Tuesday, August 11, 2015
In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is not pleased by The Donald
Racism in Australia?
Peter Brent, writing below, is truly pathetic. He seems to think that a series of anecdotes expose Australians as racist. But anecdotes cannot do that. I can just as easily recount twice as many anecdotes showing Australians as non-racist. Anecdotes are useful but should not be persuasive except as an illustration of something that has already been established statistically.
So here is some counter anecdotage: Where I go shopping, in an average sort of Brisbane suburb, there are a lot of East Asians, mostly Han Chinese. Yet I have never once seen the slightest manifestation of racism towards them. They treat others politely and others treat them politely. I even see friend-groups of young people that include both Chinese and Anglos. And the number of tall Anglo men with a small Asian girlfriend on their arm is quite a wonder.
According to the classic Bogardus index of prejudice, partner formation should be the area where racism is most manifest, so those frequent interracial couples alone junk Brent's miserable claims.
So in one day, I see more instances of non-racism than all of the idiot's examples put together. As far as I can see, Australia is a prime example of racial harmony. No doubt there are grumblers here and there but deeds speak louder than words.
And Brent's examples of "racist" deeds are absurd. He tells of a female official treating a brown-skinned man in a peremptory way. How do we know the official was influenced by the man's skin colour? We do not. She could have been pre-menstrual or he could have had bad breath or something. There are many possibilities and we have no way of knowing which was at work. Brent has simply paraded his own opinion as fact.
And Brent criticizes John Howard for leaving it to the army to deal with silly behaviour among its ranks. As a former army psychologist myself, I think Howard got it exactly right. Army men are not sensitive souls. They can see as funny things that others would not. If they were sensitive souls they would not be in the army. Training to kill people is not a milksop's job and nothing will make it so.
And his claim that feminist Julia Gillard saw arch-conservative John Howard as a role model will surely surprise everyone who knows anything about Australian politics, including John Howard and Julia Gillard. Brent sees things that are not there -- psychiatric delusions?
The one statistic the sad soul refers to is the poor state of Aborigines. And there is no doubt that the state of Aborigines is appalling by white standards. But why are they so different? If Asians and Anglos both do well in Australia, why do Aborigines do so badly? Most urban Aborigines even have English as their native language, an advantage many Asians lack.
And is white society responsible for the state of Aborigines? Mainly under Leftist influence, all Australian governments, State and Federal, seem to think so. The number of projects and programs that have been initiated to help Aborigines are legion -- with just about nil results. Paternalism has been tried. Permissiveness has been tried. Nothing works. The problem is in Aborigines themselves, nobody else. The state of Aborigines does not prove Australian racism. If anything, it shows the racism of people who cannot accept that Aborigines might simply be different.
Brent's nickname is "Mumbles". He should stick to mumbling. I can't imagine what he got his Ph.D. in. Modern dance?
"Do you want to lose that?!", the Immigration Department employee screeched at the young South Asian man in Perth Airport's customs line this week.
She was forty-ish and blonde and was pointing to the mobile phone he held to his ear. She had earlier signalled that he should put it away but he hadn't understood. So now she scolded him like a five year old.
Looking surprised and a little shaken by this little Hitler in a uniform, he quickly hung up.
I've emailed the department asking about this rule banning the use of mobile phones in customs queues. Is it a new thing? Or did she just make it up so she could bully the dark guy? Either way, it's difficult to imagine she would have spoken to a white person like that.
Well, I don't know the woman, maybe she would have.
But it was a very Pauline Hanson welcome to Australia.
Visitors to this country sometimes report a jarring preponderance of casual, everyday racism. British-American comedian John Oliver found Australia "a sensational place, albeit one of the most comfortably racist places I've ever been in. They've really settled into their intolerance like an old resentful slipper."
We can protest all we like that they don't understand us and our situation. That's what Apartheid South African whites insisted. Did they have a point? Possibly a small point, overwhelmed by the larger one.
The question is not: "is Australia racist?" Racism seems to pollute the human condition everywhere and seems woven into societies' fabrics around the world. Children aren't born resenting and distrusting people not like them, but usually learn to.
Racism often forms part of the collection of preconceptions people have about others. Humans can recognise these inclinations and attempt to transcend them.
The situation with indigenous Australians is a particular one, because they were here long before the rest of us. Many countries, including some Asian neighbours, have similar dynamics at play with indigenous minorities. A mixture of guilt, impatience at an apparent unwillingness to assimilate, and prejudice. But we occupy the extreme end in Australia: all those gaping statistical discrepancies in health outcomes, life expectancy, suicide, incarceration rates, general indicators of misery - and corresponding mainstream attitudes.
It's more complex, a lot more complex, than simply believing that if mainstream Australia would stop being racist everything would be fine. But there is a lot of racism embedded in the Australian psyche.
Racism lurks in communities around the planet, but it's true what the visitors say: Australians are relatively comfortable expressing it.
I largely blame John Howard. I'm serious, I do. Two decades ago Australia did not particularly stand out in the pack. (Again, I exclude the position of Aboriginal Australians.)
