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Morality

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Morality

By RosemaryJ36  

I think we will all go to hell in a hand-basket, nor necessarily metaphorically speaking, if we cannot rapidly learn to distinguish between the relative merits of religion, ethics and morality.

First – Religion: After all, despite the conviction of our current Prime Minister – miracles do not happen. I qualify that by saying that there are many occasions where unexpected events may appear to be a miracle. I know of no recorded instances where performing a rain dance or praying have actually resulted in a shower of rain. Coincidence is frequently misconstrued as magical!

Religion is a sort of comfort blanket for those who worry that they cannot find answers to why we are here and what happens when we die. In clutching the blanket about them, they blindly accept directions from the religion’s leaders, because they are the chosen ones, able to deliver the messages from some unseen spirit. If the religion’s followers lead miserable, unfulfilled lives, and their belief in a wonderful life after death helps them survive the vicissitudes of this life, then far be it from me to deny them the comfort they derive.

The world has many religions, some largely local, others like Christianity – and in particular that version preached by the Roman Catholic church – as well as Islam, which are virtually global.

My greatest familiarity, at a personal level is Christianity, so I feel on safe ground in highlighting this particular religion, while aware that much of what I say is also true of other religions.

Second – ethics: I looked for a definition of ethics and found:

‘the characteristics and values that most people associate with ethical behaviour:

  1. HONESTY. …
  2. INTEGRITY. …
  3. PROMISE-KEEPING & TRUSTWORTHINESS. …
  4. LOYALTY. …
  5. FAIRNESS. …
  6. CONCERN FOR OTHERS. …
  7. RESPECT FOR OTHERS. …
  8. LAW ABIDING.’

This sort of took my breath away, because it drove home how lacking in ethical behaviour, as defined above, are many (all?) of our political, religious and business leaders.

Third – Morals: My own concept of morality is related to understanding the difference between right and wrong – while understanding that these are value issues which vary with culture.

So again I sought a more definitive approach and found this: What are your family’s top moral values?

I quote this excerpt:

‘Renée Trudeau, author of Nurturing the Soul of Your Family, shared that when her son was entering middle school they created a “Family Purpose Statement”. She described they “highlighted the top five qualities that were most important to us. At the top of our list: compassion – for self and for others.”

What virtues make your family’s top five list? Some to consider include:

  • Acceptance: welcoming others whose ideas and practices differ from your own
  • Compassion: understanding the suffering of others or self and wanting to do something about it
  • Cooperation: helping your family and friends, returning favors
  • Courage: willingness to do difficult things
  • Equality: believing everyone deserves equal rights and to be treated with respect
  • Fairness: acting in a just way, sharing appropriately
  • Generosity: willingness to give resources, help or time to others
  • Gratitude: showing appreciation to others
  • Honesty: being truthful and sincere
  • Integrity: sticking to your moral and ethical principles and values
  • Kindness: being considerate and treating others well
  • Perseverance: persisting in a course of action, belief or purpose
  • Politeness: using good manners, acting in socially acceptable ways
  • Respect: showing consideration for the worth of someone or something
  • Responsibility: being reliable in your obligations
  • Self-control: staying in control of your words and behaviour
  • Tolerance: having a fair and objective attitude towards different opinions, beliefs or practices
  • Trustworthy: reliably doing what is right even when it is difficult, being true to your word

One way to help your children internalize these characteristics is to notice them. When you see your child being responsible, honest or showing compassion, comment on it. For example, if your child attempts to comfort a child who is hurt, you can say “That’s kind of you to help him.

This is clearly a western society concept but that is not meant to criticise it. Many of the values listed here repeat those associated with ethics, and the last statement highlights the need to develop empathy – walk in someone else’s shoes.

Two things about it are really noticeable – there is no mention of religion, although there are strong echoes of Jesus Christ’s teachings, and, secondly, when I look at the behaviour of our religious leaders, I wonder who, beyond Pope Francis (despite strong opposition from the establishment in the Vatican) and the Dalai Lama, even make a head-start on sharing these values. For the leaders of most religious sects, being in power is the dominant attraction of their beliefs, it seems.

When you study the scriptures, the development of ethics from the Old Testament and Hammurabi’s “an eye for an eye” through Moses’ 10 commandments, on to Jesus in the New Testament summarising the 10 into 2 – and explaining that your ‘neighbour’ might be a total stranger, yet worthy of your care and compassion – it brings home how established religions have failed over the past 2000 years to maintain the momentum of developing moral concepts as knowledge has grown and globalisation has created greater contact between differing cultures.

It is worth noting that at the time Jesus was alive, Sharia Law was practised by Jews as well as Arabs – and this was before the prophet Muhammed was born. As far as the Arabs are concerned, their progress has been minimal!

Looked at dispassionately, most of the established religions encourage conservatism because they are forever looking back to the Bible, the Torah, the Qur’an, etc for directions instead of realising that changing levels of knowledge require changing approaches to moral values.

To take a fairly trite example, both Islam and Judaism place a great deal of stress on various rituals regarding food. It is highly probable that these, very sensibly, were developed in the Middle East where, pre-refrigeration, hygiene and food storage were not adequate to prevent food deteriorating and affecting health. These rituals are now tied into religious practice, yet they are not now meaningful, merely historical reminders.

At a much more modern level, until the 1960s, any female between menarche and menopause was likely to become pregnant if she was engaged in sexual intercourse. If she was in a continuing relationship, frequent pregnancies meant she was not able to take on work outside family caring and household chores – which, in rural areas would extend outdoors.

Now, with women in developed countries enabled to complete the same education as their brothers, while contraceptive advances have given them better control over their reproductive functions, the patriarchal approach that kept women in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant, is being thrown out of the window.

Over the centuries, the religious and mainly male-dominated governments have fought to control knowledge. But that is no longer possible.

The oft quoted “the only certainties in life are death and taxes” must now be amended to include “change”! And conservative males are fighting change, tooth and nail!

I often see it said that you grow more conservative as you get older.

WRONG!

Perhaps I was fortunate that, growing up in the UK, my mother supported the Tory Party while my father was a Labour adherent!

I benefitted by sitting on the fence, seeing both sides of the argument. But I also grew up absorbing an ethical, moral approach to life while eventually becoming an agnostic.

You do not need a god in order to distinguish between right and wrong. You need humility to admit when you are, in fact wrong, and, as with penance in the Catholic tradition – once you have acknowledged your error, you need to work your butt off to try to rectify matters!

I have an 18 years-old granddaughter who took part in Rebellion Extinction in Edinburgh and now has been on the platform in Trafalgar Square during ER London.

I am proud of her willingness to be active in highlighting the failure of governments to accept the fact of the climate emergency and take action – for a start in Australia by setting a carbon price! – to ensure that our grandchildren have a viable world to enjoy.

Conservatism puts a brake on progress and, at this point in history, the only brake we need is on global warming.

Image from insideclimatenews.org (Photo credit: Susan Melkisethian via Flickr)

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The HMT Dunera scandal (part 1)

By Dr George Venturini  

 The HMT Dunera scandal

In the spring of 1940 England was in the grip of a great panic over the possibility of an invasion by Nazi Germany. Enemy troops were just across the English Channel – less than fifty kilometres away.

In England, German, Italian and most European foreigners were feared as potential spies and agents provocateurs, who would join with the enemy if and when the Nazis invaded.

Consequently, the British government ordered all such adult subjects to be rounded up and interned. And that included even German Jewish refugees who had recently escaped from Nazi Germany and who were implacable enemies of the Nazis.

The majority were sent to the Isle of Man, a self-governing British Crown dependency in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Ireland, where they could do little harm, but heavy suspicion fell on those men of military age, from 18 to 65, who were regarded as highly dangerous.

Those were to be sent all the way to Australia.

Those deported to Australia had to be kept under surveillance for the journey, and the British navy was able to supply a suitable troopship, the HMT (Hired Military Transport) Dunera. It was a secure military vessel and had originally been designed and equipped for 1,600 troops, but now was to be filled with 2,542 refugees aged between 16 and 60, besides the crew and the army warders. As a result, everyone was cramped and hugely uncomfortable.

Seventy per cent of the internees were Jewish refugees who had managed to escape from the Nazis and had arrived in England long before the outbreak of the war. The Dunera began loading on 10 July 1940. With 7 officers and over 300 others, a total of 2800 men were to be crammed on to a vessel built to hold 1600. The ship’s crew – 309 poorly trained soldiers – brutally searched and looted the internees’ luggage, some of which quite large, while the ship’s commanders, Lieutenant-Colonel William Scott and First Lieutenant John O’Neill, either stood by indifferently or actively participated. (C. Pearl, The Dunera scandal, Angus & Robertson, Sydney 1983)

The ship left Liverpool at midnight. Callously indifferent to the fate of the men, the British government allowed the Dunera only one destroyer escort. Less than 24 hours out of Liverpool, German submarine U-56 attacked; a but because the waves were heavy, the ship went up just as the torpedo passed underneath.

The 57 days of the voyage were a nightmare of inhuman conditions and brutal mistreatment. The lower decks of the ship were jammed, and men had to sleep on mess tables or on the floor. For weeks hatches were kept down. Neither daylight nor natural air ever reached the decks; the upper parts of the ship, where one would have been in the fresh air, were absolutely out of bounds, being barred by barbed wire and sentries with bayonets. Only ten toilets were available which meant long queues and ‘toilet police’ who would call up people as vacancies arose. Men slept on floors and benches, and if one wanted to go to the toilet at night he had to walk on bodies. Robbed of their luggage, the refugees had but the clothes on their backs; most of them had lost the basics: toothbrush, toothpaste, comb or soap. Later, the guards gave one piece of soap to every 20 men to share for 2 weeks but this was hardly enough to keep clean. If an internee became ill there was a half-hour waiting to see the doctor. Inoculations were non-existent. Food consisted of smoked fish, sausages, potatoes and a spoonful of melon and lemon jam a day; the bread was usually maggoty and the butter rancid.

The crew treated the refugees with extreme cruelty. The internees remained uninformed of their true destination until their own knowledge of geography and navigation by the stars – and arrival in a western coastal port of Africa – made further secrecy impossible. The crew searched the men daily, threatening them with loaded rifles fixed with bayonets. If guards found any vital medications, such as insulin, they threw them overboard. They also threw false teeth away, confiscated  razors and shaving utensils  and threatened men who hid their razors or were clean-shaven with detention in the bunker. Any valuables, hidden food, or Jewish religious vestments, phylacteries and prayer books were confiscated and either kept or thrown overboard. Beatings were daily.

