Friday, January 29, 2016

Feminist oppression

Below is a note from a correspondent who works as a counsellor

The husband of a couple that I have not been personally involved with but have been doing some peripheral admin for their case, shot himself last week. His wife is a feminist pushing for her "rights" and "entitlements", together with other feminists working in welfare who advocate for her and bend the rules of entitlement for her. I needn't go into details but it could be classified as fraud and rorting.

He went along with it because he was elderly and tired and could see no other option, until last week when he decided to get out of the situation by suicide.

In some ways it relates to what Mark Latham said about the emasculation of men relating to men's violence, including misplaced or inverted violence against themselves.

Severe feminists do not lose arguments in their marriages; they win, one way or another. They seize control, and that leaves the man in a powerless situation, and if pressurised he may express
his masculinity in what seems the only avenues left to open to him.

I wish I had been working personally with him; his death might not have happened. But we live and learn. In retrospect I can see the ingredients in the admin details and I hope I will recognise their like when I see them again. It is so easy to miss such things though.

David Morrison is another hectoring activist of the year

A nonentity with nothing original to say

What’s wrong with Australia? After 228 years, the only thing we can think of to celebrate this ­nation’s great achievements, and the liberation of its native inhabitants from the Stone Age, is the appointment of a tin soldier who excoriates us for sexism, family ­violence and lack of patriotism.

Does an ever-­upward but otherwise unremarkable military career (until he delivered a speech written for him by a transsexual Twitter troll and fellow AOTY nominee) really fall within the category of “outstanding achievement” ­envisaged by the National Australia Day Council for an Australian of the Year?

Yet it seems David Morrison is now to be turned loose on the country, licensed to lecture and hector all and sundry for their failure to conform to his barrack-­room discipline on social stan­dards. As a lieutenant-general, Morrison might have passed ­unnoticed onto the retired list but for his 2013 outburst in a video clip applauded by the usual coterie of feminists, left-wing ideologues and the campaigning broad­casters of the ABC.

What we don’t hear often are the voices saying that Morrison demoralised the army with his “feminisation” of the service, which scandalously included taxpayer-­funded sex change operations. Or that his concerns about gender ­bashing came very late in his career. The enthusiasm for his YouTube clip effectively snuffed out any analysis of the Morrison style: the fierce, almost jihadist ­fanaticism in his eyes, the tigh­tened facial muscles, what might be taken to be a self-righteous vindictiveness lurking in his delivery.

Those who puzzled as to why the Chief of Army needed to deal so publicly with an internal disciplinary matter involving spotty cadets and a hidden video camera might just have glimpsed the ­unleashing of a political ambition fettered for four decades by military discipline.

On Monday night, as the rain came down in Canberra, Morrison did it again, let it all out.

Since when is the Australian of the Year, an unelected citizen, ­empowered to undertake a self-appointed role as a social and political activist? Listen: “Too many Australians are denied the opportunity to reach their potential. It happens because of their gender, the god they believe in, because of their racial heritage, because they’re not able-bodied, because of their sexual orientation.”

Diversity and equality are to be his watch­words. And with a flat criticism of the alleged but easily explainable 17.8 per cent “gender wage gap”, he signalled an intemperate foray into the equal­ pay issue. That should earn him little thanks from the government.

Then there was his declaration of support for the republic movement, with this fatuous contribution: “It is time at least to revisit the question so we can stand both free and fully independent among the community of nations.”

At least he stopped short of calling Australia a pariah state.

Throughout its history, the Australian of the Year award has been controversial. Since 1979 it has zig­zagged, from recognising inter­national achievement, to eminent Australians, to popular sportsmen and entertainers, then to promotion of multiculturalism and reconciliation, more recently to what might be termed social ­reconstruction.

In 2010, Professor Patrick McGorry’s campaign for youth mental health reform; Simon McKeon, in 2011, promoted World Vision, ending global poverty and MS research. In 2013, Ita Buttrose spent an active year on behalf of Alzheimer’s victims, arthritis, breast cancer and HIV/AIDS. Two years ago, 2014 saw Aboriginal footballer Adam Goodes kick along indigenous issues, but ultimately it ended with an own goal.

Who decides the tone and character of the award? Nomi­nally, it falls to the National Australia Day Council board, which constitutes the judging panel. Since 1990, the board chairmen have been: John Newcombe, Phillip Adams, Kevan Gosper, Lisa Curry Kenny, Adam Gilchrist, and now Ben Roberts -Smith.

The present board of the council is widely drawn, but ­hardly outstanding: Ms Robbie Sefton, Tamworth, director of a rural public relations company; Ms Janet Whiting, Melbourne lawyer, president of the National Gallery of Victoria; Professor Samina Yasmeen, Centre for Muslim States and Societies, University of WA; Ms Elizabeth Kelly, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet; Jason Glanville, ­Wiradjuri member; Norman Schueler, company director, SA, vice president of the Council of Australian Jewry; and Dr Susan Alberti, business­woman, Susan Alberti Medical Research Foundation.

