Barnaby Joyce’s edible donkey skin trade beats Turnbull’s…

“It was miraculous. It was almost no trick at all, he saw,…

“Peace, love, and ice cream”

I feel sorry for George Christensen.  Having so many people to hate…

We Need The Freedom To Offend So This…

Freedom of speech, I have heard recently, is a near-sacred concept and…

Day to Day Politics: Both beyond redemption.

Sunday 26 March 2017 You have to wonder about the sanity of people…

Marching for a better Australia

A joint statement from march organisers Members of the March Australia movement have…

Day to Day Politics: Cunning bastards.

Saturday 25 March 2017 1 Why would the leader of a political party that is…

Instead of moving mountains, just build us a…

I am having trouble understanding this energy debate. For starters, we own the…

Day to Day Politic: What should progressives do?

Friday 24 March 2017 Author's note. Today I give up my daily article…

«
»
Facebook

Marching for a better Australia

A joint statement from march organisers

Members of the March Australia movement have declared today’s March in March rallies a success, with at least 2,000 people in eight locations coming out to protest the failures and poor governance of the Turnbull government.

“We’re all delighted at today’s turnout” an organiser said. “People exercised their democratic right to unite in protest and made it crystal clear that they’re angry.

Our nation is suffering today because our government is failing us. Australians came out today to reclaim the Fair Go and demand government in the public interest.

Bewitched by its own desperation for power at any cost, this government is pursuing an agenda which divides society, erodes human rights and disenfranchises many. The people feel forgotten.”

March Australia rally organisers have each contributed to this joint statement outlining why they marched today.

The combined statements of these activists for positive change are a clear articulation of the progressive perspective shared by members of this grassroots people’s movement:

Jessie-Lee Peacock (Sydney)
“Marching matters and activism matters because change happens when people make it happen.
Marching in March gives people an opportunity to find their voice and power and realise that governments crack and systems fall because unity is powerful.
When the people of western Sydney start protesting, that’s a sure sign of a government not governing for the people.“

Susan Prince (Cairns)
“We march because one day it all just got too much.
We were shaking with anger and in despair at the unfair, hateful, lying tyrannous, treachery of OUR Government.
We had to do something; when March Australia set the date we just put our stakes in the ground and the ground swelled with constituents like us appalled at our government’s behaviour…
We will march until the tyranny treachery & appalling behaviour ends.”

Jeff Sundstrom (Gosford/Central Coast)
“With a world wide trend towards uncaring and deceitful government, we must stand up for ourselves, we must stand up for those without the capacity to do so for themselves and we must stand up for the environment.
We must march!
When the gap between the haves and have nots is widening and when the health of the less than fortunate is deteriorating because health services are being handed over to the profit-takers, we must march!
And when homelessness is on the rise, affordable housing is on the decline and land banking is considered a good and just economic strategy… We. Must. March!”

Vee Ness (Armidale)
“Armidale has participated in the National March In March events since the beginning.
While our political leaders come and go, the standard of living for most Australians has not improved.
Being an educational and agricultural district, we are a resourceful and active community.
Uniting today to find our common strength, we raised our voices in solidarity for justice, while promoting local services and grass-roots solutions.
As our representatives seem to ignore us, we will not be silenced. Generation after generation, we are the continuous current for change.
People power is the true renewable energy resource and Australians everywhere are tuning in.”

Liz Tearii (Brisbane)
“We march for many reasons… We have watched this Government attack, demonize, criminalize people on Welfare.
We have watched this Government attack and criminalize Unions and workers Rights.
We have watched this Government flaunt their travel entitlement spending while accusing people on Welfare benefits of not managing theirs.
We have watched this Government encourage and utilize the “fear” campaign to criminalize minority groups and implement more intrusive laws on citizens.
We have watched this Government change laws to suit their agendas…eg. Native Title and Adani.
We are sick of this Government, their lack of accountability to the People, their lack of humane governance, their lack of understanding and concern for the average Aussie.
There are many many reasons to march….but we march with others “United for better Government” “

Leigh Shears (Newcastle)
“The people of Newcastle strongly feel very little has changed from Abbott to Turnbull.
From stripping Medicare and the treatment of the unemployed to supporting the penalty rate cuts and the introduction of the ABCC there’s little surprise this Government offers no support to the people in our community.
The treatment of Asylum seekers, the lies about marriage equality and leaving vulnerable women, children and families out in the cold has ensured that we will do all we can to make to get this mob out of Government.”

Kathryn Wilkes (Brisbane, Stand Up Australia)
“It is important to march to stand up for our rights as equal citizens.
We must stand up against the government constantly attacking the ordinary people of Australia while lining the pockets of every multinational.
The Australia people don’t matter anymore, only the taxes raised and profits made from the poor through the job agencies, card trials and the like.”

Susan Jenvey (Nambucca Heads)
“People in Nambucca don’t want their local concerns taken for granted. They want a future based on community well being.
We don’t want privatisation.
We don’t want the destruction of regular work and the ability to bargain collectively.
We want energy-efficient towns using green technology.
We want education from preschool to uni, we want control over our services, over housing affordablity and population.
We don’t need the answer to all our problems to be a law to make racially spiteful comments about other Australians.”

Sarah Pinkie (Adelaide)
“Today Adelaide came together to demand that this Government see the 98% that are struggling.
We stand in solidarity because we have compassion, empathy and hope.
We stand with the First Nations people, the vulnerable and refugees to demand that they are recognized and treated as human beings. We stand with our workers – the back bone of this country to demand respect.
We stand with the environmental protectors who fight to keep our country beautiful.
Standing together, united, to demand better government.”

Vale Ken Wolff

We are deeply saddened to learn of the sudden passing of Ken Wolff. For readers of The AIMN Ken will be remembered for his many wonderful articles we were privileged to publish. Long-term bloggers will also remember Ken for his years with The Political Sword, where his articles were originally published. Ken’s family, the blogging community, and Aboriginal Australia – to whom he devoted decades of tireless service – have been enriched by knowing him.

The Political Sword team has penned this tribute to Ken. It is fitting that we share his memory on The AIMN.

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our close colleague and dear friend, Ken Wolff. His last published article at The Political Sword was What to watch for in 2017: his sudden death was not what we anticipated.

Ken joined the team at The Political Sword in September 2013 at a time when its future was uncertain. Keeping a political blog site vibrant over a long period takes a lot of effort. Those who contribute to it come and go. It was just when we wondered how the site could be sustained that Ken joined us.

At that time Jan Mahyuddin (@j4gypsy) was deeply involved in the reorganization of the site, and in establishing a protocol for editing. Ken contributed much sound advice about how The Political Sword could be managed by a team. Then it was but a small team, comprising Ken, Bacchus, who codes pieces for the site, 2353NM, who writes pieces regularly, Jan Mahyuddin who at that time assisted with editing, Casablanca, who took up Lyn’s role of posting links in a segment titled ‘Casablanca’s Cache’, Web Monkey, who keeps the site running behind the scene, and updates it regularly, and Ad Astra, who created the site in 2008. Ken quickly became an enthusiastic writer of penetrating articles that contributed so much to the vibrancy and appeal of The Political Sword.

Here is a selection of Ken’s outstanding pieces, from the last six months:

The barbie bigot looks back on the year
The buck stops where?
The rise of political staffers: how people disappeared from policy advice
Statistics are people too
All hail the mighty banks
An economy without people
Modern economics has lost sight of people
A once and future Senate
The election in numbers
The election in numbers 2: minor parties and independents
The democratization of opinion
The Liberals are dreaming
The Liberal lie continues
Turnbull’s Medicare backflip – or is it?
Time for a new economic model
What economic plan?

This selection of just a sample of Ken’s writings illustrates his versatility, the depth of his knowledge, the variety of his offerings, his expertise in economics, his persuasiveness, and his skill with the pen.Ken was incisive in his policy analysis and evaluation of the current issues in our polity. This was an innate ability and intelligence further developed and honed during many years as a senior federal public servant. Here is an excerpt from his bio:

Ken is a retired federal public servant who worked for 30 years in Aborginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs, mainly in policy areas. That background gives him an understanding of socio-economic issues. An Honours degree in social anthropology also influences his thinking on our society. His politics was moulded in the western suburbs of Sydney where he grew up and where Jack Lang was a local hero.

