Politicians create problems rather than solve them

Whilst we all bemoan the greed and power of corporations and the…

An Interview with the Prime Minister Scott Morrison

By Andrew Richey  ABC Interviewer: PM, do you believe that this government has…

Size Matters: The Demise of the A380

The aircraft business has always been a dear affair. More than other…

Mathias in "Cormann The Unawarian"!

Ok, it's proabably unfair to use Schwarnegger references when talking about Mathias…

Some interesting snippets from Senate Estimates

A few observations from Monday’s Senate Estimates hearings:Ministers Michaelia Cash and Michael…

Death by Video: Morrison Combats Refugees by Film

Caught in the backwater of the world’s existence, Australia struggles for relevance…

$35 Million Boost For Music Sector

Media ReleaseA Daley Labor Government will increase public support for the music…

Forget The Canberra Bubble, Scott And Take A…

Answering a question the other day, Scott Morrison dismissed a journalist's concern…

«
»
Facebook

An Interview with the Prime Minister Scott Morrison

By Andrew Richey  

ABC Interviewer: PM, do you believe that this government has done enough on climate change?

PM Morrison: Well first of all, Leigh… can I call you Leigh?

ABC Interviewer:  Yes but it’s not my name.

PM Morrison: Well, Leigh, climate change has been around since the dawn of time… since Noah and maybe even back 6000 years ago to Adam and Eve.

ABC Interviewer: Are you saying the Earth is only 6000 years old?

PM Morrison: Now you’re putting words in my mouth, Leigh.  The fact is climate is… that thing we see when we look outside… unless of course we’re blind… I always want to remember the poor disabled. If we look out the window or door for that matter, we see it and we’ve always seen it throughout human history. Like when we say out in the bush, as Barnaby tells it: “The rains are comin’, love.”

ABC Interviewer: You seem to be very much focused on outdated technology, like coal-fired power plants.

PM Morrison: We must never speak ill of coal. God gave us coal, all those thousands of years ago. Now, Leigh don’t start with the dinosaurs being the ones who made coal, they didn’t have the brains. No, coal and all the other wondrous things we have were God given materials for us to rule the planet in his name. Barnaby himself sleeps with a lump of coal… in fact, and I don’t want to let the cat out of the goanna, they’re expecting.

ABC Interviewer: I see… can we move on to the Banking Royal Commission?

PM Morrison: The banking what now?

ABC Interviewer: The Banking Royal Commission.

PM Morrison: Oh yes… and weren’t the banks wonderful about it. I mean, Leigh if you were being criticised like that, would you turn the other cheek and continue to make money for the good of the Australian people… I doubt it? Only the banks could show such Christian values. Who’s going to look after your money for you, Leigh, if not the banks. You can’t store it all in your copies of Das Kapital, you know.

ABC Interviewer: But the Commission found a lot of questionable practices.

PM Morrison: But the banks said they were sorry and if you were a Christian, Leigh you would understand what forgiveness is.

ABC Interviewer: Being a Christian, shouldn’t your view on asylum seekers be more compassionate?

PM Morrison: Have you ever heard an asylum seeker say sorry for coming here… I don’t think so, Leigh. In fact, all I ever hear is complaining. We even give them accommodation, better accommodation than baby Jesus ever had and what do we hear Leigh, what do we hear?

ABC Interviewer: But, Prime Minster, over the years most of them have being found to be genuine refugees and we have plenty of people arriving by plane that seek asylum.

PM Morrison: Arriving by plane is civilised, it shows they have taken on Western values already and that is havin’ a go, if ever I’ve seen it but boats… that’s Third World stuff. They are different than us, Leigh and anyone different than us should rightfully be feared; It’s just like our sensible fear of solar and wind power…it’s just not natural. If God had wanted us to all live together in harmony He would not have confused our languages at the Tower of Babel and if he wanted us to use wind and solar he would not have given us coal, gas and oil and I do stress the word He here, Leigh.

ABC Interviewer: Let’s move on to LGBTQI Issues. Are you happy with marriage equality?

PM Morrison: Look, the people of Australia have spoken and it’s unfortunate they got it wrong but it’s totally understandable, as the vast majority are heathens who are being deceived by Satan and I don’t mean Bill Shorten… that was a joke, Leigh.  Hopefully over time and with the funding of Christian schools Australia will experience a glorious revival and marriage can go back to the way it was with Adam and Eve.

ABC Interviewer: If you win the next election will your government increase unemployment benefits?

PM Morrison: The Bible says if you don’t work, you don’t eat and as most of the voters are going to be tortured in Hell for eternity anyway, going without food is nothing in comparison to that.

ABC Interviewer: What do you think of your opposition?

PM Morrison: Communists through and through. Do you realise that Bill Shorten’s middle name is Marx and Albanese’s is Stalin?

ABC Interviewer: That’s not right.

PM Morrison: That is just the sort of left-wing bias I have come to expect from the ABC and let me tell you, the people of Australia have had a gutful. They are fair dinkum cobbers unlike you Bolsheviks and they don’t want to see millions end up in a gulag in Tassie somewhere near Launceston, like you buggers do. No, we the people have had enough of you pandering to the facts rather than the real bread and butter issues as outlined by the government… would you like to accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour?

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

 

$35 Million Boost For Music Sector

Media Release

A Daley Labor Government will increase public support for the music industry from $4 million to $35 million, providing a boost to musicians, venues, and an industry that generates hundreds of millions of dollars to the NSW economy.

Since the Liberals and Nationals were elected in 2011, NSW has lost hundreds of music venues and thousands of jobs, and we are now losing music festivals as well.

Shadow Minister for Music and the Night Time Economy, John Graham, announced Labor’s plan for the music sector which includes:

… Increasing total funding for music to $35 million, up from $4 million per year over the last four years of the Liberal and National Government.

… Streamlining the licensing process for music festivals and allow organisers with an established record to obtain multi-year approvals for festivals.

… Rebuilding the suburban and regional touring circuit in NSW, with $1.3 million to support an “On the Road Again” program to take music industry promoters and booking agents on tour to regional venues and provide a substantial funding boost to the ‘Live and Local’ program.

… Direct support for artists to record and tour, including internationally through a new $1.3 million “Music Passport” program; and regionally and nationally through a new $5.1 million “band aid” program.

… Investing $4 million to support music festivals across NSW.

NSW Shadow Minister for Music and the Night Time Economy John Graham said:

“Labor wants to keep venues open, and keep musicians in work. We want festivals moving to NSW, not fleeing the jurisdiction.”

“The measures that we have announced will help the NSW music scene reach its potential.”

NSW Labor candidate for Manly, Natasha Phillips-Mason applauded the boost:

“Labor is committed to re-building our music industry, and resuscitating the regional touring circuit.”

“A small investment goes a long way in this sector, and we are committed to building stronger ties between government and the music industry.”

Labor’s plan to stop the Liberal Party’s war on live music comes after measures already announced to save live music in NSW, including implementing the Parliamentary Music Inquiry’s 60 recommendations to improve conditions for music venues.

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

Sitting astride the barbed wire fence

By 2353NM 

The human mind is a wonderful thing. We all have different interests, ideas and methods of doing what is needed to stay alive. We also have different beliefs. Some will tell you that the contrails left in the sky following the passage of aircraft are

a 24/7/365-day aerosol assault over our heads made of a toxic brew of poisonous heavy metals, chemicals, and other dangerous ingredients. None of this is ever reported by any mainstream media. The US Department of Defense (DOD) and military have been systematically blanketing all our skies with what are known as Chemtrails aka as Stratospheric Aerosol Geoengineering.

Time magazine took the opportunity of the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing to print a list of their ‘top 10’ conspiracy theories including the Moon Landing itself, the Reptilian Elite (who apparently rule the world) and JFK’s Assassination being faked.

Really, you are the only person hurt if you happen to believe aliens abduct people and implant material internally, or any one of the hundreds of conspiracy theories that routinely go around the world. While it might give the rest of us a laugh, in the scheme of things most of these theories are pretty harmless. Unfortunately there are conspiracy theories that do affect others, which is where conspiracy theories can be very dangerous.

You may have seen on social media the story of an ‘anti-vaxxer’ American mother who posted that her 3-year old child was not vaccinated and asking how she could protect her child from a measles outbreak currently occurring in her area. The linked article carries some of the responses which vary from the obvious (get her child vaccinated), through lecturing to humorous; there are thousands more ‘helpful’ comments in the various places where the post has been shared across the internet.

You can argue the mum has the right to decide how her children grow up or equally argue the obvious lack of empathy, parenting skills and abilities demonstrated by the American mum (and other anti-vaxxers around the world) in allowing their children to suffer the unnecessary illness, potential long term ill-health or even loss of life caused by not doing anything to stop their children suffering a completely preventable disease. However, the actions of the anti-vaxxers remove our right to determine if we want to inflict the same danger on our children or grandchildren, children who may be too young or have a genuine medical reason why they can’t be vaccinated. They don’t have the right to do that. We discussed herd immunity and vaccination with a bit more detail last November. It’s pretty obvious that American mum is now questioning her life choices.

