Do we need this law?

So everyone is up in arms about the proposed legislation to expel gay students from school and their teachers … or is it to keep them in school? It’s all very confusing. Whatever is really going on the Morrison government has managed to look bad.

So. First things first. Let’s apportion blame. This is what James Paterson told Q&A on Monday:

I’ve been involved in the religious freedom debate quite actively. And in all that time, no-one has ever come to me and said, “Can you please make it easier to kick gay kids out of school?” Not once. And if they had, they would have been laughed out of my office and laughed out of the office of any of my colleagues. The truth is, though, there is a federal law and some state laws, including one that was passed in 2013 by Mark Dreyfus as Attorney-General under the Gillard government, that did allow schools to expel students based on their sexuality. I think that law is wrong and I think the Australian population overwhelmingly agrees with that sentiment. That’s why this week – or this sitting fortnight, I should say – the government is going to move with the opposition to get rid of that. 

So this is a legislative repair job from the Gillard government. To be fair – I don’t think the Gillard government intended for gay students to be expelled from school. This is a genuine stuff up that will be fixed up in the next couple of weeks.

So far, so good.

But there remains a second issue – teachers. Should religious schools be able to sack LBGTI teachers?

Back to the tape – James Paterson again:

But I think it is important that schools are able to hire teachers who share the values of the school and want to teach that to students. Just as it’s important, for example, that an LGBTI organisation should have the right to hire staff who align with its values, and I don’t believe we should force them to hire, for example, a conservative Christian who opposes same-sex marriage. That would undermine the ethos of that organisation. I don’t want to see it happen for them, or for Christian schools, or, for that matter, Jewish or Islamic schools.

Here is Jacinta Collins:

We would also like to see in legislation a recognition that religious schools are entitled to require employees to act in their roles in a way that upholds the ethos and values of that faith; and this requirement can be taken into account when a person is first employed and in the course of their employment.

But I’m not convinced.

Do we really need another law? Surely professionals know that slagging off their employer’s ethos and values can and should get them sacked? Isn’t this sort of thing already covered by employment law? Could you imagine a vegan employed at the meat counter telling everyone not to buy the product because meat is murder keeping their job? If all they wanted was that religious schools could insist that the religion teacher teaches to a specific syllabus then I can understand (this might be covered already too) but surely nobody cares what the maths teacher does as long as they are good at teaching maths. Or whatever subject they teach.

Posted in Education | 7 Comments


From the New York Times: What Is NPC, the Pro-Trump Internet’s New Favorite Insult? Excerpts:

NPC means “nonplayable character” or “nonplayer character.” It’s a term, borrowed from the world of video games, for a character that is controlled by the computer rather than by a player. An NPC often advances the game’s plot by saying scripted lines, or assisting the playable characters in some way….

It’s a long story, but the short version is that a group of young, extremely pro-Trump internet trolls have spent the past several years mocking anti-Trump people as whiny, easily triggered snowflakes who are primarily motivated by social acceptance rather than by logic and critical thinking….

Late last week, a group of users on r/the_donald, Reddit’s largest pro-Trump forum, decided to take the NPC meme to a wider audience. They created dozens of Twitter accounts using fictional NPC personalities, the NPC Wojak avatar and bios like “fighting against Nazi Racist Drumpf Fascist Cheetofinger.” They used these accounts to follow and tweet at one another, as well as at liberals, creating the semblance of an army of resisters mindlessly repeating anti-Trump talking points….

The campaign began as a joke. But a few of the accounts started posting misleading information about the midterm elections, including encouraging liberals to vote on Nov. 7. (Election Day is Nov. 6.)

Evidence suggests that these are mostly just attention-starved gamers looking to impress one another by “triggering the libs” with edgy memes. But not everyone gets the joke. State officials are already worried that voters will be fooled by deliberate social media campaigns that contain incorrect voting information. Similar types of disinformation spread on social media in 2016, which makes companies like Twitter nervous….

Twitter has therefore barred hundreds of right-wing accounts for posing as soulless, “nonplayable” liberal activists.