In addition to his writing role, Ken undertook the responsibility of Production Manager, following the initial re-organisation of the site by Jan Mahyuddin. He was responsible for scheduling pieces for publication on The Political Sword and our companion site TPS Extra. The schedule was documented on TPS Sandpit a separate WordPress site, established by Jan.

His editing of others’ writing was inspired, never putting the author down but providing gentle encouragement and providing that little bit of magic that has made The Political Sword a social commentary site that other blog sites regularly re-publish.

When Ken’s health made it difficult for him to write, he continued as Production Manger, even though undergoing a tough regime of chemotherapy.

We shall be forever indebted to Ken for all he has given to The Political Sword over a long period. He was dedicated to the site and to its mission of holding accountable our politicians and political commentators. So often they let us down through poor decisions and faulty communication. Ken was always ready to call them to account, and to point the way towards better decision-making and more honest communication.

Ken will be irreplaceable. His unique style, his honesty, and his dedication will remain with us as happy memories of a remarkable gentleman who gave so much, even as illness affected his capacity to contribute as he would have wished. He was consistently cheerful, collaborative and helpful; his articles were always very lucid, thought provoking, and constructive.

The team here at The Political Sword extend deepest sympathy to Ken’s wife Gillian, and his family, his extended family, and his friends.

Vale, dear Ken. We shall miss you. You are a precious friend and colleague who gave so much so cheerfully despite your long illness. We shall always remember you for the wonderful person you are.

The TPS Team

Ken’s service will be held in the Chapel at Norwood Park Crematorium, Sandford Street, Mitchell, ACT on Monday 27 March 2017 at 12:00 noon.

‘Free Speech’ corrupted by religious politics

Brian Morris takes on the political correctness of the Left and Right in an attempt to reopen debate on Free Speech, religion vs science, and how ‘Freedom of Religion’ has been corrupted. (For readers of The AIMN a free eBook offer from Brian follows his article).

How do we react to the growing use of ‘trigger warnings’? This may seem an early digression but it becomes relevant. What is it with the ABC and their escalation of trigger warnings — advising radio and TV audiences that “this story” will include offensive language, or that images may cause distress? And it’s prevalent across all national networks.

Have media consumers become so fragile that they’re unable to ride out the highs and lows of local and international news without suffering a nervous breakdown? Are children being overprotected? Why has the ABC adopted this insipid practice, imported from US universities where students are wrapped in cotton wool to protect their regressive eccentricities? And it’s this campus intolerance that silences speakers who hold views that upset them. The Right then reacts; the intolerance is ramped up; and Free Speech gets trashed.

That said, here’s a trigger warning! “Don’t shoot the messenger — this may well cause equal angst among the Regressive Left and the Repressive Right“. Political and religious debate has been deteriorating for decades but it has now become irredeemably rooted in the Trumpesque mantra of “if you’re not with me, you are against me.” And that’s very much the view of the Christian churches and their PR lobbyists.

Free Speech is the central issue — and while it remains a vexed question in politics, the taboo to openly criticise religious doctrine in Australia has become more deeply embedded. It’s much the same as US campus intolerance to views contrary to their own, where public debate on the foundational beliefs of all religions has been sabotaged by religious politics. Two good examples are the inability to freely discuss Islam, and another is the recent imbroglio involving the Bible Society, Coopers brewery and marriage equality — where conservatives raged against public disgust of the shamelessly contrived video, staged by the Society.

The Bible Society has escaped unscathed from its thinly veiled attempt to politicise same-sex marriage with a fake video, leaving Coopers floundering with declining sales.  It was a religious PR stunt that backfired badly. But it was never a gay marriage “debate”!  Really; two blue-suited right-wing Liberals mumbling awkwardly at parliament house, drinking Coopers beer — and never mind that Tim Wilson is gay. He and Andrew Hastie are MPs in a conservative government which still rejects an open conscience vote on same sex marriage!

It wasn’t good enough that the directors of Coopers had agreed to print biblical verses on 10,000 cans of beer — the Bible Society couldn’t help themselves; so they decided to stir up a political hornets nets. The reaction was swift.  In a market economy, the public was wholly entitled to boycott Coopers — if not for the sham video, then for trying to ram bible messages down their throats — literally! Where was the right of reply to this shoddy exercise by a wealthy religious organisation that has been biblically obsessed for 200 years? Unfortunately Coopers copped all the flak — the Bible Society, like all churches, remained immune!

But the question of Islam is far more dramatic and deep seated — the way that extremist views have corrupted Free Speech. It has left only a narrow strip of ground at the centre of the debate — occupied by those who are religion-neutral — and who stand between the warring factions of the Loony Left and Rabid Right. One conjures up the image of a raging battle field, where a neutral identity in No-Man’s Land is being raked by withering fire from both sides. It’s a concerted attempt to shoot the messenger.

The Regressive Left view all scrutiny of Islam as “Islamophobia”. In truth, their position can only be described as being “Islamophile” — an inability to consider any shortcoming within Islam! In fact, any written or spoken word against the supernatural beliefs of Islam is somehow seen as racist!  In reality, moderate Muslims are working tirelessly to reform Islam from within!  As for the Rabid Right, their position is quite unmistakable — Pauline Hanson et al regard all Muslims as being their religious and political enemy.

Attempts to speak freely — from a rationalist and atheist perspective — focus exclusively on the undeniable fact that Islam is simply the third Abrahamic religion. Together with Judaism and Christianity, Islam is based on supernatural God-beliefs. It is impossible to deny that the Quran is founded on an alleged vision of the angel Gabriel, by a desert warlord. As with Christianity and Judaism there’s a litany of man-made doctrines that follow from hallucinations of their invisible deities — and they culminate in paranormal beliefs of a human soul and the fictitious promise of a utopian afterlife.

Competing supernatural beliefs continue to divide the world in hate, bloodshed, misery and destruction.

Science has taught us so much since the Age of Reason. All “gaps” in human knowledge — which for centuries were attributed to “God” — have now been discovered and verified as “natural” by tens of thousands of scientists across the world, and in every field of science. Geologists, physicists, biologists, mathematicians, cosmologists and scores of other disciplines have opened up the sheer inescapability of a wholly “natural” universe. Everything is made entirely of atoms from the Periodic Table — leading to the molecules and compounds that make up ever material substance and all living organisms; including ourselves.

From years of exhaustive experiments — most recently by particle physicists at Geneva’s Large Hadron Collider — we now know ever particle and force within the sub-atomic structure of the atom. Not simply the elementary protons, neutrons and electrons — but the quarks, neutrinos, fermions, gluons, and Higgs field. There is no other particle or force that has any bearing or influence on the human brain — which is made entirely of atoms — that could even conceivably represent a living “soul”.

So — no ghosts, no poltergeists, no spiritualists talking with the dead, no magic crystals or psychic healers, no astrology, and no supernatural forces that influence any sphere of human existence. There is no eternal soul that miraculously leaves the brain at death to reside forever in heavenly bliss, or some imaginary satanic damnation. We have only one life so embrace it and enjoy it now, to your fullest potential!

But NONE of this gains any public discussion. The media is mute. And challenging the flawed provenance of any religion remains taboo. Scientists, like all academics, are not media junkies — they recoil at the very thought, except for a precious few. And even fewer are brave enough to broach the emotive issue of paranormal religious beliefs — they prefer to avoid the swift and vicious backlash from belligerent archbishops, muftis, and the slick religious PR machines such as the Australian Christian Lobby.

And here’s the killer. The churches only every talk about “Freedom of Religion” — as if it’s their passport to freely spruik their myths and supernatural dogmas without question. This is where the term has become corrupted.  Religious freedom is simply the right to hold “beliefs”, it is not a right to shield those beliefs from sceptical analysis and inquiry!

In truth, the full term is “Freedom of Religion and Belief” — and that includes non-belief and atheism!  Article 18 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) — to which Australia is signatory — makes it patently clear that Free Speech includes an open inquiry of the foundations of religion. There is NO TABOO in doing so, but the media hasn’t yet got that message. And we’re still teaching Christianity in schools — without the science that can now contradict it. It is the antithesis of ‘critical thinking’ — a skill that all children need desperately to learn.

