Sunday, June 28, 2015
David Leyonhjelm has cast doubt over whether Aboriginal people were the first Australians
The hairless Senator is quite right. Australia's original pygmy race survived into the modern era in the jungles of Far North Queensland -- particularly in the Kuranda area. I was sitting in an outdoor cafe in Kuranda in 2004 when a very short dark man walked right past me. A full discussion of the evidence is here
SENATE crossbencher David Leyonhjelm has cast doubt over whether Aboriginal people were the first Australians.
His comments came ahead of the release of a parliamentary committee report today that will give the green light to a referendum to recognise indigenous people in the constitution and remove sections that could allow racial discrimination.
Senator Leyonhjelm says he is a “black and white anti-racist” and agrees with removing the two references to race.
However, the Liberal Democrat says he needs to be persuaded on the argument that Aboriginal people should be recognised as the First Australians.
“There may have been people in Australia prior to the Aborigines,” he told reporters in Canberra, adding that there were some anthropologists who argued that case.
That view was based on the Bradshaw or Gwion Gwion rock paintings in Western Australia that were distinctly different from other Aboriginal artworks.
Senator Leyonhjelm said several serious anthropologists had made the argument, but could not name them or their credentials.
“I could (name them) if I checked it out,” he said. “You’ve asked me at a door stop, I can’t off the top of my head. “But if there is any doubt at all, why would you put history in the constitution?”
Left discovers too late the enemy of its enemy no friend
For the green Left, any enemy of Tony Abbott will have their redeeming features. This week’s Q&A furore, at heart, was a classic demonstration of this mindset.
Even a jihadist sympathiser and convicted criminal who disseminates public threats of sexual violence against women was given an ABC platform — anything for a gotcha moment against the evil Abbott government.
Given this is the program’s schtick, the studio audience applauded. The mentality at play was brilliantly mocked by the iconoclastic John Safran (whose talent, to give due credit, was unearthed by the ABC). “I’m a man who keeps a woman hostage down a hole,” Safran tweeted, “and dances around in a human skin suit … who hates Tony Abbott! *Q&A audience applauds.”
This time it backfired. Not only did this ugly episode fail to embarrass the government, it actually helped to underline the Coalition’s argument for tougher anti-terrorism laws, while also inflicting enormous self-harm on the national broadcaster.
This is the problem with hatred as a motivating force for political strategy; it leads to misguided decisions. “Hatred is blind,” as Alexandre Dumas warned, “rage carries you away; and he who pours out vengeance runs the risk of tasting a bitter draught.”
As attacks on Abbott become more unhinged, the Left appears more desperate and out of touch.
To be fair, we were reminded of transgressions on the Right this week on The Killing Season when a teary-eyed Craig Emerson recounted his distress at signs labelling Julia Gillard a witch or bitch.
These were placards from a fringe group and Abbott paid a high price for being at that event, even though the signs were moved into place after he took the stage.
There is no comparison to the way the Left invokes hatred in the core of its arguments.
The same ABC program that gave a platform to Zaky Mallah, the misogynist justifier of jihadists, has hosted lengthy denunciations of Abbott over denied allegations of a punched wall more than 30 years ago.
Abbott repeatedly has been abused as a dog, lout, nut job, misogynist, thug, homophobe, sexist, racist, bullyboy and Neanderthal by other MPs. (Let’s not even venture into the terminology used on social media about anyone.)
This demonisation of conservatives has become commonplace. Take these comments from Greens leader Richard Di Natale — keeping in mind that he is supposed to be the new kinder, gentler and more reasonable face of the party.
“It’s not easy to sit in a room with somebody like Scott Morrison and look him in the eye and know this is somebody who locked up young kids, but you have to get past that,” Di Natale told this newspaper.
