Sunday, November 06, 2016
Australia's fall from Lucky Country to Cruel Country (?)
Below is a sob story from a Leftist writer in a Leftist newspaper. So, as usual, the important information is what she leaves out. These men were NOT refugees. They had refuge as soon as they arrived in Pakistan. They are illegal immigrants determined to force themselves on us to grab the economic benefits that Australians have created for themselves. They could return to Pakistan at any time but they are fed and housed for nothing so why should they do that?
They were young men – call them Liam and Ben – best mates, far from home, full of chutzpah and crazy self-belief. They'd been through a lot together and landed on this idyllic-looking tropical island. One day they were swimming near a waterfall when, stupidly, Liam drowned. He was a poor swimmer, got stuck under a log, drowned.
This terrible accident was just the start. Liam, a bit older than the others, had a wife and child at home. His grieving friends wanted to preserve his body against the tropical heat, pay their respects and fly him home to his family, but they had no money. The ubiquitous uniformed black shirts, agents of the foreign power that controlled the island, were impatient with this prayer and repatriation nonsense and insisted they bury the body and be done. But the young men were determined. Selling their few possessions – phones, watches, cigarettes – they raised enough for body-preserving chemicals, then persuaded their own government to fly Liam home.
It sounds like a story of middle-class white kids caught in some heartless tin-pot dictatorship. In fact the waterfall is on Manus Island. The young men's real names are Kamil and Zubair. Pashto-speaking Muslims driven out by the Taliban, they became best friends despite being on opposite sides of the Sunni-Shiite divide.
Both were "processed" – in that manufacturing terminology we use to dehumanise – and found to be genuine refugees, fleeing for their lives. Yet our very own black shirts, the much-hated Australian Border Force, stood and watched their grief, refusing help or even sympathy. The government that finally flew the body home was the one the boys had implicitly rejected: Pakistan.
Of course, there's worse brutality, especially in these camps. There's rape, bullying, humiliation, emotional, physical abuse and, most egregious of all, the deliberate erasure of hope.
Any remaining doubt about whether this is actually deliberate – whether we're just somehow unable to protect people from abuse, or resettle them without years of limbo – was removed, along with any remaining hope, by Malcolm Turnbull's latest "they will never set foot in this country" atrocity. Never? We take in war criminals but ban forever those who have done nothing but need our help.
Zubair, now 23, is a former student of business and IT. Unthinkingly, I ask what he's been doing. "Nothing," he says. What's the point? He has no future. His English is good and his quiet despair makes me want to weep. But what I really cannot get past is how comfortable Australia has become with the routine casualisation of cruelty.
This is not our self-image. No way. We consider ourselves the good guys. Fair, open, warm, much like the Americans after WWII. But as Michael Leunig notes, "we are a people who are quite able to declare things about ourselves which are not true ... This is our strength, and has made our nation very stupid, dysfunctional and unhappy – but so what? We're the greatest people in the world."
The Australian Border Force's Facebook page depicts them as all-round decent fellows, busting drug rings and rescuing sea turtles caught in ghost nets. To their human bycatch, however, trapped in the Australian government's harsh exemplary punishment policies, they offer only further cruelty.
For this is meant as punishment. It's couched – dammit, it's SOLD – as a deterrent, like hanging the carcasses of sheep-mauling dingoes on the fence for the others to see.
But there's a critical error here, quite apart from the misconceived morality: a huge error in logic. For it's not wrongdoers we're punishing, as a deterrent to others. We're punishing their innocent victims. We're decorating the fence not with dingoes, but with brutalised lambs. Talk about victim blaming.
So it's wrong in logic. It's morally wrong, trashing people's lives for political effect. It's wrong in law – directly contravening our UN obligations to care for people who seek our help, process them expeditiously and resettle any found to be genuine refugees. (That is, three-quarters of the 800-odd remaining on Manus and 400-odd on Nauru). It's also vastly expensive – $10 billion so far.
But what of the psychology? What does it mean for us, to us, to perpetrate such cruelty?
