Wednesday, May 04, 2011


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is imagining Osama's reception in hell

"Progressive" bishop says African priests no good

That would be "racist" in anybody else's mouth

THE bishop who has run foul of the Vatican has raised questions about integrating increasing numbers of overseas-born priests being used to plug gaps in Queensland communities.

Hundreds of people attended two separate vigils for Toowoomba Bishop William Morris in the Darling Downs centre last night, following his shock dumping by the Catholic Church this week.

The dismissal has created international headlines, with media making particular reference to the stern wording of a letter on the Vatican website stating it was determined by "Pope Benedict that the diocese would be better served by the leadership of a new bishop". Bishop Morris was ousted over a 2006 letter in which he raised the issue of married men or women joining the priesthood in an attempt to address the dwindling stock.

Instead priests have been brought in from overseas, which Bishop Morris says has been ill-considered. "It's not easy for a person coming out of an African culture into a western culture - they're mono-cultures, especially in western Queensland," he said.

"It's crazy, it's totally foreign for them, and a dozen people turn up whereas my experience in Africa has been that a thousand people turn up. Also the ministry in these areas is a relationship ministry, it's not service, but it's a relationship and you need to be that relationship, you need to become part of the community."

Bishop Morris said priest numbers in Queensland were about the same now as they were in 1929 after years of decline, but that the figures came at a cost. "If we're going to have international priests, I think we need to be able to create a relationship from priests who come in from whatever country," he said.

Bishop Morris said the Catholic Church had lost its openness and accountability. "Local bishops like myself, we've become almost branch managers," he said.

Archbishop John Bathersby said he had been saddened by Bishop Morris' departure but rejected suggestions the church was punishing progressives. "I think that the church has those types of people, has conservatives, has got radicals at the same time. But somehow or other the church is able to embrace all those different people," he said.

Eight Toowoomba diocese priests yesterday issued a statement expressing support for their former head of church saying he had not been treated "fairly or respectfully".

Bishop Morris, who will be known as a bishop emeritus of Toowoomba, said he would slowly pack his life up in the weeks to come after 18 years in service in the area. Auxiliary Bishop of Brisbane Brian Finnigan has been announced as a temporary replacement in Toowoomba.


The best way to deal with evil is to pulverise it

Australian moralist Professor Mirko Bagaric comments on the demise of bin Laden. Bagaric is responding in part to the carping legalism that we hear from the likes of prominent Leftist lawyer Geoffrey Robertson, also an Australian but best known in Britain

FROM Canberra to Washington and even some parts of the Middle East, the champagne corks are popping after the assassination of Osama bin Laden.

Killing bin Laden at any cost has an important subtext - one which has the capacity to teach us lessons about the moral fog within, which we live and the rationality-free zone that occupies much of mainstream moral discourse.

The most illuminating aspect of the targeting of bin Laden is that it has near-universal support, despite it being an egregious breach of international law and dozens of human rights instruments. What about his right to life?

The presumption of innocence, and right to a fair trial, is also enshrined in international law and most domestic legal systems. Yet, even civil libertarian groups can't bring themselves to shed any concern for Bin Laden.

Civil libertarians are invariably quick to denounce any interferences with rights, especially those that imperil fundamental interests, such as the right to life and liberty.

The "end doesn't justify the means" is the catch-cry they trumpet most loudly in opposition to incursions of fundamental freedoms that are carried out for the common good. Truth is it does.

Failure to realise this is symptomatic of an unremitting deluded self-righteousness that freezes one's moral compass into an inward position, foreclosing consideration of the thing that matters most - the common good.

The reason civil libertarians are cheering with the rest of us, regarding the killing of bin Laden, has zero to do with the application of universal moral principles and everything to do with emotion - particularly their emotions. That their emotional response coincides with the morally correct stance is purely accidental.

The human misery caused by bin Laden has withered the compassion gland of civil libertarians towards him, to a point where they've fallen off their self-erected moral high horse. Hopefully that's where they will stay and join the rest of us in coming to understand that the end does justify the means. Always has. Always will.

No action is intrinsically bad or good. No principle is absolute. Matters are always context-sensitive. The best way to deal with evil is to pulverise it.

