24 Jun 2017

One Nation is very, very different. Oh yes!

By Tim Ferguson


Senator Pauline Hanson has demanded kids with disabilities be separated from other children.
“Kids on the spectrum will be moved off it,” she explained to a gang of One Nation voters.
“The spectrum will be changed to a rainbow, but without all the distracting colours.”
The voters cheered, revved their Harleys, and shot a roadsign.
Senator Hanson declared One Nation senators will be separated from others.
They will work in a “Special Parliament” where they won’t distract other senators. She named her policy “Divided Nation”.
One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts claimed, “There are 42 matches in the box, 150 members in the house, 76 senators in the upper house.”
He was swiftly separated.

18 Jun 2017

More power to the biggest bully in parliament? You've got to be kidding!!

To much power in this mans hands is terrifying. The death of Democracy Nigh if these powers are given to this dictator.

Look at how he handles the truth, he will be able to dig up dirt on colleague's and everyone in the country. Would you trust him with that amount of power?
Seriously this is the stupidest thing I've ever seen!

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton is understood to be under consideration to lead a British-style Home Office.
 Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

That would bring together domestic security agencies ASIO and the Australian Federal Police with the Australian Border Force and end the arrangement whereby the Attorney-General, as the nation's first law officer, signs ASIO warrants.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is understood to be leaning towards the British-style approach with Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to head the new portfolio.

14 Jun 2017

Could you pass the proposed English test for Australian citizenship?June 13, 2017

By Misty Adoniou
White Australia here we come again, don't get sun burnt. Maybe that's not true, however, when you read what's intended in the tests for citizenship you have to wonder. Even us Aussies would have trouble passing it?  

The Australian government is proposing tough new English language competency requirements for those seeking Australian citizenship.

Alongside a test of Australian values, and proof of your integration into Australian society, you’ll need to prove you can read, write and speak English at a competent level
We’ve been here before

Question: What do these two excerpts have in common - besides their clumsy sentence structure?

If the land is ploughed when wet the furrows may, and in all probability will, wear a more finished appearance, and will be more pleasant to the eye, but land so ploughed will be more inclined to become set or baked, and when in this state will not produce a maximum yield.

By carefully preplanning projects, implementing pollution control measures, monitoring the effects of mining and rehabilitating mined areas, the coal industry minimises the impact on the neighbouring community, the immediate environment and long-term land capability.

Answer: They are both language tests used to decide Australian citizenship.

The first is a 50 word dictation test that was key to the White Australia Policy. It was used to keep non-Europeans out of Australia.

Even if you passed the test in English, the immigration officer had the right to test you again in another European language. It was used from 1901 until 1958.

The second one is 50 words from a 1000 word reading comprehension exam with 40 questions that you must complete in 60 minutes.

This test is key to Australia’s proposed new Citizenship test. You must also write two essays, do a 30 minute listening test and a 15 minute speaking exam. If it passes through Parliament this week, it will be used from 2017.

Aspiring Australian citizens will need to score a Band 6 on the general stream of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test, the same score as those seeking entry to Australia’s top university.

So, could you pass the test?
The reading test

You have 60 minutes to read at least four texts taken from magazines, newspapers or training manuals, and answer 40 comprehension questions. Your short answer responses are also assessed for grammar and spelling. Here is an excerpt from a piece about bee behaviour.

The direction of the sun is represented by the top of the hive wall. If she runs straight up, this means that the feeding place is in the same direction as the sun. However, if, for example, the feeding place is 40 degrees to the left of the sun, then the dancer would run 40 degrees to the left of the vertical line.

Try the test for yourself.
The writing test

You have 60 minutes to complete two writing tasks. For example,

Write a letter to the accommodation officer complaining about your room mate and asking for a new room.

You are marked on the length of your response, its cohesion, vocabulary and grammar.

To give you something to gauge yourself by, this one didn’t achieve the required score of 6. It begins,

Dear Sir/Madam, I am writing to express my dissatisfaction with my room-mate. As you know we share one room, I can not study in the room at all any more if I still stay there.

As Senator Penny Wong observed about the test,

“Frankly if English grammar is the test there might be a few members of parliament who might struggle.”

Currently our national school test results from NAPLAN show that 15.3% of Year 9 students are below benchmark in writing. This means they would not achieve a Band 6 on the IELTS test.
A fair test?

