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Search Results for: we cannot let racism win

We cannot let racism win

Thursday 26  July 2018

It’s a sad day for Australian politics when our Prime Minister plays the race card.

To the point of boredom he tells us that we are the most successful multi-racial country in the world, yet at the same time tells us people are scared to leave their homes to eat out.

On the eve of some important by-elections, Malcolm Turnbull is doing whatever he can to give those standing for his side of politics a better chance. If his means playing the race card regardless of the facts, the truth, or personal belief, he will do so. I don’t believe he is a racist.

Peter Dutton started it saying that African gangs were “wreaking havoc” in Victoria. Sudanese particularly.

Here are some extracts from a sensible fact-laden piece the Melbourne Age reported in a video piece by Waleed Aly:

In an eight-minute editorial package written with The Project producer Tom Whitty, Aly on Thursday presented a number of statistics that placed question marks on recentclaims by several politicians that violent African gangs were “wreaking havoc” in Victoria.

“This week the Prime Minister said something interesting,” Aly started, cutting to a video of Turnbull in a 3AW interview earlier this week.

“There is real concern about Sudanese gangs,” Turnbull says in the video. “You have to be walking around with your hands over your ears in Melbourne not to hear it.”

“What’s interesting,” Aly said, “is I live in Melbourne and the only place I’ve heard concerns about Sudanese gangs is on talk-back radio, where the PM made those comments. But the PM was adamant: people are scared.”

According to Victoria’s Crime Statistics Agency, crime has actually dropped 9 per cent in the last year in Victoria,” he said. “Sudanese Victorians make up 0.1 per cent of the population and account for just 1 per cent of all crimes committed last year.”

Adding that while the Sudanese community is clearly over-represented in the crime stats, Aly said that what’s more interesting is that “Australian-born Victorians were responsible for 71.7 per cent of the crime committed last year”.

Despite these figures, Aly pointed out, Turnbull continued to push the point that there was an issue with African gangs specifically.

We read in yesterday’s online Guardian that Australia will consider adding a “values test” for those considering permanent residency in order to protect its “extraordinarily successful” multicultural society.”

I have asked on social media on many occasions if someone could tell me just what specific Australian values there are that are not universally held by other social democracies. I have never had an answer.

In London the Citizenship and Multicultural Minister Alan Tudge, last week, in a speech to the Australia/UK Leadership Forum was suggesting a “values” test to fend off “segregation.”

“Segregation,” I thought to myself. I dislike the word intently for the images it places before one’s eyes, but nevertheless it is something we have practiced for as long as immigration has existed and is as natural as life itself.

When the Italians came to Melbourne they gathered together in Brunswick, the Greeks in Carlton and the Vietnamese in Springvale and now Box Hill. And so on. Then over time they disintegrated and neatly integrated into general society.

“Some of the challenges to social cohesion that we are facing today are similar to ones that the UK is facing – such as ethnic segregation and liberal values being challenged,” Trudge went onto say.

His speech was full of racial overtones calculated to incite further violence back home. And it seems to be working.

The front page of the Saturday New Daily reads “Wild scenes as far-left protesters clash with cops at far-right event in Melbourne.”

An observation

“The purpose of propaganda is to make you feel good about the wrongs being perpetrated on you.”

A headline in last Saturday’s Australian (fire-walled) read:

“Malcolm and the True Believers” by Greg Sheridan: “The PM reveals he prays regularly, believes in afterlife and is inspired by Jesus.”

Given that Jesus was the world’s first socialist he arguably has a conflict of interest.

Australian politicians currently have a 15% trust rating. When people in the LNP who are not necessarily racist deliberately play the race card to steal a few votes from a real racist in Pauline Hanson they not only shame themselves but the nation itself.

When the Prime Minister seeks to incite racial hatred he demeans himself and the great office bequeathed to him.

An observation from Craig Emerson:

“Howard tried this in 1988 with Asian immigration. Who would have imagined Turnbull would try it again in 2018. The Liberals haven’t changed in 30 years. Very sad for our country.”

Dutton was at it again last Sunday and twice this week I have seen him repeating the same stuff.

Growing up as a small boy in Brunswick I witnessed this thoughtless bigotry. I was told not to walk to school on the side of the street where the Jews lived but happily sought their friendship when I arrived.

I lived through the period of Italian and Greek immigration when most Australians through their ignorance looked upon them with disdain. Later they celebrated the marriage of their sons and daughters to them even overlooking a religious divide.

I celebrated as Australia began to absorb the breathtaking contributions of these nationalities that saw us grow as a nation.

Along the way there were tensions but they never stopped the Advance of Australia fair.

I observed the advent of Asian immigration and all the recycled hatred only to see it vanish in the same way the Greek and Italian animosity did.

Now we are confronted with yet more odious loathing. This time it is directed at those from the Africa. It doesn’t matter what their country of origin if they are Muslim they will suffer the full thrust of minorities xenophobia. Just as 99 per cent of Muslims want peace so do 99 per cent of Australians.

We have a long history of finding fault with things we don’t understand. At various times we have blamed communists, Jews, women, the devil, indigenous people and witches, even God, for all manner of things.

I have been privy to the ignorance that history has recorded on these matters and I am angry with the likes of Pauline Hanson, Peter Dutton and our Prime Minister who would seek to deny Australia of others who desire to, not only seek their personal freedom, but also the opportunity to give of themselves to the advancement of this great nation.

When I sit on the platform at Flinders street Station and watch the passing parade of ethnicity I can but only admire a country I could never envisage from the same seat in the 1950s.

My thought for the day

“Lying is wrong but lying to defend a lie is appalling immoral.”

As Tony Windsor tweeted:

“Turnbull would fail his own test …now the man with no values, no beliefs, no idea… a floundering father Emerald, like Trump he is someone to be ashamed of as PM.”

Ostracism (or “Hinch is no Aristeides and a vote is no ostracon”)

I have two daughters, a grand daughter and two grand sons. I have many other relatives, neighbours and friends. Close friends and friends separated by distance. Friends and relatives I love.

The mere thought that someone has hurt a single hair on their heads could well have me feeling murderous and grieving for a long time. If then a creature like Senator Derryn Hinch – cursed be his name and cursed be the Senate that has him in its fold! – decided to publicise the gruesome details of that event (real, alleged or imagined) would make both, my grief and my urge to be murderous near impossible to control.

Hinch has no idea about grief. He has a platform which he has turned into a pulpit of hateful dogmas. He has no idea of what he is saying nor what the effects of his sayings are, how powerfully hurtful they are and how close to being lethal they can be. Hinch does not protest. Don’t make the mistake of thinking his frenzied and mindless attacks are acts of protest. Don’t think that his sonorous accusations, all his drum beating and all his crass and vulgar, his bilious hatred towards a sex offender are acts of protestation.

They are anything but.

They are simply acts.

Acts by a bad actor

They are acts of accusation which, like ancient Greek stage masks, are worn to hide some flaw in his character. Hinch wears a mask to hide his attempts to gain kudos and relevance. Distinction from the rest of us. To hide his lack of, or his inadequacy of, almost anything that a compassionate human has. His loud accusations are nothing more than masks of inhumaneness.

He committed this despicable act of tweeting the gory details of what Aiia Maasarwe had suffered in the hands of a savage, not so as to correct an errant law because if that was his purpose he could have done it by many other means, very powerful means and much more effective means, means that we could all relate to and give our consent; this tweet of his shouted in no uncertain language, “I am your saviour, I am your messiah!”

It is the shouting of delusion, of psychopathy – in any case, of a deep psychological problem, desperately seeking a cure.

And, instead of correcting an errant law, the highly possible change that Hinch has effected would be that he brutalised the law. By this grotesque act, he is urging the masses to put pressure on the legislators to create new laws -or, rather to exhume old laws from the graves civilisation had buried them in a long time ago- and to apply them anew. Old, abandoned brutal laws become the new accepted brutal laws.

Next stop, if Hinch has his way, will be capital punishment or banishment for stealing a loaf of bread.

Hinch was born with a tin howler in his hands which he took for god’s golden mike and so he uses it at every opportunity to tell the world what the principal teacher of morals, according to some, Jesus, would say.

Hinch, like almost all politicians does not want to change the law. Such laws give them air and legitimacy. Something to hang their hat on. An emblem.

No, they are after the tin howler, the one they think god uses to straighten us all up.

I cannot bear to see his face let alone listen to his grating rants. I’ve stopped listening to him pretty much the first time I heard him speak. Can’t remember what it was but no matter, the message hasn’t changed one apostrophe or one exclamation mark since he started. One issue, one solution, one dogma: Stop the law from being the law, be as graphic as you can when describing the brutality a victim has suffered, create even more victims out of that one act of savagery, so that the law would change and so that he, Senator Derryn Hinch would be declared our Messiah.

Never mind that his dogma causes more victims, more grief, more pain, more virulent pain, more lasting pain.

It seems our radio stations, our TV channels, our press and our Parliaments have been, at some point not that long ago suddenly stormed by a horde of bastards and now we hear and see nothing putrid hatred for humanity.

From George Brandis’ “we have the right to be bigots, you know” to Dutton’s “they’re doing well at Manus and Nauru” to… things said in such number that, well, let me borrow Jack Hibberd’s delicious line, “too numerous to enumerate!”

Bastards, one and all.

What do we do? What do we do in a state where Democracy is the clarion call and “freedom of speech,” its slogan?

The ancient Athenians had an answer. Ostracism.

Aristides and the Citizens

Every year – once only a year and against one only citizen – people in Parliament would be asked if they want to hold an ostracism. If yes, then two months later (enough time for discussions to take place) a minimum of six thousand people would gather in the agora, the market place, the speech making place at the centre of the city and there they would scratch on broken pieces of pottery the name of the man they hated the most and place them in great urns. Men who have done unconscionable wrong or men who, like Aristeidis the Just, simply annoyed people. These were generally rich, influential people who got under the skin of the commoners for one reason or other. I won’t go on discussing this summary law, other than to say that there was no court, no judicial process, no lawyers, no prosecution nor defence lawyers, no involvement by any other person or body of persons. Just you and your ostracon, your shard of pottery. You were asked to participate in a reverse “popularity contest” by scratching on that shard the name of the person you hated the most.

Officials would preside and the person whose name appeared the most would be given ten days to get out of town – for ten years.

These were almost exclusively people of wealth and influence because it was they who could cause the greatest civil agitation and harm.

The banished person would be kept away from Athens for ten years with death being his punishment if he tried to come back any earlier. And when he did, all was forgiven. His property was not confiscated, his reputation – good or ill – remained and he would not be stigmatised for being ostracised.

Only one per year.

It was a way of keeping the political process and the ego of the politicians, just that little bit more sanguine. More circumspect.

It wasn’t an idea that was perfectly executed but certainly one that requires some examination as to how to improve it and make certain that it stays uncorruptedly in the hands of the common citizen.

And although, many rascals (Cleon and Cleophon are two that come to mind) have escaped this process, Senator Hinch, I’m certain, would be told to pack his venom-dripping bags and leave the country. I’d be there, at the agora with enough anger and fury to make sure I’ve spelled his name right:

Ντέρρυν Χιντς.

And please don’t bring up his own story of molestation. Whatever it was, it must have been horrific and would have had enormous impact on his views about paedophiles and sexual miscreants. This should make him think even more about what he is saying about what words he is using about what impact these words have upon the victims and their family.

The incident did nothing of the sort and at the kindest, one would say he is acting so relentlessly out of revenge.

I’m not so kind to people who cause so much grief.

He is doing it so obsessively because it’s the only thing that gives him, in his mind, the legitimacy to hold a mike, a tin howler and I very much wish that someone would take it off him because he is using it to cause harm and not good.

Yes, we could do this done by vote but an ostracon would see him out of the scene quicker and cheaper, which is what is sorely needed.

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Here’s our money, now let them go.

It’s 2019 and Western Australia is still locking up people for not paying fines. Of course this abhorrent policy barely affects the rich, or the well-employed, or those with financial security. It doesn’t affect those who have access to money, or for whom a $500 – $1000 slap on the wrist is just a matter of flashing the credit card or at worst, waiting until payday. No, it punishes people for being poor, for which $500+ becomes an unmanageable percentage of their income/benefit. And before long, that slap on the wrist becomes a prison sentence.

This policy, which Attorney-General John Quigley can stop right now, is disastrous for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in the community, those who barely have enough money to pay the rent, or buy food or nappies for babies. These are not violent criminals, or a threat to society. No, these people, many of which are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, cannot afford to pay the most miniscule of fines which have been meted out, not for grievous acts against person or property, but for basic regulatory offences which should never ever see a person imprisoned.

In Western Australia, every day there are approximately 8 to ten people in jail for unpaid fines. These are fathers and mothers separated from their children, vulnerable people separated from their families and incarcerated with prisoners when they have committed no crime. Of these, women are overrepresented, and 64% of the female fine defaulters are Indigenous women.

This is outrageous. And it must stop. Now. Not in six months after yet another review of a dire situation. Not tomorrow, when yet another two people have been arrested for not being able to pay their fines.

Today. Now. Attorney-General Quigley must act now and urgently put forward legislation to stop the abhorrent practice of jailing people who cannot pay their fines.

This isn’t a new idea. It isn’t something which the Western Australian government isn’t critically aware of, although the arrest and imprisonment last week of Indigenous actor and dancer Rubeun Yorkshire has thrown the spotlight on the issue again. It’s a policy which an entire coronial inquest report has recommended against.