The ‘great’ climate change debate in Australia is similar to the debate over vaccinations. For better or worse, then Opposition Leader Abbott rolled PM Rudd’s ambitions for an emissions trading scheme which would firstly manage, then reduce the levels of carbon and other nasties that are emitted into the environment. It’s now history that Abbott crucified Gillard over her ‘carbon tax’ (which even Abbott’s Chief of Staff, Peta Credlin, has since admitted was a ‘political tactic’ rather than actual tax). The subsequent Coalition Government under three Prime Ministers Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison have effectively fiddled while Rome burnt with ever increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Abbott, a Health Minister in the Howard era would have argued for the continuation of vaccination programs targeted at children to trigger ‘herd immunity’. When he was Prime Minster he mandated, with ALP support, the ‘no jab, no play’ policy. Effectively if your child is not vaccinated, they will not be eligible for any child care rebates, which can cause difficulties in accessing childcare services in this country as well as lack of eligibility for Family Tax payments. Clearly Abbott understands the science of ‘herd immunity’ as he didn’t attempt to stop vaccination programs.

Abbott, who has now assisted in rolling Turnbull twice when some action on climate change looked like getting implemented is on the record as suggesting that even if Australia did reduce carbon emissions, our insignificant contribution of 1.3% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions really doesn’t make a difference. Apart from the OECD disagreeing with the claimCNN reports two of the World Health Organisation’s ‘top 10’ list of global health threats are air quality/climate change as well as ‘anti-vaxxers’.

It is illogical that Abbott argues that Australia demonstrates his ‘faith’ in ‘herd immunity’ caused by vaccinations but also promotes Australia not attempting to reduce or eliminate carbon emissions because our small contribution wouldn’t make a difference. Like American mum, Abbott has the right to his own opinion. He doesn’t have the right to stuff up the future for generations of Australians (as well as those in the Pacific Islands who will probably lose their homes, lifestyles and countries completely).

For a person who mandated the vaccinations for Australia’s young, who frequently travels around Australia by plane with a mobile phone in his pocket and probably has little understanding of how they work, Abbott is sitting on both sides of the barbed wire fence here. When it suits him, he trusts the science and technology; when he can see a political advantage, he rails against it. As American mum has already found out, sooner or later it gets mightily uncomfortable up there when the issue becomes personal.

What do you think?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword.

For Facebook users, The Political Sword has a Facebook page:
Putting politicians and commentators to the verbal sword – ‘Like’ this page to receive notification on your timeline of anything they post.

There is also a personal Facebook page:
Ad Astra’s page – Send a friend request to interact there.

The Political Sword also has twitter accounts where they can notify followers of new posts:
@1TPSTeam (The TPS Team account)
@Adastra5 (Ad Astra’s account)

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

Farmer Protection GM inquiry fails GM-free farmers and consumers

Media Release

The report delivered by the parliamentary committee’s inquiry into mechanisms for compensation for non-GM farmers has disappointed consumers and GM-free farmers alike.

“While we are grateful for the opportunity to have this inquiry we are dissatisfied by its findings and find it astonishing that there are no recommendations at the end of this process” says Janet Grogan, FOODwatch representative and principal petitioner.

“Our primary reason for creating this petition and call for farmer protection legislation is because we are concerned by the potential loss of access to GM-free food grown here in WA due to repeated events of GM contamination.”

“The committee finds minimal evidence of systemic contamination by GMOs in WA”, but who is looking? There have been many GM contamination events in WA since the dismal GM canola trials of 2009 when, despite best practice and intensive monitoring, there were 11 contamination events at just 19 sites.”

“We know anecdotally that farmers are experiencing GM contamination problems, but are wary of speaking publicly because of the very findings which the committee has made concerning the impacts these problems have in small rural communities”.

“It is unfair that the committee is suggesting that the GM-free farmer now carries additional responsibility to deal with potential GM contamination events by increasing insurance cover, which comes with its own risks”.

“Common Law has already failed to deal with GM contamination so it is unreasonable to believe that it can be used adequately again. The report actually concedes that “the use of Common Law may be inadequate.”

“Here the GM sector of WA’s grain industry has seen its share in the local market fall for the past three years. GM canola now accounts for less than 20% of all canola, and less than 3% of all grain grown in WA, and yet appears to take no responsibility to control contamination.”

“This report should have come with recommendations to shift the onus of mitigating GM contamination onto the GM growers, as was suggested in our submission. The majority of people want the choice to buy GM-free food, but if our farmers are not protected they may not be able to provide it.“

You can see the report here.

See page 5 of the Canola Variety Sowing Guide for canola variety table.

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

A Unified Korea: Good for All (Except Japan)

By Dr Strobe Driver  

Korea has a strong and unique history as it is ‘arguably the most ethnically homogenous country in the world with thirteen centuries of political unity and national and provincial boundaries older than almost any other state.’[1] Unification of the country had been in place since 668 (Common Era) during the Three Kingdoms Era – Silla, Goguryeo and Baekje (57 BCE–668 CE).[2]  The Gorguryeo Period rule was not able to withstand a growing power and preponderance of Japan. The eventual outcome of this state-of-affairs would result in the annexation of Korea by Japan which effectively, shattered centuries of Korea’s domestic rule. This problems for Korea would be compounded by World War Two (WWII) and the Korean War – both would add to the decline of a once great nation. Notwithstanding these two recent major happenings the desire on the part of the Korean peoples to have some semblance of unification has been growing; and there appears to be a slow but sure change for the better. Should it continue, there will be for all intent and purpose, a major change in the Asia-Pacific (A-P).

The core of the problem within the A-P is the non-resolution of the Korean War (1950–1953),[3] in which South Korean, United States of America (US) and United Nations’ (UN) forces fought the (North) Korean People’s Army and the Chinese People’s Volunteers Forces. Whilst North Korea’s intent (with the help of China and the Soviet Union) never came to be realised, the war also never officially ended. With the recent political exchange and progress between the US, China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), and the Republic of Korea (South Korea) there is an attempt to bring about a final end to the war. The task-at-hand brings to the fore the possibility of a unification-of-sorts through the ending of the war. The unification process which was essentially, initiated by the Trump administration and notwithstanding the difficulties, if successful will throw up newfound issues in the region. Japan will unfortunately, will not be a beneficiary of the new political tide. A unified Korea will change the already complex geo-strategic balance in the region and simultaneously, produce a major new and powerful actor – a unified Korea. The possibility of Koreas being ‘one country’ and the ‘knock-on’ effect this will have on the A-P region cannot be assessed until the role Japan has had on the region, and in particular its relationship with the Koreas, being addressed.

Japan as an Asia-Pacific power

To be sure, it was the US that forced Japan out of its self-imposed isolationism during the mid-nineteenth century. Commodore Perry and his ‘black ships’ threatened to fire upon the port city of Edo (now Tokyo), if the Japanese government did not open up to trade with the West [4] (1853–1854). Whilst it was the American commander that demanded the opening the action was supported by European powers—in particular Britain, France and the Netherlands. The subsequent unification of Japan under the guidance of the Meiji Restoration (1895) and its subsequent mercantile efficiencies would allow Japan to prosper and this would be the beginning of Japan’s rise in the A-P. Japan’s preponderance would grow through winning a war with China, in which Taiwan would be ceded (1894–1895), it would also go to war with Russia—the Japan-Russo War (1904–1905).Upon winning this war Japan would become further emboldened. As part of its regional ‘imperialism’[5] Japan would annexe the Korean Peninsula Korea (1910).  For Japan this was a strategic ‘necessity’ in order to circumvent Tsarist Russia’s regional expansionist tendencies and its subsequent ‘designs on Korea,‘[6], invade Manchuria (1931 and 1937[7]), and occupy Indochina (1939[8]). For all intents and purposes, Japan by the end of the 1930s had become a regional superpower.

With regard to Japan’s occupation of Korea, it would be enacted through the prism of the Japan–Korea Protectorate Treaty of 1905 (Ūlsa Treaty[9]), which was signed by King Kojong (Yi H’ui) the ruler of Korea (1897–1919) and allowed the Japanese to use the country as a military base; and place advisers in the government.[10] It should be noted that Kojong did not believe the annexation of Korea to be valid, and expressed this through sending letters to numerous newspapers (bearing his Royal seal) around the world.[11] As Japanese pressure mounted Kojong was forced into abdicating in 1907[12] and thus, the full extent of the Japanese annexation of Korea included the signed (albeit unwillingly) document that Korea ‘agreed to be guided by Japan,’[13] which was essentially, an affectation for subjugation. The suppression of Korea by Japan and its concomitant cruelties of colonial rule – which it must be stated was largely supported by the West[14] -consisted of

[T]op-down, centralized, direct and intensive powers … Commanding the military forces in the Peninsula, controlling a highly centralized police system, appointing all important local officials, and possessing broad legislative power as well as executive power, and [the Japanese] governor-general was a new authoritarian power in Korean political history.[15]

The opposing argument by Japan is that its tenure of rule had positive outcomes, as it ‘offered’ ‘Koreans reliable courts, a just financial system and honest weights and measures’ … [nevertheless] the Koreans were not satisfied with Japanese rule and rebelled in 1919, declaring themselves independent.’[16]  Japan’s interventions in Korea and the subsequent treatment of Koreans, and in particular the bitter war the Japanese waged against the Korean people in the sixteenth century,[17] has resulted in Japan being labelled by Koreans as an ‘accursed nation.’[18]

The taking of Korea would be a part of the power-based ambitions of Japan and reinforce the notion that to be a modern power was to be a colonising power.[19]  Within its sphere of domestic irredentism and extramural ventures, Japan’s A-P successes would include control of Taiwan; the annexing of Manchuria (1931); invading Nanjing (1937); and entering a tripartite pact with Germany and Italy (1941). The ambitions would eventuate in the Pacific phase of WWII being initiated through its ‘surprise attack’ on Pearl Harbor, which would lead to subjugating Malaya and controlling the archipelagos of the Philippines and Indonesia (1942),[20] and extending its stretch into Oceania. The ‘empire overstretch’ would be so great however, it would retard Japan’s protection of its homeland and bring about total surrender. To wit,

Japan’s air force—not only its aircraft but its skilled pilots as well—had virtually ceased to exist. Its merchant marine lay at the bottom of the ocean. Almost all of the country’s major cities had been fire-bombed, and millions of the emperor’s loyal subjects were homeless. The defeated imperial army was scattered throughout Asia and the islands of the Pacific Ocean, its millions of surviving soldiers starving, wounded, sick and demoralised.[21]

Japan was subsequently and progressively relieved of its colonies after its unconditional surrender to the US in 1945. Korea would return to a UN authorised independence in 1948. Frictions between the two Koreas however, remain to this day as well as and due to the past between the Koreas and Japan. The dynamics of the region will change if an irenic agreement comes to pass and what the unification will comprise can now be addressed.