Zubair's back-story is pretty standard. He was a middle-class kid of wealthy business owners in the pretty Kurram Valley, near Pakistan's troubled border with Afghanistan. Zubair was studying in Peshawar. Then the Taliban came. Targeting the family for extortion and demanded $30,000. The family didn't have it. Zubair was badly beaten and the family forced to flee, leaving everything.
They moved from city to city but the Taliban kept finding them and demanding Zubair, the eldest son, as a recruit. Zubair escaped on foot through jungles and countries: his family, including seven sisters and four brothers, one of whom has cancer, are still on the move, still prey. Zubair speaks to them occasionally, but doesn't know when or if he'll see them again.
This story is verified; there is no threat. They're not queue-jumpers. There is no queue for people fleeing death. In Australia they'd be assiduous nation-builders. Yet Turnbull, channelling Trump, insists that our "generous humanitarian program" depends on walling the continent with what amounts to a reinvigorated White Australia Policy.
I'm reminded of an elderly white couple I met in Jo'burg. Big supporters of black rule but understandably fearful of violence, they'd bought into a walled community, but found themselves increasingly terrified. The safer, the scareder. Finally they thought bugger it and bought a house in the street "like everyone else". Now they don't even lock their doors.
Protectionism makes us fearful, fear makes us cruel, cruelty rebounds. You can see on Malcolm's face what his Hanson-pleasing is costing him. He looks more like Trump every day. (I swear his nose is growing). More chilling still is that he's doing it, in the end, for us.
In Australia's fall from Lucky Country to Cruel Country, 10 billion will count as nothing. What this craven, mean-spirited, power-seeking fear-based fortress-Australia cruelty will cost us, if we let it, is our souls.
Those charming boat people again
Thank you Kevin Rudd for this person's presence in Australia
A girl who was allegedly held captive by an asylum seeker for a month in his Sydney home has been found after she was seen running barefoot for her life down a Western Sydney street.
The 15-year-old foster-home girl was allegedly kept as a hostage in a Blacktown home, in Sydney's west, for four weeks before she was seen by police being chased down a nearby street at 1.30am on Thursday.
An asylum seeker who came to Australia illegally by boat in 2013 is alleged to have been her captor, The Daily Telegraph reports.
Bangladeshi national Rashadul Islam, 29, was reportedly seen chasing the 15-year-old girl down the busy road before attempting to grab her and drag her away before police intervened.
Neighbour Amarjeet Singh told the Daily Telegraph the girl 'seemed scared and was asking police to help her' as she ran down the street.
'Across the road was a man in his late 20s talking to police and shouting at the girl,' Amarjeet said.
When police saw the horrific scene unfold, the girl and her alleged captor were both taken back to Blacktown Police Station.
The girl was later taken to The Children's Hospital at Westmead for medical assessment, and was released a short time later.
She told police she had been sexually assaulted by Islam and kept against her will in the closed up house for four weeks.
The owner of the Blacktown house, Joe Chen, said Islam told him the 15-year-old girl was his girlfriend. 'He said she was a girlfriend. (I) saw them together making dinner … shopping together, always together,' Mr Chen told The Saturday Telegraph.
The home owner said he rented the room to Islam two months ago and noticed the girl when she started living there three weeks ago. Mr Chen also revealed Islam had a lock on his bedroom door.
The 15-year-old girl was reported missing by the foster home facility where she lived immediately after she went missing in October.
She reportedly met Islam in a chance encounter after leaving the group foster home in Sydney's west last month.
The Saturday Telegraph reported Islam arrived illegally by boat on March 24, 2013.
He landed in waters off Christmas Island and was held in a Phosphate Hill detention centre for two months.
He was then flown to Australia on May 15, 2013 where he was granted a bridging visa under the Rudd government.
A crime scene was established at the address where police seized a number of items that will undergo forensic examination.
Islam, 29, has been charged with aggravated sexual assault and common assault and has been refused bail.
Detectives from the State Crime Command's Child Abuse Squad are investigating the matter and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection has been notified regarding the man's arrest.
A Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) spokesperson said the department was 'deeply saddened' by the alleged crime but would not comment any further.
Queensland University of Technology case thrown out as 18C inquiry looms
A Brisbane judge has thrown out a controversial case of alleged racial vilification at the Queensland University of Technology, as an inquiry into Australia's race hate laws looks set to be announced next week.
