Sunday, April 26, 2015

Prince Charles joins his son Harry and world leaders to mark the 100th anniversary of the disastrous Gallipoli landings which claimed 140,000 lives during World War One

Prince Harry looking every inch the dogged British military man that he is

Prince Charles and his son Harry today joined world leaders to mark the centenary of the catastrophic Gallipoli landings which claimed 140,000 lives during World War One.

The royals met descendants of fallen soldiers on the Royal Navy's flagship HMS Bulwark in Turkey's Dardanelles straits, the same crucial waters the Allies hoped to control 100 years ago.

Instead tens of thousands lost their lives on both sides in a nine-month battle between the German-backed Ottoman forces and Allies including Australian, British and New Zealand troops trying to knock the Ottoman Empire out of the war.

Today, soldiers from both the Ottoman and Allied sides lie close together in separate cemeteries on the Gallipoli peninsula on the western edge of Turkey in what has long been seen as a powerful symbol of reconciliation between former enemies.

The Prince of Wales has laid flowers on the graves of British and Irish soldiers who died 100 years ago storming the beaches at the start of the disastrous Gallipoli Campaign.

He was joined by Prince Harry and the President of Ireland Michael Higgins at 'V' Beach, close to the tip of the Turkish Peninsula, at a cemetery which is half the size of a football pitch but contains the bodies of almost 700 men.

In late evening spring sunshine, with birds tweeting and the smell of spring flowers in the air, the poignant visit came as the culmination of a day of remembrance.

Some 87,000 Turks died defending their home soil. The amphibious assault started at dawn on April 25 1915 as wave after wave of British and Irish, French, Australian, New Zealand and Indian troops attacked heavily defended beaches, through barbed wire, and raced up cliffs through scrub.

The Prince gave a speech, praising the heroism and humanity shown by soldiers from both sides a century ago.

He said: 'All those who fought at Gallipoli, whether landing on or defending its shores, hailed from so many different nations and peoples, from an almost infinite variety of backgrounds and walks of life. And, whilst their origins were diverse, they were all thrust into a very different world than they would have ever known or imagined before.

'Indeed, in 1915, both sides were united by challenges that neither could escape - the devastating firepower of modern warfare, the ghastly diseases that added to the death tolls, the devastating summer heat which brought plagues of insects, and in winter, just before the battle ended, the biting cold that many wrote was worse than the shelling itself.'

'It is very poignant and evocative and you can really imagine what it must have been like for the soldiers coming ashore here.'


Conservative organization uses Leftist tactics -- threats of disruption -- against the Left

There should be more of this.  If there were, the Left might pull their horns in

The University of Sydney has refused to play host to an anti-war talk on Anzac Day, after members of nationalist group Reclaim Australia threatened to disrupt it.

The meeting, originally planned for Sunday April 26 and entitled ‘Anzac Day, the glorification of militarism and the drive to World War III’, was organised by the Socialist Equality Party (SEP).

‘The Great Aussie Patriot’, a Facebook page run by Sherman Burgess—the national events organiser of extreme right-wing group Reclaim Australia—was quick to pick up on the event, posting an image of a flyer for the debate (which was originally to take place in Burwood) and calling the party "pure Left Wing filth”. Followers were then encouraged to "gatecrash the meeting” in a post that was shared 187 times, which included demands for "traitors to be deported”.

SEP national secretary James Cogan told Honi that, "You can’t expect us to accept that a so called bastion of intellectual freedom will prevent us from doing what we’ve done numerous times and hold a public lecture in their facilities because of claims that there is going to be some sort of disturbance”.

"There was the potential of disruption at the lecture given by Colonel Kemp and that meeting was not cancelled, instead, what the university did was increase security…and that was a correct decision on their part.”

"You don’t suppress freedom of speech because of threats of protest or disruption from people who don’t believe in what’s being said—democratic principles apply.”

Just days ago, in response to the Kemp protest, Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence spearheaded a campaign promoting freedom of speech, stating, "We must be a place in which debate on key issues of public significance can take place, and in which strongly held views can be freely expressed on all sides.”

However, the university told Cogan that the "potential for disruption to activities” was the reason for the cancellation.

"To turn around and refuse our hire request amounts to them joining with Burwood Council [who originally cancelled SEP’s event at Burwood Library Auditorium] in political censorship and it accommodates the demands of Reclaim Australia”

A spokesperson for the university said that they are "not aware of any contact from any person claiming to represent the Reclaim Australia group”.

