Sunday, April 27, 2014

Debate? Not When You Can Silence your critics

Writing in Quadrant, Mervyn Bendle took to task the new breed of historians who seem bent on destroying the Anzac Legend. One of his subjects, rather than the debate the issues he raised, reacted by demanding that the essay be removed from public view. Alas, such arrogance is entirely typical.  Bendle was Senior Lecturer in History and Communications at James Cook University, where he taught a course on war and remembrance, but resigned in 2012

I can confirm the Leftist hegemony in Australian universities.  I taught in two of them and I too eventually got fed up enough with the environment there to resign, even though I had tenure  -- JR

A prominent professor at the Australian National University has sought to suppress a recent Quadrant article I wrote critical of the negative academic attitude towards the Anzac Legend. Professor Joan Beaumont, of the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, emailed the editors of Quadrant and Quadrant Online, claiming that her book Broken Nation had been “distorted, misrepresented and misread” by Mervyn Bendle, in his article “The Military Historians’ War on the Anzac Legend”  in Quadrant‘s April edition.

“It does Quadrant no credit to publish such prejudicial reviews, and I request that you withdraw it from the web”, she told the editors. She insisted that she has “no issue with reviewers engaging critically with my book”, but believed that I had not done this.

My Quadrant article discusses her book in the context of a broader appraisal of the anti-Anzac campaign centred on the ANU, the Australian Defence Force Academy, and the Australian War Memorial. It follows up earlier articles dating back five years detailing this campaign”.

See: “The Intellectual Assault on Anzac”
“Anzac in Ashes”
“How Paul Keating Betrayed the Anzacs, and Why”
“Lest They Forget To Sneer”
“Gallipoli: Second Front in the History Wars”

Taken together, these reveal the systematic assault on the Anzac Legend undertaken by Australian historians leading up to the centenaries of the outbreak of the Great War and the Gallipoli campaign. These historians have made it quite clear that they wish to destroy the Anzac Legend.

I wasn’t surprised at Professor Beaumont’s reaction, as I imagine it’s easier for her to seek the article’s suppression than face up to addressing the issues it raises. I feel compelled to note that Professor Beaumont’s first reaction was to demand my article be withdrawn from the public view, not to debate the questions raised in my article. Alas, many Australian academics prefer to suppress criticism rather than engage in free and uninhibited exploration of ideas and their validity. In my experience they resent attempts to hold them to account and always try to avoid discussions that might reveal inadequacies, mistakes, prejudices and ideological commitments.

The simple fact is that academics take refuge in their exalted status. They don’t feel any need to justify themselves — nor is there very much in the way of pressure to do so, as academic history in Australia has become a closed shop. Indeed, when it comes to considering ideas outside the narrowly “acceptable” range, the profession is hermetically sealed. Prof Beaumont might be more used to dealing with robust discussion, and more prepared to confront my criticism of her work, if the history profession in Australia wasn’t so stitched up and insular.

Beaumont’s is typical behaviour and I have experienced it before. Academics attacked me over articles I wrote for Quadrant and The Australian discussing their sympathetic attitudes towards terrorism. They refused to debate the issues and instead mounted a determined attempt to have me sacked and also threatened legal action. One even threatened physical violence

See “Hijacking Terrorism Studies”
“Terrorism and the Rise of Radical Orthodoxy”
“Radical pacifists deny a murderous reality”

They wanted me to apologize to them and to have all the copies of Quadrant recalled and pulped! I was able to detail all this in a submission to the Senate Inquiry into Academic Freedom, which was included in their report. This eagerness to resort to threats rather than academic debate in these types of dispute reflects the excessively comfortable situation of Australian academics.

It is undeniable that the Humanities, Arts, and the Social Sciences in the universities are dominated by a leftist intellectual monoculture, which everyone is expected to agree on if they want to survive. Academics review each other’s books, give favourable referees’ reports to each other’s’ grant proposals and academic articles, give scholarships and jobs to each other’s graduate students, and generally perpetuate the same leftist orthodoxy.

Academically, it’s incestuous and stultifying — and that critical mass of like-mindedness and intolerance of dissent has now turned its attention to destroying the Anzac Legend,  doing everything in its power to achieve this. The last thing they want to hear is criticism.

