Tuesday, January 03, 2017
Tony Abbott calls for Palestinian aid cut and embassy relocation to Jerusalem
Former prime minister Tony Abbott has called for Australia's $40 million in aid to Palestine to be cut, citing concerns over the Palestinian Authority's support for "terrorists and their families", and suggested the Australian embassy in Israel be moved to Jerusalem.
Mr Abbott's strongly pro-Israel declarations follow the United Nations Security Council's damning resolution on the country's construction of settlements in occupied Palestinian territory.
The United Nations Security Council votes to endorse the ceasefire in Syria's civil war brokered by Russia and Turkey.
Permitted by the outgoing Obama administration, the resolution labelling the settlements illegal has drawn ire from conservatives around the world - including Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who called it "one-sided" and "deeply unsettling" and President-elect Donald Trump, who described it as "extremely unfair".
Writing for The Spectator Australia after a recent trip to the region for the Australia-Israel-UK Leadership Dialogue, Mr Abbott said an Australian demonstration of "unswerving support for Israel, as the Middle East's only liberal, pluralist democracy, might be to join any move by the Trump administration to move its embassy to Jerusalem".
While Israel considers Jerusalem its capital, countries with diplomatic ties to the country maintain embassies in its largest city Tel Aviv, not recognising East Jerusalem's annexation by the Israelis in 1967.
As recently as December, a spokeswoman for Mr Trump said relocating the US embassy was a "very big priority". The President-elect's pick to be ambassador, David Friedman, is a staunch right-wing supporter of Israel and its activities in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Palestinians also lay claim to Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. The US embassy's relocation - a cause célèbre for Israel's fiercest American backers - would likely trigger outrage across the Muslim would.
As a significant ancient site for Christianity, Judaism and Islam, the city has long been at the centre of religious and political tensions in the Middle East and further division over its possession would represent an obstacle to peace and Palestinian statehood.
In 1995, US Congress voted to move the embassy but successive presidents have delayed the relocation every six months using a waiver provision.
"Australia should cut our $40 million a year in aid to the Palestinian Authority while it keeps paying pensions to terrorists and their families," Mr Abbott wrote, referring to support payments made to Arab detainees in Israeli prisons and their relatives.
He also said "there should be a permanent settlement for a Palestinian state where Jews have the same rights as Palestinians have in Israel", labelling the alternative a "kind of apartheid that's at odds with Israel's own values".
Mr Abbott expressed scepticism that the Palestinian Authority accepted Israel's right to exist, given the virulent and anti-Semitic rhetoric of some Palestinians.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop defended the aid program, saying there was "robust risk management and due diligence assessment processes" and a "zero tolerance policy" for fraud and corruption.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton also backed it, telling Sydney radio station 2GB "it's not an ideal world but we provide aid in a way that is measured and controlled and if people are acting outside those parameters, then we wouldn't provide aid".
In August, the government suspended funding for World Vision after Israeli accusations that one of the charity's Palestinian employees was redirecting millions of dollars to terrorist group Hamas. World Vision has denied the allegations.
Acting Labor leader Chris Bowen said development assistance to the Palestinian territories should be "transparent and accountable" and that it is "vital to the work of countering extremism and promoting peace".
Mr Abbott is not the first Australian politician to call for the embassy move. Last year, Liberal senator James Paterson argued that "Jerusalem is Israel's capital and we should respect that by putting our embassy where they choose to have their capital."
Following the former prime minister's comments, Ms Bishop knocked the idea on the head, saying the government "does not have any plans to move the Australian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem".
Bob Hawke says abolish state governments and think big to fix the nation
Typical Leftist love of centralized power. The further away they get from the individual the better they like it
Bob Hawke believes he has the recipe to fix the nation: think big, get better candidates, abolish state governments and use "rational, unemotional thinking" to solve issues for the greater good.
The former prime minister – who won four elections and is considered one of the nation's most popular leaders – used what has become his regular address at Queensland's Woodford Folk Festival to once again push for a federation overhaul.
It's one of Mr Hawke's pet issues – having first made the argument in a 1979 Boyer lecture – and he said the time had come to "think big" and reform the nation's political set-up for the good of the country.
"What we have today – as I have said before – basically represents the meanderings of British explorers across the Australian continent more than 200 years ago," he said.
