Friday, June 26, 2015

Jihadis and leftists, united in misogyny

Jennifer Oriel

I was invited to appear as a panellist on the ABC’s political talk show Q&A this month.

This week, Q&A featured a self-described Muslim activist who tweeted about gang-raping female columnists in January and pleaded guilty to threatening to kill an ASIO officer.

Why would I want to appear on Q&A following such an outrage against women and our nation’s protective forces?

The man who tweeted the idea of gang-raping female journalists also has expressed support for an Islamic caliphate. I consider him such an inferior example of manhood that I would prefer not to stain the page with his name, but here it is for the record: Zaky Mallah.

After hearing the standard Islamist narrative on the ABC — that is, Islamists charged with threatening violence are victims of government action to stop terrorism — Q&A’s audience applauded Mallah. That tells us a lot about the state of left-wing politics today.

In the 21st century, the hard Left goes soft on men who attack liberal democracy and promote violence against women as long as such men belong to a Left-anointed minority.

Q&A host Tony Jones upbraided Mallah, but only after he had blamed the government for jihadism. And Tuesday’s limp corrective by the ABC falls well short of the explanation we need and the apology Australians deserve.

The terms of reference for the investigation into the ABC’s indulgence of Mallah must include why a man who threatened to kill an ASIO official was cast as a victim while criticising our liberal democratic government’s anti-terrorism policy.

The omission that Mallah threatened lethal violence against a member our security forces and sexual violence against female intellectuals demonstrates more than mere oversight by the ABC. Australia’s public broadcaster has put Australian citizens in harm’s way.

What might have happened, for example, if either of the two female columnists Mallah proposed should be gang-raped in January were on the Q&A panel this week?

Unlike those female columnists, I was actually invited to be on a Q&A panel this month. I have written extensively on Islamist terrorism and have been threatened for doing so.

The thought that a man such as Mallah might have been sitting a few feet away from me on Q&A is, quite frankly, horrifying.

No woman should have to fear for her bodily safety in Australia when she exercises her democratic right to free speech — especially on our public broadcaster. And yet, that is precisely what I now feel about the prospect of appearing on Q&A.

There are serious questions which must be answered about the modern Left and its indulgence of Islamist terrorism and misogyny. We might begin by asking why the taxpayer-funded ABC indulged a man who promoted the idea of gang-raping female columnists.

Is it because the targeted columnists, Miranda Devine and Rita Panahi, are viewed as politically conservative and therefore deserved victims by Islamists and their left-wing allies in the West? Does the Left believe dissident women are asking for it?

We are bearing witness this week to a new form of political correctness — politically correct misogyny — where leftists and Islamists converge to shut dissident women out of public debate.

Author and human rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali has suffered the brunt of PC misogyny during the past decade following her trenchant criticism of Islamist ­violence against women and girls.

In his book The Flight of the Intellectuals, Paul Berman chronicled the rise of the new sexism crafted by left-wing men against Hirsi Ali.

Using sleazy sophistry to conceal their contempt for the woman who dared to refuse victim status and became instead a champion of the free world, PC misogynists claimed she only made it because she was attractive.

In the US as in Australia, the sneering disdain some left-wing men reserve for dissident women is becoming more overtly misogynistic and it seems to increase in direct proportion to dissidents’ public success.

After Hirsi Ali received a standing ovation at the American Atheists convention, left-wing activist journalist Sam Hamad described her as: “a perfect little brown-skinned conduit” for the views of “white males”.

One would have thought that describing a woman with African descent as a “little brown-skinned conduit” should provoke public furore. But there was no cry of hate speech from the progressivist media, no call of sexism from the ivory towers.

Instead, the girl who survived female genital mutilation in Africa, assassination attempts in Europe and jihadist threats in America has grown to become a trending target of hard Left hate because by daring to live and tell the tale, Hirsi Ali has exposed their PC misogyny.

While Mallah might lack the hard Left’s talent for sophistry, his effect is just as devastating. On social media, he described columnists Panahi and Devine as “whores” and proposed that they be gang-raped on television. That is hard to write. No woman should have to read it.

It is little surprise to find support for misogyny among men who enthuse about an Islamist caliphate, where the unequal status of women and girls is enshrined as a rule of law and a cultural right.

