Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Australia in frontline of BDS campaign

Perhaps much of Jewish mentality throughout the ages has been to keep a low profile in the diaspora, but I believe that Jews need to fight back against the racist campaign of the BDS movement.

The BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) campaign against Israel today is fought on many fronts across the world. From Israel Apartheid Week at universities, to Danish Banks to academic boycotts and others. It’s even been fought in fizzy drink companies!

The organizers and supporters of this movement like to compare themselves to the campaign against apartheid in South Africa – in other words a good and moral battle against an evil system of injustice. They like to disguise their intentions by using terms such as ‘non-violence’ and ‘international law’.

However, there is nothing moral or just or good about this battle. It is an absolute front for modern day anti-Semitism. The examples are plenty, but here in Australia, a country of immense racial diversity, the BDS movement itself will find itself on the defense.

This Wednesday a lawsuit will resume at the Federal Court in Sydney against Jake Lynch of Sydney University, who is a prominent supporter of the BDS campaign against Israel. The lawsuit was filed by Israeli legal center Shurat Hadin on behalf of an academic Dan Avnon from the Hebrew University. Avnon wanted to do research in Australia but Jake Lynch refused to sign the application, stating his support for the BDS movement. The lawsuit alleges that Jake Lynch is violating Australia’s racial discrimination act by discriminating against Dan Avnon based on his ‘Israeli national origin and his Jewish racial and ethnic origin’.

In a lawsuit like this, there are Jews in Australia who are for it and who are against it. Perhaps much of Jewish mentality throughout the ages has been to keep a low profile in the diaspora, but I believe that Jews need to fight back against the racist campaign of the BDS movement.

Stuart Rees, a supporter of Lynch, has described the lawsuit as ‘absurd’ and accuses Shurat HaDin of acting as a legal attack dog for the Israeli government by using the law to silence the people who support the BDS movement, yet it is ironic for Rees to complain about the ‘law’ being used when it is the BDS’s goal to ‘force’ Israel to act within ‘international law’.

The reality is that if Jews continue to remain silent against these evil campaigns and do not challenge the lies that are being spewed with venomous hatred by the BDS and others, those lies in time will become ‘fact’ by virtue of the lack of an opposing view.

People are entitled to their views and no one is forcing them to buy gefilte fish at the local kosher deli, but when they abuse their professional position, as Jake Lynch has done in a discriminatory way, the line has been crossed.

Jews are known to be the people of the book, so it’s time to use that legal book – and throw it at them!


We’re paying for the teaching of Marxist politics

MARXISTS murdered millions and wrecked every country they’ve led. Yet 25 years after the Berlin Wall’s fall, they still cling to power in Australia’s universities.

Amazing. Yes, our universities are the last refuge of the Marxist — of people such as Victoria University politics lecturer Max Lane, recently on the executive council of the Revolutionary Socialist Party.

Lane is now with the Socialist Alternative, which urges “the smashing of the capitalist state apparatus”, including the “dismantling” of “parliaments, courts, the armed forces and police”.

Its followers “reject Australian patriotism” and “oppose all immigration controls”, and Lane last week dutifully sent a letter to the Jakarta Post to warn its Indonesian readers our immigration minister is actually a pirate who kills innocent people.

“The forcible seizure of other people’s boats ... and the coerced towing them to a destination not of their choice would all seem to amount to piracy,” Lane thundered. “These are immoral, inhumane acts.

“I would like to see Immigration and Border Protection Minister, Scott Morrison, and the puppet General doing his work charged with piracy and criminal negligence causing death.”

It’s odd that we pay a man with such extreme views — and so ready to trash our reputation abroad — to teach students at a university.

Sure, universities should teach all perspectives, so an odd Lane here and there is a detour to be expected. But scores of them?

In fact, Lane is one of 12 academics listed to speak at Marxism 2014, a four-day conference over Easter, which the Socialist Alliance organisers persuaded Melbourne University to host on its grounds. (Would the university similarly play host to a conference of fascists?)

Twelve academics is an astonishing turnout of speakers for a conference to promote a totalitarian ideology which has caused such devastation.

But how well has the far Left captured our institutions — and public funding.

And so the Marxism 2014 speakers include, for example, Professor Jane Kenway, of Monash University’s education faculty, who teaches tomorrow’s teachers.

Then there’s socialist Rick Kuhn, a politics reader at the Australian National University; “socialist activist” Tom Bramble, a senior lecturer in industrial relations at the University of Queensland; Diane Fieldes, a teacher in industrial relations at the University of NSW; Lisa Milner, a filmmaker teaching media students at Southern Cross University; and Aboriginal radical Gary Foley of Victoria University.

