Sunday, April 10, 2016
Australian Liberty Alliance, the anti-Islam, Donald Trump-style party, claims major growth
An Australian political party which advocates Donald Trump's idea of banning Muslim immigration says its membership has quadrupled in size since its launch with disaffected National and Liberal party members comprising the bulk of those joining.
The Australian Liberty Alliance (ALA) which was launched in secret in Perth last year by the far-right and anti-immigration Dutch MP Geert Wilders puts its growth down to social media given it has received virtually no mainstream news coverage and claims it had its request to advertise nationally in Rupert Murdoch's News Corp newspapers knocked back.
Though neither the Liberals nor Labor consider the party a serious threat, Liberal MPs confirmed the party was stealing "rank and file" members and said there had been a rise in communications from disaffected supporters telling them they were ditching the Coalition for the ALA, following last year's leadership change and the government's subsequent poor performance.
The ALA's Senate Candidate in New South Wales, Kirralie Smith, told Fairfax Media their meetings were attracting up to 300 followers in metropolitan areas and between 50-100 in the regions.
"We just get so many Liberal and National party supporters who were paid up members who have quit that party and joined us, they are very vocal in telling us," she said.
Queensland Liberal National George Christensen confirmed the ALA was "definitely taking rank and file LNP supporters" but doubted it would translate into enough support for the party to win a senate spot. He said a recent ALA meeting held in Mackay and advertised only on Facebook attracted 50 people. By comparison a meeting he advertised through direct mail attracted 200 attendees. "Without any direct communication, to attract 50 people from a single Facebook message, that's pretty good," he said.
Other Liberals who did not want to be named said they were increasingly on the receiving end of emails and social media messages from angry supporters telling them they would be abandoning the Government at the next election for the ALA.
Ms Smith could not provide exact membership figures for the party but said they were in the several thousands having increased four-fold since their launch last year. A party in Australia needs 500 members to be registered.
Ms Smith hit out at News Corp, which has run several paid advertisements for the party in two of its newspapers, for falling victim to the "PC [politically correct] beast" when it refused to run ads for their upcoming meetings in other papers. "We're not too far extreme, they're far too extreme, their reasoning was that it didn't fit their brand," she said. A spokesman for News Corp declined to comment.
In its manifesto, the ALA calls for a 10-year ban on granting residency visas to anyone from an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member country which includes Afghanistan, Albania, Bangladesh, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Indonesia, Morocco and Iraq. The only exception it would make would be for persecuted non-Muslim minorities living in those countries.
Ms Smith said the party had advocated banning Muslims migrating to Australia before the Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump suggested the United States could shut its borders to Muslims, following the US San Bernadino shooting.
"I think Donald Trump stole our ideas," Ms Smith said jokingly.
When asked if the ALA realised would prevent doctors, entrepreneurs and other skilled migrants from calling Australia home, Ms Smith said the measures to deal with the threat of Islamist terrorism "had to start somewhere".
"The reality the threat's greater than the benefit [of migration] at the moment," she said. "I won't back down or apologise for wanting to confront an ideology," she added.
The ALA would also seek to impose restrictions on mosques. The Australian constitution expressly prohibits the Commonwealth from enacting laws which prohibit the free exercise of any religion.
"The fact is that being opposed to a mosque does not make you a racist, mosques are not a race," she said in a video posted on Facebook. Ms Smith said the post had reached half a million people and had been viewed 173 thousand times and said 85 to 90 per cent of the comments were supportive.
Mr Christensen is a strident critic of radical Islam and has advocated banning the burqa. He said the ALA's policy of banning all Muslim migration was a step too far for him but said that suppressing conversations about Islam in the community would only foster support for the ALA.
ALA not a serious threat
The ALA is fielding five Senate candidates who advocate smaller government, merging and radically stripping back the ABC and SBS but they are best known for their anti-Islamic views. Neither Labor nor Liberal considers them a serious threat or chance at gaining a Senate spot.
Labor MP Stephen Jones identified Tasmanian independent and ex-Palmer Senator Jacqui Lambie was a more serious threat when it came to a non-PC candidate as she drew blue-collar voters as well as conservatives.
"People like authenticity in a politician. They hear everyone else spin and look like a cardboard cutout, so when they see someone who looks like them and speaks like them they like it," Mr Jones said.
Several Government MPs said the fallout from the leadership spill combined with the disillusionment in mainstream politicians and the media meant there was fertile ground for a more credible and better organised splinter party to succeed.
Deposed Prime Minister Tony Abbott is amongst those who have urged for disappointed Liberals to remain "in the tent" rather than flirt with fringe-parties.
Shortly after his removal as leader, he urged anyone thinking of forming a micro-party to compete with the Liberals to abandon the idea warning such a move would damage the Coalition.
"I'd say please don't, please don't. The Liberal Party doesn't have enough members as it stands, we can't afford to lose good members. I can understand why people are dismayed at the fact we did what we said we'd never do."
"The impact of the One Nation movement was to bring the Howard government perilously close to defeat in 1998," he said.
"The last thing we need is another conservative party, particularly a rogue conservative party that is raging against the world. That's the last thing we need."
Brisbane parents vent over menu for sick kids
Public hospital food is traditionally poor but there is nothing wrong with meat pies or potato products
PARENTS are furious their sick children are being served party pies and potato gem meals at Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital.
But Health Minister Cameron Dick says he stands by the hospital menu, which meets state and national nutrition standards.
Parents worried about the lack of nutrients in processed items also report that chips, gems or wedges are served daily with many inpatient meals.
David Rosengren, chairman of the Queensland Clinical Senate, which advises the Department of Health and Minister for Health, believes that hospitals should lead the way when it comes to eating well.
