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Turnbull’s reinvention of the 457 visa scheme does little to aid Australia

By John Haly

We are bringing the 457 visa class to an end”, announced Mr Turnbull after Easter, “…We will replace it with two new temporary skills visas.” With a quick slight of hand, Turnbull re-branded the much criticised 457 visa with two – as yet unnamed – programs to bring foreign workers to Australia. Though new rules and security checks were mentioned, he ensured that he would guard us from the impeding “threat of permanent citizenship” of intelligent and skilled foreigners whom our employers have sought out. Rest assured, Turnbull has proclaimed he will keep us safe from having people of this caliber, stay in Australia.

As Australia returned to work after the Easter long weekend, Malcolm Turnbull reminded us we were a nation of immigrants but we should not be overrun by too many more. With the Australian workforce apparently foremost on his mind, Turnbull told the nation (first via Facebook) that the 457-visa program was being scrapped for two new innovative temporary foreign worker schemes to tackle our unemployment issues. In restricting that program and although unnamed, he proposed two new visa programs with fewer job role options, new market tests, English language, skills and experience requirements.

The first reminder that comes to the fore concerning these new reforms that “put Australian’s first”, is a reference to similar policy I’ve previously heard. Didn’t Julia Gillard propose something similar herself in 2013? Didn’t Malcolm Turnbull criticize her for striking at the “heart of the skilled migration system”?

457 in decline?

Leaving Turnbull’s change of perspective aside, the numbers of 457 workers in Australia have been a subject of much speculation and false rhetoric by politicians seeking to introduce alternative facts and in some cases, outright bigotry. 457 visa numbers have been following a pattern of decline in the last few years but a significant aspect of that in the annual cyclic pattern.

In terms of the 2016 decline of numbers in Australia in any quarter – providing you limit your scope – it looks significant. The first quarter of 2016 (March) there were about 177,390 people in the country working under 457 visas.

Annual patterns of 457 workers in Australia

Since then it dropped slightly to 170,580 (June), up a little to 172,187 (Sept), and dropped significantly to 150,219 (Dec). Now, while these last figures may create the illusion of a significant fall, you need to look at the annual pattern of numbers over the last few years. Stepping back and reviewing the last seven years, a pattern emerges for every year. (Rising sharply, slight fall, slight rising, sharp fall). The pattern – as graphed here – will show you that it is about to jump back up again, so there is a deception inherent in quoting the last quarter’s figures of any year as indicative of where 457 figures are or will be. 457 visa figures have a predictable annual cyclical pattern. Turnbull’s timing made before the Department of Immigration released the last quarter’s figures creates the short-term illusion in media reporting that the coalition is indeed clamping down on 457 workers.

Workers come and go. Totals expressed in net movements of visa entrants – over periods such as a year – hide the significant seasonal change in numbers in the country. So when it is stated that 33,340 of the 40,100 primary applicants lodged 457 visa requests in the first quarter of 2016 were successful, and that this is a decrease from the same time last year, what is notably absent is how many 457 workers left. This is also dependent on which quarter you choose. So pointing out that – during the third quarter of 2012 under Gillard – that 35,452 foreign workers entered the country, ignores that only 14,665 entered in the last quarter of 2009. The coalition cherry picking numbers from specific quarters to disparage Rudd/Gillard’s record – that in actuality had both the highest and lowest intake of 457 Visa workers – is perhaps a tad disingenuous.

Annual cycle aside, it is still true to say the average number of 457 workers in the country since the coalition took power has been larger than the number of government recorded job vacancies in Australia. To keep it in the context of the last 457 worker totals released by the Immigration department, there were 165.9K vacancies in Dec 2016. 457 workers had done their customary annual December quarter drop to 150K, down from 172K for the previous quarter. Unemployment at the time (Roy Morgan’s figures) was at over 7 times that amount at 1,186K or 9.2%. If you added Morgan’s December underemployment numbers to the unemployment, then you reach a number nearly 16 times the vacancy rate at 2,584K. I am not going to entertain the ABS figures because of their inherent inaccuracy.

So even if you threw out all the 457 visa holders in December representing less than 1% of the workforce and made all their jobs available, it would have little impact on the 2.5 million both under and unemployed. This is particularly so as the presumption is there are no available Australians in the market who have the skills necessary to fill these roles. This begs two questions.

  1. Why is it so?
  2. Is it so?

Why 457?

Introduced by John Howard in 1996, the 457 Visa program has been beset by concerns about fraud, corruption and need. Fraud, we will get back to, but the need for it is still a failure of policy. Howard claimed it was to enable employers to address labour shortages in the Australian market and yet after 20 years, we still need to address skill shortages? You’d have to wonder after 20 years, about an economy and a national policy framework that has so failed to raise the skill levels in Australians, that we still need 457 visa workers. How is that “in the national interest” as Mr Turnbull so frequently repeated? A medical degree takes 6yrs, engineering 5yrs and a commerce degree 3yrs. So what has the government been doing in the last two decades? Why have we been unable to educate and upskill our population? Why is this foreign labour market even necessary? To answer that, we need to go back initially to Howard and ask how he began to prepare our children.

As a western nation which once boasted of free education for it’s population, the growing restriction of education to the people has had consequences for our labor market. Howard changed how education was funded by allocating considerable funding to private schools and undercutting public schools. Students drifted away from public schools to the better-funded private schools, where they could afford the luxury. The public school system was left with a community of poorer demographics with less time or capacity for higher education and an increasing inequality of educational results. The social class division between the affluent and the underprivileged then began at school for children. Two decades later the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey shows Australian children falling behind in education. Segregating our schooling system by either academic or social class boundaries have been largely to blame for our children’s poor performance. Our ranking for investment on the OECD league tables for education is 22 out of 37 1n the OECD. Low expenditure is followed by low results.

Whitlam onwards

Leaving high school for TAFE or University has done little to revoke the class distinctions established by Howard’s redistribution of school funding. Whitlam abolished fees for TAFE and university students and provided support for apprenticeships through the National Apprenticeship Assistance Scheme (NAAS). Hawke reduced funding and re-established costs to students as well as changing labour market programs around apprenticeships and introduced traineeships as a major response to rising youth unemployment. Trade apprenticeships flourished as the government focused on traineeships. Mr Keating started governments down the neo-liberal path of privatising the public sector. The problem with privatising the public sector was that these were the main generators of apprenticeship training such as electricity utilities, telecommunications, defence industries, rail, roads, and Australian airlines. Howard also continued to undermine the public sector which contributed to a reduction in skills training – via public sector apprenticeships. Howard quickly consolidated apprenticeships and traineeships under a single umbrella and wrested it away to unions and into the hands of employers. Skewing support for apprenticeships heavily in the interests of employers was followed by a decline in training delivery, apprenticeship completions, pay and conditions. None of which was aided by the further dismantling of the industrial relations system, through the introduction of enterprise bargaining.  While Rudd and Gillard dismantled Howard’s “work choices”, they still followed the traditions of the Hawke/Keating legacy by “make[ing] concessions to the big mining companies, reduc[ing] corporate tax, and restrict[ing] unions rights and push[ing] through spending cuts to maintain a budget surplus.” The decimation of manufacturing under Abbott destroyed yet another training base for trades, and reduced the intake of apprentices.  The budget cuts of his administration also severely impacted apprenticeships.  Tracking the causes, consequences and level of damage to our employment economy have been made all the more difficult by Abbott’s savage dismantling of expert advisory panels as compiled by Sally McManus.

The combination of factors including the dismantling of education, expert advice, the industrial relations system and the public sector meant that a four year apprenticeship in the building trade gets replaced by a shallow sixteen week CBT course as the bare minimum for that specific role. The results have been described as “a disaggregation of skill which is ‘modularised’, ‘flexible’ and ‘atomised’ … [that] will ultimately leave skills ‘fragmented’ at their core.

Many apprenticeships as a means of training up in skills for increasing levels of youth unemployment have largely vanished by comparison. For example, Federal funding for NSW Tafe reached it’s zenith in 2011 and thereafter decreased. Deregulation of training provision meant funding to non-TAFE and private providers increased by 20%. The consequence of this produced the rise of dodgy private providers of vocational education and also the unscrupulous practices by some private providers which have become a scandal in Australia.

No matter the skill training, your always schooled in Finance!

Add too, what Abbott euphemistically referred to as “Fee Deregulation”. Attempts to rectify the class based education system via Gonski funding were scrapped and the vocational education sector simply received new student loan systems, all of which has done little to encourage Australians to “buy” education. The end result has been a drop-off in education in Australia as students fall by the wayside, get ripped off or – even if they do complete their degrees – are faced with indexed debts that limit their employment capacities in a market of decreasing full-time jobs, low vacancies and enormous competition from other under and unemployed members of the workforce. Skills shortages have been a function of deteriorating access to Education driven by political policy.

Is there a skills shortage?

The distribution of 457 visa workers (image from The Guardian)

It is, of course, true to say we do have skill shortages. The question as to what extent any occupation is genuinely suffering from a skill shortage – is problematic. Questions arise as to whether the request for that skill simply represents an opportunity for an employer to take advantage of a compliant, cheap and deunionised workforce. Most reports whether from Flinders University or the National Institute of Labour studies have all rather reflected the opinion of the Flinders University report that “Despite the attention paid to skill shortages, the evidence used to evaluate their incidence and the causes and responses by firms remains thin.

The problem predominately is that the labor market testing for skills shortages will still be conducted by employers – not by an independent panel. This will do nothing to affect the corruption at the core of exploitation of 457 workers.