"[The event] poses a significant risk of disruption to students and staff attending other University-related activities which are occurring on campus on the same day”, the spokesperson said.

The venue for the equivalent talk in Melbourne also received threats from nationalist protesters. However, Cogan told Honi that the Melbourne venue has increased security rather than abandon the event.


Bill Shorten’s wedge politics is neither clever nor productive

There is nothing inherently wrong with Bill Shorten’s superannuation tax policy announced yesterday. In fact it’s hard to disagree that earnings above $75,000 a year should pay a modest 15c in the dollar in taxation. A retired couple can still earn $150,000 a year before paying tax on their super.

Yet now is not the time for piecemeal changes announced with the primary purpose of wedging the government ahead of the budget. Both sides need to present voters with a wide-ranging manifesto before the next election, which could be called as soon as later this year.

Taxing super returns is a necessary evil in the context of budget repair, but so is tightening indexation on government spending initiatives, which Labor seeks to paint as unfair and cruel.

Debate must also be had on including the family home in the pension test. Why can someone choose to live in a multi-million-dollar home and still claim a pension, rather than be forced to take out a reverse mortgage to self-fund their retirement? This question will be asked by renting retirees living off superannuation savings who will have to pay
15­­ per cent tax on their earnings if Labor gets its way.

Broadening and increasing the GST should be debated, but Labor has ruled out such reform, sight unseen. The government is too timid to go there without bipartisanship.

Rethinking negative gearing is something economists such as Saul Eslake have long argued for, but neither side of politics has the courage to go there.

Finding efficiencies in government spending programs, including hot button areas such as the health budget, are labelled by Labor as an assault on the Australian way of life. Remarkably the opposition has opposed the very same efficiency drive in higher education it proposed when in government.

Failure to embrace any or all of the above at the same time as targeting the superannuation savings of the better-off renders yesterday’s announcement nothing more than deliberate class warfare. Which is not to say the tax change in isolation isn’t worthwhile. Yet given the other loopholes that remain open and won’t be up for debate, it’s fair to ask why this one must be closed?

I am less comfortable with the rate of 30c in the dollar tax being applied to super contributions for anyone earning above $250,000 under Labor’s policy. If we are supposed to be encouraging people to self-fund in retirement such a change does the opposite.

All of which is to say nothing about this bottom line: why does the political class seem to think the solution to every fiscal problem is simply to tax more?

Removing inefficient, investment-stifling and regressive taxes is the best way to grow the economic pie, which would render the need to keep putting up taxes a redundant necessity.


Crooked Billy Gordon slams TV show as 'kangaroo court'

BESIEGED Queensland MP Billy Gordon has fired back at the media after his former partner described him as a "monster" in a television interview to be aired on Thursday night.

KRISTY Peckham, who has broken her silence on domestic violence allegations levelled against Mr Gordon on the Nine Network's A Current Affair, denies airing the claims for political gain.
Mr Gordon on Thursday released a statement describing A Current Affair as a "kangaroo court".

"Unlike that program and other media outlets, I respect the current police investigation into certain allegations against me," he wrote.  "I will thus make no comment until it is completed."

"Meanwhile, I will continue to work hard on the issues that matter to my constituents."

The Courier-Mail reports Ms Peckham has told ACA "he was like a monster".  "I wasn't allowed to go anywhere and there was so much violence," she says in the interview.

A police investigation has been ongoing since Ms Peckham's initial allegations came to light last month, before Mr Gordon resigned for the Labor Party.

He remains an independent representative for his Cape York-based electorate despite calls from both Labor and the Liberal National Party opposition for him to quit parliament.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Ms Peckham's ACA interview was entirely a matter for her.

"I don't know what she's going to say, but I took decisive action and the Member for Cook is not a member of the state parliamentary Labor team," she said. "I sacked him."

The premier believed if Ms Peckham indicated that Mr Gordon had misled parliament it would be a serious matter, but she said it would be up to parliament to take action.

Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said officers were treating the investigation seriously but it had its challenges due to the claims being historic, as they relate to alleged incidents that occurred more than five years ago.  Mr Stewart refused to comment further.

Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg also said if Mr Gordon's former partner provided evidence he had mislead parliament it would be a serious matter.

He was particularly concerned about allegations the MP was still behind on child support payments and tax returns.

"I think there needs to be a full and proper disclosure from Mr Gordon about whether this part of these allegations are correct," Mr Springborg said.

"He can't hide behind the police investigation in regards to non-payment of child support or non-return of tax returns."


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