The reality of Korean ‘unity’

Based on the history of the two Koreas it should be noted that it is politically impossible to achieve an absolute reunification unless a forced alignment was to occur. The way in which absolute reunification occurs is often through a victory via a war and a recent example of this is writ large in the  total victory of North Vietnamese forces at the end of the Vietnam War (1963–1975).[22]Using the Vietnam War as an example is pertinent in order to show that unification through limited war is definitive in its outcome, as it provides an unambiguous power-base to the winner. Hence, it would take a restart of the Korean War to gain the same ‘type’ of unification of the Koreas as Vietnam.  Notwithstanding this, there is no ‘political appetite’ for this to happen as the dangers of the Koreas undertaking such a pathway would pose enormous problems for them and the region. The overriding problem would be it would have the potential to draw in other actors and could thereby, escalate into a total war. This would be due to the most powerful A-P actors – China, the US, and possibly Russia – becoming involved. Notwithstanding the aforementioned, it would require an inordinate leap of faith on the part of both North and South Korea to achieve total unification and as such this will not take place. There is however a considerable possibility that a form of ‘bilateral reconciliation’[23] will come to pass, although the reason the two countries cannot and will not seamlessly merge into one, is in the current political climate and due to the historic power-stakes a requirement of the ceding of power by one actor to the other would need to take place. This too, cannot and will not take place. Both Koreas would not be willing to cede their politico-status and more importantly their military power as the repercussion would be an immediate ‘security dilemma’[24] being created for both actors; and moreover, it would also create cultural shame and a ‘loss-of-face’ predicament. This too, would not be acceptable to either actor, or their respective populaces.

With the above-mentioned factors in mind, there is under both Korean administrations – including their major allies, China for North Korea, the US, Australia and Japan for South Korea – at least a desire to elicit an irenic outcome and finally bring about an end to the Korean War. Such a happening will not only present a greater degree of stability in the region as a result of the lessening of decades-long tensions it will also assist in returning Korea to the profoundly politically-mature nation it once was. This is where the problems for Japan will begin in earnest, however and in order to understand the situation a brief, analysis of what is currently and actually happening is required.

North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un has moved beyond the isolationism of previous decades, with perhaps the most important visits being China, South Korea and more recently Singapore at the behest of US President Trump, in March, April and June 2018 respectively.[25] Whilst it is impossible to predict the continuation of the current diplomacy and its impacts, what has become clear is a triad: there has been a significant shift in bilateral relations between the two Koreas; China remains the linchpin of North Korea’s survival; and the current Trump administration is noticeably enthusiastic to lessen the threat of another war on the Korean peninsula becoming a reality – if only due to American forces being drawn into yet another, interminable war. To be sure, an irenic agreement also offers a chance for North Korea, and thereby Kim Jong-un to become a more cosmopolitan regional and international actor;  offers greater economic prosperity to his people; and significantly reduces the use of brinkmanship – in this case the threat of missile strikes – as a mechanism to gain greater regional status. The upshot of all the aforementioned for Japan is that it will face a will be vastly different neighbour, than it has been. This factor can now be examined.

Japan’s coming predicament: facing three united countries

Japan has been a significant A-P post-WWII regional power. This is due to its military status per se and its, post-WWII links to US forces – especially with the ongoing presence of a large US military contingent on Okinawa. Additional to this, Japan has had a successful industrial revolution in the 1970s which allowed it to become an ongoing international economic power which also remains the case in contemporary times. From a political perspective Japan has also been able to positively exploit its mutually-allied US–South Korea partnership due to North Korea remaining consistently belligerent. The issue for Japan is a change in the level of co-operation between the Koreas would cause a re-alignment of allegiances and this would place significant pressures on Japan, as the deep-seated animosities that linger between South Korea and Japan are veiled, and the allegiance of South Korea and Japan is largely due to North Korea’s continuing recalcitrance. This will change upon any decrease in the current frictions between the Koreas, and Japan will be forced to deal with a two reinvigorated countries with a barely-concealed hostility. This is writ large in the current currently  Japan -South Korea relationship in that even though they both share similar political and societal developments in the sense they are liberal-democracies, highly-developed and industrialised countries and have had significant security issues with North Korea it does not diminish the fact that the relationship between the two remains fraught with historical tensions.[26]

Three which it can be argued, that affect the relations are the general post-WWII ill-treatment of Koreans that reside in Japan (which has been criticised by the UN); the signing of the 1965, Treaty on Basic Relations[27] in which the South Korean government cannot claim war reparations from Japan; and the sexual slavery of Korean women – euphemistically referred to as ‘comfort women’ – by the Japanese military forces in WWII.[28] These issues will immediately return to the fore and have an enormous impact on Japan should the Korean Peninsula become less fractious. Whilst the aforementioned issues will be problematic for Japan the problem that will eclipse the Koreas uniting will consist of a knock-on effect: a greater alignment with China will take place. This will be due to China positively and opportunistically exploiting the unification of the Koreas as a chance to improve its preponderance in the region and elsewhere. China too has long-term animosity toward Japan and it will use the unity for its own politico- and military-leverage and the offshoots will consist of, but not be limited to China being more aggressive in its Arunachal Pradesh border dispute with India; enable the retrocession of Taiwan to be more forthrightly pursued; and the ‘Belt and Road’ and South China Sea initiatives will be able to progress more efficiently. The de-escalation of problems within the Koreas will allow China to place more effort on the regional components mentioned and whether China is successful in its claims is moot and need not be discussed further here. What is of interest here is the way in which the catharsis of a new set of China-Japan relations will further pan out, as the already corrosive relations become more prominent. The single issue which will gain more credence – as it will have the direct support of the two Koreas – is directly supplanted in the two invasions of China by Japanese forces in the early twentieth century – especially the 1937–1938 Nanking massacre;[29] – and are directly reflected in ‘China’s relations with Japan have long been poisoned by what Beijing sees as Tokyo’s failure to atone for its occupation of China before and during World War Two.’[30] This factor, it can be argued, has had more relevance in regional machinations due to Germany having apologised for its part in WWII, and moreover it is without doubt that such an undertaking does offer a significant contribution to irenic relations between nation-states.[31] Certainly, a more direct and forthright united front that Japan will face from its neighbours will impact heavily upon its place in the region.

Conclusion

There is ample historical evidence that when a country has domestic stability, reliable allies and a powerful military that allows irredentism and expansionism to flourish. Throughout history America, China, England, France, Iraq, Israel, Spain and many other nation-states are testament to this taking place. Others however, are often directly impacted upon and this is true of Hawaii being usurped by America; China and its taking of Tibet; France in its invasion of Russia; England and the seizing of India; Iraq and its invasion of Kuwait; Israel and the taking of East Jerusalem/West Bank; and Spain undertaking the conquest of the South Americas. As stipulated Japan and its irredentist policies within the region have created tensions means that as the Koreas gain greater harmony they will assert a more co-ordinated approach toward Japan’s past deeds and its present ambitions. This, combined with China’s preponderance will heavily, and negatively, impact on Japan. The way in which Japan will respond to these pressures remains to be seen, however any China-North Korea-South Korea quasi-tripartite or direct agreement would see a coalescing of historical animosities which must place strategic pressures on Japan. For instance, a unified Korea, regardless of not being a single sovereign nation-state and albeit, with two distinctive regions will nonetheless, identify more strongly as ‘one people with a shared history’ and set about diminishing Japanese politico – and military – influence. An immediate outcome it can be safely argued, would be the two Koreas being less inclined to directly criticise China’s overt military role in the South China Sea per se; would explicitly favour China’s claims on the Senkaku Islands/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea; and would side with China in rejecting Japan’s attempt to become part of the UN Security Council’s permanent members. All would directly impact upon Japan’s ‘middle power‘ status. The regeneration of what would constitute a new Korea would be to elevate the difficulties for Japan and if this were to be in parallel with the US remaining on its current pathway of further developing quasi-isolationist tendencies and remained true to its mantra of wanting its allies to ‘do more’ in building their own defence capabilities will also add to Japan’s woes.