Two internees died during the two-month voyage: Hans Pfeffen was sick when he boarded the Dunera at Liverpool and died in the ship’s hospital; Jacob Weiss suicided. Weiss had hoped to save his family from the Nazis in Europe and after 12 months of work and ultimately attaining immigration documents for himself and his family, he was arrested, interned and forced aboard the Dunera. When the guards on the ship found his immigration papers, they tore them up in front of him. Distraught, Weiss jumped overboard and drowned.

Prior to arrival in Australia, the crew ordered the internees to shave off their beards, providing the 2,542 men with 8 razors to do the task. The ship reached the Port of Fremantle in Western Australia on 27 August  and Port Melbourne on 3 September. At Melbourne, two groups disembarked: the 251 German and Austrian ‘A’ Category internees whom the British government regarded as dangerous or potentially dangerous due to their political affiliations, along with 94 Germans and 200 Italians whose political affiliations were seen as “doubtful” since they were members of the Fascist Party in England. These men were interned at a camp at Tatura, Victoria.

Around 10 o’clock on the morning of  6 September 1940, fifty-seven days out of Liverpool, the Dunera entered Sydney Harbour. The remainder of the internees were sent to camps, at Hay and, later, at Orange in New South Wales.

The atmosphere was tense: on one hand, the press sniffed a sensational story – in its coverage, the Daily Telegraph reported that “among the internees were parachutists, other prisoners of war, and hundreds who had been carrying out subversive work in England.”  On the other hand, the first Australian to board the ship, medical army officer Alan Frost, was appalled by the conditions that greeted him. His report led to the court martial of the officer-in-charge, Lt. Colonel William Scott. For the weary internees, “some in heavy overcoats, hats, others with summer wear having lost everything else, some orthodox Jews in their traditional black garb and hats.” they did not much look like spies as they left the ship. (S. G. Rosenberg, ‘HMT Dunera, the scandal and the salvation’, The Jerusalem Post, 12 December 2015).

The scandal was compounded by an initial tragedy: many of the internees had been living freely in Britain prior to September 1939, some having arrived there as children thanks to the Kindertransport organised by the Movement for the Care of Children from Germany after the Kristallnacht in November 1938. With the outbreak of war, they were under suspicion as potential fifth columnists who might secretly assist a German invasion. Prime Minister Winston Churchill declared had them declared as enemy aliens and swiftly had them shipped off to Canada and Australia.

Between the youngest aged sixteen and the oldest aged sixty-six, were future students or workers at Australian universities after their release from detention, and many became significant academic figures, including physicist Hans Buchdahl, economist Fred Gruen, philosopher Peter Herbst, political scientist Henry Mayer, fine arts scholar Franz Philipp, and mathematician turned oceanographer Rainer Radok – to mention just a few. Treated like dirt by their imprisoners, most of them went on to stellar careers as scientists, lawyers, entrepreneurs, industrialists, public servants and artists.

So it is not entirely surprising to find that Tatura had its own university – Collegium Taturense – which delivered an average of 113 lectures a week attended by nearly 700 students. Concerts, theatre performances and sports matches were another feature of life in the camps, as the internees did their best not only to fill time and combat boredom, but also to retain a sense of dignity and purpose in the face of an indefinite wait for freedom. As the editors of the first edition of the Hay camp newsletter, the Boomerang, put it in February 1941: “Please remember that your mind is not interned, nor is it confined to this camp.”

The injustice of the Dunera internees’ treatment was recognised by Churchill, who came to regret the decision to order the indiscriminate detention of those who had sought Britain’s protection. He apologised and instigated a court martial which documented the abuses the boys endured at sea. The Dunera’s senior officer was severely reprimanded and a regimental sergeant-major was discharged and goaled for theft. A fund of £35,000 was used to compensate the Dunera internees for their lost and stolen property.

Their treatment in Australia began to change too. By mid 1942 at least 1,300 had been set free, hundreds of them returning to England as soon as they could. Fewer than half of the internees remained in Australia; the rest returned to Britain, emigrated to the United States, helped found the state of Israel or ended up in a variety of other counties. A few dozen returned to divided Germany. (P. Mares, ‘Remembering the Dunera’, insidestory.org.au, 13 July 2018, being a review of K. Inglis, S. Spark and J. Winter with C. Bunyan, Dunera Lives: A Visual History, publishing.monash.edu/books, July 2018).

* * * * *

Traveller would find a constant element through those three events: the Évian Conference, the Kimberley Plan, and the Dunera odyssey.

That element remains the indifference of the population, of the governments and of the institutions of Australia to ‘the Other’, not only the Jews – but anyone who was not British.

On 3 September 1939 Australia entered the second world war with Prime Minister Menzies making a declaration of a state of war in a national radio broadcast: “My fellow Australians. It is my melancholy duty to inform you, officially, that, in consequence of the persistence by Germany in her invasion of Poland, Great Britain has declared war upon her, and that, as a result, Australia is also at war.”

All of a sudden, thousands of Australian residents found themselves identified as potential threats to Australia’s national security. The war had triggered a mass fear of invasion of England by Germany and later on of Australia by Japan. Panic gripped the country that tens of thousands of Australian residents of German, Italian or Japanese origin – or simply name – might become saboteurs or spies.

Parliament enacted the National Security Act 1939.

Government regulations required ‘enemy aliens’ to register and limit their travel to between work and home and within a specified distance from the local post office. They had to obtain permission from the authorities to travel further or change residence.

The most dramatic response was the internment of many German, Italian and Japanese residents in camps – overseas and Australian-born, as well as naturalised British subjects. Australia interned some 7,000 residents, including nationals from over thirty other countries.

A further 8,000 people were sent to Australia to be interned after being detained overseas by Australia’s allies. At its peak in 1942 more than 12,000 people – mostly men, but some women and children – were interned in eighteen camps around southern Australia, including Cowra and Hay in New South Wales and Tatura in Victoria.

Australian authorities had established internment camps for three reasons – to prevent residents from assisting Australia’s enemies, to appease public opinion and to house overseas internees sent to Australia for the duration of the war.

Internees were usually separated from their families and tried to find ways to keep themselves occupied. In some cases they set up their own study classes, theatre groups and market gardens, and were issued ‘internment currency’ in order to purchase goods within the camp grounds. Many volunteered to work on Australian farms to help with the manpower shortage and some, later in the war, joined the Australian army. Most made the best of the situation, but it was a traumatic experience which left some internees permanently scarred.

Internment camps were administered by the army and run along military lines, affected by poor education, plagued by misconceptions and overcome by xenophobia – and most dangerous carriers of hate-bags.

The first camps were set up at the Enoggera (Gaythorne) and Liverpool military bases in Queensland and New South Wales and at the Dhurringile Mansion in Victoria.

As the numbers of internees grew, the early camps became too small. The Australian Government organised the construction of purpose-built camps at Cowra and Hay in New South Wales, Tatura in Victoria, Loveday in South Australia and  Harvey in Western Australia.

Life for the internees varied between the camps, particularly between those which were temporary camps and those which were purpose-built. The conditions also depended on the geographical location of the camp, its climate, the composition of the camp population and importantly, the personality of the officer in charge. (‘Wartime internment’, National Archives of Australia, and (‘Internment during World War II Australia’, Museums Victoria).

On 10 June 1940, when the Fascist Regime declared war on England and its allies, 5,000 person of Italian origin, provenance or simply name became overnight ‘enemy aliens’. Some 33,000 Italians were residing in Australia at the time. By 1940, around 40 per cent of members of the Italian community in Australia were naturalised and several thousand Australian-born. Fascism had grown very well in several states, particularly in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. It had been favoured by the likes of Premier  of Victoria, H.S.W. Lawson, Premier of New South Wales, Sir George W. Fuller and Prime Minister Robert Gordon Menzies, who had much admired Mussolini.

As late as 1939 Mussolini was still viewed in Australia and other English-speaking nations as a model of modern leadership. There was therefore some pride associated with being Fascist and Italian. Many migrants with no real understanding of politics joined the Fascist Party in a gesture of national pride. Those who had been forced to escape Mussolini’s Italy made a desperate attempt to draw attention to the looming threat of Fascism.

Fascist success in Australia had been aided by two Jesuits whom Il Duce had personally chosen for ‘mission’ in Australia the assistance by diplomats’ activity, the setting up of Fasci in several states, and the shared belief that Fascism cold be the only bulwark against Communism. The latter ‘conviction’ had aided Australian rulers and those who had been and were financially supporting in keeping a check on the activity of the unions.

A rough, inexperienced, militantly ignorant police found assistance in well positioned persons of Italian origin, many doctors, lawyers, teachers and officers whom less-educated Italians needed for everyday life. The history of Italian antifascism in Australia is full of names of such informers. Most of them saved their skin by carrying on this way. They joined in tormenting some poorchrist who had thought of coming all the way to Australia to escape from Fascist violence. They would encounter the ignorance and indifference of the police in several states. Some such refugees were herded off to local prisons to be fingerprinted, photographed and numbered. Camp authorities indifferently placed known Fascists and anti-Fascists together in the same barracks.

Internment often resulted in life-long, deep emotional scars, especially for the older men who had families. Many men lost their farms, homes or businesses, whilst other families struggled to survive under extreme conditions including acts of public hatred.

Some internees even lost their lives in Australia’s internment camps or the Civil Alien Corps under successive Australian governments of Menzies and Curtin. Others struggled in forced labour groups in the C.A.C. from 1943 to 1947. Without their breadwinner many families became destitute. Some of these impoverished women and children were even interned at the Tatura Camp in Victoria because they could not survive without an income.

In many military interrogations, Italian internees stated that they would willingly work in non-military essential services to support Australia on the home front, but would not fight. They were simply not fighting men. Most of them were not Fascist. In fact many of the Fascist Italians had succeeded in remaining free, in most cases because regarded with favour by Australians who had favoured and obsequiously visited Mussolini. They were devoted to what they considered ‘law and order’ as imposed by the Fascists in Italy.

Most of the Fascist Italians in Australia were left undisturbed. Similarly many Italians resident in Victoria who were neither pro or against the regime were able to continue to work in the community. To complicate matters, Italian families in Queensland were torn apart in 1942 when the Japanese attacked Darwin. Most of the almost 3,000 Italian cane cutters were sent to Loveday and Cowra internment camps. It was in Loveday that the Australian authorities had not cared to place together Fascist Italians and anti-Fascist Italians. The Loveday camp authorities rendered themselves complicit in the assassination of Francesco Fantin, a mild mannered Anarchist. He was killed by a Fascist thug under the indifferent eyes of the military guards. (M. Spizzica, When ethnicity counts: civilian internment in Australia during WW2’, theconversation.com, 20 September 2012 and V.G.Venturini, ‘Never give in – Three Italian antifascist exiles in Australia 1924-1956‘, Search Foundation, Sydney 2007).