In 2014, Aboriginal woman Ms Dhu died in police custody after officers failed to recognise she was critically ill after a rib, broken months earlier by a violent partner, became infected. Ms Dhu was in jail for owing a pitiful $3,622. It cost her life. The Coroner’s report noted that that the series of escalating consequences for fine defaulters, when combined with poverty, result in people being jailed without the safeguard of judicial oversight.

The Coroner recommended that the WA government should change the law and stop the practice of jailing people for unpaid fines. That report was handed down in December 2016.

And what has changed? Nothing. Not a thing. In fact the prison population is still growing, and Indigenous Australians are grossly overrepresented. A 2018 Human Rights Watch report found that “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in prison are the fastest growing prison population, and 21 times more likely to be incarcerated than non-indigenous peers.”

Western Australia is punishing people for being poor. It is punishing people who have been subject all their lives to institutionalised racism. It is embedding a state-sanctioned punitive culture where those who are financially suffering are further shamed, humiliated and punished, despite having no criminal convictions.

Prisons are for criminals, not poor people. Prisons are places of punishment for those who pose a risk to society, not the victims of violence, like the Noongar woman who was arrested and jailed in September 2017 for unpaid fines after police were called to deal with a violent family member.

Attorney-General Quigley knows all this. In October 2018 he told media that jail for fine defaulters was an “economically unsound policy”. Jailing people costs money; approximately $303 a day per person. A person cannot “pay off” a fine through incarceration. It’s nonsensical and prehistoric. Quigley stated that jailing fine defaulters should be “truly a last resort”. This isn’t good enough, when “last resort” it almost certainly means a person has no other option but to give their life for a paltry thousand dollars or so.

And it isn’t good enough to promise to put forward legislation later, another day, another time. It must happen now.

The Western Australian government must act now.

But in the meantime, Australians who are appalled at the gross injustice of jailing people who have committed no crimes are stepping up. While Attorney-General Quigley hides behind bureaucracy, Debbie Kilroy, Executive Director of Sisters Inside, an organization which advocates for the human rights of women in the criminal justice system, has started a GoFundMe fundraiser with the aim to free 100 single Aboriginal mothers from Western Australian prisons.

It has raised over $87,000 in just two days.

This money has already been used to save a single Noongar woman, a mother of three children, from being imprisoned. The accumulated debt of $3100 came from traffic infringements and having an unregistered dog.

Attorney-General Quigley can put a stop to this draconian policy. He can put forward legislation immediately to end the discriminatory practice of jailing people for being poor. He can cease this barbaric action against the most vulnerable in the community. And he must do it now, before another family is torn apart and separated, by imprisonment, or death.

Please donate to #FreeThePeople here.

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Never allow racism to disguise itself in the cloak of nationalism

Thursday 16 August 2018

I don’t think there is a greater societal problem in the world today than that of racism.

When a person declares inwardly using self-deceit or ignorance that he or she is superior because, certain factors, such as skin colour make it so, then they are racist.

When a person declares outwardly using self-deceit, ignorance or just blind hatred that he or she is superior just because of the colour of their skin, ethnicity or the faith they follow then they are racist.

Their racism has probably been handed down to them by the sins of the fathers. They are not born into it.

Such racist thoughts were expressed in the maiden speech of Queensland Senator Fraser Anning who called for a “Final Solution” to immigration.

His speech has been widely criticized for its obvious Nazi overtones and blatant racism. The “Final solution” was the phrase used by Hitler for what he called the Jewish problem. It called for the extermination of an entire race of people to satisfy a crazed mind.

To say that Anning’s words were insensitive would be an oversimplification.

Anti-Semitism or the practice of it can be traced back to medieval Europe. Jews were banned from many countries because they refused to practice the faith of their conquerors.

They were also hated because they loaned money and charged interest, which was forbidden in the Christian faith.

In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, Jews were expelled from France, Germany, Portugal and Spain.

Josh Frydenberg was one of many MPs who were upset by Anning’s speech saying that at least 1.5 million children were killed in the Holocaust.

“Fraser Anning is a father,” Mr Frydenberg said.

“Let alone the 10 million people that were killed by the Nazis, of which six million were Jews.”

Mr Frydenberg said his comments were completely unacceptable and extremely hurtful.

He has no excuse and needs to quickly apologize.

But Anning’s speech wasn’t just about anti-Semitism. It was about trying to save a world that has long passed us by. About trying to save a faith that the facts show will die out in the next 20 to 30 years. About restoring an image of the average Australian of the 50s. About white authority and superiority. About Nationalism and not internationalism.

Men of Anning’s and Bob Katter’s background and vintage, I’m sure, walk through each day singing “Click go the Shears” while the rest of us concede the contribution that immigration has made to the culture of our country and that culture and values are but a work in progress that never gets completed.

And for all the imperfections that must by nature come with it, we just work our way through them.

I mention Bob Katter because during my lunch break I tuned into News 24 to see Bob give Fraser a grouse round of support.

He is the quintessential Australian Ocker who should be cracking his whip in the outback where the crack of his tongue can do no harm.

His press conference was full of factual errors and exaggerated nonsensical talk that, when the camera pulled back, revealed that he may as well have been talking to himself. Which was probably a good thing. Three very young junior journalists constituted the press conference.

We are confronted with yet more odious loathing. This time it is directed at those from Africa. It doesn’t matter what their country of origin if they are Muslim they will suffer the full thrust of minorities xenophobia. Just as 99 per cent of Muslims want peace so do 99 per cent of Australians.

In my piece We cannot let racism win I wrote:

“We have a long history of finding fault with things we don’t understand. At various times we have blamed communists, Jews, women, the devil, indigenous people and witches, even God, for all manner of things.

I have been privy to the ignorance that history has recorded on these matters and I am angry with the likes of Pauline Hanson, Peter Dutton and our Prime Minister who would seek to deny Australia of others who desire to, not only seek their personal freedom, but also the opportunity to give of themselves to the advancement of this great nation.

When I sit on the platform at Flinders Street Station and watch the passing parade of ethnicity I can but only admire a country I could never envisage from the same seat in the 1950s.”

My thought for the day.

Never allow racism to disguise itself in the cloak of nationalism”

PS. Senator Hinch probably best summed up the speech when he said he sat through the speech by Senator Anning. Said he believes in free speech. But it was the most racist, hateful, spiteful diatribe he has heard in 50 years in journalism. “excruciating” and “Pauline Hanson on steroids”.

Is the world swerving extreme right?

By Ad astra

Are you as alarmed as I am when you see on our TV screens, or hear on the radio, or read in our disappearing newspapers about the deteriorating state of democracy in Europe, Asia, the United States of America, Africa, the Middle East, even in our own country?

Do you see, as I do, the rise of extreme right wing politics: nationalism, rampant patriotism, populism, nativism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, even white supremacy, as well as the re-emergence of fascist, racist and reactionary ideologies?

Look at Europe. Recent elections have brought right wing parties to the fore in Hungary, Poland, Germany, Austria, and even Switzerland. Take a look at a recent article published by Bloomberg: How the Populist Right is Redrawing the Map of Europe by Andre Tartar. Here is an extract:

A Bloomberg analysis of decades of election results across 22 European countries reveals that support for populist radical-right parties is higher than it’s been at any time over the past 30 years. These parties won 16 percent of the overall vote on average in the most recent parliamentary election in each country, up from 11 percent a decade earlier and 5 percent in 1997.

While some parties evolved along the way, they are all now seen as anti-elite, nativist, and having a strong law and order focus, as defined by academics who helped shape this analysis.

We ought to be startled by this account.

Day after day we see from the news reports that opposition to the flood of immigrants from Middle Eastern and African countries has given rise to these anti-immigration sentiments. War, terrorism, and civil strife leading to persecution are usually the root causes of the migration. Several European nations are now turning away immigrants, even those who arrive in boatloads with nowhere to go. Some countries have relented, while others have put up the shutters. The human misery that has resulted is heart-rending. With nowhere to go, and return to the country from which they are fleeing impossible, they are being herded into camps where they exist in appalling conditions where overcrowding, poverty, inadequate nutrition, disease, poor medical resources, and violence is the norm. Hopelessness compounds their plight.

Despite the desperate needs of these refugees, more and more Europeans are shouting ‘enough is enough’ and ‘go back to where you came from’. Angela Merkel’s past policy of allowing, even encouraging immigrants to settle in Germany has brought her undone. With the emergence of the extreme right wing, anti-immigrant party, the ‘Alternative for Germany’ (AfD), support for Merkel has eroded; she is now permanently wounded.

In the Middle East, the authoritarian, oppressive regime of Bashar al Assad in Syria has waged fierce war against rebel forces since 2011, reducing his country to rubble and forcing its people into refugee camps. In 2016, from an estimated pre-war population of 22 million, the United Nations identified 13.5 million Syrians requiring humanitarian assistance, of which more than 6 million are internally displaced within Syria, and around 5 million are refugees outside of Syria, the vast majority of which are hosted by countries adjoining Syria.

Further south there is war-torn Yemen. While it is structured as a democratic nation, it is dominated on its northern border by authoritarian Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy, where the king must comply with Sharia (Islamic) law and the Quran. Saudi Arabia’s support for rebel forces in Yemen has resulted in starvation, lack of drinking water, rampant disease and death, particularly among children, and displacement of millions of Yemenis, who are not welcome elsewhere.

Reflect now on the Asian subcontinent where hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas have made perilous journeys out of Myanmar to Bangladesh to escape communal violence and abuses perpetrated by the security forces that have burned their villages, raped their women, and killed their men. The escapees live in overcrowded camps that Bangladesh cannot sustain. Their misery is compounded by the hopelessness of their situation. Xenophobia makes their plight bleak and seemingly irreversible. The world’s leaders look on unsympathetically. A handful of charitable organizations are on the ground helping where they can, but struggle against overwhelming odds.

To gain a perspective on the extent of the world’s refugee crisis, read these extracts from a June 2017 paper by the World Economic Forum.

One in every 113 people on the planet is now a refugee. Around the world, someone is displaced every three seconds, forced from their homes by violence, war and persecution.

By the end of 2016, the number of displaced people had risen to 65.6 million – more than the population of the United Kingdom. The number is an increase of 300,000 on the year before, and the largest number ever recorded, according to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR.

Within this figure are different types of refugee. Most – 40.3 million – are people displaced within their own country. This is a slight dip on the year before, but the figure still makes up almost two thirds of the total global refugee count. Most of these people are based in war-torn Syria and Iraq, alongside those uprooted by conflict in Colombia.

Refugees who have fled to another country make up the next biggest group, which at 22.5 million people is the highest number ever recorded. Predictably, Syria, now in its seventh year of conflict, is generating the highest number of refugees. Five and a half million fled the country last year. But over the course of 2016, South Sudan became a major new source of refugees after the breakdown of peace efforts in July contributed to 739,900 people crossing the border by the end of the year. Since then, the number of people who have left has climbed to 1.87 million people.

We don’t need to look far from our own shores to see the same problem. We have our own quota of displaced persons seeking asylum in our country, languishing on Manus Island and Nauru, being held at bay by a mean government and a mean minister that gives them no hope.

When we look across the Pacific to the ‘land of the brave and the free’ we see a punitive policy towards immigrants where those who cross the border to the US are sent back, or housed in military camps, or separated from their children, many of whom appear ‘lost’, where the President of that wealthy nation sends message of rejection day after day, and by Executive Order pushes them further away. Laudably, many thousands of his own citizens protested in the streets of US cities against his moves, angered by his callousness and repressive behaviour. Similarly, the people of Britain have demonstrated angrily against him and have mocked him with Trump Baby effigy during his recent UK visit. We know though that his fervent supporters applaud his actions. They will likely vote for him next time around. They see a reflection of themselves in his attitude and behaviour – they too harbour nationalistic, anti-immigration, even white supremacist feelings – America only for Americans.

With the US Supreme Court upholding by five to four (the court has a five/four majority of conservatives) Trump’s travel ban on Muslims that prohibits entry into the United States of most people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, these people are now legally excluded from US residence and citizenship. This is xenophobia run riot, but Trump is triumphant, especially as the court agreed that the government “had set forth a sufficient national security justification”; in other words these Muslims constitute a national security risk. His supporters agree. This move will enhance his popularity among his supporters, as is already showing up in the polls.

There is no point in expressing righteous indignation at Trump’s actions, as this is what his own followers want. The people themselves are complicit, as is the Supreme Court, which could swerve even more to the conservative right if Trump’s nomination of an ultra-conservative replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, namely Justice Brett Kavanaugh, is confirmed. Kavanaugh’s radial views are disquieting. Read what publisher Phillip Frazer has to say about him, and Trump’s reason for nominating him. It’s alarming. Trump is determined to entrench his ideology in the Court and perhaps set the scene for the revocation of some liberal laws: to give just two examples, laws relating to abortion and gay rights.

Image from act.credoaction.com

South of the Mexican border, it will be intriguing to see how Trump’s anti-immigration policy, especially where it is directed against Mexicans, will play out with the recent election of left-wing populist, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, popularly known by his initials AMLO, to replace the unpopular, right wing Enrique Peña Nieto as President of Mexico. AMLO heads the National Regeneration Movement, which fosters a sense of nationalism and nostalgia for a long past. Trump’s nationalistic ideology is similar. AMLO campaigned against violence, corruption, inequality – and US President Donald Trump, whom he detests. It will be fascinating to see how these two egocentric characters bump their heads together!

Thinking back, how has this anti-immigration sentiment arisen throughout Europe and the world? For a clue, reflect on the Brexit campaign that culminated in June 2016 when a bare 51.9% of Britons voted to ‘Leave’. The most powerful ‘Leave’ slogan perpetrated by UKIP’s Michael Farage, Boris Johnson, and their ilk was ‘Take back control’.

