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Tag Archives: Kevin Donnelly.

Trust, transparency and accountability or gimme gimme gimme?

Buoyed by their success at the 2013 election, the Abbott government has wasted no time in using their power to feather their own nest and to promote, reward and employ their backers. Whilst all governments do this to a degree, Abbott has taken it to a whole new level of blatant nepotism and servitude to his masters at the expense of the public interest.

On the 9th of September 2013, before the count was even finalised, Julie Bishop flexed her muscles by her petty and vindictive decision to revoke the appointment of Steve Bracks as consul-general in New York. He had been appointed in May, long before the caretaker period, and was due to start that week.

It’s not as if Ms Bishop had a better person in mind. The position remained vacant for six months until it was gifted to Nick Minchin, the man who gave Tony Abbott leadership of the Liberal Party in return for his conversion to climate change denial.

And she didn’t stop there. Despite having 18 months of his term left, Mike Rann was booted from the position of High Commissioner to the UK to make way for Alexander Downer. This is the man who, under the guise of providing foreign aid, authorised the bugging of the cabinet offices of the East Timor parliament to further the commercial interest of Woodside Petroleum who coincidentally employed him after he left politics.

Rather than investigate this matter, which is before the International Court of Justice, George Brandis authorised raids to steal the evidence and cancelled the passport of the prime witness.

Brandis also hit the ground running to look after his mates. So appalled was he by the conviction of Andrew Bolt, he immediately set about changing the laws to protect the rights of bigots. To champion the cause, he made the inexplicable decision to sack the Human Rights Commissioner for the Disabled, Graeme Innes, and appoint the IPA’s Tim Wilson (without advertising, application, interview, relevant qualifications or experience), to fight for the repeal of Section 18c of the racial discrimination laws,

After a huge backlash from the public, Brandis was directed to drop his crusade, and there sits Tim Wilson, drawing a salary of $400,000 including perks, with nothing to do.

Mr Wilson’s appointment followed Senator Brandis’ announcement that he had chosen former Howard government minister David Kemp – the son of IPA founder Charles Kemp – to chair the advisory council of Old Parliament House. This position had been given to Barrie Cassidy but Brandis forced him to resign. Along with Kemp, two others were appointed: Heather Henderson, the only daughter of Liberal Party founder Sir Robert Menzies; and Sir David Smith, whose place in history was assured on November 11, 1975, on the steps of Old Parliament House, when as official secretary to governor-general Sir John Kerr he was required to read out the proclamation sacking the Whitlam government.

Brandis, as Minister for the Arts, also appointed Gerard Henderson as chairman of the judging panel for the nonfiction and history category of the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, Australia’s richest book prize.

Tony Abbott only took a few hours to begin his Night of the Long Knives. The swearing-in ceremony had barely finished when the Prime Minister’s office issued a press release, announcing three departmental secretaries had had their contracts terminated and the Treasury Secretary would stand down next year.

The head of Infrastructure Australia also quit or was sacked for his criticism of the government’s interference with the independence of his organisation. The head of the NBN, along with the entire board, were also replaced.

All funding for the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples was withdrawn. Countless charities and advisory groups have been defunded.

Climate change and renewable energy bodies have been under constant attack with many disbanded and the rest hanging on temporarily by the grace of the Senate.

To replace all these experienced experts, we have seen an astonishing array of people appointed to high-paying positions as advisers, reviewers, commissioners, consultants, board members, envoys –

Maurice Newman, head of Tony Abbott’s 12-member Business Advisory Council, aged 76, a former head of the stock exchange and the ABC and a founder of another of the right-wing think tanks, the Centre for Independent Studies. Climate sceptic.

Dick Warburton, 72, the former chairman of the petrochemical company Caltex, among other corporate affiliations. Appointed to review Australia’s 20 per cent Renewable Energy Target (RET). Climate sceptic. Also appointed was Brian Fisher. Climate modelling done by his firm has been presented to the review panel by the oil and gas sector, as part of its campaign against the RET.

Tony Shepherd, former head of the Business Council of Australia (BCA), aged 69. Appointed to head the Commission of Audit. Climate sceptic. Former Liberal senator Amanda Vanstone and Liberal staffer and Chicago-school economist Peter Boxall were on the commission’s panel. Peter Crone, director of policy at the BCA, was head of the secretariat.

David Murray, 65, the former CEO of the Commonwealth Bank, appointed head of the government’s Financial System Inquiry. Climate sceptic.

Henry Ergas, 62, regulatory economist and columnist for the Australian. Appointed to Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s “expert panel” to assess the costs and benefits of Turnbull’s “copper magic” NBN-lite. Climate sceptic who recently made a video with Christopher Monckton.

Kevin Donnelly, the IPA-aligned former chief-of-staff to Kevin Andrews and champion of corporal punishment. Appointed to review the National Curriculum. He then appointed Barry Spurr, author of racist sexist ranting emails, to advise on the literature curriculum.

