Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Sydney Opera House cancels upcoming speech by radical Islamic spokesman on why ‘honor killings are morally justified in Islam’

Uthman Badar, spokesman for pro-sharia Hizb ut-Tahrir, has been stopped from delivering a speech defending honor killings at a cultural festival at The Sydney Opera House. The question should be why was a radical like him invited to speak in the first place?
The event — part of the Festival of Dangerous Ideas — was slammed as a cheap stunt that could have put women’s lives at risk.

The furore comes days after Opera Australia sacked a soprano from performing at the Opera House after an anti-gay slur appeared on her Facebook page.

Federal and state MPs condemned the Opera House for its decision to host Hizb ut-Tahrir spokesman Uthman Badar in a speech titled "honor killings are morally justified”. Honor killing involves murdering a woman who is considered to have shamed her family.

The speech, scheduled for August 30, was removed from the festival’s playlist last night following widespread outrage. The state government is understood to have put pressure on the Opera House with NSW Arts Minister Troy Grant asking for an urgent explanation on why the event was scheduled.

"The NSW government is proud to support programs that enrich our society and culture, but I am concerned this program does not meet that criteria and I have sought an urgent explanation," Mr Grant said. "Where these ideas have the potential to spark racial tension, they move from dangerous to stupid.”

Hizb ut-Tahrir is a banned radical organization in Germany and The Netherlands and, before becoming prime minister, Tony Abbott said he would outlaw it here.

Promotional material for the speech said that historically "parents have reluctantly sacrificed their children — sending them to kill or be killed for the honour of their nation, their flag, their king, their religion. But what about killing for the honour of one’s family?”

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop condemned the event, saying: "It is abhorrent for any person, regardless of faith or ethnicity, to argue in support of murder as a means of protecting the so-called honour of any other individual, family or community.” Federal Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek said honour killing was murder, and "any promotion of or justification for it is completely unacceptable”. Women’s Minister Pru Goward said the event had no place in Australia.

Mr Badar hit back last night, tweeting: "Hysteria wins out. Welcome to the free world, where freedom of expression is a cherished value.”


Schools ditch jargon for plain English in student reports

SCHOOLS have begun ditching jargon from student reports ahead of new rules forcing them to be written in plain English.

The switch aims to make the documents easier for parents to decipher and more ­personal.

All schools will have to ­follow suit next year.

Sale’s Guthridge Primary School is among those banishing confusing language in semester reports, to be distributed at most schools this week.

Principal Sue Burnett said she had personally read reports for all 364 students wearing her "mum’s hat” to ensure they were easy to understand.

Technical language from the curriculum had gradually crept into teacher feedback, with some feeling obliged to use the terminology, she said.  "It’s basically trying to get away from that," Mrs Burnett said.

"Basically a parent just wants to know, can their child read and write, what are they like at maths, are they well behaved, are they trying hard.”

Park Orchards Primary School principal Georgina Daniel, whose school sent new plain-English reports home last Friday, said feedback from parents had been positive.

Many had raised concern reports were too complex during a recent survey.

"We did some analysis and review of the reports with staff with a view to trying to reduce jargon and educational words that teachers understand but parents may not,” Mrs Daniel said.

"Parents have really responded to the fact the reports really convey meaningful information about their child’s achievements.”

New guidelines, drafted by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority, will next year require school reports to be written in plain English and gradings made simpler.

"We want to make sure parents and families can understand what their child is learning and how they are progressing, through simple, flexible, individually focused reports," Education Minister Martin Dixon said.


Clive Palmer drops a huge $1b as influence peaks

Clive Palmer's wealth is set to tumble by a cool $1 billion, just as his political influence and power peaks.

Mr Palmer has made his fortune in resources and will retain his billionaire status but his wealth, measured at $2.2 billion a year ago will be considerably smaller when the BRW Rich List is published on Friday.

Now describing himself as a full-time politician and a "retired businessman", his Palmer United Party is set to effectively hold the balance of power in the Senate come July 1, having formed a loose alliance with a number of independent senators.

The government needs six of the eight crossbenchers to repeal the carbon tax and is counting on David Leyonhjelm, Bob Day, the three PUP senators, and Ricky Muir of the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party.

However, Mr Palmer's wealth valuation could get a boost on Wednesday when he reveals his party's voting intention regarding the repealing of the carbon tax, to be considered by the new Senate on July 7.

