Tuesday, October 20, 2015
In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is enjoying Bill Shorten's death in the polls
Reclaim Australia group wins hearts
Plenty of abuse too -- in the usual Leftist way
An interview with the mums and dads that founded the Reclaim Australia movement has caused a fiery divide on social media.
Reclaim Australia's founders, who call themselves 'patriotic Australians' and claim to be stopping the 'spread of Islam' in Australia, appeared on Channel Seven's Sunday Night program in their first ever television interview.
But attempts to expose and challenge their controversial views may have backfired with support for the group growing on social media to 40,000 followers.
Co-founders Wanda Marsh and John Oliver, as well as Sydney mum Catherine Brennan, explained how the movement was started by concerned parents who believed the Martin Place siege was an act of Islamic terrorism.
But the Facebook group quickly attracted aggressive anti-Islam campaigners and an Australia-wide protest turned violent when groups like the United Patriots Front (UPF) showed support.
The show on Sunday night was billed as an in-depth look at how the group began and its founders who claim to be ordinary Australians.
'I can't let my kids grow up in a country where kids are getting murdered in the streets. It's just not Australian,' Mr Oliver told Sunday Night.
Ms Brennan said: 'I'm just an everyday mum living in the suburbs doing the best job that I can for my family.'
#ReclaimAustralia started trending on social media immediately after the story aired as thousands showed support for the group's views, while others criticised Channel Seven for giving them publicity.
A viewer poll asking whether Reclaim Australia represents Australian values was sitting at 78 - 22 in support of the group before changing to 37 - 63.
'#ReclaimAustralia I will say this once how many more people will have to die before we kick Islam out of this nation,' one user wrote on Twitter in support of the group. Others were quick to condemn it.
'I'm so ashamed/embarrassed that#ReclaimAustralia is trending. I apologise profusely to my Muslim friends for the racist bs that is flying,' one wrote.
'If #ReclaimAustralia represents Aussie values, then Aussie values suck. We truly are a nation of self-righteous, xenophobic hypocrites.
Media bias against Christians
Liberal senator Eric Abetz has unleashed an attack on the Canberra press gallery, arguing it is hostile to conservative, Christian politicians while giving favourable treatment to left-leaning or Muslim MPs.
Senator Abetz said the media had treated him and his conservative colleagues, in particular former prime minister Tony Abbott, “unfairly”. He said the media felt comfortable vilifying politicians like Mr Abbott because of their Christian faith, but would never dare speak the same way about people of other religions.
“Journalists will need to explain why they do this, but it is very clear that if somebody swears their oath on the Koran, this is a wonderful expression of diversity and to be encouraged, whereas if you swear your oath on the Bible then you’re an old fart and not to be taken seriously. Well, excuse me, what’s the difference?” he said. “There is a special negative-sentiment override for those that profess the Christian faith.”
Senator Abetz referenced a description of Mr Abbott as the “mad monk” that often appeared in the media. “Just imagine making fun of somebody else’s religion of a different nature, as in if you are a Muslim, Buddhist or a Hindu,” he said. “There is the double standard that you can basically vilify anyone from the Christian side of the tracks but don’t you dare touch anyone else.”
Senator Abetz, an employment minister under Mr Abbott who was dropped from cabinet by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, said Australian political reporters did not give fair treatment to conservative policies, such as stopping the boats, scrapping the carbon tax and opposing gay marriage, often mocking the conservative point of view.
He indicated that compared with other prime ministers, the media had treated Mr Abbott and John Howard far more harshly.
“The public can make up their own mind as to the coverage and treatment by the media of John Howard and Tony Abbott as prime ministers in comparison to others,” he said.
Members of the Canberra gallery gave more positive coverage to politicians and policies they agreed with, Senator Abetz said, arguing that journalists hardly ever referred to the far Left or the extreme Left when discussing the Greens or the Labor Party, but frequently referred to him, Cory Bernardi and other conservative politicians as being from the far, extreme or religious Right. “I’ve been referred to as from the religious Right a number of times in the media and when I’ve thrown out the challenge, when are you going to report on the godless Left? The answer is never,” he said.
The ABC was one of the worst offenders, he said, providing coverage that was markedly different for the politicians it supported. “I’m terribly loyal to my new leader but you might comment on the flirtatious approach of Leigh Sales when she interviewed Turnbull. Just ask yourself the question, did Leigh Sales ever apologise for interrupting Tony Abbott?” he said. “If you’re a conservative, you’re fair game to be interrupted.”
