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Tag Archives: Cardinal Pell

Well, well, Cardinal Pell

It was reported yesterday that Cardinal George Pell is the subject of a twelve month investigation by Victoria Police over allegations of child sexual abuse, dating from the time he was a priest to when he became Archbishop of Melbourne.

Pell has issued a furious statement, demanding an investigation into Victoria Police leakages, and denying the allegations. The full transcript of this statement is in the above link.

In his statement Pell refers to an allegation of sexual molestation made against him in 2002, referred to as the Philip Island allegation. This series of alleged incidents with one complainant was the subject of a church inquiry, headed by retired Victorian Supreme Court Judge A.J. Southwell, who was selected and paid by the church to conduct the inquiry, within terms of reference set by the church. Southwell found that both Pell and the complainant appeared to be speaking the truth, and he could not find substantial grounds to proceed with the complaint.

Pell claims to have been “exonerated” by this inquiry, however a Sydney Morning Herald editorial saw it otherwise:

Mr Southwell’s conclusion is exquisitely balanced. He accepts “that the complainant, when giving evidence of molesting, gave the impression that he was speaking honestly from an actual recollection”. However, he says Dr Pell “also gave me the impression he was speaking the truth”. A significant part of Mr Southwell’s report concerns the standard of proof; because he considered what was alleged against Dr Pell as serious, he was inclined to apply a strict burden, akin to the “beyond reasonable doubt” of criminal proceedings. That helped Dr Pell. It also made Mr Southwell’s careful conclusion – that he could not be “satisfied that the complaint has been established” – rather less than a complete exoneration.

It’s not known if the allegations currently under investigation by Victoria Police include this one. They are referred to as “numerous” in initial reports, as well as having occurred throughout a considerable time frame, as Pell worked his way up the church hierarchy from priest to Archbishop.

Victoria Police have also issued a statement this evening, saying they do not comment on specific allegations.

In case anyone has forgotten how ruthless Pell has been in his pursuit of child sex abuse survivors who’ve attempted to obtain justice, it’s worth re-reading the John Ellis case in which Pell’s legal team managed to obtain the verdict that victims can’t sue the Catholic church (it doesn’t exist in law) or the trustees (who aren’t responsible for supervising priests) but only the offending priest (dead) or the offending priest’s supervising bishop (also dead). Pell also instructed his lawyers to pursue Ellis for costs.

Pell, confessor and mentor to sacked Prime Minister Tony Abbott, is now safe in the Vatican, beyond the threat of extradition treaties.

I wonder how those who leapt to Pell’s defence after Tim Minchin’s protest song are feeling right now.

Of course we can’t possibly comment on Pell’s guilt or innocence. It is interesting, however, that Victoria Police have seen fit to devote twelve months of their time so far, to investigating complaints.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep as Well, now Cardinal Pell, you’re beginning to smell…

 

The Great Hoax, Climate Change or the GST?

Personally, I think that maths is overvalued in schools. Now I’m not talking numeracy, I’m talking trigonometry, surds, quadratic equations and a whole range of things that most people won’t use past school. Fine for those who are going on to particular fields but a large number of students would be better off if they’d never had to struggle through them.

Of course, if you disagree with me, it’s not because you have a different perspective. It’s not because you think that maybe it’s a good idea to expose all people to maths because it’s good for them to be challenged. No, it’s because you’re gullible and a victim of the gigantic hoax that the maths teachers have invented. For a start, numbers aren’t even real. As for Pythagoras, not only did  he believe that beans were souls migrating from one life to the next, he and his followers believed that numbers had magical powers. So, if you want to disagree with me, don’t cite a maths teacher or anyone who believes in maths teaching, don’t trust academics, they’re all part of the conspiracy. The best people to trust are your friends and family.

Yep, I sound ridiculous. While there is an argument to be had about how maths should be taught and whether it needs to be compulsory past a certain level, the idea that it’s a “hoax” and that you can rely on information from your friends and family makes me sound well, at least a little unbalanced.

Yet, this seems to be what the CSIRO’s survey on climate change revealed. People who didn’t believe in climate change found their friends and family their most trusted source. While I can support a degree of sceptism about what experts tell us, it strikes me that there are certain areas where the average person won’t have the necessary skills to be able to make an informed decision. Nobody says that they took their X-ray home and after everyone they know had a look at it, they decided that the doctor’s interpretation was wrong. In the case of climate change, many are arguing that they don’t even need to see the X-ray.

