Aug 31, 2015

Chrissie Hynde: rape was my fault

The singer Chrissie Hynde has prompted outrage by saying that it can be a woman’s fault if she is raped.
Revealing her own experience of sexual assault, the Pretenders frontwoman, 63, said she still blames herself for being forced to perform sexual acts under the threat of violence.
She said she took full responsibility for what happened when she was 21, when members of a motorbike gang in her native Ohio promised to take her to a party but instead took her to an empty house.
“Technically speaking, however you want to look at it, this was all my doing and I take full responsibility,” she said. “You can’t f*** about with people, especially people who wear ‘I Heart Rape’ and ‘On Your Knees’ badges ... those motorcycle gangs, that’s what they do. You can’t paint yourself into a corner and then say whose brush is this? You have to take responsibility. I mean, I was naive.”
When asked whether the gang took advantage of her vulnerability, she replied: “If you play with fire you get burnt. It’s not any secret, is it?”
Hynde said it was “just silly” to place sole responsibility on the attackers, if women were drunk or dressed provocatively. “If I’m walking around in my underwear and I’m drunk? Who else’s fault can it be?
“If I’m walking around and I’m very modestly dressed and I’m keeping to myself and someone attacks me, then I’d say that’s his fault. But if I’m being very lairy and putting it about and being provocative, then you are enticing someone who’s already unhinged — don’t do that. Come on! That’s just common sense. You know, if you don’t want to entice a rapist, don’t wear high heels so you can’t run from him.
“If you’re wearing something that says ‘Come and f*** me’, you’d better be good on your feet ... I don’t think I’m saying anything controversial am I?”
Her comments, reported in The Sunday Times Magazine, were condemned by women’s charities and equality campaigners, who have been calling for years for warning messages to be focused on telling men not to rape as opposed to placing the responsibility on women.
On Twitter, many fans said they were appalled by Hynde’s comments, though some expressed sympathy for what she had been through, and pointed to the irony of blaming a victim of sexual assault for blaming the victims.
Charlotte Barlow, a lecturer in criminology at Birmingham City University, who specialises in the study of sexual violence, said: “The fact that Chrissie herself, as a victim, has internalised those feelings of blame to make sense of what happened to her, is really very sad. When somebody high profile says these things it only serves to perpetuate the rape myth that the victim is somehow responsible.”
Sarah Green, of the End Violence against Women Coalition, said that Hynde’s refusal to condemn her attackers was typical of someone who had experienced sexual violence.
“It is not at all unusual for a survivor to spend months, years going over, ‘Was that my fault? Did I make that happen?’ Women are not to blame for assaults regardless of what they are wearing or if they have had a lot to drink.”
Polly Neate, the chief executive of Women’s Aid, said: “It doesn’t matter what lifestyle you lead or what you wear — rape is never the victim’s fault. Chrissie Hynde’s experience was not her fault.”
The Times

Employers more interested in social skills than a fat resume | Executive Living | The Australian

Pity the poor graduates of today. Every single one seems intent on cracking tuba grade eight, playing water polo at state level and spending their holidays building an ­orphanage in Burkina Faso in order to impress future ­universities.
But now it seems all their efforts will have been in vain. Accountancy behemoth Ernst & Young has announced it is no longer going to look at applicants’ ­academic records, let alone their carefully built CVs, instead ­employing online tests in an ­attempt to promote social ­mobility.
By the same token, Oxford University, where less than one in five candidates is successful in gaining a coveted place, has warned that applicants’ personal statements have become too “X-Factor”.
According to Rebecca Williams of education consultancy Oxford Applications, potential students are making their applications “overly emotive”. They also have a tendency to be “indulge in sob-­stories, weave fantastical tales or ... claim they are budding world ­experts on Dickens, Darwin or Greek debt … it isn’t really ­appropriate”.
You can’t completely blame them (or their worried parents) for trying. They’re haunted by warnings of graduate unemployment in an international marketplace, where the plum degrees and careers that once were considered a vaguely bright kid’s right are being plucked from under their noses.
But in their panic, they seem ­almost determined to ignore every employer’s wearily repeated ­advice: they don’t need staff with an intricate knowledge of medieval Peruvian monuments and they don’t care if your grandmother told you on her death bed that her dying wish was for you to become a marketing trainee.
By the same token, several ­Oxbridge dons have told me that they couldn’t give a monkey’s if candidates play croquet for ­England and volunteer at the local donkey sanctuary.
What they want are students and employees with a genuine passion for their subject and original ways of approaching it.
Employers dream of recruits who’ll work hard, flexibly and enthusiastically, are punctual and show initiative. That is, people who display “soft skills” — attributes that business experts now claim are the modern workplace’s most sought-after, and far more valuable than exam results.
They are the reason successful women such as Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl ­Sandberg have flourished. “She is so good at working with people; you couldn’t help but like her,” her first boss, economist Lant Pritchett, has recalled.
The absence of these “soft skills” is the reason why, despite high youth unemployment figures, employers still complain that they can’t fill vacancies (despite agreeing recruits are more highly qualified than ever).
But surely charm is less important than fluency in five languages?
No: because a machine can do the latter. In the move to a service-led economy, people skills and innate common sense matter far more than an ability to perform quadratic equations in one’s head (after all, anyone can do that with a smartphone).
The sad truth is: the fancier the degree, the more arrogant the ­future employee.
“We frequently hear that highly qualified graduates are giving the impression that first-rung tasks are beneath them, that they should have all the prizes straight away,” says Louise Ruell from ­etiquette arbitrators Debrett’s.
A former magazine editor ­recently ranted to me about an ­intern who, when asked to attend a film screening — something my provincial teenage self would have died for — refused, saying he “didn’t fancy it”.
Ruell thinks that social media is to blame for this decline in social skills, particularly among millennials. “You can have more than 500 contacts on LinkedIn, but to have genuine contacts and face-to-face situations where you walk into the room and have the confidence to approach people, are also very important,” she says.
Simply, we don’t know how to have a conversation anymore. There’s a fundamental disconnect between how young people interact with each other and how they’re expected to behave in a professional environment.
Employers such as E&Y are doing the right thing in bamboozling everyone by devising tests that can’t be robotically trained or studied for, but instead — with luck — will require lateral thinking and initiative; qualities that Oxbridge has always stressed it prioritises.
So if you want to stand out: smile, make eye contact and ­emphasise your six months stacking shelves in a suburban supermarket over your self-indulgent trip to Borneo.
And if you’re still really worried about your empty CV?
Well, no one is going to check whether you can actually play grade-eight tuba.

