Monday, July 01, 2013

More on Gillard's misandry

Some comments by Jeff Kennett immediately before Gillard's dismissal

SOON after the death of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, I was asked by a journalist about my recollections of her period in office.

I said that while some disagreed with her policies, the reality was that everyone knew the direction she was taking her government and what she was trying to achieve. There was a degree of consistency and certainty.

Then I was asked to name other leaders I respected. I named the former prime minister of India, Indira Gandhi, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. I consider myself fortunate to have met Thatcher and Gandhi.

Ronald Reagan was a good leader with extraordinary communication skills and Bill Clinton was as intellectually capable a leader as anyone.

I was surprised later, when considering my answer, that I had nominated three women as outstanding leaders. But all had or have qualities I admire: a clear agenda, the consistency in what they believed in and the courage to withstand opposition and deliver.

But my selection was not based on gender. Merkel, Thatcher and Gandhi are, or were, talented politicians who achieved their leadership positions based on merit. None to my knowledge asked for or was given special treatment because of their gender. Which makes the current political play by our Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, so appalling.

Public trust started to evaporate when Gillard broke her promise "that there will be no carbon tax in any government I lead". That led to a re-evaluation of the way in which she stole office from Kevin Rudd.

Since then, the community has been witness to a range of policy failures, political misjudgments and public brawling at ministerial level to a degree we have never witnessed before.

The loss of confidence in the Prime Minister and her Government has been self-inflicted. The public is not to blame, nor the media.

So, in an act of desperation, the Prime Minister launched a gender attack on Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, an attack that has failed dismally, as this week's Newspoll illustrated so graphically.

When the first attack occurred in Parliament in October and Gillard accused Abbott of being a misogynist, I thought it was incorrect and grossly unfair. It was cowardly and not the act of a leader let alone a prime minister. Not something a Thatcher, Gandhi or Merkel ever resorted to.

And it was an attempt to divide Australians on gender lines and to belittle Abbott the individual.

But as Newspoll has shown, the community's reaction was to mark down the Prime Minister's authority even further.

Abbott is not only a husband of three daughters who, with his wife, Margaret, form a very normal family unit, but he has no issue working with women. Julie Bishop is his deputy leader and his chief-of-staff is Peta Credlin, a very competent political operator.

Gillard's attack was personal and deliberate. She thought she was playing to the Australian public but, as it has turned out, she was playing to a very small group of people, most of whom were her own supporters. And she confirmed she was not a leader of substance.

Abbott deserves credit for not returning the personal attacks delivered by the Prime Minister.

Her return to this area of attack - Abbott's relationship with women and the issue of abortion - was another attempt to divide the community.

It was another act of personal and political desperation that has simply alienated even more Australians.

Gillard was elected to govern all Australians but instead seems intent on dividing the country she is privileged to lead.

Someone described Jill Meagher's murderer, Adrian Bayley, as a misogynist.

I agree that is a correct use of the word. But Abbott is not a misogynist, and to describe him so is a disgrace that speaks more of Gillard's insecurities and failures.

Australians deserve a political leader they can trust, a leader who does not seek to divide the nation and who does not resort to gender attacks.

The public has a right and expectation to pass judgment on one of the darkest periods of political leadership this country has ever been subjected to.


Government underplays effect of carbon tax on households and businesses while overstating its environmental benefit

THE Federal Government has underplayed the effect of the carbon tax on households and businesses while overstating the environmental benefit.

The cost-of-living impact in the first 12 months of the tax will be a rise of 0.7 per cent, according to Westpac and NAB - exactly what Federal Treasury forecast.

Westpac senior economist Huw Mackay said: "I think consumers are probably pleasantly surprised by how modest the impost is."

But not modest enough for the Government.

It says in a new report, "How Australia's carbon price is working One Year On", that "Westpac and National Australia Bank economists have estimated that the carbon price has increased the Consumer Price Index by just 0.4 per cent".

The report, which bizarrely has an American family on the cover, continues: "This means the Household Assistance Package has left many millions of Australian families better off financially."

A Government spokesman on Climate Change said it was not misleading to use the 0.4 per cent figure even though it related to a period before the tax began.

Meanwhile, manufacturers, construction firms and service providers say profits have cooled due to Australia's effort to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2C.

"For most businesses the high fixed carbon tax has so far reduced profitability rather than encouraging change, while squeezing product development, innovation and jobs growth," said Innes Willox, CEO of the Australian Industry Group, which represents more than 60,000 businesses.