It was quickly forgotten that Howard's 1996 "comfortable and relaxed" line was predominately aimed at all that Keatingesque hand-wringing about past injustices to Aboriginals. And in government his, and his advisers', model for re-election included picking at seething resentment towards minorities.
Howard was wont, particularly when an election was on the horizon, to reflect that one of his proudest achievements was that Australians now felt freer to express themselves than under Labor.
He meant, of course, on matters of race.
Every so often Howard would deliberately utter something inflammatory, upsetting the usual suspects, just to keep his hand in. If someone was publicly under fire for a racially tinged misdeed, Howard would usually rush to their corner - or at least equivocate.
(One typical incident, a 2007 Youtube video of drunken soldiers in Ku Klux Klan garb, was met with these prime ministerial words:
"I have some understanding of the disposition of people in these situations to let off a bit of steam. Let the military deal with those things in their own way. People get into a lather of sweat and so on ... Let's be sensible about this.")
Eventually this tendency of Howard's was celebrated in the political class as crucial part of his political genius, a method by which he had (supposedly) eaten into the ALP's working-class base.
And it's true what they say: when you change the government, you change the country - perhaps not what's in people's hearts, how they feel able to express themselves, because people in power set norms of behaviour.
It is all entwined in the hot issue of "border protection", which most believe decided the 2001 election.
After winning government in 2007, Labor remained captured by the myth of Howard. Julia Gillard in particular seemed to see him as a role model; her language about migrants upon becoming prime minister in 2010 had a decidedly Howard-like tinge.
Ask Sol Trujillo, born in America to Mexican immigrants, who was Telstra boss from 2005 to 2009, if we're racist. He told the BBC that racism in Australia "was evident in a lot of ways with me personally but more importantly with others."
References to "amigos", "tortillas" and "enchiladas" abounded in mainstream media and among politicians during his tenure. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, when asked to comment on Trujillo's departure, simply said "adios".
And recall the 2009 Hey Hey It's Saturday's 2009 black faces furore. (Gillard as acting prime minister gushingly defended the program.)
Oh, that's just us, you say, having harmless fun. Only self-loathing elites have a problem with this sort of kind of behaviour.
Don't go changing Australia.
Tax rates must fall, says Treasurer Joe Hockey
Australia is suffering an "unsustainable risk" from high personal taxes that must be brought down to encourage growth and boost jobs, Joe Hockey will declare today in a move to set a reform agenda for the next election.
Putting tax relief on the table if the Coalition holds power, the Treasurer will warn that personal income taxes are so high they threaten to discourage workers and weaken the economy. Mr Hockey will also sharpen the debate on the GST by insisting state revenue be "aligned" to the spending needed on government ser-vices, an argument that underpins calls for a rise in the consumption tax from 10 per cent to 15 per cent.
"We cannot afford to have a tax burden that stifles growth and costs jobs," Mr Hockey writes in The Australian today, singling out the $185 billion income tax take.
"We can't just view the tax system and Australian taxpayers as a collection pool of unlimited funds. So in developing a better tax -system, we need to consider the sustainability of our heavy reliance on income tax, especially personal income tax."
Behind the call is a government ambition to offer tax cuts at the next election to reverse some of the "bracket creep" that will force 300,000 workers to pay higher rates over the next two years as inflation pushes up their incomes. The Coalition strategy will be central to the election campaign as Tony Abbott and the Treasurer seek to offer a "low tax" pledge to justify unpopular spending cuts and contrast their fiscal policy with Labor's spending plans.
The cost of reform is daunting, given Treasury estimates that it would cost $25bn over five years to return all of the "bracket creep" - the increase in the tax take when inflation lifts workers into higher brackets even when their real -incomes do not change.
Mr Hockey is warning of a wider economic challenge from the tax pressures on workers because Australia's top marginal tax rate is higher than the average across advanced economies.
Workers pay 45c in the dollar on earnings over $180,000 but this rises to 47c when the Medicare levy is added and reaches 49c as a result of the government's temporary budget repair levy, which stops in July 2017.
The pressures are also hurting workers on incomes of about $80,000 - the threshold at which they begin to pay 37c in the dollar for every dollar they earn. Treasury estimates to be outlined by Mr Hockey today show the proportion of taxpayers in the top two tax brackets will rise from 27 per cent today to 43 per cent a decade from now.
"Our personal income tax revenue is subject to unsustainable risk," the Treasurer writes. "For example, the top 10 per cent of individual taxpayers pay nearly half the personal income tax collected by the government. This is an over-reliance and dependence on a narrow base that is increasingly mobile, to support our vital social infrastructure."
Workers paid $185bn in personal income taxes last year and this part of federal revenue is expected to swell to more than $230bn by 2019. Company tax receipts will be $86bn in 2019 and GST receipts will be $68bn according to this year's budget papers.
Government sources indicated yesterday the Coalition was aiming to go to the election with plans to ease the tax burden, including personal income tax cuts, but that the timeframe remained subject to the budget bottom line. Mr Hockey does not promise a tax cut but makes it clear he wants reforms - including spending restraint - to enable the cuts. Asked last month if there was hope the government would cut marginal tax rates before the election, he said: "Well, not before the next election, but certainly we'll be taking a proposal to the Australian people at the next election.''