Turnbull has announced that 216 job roles will no longer be covered by the renamed 457 visa scheme. The problem is that Turnbull’s new visa jobs list would affect just 9 per cent of the current 457 visa holders. So essentially he has cut an already redundant list of skills requirements – at least a quarter of which have never been applied for in the last year. Turnbull has not addressed the issue of employer rorts because the determination of a genuine skills shortage has been so easy to defraud. Underpaying 457 workers has been pervasive amongst dishonest employers.

In the absence of a plan to rectify education, the public sector, independent labour market analysis, unemployment, jobs and growth Malcolm Turnbull’s reinvention of the 457 visa scheme does little to aid Australia out of the economic malaise. Without attention to these issue now, we’ll be obsessing over skill shortages and “temporary” foreign workers in another twenty years.

 

The report card

Former minister and Liberal Party director Andrew Robb recently completed an investigation into the poor performance of the Liberal Party in the 2016 federal election. Yes, they won by a whisker, but losing 14 seats is a drubbing. Former PM Abbott’s chief of staff, Peta Credlin, writing for the Daily Telegraph has her theory

On two separate occasions over the past 10 years, Malcolm Turnbull has plotted to seize the Liberal Party leadership from the incumbent. On both occasions, the polls hit high highs, and then low lows. On both occasions, the base deserted Turnbull and on both occasions, the considered judgment was he had a plan to take the leadership but he had no plan to run the party, or the country.

Robb was probably a little less biased, claiming according to Fairfax media

The review argues the party needs to “recognise and respond to the fact that the next campaign effectively begins the day after polling day” and establish a structured research operation that provides politicians with a “continuous understanding of community sentiment” towards policy.

It argues Liberals must “while governing for all, at all times respect, and be seen to be respecting our base”.

This underlines the party’s need to focus on the mainstream – necessary to win elections – while also pleasing core conservative supporters who demand action on deeply held but potentially divisive policy positions, such as free speech and tax cuts.

Both Credlin and Robb are pushing the same argument. A political party must appear to have a plan to be successful. The plan must be continually honed to be attractive to the particular requirements of the ‘rusted-on’ supporters as well as society in general. The alternative is the proverbial baseball bats on the verandah at the next election, to which a number of ALP politicians as well as Newman, Barnett, and Turnbull can personally attest. It is a lesson that is forgotten more often than remembered – apparently. Opinion polls would suggest that Turnbull hasn’t learnt the lesson.

One of Turnbull’s actions in the last session of Parliament was to steer tax cuts for business through the House of Representatives and the Senate, unfortunately at the same time the Centrelink ‘robo-debt’ farce continued. Regardless of the claimed benefit to the community of tax cuts for business or recouping overpayments from Centrelink recipients, to be apparently giving business a reduction in tax while actively and aggressively pursuing those on lower incomes [possible paywall] for what are frequently non-existent or grossly inflated debts is certainly not a good look. As Mungo Maccullum observed in The Monthly [possible paywall]

With Turnbull having negotiated the reductions for small to medium firms through the Senate, it was thought that he would take his winnings and retire – that the cuts for the big end of town would be quietly removed from the table. But not a bit of it: Turnbull will plough ahead, pushing the doors marked pull and ignoring the lessons – not just from the last election, but from all the polling since.

The price of housing (predominately in Sydney and Melbourne) is a ‘hot button’ issue at the moment. Domain.com.au breathlessly (they would do that, they are a real estate sales site) reported in mid – 2015 that the median Sydney house price was in excess of $1million, with their economist, Dr Andrew West attributing

the huge growth to the high level of investor activity, with the $6.4 billion in loans approved over May – a record. “Sixty-two per cent of the housing market loan share is now investors – another record – and an increase of 27 per cent over the first five months of this year compared with the first five months of last year.

Last February, consumer rights group Choice co-authored a study that found

thousands of tenants are being discriminated against and live in a climate of fear.

The research, undertaken by CHOICE, the National Association of Tenants’ Organisations and National Shelter, found that 83% of renters in Australia have no fixed-term lease or are on a lease less than 12 months long, and 62% feel they’re not in a position to ask for longer term rental security.

Half the tenants who took part in the study said they’ve been discriminated against, and an equal percentage said they were worried about being blacklisted on a ‘bad tenant’ database.

During April, Choice looked at the economics of renting again and looked at Treasurer Morrison’s recent speech to the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute and quoted Morrison as suggesting

housing prices in Sydney and Melbourne are causing people on higher incomes to remain in the rental market longer, causing a “concertina effect” that’s impacting those on lower incomes.

“Over half of renters say they rent because they can’t afford to buy their own property,” says Morrison. “Because of this, they are staying in the rental market for longer – a dynamic that puts upward pressure on rental prices and availability, and even more pressure on lower-income households, increasing the need for affordable housing.”

Rather than tackle the potentially difficult discussion around negative gearing, Morrison suggests that the way to reduce rental demand (and prices) is to increase the amount of rental properties available. While supply and demand does play a part, as Choice points out

The focus of property investment in Australia is capital gain, rather than yield – meaning investors make more money from selling a property that has increased in value than they get from rental income. As a result, there is little incentive for investors – particularly “mum and dad” investors – to hold onto investments for longer.

Greg Jericho, reporting on the same speech reported

The treasurer emphatically ruled out any changes to negative gearing to temper investor lending on Monday.

His speech contained a continuation of the regular theme of specious reasons in favour of negative gearing that we have come to expect.

Jericho goes on to quote Morrison arguing against his own policy

you’ve got one set of circumstances over in Perth and to that matter in South Australia and Tasmania. I mean negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions exist there as well and property prices in Perth are going the other way or have been in the eastern states you’ve got a very different response

To demonstrate his point, Jericho argues

And yet Morrison – as did his predecessor Joe Hockey – also likes to suggests abolishing negative gearing will cause rents to rise because when it was briefly abolished in the 1980s, rental prices rose in Sydney and Perth, despite the fact they were flat elsewhere:

Thus for Morrison different house prices growth in different cities suggests negative gearing is not an issue, but different rental prices growth suggests it is.

Similarly Morrison continued to argue that negative gearing is mostly used by average income earners. He argued that “two thirds of those taxpayers who negatively gear their investments have a taxable income of $80,000 or less”.

That might be true, but of course it ignores that most of the benefit of negative gearing goes to higher income earners:

And crucially his argument ignores the fact that people use negative to gearing in order to reduce their taxable income below $80,000.

You may remember Abbott’s claim before the 2013 federal election that the ALP’s National Broadband Network plan was unnecessary and unaffordable. Abbott won the 2013 election and appointed Turnbull the Communications Minister to ‘demolish the NBN’. Paddy Manning has written a long and detailed article on the policy and practice behind the NBN as rolled out by firstly the ALP and then the Coalition Government (with Turnbull in charge for a considerable period of the time) and it is less than complimentary. There have been a number of opportunities where an intelligent politician would have changed course and delivered a better solution for all Australians – Turnbull didn’t.

Turnbull’s recent headline ‘successes’ include losing 14 seats in Parliament at the only election he has faced as Prime Minister, legislating corporate tax cuts while falsely accusing thousands of those who have relied on Centrelink of theft and perpetuating obsolete technology for political reasons. In addition, he still has hundreds if not thousands of human refugees suffering in Detention Camps. Robb’s review suggested that the next campaign needed to commence the day after election and while the Liberals’ conservative base needs to feel considered, there needs to be a ‘continuous understanding of community sentiment’.

Opinion polls, general sentiment and media coverage would suggest that Turnbull clearly doesn’t understand community sentiment. Additionally, his report card (marked by Liberal Party elder Andrew Robb) is a fail for the lead up to the 2016 election. Can Turnbull learn the lesson before the next election or another night of the long knives?

This article by 2353NM was originally published on The Political Sword.

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Can you hear the scream?

By Christian Marx

The smell of death is in the air
Rotting bodies everywhere
Killed by Uncle Sam
That great murderous sham

Killed by greed
Bombs rained down upon
Sovereign nations in need
The corporate filth salivate
Stealing food from babies
While they bask in hate

10,000 years has taught man naught
Ego and avarice reign supreme
These monsters should be shot for sport
Can you hear the screams?
A twisted soul crying in agony
This world a sadists fantasy

Governments feed the rich
and starve the poor
Kill children with phosphorus
For the Zion lore
Like a hungry whore
The bankers scream for more

Can you hear the scream?
Mother Earth is in mortal pain
Like a sick demon the 1% reign
They suck your blood
Shoot bombs into the sky
And fill our heads with lies

 

Putin and Exxon win trillions to destroy the planet

By LeftOfCentre
U.S. Secretary of State, Rex (RExxon) Tillerson forged a massive venture with Russian-owned oil company and Putin’s gravy train, Rosneft in 2012. But then Vladimir decided to invade Ukraine and Obama had no choice but to issue sanctions upon Russia, putting a halt to any progress on this massive project. This was a monkey wrench into the $500 billion venture between Rosneft and Exxon. Until now.

The Wall Street Journal explains:

Exxon has been seeking U.S. permission to drill with Rosneft in several areas banned by sanctions and applied in recent months for a waiver to proceed in the Black Sea, according to these people.

The Black Sea request is likely to be closely scrutinized by members of Congress who are seeking to intensify sanctions on Russia in response to what the U.S. said was its use of cyberattacks to interfere with elections last year. Congress has also launched an investigation into whether there were ties between aides to Donald Trump and Russia’s government during the presidential campaign and the political transition.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is Exxon’s former chief executive officer and forged a close working relationship with Rosneft and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The State Department is among the U.S. government agencies that have a say on Exxon’s waiver application, according to current and former U.S. officials.