Even if we overlook the pivotal and, presumably, deliberate factual error that has Morrison putting kids into detention when his record has been to release them, it is impossible to miss the hate dripping from that comment; the nasty, personal disdain based on a political difference. If a government minister spoke in such terms about a Greens senator there would be hell to pay. No doubt Di Natale expects canonisation at the altar of Gaia for holding his nose and dealing with a lesser moral being such as Morrison just for the good of the movement.
Politicians have to have thick skins. Unlike Emerson, I am not here to weep at their misfortune.
My point is about what this does to the political debate, and for the Left it has often led them astray. If you convince yourself of the absolute moral turpitude of your political opponents then, by extension, you will develop a low opinion of their supporters.
Given the Coalition governs with a substantial majority, Labor’s hate can manifest itself in disdain for mainstream Australians, the people it needs to win over. Frontbencher David Feeney gave us a classic example this week, circulating a map on Twitter showing the parts of Sydney held by the Liberal Party as being populated by “toffs” or “bigots”.
When I tweeted how extraordinary this denunciation was, he deleted it. The people populating these areas are voters Labor should want to woo and, it hopes, govern — not denigrate.
Feeney’s attack reminds me of Mark Latham’s pitch to the mainstream when he said half the population was the “disengaged, self-interested middle class”. Or Latham’s bid for the military vote when he wrote, “I detest war and the meatheads who volunteer to kill other human beings.” Haters are gonna hate but voters aren’t likely to warm to it. The anti-Abbott obsession and hatred paraded by the Greens and Labor fires up Twitter supporters but will irk the mainstream.
The overreach can make a pretty disorderly Coalition seem relatively calm and measured when compared with those spitting the abuse. Just as they did with John Howard, many Labor operatives have convinced themselves the Prime Minister is an unredeemable pariah. This misreading has consequences. It’s an excuse to avoid the hard policy work needed in opposition to support plausible attacks on the government. So Labor under Bill Shorten has made no significant policy changes since the election. Just four months ago the few of us warning against this indolence were looking precarious as Labor appeared bullish.
After facing his leadership revolt, Abbott would have circled this week in his diary — if he could unite his party behind a budget, advocate it strongly and get through to the parliamentary recess, he could consolidate his position. Despite some missteps, he and Joe Hockey have done as well as they could have hoped. Voters may have been disappointed by the government, even antagonised, but they haven’t been given a plausible critique or an alternative. Labor’s hateful attacks against a lying, uncompassionate, racist, unfair, incompetent and manipulative government is too hyperventilated to work.
So, surprisingly, it is Shorten who would have felt most relief at escaping Canberra on Thursday night with his leadership intact. After revelations about his trade union days, a political lie unearthed from leadership dealings in government and the repercussions of policy inertia hitting home, the Opposition Leader suddenly finds himself on the brink of unelectability.
In coming weeks he faces two difficult tests: a royal commission appearance and the ALP national conference. Labor’s overindulgence on leadership trauma means it will be loathe to act again; otherwise he may be a dead man walking. This reluctance combined with new caucus rules means Shorten could stay on — even it starts to look like a Weekend at Bernie’s.
Bill Shorten’s secret past as a workplace hardliner
He sold himself and his union to the builders
BILL Shorten is to be congratulated on his introduction of flexible working arrangements when he was the Victorian secretary and then national secretary of the Australian Workers’ Union.
Taxpayers should thank him for assisting in delivering some major infrastructure projects, like Melbourne’s EastLink motorway, on time and on budget.
It just seems as though it was more than an oversight that some of those union members covered by some of his agreements appear to have been both unaware that they had been signed up to the AWU and that the union’s agreements actually removed some penalties and conditions — without compensation — that previous agreements had given them.
Had the detail of Shorten’s organisational activities in the ‘90s and ‘00s been made public, he would have been able to lay claim to being a great industrial relations reformer in the mould of former Labor prime minister Bob Hawke and former ACTU secretary Bill Kelty, whose Accord paved the way for modern enterprise bargaining in the 1980s, albeit though they kept union members in the loop.