The outcome of a unified two Koreas living in (relative) harmony with each other would place Japan in a newfound politico- and regional-strategic situation in which it would have to come to terms when facing two semi-united countries; and a unified country. Simply put, all three countries have long-term deep-seated animosity toward Japan and a unification-of-sorts would offer the opportunity for retaliation, or a quasi-revenge to take place. Going to war against Japan however, is highly-unlikely as it would draw in other powerful actors – this is not what either country wants. Notwithstanding this, China North Korea and South Korea will do all they can to constrain Japan. Any decrease in tensions on the Korean Peninsula would be good for the world from the perspective of a ‘kinetic exchange’ or a ‘shooting war’ not breaking out. Paradoxically however, the peace will introduce a completely new set of enormous politico – and military – challenges for Japan, as it is forced to endure the repressed rage of its closest neighbours finally coming to the political surface.

Notes

[1] Michael Seth. A History of Korea. From Antiquity to the Present. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers Inc, 2011, 2.

[2] See: ‘Three Kingdoms Period in Korea Timeline.’ Ancient History Encyclopediahttps://www.ancient.eu/timeline/Three_Kingdoms_Period_in_Korea/

[3] See: ‘Korean War.’ History.com https://www.history.com/topics/korea/korean-war

[4] Kim Ji-hyung. ‘The Japanese Annexation of Korea as Viewed from the American and British Press: focus on The Times and The New York Times.’  International Journal  https://ijkh.khistory.org/upload/pdf/03._IJKH_16-2_Kim_JI-hyung.pdf

[5] Imperialism’ consists of ‘the projection of political power across large spaces to include other states.’  See: Robin Butlin. Geographies of Empire. European empires and colonies, 1880 – 1960. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009, 6.

[6] Japan and Korea since 1910,’ 52.

[7] David Day. Conquest. A New History of the Modern World. Sydney: HarperCollins Publishers, 2005, 196-197.

[8] For a full account of Japan’s military expansionism see: ‘Japan profile – Timeline.’  BBC News. 20Feb, 2018. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-pacific-15219730

[9] A History of Korea. From Antiquity to the Present, 265 – 266. 

[10] ‘Kojong. Korean Ruler.’ Encyclopædia Britannica. The Editors of Encylopædia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Kojong

[11] See: The Japanese Annexation of Korea as Viewed from the American and British Press: focus on The Times and The New York Times, 88.

[12] ‘Kojong. Korean Ruler.’ Encyclopædia Britannica.

[13]  Japan and Korea since 1910,’ 49 – 50.

[14] The Japanese Annexation of Korea as Viewed from the American and British Press: focus on The Times and The New York Times, 116.

[15] A History of Korea. From Antiquity to the Present, 265 – 266. 

[16] Clarence Gilliland. ‘Japan and Korea since 1910.’ JSTOR. University of California: University of California Press, 1920.  https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/41168782.pdf

[17] ‘Japan and Korea since 1910,’ 47.

[18] ‘Japan and Korea since 1910,’ 47.

[19] Tim Harper.  ‘Japan’s giant second world war gamble.’ The Guardian, 7 Sep, 2009. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/sep/07/japan-imperialism-militarism

[20] ‘Japan’s giant second world war gamble,’ The Guardian. 

[21] John Dower. Embracing Defeat. Japan in the Wake of World War II. W W. Norton and Co: New York, 1999, 43.

[22] The Vietnam War is ‘known as the “American War” in Vietnam.’ See: British Broadcasting Corporation. Timeline: Vietnam. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/country_profiles/1243686.stm

[23] John Nillson-Wright. ‘Koreas summit: Will historic talks lead to a lasting peace?’ BBCNews.28 Apr, 2018.  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-43932032

[24] Security uncertainty exists in the international arena between nation-states according to Herz in the form of a ‘security dilemma.’ This is a process in which each constellation/group ‘must be, and usually are, concerned about their security from being attacked, subjected, dominated or annihilated by other groups and individuals. Striving to attain security from such attack, they are driven to acquire more and more power in order to escape the impact of the power of others … ’ See: John Herz. “Idealist Internationalism and the Security Dilemma.’ World Politics, Vol. 2, Jan, 1950, 157.  http://www.jstor.org/view/00438871/di971097/97p0057z/0

[25] For a complete list of places visited by the North Korean Supreme Leader see:  ‘Kim Jong un Fast Facts.’ CNN. https://edition.cnn.com/2012/12/26/world/asia/kim-jong-un—fast-facts/index.html

[26] Brad Glisserman. ‘Japan-South Korea: So close, yet so far.’ The Diplomat. 28 Feb, 2018.  https://thediplomat.com/2018/02/japan-south-korea-so-close-yet-so-far/

[27] Wi Tack-whan and Chang Iou-chung ‘1965 Korea – Japan agreement should be re-estimated.’ Korea.net. 23 Mar, 2016. http://www.korea.net/NewsFocus/History/view?articleId=134245

[28] To be added

[29] See: ‘The  Rape of Nanking.’ History.com. The Editors of History.com.

https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-rape-of-nanking

[30] Chehui Peh and Teppei Kasai. ‘Asian neighbours protest as Japan PM sends war offering to war dead shrine.’  Reuters.  15 Aug, 2017https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ww2-anniversary-japan-idUSKCN1AV009

[31] ‘Many praise Germany, scorn Japan 70 years after WWII.’ Japan Times. 13 Aug, 2015.  ttps://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/08/13/national/history/70-years-wwii-neighbor-states-hold-germany-high-heap-scorn-axis-ally-japan/#.W7bldHszbIU

This article was originally published on E-International Relations.

Strobe Driver – Strobe completed his PhD in war studies in 2011 and since then has written extensively on war, terrorism, Asia-Pacific security, the ‘rise of China,’ and issues within Australian domestic politics. Strobe is a recipient of Taiwan Fellowship 2018, MOFA, Taiwan, ROC, and is an adjunct researcher at Federation University.

 

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

 

What a good boy am I? So what’s the go here?

The case of Hakeem Al-Araibi vs Behrouz Boochani and countless genuine refugees (assessed by UNHCR) in Australian offshore detention on Manus Island and Nauru

By Jon Chesterson  

Can someone, anyone tell me what makes Hakeem Al-Raibi’s case so special and different from say Behrouz Boochani or any of the other refugees on Manus Island and Nauru?

So what’s the go here and is it even safe to raise the question after the Australian hype and popularity of what is undeniably a fabulous outcome for protecting the right of one refugee today, save Dr Phelp’s ‘Urgent Medical Transfer’ refugee Bill currently going through Parliament a second time, having once already been denied passage before Christmas by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Before I go any further let me first iterate without any ambiguity or misunderstanding, I fully applaud Hakeem’s release from Thailand, I applaud his alleged claim and right to seek asylum and the integrity of his actions as I understand them, and I applaud Australia and our government for pursuing and defending his case and rights under international law. So in mounting my questions and argument I am in no way diminishing his right to Australian or international justice and human rights. I wish he and his family the success they or anyone else in similar shoes deserve, that said which by reason brings me to the point of the matter.

But what makes Hakeem Al-Raibi’s case so special and different from say Behrouz Boochani or any of the other refugees on Manus Island and Nauru? They are both genuine humanitarian refugees, Hakeem has fled his home country, Bahrain and Behrouz from Iran. Neither have any criminal record or history within their own country, overseas or in Australia. Both individuals have a respectful manner and integrity any reasonable and fair minded Australian or citizen of any country would rightly be proud of, as do many others in our offshore detention centres, and yet what makes them so different they should be treated so differently by our incumbent Australian Government and Parliament?

Is it because he is a precious footballer while Behrouz is a suspicious journalist?

Is it because he came by plane and not by boat, and of course people who come by boat must be punished to keep others from coming, even though they have broken no law? Punishing a person for someone else’s possible future behaviour that has not yet happened, nor a crime, but simply to use as hostage and deterrent is ominously ‘thought police’ Orwellian. What kind of law, political or religious fanaticism is this?

Is it because he just happens to have got to Australia, had access to Australian and international law and acquired a protection visa; while Behrouz was prevented from landing, denied natural justice and international protection as a genuine refugee and consequently imprisoned on a remote Pacific island, where the international community and Australian justice system could not defend him?

Or is it because this desperate Liberal-National Coalition government are looking for propaganda, a show case, a good news twist to claim they take their international relations, laws and obligations for refugees seriously, while with the other hand flout international law and justice in their own country and offshore? And just when there happens to be a general election looming – how convenient!

Both men, like many others on Manus and Nauru have fled a country and regime that has threatened or attempted to torture them. Neither have committed any crime in their own country nor by virtue of seeking asylum in another country and making their way to Australia to do so. So what is the difference in matters of law or justice?

Clearly this must be political and by that I mean one of them magically strikes gold, the other is demonised, incarcerated for five years indefinitely on Manus Island. Paradoxically one is the unintended hero or nemesis of the other.

Hakeem Al-Araibi

In Hakeem’s case he was allowed to enter Australia on a passenger flight, subsequently claimed asylum and in due course was granted a protection visa. He joins a football club and later obtains a visa to holiday and honeymoon in Thailand. it was reported that the AFP, working as locally based Interpol, had notified Thailand of his arrival and did not flag his refugee status, however the Australian Government have subsequently denied this. But was this a blooper, it would not have been the first time?

it was reported on 30 January 2019 that the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had called upon his Thai counterpart Prayut Chan-o-cha a few days earlier in a letter, stressing that Hakeem Al-Araibi had been issued a permanent protection visa by Australia after a deliberate and considered process and that returning the footballer to Bahrain would infringe his rights under international human rights law. A somewhat strange position to take when Australia has been as ardent in the refoulement of refugees in violation of international law as Thailand, except that Australia is a sworn signatory to the UN Convention, so not to do this, while Thailand is not.