But the government report says: "Since the carbon price started, Australia's manufacturing industry has been investing in new equipment to improve energy efficiency and pollution."

These investments are "cleaning up Australian manufacturing and generating big savings for business".

The report also says there has been a five per cent decline in carbon pollution per unit of electricity because the tax has made greener power "more competitive when compared to higher-polluting coal-fired electricity generation".

"As a result, electricity generation is switching away from high-polluting fuels like brown coal."

Renewable energy output was up 30 per cent, it says. Generation from coal was down 14 per cent.

National Generators Forum executive director Tim Reardon said energy from coal was down "largely due to unforeseen technical outages". The increase in hydro was "due to a wet season - there's been no additional build".

The carbon price would need to be more than $100 per tonne to change the economics of generation, Mr Reardon said.

Energy Supply Association CEO Matthew Warren said: "If we didn't have a carbon price we would still see a drop in emissions."

Coalition spokesman on "Climate Action" Greg Hunt said: "If elected, the carbon tax will be repealed and won't make a second anniversary."


UN convention turns Australia into a magnet for asylum-seekers

by Greg Sheridan

IS the Refugee Convention itself now the problem? The convention dates from 1951 and was designed to deal with people fleeing persecution across land borders in Europe. It had the Holocaust in mind. The idea was that if someone, generally a government, was trying to kill you because of your race or religion and you fled to escape death, you would not then be forced back to your persecutor.

Sadly, like most things associated with the UN, it has grown into a sort of grotesque parody of itself, with vast unintended consequences.

The actual wording of the convention is not too bad. The obligations it imposes on signatories are reasonably limited. The main one is that a country may not return a refugee to the place from which he has fled persecution. Nothing John Howard did, nothing that Tony Abbott proposes, contravenes the convention.

It is clear, and sometimes explicit, in the convention's wording that it envisages people fleeing directly from persecution in one country to haven, temporary or permanent, in an adjacent neighbour. So how is it that, ostensibly under the auspices of the convention, there are now Iranians, Lebanese, Palestinians, Somalis, Afghans, Pakistanis and others arriving in Australia's north and claiming to be refugees?

No provision of the convention allows a refugee to "forum shop", that is, to use their status to claim immigration rights in any country they choose.

The convention talks of people directly fleeing persecution. But the folks arriving in Australia use, or misuse, a technicality in the convention.

Technically, they have not passed through another country which is a convention signatory. This is only possible because almost all of Southeast Asia is, very sensibly, not signed up to the convention. Only Cambodia, East Timor and The Philippines are signatories.

Therefore, if a person who wants to live in Australia can get on a direct flight to Indonesia, or even Malaysia, they can get to Australia without passing through any signatory countries. Given the flying range of jumbo jets, this is now possible for virtually anyone in the world. Of course, to do this means flying away from all sorts of convention signatory countries next door. Afghanistan, for instance, has a slew of signatory countries on or near its borders - Kyrgistan, Kazakhstan and lots of others. But who would want to live there?

Iran, similarly, has the signatory country Turkey, until recently a good friend of Iran's, virtually next door. And a whole swath of European and other convention signatories much closer than Australia. But if an Iranian flies direct to Malaysia, where he gets visa free entry, he can get to Australia without, technically, going through another signatory country.

This shouldn't really make any difference, because the only real obligation under the convention is not to return a genuine refugee to the land of his persecution. This is regarded as being now part of customary international law for all nations. And some countries that are signatories to the convention, such as China, do not observe this rule, as when it forces North Koreans attempting to flee back to their homeland.

But the convention operates now in three ways that are extremely bad for Australia.

First, because it is a treaty we have signed, it has been substantially imported into our domestic law. But because some of its language is imprecise and aspirational, an imperial judiciary can steal much of the power from the parliament by interpreting such language expansively.

Second, Australia's status as a signatory to the convention acts as an enormously powerful magnet, attracting all manner of aspirational immigrants, drawn by Australia's material riches and generous welfare, who can then use the convention to qualify for immigration status they would never get otherwise.

And third, it allows the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to play a wholly inappropriate part in our domestic politics. The UNHCR regional director was lambasting Australia this week for trying to control its borders by reducing the incentive of quick, permanent resettlement and endless welfare. Why isn't the UNHCR making a song and dance about getting Indonesia and Malaysia and the rest of Southeast Asia even to sign up to the convention? In truth there is not another country in Southeast Asia, or in Northeast Asia, remotely as generous to illegal arrivals claiming refugee status as Australia is.