OK, there are “experts” on both sides of the climate change debate and it’s interesting to see how the media presents them. It was fine when Cardinal Pell gave his opinion, but Pope Francis should stick to religion. Anyone with a science degree or a couple of years at university hanging around the cafe is presented as an expert on climate change without much sceptism by the media and there’s no attempt to evaluate their credentials. . We have the absurd scenario where we’re asked to believe that a group of scientists decided that they’d find it easier to get funding to investigate something invented, and that rather than make actuall discoveries, they’d rather just take this funding and spend their time making stuff up. However, thanks to some intrepid physicists and geologists – often funded by fossil fuel companies – this hoax is being exposed.

Now, I’m not saying that the prevailing wisdom on climate change couldn’t be wrong. I’m simply saying that when one suggests that scientists have dishonest motives, one should be prepared to have one’s own motives scrutinised. Why climate scientists are supposedly part of a “hoax” and not just simply wrong is what gets me. For years, the cause of ulcers was misunderstood, but we don’t suggest that was because of some conspiracy to stop people stressing or eating spicy foods.

But speaking of hoaxes, how do you like this GST?

Remember when it came in?

No, I’m not talking about how “never ever” simply meant not until after the next election – although I suppose if that’s the case, then the assurances by Howard and Costello that it could never go up because, well, all the states had to agree and could you ever see a time when all the governments would agree to receiving more revenue, lasted a lot longer than we could have expected. That was “never” and not “never ever”, so I’m surprised that it’s taken so long before someone put it on the table.

Mm, I guess it’s easy to see why people don’t trust the “experts” and would rather listen to Uncle Frank and the guy next door.

Now, ignoring the politics, I can see an argument for putting up the GST. While the converntional argument is that it’s regressive and hurts the poor more than the rich, this needn’t be the case.

In the first instance, the poor have a limited amount to spend and so any increase in the GST won’t hit them in total terms as much as someone who spends more. If someone only spends twenty five thousand in a year, then a five percent increase can’t cost them more than $1250, whereas someone spending $100,000 could be hit for $5000. If the current exemptions on fresh food, education and health are included then it’s even less than the $1250. If you raise pensions and allowances by enough, as well as increasing the tax free threshold, you can compensate those who the five percent increase will affect.

Secondly, while income tax can be minimised by various accounting tricks to minimise one’s income, the GST is more difficult to avoid. I may have used the Cayman Islands to avoid the tax on my business, but when I buy my Jaguar, I’ll be hit for an extra five percent.

And finally, the extra revenue should enable the states to continue to provide services from which should benefit those who don’t have private health insurance or go to Xavier where they learn to be grateful that they don’t go to some “povo” school in Pakenham. (Hey, I know it was just one individual and private schools don’t really encourage that sort of class warfare thing. They just constantly tell you what a great education you’re getting and how their school is the best in the world. Why a student would think that government schools are “povo” is a mystery to them …).

So, I can see that a rise in the GST could be a good thing all round  – even if it is the Liberal Party proposing it.

But then, I’m also gullible enough to fall for the climate change hoax.

 

Conspiracy of silence

Image by thethingswesay.com

Image by thethingswesay.com

“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.”

[Special Message to the Congress on the Internal Security of the United States, August 8, 1950]”
― Harry S Truman

If you think that Scott Morrison is justified in keeping “on-water” operations secret for safety and security reasons, perhaps you can explain to me why this secrecy extends to onshore activities like detention camps and gagging people who work with asylum seekers.  Perhaps you can explain why the carers of the two boys, recently disappeared by Immigration officials, are too scared to speak out for fear of losing their job which is to make a home for these kids.

There is a concerted campaign going on to remove accountability, avoid questioning, and silence dissent and it is not just in the area of border protection.  Advocacy groups for anyone other than industry are being systematically dismantled.

If you visit the government Office for the Not-for-Profit Sector website you will be greeted by the following message:

“Thank you for visiting the Office for the Not-for-Profit Sector website.

On 18 September 2013 the Prime Minister, the Hon Tony Abbott MP, was sworn in by the Governor-General. On this day, the Governor General signed the Administrative Arrangements Order and the Social Inclusion Unit and the Office for the Not-for-Profit Sector was disbanded.

The Minister for Social Services, the Hon Kevin Andrews MP, will have responsibility for the community sector, volunteering and philanthropy. The Minister for Human Services, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, will have responsibility for service delivery policy.”