Senator Abetz said that when ABC host Tony Jones interviewed Joe Hockey on Lateline, he interrupted him 33 times. However, when he had Wayne Swan on the previous evening, there was barely an interruption.
“Then they say Joe Hockey is unable to sell the message. Well, with 33 interruptions in one interview, one might understand why it is difficult to sell the message,” he said. Senator Abetz found the “groupthink” of political journalists had worsened since he entered federal parliament in 1994. And it was to the detriment of democracy, he said.
“If you promote conservative policies, you are immediately demonised and conservative policies are demonised,” he said.
“If you have a Christian, conservative point of view to offer, the media will have this negative-sentiment override which will simply be critical of any views that you may seek to express and that has, regrettably, been the case now for many years in the media gallery.”
The result, Senator Abetz said, was that some politicians were too intimidated to admit they agreed with conservative policies. “Parliamentarians are intimidated from stating their point of view because they know, no matter how sensibly they present it, it will somehow be misrepresented or a negative picture, negative commentary will be presented,” he said.
“I think the groupthink of the media gallery has got worse as the years have gone by and the concept of a diverse range of opinions or interpretations is now lacking.”
When asked if journalists were reflecting the view of their audience, particularly when it came to issues such as gay marriage, Senator Abetz said he did not subscribe to the view that conservative Christian values were unpopular with the public. He said they were unpopular with the media, which was unrepresentative of the Australian people.
“If you go to the footy, you’re a man or woman of the people, but if you go to church, what a strange individual you are. Yet around Australia, as I understand it, a lot more people go to church on a Sunday than go to football on a Saturday.”
Senator Abetz said the press gallery tended to report on issues in the same way. “The genuine diversity of reporting just does not seem to be there as one would have hoped it might,” he said.
Malcolm Turnbull in fresh push to curb union power
The federal government will restart talks to legislate tougher sanctions against aggressive industrial tactics as it responds to a surprise deal to merge the nation’s most militant unions and to reshape a political fight over the economic damage from workplace disruption.
Malcolm Turnbull is redoubling the effort to impose the new curbs on workplace power after last week’s decision to launch the mammoth union merger, as his government appears within reach of a Senate deal to pass stronger laws.
Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said the government would press ahead with reforms to prevent “thuggery, intimidation and stand-over tactics” on building sites.
Industry groups called last night for a swift response to Friday’s agreement to combine the Maritime Union of Australia with the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union to create a united force with more than 100,000 members.
The government believes the merger will heighten the need for the restoration of the Australian Building and Construction Commission and separate controls on registered organisations, helping to sway the Senate to pass laws that were narrowly rejected two months ago.
In a sign of Mr Turnbull’s scope to strike deals in the upper house, key crossbenchers have praised his approach to negotiations, in contrast to that of his predecessor, Tony Abbott, raising the government’s hopes of legislating its agenda.
Parliament resumes today with Mr Turnbull also gaining ground in the electorate, with a Fairfax-Ipsos poll released last night showing that his leadership has given the government a convincing lead over Labor of 53 to 47 per cent on a two-party-preferred basis when applying the preference flows seen at the last election.
Mr Turnbull leads Bill Shorten as preferred prime minister by 67 per cent to 21 per cent, according to last night’s poll, an even bigger gap than the result of 57 per cent to 19 per cent in a Newspoll published in The Australian a week ago.
The union merger has startled industry executives and fuelled government concerns about the power of the enlarged union to disrupt workplaces in sectors ranging from forestry to construction and the waterfront.
Senator Cash said the merger proposal emphasised the need for the restoration of the Australian Building and Construction Commission to prevent projects being “needlessly delayed” and ensure law and order in the sector.
“Unlawful practices in the building and construction industry come at a very high economic cost to Australia and Australians,” she said. “They result in higher infrastructure costs, delayed projects and a culture of fear and intimidation.
“The social and economic importance to Australians of the building and construction industry functioning properly cannot be underestimated.”
While Mr Turnbull has dismissed the idea of “waging war with the unions” on workplace reform, his government has recommitted to Mr Abbott’s policies on the ABCC and registered organisations.
The ABCC bill seeks to restore the commission put in place by the Howard government to stop illegal conduct by unions on building sites. The Senate rejected the bill in August by 34 to 33 votes after the Coalition was unable to get the support of crossbench senators Jacqui Lambie, Ricky Muir and Glenn Lazarus.
The bill to amend the Registered Organisations Act would introduce criminal penalties for officials who abuse their positions, including union leaders as well as industry group executives. The Senate also rejected this bill by 34 to 33 votes.
