Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Antisemitic students at Uni NSW

BDS action at UNSW has turned ugly, with anti-Semitic and Holocaust-denying material appearing on a Facebook page opposing the opening of a Max Brenner chocolate shop on campus. Postings on a Facebook page promoting today's protest have attacked "Jews and Jew lovers" and said the figure of six million Jews murdered by Nazi Germany was an exaggeration.

PRO-PALESTINE student activists will protest outside a chocolate shop on the campus of a Sydney university, claiming it has links to alleged Israeli war crimes.

Tuesday's rally at noon (AEST) has been organised by Students For Justice in Palestine (SJP) UNSW, with 175 people indicating on the group's Facebook page that they will attend.

The group says the Max Brenner brand is owned by the Strauss Group, a corporation which sponsors the Golani and Givati Brigades of the Israeli Defence Force.

"These brigades have committed war crimes against Palestinians in Gaza and are involved in Israel's continual ethnic cleansing of Palestine," the page says.

"Students and staff of conscience demand that the Max Brenner be shut down! We don't want companies that endorse the Apartheid state of Israel and it's Apartheid practices."

In response to the campaign, a rival Facebook page has been set up called Defend Max Brenner at UNSW that includes a petition under the heading "Don't let them take our chocolate".

The rival pro-chocolate store group says they are students who believe Israeli businesses should not be targeted because of their national origin.

They say Max Brenner Chocolate is Australian-owned and most UNSW students support the store being on campus.

By Tuesday morning, the SJP Facebook had 387 "likes" while 335 people had "liked" the pro-Brenner page.


PM's speech paves way for bad news


I GUESS the Prime Minister regards herself as a bit of dab hand at economics, although presumably some loyal staffers wrote the speech she delivered yesterday at the Per Capita forum.

Speech writers are often wont to show off a bit. But when it comes to speeches about economics and budgetary policy, my advice to them is - don't.

Take the reference to Keynes changing his mind when the facts change. A more appropriate reference would have been to Keynes's firm advice that the tax share of GDP in a country should never exceed 25 per cent. Oops, we already have.

And the notion that this government is somehow truly Keynesian because it believes in delivering fiscal surpluses on average over the economic cycle is obviously some kind of joke.

This government will not be delivering any sort of fiscal surplus any time soon, let alone over the course of the economic cycle. And, by the way, that little homily about John losing his income bonus did not make any sense at all.

There were a few other howlers in the speech. Where are Finland, Norway and Chile in the chart on net government debt? And forget resource-rich Canada, with the US as its major trading partner - check out resource-rich Chile, with its high rate of economic growth and budget surpluses.

And, by the way, automatic stabilisers are supposed to work on both the downside and the upside. With economic growth around trend, we would not expect automatic stabilisers to be significant at this point in the cycle.

The economic message is completely garbled - we are doing really well, much better than most other developed economies, but the budget is in the ditch and it is not our fault that we overestimated revenue.

The real purpose of the Prime Minister's speech was to prime us for some bad news come budget night. You know the sort of thing: nothing is off the table, sacrifices will be expected of everyone - individuals, companies, institutions.

The trouble with this sort of shot-across-the-bow comment by the Prime Minister is that it demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the incidence of higher taxes and imposts. Just because a particular party, say a company, pays a tax, the burden of the tax may well fall on other parties. A higher tax burden on companies will reduce the real earnings of workers.

Moreover, if some of the measures being contemplated are introduced - a reduction in the diesel fuel rebate or a cut to accelerated depreciation rates - the mining boom will be coming to an end sooner than this government anticipates.

There are two important messages that the government should heed.

First, the way in which fiscal consolidation occurs is extremely important and it should not be done on the run. Spending cuts are preferable to tax increases in order to avoid perverse effects on investment and work effort.

Secondly, this is not the right time to be introducing two major spending initiatives - the ill-conceived Gonski spending and DisabilityCare.

I expect the government to ignore both messages.

And who ever wrote "our opponents and their friends flaunt the bitter language of the cut throat and the brandished axe" should really look for another job.


The truth on the problem laid bare, but no solution

Gillard and Swan have tried everything else. Now they're trying honesty.

A year ago they locked in permanent increases in payments to families and Australians on welfare worth $1 billion a year to be funded by "spreading the benefits of the boom".

They made no mention of the possibility that the boom wouldn't last, whereas the extra payments would continue for ever.

The legislated increase in lightly taxed superannuation contributions starting in July will cost the government a fortune by the time it is complete at the end of the decade. It was to be funded by a mining tax, one that leading economist Ross Garnaut said on Monday was deeply flawed and might never raise much money.

The national disability insurance scheme - eventually set to cost $6 billion a year - was approved with not a whisper how it would be paid for.

As revenue began to fall well short of the forecasts in October the government fudged things, producing a budget update that attempted to make up the shortfall by one-offs such as making some quarterly company tax payments monthly and hoovering up money in unclaimed bank accounts.

All the while its official line was that nothing much was wrong. The budget was still on track for a surplus.

Until December when Swan admitted the jig was up and told the truth about the futility of cutting for cutting's sake, merely in order to announce a surplus (a view endorsed in the past fortnight by his shadow on the other side, Joe Hockey).

Now the Prime Minister has laid bare the whole truth. The easy days of Mining Boom Mark I are over and will not return. Company tax reached "an astonishing 5.3 per cent of gross domestic product" in the final year of the Howard government. It is now 4.5 per cent. Capital gains tax was 1.5 per cent. It is now 0.4 per cent.

Normally low inflation might be welcome, but right now it is hurting profits, weighing on investment plans and weighing down the company tax take. Normally strong overseas confidence in Australia would be welcome, but right now it is keeping the dollar high and further denting company profits and investment plans.

The Prime Minister has levelled with us. She hasn't said what she is going to do.


See what public thinks on same-sex marriage

Gerard Henderson

The media in Australia is obsessed with same-sex marriage. It is far from clear, however, that this is a priority for many Australians living in the suburbs and regional centres - far away from the inner city where journalists tend to be domiciled.

Take Channel Ten's Meet the Press last Sunday, for example. Queensland mining entrepreneur Clive Palmer, who has stated an intention to form a revised United Australia Party, was a guest.

Palmer agreed to take questions from the panel. First up was presenter Kathryn Robinson who commented: "Mr Palmer, we'd like to get an idea of what policies your party will stand for … Gay marriage, where would your party stand on that?" Palmer dodged the question, declaring that "all social issues are going to be issues of conscience". It is doubtful that many Channel Ten viewers would regard same-sex marriage as a priority issue.

At the ABC, presenters and reporters tend to embrace same-sex marriage with much the same conviction as Southern Baptists in the United States believe in the Second Coming. It's a matter of faith. Commentator Greg O'Mahoney said on Sky News recently that there was no "coherent convincing counterargument" to same-sex marriage. Those who hold a different view are incoherent, apparently.

Amanda Vanstone, the ABC's token conservative presenter who presides over the tellingly named Counterpoint program, seems to be in the same-sex marriage cart. The former Howard government minister is on record as criticising Tony Abbott's refusal to give Liberal MPs a conscience vote in the lead-up to the 2013 election.

Journalist Steve Dow, whose book Gay: The Tenth Anniversary Collection has recently been released, appeared on ABC News 24's The Drum on April 19. It was one of the many debates on the ABC where everyone agrees with everyone else.

During the discussion, Dow acknowledged that the gay movement's support for same-sex marriage has been a recent development. He added that gays have "gone from quite a radical critique of the whole institution of marriage" to support for same-sex marriage in just 10 years.

And herein lies the problem. Australia is a socially conservative nation. In 2002 the radical Australian-born gay activist Peter Tatchell opposed the very concept of "the nuclear family", depicting it as a bourgeois institution. Yet earlier this year he condemned Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott for not supporting same-sex marriage.

It's one thing for Tatchell and many of his fellow activists to change their position. It's quite another for them to expect that the rest of society should immediately alter their views, or simply accept that same-sex marriage will be imposed by legislation.

A decade ago, certain words had clear meanings. A marriage was a union between a man and a woman. A married man had a wife. And a married woman had a husband. Moreover, children had certain expectations, whether or not their parents were married. A child had a father who was male and a mother who was female.

Not any more. On RN Breakfast earlier this month, former US Democratic Party politician Barney Frank told Fran Kelly about the views of his "husband". Then there is the matter of children.

According to reports, Elton John's partner, David Furnish, is cited as the mother on the birth certificate of their second child. This is a frequent demand by sections of the gay community. If it prevails, it is likely that in a decade or more the same problem will arise, as with adopted children in the past. Namely, there will be a yearning by teenagers and adults alike to know who both their biological parents are.

Same-sex marriage advocates see themselves railing against the old-fashioned views of some Christians, including many Catholics. This overlooks the fact that there is considerable opposition to same-sex marriage in the Muslim and Hindu communities as well as among socially conservative non-believers.

When the Marriage Amendment Bill was debated in the House of Representatives last year, it was opposed by three prominent Labor MPs from Western Sydney - Chris Bowen (an atheist), Tony Burke (a Catholic) and Ed Husic (a Muslim).

In the current issue of The Spectator, John Laughland documents the growing opposition to same-sex marriage in France, particularly in provincial areas. If significant social change is to be imposed on Australians at relatively short notice, it would make sense to test community attitudes. After all, in 1977 a plebiscite was conducted on what should be Australia's national song. Many Australians regard the concept of traditional marriage as important as the words of the national anthem.


1 comment:

Paul said...

"The media in Australia is obsessed with same-sex marriage."

The media is obsessed with pursuing distractions, be it celebrity crap, Gay Marriage or (more recently) Drugs in Sports. The media are for the most part traitors against this Country like our current rulers whom they collude with.