All the evidence suggests that Shorten, as a union boss, actually went harder and earlier than Coalition prime minister John Howard did when he introduced his greatly vilified program of industrial reform, WorkChoices, in 2005.
It is now just over 10 years since Howard outlined to Parliament the WorkChoices package that controversially included the abolition of the “no-disadvantage” test that previous agreements had to satisfy. It had ensured that the terms of new agreements were at least as generous as comparative awards.
Under WorkChoices, employers were able to offer agreements that removed penalty or overtime rates, control of the scheduling of working hours, long-service leave, severance pay and a host of other rights an employee might otherwise have had under the provisions of an applicable award or statute.
The only protection offered to workers was that workplace agreements could not offer less than the minimum entitlements enshrined in the Australian Fair Pay and Conditions Standard (the Standard), or in a separate standard relating to public holidays.
Over the next three years, right up to the 2007 election, Howard’s reforms triggered the greatest co-ordinated campaign mounted by the trade union movement since the era of the Vietnam War.
A mass education scheme was organised by union activists and with millions of dollars raised through levies on trade unionists, television and radio advertising was bought (remember the “Tracy” adverts?) and it targeted those voters in low- and middle-income brackets who might have strayed from Labor to become “Howard’s Battlers”.
But as we are now aware, Shorten was streets ahead of Howard. Despite his secret membership drives, under his stewardship, AWU membership fell and some members also suffered beneficial and financial disadvantage. The workers received less, the union received more and employers prospered.
Shorten’s parliamentary colleagues may disagree, but there is an almost universal consensus in industrial circles that he has to explain the workplace deals he made while he was a union boss. Labor MPs are anticipating an election later this year, but are now questioning their leader’s ability to mount the necessary fight.
Last week, Shorten failed them on a number of fronts — although there was no single knockout blow.
They cannot understand how he walked into the row over paying a miserly $30,000 to crew of a people-smuggler boat to get them to return to their families and take their human cargo with them.
They can’t fathom why he permitted border protection to become an issue again when Labor has lost on every point.
Could it be that the current crop of Labor MPs forget it was the Labor immigration minister Gerry Hand who first introduced mandatory detention in 1992, even as they reject the proposed reintroduction of the temporary protection visas which were stunningly successful when operated by the Coalition government from 1999?
They can’t understand how he managed to let the government sew up a deal with the Greens and deliver a sensible outcome on pensions — and they are bewildered by his opposition to the deal that delivers for so many pensioners. It is a death of a thousand cuts.
With the ABC running its gripping Killing Season series, some see parallels between former prime minister Kevin Rudd’s lack of strategic thinking and Shorten’s abysmal performance, and point to the lack of seasoned advisers on the staff of both men.
Rudd tried to make a virtue of the youth and political inexperience of his closest staff and suffered commensurately, Shorten seems to be committed to the same fate.
Shorten has no one near him who has sufficient stature to tell him when he is wrong, even if he would listen, and is continuing to bleed.
The Left is on the march. Not because they’re burning with a desire to see the deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek ascend to the leadership, however. The NSW Left isn’t driving the anti-Shorten push, it’s all coming from Victoria.
The ALP’s national conference in Melbourne next month will be horrendous — the agony amplified if Shorten’s first appearance before the trade union royal commission puts the spotlight on the agreements he signed that left so many workers worse off.
Climate skeptics vocal within the Liberal party
Prime Minister Tony Abbott is facing a push from inside the Liberal Party to prevent Australia signing up to any binding emissions reduction targets at the upcoming Paris climate talks.
A cabal of regional and rural Liberal members, centred in Western Australia and supported by a number of conservative MPs, will force a vote at Saturday's federal council meeting in Melbourne on whether Parliament should "examine the evidence" around climate change before agreeing to any post-2020 emissions cuts.