It carried the not-too-subtle message that the UK had lost control of its borders and that those seeking to enter from foreign countries were taking over. Some Britons said they could hardly recognize their own streets, now filled with those of different colour, religion, and habits, where food outlets reflected a cuisine different from traditional British, where they felt they were strangers in their own country. The ‘Leave’ campaign was so potent, appealing as it did to nationalism and even xenophobia, that it carried the day, leaving the UK wallowing in a monumental mess, still trying to work out how to extricate itself from Europe by 2019. Having created the mess, Boris Johnson then made the mess even messier when he decided to resign as Foreign Secretary, just hours after Brexit minister David Davis also pulled the plug. His reason: Theresa May’s Brexit plan could see Britain turned into a colony!

Reflect now on other powerful nations where extreme right policies and authoritarianism prevail. Russia springs to mind. Vladimir Putin exercises complete control, crushes dissent, jails opponents, kills dissidents, and shamelessly annexes neighbouring countries such as the Crimea and Ukraine despite the protests of their people, claiming all the time that his actions reflect the wish of the people of these countries. Several European nations support Putin’s moves, and Donald Trump admires him as a ‘strong man’!

North Korea is a repressive regime where opponents are murdered, sent to penal camps, where its people are oppressed by a ruthless hereditary dictator, where military spending takes precedence over feeding its people so that Kim Jung-un can threaten his neighbours and the rest of the world with nuclear catastrophe. And Donald Trump admires him! Kim fosters, indeed insists on unswerving loyalty to the ‘dear leader’, promotes rampant nationalism manifest by military parades and wildly clapping subjects, just as Trump desires!

If you think right wing extremism is an overseas phenomenon, reflect on the behaviour of our own government. Peter Dutton promotes nationalist attitudes with his border protection policies and his imprisonment of boat arrivals on Manus Island and Nauru. In pursuit of the Coalition’s authoritarian ‘law and order’ ideology, he paints boat arrivals as an invasion force, to be repelled, to be given no encouragement whatsoever ‘lest it encourage people smugglers to resume their trade’. His leader enthusiastically echoes his anti-immigration sentiments.

On another front, further evidence of the Coalition’s extreme right wing leanings is its attitude to the ABC. As is the case with all authoritarian regimes, the Coalition finds dissent unacceptable and therefore to be suppressed. The enthusiasm with which the Young Liberals passed without dissent a motion to privatise the ABC, long held as policy by the IPA, shows how easily we could slip into an Orwellian state in our own country. The instant denials by Coalition members that this would never happen should be set against the repeated complaints about the ABC voiced by Communications Minister, Mitch Fifield. Anyone who believes the Coalition’s ‘reassurances’ is a fool. If you think it’s an exaggeration that Australia is edging towards an Orwellian ‘police state’, read this article: An incomplete list of evidence that Australia is becoming a police state by Crikey’s Bernard Keane.

Now, as icing on the radical right wing cake, we have turncoat Mark Latham sidling up to Pauline Hanson mouthing anti-Labor right wing slogans, raving about how the country’s gone crazy with its political correctness, identity politics, and anti-white racism! For her part, Hanson insists she would love to have him beside her in Parliament. Imagine that! Moreover, she has preferenced Dr Jim Saleam of the Australia First Party at No.8, two spots ahead of Labor in the Longman by-election. Saleam is a convicted criminal and former neo-Nazi who formerly led National Action, a militant white supremacist group.

So where does that leave us? Surrounded by authoritarian, nationalistic, anti-immigration, even xenophobic governments all around the world, and governed here by a Coalition that harbours similar sentiments, what future can we expect?

We should be very fearful that this global wave of extreme right wing behaviour will overwhelm us in our own country, and thereby destroy the democratic rights and freedoms we have enjoyed for so long.

Remember Nineteen Eighty-Four.

This article was originally published on The Political Sword.

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We have forgotten what is important let alone how to fight for it

The trouble with neoliberalism is it focuses on the how and not on the why.

The result of this headlong pursuit of continuous growth is a concentration of wealth in the hands of a few while the vast majority are mired in poverty.  At the same time, environmental degradation in the pursuit of profit, and the waste produced by billions of consumers, is destroying the planet.

Neoliberalism purports to reward individual effort, completely ignoring the fact that we don’t all start from the same place.

It is much easier to build wealth if you start with some assets.  It is easier to do well at school if you have somewhere to live and enough to eat.  It is easier when your parents can afford to pay for extra tuition or to pay university fees so you don’t start life with a humungous debt.  It is easier to find work if you have a car or can afford, and have access to, good public transport.  It is easier to fight for your rights when you can afford a barrister.  And it is much easier to protect and grow your wealth if you can afford financial advisers and accountants.

Neoliberalism cares nothing about the greater good.  Every man and woman for themselves.  Lobbyists promote self-interest and the privileged jealously guard their perks.  Greed has replaced our sense of community, collective caring and shared responsibility.

Neoliberal governments strive to reduce regulation but businesses exist to maximise profits, not make moral or even ethical choices.  They will adhere to the law (usually) but contribute no more than they are forced to do.  And even that is questionable.  A quick look at the Fairwork Ombudsman site shows hundreds of litigations for underpayments, sham contracting, false or inadequate record-keeping and a litany of other abuses.

Environmental protection regulations are regularly breached with minimal consequences.  The Department of the Environment and Energy shows some case judgements but they seem to have dwindled to almost nothing since the Coalition won government.

Conservatives are often religious, insisting on imposing their view of the sanctity of life on everyone.  But they complain bitterly about contributing to the cost of raising children or caring for the elderly or providing a safety net for those who cannot work or find employment.

Spending on health, education, welfare and environmental protection is not a cost but an investment in a happier, more productive, more harmonious society.  That creates savings itself and benefits everyone.

Increasing company profits, on the other hand, have only benefitted CEOs and shareholders.  With company profits at record highs, investors enjoyed a 9.5 per cent per annum increase in dividend payments last year, while workers’ wages remain stuck growing at roughly 2 per cent per annum.  Rather than sharing the benefits of a revenue boost, the government wants to give even more back to big business through tax cuts and less to workers through cuts to penalty rates.  They want to impose draconian industrial relations laws and hobble workers’ ability to negotiate or protest, all the while protecting shareholders at every turn.

Despite the taxation assistance already given to small businesses, many will continue to struggle until their customers have more disposable income, a fact the government seems unable to understand.  Big business lobby groups oppose any increase in the minimum wage but they still think it would be a good idea for the government to give people on welfare a bit more to spend.

The idea that we must decrease company taxes to attract investment is not borne out by the facts. Non-mining investment grew by 14.0% through the year ending March 31, 2018 with many foreign investments coming from countries with lower tax rates.

You can’t tax a profitable business into being unprofitable, but you can, with their contribution, provide a strong judicial system, a safe place to do business where the rule of law is enforced, sophisticated transport and communication infrastructure, a well-educated, healthy workforce and a comparatively stable government.  These are the things that attract business investment.

We don’t need more growth.  What we need is a better, more equitable distribution of our finite resources.  Why should the owners of the capital amass wealth beyond measure built on the work of others who struggle just to survive?

We are a wealthy nation but we have lost our compassion.  We have forgotten our duty to protect the vulnerable.  We have abandoned our obligation to keep our home clean.  We ignore the plight of less fortunate countries.

We have become consumed by greed and gluttony.  But that has led to a greater poverty – a poverty of purpose and dignity, as Robert Kennedy said fifty years ago.

“Too much and for too long, we seem to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things.

If we judge [our success by Gross National Product], that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage.

It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them.  It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl.

It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities.  It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play.  It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.

It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”

That same year, 1968, Martin Luther King organized the “Poor People’s Campaign” to address issues of economic justice.  The campaign culminated in a march on Washington, D.C., demanding economic aid to the poorest communities of the United States.

He felt that Congress had shown “hostility to the poor” by spending “military funds with alacrity and generosity.” He contrasted this with the situation faced by poor Americans, claiming that Congress had merely provided “poverty funds with miserliness.”  He was particularly in support of a guaranteed basic income.

His vision was for change that was more revolutionary than mere reform: he cited systematic flaws of “racism, poverty, militarism and materialism”, and argued that “reconstruction of society itself is the real issue to be faced.”

They shot them both that year.

Fifty years later, we are so used to all the things they warned about that we have given up the fight.

It is possible that a visionary leader could get the weight of the people behind them to remind us of what is important, but would the corporate world ever allow it?

Only in America, but then we willingly shake his hand

Wednesday 18 April 2018

How has it come to this?

Australians have always had a sort of love-hate relationship with America. Whilst we come from an English heritage, it has been the United States that has had the most influence on our maturing as a Nation. You agree, “guys”?

Rightly or wrongly we have followed them through wars that arguably were not of our concern. We have alliances that almost guarantee our national safety. We have embraced their culture to the detriment of our own. We have grown up with their music be it pop, jazz or theatre. Their television is over represented on our screens. Our Americanisation is all but complete.

Their sports have become second nature to us as have the artistic creations of Hollywood. We have accepted the American inclination toward scandal and sleeze. We also suffer from both political and social narcissism.

Our natural inclination for technology has seen us take up their inventions at unprecedented levels. It is said in economics that if America catches a cold, we get the flu. Its endless unwinnable wars are bankrupting it but they don’t seem to care and go on spending more on defence than the rest of the world put together. Debt is but a word that hinders growth.

The science of climate change shows that we are looking at an impending environmental disaster of catastrophic proportions, but like many of us the US refuses, as they do with evolution, to believe it.

In the US 22 million people live in poverty and Republicans have no voice against it. Inequality in both countries is a problem with only the Left acknowledging it. The RIght don’t give a damn. 

Trickle-down economics and deindustrialisation are responsible but the Right cling to the God of capitalism, that believes that making the rich even richer, will solve the problem.

In Australia our Government wants to reward our major banks with tax cuts, even though they are currently before a Royal Commission pleading guilty to any number of charges against them.

Religion has a rather odd hold on the most technologically advanced country in the world, but we are more circumspect and Christianity is in decline and is likely to disappear in two of three decades. 

The rich citizens and corporations of both countries seem to have boycotted paying tax. Corruption reins and even the two candidates for President were cast in a shadow of illegal undertakings.

Donald Trump appears to pay no federal income taxes and uses his foundation to pay his legal bills. Hillary and Bill Clinton use their foundation as a tool for legalized corruption.

Corruption runs rampant in both countries. Both are loathe to tackle political exploitation afraid of what revelation might bring. (Although the leader of Labor has committed to a National Corruption Authority should his party win the next election).

While in Australia we don’t have periodic mass killings at schools, malls, movie theatres and other public places, there are those who would soften our gun laws.

Fortunately we don’t have the problem of police committing public executions of black people in our streets, but only a fool would deny that we have an element of racism.

Like America, the reality is that we have a media that produces an avalanche of political and cultural untruth. It is based on the assumption that in a declining market it is legitimate to lie and disseminate political, intellectual and cultural discourse with a perverse sensationalism, emotionalism and pathetic dishonesty to arrest a declining market. 

American and Australian media is saturated with highly paid commentators whose job it is to titillate, gossip and contaminate the airwaves and television screens with nonsensical garbage where people talk up negative possibilities. Selling advertising comes first and it’s done in any manner it can be.

Mass entertainment, both violent and sexually explicit, contaminates the cultural life of both our countries. American reality television conspired to produce a “reality” presidential candidate and look at the results.

“There’s no business like show business.”

A candidate who wanted to have his opponent investigated and put in gaol.

Given the support of Congress he has tried and still is trying to obliterate Obama’s legacy by dismantling all US social/health programs, environmental regulations, civil rights legislations, and the elimination of the federal minimum wage.

Obamacare would be immediately put to bed and
private insurance would have a ‘free ride’ over US healthcare coverage.

A Trump Administration has tried to eradicate all global, solar energy technological incentive programs. (Trump believes global warming to be a hoax stemming from China). Our government believes it to be a socialist plot. Private prisons have become a nationwide corporate reality.

And Trump has promised media/press ‘crackdown’ on contrary news reporting saying that “Fox” is the only outlet that tells the truth. A lie upon a lie.

Roe v. Wade’ might be overturned: Abortion may eventually become a felonious criminal act. Programmes like Planned Parenthood have been abolished. LGBT laws have been overturned. Same-sex marriage has been achieved in Australia but only with the public’s insistence. Much civil rights legislation in the US has been reversed.

Privatisation of Social Security, and Veterans Administration is becoming a reality.

By building a wall with borrowed money, President Trump will place his nation in greater debt.

He has begun deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants and banned Muslims from entering the country. By stopping a woman from becoming president he has displayed his superiority.

Essentially, all of what Roosevelt’s New Deal stood for will eventually be scrapped, or privatised as well. International foreign relations as we are witnessing now will be turned upside down.

If you take a look at the far-Right’s agenda in America in conjunction with our IPA’s together with the extremes of the Australian Coalition, there are striking similarities.

“I will make America great again,’’ Trump shouts from the highest peaks of the mountain of illusion. 

Hundreds of millions of Americans have woken up. The dream has ended. The promise that everyone can be whoever they want to be and have whatever they want, if they would just work hard, and trust in God, is dead. 

American exceptionalism in the land of milk and honey belongs to a bygone era. Polls show that as few as 20% think that Washington can be trusted to do what’s best for the country. 13% in Australia. The citizens of both countries both say they feel incapable of doing anything about it.