The moral and political debate in relation to important societal issues must move on from whether the end justifies the means to what end we, as a species, should be attempting to secure.

In this regard, there can only be one answer. The ultimate end is to maximise net flourishing, where each agent's interests counts equally - even those who do not excite our emotions.

The insurmountable conundrum that civil libertarians need to address is if the end does not justify the means, then what does?

Hopefully the reminder of the misery inflicted by bin Laden will encourage misguided libertarian groups to get out of their delusional comfort zone, and take a few steps up the moral mountain beyond the rights fog in which they are enveloped.

The world would be a better place, if we all applied our energies towards securing the right end instead of obsessing about their self-serving middle-class concerns.


Qld. fishermen escape hardline marine policies

The fact that Qld. is the swing State in Federal elections has nothing to do with it, of course

QUEENSLAND fishers will be spared the tough marine environmental protection rules about to be imposed across parts of Australia's southwest, Environment Minister Tony Burke has pledged.

The southwest marine zone, to be released within days, will set a "high water mark" for restrictions on fishing that will not be copied in Queensland and NSW.

Both fishing and conservation groups are awaiting the release of the southwest plan, which stretches from near Adelaide to Kalbarri in Western Australia, to assess how the Federal Government will treat marine reserves around the country.

But Mr Burke insisted the southwest marine bioregional plan would not set a precedent for other Commonwealth marine parks due to be set up by next year.

"The southwest has an unusual number of really high value environmental assets," Mr Burke told The Courier-Mail. "No one should think that we'll be adding an equivalent level of environmental protection in the east to what they'll be seeing in the southwest in a few days time."

The declaration is designed to win support from commercial and recreational fishers and prevent a repeat of protests that helped damage Labor's vote in a swathe of coastal seats in Queensland and NSW.

Queensland waters already have significant protection through the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Mr Burke said. But he would not rule out any no-take zones in the Coral Sea and Fraser areas.

The Government yesterday released a "fisheries adjustment policy" modelled on a similar compensation plan set up by the former Howard government. The level of compensation for commercial fishing operators would depend on the extent of restrictions in their area, Mr Burke said.

Some areas could face restrictions ranging from complete bans on fishing to limits on hauls, trawling or use of nets.

Queensland Nationals senator Ron Boswell warned the Government would face a compensation bill in the hundreds of millions of dollars if fishers received "reasonable compensation" for restraints on their trade.

Recreational fishing group Sunfish Queensland spokeswoman Judy Lynne said there would be strong public protests against the plans if they included no-take zones.


Federal Government offers families cash if teens stay at school

MORE than 143,000 Queensland families will receive extra cash from the Federal Government over five years if their teenage children stay in school. About 650,000 families nationwide will get up to $4200 extra each year under a Labor election commitment to increase the number of 16 to 19-years who complete schooling.

New government modelling suggests tens of thousands of low-income families will also receive extra rent assistance up to $3600 a year and family tax benefit B payments in next week's federal Budget.

Treasurer Wayne Swan pledged the Budget would target welfare payments to low and middle-income families while creating incentives for students to say in school. "We fully understand how much bringing up teenagers can stretch family budgets, especially for families on modest incomes," Mr Swan said. "This extra help with cost of living pressures will help ensure that all teenagers are either learning or earning, so that we can build the best-educated and skilled workforce in the world."

The move reflects findings from former Treasury Secretary Ken Henry's tax review that the current drop in family tax payments once a child turns 16 creates a disincentive for older teenagers to complete school. Extra payments will only be made if students are in full time study or vocational training.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has vowed to make education and training the centrepiece of next week's Budget as the Treasury warns skills shortages threaten the economy. Ms Gillard yesterday pledged to spend an extra $200 million on school education for students with disabilities. The funds will cover speech and occupational therapy, audiovisual technology, teacher aides, health professionals and specialised curriculums.

Tertiary Education Minister Chris Evans flagged further skills funding in the Budget ahead of a major overhaul of vocational education.

A report by Skills Australia yesterday laid out a $12 billion plan to boost the number of Australians in training up to certificate III level.


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