The rationalist and atheist position is certainly to acknowledge that all people have the right to believe what they wish — provided it does no harm.  That includes treating people of religion with respect — but it does not mean their religious views are free from scrutiny!  It is not incumbent on atheists to “prove” there is no God, but it is clearly beholden on Christians, Muslims and Jews to provide “evidence” that their supernatural beliefs are true! For an evidence-based society — and after 2,000 years of myth and pious fraud — this is an open public debate that we urgently need to have!

Brian Morris – World travel shaped Brian’s interest in social justice — wealth, poverty and religion in many countries. His book Sacred to Secular is critically acclaimed, including from the Richard Dawkins Foundation. It’s an analysis of Christianity, its origins and the harm it does. It’s a call for Australia to become fully secular. More information about Brian can be found on his website, Plain Reason.

 

For AIMN readers

Free eBook: Complimentary copies of Sacred to Secular

Sacred to Secular is a comprehensive analysis of Christianity in Australia today, and how its charitable “image” conceals negative and corrupting influences. Juxtaposed against a critique of religion in politics, education and social policy, the book focuses on how Scandinavian nations have successfully developed “religion-neutral” social models — ideas that Australia would do well to emulate.

Go to https://www.plainreason.info/sacred-to-secular/free/ to order your complimentary copy.

This is a newly published eBook — it’s a heavily revised edition of the 2015 hard copy. Brian has made it freely available to readers as either a PDF or a Kindle version.

Brian traces Christianity’s ambiguous origins, how the dogma became embedded in every strata of society, and why religion continues to cause more harm than good. He examines the role of ‘corporate Christianity’, the rise of predatory evangelism, and the privileged status of church institutions that contravene Australia’s secular constitution.

New discoveries in neuroscience provide fresh evidence for the direct link between brain chemistry and supernatural beliefs. Mounting material and circumstantial data further undermines the concept of all gods — and the latest international research by physicists buries any remaining notions of a “soul” and an afterlife.

And, on the Jesus Myth, contemporary historians and biblical scholars further erode the very foundations of Christianity — not simply the “divine Christ”, but also the mortal and “historical” Jesus of Nazareth.

With a positive end-piece the eBook profiles the Scandinavian experience; why Australia has more in common with the Nordic nations; and why we should work towards that objective.

Several courses of action are outlined in Chapter 9 — they are strategies we need to consider, particularly at times like these. Religion tends to become more deeply entrenched during periods when the political, economic and social climate moves further to the right. Australia’s secular voice needs to be heard.

 

Protesters to March In March again

Media Release

Three years on from the first March in March protests in 2014, the grassroots March Australia movement will host rallies on Saturday 25 March 2017 protesting the policies and decisions of the Turnbull Coalition government.

“The 2014 rallies were a response to the regressive Abbott government”, said spokesman Loz Lawrey. “People thought the Fair Go was under attack, and over 100,000 of us took to the streets nationwide. Since then, progressive Australians have endured an ever more divisive and abusive agenda from an ultra-conservative Turnbull government more interested in its own ideology than in true public service.”

Under the banner of “The People United For Better Government”, March Australia is a network of citizens with shared progressive views. Their rallies offer advocacy groups a platform to come together and air multiple issues of concern at the one time.

“We are ordinary Australians” Mr Lawrey said. “We just want our country to be an inclusive and productive nation. We want work. We want mutual respect. We want to embrace our multicultural society and learn to reconcile our differences.”

“We want a government that respects human rights and works in the public interest. We expect accountability and transparency from the governments we elect.”

“The Coalition’s unconscionable policies around Centrelink debt, the welfare card and the incarceration of refugees have driven some individuals to suicide. The corrupt job network gives private enterprise control over the very lives of some Australians. This government stuffs up everything it touches, from the NBN to the ABC.”

“We invite all citizens and activist groups to join us on Saturday to raise your concerns”, he said. “There are so many areas in which this government is failing, such as health, education, environmental management, humane treatment of refugees. It’s a huge task to even try to list them all. The placards at the marches will tell the story.”

Contacts

Loz Lawrey, Candace Wirth, email: maactivistinterchange@gmail.com

Leesa Little, email: info@marchaustralia.com

 

Rallies will take place in nine locations on Saturday 25 March, as listed below:

For details visit the March Australia Activist Interchange Facebook page.

 

Adelaide

11:30am – 2:00pm, Victoria Square, Adelaide

Facebook page

Contact Sarah Pinkie, email: sarahmarchinmarch@gmail.com

Armidale

2:00 – 4:00pm, Central Park, Armidale

Contact Vanessa Peterson, email: australian.action.alliance@gmail.com

Brisbane

12:00 – 2:00pm, Queens Gardens, Brisbane

Facebook page

Contact Ewan Saunders, Sally Dodds or Kathryn Wilkes, email: liztearii@hotmail.com

Cairns

3:00 – 5:00pm, The Lawns, Wharf One, Cairns

Facebook page

Gosford/Central Coast

10:45am – 1:00pm, Carrawah Reserve

Facebook page

Contact Jeff Sundstrom, email: jeff.sundstrom@gmail.com

Darwin

1:00 – 4:00pm, Parliament House, Darwin

Facebook page

Nambucca Heads

11:00am, Nambucca Plaza

Facebook page

Newcastle

1:00 – 4:00pm, Pacific Park, Newcastle

Facebook page

Contact Leigh Shears, email: marchinmarchhunter@gmail.com

Sydney

1:00 – 4:00pm, Belmore Park, Sydney

Facebook page

Contact JessieLee Peacock, email: marchauswestsyd@gmail.com

 

Back to the drawing board, Malcolm

By Peter Hunt

Malcolm Turnbull’s example of how the Snowy Mountain Pumped Hydro scheme expansion would make money for the government/s doesn’t stack up. He explained on the news how you can pay $40 per MWH to pump water uphill at night then by releasing it when demand is high, generate electricity, and sell it for $50 MWH thus making a $10 profit.

His example makes a fundamental school-boy error of not taking into account the 20% of energy lost in the process, unless he’s somehow discovered the secret of perpetual motion. If you pay $40 to pump water uphill then recover 80% of the embedded energy when it is subsequently released for sale at $50 MWH, you can at best break even at the operational level ($50 * 80% = $40) and would be making a big loss, taking into account capital costs.

Whilst he obviously plucked figures out of the air for his example you would think that a former bankster and supposed business genius would have a better grasp of the facts and basic arithmetic. It really does suggest policy ‘on the fly’ … with very little thought!

 

Thou shall not hate

In the words of The Monthly, If the name Milo Yiannopoulos means nothing to you, congratulations on being a normal, well-adjusted person. Yiannopoulos is someone we all aspire to be the complete opposite of. He was until very recently, an alt-right figurehead and said all the ‘right’ things. According to The Guardian he did a fine line in Islamophobia, misogyny, transphobia or harassment. Out Magazine, (which takes pride in its LGBTI heritage) called him a ‘super villain’. Recently, The Monthly reported:

Here in Australia, Yiannopoulos has many fans on the right. Andrew Bolt called him “fabulous” in one of his multiple appearances on The Bolt Report. Bolt’s Herald Sun colleague Rita Panahi thinks Yiannopoulos is “razor sharp, insightful and funny”. Former Liberal MP Ross Cameron regards him as “an ancient form of genius”. Writing in the Spectator, Daisy Cousens described him as an “intelligent, charismatic, witty, stylish, and unbearably handsome powerhouse of a man”.

However, it seems that even the alt-right has boundaries. A YouTube video recently came out (pun intended – Yiannopoulos is gay) where he seemed to endorse intimate relations between older men and boys. He lost his job as a Senior Editor on the Breitbart (extremely conservative) news website, a book deal and some speaking engagements. Let’s give credit where it is due, those who severed connections with a person who seemed to endorse paedophilia did the right thing. However, it also brings into question why hate speech against religions, gender and those who have a different sexual orientation is permitted by the same organisations – as they are all just as abhorrent as the straw that broke the camel’s back on this occasion. Let’s face it, by supporting Yiannopoulos while he promotes hate speech, the organisations also gave implied support for his positions on those other issues. Severing the connection when Yiannopoulos seemingly ‘crossed the line’ demonstrates the principal.