Due to the sanctions, other major components of the Exxon-Rosneft agreement were put on hold in 2014, shortly before Rosneft revealed that the first well the two companies drilled together in the arctic waters of the Kara Sea may hold as much as 750 million barrels of oil.

The Black Sea has become a major area of interest for many of the world’s biggest oil companies. Exxon has drilled there off the coast of Romania and holds a license for an area in Ukrainian waters. Royal Dutch Shell PLC has also drilled in the Black Sea off the coast of Turkey.

Isn’t it convenient that the State Department plays a major role in approving this deal? Tillerson and Trump, likely at the behest of Vladimir Putin, have gutted the Department of State, which is woefully understaffed.

The state department’s weakness also empowers Trump and his advisers, and enables them to more easily bypass the electorate and the bureaucracy when making foreign policy decisions.

There’s no question why Putin simply marched his way into Ukraine and seized Crimea, strategic access is very important. He wasn’t about to say bye bye (до свидания, do svidaniya) to all those rubles.

The earning potential of the Black Sea makes Saudi Arabia’s oil reserves seem like the ‘JV Squad’ of wealth. So now, Putin has his personal buddy in charge of removing those very financially straining sanctions and VOILA!  CA CHING!  Rexxon, Putin and all the other evil members of their circle of fascism can rule the world.

The GOP pretends to love the unborn as a diversion, so we don’t mention the unpleasant reality that our government is controlled by a party completely devoted to this oil deal. Even Halliburton plays a pretty big role in all this.

Russia faces a dilemma: it still needs Exxon Mobil Corp., Halliburton Co. and BP Plc to maintain output from Soviet-era oil fields and develop Arctic and shale reserves.

There’s nothing to see here, no unsavory business practices, no ethical conundrums, right? Just a couple hundred billion dollars, ROUGHLY $8,000,000,000,000.00 (TRILLION) to polluters and murderers with unlimited nuclear access. What could possibly go wrong?

This article was originally published on Crooks and Liars as Exxon looks to Tillerson for sanctions break so they can score a jackpot and has been reproduced with permission.

Must see: $500 billion opportunity for Exxon, Russia in Trump cabinet pick

 

Bullying is fine, apparently, but safe schools aren’t

By Tracie Aylmer

Bullying is one hell of an art form. For me, being bullied was a way of life. Every day I was the kid most picked on. I was called names, ridiculed for what I wore, ridiculed for my facial features, ridiculed for the fact that I was very short and skinny, pushed around by the two boys that I was forced to sit in between during 5th and 6th classes, tripped over, had food thrown at me and punched numerous times. These are the incidences that I actually remember from that time. I would need help remembering all the other incidences.

I remember after my appendectomy in 5th grade the teacher moved me to a safer spot in the classroom. The boys complained bitterly that I received special treatment, even though I was recovering from an operation for which my appendix nearly burst and then nearly died from an infection.

I remember many of the teachers in primary school and junior high school also got in the act. I wasn’t given any kind of safety at school, apart from the several weeks of reprieve from my 5th grade teacher. It was a very hard battle simply to survive the day.

Years later, I got back in touch with several from school that I now claim as Facebook friends. One of them told me several years ago that I was the kid most likely to commit suicide. That’s how bad it was.

I got no reprieve from it, either, until long after the damage was done. There were a couple of casual teachers that tried to take me under their wing. They were women. They did their best, and helped lessen the total isolation that I had felt. However, they didn’t stay long and left at the end of semester. Permanent teachers – including the teacher representing the year – thought it was a joke when I kept asking for protection from bullying.

It is so utterly isolating to be bullied as badly as this. It can cause lifelong damage, too.

I can’t imagine how much worse it would feel for those that are questioning their sexual orientation. For me, I’m straight and always have been, yet was a target anyway. Those not knowing whether they fit into the body they were born into must go through an even greater nightmare. The isolation would be much worse, I am guessing, than anything even I had to put up with.

The Safe Schools program is so incredibly crucial. While it helps those that do not fit into the body they are born into, there would be a reverberating effect for those that are bullied simply because they are a target. Respect would ensure that bullying would reduce for all students, simply by taking care of a minority.

The Safe Schools program is needed and funding should continue. It is the one thing that helps students, rather than hinders them. School is hard enough with learning without having to deal with bullying due to figuring out one’s sexuality. The isolationism of bullying means that added protections are definitely needed. I can’t say enough how much I believe in it.

A few weeks ago I decided on a whim to complete a survey by the Marriage Alliance, to tell them how much marriage equality means to me. I also told them in the survey that they were wrong about judging others, and they should give it all a rest. That put me on their mailing list. Since then, I have been receiving emails from them. The last few, I emailed back saying that many people had completed the survey trying to tell them that they were wrong and the vast majority of people wanted marriage equality. Since they only quoted Miranda Devine (I don’t believe they read anything that I replied with).

Today I received another email from Sophie York from the Marriage Alliance. She is the one that Miranda Devine loves to quote. They appear to be the best of friends.

This is what the email says:

Dear Tracie,

Even with this week’s victories in New South Wales and Tasmania over Safe Schools, we cannot be any less vigilant. (If you missed the news, read more below!)

Children are still being encouraged to consider their gender as fluid, and are even convinced that being transgender is the newest trend, presenting themselves to gender clinics to appear fashionable. These are dangerous ideas – evidence that we still have serious work to do. But as we saw in NSW and Tasmania, victory is certainly possible!

Thank you for your dedication to protecting our children and the institution of marriage.

Kindest regards,

Sophie York 
Marriage Alliance Spokesperson

I can’t say enough how offensive this email is to me. I have no wish to unsubscribe, as I want it known to all that the Marriage Alliance is full of crackpots like Sophie York who wants to put those being bullied at risk. If only there were laws against this, rather than the protection this hypocritical ‘government’ gives her. It appears they are protected even from child abuse laws.

The Marriage Alliance puts all children at risk. They must be stopped.

 

Discrimination for being a white male – seriously?

Australia has recently been subject to a debate over proposed changes to Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. The changes were seen by conservatives to be necessary as there was some evidence to suggest that the Courts found that sometimes, some of their rank were found guilty of harassing, offending or insulting others based on their race or religion. During the debate,

Senator Brandis further added that he found it “deeply offensive and insulting” for Labor and the Greens to say his campaign for the changes to race hate laws had something to do with him being a white man.

Thankfully, the changes were voted down in the Senate.

The same week, ‘legendary’ entertainer Barry Manilow at the age of 73 announced that he and his partner had been together for 39 years. The reason that Manilow’s relationship was ‘newsworthy’ is that his partner is male and they finally married in Palm Springs in 2014. Any partnership that lasts 39 years must have a lot of commitment and consensus by those in the partnership and in my view anyway, should be commended.

Manilow apparently kept his personal life to himself because he was worried that he would lose his fans if he ‘came out’, but found out that most actually supported him. And so they should have.

Patrick Garvin, a staff writer for The Boston Globe took a different view, namely why is there an expectation for people who don’t live traditional male/female partnerships to ‘come out’ and justify their lifestyle choices? Garvin has a point – while sometimes a conversation will turn to how various couples met and determined they would form a partnership, there usually isn’t a discussion on why a particular male formed a partnership with a female.

Despite the claims made, Brandis can’t be serious that he is being actively discriminated against. Yes, he is a white man and while he is divorced, it’s highly likely that he has never had to justify his choice of the opposite gender for the partnership that brought two children into the world. This is the same George Brandis who is responsible for the carriage of the changes to the Australian Marriage Act, which are required to remove the requirement that only a man and a woman can be lawfully married.

In 2004, the Sydney Morning Herald reported

Less than an hour after Prime Minister John Howard announced the changes to the Marriage Act, the government rushed legislation enabling the changes into parliament.

Mr Howard said the Marriage Act would be changed to include a definition of marriage as the voluntarily entered-into union of a man and a woman to exclusion of all others.

The laws currently do not define marriage.

“We’ve decided to insert this into the Marriage Act to make it very plain that that is our view of a marriage and to also make it very plain that the definition of a marriage is something that should rest in the hands ultimately of the parliament of the nation”, Mr Howard told reporters.

The US Judge who ruled on same sex marriage completed his ruling with the following words

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than they once were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfilment for themselves.”

Australia still has a long way to go before we can claim to be a society based on equality. As Howard said, the definition of a marriage is something that should rest in the hands ultimately of the parliament of the nation. Howard changed the law to prevent same sex marriage without the need for a referendum, postal plebiscite or any other delaying tactic; Brandis and Turnbull can adopt a position on marriage that agrees with contemporary beliefs and change it back.

By the way Senator Brandis, Manilow faced discrimination as he had to justify why he prefers to be partnered with a male – you and Turnbull haven’t had to justify your choices of female partners. It is a factual statement that you are a white male. Factual statements are not discrimination – it’s in Section 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act.

This article by 2353NM was originally published on TPS Extra.

 

Warning Scripture replaced by new type of Theism

“Morality cannot be derived from myths,” writes Hugh Harris as he illustrates the problems with promoting unverifiable beliefs. But what do we replace them with?

Placating the Reverend Fred Nile and the various religious lobbies is no easy task, but the NSW Government has taken to it with Yes Minister style obtuseness and Baldrick-like cunning. Maintaining its cuddly relationship with Scripture enthusiasts, the government has spent $300k on a comprehensive report, waited 18 months to release it (just before Easter), and then refused to accept most of the recommendations.