Continued Wednesday – The HMT Dunera scandal (part 2)

Previous instalment – The Kimberley Plan

Dr. Venturino Giorgio Venturini devoted some seventy years to study, practice, teach, write and administer law at different places in four continents. He may be reached at George.venturini@bigpond.com.au.

 

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An Open Letter to Stuart Robert

The Hon Stuart Robert MP
Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme
Minister for Government Services
Parliament House
CANBERRA ACT 2600

Dear Mr Robert,

My name is Elliot Dolan-Evans and I am a voter in Footscray, Melbourne. I am currently completing a PhD at Monash University in political economy and feminist studies, I am a registered medical practitioner, and a law graduate awaiting admittance to the Supreme Court of Victoria.

I write this open letter to condemn the Robodebt Centrelink Scheme unequivocally and urge you to stop enforcing the unsubstantiated debts of vulnerable Australians. If this scheme is to continue at all, which it should not, then any Australian being contacted by Centrelink must be provided with all documents (including the Debt Schedule) that demonstrates the alleged debt, along with calculations and notes determining the alleged debt made by Centrelink, and free legal advice to effectively and fairly challenge it.

As a legal graduate, I am greatly concerned that the hundreds of thousands of Australians who have been contacted by Centrelink have not been given due process under the law. There is a lack of information provided by Centrelink in the first instance to their Robodebt, and even on subsequent requests for proof, Centrelink do not provide the required documents. I have been assisting several friends, colleagues and vulnerable members of the community, and not once has the Debt Schedule of the person alleged to have a debt ever voluntarily sent by Centrelink. Only through FOI requests does this occur, which is a process most Australians do not know how to initiate. Then, when the Debt Schedule is provided, there are no notes, no workings, and no indication as to how the Robodebt has been calculated. A vast majority of Australians do not understand their rights concerning Robodebt claims, do not know the correct process in obtaining documentation, and community legal clinics are so under-funded in this country, by the Australian government, there is no capacity to assist.

As a medical doctor, I am severely concerned that the harassment of vulnerable Australians with Robodebt claims is having a deleterious outcome on mental, and subsequently, physical health. The number of people that I have assisted, who are all predominantly university graduates and young, have been devastated mentally by the ordeal of Centrelink harassment and the quick referral to aggressive debt collectors. This is undeniably translating to poor physical health, and I have serious concerns for those more vulnerable. This is without mentioning the incredibly burdensome financial costs of unproven and unsubstantiated Robodebts. I assert, again, that these debts are unproven and unsubstantiated until Centrelink properly provides all documentation and explanation to those it is trying to extract money from. Otherwise, it is a complete abuse of government power and intimidation, towards people who generally do not have the tools and knowledge to challenge these Robodebts.

Again, I demand that the Centrelink Robodebt Scheme is immediately halted. The physical, financial, and mental impacts that it is having on Australians is absolutely and unequivocally damaging and is fundamentally unjust. For all of those who have been accused of having a debt, whether paid or not, Centrelink must provide all documentation relating to their debt immediately and provide free legal advice to help navigate these damaging accusations.

Kind Regards,

Elliot Dolan-Evans MBBS, LLB (Hons), BAppSci (Hons)

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Induced amnesia

By RosewmaryJ36 

Nowadays it seems strange watching TV, film productions and documentaries from more than 30 years ago. Nearly everybody in them seems to be smoking cigarettes!

OK, Joe Hockey and Matthias Cormann were caught smoking cigars only a few years back, although that was a drop in the ocean of his stupid behaviour when you think of the appalling budget he had just announced!

Do you remember how strenuously the major tobacco companies worked to deny that smoking tobacco was harmful? Nearly as strenuously as Hardie Industries fought to avoid paying compensation to those whose lives were drastically and painfully shortened because their lungs succumbed to mesothelioma.

It is now old news that in the late 1970s to early 1980s, as coal, oil and gas production was ramping up, some of the major companies involved in that production, commissioned research into the atmospheric consequences of increased emissions of CO2 and their predictions have proved remarkably – and alarmingly – accurate.

They subsequently paid considerable amounts for pseudo-scientists to refute the information. The success of that campaign is such that today, in Letters to the Editor of my local paper, yet one more brainwashed individual decries man-made global warming as a myth.

Feel free to fact-check the above!

What is the connection between this and tobacco?

Greed.

And where does amnesia come into the picture?

Mega global corporations like the oil and gas and, even now, tobacco, companies need to raise large profits to keep their shareholders happy. They have little compunction in lying and cheating in order to ensure those profits keep rolling in.

I was one of many who were conned into feeling more sophisticated if I nonchalantly waved a cigarette around on social occasions and I would have been far from alone in being guilty of causing others to suffer from passive smoking.

I gave up smoking at Easter, 1987, and am aware that I have probably not done my lungs any good. This morning I was talking to a neighbour who has just had surgery on her lungs and is waiting to hear whether further surgery will be required. Needless to say – she is an ex-smoker.

Australians are fortunate that we have had governments who have stood up to the tobacco companies, introduced plain packaging and reduced the numbers of locations where people can continue to smoke.

Unlike Indonesia, our country’s next-door neighbour, the number of smokers here has massively decreased and more and more people are being discouraged from taking up or continuing smoking.

Yet when it comes to our attitude to climate change, we seem to suffer from induced amnesia.

Once more we have major corporations, telling lies to ensure that they can keep the profits rolling in.

I would be curious to know how many of our decision makers have shares in the coal, gas, CSG and oil industries, because they seem desperately reluctant to accept the science and take effective measures to reduce emissions. Maybe the donations are big enough to induce amnesia!

Currently our government, maybe experiencing pangs of conscience over the effects of drought on our farmers, are throwing money around like confetti – some of which is being spent in ways totally unrelated to the drought.

The Murray Darling Basin Authority, having allowed capitalist approaches towards water to encourage non-water users to buy water rights, are responsible for exacerbating the adverse effects of the drought.

We now have rural communities with no potable water, yet, at the same time, big corporations are hoarding water to ensure successfully selling crops which are highly water-dependent. I do not know why we pay our politicians to run the country because by all accounts they are only doing a good job or running it into the ground, saddled with debt and disaster.

Don’t be fooled by the truly mythical importance of having a surplus! We have an overall debt which is massive compared with when the Coalition came to power. And the much-touted surplus is courtesy of taxes, paid by all, including the poor.

I suspect many people do not really understand a country’s finance system, so please bear with me for a necessarily simplified explanation.

Each year, the budget drawn up details what the governments intends spending, on what the money will be spent and how much money the government anticipates receiving from various sources – mainly a range of taxes and sometimes sale of assets.

If, in fact, the balance between income and expenditure is not achieved, then the government ends up with either a deficit or a surplus.

If a deficit, then it simply goes into debt by ‘borrowing’ through issuing government bonds. It will pay interest on these, they can be traded, and when they expire the government has to buy them back. If, however, a surplus is achieved, then the government has more money to either pay for existing or new services, or pay off existing debt by buying back bonds.

The latest tax cutting exercise has not achieved the claimed outcome of boosting spending to enliven the economy, and the people most in need of government assistance are being given short shrift and accused of being on drugs.

Not only that, but the government, has failed to devise any tax measures that ensure that global corporations trading in this country pay their fair share of taxes. Instead it devises possibly illegal schemes to claw back possibly notional debts from welfare recipients.

Talk about robbing the poor to further enrich the wealthy!

Back to the main theme.

The underlying problems which affect us are a result of greed.

Corporations have a duty to act in the best interests of their shareholders – who did very nicely from all the schemes which were exposed during the recent Royal Commission into the finance sector.

We do not help ourselves by allowing ourselves to suffer amnesia.

We forget the history of tobacco so we do not recognise the truth when it comes to global warming/climate change/the climate emergency – call it what you will. It represents a pattern affecting the world, bringing increasingly severe weather events – hurricanes, cyclones, droughts, floods, landslides, rising sea levels, melting polar ice – over which we have little control.

WE DO HAVE SOME CONTROL OVER THE INCREASING SEVERITY IF WE REDUCE EMISSIONS AS MUCH AND AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

That way we can limit the extent to which temperatures will rise but it is now unlikely that we can reverse the situation greed has created!

They say you get the government you deserve.

In that case we all deserve to get the hell out of our world, because the government’s inaction is ensuring that the world will become an increasingly unpleasant place to try to live!

And – sorry! There is no Planet B! Certainly not in the time frame left to us!

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Mental health perfect storm

Media release from the Office of the Public Advocate

Assaults and violence in Victorian mental health facilities drawn to the attention of Community Visitors have increased by 77 per cent in the last two years.

Public Advocate and chair of the Community Visitor boards, Colleen Pearce, said that the figures – 101 in 2017 and 179 this year and published in the volunteers’ annual report today – were the “tip of the iceberg” because many incidents involving the one patient can be recorded as only one incident. In addition, Community Visitors get their information from viewing incident reports and access was only provided in 51 per cent of visits last year.

“Insufficient beds is one of the key reasons for assaults and violence in the mental health system because critically unwell people cannot get help until they are at risk to themselves or others,” Dr Pearce said.

Violence was also an issue in facilities for the aged where a high number of assaults, including physical and sexual, continued. One Community Visitor reported a patient punched a nurse in the face and attacked them with a chair. The nurse had to go to emergency. One facility saw 13 incidents in two months including 11 aggressions against staff.

Dr Pearce said these issues would only be addressed with more staff as well as better-designed facilities to allow full view of a unit, and with greater investment in therapeutic activities.

Another critical issue was that patients were often being discharged with nowhere to go. One patient in Hume was discharged to homelessness with a coat and a sleeping bag.

Unstable accommodation continued to be a serious issue, Dr Pearce said, with adverse consequences for people’s recovery and often leading to revolving-door admissions.

Of 92 patients who have been in facilities long-term, 25 cannot be discharged because there was nowhere suitable for them to go.

Other issues included staff shortages, especially in some regions like Hume, suicides and self-harm, staff recruitment and retention issues due to workplace violence, gender safety, plus restraint and seclusion.

This year, 80 volunteer Community Visitors made 1670 visits to 170 units across the state identifying 1486 issues.

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Can the Federal LNP deliver its Flatter Taxation Scales in a Slowing Economy?

By Denis Bright  

Just four months out from the federal election, current indicators do suggest that the federal LNP is fumbling the future of the investment sector of the Australian economy to achieve its short-medium term budget projections and to appease the erratic policies of the Trump Administration.

The IMF data on economic growth trends in Australia confirms the state of flux relating to federal budget projections and delivery of planned tax cuts for higher income earners. These trends will not be unscrambled until the release of the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) by early December 2019.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann is still optimistic about future delivery of a fiscal balance for 2019-2020 without depressing economic growth projections or causing unemployment levels to rise further.