But it should be a surprise to find self-declared progressives of the Western Left endorsing Islamist misogyny against any woman, let alone parading its advocates as paragons of sound citizenship.

In its response to the public furore about Mallah on Q&A, the ABC acknowledged his tweet about female columnists — in a single sentence of the last line of the final paragraph. The message could not be clearer.

As a female political commentator who leans conservative, my right to free speech and bodily safety may not mean much to the ABC. But I did not spend my formative years fighting for women’s rights in the 20th century only to submit to an Islamist-Left alliance of misogyny in the 21st.

I expect a public apology from the ABC for its outrage against women, female columnists and the basic security of Australians.

Until such an apology is given, I will not consent to appear on Q&A.


Rogue construction union  ordered to pay Builder $3.5m; fined for conduct on Brisbane worksite

AUSTRALIA’s biggest construction union is under siege amid a record $3.55m payout, a push for deregistration and damaging allegations including of unlawful conduct at a Brisbane worksite.

The $3.5m payout to Grocon was for a series of damaging blockades of its building sites in several states in 2012.

That payout could be dwarfed by a $28 million compensation fee being sought by Boral, while the ACCC also has its sights on the union over claims of restrictive work practices.

The CFMEU has also been fined $545,000 for unlawful, intimidating and coercive conduct on a Brisbane worksite where subcontractors and employees were called dogs and “scabby gay boys”.

In a scathing judgment the Federal Court found the union displayed “outrageous disregard” for industrial norms and implied it could face deregistration if it continued its unlawful conduct.

The judgment also singled out one union official, questioning whether or not he should continue in his role after behaviour at the taxpayer-funded South Brisbane construction of 140 units for Queensland’s long-term homeless.

The incidents occurred while the CFMEU was taking protected industrial action over an enterprise bargaining agreement with developer Grocon.

Fair Work Building and Construction director Nigel Hadgkiss welcomed the ruling yesterday.  “Coercion is particularly heinous conduct and has widespread impacts on Australia’s building and construction industry,” he said.  “Regrettably the conduct outlined in this case is but day-to-day activity on Australia’s building and construction sites.”

CFMEU national vice president Michael Ravbar said the union would not appeal.  He said the language used by the members concerned was unfortunate with three of those involved no longer with the union.

“You learn by your mistakes and some of these officials, a couple of them, are no longer with the union,” he said. “We don’t support the comments they made.”

But he dismissed the judge’s implication the union should be deregistered.

Federal Court Justice John Logan found the CFMEU, four of its officials and one delegate should be fined a total of $545,000 for unlawful industrial action at the Brisbane Common Ground construction site over seven days in March, 2012.

“An industrial organisation, be it an employer organisation or an employee organisation, which persistently abuses the privilege by engaging in unlawful conduct cannot expect to remain registered,” Justice Logan said.

He singled out one official in his judgment, Joseph Myles, who he described as being “predisposed to engage in unlawful conduct to supplement legitimate industrial aims”. Mr Myles was fined $40,000 while fellow officials Paul Cradden and Mark O’Brien were fined $30,000 each.

Delegate Jack Cummins was fined $25,000 and official Mike Davis was fined $20,000. The union was fined $400,000.

The $3.55m payout to Grocon was signed yesterday and is believed to be the largest ever payout from a union.

The payout — with Friday’s fine, a previous $1.25 million fine, and costly disputes yet to settle — has placed question marks over the ongoing viability of the union.


Headline numbers a tribute to prudence of conservative government of NSW

There are two strong underlying messages in this year’s NSW Budget.  The first is that prudence pays off.  The second is that even while basking in the warm sunny uplands of budget surplus territory into which Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian has led the state this year and through the forward estimates, there can be no relaxation of the Baird government’s relentless focus on discipline.

Four years ago, this government inherited forecast deficits totalling $4.4 billion. From the next financial year underlying surpluses are forecast to rise from $713 million to $895 million in 2018-2019.

Significantly, the surpluses will appear even larger from this year because of a change in accounting methods which creates a new body — the Transit Asset Holding Entity (TAHE) — which will manage transport assets instead of paying recurring grants to Rail Corporation.

