are equally poor.

“Masters and postgraduate students’ programs, which are the money-spinners to attract foreign students, have been dumbed down often to a point where the standards expected are below that of what we expect of undergraduate students,” she says.  While her heart goes out to struggling foreign students, she says students with insufficient English language skills mean “domestic students are frequently irritated, particularly with group assignments.  They are paying a lot of money for a postgraduate course and many definitely feel they are not challenged enough.”

These secrets about foreign cash cows and dumbed-down courses, previously whispered about among lecturers and students, deserve to be exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic as the tap of money from international students dries up.  “Without in anyway being xenophobic, reliance on international students is the wrong answer.  It’s an add-on, that’s all.  We should be really focusing on how we educate Australians, and thinking about what we need to build a strong economy and society,” says the professor.  Our best universities could start the post-COVID reform process by treating domestic students better.

One young man recently reapplied to enrol in a full-fee masters’ program at one of Australia’s grandest sandstone universities.  His marks were a tiny fraction away from the entry mark for the course.  Within minutes of sending a thoughtful and polite email seeking admission, explaining special circumstances that would have lifted his score over the threshold, he was effectively told to rack off.  Smart businesses wouldn’t be so brazenly rude and dismissive about new full-fee paying customers when they are running under capacity because of the economic lockdown.  Our small businesses are eagerly trying to attract customers in new ways, adapting wherever they can.

But our cashed-up major universities run by overpaid VCs have grown arrogant and complacent.  They would rather go cap in hand to the federal government pleading for more taxpayer money after they have raked in Chinese money to fund research papers to bump up their rankings to attract more foreign students.  All the while they have dumbed-down standards, leaving local students without a quality education.  It’s a disgrace.  Having worked in Australian universities for 20 years, at very senior levels, the professor says “the level of bureaucracy is insane, the systems are not serving the students.  It’s a plague on our house.”

Prayer points:

* Pray that our Universities would re-consider their current model which relies heavily on the enrolment of overseas students to fund them so as to open up more opportunities for Australian students to undertake tertiary education.

* Pray that our Universities will once again become places where many points of view are able to be discussed and not be limited by ideologies pushed or held by the academic elite.

* Pray that once again our Universities become the source of knowledge and academic enlightenment rather than the source of so much of the ideological pursuits that have invaded our society in recent years.

Source: An article written by Journalist Janet Albrechtsen

STOP THE MISUSE OF ANTI-DISCRIMINATION TRIBUNALS

By Australian Newsletter

New South Wales Upper House member Mark Latham has introduced an Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Complaint Handling) Bill 2020 into the NSW parliament.  The Bill is directed at preventing abuses of the discrimination complaints process by vexatious or serial litigants.  These can be litigants with an activist or personal agenda making numerous complaints on flimsy grounds against another to effectively punish that other person for expressing a point of view which they do not agree with or find offensive.  The Bill proposes needed reform of a system that is being misused.

Mr Latham states: “The risk therefore with the Anti-Discrimination Act is one of misuse.  We must ensure that anti-discrimination provisions are not abused, that activists do not use them as an instrument for personal financial gain or vengeance, or to try to silence those who simply hold views with which they disagree.  Such activism would not only be morally wrong but also represent a misallocation of scarce resources in the New South Wales legal system.  The freedom to make a complaint of discrimination is a privilege we enjoy in a democratic society with a rule of law and is meant to be used for redress for discrimination suffered not for punishing those you disagree with.”

Source: Australian Family Association

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PRAYING FOR OUR NATION DURING THE COVID 19 PANDEMIC

By Australian Newsletter

We invite all of our members to continue to pray for our people as the Corona 19 pandemic continues to impact our nation and the nations of the world. As the impact of the Covid 19 virus diminishes across our nation and the recovery begins, we have decided that this will be the final week of prayer points related to the virus and its impact upon the nation. We thank all our members for their prayers over recent weeks which we believe has resulted in our nation being saved from a much more severe outbreak.

Please pray:

* that all Australians will continue to respect the call of our Governments to engage in behaviour that will protect us all from the spread of this virus.

* that Godly wisdom will be given to our State Governments as to how and when to lift restrictions on the various segments of society in a timely manner that will keep the virus under control, but also allow as many people as possible to return to work and play.

* that as many people as possible will be able to be re-employed in the work force and that as many businesses as possible will be able to re-open and remain financially viable as the restrictions are lifted.

Source: Australian Prayer Network

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