Thursday, July 25, 2013

Border emergency needs military: Abbott

PEOPLE smuggling is a national emergency that needs a senior military officer to control the response, the coalition says.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has announced that a coalition government will ask the defence force chief to appoint a three-star commander to lead a joint agency taskforce to deal with people smugglers and border protection.

Operation Sovereign Borders, as it would be known, would be established within 100 days of the coalition taking government and would involve all 12 agencies with direct involvement in border security.

The military commander in charge would report directly to the immigration minister.

Within its first 100 days a coalition government would also finalise and issue the protocols for Operation Relex II, to turn back asylum seeker boats when safe.

"This is one of the most serious external situations that we have faced in many a long year," Mr Abbott said on launching the policy in Brisbane on Thursday.

"It must be tackled with decisiveness, with urgency, with the appropriate level of seriousness.

"That's why we need to have a senior military officer in operational control of this very important national emergency."

Mr Abbott also pledged to quickly increase capacity at offshore processing centres.

He says the coalition will also lease and deploy additional vessels so that border protection patrol vessels can be relieved of passenger transfers.

Outspoken retired Major General Jim Molan joined Mr Abbott for the announcement, endorsing the policy and saying it set the stage for success.

He said he'd been brought on board to advise the opposition on how to conduct such operations.

"What I offer the coalition is a check on feasibility," he told reporters at the policy launch.

"The result is the coalition, if elected, will be able to give more refined direction to the agencies and the agencies' plans, when they come back for government approval, can be better understood.

"That thoroughness is far, far better than policy on the run."

He noted Operation Sovereign Borders would be a military-led operation rather than a military operation.

"It's certainly not an unusual circumstance for the military to be used in this way," he said.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has already dismissed Mr Abbott's new policy as another three word slogan: "Operation Sovereign something-or-other."

Mr Abbott pointed out that since Labor abolished the Howard government's border protection policies, 48,000 people have arrived on 800 boats and more than 1000 people have perished at sea.

Mr Abbott said that as a courtesy he had given Chief of Defence David Hurley and the Indonesian ambassador a heads-up about the announcement on Thursday morning.

He rejected suggestions he should have consulted with General Hurley while developing the policy.

"I'm very conscious of the proprieties here," he told reporters in Brisbane.

"The last thing I would want to do is get serving officers directly involved in advising the opposition."

General Hurley issued a statement saying that "contrary to media reporting" he did not advise Mr Abbott on the policy.

Mr Abbott said the coalition had informally consulted with serving officers as well as recently retired officers.

Asked about Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill's claim that the opposition had misrepresented his comments from a private briefing about control of foreign aid, Mr Abbott said he had a "good relationship" with Mr O'Neill.

Earlier this week the opposition claimed Mr O'Neill had said he was now in control of Australia's foreign aid money for PNG.

"What we've said ... is based on Mr O'Neill's public statements," Mr Abbott said.

"Yes we had a private meeting with Prime Minister O'Neill and what he said in private was consistent with what he said in public."


Woman charged over anti-Islam stickers linked to One Nation candidate

A 26-year-old Kingston woman will appear in court on Friday charged over an anti-Islam sticker scandal that has embroiled One Nation's Fairfax candidate and lead to scathing criticism from the state government.

Earlier this month, a jar of coffee with its seal broken was allegedly found at a Woolworths supermarket at Underwood, south of Brisbane, featuring a sticker stating "Beware! Halal food funds terrorists".

The stickers can be purchased from Restore Australia, whose chief executive officer is One Nation candidate Mike Holt.

The Queensland One Nation candidate remains unapologetic for selling the stickers.

But Queensland Multicultural Affairs Minister Glen Elmes on Thursday condemned the merchandise as “offensive, grotesque and designed to inflame hatred”.

Mr Elmes said the candidate ran a racist website through which people were encouraged to purchase the stickers carrying the slogan and put them on food products in supermarkets.

Doing so wasn’t “just racial discrimination”, Mr Elmes said, it was also vandalism.

“The full force of the law should be brought down on anyone found to be vandalising supermarket property and promoting racial discrimination through using the stickers,” he said.

However Mr Elmes also took aim at the Palmer United Party federal candidate for Hinkler and former LNP member, Rob Messenger.

He said Mr Messenger had written an anti-Muslim letter to newspapers that was “designed to inflame anti-Muslim sentiment" and that Mr Messenger and Mr Holt should both be dis-endorsed.

But Mr Messenger, who left the LNP in 2010 to serve out his term in Queensland Parliament as the Member for Burnett as an independent, said his former colleague had “completely misunderstood” the intention of his letter.

“I wrote my letter in response to the cold-blooding killing by two self-confessed Islamic extremists who were literally caught brazenly red-handed in what was a vile act of extremism,” he said.

“My letter essentially warned against all people, including those of the Islamic faith, remaining silent against extremism.

“The risk of a terror attack is so great that a policy of appeasement in the face of such extremism will fail.

“It is quite controversial letter, but he’s taken it out of context, and tried to apply to me that I was racist, and all the other ‘isms’.

“I was the only MP to speak out against neo-Nazis in Queensland – where was Mr Elmes on that issue?

Mr Holt has been selling an array of merchandise through his website, Restore Australia, for two months.

But the Sunshine Coast politician denies he is inflaming racist sentiments.

"I am not perpetuating anything, anti-Muslim sentiment is real," he said.

"I wanted to raise awareness that people buy all this food in good faith and they are not being told almost everything has a Halal tax which goes to Muslim organisations."

It emerged Mr Holt was selling the merchandise when a 26-year-old woman was charged on Wednesday.

Mr Holt said he knew of the woman, a follower of Restore Australia, but did not condone her alleged actions.

"I do state you shouldn’t do that but the young girl is keen to stop this Halal certification, she acted in good faith," he said.

The Kingston woman is due to appear in Beenleigh Magistrates Court on Friday, charged with contaminating or interfering with goods.

A police spokesman said there was absolutely no evidence to support the claims being spruiked on the stickers.

Mr Holt said he had sold about 24,000 stickers in the two months since the items were available, including to customers in Australia, the UK, New Zealand and Switzerland.

The One Nation candidate, who is married to a Thai woman, denied he was racist.

"Of course I’m not racist, how can you be racist against a religion," he said.


Academic's dismissal could face scrutiny

MACQUARIE University's sacking of Murry Salby, a scientist whose work casts doubt on the orthodox climate change thesis, may face scrutiny by the International Council for Science.

Distinguished physicist Marie-Lise Chanin, who is a French representative on the Paris-based council suggested the Salby case was a matter for the council's committee on "freedom and responsibility in the conduct of science".

"I am scandalised by what happened to Murry Salby," said Dr Chanin, a founding member of the Academy of Europe and an expert on the role of the stratosphere in climate.

Cases before that committee have included government threats to scientific freedom, detention of scientists and assassination attempts against physicists.

Macquarie, which recruited Dr Salby from the US in 2008 to fill its chair of climate science, this year refused him permission to travel to Europe to present research findings which he said countered "reckless claims" about the role of mankind in greenhouse gases.

"Modern changes of atmospheric CO2 and methane are -- contrary to popular belief -- not unprecedented," Dr Salby says in an email to supporters detailing his falling out with Macquarie.

He has been a critic of the government's Climate Commission, which includes two Macquarie academics among its members.

Asked about the case, Dr Salby said he could not say much because it was "headed to court".

The university said his sacking had nothing to do with scientific freedom. A Macquarie spokesman said Dr Salby was dismissed for "failure to fulfill his teaching obligations, repeatedly and consistently over several months" and for going to Europe anyway "despite repeated written instruction not to travel".

Contrary to policy, he used a Macquarie credit card to buy a ticket through an external travel agency, the spokesman said.

Dr Salby was refused permission because the trip clashed with his teaching duties, not because of the nature of the research findings he wanted to present, the spokesman said.

Dr Salby said the teaching was imposed "without discussion, in breach of my contract, and reduced my role to . . . menial support". Macquarie disputed this, saying that although Dr Salby was employed under a program to bring in research stars, standard conditions required "a commitment" to teaching.


How to impress like Clive Hamilton

Tony Thomas on phony Greenie credentials

A bit of a loser myself, I like perving on the credentials of my betters. For example, I noticed last year that the official biography of the chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Dr Rajendra Pachauri, said that he “obtained...a Ph.D. in industrial engineering and a Ph.D. in economics.”