In Australia we feel powerless to have any influence in what we thought was an inclusive democracy. We are both just spectators, hostages to broken systems of government. Chaos abounds and the common good is forgotten.

The political, cultural and intellectual discourse of both countries has been so effectively muted by the contamination of those who would seek power for power’s sake. They have successfully stifled the intellectual exchange of ideas. Australia has a compulsory voting system and America a non-compulsory one. Neither serves the people well.

We the people of our enlightened societies feel betrayed by a lack of leadership, of vision.

Capitalistic neo-liberal ideology seems to have won the day and we have given up. The words we use to describe these events, the austerity, and the lack of transparency, uncontrolled capitalism and the death of truth are of themselves devoid of concern and fight.

Sure, both societies have advanced but the price is gauged by the exploitation of the poor and middle classes. The price we have paid for our progress is measured in wars and seductive illusions about our culture. Our lives are about perception. Not what is but what we perceive it to be.

And in our powerlessness we listen to the voices of the absurd, to the promises of demigods and racists in the absence of ideas about how to fix our comparative democracies. It’s called long-suffering irrationalism. We no longer have the patience or desire to soberly examine policies that effect of lives and politics has been relegated by the media to a 24/7 sideshow.  

In America the voice of Trump is heard by those who cannot see that the great American dream has ended and those who have lost faith in institutionalised politics see no future. 

What used to be a beacon of light to the free world, “the American Presidency” is now but a reminder of the decline of a once great nation.

In Australia the voice of the far-Right has gained a foothold because people have become dissatisfied with our institutionalised democracy. 

Our government produces slogans and promises repetitively until the people are conned into believing them. They deal in the illusions of social progress and prosperity. They refuse to acknowledge any reality that might concern us about the future.

The people either don’t vote or think they gain a voice by voting for extremists. Few people trust our politicians or have faith in our system of government. We live a life of permanent malaise and think little about what makes our nation work until the next election come around. 

Both countries are on the verge of democratic collapse. Politicians in both countries have little incentive, or even the capacity to change the democratic structures because they so are locked into neoliberal corporate capitalism.

Chris Hedges puts it this way:

Life is lived in an eternal present. How we got here, where we came from, what shaped us as a society, in short the continuum of history that gives us an identity, are eradicated.

What Australians dislike about Americans is their pomposity and self-righteousness, their know all attitude and belief in their own self-importance – for which we have a saying; ”They think their shit doesn’t stink.” Some would say that they are the only people in the world that believe their own bullshit.

Whatever happens in America, apart from frequent mass murders usually reinvents itself in Australia. Greed is now God. Paying tax has become a sport with no rules. Narcissism is rampart and religion has more to say than it should.

How did it come to this?

It did so because we allowed ourselves to believe the lies. We fell for the mantra of hatred and fear they so delicately indoctrinated us with.

An observation

“The purpose of propaganda is to make you feel good about the wrongs being perpetrated on you.”

We permitted ourselves, because of our innate narcissism, to believe all the bullshit, the incoherent absurdities mouthed by self-serving politicians. 

We believe in our feelings and mistrust facts. In short we allowed ourselves to be conned into believing that poverty is the fault of the victim but wealth comes from virtue and both are the natural order of things.

Good democracies can only deliver good government and outcomes if the electorate demands it. Unfortunately we have forgotten just what that means.

In Australia we will see a continual decline in our politics until the next election in 2019 (or before).

In America they had a choice between a women so entrenched in establishment politics that the people despised and mistrusted her or a man described as a sick deluded man of no redeeming features, full of racial hatred, bile and misogyny.

A deluded pathetic liar who remains unsuitable for the highest office in the land, if not the world. One who saw complex problems and impregnated them with popularism and implausible black and white solutions.

My thought for the day

“We sit before our televisions and watch Trumps antics and ponder at the gullibility of the American people and say … only in America.”

But then we willingly shake his hand.

Being a transracial adoptee: a unique perspective on racism

Disclaimer: New Zealand artist Gabby Malpas is a transracial adoptee of Chinese descent. She “followed the herd” to the UK in 1989 and lived there for 14 years, before emigrating to Australia in 2003. She became an Australian citizen in 2017.

It is only recently at 48 years of age that Malpas started coming “out of the adoption fog”. She is now 51. Malpas met her birth mother when she was 38, however it has only been in the past few years that she has begun to process her life experiences and understand why race and racist incidents are such a big deal for her. She doesn’t hold herself up as blameless or without racial prejudice of her own but she is putting energy into developing empathy and awareness and trying to keep a sense of humour about it all.

All in all Malpas says she is living a fantastic life. She has had opportunities and adventures most only dream about and she grasps every day with both hands as an artist, because that is what she does and has been working towards for over 30 years. Her reason for opening up about racism is to help other transracial adoptees coming after her. The world is a different place to the one Malpas grew up in and she had to find her own way. She believes that if sharing her experiences helps someone else, it is worth it.

Malpas says she is still learning how not to be a dick.

Being a transracial adoptee: a unique perspective on racism

If there is one thing guaranteed to cause a frenzy of outrage and defensive indignation, it’s an accusation of racism. Mainstream and social media erupts with analysis, condemnation and fury over the alleged insults; both the derogatory slur and being labelled a racist.

Throughout it all, tempers flare. Equally adversarial personalities argue over which “human right” takes precedence; the right to freedom of speech, or the right to be free from racial abuse, while other commentators question if everyone is being just a tad oversensitive, or if it’s another case of “political correctness gone mad”. And then the media cycle moves on, and a new outrage gains prominence. Racism is yesterday’s news.

Yet the lives of people of colour aren’t dictated by populist trends. Personal attacks based on skin colour and ethnic origin don’t stop once racism is out of the spotlight. There is no reprieve for those subjected to a lifetime of insults, harassment or abuse on the basis of who they are.

For New Zealand artist Gabby Malpas, this is an exhausting experience. As a transracial adoptee of Chinese descent born in the ‘60s, Malpas has seen countless media cycles bring racism to the forefront of people’s minds. However, the voices of those most intimately affected by racist sentiment are often overlooked in favour of the loudest commentators “being offended on behalf of ‘brown’ people” or insisting that “brown’ people choose to take offence”.

Malpas’s upbringing has given her a unique perspective on racism. One of ten children in a “white” family, she was raised exactly the same as her siblings, and received no special recognition of her Asian ancestry. This, of course, means that she has a keen understanding of western culture, mentality and expectations.

Yet Asian race-hate was rife across western nations in the sixties and seventies, and as a child, Malpas became increasingly aware of the different way she was seen and treated in the community. She was subject to daily bullying and taunts, something her family and friends did not understand, acknowledge or even vaguely appreciate. Malpas quickly learned that no one was interested in hearing about the racial slurs and abuse; in fact, no one believed her experiences were racially motivated. She was dismissed, told to ignore it, or disbelieved.

This pattern of having her experiences ignored and dismissed became a familiar occurrence, and continued long into adulthood. Malpas learned to expect it, just as she learned that she would be subject to racism. She found she was constantly in “attack mode”, attempting to preempt and prepare for the next wave of abuse. Yet whenever she tried to change how she reacted, another incident would occur; being racially attacked, followed by dismissal and denial by those around her, and the cycle would begin again.

It wasn’t until she was in her thirties that the extent of the difference between how she expected she would be treated, having been raised in New Zealand in a “white family”, and how she was treated, on the basis of her Asian appearance, finally became clear in her mind.

Malpas recounts a shocking example; in her early twenties, she embarked on a backpacking holiday in South East Asia with a male friend. Her recollection is vivid, but she now understands the cultural reaction: “In my naive and culturally ignorant eyes I should have been treated with the respect given to white tourists – yet in many places I was seen as a prostitute because I was an Asian with a white male.”

This wasn’t an isolated incident, and was just one of many distressing situations Malpas found herself in where she was judged and treated differently to her friends and family based on racial stereotypes. Malpas came to realise that her “life experiences were not, are not, and never will be the same” as her adopted family.

For people of colour, “racism” isn’t a buzzword, it isn’t a hot topic, it doesn’t provide a chance to bemoan the loss of freedom of speech or congratulate oneself on the nation’s “tolerance and acceptance of diversity”. Yet for many “white” Australians, it is unfathomable that they, or their friends, may be complicit in defending, condoning or supporting racism.

For people of colour, racism is reality. It is something they experience with weary regularity. It forms a part of their lives from which there is no escape, no matter how much people tell them to “lighten up”, “take a joke”, “just get over it” or “stop playing ‘victim’”.

Still, public discourse focusses on superficial questions: “Is Australia a racist nation?”, “Is it racist to call an Indigenous man an ape?”, “Is racism an issue in contemporary society?”

The time for “debating” these topics is long gone, if there ever was a time. However there is still fierce denial from many in the community, who cannot come to terms with Australia’s racist history, or accept that racism still exists. They fall back on the narrative that as Australia is a multiculturally diverse and “tolerant” nation, it cannot possibly be racially motivated when people of colour experience abuse.

Racism exists in every culture, and it is just as deeply embedded in Australian society, culture and language as any other nation. The Government and institutions unrepentantly support racist policies: The proposed Citizenship law changes impact disproportionately on people of colour and are a thinly veiled return to a White Australia policy (which only ended in 1973), the Northern Territory Intervention, where the Army was sent in to an Indigenous community and paternalistic controls set in place, occurred just ten years ago. Indigenous Australians were only recognised and counted as “people” in 1967.

It has taken Malpas almost her whole life to understand her relationship with race and identity, and how her life experience has shaped her. The reality is, and always was, that she is different. She was never truly equal to her “white” contemporaries and her experiences have been tinged by colour. She is different too, to Asians who have grown up in their own families or culture. Malpas identifies that the experiences of transracial adoptees is so unique that they are generally only understood by other transracial adoptees.

Malpas says self-denial played a huge part in her life. She couldn’t identify as “white”, but she didn’t identify as “Asian”. And Malpas didn’t want to be “Asian”; Asian women were portrayed in the media as “sexy and submissive or conniving”, and Asian men as “weak”. Her family had no concept of what it was like to be “Asian”, and no understanding of Malpas’s personal experiences. She felt isolated, and in her struggle to find her place, participated in self-deprecating banter to “get in first” with the inevitable racist “jokes”, if only to show she wasn’t really one of “them”.

Malpas believes that social media has been brilliant at exposing racist behaviour and actions. Smartphones capture incidents as they happen, in all the terrible, distressing detail, and the images and videos may be widely shared. Malpas feels validated and heartened by the community calling out incidences of racism and stepping up to denounce it as unacceptable.

But with so many people still in denial that racism is present, and many who don’t understand what constitutes racist behaviour, there is a long way to go. Even more so when the Government, media and other institutions openly support division in the community. In the past month alone, a Sky News’ Outsiders program presenter told the Government appointed Race Discrimination Commissioner,  Dr Tim Soutphommasane, to “go back to Laos” (he was born in France). Last month, another veteran broadcaster, Red Symons, asked ABC journalist and radio producer, Beverley Wang, “what’s the deal with Asians” and if she was “yellow”. Senator Pauline Hanson has built a political platform on divisive policies.

However, unless a person has personally experienced racially motivated abuse, many find it hard to recognise and identify racism. Consequently, they fail to appreciate the impact a seemingly minor incident can have on a person, and how dismissal over the incident can add to distress.

But what counts as racist? Who gets to decide what is offensive?

Malpas believes that a good starting point is to “let the ‘brown’ people decide”. And then, most importantly, listen to what they say; if a “brown” person says it is offensive, believe them.

The lived experience of people of colour shows that racism comes in many forms. It may be calling someone a “nigger” or “dirty Abo”, or saying “go back to where you came from, you yellow c***”. It may be as subversive as subtly reminding a person that they are an “other”, for example, by using a person’s individual name as an identifier for a whole race, or assuming that an Asian in a “white” household is the “nanny”.

It might be in the form of a micro-aggression, for example, by declaring, “I’m not racist, my friend is brown/yellow/black”, “You should know what that is – you’re Asian,” or by playing on the fetishization of a race, for example, by only dating a person of colour when it’s fashionable to have a “cute Asian girlfriend”.

Malpas is encouraged by the rise in awareness of racism. Yet when it comes to comment and debate, she says it is crucial to listen to people of colour and acknowledge that the experiences of people of colour are not the same as a “white” majority in western nations.

Structural inequality is deeply embedded. While simplistic “colourblind” mantras, for example, that “all races matter, we are all one race; the human race,” may be well-meaning, they ignore the reality that people of colour have far greater challenges to overcome than others in the community due to systematic and institutionalised discrimination.

Current generations are still impacted by the inequality, abuse and state-sanctioned controls exercised over their parents, grandparents, extended family and ancestors. This is particularly the case where indigenous people were captured, murdered and deliberately dehumanised, or in the case of African Americans, imported and bred for slavery. The trauma, passed from one generation to the next, is still very real today.

Malpas talks honestly about her experiences with racism and her isolation until connecting with other transracial adoptees three years ago. The connection with others with similar experience has lessened her feelings of isolation. She believes that promoting inclusiveness and diversity through acknowledgment of difference will have a far greater impact in combating the never-ending cycle of racist abuse than resorting to idealistic principles of “oneness”.

For Malpas, coming to terms with her past has been a lengthy, thought-provoking experience. She uses her art to express her feelings about race, culture and identity in “lavish and beautiful images”. Sensitive subjects are explored in an engaging and respectful way. Her art is a gentle response to being silenced and a subtle reminder for people to listen to those who have a story to share. It took her 48 years to begin to make art about her life experiences that communicated the way she wanted; with “love, respect and a little bit of humour”.

When Malpas was growing up, very little support existed for transracially adopted children and their families. Now she provides some support to the next generation of young people by volunteering her time, skills and experience. Her reason for opening up about racism is to help the next generation of transracial adoptees and their families.

In addition to being a professional artist, Malpas runs art workshops, including monthly sessions for adolescent Chinese adoptees with the FCCA (Families with Children from China). She is on the advisory committee of the NSW Post Adoption Resource Centre (PARC), part of the Benevolent Society, is actively involved in adoption groups such as Intercountry Adoptee Voices (ICAV) and is the “down under” ambassador for the Peace Through Prosperity Foundation. Malpas speaks at adoption and art events and meetings, and provides personal support to other transracial adoptees. She also donates art to charities on a regular basis, including the Cancer Council, Epilepsy Action Australia, Thompson Reuters, and Wheelchair Sports NSW.

Malpas’s story is important not only for other transracial adoptees. Her experience and observations also provide insight into what the broader community can do to lessen the divide and limit the impact of harmful public debate:

Listen before you speak. When calling someone out on racist behaviour, consider, are you speaking your own mind, or are you amplifying the voices of those who are personally impacted? Listen to the stories, accept history and acknowledge the distress and anxiety caused by repeated race-based attacks. Show empathy, kindness and understanding. Listen.

Why Western civilization is doomed

By Christian Marx

Humanity is an incredibly craven and self interested species. We pollute the atmosphere, go to endless wars for other mens resources. Rape, murder, bomb children for the bankers profits. We worship false idols, from celebrity pretenders with no substance to war criminals with the blood of millions on their hands. We celebrate the cult of greed and many snicker at the misfortune of the poor and the disenfranchised when reading the daily cesspool of manufactured news and propaganda.

Is there hope for humanity? Extremely doubtful. When a large percentage are happy for the universal health system in the United Kingdom to crumble, because vested corporate interests told them lies, hope is thin on the ground.

When minorities are demonized with sick hatred in a blanket of 24 hour propaganda in order to shift the problems of capitalism onto those who have no control or power to fight back, we as a nation have hit rock bottom.

When a man who has vested financial interests in the destruction of Middle Eastern governments for his oil and gas company, is permitted to spew his lies and hate and NOBODY on either side of government will stand up to him, we as a nation are terminal.

How did it get to this? Perhaps it is in man’s nature to destroy himself. This author believes this to be so. Have a look around you. Everywhere there is hatred and chaos. It all stems from the system of greed we call capitalism.

  • Why do wars start? Answer: Another nation seeks to rape the resources and steal the wealth of another country.

  • Why do social safety nets collapse? Answer: Big business refuse to pay tax and continue to bribe governments to destroy their own social services.

  • Why does racism and bigotry flourish? Answer: Vested corporate interests constantly divide society over racial, religious and cultural schisms.

  • How is it possible for many to willingly believe glaring lies? Answer: Many don`t care anymore, so long as the lies fit their own narrative.

  • What is the driving force behind most of the dysfunction in society? Answer: Corporate greed.

What can we do about it? Sadly it is largely far too late to do anything. The majority continue to sleep in front of reality television, designed to rot their brain. Critical thinking is a thing of the past and hatred of those less fortunate has been indoctrinated into the collective psyche of hundreds of millions throughout the world. (Particularly in Australia, North America and the United Kingdom).

The constant myth peddled is that “we can no longer afford healthcare” or “our deficit is out of control” bullshit. The government creates all the money via its ownership of manufacturing the currency. In Australia at least the Federal Reserve is government owned. We cannot run out of money!

The biggest waste is the huge taxpayer funded subsidies for leaners such as Gina Rhinehart. Over 1 BILLION of government subsidies per year are paid to this monster. Imagine what the government could do with that sort of money to fix our health system, tackle our chronic unemployment problem, or alleviate the housing crisis.

But no, let’s foist the doctrine of Neoliberal economics onto the nation. A proven failure of a system, causing untold suffering across the world. Neoliberalism strips public assets and sells them for peanuts onto corrupt businesses, who then suck massive subsidies from the tax payer. They then run dysfunctional services and claim subsidies from the government. This IS criminal.

But lo and behold, the average citizen with a shoe sized IQ cares not! He has his Foxtel and has not yet succumbed to the rapid erosion of the job market. As soon as he does he will squeal like a stuck pig … but right now he is more interested in hating on Muslims, the unemployed, the homeless. Why? Because a spider named Murdoch tells him what to think and he feels comforted by the fact that there are others being kicked in the head. It makes him or her feel superior.

We are not doomed because our system is collapsing. In a world with critical thinking and some modicum of empathy and intelligence, this could be arrested and fixed. No, we are doomed because a large minority of people just don`t give a stuff.

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From Terra Nullius to Nauru: Racism as the blunt instrument of political expediency

On 27 February 1933, the Reichstag, edifice to the Imperial Diet of the German Empire, was set on fire and burnt to the ground. In the wake of the fire a young Dutch communist by the name of Marinus Van der Lubbe was arrested, imprisoned and executed. Within 24 hours Hitler would enact the Decree for the Protection of People and State, giving the Nazis power to imprison anyone considered an enemy of the state, indefinitely and without trial. While this initially enabled the rounding up of communists and other political dissidents, it would not be long before these far reaching powers were used against a different enemy. The comparison to the events of September 11 2001 and the signing into law of the Patriot Act could not be more compelling. Each event would become a pretext for global conflict, and each would eventually be used to justify its government’s particular brand of genocidal anti-Semitism.

Today the West’s undeclared war against Muslim countries has created the greatest refugee crisis in history. With hundreds of its victims now languishing in indefinite detention in Australia’s offshore gulags, suffering rape, physical abuse and mental torture, one wonders how a nation built on the idea of the fair go could have descended to such a level of moral depravity. Or was it ever thus?

From the arrival of the first white settlers to rise of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party, there is a pernicious strain of xenophobia which runs through Australian culture. We saw it in the genocide of the first Australians, sacrificed in the hundreds of thousands. We see it in the survivors who have struggled for recognition ever since. We saw it in the “yellow peril” and the riots against Chinese labourers on the Victorian goldfields in the 1850s. We saw it again in 1888 when the newspapers whipped the public into a frenzy of paranoia over the arrival of the SS Afghan. We saw it in attitudes towards southern European migrant labourers in the late 19th century. We saw it in the White Australia policy which effectively banned non European immigration. We saw it in labour disputes in the Queensland cane fields in the 1930s, in anti-Asian sentiment throughout the 1950s and 60s, and in the Cronulla race riots of 2005.

Racism, so it seems, is part of our cultural identity. But there is also a strain of anti-racism which goes back just as far, from stories of early convict labourers taking the side of the local Aboriginals against their British oppressors, to the 1967 referendum; from the Vietnam moratoriums of the 1970s, to the counter-protests which seem to erupt spontaneously whenever flag-waving/wearing bigots take to the streets to protest the building of a new mosque.

Clearly there is more to this picture than meets the eye.

Racism has always been a tool of the oppressing class; an integral part of the strategy of divide and rule. The dispossession and genocide committed against Australia’s first inhabitants was not by convicts and labourers, but by uniformed men in service of British ruling elites and pastoralists. To make these actions seem somehow acceptable, indigenous people were labelled as animals and savages. Two hundred years later John Howard would nakedly put the interests of mining companies ahead of indigenous people in his attempts to water down the small but significant victories achieved for aboriginal land rights. We saw the same politicisation of race in Howard’s refusal to apologise to the stolen generations, and of course in the infamous Tampa incident, in which he falsely accused refugee parents of throwing their children into the sea. This was Howard’s Reichstag fire, shrewdly and cynically manipulated to ensure electoral victory while lowering the bar on the standard of basic human dignity with which refugees and asylum seekers are treated.

Howard was indeed a master when it came to playing the race card. Hanson and her acolytes are grasshoppers in comparison; convenient shills to be used as “controlled opposition” – someone to do the government’s dirty work, allowing those in authority to maintain their “moderate” veneer. Being the liberal society we claim to be, we tolerate their extreme viewpoints as “free speech”. Vulgar as they are, they still represent the views of a large portion of the voting public, so we are told. Hanson’s party is now using its numbers in the Senate to support an amendment which will prevent people whose only crime is to have exercised their legal right to seek asylum from ever applying for an Australian visa. In her own words, this will send a clear message that refugees are not welcome in Australia. Would the public have voted for such a law?

Today’s anti-immigration sentiment has been contrived and cultivated through mass media, reflecting a changing political climate where approval is sought by first inciting, then appealing to mass anxiety and paranoia. This is the Hegelian dialectic played out through fearmongering: An external threat is first concocted, which leads to a widespread reaction of fear and panic. Our leaders then hope to secure their jobs with the promise of keeping us safe from the imagined threat. This is why national security, border control and the ever present threat of terrorism are such hot button issues. Of course none of this would be possible without a manufactured bogeyman – racism is the glue which holds it all together.

Beneath today’s racism lies a nonsensical but nonetheless powerful conflation of followers of Islamic faith with terrorism. Of course it is rarely proffered as such, rather worded in more subtle tones. Islam is incompatible with Western values, we are often reminded, when in fact Islam’s teachings uphold personal liberty, justice, and democratic principles. Islam is not a religion, but a political ideology, screeches Hanson, flatly ignoring the fact that Christianity, Judaism and Islam are three closely related manifestations of the same Abrahamic faith. Islam never had a reformation, according to former PM Tony Abbott, himself an unreformed Christian. And so it goes…

Seldom do we hear of the Islamic Golden Age, the original scientific revolution upon whose foundation much of contemporary mathematics, language and medicine was built. Acceptance of this historical fact would mean acknowledging a common heritage which predates European science, art and literature by 700 years. Likewise we are rarely told that the 19 Saudi hijackers aboard the planes of 9/11 liked to drink alcohol, snort cocaine and hang out with pink haired strippers, because this would make them, by definition, not practicing Muslims, let alone Islamic fundamentalists. Instead we are shown images of CIA trained guerrillas burning children in cages and told that this is the face of Islamic terrorism, and by extension, Islam itself.

Marxist theorists, many of whom happened to be Jews, were among the first to call out race politics, calling instead for an internationalist movement which transcends the divides of race and gender. The labour movement in Australia (if not always the Labor party) has a proud history of fighting for aboriginal rights and the rights of migrant workers. It really is just common sense that when rights apply equally to all, migrant workers cannot be used to force down wages and conditions. Of course cries of “they took our jobs/benefits” will always appeal to the fearful, but this is an irrational fear based on a false premise. The old adage united we stand, divided we fall has more than a poetic ring to it. It is a universal truth. Acknowledging racism as a tool of oppression is a vital step toward emancipation. Reaching across the racial divide empowers us, where Hansonism leaves us fighting among ourselves.

Australia now faces, or rather refuses to face, a crime surely equal in depravity to the stolen generations; a crime for which, at some point, a future Prime Minister, perhaps reading from a teleprompter, with tearful eyes and a sombre tone, will make a sincere and heartfelt apology. This apology will of course be too late. In pursuing a policy of deliberate cruelty as deterrence, we put ourselves in the company of such illustrious persecutors of minorities as apartheid South Africa, Myanmar, North Korea and modern day Israel. While the flames of racism may be fanned by so-called patriots who choose to wear the flag as a bandana, the direction comes from the highest levels of executive government, authorised by the legislature, and implemented by the security apparatus. This is a humanitarian crisis of our own making; we imprison and persecute refugees as a matter of public policy.

The modern surveillance state allows our personal data to be harvested and sold back to us in the form of advertising. It also assures a level of compliance and conformity among its citizens. It could not exist absent the idea of some existential threat, real or imagined. The War on Terror, or rather, the war on brown people, feeds the weapons manufacturers who prop up the Wall Street banks. Without it the entire global financial system would come crashing down like a house of cards. Similarly, this war could never have been waged without a bogeyman, yet Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction turned out to be a bald faced lie. Are we seeing a pattern yet?

The dispossession and colonisation of Australia was based on the lie of Terra Nullius. The illegal imprisonment of men, women and children on Nauru and Manus is based on the lie that locking people up and torturing them is the only way to prevent deaths at sea. The savage cuts to welfare proposed by the current government are based on the lie that Australia has a spending problem, yet ignores the fact that we spend $400 000 per person per year in administering a policy of deliberate cruelty to refugees.

Just weeks after breaking the Don Dale detention centre scandal and reporting on the Nauru files, our national broadcaster is being rounded on by the immigration minister for leading a “crusade against government policy”, and reform of section 18c of the racial discrimination act, apparently dead buried and cremated under the previous government, appears to be back on the table again. When Malcolm Turnbull’s polling is so low that he must drag out the most unpopular policies of his predecessor to appeal to the conservative base of his party, and make deals with One Nation to pass his unpopular budget measures, it’s not racism driving politics, but the other way around.

Day to Day Politics: I’m offended not by her racism but her thickness of intellect.

Friday 16 September

1 Pauline Hanson’s maiden Senate speech, a rich diatribe of vitriolic undisguised racism, duplicated her House of Representatives one 20 years ago. It contained all the vile nasty racism of her previous oration, embellished with another 20 years of built up loathing.

Politicians, journalists and other folk with an interest in sensationalism or political expediency have rushed to defend her right to say what she wants. It’s a free country with free speech. Who is saying she hasn’t the right. Nobody needs to defend her right to say what she thinks. Julie Bishop and others in the government , regardless of what they really think, have a vested interest in courting her favours. They say because she got 1% of the vote she should be respected and listened to. We should not attack her vileness but simple present the facts. Well frankly I think that’s bullshit.

An observation

“People often argue from within the limitations of their understanding and when their factual evidence is scant, they revert to an expression of their feelings”.

After her maiden speech twenty years ago the Herald Sun, yes the paper where the truth goes to die, devoted a full-page to it. The headline read, ‘Facts lacking in Hanson’s claims’. They listed 11 claims from her speech and conclusively proved that she was factually wrong in each.

An observation.

“It is the smallness of the mind that true ignorance can be found”.

To repeat that “we are in danger of being overrun by Asians” when it didn’t happen with the same line about Muslims both revealed her stupidity and her capacity for lying. Muslims are a little less than 2% of the population. About the same as Buddhists. Even if they bred like rabbits it would take hundreds of years for them to overrun the country.

I don’t see why you cannot call her out factually, for all her nonsensical misunderstanding of an Australia now and in the future and at the same time expose her hatred for what it is. The Greens have been criticised for walking out. Good on them, I only wish Labor had done the same.

She is a racist bigot with no redeeming features. A person who is attracted to the media for reasons of self-interest. One who disregards facts because to do so would take away the essence of controversy on which she thrives.

There are many words one could use to describe Pauline Hanson, words like vile, depraved contemptible, hateful, abhorrent, and despicable but really the worst thing about her is her incapacity to understand the truth of things and the damage that ignorance does in the wrong hands.

Fact is a derivative of objective reasoning and evaluation. It would seem that in the past 20 years she has learnt none of it.

An observation.

“It is the misinformed who shout the loudest. The rest of us are content with the truth we enquired about.”

We need to call her out for what she is and back it up with facts at the same time. Journalists should ask the obvious. Ask her for the evidence of what she preaches.

The images of Senators like Hinch and Cash condoning her speech with hugs will remain indelible in my mind to remind me that ‘The standard you walk past is the standard you accept’.

That’s what the honourable Senators who shook her hand and hugged her did. Sorry did I use the word honourable.

2 I have written this week almost to the point of exhaustion about the inane proposition of a plebiscite on Marriage Equality.

It looks highly likely that the Labor Party will knock back the Coalitions plans for a Plebiscite in February.

Of course Bill Shorten could always allow the bill to pass saying, “I will out of respect for LBGT people allow the bill for a plebiscite to pass and ask the people of Australia to do what their Prime Minister didn’t have the guts too”.

That of course won’t happen and the Prime Minister and the conservative right-wing of his party will make hay while the sun shines blaming Labor for putting an end to Marriage Equality for the next three years at least. However those in the gay community who will no doubt feel disappointed, even let down, will also understand what motivates Bill Shortens decision.

I messaged a gay friend to gain some insight into their reaction.

Me: “I am caught between a rock and a hard place. I want Marriage Equality but not via a plebiscite. How are you and Smithy thinking?”

Smithy: “Selfishly we want Marriage Equality but in terms of the big picture it’s horrible to think how much hurt and suicides it will cause.”

When introducing the bill to Parliament, perhaps inadvertently, the Prime Minister gave us a taste of the discourteous tone a plebiscite is likely to produce. His attack on Julia Gillard sounded contrary to the civil tone he has suggested the debate would take.

A plebiscite would no doubt have produced a civil unrest usually reserved for the Muslim bashers of society. One that would see religion at its worst and best and social activists the same. Neither would do justice to our way of life.

In the aftermath of it all one bright journalist might ask the question of Malcolm Turnbull. If you are the Prime Minister at the next election what will be your policy on Marriage Equality?

It’s a question to ponder if you think about it.

Now that Turnbull has done a backflip on Superannuation it might also be asked of the PM, why he could not also have changed his mind on the plebiscite.

John Howard changed the marriage act to say a ‘man and woman’ so it could be changed back. We just need the will and the leadership.

Some further comments by others.

Bravo Dean Smith!

“As a lifelong parliamentary and constitutional conservative, I cannot countenance a proposition that threatens to undermine the democratic compact that has seen Australia emerge as one of the most stable parliamentary democracies in the world. I have never heard a candidate standing for election say they want to represent their community – except on issues where it’s all too difficult, in which case they will contract-out their responsibilities as a legislator.

Not only am I opposed to a plebiscite on same-sex marriage shirking politicians of their elected representative responsibility, I’m vehemently opposed to public money funding the campaigns, especially taxpayers money going to the church who seem to think they have some moral imperative franchise on matrimonial Union. Not only is it offensive to put debate in the public forum enabling the soap box hate lobby, it’s a catastrophic failure of leadership in maintaining overwhelming progressive community values and majority mainstream sentiment.

Yet, this is effectively what the plebiscite proposal is – a willing admission by some that an institution suddenly, on one issue alone, not up to the job.”

Paul Bongiorno @joshgnosis the hypocrisy breathtaking Tony Abbott foisted the plebiscite on his party to delay and defeat SSM.

As for me, as I said, I am exhausted by the subject but the fight for social justice is a never-ending story.

My thought for the day.

In the information age, those who control the dissemination of news have more power than government”.

Are we missing something here?

By Steve Laing

When it comes to people arriving in Australia by boat, for some reason (best known to Rupert Murdoch and members of the LNP), many Australians become utterly apoplectic.

In a highly convincing strategy, the LNP – with a little help from their friends in the media – have persuaded a significant number of Australians that without strong border protection, our country and all that its stands for will be overrun by foreigners only here for economic gain and/or to commit atrocities on the local population. Given that this is what occurred from 1788 onwards, I suspect one could argue that there is good evidence to go on.

However, it doesn’t take much to recognize that this isn’t what this issue is really about at all. If we were so worried about people being here illegally, surely more would be getting done about the various backpackers et al who have overstayed their visas, particularly as there are so many more of them. But no, not so much.

Is it because of the economic impact that these people will have on our social services? Given how much we are spending on housing them off-shore, or through attempts to relocate them to Cambodia, this can’t be the case either.

Nope, the reality is that the only reason that this is an issue at all is because of votes. LNP strategists have decided that fear (with more than a hint of xenophobia, and I daresay, though never mentioned in public, a smidge of racism) is a very useful emotion to sway the minds and votes of a large subsection of the community, and Labor have subserviently recognised it’s an argument that they haven’t got the persuasive power to win, so they have simply become complicit. The much-publicized myth is that people arriving by boats, with no identification could be terrorists. And we can’t have that! The current European situation (which is, of course, entirely different in size and complexity to our own current boat people ‘problem’) is supplying much evidence of the problems of refugees (when arriving in large numbers with no clear plan of how to deal with such in evidence, but that is by-the-by). The fact that Australia has taken in significant numbers of refugees who have arrived by boat over time, and there doesn’t appear to be much of a terrorism issue from them, is of course conveniently ignored. Until a dark-skinned person shoots someone, of course, and you can bet it’s the first thing the media check.

And if they aren’t terrorists, then they are almost undoubtedly Freddie Freeloaders using their money to jump the queue. Again, the fact that evidence shows that such persons, with their high levels of motivation and risk taking, are more likely to open up businesses and employ Australians than the born and bred natives is also, conveniently, ignored.

But it is the behavior of politicians that truly gives the game away, with Scott and Tony being the biggest culprits. When Scott became Minister for Immigration, one of the first things he did was stopped providing information about “on water matters”. No mention of the number of boats arriving, boats intercepted, boats turned back. Nothing. Because that kind of information, the numbers of boats actually arriving, would only encourage people smugglers, and Scotty and chums will not do that. So remind me again what the LNP doing when they were in opposition?

By their own logic, Tony and co were apparently quite happy to advertise the porosity of Australia’s seaboard to people smugglers whilst in opposition. Quite happy, of course, to help further build a problem that only they could come in and “clean up”. And since it is apparently the encouragment of people smugglers that results in deaths by drowning, then unfortunately the blame for those 1000 lives lost at sea must equally be the responsibility of those who encouraged those same people smugglers. But no, those deaths were only Labor and The Greens’ fault. Well of course!

Since we are talking about people smugglers, and Malcolm was more than happy to discuss them yesterday morning on Insiders, can anybody please explain to me how the LNP policy of paying people smugglers to not bring refugees to Australian waters is intended to either dissuade their trade, or indeed how that has stopped drownings at sea? Clearly there are still people smuggling boats at sea, so unless the Australian Navy are busy carrying out Health and Safety checks, drownings must still be happening. But secondly, how does financially rewarding people for an activity actually dissuade them from doing it? Maybe they keep track, and if they try and score a second time, something worse happens, but what is to stop the people smugglers telling their mates to get a slice of the pie?

I don’t even want to think of the fate of the refugees travelling on the boats of those people smugglers bribed to go away. I guess that we aren’t tracking their fate.

However, the additional fact that we know that there have been boat turnarounds, and that payments have been made to people smugglers, kills the logic that drownings of sea have stopped. No boats arriving cannot be used as a means of stating that drownings of sea have stopped. Only no boats leaving in the first place could do that, and we know that this isn’t what is happening.

Finally, we have the woeful issue of children in detention. Yes, says Malcolm, we have a number of children in detention, but hang on, it’s now a lot less than when Labor were in power. Wait a minute though Malcolm. Didn’t you also say that no person arriving by boat would ever be settled in Australia? That this was a huge part of the deterrence effect of your policy? A policy that purports to save life, but at a cost of turning a blind eye to rape, brutality, mental and physical health issues at a cost that is beyond extreme when we are staring down the barrels of a recession. So just where have all those children that Labor let in, but the LNP have now got out of detention, gone to? They haven’t gone to Cambodia, and if we don’t admit those who arrive by boat, then they haven’t come to Australia. So just where the bloody hell are they? Somebody is being a little bit tight with the truth, but its fooling nobody.

The reality is that people arriving by boat into Australia could have become an opportunity. A chance to help populate those dying towns in the outback with people proven to be resilient risk takers, undoubtedly prepared to do the hard yakka to build a new safer lives for themselves in our boundless plains to share. Integrating refugees isn’t easy, but it isn’t impossible either, if you don’t scare the population into believing that they will slit their throats in the night. But because we’ve turned this issue into a cause celebre, a political football, politicians (and the MSM) have painted themselves into a corner where child rape is no more than an unfortunate side-effect of a brutally stupid solution to try to get votes from the fearful.

There are times when I get angry about politics, but this issue is beyond that. However, until the opportunity is presented to shine a light into the dark corners, fear will win out. Don’t expect any revelations whilst the Coalition are in charge and our MSM has been beaten into submission. In the meantime, thanks to the actions of many of our state premiers, I hope that our common humanity might, for once, prevail.

 

My Thoughts for the Week That Was

Saturday 10 October

1 The election of Malcolm Turnbull as leader of the Government has in my view done the Labor Party an enormous favor. Whereas it might have cruised to a win against Abbott – and the polls suggested so – it now has the opportunity to reform itself into a formidable force. And the signs are there. Thus far it has released policies that suggest it has not been sitting on its backside. Opinions that what Bill Shorten lacks in charisma he makes up for in policy development may prove to be true.

Five prime ministers in as many years and a destructive descent into hyper-polarisation has left a wounded electorate on the rebound as it searches reinstate democracy, trust and meaning. Thursday’s release of Labor’s $10 billion “cement bank” for big public transit, roads and ports projects is a case in point, coming well before any election is likely.

I don’t think it can be properly estimated just how much damage Tony Abbott did to our democracy, the institution of parliament and government in general.

2 “Mutual respect is the glue that binds this very diverse country together,” the PM said.

It was a measured call for calm and national unity against extremism. Somewhat different from the inflammatory language of Abbott.

What he really wanted to talk about was the value of language and his vision of Australia, “the most successful and most harmonious multicultural society in the world”. Tony Abbott also knew the value of language but he just preferred to use it to project a tough-guy image, to offer veiled threats, and to foster division.

The Muslim leadership for its part responded by telling their adherents that if they didn’t like the country they should leave. Strong language that.

3 By contrast Peter Dutton is again hiding behind devious “need to know” language with regard to the rape victim on Nauru and the future of asylum seekers in general. But being of devious character himself I suppose it’s to late for him to change.

4 If it doesn’t rain in October we have a big problem and the economy will take a hit.

5 Treasurer Scott Morrison has responded positively to the Federal Opposition’s proposal to transform Infrastructure Australia into a project facilitator with a $A10 billion budget. Morrison said on 8 October 2015 that the idea has “some merit”. Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss has rejected the idea because it would be difficult for Infrastructure Australia to have the dual function of an independent assessor and a funding body.

Sunday 11 October

1 This week’s Bludger Track (published by Crikey) combined Polls aggregate has the Coalition leading Labor 52.5/47.5. Labor has some work to do.

2 Listening to Malcolm Turnbull addressing the NSW Liberal Party was rather odd. He mentions Abbott and praises his efforts. Applause follows. He says “We are not a party of factions” to sustained laughter from the audience. He says “We are not be holding to big business or back room deals”. The audience thinks he is a comedian as they laugh and jeer. How humiliating. There is deep resentment of what Turnbull did. Very deep indeed.

3 An interesting insight into the TTP trade deal. The University of Sydney’s Patricia Ranald who has spent 20 years studying international trade deals believes the jobs and economic dividends promised have in the past failed to materialise and the public is not aware of the trade-offs involved. Specifically, she says Robb has focused on delivering for farmers over other sectors of the economy, including the one million-odd people who still work in manufacturing in Australia. “He comes from the sector. He has a background in agriculture and he pays particular attention to it” she tells Fairfax Media.

raceRace Mathews, former right hand man to Gough Whitlam said “If Hilary Clinton can’t get the answers what hope have we? And without them how can we as citizens reach an informed opinion about the issue?”

