Thursday, March 23, 2017
Homofascists target IBM executive
Marriage equality advocate IBM Australia is being targeted by militant gay rights activists who have condemned the company over a senior executive’s links to a Christian organisation.
Activists have criticised the IT giant and Sydney-based managing partner Mark Allaby, suggesting that his role on the board of the Lachlan Macquarie Institute, an internship program for young Christians, is incompatible with IBM’s public support on the issue.
The social media campaign comes after the same activists shamed Adelaide brewer Coopers into pledging allegiance to Australian Marriage Equality after its ties with the Bible Society were exposed.
Michael Barnett, convener of Jewish LGBTI support group Aleph Melbourne, and Rod Swift, a Greens candidate in the 2014 state election, have targeted IBM with a barrage of messages via Twitter in recent days, accusing the company of hypocrisy for allowing an employee to be involved with “an anti-LGBTI organisation”.
“A bad look … that IBM managing partner Mark Allaby sits on the anti-LGBT Lachlan Macquarie Institute board,” Mr Barnett posted on Thursday.
The next day he followed with: “As an LGBT champion @IBMAustralia, why did you employ a board member of a high-profile anti-LGBT organisation.”
Mr Swift pitched in, calling on IBM to explain whether it would “request this guy to step down” from the institute.
“If you are having a bet each way @IBMDiversityANZ then you must justify to your staff and customers why your guy is on their board,” he wrote.
It is not the first time Mr Allaby, a fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors who handles IBM’s financial services clients across Australia and New Zealand, has been targeted for his association with a religious organisation.
Last year, when employed by PricewaterhouseCoopers, he was pressured into standing down from the board of the Australian Christian Lobby, which opposes changes to marriage law.
Both PwC and IBM are active supporters of Australian Marriage Equality, and their chief executives were among 20 corporate leaders to sign an unprecedented letter lobbying Malcolm Turnbull to legalise same-sex marriage, revealed in The Australian last week.
The letter has sparked heated debate about the role of business in lobbying on social issues, with conservative frontbencher Peter Dutton telling business leaders to “stick to their knitting”.
However, the increasingly aggressive tactics being employed by some marriage equality activists has highlighted the risks for corporations — and their employees — in taking a position on divisive political causes.
Leading anti-discrimination lawyer Mark Fowler said employees with religious beliefs in conflict with their employers’ stand on marriage equality were particularly exposed. “In NSW and SA there are currently no laws protecting individuals from expressing their religious beliefs,” Mr Fowler said. “Nor are there religious protections for individuals under commonwealth laws.”
Australian Christian Lobby managing director Lyle Shelton said the ACL, which helped set up the Lachlan Macquarie Institute, denied that the organisation was “anti-LGBTI”.
“Quite frankly we are tired of this slur being used to intimidate people because of their beliefs,” Mr Shelton said. “Corporate Australia is obviously free to have and express views on political matters.
“Sadly, same-sex marriage activists are intolerant of different views and have co-opted some in the corporate sector to assist them in enforcing this to the point where people fear for their jobs.
“All Australians, including corporate Australia, should openly and forcefully condemn every instance of bullying and intimidation.”
Mr Barnett defended his role yesterday, arguing that when an organisation such as IBM employed an individual in a high-profile leadership role who did not espouse company values, a disparity emerged. “I have no desire to see IBM sack Mark Allaby. I want the conflict to go away,” Mr Barnett told The Australian.
“Mark Allaby can make whatever decisions he needs to resolve this conflict, and if IBM needs to assist with that process then they can do that. “My goal is to see IBM, and any other pro-LGBTIQ organisation, remain strong to their stated values.”
Mr Barnett said he had nothing against Mr Allaby personally but his links with the Australian Christian Lobby meant he was a “target for equality campaigners like me”.
IBM did not respond to questions about whether staff were free to engage with external organisations, including religious groups, outside of their employment with the company. “We will not be responding on this,” an IBM spokeswoman said.
Mr Allaby, who lives in Sydney, did not return calls.
The coal-hatred in South Australia: It cost $4.5 million to keep power stable for one day
SOUTH Australian power consumers have been slugged for a massive $4.5 million price spike for services that stop energy infrastructure from blowing up.
The Australian Energy Regulator released a report on Tuesday night into why prices for services which stabilisethe grid exceeded $5000/MWh in SA on October 18 last year.