In late January, the office of Marise Payne said that her government was making “extensive efforts” on behalf of Hakeem Al-Araibi and yet no effort is made to appease the contradiction of enforced incarceration of others in our offshore detention centres. In fact Peter Dutton and Scott Morrison have gone to extraordinary and excessive lengths to demonise, deny justice and freedom, to the extent of repeated and direct combat and opposition in the Federal courts on the provision of appropriate lifesaving emergency medical care, unsuccessful in every case.

Thailand is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, has a history of returning alleged criminals to their countries of origin, and has strong economic links with Bahrain.

The Australian government has bent over backwards, twice over and beyond to advocate Hakeem’s rights as a refugee to Thailand, Bahrain, the international community and back at home to the people of Australia. The Australian government has gone to extraordinary lengths to publicise this, create, fan and ride the tide of public sentiment – subscript ‘what a compassionate, humanitarian and just country we are’… the Prime Minister never coy in pulling out his plum.

Behrouz Boochani

In Behrouz’s case, like many others on Manus Island and Nauru, he has been intercepted by a Border Force boat without any due process or hearing, transferred and dispatched to a remote island offshore where he has subsequently languished with 2000 others for the past 5 years alongside many others (not nearly as many who come by plane from overseas). He has been tortured and abused by security officers and private companies acting on behalf of the Australian Border Force and Government, denied his freedom, access to reasonable medical care, denied a protection visa, denied legal representation, denied entry to Australia, demonised and held indefinitely offshore against his will illegally according to Australian, PNG and International law.

What makes these two cases so different, that one is hero worshipped and the other demonised? Both were fleeing their country of birth for the exact same purpose and reasons as the other. What kind of legal, social, moral or arbitrary justice is this?

Is it really football that softens the hearts of our politicians and the masses (cricket having had its own recent fall from grace) or is there some hidden agenda, some magical reason or cause we don’t know about? Or is it just because there is an election campaign under way, the Liberals are running scared and have need to hide the delusional ravings of a mad Prime Minister, his Minister for Home Affairs, their mad psychotic party and the repressed prejudices of a few loud mouthed wealthy elite or ignorant ill-bred ill-informed citizens?

So what’s the go here with refugees? Have we been ‘Trumped and Murdoched’ once again by our very own government?

No good boys here.

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

Danger

By Keith Antonysen 

If you want some hope of a future for your children you will not vote LNP – in my opinion – in the coming Federal election, or any other conservative group. The LNP will try to push the view they are being responsible in relation to climate change; official emission figures show otherwise.

The main matter what counts from my point of view is climate change. If no strong policies are promoted by governments around the world, then ultimately humans and the biosphere are stuffed.

Australia has been a trend setter in the past, except the LNP are ruled by the extreme right and “innovation” is a dirty word. The LNP main policy is to line the pockets of their mates it seems; and blame Labor, blame Labor and blame Labor. The LNP have held government for over 5 years, it gets a bit thin to blame Labor.

In relation to climate change the LNP seek to fire up the oceans and atmosphere through promoting fossil fuels.

Climate change is no longer an academic projection into the future; we are witnessing horrendous events around Earth and in Australia.

Matters of concern that are happening:

  • Warming oceans, probably a more important matter than an unstable atmosphere.
  • Insects dying
  • Bats dying through being unable to cope with heat
  • Birds dying
  • Soil fertility being reduced through industrial farming
  • Aquifers and other water resources diminishing
  • Increase in blue green algae
  • Kelp beds being lost
  • Deforestation
  • Biodiversity generally being reduced, above examples being a few of many
  • Sea level rise
  • Instability of ice sheets and glaciers in Antarctica, Greenland
  • Glacial breakdown generally
  • Severe erosion
  • Coral reefs breaking down
  • Permafrost thawing
  • Pingos exhausting methane
  • Wildfires
  • Extreme weather events causing loss of livestock and crops world wide

To vote for the LNP is downright dangerous, Labor is more inclined to listen, and in the end hopefully act.

The Adani mine must not go ahead, nor extensions to other coal mines.

It will be Labor or the LNP which form the next Federal government. Hopefully a good number of Independents and minor parties will be elected, and Labor will form government.

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

Labor to make TAFE courses free

Media Release

A Daley Labor Government will make TAFE free for more than 600,000 certificate level places in skill shortage courses over the next decade, starting with child care, disability care, aged care, construction, plumbing, and electrical trades.

Labor’s plan will help people to find jobs in industries that are crying out for more workers, and make TAFE genuinely accessible to all, whether they are school leavers, people re-skilling, or changing careers.

The public TAFE system in NSW has been gutted under the Liberal and National Government, with 5,700 teachers and support staff sacked, 175,000 fewer students enrolled, and the number of apprentices and trainees plummeting by more than half since they came to office in 2011.

A Daley Labor Government will restore TAFE to its rightful place as the premier public provider of vocational education and training across NSW, ensuring that skill shortages are being addressed, especially in rural and regional communities.

Labor will also utilise existing public infrastructure to create opportunities for people to develop their skills, by requiring 20 per cent of work on major NSW Government construction projects to be allocated to a combination of: apprentices, trainees, Indigenous Australians, and long term unemployed.

NSW Shadow Minister for TAFE and Skills Prue Car announced the policy:

“Abolishing fees for courses in areas where there is a known skill shortage is a real, common-sense way to connect eager workers with good jobs.

Labor will revitalise the TAFE system after years of neglect from the Liberals and Nationals, and ensure that TAFE is properly funded and accessible to all.”

NSW Labor candidate for Manly, Natasha Phillips-Mason applauded the announcement, saying:

“Labor’s commitment to free TAFE will change lives.

Free TAFE is the ultimate jobs plan. It will deliver the skilled workforce of the future and revitalise the vocational education system after eight years of neglect by the Liberals and Nationals.”

By 2023, it is expected there will be: 85,000 more jobs in the health care and social assistance sectors in NSW compared to 2018; and 41,000 more jobs in the construction industry.

Prue Car, Shadow Minister for TAFE and Skills

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

#30 Year Challenge

By 2353NM 

There is a social media meme at the moment where two photos are posted side by side, one from 2009 the other from 2019. ‘Bonus points’ are apparently gained by ‘featuring’ a similar pose in both photos. As everything is apparently better with a hashtag, this latest fad is tagged as the #10yearchallenge.

While social media has only been ‘a thing’ for about 10 years, why stop there? If we look back 30 years ago to 1 January 1989, all 197 countries of the world implemented the Montreal Protocol which effectively bans the use of chemicals that adversely affect the ozone layer above the earth. The agreement was signed in 1987. Australia’s Department of Environment and Energy has a detailed description of what the ozone layer is and why it is important here, but for the purposes of a political blogsite, the effects of a reduction in the ozone layer around the world would allow significant additional levels of UV light to reach the earth affecting plant crops, food production, our climate and our ability to survive outdoors. As The Guardian recently reported

Governments temporarily put aside cold-war hostilities and united rapidly around a solution to the ozone problem. From the first research in 1973, it took just 16 years for the world to discuss, agree and put in place a solution that reversed the trend.

The Guardian goes on to compare the relatively quick action on the elimination of ozone layer damaging chemicals to the world’s lack of action on climate change.

By comparison, scientific warnings that carbon dioxide emissions could disrupt the climate date back to at least 1962 (and the risks were speculated on much earlier). Yet despite numerous international agreements on the subject since then (Rio 1992, Kyoto 1998, Copenhagen 2009, Paris 2015), emissions are still climbing.

While there was clear scientific evidence that the ozone layer was diminishing there is also clear evidence in the increase in high temperatures, inconsistent rainfall, changes to native fauna and increasingly more powerful cyclones, that climate change is a reality in Australia and elsewhere. Increasing droughts and even more frigid winters around the world demonstrate on a daily basis that the climate is changing to a far greater extent than can be supported by natural variation.

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology has released its review of the climatic conditions in 2018 and frankly, it isn’t ‘a good read’. The UK’s Met Office is already calling 2019 a record breaking year for all the wrong reasons.

The Guardian claims:

In the 80s, the environment was not yet the polarising issue it has become, but the dominant figures – including the US president, George HW Bush, the Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, and the British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher – still had to overcome business interests, treasury doubts and political short-termism to protect the future health of the planet. They refused to accept the delaying tactics of chemical companies, some of which argued action should wait until the science was clearer. Today, Trump, Bolsonaro and the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, represent fossil fuel interests, deny science and undermine international cooperation.

And they’re probably correct. Governments around the world that have traditional links to business, such as the Liberal (in name only) Party in Australia and the Republican Party in the USA, seem to be beholden to self-interests that are clearly arguing delay to any environmental action to mitigate climate change so corporate investments are not negatively affected. When a company does break ranks, such as AGL announcing the uneconomic Liddell Power Station would close in 2022 to be replaced with renewable energy, the Liberal Party Prime Minister of the day (in this case Turnbull) applied pressure to keep the plant open. Even in 2019. The Liberal Party is also apparently considering additional coal fired power stations as a part of its ‘energy guarantee’. And the National Party who is supposed to represent the interests of regional Australia (where climate change is acknowledged as a real and ever-present danger to livelihoods) goes along with this madness.

Ten years ago, then PM Rudd squibbed action on climate change when he wouldn’t negotiate with the Greens to get an emissions trading scheme through the Senate, after calling climate change ‘the greatest moral, economic and social challenge of our time’. In 2019 we have PM Morrison claiming Australia will meet its Paris Agreement ‘in a canter’ when the reality is we don’t have a snowballs’ chance in hell.