Aug 30, 2015

Get set for China’s wild ride

Illustration: Eric Lobbecke
A revolution, Mao Zedong warned grimly, “is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery. It cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous.”
Mao, especially, knew the truth of this. He shaped China’s Communist Party in his own very different image.
During the past week, we have seen the lineaments of a new Chinese revolution — which had been shaping up to change the world’s economies for three decades — finally bursting out intemperately to trouble and perplex global markets and investors.
The trail of recent events — sharemarket collapses, shock currency devaluations, the slump in manufacturing performance, government attempts to stanch the bleeding — challenged the previous widespread benign take on China’s economy, that here was a dinner party, a banquet, with boundless courses for all.
The Shanghai sharemarket fell 23 per cent in five trading sessions to Wednesday, triggering a fall in the Dow Jones index in New York by 9.7 per cent in four days, in the London stock exchange by 7.4 per cent in two days, and the Australian All Ordinaries by 4 per cent on Monday alone — though all began recovering lost ground by week’s end.
The Chinese Purchasing Managers Index, which tracks activity in factories, fell to a 77-month low a week ago. And the yuan was devalued by 3.5 per cent against the US dollar over two days, in mid-August.
But these are indicators of a change that China itself has been anticipating, indeed, seeking to engineer, for several years.
The global financial crisis caused it to postpone this policy transition, from a focus on investment and exports towards a more modern economic core based on consumption and services.
Now that process — which is bound to be bumpy — is well under way.
As Ken Courtis, former Asia vice-chairman of Goldman Sachs, told the ABC this week, “The real story is: is China going to be able to pull off this transition or not? If it does, then it will pull the rest of the world with it.”
The world is expecting China to do a massive amount of heavy lifting, Courtis says, by driving 35 per cent to 40 per cent of the world’s growth.
China’s transition, ­although thoroughly aired and explained, is still taking global markets by surprise. This is so particularly in the West, where many previously have subscribed to the simplistic formula: Chinese foreign and military affairs bad, economic affairs good.
The world is finally waking up to the fact China is a more complex beast. And China matters, because of its global economic enmeshment, in a way the old Soviet Union never did.
The trail of recent events does not comprise a one-off diversion but a harbinger of continuing, intensifying impacts.
This frustrates many European and US market managers, who struggled even to connect with culturally distinct Japan when its economic star was in the ascendant. And today’s China matters even more than Japan did.
China’s decision-makers operate in a very different world from Wall Street and the City of London. Based in the sealed away courtyards of Zhongnanhai, the Communist Party leaders’ low-rise compound in Beijing, they are not susceptible to the usual Western political and public pressure points.
Arthur Kroeber, Beijing-based founding partner of Gavekal Dragonomics, says: “Clearly, China cannot give the rest of the world what it wants today — more infrastructure spending, more leverage and an exchange rate that goes only higher — without grievously damaging its own prospects for tomorrow.”
President Xi Jinping can be excused for thinking that China has done more than enough to sustain global demand, as Europe and Japan “merrily tried to devalue their way back to prosperity”, Kroeber says, and as the world contradictorily wants a more balanced Chinese economy that relies less on infrastructure spending and one that keeps such spending high to sustain commodity prices. But neither has Beijing articulated a clear policy direction, Kroeber says. “Are they for a more open, market-oriented China, or a closed empire of state-owned national champions? Impossible to say.”
Australia seems especially spooked by the confusing turn of events. China underwrote our growth, our terrific terms of trade, for more than a decade, with a seemingly insatiable appetite for our resources, while paying ever higher prices for them. Last year, China bought more than one-third of all our exported goods, paying us $90 billion.
China’s appetite for our products remains strong. BHP Billiton chief financial officer Peter Beaven said on Wednesday: “We’re selling everything that we make.” China is the firm’s biggest buyer.
But the prices have dipped. Iron ore is down to a third from a year ago and oil — which also guides the price for Australia’s biggest commodity play, gas — is at its lowest for six years.
What has been the response to this decline in resource prices?
Australian organisations such as the unions, the Labor Party and the Greens may have seen the logic in supporting a doubling of Australia’s efforts to engage on a more broad front with the vast Chinese economy, now the world’s second biggest, and with India, whose growth is again picking up speed. But no. Instead, the change in the Chinese wind has emboldened those urging us to reduce our involvement and to raise our protection.
As China was disintegrating a little more than a century ago, its Qing dynastic court resisting modernisation, the Australian labour movement and its political arm rallied around the flag of “White Australia” to lock out Chinese seeking a better life.
Now China is on the way up, for all the present turmoil — still growing at more than 6 per cent a year, still the world’s factory — and is seeking increased foreign opportunities and foreign partnerships for its ambitious companies, both state-owned and private.
In response, the Australian ­labour movement and its political arm are back where they started in the late 19th century, campaigning against Chinese labour and capital, and against a free trade agreement with China.
It may take some time for the West in general, and many Australians in particular, to come to terms with what’s happening in our world. They — we — need to get out more.
Through the 18 centuries after Christ, Asia was responsible for about 75 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product, its vast population a core component. For four centuries up to the first millennium, China’s capital Chang’an — the present Xi’an, home of the terracotta warriors — was by far the world’s biggest city, with more than a million inhabitants.
But China was left behind by the Industrial Revolution, from which its dynastic leaders wilfully refused to learn — unlike their Japanese counterparts in the late 19th century. The accelerated productivity that resulted in Europe and North America thrust these regions to the fore. At their peak in 1950, they reached 80 per cent of global output.