Warren Mundine, son-in-law of Gerard Henderson. Appointed to advise on Indigenous affairs. Has set up a nice new office, 10km away from his department.

Jim Molan, retired general and author of the tow-back policy. Appointed as Special Envoy to fix the asylum seeker problem and to advise on the defence white paper, a position he quit after three weeks citing differences with the Defence Minister.

Janet Albrechtsen, columnist for the Australian, and Neil Brown, former deputy Liberal Party leader. Appointed to the panel overseeing appointments to the boards of the ABC and SBS.

It seems the pool of “experts” nowadays is confined to the IPA, the Australian, the Business Council, and the Howard government, and climate change scepticism is an essential criterion.

Aside from jobs for the boys (and a couple of girls who think feminism is a dirty word), we have also seen the blatant promotion of the coal industry with fast-tracking of approvals. We have seen the repeal of gambling reform laws. We have seen the delay and watering down of food and alcohol labelling laws. We are seeing an attack on the minimum wage and penalty rates. All of these measures are against the best interests of the people and purely designed to reward business donors.

Our Prime Minister personally introduces James Packer to international government and business leaders around the world to promote his quest to build more casinos. This is despite the fact that his company, Crown, has been implicated in bribery to a Chinese official.

In a recent report, the OECD was scathing of Australia’s record, pointing out that Australia “has only one case that has led to foreign bribery prosecutions, out of 28 foreign bribery referrals received by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) … this is of serious concern”.

One of the 28 cases referred to the AFP related to two properties in Chinese Macau part owned by James Packer’s company, Crown.

A former Macau official is currently serving a 289-year sentence for accepting bribes of up to $100 million, with various suspect projects named, including the casinos.

The OECD report notes Australian police did not launch a domestic investigation into any possibility of Crown’s involvement.

In another scandal, former Leighton Holdings construction boss Wal King has denied all knowledge of a $42 million bribe Leighton is accused of having paid in Iraq. Leighton Holdings continue to be awarded lucrative government contracts.

Another of the 28 cases referred to by the OECD relates to payments made by BHP Billiton in China. They note that, unlike Australia, the US has launched two investigations into BHP Billiton

The OECD’s lead examiners expressed concern that the “AFP may have closed foreign bribery cases before thoroughly investigating the allegations”.

The only foreign bribery investigation that has resulted in prosecutions in Australia is the highly publicised case involving the Reserve Bank subsidiaries Securency and Note Printing Australia over which, interestingly, Dick Warburton has been investigated as a former director of Note Printing Australia.

One must wonder about a police force that can spend hundreds of thousands investigating and prosecuting Peter Slipper over $900 worth of cab charges, that can mobilise over 800 police to conduct raids leading to the arrest of one teenager who got a phone call from a bad person and the confiscation of a plastic sword, but who refuse to investigate widespread corruption in industry.

And every day it gets just a little bit worse.

A Sydney restaurant owned by Tourism Minister Andrew Robb and his family is being promoted by a government-funded $40 million, 18-month Tourism Australia campaign that targets 17 key global markets to sell the Australian “foodie” experience to the world.

The Robb family restaurant, Boathouse Palm Beach, is showcased on Tourism Australia’s “Restaurant Australia” website, which was launched in May, as the “ultimate day trip destination” just an hour from Sydney and the “perfect place for a relaxed family outing”.

Perhaps Tony Abbott’s daughters earned their job at the UN and $60,000 scholarship. Perhaps the contract to BMW had nothing to do with them giving an Abbott girl a gig. We will never know.

This is only a sample of how the ruling class are using our nation as their personal plaything, of how they openly flaunt convention and even the law, of how they silence dissent and promote their agenda, of how they bestow rewards.

Until this abuse of power is curtailed, politicians will rightly be reviled as the least trustworthy people in the country.

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Rewriting history.

 

Breaking news: In an exclusive report in the Daily Telegraph, the Coalition review into education is complete and Christopher was right. We need to go back to basics, use phonics, and rewrite history.

“History should be revised in order to properly recognise the impact and significance of Australia’s Judaeo-Christian heritage.”

Firstly, how did the Telegraph get hold of a report that has not yet been released? Could it be because the men who produced it both publish articles in Murdoch papers? Always wise to keep in the good books should the consultancy work dry up.

Secondly, how did two men finish a report into the National Curriculum in a few months when it took the experts years and tens of thousands of submissions?

Thirdly, how much did it cost to get them to write up what Christopher Pyne said would be the result before the review started?

And finally, do these guys actually understand what Judeo-Christian means?

In January, Christopher Pyne promised “balance” and “objectivity” when he launched a two-man review of the Australian national curriculum. He appointed business academic Ken Wiltshire and education consultant Kevin Donnelly as reviewers.

Immediately after the announcement, a startling element of religiosity entered the discussion. Donnelly, who runs a one man Education Standards Institute committed to “Christian beliefs and values” which is owned by the K Donnelly Family Trust, announced in an ABC TV interview that government schools needed more emphasis on religion and more recognition of Australia’s “Judeo-Christian tradition”

He was chief of staff for Kevin Andrews when he was shadow education minister and in the 1990s worked for tobacco company Philip Morris on developing an educational program for school children.