The fortunes of several other miners, including those with private companies such as QCoal managing director Chris Wallin, will also be hit on this year's BRW Rich List.

Some of those with assets in listed companies have also been hit hard, such as Linc Energy chief executive Peter Bond and long-time prospector Mark Creasy, who has investments in small and medium miners.

Much of the drop in Mr Palmer's valuation is attributed to troubles that have struck Sino Iron, the Pilbara based iron ore mine that forms the basis of his personal fortune, and falling coal prices.

The Sino Iron magnetite project has been hit with huge budget blowouts, significant delays and legal battles between Mr Palmer and China's international investment arm, Citic.

Citic Pacific is building the $10 billion project in Western Australia and, as well as experiencing large financial losses, has battled Mr Palmer's Mineralogy investment company over the terms of royalty payments and control over an export facility.

The investment by Citic in Mr Palmer's project has been described as one of the worst mining investments in Australia in the past decade.

However, considerable royalties are meant to be paid to Mr Palmer as a result of the deal he struck with Citic. Already, more than $600 million has flowed to the billionaire, including $200 million in April last year.

Falling prices have also hit the value of Mr Palmer's coal assets, which includes a $6.4 billion future coal project in Queensland's Galilee Basin. Mr Palmer's Waratah Coal was given approval late last year to build a thermal coal project near Alpha in central-west Queensland, as well as a rail line linking the project to a proposed port extension at Abbot Point.

Palmer has also golf course and tourism assets such as the Palmer Coolum Resort, which has attracted notoriety for his collection of replica dinosaurs.

As has often been the case, Mr Palmer holds plenty of other assets that could one day reap big rewards. It is a strategy he has employed for decades, including the acquiring of mining assets in WA in the 1980s.

One is a gas deposit off Papua New Guinea, which Mr Palmer said last August could be worth $35 billion. There has been no news on the project since.

He has also commissioned the construction of a replica of the ship the Titanic, reputedly to be ready to sail in 2017.

The BRW Rich 200 is out on Friday, inside The Australian Financial Review Magazine and online at


Senator Louise Pratt warns of Labor Party 'extremists' in valedictorian speech

Opponents of abortion and homosexual marriage are extremists, apparently

Labor's Louise Pratt has branded members of her party "extremists" and said they exercised a power far in excess of their numbers during her valedictorian speech in Federal Parliament.

Senator Pratt will leave the Senate at the end of the week after Labor powerbroker Joe Bullock claimed the top spot on the party's ticket in last year's Senate election.

She described herself as "proudly" on the left of her party, but said those with her views were characterised as "radicals".

"I have always found it ironic that the very views that lead to me being labelled exactly that are those views shared by the majority of the Australian population, although quite often not by the majority of the Australian Parliament," she said.

She also used the opportunity to reaffirm her commitment to reform of the Marriage Act to recognise same-sex unions and legal access to abortion.

"Despite attempts to characterise views such as mine as ‘radical’, every piece of research in this country demonstrates that these views are shared by the majority of Australians," she said.

"They are mainstream views and it is those who deny them that are extremists in our country.

"It remains a great disappointment to me that my Party still contains a small rump of those extremists, who exercise, in my view, power far in excess of their number, and most certainly far in excess of their support among our Party’s members and the among our Party's unions."

She spoke about the need to ensure public confidence in Australia's electoral processes.

She said the 2013 election, recount and subsequent re-run had undermined public trust in the electoral system, and urged her colleagues to work to restore that confidence.

"My own personal disappointment is a minor thing when set beside the potential for those events to undermine that trust and confidence in electoral processes which underpin the legitimacy of our Parliaments and our Governments," she said.

"Fair, transparent, and democratic processes within political parties are as important for the integrity of the system as are fair, transparent and democratic elections.

"I won't be here in this place to be part of the discussions and debates about what steps need to be taken to ensure that what happened in 2013 never happens again."

Speaking at a function arranged by the Dawson Society in November last year, Senator Pratt's election running mate Mr Bullock described her as a poster child for causes such as gay marriage and accused her of canvassing votes against him.

After details of the damaging speech were aired in the media this year, Mr Bullock issued a public and "unreserved" apology to Senator Pratt and the Labor Party.


No comments: