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Abbott’s Warm Fuzzy Melting Pot

Breaking news! “In light of the complex and challenging security environment facing Australia” Abbott has made another captain’s call; the amendments to section 18c of the racial vilification act are now officially “off the table”.

Apparently while it was perfectly OK for shock jocks to indiscriminately hurl racial abuse a few months back, what we NEED now, as a nation, is to set aside what divides us so we can all come together in a big warm fuzzy hug of national unity.

That is, of course, except for when we come together in collective condemnation of anyone who has been to “a designated conflict zone”.

Under new legislation on the Coalition drawing board, any “Aussie” so stupid as to go to “a designated conflict zone” without having the forethought to film their entire visit, (as proof they are not a terrorist), could be jailed without proof, refused re-entry, expelled from the country, or simply have their their citizenship revoked, all without any proof whatsoever they did anything wrong.

While I can’t pretend I am not pleased that the racial vilification act has survived Abbott’s ill thought out onslaught, I must confess to being somewhat skeptical as to the motivations for his back down.

I am quite sure someone within the LNP has pointed out that, given his abysmal standing in the polls, it might be better to pick his battles. With his reforms to 18c almost universally condemned (and looking set to face defeat), and with the budget stench still clouding the air, maybe it might be prudent to throw us a bit of a feel good bone, particularly when a much more Machiavellian ambition – to establish a legal precedent for the removing the burden of proof – could be at play.


Photo: George Brandis Sydney Morning Herald

But then again maybe I am over thinking this, maybe it is just because, as Guy Rundle wrote this week in the Saturday Paper, “if George Brandis gets rolled on 18C, he will have no honourable choice but to resign as attorney-general”, and Abbott doesn’t want to lose a high profile scalp right now.




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  1. Dan Dark

    So that pic of bigot Brandis is what humiliation looks like, thanks that’s made my day 🙂

  2. kathysutherland2013

    Yes, love that pic!

    What if somebody from, Syria, say, goes to visit his old mum in the home country?

  3. Letitia McQuade

    exactly right kathysutherland2013

  4. Trapper Tom

    What if somebody from Australia goes to enlist and fight in the Israeli Defence Forces?

  5. Letitia McQuade

    I’m sure that wouldn’t count Trapper Tom… 0-:

  6. Matters Not

    he will have no honourable choice but to resign as attorney-general

    Guy, please. When has Brandis been an honourable man? Now the government will be at odds with Tim Wilson and the rest of the IPA urgers as well as Jones, Bolt and the she-bolt, Miranda Devine. Betrayal is in the air. Bigotry is no longer the new black.

    To ‘cut and run’ at this point suggests the polling’s been done and it’s not looking too good. Is this another broken promise?

  7. O'Bleak

    Abbott makes a captain’s decision to stop being the headman on the bigot’s benches. Everybody clap. Once.

  8. MarkH

    Just don’t criticise Israel in this new paradigm of ‘national unity’…

  9. Adam Taylor

    The major force dividing us was the shock jocks!

  10. Matters Not

    Abbott makes a captain’s decision

    Will be interested to see whose decision it really is. Could it be the case that the ‘captain’ is facing a Cabinet revolt, urged on by worried backbenchers? PPL ‘delayed’. Repeal of 18C abandoned. Perhaps a new ‘captain’ is being mooted? Textor’s delivered very, very bad news?

    Time for rumour upon rumour to be launched? Don’t have to be true because it’s never mattered in the recent past.

  11. joni

    There is at least one Aussie in London doing a happy happy dance at this news.

  12. The AIM Network

    Joni, first the ‘Tahs, and now this. It’s been a great week for you. 😉

  13. trevor

    Do not make the mistake of believing that Abbott has come to a considered decision which will be of benefit to the Australian nation.

    Brandis and humble pie is the same as Uncle Honest John getting the media schooling on how to look sincere as he lied, in place of the shifty little suburban lawyer with darting eyes, pre his Tampa win.

    Abbott in his whole career, has based every decision he makes on what will benefit him and this leopard is not changing spots, no matter what the press releases from the carefully crafted, polled and signed off Credlin/Longnamie school of political bastardry outputs.

    Abbott, like the Nicholson cartoon of many years ago, is ruled by 2 gods, one is the imaginary sky god and the other is the political polls god. Great cartoon that one, if any remember it, of Abbotts head in profile with the delineation of his brain, impervious rock and all.

    Abbott will utilise any and every political trick in the book and a 21st century rewrite to make it seem a fresh idea, new take on old, but everything Abbott is presently attempting is based on what he can offer as bribes to be reelected.

    Saw an article in the WA News (Champion Turd Polishers Bible) letters to the Editor asking what the difference was between Com car winery visits and airline flights to a wedding all paid for on the public funded Australian Parliment slumming it account.

    Apparently the difference is that the Airline tickets were allowed to be refunded and the winery visits were refused to be allowed refunding, all courtesy of the unimpeachably bipartisan and non political Parlimentary Officers who control the Parliment Runnings purse strings,, Yeh Bullshit.

    This parliment not only stinks, it is foul, rotting from the head down.