A key variable in this balancing act is the strength of the public sector spending at both state and federal levels as well as positive trend-lines for commodity and service exports. This favourable mix is marred by data for private sector capital investment over the last two quarters. Release of the September Quarter data on 28 November 2019 will be eagerly awaited. A continuation of the negative trends will be bad news for budget strategies for 2020-21, rather than in the current financial year.

Australia Private Capital Expenditure

To meet its budget targets, the federal LNP is now reigning in the growth in public sector. Probono Australia has revealed the benefits of under-spending on National Disability Insurance (NDIS) to the federal LNP’s efforts to maintain current budget surplus projections for 2019-20 (Luke Michael, ‘NDIS underspend helps return budget to the brink of surplus‘, 20 September 2019):

The federal government spent $4.6 billion less on the National Disability Insurance Scheme than expected because of delays getting people into the program, new budget figures reveal.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Thursday announced the final budget outcome for 2018-19, showing a deficit of $690 million – $13.8 billion less than what the 2018 budget predicted.

This improved financial position ­– which leaves the budget on the brink of surplus for the first time since 2007-08 – was built on the back of underspending in areas including the NDIS.

The government says this underspend is a result of a slower than expected transition of people into the NDIS, but critics argue the money should be spent fixing various problems plaguing the scheme.

Frydenberg said the NDIS was a “demand driven system”, meaning that a slower uptake of the scheme resulted in less money being spent.

“This is in part because of the delays in some of the states coming on board, and also because it’s taken a bit more time for the service provider market to develop sufficiently to meet the available demand,” Frydenberg said.

 

Caution with the delivery of future Newstart increases and the delivery of NDIS will assist in the extension of taxation relief that is skewed to middle- and upper-income households as promised in the 2019-2020 federal budget.

Support for market-oriented strategies of the federal LNP came from the US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross on his Australian visit with one important policy recommendation (The Australian, Geoff Chambers, ‘Tax cuts key to driving revival, says Wilbur Ross‘, 10 October 2019):

US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross has suggested Australia could increase its global competitiveness and attract direct foreign investment if it replicated Donald Trump’s corporate tax cuts.

Speaking to The Australian on Wednesday, Mr Ross — one of Mr Trump’s closest advisers — said the US company tax cuts combined with regulatory reform had worked “very, very well”.

Wilbur Ross should have added a note of caution to his Aussie Allies Down Under as shown by the latest data from his own Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) in his own US Department of Commerce as released on 24 July 2019:

Direct Investment by Country and Industry, 2018

The U.S. direct investment abroad position, or cumulative level of investment, decreased $62.3 billion to $5.95 trillion at the end of 2018 from $6.01 trillion at the end of 2017, according to statistics released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The decrease was due to the repatriation of accumulated prior earnings by U.S. multinationals from their foreign affiliates, largely in response to the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The decrease reflected a $75.8 billion decrease in the position in Latin America and Other Western Hemisphere locations, primarily in Bermuda. By industry, holding company affiliates owned by U.S. manufacturers accounted for most of the decrease.

The foreign direct investment in the United States position increased $319.1 billion to $4.34 trillion at the end of 2018 from $4.03 trillion at the end of 2017. The increase mainly reflected a $226.1 billion increase in the position from Europe, primarily the Netherlands and Ireland. By industry, affiliates in manufacturing, retail trade, and real estate accounted for the largest increases.

US Investment plays a relatively minor role in the Asia Pacific Region compared with commercial interactions with Britain and Europe as well as countries in the American Hemisphere from Canada to Central and South America:

Making America Great Strategies have resulted in a decline in US Capital Flows across the Asia Pacific Region between 2017 and 2018. Australia is an exception to the regional trends and provides the US with highly favourable surpluses for trade in commodities and services as well as capital flows.

Days after this visit to Australia by Wilbur Ross, President Trump announced new compromises in his trade and investment war with China that undercut our own export gains in the Asia Pacific Region in favour of new export incentives from the US farm lobby.

The honeymoon after the last election may still be in session.  As the rhetorical euphoria continues, it is time for Aussies to do a fact check of our unfavourable commercial relations with the USA. The   Trump Administration has left Australians high and dry in a slowing global economy as the Trade and Investment War is replaced by a new Lovefest with China to the cheers from the US farm and resource sector lobbies which are our real competitors on the world market.

It’s surely time for our federal LNP leaders to show a spark of independence in defending Australia’s commercial sovereignty within the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement as President Trump focuses on his re-election strategies for November 2020.

Denis Bright (pictured) is a member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis is committed to citizens’ journalism from a critical, structuralist perspective. Comments from Insiders with a specialist knowledge of the topics covered are particularly welcome.

 

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NDIS red-tape leaves vulnerable Victorians in abusive homes

Media release from the Office of the Public Advocate

Vulnerable Victorians living in disability accommodation remain in abusive situations for months due to NDIS bureaucracy.

This was a key finding the Community Visitors Annual Report, tabled in State Parliament today.

Nearly half of all serious incidents in disability group homes reported by the visitors each year relate to violence between co-residents, with 133 notifications being made this year to the Disability Services Commissioner (DSC). [p. 19]

Public Advocate and chair of the Community Visitor boards, Colleen Pearce, said that despite the number of recent inquiries into violence against people with disability, co-resident violence had received “little practical attention.”

The visitors report [p. 22] that one female resident suffered traumatic abuse from another but had been unable to move to another group home for at least five months, despite the support of her legal advocate and the DSC.

NDIS participants require their plans to be reviewed to move from one group home to another, even if the funding is the same. As well, an occupational therapist’s assessment is needed, however, NDIA pre-approval is needed first which involves a lengthy wait then a ten-week wait before the assessment and, only then, can a plan review be scheduled, which generally takes months.

In this case, the assessment was rescheduled several times from February because the NDIS delegate or the resident’s lawyer were unavailable.

Dr Pearce said that resident-on-resident violence and abuse in group homes was not uncommon.

“There are multiple instances where residents have expressed to Community Visitors how fearful they are in their own homes, and how they often choose to stay in their own rooms rather than interact in shared living spaces.”

Other issues identified include inappropriate environment for residents, lack of continuity of staffing and use of restrictive interventions.

This year, 266 volunteer Community Visitors made 2952 visits to 1148 units across the state, identifying 3806 new issues.

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Don’t blame Anangu!

By Tjimpuna Ruby Anangu Mayatja Council of Elders

Uluru climb incident yesterday with the 12yo girl her injuries were much worse than what was reported.

She lost her grip on the chain and slipped, fell backwards and rolled 5 to 6 times. The result was she broke or dislocated multiple fingers, lost a tooth, suffered head injuries, a cracked pelvis, a compound fracture in left ankle, and a ‘possible’ broken left collar bone.

Her dad carried her down. The girl was screaming.

Mum (paramedic) and Dad was in shock, to the extent of being unable to even state their names.

Mum and Dad argued over ambulance cover and how much its gonna cost them.

Ambulance radio stated; “Don’t move kid or give her anything. And that they are coming whether Mum and Dad want them or not.”

The parents refused the ambulance. Instead, they put her in their rental and drove like mad to Yulara Clinic.

There is no honour from PARKS AUSTRALIA to Anangu Traditional Owners at the moment. You can even date that back to 1996.

Anangu Nguraritja request two months ago was to have 100 people on climb per hour due to crowding, safety and stress on park ranger doing rock rescues. It was laughed at and ignored.

So if someone dies before next weekend don’t blame Anangu. Blame PARKS AUSTRALIA.

This post was originally published on Tjimpuna’s Facebook page.

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Look on…

By Jon Chesterson  

LOOK ON IN THE ABSENT HALLS OF OUR OWN CONSCIENCE, THE HUNGRY WALLS OF OUR OWN LIVING ROOMS, LOOK ON…

One cannot gloss over what has happened!

We witnessed the brutal cruelty and destruction of Afghanistan and its people at the hands of the Taliban.

We witnessed the brutal wars on neighbouring countries, ethnic minorities and its own people in Iraq at the hands of Saddam Hussein.

We witnessed the total destruction of civil war in Syria and the devastation of its cities and people.

We continue to see the brutality levied by Israel and its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu in Lebanon and Israel on the Palestinian people.

We have seen the brutal acts of terrorism across the world at the hands of ISIS; and ignored the far greater threat to democracy by our own western governments, which use this as propaganda against human rights, their own people and constitutional freedom and democracy.

And while all this has been going on, we have silently witnessed and ignored our own complicit terrorist acts against Yemen at the hands of the Saudi king and president, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, as the West supply the Saudi- led Arab coalition with military arms to systematically bombard and indiscriminately destroy the men, women and children of Yemen.

We witness Trump rattling his lips and sabre against Turkey, Iran and refugees, and like the fake presidential coward and mercenary he is, he acts only in his own inseparable corporate and political interests, to secure his own moribund electorate and hungry games. We witness Morrison and Dutton in Australia, who in all likelihood are far worse as they tighten their demonic grip on democracy and rattle their delusional snake-strung evangelical tongues.

As a result of our own political navel gazing, we have ignored the catastrophic impact ISIS, successive regimes and dictators have had throughout the Middle East and the rest of the world; and on the eve of the latest campaign, this crusade – withdrawn from Syria’s borders and abandoned the Kurds, who not only fought as allies against ISIS, but now face the brutality of Turkey’s foreign policy at the hands of Tayyip Erdoğan, and more genocide to follow.

The Kurds are a people who are familiar with this cruelty and national obsession, as they continue to be demonised and eradicated not just by ISIS, but Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran, they have no homeland and nowhere else to go. By now we should be familiar with this systematic pattern of human abuse across our planet, the repeated history glossed over and our part in it. But are we?

The heinous crime of Western countries is to have allowed extremist groups like ISIS, Taliban, dictators and cruel regimes around the world to flourish, while imposing and justifying our own outlandish empires; and now we do it again. We create the vacuum for their success and look on, worse we install and feed these cruel regimes with sick diplomacy and arms. And when we are done we turn our gaze on refugees fleeing from these rivers of blood and cruel regions, lock their people up in prisons, we turn our propaganda machine on the people who flee the tyranny of their oppressors to be subjugated and demonised within and just off our very own shores and borders.

And when that campaign wears thin, the evil eye of Sauron turns on its own people, lighting up domestic fires, demonising the poor, unemployed, students, the elderly, humanitarians, peaceful protesters, our own social and ethnic minorities, those who are sick of this wretched and cruel neoliberal straight jacket, our commercial bombshell.

As the Kurds defend democracy first against neighbouring countries in the region, ISIS and now Turkey, the West once again abandon their supposed allies. Behrouz Bouchani, a Kurd and journalist fleeing from Iran has been imprisoned on Manus and now PNG for the past 6 years, since 2013. He has become the offshore absent conscience of Australian politics. He is one of Australia’s many political prisoners and yet he has committed no crime, broken no law, there has been no charge, no lawful detention or justice. All he ever wanted was to report the abuse, to tell the truth, to live, to be free. He is one of the many. Morrison and Dutton look on.

We like to watch our TV, we witness, we gloss over and we allow this injustice to continue on all fronts, even in our own country, in the absent halls of our own conscience.

Look on…

GODLESS MOUNTAIN

For sake of the
crusade I learn
to slaughter men,
women and children

For sake of a
godless world
I substitute freedom
for religion

For sake of peace
I keep my mouth
shut, eyes closed
to death and suffering

For sake of
humanity I live
with the knowledge
of shame and doubt

If I could climb a tree
and shake the
mountain, I’d
paint the sky myself

and live without

(AB, 4 July 2019)


Poem first published in Poetry is a Mountain: A Poetry Anthology, 17 September 2019, Kevin Watt (eds), Independently published, San Jose CA, Amazon.
Source: https://allpoetry.com/poem/14593002–Godless-Mountain-by-Barddylbach

Reference: Kurdish refugee Behrouz Boochani warns of ‘genocide’ in northern Syria, Nick Baker, 15 October 2019, SBS Australia.

 

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The Kimberley Plan

By Dr George Venturini  

The Kimberley Plan

Just before the outbreak of second world war, a bold plan was proposed by Dr. Isaac Nachman Steinberg, a man with a most interesting past: he was a Russian lawyer, and had been a Socialist Revolutionary, politician. He had been People’s Commissar of Justice in Vladimir Lenin’s government during the Bolsheviks’ short-lived coalition with the left wing of the Socialist Revolutionary movement. He was still a leader of the Jewish Territorialist movement and a writer – and subsequently in exile.

In 1939 the Freeland League for Jewish Territorial Colonisation, formed in the United States in July 1935 to search for a potential Jewish homeland and haven, identified the Kimberley in Western Australia as a place to resettle 75,000 European Jews fleeing rampant anti-Semitism.

The League was a non-Zionist organisation, and was headed by Dr. Steinberg.

The League sent a Yiddish poet and essayist Melech Ravitch to the Northern Territory in the 1930s to investigate the region and to collect data on topography and climate.

In late 1938 or early 1939 the pastoral firm of Mr. Michael Durack in Australia offered the League about 16,500 square kilometres in the Kimberley region in Australia, stretching from the north of Western Australia into the Northern Territory.

The League investigated the proposal, hoping to buy an area of 28,000 square kilometres of agricultural land for 75,000 Jews fleeing Europe. The tract in question was that of Connor, Doherty and Durack Limited, including Auvergne Station, Newry Station, and Argyle Downs, and extending between the Ord and Victoria Rivers.

Map showing the proposed settlement areas for the Kimberley Scheme. (Supplied by the Kununurra Historical Society)

Under the plan, an initial 500-600 pioneers would arrive to construct basic necessities for the settlement such as homes, irrigation works, and a power station, followed by the arrival of the main body of immigrants. Ravitch in his report to the League promoted a very large number, suggesting that the area could accommodate a million Jewish refugees.

The League sent Dr. Steinberg to lobby the Australian Government to accept the scheme. He arrived in Perth on 23 May 1939. An indefatigable publicist for the Kimberley scheme, he appealed to people both on humanitarian grounds but based his campaign on the officially declared need by Australia to populate northern Australia.

His proposal to the federal and state governments was “to open your gates to the persecuted Jewish people of Europe, and let them help transform the landscape into a productive agricultural hub.”

Dr. Steinberg’s vision, complete with the land’s new inhabitants “writing Jewish poetry about kangaroos and laughing kookaburras”, was embraced enthusiastically by many and gained the support of the then Western Australian Premier John Collings Willcock.

The scheme’s urgency was understood by many in Australia.

Government committees were looking at it, people mobilised in support of it, some churches campaigned for it, trade unions favoured it, and even businesspeople campaigned for it.

By early 1940 Dr. Steinberg had gained the support of major newspapers such as The Sydney Morning Herald, The (Melbourne) Argus and The West Australian.

But Dr. Steinberg also encountered opposition: from the Bulletin, Smith’s Weekly, some daily newspapers and several politicians, whose arguments ranged from the practical to the xenophobic and racist. For their part, many Australian Jews criticised the proposed settlement: some feared that it would provoke a wave of anti-Semitism in Australia, while others saw it as a threat to the Zionist cause.

Dr. Steinberg would leave Australia in June 1943 to rejoin his family in Canada.

A 1944 opinion poll found that 47 per cent of Australians opposed the scheme. Opposition was primarily based on concerns that the settlers would inevitably drift away from Kimberley and begin migrating to the cities in large numbers.

Despite sustained support for the Kimberley Scheme immigration programme from powerful sectors of the Australian community, it was eventually vetoed by the Federal Government.

On 15 July 1944 the scheme was vetoed by the Labor Government of John Curtin (1941-1945). Prime Minister Curtin informed Dr. Steinberg that the Australian government would not “depart from the long-established policy in regard to alien settlement in Australia” and could not “entertain the proposal for a group settlement of the exclusive type contemplated by the Freeland League.”

The Menzies Government (1949-1966) believed that the creation of “distinctive alien communities” would not be in the national interest.

A confidential Cabinet memorandum published on 19 May 1950, shows the Cabinet decided that: “The Commonwealth does not favour the settlement of any one area by a group of migrants as the establishment of an isolated community of migrants is contrary to the Government’s assimilation aims.”

The Menzies Cabinet blocked the Kimberly proposal, despite strong support from other quarters of the community.

Mr. Warren Austin of the Jewish Historical and Genealogical Society of Western Australia said such views were typical at the time.

“At that stage we had a White Australia policy and I think what the Government was interested in was having British stock coming here,” Mr. Austin said. “Of course, if it had gone ahead, a number of people’s lives might have been saved from the Holocaust because they would have come to Australia. I think that would be a fact.”

Though the immigration drive was never realised, many believe the proposal had a lasting impact.

Kununurra Historical Society member Mr. Andrew Barker said that Dr. Steinberg’s visit to the Kimberley region inspired the Durack family to increase their efforts to make the region agriculturally viable.

“The sort of stuff Steinberg would have been talking about, like cities of millions and dams and canning factories. This would have been enthusing Kim Durack,” he said.

“You could say that Steinberg enthused Kim Durack to start off what we have today as the Ord Scheme.”

Descendant of the Durack family, Ms. Perpetua Durack Clancy, said that Dr. Steinberg made a good impression on her family, who offered more than 27,000 square kilometres of leasehold land to the Freehand League.

Ms. Durack Clancy said her family supported the scheme going ahead.

“They [the Durack family] were ready for change. It had been a struggle for a long time and by 1939 the Depression that hit the Kimberley very heavily was just emerging.” she said.

Ms. Durack Clancy said the Kimberley region would be a very different place had the scheme gone ahead.

“Not only Australia but the whole of the Kimberley would have been different,” she said. (O. Gordon, ‘Israel in the Kimberley: How the Top End nearly became a global Jewish hub’, abc.net.au, 20 March 2018)

In 1948 Dr. Steinberg published a book on his experience. (I. N. Steinberg, Australia – the Unpromised Land: in search of a home, Gollancz, London 1948).

After the State of Israel was established in 1948 Dr. Steinberg tried once more – unsuccessfully – approaching the newly re-elected Robert Menzies in 1950. But Menzies replied that the idea ran contrary to his government’s policy of assimilation aimed at achieving “the ideal of one Australian family of peoples, devoid of foreign communities.” (A. Casey, ‘The Un-promised land’, Workers Online, 17 May 2002, Issue No. 136).

Dr. Steinberg died suddenly on 2 January 1957 in New York. His close friend Erich Fromm wrote: “Many people would have called Isaac Steinberg a dreamer, or a visionary, and yet, he was one of the true, and unfortunately few, realists of our time.” (B. Hooper, Steinberg, Isaac Nachman (1888-1957), Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, Melbourne University Press, 2002, at 298-299).

Continued Saturday –  The HMT Dunera scandal (part 1)

Previous instalment – The Évian Conference

Dr. Venturino Giorgio Venturini devoted some seventy years to study, practice, teach, write and administer law at different places in four continents. He may be reached at George.venturini@bigpond.com.au.

 

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The Antichrist is a potato

By Grumpy Geezer  

Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there!
He wasn’t there again today,
Oh how I wish he’d go away!

When I came home last night at three,
The man was waiting there for me
But when I looked around the hall,
I couldn’t see him there at all!
Go away, go away, don’t you come back any more!
Go away, go away, and please don’t slam the door…

Last night I saw upon the stair,
A little man who wasn’t there,
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away…

(Antigonish, William Hughes Mearns, 1899).

He’s still there Scotty, standing right behind you; those vacant, hooded eyes in that cadaverous countenance are studying your shoulder blades. You’ll feel his fetid breath quicken and sense his arousal as he imagines plunging the shiv. The Prince Of Darkness, in the form of a potato, is getting tetchy.

* * * * *

Herr Kipfler, the dismal Dutton, will not be denied his ultimate prize – the triumph of the dark forces of uniformed goons and hoodlums of his Gestapotato as the absolute political authority with himself as Ubermensch. Not satisfied with effectively being Skidmark Morrison’s number 2 he desperately wants to take his place on the throne*.

(*Sorry, but the poo jokes are too tempting – Skiddy’s early release of a chocolate hostage in Engadine Maccers is just so emblematic of his political style – “I’ll just drop this here and move along”).

And, who knew… his contrived daggy dad routine had literal origins.

Spud-Dutton, the dark lord, is plotting and scheming; testing the mettle of Skiddy the great pretender by publicly opining on subjects that are still, as yet, outside of the broad-reaching netherworld that he’d built for himself when Trembles Turnbull as PM meekly surrendered his balls to the dark side.

Spud on China

Spud is not the ripest legume from the Lib’s veggie patch; he’s a man who thinks the Terracotta Army are soccer supporters from the small Balkans country of Terra Cotia, so when calling out the Chinese in Skiddy’s absence there was no thought given beyond poking the dragon for effect –

  • geeing up the winged monkeys of the lunar right by flashing his tough guy credentials to garner commitment to his evolving coup, and
  • daring Skiddy to call him out – anything less demonstrates that Morrison is weak and vulnerable.

The crusty-trousered clown from The Shire may have been the winner from the Liberal’s last season of Survivor but his aberrant dedication to trickle-down theocracy, the painting of his farts as rainbows and his arrogant avoidance of accountability will make for a bad look as the next election draws closer and the dupes start to reach for the smirk removal cream.

