In my 27 July Commentary I drew attention to the “discovery” that Islamic extremists have been preaching in religious programs at NSW government schools and to the announcement by Premier Baird of an audit and a suite of measures across 2,200 schools. I suggested that such preaching might well be occurring in other states too.
Today’s Herald Sun reports that in Victoria over 8,000 children are now attending Islamic schools, up from 3,900 in 2007 (see article Student enrolments more than double in recent boom at Victoria’s Islamic schools). While I have not yet ascertained the character of the religious programs taught at these schools, it would not be surprising if there are some extremist preachers there too.The author of the article confirmed that, as with other private schools, these Islamic ones receive federal and state financial assistance. The Victorian government should follow the NSW one and announce an audit and other measures designed to prevent radicalisation at the schools.
Indeed, a report in today’s Age (see Melbourne teacher receives threats and moves schools after being accused of ‘teaching evil’) suggests the Victorian education system may be ill-equipped to teach Islam and its history. It is certainly worrying, if it is correct, that a teacher has been forced to move schools because she suggested that “some of the Prophet Muhammad’s companions were terrorists”. In itself that would not be a “religious” statement, as apparently suggested by an Education Department official and (by implication) an inappropriate one. Note also that, without giving any explanation or assessment, the Fairfax press decided not to explore the matter further.
The attachment also contains a report from today’s Age (see Not one, but all Man Haron Monis letters to Attorney General’s Department ministers overlooked) indicating that the Attorney General’s department failed to supply the review of the Lindt Cafe incident any of the letters written to Brandis by Monis since 2010. There does not seem to be any foul play, just inefficiency.
Obama has announce that a 32 per cent cut in US power-plant carbon dioxide emissions will now be required by 2030 from 2005 levels, an increase from the 30 per cent target proposed last year (attached is a detailed release by the White House which is difficult to interpret). It appears that this is to be achieved through regulations imposed by the Environment Protection Agency ie not by Congressional legislation. US power-plant carbon emissions account for just 5 per cent of global carbon emissions and this is presumably designed to be the “model” for the Paris meeting in December. But early reports indicate opposition by Republicans and some states, and court actions will likely occur.
The language used by Obama, such as this is the most important challenge faced by the US and the World, reminds one of Kevin Rudd. Although the White House release asserts that global temperatures increased by 1.5 degrees between 1880 and 2012, no back-up is provided to this claim. It implies a large increase in the period when fossil fuel usage was small.
Draft Productivity Commission Report
The draft PC report on Workplace Relations has been released and comments are invited by 18 September, which is just prior to the HRN conference on 23 September.
I note the report starts by making the highly questionable statement that “Without regulation, employees are likely to have much less bargaining power than employers, with adverse outcomes for their wages and conditions”. Almost inevitably, this leads it to propose a continuation of a highly regulated system. Although immediately opposed by the unions, that opposition appears to relate more to the PC’s proposal to reduce some penalty rates than to any substantive deregulation. As many predicted, it was a mistake to have the PC review the system.