The Guardian reported that during a meeting of an ultra-conservative group in North Carolina, the ‘Islamification of America’ was being discussed:

The Muslim Brotherhood, a culturally conservative organization founded in 1928 that briefly took power in Egypt after the Arab Spring, is the focal point of paranoid rightwing fears about a supposed Islamic plot to infiltrate and subvert American institutions from within and impose sharia law.

“A tactic that the Brotherhood has established over the years is establishing the presence of Islamic centers or mosques, which for them means a recruitment center for jihad, and forming a permanent foundation wherever they’re allowed to exist,” Jones said, continuing to read from Stakelbeck’s book [The Terrorist Next Door].

Jones’s presentation was repeatedly interrupted by comments about killing Muslims from Frank del Valle, a staunchly anticommunist Cuban immigrant, with little or no pushback from the others in the room.

“Can we not kill them all?” Del Valle asked, about 15 minutes into the presentation, during a discussion about the differences between the Sunni and Shia sects of Islam.

But it wouldn’t happen in general society in Australia, would it? Well it does actually. Madonna King wrote an opinion piece for The Brisbane Times recently based on the reaction to Yassmin Abdel-Magied’s recent appearance on ABCTV’s QandA. You may remember that Adbel-Magied contradicted some of the more conservative panellists’ views on the Islamic religion and Sharia Law with some facts based on her understanding of the religion as a practising member of the faith. In the piece, King rightly labelled Australians as haters pointing out that while you and I certainly have the right to decide if we agree with Abdel-Magied’s opinion, she does have the right to vocalise it without people starting petitions for her to be sacked from her job presenting a show on ABCTV’s News 24 station, which is what happened on this occasion.

Let’s look at another example. Pauline Hanson was recently reported as suggesting that young women will deliberately get pregnant to receive some perceived advantage from the LNP Government’s proposed changes to family benefits. Quite probably she is partly right — generally a small minority will take any advantage that they can find and turn it to their perceived advantage. Hanson’s argument seems to be:

I’ve gone through a bloody tough life myself as a single mother and held down a part-time job. I had no assistance, no help from anyone. But we have such a welfare handout mentality.

Apart from the fact that single parent payments, family allowances and tax ‘breaks’ for families have been the practice of Australian Governments of all political persuasions for a number of decades, meaning Hanson could have received help if she met the criteria, her rhetoric seems as shallow and self-serving as her claim not to be a professional politician despite being first elected to the Ipswich City Council in 1994, followed by running for the seat of Oxley in the Federal Parliament in 1996, then failing to be elected at most elections between the end of that Parliament and the commencement of the current one.

The issue here is that considerably more young women will use the benefit as it was intended, to ensure that while babies and their parents are both going through a major change in their living and financial arrangements, there is some assistance from the rest of our society to make the financial transition slightly easier. Remember that the children who benefit from the government’s ‘largesse’ here are those who will be paying for the roads and medical services that the naysayers such as Hanson will consume in twenty to thirty years’ time when they are retired and contributing far less taxation (if any at all). All Hanson is really doing here is inflaming the anger in those who follow her particular brand of politics when they see pregnant women or young families walk past. It’s not healthy for the victims and certainly not healthy to the level of political conversation in Australia.

Of course, our ‘major’ party politicians wouldn’t stoop to using hatred to achieve political ends – would they? Don’t be silly, of course they do. As blogmaster of The Political Sword Ad Astra recently noted in his article Abbott’s legacy of destruction, former Prime Minister Abbott’s opposition to action on climate change wasn’t a divine revelation that there was another and better way to mitigate the man-made influence on global temperature increase caused by increasing emissions of carbon dioxide, it was purely political. It is worth looking at Abbott’s head of staff’s (Peta Credlin) statement on Sky News again.

Credlin made her comments during an episode of Sky’s Sunday Agenda: “Along comes a carbon tax. It wasn’t a carbon tax, as you know. It was many other things in nomenclature terms but we made it a carbon tax. We made it a fight about the hip pocket and not about the environment. That was brutal retail politics and it took Abbott about six months to cut through and when he cut through, Gillard was gone.”

As Ad Astra wrote,

The article continued with Credlin’s comments:
“It wasn’t a carbon tax, as you know.

“Okay, okay, okay. Let’s just provide some context. Australia has a complicated history in trying to do what many countries have already done – put a price on carbon emissions.

“Emissions trading scheme proposals contributed to the demise of Malcolm Turnbull as opposition leader in 2009 and Kevin Rudd as prime minister in 2010. Julia Gillard finally introduced a carbon-pricing scheme in 2011.

“It was Tony Abbott who re-framed Gillard’s scheme as a “carbon tax”, even though after the first year the price on carbon emissions was no longer fixed, and was instead set by the market.

“Abbott rode the anti-carbon tax movement all the way into The Lodge and eventually had everyone, including Labor and the media, calling it a carbon tax”.

How about we call that for what it is. Abbott lied to get the Prime Ministership. He traded off the future liveability of this country for his personal ambition.

Both Hanson and Abbott (amongst a number of other politicians from all sides of politics) also support or have supported in the past the forcible incarceration of refugees on Manus Island and Nauru while claiming to uphold ‘good Christian values’ not only in their daily lives but in their public lives. While neither ‘Thou shall not hate’ nor ‘Do unto others as you wish others do to you’ are listed in the 10 Commandments, they both have some textual context in the holy book that Abbott, Hanson and others claim to follow. How is changing an environmental imperative to a political argument, denying a benefit the country can obviously afford on the basis that some may abuse it, or treating people poorly in the Australian detention camps, not demonstrating pure and utter hatred to those who don’t meet particular world views of some extremely narrow minded people?

It’s somewhat hypocritical to suggest that ‘good Christian values’ are a part of your life while overseeing hate speech, active persecution of others for daring to hold alternative beliefs or not caring for the world we live in and are leaving for our descendants. You would have to wonder how these people can live with the basic contradiction that is obvious to a large proportion of society – if you have good Christian values, you should live by them.

Someone who should have some idea of what represents ‘good Christian values’ is the leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis. He has previously made statements on climate change, education, helping those who need a hand, paying your way in life and recently made a statement on refugees which has been widely reported. Even the extreme right wing Breitbart News (yes, the same august journal that accepted the resignation of Yiannopoulos) headlined their report with:

In powerful language, Pope Francis said Thursday that Jesus abhors hypocrisy and it is hypocritical to call oneself a Christian and at the same time not be welcoming to refugees, even if they belong to a different religion.

Pity those who routinely preach their ‘good Christian values’ will not put two and two together. Thou shall not hate.

This article by 2353NM 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)

Thank you, Ms. McManus, and congratulations

Dear friends of The AIMN,

On 15 March 2017 the battered Australian Broadcasting Commission went on air with a 7.30 Report interview to Ms. Sally McManus by the reporter Leigh Sales.

That part of the transcript was headed: “New ACTU secretary Sally McManus says she doesn’t see a problem with workers breaking laws when the laws are unjust.”

The exact words passing between Ms. Sales and Ms. McManus were:

“LEIGH SALES: Yet nonetheless, we live in a country where there are laws that are established by a parliament that all citizens are expected to abide by. So, regardless of whether you agree or disagree with those laws, you said that you believe in the rule of law?

SALLY MCMANUS: Yeah, I believe in the rule of law where the law is fair, when the law is right. But when it’s unjust, I don’t think there’s a problem with breaking it.”

I never met Ms. McManus and I only exchanged with her an email on 15.02.2016 when I was researching a certain topic to which she had amply and quite diligently contributed. Unfortunately, Ms. McManus replied  – promptly I should add – “my website is down and I’m currently trying to get it up.” End of the contact.

When I first saw and heard Ms. McManus on the 7.30 Report I felt in complete agreement with her. I still am. So, I wrote that much at the old address the day after; there was no reply. I wrote again on 17.03.2017 at her new place of employment – but I expect no reply.

Ms. McManus and I have something in common. We both come from backgrounds which were ravaged by occupiers, albeit at very different times. My remote place of origin was almost completely destroyed by the Roman invaders (@1,000 b.c.e.). Everything standing was destroyed and what could be stolen is now kept in the largest Etruscan Museum, in the Vatican State. We are dealing with receivers of stolen goods, an event quite familiar to the original inhabitants of the place the British claimed in 1770 and occupied in 1788.