The board is constrained by the nominations received from the states, and it seems that these have been determined by interests with specific agendas.

There were 34 nominations for the 2016 AOTY, including seven doctors or medical specialists,;six humanitarians, five human rights activists/lawyers, four artists/journa­list (Peter Greste)/actors, three ­diver­sity/equality people,;three Aborigines, one scientist, and one cul­­tural leader (Brendan Nelson of the Australian War Memorial). These largely smack of people out to change the world, not achievers to be recognised for their contribution to Australia. No industrialist, no business leader, no inventor or innovator, nobody from the rural communities.

The time has come to ask: Who is skewing this game? Is government using the appointment to do some of its social reforming on the sly? The award has always been seen as a non-event by the vast bulk of the population, interesting only when it generated controversy. It has abandoned the achiever and role model categories. Now it’s in danger of crippling itself in political activism.

Already there are signs Morrison’s campaign speeches on diversity and equality will drip nicely into the maudlin puddle of the elite’s loathing for all things they associate with Australians of less worth and intellect than themselves. Morrison will have the microphone and podium for the next 12 months. Best ignore him.


Why the new push for an Australian republic is doomed to fail

What passes for a new debate about a republic is a shallow fraud built on zero substance.  No clarity on what exactly the reformers want and why

Paul Sheehan

I have no problems with Australia becoming a republic. I also think this is the majority view. I do have problems with middlebrow megaphones.

The current debate, if you could call it that, about a republic is a fraud. Australia is not going to become a republic while self-appointed Dumb and Dumber are trying to dominate the process.

Let's look at the first attempt: Dumb. The agitation for a referendum began a quarter of a century ago in 1991, after it became Labor policy. Within months the Australian Republican Movement was set up. It made its first mistake by appointing the novelist Tom Keneally as its first head. Keneally is a delightful man but his appointment introduced a subtext of Irish versus English into the argument, which would be exacerbated later by the inevitable acidity of Paul Keating.

What followed was a cascade of errors for the republic case. There was much misguided contempt for existing constitutional arrangements. There was gratuitous contempt for the British royal family. After Prime Minister John Howard established a Constitutional Convention, held in 1998, the republican model that emerged was a doomed pastiche.

The referendum was an abject defeat, despite the support of former prime ministers Keating, Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser and unceasing cheerleading by the media.

When the people voted, the republic case was smashed. It lost in every state. It lost the national vote by a landslide, 55 per cent to 45 per cent.

Now comes a sequel, which brings us to Dumber.

The logic, as far as I can tell, is that Australia now has a Prime Minister who championed the republic cause during the 1999 referendum as head of the Australian Republican Movement. Therefore, one plus one equals two.

Malcolm Turnbull, however, has never been accused of being dumb, let alone dumber.

He has become much more politically adroit than he was 18 years ago. As such, he is keeping at arms' length from the Dumber sequel. As he said on Australia Day: "Frankly, there was more [republican] momentum in the late '90s than there is now."

The Prime Minister also pointed out that there is already a pre-existing log of national matters in the pipeline. First is a plebiscite on same-sex marriage. Then there is constitutional recognition of the Indigenous people.

The recognition process has become so mired that it has gone through four prime ministers and shows no prospect of even getting to the starting gate, let alone passing at a referendum.

The detail is difficult. It is make-or-break.

This time around, the Labor national leader lending his name to the republic push is Bill Shorten. He wants to appear more decisive and progressive than Turnbull on the issue. But Shorten is, politically, a dead man walking. His opportunism here is also naked. Turnbull, not Shorten, has done the heavy lifting for a republic.

The Dumber version, learning nothing, is again indulging in celebrity and mockery. Queen Elizabeth II is irrelevant to the process. She should be left out of it. So, too, is Prince Charles.

At the centre of the Dumber sequel is the insulting recycled claim that Australia is an insecure nation for having a foreigner as head of state and will not be a whole democracy until the British monarch is removed from the constitution. I wish people would stop projecting their own insecurities onto the nation.

It has long been an iron convention of Australian politics that the head of state, in practice, is the Governor-General. For more than 50 years, only Australians have served as Governor-General, and that, too, has become an iron convention.

Conventions are not expendable. They are core to the operation of the Constitution. The central role of political parties, for example, is based on conventions, not the Constitution.

Far from suffering from democratic cringe, Australia is one of the world's oldest, most stable and adaptable democracies. That democratic evolution is now almost 200 years old. The first Parliament in Australia, the NSW Legislative Assembly, can trace its roots back to 1823. Few nations have democratic continuity longer than this.

Crucially, the Dumber republic push does not even have a model for constitutional change, or a process for creating a model. Without a model, there is nothing.