Both bills are now potential triggers for a double-dissolution election, having been rejected by the upper house twice in the same form, but the government’s strategy is to reopen talks to try to impose the changes if possible.
“The benefits brought by the ABCC while it was in operation cannot be undervalued,” Senator Cash said, adding that the commission led to major economic benefits. “The building and construction industry is far too important to the national economy for us to see this happening.’’
Labor and the union movement disputes that assessment, citing independent experts to argue that the ABCC never achieved the boost to productivity or the cut to costs that the government claimed. When in opposition, Mr Abbott said the restoration of the ABCC could add $6 billion a year to economic growth.
The union merger heightens the clash over the two bills at a time when Labor insists the reforms are driven by a political agenda to discourage union activity and reduce membership.
Miners and gas exporters have been some of the strongest critics of the CFMEU and the MUA, arguing that union tactics have increased the cost of building major facilities and slowed the shipping of supplies to projects in Western Australia, where the MUA is especially strong.
Liberal Democratic Party senator David Leyonhjelm said yesterday that there was a “lot more love in the air” in parliament since Mr Turnbull had replaced Mr Abbott, with eight ministers talking to him in the past week on their reform proposals.
Famous Australian sportsman says traditional Australian frankness is being destroyed by political correctness
He's famously been dubbed the 'King Of Spin' ever since his international cricket Test debut in 1992. And with his success on the pitch and a string of high-profile girlfriends, retired cricketer Shane Warne has learned controversy is a word he's often linked to.
More than two decades since he made his mark, the 46-year-old says Australia is not what it used to be, with the population too reticent to push the boundaries when it comes to national conversation.
'I believe Australia was, not now, but was, the best country in the world,' the father-of-three told Sunday Herald Sun.
Explaining he believes that the country's views towards parenting and education have changed drastically, he also spoke of the dangers of social media, which allows people to speak their mind, but also share negative messages with a devastating affect.
Shane is most concerned, though, about the right to carefree commentary 'the Australian way', without giving too much thought to political correction all the time.
'I just feel that over the last bit of time everyone is being careful of what they say, everyone is really careful of saying the wrong thing or rubbing someone up the wrong way,' he told the publication. 'Australians say it the way it is and that’s the Australian way. 'I think if we lose that we’re losing our DNA of what we are.'
No doubt Shane has had his fair share of controversies over the last two decades, the sportsman choosing to retire from all forms of cricket officially in 2013, after having lost his vice-captaincy many years earlier and also being given a one-year ban in 2003 following a drug test.
Nowadays, when he isn't spending time with his kids, Shane is still out on the pitch commentating on the performance of cricket's next generation.
He also has his own charitably body called The Shane Warne Foundation, which commits to enriching 'the lives of seriously ill and under privileged children and teenagers in Australia'.
Should school prayer be abolished?
Industry minister Christopher Pyne has come under pressure because of remarks he made about school prayer. Pyne’s critics want to see religion banished from Australian schools — and from society in general.
But religion doesn’t lead directly to radicalisation any more than a glass of red wine with dinner leads to rampant alcoholism.
So praying is not the problem. People should be free to speak to their gods and to listen to what they think their gods as saying to them. That’s not the problem.
The real issue is how people respond to what they think those gods want from them.
Far from driving prayer out of schools and away to the shadowy margins, religion needs to become a mainstream subject in the classroom.
But religion needs to be handled in our schools with great care. Many fine Australian Muslims deplore what a few extremists are doing to us in the name of Islam.
They and their families want to enjoy all the benefits of our free and open society, to enjoy our lifestyle, and to splash around in the surf on weekends like everyone else.
And they know this way of life is under threat when the deadly antics of fanatics fuel suspicion and fear. Teenage assassins are a scourge here and now.
So religion in schools can’t just be about prayer. Children also need to learn from responsible teachers about the historical, social and cultural elements of religion.
Our children need to learn about religion; what it is, why different religions appear to teach different things, and why some Aussie teenagers are prepared to kill in the name of their god.
Teaching about religion, teaching about prayer, and teaching about citizenship go hand in hand. Leaders of our churches, synagogues and mosques need to work with our teachers to open the minds of our kids, and to dispel the evil idea that a god commands murder.
Substituting ethics classes for religion is not going to hack this problem. Like it or not, religion is a hot topic in our society.
Pretending it’s not relevant, or dismissing it as meaningless bunk is to miss the point completely. No one is asking you to be a believer too; you are just being asked to open your eyes.