I noted in a short biography that Ms. McManus attended Carlingford High School and studied for a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy at Macquarie University. One guess: Carlingford was most likely named after Carlingford in Ireland. It is not sectarian – quite the contrary, but another guess is that Ms. McManus is of Irish origin. And, if that is so, she has memory of the occupation of her country of origin by more recent barbarians. Her name is also encountered in Scotland, still occupied by the same barbarians. Both McManus and MacManus derive from the Gaelic Mac Mághnais, which in turn is derived from the popular Norse name Magnus, meaning ‘great’. Incidentally, one of the leaders of the Norwegian resistance against the German invaders (1940-1945) was a McManus. The Norse introduced the name in Ireland but it took on its own separate identity and is now predominantly Irish.

And now to the point of this note: if Australia were a seriously multicultural society it would pay due homage to the substance of that – that is to say, truly to being multicultural – by appreciating the contribution that Hellenism made to it with the arrival of so many people from Greece. Many, many moons ago I used to frequent a Greek club, and I recall quite vividly one of my Greek friends reacting in an ecstatic way at my mentioning Antigone. He thought I knew about her, and that I was familiar with Sophocles – hence we were not only friends, but special friends.

Of course, I knew about Sophocles’ works because of five years of ancient Greek prior and as a condition of admission to university. That ancient I am! Briefly: Antigone, the daughter of Oedipus, followed her father when he was banished from his city. When her brothers Eteocles and Polynices killed each other in the war of the Seven against Thebes. Creon, king of Thebes, forbade the burial of the rebel Polynices. Antigone disobeyed his command and performed the funeral service. The moral point of the tragedy is that one must disobey unjust laws.

The mandate is imperative; it leaves no room for the quick but sick humour of the Honourable Christopher Pyne, MP brand, who called Ms. McManus’ statement “anarcho-Marxist claptrap”, or for the delirium of the Honourable (?) Peter Dutton, MP, who called Ms. McManus “lunatic”.

When it comes to the Prime Minister, the Honourable Malcolm Turnbull one is in the presence of a cut above the rest, not as high as he would have it, but definitively so: Sydney Grammar School, Sydney University B.A., LL.B., Rhodes Scholar at Brasenose College, Oxford, where he attained a Bachelor of Civil Law.

What the Prime Minister said, and I am sure will repeat with greater, orotund, pompously-mannered vigor, reminded me of an interview to Ms. McManus, during the course of which she was asked: “Do you have a favourite quote? (and replied) I rather like Harry Frankfurt observation in ‘On Bullshit’ that: “It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction.”

And, before some impolite ignoramus erupts in outrage and gets all worked-up, I should add: as I write I am looking at ‘On bullshit’ by Harry G. Frankfurt (Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey 2005). Harry G. Frankfurt (vintage 1929) is a renowned moral philosopher, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University.

Thank you, Ms. McManus, and once again congratulations.

And thanks to the friends of The AIMN for reading this.

Warmest regards,

Outsider.

 

Federal Court rules asylum seekers can keep mobile phones in detention

Media release

The Federal Court in Sydney today (17 March 2017) has ruled that asylum seekers have the right to continue their legal fight to keep their mobile phones while in onshore immigration detention, following a class action brought by human rights lawyers the National Justice Project to prevent Serco and Border Force from seizing detainee phones.

Border Force had planned to confiscate all detainee phones and SIM cards on 19 February 2017, but were prevented by an temporary injunction obtained by the National Justice Project on behalf of all detainees with phones in detention. The government challenged the jurisdiction of the Federal Court to hear the application but that challenge has been dismissed and the case can now proceed.

National Justice Project Principal Solicitor George Newhouse, while welcoming today’s decision, emphasised that this is an ongoing matter and that the Government is likely to appeal, saying:

“This is a small but important victory, but it’s a long journey ahead and we’re up against a Government that will oppose human rights at every turn.”

Newhouse continued:

“Seeking asylum does not make you a criminal. Mobile phones provide asylum seekers with vital access to the outside world, to loved ones and to advocates – their mental health and their families depend on this. The blanket ban on phones punishes innocent men, women and children and demonstrates the increasing criminalisation by this Government of asylum seekers who have committed no crime.”

Prior to this recent policy change, asylum seekers who arrived by air had a right to mobile phones as long as they have no camera or recording facility. The new policy would see all phones confiscated and anyone found in onshore detention with a phone punished.

 

A pound of flesh

Well inside his first 100 days, President Trump is facing a revolt from his core constituency. Trump promised a number of ‘initiatives’, from ‘draining the swamp’ (a reference to the political class in Washington DC), to building a wall to keep Mexicans in Mexico and repealing Obamacare, more formally called the ‘Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’, a program implemented by the Obama Administration to ensure health care was affordable for Americans who were not on large incomes.

Trump’s problem is that it sounded like a good rallying point to suggest that Obamacare was unaffordable, a waste of resources and a complete disaster. As Paul McGeough observes in Fairfax’s websites:

Until now being President has been easy-peasy for Trump – keeping his base happy by snarling at the news media, offering a new “he tapped my phones” conspiracy to replace the Obama birther nonsense, firing off another executive order on migration when the first backfired, and shirt-fronting the world on trade and security.

Trump’s Presidency just got harder.

The self-proclaimed dealmaker is attempting a sleight of hand, by which millions of his own voters stand to be screwed. More than 80 per cent of them told election day exit pollsters that Obamacare had “gone too far”, but experts warn that under Trump’s proposed deal they will be slugged for thousands of dollars more a year.

And at the same time, Trump must convince dozens of small government purists in Congress that what is being foisted on them, dubbed Obamacare-lite by some, is not a halfway house that fails to deliver on their absolute commitment to be rid of Barack Obama’s legacy-defining health insurance scheme.

McGeough goes on to quote a number of the 90% of Trump voters (those who earn less than USD200,000 per annum) who will be worse off. Trump is now finding out it is all very well to claim that on the whole, a country would be better off if one course of action rather than another was taken, but the reality is in Trump’s case, he implied that every American citizen would have all their problems fixed if they voted him in. We’ve discussed this before on The Political Sword:

Trump has by implication promised to ‘fix’ the perceived personal problem of every person that has voted for him, as well as those who didn’t. It really doesn’t matter that there are a multitude of problems and, given all the good will in the world, some of the problems are so entrenched in the global economic system that they will never be ‘fixed’, Trump’s implicit promise is to ‘fix it’ and benefit all those US citizens who voted for him. When it comes time for other Republicans to challenge him for the 2020 nomination sometime in 2019, a lot of the disaffected that voted for Trump this time around will look at their individual circumstances and decide whether they are either worse or no better off. While Trump may not necessarily follow the usual political protocols, he can’t ‘fix’ everything he claimed to be able to manage in under 24 months. He is already ‘talking down’ his promise to cancel Obama’s Affordable Health initiative. Will these people (probably numbered in the hundreds of millions) accept Trump’s inevitable line that he is gradually turning things around? Or will they, to paraphrase a former Australian politician be waiting on the porch with a baseball bat?

And that’s the problem when you play with people’s perceptions. Your perception probably differs greatly from mine on certain issues – and ‘fixing’ an issue to your satisfaction means that I probably won’t be happy with the result. Depending on the importance of the ‘fix’ in our daily lives (maybe financial, social or educational disadvantage), one of us is likely to withdraw our support and to be figuratively, at least, standing on the verandah with the cricket bat waiting for the perceived wrong doer to come by. As The New Yorker recently stated:

The thing always to remember about Trump—and this week has merely confirmed it—is that he is a sham populist. A sham authoritarian populist, even.

Going back to late-nineteenth-century Germany, many of the most successful authoritarian populists have expanded the social safety net. Otto von Bismarck, the first Chancellor, introduced health insurance, accident insurance, and old-age pensions. “The actual complaint of the worker is the insecurity of his existence,” he said in 1884. “He is unsure if he will always have work, he is unsure if he will always be healthy, and he can predict that he will reach old age and be unable to work.”