    We’ve had our reckoning and it’s called ABBOTT, so all you great thinkers put your caps on and sort out how to break the Political Party/MP control of their workplace and make a plan which will allow all Australians proper ownership of Parliments for the first time.

    Not in my name Abbott.

    Export Abbott not Refugees

  14. Angie

    This Abbott govt. is turning everything they touch into one big mess….Abysmal standing in the polls? this is the way voters feel and let’s face it, Abbott has never been liked by the average Australian not even in the Howard days where he thought poor dying Bernie Banton was a joke asking for his help for other dying victims. Abbott will never regain any small amount of popularity he had before the last election.

    Brandis is just so disgusting, he makes me feel sick with the way he thought it was ok to hurt people with vile attacks. The sooner this sick government is removed, the better.

    How the hell do we heal all the deep wounds already inflicted by Abbott & Co?????

    Labor better come up with some hard hitting slogans & be preparing themselves to be the Doctors needed to stitch up our bleeding country and people wounded by this cruel & hurtful government.

  15. Möbius Ecko

    Almost slipped by is the first report on the biased supposed independent enquiry into Labor’s NBN.

    No surprise, it’s all bad, exactly as predicted by Delimiter.

    Two things on the same point caught my attention.

    First was the recommendation that all government projects of one billion dollars and over have a compulsory cost benefit analysis undertaken.

    Hang on. One of Abbott’s major promises was to undertake a cost benefit a cost benefit analysis on all projects over $100 million. What’s happened to that? He’s already broken it on his roads infrastructure programs, something the ABC Promise Tracker seems to have missed. So now he’s got a get out of jail free card yet again.

    The second is that Turnbull hasn’t undertaken a cost benefit analysis on his dogs breakfast of a policy. Hypocrisy: Turnbull approves MTM NBN without cost/benefit analysis.

    When is the MSM going to do it’s job on this woeful government? They don’t have to be as feral as they were against the last government but at least make a little effort to hold this one to some account for its lies and deceits plus its string of failures and backflips.

  16. The Coalition

    We are the Coalition, not the “LNP”. The “LNP” is a Queensland entity. Please stop ignorantly referring to the federal Coalition as the “LNP”. It makes you look ignorant and lazy.


  17. Dan Dark

    Oh that’s right it’s the Big Coal ition, if you are talking coal dig it up ship it out, you are talking Coal ition and their fat cat mining mates like Twiggy has no ideas man, and Gina the pocket of dynamite, well yes the Coal ition it is, wow you are right, we have been lazy 😉

  18. Kaye Lee

    They have so far spent $10 million commissioning reports into Labor’s NBN. Add that to the cost of all their re-reviews into things that have just BEEN reviewed and we could go a long way towards refunding the many essential services they are cutting.

    It’s a mad mad mad mad world.

  19. Kaye Lee

    ve are kaos….ve do not tolerate leaners….shtarker!!!!!

    The Coalition, do you speak with representative authority or are you perhaps a Young Liberal feeling somewhat confused.

    We are Borg…resistance is futile. You guys crack me up 🙂

  20. DanDark

    KAOS aka The Coal ition Party, an inside look at how KAOS works LOL

  21. Möbius Ecko

    Kaye Lee. On top of that Abbott has announced millions more for anti-terrorism. Isn’t it stupefying that we are in an economic crisis then we aren’t then we are, then we have a budget emergency and then we don’t and then we do, and then there is no money for those in need, the middle class and social programs but there’s plenty of money for the wealthy, big business, the military, the spy agencies and themselves, especially Abbott.

    If we are going to be pedantic on LNP, just like right wingers writing it as Labour, then what’s with the party calling themselves Liberal when they are anything but a liberal party. More accurately it should be the ANFP, the Australian Neo-Fascist Party.

  22. corvus boreus

    The Coalition,
    I will gladly refer to your party as the coalition, with a few quid pro quo.
    Tell your party mates to stop calling legal and environmental protections “red and green tape”. These are inaccurate and lazy pejoratives.
    Tell them to stop referring to the sale of public assets for quick turnover as “asset recycling’. This is artificially concocted euphemistic bullshitese for ‘privatisation’.
    Tell them to stop calling any conciliation/negotiation/temporary alliance between the Labor party and the Greens as “a deal with the devil’. This is the language of irrationally fanatical, religiously judgmental nutjobs.

  23. Kaye Lee

    yes ME,

    $600 million for the latest “don’t look at me, look at the other guy” campaign. And I cannot keep up with how many parties have had to aggregate their vote to get this lot into power.

    LIB, LNP, NAT, CLP…how many names have you guys got and how many parties have to align to get you into power…c’mere PUP? “We don’t do deals with minor parties”….much.

  24. Matters Not

    We are the Coalition, not the “LNP”.

    Thanks for that. It makes a world of difference. But it gets a bit confusing with all this bed hopping. Take Barnaby as an example. He was elected to the Senate as a Queensland representative of the National Party of Australia. He then ‘cut and ran’ became a member of the Liberal National Party in 2008 after the merger. But he still remained Leader of the National Party in the Senate.

    Seeing a political opportunity he abandoned the LNP, crossed the border, was endorsed by the National Party.