It found that for more than five hours, the cost of the services which regulate frequency soared to more than $11,000/MWh, bringing the total cost for the day to $4.5 million.
“In comparison, FCAS (Frequency Control Ancillary Services) costs across all mainland National Electricity Market regions combined are typically around $200,000 per day,” the report stated.
Over the week inclusive of October 18, 40 per cent of the cost — or $1.8 million — was paid for by customers and 60 per cent of the cost was recovered from generators, which The Advertiser understands tended to be wind farms because they cause frequency changes.
The report found that a planned outage on the Heywood interconnector, which connects SA to Victoria, created a risk that SA could cut off from the rest of the network. This creates a higher risk of blackouts.
Since September 2015, to help reduce the risk of blackouts, the Australian Energy Market Operator requires a set level of ancillary services to be sourced in SA to protect the system.
“This is effectively a security mechanism introduced by AEMO to protect South Australia in the event of separation (from the national market),” the report stated.
But the report found that two generators — Pelican Point and the Quarantine Power Station — that provide the service experienced technical difficulties on the day which led to fewer low-priced services being available and, therefore, led to the price spike.
After the statewide blackout in September last year, which was partly caused by a massive drop in the grid’s frequency after the interconnector tripped, AEMO introduced another new rule requiring two gas generators to be on at all times, because until now wind farms had not provided these services.
But the Essential Services Commission of SA has since changed licensing conditions for all new generators that would require them to be able to provide such services.
Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said these stability services were required to protect the network in the event SA was separated from the national grid.
“I am advised the price spike was caused by issues with two gas-fired power stations. The cost will be met by both electricity generators and consumers,” he said.
“Our energy plan includes building a new gas-fired power station and Australia’s largest battery, both of which will improve grid security.”
The Government’s proposed $360 million, 250MW power station was not intended to generate power very often but would be switched on most of the time to provide the stability services.
Mr Koutsantonis said ESCOSA’s reforms were also designed to ease the market.
Separate data released by the regulator yesterday shows that SA energy consumers had the highest average electricity debt in the country, were the most likely to be on a hardship program and most likely to have their electricity disconnected due to non payment.
Australian Human Rights Commission facing shake-up
A major shake-up of the Australian Human Rights Commission, including new powers to terminate “unmeritorious” complaints, is expected to win support of the parliament, amid concern the agency’s processes have “become the punishment”.
Following the government’s announced overhaul of the AHRC and plans to change controversial section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, the commission released a statement indicating it would work with the government to change the law governing how it deals with complaints.
“The commission will engage with the government and parliament on progressing legislative reforms that can further strengthen and improve the complaint handling process, while ensuring access to justice,” it said.
The Attorney-General, George Brandis, said the Coalition was responding to recommendations from the parliamentary joint committee on human rights to ensure the commission observed the principles of procedural fairness in investigating complaints.
One of the key new provisions will require the commission president, currently Gillian Triggs, to make a preliminary assessment of whether a complaint has substance or any “reasonable prospect of being resolved in favour of the complainant” before embarking on an inquiry.
“If the president is of the view that the complaint is without substance, and has no reasonable prospects of success, there will be an obligation to terminate the complaint at that point, at the threshold, rather than exposing people who are the subject of complaint ….to the torment of process,” Senator Brandis said.
There will also be a requirement for a complaint to be lodged within six months of the conduct and an obligation on the commission to try to resolve issues within 12 months.
In order to provide a financial disincentive to complainants, the changes will also include orders in relation to costs, so that someone who makes an unmeritorious complaint can be the subject of an adverse cost order.
“Sometimes the process can be the punishment,’’ Senator Brandis said. “That is not right or fair.’’
He said the proposed changes had been discussed with Professor Triggs and “in general have her support”.
While the government faces an uphill battle to win Senate support for changes to 18C, the reform of the commission’s complaint-handling processes is more likely to pass, with widespread recognition of its shortcomings.
Professor Triggs has also indicated problems with the legislation governing the commission, calling for changes that reduce the regulatory burden it faces in its mandatory reporting obligations.
The government will respond to these concerns, making a number of “technical amendments” to reduce the red tape faced by the commission and improve its governance arrangements.
Changes to the complaint process will not only apply to grievances under the Racial Discrimination Act, but to all human rights complaints made to the commission.
