Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Misogynist Peter Slipper still being supported by the Labor party

Slipper is undoubtedly one of the lower forms of life to creep into any parliament

Independent MP Tony Windsor says he plans to meet with Peter Slipper this week to determine if it is appropriate for him to return as Speaker.

Less than a week after Mr Windsor said he would not stand in Mr Slipper's way if he was to return to the Speaker's chair, on the condition was cleared of sexual harassment and CabCharge rorting allegations, the federal member for New England has revealed he is reconsidering his position on the matter.

The rethink comes as a series of crude text messages about women allegedly sent by Mr Slipper to his staffer James Ashby were tendered as evidence to the Federal Court.

Mr Windsor told ABC's Lateline program last night that he had not seen the documents containing the text messages but had read reports about them.

He said if the text messages were true, "I think it might raise other issues in terms of [Mr Slipper's] capacity to maintain himself in that position".

Mr Windsor said last week that if sexual harassment allegations against Mr Slipper were not found to be credible then he saw no reason he couldn't return as Speaker.

Mr Slipper has stood aside from the bulk of his Speaker duties while Mr Ashby's claims are dealt with.

If Mr Windsor withdraws his support for Mr Slipper returning as Speaker, it could make things difficult for the Gillard government because of its slim majority in Parliament.

Meanwhile, the opposition has continued its scathing attacks on the former Coalition member, with Deputy Leader Julie Bishop declaring the party's position is that Mr Slipper cannot remain as Speaker following his "disgusting and offensive" remarks about women.

"I believe Mr Slipper's position is untenable," Ms Julie Bishop told ABC radio this morning.

"He has made deeply offensive remarks about women, including women in the Parliament."

Ms Bishop says if Labor is genuinely concerned about what it terms sexist and misogynist behaviour then there is a serious test ahead for Julia Gillard.

"The Prime Minister must state whether she continues to support a person in the position of Speaker who makes disgusting and offensive remarks about women."

Opposition frontbencher Greg Hunt also said Mr Slipper's position was "untenable" as the language failed the "high standards expected from the head of the Parliament".


Voluble Leftists who once complained of censorship are now going all-out to censor Alan Jones

Jenna Price claims to be just an "ordinary" person who is "sick of the way that Alan Jones speaks to us and tries to whip up hate". Or so she told ABC Radio AM yesterday. Ms Price is the founder of a Facebook page which has campaigned - so far successfully - for companies to withdraw their advertising from Alan Jones's breakfast show on Macquarie Radio 2GB.

On her Facebook page yesterday, Ms Price was identifying with "the small, the defenceless, the vulnerable". Which is quite remarkable self-perception for someone who has worked as a journalist for most of her career, who has a weekly column in The Canberra Times and is an academic at the taxpayer-subsidised University of Technology, Sydney.

Ms Price's Destroy the Joint website was set up before Jones's distasteful and indefensible words about the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard - which were first reported in The Sunday Telegraph just over a week ago. It has achieved national prominence since then in campaigning for an advertising boycott of Jones's program.

Yesterday, Ms Price declined to take responsibility for the fact that some supporters of her cause have intimidated small businesses which traditionally advertise on Jones's program. She merely described such behaviour as "horrible". On Sky News last Sunday, Ms Price was quoted as saying: "I'm not a person who wants to sack Alan Jones; I want to re-educate Alan Jones."

Not content with educating media students at the UTS journalism program, Ms Price wants to re-educate Jones. According to her, people like Jones do not represent "the Australia our community wants". No surprise here. In fact, the UTS journalism community has as many political conservatives on staff as 2GB has leftist presenters. Namely, zip in both cases.

During John Howard's prime ministership, it was fashionable for high-profile left-wing academics to claim they were being censored. This was the thesis of the collection Silencing Dissent, edited by Clive Hamilton and Sarah Maddison. The book, published in early 2007, accused the Howard government of being intolerant and authoritarian along with controlling public opinion and stifling debate.

This was a figment of left-wing academic imagination. In any event, not long after Silencing Dissent hit the bookshops, the Coalition was demolished at the polls by Kevin Rudd and Labor. Clearly, there was no silencing dissent during the Howard years. But there is a new intolerance emerging in Australia in the lead-up to the scheduled 2013 election which has been exacerbated by social media. A few examples illustrate the point:

Alan Jones insulted the Prime Minister and then apologised. The apology was not accepted by Julia Gillard, which is her prerogative. However, this incident has been used by Jones's opponents, many of whom have wanted to drive him out of the electronic media for many years, to intimidate 2GB advertisers.

Few, if any, of the civil liberties lobby have spoken out against the recommendation made by Ray Finkelstein, QC, that a news media council be established. This body, if established, would have the power to regulate virtually all media in Australia. Moreover, its findings - concerning which there is no proposed right of appeal - would be enforced by fining and/or imprisoning editors. The government is still considering Finkelstein's recommendations.

In the Eatock v Bolt case in 2011, Federal Court judge Mordy Bromberg not only found that the News Ltd columnist Andrew Bolt had made inaccurate and offensive comments about the claimants he described as "fair-skinned Aboriginal people". Bromberg also railed against the "tone" of Bolt's articles. The judge objected to Bolt's sarcasm, mockery, cynicism, incivility, disrespect and irresponsibility. He said that, in assessing language, it is necessary to "read between the lines". Meaning that it is proper to find against columnists not only for what they write but also for what they do not write.