We might have got a clue when Abbott announced his Cabinet.  No Youth Ministry, No Early Childhood Ministry, No Science Ministry, No Climate Change Ministry, No Disability Ministry, No Aged Care Ministry, No Workplace Relations Ministry, No Multiculturalism Ministry, BUT there’s a Minister for ANZAC Day!

Another red flag was raised when the community sector was not represented on the Commission of Audit and it has not been invited to make a submission to the McClure Welfare Review being conducted by former Mission Australia chief executive Patrick McClure.

“As far as we know no one was invited to make a submission. The review has no terms of reference, has held no public meetings and has issued no interim discussion paper. We have had discussions behind closed doors but there’s been nothing in the open,” Ms Goldie, head of ACOSS, said.

And if any further proof was needed, there was the inexplicable decision to sack Graeme Innes, Disability Commissioner, and replace him with an IPA sock puppet.

Two weeks after the budget, Mr Morrison withdrew funding for the Refugee Council of Australia, which had been allocated in the budget papers, saying he and the government did not believe that “taxpayer funding should be there to support what is effectively an advocacy group”.

Government funding for a wide range of community organisations including ACOSS expires on December 31 after a budget decision to extend it for only six months while new long-term arrangements are developed.

The organisations have been told their grants might be put out to tender.

A vital component of Non Government Organisations (NGOs), as the name suggests, is that they remain independent of the government.  Such independence is needed in order to effectively advocate for the marginalised, the environment and for those who can’t speak up for themselves. But because of a heavy reliance on government funding, and increasing use of gag clauses, NGOs are at risk of losing their vital independence.

Governments, at both the state and federal level, are increasingly contracting out services to independent providers, which is typically seen as a cost-cutting measure. As a result, more NGOs and community groups are providing services on behalf of government, in essence becoming contractors for government programs. As Browen Dalton noted recently in The Conversation, “Australia has a higher proportion of human services provided by [not for profits] than almost any other country, with the sector turning over $100 billion a year.”

However, this outsourcing means that NGOs are more reliant on government funding. And increasingly, government funding has come with heavy restrictions that threaten to jeopardise the indispensable independence of Australia’s NGOs.

The community sector plays a vital part in a democratic political system. These organisations are pivotal in shaping public advocacy and in representing those who fall through the cracks. They ensure that every person is considered in the democratic process. They also fill in the gaps where government services and programs fail. Community groups provide much needed services in homelessness support, education, refugee resettlement, disability care, arts, and many other community programs.

In a 1991 report, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Community Affairs stated:

An integral part of the consultative and lobbying role of these organisations is to disagree with government policy where this is necessary in order to represent the interests of their constituents.”

The nature of government funding is a threat to this independence.  As funding for some of the most vital services comes from government rather than through the public, it is the government decides which services are more important and inevitably controls the direction and delivery of such services. This model undermines the independence of NGOs, and ignores the expertise of those working on the ground to decide where services and funds need to be allocated.

Last year, the Minister for Social Services, Kevin Andrews, stated that “to benefit civil society as a whole, the Government has committed to abolishing the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, with repeal legislation to be introduced into Parliament next year”.  He introduced a late amendment to the Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 to delay the introduction of the Charities Act2013 from 1 January 2014 to September 2014.  This was referred to a Senate Committee.

In February, the Centre for Independent Studies advised the Federal Government to act on its pre-election promise to abolish the ACNC it “is not achieving its main objectives, which were to improve public trust in the not-for-profit sector, reduce red tape, and police fraud and wrongdoing”.  The vast majority of the sector disagrees.

In June we read that

The Senate Committee report into the abolition of the charity regulator, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission (ACNC), has failed to break the deadlock between the Government and other parties, and if the majority report is implemented it would be retrograde step for public trust and confidence in sector, the ACNC Advisory Board Chairman Robert Fitzgerald has warned.

Fitzgerald said despite 80 per cent of submissions received by the Senate Committee supporting the retention of the ACNC, the majority senate report recommended the ACNC Act be repealed.

“This recommendation was saying the Australian community had no right to information about a sector that receives substantial tax concessions and benefits every year.   The charity and Not for Profit sector is one of Australia’s fastest growing and important sectors. It has taken 17 years, at least six inquiries, 2000 submissions and volumes of evidence to get an effective national regulatory model. And now the effect of the majority opinion is would be to undermine basic transparency, the tackling of duplicative reporting and proven and effective regulation.

By moving to abolish the ACNC, the Government is going against the tide: England and Wales has had an independent charity regulator for more than 160 years; Scotland and Singapore established regulators and a public charity register following charity scandals; New Zealand has had a charity regulator since 2005.  In the last 12 months Ireland, Jamaica and now Jersey have moved to establish independent charity regulatory bodies and public registers. Hong Kong has also recommended establishing a public charity register.

