Monday, September 29, 2014

Tough new terror laws clear the Senate

Australian spies will soon get stronger powers to help fight against terrorism.

The government's first tranche of tougher anti-terrorism laws, which beef up the domestic spy agency's powers, passed the Senate on Thursday with bipartisan support.

Anyone who identifies an ASIO agent could also face a decade in prison under the new laws, a tenfold increase in the existing maximum penalty.

Attorney-General George Brandis said in a "newly dangerous age" it was vital that those protecting Australia were equipped with the powers and capabilities they needed.

The bill will now be sent to the House of Representatives, where passage is all but guaranteed.

The legislation addresses a number of recommendations of a bipartisan joint parliamentary inquiry into Australia's national security laws.  It allows ASIO to access third party computers and apply one warrant to multiple devices.

After concerns were raised by Labor and Liberal Democratic Senator David Leyonhjelm, the government agreed to amend the legislation to specifically rule out ASIO using torture.  "ASIO cannot, does not and has never engaged in torture," Senator Brandis said.

The Palmer United Party was successful in amending the law so anyone who exposes an undercover ASIO operative could face up to 10 years behind bars instead of one.

The Australian Greens voted against the bill, slamming the new measures as extreme and a "relentless expansion of powers" of the surveillance state.

Senator Leyonhjelm and Independent Senator Nick Xenophon - who moved a number of unsuccessful amendments - also opposed the legislation.

The legal changes come amid growing concern over Islamic State (IS) extremists in the Middle East and terror threats at home. IS has ordered followers to directly target civilian Australians.

In less than a week, police in two states launched the biggest terror raids in Australia's history, and shot dead a known terror suspect after he stabbed two officers in Melbourne.

A second suite of anti-terror laws targeting foreign fighters was introduced on Wednesday and will be debated next month.  These changes have opposition support and would make it a criminal office to travel to a terrorist hot-spot without a reasonable excuse.  The government is aware of about 60 Australians fighting in Syria and Iraq.

A third bill enabling the collection of metadata will be introduced later this year.


The wolf isn’t at the door, it’s in the house

THANKS to the publicly funded ethnic lobby and its supporters at the ABC, SBS and Fairfax, Australians were denied the opportunity to examine and possibly root out the evil of Islamo-fascism when it first came to public attention during the so-called Cronulla riots of December 2005.

Then, when convoys of young Lebanese-Australian publicly demonstrated their hatred for Western culture, terrorising whole suburbs as they smashed windows, vandalised cars and shouted abuse at men and women dressed in regular street clothing, the public was advised: Move along, nothing to see here.

But there was plenty to see. Just as there had been when some Australian Muslims cheered the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, and failed to condemn the Bali bombings. What was on show was undeniable evidence that within the Muslim community there were many, not just a handful, who were supporters of terrorism.

But the handful of commentators who dared point out the obvious were warned off with threats from various taxpayer-funded organisations and nanny state apparatchiks that publicising the blatant unvarnished facts about Cronulla might whip up unnecessary fear and create division in the community. Instead of highlighting the self-evident antagonism of many young men in the Muslim communities in Sydney and Melbourne, particularly, to the society in which they or in many cases, their parents, had sought and received sanctuary from attacks from other Muslim groups in their former homelands, the publicly funded media portrayed the violent bullies as victims.

They weren’t seeking to assimilate into Australian society, they wanted to be separate. They didn’t want their sisters to be free to mingle with non-Muslims socially, they didn’t approve of Western fashions, they hated the West. The bien pensants who would not admit that young Lebanese-Australians had been responsible for the Cronulla riots, the weak-kneed self-interested Labor politicians who didn’t want the police to investigate the convoy which had set out from Punchbowl Park to terrorise and vandalise, must now confront the consequences of their stupid politically correct approach to a criminal enterprise.

The weakness shown by the authorities then has undoubtedly encouraged a generation to arrogantly believe in their own supremacy now. Whenever challenged, they and their lawyers would play the victimhood card.

Whether it was the increase in fanatical suicide bombings, the 9/11 attacks, or even the gang rapes carried out by young men who self-identified as Muslims even as they were committing the most heinous crimes, the kumbaya crowd has always insisted the perpetrators were the real victims.

Just as the Islamic Council of Victoria has refused to condemn 18-year-old Abdul Numan Haider, who was shot and killed at Endeavour Hills Police Station in Melbourne on Tuesday after he arrived for an interview with two knives and savagely wounded an Australian Federal Police officer and a Victorian policeman before he was shot dead. Political leaders have been too quick to say Islam is not the problem.

But elements of Islam are clearly part of the problem, as anyone familiar with the Koran must be aware.

Constant appeasement of the vocal radicals is not the answer, be it with the censorship of free speech by S18C of the Racial Discrimination Act or through biased programming like the ABC’s Q & A show.

Having failed to address the issue of Islamo-fascism when it started to emerge within the Australian Muslim community, politicians are still reluctant to confront reality. There is a division in Australian society between those who refuse to assimilate and those who welcome the freedoms offered by our pluralistic society.

It is little wonder young men, in particular, feel angry and frustrated when told they cannot enjoy the company of girls dressed in stylish clothing, or enjoy the company of workmates without guiltily wondering whether they have broken some religious edict.

That they are easily swayed by the dramatic propaganda spewed out by Islamic State is of real concern and indicates the values being taught in their schools and within their homes are not compatible with those held by Western societies.

While the majority of Muslims may not bear ill-will toward the West, it is clear there are radicals holding influential positions within religious schools and mosques who do.

Australian citizenship is to be cherished and respected. Most citizenship ceremonies extol the values that attract migrants to our country — the obligations that go with citizenship deserve equal emphasis.


Leftist voter fraud comes to Australia

It's a huge issue in the USA but has been rare in Australia

Allegedly false voter enrolments in a key seat in last year's federal election contributed to the defeat of the Liberal Party's Sophie Mirabella, it's been reported.

Independent Cathy McGowan's 439-vote winning margin in the Victorian rural seat of Indi came after a number of her younger backers allegedly engaged in electoral fraud, News Corp Australia reports.

It says they switched voter enrolments to Indi in the weeks before the September 7 election, despite living and working in other seats, including Melbourne.

More than 20 dodgy enrolments of McGowan backers are at the centre of a probe by the Australian Electoral Commission's new integrity unit.

The Indi enrolment addresses are contradicted by home addresses in other seats, job and study locations, previous enrolment data, and profiles and output on social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, News Corp reports.

Ms McGowan won Indi with 44,741 votes to Ms Mirabella's 44,302.

Ms McGowan told News Corp that if there was any wrongdoing, it would be on a small scale.

"Numbers of young people made their own decisions about what they would do. I would be very surprised if there were 200 who did that."


The truth about fact checkers

The ABC's Fact Check website was launched in August last year on a mission to determine 'the accuracy of claims by politicians, public figures, advocacy groups and institutions engaged in the public debate.' But when it comes to the most important policy questions it is not necessarily the facts that are in question but their interpretation.

This has been demonstrated by the federal government's recent move to delay increases in the Superannuation Guarantee (SG) rate.

The SG rate freeze means the percentage of gross wages that must be put into super will remain at 9.5% rather than being increased to 12% by 2019-20. The Prime Minister has asserted that no-one would be worse off as this money would be put back into take-home pay, a claim that Fact Check determined to be 'Incorrect'. This is an oversimplification.

The most literal interpretation of what the PM said-that every single worker will receive an increase in take-home pay equal to the proposed SG rate increases-may not be universally true. However, the economics of how the SG rate freeze will impact take-home pay are extremely complex. For most workers, the claim that 'money that would otherwise be squirrelled away in superannuation funds will instead be in the pockets of the workers of Australia' is right.

On the topic of the SG rate freeze it is not the government that is misleading the public, it is the super funds.
The super funds' estimates of the cost to workers of the SG rate freeze ignore any increase in take-home pay that would result. Their claim that voluntary super contributions do not receive the same concessional tax treatment as the compulsory contributions mandated by the SG rate is also not true.

Workers are free to make voluntary super contributions, before tax, above the SG rate. These are taxed at the same concessional 15% tax rate provided that total (before tax) contributions do not exceed $30,000 a year (for those under 50). This is known as "salary sacrifice".

While Fact Check has exposed some of the most egregious examples of misinformation with an appeal to official statistics, on this occasion it has inadvertently perpetuated the super fund's tax myth.

This is not to suggest political bias on the part of the ABC. In this instance the subject matter is complex and the outcomes uncertain. What this underlines is that Fact Check best serves the public when it sticks to claims made by those who have quite clearly sought to mislead and scrutinises claims that can be verified by a direct appeal to the facts.


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