Surely though the feculence that is Dutton is beyond the pale, even for the Nasties? Howard was abhorrent, Abbott was ludicrous, Morrison is appalling and yet all three were embraced by the lead paint lickers who now dominate their party. Consider a random sample of the trough snorkellers who will be called upon to back the uber tuber – those grifters and gleaners who’re swamping the drain:

Count Yorga impersonator Kevin Andrews – who, upon emerging from his crypt and opening an umbrella has people thinking he’s turning into a bat.

Grecian 2000 poisoning had Kev fancying himself as PM material at one time but his inability to form an image in a mirror or cast a shadow spooks the punters.

Kev could boost Spud’s appeal to the hordes of undead – those wrinkled masses of “where’s my franking credits” fogies who would sell their grandchildren’s future for a discount coupon at the bingo.

Eric Fabio Abetz has given up on his dreams of invading Poland, stripped to the waist on a panzer turret with blonde Aryan locks streaming in the wind as he rushes towards Warsaw. These days Fabio is holed up in Hobart managing his real estate portfolio, peeling oranges in his pocket to avoid sharing and licking his Tony Abbott bicycle seat collection.

The promise of a promotion to Reichsinspekteur of Tasmania could see Fabio endorsing Spud’s pending night of the long knives.

James Paterson. Monty Burns’ love child, little Jimmy yearns for the day when he can grow a toothbrush moustache on his upper lip rather than having to train his emergent pubes into a fuzzy replica.

James would make an excellent apprentice for Spud, striding along the razor wire in black uniform poking the Newstart queues with his riding crop while fondling his sidearm.

This smarmy arse-dandruff is the future of the Nasties? FMD!

Michaelia Cash, with alsatian at her side, snarling and foaming at the mouth (her, not the dog) hauling unionists from their beds, boiling bunnies and foreclosing on orphanages is a nightmare in a trouser suit.

I’ve seen more attractive heads hanging out of a poacher’s pocket. This dunking stool passenger is ugly inside and out and hence an ideal candidate for Spud’s front bench.

Image from YouTube

Anne Ruston. Equipped with a face like a kelpie’s chew toy, a fully functional FMD chromosome and delusions of adequacy, Ruston is yet another bible-toting myopic moron from the Nasty Party book-burners’ club.

This scatologist’s specimen is one more six-fingered bandit who, on $200,000 p.a. + grift, thinks that $40 per day of Newstart is a disincentive to finding work. Ruston would be right at home in a filth-filled, fly-blown garbage skip i.e. any possible Dutton government.

* * * * *

These are but a very few random examples of those who could back Dutton, Beelzebub in sub-human form, to deliver another spill.

Morrison’s new threshold for a leadership change requires two-thirds of the party-room vote to trigger a spill motion, which is a difficult hurdle for Spud to overcome particularly given his Wile E. Coyote-level logistical skills.

However, despite Skiddy Morrison’s pretence that the Nasties are a “united team” they remain a  tumult of hatreds, unfulfilled vendettas, venality and ugly ambition.

Skiddy’s daggy dad contrivance is devolving into a bogan-in-Bali national embarrassment, Labor is finally starting to show some mongrel by targeting his weak spots (some may say wet spots) and Morrison’s notionless floundering on any and all issues is becoming too obvious to ignore.

The real intrigue however is what Dutton’s pet spooks may have to use on Morrison and how Dutton may play those cards.

Red Gladys, Chinese Communist Party enthusiast, Liberal member for Chisholm and ASIO person of interest

Prolific fund raiser and poster child of the Chinese Communist Party, Gladys Liu is skilled in the art of hiding in plain sight. With the Lib’s habit of looking the other way when large donations are involved she could’ve rolled up to her preselection in a Chinese tank, the pulped entrails of Tianamen protesters congealed in its tracks, a burning Tibetan flag flapping and a cock & balls drawn on her forehead in day-glo lipstick and the Lib’s would’ve just made sure the cash was banked before validating her parking.

The Libs left it to Gladys to investigate herself on allegations she’s a Chinese government agent of influence and to no-one’s surprise she’s returned a verdict of not guilty.

But Spud’s spook pals will have the full skinny on Glad – some leverage for her vote for a spill perhaps?

Brian Houston, Jesus-R-Us CEO, entrepeneur, financial planner and Skidmark’s BFF

After airing the TV pilot of ScoMo Does Jesus At Horizon Church and Audi Showroom our proselytizing Prime Minister seems to have cooled on that particular maketing initiative, getting surly and evasive when his best bud Brian from Hillsong is mentioned in context of Scotty and Brian’s excellent adventure to Trumpworld.

Dutton knows that Morrison’s bizarre brand of Jesusing and his default to prayer as a viable option for addressing climate change is a troubling dimension to his character. I’m willing to bet that as environmental crises and public discontent builds that Dutton will ramp up the demonising of protesters and dissident oganisations as a dog-whistle to the Nasty’s hardcore climate troglodytes – man of action vs Morrison’s prayerful phaffing.

Burned Spy

This is pure gold. QAnon is a right-wing conspiracy fantasy – QAnon’s central premise is that Donald Trump is secretly working to take down a global ring of elite, cannibalistic, satanic paedophiles.

QAnon is listed on the FBI Domestic Terrorism Watch List and has been associated with 8chan, where many members discussed and celebrated the mass shootings in Texas and in Christchurch.

“One of the bigger QAnon followers in Australia tweets under the handle @BurnedSpy34. He has over 21,000 Twitter followers and tweets QAnon-related thoughts and memes, plus original posts about consciousness. Like many QAnon followers, his political theories are bizarre, sometimes veering into sheer fantasy.”(Newsweek).

@BurnedSpy34 is close family friend of Morrison’s and his wife works on the PM’s staff.

You can bet your left bollock that Spud has mined all the info he can on this guy and will have this prepared as a potential coup de gras for his godly nemesis Scotty.

* * * * *

Dutton won’t want to stand idle as we get closer to another election and his prospect of multiple terms in opposition. He’ll be getting antsy and Morrison will be getting nervous. If you think Morrison is an appallingly incompetent and dodgy PM you’d be right – but should the satanic potato succeed we’ll be truly on a highway to hell.

 

This article was originally published on The Grumpy Geezer.

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Religious protection – or protection FROM religious bigotry?

By RosemaryJ36  

I have just emailed this to my Federal member who is a practising Catholic:

“I was born in the UK and my maternal grandfather was a Minister in the Church of Christ – very like the Baptist Church.

For a variety of reasons, we ended up attending a low church C of E, and my secondary education was in a C of E Grammar School, where the school’s charter required us to study the scriptures, while in senior years we studied Comparative Religion.

I am now an agnostic but my moral values are based on the teachings of Jesus Christ.

I think that it is morally wrong for the Christian churches to insist that the Bible is ‘the truth’ when it is actually based on mankind’s flawed knowledge, and much more of ‘the truth’ has been – and is being – revealed by scientific research.

Just think about the sun going round the earth! Or the creation of the world in 7 days! And – yes – there are many who believe that is true!

In my view, differences between and within various religions are responsible for a great deal of unnecessary friction – Catholic vs Protestant, Shi’a vs Sunni on top of Muslim vs Christian etc.

I think religion should remain a private matter and, where modern science has proved the bible’s ‘truth’ to be false, this must be officially accepted.

Members of the LGBTIQ community continue to be vilified by so-called Christians – AND Muslims – while – through no fault of their own – their ‘difference’ from the dichotomous norm was established before they were born.

The ignorance and bigotry of many who claim to believe in a god, yet who totally fail to live according to the teachings enshrined in their holy works, does major damage to a cohesive society.

I think the idea of providing additional protection to those who wish to follow a religion is, IMHO, a grave error.

Australia is a secular country but the right to follow a religion is guaranteed by the Constitution.

The proposed Bill is, I believe, both unnecessary and more likely to cause harm than good.

Certainly the LGBTIQ – faced with the fact that the ‘beliefs’ of the religious ignore the truth of the determination of sexual orientation – are right to fear that more zealots like Israel Folau and those of his cult, will damage their lives.

Maybe there is one or more gods – we will never know in this life. Those who believe in an afterlife will duly find out whether their belief is well-founded.

But in this life, “Do as you would be done by” and following the advice given in the parable of the Good Samaritan (note particularly Jesus Christ’s condemnation of the priest and the Levi for their failure to help the stranger, with its less than subtle rebuke for NOT practising what they preach) provide excellent guidance for lives which do not hurt others.

I do not think the proposed legislation is necessary and it is more likely to cause harm than protect anyone.

I do not deny you the right to follow your beliefs but express concern that faith can enshrine error and ignorance.”

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Is Donald Trump mad? (Revisited)

By Ad astra  

Around two years ago, The Political Sword published Is Donald Trump mad? In November of last year, it published Is Donald Trump crumbling?

It could be argued that Trump’s recent behaviour warrants another such article. But why bother? We’ve said it all before, as have columnists the world over.

Trump’s recent behaviour has been characterized by requests directed to the Ukraine leader, Volodymyr Zelensky, and less specifically, to ‘China’, to ‘investigate’ his adversary Joe Biden, and his son Hunter, whom Trump accuses of corruption. This foray portrays an even more bizarre motive than most – to discredit a possible opponent in the 2020 Presidential election. Biden may not be his opponent, but Trump, exposing his deep-seated paranoia, wants to kill him off politically well ahead of time.

More recently, Trump announced that he was withdrawing his troops from Syria’s border with Turkey to allow Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to carry out a plan to create what Erdogan calls a ‘safe zone’ in northern Syria. This move has evoked astonishment, anger and trenchant criticism from fellow Republicans, who regard this precipitous move as foolhardy and dangerous. Many regard the deserting of the Kurds, a loyal ally against Islamic State, as reprehensible. The awful outcome of Erdogan’s invasion of Syria is being displayed on our TV screens every day. Islamic State fighters may soon be unleashed once more to wreak the brutal havoc they have exhibited in the past.

So instead of repeating the well-worn words of dismay that you are now reading in countless political columns, let me remind you of what we’ve said previously.

Here’s the introduction to Is Donald Trump Mad?

No, I don’t mean ‘hopping mad’. We know that he is hopping mad with the media and its ‘fake news’, with CNN particularly, and with some of its commentators whom he has chosen to label as intellectually deficient, and unpleasant to the eyes (bleeding from a face lift!).

We know he is hopping mad about the criticism he attracts. We know he prefers admiration, adulation, even reverence. We know he craves the hero worship he received as host and star in his TV reality show The Apprentice. We know he needs his image to be polished endlessly. Fame is more important to him than fortune.

No, I mean ‘mad’ in the clinical sense, in the sense of the many synonyms of the word: mentally disturbed, insane, lunatic, maniacal, even crazy or crazed. Some peri-clinical synonyms of ‘mad’ too might be applicable: unstable, erratic, unsafe, dangerous, perilous, foolish, even senseless.