    Now I am a bit confused. You may be able to help. Did Barnaby ever resign from the National Party when he joined the LNP? If not, then why not? Did he ever resign from the LNP when he became senate leader of the National Party? If not, then why not? Did he resign from the LNP when he sought National Party endorsement for New England? If not then why not?

    Yes, the distinction you draw is about as useful as … Barnaby himself.

    Keep up the good work, I am sure you will be rewarded. But be careful what you post, it has a habit of being remembered.

  25. Möbius Ecko

    “We don’t do deals with minor parties”

    Thanks Kaye Lee, that’s another one I’ll add to the ABC Promise Tracker, not that they will count it as a broken promise. Over a week ago I sent them two definite broken promises that aren’t on their list anywhere but they haven’t appeared yet and I doubt they will. It will make Abbott look worse than they are allowed to make him look.

    Check out the word cloud. Very telling and nothing Abbott does, including saying he makes “leadership” decisions, is going to sway that cloud to positive words and colours.

    Labor have launched an Abbott lies website today. Fairly basic and there are several out there now.

  26. ' george hanson '

    another broken promise tony dumb dumb , ….not to us ,the australian people but to the i.p.a….hope you put your hand out for’ six of the best’ strap on the palm . Go to the back of the class .

  27. Rob031

    I’m a Rumpole of the Baily fan. (Amazon co uk is where you can buy the whole series by the way.) When I see Abbott I see Sam Bollard. And I occasionally see Tony Blair. That’s weird.

    Brandis is all for overthrowing the ‘Presumption of Innocence’. We are being stampeded into agreeing to something that’s really important to us all by an appeal to (the understandable) fear for what I see as political expediency. ISIS and all that scare the hell out of me personally. Something more than fear should drive this kind of legislation. May I suggest creative imagination based on intelligence tempered by an unwillingness to tarnish the ‘golden thread that runs through the history of English justice’. Abbott and Co. appear to be a bit lacking in the creative and intelligence stakes.

    If I were a tad cynical I’d think this, like their response to MH17, is an opportunistic attempt to improve their lousy image. Mmmm. That’d be cheap of me of course. So I won’t mention it.

  28. Rob031

    Oh, by the way, I’m pleased that the “it’s okay to be a bigot bit’ has finally been turfed out. Loved the pic of Brandis looking so happy. So why has this suddenly happened? – I hear you ask in your relentless search for truth and enlightenment? Gee. No idea.

  29. Matters Not

    Just watched Bishop the younger on the 7.30 Report re 18C and the current decision not to repeal same. Sarah Ferguson asserted that this lack of action was in fact a broken promise. Bishop agreed. (Shock, horror). The rationale provided was along the lines ‘that circumstances have changed’. Now who would have thought of that explanation? Perhaps it has a ‘history’?

    Well Abbott invoked ‘changed circumstances’ when he was Health Minister. And he escaped the wrath of the MSM. Gillard on a carbon tax used the ‘changed circumstances’ argument and was vilified over months and years. Now we have Bishop and Abbott (presumably) using the same ‘changed circumstances’ defence. Will they be berated over time? I suspect not.

    No wonder the MSM is losing readers and journalists are losing their credibility

  30. corvus boreus

    Rob 031,
    I suspect the repeal of 18c was sacrificed so that the last remnants of electoral goodwill and credibility can be retained whilst Rupert’s media monopoly and Gina’s special economic zone(and other ‘crucial’ IPA demands) are implemented, before the plebs revolt.
    These were always the big money shots, the enabling of bigotry was always just a distracting side-hobby.

  31. the Lion

    Listen Carefully to what he said “AT THE MOMENT” he will still try to introduce this, but AFTER he adds his new laws on Terrorism!

  32. Florence nee Fedup

    Not a captains pick, a leaders pick, it seems. Yes, he must lead that team. Could that be what he is trying to tell us., He is leader.

  33. Florence nee Fedup

    ABC 24, It appears it was complicating talks with the Muslim community, when it comes to security. Maybe they reminded him, they have enough votes to count.

  34. Florence nee Fedup

    ME, another thing wrong with that report. Only covered from 2007-10. What happened to 2011/12/13 when one could have seen more positives emerged, and the role Telstra played, holding things up. Another is, no mention of where Turnbull is at., Nowhere from what I can find out., Not even managing to get test sites of fibre to node off the ground.

    Claims that cabinet had little involvement,. How can they know this.

    Turnbull claiming that the likes of Telstra could have delivered.. Did not Howard have numerous attempts at getting them involved. In fact that was also Labor’s plan, but fell at the first hurdle. Why no criticism of Howard not separating the two arms when he sold Telstra off., Why not criticism of Telstra saying in the 1990’s that the copper was crapped out and needing replacement, Done nothing for the next decade or two, in fact let the copper deteriorate further, from no maintenance.

    Why not mention, that the NBNCo role out was held up, due to protracted negotiations with Telstra. Then we had the asbestos debacle, also caused by lack of care by Telstra, As an aside, contractors have been cleaning those ducts, at slavery rates for years. No care for their health.

    Yes, a little truth would go a long way.