As Asia began to industrialise, the pendulum started swinging back. In 1980, after three miserable Mao decades, China’s GDP per head was just 24 per cent of the world’s average.
After the following reformist 30 years, its GDP per head exceeded the world’s average.
Colleague Peter Cai of Business Spectator says the average real wage in China has been growing at an annualised rate of 11.4 per cent this century so far. Growing numbers of skilled Chinese factory workers are now paid more than their US counterparts.
It naturally takes time for such change to sink in. After years of enjoying cheap Chinese products, suddenly it’s dawning on Western countries that China has also quietly become the great hope for its own exports; that it has acquired such market heft that any change of economic gear triggers a profound global impact.
When Beijing ploughed billions into sustaining its economy in the face of the global financial crisis in 2007-08, leading to disastrous misallocation and waste of funds that were denied its own workers, the world applauded.
This week, the world has been howling because China hasn’t done what market commentators have demanded, except for a belated interest rate cut.
So China scared us on the way down, as the Qing empire failed and emigrants sought new lives elsewhere including Australia, and now China seems to be unnerving some of us again as it seeks a greater involvement with Australia on the way back up towards global leadership.
The Australia in the Asian Century white paper, launched under Julia Gillard only three years ago, was intended to educate us about all this. It said that by 2025, four of the 10 largest economies in the world would be in the region — China (first), India (third), Japan (fourth) and Indonesia (10th).
“Asia is likely to account for ­almost half of the world’s economic output, with China accounting for about half of that,” the white paper said.
Gillard, introducing it, said: “Our economy is strong because over the past 30 years we have been prepared to do the things that are necessary to build for ­tomorrow.”
That readiness to change has since reversed, as speakers at this week’s National Reform Summit in Sydney serially underlined. The resource sector has hit a ceiling and alternative routes to increase national productivity and wealth are floundering.
Australia celebrates Asia’s and especially China’s capacity to change in order to seize opportunities for a better life. But today powerful elements resist calls for corresponding change to Australia’s own remaining spheres of protection, including in labour organisation.
Paths to higher productivity, wealth creation and international co-operation are being blocked.
The Victorian Labor government, having cancelled the East West link, the state’s first big new infrastructure project in years, this week has talked of going into debt to seek to fund other projects, while conjuring a new public holiday, on the day before the AFL grand final.
The successful “lawfare” campaign against Indian company Adani’s $16 billion coal project in Queensland is inspiring further anti-coal measures.
Australia is the dominant global supplier. It provides 54 per cent of metallurgical coal, which is irreplaceable for steelmaking, and from which the country earns considerably more than from thermal coal exports for power generation. China, the world’s biggest steel producer, is naturally the biggest buyer.
But Declan Clausen, a Labor councillor in Newcastle elected in February, told ABC Radio on Thursday how he had successfully moved a motion in the coal-driven NSW city’s council to shed shares in banks that did not abandon companies that produced coal.
Instead, he proposed investing in “environmentally friendly products”, in aged care, in “equal opportunity employers” and in affordable housing.
Moves against China are set to be elevated to the Senate, as Labor and the Greens prepare to vote down the groundbreaking free trade agreement negotiated over a decade with China.
Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb says the slowing of China’s “real economy” as it ­restructures from a focus on ­investment and exports towards consumption and services will encourage more Chinese funding into “safe havens” such as Australia, “when we’re looking for foreign capital”.
Yet at the same time, the xenophobia on display in Australia’s union campaigns is confusing the Chinese, Robb says, and “souring the whole run-up to entry into this huge FTA deal”.
The services sector, which comprises 75 per cent of the Australian economy, makes up only 17 per cent of exports, so we have to internationalise those capabilities, Robb says, including through working with big Asian companies. This requires change. Something that much of Australia, and other Western nations, have resisted thus far, believing that relations with China and Asia can be quarantined, held at a distance, engaged only when it suits us.
The past week has shattered such smugness. As Commonwealth Bank chief executive Ian Narev says: “We’ve got to get used to the fact that over the next few years there is just going to be more volatility” — which will affect everyone including, of course, those relying on superannuation.
In China, too, change is being opposed. A recent commentary in the People’s Dailylamented that “the uncanny, complex, ferocious and stubborn forces opposing reforms exceeded what people imagined”.
The profitability of China’s own largest companies has declined during the past five years, ratings agency Standard & Poor’s says, and China itself is exporting volatility.
Like Mao, Xi prefers to occupy himself with entrenching the party’s political strength, in his case through an open-ended anti-corruption campaign, than with “doing embroidery”.
Kerry Brown, director of the China Studies Centre at the University of Sydney and author of The New Emperors: Power and the Princelings in Modern China, tells Inquirer that today’s Chinese elite largely shares “a notion of China undergoing a very tough transition, but with the endgame — the restoration of status, of great power dignity — being worth going for’’.
“This aspiration is a huge political asset for Xi, and I think ­accounts for the more fervent, emotional tone in which he speaks, and the way he is, in fact, spoken about in China.
“There is a remarkable level of tolerance publicly for the sort of state-sponsored idolatry of him because the public buys into the idea that his ambition is to achieve this grand national mission.”
Despite all the fixations about China’s economy, Brown says, “its greatest challenges are political ones — in the sense of how to ­arrange the distribution of power. In that context, the current leadership has shown a remarkable paucity of thought or vision.