"They wandered around and lines were drawn on a map and jurisdiction and governance followed. "So you have 13 parliaments [including senates] dealing with much the same issues and I believe that the simple fact is the states should be abolished.
"I raised that with my own colleagues and, would you believe it, they are not overly keen on it. "So many comfortable seats to put bums on in parliaments all over this country, but it seems to me that that is what ought to happen."
Mr Hawke said he would keep the state boundaries "for interstate sport and that sort of thing".
He said the quality of political candidates also needed to improve. "I think this is more of a problem for the conservative side of politics than mine, because on our side we tend to have some ideology-driven mood which brings up good people," he said.
"You just look at it: you have a businessman, a good bloke who has done well, who tends to be on the conservative side of politics. Quite apart from the money he would lose going into Parliament, so many would have to ask themselves, I'm sure, 'Why should I go in and subject myself, and my family, my wife and children, to this intrusive inspection of their daily lives?'"
Mr Hawke said the time had come "where we have to think big if we are going to face the big issues of our time; we have to be prepared to face changes which are quite radical". These included global warming. He recommended the Turnbull government consider opening Australia for the storage of nuclear waste.
"The issues at stake here are of such fundamental importance that we require rational, unemotional thinking," he said.
"Slogan-mongering is not good enough – nimby, not in my backyard - ignores the fact that the world's leading geologists have said that we have the world's geologically safest backyard, [the] most remote backyard, and we cannot ignore that fact if we are to be serious to ourselves, our children and our grandchildren."
He said he had begun investigating such issues shortly before he was replaced as prime minister by Paul Keating, and believed it would be "a win for the global environment" as "an essential part of the attack which must be made on this grievously creeping global warming".
He said it would be "a win for the Australian economy" and provide the nation with the funds to address "the greatest stain" on its character: "the great gaps that exist between our Aboriginal brothers and sisters" and the rest of the nation.
The international community would embrace the opportunity, he said.
"On one of my recent visits to China I met with a recent prime minister of Japan and when I told him about what I saw as this possibility of Australia taking the world's [nuclear] waste - I don't exaggerate – he nearly had an orgasm. "That would have been a sight, wouldn't it?"
Mr Hawke has become a regular fixture at the end of year festival, attracting hundreds of attendees to his talks. This year, he helped open the festivities, leading the crowd in a rendition of Waltzing Matilda.
More than 1.5 MILLION migrants are receiving welfare in Australia
More than 1.5 million people born overseas are receiving welfare payments in Australia, according to recently released data.
The percentage of migrants on welfare is hugely disproportionate to the number actually in the country, reports The Australian.
About 2.5 million people are currently receiving the Age Pension alone, with almost half of that total coming from overseas countries.
At a Social Services council conference in Sydney on Thursday, Australia's welfare reliance was front and centre.
The Coalition made it clear its objective was to increase self-reliance and taper off dependence on welfare payments.
But Labor leader Bill Shorten argued the debate was 'hijacked by alarmist rhetoric, by ideology, by chest-beating scaremongering about time-bombs, blowouts and bludgers'.
However the results detail an alarming reality.
Migrants from Greece, Italy and Britain represent an overwhelmingly large proportion of migrants on welfare payments.
Overseas migrants from the Middle East also make up a big proportion of those on income support and the carer pension.
People from Iraq also account for less than one per cent of the Australian population, but represent 3.77 per cent of those on the carer payment welfare.
The Iraqi population is closely followed by the Lebanese-Australian population who comprise about three per cent of the entire population receiving carer payments.
Lebanese-Australians also claim a large proportion of the disability support pension in Australia.
Sudanese people make up just 0.09 per cent of Australia's population but receive a whopping 0.57 per cent of the entire Dole welfare – more than six times their representation in the general population.
But while Sudanese represent a large portion of the Dole payouts, respectively, they represent just 0.02 per cent of the Age Pension.
The figures overwhelmingly paint a picture of migrant reliance on Australia's back pocket, but the Centre for Independent Studies said the figures could be explained.
Research fellow Jeremy Sammut said people from overseas faced somewhat greater barriers to entering the workforce.
'That might be because they have limited English or arrive as refugees with few skills to find work in the modern world,' he told The Australian.
And while migrants are over-represented on the age pension, income support pension and the carer payment, Australian-born Australians also tip the scale in other areas of welfare.
Australian-born Australians are largely over-represented on the dole and disability support pensions in particular.