Some of the #10yearchallenge photos are quite clever, such as the one with the eye chart getting progressively more out of focus. The best we can do is two PMs that have failed to protect current and future generations. The Australian political system should be better than that.

What do you think?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword.

For Facebook users, The Political Sword has a Facebook page:
Putting politicians and commentators to the verbal sword – ‘Like’ this page to receive notification on your timeline of anything they post.

There is also a personal Facebook page:
Ad Astra’s page – Send a friend request to interact there.

The Political Sword also has twitter accounts where they can notify followers of new posts:
@1TPSTeam (The TPS Team account)
@Adastra5 (Ad Astra’s account)

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

Global problems cast a gloomy shadow over 2019

By Ad astra 

What better time to take a look at our world, our planet, than at the beginning of another year? Long past are the days when we could retreat into a comfortable cocoon with no windows to the wider world. Unless we turn off our radios, television, our computers and the Internet, and never look at print media, we cannot avoid exposure to the world’s events, redolent as they are with worrisome overtones.

War, with its millions of displaced victims; riots, replete with death and destruction, and political rallies of angry people demanding change, fill almost every news bulletin. So do natural catastrophes with their tragic loss of life: fires with loss of dwellings, livestock, equipment and fodder in several states; unprecedented floods and violent winds in our far north; unremitting drought across most of our land; massive fish deaths, marine and coral destruction and loss of diversity; volcanic eruptions and tsunamis in Indonesia; an ‘arctic vortex’ that is bringing freezing conditions, loss of life and disruption in North America. Everywhere we look we see death, disruption, destruction and discord. It would be natural to become despondent, to wonder what on earth can be done, and more distressingly, what can we do.

Those who attempt to solve significant problems insist that identifying their nature is an essential first step. Let’s consider then what are the most pressing problems that we face globally. What do you believe they are?

To me, global warming and social inequality are the two most serious, the most urgent, the most intractable. This piece focuses on them.

I doubt that visitors to The Political Sword would need any convincing that climate change is real, is having a devastating affect on many aspects of life on this planet, and needs urgent remedial action if our only home is to remain habitable for humans, fauna and flora, and the great biological diversity that adorns it.

I won’t assail you with the mounting evidence about global warming and its destructive affect on life on this planet. But if you need any more convincing, read what Sir David Attenborough had to say to COP24 delegates meeting in Katowice, Poland in December to monitor progress on efforts to implement the 2015 Paris accord on climate change. He said: “Right now, we are facing a man-made disaster of global scale, our greatest threat in thousands of years…if we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.”

He concluded: “But now the young are demanding change. We have all been living beyond our means. It’s a perfectly simple thing. We knew not what we did. “We have let down the young generation, and they know it, and they are angry.” Yet at Davos, he insisted that there was a solution“…if people can truly understand what is at stake I believe they will give permission for business and governments to get on with practical solutions.” 

What then can we ordinary folk do? We know who the climate deniers are. We know who the climate culprits are. We know whose interests they are serving. We can shame them. We can call out their indifference, their ignorance, and their obsession with continuing to use fossil fuels. Through social media we can paint them the environmental miscreants and vandals they are. We can enlist the young, already furious at their negligence, their inaction, their resistance to the known facts about climate change. We can point out that in what was virtually his election campaign launch, our coal-hugging PM made no mention of climate change.

We cannot remain silent.

Let’s turn now to the other pressing problem of our age: social inequality.

We see it everywhere – the ‘have-nots’ struggling to survive, while the ‘haves’, with more than they would ever need, studiously ignore them. It has always been so. Globalization has ensured this state of affairs has become universal. A process of interaction involving the people, the companies, and the governments of different nations, a process driven by international trade and investment aided by information technology, globalization profoundly affects economic development, prosperity, political systems, the environment, culture, and human wellbeing in societies around the world.

The extension of inequality throughout our contemporary world via globalization has created a global backlash. Angry people have gathered around the world to protest violently about their disadvantage. The Paris protests are archetypical. Beginning in mid-October over Emmanuel Macron’s fuel price hike, these protests have recurred week after week during which people have died, hundreds have been injured, vehicles and property have been incinerated, and iconic landmarks have been disfigured.

Writing on this subject, Niall Ferguson, economist and historian, Senior Fellow at Stanford and Harvard Universities, and a Visiting Professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing, says: ”Many commentators feel that we are living through ‘unprecedented instability’. Political populism has become a global phenomenon, and established politicians and political parties are struggling even to understand it, much less resist it.”

What does ‘populism’ denote? Wikipedia says“Populism is a range of political approaches that deliberately appeal to ‘the people’, often juxtaposing this group against a so-called ‘elite’. There is no single definition of the term, which developed in the 19th century and has been used to mean various things since that time.”

Writing in The Conversation in What is populism – and why is it so hard to define?, Andy Knott from the University of Brighton writes: “For populists, the seamless harmony between the people and their rulers no longer holds. The people have been betrayed. A gulf has opened up between the people and the elites. Instead of unity, they have entered a conflictual relationship. And it is this understanding of populism – the people pitched against elites – that has now become widespread among the academic community.” Knott adds: “There is the final complicating factor about populism: alongside the people and the elites, there is a third group against which populists will direct their ire – migrants for the right; financial elites for the left.” President Trump’s frequent talk of ‘the swamp’, which he promises to drain, is a metaphorical reference to ‘the people’ struggling against the ‘Washington elite’.

Returning to Niall Ferguson’s analysis, he identifies five ingredients contributing to populism as a backlash against globalization: a rise in immigration, an increase in inequality, the perception of corruption, a major financial crisis, and the rise of the demagogue. He goes on to elaborate:

“All around the world we are witnessing the anger and resentment that unwanted immigrants spawn. We’ve seen it in Europe, and most grotesquely in the United States where President Trump actively encourages antagonism towards them, particularly those on its border with Mexico.”

”We don’t want them” Trump bellows, labelling them as ‘bad hombres’, terrorists, rapists, murderers and criminal aliens, members of drug cartels that are flooding the US with narcotics, who bring crime, death and devastation to American citizens. He wants his great big beautiful wall to keep them out, even if it costs billions. Using strident language, he repeated his intense antagonism to immigrants in his recent State of the Union address.

The rise in inequality is a universal phenomenon. We have been distressed to see the millions, displaced from their homes due to war and internal conflict, struggling to survive in foreign camps under appalling conditions.

We have seen rising poverty, homelessness, health inequality, inequality under the law, and inequality of opportunity in our own country, and in countless overseas nations.

The have-nots are resentful, angry and ready to revolt.

Ferguson’s third ingredient – corruption – is everywhere. We see it here and in the US. Trump regularly reassures his people that he is ‘draining the swamp’, although under his administration the swamp is becoming larger, more corrupt, more treacherous, more infested with dangerous inhabitants.

Ferguson’s fourth ingredient – a major financial crisis – might seems remote, but reflect on the volatility of the stock market here and overseas, the way in which Trump influences it with his trade wars, his belligerent language in international affairs, his ‘diplomacy’ via Twitter, and his bizarre daily utterances. Forecasting for 2019, the World Bank is already warning of increasing risks, or what it calls ‘darkening skies’, for the world economy. A financial crisis ‘out-of-the blue’ looks increasingly plausible.

Ferguson’s fifth ingredient – the rise of the demagogue, is writ large across the globe. At the top of the list of demagogues is Donald Trump, but there are many others. Vladimir Putin, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, China’s leader, Xi Jinping, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan spring to mind. Lesser demagogues include Geert Wilders of the Netherlands and Boris Johnson, the would-be PM of the UK. There will never be a shortage of demagogues, political leaders who seek support by appealing to the desires and prejudices of ordinary people rather than by using rational argument. They feed populism.

Image from montrealsimon.blogspot.com

So all five of Ferguson’s ingredients that breed populism as a backlash against globalization are already in existence. Is it any wonder that the backlash is rampant?

The inevitable conclusion is that while inequality continues to increase, its grievous dividends will overshadow our world. What can be done?

Few leaders, politicians, planners, or social advocates have the desire or the courage to take up the fight against inequality. For some, inequality suits them – it’s their norm. For others, it’s too hard, too unpopular, the enemy too belligerent and well-resourced.

We should be grateful then that in several countries some of the ordinary people have taken up the cudgels against inequality, and are pushing the perpetrators of inequality into a corner by protesting in public, again and again.

The people have had enough; they are fed up with inequality and want action. Political parties that ignore them do so at their peril. They will be wiped off the electoral map. That possibility looms large as the Coalition continues its obsession with ‘having a strong economy’ as the panacea for all the ills of our society, while ignoring the pitiable spectre of unremitting wage and wealth inequality, health inequality, poverty, homelessness, and the hopelessness of so many of our citizens. PM Morrison failed even to mention inequality in his landmark speech.

We, the ordinary folk, can be part of the revolt against these inequalities. We must speak up; we must support the rebellion. If we cannot lead or are unable to protest on the streets, we can show our support though social media and at public meetings.

We must not leave it to others.

This article was originally published on The Political Sword.

For Facebook users, The Political Sword has a Facebook page:
Putting politicians and commentators to the verbal sword – ‘Like’ this page to receive notification on your timeline of anything they post.

There is also a personal Facebook page:
Ad Astra’s page – Send a friend request to interact there.