“They have asserted brute control, and demanded obedience, particularly from party members and the elite. The question of how far they can outline a political ­vision to accompany the economic one of almost four decades is going to become increasingly crucial.
“A huge new social contract is being written in China, where the party is expecting more from citizens, and they are demanding more from it. The question of the real political achievements of this leadership is constantly nagging away, and banging up a few elite former leaders for corruption doesn’t quite cut the mustard, especially stacked against falling stocks, falling growth, stagnant house prices and a weakening yuan.”
Next Thursday, Xi will seek to enhance that “great power dignity” — taking the salute at Beijing’s biggest military parade for years to celebrate the defeat of Japan 70 years ago. Alongside him will be the leaders of Russia, Venezuela, South Africa, Sudan and South Korea, as well as Tony Blair.
The economy is not Xi’s top priority, as Brown says. He will not have lost sleep over the slump in the Shanghai stockmarket or paid much interest to the cries from Wall Street and Europe for China to “do something”.
China’s economy will continue to grow almost by gravity, but at the slower pace, the “new normal” Xi anticipated and publicly sought soon after taking office three years ago — which Western markets ­bizarrely overlooked because they have yet to learn to take Beijing’s statements sufficiently seriously.
Fraser Howie, co-author of Red Capitalism: The Fragile Financial Foundation of China’s Extraordinary Rise, tells Inquirer: “Xi’s reform agenda is considerable and comprehensive, no one doubts that. He has also accumulated power to push through those reforms.
“But that does not mean the implementation will be easy. China is too big and messy for one man to push it all through.”
While Howie believes the world reaction to China’s data “is grossly overdone in many ways”, it shows that China is “very much on the radar screen now, and missteps in China have global impacts and knock on effects. When then premier Zhu Rongji was restructuring the banks 15 years ago, when they were all duds, nobody outside China cared.
“Now China is the top story globally. This means Xi’s job is a lot harder than he ever thought.”
It is made harder because, Howie says, “The Communist Party thinks it is still best placed to price risk, or that it should intervene if the market isn’t pricing as the party sees fit.”
Mobo Gao, professor of Chinese studies at the University of Adelaide, says it does not matter whether China really has the kind of financial clout that global markets believe. “The perception alone indicates a kind of climate change in world affairs,” he says.
Gao believes that “while there was a tendency to over-estimate China’s economy when China was on the rise, now there is a tendency to underestimate China’s strength when problems are surfacing”, and that room remains for underdeveloped areas to catch up.
Pradeep Taneja, an expert on China and India at the University of Melbourne, says that “as the Chinese economy was going gangbusters, it avoided” making important choices. Now it has reached a fork in the road — rather than “hitting the wall” — as China is caught in “a hybrid system, neither a market economy nor a command economy, that defies any logic other than the bottom line requirement of maintaining the Communist Party’s monopoly on power”.
Although India, the next cab ready to leave the rank towards rapid growth in Asia, is politically in a better shape under Narendra Modi, he says “it is not yet ready to benefit from China’s troubles. Modi has so far talked the talk, but he needs to demonstrate his resolve to carry out much-needed reforms.”
Besides restoring popular faith in the party, Xi has aimed primarily to reset foreign policy, in line with his “China dream” of ­entrenching the country at the centre of a revived Asia, including India, as part of “the great revival of the Chinese people”.
Unlike today’s Western leaders, those in China love to read history. They learned how Britain and The Netherlands’ fruitful first forays into Asia came via their East India companies.
So it will be with the suite of “Silk Road” initiatives that have poured from Beijing: China doesn’t want formal colonies, it wants its corporate champions to lead the charge, building the infrastructure the region lacks, so that all roads will lead not to Rome but to Beijing, as the hub of the new, dynamic Asia sweeping from the Caucasus across to the Pacific.
Benjamin Herscovitch, research manager at Beijing-based China Policy, says that “as well as sensitising the domestic audience to the ‘new normal’ of 3 per cent to 6 per cent growth, the Communist Party is busy softening the blow of the slowdown” and the “Silk Road” stimulus program will play a big role.
He says this will “bankroll the sale of Chinese technology and expertise — from Chinese solar plants in Pakistan to high-speed rail in Britain. And the hundreds of billions of dollars the party has at its disposal to fund this is just a fraction of the financial firepower at its disposal”.
Xi announced during his visit here last November that Australia, too, is expected to play an important role within the “maritime Silk Road”.
This is presented as an opportunity made specially available for us by Beijing — as is the FTA.
Malcolm Cook, a senior fellow at Singapore’s Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, says China’s trajectory is particularly important for Australia, for three reasons.
“Australia’s dollar is a market proxy for international investors’ bets on the Chinese economy. Australia has the highest export dependence on China of any major economy. And Australia’s fiscal health is especially sensitive to falling resource prices,’’ he says.
“Australia thus suffers especially from any loss of faith in Chinese economic policies.”
Cook says he hopes the present sense of crisis will enable misconceptions to be corrected: “The longstanding belief, egged on by commentators, that China is an exceptional economy with preternaturally skilled technocrats and political leaders … Shades of Japan.
“The second is that Australia’s comparatively high economic dependence on China is primarily a strategic vulnerability for Australia and Australia-US relations. It is not. Australia’s economic dependence on China is an economic vulnerability.”
But Courtis says: “Don’t panic — yet. The important thing is that (the Chinese) don’t lose their nerve, that they continue the transition.
“If they can maintain this drive to reform over the mid-term, I think we’ll come out of it saying, ‘Wow, that was a pretty good opportunity to buy cheap stocks.’ ”
But this is serious business, not playtime for political or market lightweights. Stock exchanges, economic transitions and even apparently win-win FTAs are — like revolutions — not a dinner party.