Other speakers include academics whose influence goes beyond the students they teach.

Sarah Gregson, an industrial relations academic at the University of NSW, is also the president of her National Tertiary Education Union branch. (Her conference topic: “The RSL: foot soldiers of capital.”)

Ali Alizadeh, who teaches literature and creative writing at Monash, also writes regularly for Overland, a far-Left magazine generously funded by the Australia Council with more of our money.

By coincidence, another speaker is Melbourne Workers Theatre co-founder Patricia Cornelius, a former academic now on the Australia Council’s Literature Assessment Panel, which helps to decide how much in grants to give magazines like — hey! — Overland.

Hmmm. Why is it that Marxists are so dependent on state funding?

And why do they get so much of it? Why, when even these Marxists’ children have shown their parents their politics is unworkable?

You see, Marxism 2014 will hold a “School of Rebellion” to teach children as young as five “constructive, collective and organised rebellion” with lessons on “why unions matter” and “organising a student strike”, plus a little fun with “smashing capitalism: a piƱata party”.

But even the Green Left Weekly had to admit last year’s School of Rebellion ended with its 30 students rebelling against the school itself.

It reported the children were given a “graffiti workshop” which “involved the kids making their demands and ideas known with spray paint”.

They sure did: “Their demands included, ‘Free internet’, ‘Free Food’, ‘Free everything!’ ”

And then: “The older kids rebelled in a slam poetry session, electing a 10-year-old girl as their spokesperson and demanding to go outside and play soccer. Which they did.”

Marxism in a nutshell: Here are mini-Marxists demanding everything be given to them free, and then refusing to work themselves.

And how often have we seen what inevitably follows: the state using force to make some work to provide what the others take, and to crack down on those who protest? There will be no graffiti workshop at the School of Rebellion this year.

That’s Marxism, kids. It’s amazing that after so many disastrous failures, your parents still believe this stuff.

But far worse is that so many of your parents’ gurus are in our universities, trying to turn them into Schools of Rebellion, too. And we pay them.


It’s only fair that Gillard shares blame for return to lawless unionism


IT is an honour to be rebutted by a former prime minister. But Julia Gillard’s claim, (”Laws and Fair Work”, Letters, Feb 14) that I “misled readers” in describing Labor’s changes to the industrial relations laws does not stand up to scrutiny.

And even more important than errors in her claim are omissions which go to the heart of the current debate. Gillard’s contention is simply this: that she bears no responsibility for the industrial lawlessness which flourished under Labor.

As regards the building industry laws, she merely implemented changes retired judge Murray Wilcox had recommended. Far from doing “virtually nothing to police (the unions’) internal governance”, as I had written, she not only retained the relevant provisions of Work Choices in the Fair Work Act, but strengthened them in 2012. And rather than trample on freedom of association, her legislation provides “more effective remedies in relation to breaches (of that freedom) than ever before”.

Each of these assertions is incorrect, misses the point or both. I accept that the Wilcox review recommended that the Howard government’s building industry laws be modified. But even the review concluded that significant lawlessness remained and that strong powers were required to prevent it persisting.

Faced with that finding, a government which genuinely believed that (as Gillard had said) the industry needed “hard-edged compliance (with) no tolerance at all for lawlessness” would have monitored those changes to ensure they did not, in Wilcox’s words, “impede investigations of significant contraventions”.

Instead, as the lawlessness spread, Gillard made further changes, not recommended by Wilcox, preventing the regulator pursuing matters once the parties to a dispute had reached an agreement, regardless of the tactics by which that agreement had been secured.

The consequences were entirely predictable: the thuggery escalated dramatically, as extracting an agreement, even by extreme means, now provided far-reaching protection from the law.

With Labor then standing by as the building union was found guilty of 30 counts of contempt in the Grocon dispute alone, Gillard’s protestations of innocence can hardly be taken seriously. Gillard’s claims with respect to policing unions’ governance are no more convincing.

Yes, the Fair Work Act kept the relevant provisions of Work Choices; but Gillard’s appointments to the Fair Work Commission, and the way the commission was then managed, guaranteed they would never be effectively enforced, as the Health Services Union scandal shows.

That scandal’s facts don’t need restating. Nor do Gillard’s assertions of “complete confidence” in Fair Work Australia’s inquiries. Yet her assertions were made, and vigorously repeated, despite mounting evidence of flaws in those inquiries that an independent review by KPMG found gravely compromised their quality, timeliness and value.