I prepared students for the IELTS test when I lived and taught in Greece. They needed a score of 6 to get into Foundation courses in British universities. It wasn’t an easy test and sometimes it took them more than one try to succeed.

My students were middle class, living comfortably at home with mum and dad. They had been to school all their lives and were highly competent readers and writers in their mother tongue of Greek.

They had been learning English at school since Grade 4, and doing private English tuition after school for even longer. Essentially they had been preparing for their IELTS test for at least 8 years.

They were not 40-year-old women whose lives as refugees has meant they have never been to school, and cannot read and write in their mother tongue.

Neither were they adjusting to a new culture, trying to find affordable accommodation and a job while simultaneously dealing with post-traumatic stress and the challenge of settling their teenage children into a brand new world.
Learning a language takes time

Even if we conclude that tests about dancing bees and recalcitrant room-mates are fit for the purpose of assessing worthiness for citizenship - and that is surely very debatable - we must acknowledge that it is going to take a very long time for our most vulnerable aspiring citizens to reach a proficiency that will enable them to pass the test.

Currently we offer them 510 hours of free English tuition. That is at least 5 years short of what the research says is required to reach English language competency.
Testing English doesn’t teach it

The three ingredients of successful language learning are motivation, opportunity and good tuition.

The Australian government must address all three if it wishes to increase the English language proficiency of its citizens.

An English language test may appear to be a compelling motivation to learn the language, but without the opportunity to learn and excellent tuition over time, the test is not a motivation. It is an unfair barrier to anyone for whom English is not their mother tongue.

And then this new policy starts to look and feel like Australia’s old White Australia Policy.

Barnaby Joyce’s pork barrel is poo,poo'd after Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee released a report that says it's a waste of money and stupid!

Image result for pork barrel cartoon
A NEW political report has delivered a scathing assessment of the process behind the Coalition’s decision to relocate the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority’s (APVMA) from Canberra to Armidale, in Agriculture and Water Resources Minister Barnaby Joyce’s New England electorate.
“The lack of clarity regarding the decision-making process and the absence of a transparent selection process leads the committee to conclude that there is only one obvious driver for the decision and that is political self-interest,” the report concluded.
The Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee’s inquiry into the government order to relocate Commonwealth agencies - focussed on the APVMA - was instigated in February and a report tabled on Friday, making five recommendations.
Top of the list was a demand to revoke the government policy order due to risks associated with moving the national farm chemical regulator to Armidale; given the critical loss of expert regulatory staff and negative impacts on its performance.
“This order is opposed by stakeholders, the agricultural sector and the regulator itself on the basis that it is 'all cost and no benefit',” the report said.
“Tellingly, the government's own cost-benefit analysis reached the same conclusion, finding no strategic or other benefits to the move.”

12 Jun 2017

The language we are ever so familiar with starts with a B ends with T. Its starting to describe much of life.

Image result for bull shit
It is bullshit’s capacity to proffer simple solutions to pressing problems or make apparent light work of what would otherwise be complex decision making that has seen it embraced in the public space, so much so that scholars are now calling “Political Bullshit”, the language of “The New Public”.
In The New Public discourse is dominated by spin created by communication specialists employed by politicians who utilise advertising and market research techniques to maximise the impact of public messages while minimising the possibility of them being scrutinised.

The New Public political argument has almost entirely been displaced by political bullshit, language of the same pithiness, faux intensity and momentousness that we associate with the best marketing. The effect is that public discourse has been stripped of explanation, argumentative power and the facts.
“I’m only interested in what needs to get done.” is the common slogan, what is it that has to be done. Your guess is as good as mine?

Did David Cameron know what he created when he invented The Brexit (Frankenstien).

Image result for rule britannia cartoon

The result of the UK general election has made it clear that the nation – the people, the politicians, the media, everyone – have surpassed themselves. Talk about the Mad Hatters tea party?

Theresa May, the prime minister, chose to go to the country in order to create, ha,ha ,ha,“unity” in parliament and unite the country behind her diamond-hard Brexit strategy. Clever, no! Stupid yes.

That didn't happened. She was AWOL in the election. The result reveals a country still divided along the lines of age, education, income and geography.

Any hopes that people were coming back together after the division and unhappiness of last year’s Brexit referendum have been dashed.