During the twentieth century, Argentina’s Juan Perón, Malaysia’s Tunku Abdul Rahman, and Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew were among the authoritarian leaders who followed Bismarck’s example. Today, if you look at the election platform of Marine Le Pen, the leader of the French National Front, you see something similar. Like Trump, Le Pen is a nativist, a protectionist, and an Islamophobe. But she is not proposing to dismantle any of the many social benefits that the French state provides. Rather, she says she will expand child-support payments and reduce the retirement age to sixty.

Trump, on the other hand, has little to offer ordinary Americans except protectionist rhetoric and anti-immigrant measures. Before moving to gut Obamacare, he at least could have tried to bolster his populist credentials by passing a job-creating infrastructure bill or a middle-class tax cut. Instead, he’s staked his Presidency on a proposal that would hurt many of his supporters, slash Medicaid, undermine the finances of Medicare, and benefit the donor class. That’s not populism: it’s the reverse of it. And it might be a political disaster in the making.

Politics is political and never has the ancient saying ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ been more current than today. As an example, in the recent Western Australian state election, Liberal Premier Colin Barnett was dismissing a preference deal with Pauline Hanson’s One Nation as recently as November 2016 and by February 2017, was claiming the subsequent deal to swap preferences with One Nation above long term allies the National Party as a ‘sensible and pragmatic result’. Barnett also admitted in a radio interview he was personally ‘uncomfortable’ with the preference deal with One Nation but said he accepted the party was now ‘a reality’.

Hanson’s comments after the WA election were interesting as well. She admitted the preference swap was a bad idea:

“Doing the deal with the Libs has done damage to us, in all honesty. It was a mistake,” Hanson said. “We are really going to have to have a good look at this because all I heard all day leading up to this election was ‘why are you sending your preferences to the Liberal party?’”

Hanson suggested the problem stemmed from doing a deal with a major party leader past his use by date. “It wasn’t One Nation. I think it was Colin Barnett – people did not want Colin Barnett.

As well as blaming the ALP for her party’s poor showing, Hanson blames ‘the people’ for not understanding the system:

People ask me about preferences and they don’t understand the voting system, the preference system, and the preferences. I think that’s where most of the damage has come from.

Writing for Fairfax’s websites on the Monday after the election, Peter Hartcher suggested that Hanson has ‘lost the plot’. His argument is:

Unshakeable faith in the common sense of the ordinary people is the very definition of populism. Hanson, under pressure of failure, has lost the plot.

What happened?

First and foremost, One Nation forgot its essential character as a protest party.

Its entire raison d’etre is to register a protest vote against the main parties, to express the people’s disgust at the political establishment.

Instead, One Nation did a deal with one of the main parties. Worse, it was with the ruling party. It made Pauline Hanson look like a close partner of the establishment.

Why on earth did One Nation agree to swap preferences with the Liberals, the party of Premier Colin Barnett?

Simple. It was a lunge for power. One Nation wanted more spillover preference votes, even if they came from the devil himself.

The party sold its soul for power. But it was far worse than a standard Faustian bargain. One Nation sold its soul, yet didn’t win any temporary advantage. It ended up powerless as well as soulless.

While short term political expediency has a place (maybe), it certainly didn’t help Barnett retain government or Hanson gain influence. Any deal is a contract between two parties whereby both parties get something they want. As the WA Liberals lost power, any deal they made for power sharing is probably over; a good thing for whoever replaces Barnett. It’s not only Trump, Hanson or the WA Liberals that play Russian roulette with political expediency and populism. Last October, Crikey discussed the potential connection between political donations and renewable energy policy. In the discussion, Bernard Keane suggested:

Malcolm Turnbull says he has lots of solar panels. But the Coalition’s hatred of renewable energy isn’t so much about personal views as about the cash.

It was probably not a surprise when you clicked on the link to the Crikey article above to see that the conservative parties in Australia received far more donations over the past decade or so from energy and coal companies than the ALP. While it is attractive to suggest that no big business should be donating to political parties, there is nothing illegal with the process at the moment. The energy and coal companies would also want their pound of flesh from the politicians, and it’s probably not hard to guess what the preferred outcome would be.

The average solar system in Australia can generate 5kW according to Infinite Energy, a commercial solar installer with offices in Perth and Brisbane. Turnbull’s Point Piper home can generate 14.5kW of electricity with some battery storage ability. However, Turnbull sprukes the ‘advantages’ of ‘clean coal’ over renewable energy claiming the issue with variable renewables – by which I mean principally solar and wind – is that they don’t generate electricity all the time.

Clean coal is a myth both economically and practically. Fairfax media reported in early February:

An analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance released on Friday found this type of plant was the most expensive and dirtiest source of mainstream electricity supply available.

Across their lifetime, the most efficient modern coal plants would cost a minimum $134 per megawatt hour of electricity generated, and possibly as much as $203.

Wind ($61-118 per megawatt hour), baseload gas ($74-90) and large-scale solar ($78-140) were much cheaper.

The analysis found the cost of building new coal could fall to $94 per megawatt hour if the government were to take on all risk across its decades-long lifespan.

It could be suggested that the donors to the conservative parties are getting their pound of flesh.

When recent headlines suggest that ‘Climate change in Australia impact on Australia may be irreversible, five yearly report says’ and ‘Economic growth more likely when wealth distributed to poor instead of rich’, you’d have to ask if Turnbull, like Abbott before him, should join with Hanson and Trump as (in the words of The New Yorker) ‘sham populists’. While they seek the popularity, they all support tax cuts to big business and those on larger incomes, xenophobic immigration policies, cutting of wages (through mechanisms such as reduction in weekend penalty rates), support to political donors that arguably jeopardises the future of our country and so on. Turnbull’s polling figures reflect general dissatisfaction and Hanson potentially revealed her true colours when she did a ‘preference deal’ with the moribund Barnett Liberal Government in Western Australia and paid the price for that decision.

Putting it bluntly, it’s Turnbull, Hanson and Trump’s fault that they are in the position they are. Hopefully these examples will in time convince future politicians that a conversation on the pros and cons of matters affecting our society is required – rather than sham populism.

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

 

Let’s talk about Energy subsidies

By Peter McCarthy

On March 13  2017, there was an opinion piece in the Australian Financial Review entitled Wind and Solar can only win on a tilted playing field. Not surprisingly, penned by Brendan Pearson, the chief exec of the troubled Minerals Council of Australia.

Knowing the track record of trickiness from the Minerals Council, I thought it would be interesting to see what a little background check might reveal. I must admit to some trepidation because, when politics is involved, you have to be careful about the sources you use, but as it turned out, by using the same sources as Mr Pearson, International Energy Agency, the picture is far more interesting.

As it turns out the figure quoted is just about right, but what Brendan failed to mention is that subsidies for the Fossil Fuel industry are 4 times the size of those for renewables. Ouch.

Let’s look at the Global figures for 2014 so we get a fair comparison:

  • Fossil Fuels $550 billion a year and climbing.
  • Renewables $120 billion and climbing too, but remember Renewables is gaining market share so it is to be expected.

Currently Renewables are meeting an impressive 30% of the Energy market just with current technologies and new developments like Reposit are heading towards covering peak demand issues. It’s just a matter of time before the basket of technologies cover the market. Maybe before they finally get “Clean” coal off the ground.

To me, those figures look about even given the percentage of the Energy market both serve. That alone makes a strong case for Renewables because on current figures, the attempt to meet 2DS (limiting the temperature rise to 2 degrees scenario) is predicted to fail when we hit 3.6 degrees. A horrifying figure almost double the target. (World Energy Outlook figures). We simply can’t afford to generate any carbon without serious damage to the climate.

Not feeling nervous yet?

Here is the killer punch. The US EPA did an in depth study of the cost that fossil fuel pollution has on the health of Americans. Bear in mind that chaps like Brendan Pearson give a wide berth to any consideration of the health impacts of his product.

On US figures, the fossil fuel industry gets a free pass to the tune of 14 to 35 cents per kilowatt hour which is actually higher than the unit price in some areas. To put that in perspective that’s a full 6% of US GDP. Compare that to the official subsidy of about 0.7% of GDP and you start to see how serious that oversight is.