The Political Sword also has twitter accounts where they can notify followers of new posts:
@1TPSTeam (The TPS Team account)
@Adastra5 (Ad Astra’s account)

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

Independents and Her Majesty’s Opposition

By Henry Johnston 

The ABC program Q&A broadcast on Monday February 4 2019, featured a panel of independent Federal members of Parliament.

The Member for Melbourne and deputy leader of the Australian Greens Adam Bandt, not an independent, joined Tony Jones and other panellists for an hour of probing questions from convenor and audience.

Love it or loath it Q&A alone justifies the ABC budget, but the makeup of this particular programme posited a future scenario which might change the topography of the national political landscape.

The next Australian Parliament could see an Opposition bench comprising these independents, and a slew of others. Judging by the tone of the questions and the Twitter comments rolling across the bottom of my television screen, Australians appear likely to choose an independent over an incumbent sitting Liberal or National Party member.

And it is crystal clear the Liberal Party of Australia is ignoring this threat to its existence. The well-funded campaign of high profile candidate Ms Zali Steggall OAM in the Federal seat of Waringah is a case in point.

The possible return to the House of Representatives by former Federal member for Lyne in NSW Rob Oakeshott, revives memories of the Gillard minority government, supported by two of last Monday’s Q&A guests; the Greens’ Adam Bandt and Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie.

It is unlikely either MP will join a minority Shorten Labor Government, but as key players in an Opposition made up of independents rather than members of the Liberal and National coalition, Wilkie, Bandt, Sharkey, Banks, Phelps et al, could sound the death knell of the loony, conservative Liberal rump.

Furthermore strong independents could emerge from both the right and the left.

Ructions within the Australian Greens might see former Greens candidate for the Melbourne seat of Batman Ms Alex Bhathal who quit the party citing ‘organisational bullying,’ recontest as a left independent.

Similarly NSW MP Emma Husar who lost ALP endorsement for the Federal seat of Lindsay is ‘considering her options‘.

On 7 December last year The Guardian reported an investigation by the ALP found, “Husar had mistreated her electorate staff but did not find evidence to support claims of sexual harassment or of her flashing another federal MP”.

The circumstances surrounding Bhathal and Husar garnered substantial media coverage, but other lesser-known independent-minded political aspirants, such as Liberal blue-blood Oliver Yates, snagged media coverage when he announced he would contest Josh Frydenburg’s safe seat of Kooyong.

Add these potential names plus Steggall to last week’s Q&A line-up, then count Cathy McGowan the independent MP for Indi and Bob Katter the independent MP for Kennedy in Queensland, plus others I might have omitted, and a formidable second tier Opposition bench emerges.

But despite this obvious political threat, the Morrison Government acts as if it has the numbers in the lower House while denigrating perfectly reasonable legislation pertaining to refuges in off-shore detention, put forward by the Federal Member for Wentworth Dr Kerryn Phelps.

When Prime Minister Scott Morrison scorns the Phelps initiative by saying it is, “selling out our border protection to get a cheap opportunistic win in the parliament,” he pushes thousands more electors toward independent candidates, and makes my thesis of an independent Opposition bench more likely.

Add to this the PM’s backing of Liberal MP Tim Wilson over a sham franking credits inquiry just days after the fall-out from the findings of the banking Royal Commission, and it is safe to predict 20 to 30 Liberal/Coalition seats could fall at the next election.

While this figure seems high, swings at state elections in Victoria, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, resulted in miniscule opposition benches.

Like it or not, this is how the nation voted, and woe betide any political party which ignores the signs.

Speaking of portents, millions of dead, stinking fish befouling the rivers of the Murray Darling Basin, means a cohort of National MPs also face the fate of their smug Liberal counterparts.

The Federal Member for Maranoa in Queensland and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud is I believe, vulnerable to an independent rural candidate who believes in science and climate change.

Speaking of science, Littleproud said this on the ABC Radio AM programme recently.

“This is politics, and when I became the Water Minister, I took the politics out. I didn’t call people names, like what happened in the past. It had to be a mature debate; it had to be predicated on science. The science was predicated, it was put in front of the Parliament, and these people should stop playing politics. They agreed to the science less than three months ago”.

Really?

Henry Johnston is a Sydney-based author. His latest book The Last Voyage of Aratus is on sale at Brays Bookshop in Balmain an at Forty South Publishing.

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

Job Number 1

By 2353NM 

They say it’s nice to start with a win. So as we get down to business for another year let’s celebrate a small win (‘I told you so’ is so 2018!).

In May 2015, The Political Sword discussed the release of Anglicare’s annual rental affordability snapshot, which highlighted that 8 of the 65,614 properties available for rent across Australia met the affordability requirements for a single person on Youth Allowance. The results in 2018 were no better. As a part of the 2015 discussion, we highlighted the concept of governments (specifically Utah, New York City and other jurisdictions in the USA) giving the homeless a place to call home as a mechanism to improve the quality of life of those that need a hand. Among the benefits stated at the time were reductions in health expenditure, justice costs and the ability of those who received a place to live to participate to a greater extent in their society as they had a ‘place to call home’. We noted in 2015:

If a person has a home, they are in a better position to access government services, a job application is easier (as personal hygiene is better and the potential employer has a contact point) and a person can make plans for the future.

In the general discussion around cricket teams, which city’s fireworks were better and other first world issues that seem to be front and centre in the Australian media around the beginning of the year, you might have missed that ACT Housing is partnering with tenants to convert rental homes into owned homes by sharing the costs involved with a home purchase. The tenant stumps up the repayments for 70% of the value of the home, the housing agency covers the rest. The ABC reports:

Around 100 public housing properties have been sold-off as part of the scheme, and in half of those cases, tenants have completely bought-out the government — breaking them out of the public housing cycle altogether.

While it’s not quite the same as providing homes for the homeless, it will help. Those that just need a hand to gain home ownership are given what they need and ACT Housing can reinvest the sale proceeds into more housing stock for those that can’t fund private rental homes and therefore meet the greater need with no additional budget. While the ABC article suggests that the implementation may need a bit of work, the concept is sound.

Again we have a progressive (in the non-partisan sense) government showing the current LNP federal government how it should be done. As well as the ACT’s housing policy, South Australia’s former ALP Government managed to introduce alternative energy sources into the state while encountering a F(ear), U(ncertainity) and D(eception) campaign from the current federal government and the then South Australian Liberal opposition. When the opposition became the government in South Australia, they kept the alternative energy generation systems.

During January, Victoria gave planning approval for a wind generation plant that could generate up to 10% of the state’s power requirements (subject to federal government approval) and what do you do with an old gold mine in North Queensland? Turn it into a 320MW solar farm of course!

In May 2015, we also noted:

The Australian Government is in contrast withdrawing money from social service providers. Conservative states in the USA demonstrate that the current Australian Government’s policy is deeply flawed and doesn’t help anyone. At the same time, the Abbott government — to the detriment of our economy — supports processes such as negative gearing, novated leasing and capital gains.

So, four years or thereabouts later, there’s not much different apart from the name of the Prime Minister. The current LNP Government is still sucking funds from non-government organisations that make a real difference to their communities, supporting fossil fuelled electricity generation, woefully inadequate welfare payments, negative gearing, and capital gains policies that actively discriminate against those on lower incomes, as well as kicking own goals on issues such as taking citizenship off ‘alleged terrorists’ that don’t really have dual citizenship (seriously, a simple phone call would have saved Dutton from that particular embarrassment).

While Morrison was on leave over Christmas, leaving the country in the ‘capable’ hands of the National Party leader and Deputy Prime Minister McCormack, he did admittedly slap a racist Queensland Senator (the one that Hanson complains about) across the face with what seemed to be a wet lettuce leaf when he used taxpayer funds to fly to Melbourne in business class to attend a meeting with assorted other right wing zealots while claiming to represent his Queensland constituents (possibly all the 19 people that voted for him but not many more).

As soon as Morrison came back to work, like most leaders he announced his plan of attack for the new year. Is it something that will improve the standard of living for a large number of us that live in Australia such as adoption of an energy policy that will see Australia meet or exceed our commitment to the Paris agreement (meeting or exceeding the Paris agreement is entirely possible by the way); is it sorting out the mess whereby Australians can’t find out about the machinations of government that affect them; is it increasing welfare payments so those that receive them receive a realistic amount to survive with some dignity; is it devising or implementing a solution to the taxation mess where negative gearing and other ‘legal options’ for high income people distort the ability of the government to help those in need, or even sorting out the mess that is the Liberal Party in Australia so they represent more than their mythical ’base’ at the election later this year?

Of course not. Morrison’s self-proclaimed first item of business is to propose new regulations that require citizenship ceremonies must be held on Australia Day.

Give us strength.

What do you think?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword.

For Facebook users, The Political Sword has a Facebook page:
Putting politicians and commentators to the verbal sword – ‘Like’ this page to receive notification on your timeline of anything they post.

There is also a personal Facebook page:
Ad Astra’s page – Send a friend request to interact there.

The Political Sword also has twitter accounts where they can notify followers of new posts:
@1TPSTeam (The TPS Team account)
@Adastra5 (Ad Astra’s account)

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

Beware the Yellow Vests

By Christian Marx  

Any keen observer of geopolitics will by now be well acquainted with the Yellow Vests in France. This remarkable movement is primarily anti-capitalist in tone. The French people have had enough of the crippling austerity of neoliberal capitalism. Unlike America or Australia, the people of France have a robust class consciousness.

Unfortunately, Australia is not so blessed. Years of adulterated consumer culture and an almost universal monopoly on our media landscape has produced a culture of extreme narcism and a lack of the most rudimentary insight into our political landscape and the machine driving it.