‘Mad’ derives in part from the Old English ‘gemædde’: ‘out of one’s mind’, ‘extremely stupid’, ‘insane’ or ‘foolish’.

Do you see a nexus between these words and Trump’s behaviour?

Let me present you with some evidence so that you can make up your own mind about whether Donald John Trump, President of the United States of America is indeed ‘mad’.

Click here to read the whole piece.

Now, read the beginning of Is Donald Trump crumbling?:

As you witness the increasingly bizarre behaviour of Donald Trump, the President of the United States, the mightiest nation on earth, do you wonder about his mental state? Do you speculate about his stability, his judgement, his reasoning? Recent events, piled on each other, beg the question; ”Is Donald Trump crumbling”?

Mental deterioration can afflict any of us quite suddenly. On the other hand, it can overcome us in a number of smaller steps. Could this be the case with Donald Trump?

Let’s recount some recent events that are indicative.

Take the devastating fires in Southern California that Vox described ”…as the single most destructive and third-deadliest fire in state history”. In its account of the fires, Reuters  reported: ”Donald Trump is known for his fiery comments, but his recent tweet has outraged prominent celebrities who slammed it as ‘demented’.

What did he say? Did he empathise with those who had lost their houses? Did he express horror at the appalling loss of life? No. He reflected on the emergency, in a Tweet of course, with: “There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!” A dire threat as a proxy for empathy!

This example alone is sufficient to raise the suspicion of significant mental deterioration, even in someone as bizarre as Trump.

The president of the California Professional Firefighters assailed Trump with “The president’s message attacking California and threatening to withhold aid to the victims of the cataclysmic fires is ill-informed, ill-timed and demeaning to those who are suffering as well as the men and women on the front lines.” Celebrities lashed out at Trump’s ’ill-judged and out-of-touch’ tweet as an absolutely heartless response…there aren’t even politics involved. As you tweet, there are good American families losing their homes and evacuating into shelters.”

But that’s just the start. Read the rest of the piece here.

Steps are now well advanced to impeach this man. Not only Democrats, but may others see him as a dangerous liability to the United States.

How impeachment will proceed is anyone’s guess, but the need to remove him from office occupies the minds of not just countless Americans, but international observers too.

What a dilemma Trump is for international statesmen and ordinary folk the world over, all of whom fear what this erratic, unpredictable, unbalanced, loud-mouthed, egocentric man will do next. Just listening to his daily harangues from the White House forecourt, and reading his endless Tweets, are enough to alarm any sensible observer. His pronouncements on trade and economic issues have confused the stock market and sent it into disarray.

Which is why we ask once more: Is Donald Trump mad? Let us have your opinion.

If you still have lingering doubts about Donald Trump’s mental state, take a look at this YouTube videotape from MSNBC: The Dangerous case of Donald Trump; 27 Psychiatrists Assess.

This article was originally published on The Political Sword.

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The Political Sword also has Twitter accounts where they can notify followers of new posts:
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The Évian Conference

By Dr George Venturini  

The Évian Conference

In 1930, with the Great Depression severely affecting Australia’s workforce, the Scullin Government (1929 – 1932) tightened up entry requirements for ‘aliens’, demanding that only those immigrants who had £500 landing money, or who were dependent relatives of aliens already living in Australia, would be permitted to enter the country.

Following the election of Adolf Hitler in Germany, a group of concerned Jewish spokesmen, led by Rabbis F. L. Cohen and Israel Brodie, travelled to Canberra and personally lobbied the Minister for the Interior to admit a limited number of skilled German-Jewish refugees. But it was to no avail. Two years later, and following Hitler’s promulgation of the notorious Nuremberg Laws (German: Nürnberger Gesetze) which were purposely anti-semitic and racial laws, and had been enacted by a submitted Reichstag on 15 September 1935, prominent Sydney leader Sir Samuel Cohen presided over the formation of the German Jewish Relief Fund, which tried to emulate similar initiatives in Britain by raising funds to assist young German Jews to escape to Palestine or other ‘safe havens’.

Simultaneously, Cohen, Brodie and Brigadier Harold Cohen, among others, continued to press Government members for an easing of immigration restrictions. The successor Lyons Government (1932-1939) compromised by reducing landing money to £50 for those migrants guaranteed by family or friends. It also encouraged the formation of the Australian Jewish Welfare Society, A.J.W.S. to coordinate migration processes. Australia House in London reportedly received 120 inquiries a day from would-be immigrants in March 1938, while the A.J.W.S. received 1200 pleas for assistance in the week following the German invasion of Austria, the so-called Anschluss Österreichs, on 12 March 1938.

The A.J.W.S. was sensitive to Government and public sentiment and concerned that its actions could have been affected by the presumption that any marked increase in migrant numbers would merely jeopardise existing, and already tenuous, concessions. As a result it could accept only a fraction of the 70,000 applications for help it had received.

In July 1938 Australia followed Britain’s lead by agreeing to send representatives to Évian-les-Bains, France where a world summit was to seek solutions to the refugee problem. Named officially the ‘Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees’, the conference – originally the initiative of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and held on 6 to 15 July – brought together delegates from 32 nations.

The results of the conference were disappointing; it was clear from the outset that none of the participating countries was willing to modify its existing migration restrictions.

The Australian delegation was headed by Lieut. Col. T. W. White, Federal Minister for Trade and Customs. He bluntly informed the participants that Australia was committed to its policy of British migration, and declared that ‘as we have no real racial problem, we are not desirous of importing one by encouraging any scheme of large-scale foreign migration.’

Clearly White had not heard of the ‘Day of Mourning’, a protest held by Indigenous People on 26 January 1938, the 150th anniversary of British invasion of Australia. It was declared to be a protest of 150 years of the seizure of the land and of criminal treatment of the original population. It purposefully coincided with the Australia Day celebrations held by the non-Indigenous population on the same day. The protest became a tradition, and annual ‘Days of Mourning’ have been held ever since.

White was voicing a widespread national sentiment. According to a public survey conducted at this time, only 17 per cent of the Australian population was in favour of large-scale immigration of Jews. There was intense disquiet about the reluctance of Jews ‘to integrate’ – whatever that may ever mean – or the possibility that refugees would ‘swamp’ some professions or take away jobs from ‘Australians’. Already rigid quotas had been imposed on the number of refugee practitioners able to enter the medical profession in Australia.

At the Évian conference, the United States itself – represented not by Roosevelt or even an elected official but by a friend of the President called Myron C. Taylor – refused to increase the annual admission quota of 27,370 from Germany and Austria even before the meeting began. Edward Turnour, 6th Earl Winterton, Lord Winterton, the leader of the British delegation, clearly outlined his country’s position: “The United Kingdom is not a country of immigration.”

By 1938 more than half a million refugees would be on the move across Europe, fleeing the Nazis, who had rendered first 900,000 German Jews stateless under the Nuremberg Laws, then 200,000 Austrian Jews following the invasion in 1938.

After Kristallnacht  (literally “Crystal night”) or ‘The night of broken glass’, between 9 and 10 November 1938, which was an anti-Jewish pogrom in Nazi Germany – then including Austria and Sudetenland – and in slow response to increasingly urgent calls to increase its refugee intake, the Australian Government announced that it would accept 15,000 refugees – 12,000 of them Jews – over the subsequent three years.

This apparent ‘liberalisation’ of policy was, in fact, nothing of the kind. Australia was effectively already accepting 5,100 refugees per annum – before December 1938 – and the new quota actually reduced the proposed intake. The trick was intended to advertise the Government as compassionate, liberal and ‘humanitarian’; in reality, the new policy cynically used the opportunity to curtail whatever trend there had previously been towards a growth in refugee admissions. As it was, a mere fraction of the first annual quota had reached Australia before the second world war broke out. In fact, only some 7,000 Jews settled in Australia between 1933 and 1939. (IRIN | ‘Look back and learn: The Evian Conference, 1938’; see also: Evian Conference – ThoughtCo; The Evian Conference | The Holocaust Encyclopedia).

Once war against Germany by Britain and its allies had been declared in September 1939, immigration effectively ceased, although a small number of refugees did manage to reach Australia through the Orient in the early years of conflict. As former citizens of enemy states, quite a number of them were promptly – albeit temporarily – interned as ‘enemy aliens’.

Continued Wednesday – The Kimberley Plan

Previous instalment – Adjunct imperialist clowns (part 2)

Dr. Venturino Giorgio Venturini devoted some seventy years to study, practice, teach, write and administer law at different places in four continents. He may be reached at George.venturini@bigpond.com.au.

 

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Adjunct imperialist clowns (part 2)

By Dr George Venturini  

In August 1923 the Premier of Victoria, H.S.W. Lawson, was received by Mussolini. It was not really the visit of the average, insular, ignorant Australian. Lawson was a lawyer, a former Attorney-General, Solicitor-General and Minister of Public Instruction. Yet, on his return Lawson praised Mussolini as “the man whom Providence waned to lead Italy.” (The Italo-Australian, 4 August 1923).

One would not be surprised that, in 1924 – after the tragic farce of ‘elections’ in Italy, amidst the Fascist violence – the Premier of New South Wales, Sir George W. Fuller, on his return from Italy, would express his admiration “of the man who saved Italy … from Bolshevism” (A. Moore, The secret army and the Premier – Conservative paramilitary organisations in New South Wales 1930-32, UNSW Press, Sydney 1989 at 49) Fuller, too, was no ignoramus. He had been at the Bar, Member of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales (1889-1904), Member of the House of Representatives (1910-1913), Member for Home Affairs in the third Deakin Government, and then back to the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales (1915-1928).

In December 1924 – six months only after the assassination of Giacomo Matteotti (a distinguished lawyer and socialist politician, who on 30 May 1924 had openly spoken in the Italian Parliament to denounce the fraud and violence the Fascists had committed during the recently held elections, and for that had been kidnapped and killed by Fascists) – Sir Anthony Chamberlain, then Her Britannic Majesty’s Foreign Secretary, referred to Mussolini when on a visit to Rome as “a wonderful man – working for the greatness of his country”. In later years Lady Chamberlain was often to be seen wearing the Fascio badge. (C. Hibbert, Benito Mussolini, Longmans, London, 95).

There is a good reason to speak of a long period of Antipodean Fascism.

The years of the last 1920s and early 1930s were years of preparation for Fascist military coups in Australia. Those were the years  of intense confrontation between the ‘old Labor’ forces of Jack Lang, Frank Anstey and John Curtin, on the one side, and the ‘money power’ of high finance, and their enablers, centred in London  with powerful, aggressive allies inside Australia, on the other.