It is true that, as the crisis peaked, Gillard introduced stiffer penalties against union officials guilty of wrongdoing. But that came three years after the problems had become apparent and was little more than an attempt to deflect a far stronger response.

For Gillard to present herself as a stern enforcer of good governance is consequently absurd. Rather, her message to the unions was, as she herself said, “crystal clear” - “unionism ... is what defines us as a Labor party”. And she would do whatever it takes to protect union interests.

Now Gillard maintains that far from imposing unions, the Fair Work Act enshrines Freedom of Association, including “the right to not be a member of a union and not to be represented by it”.

But as the New Zealand Court of Appeal noted, Freedom of Association must preserve the “integrity of choice of the individual employee, and in particular of that employee who seeks to remain outside collective action”.

Yet as well as gutting enforcement of the anti-coercion provisions, Gillard’s laws, by strengthening the award system and giving unions a crucial role in their determination, removed workers’ right to be employed on terms they chose. It was precisely so as to remove that right that Gillard made individual agreements virtually impossible; and it is thanks to that right’s removal that ACTU secretary Dave Oliver can proclaim unions “represent about 60 per cent of the workforce”, although union membership is barely one-fourth that.

Ultimately, that was the objective: to entrench a union movement whose position was crumbling as workers voted with their feet. Two parts Fritz Lang to one part MC Escher, Gillard’s byzantine Fair Work Act sought to privilege unions in everything from rights of entry to control over superannuation funds.

Not that the workers themselves derived much benefit. Gillard willingly paints the Howard years as a gulag; but surveys show job security and work satisfaction (see chart) increased then, only to drop on Gillard’s watch.

And rising unemployment and falling participation rates highlight the gap between Gillard’s rhetoric that “a job is an incredibly precious thing” and the reality she left behind.

Yet Labor is fighting tooth and nail to keep even the worst features of Gillard’s legislation intact. Under the tax laws, a taxpayer can be subject to compulsory examination, without protection against self-incrimination, if the tax office suspects a contravention; so too, under the competition and securities laws, can any company director or manager; but Labor wants union thugs to retain protections other citizens are baldly denied.

Our industrial laws must do better than that. They should slam the door shut on intimidation and corruption. Rather than empower a sectional interest at the community’s expense, they should facilitate efficient contracting between employers and employees, thereby promoting trust in the workplace and encouraging secure, high-quality jobs.

And rather than partiality, they should be administered with competence and integrity.

None of that will happen without serious analysis of the system’s objectives and design.

And Gillard is right, “public policy debates are best informed by the facts”. She would do well to heed her own advice.


How Queensland bikies are held in solitary confinement

Prison authorities refuse to release images of the cells being used to hold bikies in solitary confinement, citing “safety and security considerations”.

The Sunday Mail, however, has used sworn statements from lawyers who represent the bikies to paint a picture of what is going on behind closed doors in our prisons.

According to those statements, prisoners are forbidden from wearing underpants and, in the bikies-only ­facility at Woodford prison, are clothed in pink uniforms.

They are held in lockdown for 23 hours each day in cells “the size of a large dining table”, with only a mattress and a toilet.

According to some affidavits, the cells have been infested with cockroaches, ants and mites. There are surveillance cameras above the toilet, and above the shower in an ­adjoining cell, where inmates are given an hour a day “outside time”.

That cell is the same size but with a “caged area to allow for natural light”.

Cells are searched daily while ­inmates are forced to stand with their heads against the wall with arms raised.

Inmates are strip-searched ­before and after visits from their lawyers, and given half the standard daily food rations, their lawyers claim.

A government spokesman yesterday said the cells were “very different” than the picture painted. They all had a shower, a window, a sink, desk and chair, and bookshelves.

But Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said he made no apologies for being tough on members of organised crime gangs – and it was working.

“They used their notoriety to be top dogs in the prison population and they actually continued their illegal activities by dealing drugs and intimidating prison staff,” Mr Bleijie said.

“Keeping them away from the general prison population has disrupted all of that and jail is now a real deterrent for them.

The prison regime is doing what it’s meant to do: We now have gang members resigning from their clubs and turning over a new leaf and some have had their restrictions lifted.”
There are about 50 “Criminal Motorcycle Gang” prisoners held in Queensland jails.

The government says “health and psychological services” are offered to inmates, and gang members were able – like other prisoners – to participate “in meaningful activities.”


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