Particularly brazen, was both the refusal to include Ethics on the enrolment form, and continuing to prevent non-participating students from proceeding with curriculum learning while Scripture was conducted. Both, the NSW Secondary Principals’ Council, and the NSW P & C Federation expressed disappointment and mystification at this outcome.

So, in the wake of this ongoing debacle – and like the phantom from Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol – I’d like to offer the advocates of Scripture a disturbing glimpse into Australia’s atheistic yet-to-come. Christianity is in freefall in Australia: the 2016 Census result will show non-belief overtaking Catholicism as the most popular category. Soon, classes in Secular Humanism and Rationalism will appear in Victorian schools as part of “Learning about world views and religions”. Although these classes will be educational rather than evangelical, it’s not hard to imagine an increasingly irreligious society acquiescing to a more muscular approach to teaching nonreligious worldviews.

Imagine the following inverse scenario: State governments have become beholden to irreligious lobby groups, demanding to protect their freedom to promote their naturalistic belief systems. Perhaps we even have an antitheist holding the balance of power.

And now that the metaphysical wheel has come full circle, we atheists will band together, gather up our copies of “God is not Great – Religion Poisons Everything” by Christopher Hitchens, and begin offering evangelical classes in a new type of Theism. Yes – Antitheism! Just like Scripture, classes will be deceptively marketed as “educational”, and a benign “introduction”, but in practice they will be all-out, Hitchens-like assaults on religion, aimed at ridding children, once and for all, of the human susceptibility and credulity towards the supernatural.

After enduring a century or so of state school Bible-bashing, it’s about time. We have developed a non-believer’s version of the Lausanne movement – the Christian group committed to entreating children into fellowship with Jesus, based on research showing that if they don’t embrace the Lord before the age of 13 they likely never will. Our secular version will scare the bejesus and Jesus out of young children, warning them off celestial tyrants for life.

You’re not a teacher? Don’t worry, we’ll give you the Antitheism crash course, some angry YouTube videos, and a sober pep talk on the importance of brainwashing other people’s children.

We’ve had plenty of time to plan the rise of evangelical antitheism. While Scripture classes segregated us from our friends and frittered away hours of our childhood, we were in the other room, brooding quietly– imagine Damien from Damien the Omen – and secretly plotting revenge.

We envisaged the sort of spine-tingling, dystopian future that would chill the blood of any good Scripture teacher. Same-sex marriage is law. Evidence-based laws and regulations with appropriate limitations allow abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. And with religious exemptions removed from anti-discrimination law, no-one has to lie about their sexuality or pretend to believe in ancient myths to secure employment.

Finally, in state schools, Bible classes have made way for supercharged Antitheism, administered with the same deceptive policies which currently fail to regulate Scripture. Who approves and vets lesson content? No-one.

Parents who fail to be vigilant enough to opt their children out, will find them automatically enrolled into Antitheism. And – accidents will happen – even devout children will suddenly find themselves being told matter-of-factly that there is no God. There’s no heaven or hell either, kids. And by the way, we disapprove of your superstitious parents.

Kids will be Hitch-slapped with the absurdity of the Christian idea that our lives are governed by a God so powerful, he created an unfathomably vast universe with trillions of planets; and yet, is such an inveterate gossip and all-knowing busybody, that he insists on listening to the prayers of every single person on the planet.

Supplanting current day Scripture classes presenting the Bible as “factual” and “historical”, our classes will pillory the “good” book as a litany of fables and comical morality tales. No kids, people did not reside inside of whales, joyride upon Dinosaurs, nor live for 600 years before deciding to have children. Koala’s did not wave goodbye to Noah and leap from tree to tree all the way to Australia without leaving any trace anywhere else.

Morality cannot be derived from myths. Anthropology has shown that Adam and Eve did not exist, thus original sin is bunk. Prohibitions against murder appeared in civilisations predating Christianity and Judaism, well before the supposed Mt. Sinai summit of Moses and God.

That will bring us to the end of term, and our “God is dead” Sombrero party, climaxing spectacularly with the smashing of a lolly-filled Pinyata of Christ the Redeemer.

But we won’t repeat some of the more desperate Christian SRE classes, such as those encouraging instructors to bring in dead animals to dissect, simulating beheadings, age-inappropriate vampire lessons, comparing kids to dirty towels in need of cleansing, and threatening young children or their parents with death.

Nonetheless, Scripture advocates might justifiably recoil from this dread atheistic future. But this future is not inevitable. Take it as a warning of what’s in store unless we change our ways. Perhaps, after all, there is something to be said for a non-discriminatory and comparative approach to teaching religion in state schools. And hopefully the idea of obtruding unverifiable beliefs onto children may seem a little less appealing.

 

Hugh Harris is an architect, columnist, and member of the Rationalist Society of Australia.

Hugh has written for ABC’s The Drum, The Brisbane Times, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Courier Mail, The Huffington Post Australia, New Matilda, and The Daily Banter (US). Hugh blogs at rationalrazor.com.

 

Recent articles:

Christianity no longer a central part of Australian life – Rendezview The Daily Telegraph 17 April 2017

Fundamentalist Islam and rise of Alt-Right go hand in hand – Courier Mail 25 January 2017

Scientology’s personality test said I have “no real reason to live” – The Daily Telegraph 13 January 2017

Trying to Silence Unwelcome Views Only Perpetuates Them – The Huffington Post Australia 6 September 2016

Queensland’s abortion law among the most repressive in world and must change – The Courier Mail 9 August 2016

Parents should worry about religious education materials –  The Sydney Morning Herald 07/06/2016

The Church and its weakening grip over Telstra and taxes – ABC’s The Drum 14 April 2016

The horrifying religious instruction classes planned for Qld schools – Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Brisbane Times 20 April 2016

Queensland law should reflect public support for abortion – The Brisbane Times 07 April 2016

We Should Be Promoting Freedom of Belief, Not Religious Freedom – ABC’s The Drum 22 October2015

A Letter to Gun Obsessed America From a Concerned Australian – The Daily Banter 18/12/15

 

War and dominance

By Stephen Tardrew

The real kicker in the long run is Shorten and Turnbull supporting the insane Von Trump family who are intent on running the US middle class and poor into the ground while saving themselves by joining the inner circle of US war mongers driven by an out of control Military Industrial Complex. He is not simply “Clinton Light” … he is now Clinton’s clone.

Morality? What is that while left and right are fawning to the gods of neoliberalism and neoconservatism driven by insane religious magical and mythical fantasy? The masters of redistribution and inequality are not winning – they have won as progressives fall into a morass of despair driven by the most biased government and private media this country has ever seen.

The fact that the gas attack in Syria mirrors the WMD Iraq fiasco demonstrates the media has learned nothing, in fact, they have been paid to unlearn how to get at the facts. The Middle East is in ruins simply to satiate the Zionist apartheid right-wing fanaticism in Israel.

Make no mistake about it, Australia is complicit in the most brutal cause of global military hegemony that is geared to one thing and one thing alone – war and full spectrum dominance. Do we really want to be dominated by this insanity? Over one thousand US bases world wide. Give me a break then they call it a defence budget. How more offensive can you get?

Malcolm Fraser warned us to disengage from the US. What we are seeing is a reflection of irrational unscientific insanity driven by a bunch of scientifically illiterate narcissists and war mongers as ordinary citizens live in a media bubble of lies and disinformation. Now they have turned real news into fake news as Murdoch and IPA infiltrate the ABC.

I have seen nothing as disturbing as the current trend since the Vietnam War and rather than learn we have gone further down the rabbit hole.

John Lord and Kaye Lee, I admire your continual effort to make sense of these circumstances and lead us out of this morass with common sense and objective critique, however the dogs of inequity, immorality, environmental degradation and war are still well and truly upon us.

Don’t get me wrong. I always have hope, however when things are rotten to the core the fight becomes more pressing and urgent. Thank you both for you excellent contributions.

 

Open letter to PM Turnbull about automation

By Ad astra

Prime Minister

The people of Australia are aware of your desire that this nation and its people be agile, enterprising, and ever ready to adapt to change. I applaud your aspiration.

While some changes receive much publicity such as global warming, there is another, just as crucial, but which scarcely receives a mention. I am referring to the march of automation and the consequent displacement of humans from work they once did.

As robots progressively replace the workers who perform physical work, as algorithms make redundant people who perform cognitive tasks, the human toll increases as more and more are swept into unemployment.

The predictions are frightening. Robots are taking over jobs in manufacturing, agriculture, transport, tourism, hospitality, catering, retail, online sales, health and aged care, the service sector, and communications. Already, algorithms are being used in seventy percent of financial transactions. The trend is accelerating.

Whilst it is acknowledged that many benefits follow in the wake of automation and that productivity gains could be substantial, and while it is expected that automation will enhance national prosperity, the human cost is either being ignored or discounted by planners.

It is predicted that in the decades ahead many millions of people will lose their jobs, both here and overseas, leaving them without an income, dependent on welfare for survival.

Inequality, already high and rising, will be exacerbated.

Which brings me to the purpose of this letter.

Since it is the function of governments, civil authorities and planners to predict the future and plan for it, I seek your response to these questions:

  • What steps has your government taken to address the issue of automation and its sequelae?
  • Is there a department, a parliamentary committee, or an external body or group that has been commissioned to address the issue of automation?