Apparently there were 1500 of them.

And now this video explains it even more clearly:

Posted in American politics, Media | 38 Comments

That has got to hurt

So Professor Jeffrey Sachs was on Q&A this week. Beating his own drum:

No, I’m sorry, with respect, what I have helped to lead has been a massive decline of poverty on the same side as you, helping to get markets to work, helping to get trade to work, helping to get people to work…

…but also helping to stop diseases and helping to get children in school. And if you do any professional work on actual budgeting, then I would tell you what you’re saying is a glib slogan…

…not a reality about what development aid is about. And please, Australia, please do your part. You’re a rich, wonderful, beautiful country that can afford to do more. And poor desperate children need it so that they can grow up to be healthy and be productive in our world. And, Australia, really, we count on you for that.


Unfortunately for Professor Sachs he was debating Senator James Paterson:

JAMES PATERSON: Jeffrey, you should know from your own experience about what some of the limitations of foreign aid are. In fact, a UK government review of your recent Millennial Villages Project in Ghana showed that after five years and the expenditure of £11 million of UK taxpayers’ money, that virtually no progress was made on poverty and hunger.

JEFFREY SACHS: You read the Daily Mail!

JAMES PATERSON: No, I read the report. I read the report.


JAMES PATERSON: I read the report. It’s printed out on my desk…

JEFFREY SACHS: Frankly, I read the report also, and it said that multi-dimensional poverty was cut sharply and that incomes went up, so you read a different report.

The report can be found here. Let’s go to the tape:

The MVP did not have an impact on the indicators of  eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, with the exception of reducing poverty measured using household income data and adjusted by purchasing power parity. The project did not reduce poverty whether measured by the national poverty line or the national food poverty line. There is no impact on the percentage of undernourished children.

The MVP increased primary school attendance by 7.7%, however completion rates did not improve.

There was no impact on the percentage of women engaged in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector.

The MVP did not have a positive impact on any of the indicators for this goal [To reduce child mortality], which are child and infant mortality rates and the rate of measles immunization.

But apart from all that, I’m sure the project was a glorious success.

Posted in Economics and economy, Shut it down. Fire them all. | 71 Comments

Wednesday Forum: October 17, 2018

Posted in Open Forum | 1,482 Comments

What the people need to know about emissions and unreliable energy

The climate wars go on but they do not engage the median voter who has work to do, family responsibilities and the usual range of social and sporting interests.

The median voter just needs to know two things.

1. We could cut our emissions to zip without making a scrap of difference to the weather.
2. Increasing the capacity of Wind & Other will inevitably increase the cost of power and reduce the reliability of supply.

There is no need to convince 100% of the electorate or even 51%. There is no need to convert or convince people who are rusted onto one side or the other of the debate or people who are rusted onto their political preference.

To avert the risk of a CFMEU/Green government we just need to convert 3% of the people who are likely to carelessly vote Green or ALP (not rusted on) but are not fully aware of the two key things.

Some people and groups are especially vulnerable to rising power costs – all the big and small operators who run ovens and freezers, low wage earners, pensioners and the self-funded retirees.

What is to be done to get to these people with a simple and clear message, leaving aside the froth and bubble about the science of warming and saving the planet?

People who are not well informed and can be kept interested for more than three minutes may be interested to learn a few more things in addition to the big two points. Like the way the big CO2 producers have a licence to do what they like for years to come (incidentally burning our coal), there are hundreds of coal-fired power stations in the pipeline worldwide and virtually no nations have got near their Paris promises.

Wind and Other doing 5.5% of demand at 8.30 in NSW. The Data Dashboard appears to be on Queensland time.

Posted in Global warming and climate change policy, Rafe | 51 Comments

PDT’s 60 Minutes Interview

Apparently now deleted by CBS but here it is all the same.

The Interviewer thought she had his number, that she would take him apart. But she is dealing with the absolutely best, most articulate president possibly in history. A masterclass, as is every public presentation he gives.

And more than anything else, he demonstrates that the American media is almost entirely corrupt. “Angry, bitter and partisan” is almost perfect as a descriptor of the media people he has to deal with.

UPDATE: Transcript and some parts of the video if you cannot get sufficient volume on the link above. Sorry about that.

Posted in American politics, Media | 35 Comments

Who said subsidies to renewable energy are finished?

How can it possibly be justified for the Australian taxpayer to hand over money to an effective business to rope businesses into renewable energy contracts?

As we are told on a daily basis, renewable energy  is now the cheapest for of energy so no subsidies of any kind are needed.

Of course, the rent-seekers don’t really mean this and have their hands out at every possible opportunity.

Here is yet another example … SIGH.

It is a real tragedy that ARENA and assorted other renewable energy subsidy generating outfits – think CEFC – were not shut down when the Abbott government was elected.  Thanks, Clive … for nothing.


Australia’s first Business Renewables Centre to help Australian businesses to switch to renewables

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has today announced it will help build Australia’s first Business Renewables Centre to encourage Australian businesses to make the switch to renewable energy.

On behalf of the Australian Government, ARENA will provide $500,000 in funding to Climate-KIC Australia, WWF-Australia and UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures for the project.

The New South Wales and Victorian Governments have each provided $150,000 in funding to the Project.

The Business Renewables Centre Australia will be a resource centre and an online marketplace platform designed to accelerate the purchase of renewable energy by Australian business.

The $1.74 million project aims to make it easier for Australian corporates and local councils to purchase or procure renewable energy through corporate Power Purchase Agreements. The initiative will establish an online resource centre and a marketplace platform, and will be supported by face to face events for its industry members.

The goal is to help Australian businesses and local governments procure 1GW of installed renewable energy by 2022 and 5GW by 2030.

The Centre draws on the proven model of the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Business Renewables Centre in the USA, to provide members with information, a network of energy buyers and project developers, inexpensive training and advice on power purchase agreement requirements.
Last year, ARENA previously released a report on the Business of Renewables which outlined how Australia’s biggest businesses were falling behind their global peers in transitioning to renewable energy.

The report also found that Australian consumers support businesses making the switch, with more than three quarters of Australian consumers surveyed saying they would buy a product or service powered by renewables over one that wasn’t.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the Business Renewables Centre Australia would have a wealth of knowledge to draw upon.

“The future for energy  is a large number of smaller renewable generating facilities often developed by non-generating entities. The Business Renewables Centre will help in that transition in using its vast expertise in running programs, entrepreneurship, innovation, education and other sustainability objectives to make it easier for companies and councils to enter into the renewables market,” he said.

WWF Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman said that the Business Renewables Centre Australia will build on the success of WWF’s Renewable Energy Buyers Forum, which now comprises over 230 members organisations, as well as the growth in corporate renewable Power Purchase Agreements in the last 12 months.

“The future of renewables in Australia looks positive because it makes sound business sense. Contracting for long-term renewable energy will save customers money and will support growth in renewable energy infrastructure across Australia,” he said.

Climate-KIC Australia CEO Christopher Lee said that the BRC would drive capacity building in the industry.

“We are excited to be collaborating with industry players from small and large scale renewable energy developers, service providers and corporate buyers to build capability across the industry and lower the cost of transactions. Our partners bring a broad breadth of experience and look forward to driving the uptake of renewables,” he said.

Professor Stuart White, Director of the UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures said: “There’s a lot of interest in renewable energy PPAs, but they’re new to Australia and the key decision-makers often lack the information they need. We will be applying a model that’s been successful in the US to give companies the tools and resources they need to make the shift to renewable energy.”

Posted in Uncategorized | 20 Comments

From the Global Warming Policy Forum

Good news from the Global Warming Policy Forum, subsidies axed for electric cars in Britain, fracking approved and other items around the world.

And a big win with Will Happer appointed as the key science advisor to Donald Trump.

Posted in Global warming and climate change policy, Rafe | 4 Comments

David Leyonhjelm. Politicians with trustworthy eyes

In Leonard Cohen’s song Chelsea Hotel, there is a line that goes:

She told me again she preferred handsome men, but for me she would make an exception.