My grandfather was an Anzac who fought at Gallipoli and in France, and Australians of his generation and later made a pledge very nearly a century ago that must be honoured and redeemed.

As a nation we declared, ‘Lest we forget’. We should now be allowed to honour these centenaries without constant sniping from an anti-Anzac elite of obsessive academic leftists.


Loons and ratbags to run Labor

Miranda Devine

BILL Shorten was right about one thing yesterday. It wasn’t Tony Abbott who threw the Labor Party into opposition, it was the Australian people.  Problem is, Shorten still hasn’t figured out why.

Delivering what was billed as a historic, reforming speech in Melbourne yesterday the Labor leader declared he was going to rid the party of union domination and open it up to the “grassroots”.  He vowed to transform Labor into a “membership-based party”.

That sounds all noble and democratic but what it means in practice is handing the party over to the lunatic Green Left.

For all his talk about a new moral purpose, Shorten was just drawing from the old well of politically correct poison which has brought his party to its knees.

More affirmative action to increase numbers of women MPs was a clue.  So was the fact Shorten raised “the rancour over the recent Western Australian process (which) shows that in the future we need a method that provides a local voice.”

That “rancour” between Labor running mates Joe Bullock and Louise Pratt in Western Australia over Labor’s abysmal results in the latest re-run Senate election encapsulates Labor’s dilemma.

Bullock, who won Labor’s only Senate seat in WA, is a socially conservative member of the powerful shoppies union, which is headed by the outgoing right-wing faction leader and social conservative Joe De Bruyn.

Pratt, No. 2 on Labor’s Senate ticket, is an openly lesbian gay rights activist and Labor staffer, backed by the left-aligned United Voice union, who has been involved in Labor politics since her student days.

The pair are typical of the Labor Party’s increasingly schizophrenic nature.

Pratt and her union have been attacking Senator Bullock as an old homophobe since it became clear she wasn’t going to win the sixth Senate spot in WA.

Smearing him as a homophobe and bigot is a classic tactic of the dictatorial intolerant Left to shut down someone with opposing views, or someone who simply gets in your way.

Conveniently lost in all of the excitement over Bullock’s supposed homophobia were the killer truths he imparted.

He branded the Labor Party’s membership “mad”, and warned uncoupling from the common sense “ballast” of the unions would leave Labor open to every “every weird lefty trend that you can imagine, and there’d be no party left.’’

That is the inconvenient truth about the past six disastrous years. Labor saddled Australia with two hopeless prime ministers, who left a trail of destruction that will take decades to repair.

On climate policy they were wrong and deluded to try to lead the world. Cosying up to the Greens was a mistake. The only industry they boosted was people-smuggling.

Yet there has been no mea culpa, no soul searching, or apology. Just business as usual, as if making Labor membership a one-click process on the internet will save the party.

Of course the union movement is sick too, but instead of embracing the royal commission into corrupt unions as an opportunity to clean house, Shorten railed against it as a “star chamber”.

The fact is that, in the struggle for the soul of Labor, no one has clean hands.

In the end, the Left is using union corruption scandals for factional advantage to seize power for themselves.

Their beloved “grassroots” is code for GetUp style fringe-dwellers who will ensure the party remains unelectable.

Labor’s WA Senate result last month, the worst in its history, will be the new normal.

Really, if Labor wants to go further down that path, they should recruit Scott Ludlam as leader. At least he knows what he believes in.


Clive Palmer is right about government waste

SO-CALLED billionaire Clive Palmer threatens to do the Abbott Government a favour: kill its “Direct Action” plan to fight global warming.

Not such a buffoon, after all.

“Direct Action has been made up so the Liberal Party can ... make out they are doing something when they are doing nothing,” scoffed the populist, who commands four senators the government could need. “We’ll be voting against Direct Action, whatever form it’s in.”

Excellent, and if the government had any brains it would let Palmer win this one. Reluctantly, of course.

That’s not just because Palmer is right: Direct Action would waste $3.2 billion to make no difference to the world’s temperature.

But Palmer is in fact offering more than to save the Government money. He’s also offering to save it from the kind of embarrassment that dogged every one of Labor’s own green schemes.

Have the Liberals learned nothing from that colossal waste?