If there is such a group:

  • What are the predictions about the proliferation of robots and algorithms?
  • Over what time frame has the predictions been made?
  • What effects are predicted to result from automation?
  • As people are displaced by automation and become unemployed, what provision is being made for their welfare and that of their dependents?
  • Has any consideration been given to the idea of guaranteeing all who unsuccessfully seek work or become unemployed a universal basic wage to enable their survival?
  • Does your government have a plan to manage this radical change to the work environment and the social contract of work for all?

I seek answers as a concerned citizen, deeply troubled by what lies ahead as automation takes its toll on our people.

I will anxiously await your response to my queries. In my view, in the same way as global warming threatens physical existence on our planet for all living things, automation threatens the very fabric of our human society. Both threats are dangerous; both demand the urgent attention of those to whom we have entrusted our future.

Yours respectfully

What do you think?

Have you seen any signs of Turnbull or his ministers taking any preemptive action on automation?

What action should he take?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword.

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The mobile phone is throttling Jesus

By James Moylan

Musing about the benefits of less God at Easter.

#1.

At Easter it is a good moment to settle back and consider our slow yet steady development as a species. In Australia we have become a relatively Godless bunch. It’s a very pleasing development.

In the main Aussies are now either heathens, apostates, atheists, or lukewarm believers. As a whole we have generally rejected wide-eyed unabashed religious nuttery but we are still fond of our traditions. We would, in the main, rather remain conflicted instead of putting in the mental effort it might require to fashion any sort of a cohesive world view.

Yet even so – the apparent retreat of God does need to be noted and celebrated. Individually we are a pretty sorry bunch of apes; but as a species we are definitely progressing. In some small ways and in a limited fashion. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Centuries of religious tomfoolery have left their mark. It will take a concerted effort over many generations just to redress half of the harm that has been inflicted on feckless believers by the spiritual thugs we collectively refer to as ‘preachers’. Certainly not bashing your head against a wall continually is a good thing – but it is not necessarily something that should be celebrated even though the lack of bashing is something that should be noted with at least quiet satisfaction.

Always remember that there are still more churches than there are schools in Australia. How embarrassing!

But at least they are now generally sitting empty. While it is a scandalous waste of public resources these temples, shrines, churches and other sites of sorcery are, happily, now barely visited. While 61% of us like to say that we are ‘Christian’ only one in seven of these ‘believers’ ever set foot in a church. In reality less than 2 in 50 of us go to church or even pray on a daily or weekly basis.

#2.

I do not wish to imply that half of the population do not deeply believe in one or more patently ludicrous thing. This is unfortunately the case. However some small gains are falteringly apparent. There are now five times as many active recreational fishermen in Aus as there are churchgoers. That has to be long step in the right direction. Also, note that the majority of us have decided that we will no longer accept that the amorphous assertions that may or may not have been advanced by one or another holy person, several tens of hundreds of years ago, should be regarded with anything more than a nod and a wink.

In fact, it is now almost appropriate to declare an interim victory over rampant mysticism in Aus. Not because anyone is talking about it but rather because nobody is talking much about it. Even the really committed religious zealots all seem to have pulled their heads in for the time being. Or perhaps nobody is providing them with a microphone? Whatever. But the extended silence is pleasing.

It seems that only Americans and people over 55 dare to preach in the public square anymore for fear of being branded an idiot. Even these so-called ‘apologists’ are mainly on the backfoot. The range of apologies seem to just keep on growing. Those that aren’t fending off kiddie fiddler charges are now also continually puffing out a miasma of embarrassed justifications regarding every new scientific discovery to their ever diminishing flock of mobile phone owning parishioners.

Mobile phone ownership is a key aspect.

#3.

The greatest threat to the continuing ubiquity of Jesus statues throughout our society is mobile phone technology. God and the iPhone are competing technologies. McLuhan was right. The medium is the message. Wherever a mobile phone is active God can’t compete. Facebook, Twitter, casual sex and drugs, and discussions about casual sex and drugs, will win. Every time. No fact is more ‘facty’.

In our day to day living pragmatic science has replaced mysticism. We all live a Star Trek existence with cool ‘communicators’ strapped to our hips while we stride along the virtual superhighways and live both a virtual as well as a genuine existence, simultaneously. The digital age has revolutionised the way in which citizens conceive of who we are and how we might interact with other citizens. Every moment of a personal routine is now capable of being contextualised by reference to a host of competing voices and supplementary information streams.

The ancients were timid supplicants at Delphi – proving that none of them had a mobile phone. There is nothing timid about the post-modern phone-owning citizen. When you have a mobile phone in your pocket, God is not so much dead as entirely superfluous to all current requirements.

We ride in supercharged cars and launch a million souls hurtling into the high atmosphere every moment of every day. We blithely demand answers from google, regarding everything, instantly, and simply expect that our civil engineers will move mountains and make it rain in the desert, and provide us with live action coverage. Let’s face it: Jesus may have been able to walk on water, but any kid with Google Maps can fly anywhere on earth, conduct simultaneous conversations, stream and broadcast live video, plus emit a GPS location fix that is accurate to within one square metre, even while riding their bike home from school. These days it really takes something pretty astounding to shake the attention of a teenage kid. Walking on water simply won’t cut it. Who needs loaves and fishes when Milo and a microwave are both present?

We think differently. Our phones are seducing and altering us. There is no battle. We march willingly into the ether. We are subdued and then trained seamlessly and almost incidentally. It is an almost invisible Faustian bargain that is rarely provided the consideration it deserves. We offer up our identities up to the network. Defer to the requirements, and become transformed into a newborn, pinprick, GPS reference. Part of our life force bleeds into this new online identity. Forever more we are more than we once were, but also less. We split our psyche. Amoeba like a new entity has been born. An ‘online persona’. Something at once bigger and more majestic, yet also deliberately and knowingly fraudulent.

When you own a mobile phone you accept you are a cipher. You are explicable. You are related and located. That dot on the screen is at once definitely and precisely ‘you’ as well as simultaneously being vague digital approximation.

#4.

In the virtual world we all jointly deconstruct and reconstruct vast digital empires and arguments, on a millisecond by millisecond basis, even as we all integrate these new dimensions of connectivity into our daily routine. It changes the way that we associate bits of information. We become more interested in patterns and processes and less fixated on data and text. Over many generations we developed from Homo Erectus into Homo Sapiens. Now our emotional and intellectual software is finally beginning to catch up with all the possibilities. The impact of digital modes of communication on the consciousness of many individuals within our species, on the ways in which individuals disambiguate and process information, is palpable. The information age has dawned. Homo Sapiens has become Joe Citizen.

Star Trek is here. We are, as a species, in control of this fragile globe as it hurtles through the distant reaches of the outer-spiral arm of our milky-way galaxy. It is now StarDate 2017.

As a species our numbers, technical sophistication, and modes of communication now inculcate an expectation that ‘history’ is over. That we are now the ones in control. All the ‘blind and unknown forces’ have mostly become explicable. Mysticism has given way to wide-eyed awe as we gaze at the majesty and complexity of the power and matter, and the vast spaces, surrounding, separating, linking, and partially explaining us.

For most modern first world residents of earth our daily regimen is jam packed with the palpable fact that science works. That astronomy explains stuff and astrology doesn’t. That chemistry is correct and alchemy is a plotline.

With all this being revealed whenever we spend any time reflecting on the implications of just one Tweet, in an eternal Twitterstorm, which is itself only one facet of an ever changing and evolving deluge of available content and context. Who needs God?

Entertaining a knowledge of mortality and vague feeling of existential despair may be Joe Citizen’s lot for the term of his highly contextualised and self-consciously limited span of years. It’s not the ideal situation but you simply can’t argue with a mobile phone.

So- the mobile phone is throttling Jesus. It’s not all the mobile phone is is good for; but there is no doubt it is a Christ Killer.

The son of God will likely be stone dead pretty soon now. For the first time in 2000 years the news that he really won’t be coming back will become the widespread orthodoxy. In fact; Jesus is already stone dead on Facebook. On Twitter he still pops up occasionally but Twitter is good at recycling extremely limited explanations.

#5.

However, it seems the atheists are winning by default. There is no bunch of less organised or less organisable individuals than the atheists. Which is understandable. Founding any sort of atheist organisation makes as much sense as trying to found an anti-unicorn society. While a lot of us do not believe in unicorns – non-belief in unicorns can hardly be described as being a central guiding principal in anyone’s life.

So it is not the efforts of the atheists that are causing this shift away from organised religion, it’s just that the simple ubiquity of information seems to be causing religion to wither as a core organising principle. The questions asked and supposedly answered in traditional religions are just not really important. And when you can get a rundown of sixteen different apparitions of Jesus in any given google search then it tends to devalue the whole Jesus marketplace. Unless, of course, you decide to go with a religion that simply disavows the utility of ‘knowing stuff’.

But even then, becoming a radical mainlining Fundamentalist, of any stripe, for any length of time, is ever more difficult. You really have to cultivate a very sophisticated outlook to be able to be able to entertain all of the eternal justifications required to be an evangelical anything in our modern world. To maintain such a world-view requires that you constantly re-interpret the whole realm of ‘science’, and pretty much every incidental fact that you encounter at every juncture during the course of every long modern day. All the while simultaneously using mass transit or private cars and surfing the information superhighway every time you swipe to buy a cup of coffee.

So, to actively maintain a belief that ‘the scientists’ have ‘got it all wrong,’ means constantly manufacturing a commentary regarding exactly how and why the scientists seem to have to got such a hell of a lot of things, so precisely and uniformly wrong, for such an extremely extended period. In the end it’s far easier to simply zone out, watch another movie, tweet about some significant weather, and window-shop for doodabs and sprockets, whilst on a bus, while on your way to work.