  35. Matters Not

    Listen Carefully to what he said “AT THE MOMENT”

    Yes he did say that. And did so for very good political reasons. To admit, he’d abandoned the proposal would be a complete humiliation. He needed ‘wriggle room’ (a distraction) so that the press Conference didn’t descend into questions about his broken promise

    Nevertheless, he’s lost a ‘lot of face’ while Brandis is now simply a ‘bad smell’. Changes to 18C are fukt. Because the proposed language changes around the ‘occupied’ territories are also a disaster, Brandis is also fukt. He had only had two public/political issues to deal with and he stuffed both. There’s no way back. A judicial appointment seems the best prospect.

  36. Kaye Lee

    I feel like I am in an Enid Blyton novel except I don’t have faith that the famous five can pull it off this time and my concern about George goes way beyond sexual amibuity.

    The PM said he had made a “leadership call” to abandon the changes, because they had become a “complication” in the Government’s relationship with the Australian Muslim community.

    “When it comes to counter-terrorism, everyone needs to be part of Team Australia,” Mr Abbott said.

    “The government’s proposals to change 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act have become a complication in that respect.

    “I don’t want to do anything that puts our national unity at risk at this time and so those proposals are now off the table.

    “It is, if you like, a leadership call that I have made after discussion with the Cabinet today.

    “In the end, leadership is about preserving national unity on the essentials and that is why I have taken this decision.”

    As Lenore Taylor puts it…if we are going to be “Team Australia” then we need to discuss the game plan.

    “We still don’t know whether Abbott agrees with George Brandis that we all have the right to be bigots, only that the laws constraining our ability to insult or offend on the grounds of race are to be retained for now because the government itself doesn’t want to offend ethnic community groups whose support will need for its anti-terror campaign.

    And exactly how controversial these anti-terror changes are likely to be is also difficult to tell because the detail is not yet available, in itself a strange way to advance such a potentially explosive proposal.

    How necessary they are is also difficult to gauge – intelligence officials insist the terrorist threat is set to rise when Australians fighting in foreign wars return – but the prime minister was clear that right now the terror threat has not changed.

    And how genuinely the government wants unity is also uncertain, since most of the cabinet and the major telecommunications companies found out about the policy to force telcos to retain customers’ metadata from reading Tuesday morning’s newspapers after a Monday night meeting of the national security council. Briefings they received after cabinet on Tuesday suggested nothing much would change.”

  37. mars08

    I suspect that the shock-jocks are going to be quite upset at seeing Tong dumb dumb back down. No doubt they will accuse Muslims of moral blackmail!!!! It’s the nanny-state, i tells ya…. it’s a suspiracy!

  38. Garth

    Didn’t read all the comments yet so apologies if someone already pointed this out…. I heard Tim Wilson on PM commenting on the shelving of 18c. He said the government shouldn’t be listening to critics and should have the strength to do what is right. I had to laugh (or I’d cry), since when is overwhelming public opinion simply a ‘criticism’. They are there to represent the Australian people as a whole (not just one whakko bigot and a demented ‘think tank’). From the Human Rights Commissioner it’s an absurd comment but I’d be surprised if he had actually said anything different. Wanker!

  39. Matters Not

    He said the government shouldn’t be listening to critics and should have the strength to do what is right

    Can only agree. The ‘right’ and ‘good’ thing for any self respecting government to do right now would be to sack both Brandis and his ‘mate’ Tim Wilson. But it’s all unlikely. A bit early for acts of complete desperation. That will come a little later.

    BTW, I have it on good (rumour) authority that Wilson’s partner is well and truly pissed off with the amount of time Wilson spends with Brandis. Seems as though they hold more than ‘intellectual’ hands. But I stress it’s only a rumour. And besides it matters not. What consenting adults do behind closed doors is of no interest to me, but Wilson’s partner might see it differently.

  40. Garth

    Matters Not … wasn’t aware of that ‘rumour’ but maybe the last word of my comment will sum up more properly Timmy’s romantic status before it all play’s out. I too have no interest whatsoever in what people do behind closed doors, but I really wish you hadn’t put that image in my head.

  41. brickbob

    I dont normally call people wankers but in Tim Wilsons case i agree with your opinion of the man,absolute wanker.

  42. Garth

    brickbob … I like to think of myself as an intelligent, decent person that can carry on a debate without resorting to name calling. I think I usually achieve this but this bunch of muppets really are bringing out the worst in me (see, I did it again !). And, I really hate that I feel this way (as I know many others do as well). I simply can’t believe what I am seeing happen to my beautiful Australia.

  43. Kaye Lee

    There has been a very interesting exchange of published articles going on between Dr Tim Soutphommasane, Race Discrimination Commissioner, and Tim Wilson, Human Rights Commissioner.

    Tim’s ineptitude has been thoroughly shown up in the exchange and now he has been ignominiously made entirely redundant. He spoke at Gerard Henderson’s Sydney Institute about his grand plan for the year of meetings and symposiums about “free speech” gathering together lots of brains. Wonder how he is feeling right now as he collects his $389,000 to champion a “shelved” policy. Pointless comes to mind. Guilty about Graeme Ennis, Disability Commissioner being kicked out to make way for Boy Wonder is probably too much to ask.

  44. Matters Not

    Look the ‘fallout’ has already started. That Race Commissioner guy, the one with the unpronounceable name, (here have a go – Dr Tim Soutphommasane – yes I agree the Tim part isn’t too difficult but the surname?). But you know the one, he’s actually well qualified for his position. PhD and all. Well he’s endorsed the ‘back down’.

    Australia’s race discrimination commissioner has hailed the Abbott government’s decision to abandon proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act, saying the watering down of the bill would have sent “a green light to racism and bigotry”.

    Really? Well, what else would one expect from an ex Gillard advisor? And did he disclose his apparent conflict of interest. Further:

    But the government’s backdown has triggered a furious response from the chief backers of the changes, the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), which portrayed it as a clear broken promise

    Dear oh dear, even the IPA thinks it’s a broken promise. But surely, there’s nothing wrong with that, given the ‘changed circumstances’Even Australia’s best climate scientist has joined in and:

    blamed the u-turn on the government’s poor efforts to sell the reforms and “too many lobby groups hate free speech”.

    Dear oh dear. BTW you can read more here.

  45. Garth

    Kaye … Tim is simply out of his depth. As I recall you pointing out previously, he is working with a group of qualified, experienced, intelligent, and empathetic people (paraphrasing) and it was clear from the outset he just wouldn’t be up to the job. He really must have a grand opinion of himself if he thought he could associate with the the likes of the other Commissioners and hold his own. What stuns me is that anyone else could have thought he could have done so.

  46. Dan Dark

    Lol Dr Brunsons head is not as shiny as bookcase brandises, but dr Brunson isn’t a turd that’s been rolled and shined like Brandis, myth busters did prove that you can shine a turd it’s on youtube, someone put it up a while ago, it’s enlightening stuff how they do it, it is definitely an art 😉

  47. Florence nee Fedup

    Was it not the criticism of the likes of Bolt, Wilson and Brandis, that led to wanting 18c repealed,

  48. mars08

    Surely, by now, we can all see who the REAL victims are….

  49. Kaye Lee

    Tim’s speech to the Sydney Institute in May gives us a snapshot of the government/IPA/Wilson agenda. What a waste of space.

    “Of course, there are justified restrictions on free speech, but they occur at the margins, such as the imminent explicit incitement of violence against others.

    Reforming the Racial Discrimination Act is not the end of debating free speech in Australia, it is the beginning.

    There are many other issues that we also need to discuss — defamation laws, anti-­terrorism laws, media regulation, freedom of information and the competing property rights and free-speech interests in intellectual property, to name a few.

    I’ll be seeking to reassert these “forgotten freedoms” during my term. Unless they’re properly respected as the foundations for our liberal democracy, they risk being incrementally curtailed.”

    Way to go on human rights there Tim.

  50. LogicalPhilosophical

    Letitia I don’t think you’re overthinking it at all – I had the exact same thoughts when I read the news on this. They know they’re going to lose on repealing 18C, so they’re trying to turn it into a positive while they still can, and hoping it gives them a little credit to pull off the other shenanigans they have in the works.


    Garth, while my first reaction to your comment was “haha Tim Wilson, ‘human rights’ commissioner, at it again. What a dick”, on second look I realised this can be a good talking point:

    Is the job of the government to govern according to public opinion, or is it to govern for the greatest common good?

    Let me give you an example to ponder; what if, 15 or 20 years ago, John Howard had tried to introduce something like a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme? The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had already released a couple of reports, so the information on what was coming with climate change was already out there, yet this was before An Inconvenient Truth (2006), so I think I would be correct in postulating that the majority of the population just wouldn’t have seen the benefits of a carbon tax/ETS because they simply weren’t educated on the issue (this is the crux). The big polluters would have quite easily run a scare campaign, and the legislation would have been shot down in flames. However (I think I’m on the right forum to state this), given the circumstances our planet is in, I think we could say that old Johhny would have been acting for the greater good. He’d be against public opinion (at that time), but actually he’d have been acting in everyone’s best interest.

    So, if voters are not educated on an issue enough to have a valid opinion on the matter (insert link to that wonderful The Conversation article, whatever it’s called, ‘No you’re not entitled to your opinion’, or something like that), and the government is actually acting in the best interests of the majority of the population (yes, stop laughing, let’s just assume they are here, for the sake of the argument), is the government right to act against the will of the population?

    Go. Discuss.

    Please note I didn’t pick a side, so don’t go attacking me for picking one, I simply raised a discussion point.

  51. Matters Not

    Breaking news suggests that George and Tim have had a ‘spat’. Won’t call it a ‘domestic’, that would be breaking too many confidences.