"Unless there is a medical justification from a nutritional point of view for serving these kind of meals, then hospitals need to set a better example," Mr Rosengren said.
"However, it is important to understand that paediatric care can be a challenge. "Undernourishment is one of the biggest problems hospitals face and high-calorie meals are often necessary.
"It can be a double-edged sword. While the Clinical Senate is working hard to break the cycle of bad nutrition, hospital staff need to make sure children are eating."
A standard party pie has about 36 per cent fat, 52 per cent carbs, 12 per cent protein and can be high in sodium and preservatives.
A Queensland mum, who did not want to be named, told The Courier-Mail: "The meals are often unhealthy and serving sizes small. "Some kind of chips, gems or wedges are usually on the plate."
Dr Robyn Littlewood, director of Dietetics and Food Services at Children’s Health Queensland, said items such as hot chips, wedges or pies were included on the menu as they were child-friendly and also because sometimes that’s all a sick or injured child feels like eating.
"These items are also often the appropriate sources of protein and energy when patients are recovering from illness," Dr Littlewood said. "Other meals that are offered to patients include roasts, pasta dishes, salads and fruit."
Labor party lies on schools
Labor’s letter of lies to schools across the country shows that Bill Shorten is wilfully ignoring facts in order to scare students, parents and educators. It is nothing short of a dishonest smear campaign.
"Mr Turnbull’s policy of cutting $30 billion from schools…" - Bill Shorten and Kate Ellis, Letter to schools, 6/4/16
FACT: There are no cuts. It is an utter lie to suggest that the Turnbull Government’s funding is doing anything but increasing each and every year, off of a record base, meaning there is no reason schools won’t be able to continue to support teachers and existing initiatives, such as specialist teachers or additional resources.
"…walking away from public education is one of the worst ideas ever put forward by a prime minister." - Bill Shorten and Kate Ellis, Letter to schools, 6/4/16
FACT: The Turnbull Government is not abandoning schools or public education and has never proposed doing so. We are putting a record $69.4 billion into schools and only ever proposed an alternative means to allow states to grow this by even more, if they wished (which all but WA rejected). This funding will continue to grow year on year into the future and builds on the growth of Commonwealth funding per student for public schools in real terms by 66.1 per cent over the past 10 years.
"Labor has made the difficult decisions on taxation and savings necessary to make sure our plan for schools is fully funded and fully costed over the next decade." - Bill Shorten and Kate Ellis, Letter to schools, 6/4/16
FACT: Labor’s education policy funding outlook is built on a ‘tax and spend’ approach and economic fantasy. Even ABC’s Fact Check unit sees it as "rose-coloured" at best.
"[The Turnbull Government is] not providing any certainty about schools funding." - Bill Shorten, Press Conference, 6/4/16
FACT: The Turnbull Government’s growing funding is locked in and clearly outlined in budget papers. The only people who seem not to understand that are the Labor Party and Bill Shorten. Schools, parents and students can be confident that the Turnbull Government’s record investment in education is only going to increase.
"What we're doing is Budget repair that's fair." - Bill Shorten, Press Conference, 6/4/16
FACT: What Labor is proposing is ‘Budget repair’ that adds to their $51.3 billion black hole at a time when the budget is already $36 billion in deficit. It’s not repair, it’s vandalism. Labor’s plans will only be paid for by higher taxes or greater debt, leaving fewer jobs and opportunities for students when they finish school.
"Well I’ll tell you what reform for…education funding looks like - needs-based funding in schools." - Bill Shorten, Press Conference, 6/4/16
FACT: Labor aren’t proposing reform. They’re just re-announcing unaffordable levels of spending with no reforms to how it is used. Needs-based funding is built into our existing and future funding models, ensuring students with higher needs receive more funding.
The fear being spread by Labor and the unions about schools funding detracts from the real conversation we need to be having. While funding matters, what you do with it matters even more. Evidence tells us to focus on the quality of teachers and teaching; the teaching of reading and maths; and the engagement of parents. That's exactly what the Turnbull Government is doing.
Press release from Sen. Birmingham
Lambie asks PM to probe navy abuse claims
Senator Jacqui Lambie wants Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to investigate claims the navy failed to take action over an alleged rape of a junior sailor by a higher ranked sailor.
Alleged victim, former sailor Trent Bourne, says his attempts to report the abuse through the chain of command were fobbed off and he has letters, emails and medical notes to support his claims.
"I am utterly appalled that his allegations of sexual abuse have not been taken seriously or dealt with accordingly," Senator Lambie said in a letter to the PM, as well as the defence and veterans' affairs ministers.
"This occurred in 2012 and it still has not been resolved."
The latest allegations arise with the Australian Defence Force (ADF) having battled a culture of abuse in its ranks for several years.
Senator Lambie met with the Prime Minister in February over accusations the ADF had ignored the abuse, including sexual assault, of an SAS trooper and former Army officer.
A letter from former Deputy Chief of Navy Michael Julian van Balen sent on March 28, 2014 to Mr Bourne confirms former Chief of Defence Force David Hurley was made aware in 2013 of the alleged attack.
Emails between Mr Bourne and the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force (IGADF) - which independently monitors the military justice system - confirm an investigation was launched in January, 2016 into the alleged attack and claims the ADF failed to act.
Mr Bourne said the alleged attack took place in late January 2012 when he was invited to the off-base apartment of the senior sailor after a group meeting which they both attended.
"He went to the bathroom, came out with no shirt on and grabbed me and pushed me with force into the bedroom," he said of the alleged rape.
A spokesperson for the ADF said all allegations of inappropriate or potentially criminal behaviour by Defence personnel were taken very seriously.
"Primary responsibility for the investigation of criminal allegations does, however, lie with the civilian police even in cases involving ADF personnel," the defence spokesperson said.