Since the ACNC’s inception, three separate surveys have each found an 80 per cent satisfaction rate with respondents supporting the ACNC.

In a relative short period of time, the ACNC has created Australia’s first free, publicly available national charity register, provided sound education and advice services to support charities in their governance, and implemented the Charity Portal and Charity Passport, which is critical to reducing duplicative reporting across government.

It is now a matter for the Parliament to determine if it wishes to have an efficient and effective regulator, or return to a regulatory regime that will ultimately increase compliance burdens on the sector and fail to deliver transparency to the Australian public.”

Since the 2013 election

AXED

Social Inclusion Board

National Housing Supply Council

Prime Minister’s Council on Homelessness

National Policy Commission on Indigenous Housing

National Children and Family Roundtable

Advisory Panel on Positive Ageing

Immigration Health Advisory Group

DEFUNDED

Refugee Council of Australia

Australian Youth Affairs Council

Alcohol and Drug Council of Australia

National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services

ADDED

Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council

Australian Treasury Advisory Council

Not for Profit Advisory Group to the ATO

Innovation and Technology Working Group

Prime Minister’s Community Business Partnership

Indigenous Advisory Council

Aged Care Sector Committee

 

Note:  Two groups who argued vehemently for the abolition of a watchdog were the Catholic Church through Cardinal Pell’s office and the IPA.  The ATO will now be asked to take over the duties of watchdog even though they will be shedding about 900 staff over the next six months.  Happy days for tax cheats.

Climate change: we don’t need no stinkin’ advice!

The United Nations Climate Change Conference will be held in Paris, France in 2015.  The conference objective is to achieve a binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world.

One of the world’s foremost climate scientists, James Hansen,  has suggested that

“If leading nations agree in 2015 to have internal rising fees on carbon with border duties on products from nations without a carbon fee, a foundation would be established for phaseover to carbon free energies and stable climate.”

Head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, told a conference in February

“Overcoming climate change is obviously a gigantic project with a multitude of moving parts. I would just like to mention one component of it—making sure that people pay for the damage they cause.  We are subsidizing the very behaviour that is destroying our planet, and on an enormous scale. Both direct subsidies and the loss of tax revenue from fossil fuels ate up almost $2 trillion in 2011—this is about the same as the total GDP of countries like Italy or Russia.”

In recent weeks UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, US Secretary of State John Kerry and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim have all called on countries and business to take the threats posed by global warming more seriously. Jim made what many believe was an historic call for investors to consider ditching holdings in fossil fuel companies.

The IPCC released a paper on 30 January, 2014 stating

“Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased.

Total radiative forcing is positive, and has led to an uptake of energy by the climate system. The largest contribution to total radiative forcing is caused by the increase in the atmospheric concentration of CO2 since 1750.

Human influence on the climate system is clear. This is evident from the increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, positive radiative forcing, observed warming, and understanding of the climate system.

Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all components of the climate system.  Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.”

On 4 March 2014, a new report released by the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO concludes the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is rising, and left unchecked further emissions will cause more warming this century.

“The report found that since the 1970s there had also been an increase in extreme fire weather, but predicted worse was to come.  More extreme fire-weather days are slated for southern and eastern Australia, areas devastated by bushfires this spring and summer, with longer fire seasons in these regions to drag on.  In bad news for farmers, a likely increase in drought frequency and severity is predicted as average rainfall in southern Australia decreases.  Cyclones are expected to be fewer, but fiercer, while more extremely hot days and fewer cool days remain a reality on the horizon.  The BoM and CSIRO said the record-breaking heatwaves like the kind that swept Australia the past two summers were “very unlikely to have been caused by natural variability alone”.  Cutting global emissions would be crucial to preventing the worst global warming has in store, but that alone wouldn’t be enough, the science agencies warn.  Adaptation is required because some warming and associated changes are unavoidable.”

The latest Global Legislators Organisation (Globe) study shows 64 out of 66 countries had put in place or were establishing significant climate or energy legislation in 2013, with almost 500 laws to tackle climate change being passed in countries which account for nine-tenths of global emissions.

“The organisation’s president, Lord Deben, who is also the chairman of the UK’s Committee on Climate Change which advises the government on the issue, said: “It is by implementing national legislation and regulations that the political conditions for a global agreement in 2015 will be created.

“We must see more countries develop their own national climate change laws so that when governments sit down in 2015 they will do so in very different political conditions to when they did in Copenhagen.”

I could go on quoting scientists, economists, experts, world leaders…the evidence is overwhelming, scientific consensus has been reached, and the warning has been issued along with a plan of attack.  We can ask no more from our scientists.  They have done their job.  We now have to fight those increasingly rare fossils who would ignore the warning for short term gain for a very few individuals.

Rather than listening to experts and the rest of the world, Tony Abbott, to quote Lord Deben, relied on the “very dubious” work of a small minority of climate analysts, and his was “the last example of a government coming to power on the basis that really all this [climate change] is nonsense”.

In 2009 on Four Corners , Abbott described scientists from the IPCC as

”the people who will tell you as if it’s as obvious as night following day that we have a huge problem and that unless we dramatically change the way we live, life as we know it will be under massive threat. As I said, there’s an evangelical fervour about those people which you don’t normally associate with scientists.

I think that in response to the IPCC alarmist – ah, in inverted commas – view, there’ve been quite a lot of other reputable scientific voices. Now not everyone agrees with Ian Plimer’s position, but he is a highly credible scientist and he has written what seems like a very well-argued book refuting most of the claims of the climate catastrophists.”

When Tony Jones asked Tony Abbott in a Lateline interview in November 2009 if he had read the IPCC report on global warming he replied “No, I don’t claim to have immersed myself deeply in all of these documents. I’m a politician. I have to rely on briefings – I have to rely on what I pick up through the secondary sources. “

When asked if he’d read Plimer’s book he said “I’ve quoted a couple of passages, and I confess I’m probably more familiar with the book through people who’ve written about it than I am through having read it myself.”

You will hear Ian Plimer quoted by Tony Abbott, Andrew Bolt, Alan Jones, Gina Rinehart, and pretty much everyone that thinks climate change is crap.  As with all supposedly “reputable scientific voices” in the denial camp, following the money always leads to the same place.

Prof Plimer is a geologist who currently serves on the board of stock exchange-listed miners Ivanhoe Australia and Silver City Mines, and has held previous board roles at CBH Mining and a number of other Australian mining companies.  The companies he is involved with mine minerals including gold, zinc, copper and uranium, in Australia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

According to disclosures made to the Australians Securities and Investments Commission, Professor Plimer was appointed by Gina Rinehart to the boards of Roy Hill Holdings and Queensland Coal Investments on January 25 2012  which plans to export 55 million tonnes of iron ore a year through Port Hedland when it is up and running at full capacity.

He is also listed as a member of Mrs Rinehart’s Australians for Northern Development and Economic Vision (ANDEV) lobby group, which has taken strong positions on corporate taxation and climate change initiatives.

Aside from Mr Plimer, we have had Cardinal Pell give a submission on climate change to the Senate, and then give the 2011 annual Global Warming Policy Foundation speech in London that was described by climate researchers as  “dreadful”, “utter rubbish” and “flawed”.

“Church leaders in particular should be allergic to nonsense….. I am certainly sceptical about extravagant claims of impending man-made climatic catastrophes. Uncertainties on climate change abound … my task as a Christian leader is to engage with reality, to contribute to debate on important issues, to open people’s minds, and to point out when the emperor is wearing few or no clothes.”

Cardinal Pell’s ‘evidence’ all comes from The Hancock Free Enterprise Lecture, University of Notre Dame, Fremantle, June 2011 delivered by none other than Lord Monckton and sponsored and attended by Gina Rinehart.  Monckton is a fruitcake that is always good for a laugh, but hardly someone who should be advising on anything other than propaganda machines.

And then of course, we have Maurice Newman, Tony’s business adviser, who as head of the ABC in 2010, decided that denialists needed more airtime and so Monckton flooded the MSM, especially the ABC, all of whom basically ignored James Hansen who was touring at the same time.

In January this year, Mr Newman, in a column published in The Australian newspaper wrote that the

“climate change establishment (whatever that is) is intent only on exploiting the masses and extracting more money. The United Nations has applied mass psychology through a compliant media (he really did write that) to fool the world into thinking  the activities of industrialised countries have changed the climate. The scientific delusion, the religion behind the climate crusade, is crumbling,”

Who needs a Climate Change Authority or Department of the Environment when you have Plimer, Pell, Newman and Monckton?  We also have Greg Hunt’s Direct Action Plan to look forward to if they ever decide to introduce it.

So shut up all you tree-hugging socialists….

We don’t need no stinkin’ advice!

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