Instead, an asinine idea is being floated that there should be some vote on a republic without doing any of the hard stuff. Do the soft stuff first and leave the hard stuff for later. This idea would consign Australia to a constitutional limbo, with no certainty that a model acceptable to the people would be formulated and pass at a referendum.

The hard stuff, the model, is everything. The talk is cheap.


A claim by a US presidential hopeful about Australia's gun laws has been questioned by a US newspaper

It is true that sex crimes have increased since the gun bans but the increase was small and not sudden so a cause-effect relationship may not be there

US presidential hopeful Ted Cruz's claim sexual assaults on women in Australia went up significantly after strict gun laws were introduced has been challenged by a Washington Post analysis.

Senator Cruz said on high-profile American radio host Hugh Hewitt's show on January 12 Australia's post-Port Arthur massacre gun legislation meant women were unable to defend themselves from being raped.

The Washington Post's Fact Checker column examined Senator Cruz's comment and on Monday rated it a "whopper" of a factual error, the highest rating on its "Pinocchio Test".

"And as you know, Hugh, after Australia did that [gun buyback program], the rate of sexual assaults, the rate of rapes, went up significantly, because women were unable to defend themselves," Mr Cruz told the radio host.

"There's nothing that criminals or terrorists like more than unarmed victims."

Conservative candidate Senator Cruz is Donald Trump's biggest rival for the Republican presidential nomination.

The gun debate has become a hot button issue in the presidential race, with Republican candidates like Senator Cruz and the National Rifle Association attacking President Barack Obama and Democrat hopeful Hillary Clinton's references to Australia's firearm laws.

The Washington Post analysis found no significant spike or drop but a gradual increase in sexual assault rates over the decade after the 1996 changes in Australia.

The increase was likely affected by a rise in the reporting of sexual assaults and there wasn't prevalent use of handguns for self-defence before 1996, as Senator Cruz suggested, the newspaper concluded.

"The rates didn't go up 'significantly' after the buyback and there's no evidence changes to gun laws in Australia affected sexual assault rates or jeopardised the ability of women to protect themselves," the Washington Post told readers.

The newspaper spoke to Samara McPhedran, senior research fellow at Australia's Griffith University and chair of the International Coalition of Women in Shooting and Hunting.

The Post also examined research by the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, Australian Institute of Criminology, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the Law Library of Congress, Christine Neill, economics professor at Canada's Wilfrid Laurier University and Andrew Leigh, an Australian MP and former Australian National University economics professor.

The newspaper also concluded given gun culture in Australia and the US is not comparable, including carrying concealed guns and the ability to carry firearms for self-defence, "politicians should refrain from attributing good or bad changes in Australian crime rates to the buyback program or to the legislative package".

"We also warn politicians on both sides of the gun debate about making broad assertions about Australia to justify policy arguments for the United States," the Post concluded.


Criminal prosecutions against South Australian police are at a record high

CRIMINAL prosecutions against police are at a record high and the number of complaints and breaches of code of conduct has risen 30 per cent over the past year.

SA Police annual reports show the number of sworn officers or public servants within the department facing criminal prosecutions has risen from seven in 2001-02 to 31 in 2014-15.

The 2014-15 annual report also shows complaints against police, breaches of the code of conduct and criminal offences prosecuted against employees rose from 69 in 2013-14 to 90 in 2014-15.

Criminal cases range from theft offences to more serious cases, including suspended SA Police officer Hayley May Greenwood who was charged after an Independent Commissioner Against Corruption investigation with abuse of public office, drug trafficking and aggravated theft.

Eight SA Police officers from the Sturt Local Service Area were arrested in October 2014 and charged with theft offences, also following an ICAC investigation.

Acting Assistant Commissioner Human Resource Service John Bruhn said that higher expectations of officers and a growing workforce could be contributing factors to the spike in criminal prosecutions and breaches of the code.  “There are variations in statistics over many years — you mention from 2002 where complaints against police appeared low compared to higher now,” he said.

“This may range from increased levels of reporting, fluctuations in the workforce, broader expectations and other vagaries.

“Policing is one of the most highly accountable professions — even off duty officers must maintain demanding standards of integrity and conduct. “Any breaches have always and will continue to be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted as required.”

The rise in numbers of prosecutions and complaints against police follows the introduction of the South Australian Independent Commission Against Corruption in 2013, which The Advertiser revealed spent $45,420 on six telecommunications intercept warrants during probes for bribery and corruption offences in the first financial year of operation.

Police Minister Tony Piccolo said South Australia has one of the best police forces in the country. “In the last financial year, there was a drop in the total amount of complaints received and SAPOL enjoys a ranking higher than the national average for general satisfaction from the public,” he said.

“Disciplinary matters are an issue for the commissioner of the day ... if any member of the community acts in an inappropriate way, they will face appropriate consequences and this does not exclude police officers.”


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