After the introduction of TAHE, next year’s forecast rises from $713 million to $2520 million. Handy, indeed, for the 2019 election.

It must also be noted that the budget surplus does not take into account the projected receipts from the expected leasing of the poles and wires. They remain a bonus to insulate the State’s fortunes when they suffer as-yet-unforeseen economic setbacks.

Politically, the budget numbers just keep stacking up for the Baird government and strip Labor of any fiscal credibility.

Historically, Labor always spent more ($1.3 billion on average) despite falling revenues and now Labor’s long and disastrous record has become the Coalition’s cautionary tale.

The state’s first woman Treasurer can nominate outstanding results in field after field but she is building on four years of careful rebuilding for which her predecessor Andrew Constance might have been given a nod.

The prudent stewardship is paying off. This is a “gold, gold, gold” moment for NSW budgets and there is a pay-off for residents in the whacking investments in infrastructure and new frontline service employees.

State infrastructure spending over the next four years, including government businesses, is a record $68.6 billion and the election commitment to deliver 150,000 new jobs stands — attracting record migration.

Savings have been made in terms of background jobs which has seen an overall wage growth decline in the public jobs but there is a strong upside for the public in terms of the investment being made in education (1000 new teachers), the health sector (3525 new nurses) and police (550 more).

The discipline in the back office has delivered a bonus for those who want front office services. The spending on health, education, social security and welfare, public order and safety has increased — it’s another record.

Record, record, record.

But the Treasurer appears acutely aware of the risks. The ever-present risk of fiscal volatility that could send the projections crashing, the risk of further changes in Commonwealth-State funding arrangements (the Commonwealth provides 40 per cent of revenues), even the economic weakness of the other states poses a long-term threat to NSW as their economies fail to provide their residents with the cash needed to buy from NSW businesses.

This budget may constitute a high-water mark for NSW — but the disciplined approach should mean that there will be a greater degree of certainty over the rest of the government’s term.

Failing unforeseen crises, it should also deliver another term for the Coalition.


Politically correct school reports

School report says: Spirited. Teacher really means: Your kid is a pain in the arse

At school, I was one of those kids who did fairly well by studying hard and staying out of trouble.  Not so my brother Benjamin, who spent the last day of every term defecating bricks. Inside his school bag was always an explosive report card, more dangerous than a stick of dynamite when it reached the hands of my parents.

One year I remember Dad opening a particularly giant can of whoop-ass on my naughty sibling, after his report revealed “serious misbehaviour” with “hot metals and acid” in science. The exasperated teacher also went on to chastise his habit of “rocking on chairs” and “pea shooting” during class.

Then there’s my good friend Joanne, who recently shared one of her classic report cards from the 1980s.  “One of the noisiest girls I’ve ever seen in a classroom. Can be a thorough pest. Concentrate on the work Joanne,” her Year 11 English teacher wrote.

The maths teacher offered a similar observation.  “Joanne is a very bright girl but needs to be less noisy.”  Adding insult to injury, there was also this:  “Joanne is a capable student who has made good progress, however she is a chatterbox.”

Nearly 30 years later, and my friend can still vividly recall the sheer terror of handing that clanger over to her hardworking parents in Darwin.

Words like “lazy”, “uncooperative” and “anti-social” weren’t uncommon on kids’ report cards when I was growing up. If you were rebellious, the teacher said so. If you dared backchat in class, or regularly failed to hand in homework, then your parents read about it in a personalised, handwritten school report. Drop the f-bomb or blatantly flout the school rules? Then you were busted, custard.

In 2015 however, I find myself wondering if there is such a thing as a “bad report” anymore. Do they even exist?

This week, parents (like me) will open our little darling’s half-yearly school reports. And chances are they’ll be so sterile, so bland, so terribly boring that we’ll struggle to make sense of what’s actually being said.

Instead of receiving a truthful, pull-no-punches assessment of our kid’s progress, we’ll open up a white, printed out page filled with computer generated safe words and corporate jargon.

But these newfangled, vanilla flavoured reports aren’t the fault of teachers. Or principals. Our politically correct school system has bound and gagged educators with bureaucracy and red tape, preventing them from telling the warts-and-all real version of our kid’s classroom behaviours.