Australians represent about 71 per cent of Australia's population, but receive 73 per cent of Dole pay-outs, and a whopping 77 per cent of the disability support.
One of the few nationalities which was underrepresented on Australia's welfare list was New Zealand.
New Zealand people represent about 2.6 per cent of Australia's population but claim only 2.05 per cent of the age pension, 1.6 per cent of the carer payment, 1.9 per cent of the disability support and 2.3 per cent of dole payments.
The newly released data comes from the Department of Social Services, and while much of the information has now been made public under Freedom of Information laws, some remains hidden.
The Department of Human Services said data revealing 'hot spots' – where people rorted the welfare system or simply became over reliant - was still private.
Lack of respect for laws has led Victoria into a crisis
VICTORIA is in the middle of a law-and-order crisis under the Andrews Government. Premier Daniel Andrews always seems able to create a situation in which one group wins and the other loses. Under his government, it seems violent criminals continue to get away with it while innocent Victorians suffer.
Public apprehension about violent crime and community safety is at sky-high levels — and it’s no wonder with crime rates the highest they’ve ever been in Victoria’s history.
Can you remember horrific carjackings being a daily feature of life in our community? Or violent home invasions that are so brazen as to make you think they could not possibly be real?
It’s no wonder people are fortifying their homes and taking other measures for their own protection. Victorians should not have to do that — it’s what our justice system is meant to do for us.
And tell me, when did looting become a thing here? Yes, that’s what happened recently when a group of violent youths walked into four Officeworks stores around Melbourne, stealing goods without the slightest respect for the law, staff, customers or police officers. And just when I thought I’d seen it all, scenes showing the West Gate Bridge in lockdown as police surrounded a stolen car with at least one offender who was out on bail made me wonder whether I was watching a movie set or footage from a live police operation in Los Angeles.
Our prison and youth justice systems are in chaos. Riots are happening frequently and two court cases over the past fortnight have found the Andrews Government was incapable of moving violent youths to Barwon Prison. The level of incompetence by the Andrews Government and minister Jenny Mikakos is difficult to comprehend. In the face of the kind of rampant violence that occurred at the Parkville and Malmsbury youth justice facilities recently, how could Andrews and Mikakos have bungled the process when the law allows for such transfers?
I hate to think of the legal costs of this fiasco. Remember, because the minister lost the case, taxpayers will have to foot the legal bill for the lawyers acting for the thugs who engaged in the very violence that started this mess.
It’s almost as if, under the Andrews Government, our entire corrections system is being driven by the inmates.
Labor governments have been in power, effectively, for 13 of the past 17 years and their decisions have caused many of the crises we face now, like Andrews’s disastrous decision to legalise the breaching of bail by people under 18 years of age, such as Apex gang members.
What worse message could you send to a generation of youths? How could you say to them that it’s fine to breach your bail, even when you have no reasonable excuse for doing so?
When a magistrate recently gave a violent person, who had already breached bail four times previously, a fifth chance at bail and who then went on to shoot someone, the government was dismissive of the community outrage.
The Andrews Government has refused to address weak sentencing and bail outcomes from our courts. Those outcomes have resulted from a number of higher court decisions that have jeopardised community safety and frustrated the will of parliament for stronger sentences.
The Premier weakened police move-on powers to carefully manage violent protesters. You know the protesters I’m talking about: the masked thugs who pose as paragons of democratic virtue, but are willing to beat up innocent bystanders. Can you really expect Daniel Andrews to be strong when his Police Minister condones illicit drug use in a public space by sanctioning non-enforcement?
You cannot tackle the causes of crime unless you first build respect for the law.
THE Andrews Government is simply not capable or prepared to take the firm approaches needed to put respect and responsibility at the heart of our criminal justice system. It’s no wonder it has lost all authority over our justice system.
And don’t offenders know it.
We need an approach that is driven by the right values and priorities. Community safety, respect and responsibility must come first with ideology giving way to common sense.
We know action is needed and that is why the Liberal Nationals led by Matthew Guy have introduced legislation to fill the huge gaps left by Andrews. Our team has introduced legislation to: crack down on carjackings and drive-by shootings; ensure murderers don’t get parole unless they reveal where their victims’ bodies are located; keep cop killer Craig Minogue in jail for life, and; ensure community safety is the paramount consideration for parole for all offenders.
Our laws should be putting the rights of victims first, not those of criminals.
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