Having squandered a working majority in parliament, May now seems prepared to put the whole Northern Irish peace process at risk(start a war)in order to struggle on in a minority government with the help of the Democratic Unionist Party. What a bloody joke, it would be a joke if it wasn't so serious.

9 Jun 2017

A win by Tories s in UK election will ensure that the presents you receive won't be any different.

Image result for trust me cartoon

Based on an article by Fergal O'Brien and Andrew Atkinson
The major party seems to have lost its way. All they do is tie a ribbon around the chopper and re-wrap last years present and call it new.

"They don't know what they're going to do, so they play around on the fringes, it's like watching a business which has a real fundamental problem, and the CEO is saying 'what colour packaging should we use'."

While slowing growth is one issue, the underlying cause is of even more direct concern to Britain's workers. Not only has the pound's decline since the vote to leave the European Union boosted inflation but, to make matters worse, wage growth hasn't picked up enough to keep pace. That means a drop in real earnings for households.

Good news is somewhat tainted by the composition of the labour market, with a dramatic shift toward lower-paying and less secure work.

There's more self-employment? So-called zero-hours contracts, and more than a quarter of UK workers are now part-time, in many cases because they are unable to find a full-time job.

Where to from here, your guess is as good as mine. I've a nasty feeling that we're headed for a very nasty time ahead because fiddling seems to the only instrument they can play.

8 Jun 2017

Time to rethink the way we approach terrorism.

Image result for Terrorist under every bed cartoon
Results suggest it may be time to rethink the way we approach terrorism.

On an average day, terrorists kill 21 people worldwide. On that same average day, natural or technological disasters kill 2,200 people – or more than 100 times as many.

The likelihood of dying at the hands of a terrorist is comparable to the odds of drowning in one’s own bathtub.

This does not mean we should be afraid of bathtubs, nor does it mean terrorism is not among the problems that need to be solved with a high priority.

Rather, in the fight against terrorism, seemingly easy conclusions may be drawn too quickly – and we should not forget other matters that affect people’s lives far more than terrorism does.

Terrorism should be dealt with as we deal with a disease, accident or murder, it deserves no more attention in the media than that. An investigation takes place its covered by the media and that's that.
We don't have repeat coverage for weeks trying to milk the story.

Then we wonder why ISIL or one of their crazy followers are encouraged to carry out crazy acts. Its the bloody media that continue to feed these mixed up individuals with unbelievable movie star coverage.

3 Jun 2017

Is 'a fair go' a dirty word in Australia. The 'I'm alright Jack' is Australia today, LOOK AFTER No 1, where wages growth is dead.

Image result for The greed take is getting smaller cartoon
13.3% of people below the poverty line, but the 'I'm alright Jack's' are laughing all the way to the bank.

Australia has more billionaires than ever before, as well as more people living below the poverty line, writes Paul Davis.

A PREVIEW of the 2017 Australian Financial Review 'Rich List' last week revealed that Australia has 60 billionaires — more billionaires than ever before.

That's sixty Australian billionaires, while the nation has 2.9 million people (13.3 per cent of the population) living at or below the international poverty line, including 774,000 children.

Australian workers are experiencing anaemic salary growth, work in less secure, employment and Federal Government budget policy settings seek to lower taxes on business, while squeezing those in need and increasing costs and charges on the youth.

The increasing wealth of a few may be evidence of Australia advancing — but is it fair? Does anyone care?

Maybe even the greedy will see that lower wages lowers the tax take and reduces spending power and slows growth and profits.
Image result for workers RIP cartoon

2 Jun 2017

Trump the wunderus one, the speaker of all truths has spoken, no Climate Change.

The winged god said. "Thou shall not have climate change"
Let it be done
And low and behold it was done!
Donald Trump at swearing in for James Mattis
The 'trumpetts' played.
As it was told there was no Climate Change.
Image result for america under water
Meanwhile back at the ranch the Statue of Liberty was blowing bubbles.

1 Jun 2017

It was good to take part in a citizens' jury "before the politicians get hold of them and bugger them up".

Transforming ACT democracy one citizens' jury at a time
Simon Niemeyer

The ACT government's pledge to improve public consultation using citizens' juries, as Andrew Barr outlined in The Canberra Times earlier this month, is laudable. It marks an important departure from the limited way that citizens are traditionally engaged in decision-making.