  52. Garth

    LogicalPhilosophical … I take your point and you are right. General public opinion doesn’t necessarily equate with ‘correct’ opinion, or that the government should give to it. I did express myself poorly in my original comment (that’s the danger of commenting when wound up). In the case of the proposed changes to 18c, the government never put forward a convincing argument to support the proposed changes (in my opinion), and the criticism they copped from many sections of our society DID put forward convincing arguments for not proceeding with the proposed changes (again, in my humble opinion). In fact, the arguments that our AG gave for changing/repealing 18c were positively laughable. It was just so clearly transparent that they were pushing forward to appease their backers. I guess that was all sub-text in my comment. I am in furious agreement though that the mess we are in today with politics is due to blatant populism in trying to play to what they think the public want to hear (focus groups … blah!). There is a clear line though between dog whistling (such as the current asylum seeker policy for irregular boat arrivals, and the topic Letitia broached above), and a blatant nod to their paymasters …. which the proposed changes to 18c clearly were. Thank you so much for the reply.

  53. Matters Not

    Time to be serious. A fundamental plank of the IPA view of the world is the concept of ‘freedom’. We all should be as free as possible. Who could argue with that? Everyone wants to be ‘free’. It’s a universal desire and is universally supported. As It should be.

    But in many ways, that’s simplistic bullshit. What the IPA is on about is a very, very narrow view of freedom. At the core of their view is ‘freedom’ defined in terms of freedom ‘from’. In particular, it’s freedom from government. It’s government that’s the enemy of freedom. As I say, it’s a terribly narrow view of freedom.

    The IPA and others never consider that the concept of freedom might include the freedom to ‘do’. To cause change. To achieve. That government enables ‘freedom’ by providing ‘opportunities’ that an individual could never provide for themselves. For example, I can’t stop the pollution of our atmosphere by myself. For me to ‘do’ that, requires ‘collective action’ in the shape of government, broadly defined.

    Freedom defined in terms of the ‘from’ while ignoring the ‘do’ aspect is rather childish. BTW, the concept can be teased out in much greater depth.

  54. Garth

    Sorry … that didn’t make sense … dog whistling and the proposed changes to 18c are all populist policy (one was for the general community and the other was for a very select audience). To flesh out my point a bit more (which I take is LogicalPhilosophicals point as well), there’s the politics and then there’s the facts. A government needs to be able to both develop credible policies and also bring the community on-board with them. We’ve seen crap policies which appear to be popular with a large part of the community (such as the current asylum seeker policy) but also good policy that is defeated by the politics (such as the ETS and the mining tax). In the case of the changes to 18c they got the quinella, it was both crap policy and poor politics … seems to be the pattern with this government though.

  55. silkworm

    I don’t get it. What has the proposed repeal of 18C got to do with the government’s relations with the Muslim community? The repeal of 18C was about the government’s relations with the Aboriginal community. It was Bolt who fell foul of 18C by deliberately insulting Aboriginals.

  56. Matters Not

    The repeal of 18C was about the government’s relations with the Aboriginal community

    More complicated than that. Politically, in the short term, it was about getting the shock jocks on side. (And fu@k the Aboriginal community because they don’t vote for us. And never will). Then came the ‘rationale’ for their political position which became embedded in the ‘free speech’ mantra. George and Tim saw their chance to make their names.

    The difficulty arose because other identified groups realised that legitimising ‘hate speech’ against ‘Aborigines’ had potentially serious implications for them as well.

    Just imagine, Brandis achieved a coalition of Jews, Arabs, Aborigines, Catholics and whoever else you want to nominate. He’ll go down as a legend. He achieved the politically impossible. And it was all his own work. Albeit with a little help from his friends.

  57. LogicalPhilosophical

    Garth, thanks for clarifying in your reply, and I agree.

    In response to “We’ve seen crap policies which appear to be popular with a large part of the community (such as the current asylum seeker policy) but also good policy that is defeated by the politics (such as the ETS and the mining tax).”, I’d also ask the question: when is it OK for government to go against the will of the people? Shouldn’t policy that goes against the will of the people be the definition of crap policy?

  58. Garth

    Hmmmm LP …. now you’ve got me thinking. I don’t think so. no. It really is a matter of personal belief. Most of what we hold dear come down to beliefs. Beliefs are hard to change but I also don’t begrudge someone having a different belief to my own. I can only speak for myself (which goes without saying really) but where politics are concerned I can cope with something that goes against my own beliefs if I think the intent is honorable. Sadly, that is my greatest issue with this current government, I don’t think their intentions are honorable. I can’t believe a thing they do or say. Even when my I may instinctively agree with something one of them says (which unfortunately is the magic trick they try to pull), I now just know I cannot trust them, so I dismiss it. I really was naive prior to the last election and I naively believed that if someone said ‘No cuts to …, no cuts to … no changes to ….., etc’ then they could not be so bold as to completely do the opposite. Sadly, my naivete was pounded back into my face (and no, I didn’t vote coalition, I never could, but still I have those memories). So, final answer to your question, if something goes against the general consensus of the people, but there is confidence that those implementing the policy truly believe they are bettering the Australian people (and come to that decision through listening to rational and reasoned argument), I don’t believe it can necessarily be called crap policy. Where a government deceives and betrays is populace, then they deserve the cynicism they receive.