The QUT ruling, which has emboldened Coalition MPs pushing for changes to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, comes as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull gave his clearest signal yet on Friday that an inquiry will be held into the provision and freedom of speech.
Federal Circuit Court judge Michael Jarrett on Friday dismissed a case against three QUT students embroiled in controversy over Facebook comments made in the wake of an incident in a computer lab reserved for Indigenous students.
The case had not yet proceeded to a full hearing, but Judge Jarrett said it had no reasonable prospect of success.
Opponents of section 18C – which makes it unlawful to "offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate" a person or group on the grounds of race – believe the case exemplifies why the law should be amended or repealed.
Cindy Prior, an Indigenous staff member at QUT, lodged a complaint under section 18C after student Alex Wood posted on Facebook in 2013: "Just got kicked out of the unsigned Indigenous computer room. QUT is stopping segregation with segregation."
Another student, Jackson Powell, added the comment: "I wonder where the white supremacist lab is." A third man, Calum Thwaites, was accused of writing "ITT N-----s", a claim he vehemently denied.
Ms Prior accused the trio of racial vilification and sued for $250,000 for damages, lost wages and future economic losses. The case advanced from the Australian Human Rights Commission to the Federal Circuit Court in 2015.
Criminal sanctions do not apply for breaches of section 18C, but the court can make orders including awarding compensation.
In a written judgment, Judge Jarrett said the comments by Mr Wood and Mr Powell were in the category of "mere slights" and not "sufficiently profound or serious" to attract the operation of section 18C.
The comments were not made because of Ms Prior's race and were not reasonably likely to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate Indigenous people, he said.
As to the post allegedly made by Mr Thwaites, Judge Jarrett said there was "no evidence" to contest his claim that he did not make the comment. He dismissed the claim against all three students.
All but one Coalition Senate backbencher has publicly backed changing Section 18C, and the move also enjoys support in lower house. A change proposed would be for the words "insult" and "offend" to be removed from the act.
In Hobart, Mr Turnbull said his government was "considering" the proposal for an inquiry and that "nobody wants to encourage or condone hate speech of any kind".
However, the right balance must be struck between protections from hate speech and people's right to free speech.
"In this area, many people feel that the provisions of 18C oppose unreasonable restraints on free speech, or impose restraints on free speech over and above what is needed to prevent hate speech," he said.
"Parliamentary committees are a good way to examine issues of this kind because, of course, everybody with an interest can come and make a submission, can come and put their view, and the various arguments pro and con can be ventilated".
One Nation leader Pauline Hanson said on Friday before the judgment that "regardless of the court's decision today ... it has now become clear that there needs to be a parliamentary enquiry [sic] into 18C".
Nick Xenophon Team party leader Nick Xenophon has indicated concern about the delays in cases such as the QUT case, and could back an inquiry, but he continues to support strong protections from hate speech.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten criticised the Prime Minister for "looking at horse-trading away protections against hate speech".
"Old Malcolm would never have contemplated this," Mr Shorten said. "Every time the bullies on the backbench ask for something, Malcolm Turnbull gives it to them. They can sense his weakness and they will keep exploiting it."
Fairfax Media has been told by senior government sources the 18C inquiry week would probably be held by Parliament's human rights committee, though hearings may not get under way until next year.
Liberal senator Dean Smith first called for an 18C inquiry as the first step towards breaking the impasse over changing the act and negotiations are well advanced with the Senate crossbenchers over the terms of reference for the inquiry.
Liberal Democratic senator David Leyonhjelm, who has previously called for the repeal of 18C, told Fairfax Media he had discussed the inquiry with Mr Turnbull during a Thursday meeting and that the Prime Minister "is sympathetic to it ... I won't be surprised if it is announced next week".
Liberal MP Tim Wilson, a vocal critic of 18C and advocate for change, said the the QUT case shone "another bright light on 18C's dark nature".
"By continuing to oppose any change, Labor is ignoring reality and would rather Australians shut up than speak up," he said. "Students should never be hauled through the courts because they want to question university policy or stand up against segregation.