A former senior-level teacher I know left her job, after becoming completely disillusioned with the education system.  “Teachers cop it from all directions these days,” she tells me.  “We are constantly treading on eggshells, dealing with greater numbers of delusional parents — and classrooms full of kids who’ve been wrapped up in cotton wool.

“The writing — and delivery — of report cards is a minefield. It’s definitely the worst part of any teacher’s job,” she says.

Demanding, pushy parents are also partly to blame for this new trend in sanitised school report cards.  “Many of them see their kids as perfect little angels, with an IQ worthy of a Mensa membership,” my teacher mate says.  “If we write a school report and tell the parents otherwise, then the evidence is against us.

“So it has become standard practise now to use insipid, watered-down phrases instead of the real truth.”

Looking back at a few of my own children’s report cards, I notice they’re peppered with words like “satisfactory”, “sound” and “working towards”. The boring babble hides the real truth.

Some examples:

“…needs to continue to focus on the quality and neatness of his work presentation,” one comment suggests.

Let’s cut to the chase here. We’re talking about unbelievably shocking, mostly illegible bookwork. And I know it for a fact because I kick my boy up the backside every time he puts pen to paper. So why did his teacher sugar coat the facts? To make me feel better about his sloppy efforts in class?

“He tries to listen carefully when not distracted by others around him.”

He tries to listen? Are you serious? Clearly, he doesn’t. And reading between the lines, it seems he’s also mucking about with mates instead of being focused on his work.

My teacher friend reckons that if you look hard enough, it is possible to decode your child’s next school report.  Here is her Top 10 list of euphemisms, frequently used by educators everywhere.

1. School report says: Spirited. Teacher really means: Your kid is a pain in the arse.

2. School report says: Keen to participate in group discussion. Teacher really means: Little Johnny talks too much. Shut your cake-hole and give someone else a go.

3. School report says: Satisfactory effort. Teacher really means: Has done the bare minimum.

4. School report says: Energetic. Teacher really means: Possibly ADHD and requires medication.

5. School report says: Creative. Teacher really means: Can’t follow instructions and makes a mess of everything.

6. School report says: Helpful. Teacher really means: Annoyingly so.

7. School report says: Is developing (eg: handwriting) skills. Teacher really means: Still can’t do it despite all the hours I’ve put in.

8. School report says: Took awhile to settle in. Teacher really means: We didn’t like each other.

9. School report says: Needs to settle when working with other teachers. Teacher really means: They don’t like your kid either.

10. School report says: I wish them well next year. Teacher really means: Thank god they won’t be in my class again.


Legal nonsense about CO2

Will island nations be able to sue for damages if their lands become inundated by rising sea levels caused by climate change, and if so, who should pay?

Justice Brian Preston, chief judge of the NSW Land and Environment Court, is among leading jurists exploring how domestic and international law might be used to address or remedy such "warm crimes" - and many others - caused by human activities.

He co-chairs an International Bar Association group that is developing a model legal statute which could be applied a range of jurisdictions. It builds on the IBA's landmark report last year - Achieving Justice and Human Rights in an Era of Climate Disruption

"It's an enormously difficult task," Justice Preston told Fairfax Media from his chambers on Sydney's Macquarie Street. "You've got so many different legal systems, you've got so many different countries at different stages of economic, social and legal development."

The legal work is seen by some as a fallback plan should nations fail to sign up to ambitious cuts to carbon emissions at the Paris climate conference late this year.

Fresh proof of the legal option may be on show this week with a Dutch court due to rule on whether the government can be forced to cut national greenhouse gas emissions.

The class action lawsuit argues the government has failed to protect Dutch citizens in a country with about a quarter of its territory below sea level.

In Australia, groups such as the Institute of Public Affairs and the Minerals Council last year responded to the IBA report by questioning whether environmental rights should have equal same standing with other rights, and warned against judges grabbing power from the people.

Obstacles to successful lawsuits are many, including the challenge of proving causation of damages from another's actions, potentially committed a century ago, and the limited ability to sue outside one's own jurisdiction.

"We'll identify the hurdles and match them with the course of action, and then say what we need to do about it," Justice Preston said, adding his group plans to complete a report on the "menu" of options by September 2016.


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