  59. Letitia McQuade

    Ok, this is an interesting conundrum: sometimes I think that the “bettering of the Australian people” is not a good enough metric by which to measure the worth of a policy… Abbott and Hockey sincerely believe coal is better for Australia, others clearly do not… who is right? I believe policy should be measured not only for it’s impact on Australians but also on the world at large… everyone on this planet is part of our human family and to make policy that appears to furthers our own cause off the back of the pain and suffering of others (such as refugees) is, to my mind, simply not good policy. I do not believe Coal is good policy, and I believe history will bare this out, but none the less it may serve the SHORT TERM interests of many Australians….. To me Policy needs to have a base of care and compassion in order for it to be good policy… the role of LEADERSHIP, and the media should be to guide people away from investing too heavily in their more basic, selfish instincts, toward policies that serve the best interests of the group as a whole. If policy is rooted in compassion and driven by right action then the outcome will be directed toward the happiness and improvement of all… while it is difficult to define “right action”, I find the best way is ask oneself…. if I perform this action will anyone be harmed? if the answer is yes, then it is probably not a “right action”, conversely if no one is harmed, and people will benefit then it probably is a “right action”,,, this may seem simplistic but in my life I have found it a very effective measure of what to do when faced with difficult decisions…. (oh and for the record, an action that causes someone/ a company to have slightly less money when they already have more than enough is not something I would call “harming” them)…. Balance, is essential… most political arguments come down to whose narrow interests will be served by the policy agenda… and most often we find ourselves bitterly dissatisfied because policy is weighted too heavily to one side of the issue… balance, the middle path, with and eye to sustainability and a reasonable level of equity, this is what is required… it’s time the center was reclaimed…. and the bogus “far left” label that has been imposed on it by the neo-cons is removed.

  60. Terry2

    So now, a person with let’s say Syrian, Iraqi, Afghan or, at some time in the future Palestinian or Lebanese heritage will have to prove, following a visit to see relatives, that they had not been fighting with the baddies during their absence: they have to prove a negative as the onus of proof will shift from the accuser to the accused.
    Who the ‘baddies’ and ‘goodies’ are will be determined by George Brandis and his crew.

    This has the makings of a Monty Python script.

  61. Matters Not

    In the lead up to the last election, the proposed repeal of 18C was referred to the Bolt Amendment by many in the media, on blogs and elsewhere. The government denied same saying it was all about the principle of free speech. This morning, on radio, Abbott revealed that one of the first people he rang with his, or Cabinet’s, decision to drop the repeal was none other than A Bolt. Another falsehood exposed. And by his own hand.

    Yes folks, the PM of Australia rings a ‘shock jock’ to give advance warning of the government’s decision to break a promise.

    And as I suggested above, Abbott has followed Bishop down the excuse track of claiming ‘changed circumstances’. An escape clause that was never allowed for Gillard.

    The hypocrisy is palpable.

  62. Letitia McQuade

    Just want to highlight again the most frightening aspect of all this is the potential creation of a legal precedent of for abolishing the burden of proof… this is the thin end of the wedge… if it is acceptable for the government to reverse the burden of proof so that the accused have to prove their innocence, in one circumstance, then there is no reason to expect it to stop there…. other circumstances in which it is an “appropriate measure” will most certainly soon follow…

  63. Matters Not

    will have to prove, following a visit to see relatives

    Still unclear. On Radio this morning there was talk they may have to provide evidence in advance of their intentions. Not sure how that will be implemented.

    Let’s not forget, that leaders love a crisis. It matters not whether it’s self created or other created. It’s the crisis that counts, not the creator.

  64. Matters Not

    Letitia, the presumption of innocence, sometimes referred to by the Latin expression Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat, is the principle that one is considered innocent until proven guilty. But it isn’t the only way ‘justice’ can be achieved. Indeed it may not be the best way.

    One might like to look at the French or European concept which suggests a reverse of that principle.

    Both have strengths and weaknesses.

  65. Letitia McQuade

    Granted Matters Not, however the application of the rules are the thing to be mindful of… all systems of justice are subject to error, however the presumption of guilt on accusation is demonstrably more dangerous to the public at large, and infinitely more useful to oppressive regimes.

  66. randalstella

    I assume that the reversed burden of proof quizzing will not apply to those visiting Israel – unless, of course, they are visiting to meet Palestinians.

    What a pompous knucklehead is this Attorney. An incompetent unprecedented, because he is so stupidly discriminatory.
    In his idle reign this far, each of his initiatives has been both repressive and unworkable. Quite an achievement.

    The giant bookshelf must be loaded with crap.
    If this mob get re-elected, this nasty, carping fool will end up on the High Court; a much bigger ‘anomaly’ for justice than the drinking buddy made CJ in Queensland.

  67. Chokyi Nyingpo

    I am not clear on a few things (re: returning “Jihadists” to Oz) and hope someone will enlighten me.

    Do the new terrorist laws/rules/regulations only apply to conflicts in countries other than Israel? If so, why?

    And, will they apply to Australians of singular passport status/citizenship (Australian), or to dual-nationals only, or to both?

    And, why are dual-nationals allowed to become Australian under Australian laws – e.g. I seem to remember a certain R Murdoch having to renounce his Australian citizenship in order to further his business empire in the USA so why are we accepting of other nationals not to be renouncing theirs before becoming Australian?