In Australia, the graziers, the farmers, most of the import-export houses, banks, insurance companies, building companies, mining companies, transport companies, shipping companies – all depended on London. The City had its comprador élite in Australia. The descendants of the ‘free old English gentry’ who squatted upon Australian soil during the early part of the nineteenth century looked upon England as their spiritual ‘home’. Their outlook, their education, their adopted and phoney mannerisms, their social and business relations were as English as those of Lord Bruce, Viscount of Melbourne – born in St Kilda, Victoria!, as they will be of Sir Robert Gordon Menzies, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, sometime later – born in Jeparit, Victoria!

Why, on 1 July 1963 he allowed Queen Elizabeth II to make him a Knight of Scotland’s Ancient Order the Thistle. The ceremony took place in St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh. The Royal Company of Archers provided a guard-of-honour outside the Cathedral, while the heralds lead the procession which included the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, Sir Robert, his wife Dame Pattie and their son. The installation took place in the small, oak-panelled Thistle Chapel, in the presence of several Knights, among them Lord Home, future British Foreign Secretary. Sir Robert, in full regalia, posed for photographers. Later he, wife and son walked to the City Chambers nearby to meet the Lord Provost of Edinburgh. (‘Uk: Scotland: Edinburgh: Sir Robert Menzies Made Knight Of the Thistle’, britishpathe.com, 2 July 1963).

He acted as if he were some great Scottish gentleman. It was pure theatre, even if of the provincial kind.

And one could really say, today, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose!

Churchill would write as late as 10 October 1937 – after the invasion and conquest of Abyssinia, and the Nazi-Fascist aggression on the Spanish Republic – that: “It would be a dangerous folly for the British people to underrate  the enduring position in world-history which Mussolini will hold; or the amazing qualities of courage, compassion, self-control and perseverance which he exemplified.” (R. R. James, Churchill – study in failure, 1900-1939, London, 1970 at 258, see also at 317).

Australian Prime Minister Joseph Aloysius Lyons made an official call on Mussolini on his way to the Imperial Conference in 1937. According to Dame Enid Lyons, her husband reached a more cordial relationship with the Italian dictator than any yet achieved at a diplomatic level in that trying period for Anglo-Italian relations. (E. Lyons, So we take comfort, Heinemann, London, 1965, at 259-60).

In 1939 Sir Henry Gullett, Minister for External Affairs, spoke of the genius, patriotism and superhuman capacity of Mussolini. (E. M. Andrews, A History of Australian Foreign Policy: From Dependence to Independence, Longman Cheshire, Melbourne, at 171-72). In fact Mussolini was a third rate actor playing to a sycophantic audience: he played a versatile and multifaceted role, that of Mussolini, a heroic mixture of  the Renaissance condottiere, old Machiavellian thinker, Lenin-like  leader of a revolutionary  minority, steel-minded dictator, humanitarian despot, Casanova lover, and Nietzschean superman. He added later to his repertoire the Napoleonic genius, with well-know results, and, just before he died, the socialist renovator of society. Of course, he was none of these things. (L. Barzini, The Italians, Atheneum, London, at 146).

There is a thin line connecting Mussolini, Sir Oswald Ernald Mosley, 6th Baronet of Ancoats, the Australian Sir Wilfrid Selwyn Kent Hughes and Menzies: it is the rhetorical appeal to “the forgotten people.”

Menzies, as is well known, was an admirer of Mussolini. It is well accepted that he was endowed with a brilliant, albeit lazy, mind “and a dominating personality … He was a superb orator and parliamentary debater, … His colleagues were forced to realise that his leadership was indispensable to the success of the party, yet few of them felt for him much personal warmth. … For conservative voters he came in the end to possess almost the mana of a tribal god; he was powerful, wise, well bred, witty and above all, sound. Few Labor supporters denied his tremendous ability, but to them he appeared also as unscrupulous, opportunistic, condescending and insufferably arrogant.” (R. Ward, Concise history of Australia, University Press, St. Lucia, Qld., 1965, at 265-66).

He certainly wanted to appear as a ‘decisional man’ – like Il Duce.

But much more serious was Menzies’ admiration for Hitler, the real “bulwark against Communism” as he was fond of saying. It was the same rationale used for the establishment of secret organisations in Australia. Menzies was a determined appeaser. Eight days after the outbreak of the second world war Menzies wrote to former Prime Minister Bruce, then Australia’s High Commissioner in London, confidently expressing his opinion that Hitler “had no desire for a first class war” and would offer peace talk after defeating Poland. In the words of Menzies, “nobody cares a damn about Poland.” (The letter is dated 11 September 1939 and became public in April 2001 as part of the John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library Lecture by Dr. John Edwards. R. Cahill, ‘Il Duce Roberto?’, Workers online (No. 94), 04.05.2001).

In 1935 and 1938 Menzies had visited Nazi Germany for high-level meetings, and was guest of honour at a luncheon sponsored by Hitler’s financial wizard, and Reichbank head, Hjalmar Schacht. By all historical accounts, Schacht was the architect in 1930 of the Bank of International Settlements, which was based in Basel, Switzerland, along with the Governor of the Bank of England’s Montagu Norman. The Menzies-Schacht meeting would clearly have been set up by Menzies financier controllers, likely by Lord Beaverbrook himself, a frequent visitor of Nazi Germany throughout the 1930s. Montagu Norman and Hjalmar Schacht personified the banking underworld, which bankrolled and installed Hitler and the Nazis in power, in pursuit of a larger, universal Fascist scheme. (J and S. Pool, Who financed Hitler – the Secret funding of Hitler’s rise to power, 1919-1933, Pocket Books, London 1979: J. Pool, Hitler and his secret partners – Contributions, loot and rewards, 1933-1945, Pocket Books, New York, 1997).

Nothing might have occurred in Australia similar to the languid, decadent atmosphere of Darlington Hall, and the frequent visits by Nazi leaders, English ‘aristocrats’, including  Mosley’s British Union of Fascists and other Nazi sympathisers, so admirably described in the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, and brilliantly rendered in the film The remains of the day, with James Fox, Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins.

The Lord Darlington figure was typical of a formidable group of British peers who were attracted by Hitler and supported efforts to keep the dictator placated. The peers were all Right-wing and rabid anti-Semitic; their attitudes brought considerable satisfaction to Hitler.

What lay behind their support of appeasement was a fear of Communism.

They all saw an immensely powerful union between Communism and the Jewish people as a world conspiracy that could be thwarted only by Fascism and Nazism.

Both Hitler and his strutting Italian teacher Mussolini offered these bewildered aristocrats a safe world, which would be secure from any Communist takeover. It also confirmed their long-held private prejudice.

What makes such hatred additionally odious is the fact these peers continued to air their views long after Hitler’s persecution of Germany’s Jewish population had become widely known.

Prominent among such peers was Lord Brocket, Arthur Ronald Nall-Cain, 2nd Baron Brocket. He fawned over visiting Nazi officials whom he invited to his home and even attended the celebrations for Hitler’s 50th birthday.

Brocket was said to be “a fundamentally nice but stupid man”; he even deluded himself that he was a valuable link between Hitler and Britain’s leaders. Another pro-Nazi peer was Lord Redesdale, David Bertram Ogilvy Freeman-Mitford, the son of the 1st Baron Redesdale. His daughters, who became famous as the literary Mitford sisters, included Unity who went to Germany and stalked Hitler, having fallen in love with him. Although she did become close to Hitler – he considered her to be a “perfect example of Aryan womanhood” – he told her to return to England as war approached. She shot herself in the head in Munich’s English Garden but survived and was dispatched home.

Another admirer of Hitler was the then Duke of Westminster, a man who believed countless conspiracies among British Jews to subvert the country. He even spent the first year of the war demanding, to whoever would listen, that peace be made with Germany.

One of the most colourful ermine-clad extremists was the 22nd Earl of Erroll, the Casanova of Kenya’s debauched ‘Happy Valley’ set.

Among the most famous names associated with anti-Semitism was the fifth Duke of Wellington. He became a member of the secret ‘Right Club’, which attempted to unify all pre-war Right-wing groups in Britain.

The founder, Archibald Maule Ramsay, said of the organisation: “The main objective was to oppose and expose the activities of organised Jewry. Our first objective was to clear the Conservative Party of Jewish influence, and the character of our membership and meetings were strictly in keeping with this objective.”

Members of the ‘Right Club’ included Ernest Bennett, Margaret Bothamley, Samuel ChapmanA. K. Chesterton, E. H. ColeJames Edmondson, Richard Findlay, the Earl of Galloway, Thomas HunterWilliam Joyce, Charles KerrAubrey Lees, John MacKie, Joan Miller, H. T. Mills, Serrocold Skeels, John Stourton, Mavis TateFrancis Yeats-Brown, and Anna Wolkoff.

Yet another extremist was James Angus, the Marquess of Graham and the future Duke of Montrose.

One Hitler-admiring peer, the Duke of Buccleuch, was even close to King George VI as the Lord ­Steward of the Royal Household. He also accompanied Lord Brocket to celebrate the Führer’s 50th birthday. It was a matter of personal delight to Hitler that the duke, a man who served in the very court of Britain’s Royal Family, was there.

One of the most alarming figures among this cabal was Lord Londonderry – Winston Churchill’s cousin and a member of one of the country’s wealthiest aristocratic families. The king called him “Charlie” and other members of the Royal Family were frequent guests at his London home, as were major political figures.

But towering over all these figures were the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. He had abdicated as King Edward VIII in 1936 in order to marry American divorcée Wallis Simpson. They were later given the ducal titles.

Their admiration for Hitler concerned the government, particularly after they were entertained by him on a visit in 1937.

It is thought that Goering had concluded a deal with the Duke to install him on the throne after Germany had won the war. His court would, no doubt, have comprised many of those peers who had lauded Hitler so lavishly. (L. James, Aristocrats: Power, grace and decadence: Britain’s Great Ruling Classes from 1066 to the Present, Little Brown, New York, 2009).

On 10 November 2018 the Australian Special Broadcasting Service documented the story behind the connections and support Hitler and the Nazi regime enjoyed from the British monarchy and among the British élite. (‘The Royals, British aristocracy and the Nazis’, Special Broadcasting Service, Ch. 3, 10 November 2018).

* * * * *

Three cases of anti-Semitism in Australia just before the opening of the hostilities of the second world war should be mentioned at this point:

1) the Évian Conference of July 1938,

2) the attempt by Dr. Isaac Steinberg to establish a ‘promised land’ in the Kimberley region of Western Australia in June 1939, and

3) the HMT Dunera scandal in July 1940.

Continued Saturday – The Évian Conference

Previous instalment – Adjunct imperialist clowns (part 1)

Dr. Venturino Giorgio Venturini devoted some seventy years to study, practice, teach, write and administer law at different places in four continents. He may be reached at George.venturini@bigpond.com.au.

 

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