All talk of Australia damaging its reputation by its treatment of illegal arrivals is nonsense. Insofar as we have a splenetic internal debate, in which the champions of faux compassion accuse everyone else of heartlessness, other nations will notice this debate and repeat some of our own criticisms of ourselves. But no sane comparison of the treatment of illegal arrivals in any nation in our region is remotely to Australia's disadvantage. We are the softest touch in the region, and everyone in the region knows it. Increasingly, everyone in the world knows it, which is why illegal immigration to Australia is becoming such a big, well financed, global, criminal business.

So, should we leave the convention altogether? I don't think so. It would be too difficult and controversial and we would still face the obligations of customary law anyway. But we should completely decouple domestic law from the convention. An Abbott government will face an enormous challenge in this area and will have to do a lot of tough legislating if it is to prevail.

The Liberals' one big strategic mistake so far was to block the Malaysia swap deal. This deal wouldn't have stopped the boats but the legislation the government offered would have allowed offshore processing anywhere an Australian government wanted it to happen. This sort of power will be vital if an Abbott government is to win the looming, epic battle of wills against the people-smuggling industry, and their Australian supporters. And by insisting Malaysia was no good because it was not a signatory to the convention, the Liberals reinforced the false moral authority of the convention, and of the UNHCR.


The grandmother of six-year-old girl has spoken out to condemn NSW child protection agency for returning the child to  her abusive mother, who went on to murder her

Liz Weippeart made the comments before the sentencing in two weeks' time of the child's mother, Kristi Abrahams, who has admitted to the murder.

Liz Weippeart suffered a double tragedy when her son Chris, Kiesha's father, died last November of what she described as "broken heart" after learning what the child endured at the hands of his estranged wife. Their first child, a baby boy, Aiden, died of sudden infant death syndrome.

Ms Weippeart - speaking at her home near Mount Druitt - said she cared for Kiesha with her son after her mother bit her on the shoulder when she was 15 months old. But DOCS made the decision to take Kiesha out of their care and return her to her mother, after pressure from Kristi, she said.

"They shouldn't have taken her out of my care. Why weren't we informed? Even the police say 'Why didn't DOCS contact you?"' she said.

"I think DOCS let this little girl slip through the system in a bad way. DOCS are the ones that have got to protect our children and they didn't protect Kiesha.  "They let an animal of a mother keep on doing this and then she abused her and then she killed her."

The court heard last week that Kiesha's resemblance to her father "annoyed Ms Abrahams and triggered her physical and verbal abuse".

She had previously been burnt with a cigarette, sustained fractures to her teeth and after death was placed in a suitcase for five days before she was burnt and buried in a shallow grave.

Ms Weippeart said: "You don't take your own child because she resembles her father. You don't ill-treat a child. She's just a disgusting person."

She said her son had told her he believed Abrahams was involved with the death.  "He always said to me, 'mum, I think she's done something to Kiesha'. About 72 hours after Kiesha went missing he said: 'Mum, something's happened to Kiesha. I can feel it.'

"If I'd known she'd been burnt with a cigarette she would still be alive. I've got a 13-year-old. I'm a smoker. You just don't go up and put a cigarette out on a child's face."

Family and Community Services Minister Pru Goward declined to comment on the new claims until after sentencing. She said last week the tragedy happened in "the dying days of an appalling Labor administration".

The opposition spokeswoman on Family and Community Services, Linda Burney, said she was angry when she read the comment.

"I am very disturbed at the minister's attitude … The way in which community services is being run into the ground, the situation for children like Kiesha is more dangerous now than it was back then," she said.

Ms Weippeart said part of her died with the loss of her granddaughter. "I have got to live with this for the rest of my life. I am not the one sitting in jail that murdered and I reckon she had a lot to do with Christopher's death too. Dying of a broken heart."

Ms Weippeart will attend the sentencing on July 18 - the same day Kiesha was murdered in 2010.


1 comment:

Paul said...

I fear that we have had traded on us Gillard's contrived feminism for Rudd's deep-seated psychopathy. The man has every trait of the narcissistic psychopath on show for all to say that care to look. One only needs to look at the thick-headed personality cult-driven idiots that role out to demonstrate their support of him to see the superficial charm in action and how easily it works on non-thinkers.