Monday, March 09, 2015

Must not criticise homosexuality

[Public] Broadcaster SBS has pulled the Australian Marriage Forum's anti same-sex marriage television advertisement from their Sunday night telecast of the 37th Sydney Mardi Gras.

The 43-second TV ad aired on Channel 7 and 9 on Saturday while the parade was underway and shows a mother sitting at a playground table with her young daughter while her husband and son play on a slide in the background.  "We hear a lot about marriage equality, but what about equality for kids?" the woman says.

The advertisement also features David van Gend, the president of the Australian Marriage Forum and a family doctor, who is described on-screen only as a "family doctor".  "So-called marriage equality forces a child to miss out on a mother or a father," Dr van Gend says. "That's not equality for the kids who miss out. That's not marriage."

The ad was part of the Forum's campaign opposing same-sex marriage, called "Think of the Child".

Dr van Gend said the ad was booked and paid for but he received an email from SBS on Friday saying they had pulled it.

"Our review board has instructed that SBS has the right to choose what ads we run, and I've unfortunately been instructed to advise you that we choose not to run this TVC for the Marriage Forum during the Mardi Gras telecast," the email from SBS sales manager for Queensland, Nick Belof, said.  An SBS spokesperson told Fairfax Media that it reserved the right "to determine what advertisements it broadcasts".

Dr van Gend said the pulling of the ad was a "suppression of free speech".  "It is outrageous for a taxpayer funded broadcaster like SBS to apply censorship to one side of the debate on same-sex marriage," he said.

"SBS gives free airtime for them to make their political point on 'marriage equality', but refuses to show even one minute of a paid ad presenting an opposing view."

The advertisement had received regulatory approval as a political advertisement in February, the Forum said.

Dr van Gend has asked the advertising agency the Forum was using to obtain a further explanation from SBS. The agency has been told SBS will give a further explanation next week.

Not-for-profit organisation Australian Marriage Equality's national director, Rodney Croome, said the ad was "actually harming the many Australian children being raised by same-sex couples because it defends discrimination against their families".

"Don't be precious. The Mardi Gras is a protest march, an aggressively political rally and they pride themselves in being contentious and provocative," Dr van Gend said.

The Australian Marriage Forum's website was registered by the Australian Christian Lobby in 2011.

The advertisement triggered a social media backlash, with a petition set up to remove the ad from television.

At the same time, the Christian Democratic Party was using social media to run an anti-Mardi Gras advertisement featuring a photo of a heterosexual couple and a baby with the caption: "parenting, not promiscuity is worth celebrating".

Christian Democratic Party leader the Reverend Fred Nile posted his party's ad on Twitter on Saturday, with the hastag "Mardi Gras 2015".

Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich, a vocal supporter of same-sex marriage, said: "Same-sex couples make excellent parents, and the children of same-sex couples deserve the right to have married parents.

"I would like to dismiss the ads as being on the fringe of public opinion and clearly not representative of the way in which a strong majority of Australians support the LGBTI [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex] community, but I think we also can't underestimate the damage that these ads can do to vulnerable LGBTI people."

Labor Opposition Leader Luke Foley, who has previously voted against same-sex marriage, told Fairfax last month that he had "an open mind" on the issue and would "continue to reflect" on it.

Premier Mike Baird has said he is personally opposed to same-sex marriage but supports a conscience vote on the issue.


Anti-Semitism is much older than Israel

'Harry Potter' star Miriam Margolyes has form. Noted for her vehement anti-Israel views, the Jewish actress didn't hold back when she appeared on Monday night's Q&A. 

Asked to explain the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, and also in Australia, Margoyles had her answer ready to hand: it is all because of Israel and what it is doing to defend itself in Gaza. 

According to Margolyes, people associate Israel with Jews, and Jews are killing innocent people. Therefore the actions of Israel makes people hate Jews. 

Stop the killing, she seems to think, and the Jew-hatred will stop too. 

It's nonsense. Jews were hated long before the state of Israel was lawfully created in 1948 with the endorsement of the United Nations. Since then, Israel has had to defend itself against Arab states pledged to keep the hatred alive. 

Palestinians have also long been relentless enemies of Israel. Since Israel left Gaza in 2005, more than 11,000 rockets have been fired from there into Israel.

Hamas was elected the governing party. Its charter commits Hamas to destroy Israel and murder Jews, and it counts on the support of Iran which has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map".
Many celebrities and fashionable intellectuals in the West are also determined to destroy Israel. Their weapon of choice is not the Qassam rocket but economic sanctions. 

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign was launched in 2005 by 171 Palestinian NGOs to force Israel to comply "with its obligations under international law." 

BDS claims to focus on Israel's abuse of power and not on Jewish people or Judaism but the campaign objectives show this is not a nuanced critique of Israeli government policy. Instead it is a sustained attack on the very existence of the State of Israel itself. 

Of course, BDS defenders like to point out that Jews like Miriam Margolyes are also questioning Israel's legitimacy. So how can BDS be anti-Semitic?  But claiming that Jewish support somehow sanctifies BDS paints nothing more than a thin veneer of moral respectability over an ancient toxic bigotry. 

Whatever form it takes today, whether physical attack or economic strangulation, there is an old name for this bigotry: anti-Semitism - the hatred of Jews. 