Interestingly, this is not an issue with Renewables with the possible exception of manufacturing plants depending on what chemicals may end up being used. It will certainly be many orders of magnitude less than the problems caused by fossil fuels where everyone cops a serve.

Even leaving aside the health impacts, the case for Renewables is a strong one and unfortunately for Mr Pearson, the Industry is well aware of the problems facing his product. He may be able to influence a few pollies with things like “clean” coal, but it’s a non-starter with Energy companies and Financiers. Unless the taxpayer foots the massive bill, the sums just don’t add up. Even if a political party starts funding it via the taxpayers, at best it will only last until the next Election and then the Voters will deal with the incumbents.

Our Pollies get a 3 year term, the Industry needs about 20 years to turn a profit. Unless you can buy both sides of the political spectrum, you have 3 years to break even. No wonder only a few short sighted pollies are up for it.

This article was originally published on 1petermcc’s Blog.

 

The human impact of the Cashless Welfare Scheme

Tina Clausen responds to the Government’s announcement that they will continue the roll out of the Income Management Scheme for all Centrelink beneficiaries, (not just restricted to Newstart recipients as believed by many people). 

Participants report they feel penalised and discriminated against by being forced to participate in the scheme and that there is a stigma and a sense of shame associated with having to use the Cashless Welfare Card. They feel humiliated and looked down upon by people in their community when forced to hand over the card to pay for goods – thus proclaiming to the whole world that ‘I am a Centrelink beneficiary and can’t be trusted to manage my own finances’. There is the embarrassment and shame when told ‘no’ when it happens that a business has chosen not to apply to become an ‘approved merchant’ for the Income Management scheme, leaving you to put your goods back and slink out of the shop under the glaring eyes of fellow shoppers.

Why should all people who happen to receive Centrelink payments be treated like second-rate citizens because a small number do the wrong thing? There are hordes of workers who could be nastily described as ‘dead-beat’ parents or have drug, alcohol and gambling issues too. Maybe our Government believes the whole of the Australian population should eventually be deprived of the right to manage their own money? Easiest to start with the most vulnerable and dependent first. Our Government is taking away our basic Human Rights of dignity, self-determination and social freedom.

I would like to highlight that people on the Disability Support Pension or Carers Payment/Allowance, through no fault of their own, can end up on this punitive and restrictive scheme for life unlike e.g students or people seeking employment who at least have a chance of getting off this soul-destroying Income Management scheme sooner or later. Preventing full economic participation in society by people with disabilities on an ongoing and deliberate basis is a breach of both Human Rights and international law.

The scheme is illegally disadvantaging people by letting for-profit company Indue, who were handed the contract for the scheme, retain interest earned on money in peoples’ accounts as well as forcing people to access goods and services that are more expensive than what people themselves can organise to get them for now. Indue stand to earn between $4,000 and $6,000 pa for each person they trap into the scheme. That would equate to a minimum of a $153 fortnightly payment increase for a person on Newstart. Money that could be spent on families, supporting local business and stimulating the economy. Instead the money goes into the pockets of private company Indue and its shareholders.

There are bad apples everywhere; some beneficiaries who maybe shouldn’t be receiving welfare payments and some workers who rip off their employers. The problem is that ALL workers don’t get demonised because some do the wrong thing, yet our Government seem hell-bent on punishing every single person on any kind of pension or benefit – from people on family payments to those on disability support, from young people studying to single parents, from widows pensioners to the unemployed. The list goes on.

This Government seems set on pitting one segment of society against the other and continuing the myths of the ‘great welfare rort’ and ‘huge numbers of welfare deviants and bludgers’. This is most likely their way of getting the general public to swallow what is a draconian and abusive scheme that goes against all common sense, morality and basic Human Rights.

 

Peace Be Upon All

By Khaled

This post has two objectives. It addresses two audiences:

1. Non-Muslims, and

2. Muslims

For argument’s sake, let me give you a bit of background information first, thus leading to the purpose and reason for this post.

On an international scale, we all agree that Islam is and has been the ‘flavour of the month’ or the ‘Hottest Topic’ for almost 25 years. It started with the first invasion of Iraq, which lead to all sorts of false/mass hysteria and fictitiously associating Islam with terrorism. Twenty five years down life’s pipeline and we are still dealing with the same issues but only on a larger and more exacerbated scale.

With the awakening of the Alt-Right extremists groups; actually let me rephrase that; with the ‘cleaned and polished’ facade of the old time racism, bigotry and xenophobia the attacks on Islam and Muslims has reached an unprecedented state. And if you ask me who was the subject prior to Islam, my answer would be Communism, but that is a separate topic.

For those who know me, I have been on the activist trail fighting racism, bigotry and anything that demoralises and denigrates humans and humanity for only a short 9 months. I am ashamed of myself for not starting this part of my life at a much earlier age or phase. My ‘feel good’ response to this dark spot in my mind and heart is “better late than never”. But that only lasts for a few seconds.

I have also been advocating Islam for the better part of my 43 years through different and various means. May Allah swt (Arabic words “Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala,” or “Glory to Him, the Exalted”) help me to continue on with this path until the day I lose my amanah (life).

During the last nine months I have come across thousands of people, other than Muslims, of different walks of life, different backgrounds, different cultures, different faiths, different genders, different ages and different sexual preferences. The noted variances are absolutely enormous but just as much, rather gorgeous. They all seem to share the one single commonality; and that is an acknowledgment and belonging to the human race. They see and know the differences, but through the sheer power and strength of the mentioned commonality, these differences are overshadowed thus rendering them rather insignificant. These people have an objective and that is to end Islamophobia and protect Muslims by any means necessary.

Now that I have covered my first objective, which is the non-Muslim addressee, I shall proceed onto addressing my second objective and that is the Muslim addressee.

In the last nine months I have seen far more non-Muslims working tirelessly at abolishing Islamophobia and protecting Muslims than Muslim people. The scare and fear mongering campaign of the Alt-Right extremist groups only works if we submit to it and run away in fear of retribution and retaliation. Our ill-actions or little-action, plays into their hands and makes their task much easier to implement and complete. Consequently, our lack of action makes the task of the first addressee of my post, i.e. the non-Muslims, far too difficult to achieve.

So I can’t help but ask, where is the cohesion that our Prophet Mohammad pbuh (“Peace be upon Him”), ordered us to have for each other including all of mankind? Where is the sense of solidarity and camaraderie for your brothers and sisters? Did the Prophet not order us to stand beside one another like a solid object? Out of 1.7b Muslims around the world, there are over 500,000 in Australia. Imagine if we all stood together along with our non-Muslim brothers and sisters, how quickly we could diminish Islamophobia. Imagine how easy it would be to remove that false facade off the face of racism and bigotry.

I remind myself and you of two stories from our Prophet pbuh. Two of great significance and teachings.

1. Narrated by Qais ibn Sa’d reported: A funeral passed by the Messenger of Allah pbuh, and he stood up. It was said to him, “It is a Jew”. The Prophet said, “Was he not a soul?” Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 1250, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 961

2. Narrated by Anas: The prophet pbuh said, “Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is an oppressed one. The people asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! It is all right to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor?” The Prophet said, “By preventing him from oppressing others.”

So I make this oath and declaration before Allah swt; that I will keep fighting for humanity. And when Islam isn’t the hot topic nor the flavour of the era, I will keep on this path fighting for humanity and fighting for what is right irrespective of who is or are being oppressed. And if the oppressor are Muslims for some type of unscrupulous reason, I will stand besides my non-Muslim brothers and sisters in the face of oppression. Let’s find the bond to unify humanity and mankind. Let’s drive this fight together to end disgraceful, inhumane and immoral acts against mankind. This is our obligation. This is our duty. #changestartswithme #istandwithhumanity #FU2Racism

Peace, love and respect to All,

Khaled

 

Brandis must GO!

By Ross Hamilton

The Attorney General is the nation’s first law officer. That makes her or him our highest law officer in the nation. So it is not unreasonable to expect our Federal Attorney General to be a paragon of legal virtue. However our Attorney General, Senator George Brandis, is anything but.

There are plenty of matters which call the integrity of Brandis into question. For example there is the ongoing matter of just what his knowledge of and involvement in the Bell Resources liquidation in WA has been. However a seemingly much smaller matter shows just how disgraceful and unsuited to any form of legal office George Brandis actually is.

Back in 2014, one of the hot issues was looking at fallout from the first  Budget of the Abbott government. One cutback was removing funding from community legal centres. The Labor Opposition, specifically the Shadow Attorney General, Mark Dreyfus, started looking into that decision. Dreyfuss lodged a Freedom of Information request for access to parts of the Brandis diary, concerned about just who Brandis had been meeting with in the lead-up to that budgetary decision.

Brandis refused to process the request. Note that this was not a refusal to provide the requested information but refusing to even process the request. The justification was that processing the request would take too long and also had some sort of security concerns.

Dreyfuss took the matter to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. The AAT had no problems finding that Brandis did indeed have to process the request – not necessarily handing over the requested doco, but simply process the request in the proper, formal manner. The Tribunal’s finding was that there was no practical reason for refusing to process the request and therefore Brandis’ staff had to examine the request and commence processing.

Brandis took the matter to court, appealing to the Federal Court. Last September, the Full Court of the Federal Court threw out the Brandis objection, finding that he and his staff did indeed have to properly consider the FOI request. And again, this was not a direction to hand over the requested documentation, just to properly consider the request for it. A sense of just what the members of the Court really felt about the matter is perhaps reflected in how quick they were to make Brandis pay all costs.

To help place this in context, is it really that big a deal to make the diary available? And the answer is ‘No’. For example, Julia Gillard routinely published her diary contents. When a journalist requested access to the diary of Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, the Minister had no problems in publishing her diary. But Brandis refuses to even properly process a request for access to his diary’s contents.

It is now some six months since the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia, directed the Attorney General, Senator George Brandis QC, to properly  consider the request. And HE STILL HASN’T DONE IT.

The Attorney General is NOT above the law. The Attorney General does NOT get to pick and choose what court directions he will abide by. What makes this matter even more ludicrous is that Brandis is not just any old mug playing games. Brandis was a lawyer before entering the Senate. Not any old lawyer, Brandis was, and still is, a Queens Counsel.

Shadow Attorney Dreyfuss now has to go back to the courts, yet again, to ask the courts to put a final date by which Brandis should have processed the request. And in so doing, the Dreyfuss team is pushing for Brandis to be found in contempt of court. And that is exactly what Attorney General, Senator George Brandis, is – he has shown utter contempt for the law of our nation, deeming himself to be beyond it.

Enough is enough. There are three acceptable actions that must be taken:

  1. Brandis must be found in contempt of court and face all consequences including all legal penalties and parliamentary sanctions;
  2. Brandis must be made personally accountable for ALL costs, not passing them back on the taxpayer;
  3. Prime Minister Turnbull must immediately dismiss Brandis from all offices as someone who acts in this manner is not fit to even be in parliament, let alone holding such senior offices as Attorney General.

If you agree with me, then I strongly encourage you to contact the Prime Minister and demand the immediate sacking of Brandis. You may also wish to sign and distribute my petition calling for the Prime Minister to immediately remove Senator Brandis from the office of Attorney General.

This article was originally published on Ross’s Rant.

 

Why Barnett lost

By Tracie Aylmer

As the election finishes up and Upper House votes with preference deals are finalised, I would like to give another perspective on how Labor won so significantly. There were a number of issues. Two of those issues involved the selling of Western Power and Fremantle Port. A third issue was the destruction of the Beeliar Wetlands.

Recently, I had been involved with the protests against the Roe 8, 9 and 10 highway. It was an incredibly dumb idea, particularly when there was another option that is going to be much cheaper and more worthwhile.

As someone with a Masters degree, I saw highly educated people, grandmothers, mothers, teenagers, Councillors in local government, grandfathers, fathers, doctors, nurses, lawyers, teachers and many other members of the community not just protest, but also be arrested at that site. Many people were happy to put their hands up. During rallies, people were divided into groups – one group unable to be arrested and the other group deliberately going out of their way to be arrested as the cause was too great. I was one of the people arrested. All I did was touch a fence.

When Barnett started bulldozing, a concerted effort was made to kick him out at the election. Groups of people got together to find ways in order to show exactly how bad an idea the destruction was. Signs went up, then Barnett’s followers took those signs down and put their own signs up. It led to a type of sign war, where signs were changed, then amended, then changed back again. People were fined or arrested for tooting their horns while driving past ‘No Roe 8’ signs, although in the end there were too many people tooting their horns and the police couldn’t arrest or fine everyone.

In four key electorates, a leaflet was letterbox dropped. Those electorates were Bicton, Southern River, Jandakot and Cottesloe. They were anti-Barnett leaflets designed to educate voters on just how much debt WA is now in due to Colin Barnett’s policies. It appears that those leaflets had made a difference. Key areas had a reduction in liberal votes.

Then there was that photo. A few Rethink the Link protesters wrote on their arms, then made sure to have a photo taken with Barnett. It was hard work getting that photo taken, as others had heckled Barnett shortly beforehand. The protesters had talked their way into it, and then the photo went viral. Barnett had no idea, and had a nice chat with one of the protesters. He hadn’t even realised that this particular protester had been arrested a few weeks prior, at the construction site.

Last week, another photo with Barnett had gone viral, this time with a person donning the prop for Barnaby the Carnaby Black Cockatoo. Barnett had continually stated that this threatened species had offsets for which they could fly to. It was a ridiculous statement. Since I live near the area, these cockatoos have been flying around trying to find out where they can settle. They are now displaced and even more threatened.

Then there was the video footage of a Pauline Hanson lookalike in a wedding gown, demanding to know what was going on with the preference deal and why he didn’t like her.

In addition were the Senate inquiries, of which there have been several throughout the last few years, as well as question upon question upon question. The secrecy had gotten to the whole community. We knew there was no business plan. We knew it was a case of throwing money away to the contractors that were Barnett’s mates. We saw through the poor excuses, and didn’t accept one single excuse that came out of Barnett’s mouth.

Then there was the land grab that tried to steal Native Title land off the Noongar People for the whole south west area of WA. This was completely unethical. Barnett had given funding to the organisation, in order to make sure that the deal happened. The Noongar People have wanted to unite ever since. They deserve much more respect than what they have been given. Barnett wanted to steal everything way from them, and give them a pittance in return. This included the area in the Beeliar Wetlands, which had been a birthing place for tens of thousands of years. The secret areas in the Wetlands were bulldozed without a second thought a few weeks ago. Many of us united with the Noongar People to shed streams of tears. Barnett does not like women.

All of the above showed not just creativity, but also how much we in WA did not want Barnett nor the Liberal Party. It was a concerted effort amongst the whole of the community. It wasn’t just one person. We had all united to overthrow Barnett and his lack of vision.

That is why Barnett lost so severely. We had all simply had enough. We joined together, and this is the result.

If McGowan shows any reconsideration for what the community wants and needs, we will show him exactly how we feel. We are strong in our community. We cannot be divided any longer. We know how to fight, and we will win whatever battle comes in place, of course using non-violent direct action.

McGowan has been placed on notice – include all of us or he will be shown the door. It’s that simple.

 

Brisbane school continues dominance of 4×4 STEM technology competition

By Craig Hingston

Representing Australia at World Finals for third year in a row.

Pine Rivers State High School from Brisbane has totally dominated the National Finals of the Land Rover 4×4 Technology Challenge in Adelaide by taking out every award.

Two student teams, Fair Dinkum 4×4 and Mud Ruts, claimed all seven engineering, innovation and marketing awards after two days of intense judging. Fair Dinkum 4×4 tool out five of them and were crowned National Champions

This means for the third year in a row Pine Rivers State High School will be competing at the World Finals of this STEM competition, in Abu Dhabi.

The same school won the World Finals in 2016 and came third in 2015.

The students had to design and construct a remote controlled off road vehicle which could tow a trailer through an extreme 4×4 course in the least amount of time.

They learned about suspension, electronics, centre of mass and other engineering principles.

Teacher Corey Geiskens who has been responsible for introducing the school to national STEM programs (they were also World Champions of the F1 in Schools Technology Challenge) was honoured for his work by being made a Fellow of Re Engineering Australia Foundation, the not for profit organisation which has spent 19 years encouraging students into technical career paths via its hi-tech STEM activities.