Liberal sources told Fairfax Media that Environment Minister Greg Hunt is likely to be forced to step in and fight off the motion on Saturday by asserting the Abbott government accepts climate change is real and is willing to work with other nations to combat its effects.
The timing of the intervention will be a headache for Mr Hunt who has over recent months moved the government towards accepting tougher emissions targets, as revealed by Fairfax Media on Tuesday.
A Liberal moderate who will attend the federal council meeting said the group of elected Liberals and members behind the motion should be given an audience with the Pope so they can be "brought up to speed by a new age person living in this century".
The party's regional and rural committee, chaired by WA farmer Brian Mayfield, has submitted the motion, which will call for a House of Representatives committee to "examine the scientific evidence that underpins the man-made global warming theory".
It also calls for investigation into "the reasons for the failure of computer models, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and prominent individuals to predict, among other things, the pause in global warming this century".
"In light of the uncertainty around this issue, Australia does not sign any binding agreement at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris later this year," it says.
Mr Mayfield declined to comment but Liberal Senator Chris Back and Western Australian colleague Dennis Jensen both told Fairfax Media that an examination of whether the science supported climate change was worthy of party debate.
Mr Jensen said the push was coming out of WA because the state has a "reputation for independent thinking". In 2009, a similar campaign was aimed at then opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull who was urged by WA members not to negotiate with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd ahead of the Copenhagen summit. "The science is absolutely not settled. This argument that it's all done and dusted is rubbish," he said.
Farmers see more climate variability in their working lives than most people and the view that everything is in stasis except for the human influence on the climate was nonsense, he said.
A senior Liberal source said the motion would have to be "derailed" by Mr Hunt. "It's something that will appeal to some conservatives but he will have to head it off. There is more and more a view that Hunt has got the government to a point of being ready to act and accept the climate science, so the timing could not be worse."
"This sort of talk takes us back to the Neanderthal age. It's flat earth stuff."
But Senator Back said: "I think it is certainly worthy of debate but the question is can you get all the information between now and Paris [in December]."
Climate sceptic Tasmanian Liberal Senator Richard Colbeck said he expected the motion would "dead batted" on Saturday. "It's not a can of worms I would want to open up," he said.
Mr Hunt said: "We firmly and absolutely accept that climate change is real and taking action to combat it as imperative. We are already taking strong action and achieving significant reductions through the Emissions Reduction Fund.
"We will shortly announce our post-2020 target. There should be no doubt that our target will be significant and Australia will play a constructive role in global talks in Paris."
Woman runs red light and seriously injures boy -- but acquitted of dangerous driving
The judge seems to be impressed that her use of "Ice" may not have been harmful. Why did that matter? She was a serious and serial lawbreaker who clearly WAS driving dangerously
Mother of three, Leah Lenarczyk, 39, was under the influence of ice and other drugs when she picked up her young children from school on November 8, 2012.
She hit a school boy after running a red light in Adelaide's north and the 12-year-old sustained serious injuries including a collapsed lung and fractured skull.
Lenarczyk was acquitted of dangerous driving and was instead convicted with the subsidiary charge of driving without due care as it was found that the drugs did not have a negative impact on her driving. 'She had none of the indicia or symptoms of someone affected by methylamphetamine,' Judge Beazley said.
The District Court heard that Lenarczyk had an 'appalling' driving record, the Adelaide Advertiser have reported.
As well as a fractured skull and collapsed lung, the school boy suffered a broken leg, abdominal injuries and cuts on his face after he was hit by Lenarczyk at Salisbury Heights.
Judge Beazley took the expert evidence from professor of pharmacology Jason White, and clinical forensic toxicologist Michael Robertson who both confirmed that whether the drugs impacted positively or negatively on Lenarczyk's driving cannot be determined.
Following the accident, she was found to have no alcohol in her blood and was also travelling five kilometres under the speed limit.
Judge Beazley said two police officers were with her for over two hours after the accident and she showed none of the typical symptoms of ice use.
She will be sentenced next month.