Writing in the Punch in 2010, he warned about the impact of voting Green in the Victorian state election.

“Government and other faith-based schools will also be made to teach a curriculum that positively discriminates in favour of gays, lesbians, transgender and intersex persons,” he said.

In 2011, Donnelly argued that Christians and Muslims do not accept the same values and beliefs, and expressed concerns about a booklet written by academics to help Australian teachers include Muslim perspectives in the classroom. He was upset that the book did not convey:

“…what some see as the inherently violent nature of the Koran, where devout Muslims are called on to carry out Jihad and to convert non-believers, and the destructive nature of what is termed dhimmis – where non-believers are forced to accept punitive taxation laws.”

He is a vocal critic of educational strategies designed to help students appreciate that there are multiple valid worldviews and perspectives.

“Add the fact that students must be taught ‘intercultural understanding’, with its focus on diversity and difference, and are told to value their own cultures and the cultures, languages and beliefs of others, and it’s clear that the underlying philosophy is cultural relativism,” he wrote in the Australian earlier this year.

So what do Donnelly and Pyne mean by our Judeo-Christian heritage?

Quite frankly I have no idea.

First used by early 20th century biblical scholars, as a theological term it is based on the supersessionist view that Christianity is regarded as a religion that has superseded its (outmoded and irrelevant) precursor, and consequently, a redundant Judaism is regarded, in condescending fashion, as a religious anachronism.

During the early1940s, the term Judeo-Christian was used in America to show solidarity with Europe’s persecuted Jews, and was recycled after 1945 by Christian apologists anxious to convince surviving Jewish communities that the Holocaust was a ghastly cultural aberration.

Both scholar and major US Jewish theologian Arthur A Cohen, in his 1969 The Myth of the Judeo-Christian Tradition and US Rabbi and author Jacob Neusner in his 2001 Jews and Christians: The Myth of a Common Tradition have pointed out at great length that the idea of historic Judeo-Christian harmony ignores, amongst other matters, a 2000-year narrative of theological antipathy and a millennium long narrative of violent persecution of Jews in the name of Christianity.

Cohen comments as follows:

“I regard all attempts to define a Judeo-Christian tradition as essentially barren and meaningless … at the end point of the consensus when the good will is exhausted, and the rhetoric has billowed away, there remains an incontestable opposition.”

The term was revived by Reagan as part of the Cold War Christian rhetoric against the ‘godless’ Soviets.

In Australia, it rarely appears until 2001. Until September 11, it appears Australians didn’t give a fig about Judeo-Christian values. The political intent driving its use changed from one of inclusion to one of exclusion in the post-September 11 era, when it most often signified the perceived challenges of Islam and Muslims.

Monash academic Sue Collins finds that the “Judeo” element is merely tacked on for political expedience:

“The term has become a kind of shield for undeclared conservative interests which really want to privilege, and actually mean, the Christian tradition, but are conscious this would be politically counter-productive.”

Perhaps before they presume to rewrite our National History Curriculum, these gentlemen may want to do some research into the shaky foundations on which they want it based.

 162 total views,  6 views today

Tony Abbott’s Picks Show His Incompetence!

After a very successful summer, where the Australian Cricket Team have pounded the English, it looked like we were invincible.

But then along comes Tony Abbott – and the Prime Minister’s Eleven. This is a game where a number of players are supposedly “selected” by the PM.

We were creamed by 172 runs. Amazing, when you consider that England have had difficulty making 172 runs against the “real” Australian team.

I expressed my concern about this a few weeks ago in this article Selection on Merit? where I suggested that it was highly likely that he’d make selections based on how much of a sycophant the player was.

I have absolutely no evidence of this, so in the absence of evidence, I’ll do what the mainstream media do, I’ll quote anonymous sources. One cricketer alleges that they were left out of the side just because they were considered “too green”. Another was prepared to speak on the condition that I didn’t spell his name correctly, and while he didn’t make a direct allegation, he did point out that Abbott was actually born in England.

Of course, if this is how Abbott’s selections are doing in something as important as sport, imagine how badly they’ll do in areas that he has no interest in. Things like Education, the Economy, Climate Change and Human Rights. Sure, Tim Wilson has shown some interest in human rights and has always argued that the issue is not what is being done to you – it’s your right to complain about it that counts. I think enough has been written about Kevin Donnelly, but I would like to point out that one of his books, “Dumbing Down” makes the terrible mistake of trying to turn “dumb” into a verb – this is incorrect, and a further example of the illiteracy of Abbott’s education appointees.

But, fortunately, we are now considering a Gallipolli Centenary Match. (That should help the lack of focus on Anzac day in schools – apparently, it’s only studied once a year.) Hopefully, it’ll be played against the Turkish Cricket Team. Even Tony’s picks would be a chance there!

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