    How will Brandis et al *know* where any dual-national has gone when they leave Australia?

    I ask because my wife has dual-nationality. She leaves Australia as an Aussie and returns as an Aussie – nowhere in her Oz passport is any visa/entry/exit stamp, it is blank. Ditto for her other nationality (birth country) passport, it too is blank.

  68. Dan Dark

    “London yesterday: 90,000 people protesting outside the Israeli embassy”

  69. Matters Not

    Chokyi Nyingpo, things are still unclear because as I understand it, the current legislation is still to be amended. How that is enacted, amended and the like is still some time away.

    Do the new terrorist laws/rules/regulations only apply to conflicts in countries other than Israel

    It would seem that the Foreign Minister (Bishop) will be given the power to determine ‘areas’, ‘districts’ or ‘countries (perhaps) that will be under close scrutiny. ‘No go’ areas if you like.

    will they apply to Australians of singular passport status/citizenship (Australian), or to dual-nationals only, or to both

    In all probability, the new ‘arrangements’ will apply to both.

    And, why are dual-nationals allowed to become Australian under Australian laws

    Prior to 4 April 2002, Australian citizens who became citizens of another country lost their Australian citizenship automatically.

    On 4 September 1985, Murdoch became a naturalized US citizen to satisfy the legal requirement that only US citizens were permitted to own US television stations

    How will Brandis et al *know* where any dual-national has gone when they leave Australia

    At the most basic level someone could look at your passport. While most countries stamp your passport and include a date of arrival and a date of departure, others like Russia, for example, want you passport in advance so that they can physically attach a Visa to your actual passport. They know a lot about you before you arrive. In other places you are on record because you have to buy a visa at the arriving airport. Turkey is an example of that arrangement.

    In Vietnam you had to hand over your passport at each and every hotel so that your presence could be recorded at the local police station but that requirement has been relaxed as I understand it.

    It’s pretty hard to cross borders without being ‘stamped’ in some shape or other. Sometimes these ‘checks’ and resulting stampings are cursory but at other times they can involve waits of many, many hours and all types of searches. Getting out of Belarus is a nightmare quickly followed by a similar experience of getting into Poland 100 metres down the road.

    But a determined government can use other traces as well. Not hard to see where I’ve been by looking at my bank transactions or by checking phone records or other forms of electronic activity.

    As for your wife I am sure she like everyone else fills in a departure card at the airport on the way out and an arrival card on the way back.

  70. mars08

    Opinion polls looking feeble? Not as popular with your adoring public? Criticism in the media? Want to get your mojo back?

    Simples, just repeat as needed: “Terrorism!!! National Security!!! We’re doooooomed!!!!”

  71. jimhaz

    [Abbott, like the Nicholson cartoon of many years ago, is ruled by 2 gods]

    Be in there somewhere


    I could spend a few hours going through these – looks like 20 years of cartoons. Interesting to see how little changes in politics.

  72. Chokyi Nyingpo

    Thank you Matters Not – I’d like to ask a supplementary:

    Why are Israeli citizens exempt from these laws when serving in the IDF and are there any other countries that will also have their citizens exempt?

    PS – I’ve been getting a “500 Internal Server Error” from this AIMN link all morning – could an AIMN person try to get it fixed pls? It happens with three different browsers on two different OS’s – thank you:

  73. jimhaz

    [We are the Coalition, not the “LNP”]

    lol. So I suppose you wish to own that general use word – twisting it over the years like the word liberal has been usurped here – its true meaning almost a direct opposite to what the LNP actually stands for and does.

    Take a jump – I will never use the word to describe your party.

    I suppose you do need to word so as to include all those little LNP-created front parties, with various appealing names to the non-politically minded, that are immorally used to siphon senate votes to your side.

  74. Kaye Lee

    I heard Abbott say that if citizens wish to be part of their country’s legitimate defence force, for example Israel or Egypt, then that is permissible. Trouble is, some of these people think they ARE fighting for legitimate forces.

    I find this an extraordinary amount of attention and money for about 100 people who they seem to know about but they say there is no actual increased credible threat that they are aware of and no proof of these people committing a crime. Surely if they have any such proof then arresting them would be easy even under current laws?

    Just another group to focus on to deflect attention from the budget if you ask me, though I am sure they will find uses for the metadata gathered.

  75. mars08

    If we’re going to be adopting retroactive legislation… can I suggest we look at the tax laws? Might help with the “budget emergency” we’re apparently having!

  76. Dagney J. Taggart

    This whole outrage with 18C is a joke. It has been in the RD Act since at least 1998 (damn that socialistic bleeding heart government then). Its only since Bolt had a massive cry after getting smacked for being loose with some facts that it has been the greatest threat to free speech in the history of the world.

  77. Rossleighbrisbame

    Ah, Dagney. Someone who disagrees but isn’t a troll. More power to you. Please take over the Liberal Party and save us all from Abbott!

  78. trevor

    jimhaz: Nicholson cartoon of Abbott head in profile about 4 years ago it was in the press. Shows top third of brain owned by miners(sketchy memory on exact order of thirds). Impervious rock next third and then 2 gods, Imaginary sky god and polls god.

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