Then there is the matter of double standards. In 2011 the ABC paid for, and subsequently defended, the former Labor speechwriter Bob Ellis's comments that the Liberal MP Jillian Skinner was "like a long-detested nagging landlady with four dead husbands and hairy shoulders". Ellis never apologised for this insult, which was published on the taxpayer-funded website The Drum. But to the likes of Ms Price, an apology by the former Liberal speechwriter Jones for offensive after-dinner comments at a university function are not acceptable.

Here's a reality check. Jones is not as influential as his critics or supporters believe. Nor is the Destroy the Joint movement. Ms Price has written on her Facebook page: "Macquarie Radio Network has offered to meet with us. Perhaps we should hire ANZ Stadium." Don't bother. Most of Ms Price's supporters are inner-city types who never listen to 2GB and who could not find their way to the sporting facilities at Homebush, even with the aid of a GPS.


Turnbull's doubts on storing digital data

OPPOSITION communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull has given a thumbs down to the government's plan to allow greater interception and retention of private digital information.

Mr Turnbull said although he did not want to pre-empt the findings of a parliamentary inquiry, he had "very grave misgivings" about the proposal, which would give government more ability to monitor and gain access to data.

"It seems to be heading in precisely the wrong direction," he said, delivering the Alfred Deakin Lecture in Melbourne.

"As the digital age shifted us from a default position of forgetting things to one of perpetual memory, we should be restoring as far as possible people's right not just to privacy, but to be able to delete material as they have been able to do in the analogue world."

Mr Turnbull said under the government plan internet companies would be required to store parts of everyone's data, but clarity was lacking as to what would be kept.

Nor had there been an explanation of the costs and benefits of this "sweeping and intrusive new power", including what, if any, cost was ascribed "to its chilling effect on free speech".

It had not been said whether any gains in national security or law enforcement - which were asserted as justification for the changes - would be monitored and verified.

Mr Turnbull said that, as a matter of principle, "if I am lawfully entitled to burn copies of the letters I have written to you and the letters you have sent me in return, why can I not do the same to my emails?

"If I can throw my diary and my photo album in the bin, why can I not delete my Facebook page?"


Campaign against Abbott is chutzpah at its worst

Peter Reith

Nicola Roxon's nasty, personal campaign against Tony Abbott is especially hypocritical given Peter Slipper's continuing role as Speaker in her own Government, writes Peter Reith.

Chutzpah is defined by Wikipedia as the quality of audacity for good or bad. Keating was full of chutzpah. He sometimes had an audacious style. And the gallery loved him because he was good copy for the papers.

Chutzpah is not to be confused with humour and ridicule. Mick Young was so funny, and his ridicule so effective, that when the Coalition was in Opposition, Mick had the Coalition laughing at itself. He was so good at the despatch box that at one time the Coalition whip was seen instructing Coalition backbenchers not to laugh at Mick's commentary on us.

Sadly, none of Labor's frontbench could match Mick, the former shearer, for either humour or ridicule, nor could they match the quirky academic tone of Barry Jones.

Instead, all we get now is one minister plagiarising The West Wing, one hideous singer, a Treasurer who looks to Bruce Springsteen for inspiration for economic advice, and the zealousness of ministers Nicola Roxon and Tanya Plibersek as directed by the PM's Office. When it comes to chutzpah, these ministers take the prize for partisanship and self-righteousness.

On Insiders last Sunday, Roxon was as cool as a cucumber and utterly confident that there was nothing wrong with her nasty little personal campaign against Tony Abbott. She announced she was going to keep at it.

She seemed incapable of any realisation that not only did she have no basis for her campaign, but worse still, she could not see the yawning gap between her own behaviour over the Ashby case and the revelation of the attitude of Peter Slipper towards women.

In the Ashby case, she attacked him while his matter was before the courts, but refused to say anything about Slipper. It's no wonder George Brandis, the shadow attorney-general, questioned her fitness as the first law officer for the Commonwealth. She is a classic Labor warrior, but without the skill to persuade anybody of her cause.

Nicola Roxon seems to be in the habit of making claims that she can't substantiate. She floundered when pressed by Barrie Cassidy to outline her case. Her best answer was meaningless:

    "[Abbott]would refuse to acknowledge me and turn his back at functions that we went to together, much to the discomfort of the stakeholders who would invite us."

This does not mean anything other than the fact that Abbott does not like Nicola Roxon. So what! There are probably lots of men and women who don't like Roxon, but that does not make any of her critics a misogynist.

The truth is that this campaign will stop when PM Gillard calls off her lackeys. This is the test for Gillard, especially now that the Cabinet is split on the tactics, as demonstrated by Bob Carr. He at least has set the standard for Gillard when he appeared on Sky News's Australian Agenda (quoted in The Australian, October 8) to talk about Abbott's record with women:

    "Whatever points needed to be made have been made here. He'll be judged by women voters in that sense. And I think that Labor doesn't have to say that much more, that behind all the fuss and contention there are selfly committed women voters making up their own minds on this as Australian voters do."

What is particularly unfortunate about Roxon is that she has form. In the Ashby case, she was happy to spend large amounts of public money to assert that the Ashby claim was vexatious. Now we find that she has discontinued the claim and paid Ashby $50,000, and then resumed her claim publicly. This behaviour is inappropriate by any standards.

And she would claim that her motive is somehow premised on her long-held commitments to women's rights while she turns a blind eye to the fact that Mr Slipper is kept on as Speaker by the PM and the Labor Cabinet of which Ms Roxon is a leading member. So much for her belief in women's rights!

Now that really is chutzpah; and of the worst sort.


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