Mum and dad get silent treatment | Angela Shanahan

Dear John, whoever now takes pen to write / Or at the keys tap-taps through half the night / To give a new Religio Laici / Or Hind and Panther to this vacant sly / Neurotic modern world must first take note / That things were not the same as when you wrote. / The modern mind was then scarce embryonic / Which now stands forth loud, indistinct, moronic / The great Unculture that you feared might be / “Drawn to the dregs of a democracy” / Is full upon us; here it sours and thickens / Till every work of art and honour sickens. — A Letter To John Dryden by James McAuley Drowning in social media sludge, propelled by intimidatory elites … so much has been written in the past couple of weeks about what should and should not be said in public that McAuley’s letter to Dryden could merit a posthumous award for foresight.
But not even he could have foreseen the triumph of the long march this year when reason would be replaced by insults and a sly slogan would replace the hard, unchangeable truth about nature, sex and marriage.
He might not have been shocked to know there was a “debate” about marriage — his poem predicts the terrible results of marriage’s decline — but he would be shocked that only people on one side of this joke “debate” were being hauled off to anti-discrimination tribunals and threatened with fines for their thoughts about how normal sex and marriage should be taught to children.
So what are the guardians of education’s portals, those keepers of right think, teaching our children these days? Educators must go along with whatever the proper thinking is on the issue du jour and, consequently, everything is reduced to the rubrics of a series of interlocking agendas: gender, multiculturalism, gay rights, whatever. It has nothing to do with reality or, God forbid, knowledge.
So is gay marriage a challenge to the natural family? No, it is about equality, and “diversity”, love hearts and going to school wearing purple. Domestic violence? Of course, that is really about gender equality, and teaching “relationships”. Excuse me while I guffaw.
Consequently in Victoria “educators” have seized the moment to kill two birds with one stone. They have decided to scrap religion, the hallmark of the old verities, by tagging on to the fashionable hand-wringing over “domestic violence”.
They have decided it is irrelevant that the Christian religion teaches the most basic respectful tenant of the second commandment, to love your neighbour as yourself. Never mind about leaving children ignorant of the religious traditions that permeate our whole culture from art to poetry to everything, including a grasp of human rights. In fact, where do they think human rights even came from?
And who cares what families think or want? Nobody has asked them, even though it is actually from them, not in a classroom, that children learn domestic harmony.
None of this is relevant to the guardians because better cultural and philosophical education is not what this attempt to stamp out religion from state schools is about. It is about replacing the last defence of the ordinary verities with a confection made up of shallow rights — talk as seen through the distorted prism of the gender wars, cleverly bound up in the emotional hysteria primed and propelled by electronic and social media.
Young people are very susceptible to emotionalism Consequently, facts, whether about gay marriage or domestic violence or anything else, become irrelevant. It is the vibe that matters.
Take domestic violence. Even though the gender warriors want us to believe the average suburban home where more than 70 per cent of Australian children live with both parents is a hidden maelstrom of male violence, it is not particularly prevalent. The worst, most shocking violence — physical and sexual — against women and children in Australia, indeed anywhere in the West, occurs in indigenous settlements racked with drugs, alcoholism and pornography.
But this doesn’t fit the gender rubric, or the multicultural one, or the libertarian one, either. Everyone is dead scared of the feminist/libertarian columnists, bloggers and academics who are running the domestic violence agenda aided by online campaigns such as White Ribbon, so facts are ignored.
Here are some facts about domestic violence. Which women are more prone to violence? Unmarried women. Which men are more prone to dish it out, especially to children? To use the officialese, “resident unrelated males” — in normal speak, the boyfriend. Who are likelier to kill children? Mothers are. Who is the next likeliest to kill them and physically or sexually assault children? The boyfriend. Who is least likely to kill or to sexually or physically assault children? Their father.
Sensible people would see these facts as pointers to the protective nature of the strong natural bond, between men, women and their children, and an increase in domestic violence, as a symptom of decline of that bond, especially combined with drugs and alcohol.
But defending the nuclear family isn’t part of any agenda, especially of the lobby groups that actively have sought its obliteration.

Aug 28, 2015

Voters to judge Labor lynch mob

Is this a political stitch-up that will blow back on Labor and the unions?
Regardless of Heydon’s ruling, voters may make their own ruling that Labor and the unions are involved in a reprehensible stitch- up, an act of “whatever-it-takes” desperation to taint Heydon and distract voters from the work of the royal commission.
It follows from yesterday’s explosive revelation in this newspaper, by Michael Pelly, that Marcus Priest — a former staffer of Labor’s legal affairs spokesman Mark Dreyfus — kicked off the firestorm of attacks by Labor and unions against Heydon for accepting, and then declining, to give a legal lecture, the Sir Garfield Barwick address, to a group of Liberal lawyers.
Voters are entitled to ask: did Priest dig for dirt on behalf of Labor and its union paymasters? It looks that way, given Priest rang Chris Winslow, the publications manager of the NSW Bar Association, about an April alert from the association about the Sir Garfield Barwick address.
Following that 5.30pm phone call on August 12 by Dreyfus’s ex-staffer, Labor and the unions unleashed vicious attacks on Heydon.
Their desperation to destroy the royal commission would mean trying to destroy the reputation of one of Australia’s finest judges.
Waving the Barwick invitation in the air, Priest’s former employer Dreyfus demanded Heydon step down. Tony Burke labelled Heydon biased, conflicted and incompetent. Jason Clare labelled him a “bag man” under protection of parliamentary privilege. This defamation was politics at its lowest and most crude. Clare was forced to withdraw his slur.
The unions staged their own chorus of confected indignation. Dave Oliver, secretary of the ACTU, demanded the royal commission be shut down. Australian Workers Union national secretary Scott McDine voiced “no confidence” in the commission, claiming the Liberal Party had a “two-for-one” offer in Heydon running the royal commission and drumming up funds for Liberal coffers. Tony Sheldon, boss of the Transport Workers Union, demanded a refund of legal fees.
Dave Noonan, the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union’s national construction secretary, tried frantically to impugn the evidence given to the royal commission. He would do that. The most damaging evidence heard by the royal commission concerns the CFMEU. Evidence before the commission has seen two ACT officials from the militant CFMEU charged with assault. And that’s in addition to commission recommendations against 66 union and ex-union officials, including possible criminal charges against more CFMEU henchmen. Labor and union claims that the commission is a political witch-hunt have been obliterated by evidence.
Hence the desperation politics. Bill Shorten and his union paymasters are engaged in a bare-knuckled political cage fight to discredit Heydon and the royal commission. It’s their only hope of distracting Australians from damaging facts about a union movement that funds Labor and pulls its policy strings. Just weeks ago, after appearing before the commission, where his credibility as a witness was questioned, the Opposition Leader’s leadership was in free-fall.
Come the next election, what will voters remember? That a royal commissioner accepted, then declined, to give a legal lecture to a group of Liberal lawyers? Or will they remember the evidence of union thuggery, illegality, fraud and secret payments, including an undisclosed $40,000 to Shorten to fund his 2007 campaign?
Whatever the decision next week, voters will cast the final judgment on Labor’s frantic attempt to lynch Heydon.

Schoolgirl killer Price confesses; similarities to Jill Meagher case | The Australian

The killer of a 17-year-old schoolgirl had a lengthy criminal history of rape, stalking, assault, indecent assault and making threats to kill spanning more than a decade, it can be revealed after a guilty plea yesterday.
Sean Christian Price, 31, of Melbourne’s western suburbs, yesterday pleaded guilty to murder, rape, theft and attempted theft in a crime spree over two days in March this year that started with the schoolgirl’s ­murder.
Doncaster teenager Masa Vukotic was stabbed 49 times in Price’s March 17 attack, in a park just 500m from her eastern suburbs home, in a murder that was compared with the 2012 ­killing of ABC staff member Jill Meagher.
Masa was studying her VCE at Canterbury Girls’ Secondary College and was known for her love of reading, travel and dressing up in costumes.
She dreamt of becoming a lawyer, but that dream ended when Price attacked her as she exercised near her home in the early evening.
The murder shocked a city still recovering from the brutality of Meagher’s death.
Hundreds attended the fun­eral service for Masa, attended a public march or left flowers at the site of her death.
The parallels between the two women’s deaths strengthened as details emerged of Price’s criminal history.
Yesterday, Price pleaded guilty to raping a woman in Sunshine, in Melbourne’s west, two days after killing Masa.
Price has prior convictions for rape, indecent assault, stalking and making threats to kill dating back to 2004.
His youngest victim was a 13-year-old girl. Another victim was a 36-year-old mother who was raped in her home while her two young children were inside.
Price was aged 18 and 19 when he committed the offences and later told police he got “the biggest high” from the attacks.
He was sentenced to a minimum of 5½ years’ hospital detention and placed on the sex offenders’ register.
In 2006, Price punched and kicked then health minister Tony Abbott when he was visiting the Thomas Embling Hospital.
The Herald Sun reported Price also committed assaults in 2013 for which he served 10 months. Less than six months after his release from Port Phillip Prison, Price murdered Masa.
Yesterday, Price pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates Court to four charges, but was acquitted of two further charges of recklessly causing ­injury and intentionally causing injury. He will return to court on December 14.
The case will place further pressure on police and government to monitor and rehabilitate criminals after their release.
Meagher’s killer, Adrian ­Bayley, was also a multiple sex offender who had served time for his offending but ­escaped serious police scrutiny.

Ungodly rise in non-believers

Changing the way Australians are asked about their religion in next year’s census could see the number of people reporting as atheists jump by more than 10 per cent, a leading demographer says.
The prediction comes after the Australian Bureau of Statistics agreed to change the census form for the question on religious affiliation, moving the mark-box for “no religion” from the bottom of the list of 10 answers to the top.
KPMG demographer Bernard Salt said he expected the change would prompt many to select the “no religion” box for the first time, but warned that the change could “muddy the waters” by making it more difficult to assess historical trends.
In the previous national snapshot, taken in 2011, 22.3 per cent of the Australian population said they had no religion, compared with 25 per cent identifying as Catholic and 17 per cent Anglican.
“I would expect that (figure of 22.3 per cent) to increase an order of magnitude at the next census — it might be 30 per cent or 33 per cent,” Mr Salt said. “It is not that there is a sudden increase in godlessness, it is simply there is a mechanism to capture what is ­already there in the community.”
The ABS agreed to the change after receiving more than 400 submissions on the religious ­affiliation question, alleging a perceived bias in how the question was framed.
Australian Christian Lobby managing director Lyle Shelton said he was concerned the change had been made following a campaign by “militant” atheist groups: “There has been a small, fairly strident, even at times milit­ant, atheism and secularism emerging that wants to purge the public space of any opinion informed­ by religion, and I think that is unfair in a democracy.”
He said any increase next year in the number of people reporting no religiou­s affiliation should not be read as an increase in the number of atheists in ­society.
“Just because they tick ‘no religion’ on a census form doesn’t necessarily mean you can notch them up in the atheist column, which I suspect might be some of the motivation,” Mr Shelton said.
The Rationalist Society of Australia fears the Christian lobby may seek to overturn the change in next year’s survey, but a spokesman for the ABS said yesterda­y the review process had concluded.
“All topics and questions for the 2016 census have been agreed with government, and are now set. Topics are set in regulation by the government.

Aug 24, 2015

IBM 'negligent and misleading', Queensland alleges |

The Queensland government has accused technology giant IBM of misrepresenting its credentials in delivering a $6 million payroll system that cost $1.2 billion to fix.
It said if IBM hadn't talked up its credentials to design, build and deliver the payroll system for Queensland Health before it signed a contract in 2007, it would have awarded the deal to its archrival Accenture, court documents reveal.
​The state government is attempting to sue IBM for damages over the botched health payroll debacle, which partly contributed to the demise of the Bligh Labor government in 2012.
IBM has vowed to fight the claim and is blocking an attempt for the Queensland government to sue for damages in a four-day trial starting in the Supreme Court in Brisbane on Tuesday.
The technology system debacle – which overpaid some workers, underpaid others or paid them not at all – was described by former Supreme Court Richard Chesterman, QC, during his $5 million inquiry as possibly the worst failure in public administration in Australia.
The legal action against IBM was initiated by the Newman government, which blamed Labor for not pursuing the company for the botched payroll system for 80,000 health workers.
Despite speculation the Palaszczuk government would let the legal action lapse, it continued the compensation claim after winning office in January.
IBM is trying to block the action, saying it was cleared from future litigation during a 2010 agreement with the state.
In its submission to the courts, the Queensland government alleged it had suffered significant loss and damage as a result of the contract it signed with IBM in 2007 and the failed implementation of the payroll system for Queensland Health, which went live in 2010.
"The state alleges further that it would never have entered into the IBM contract and incurred the resulting losses had it not been for negligent and misleading representations made by IBM prior to the entry into the IBM contract," the submissions said.
It says the supplemental agreement with IBM in 2010 – where the IT company was paid a final payment of $718,861 to help fix remaining problems in the payroll system – did not terminate the IBM contract.
Lawyers for IBM claim the company was granted a release by the 2010 deal.


The Queensland government is attempting to sue IBM not for breach of contract, but  for what it alleges was IBM's falsely representing its credentials before the 2007 deal which its says is a breach of the Trade Practices Act.
It says IBM talked up its capability and expertise to design and build the Queensland Health payroll system, which would be able to be delivered by the original 2008 deadline and on budget.
Lawyers for the Queensland government said had it not been for the representations by IBM it would never have entered into the contract with the company and would have given the contract to Accenture.
​"The state claims damages in the misrepresentation proceeding for all of the loss and damage suffered in connection with the appointment of IBM as prime contractor under the IBM contract and the implementation of the QH payroll system,"  they said in their submission.
"The state alleges that these losses would not have occurred had it not been for the appointment of IBM under the IBM contract."
The Queensland government claims it has made about 481 defect fixes to the computerised payroll system for Queensland Health since October 2010.
In its submission, IBM said the 2010 agreement was an attempt by both parties to resolve the dispute and included mutual releases and covenants not to sue.
"There is no claim for breach of contract. IBM's position is that the damages proceedings is within the scope of the release by the state. The state takes the contrary position," it said.
IBM also claims the Queensland government's damages proceeding is not just focusing on alleged pre-contractual misrepresentations, but also makes allegations about the quality of the IT system IBM delivered and the costs incurred in dealing with that system.

More than half of young Australians are studying for dying professions and will lose jobs to robots

MORE than half of young Australians are studying for dying professions, losing their passage into the workforce as robots take over entry-level jobs.
Nearly 60 per cent of students are being trained for jobs that will be changed radically by automation in the next 10 to 15 years, with 70 per cent of VET students affected, a Foundation for Young Australians report, released today, reveals.
“Our young people are not being trained in the jobs that will survive automation,” the report said.
The report also found more young Australians will work different jobs at the same time, with around 30 per cent of the nation’s workforce already moonlighting in multiple part-time and casual work.
FYA chief executive officer Jan Owen said Australia was in the midst of the most dramatic change in work since the Industrial Revolution. She pushed for a national enterprise learning strategy to get young people ready for the future.
She said there needed to be a focus on communication, financial and digital literacy, creativity and innovation.
Education Minister Kate Jones said ensuring students had skills for the future was a priority. “That’s why we’ll be delivering additional specialist teachers in science and maths, extending STEM teaching in Queensland schools, and will be releasing an action plan to modernise teaching in our classrooms with coding and robotics,” she said.
Year 12 students Jade Miller, 16, and Ash Christmas, 17, plan to go to university. Jade said she had considered job outcomes when picking social work as her future career.
“It’s a job that is always going to be around,” she said.
Originally published as The sobering job news for young Aussies