And this hatred is alive once more. Israel's policy in Gaza is just an excuse and not the cause. BDS activists, Muslim leaders and Islamist tyrants are all standing shoulder to shoulder against the Jews.

By trying to explain anti-Semitism away, Miriam Margolyes only legitimises the new and heightened dangers faced by Jews in Europe and around the world.


The Iron Law of Medicare

 The Abbott Government has finally ditched the $5 GP co-payment. This comes in the same week that the latest Intergenerational Report has once again warned about the budgetary consequences of the rising cost of Medicare. 

Regardless of the pressures health expenditure will place on federal finances in an ageing Australia, the Prime Minister has said that the plan to introduce a modest amount of cost-sharing for GP services is 'dead, buried and cremated.' 

Advocates of a 'free and universal' health system will undoubtedly rejoice. But inconsistencies across the health system persist, including the co-payments for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, especially the $6.90 per script paid by concession card holders. Also contradictory is Medicare Levy Surcharge which, by forcing higher income earners to take out private health insurance to gain an exemption, is a de-facto Medicare means test. 

The overarching hypocrisy remains the fact that a 'free' health system isn't free. It has to be funded by governments that have to choose between competing priorities when deciding how to allocate scare resources. 

These decisions involve opportunity costs. That health spending crowds out other government activity is lost on those who argue that political considerations should dictate health policy because the Australian people 'regard universal health care as a right.'

What needs to be factored in to the health debate is that the so-called 'right to Medicare' involves trading off other important 'rights', such as:

    The right to affordable housing and getting to work - Since the inception of Medicare in 1984, the ever-increasing cost of the 'free' public hospital system has consumed higher proportions of State government budgets. This has lead to cut backs or under-investment in other key areas such as housing and transport infrastructure. Longer travel times due to congestion, and higher house prices due to lack of land release, are the results.

    The right to chronic care - Medicare is primarily a fee-for-service payment system for medical services, which also provides access to hospital care subject to waiting times for many treatments. What Medicare does not do is provide full courses of treatment, including allied health services and medications, for patients with chronic conditions. Like hospital waiting lists, this is a form of rationing, or restricting the availability of services, to offset the high cost of providing 'free' GP and other medical care to all comers.  In order to receive all beneficial care, many chronically-ill patients face high out-of-pocket expenses.

    The right not to beggar future generations - Pay-As-You-Go taxpayer-funded health systems such as Medicare were created during an era when health care was relatively cheap and basic. The increased sophistication of modern medicine, combined with longevity (increased life-spans), is remorselessly driving up health costs. This will impose considerable burdens on the smaller proportion of the population that is of working age in the years ahead, who will face either higher taxes, or cuts to other services, or both, to pay for Medicare. This may mean that future generations will not enjoy rising living standards at the same rate as previous generations.

The rights we don't have because of the right to universal health care might be termed the Iron Law of Medicare: a government big enough to give you free health services, is too big to give you many important things you need.


Powerful owl spotted in suburban Canberra park

Bird enthusiasts are in a flutter after a rare sighting of Australia's largest owl, the powerful owl, spotted devouring ringtail possums and sulphur-crested cockatoos in a suburban Canberra park.

The owl has taken up long-term residence in Haig Park near the CBD, and bird watchers from across the country and even overseas have flocked to catch a glimpse of it.

An owl expert said while the powerful owl did hunt at night, there was little chance it would sink its talons into Canberrans or their pets.

"It is classified as an apex predator, so what they will do is hunt a variety of food, mainly tree-dwelling mammals," National Zoo and Aquarium senior keeper Brendan Sheean said.

Canberra Ornithologists Group (COG) member Terry Bell said the big predator had been caught on camera devouring sugar gliders and feathery cousins, like Canberra's emblem bird the gang-gang cockatoo.

"These feathers in front of me which are sections of wings showing grey with pinkish feathers... I would think that they are actually from galahs," he said.

Mr Bell was among the first to spot owl scats on the tarmac outside the Turner Bowling Club in north Canberra and then locate the powerful owl in large oak trees in the adjoining Haig Park.

He said powerful owl populations were in decline in Sydney and across New South Wales and the birds were classified as vulnerable.

That meant bird enthusiasts from far and wide had been staking out the park for months, armed with tripods and binoculars. "Keen bird watchers can really travel vast distances to come and see a bird they hadn't seen before. That becomes a sort of 'lifer' for them," he said.

Mr Sheean said the owl may also have moved to the park looking for a mate.  He said once partnered, powerful owls could breed for 30 years, and the season of owl love was fast approaching.

"There's plenty of food and it could have been a young one that might have turned up looking for a new territory," he said.

He said a DNA test was required to confirm whether the owl was a he or she, and keen bird watchers had already sent feather samples in for testing.

"A lot of people love owls," he said. "They are such a beautiful animal that is normally involved in a lot of mythical legend, and to see one during the daytime is very uncommon."



Paul said...

I did try and watch the Mardi-Gras, but I found it insufferable and dripping with PC nonsense. Magda and that blonde kid were just plain irritating.

And they were nearly all fat! not just the "Bears".

Paul said...

I've seen one big white Barn Owl so far out here near Malanda, and we've had a visit from a Tree Kangaroo. More exciting than anything Mardi Gras can toss up (no pun intended).