Religion automatically becomes a less sufficient explanation when you own a mobile phone. There is a tragic and inescapable irony associated with searching for reasons for ‘why the world is six thousand year’s old’ on an iPhone, connected to the internet, using electricity and wi-fi, with no sorcery or magic apparent.

#6.

Relativistic godlessness is simply an inescapable corollary of having instant access, all the time, to all the knowledge, of all the least informed individuals, all across the globe. Will the real Jesus please stand up? All, some, or none of them might be real. But there sure is a heck of a parcel of Jesus’s to choose from.

Yet while far right and the far left wing individuals in our society get to choose from any number of religious affiliations and personal associated Jesus’s – in middle Australia this is no longer the case. For middle-of-the-road Aussies God has become really difficult subject. Especially if your main aim is simply to just ‘get along’. For the vast majority of the population, who are not at the extremes, professing a belief in any particular ‘belief system’ now seems far more likely to cause offense than serve to ingratiate. Even ‘middle of the road’ politicians no longer talk about religion or invoke religious values in public. They all know that saying outright that you are a religious person, or even vaguely implying that you believe in the literal truth of some element of religious dogma or scripture, is largely frowned upon. Yes you are allowed to believe whatever sort of tosh you might want to believe: as long as you don’t mention it in public, blow something up, or embarrass yourself, or me.

Religion is tolerable as long as it is remains some sort of a fuzzy, non-threatening, generalised, theistic notion. But unless you are already occupying one of the extremes in our society, religion has become particularly tricky in the digital age. While far right and the far left wing individuals get to choose from any number of religious affiliations and personal associated Jesus’s – in middle Australia this is no longer the case. Here ‘God’ has become really prickly subject. Especially if your main aim is simply to just ‘get along’. For the vast majority of the population, who are not at the extremes, professing a belief in any particular ‘belief system’ now seems far more likely to cause offense than serve to ingratiate. Even ‘middle of the road’ politicians no longer talk about religion or invoke religious values in public. They all know that saying outright that you are a religious person, or even vaguely implying that you believe in the literal truth of some element of religious dogma or scripture, is largely frowned upon. Yes you are allowed to believe whatever sort of tosh you might want to believe: as long as you don’t mention it in public.

In this way, in the last decades, what is considered to be ‘normal’ has changed radically. Having any sort of a deep religious conviction has become somewhat out of the ordinary. That is; anything beyond a bland assertion of cultural affiliation and a vague indication of being ‘sort-of theistic’ in a ‘round-a-bout way’. Two minutes of conversation with any average Aussie will be enough to assure yourself that the orthodoxy of the irreligious really has won the day.

Aussies now equate secular and academic expertise with competence rather than degrees of faith or personal religious values. If truth be told, the discussion of religion in public has come to be regarded as being a little ‘icky’.

Even as we are expecting more sophistication from our political class we are also, simultaneously, marking them down whenever they mention something religious. We all largely expect better than we are getting already, so when politicians veer off into trying to ingratiate themselves by advocating a soft and woolly form of Christianity, they are more likely to be sneered at than given credit.

The medium really is the message. A generation on from being coined this truism is being born out. Mobile phones are providing ubiquitous access to reams of accurate information, instantly, has served to breed a largely irreligious population that is at once oddly credulous yet also wildly sophisticated. The borders between what is ‘right’ and ‘left’, and what is ‘traditional’ and ‘fundamentalist’, have shifted and continue to shift, simply because, for most young people, the possibility of remaining ignorant regarding the views embraced by the majority of the world’s population is no longer a viable option.

#7.

Being a participant in a 24/7 online world automatically conditions each individual to receive information in a different manner to the way in which their parents did. Integrated, continuous, narrow cast, and personalized information is traded while we multi-task. We don’t try to hoard or index information as it is largely free, ubiquitous, and ever available. We swim through information, share, avoid, appraise and compare information, and discard rather than regard the vast majority of words and images that we encounter throughout the course of our day.

At the same time the information revolution is transforming our appreciation of what society is, and how we all need to temper our impact upon the environment and each other, it is simultaneously inculcating within every user of an internet connection or a mobile phone a habit of sceptical inquiry and methodological naturalism. It is changing the way that the user ‘thinks’. We are becoming the first generation on planet earth who know and believe that we really can solve the problems of hunger, malnutrition, war, fresh water, food security and power generation, using the scientific method.

The ‘big-picture’ ethic that is a concomitant outcome of our Faustian digital trade is the adoption of a relativistic perspective where we are floating high above our earth, along with many hundreds of thousands of other digital simulacra. All finding it a little difficult to mask our dismay at the distressing sight of the increasingly distressed environment and the distracted and sometimes parlous state of our various societies.

To Joe Citizen, floating above it all and looking down, it is self-evidently apparent that the practice of science and the nature of the available information should inform our discussions regarding social dynamics and the nature of our impact upon the environment. Religion simply does not ask or answer any of the questions that are important. So rather than being considered wrong, traditional religion is simply beside the point. It is anachronistic. It is all about answering questions that are no longer appropriate or important.

So ‘god’ has been steadily retreating. A massive all-knowing and all-seeing entity has shrunk into a god of the gaps. A cipher for all that is unknowable and unknown. A word signifying a mix of the unknown plus all the parts of the story that are too ‘difficult’ to deal with in a casual manner.

Also, where once, only several generations ago, Joe Citizen would likely only travel from one village to another every now and again, would likely only read a local newspaper, and would likely work in one profession for all his working life; he now has a computer in his pocket with more grunt than all the computers that powered our first mission to the moon. Joe is no barbarian in any of his parts. He is a discerning consumer and participant in several digital and real communities, all at once. Also Joe doesn’t want to be defined by his profession, and really does want to accord greater respect for other citizens than was common in earlier ages. He is primarily worried about the future of the planet and the state of our environment. Moreover Joe believes that these primary allegiances are far more significant and important than are passing things like political parties and ideologies. Joe really has embraced an understanding that the world has changed. For Joe Citizen; godless and rational is now the default setting.

#8.

Note that despite a continuing fightback from many in the traditional media, the tenor and vocabulary in our public discussions has shifted. We are beginning to adopt a global perspective rather than a parochial one. Our grip on our mobile phones is slowly dragging us all, as individuals, into a relationship where we are still atomised individuals yet where we are all seen as being in a distinct relationship to each other as well as to the massive and awe inspiring blue globe above which we hover. Our commonly stated ambition is to be inclusive and careful in our dialogue. What a wonderful thing!

Most people, most of the time, now deliberately and carefully avoid using sexist or bigoted terms and ideas. We have become self-consciously aware that our labels and our labelling are significant instruments of power as well as being markers of a personal understanding of the need to foster inclusive and non-judgemental speech patterns and habits. In effect our pervasive self-conscious adherence to norms of behaviour and opinions that are often derisively referred to as ‘being PC’ is actually a marker of the very different forms of engagement with information that are now commonplace in the digital marketplace. Ways of understanding that simply did not exist thirty years ago.

We have been transformed. The purveyors of information in online discussions now tend to be more argumentative and topical than declarative and rhetorical. Our online and mainstream media streams have become arenas of discussion where the particular personal beliefs of the individual are often considered but rarely privileged unless the individual concerned is an ‘authority’. And that means a ‘scientific authority’ – not a spiritual one.

One of the basic doctrines guiding our democratic process is the recognition that we have all agreed (in general) that religion should be a right for an individual yet never privileged or endorsed by an instrument of the state. More significantly: we have decided that we will all enjoy a ‘common discourse’ that assumes that rational argumentation and methodological naturalism will be the principle modes of appraisal and where publicly significant discussions will be based on a scientifically and academically valid forms of appreciation.

So where once the political folk who commonly front our nation state were habitually found, every Sunday, clad in long flowing robes, murmuring incantations in large draughty stone barns, this is largely a thing of the past. Conspicuous religious devotion has become an anomaly in the modern world. It can even be a liability, especially where the majority of the population are either non-religious, non-Christian, and/or are only vaguely and culturally theistic.

For the tiny minority of the deeply religious who still roam our fair streets it has all become deadly serious so they are busy outfitting themselves with all sorts of powerful spells and incantations. A huge new marketplace of potential religious beliefs has sprung up to cater to this need. There are now so many different types of Jesus on the market that just about any potential set of beliefs is now catered for. Take your pick. Whatever you want to believe there is now a Jesus pre-prepared that will fit your requirements exactly.

If you are young and liberal then maybe try a mid-strength Presbyterian or Church of England brew. If you are looking for something a bit harder then you might need a revolutionary, or a feminist, or even a mystical Jewish apocalyptic Jesus. They are all available. But, oddly enough, even though there is a seeming boom in different available forms of divine progeny to choose from, there also seems to be far fewer religious zealots to go around.

Mobile phones and computers continuously suck up the religious and spit out dazed yet addicted consumers into the digital marketplace. Our mobile phones are slowly gobbling up and devouring the old ways of looking at the world and the old ways of ‘thinking’.

But that just means we take responsibility for our new vision. Without God the universe is a huge and intimidating as well as being finite and depressing. So while it is good to take some time out at Easter to celebrate the fact that we might have jointly moved out from under the deep cloud of superstition and delusion that has tracked our progress as a species for so many millennia; this nonetheless leaves us with a clear view of the globe as being a single fragile environment that is currently exposed to all sorts of clear and present danger.

So perhaps our moment of smug appreciation needs to be a rather short one. The digital age leaves us mere mortals hovering above our small blue dot of a planet; alone. So it is up to us to sort all of these hassles out. There is no God left anywhere to be seen. Just us and the universe. Frightening. Exhilarating. Intimidating. But real.

 

 

Indigenous suicide prevention in the Digital Age

By Judith Crispin

Aboriginal Australians are dying. Needlessly.

We are losing three Aboriginal people a week to suicide, from a population that is just over half a million, and an Indigenous person is four times more likely to take their own life than a non-Indigenous person.

I am working with the Warlpiri community of Lajamanu in the Tanami Desert to create an Indigenous suicide prevention app.

The app will be called ‘Kurdiji’ (shield, or to protect). It takes its name from a body of Warlpiri knowledge normally transmitted as part of the Kurdiji initiation ceremonies for young people. The Kurdiji ideas have been successfully used by the Warlpiri to increase resilience and prevent suicide.

When a young man committed suicide in 2005 in the remote community of Lajamanu, local Warlpiri elders said ‘Enough is enough’. With help from friends, Lajamanu established the Milpirri festival to spread the traditional ideas of ‘Kurdiji’  among their young people. They began to fight for every single young Indigenous life in their community. Since 2005 there hasn’t been a single suicide in Lajamanu.

Now those same elders want to bring Kurdiji into the digital age with a community created app based on stories, ceremonies and law. They want to fight for all Aboriginal lives, not just those in remote or traditional communities. They have partnered with an expert team including technologists, photographers and a leading clinical psychologist from The Black Dog Institute.

As a community led project, it’s tricky to find operational costs so we’ve launched a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe. We’re trying to find ways now to spread the word about our campaign. We’ve got a great video with Indigenous actor Uncle Jack Charles and we hope that you can share our video and let your networks know about the campaign. You can see the film on our GoFundMe page at www.kurdijiproject.com and on the Kurdiji web page.

Aboriginal suicide rates are at the level of an epidemic, and a genuinely community-led technological approach hasn’t been tried before – so we’re in unknown territory to some degree. Your help in spreading the word about our campaign will make an enormous difference.

 

Are we, or did I not?

By Mark Needham

Recent unfortunate deaths have been among us, as death always is.

I personally am at a time in my life where the death of a parrot/echidna/pheasant/frog, or, as is commonly the case, a poor bloody kangaroo will just about bring me to tears. Animals, unlike humans, are the best part of the life on this planet. Losing a pet cat or dog is one of the hard transitions of life that is brought upon us.

To lead a common thread, as I have often remarked to friends, that it is amazing how, when someone dies, young or old, how terrible it was, and that “Such a Lovely Person” their Godly Behaviour was Sainthood personified.

Me, myself, I have often, nay, always wondered, that the little turd got what they deserved. This always, from a position of absolutely “Not Knowing”, but irrelevant to my thinking or reason. Yep, we have all done it, I reckon, but like my thoughts, regarding the above, chances are that I am WRONG. As I often are.

In particular the venom that was forthcoming from the idealogical opposites, to the recent passing of Bill Leak, a cartoonist and John Clarke a satirist. The descriptions I use, to give these two blokes a job, are open to discussion, and not the intent of my comment here.

I will not make any links to a “differing” blog, as it is most apparent to me, “That, WE do not go there”.

Having observed the reaction to these two top bloke’s passing was an absolute eye opener. From either side of the political spectrum, the wishes from the “Other Team” was as usual on party lines, … ( Shite, I wish I were a wordsmith) and normal. Like a five-year old boy, saying “I don’t like girls” and a five-year old girl saying ” I do not like boys”. It was “script written” expected and delivered, by both boys and girls. You know what I mean. Atypical, vitriolic and disturbing (well, to me).

I call your attention to a past article on The AIMN: ‘Speaking freely of the dead‘. I also recommend your perusal to our comments at the time.

Thing is, having made the comment regarding the “terminology used for the dead, the liturgy” decrying its oft discriminate use, we now find that one of our own has passed away. Suddenly the “liturgy” tends to bite our own arse. This is a point in my own life where I have often found myself. Makes one ask the question of our own fallibility. I mean, I know I am good, but how good, and how often … or not.

We all know when we cock up, but to not appreciate the excellent work from these two blokes, the humour, in your face, bite me, up yours, cop this, slap me down, pull me up and, I would dare say that both fellas would like to say also, “f*ck you”.

They were funny. Often said stuff which was … you know what it was … you know what I mean …

John and Bill were picking away at our foibles, our own castles, our inadequacies, predesposed ideas, our own “Gods”, trying to wake us all up, to what was in fact, bullshit, but was actually reality.

Bullshit was the humour, we laughed at that, but the reality was the funniest or bullshitiest bit of it all, and I should have hoped that we could see, that at the end of the day, it was all we were left with.

Laughter.

John Clarke, Bill Leak, you have left us some wonderful memories of your own acerbic wit, charm and humour.

Thank you.

I am an electrician, not a writer nor academic, give us a bloody go, hey!
I also know, that I can be a proper pain in the arse – sorry about that – but the main problem is that my brain is about 30 letters behind what I am typing. Saying what I mean, and then typing what I’m saying, it is pure chance, that anything comes out even half understandable.

 

Western Sydney Airport: many residents not given the chance to say “no”

40% of Western Sydney residents have been denied a voice on Forum On Western Sydney Airport

On 10/4/17 the representatives of FOWSA (forum on Western Sydney Airport) announced, among other things, the proposed flight paths for Badgerys Creek Airport.

I note with great interest that Penrith, Liverpool, Hawkesbury and Blue Mountains councils all have representation on this panel but none for Parramatta, The Hills Shire or Blacktown Council residents.

In addition no Federal members were meant to be on this board yet Anne Stanley and Mike Freelander are on it and noticeably absent is any representation for Blacktown, Parramatta or Hills Shires such as Julie Owen, Alex Hawke, Ed Husic or Michelle Rowland.

Camden is represented by their state member Chris Paterson yet Hugh McDermott, John Robertson, Geoff Lee and Mark Taylor who are state MPs in Blacktown, Parramatta  and Hills Shire Council areas aren’t on it.

No residents from these council areas are on FOWSA.

Under the draft EIS the Hills Shire Council residents were affected by these flight paths at heights as low as 4500ft and Blacktown Council residents at 2500ft. Parramatta had flights st around 8,000 – 10,000ft. In addition all areas already have flights from Sydney Airport and could conceivably continue to do so when the airport opens. It defies logic that Blacktown Council, Parramatta Council or the Hills Shire Council residents  have no representation on the board of FOWSA.

It is unacceptable that 800,000 western Sydney residents have no voice on FOWSA. They deserve a voice.

Andrea Grieve
President
No Badgerys Creek Airport Inc

 

Barnaby Joyce livid about form failure

By Sean

Barnaby Joyce today was outraged to have received a letter from Queensland asking for financial aid after being stuck with a cyclone. Taking the podium at a news conference – looking physically shaken – he started in an even tone.

“There are forms, there are forms … New South Wales sent their form … You can’t just send me a two page bloody letter. For goodness sake, I fill out my forms, I tell you fill them out, all the way out. I am sure the people at home fill out their forms. We all have these stupid forms to fill out so by crikey fill out your stupid bloody form.”

Barnaby began to grow in excitement as he continued while waving a two page letter in one hand and a 500 page form in the other, papers flying everywhere as he struggled to maintain control of the ream of paperwork.

“I mean what next, right. Can I have an amen? Hallelujah. What would Jesus do? I’ll tell you what he would not do, he would not write a two page letter asking for all the government’s money over the forward estimate! That is not what He would do! … I expect He would fill out the form, like any normal individual would do….”

Losing control Barnaby flung the remaining form papers skywards, his fist clenched and face growing a bright plum shade of red.

“Cm-on, get real … I know you had a cyclone, but what? Are well going to start writing wee letters to the banks asking them for all the money? Let’s get real right now okay, it’s a form, it’s important … Besides who even writes letters anymore? I’ll tell you, I’ll tell you, this is bloody Labor at work, that is what this is. Labor at work. Bloody left-wing writing bloody letter … Idiots.”

With that Barnaby stormed off the stage muttering, “Just fill out the form, just fill it out, we want to help you, we do”.

 

Is the housing crisis being totally ignored by the government?

By RH

Equitable reform within the Australian housing market can never be achieved without a detailed understanding of the various market problems and a broad knowledge of property development while setting aside political ideology. Serious intent is required by placing all elements of the housing market on the table for analysis and revaluation. Full government co-operation is essential in order to achieve affordable housing opportunities for a large portion of Australia’s population.

The housing market is in fact divided into a number of independent specialised markets each having a unique interrelationship that cannot be ignored. The methodologies for land acquisition, planning, design and construction vary considerably depending upon the intent of land acquisition and purpose of development.

There should be no illusion that housing affordability in Australia’s large east coast cities has become a critical issue. Housing cost is forecast to increase a further 4 to 6 per cent during 2017. This is of lesser concern to those who are financially stable and participating in the Primary Market but of serious concern for the younger generations and low income earners in Secondary Markets where they see little possibility of ever owning their own home. A number of well respected economists have reported on the seriousness of this problem that has been allowed to grow and smoulder. Housing affordability has been of concern to many Australians extending from a period prior to the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

I clearly remember Prime Minister John Howard being interviewed by a reporter around this period. The reporter asked what the government intended to do about the rising cost of housing in Sydney. Howard’s response began with his little sardonic laugh ‘Herr, herr, I’ve never heard anybody complain about the value of their house increasing.’ Is it possible that the prime minister failed to understand the importance and implications of this question or did he consider that lower income families were not suitable householders? Whatever the prime minister’s view, very little appears to have changed except for the booming price of housing.

Former federal Treasurer Joe Hockey, when confronted with housing affordability, advised that if you could not afford a house then you should go find a better paying job and suggested also the possibility of starting your own business. Current Treasurer Scott Morrison (apparently aware only of a Primary Market) considered that although ‘… housing is expensive and increasingly unaffordable’ this did not mean that it was over-valued (SMH, October 24, 2016). The Treasurer’s approach avoids reforms but looks to the states for expanding land availability, simplification of planning regulations and, possibly, some concessions thrown in – typically market self-adjustment ideology welcomed by developers and agents.

Nevertheless over the last twenty four months two parliamentary enquiries have been conducted into Housing Ownership. The first commissioned by Joe Hockey in 2015 and chaired by Liberal MP John Alexander was instructed to report on potential reforms to the housing market and had received for assistance a thirty page RBA report prepared by Dr Stephen Koukoulas. This enquiry was terminated and although the former committee chairman Alexander requested that the government reconvene the enquiry so it could ‘address the imbalances in the market between investors and owner occupiers’ the request was  rejected. A second parliamentary enquiry chaired by Liberal MP David Coleman was established following the April, 2016 federal election and handed down its report on home ownership on 16th December 2016. The committee concluded that there was no ‘structural problem’ with housing affordability and failed to make any recommendations to the government for reform. lt did however suggest that the housing market was  weak and that ‘… supply should be  boosted in appropriate markets.’ (SMH, December 17, 2016). lt is somewhat difficult to accept that by adding a burst of new land to an already overheated housing market the cost of housing will be reduced – something like throwing shovels of coal into the engine of a steaming train.

lt is important to understand exactly what is going on here. The federal coalition government recognizes housing (all categories) as private industry which functions under the ‘law’ of supply and demand and must be  left to private enterprise free of government interference. Under this ‘law’ the government ideology believes that if housing costs become excessive due to some abnormality in the market (such as insufficient land supply or increased foreign investment for example) then this problem will eventually balance out equitably by the market forces of supply and demand. The provision of government assistance therefore to the young, mid/low income earners,those with minor disabilities and the elderly, is considered undesirable government interference in private enterprise. This ideology is even more deeply entrenched in a government that has shown little enthusiasm in addressing growing inequity.

There are however serious fundamental flaws in this government approach. Firstly, persons on medium to high incomes who are financially stable have no requirement for government assistance. They are in control of their own plans and can manage their own financial arrangements to purchase, sell  and repurchase appropriate property in the Primary Market. The stark irony however is that these are  the parties,to which the government (believing in the free market of supply and demand) has  provided generous property tax concessions including negative gearing which, in reality, is a wealth creation support system. These concessions amount to a stimulus package applying to the reasonably well off in the community with sufficient financial means to invest – to become minor property developers. This stimulus package creates strong demand for older, cheaper housing that can be used to create personal profit. The renovations or redevelopments undertaken by these ‘developers’ are (and quite correctly so) directed to attract the most lucrative market available which is unlikely to be low income families who receive no tax concessions for investing in housing.

Purchasers seeking houses in expensive suburbs close to major business centres require no direct government assistance and enjoy the opportunities available in the Primary Market. lt is very unlikely that boosting land supply will greatly affect this entrenched market. lt is the Secondary Market in the outer suburban areas that may benefit from boosting carefully planned land supply. But unless the existing problems are  thoroughly understood and new releases planned and properly managed to support lower income purchasers the ‘heat’ from the Primary Market will flow on limiting any  real benefits.

Purchasers are entitled to expect that politicians would understand that the highly inflated Australian housing markets, carrying over 1.4 trillion dollar of household debt, requires cooling by eliminating excessive stimulus through investors, low bank interest and tax incentives that force out genuine home buyers. The Australian housing bubble has required urgent attention for at least a decade but fortunately the government now appears to be taking the problem more seriously. If the problem is ignored further and ideology controls decisions then the ultimate result could be a devastating market correction or recession resulting in total disaster for millions of trusting Australians.

Secondly, there exists a serious divide between Primary and Secondary Markets although requirements here seamlessly merge under various circumstances depending upon location and the financial capacity of the parties. The category described as Secondary Markets is used to include several important independent sub-markets each requiring special consideration and support if housing equity is to be  achieved. The first in this category (SM1) is housing for younger adults who have not obtained full financial stability and low income families. This category is followed by SM2 which includes independent older couples or singles and adults with manageable disabilities many of which seek to downsize thereby releasing their larger properties onto the market but wish to remain private property owners. These groups may merge but SM2 has much to offer the Primary Market given government support through innovative land planning and zoning.

Thirdly, there exists a market for the elderly, very old and the infirmed where special facilities and care are  essential. This market is supported by various well known companies and institutions offering some excellent opportunities but almost all require the surrender of property ownership and this market is not under consideration here.

lt is the responsibility of a democratically elected government to protect the vulnerable, poor, the old and those with disabilities. The financially secure do  not require the same support and protection from government as the weak and if government is unable to meet this responsibility then its core values and very existence must be questioned. lt is through secure home ownership that families become stable, sound education is made possible for children and a base  is developed upon which families may invest and become prosperous;they develop capacity to participate. To many in this country this is understood as a core Australian value yet over 2.5 million live below the poverty line and of these 24 per cent are children. This base core of Australians requires special assistance and must not be forced into serfdom.

lt is in the Secondary Markets SM1 that innovative government support is essential. These individuals and families may never find it possible to participate in the Primary Market no matter what concessions the government may offer. There are only two possibilities; one is that housing prices will collapse due to inflated imbalance or as a result of serious recession. The second is that government will investigate the existing housing problems thoroughly and take responsibility for the Secondary Market through innovative planning and special purpose zoning for SM1 and SM2 housing spread throughout city suburbs. With this zoning in place the Primary Market can be left to balance out under market forces and various government initiatives.

A percentage of the SM1 young adults and low-income families will be forced to rent due to financial circumstances but can  be  encouraged to save  and in due course apply as a purchaser providing they are  registered in a government development plan that provides financial incentives and controls zoning and property acquisition for SM1 residential housing. This proposal is not intended as a revamped Housing Commission but a private professional management service overseen by state government that provides the zoning, manages design, construction, sale (and resale) of specific purpose accommodation units.

In a nutshell, young workers studying and developing their careers require inexpensive, compact but well designed, modern accommodation located in a variety of suburban areas reasonably convenient to transport and/or their centres of employment. The situation is similar for low income families requiring simple, well designed and affordable accommodation where they can grow and stabilize without struggling to survive. As the young singles or families become financially stable they can then move on (possibly into the Primary Market) selling to another SMl purchaser. There can never be  any benefit to Australia in having young adults and families struggling to survive.

Modern planning and design has been seriously overlooked and old style housing and land subdivision must be brought into the twenty-first century and specifically to satisfy the existing Australian environment. Groundbreaking opportunities exist for housing to be  mass produced very economically using new technologies in prefab and standardised modular units that can be integrated into almost endless configurations and layouts by good architects resulting in outstanding modern designs. These modern concepts produce quality housing that would satisfy most Australians in both design and economy but the modular units must be mass produced. These projects, once initiated, can be replicated cheaply and without limit by private enterprise under selected tender. This brings us to planning, zoning and management – no increase in land supply or concessions can provide serious, long term support to the Secondary Market unless government takes the initiative and responsibility for planning and zoning for SM1 housing. The objective is to supply convenient, simple but well designed,budget accommodation and the opportunity is affordable, quality housing. The alternative is the Primary Market increasingly unaffordable for SM1 purchasers.

When we look at Secondary Markets SM2 purchasers which includes older downsizing couples or singles and other adults with manageable disabilities the approach is similar to SM1 but requires very selective land acquisition close to town or city centres with easy access to transport, large shopping centres and entertainment. Most of the clients would be financially stable and requiring simple accommodation of good standard architect design with provision for aging and/or disability requirements but of restricted space limiting the extent of house and garden work.

This is not a proposal for institutionalized retirement villages. lt is a requirement of stable adults requiring property ownership and privacy. This may appear an unlikely market until it is realized that now close to 15 per cent of the population is over the age of 60 years and the numbers are increasing rapidly. These aging citizens and those with manageable disabilities, in many cases, find the management of their large houses extremely stressful and seek to downgrade to comfortable accommodation that relieves them of pressure but find the planning, search and management of this transition within the Primary Market result is extensive delay in older good quality housing stock arriving on the Primary Market thereby further increasing housing demand and higher costs.

The SM2 market would be  of valuable support in balancing the Primary Market in inner city suburbs through earlier introduction of older quality properties but could never prove successful without full government support through town planning and zoning. Development planning, architectural design, construction and management of the projects would be  private enterprise.

The housing proposal described above seeks to introduce twenty first century planning into an old problem damaging Australians and their future. Special purpose zoning is introduced by government and Primary and Secondary Markets become totally independent resulting in modern, affordable housing and a market balancing incentive. SM1 and SM2 housing may be purchased or sold at any time by qualifying parties. The bubble in the Primary Market may be managed by government eliminating investment incentives and stimulus packages or by allowing balancing through market forces.

The major problem in achieving equality in the Australian housing markets is the recalcitrant nature of government which failed to notice that the king was, in fact, unclothed when it presented its December 2016 report on housing affordability. Without thorough, ideology free,analysis of these markets followed by innovative planning and full government support for the tormented Australians struggling for housing security it will be unlikely to ever achieve true equality in the Australian housing markets.