The French have a deep history of tackling extreme inequality. The most famous period in their history is the period of 1789-1794, known as the French Revolution. The rich were disposed of in a prolonged and very bloody coup. How did it become so frenzied and bloodthirsty? Millions wanted to eat and were starving, while the decadent bourgeoisie filled their bloated bellies with the blood of the working class. One could argue that they were metaphorical vampires. Feasting on the carcasses of the poor, this elderly, the sick, and even children’s misery.

Australia is not quite at the levels of poverty the French had to contend with circa 1789, but alarm bells should be ringing among the populace. Take a walk through the streets of any major city during the day. You will see hundreds of rough sleepers in the main streets. Contrast this with 25 years ago and there was not a single homeless person in sight. I can remember Melbourne of the late 80s/early 90s and it is unrecognisable compared to today.

How did it get this way? The cancer of neoliberal capitalism. Basically, an economic and social theory that puts the profits of the few ahead of the needs of a society. Social safety nets are smashed, jobs are outsourced, and public utilities are sold off to crony offsiders. See here for an in-depth description.

While the Yellow Vests in France are to be lauded for their courage, an insidious synthesis has created a new breed and very different beast of Yellow Vest movement in Australia. Instead of tackling the prime cause of our current dilemma (neoliberal capitalism), these nefarious agents are scapegoating immigrants and pushing a very dangerous notion of ultra-nationalism. This author has visited many Yellow Vest pages and movements operating in and around Australia. Many are ignoring rampant inequality and misrepresenting the true meaning of the Yellow Vests in France.

The far-right and Libertarian capitalists have used the very left-wing France Yellow Vests as a cover for their own agenda of either scapegoating minorities or as in the case with the Libertarians blaming the Macron government for being too socialist. This is absurd as Socialists do not work as investment bankers and they do not enforce austerity on the working class while providing massive tax subsidies for the very rich. Macron has done both. Also, for those who may be intellectually challenged, just because a political party has the word “Socialist” in their title does not make them in any way socialist! A classic example is the Nazi Party who were the “National Socialist Workers Party.” Funnily enough the Nazis hated unions and threw Marxists, Socialists and Unions into the concentration camps along with the Slavs, Gypsies, Jews, intellectuals and anyone else who challenged their Fascist agenda.

Using mere semantics, we could argue that the Democrats in the U.S are democratic. Their railroading of Bernie Sanders in favour of Hilary Clinton would suggest otherwise.

The same could be said of The Democratic Republic of North Korea. Is it truly democratic?

The only Yellow Vests page I have found to be close to the ethos of the French Yellow Vests is this page. This movement is actually exposing neoliberal capitalism and fighting against racism, Fascism and other right wing movement who are piggy backing onto a legitimately progressive movement in France. I urge you all to be very careful when visiting the array of Yellow Vest pages springing up in Australia. Many are not what they seem.

Christian Marx is a political and social activist interested in making the world a fairer place. He has a Bachelor of Social Science and has a keen interest in sociology, politics and history. He was one of the organizers of the March in March rallies in Melbourne and is the founder of the progressive news and information page, “Don`t Look At This Page”, and is also a co-founder of “The Global Revolution” website.

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

The LNP can’t see the difference

By Jim McIntosh

“Asked about Ms Banks’ complaints of bullying, Senator Hume said: ‘I – like the Liberal Party, like the voters of Chisholm – invested a lot in Julia. And she has betrayed all of us.’ ” (SMH, 31/01/2019)

Which is pretty cute, coming from the first government in this country’s history to have comprehensively betrayed Australia and its people. Think Abbott, Turnbull, Morrison; think destruction of the environment, the unprecedented damage done to the country’s essential river systems. Think the results of a Banking Royal Commission whose findings are apparently so dire that Morrison refuses to release them until he and his criminal spivs have had an extra three days to spin the story they will try to put to the population.

Think the decline of living standards for ordinary Australians as wages flatline and fail to keep up with rising prices and costs of living; think the huge increase of labour-hire companies who seem to prefer to have foreign visa-holders on their books instead of locals; think the sacking of Australian seafarers who have been replaced by cheap labour from overseas, and finally think the rhetoric around job creation in a landscape where anyone who works just one hour per week is considered ’employed’.

They never understood it, this mob. Worse, they never understood the difference between truth and untruth, or even why there ought to be any difference.

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

“Wouldn’t the world be a better place if … ?”

By Margcal 

As one who steps back from The AIMN from time to time, I appreciated Michael and Carol’s post about setting some standards, or reviving ones that have been breached too often.

My particular gripe is to do with religion, on two fronts: the belittling of those with any sort of religious belief, and the way that Christians are denigrated that would be deleted if it were directed at any other religious group, most particularly, in the Australian context, Muslims. Additionally, I find it offensive that so much criticism is theologically illiterate and/or just plain ignorant. On that last point, no serious biblical scholar believes that the bible is a blow-by-blow history book. And for those whose last encounter with “religious instruction” was in their school days, like everything else, times have changed: questions and debate are not so much allowed as encouraged. That some remain unconvinced by the time they leave school is no different now than way back when.

Context: I am a Christian. I identify as Catholic but not a “good” one. I’m critical of the current and very critical of the last two leadership régimes. I rarely go to Mass but every so often go to a Lutheran church which has a magnificent music programme that incorporates Bach cantatas into its services, as they were intended when written. I also have a B Theol, for my sins, and continue to read in that vein from time to time.

I find it offensive when Christians are regularly mocked for believing in some ‘fairy in the sky’ or ‘imaginary friend’. I, and other Christians, are well aware that, some earlier Christian writings to the contrary, we cannot prove that what we call God exists. But equally, mockers cannot prove that God does not exist. The only logical and defensible position to hold is agnosticism.

I find it ignorant when a ‘straw man’ is held up as a Christian, and Christianity and all Christians are thereby dismissed. Such was the position of AC Grayling in one of his books when I decided to read what someone from his school of thought (which includes Dawkins) actually had to say. On the basis of what he offered, I could agree with his position. But that was trumped by finding so many flaws in that position.

It’s rather like holding up Morrison and Abbott and other self-proclaimed Christians in Parliament and saying these are Christians, this is why religion is bad. There are atheists who are equally as bad, but critics do not therefore denounce atheism. In the past I have commented on The AIMN site that I only wish that those who are not religious, who are anti-religious, would challenge the hypocrites in Parliament, getting them to justify their policies and practices when held up to the light of their professed beliefs. They could bullshit all they liked but, bottom line, Morrison, Abbott and Co deviate so far from Christian beliefs that it is sickening.

Christians are also well aware that their “how to live well” instructions are not unique to that religious group. Does that matter? I don’t think so. “The Good” is pretty much generally agreed by all, giving rise to many guides to leading a good life. Some of these are codified in some form, both in the tenets of religious organisations and in non-religious spheres such as civil and criminal law.

I’m no historian but my impression is that in most times and places in recorded human history, humans have believed in some sort of deity or creator. By extension, for most of recorded history all the bad, and good, actions in the world have been caused or done by people who have a religious belief or practice. I’m not saying that no wars have been fought on religious grounds, that would be absurd. But it is just as absurd to say that all wars are religiously inspired. If you leave it at that level, nuance and reason are totally lacking. Similarly for all the lesser evils of daily life. People are flawed humans before they are flawed believers. Lust for power and possessions, fear, envy, jealousy, anger and all the rest are common to all humanity, whether believer, agnostic or atheist. To blame the ills of the world on religion seriously short-changes the search for peace and cooperation.

As I have also commented on The AIMN, being so insulting to people of faith only puts them off-side. In spite of religious leaders not speaking out, in the case, for example, of Manus and Nauru; or speaking only too loudly, for example regarding marriage equality, grass-roots Christians overwhelmingly support social justice, fairness, inclusion – the same thing that many, but not all, atheists support. Why alienate your allies?

As a not entirely irrelevant side issue, I have no objection to churches paying tax. I would only warn that a cost-benefit analysis might be a wise undertaking before legislating. We know about the rotten church leaders and the rotten followers of religion. But we don’t hear so much about the grass-roots followers of religion who donate so much time and money to serving all in the community, not only their co-religionists. If paying tax forced some services provided by churches to close through lack of funds, (a) would the government pick up the slack? I’m sceptical. Taking but one example, where are all the facilities that were promised when deinstitutionalisation was in vogue? And (b), would all those volunteers and donors want to become part of any government run replacement, should such miraculously occur?

The harm that religious believers have done must be admitted. But all the good they have done must also be admitted. To not do so is dishonest. You could say the same about atheists but that is rarely if ever heard. I can understand that anyone hurt by a religious person (who, by hurting, is betraying their beliefs) would abandon a church they were brought up in, even criticise it. Some, hurt or not, stick with their beliefs even while leaving their church. Others stay in their church and work from within to bring about change.

Even if you have no religious belief, wouldn’t the world be a better place if you helped those of faith to be their best selves, living up to their beliefs, rather than attacking them?

Diannaart made a comment following Michael and Carol’s piece with which I am in hearty agreement:

There are many people here I’d like to meet because I find them very interesting compassionate and intelligent. There are also a very small number of commentators I would like to meet face to face and discover if they would say the same things to my face, the things they have had no compunction writing.

So if you could reign in the bigoted, insulting and ignorant articles and comments about religion, then you would be doing more good than harm, whether Google notices or not.

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

Scroll Up