The song is about Janis Joplin, who had a brief encounter with Cohen in the hotel. What the line shows is that Joplin tended to discriminate against men she didn’t consider handsome.

Discrimination is a part of life. Indeed, I don’t believe I’ve ever met anyone who doesn’t discriminate in one way or another. When it comes to choosing a partner, whether for life or a brief encounter, discrimination is rampant.

It is also found in politics. My mother once told me she voted for a particular party because she thought the eyes of the leader of the other side were too close together. She would have agreed with Janis Joplin.

As a senator, my concern is whether this should matter to governments. Should we be left alone to discriminate as we like, or should certain types of discrimination be prohibited? If we are to prohibit certain types of discrimination, is there a rational basis for deciding what they are, and how might we prevent such prohibition becoming an unwarranted intrusion into our lives?

There is no doubt that some forms of discrimination are abhorrent. Many years ago I spent several months living and working in South Africa. It was during the apartheid era, when blacks, whites and ‘coloureds’ were supposedly living separate parallel lives. There were separate buses and bus stops, public toilets, post office entrances and residential zones, all determined by race.
Such discrimination is now prohibited, and overt manifestations of apartheid are long gone. Nonetheless, there are still predominantly black, white and coloured residential areas in today’s South Africa; people still like to live among those with whom they feel most comfortable. In other words, they discriminate.

Apartheid was a government policy, imposed by force of law. Choosing to continue living in particular areas is not. The difference is very significant.

In Australia it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin, age, disability, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, intersex status, transgender status, carer responsibilities, marital or relationship status, pregnancy, breastfeeding, family responsibilities, religion, political opinion, social origin, medical record, criminal record and trade union activity.

Such prohibitions apply to employment, education, access to premises, provision of goods, services or facilities, accommodation, clubs, sport and requests for information.

Depending on how she defined handsome, a woman with Joplin’s taste in men might only be unaffected if she didn’t charge for her favours.

The laws apply to both government and non-government activities. And yet, discrimination by the government is not the same as discrimination by the private sector. When the government favours certain types of people more than others, it is contrary to the principle of equality before the law. This is not something we should welcome – we do not want a country in which some people are more equal than others.

Preventing certain types of discrimination when the government is not involved is a different matter. Many restrictions are based on nothing more than disapproval, and designed to do no more than avoid hurt feelings. This is no more legitimate than laws that restrict speech that might insult or offend. Governments are there to protect our life, liberty and property, not our feelings.

What difference would it make if we abolished all discrimination laws that apply outside of government? Would there be a rush of organisations refusing to serve or employ people based on their gender, sexual preference, race or religion?

Suppose some did take that approach; for how long would they stay in business? Wouldn’t the rest of us find it obnoxious and stay away? Wouldn’t other businesses step in?

The assumption behind anti-discrimination laws is that they change the way we think; that if discriminating against people based on their gender, race or sexual preference is illegal, we will not secretly want to do it.

There is no evidence for this, just as there is no evidence that prohibitions on offensive speech lead to changed attitudes. If Joplin had been prohibited from discriminating in favour of handsome men, would she have chosen differently?

We all discriminate when we make choices, in how we conduct ourselves and the company we keep. It’s part of life, and not something the government should be concerned with.

David Leyonhjelm is a senator for the Liberal Democrats

Posted in Guest Post | 25 Comments

Datagate at the Hadley Centre

Evasion and obfuscation over climate data at the Hadley Centre.

Finally the Hadley Met Centre team have replied to Graham Lloyd regarding John McLean’s audit. Without specifically admitting he has found serious errors, they acknowledge his previous notifications were useful in 2016, and promise “errors will be fixed in the next update.” That’s nice to know, but begs the question of why a PhD student working from home can find mistakes that the £226 million institute with 2,100 employees could not. Significantly, they do not disagree with any of his claims.

Posted in Global warming and climate change policy, Rafe | 56 Comments