4 Have you ever thought about what an ideology is? What is Ideology? It’s a word that seems to get tossed around a lot. But what exactly does it mean? Let’s stop for a moment and see if we can’t put some substance to this rhetoric, starting with a few possible definitions:

  1. A. The body of doctrine, myth, belief, etc., that guides an individual, social movement, institution, class, or large group.
  2. B. Such a body of doctrine, myth, etc., with reference to some political and social plan, as that of fascism, along with the devices for putting it into operation.
  3. C. Philosophy: The study of the nature and origin of ideas.
  4. D. Theorising of a visionary or impractical nature.

cott5 How strange in Bendigo. A ‘’Muslim or an Australian You can’t be both. It’s either or” Mr Cottrell told his supporters. He says he is a patriot but I doubt he is. He acts more like a misguided Nationalist. Using his particular brand of unenlightened intelligence am I to assume that you cannot be a Catholic and an Australian or Jewish, Atheist or . . . the list goes on. You can only be Australian. Heaven forbid, don’t anyone ask him his definition of an Australian. Better to leave him in his own little world.

An observation:

An enlightened society is one in which the suggestion that we need to legislate ones right to hate another person is considered intellectually barren.

dannyAnd Danny was there. Yes, Danny Nalliah, the fundamentalist Christian Pastor, homophobe and Muslim hater (among other things) who’s only claim to fame is that he is an insult to the faith he represents. “Rise up Australia” he calls his group and reckons he is railing against multiculturalism, (he is Indian) Islam, political correctness and the media. In my innocence I once had the misfortune to shake his hand. He is the very worst kind of Christian.

Sunday 11 October

1 Branch stacking scandal. Fairfax Media reveal that in 2013, gift cards worth thousands of dollars were used to pay Labor memberships of plumber’s union officials and suburban branch members. Bill Shorten involved!

Much the same as what Turnbull did to oust Peter King to gain the seat of Wentworth in the 2004 Election.

2 And the response to his speech at the NSW conference if nothing else illustrates just how deeply and dangerously conservative and extreme the Liberals has become. And of course Liberal members are traditionally more conservative than Liberal voters.

An observation:

Today while walking my dog my thoughts drifted to the state of the world. Now nearly 75 I can only conclude that our inability to resolve the major issues facing mankind can be attributed to three things. The first is religion and the second is a disbelief in science, and the third is that men have never really grown up.

3 Doctors at Melbourne’s Children’s Hospital are refusing to send back asylum seeker children to detention centres amid a showdown with the Immigration Department. News Corp is reporting the doctors are concerned about the welfare of their dozens of patients and say it would be unethical to discharge them to unsafe conditions that could compromise their health. Doctors after all have a duty of care and legally can’t return children to dangerous situations. They’re also legally bound to report child abuse to the police.

It’s difficult to imagine that in a democracy such as Australia we would have federal laws threatening two years’ jail for health workers who speak out against immigration detention centre conditions. Really, what sort of a democracy do we live in?

Monday 12 October

1 Newspoll has Labor and the Coalition level on 50%. My interpretation is that the punters like Turnbull but still dislike the policies.

2 Who said this? “Solar panels are not renewable. The light is lost forever. Much like wind energy just produces used wind. Once it’s used it’s gone forever. Solar panels are wearing the light out”.

3 Even Australian Super chairman Heather Ridout has said the country “will regret” signing away sovereignty over government policy in the Trans-pacific Partnership agreement. In Question Time yesterday after listening to members being so effusive about its benefits to Australia I was forced to ask myself “at whose expense?”

And so mundane was question time. No one got the boot. The questions were routine and got only cursory answers. Turnbull put in a lack luster performance with an appalling answer to a question from Adam Brant on kids in detention. Whatever happened to what, last week, he called emotional intellectualism.

It’s arguable whether the broad Australian public has ever stood up and said it’s “not on” regarding the treatment of asylum seekers, but there are tantalising signs that keeping children in indefinite detention has now become broadly unacceptable.

Having said that, Turnbull has a presence that others don’t.

andrew h4 A new member, Andrew Hastie, was sworn in. We now have another religious zealot.

5 Evidence coming out of the Trade Union Royal Commission from former Theiss John Holland boss Stephen Sasse would suggest that he and Bill Shorten were looking after each other’s interests.

6 The conservative right wing of the Coalition have an ambush waiting for the PM on Thursday. It looks like he will face pressure to reinstate the Coalition’s policy to repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act after he previously backed a compromise bill up for debate in the Senate this week. The so-called Day amendment would make it no longer an offence to offend or insult a person on the basis of their race. It would remain unlawful to humiliate or intimidate a person or group of people based on their race or ethnicity. The bill defies Malcolm Turnbull’s commitment to adopting more inclusive government rhetoric. He can’t have it both ways.

The difference between insult, offend, humiliate and intimidate is a mystery to me.

An observation.

An enlightened society is one in which the suggestion that we need to legislate ones right to hate another person is considered intellectually barren.

Tuesday 13 October

cap1 The older I get the less stomach I have for conservative values. Rampart worldwide capitalism is intent on creating more inequality that only results in making the rich richer.

2 My thoughts on Free speech:

The peddlar’s of verbal violence and dishonesty are the most vigorous defenders of free speech because it gives their vitriolic nonsense legitimacy. With the use of free speech, the bigots and hate monger’s seek to influence those in the community who are susceptible or like-minded.

The original intent of free speech was to give a voice to the oppressed and to keep governments honest. In the United States, the first constitutional amendment is now used as a justification to incite racism, validate hatred and promote both religious and political bigotry.

Contrary to popular belief the Australian constitution does not guarantee free speech. It only implies.

In a democracy the right to free speech in given by the people through the government. Therefore, it should be incumbent on people to display decorum, moderation, truth, fact, balance, reason, tolerance, civility and respect for the other point of view. Sadly, this seems to have been forgotten both here and in the United States.

3 A response to my comment on Monday about the Royal Commission into Trade Unions:

“As an ex Union official myself I am starting to become very confused with what the Trade Union Royal Commission is about. A Union official negotiates a deal with a company official, the Union is happy, the company is happy, the workers are happy, The deal is approved by the appropriate bodies. The project is completed on time and under budget, all is good. Years later, we have the deal nit-picked by a biased Royal Commission just so we can demonize the opposition leader. I think Bill Shorten is to be applauded for breaking out of the traditional adversarial work place negotiations and moving to a co-operative approach”.

4 In Question Time the Treasurer said “Australians wanted to see the plan going forward.” Given that the plan seems to nonexistent I am now waiting on the PM to say: “Good Government starts today”.

Wednesday 14 October

1 This week’s Essential Poll has the Coalition in front 51/49. Combined with Newspoll there’s not much in it.

2 The Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has told Parliament that the Federal Government will examine a range of options for changing the superannuation tax regime. He has signaled that it may even be open to adopting tax reforms proposed by the Opposition. The Treasurer yesterday in QT wasn’t all that sure.

3 Meta Data. The service providers are not sure what the government wants. The Government knows not what to do with it. The answer whenever a problem of terrorism arises is to give the law more power. What’s missing is perspective. In 36 years 113 people have died from terrorism. So this year, yes this year, 730 will die from Domestic Violence and around 2500 will take their own lives.

4 I have always been of the view that Tony Abbott is the greatest liar Australian Politics has ever seen but the prize for the single biggest lie remains with Robert Menzies. I have quoted it many times but I came across it again when I had a preview reading of a remarkable four part series about the Whitlam years soon to be published at The AIMN. More later, but if ever the term “must read” ever applied to a piece, it is this. Here is a short extract:

“But one of the most important moments in the life of Menzies must have been when, on 28 April 1965, he lied to the Australian Parliament and people over an alleged call for assistance from the Saigon Regime of General Nguyễn Văn Thiệu as official head of state and Air Marshall Nguyễn Cao Kỳ as prime minister. The first battalion arrived in Vietnam the following month. After March 1966 National Servicemen were sent to Vietnam to fight in units of the Australian Regular Army. Some 19,000 conscripts were sent in the following four years. 521 lost their life. The number of Australian invalid and otherwise victims of the war is still uncertain. The document carrying the alleged call was never found”.

Which of course means that on the basis of a lie 521 young men who weren’t even eligible to vote lost their lives.

5 The things that go unnoticed. The Senate on Tuesday forced the Government to table a letter that revealed that as Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull explicitly asked the NBN Company to create information that could help the Coalition make the case that Labor’s Fibre to the Premises model was not worth pursuing. He is as ruthless as he seems reasonable.

6 Labor is on the attack over investments the Turnbull’s have that are registered in the Cayman Islands. It may be all perfectly legal but it’s a poor look for the leader of the nation. President Barack Obama describes the haven as “the biggest tax scam on record”.

Wouldn’t it be great if a leader came along who was squeaky clean?

7 As sure as night follows day the other banks will raise interest rates in line with the CBA making the Reserve Bank obsolete.

8 The conservatives in the Catholic Church are upset with a progressive Pope. Why? Because they would be happy for the institution of the church to survive with fewer adherents than to in any way progress.

Thursday 15 October

An observation:

Question everything. What you see, what you feel, what you hear and what you are told until you understand the truth of it. Thoughtlessness is the residue of things not understood and can never be a substitute for fact.

1 Good news on the NBN. Jason Clare has indicated Labor will ramp up the number of homes connected using fibre-optic cabling as part of the $56 billion national broadband network if it wins the next federal election.

2 Interesting that the CFMEU were responsible for most of the 948 breaches of workplace laws investigated by the Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate. Labor should disassociate themselves from this rogue union.

3 The Senate yesterday passed legislation guaranteeing that private companies with a turnover in excess of $100 million could keep their tax arrangements hidden. They had requested this because they feared family members might be kidnapped. Pull the other leg.

4 More Liberals willing to cross the floor in support of hate speech.

5 In giving the green light to build the massive Carmichael Adani coal mine Greg Hunt has committed a major crime on the environment. Being complicit in the decision, Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed that he is captive to the deniers and all those things he said as the Environment was just bullshit. We can only hope that other banks will follow the National and refuse to supply funds. And if they try us on again about 10,000 jobs when the company has said 1500. Well l should be used to it I suppose. It was only a couple of days ago Hunt was encouraging investments in renewables. And of course, how much is the taxpayer putting in?

6 It’s about time a person by the name of Shorten started talking like a man named Sanders. Talk about injustice, inequality and corporate greed. Negative talk about Turnbull’s wealth is just plain stupid.

6 We are now in our fifth week of a Turnbull led Government. Nothing has changed. Sure there is a lot of “we’re looking into that” talk together with a few feel good decisions here and there. But you can hear the thumping heartbeat of a lot of very upset far right conservatives shouting to get their way.

My feeling is that the “looking into it” talk is all about the development of policies for a sooner rather than later election.

7 Extraordinary that you would convene a meeting to discuss radicalisation and terrorism and not invite the very people who might just have the answers. Earlier the PM was talking inclusion but his rhetoric is empty of substance.

Friday 16 October

1 Two things occupy my mind as another week bleeds into the next. Firstly is the need for a national ICAC. One with real teeth able to investigate and prosecute without fear or favor. At the moment we have a Royal Commission into Trade Unions and when corruption rears its head it always seems to be the Unions who are for most in the public mind.

However the history of illegal corporate behavior far outweighs that of the Unions. It is not so long ago that Richard Pratt was formally accused of price fixing, cheating customers and companies out of approximately A$700 million in the nation’s biggest-ever cartel case. After more than a year of denials Pratt subsequently admitted his guilt, acknowledging he and his company, and “rival” company Amcor deliberately broke the law. Not to mention Christopher Skase, Alan Bond and John Elliott to name a few.

2 Secondly, five weeks in, the punters have overwhelmingly endorsed the elevation of Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister. The Polls tell us so. He has rid us of distasteful Abbottism, although I believe attached to the endorsement is an expectation that policy change would be a pre-condition of it.

Whilst on the one hand the polls endorse Turnbull’s personal popularity, on the other the “who would you vote for” figures suggest that policy changes are uppermost in people’s minds.

This Turnbull’s dilemma. How does he retain his popularity as a moderate conservative without demonstrating it, whilst at the same time delivering right wing policies for a cabinet whose ideas and demands are so extreme? You can’t satisfy both.

At the moment he is somewhat like the Pope. He says all the right things, makes all the right noises but everything says the same.

the week that was

And that is the week that was.

A final thought:

It is far better to form your own your own independent opinions relative to your life experience and reason than to allow yourself to be blindly led by others.

 

My Thoughts on the Week That Was

Saturday 1 August

1 I recall being shocked when Tony Abbott was Opposition Leader and the cost of running his office was revealed. I cannot accurately recall the amount but it was way in excess of Julia Gillard’s and I wondered, at the time, how that could be.

Here’s one reason. In 2012 he did a one day trip to a Country Music Festival in Tamworth and claimed $9347 in work expenses for the whirlwind visit – despite not even staying in the city overnight.

Meanwhile Bronwyn Bishop’s Office refuses to comment on reports $6,000 was spent on a Sydney-Nowra plane trip. Can anyone tell me how high a chopper can fly? That’s with a Bishop on board.

abbott 102 Tony Abbott’s demeanour continues to look negatively like that of a yesterday’s politician leading a yesterday party. His policies seem to have “use by” dates without any narrative of what a future Australia might look like. The young know it and the old don’t and won’t to admit it. Bill Shorten needs to continuously place everything in a “future context”.