The Treasurer's comments on the overall tax burden reignite a fight with Labor over which side of politics delivers low taxes, given the budget papers forecast that tax receipts as a proportion of economic output will rise from 21.9 per cent last year to 23.4 per cent by June 2019. Tax as a proportion of gross domestic output was lower when Labor was in power, hitting a trough of 19.9 per cent in 2010 as the global financial crisis wiped out some of the revenue Treasury had been counting on.
Mr Hockey states that when personal income tax is calculated as a proportion of total tax revenue, the tax level is the second highest in the OECD, the group of advanced economies.
"We must aim to reduce the overall tax burden on the community and work to promote stronger economic growth," Mr Hockey states.
Part of the Treasurer's tax reform call is an argument for a change to the federation to ensure the power to raise taxes matches the obligation to spend on services. At the moment, state governments raise only a fraction of the revenue they need to fund health and education and other services, forcing them to rely on the GST and payments from Canberra. Mr Hockey's reform principles include the requirement that "as best as possible, the revenue-raising capacity of each tier of government should be aligned to responsibilities of funding and service delivery". That goal could be pursued by raising GST and sharing the higher proceeds with the states so they have greater capacity to pay for their own services.
While NSW Premier Mike Baird has suggested an increase in the GST to 15 per cent, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews have proposed an increase in the Medicare levy instead. The Prime Minister has said he would prefer the GST option to the Medicare increase. Mr Hockey's comments today support that view, given that a higher Medicare levy would increase the income tax burden and worsen the "unsustainable risk" the Treasurer identifies.
Foxtel lashed for anti-gay marriage ads
They put up ads both for and against but balance is not good enough!
FOXTEL is facing a backlash from some subscribers after it decided to screen advertisements opposing same-sex marriage. THE ads, created by anti-gay marriage group Marriage Alliance, were knocked back by the Seven and Ten networks but have been screened by the pay TV provider.
People took to Facebook to vent their anger, with many saying they would cancel their Foxtel subscription. "Just cancelled my account - Netflix is much less homophobic, and better value," Brendan Terry wrote. "What's new on Foxtel this week? Bigotry, hatred and lies," wrote Bradles McBell.
Some question Foxtel for airing advertisements for I Am Cait, the new reality show about Caitlyn Jenner's transition, alongside the anti-equality message in the ads. "I love how you can promote this and then also put up anti-marriage equality ads up too, haha self contradicting much?" Joel Hubbard said.
Marriage Alliance's campaign, which uses the line "It's not as simple as you think", says legislating to allow same-sex marriage may affect people's rights across the entire community.
Foxtel replied to concerns, saying it was aware its decision to air the ad "has caused hurt and distress to some customers".
"We believe this debate should be won by the force of the argument in favour of reform, not by refusing to engage in debate or allow contrary opinion to be put," a spokesman said.
The company says it is a strong supporter of marriage equality and that it is screening a series of celebrity-backed ads calling for marriage equality.
Bill Shorten and Michael Danby accuse Commissioner Dyson Heydon of supporting rape in marriage
It is widely known in politics and the media that Bill Shorten uses online trolls to trash the reputation of anyone he sees as a threat or competitor to his interests. What is not widely reported is that Mr Shorten is also defaming the reputation of Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon and using his Parliamentary Secretary Michael Danby, at the taxpayer's expense, to assist.
There would probably be enough evidence below to charge Bill Shorten, Michael Danby and their main troll Andrew Landeryou with attempting to pervert the course of justice. It also raises questions regarding the character of Bill Shorten and gives a guide to what he would be like if he was elected Prime Minister.
The allegation Shorten and Danby are making is extremely serious and false. They claim that Trade Union Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon supports rape in marriage. They do this via Twitter Troll Andrew Landeryou who is their friend and aligned to them in the ALP Unity faction. Danby is Bill Shorten's Parliamentary Secretary and has made the mistake of also using his Twitter account to support the defamatory Tweets which leaves a trail of evidence directly back to himself.
The purpose of this is very clear given it also happened when Bill Shorten was in the witness stand on July 8th 2015. It is a blatant attempt to harass and intimidate Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon.
Bill Shorten claims how stressful it was on him and his family to have "abhorrent" rape allegations made against him yet he is more than happy to do something very similar to Dyson Heydon, Heydon's family and others.
The false claim
The basis of the false allegations is a deliberate misinterpretation of a judgement by Dyson Heydon when he was a judge of the High Court of Australia.
A man was charged in 2009 for raping his former wife in 1963 when they were married. What Dyson Heydon and the High Court had to decide was if rape in marriage was a crime in 1963, not if it is a crime now.
"Most countries have criminalized marital rape from the late 20th century onwards; very few legal systems allowed for the prosecution of rape within marriage before the 1970s." (Click here to read more)
Even one of the articles quoted to justify the defamatory comments about Dyson Heydon actually supports Heydon when you read it. (Click here to read more)
So a High Court decision about whether rape in marriage was a crime in 1963 is being used to falsely say that Dyson Heydon supports rape in marriage now.