Wow, I thought, not one but two Ph.Ds, both from North Carolina State University, and both in 1974! I emailed the university to check, and got a prompt reply saying, “Yes, he earned two Ph.D’s.” Silly me, to have doubted it.

But 24 hours later, I got a follow-up from the uni press officer, obviously a decent chap, saying that he had checked more closely and his first reply was wrong . In fact Dr Pachauri was awarded only one Ph.D., for combined study in industrial engineering and economics, he said.

I alerted the IPCC about its misleading claim that Pachauri earned two Ph.D’s but the IPCC has, 18 months later, still not got around to correcting it. Busy people, I guess.

My next foray into credentialism involved everyone’s favorite guru, Dr Clive Hamilton AM FRSA.

Dr Clive AM FRSA is an Australian public intellectual, according to his own website and a host of other sources, including his publisher Allen & Unwin.

As a global warming alarmist, he is part of the Weber-barbecue-like tripod of Australian public intellectuals, the other two kettle legs being of course Dr Tim Flannery and Professor Robert Manne. I wondered, re Clive, who  ‘public intellectuals’ were. I guess Jean Paul Sartre’s definition, “the moral conscience of their age” seems the best fit. After all, Clive stood for the Greens in 2009 and his “AM” [Medal of the Order of Australia] is a clear-cut 2009 honor for his service to the Left on climate-change policy, sustainability and societal trends.

But what’s with that “FRSA”? It looks a bit like that top science gong, “Fellow of the Royal Society” but actually stands for “Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts”, a different UK body. Being an FRSA seems like something special, since it always seems to be tagged to Clive’s profiles.

However, FRSA is a title you can actually buy on-line. About 27,000 people have done this, the current fee being $A123 as a one-off and $A255 a year.

Last March I put in a test application for an FRSA, for convenience using the name Kim Jong Un, of Pyongyang. The RSA website promised a confirmation within 12 working days.

I got emailed back a form from a Michael Ambjorn, Head of Fellowship at the RSA London headquarters, saying “Although we don’t contact all referees, some may be contacted for a character reference request.” I nominated Clive, his bestie Robert Manne and  Ray Finkelstein QC, without knowing of course whether they would support or criticise Mr Kim’s application. “Watch this space”, I told Quadrant Online readers.

“So then what happened?” I hear you cry.  I’m afraid I baulked at the first hurdle, which was remitting the required $378 (Quadrant Online tends to be dismissive of its contributors’ expense claims).

The RSA however remained keen to get the money, and after a pause, I got a pleading letter from its Fellowship Development Coordinator Mark Hall:

“Dear Mr Jong Un,

We noted that you downloaded an application form to become a Fellow of the RSA, and I am just following up to find out if there is anything we can do to help you with your application.

I have included a reminder about the RSA below, but please do not hesitate to contact me to discuss Fellowship in more detail... "

There followed some hard-sell for Mr Jong Un about the advantages of meeting the other 27,000 Fellows, sharing skills for charity, generating ideas “that aim to have a positive social impact”, and so on. Again, I baulked at remitting the $378.

Then  I got a further RSA begging letter for Mr Jong Un, “just following up”, as Mark Hall put it. He invited Mr Jong Un to connect with recent Fellows such as Antoinette Saxer FRSA, who is “currently working on the upcoming Good Fashion Show which focuses on eco-ethical and responsible fashion. She talks about why eco-fashion inspires her and what she would like to connect to other Fellows.”

Well, OK, Mr Jong Un is a bit of a fashion icon with his funky, centre-parted hair-do, and he did star in a production of Grease when a teen at Berne International School.  He would doubtless appreciate my signing him up as a FRSA, but I felt guilty about further wasting Mark Hall’s time. I sent Mark a reply:

“Hi, Mark,

Thanks for your reminder. I have decided not to join your RSA after all as I am very busy smiting the double-dealing imperialist  running-dog lackeys in the United States.


Kim Jong-un, Dear Leader of the People's Democratic Republic of Korea.”

As Hamlet put it, the rest was silence.


1 comment:

Paul said...

Halal tax, Kosher tax (they aren't taxes they're fees for access to the symbol, and they are global).... Maybe if they'd all just keep their religious stupidity in their own crappy corners of the world we could all have a bit of peace (and quiet).