3 As much as it offends my pride of country I have to admit that the tide of racism flows down the streets of our cities, and through the veins of our culture. And it waters the fields of our play.

 

Sunday 2 August

1 Abbott in retrospect.

She has my complete confidence. She is doing a terrific job as speaker. None of the claims were unreasonable and always within the guidelines. It’s the rules that are at fault not Bronwyn. Bronwyn loves the Parliament and she has devoted her life to the Australian people. The AFP don’t need to investigate because everything was within her entitlements. Well the ones she felt she was entitled too. As leader I made a captain’s call which I felt I was entitled to do. Consider my record. It’s really all Labors fault for not doing what Bronwyn was instructing them to do. Shut the f#€k up. So they only have themselves to blame.

2 It won’t be long until the Abbott Government will have been in power for two years. At the same time last year he said he had not bragged enough about his achievements believing he had done an amazing job. Andrew Bolt and others from the self-righteous right agreed. I know I’m a little premature but how do you think they are going?

3 For a man who says he is not a racist he writes a lot about it. In fact Andrew Bolt’s writing seems to center around five things: Climate change, Racism, Asylum seekers, Free speech and Muslims. This time he is back on his old horse, the ‘Stolen Generation‘. And his claims have a attracted backlash on social media, including journalist Ben Ethan who branded his blog “utterly false” and called for editors and news broadcasters to force Bolt to “put up evidence for his racist claims”. Ethan has reported him to the Press Council.

Monday 3 July

Four observations:

1 Yes, expenses can be complex. What we are asking is for politicians to be honest. Therein ‘lies’ the problem.

2 Philip Ruddock as the next Speaker. Did I hear correctly? The ageing father of the house. The first to demonise asylum seekers by calling them illegals and a child “it”. And now we find that he charged the taxpayer $18,000 for visits to North Queensland. He might just have eliminated himself.

3 Tony Abbott’s attempt to divert blame away from Bronwyn Bishop is but a reflection on his own character. Have any of his captain’s calls been a success?

4 No Newspoll this week. Now that’s convenient

Midday thoughts

1 We are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it”.

Barack Obama

The intransigence of American politics has prevented a person with a formidable intelligence of achieving more than he has. The world, including Australia, should follow his climate policy to the hilt. Unfortunately our leader thinks this:

“Let’s be under no illusions the carbon tax was socialism masquerading as environmentalism”.

One is sagaciously competent while the other is severely challenged when it comes to climate policy direction.

2 When Parliament sits next Monday it will be 6 months since the challenge to the PM’s Leadership. He survived saying “good government starts today”. We are still waiting.

Any leader who could, with hand on heart, say the following must be so far out of touch as to be deficient in cognitive analysis:

“I think Brony has done a good job in the chair, particularly in the last six to 12 months. Inevitably all of us take a bit of time to settle into these positions but I think Bronwyn has deftly handled the parliament in recent times”.

3 The PM must be the world champion for foot in mouth disease. Here is another one on :ndigenous Constitutional Recognition. Mr Abbott said there was a:

“risk an Indigenous-only process might produce something close to a log of claims”.

Tuesday 5 August

1 This week’s Essential Poll has Labor 6 points ahead 53/47. New poll and IPOS next week should be a better reflection of Bronwyn’s fits of flying high at the taxpayers’ expense. Although I am inclined to think they have bottomed out. Labor has now led the Government for 26 consecutive weeks on a two party preferred basis.

2 Aboriginal leaders will seek private funding after the Prime Minister shunned their push for Indigenous-led consultations on the best model for recognition in the Constitution.

I think he was saying “know your place”.

3 Now the PM’s handing out prizes and SA is the first recipient. I’m tipping, prematurely as it might be, an election late this year or early next.

Remember this:

“It is an absolute principle of democracy that governments should not and must not say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards. Nothing could be more calculated to bring our democracy into disrepute and alienate the citizenry of Australia from their government than if governments were to establish by precedent that they could say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards” (Tony Abbott).

A midday thought:

The following is a short extract from the Ted Mack  HENRY PARKES ORATION 2013: It was a widely acclaimed lecture about the state of our governance.

“Over the last 30 years there has been a plethora of minor and major scandals, misuse of most forms of parliamentary allowances, interstate travel, overseas travel, telephone allowances,comcars, taxis, air charters and stamp allowances in addition to the revelations of major Royal Commissions. It seems that almost anything can and has been rorted”.

Take a look at the expenses claims of Tony Abbott both as Opposition Leader and Prime Minister over the past few years. As Opposition Leader his office cost much more than the then Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

2010: $925,806

2011: $1,105,304

2012: $1,000,635

2013: $1218,625

2014: $1765, 880

A total of around 6 million dollars and as one of the highest paid leader in the world earns $507,338. That doesn’t include housing or transport. I’m not sure about personal grooming.

The Prime Minister has been the major rorter of the system for many years. All others pale into oblivion. It should have been fixed many years ago. Three million people didn’t vote in the last election and a recent Essential survey found that only 16% of people trusted politicians. Given the appalling performance of this government it’s safe to say even fewer will vote next time around. And as I said, my tip is late this year or early next.

Wednesday 5 August

 Hey big spender. For a comprehensive list of the Parliaments big spenders go here.

How could Wyatt Roy possibly spend that much. But he’s not the only one.

Thursday 6 August

1 I had another read of Ted Mack’s Henry Park’s Oration speech. It is a splendid summation of the current state of our democracy, its birth, what is currently wrong with it, and how to fix it. A common sense speech that if full of deep thought that challenges in a uniquely intelligent and meaningful way.

You can read it here.

Joe Hockey2 Australia’s unemployment rate rises to 6.3%. It is really a worrying figure. When he came to office Tony Abbott said he would create 1,000,000 jobs over five years. 117,000 more people are out of work since he came to office and a total of 800,000 people don’t have a job. The highest figure in 20 years. It always puzzles me as to why Governments promise jobs when they don’t (outside of the public service) actually employ anyone. They can only create a better environment in which business can employ. One area that is really open to new jobs is the Renewable Energy sector but that might require too much forward thinking for the Luddite PM we have.

3 Bill Shorten announced today that Labor would create 100,000 University places free from the HECS fee. More places would be found for lower and middle class students. More girls would be encouraged into science. Now that’s forward thinking for you.

Two observations:

  • “For the life of me I fail to understand how anyone could vote for a party who thinks the existing education system is adequately funded and addresses the needs of the disadvantaged”.
  •  “There is no greater need than the need for equality of opportunity in education”.

4 “A federal government official has conceded the government has no direct evidence that the Coalition’s plan to make young unemployed people wait four weeks for the dole will help under 25s into work”.

It can only mean on of two things. Firstly, it’s a budget savings measure or secondly they want young people and their parents to feel bad about themselves.

Friday 6 August

1 The entitlement’s saga grows legs each day. It has now been revealed that Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne, who warned on Wednesday against a “Salem witch trial” over politicians’ travel entitlements­, charged taxpayers $7785 to fly his wife and four children business-class return from Adelaide to Canberra.

Those flights, taken in November 2013, cost $1558 for each family member return, totalling as much as Labor frontbencher Tony Burke’s business-class family travel to Uluru a year earlier. The news puts Pyne in an awkward position, given the federal government has attacked Mr Burke’s decision to fly his children business class rather than economy. Eric Abeitz has suggested Burke should consider his position. I wonder. Will he offer the same advice to Pyne?

And then . . . Treasurer Joe Hockey, or his office, has been caught out about the circumstances in which he chartered an $11,300 flight from Hobart to Burnie in the north of Tasmania to sell his budget to Senator Jacqui Lambie.

There is no doubt that there are many others on both sides but we are missing the point. The scandal of expenses claims periodically raises its head but there has been a reluctance to address the problem. The Prime Minister has been the worst offender at both rorting the system and tackling the problem. A couple of times under his watch he could have acted but chose not to.

This time the offence was committed by the Speaker of the House. A self-serving, opinionated women of ill repute whose bias touched even those with little political interest. A women prepared to use her high office in any way that would advantage her own party. It sickened the public’s perception of fair play.

Her actions in a round about way have become the catalyst for an enquiry. I hope that not only brings sensible and fair rules to the costs politicians incur in the performance of their duty but just as importantly that politicians might come to the realisation that they are elected by the people to govern on our behalf. Then and only then might public service become a worthwhile and dignified pursuit.

2 For an Australian Prime Minister to interfere with an independent National Broadcaster’s programing amounts to nothing more than political censorship. For the ABC to capitulate to his wishes is cringe worthy.

And this is the Week That Was.

An awfully depressing one that has left me with a feeling of disgust as to just how bad the leadership of our country is.

My thoughts on the week in politics readership is growing weekly. If you have any thoughts on how I can improve it, please say.

 

With all that is wrong with Australia, all we hear about is boats

I truly detest how this country is treating asylum seekers and I detest the policies of both the Coalition and Labor – none of which remotely consider the onshore processing of refugees who arrive or attempt to arrive by boat.

I also detest how the asylum seeker issue is thrust front and centre by the government as the issue which will most likely decide who wins the next federal election. With nothing else to take to the election, naturally it’s all that the government wants us to be focused on.

And of course, the compliant Murdoch media is an active agent in promoting the discourse in our popular consciousness that we need to keep our borders safe from ‘boat people’.

I live in hope that one day (soon, I hope) that we witness an Australian government adopt both a heart and a humane policy on ‘boat people’ and I would like to see it embraced by most Australians. The latter, of course, would require an absolute turnaround to our popular consciousness.

End of story.

I don’t want to talk about ‘boat people’ any more. With all that is wrong with Australia, all we hear about is boats.

Instead of the government and the Murdoch media telling us what the important issues are, we should be turning it back onto them.

Take away the blather and the bravado about our ‘right to be tough’ towards asylum seekers and dig into the core of what really is important to us and this is what you’ll find:

As at June 2015 over 753,000 Australians were unemployed. In September 2013 – the month of the federal election – the number was just over 706,000. So since the election 47,000 more people are out of work. What is the government doing about the trend? Nothing. What is the media saying about it? Nothing.

Are there more people unemployed in Australia than the number of asylum seekers attempting to come here by boat? Yes.

Housing affordability has gone through the roof (excuse the pun) as have house prices themselves. The median house price in Sydney – our most populated city – is expected to hit $1,000,000 by the end of the year while Australia wide it sits at $660,000. Young people are now struggling more than ever to enter the housing market as the “Australian dream” of home ownership is under threat. But not according to our Treasurer Joe Hockey who insists that houses in Sydney are not unaffordable while the Prime Minister says he wants house prices to rise. That’s right. Rise. With young people struggling to buy a house at today’s prices our Prime Minister wants them to pay even more, despite the fact that housing affordability already represents a long-term structural problem that has been neglected for decades. So, what then can I assume our government is doing about housing affordability? Well based on the attitude of our Treasurer and Prime Minister, nothing. It’s not a problem apparently.

I wonder, are there more people in Australia struggling to or unable to buy a house than the number of asylum seekers attempting to come here by boat? Yes.

Over two and a half million Australians, including over 600,000 children live below the poverty line. That number represents almost 14% of our population. Welfare recipients are most at risk of living in poverty, yet these are the people most likely to be adversely affected by this government’s budgetary measures. So is the government doing anything to reduce the level of poverty in Australia? No.

Are there more people living below the poverty line in Australia than the number of asylum seekers attempting to come here by boat? Yes.

On any given night there are 105,000 homeless Australians with 42 per cent of these being under 25. We do not hear the media talk about this as a damning blight of our society and neither do we hear the government offering any solution to it. But can we expect them to when Tony Abbott says that homelessness is a ‘choice‘?

And by the way, are there more homeless people in Australia than the number of asylum seekers attempting to come here by boat? Yes.

Around one in five women in Australia have experienced some form of domestic violence. These are “epidemic proportions” to the point that domestic violence has now become a national emergency. As has the number of women killed by a violent partner: with at least one women murdered every week. What is the government doing about it? Not much by the look of it.

Are there more people in Australia experiencing domestic violence than the number of asylum seekers attempting to come here by boat? Yes.

Australia is now the most expensive country to live in and Australians are “struggling to cope as the cost of living pressures bite“.  An estimated one in three Australians cannot meet their cost of living expenses on their current incomes. What is the government doing about it? Nothing. What is the media saying about it? Nothing.

Are there more people in Australia struggling with the cost of living than the number of asylum seekers attempting to come here by boat? Yes.

Our economy is “grinding into stagnation” and rather than the three or so per cent growth each year we’ve come to expect, we might have to get used to 2 per cent GDP growth. And as a result, lower living standards can be expected while “everything here is going to be much tougher than before and compared to the rest of the world“. So what is the government doing about it (apart from blaming Labor)? Nothing. “The government neither has no idea – let along any proposal, plan or program – for how to boost Australian growth back up to three or four per cent per year“. They’re not even talking about it. Meanwhile, some of our largest and most potentially-innovative sectors are held back by the Abbott Government’s bureaucracy and regulation.

And will more Australians be affected by a stagnant economy and lower living standards than the number of asylum seekers attempting to come here by boat? Yes.

Oh how I could go on. I only wish the media would too. I wish the media would tell us not only the truth about the Abbott Government but question their appalling attitude towards climate change, the environment, job security, racism, Indigenous Australians, human rights . . . take a pick!

And how about our spiraling debt?

And how about Tony Abbott’s record of lies and broken promises?

Yet, with all that is wrong with Australia, all we hear about is boats.

 

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