The article refers to the cost of citizens' juries but this should be seen in wider terms. It almost always pales in comparison to the costs associated with the decision they inform. And the benefits must be viewed beyond the terms of a single issue. Indeed, if done well, the initiative will have positive implications for the nature of politics beyond any given deliberative event.

Voters in last year's ACT election. Citizens' juries promise to change the way participants think about tackling policy issues. 

Citizens' juries – which democracy researchers often refer to as minipublics – involve facilitated deliberation by randomly selected members of the public on a particular issue. Although they are often described as "deliberative democracy", they are only part of a wider deliberative effort to improve the entire democratic process.

Public dissatisfaction with politics is well established. Something must change. That involves transforming the way politics is done, away from the strategically charged "winner-takes-all" approach characterised by hyper-partisanship. As part of that change, public involvement must be conceived more widely than filling out a ballot paper or being either sufficiently motivated or resourced enough to try to influence decisions between elections.

Listening to all, not only the noisy

There is growing interest in deliberative democracy. Unbeknown to most Canberrans, the world-leading Centre for Research in Deliberative Democracy is right here at the University of Canberra. The centre was set up in 2005 (originally at the Australian National University) and now sits alongside the better-known National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling as part of the Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis. As well as minipublics, it researches wider issues relating to how we can better organise governance at all scales, from the local to the global.

Citizens' juries and their like can contribute to this change, but their role in the wider political process must be well conceived. Julia Gillard's aborted pledged to implement a citizens' assembly on the carbon tax was a poorly perceived strategy (possibly well-intentioned); it is perhaps a strength of the political system that it failed to proceed, although we disagree strongly with some arguments made at the time that these events have no place in a representative democracy. Whatever its provenance, the decision to implement the carbon tax was effectively already made, rendering the exercise redundant from a deliberative democratic perspective.

As is ever the case, the devil can be in the detail. But if well implemented, citizens' juries are a powerful mechanism for bringing the public closer to decision-making – or, rather, decision-making closer to the public. Of the nearly 20 deliberative minipublics I've been involved in as a researcher, it's always been exciting to witness what's possible when members of the public are promoted from spectator to meaningful participant in the politics of issues that affect them.

When constructed well, minipublics are much more than information or discussion sessions. When the process goes well, there is a dramatic improvement in the sophistication of the participants' positions, reflecting a transformation of their thinking about the issue – as opposed to a migration along a political spectrum. There is often disagreement at the conclusion, which is respectful and actually a good thing from a democratic perspective. Importantly, the deliberative environment gives citizens a chance to formulate their positions in a way that synthesises their own aspirations with the nature of the issue, often producing arguments that can recast the issue and confound the assumptions about what they really want – distorted as this is because of the reactive nature of the political process.

These observations provide a window into what's possible in politics. And minipublics can help revitalise it. Indeed, when conducting the Australian citizens' parliament on federal political reform in 2009, we found that one of the effects was increased appreciation by citizens for our parliamentary system, together with recognition that it needs significant reform to improve its potential.

The challenge here is not merely to conduct deliberative minipublics to inform decisions, but to harness the work of citizens who engage in them – a process we refer to as "scaling up" from a deliberative minipublic to a deliberative democracy, where political discourse is transformed writ large. This is a challenging and would likely take time and a strong commitment, but there is evidence it is possible.

There is still much to learn but, in the case of the ACT's interest in citizens' juries, the time is ripe for an innovative mechanism for not just informing better decisions but changing political dynamics. The ACT government should be applauded on this count, but care is needed. As one participant said after taking part in the first minipublic we analysed in 2000 (purely for research purposes), it was good to take part in a citizens' jury "before the politicians get hold of them and bugger them up".

Aware as we are about the pitfalls, we at the centre are a bit more optimistic about the possibilities.

Dr Simon Niemeyer is a future fellow at the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance at the University of Canberra. He wrote this article with the help of Professor John Dryzek, who is also at the centre.

Good soul wanted to save Barnaby Joyce. He thought he was having a heart attack. You be the judge?

This is hilarious.

The Canberra Times reports that someone watching question time called 000 to ask for an ambulance for Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce because they feared he was sick.

"They were genuinely concerned that he needed quick medical attention," Ian Roebuck, an emergency dispatcher for the ACT Ambulance Service, said.

"We explained that he's an adult and can request his own ambulance."

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce(blood pressure climbing) during question time on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen