Deep divisions: Shark mitigation report highlights the difference between our east and west coasts

 Last summer, in the space of a few weeks, I visited Perth and the Gold Coast and noticed an astonishing contrast. Swimmers at Perth’s Cottesloe and Mullaloo Beach (where a skier was attacked in 2012, a young man mysteriously disappeared in broad daylight in 2013, and near where a diver was fatally attacked last year) barely dared to enter the water past shoulder height, and even then only briefly.

On the Gold Coast, kayakers practised their racing techniques …


A year of learning ambitiously: How a series of bold experiments reminds us that schools can still aim high

Learning to draw portraits, play guitar or speak a new language are daunting if you believe pop-psychologist Malcolm Gladwell’s famous dictum that it takes 10,000 hours to master a human skill.

Gladwell’s finding, from the book Outliers (2008), was meant to demystify success, revealing it as accessible to anybody prepared to put in the time. It was corroborated by another book that same year, Talent is Overrated, by Geoff Colvin, who argued “deliberate practice” …


It’s time to remember Harold Holt for his achievements

Who should we blame for making impatient Australian radicals wait until December 1972 for their It’s Time moment?

By then the US Civil Rights movement was so old school it had been usurped by Black Power. The radicals at the barricades in Paris in 1967 were settling into a comfortable bourgeois professional existence. Harold Wilson - Britain’s Gough - had been an ex-prime minister for more than two years.

The significant role of Harold Holt in the conspiracy to …


Paul Keating thinks Australians are stupid

Nick Cater writes in The Australian:

Paul Keating is at his least appealing when he strays into the history war, a topic he approaches with the intellectual rigour of ­rottweiler with a diploma in postcolonial studies.

In 2013 he chose Remembrance Day, an occasion to honour the courage of our forebears, to tell us that their sacrifice in World War I was pointless. The Diggers were mere “cannon fodder” in “a war devoid of any virtue”, driven by “the whim of …


Industry-run superannuation funds in dire need of better oversight

Spiro Premetis writes in The Daily Telegraph:

THE retirement savings of Australian workers are being used in a campaign to prolong poor standards of governance in the superannuation industry, and to support the Labor Party’s attack on banks.

How much have the super funds siphoned off in order to pay for this campaign?

They won’t say.

The “fox in the henhouse” advertisement is not the most sophisticated ad on TV, with its cheap lighting effects and clichéd, …


Money and education: A basic lesson in the arithmetic of school funding

More evidence emerged from the UK this week that better teaching is the key raising education standards, not throwing money at schools.

In 2010, the government changed the national curriculum to require schools to use phonics, where children are taught to read by learning individual sounds and then blending different sounds together, rather than learning words by sight.

Reading standards in England are the best in a generation, The Daily Telegraph reports


The embassy embarrassment: It’s all Greek to Mark Dreyfus

Despite being the party most aligned with multiculturalism and identity politics, Labor surprisingly and audaciously played the race card this week.

A press release from shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said letters from the Greek embassy confirming that Julia Banks, Alex Hawke, Michael McCormack and Arthur Sinodinos were not Greek citizens were “unconvincing”.

So the Greek government is incapable of knowing whether members of the Australian government are its …


Man of action: Harold Holt should be remembered for his ability to get tough jobs done

Government is considerably bigger than it was 50 years ago, but is it getting worse at doing stuff?

The thought occurred as we were researching the Menzies Research Centre’s forthcoming monograph on the achievements of Harold Holt’s 690 days as prime minister.

The drama of his drowning, 50 years ago next weekend, has overshadowed his many accomplishments during three decades in public life. He tackled big reforms and executed them well.

The complicated transition to …


The right to refuse: Milo, Mill and the same-sex marriage bill

If economic freedom allows buyers and sellers to willingly enter into a contract, does it also imply the right to refuse service? That question underlies two of the biggest stories in Australia this week.

Milo Yiannopoulos, the self-styled alt-right provocateur, said he’s had difficulties hiring speaking venues and accommodation for his Australian tour.

As he told Macquarie Radio’s Alan Jones this week: “We can’t hurl money at hotels to let me to stay in them.”


The power of concentration: How a shortage of energy suppliers inflates your bill

The power of concentration: How a shortage of energy suppliers inflates your bill

There are too few companies generating electricity in the National Electricity Market. In each state in the NEM (which includes all states except Western Australia) the combined market shares of the two or three most significant generators is more than 70 per cent.

The closure of Hazelwood and Northern increased this level of concentration in Victoria and South Australia, and pushed overall capacity closer to demand. This enabled generators with high market shares to …


Ten reasons why energy policy is broken

Ten reasons why energy policy is broken

The combined policies of state and federal governments regarding energy infrastructure, generation and distribution have in the past two decades degenerated into one of the biggest policy failures in postwar Australia.

Our energy markets are broken — they are failing to deliver reliable, affordable electricity and gas — which is costing families and businesses for no apparent advantage.

Despite sharing an abundance of energy resources — from sun and wind to gas, coal …


The ‘error’ of her ways: Gillian Triggs concedes over AHRC's handling of QUT case

There was an “error” in the way the Australian Human Rights Commission handled the case of seven Queensland students wrongly accused of racism, the AHRC’s former president Gillian Triggs said on ABC-TV last night.

The students were the subject of a complaint from Cindy Prior, a staffer at the Queensland University of Technology. Ms Prior had asked the students to leave a computer lab because it was reserved for indigenous students.

One of the students, Calum …


Weatherill’s green power push leaves SA in the dark

Nick Cater writes in The Australian:

Jay Weatherill switched on the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery last week, the showpiece in his $500 million plan to keep the lights on until next year’s election.

“This is history in the making,” the Premier declared with an unnerving tone of triumphalism. “South Australia is now leading the world in dispatchable renewable energy.”

Sadly, the battery’s stored energy wasn’t sufficiently dispatch­able to relieve …


A work in progress: Green jobs are not emerging as quickly as we’d been led to believe

Green jobs were touted as one of the benefits of the new economy. Like sprouts in a freshly fertilised field, ads for “sustainability officers”, “wind turbine mechanics” and - if memory serves correctly - “bovine emissions supervisors” were to replace old, unfashionable occupations like digging up coal.

In an attempt to hasten their germination, Kevin Rudd threw $79.6 million of taxpayers’ money at a green-job training program in 2009.

The National Green Jobs …


‘Panicky’ plan to avoid blackouts illogical

Tony Shepherd AO writes in The Australian:

The panicky piecemeal measures to avoid blackouts across eastern Australia this summer vividly illustrate the illogicality of most energy policies these days, and the exorbitant costs they impose on consumers.

The measures, announced by Australian Energy Market Operator CEO Audrey Zibelman this week, include refiring mothballed gas power stations in South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania, and stocking up on diesel generators.

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