"The case is not the problem – the law is. This case was a disgrace from day one. Costs have been incurred, reputations tarnished and public money wasted. In its current form, 18C is a badly written law that has no place in a liberal democracy."
"The current law and process vilifies people for having opinions. Reform is overdue to end the culture of censorship 18C is breeding."
Liberal MP Andrew Hastie said after the judgment was handed down: "Sanity has prevailed; this should never have gotten to this point.
"The process has been the punishment – the anxiety, financial cost and personal cost to the three students involved can't be measured and that why we need to amend this act."
Conservative senator Eric Abetz said the ruling was good news but "irrespective of the outcome, the students will be the losers" and will forever be unfairly associated with the matter in Google searches.
"Sure, they have won but they have had their name trashed for three years by the Human Rights Commission. They've had uncertainty, denial of natural justice, the full force of the commission against them," he said.
He said the legislation should be amended urgently to stop the Human Rights Commission's "frolics" but welcomed the suggestion of a parliamentary inquiry and the Prime Minister's apparent openness to it.
Liberal senator James Paterson said: "Defenders of the law will no doubt argue that the dismissal of the case proves there is no need to change 18C."
"This shows callous disregard for the welfare of three innocent students whose lives have been damaged by a tortuous three-and-a-half year case," he said.He said an inquiry was "the best path forward" to achieve real and viable change.
Senator Leyonhjelm said that, at this stage, he would not back the government's industrial relations bills and that discussion about 18C had taken place in that context.
He said an inquiry was the way to move things forward and "I would support it".
Lawyer criticises Gillian Triggs as 18C university case thrown out
The lawyer for one of the Queensland university students who has escaped a lawsuit for allegedly posting racist comments on Facebook has lashed Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs.
Alex Wood, Calum Thwaites and Jackson Powell were being sued by Cindy Prior, an Indigenous administration officer, under the Racial Discrimination Act's controversial section 18C.
The case was thrown out by Brisbane's Federal Court Judge Michael Jarrett on Friday after he found Ms Prior did not have reasonable prospects of successfully bringing a case against the trio.
Outside court, Mr Thwaites' lawyer Tony Morris QC slammed Ms Triggs for allowing the case to get so far.
Mr Morris said everyone involved in the case was a victim, including Ms Prior, and the matter should have never come to court.
"I'm not going to call for her to resign but if the woman had any decency whatsoever, her resignation would be on the attorney-general's desk on Monday," he said.
Mr Thwaites said he was very relieved at the outcome. "I'm happy to be able to get on with my life," he told AAP.
Ms Prior argued she was unable to continue working face-to-face with white people following a series of Facebook posts made after Mr Wood was asked to leave an Indigenous-only computer lab at the Queensland University of Technology in 2013.
"Just got kicked out of the unsigned Indigenous computer room. QUT stopping segregation with segregation," he wrote.
Ms Prior was not in court for the judgment and is said to be facing a six-figure legal bill if the students recoup their legal costs from her.
Why Climate Spending Does Nothing and Should Be Scrapped
The industrial burning of fossil fuels has released CO2 that is purported to be responsible for .7 degrees of planetary warming over the last century, and climate models predict it could be responsible for up to another 2 – 6 degrees over the next 100 years. Despite the fact that very few of the climate change predictions made since the late 80’s have come true (think empty dams, no more snow in the UK and an ice-free arctic) if a warmer earth is going to be problem, what can we do about it?
Mainstream thinking tells that leaving fossil fuels in the ground is the answer. According to the IPCC we must act now to reduce emissions substantially in order to reduce climate risks and increase our chances of adapting to a warmer world. Across the globe various carbon pricing schemes, taxes and renewable energy subsidies have been put in place in order to roll back the clock on global carbon dioxide emissions.
In Australia we have the Emissions Reduction Fund to which the government have allocated $2.55 billion in order to to help achieve Australia’s 2020 emissions reduction target of five per cent below 2000 levels by 2020. Then there is the $1 billion dollars pledged after the Paris Climate Summit last year, $200 million pledged over 4 years for the Global Climate Fund, and also $200 million dollars pledged to Mission Innovation, a multi-country group whose mission is to accelerate global clean energy innovation. It has been estimated that the overall gross cost of decarbonising Australia’s energy production over the next 20 years will be $60 billion.