Its Direct Action will hand most of that $3.2 billion to whatever green carpetbaggers persuade it they’ve got some you-beaut scheme to cut our emissions on the cheap.

Uh-oh. Last week Environment Minister Greg Hunt was enthusing over schemes for “drying, gasification and then capture” of emissions for use with “algal energy”.

See, such green grants are exactly what got Labor into trouble; first, because governments are terrible at picking winning technologies; second, because if those schemes were sound, they wouldn’t need a handout; and, third, because “saving” the planet persuades politicians they shouldn’t quibble about mere money.

That’s why every one of Labor’s green power schemes was a dud.

Take its promised geothermal plant. In 2009, the Rudd government gave Geodynamics a $90 million grant for a project to pump water on to hot rocks deep underground to generate steam for a turbine,

Geodynamics shareholder Tim Flannery, later Chief Climate Commissioner, claimed it was “relatively straightforward technology” but wells instead clogged and the site flooded.

More than four years later, Geodynamics’ share price has dived from 88c to just 7c with no commercial plant to show for it.

The wave generator dud was sillier. In 2004, Oceanlinx got a $1.21 million grant for a prototype generator using wave energy. It now rusts off Port Kembla beach.

Oceanlinx then built a bigger generator. It sank three months later.

Yet in 2012, the Gillard government gave Oceanlinx another $4 million for a wave generator off South Australia. That sank last month and Oceanlinx is now bust.

Solar power proved little better. In 2008 the Rudd government spent $1 million on South Australia’s Umuwa solar power station for our “clean energy future”. It is now mothballed.

In 2011 the Gillard government announced a $464 million grant for Queensland’s Solar Dawn solar farm. The project was later abandoned.

In 2011 the Gillard government announced a $300 million grant for a solar farm in Moree. The grant was withdrawn when private investors refused to join in.

On it went.

The green waste under Labor was astonishing.

In 2009 the Rudd government gave $1.7 billion for its Carbon Capture and Storage Flagships program, to bury carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired electricity plants. But the technology is too expensive and not one large-scale carbon capture plant in the world is in commercial operation. Labor later slashed its grant by $500 million and the Abbott Government scrapped the rest.

The Rudd government’s $2 billion free insulation program — also sold as a way to cut emissions — was a bigger political disaster. Much rorted, it was scrapped after four installers were killed.

LABOR’S Green Loans program was also hurriedly cancelled in 2011 after costs blew out, much of it on dodgy home energy assessments. Labor’s solar hot water rebate scheme was scrapped, too, after yet more bungling, rorts and blowouts. Then there’s the carbon tax, an $8 billion-a-year hit on the economy that has killed jobs without making any detectable change to the temperature it’s supposed to lower.

Add the equally useless renewable energy target that forces us to use expensive “green” power at a cost to the average family of $102 a year.

And for what? The world’s temperature has not risen for 16 years, anyway.

This is all about the politics of seeming — seeming to be good by seeming to do something that only seems to make a difference to what only seems to be problem.

Palmer is right. It’s all for show and must go — not just the carbon tax and Labor’s $10 billion clean energy fund, both still protected by Labor and Greens senators, but the government’s Direct Action, too.

We need the money and the government surely does not need the grief.


Hard line on boats paying off: Morrison

NO people-smuggling venture had succeeded in landing asylum seekers on Australia for more than four months, the government says.

In the latest update on Operation Sovereign Borders, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said on Saturday that vigorous border protection activities was deterring illegal boat arrivals, even into the post-monsoon period when weather conditions usually improve.

Mr Morrison said the practice of turning back unauthorised boats remained in effect.

"Anyone seeking to enter Australia illegally by boat will be faced with the same policies those who previously attempted illegal entry met," he said in a statement.

Mr Morrison said no one had reached Australia since December 19 and that continued this month. But 3351 on 47 boats arrived in April 2013 under the former Labor government.

The latest Operation Sovereign Borders operational update says there are now 1281 in the processing centre on Manus Island and 1177 on Nauru, making a total of 2458.

Another 1405 remain on Christmas Island. During the last week, eight asylum seekers were transferred to Nauru.

Seven unauthorised maritime arrival transferees were voluntarily returned to Iran.

Since Operation Sovereign Borders started on September 18, 220 asylum seekers have voluntarily returned to their home countries.


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