But what will we get for those dollars and how much will it affect global temperature? With perhaps the exception of Mission Innovation, which focuses on more on ‘clean’ energy innovation and not carbon reduction, the dollars spent largely serve to increase energy poverty and slow economic growth, by making energy production more expensive. Together with the Renewable Energy Targets we are also heading towards a 23.5% reliance on unreliable renewable energy sources by 2020, and nobody can say with any accuracy exactly how many degrees of future warming these measures will mitigate. Seeing as Australia emits just 1% of the total global carbon dioxide emissions per year, and we are striving to reduce this to 5% less than our 2000 emission levels, we can assume it’s not very much. Meanwhile, worldwide there are 350 gigawatts of coal projects currently under construction, and 932 gigawatts of pre-construction coal proposals in the pipeline. Compare that to Australia’s annual coal production capacity of 29 GWe in 2014, it becomes apparent that our efforts are not only futile, but seriously undermined.
Consider also that global population will continue to rise until at least mid-century, meaning that in order for global carbon dioxide emissions to even remain stagnant, per capita emissions must continually fall proportionate to population growth. We are told that if fossil fuel use and carbon dioxide emissions stabilise at today’s levels, the climate will still warm by .6 degrees over the next 100 years. To achieve this continual reduction in per capita emissions, it means no new cheap energy for the developing world, and somebody would have to stop India, Indonesia and China from building new coal powered plants. A realist knows that this will never happen; it is more likely that globally we will continue on a ‘business as usual’ course. No number of carbon reduction schemes in the West will have any ability to stop this growth and they certainly won’t have any effect on the temperature.
But in rushing to decarbonise, are we on the right track? Alex Epstein, author of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels outlines in his book just how much benefit fossil fuel use has been to humanity. By every measure human well-being is better than has ever been. We have cleaner air to breathe free from wood smoke, clean water, sanitation, sturdy homes, modern medicine and modern farming methods all due to the cheap reliable energy that fossil fuels provide. To him, the planet is here for us to modify and improve and in doing so we improve our lives. He even argues that fossil fuels improve the environment, evidenced by the fact that richer, industrialised nations have more measures in place to protect the environment than poorer, non-industrialised nations. By continuing to access cheap and plentiful energy through the burning of fossil fuels we are further equipping ourselves to withstand extreme weather events, and overcome and adapt to any changes a that warmer planet may bring. Mortality rates due to extreme weather events have actually declined by 95% since 1900, due, one can assume, to the protection modern fossil fuel powered technology affords, by way of satellite monitoring and more powerful modes of disseminating information.
Those who hark back to pre-industrialised societies as some sort of utopian existence where man is at one with nature, neglect to realise that without modern civilisation we would be faced with disease, hunger and very short and miserable lives. Those who demonise the ‘dirty fossil fuel industry’ naively forget just how much our modern lifestyles relies on it in order to function. They also forget that ‘clean’ energy sources have their own negative environmental impacts, and that fossil fuels and rare earths are required in order to produce ‘climate friendly’ solar panels and wind turbines.
What is comes down to is risk benefit analysis. No power source currently available is free from negative impacts. Fossil fuels can be polluting, but newer technologies are making it less so. Eventually fossil fuels are going to run out (but much later than the ‘peak oil’ scare had us believe) and at that point motivation to invest in alternatives will be at its greatest. Once alternative energy sources become viable under their own steam, demand for fossil fuels will decline. Our future lies in innovation, human ingenuity and an energy market free from government subsidies and incentives, that will provide us with the platform to develop new energy technology that works. It helps to remember that we don’t actually know with any certainty what the future climate will be; we need to be able to adapt to any future climate problems we may face including rapid warming or indeed global cooling.
Energy policies that attempt to push a move away from fossil fuel consumption before we are really ready have everything to do with ideology and nothing to do with common sense. The billions of taxpayer dollars Australia is spending in order to ‘do something’ about the climate is money down the drain and an example of government waste. It is money that could be better spent on any number of programs that would actually have a beneficial effect on our environment, or on our standard of living. Our climate dollars will have next to no impact on the climate, and are instead just very expensive tokenism.
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.). For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me here