Senator Nick Xenophon, who controls a bloc of three Senate votes, said that while he opposed changes to 18C, he would consider supporting the commission shake-up and potentially the insertion of a “reasonable person” test into the act.
“We do support sensible changes to the process involved in the handling of such complaints so the process does not become the punishment,” the South Australian senator said.
10,000 Syrian refugees settle in Australia
Australia has welcomed 10,000 Syrian refugees and issued another 2000 visas to people fleeing the war-torn Middle East country.
Malcolm Turnbull will reportedly confirm the entire 12,000 visas pledged to Syrian refugees in 2015 have been issued during a migrations awards speech at Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday night.
His speech is not expected to detail the religious make-up of Syrian refugees processed, but the government has prioritised persecuted Christians over Muslims, the Daily Telegraph reports.
Integration core in new multicultural policy
Australia’s national identity will be redefined along fundamental principles of integration, citizenship and unity in a pointed shift away from welfare entitlement, in the first multicultural statement by a federal government to also recognise the impact of terrorism on the nation’s social fabric.
In a landmark departure from the 2011 statement delivered by then-Labor prime minister Julia Gillard, the Turnbull government has included for the first time a list of individual freedoms, including freedom of speech, as core Australian values. The statement, released to The Australian ahead of its launch today, is a rejection of multiculturalism as a vehicle for grievance and identity politics.
The government has dropped past emphasis on equitable access to welfare and services for new migrants, and instead promotes values of opportunity, self-reliance and aspiration.
In an implicit reference to the controversial provisions of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, it has moved away from Labor’s past reference to the use of the “full force of the law” while denouncing racism and discrimination, and promoting mutual respect.
A keystone of the document is the inclusion of white Australia — British and Irish settlers — in a broadening of the definition of multicultural Australia to beyond ethnic minorities and indigenous people. Introducing “integration” as the core principle over ethnic segregation to guide government policy, the statement signals a deliberate shift away from the emphasis placed on services articulated by Labor.
A premium has now been placed on citizenship, with a strengthened obligation to demonstrate allegiance to Australia and English as the national language as “critical” features of ethnic integration.
The chairman of the Australian Multicultural Council, Sev Ozdowski, said the document marked a profound change and returned the underlying principles to those established under the Hawke government, when the definition of multiculturalism was an inclusive policy. “I think it is an important move … it takes multiculturalism away from identity politics … it makes it a policy for all of us,” he told The Australian.
The Assistant Minister for Social Services and Multicultural Affairs, Zed Seselja, said it was a document that stamped the Coalition government’s view of multicultural Australia, with the substantive difference between it and previous government statements being the introduction of a core principle of integration. “I think a focus on common values was critical, and a focus on unity and citizenship, rather than an emphasis to services and welfare, which is not the main game,” he said. “It is about all of us, whether we arrived last week or whether our ancestors have been here for hundreds or thousands of years.”
Terrorism and border protection have been recognised for the first time as a threat to social cohesion, with an unambiguous repudiation of behaviour that “undermines Australian values”.
“Underpinning a diverse and harmonious Australia is the security of our nation,” the statement says. “The Australian government places the highest priority on the safety and security of all Australians.
“Recent terrorist attacks around the world have justifiably caused concern in the Australian community. The government responds to these threats by continuing to invest in counter-terrorism, strong borders and strong national security.
“This helps to ensure that Australia remains an open, inclusive, free and safe society. In the face of these threats, however, we do not compromise on our shared values and national unity.”
The document infers reciprocal rights and obligations, claiming that “regardless of cultural background, birthplace or religion, everyone in Australia or coming to Australia has a responsibility to engage with and seek to understand each other, and reject any form of racism or violent extremism”.
“We take responsibility for fulfilling our civic duties,’’ it says. “Practices and behaviours that undermine our values have no place in Australia.”
The inclusion of a set of “freedoms” fundamental to Australian values marks a further divergence from previous statements. “Our commitment to freedom is fundamental,” it says. “We support freedom of thought, speech, religion, enterprise and association.”
The statement is the first since the Gillard government’s 2011 document, which focused on strengthening access and equity policies to “ensure that government programs and services are responsive to the needs of Australia’s culturally and linguistically diverse communities while responding to expressions of intolerance and discrimination with strength and, where necessary, with the force of the law”.
Mr Ozdowski said the document reflected a national policy for all Australians. “It brings back those dimensions established by Hawke and Keating with a focus on multiculturalism for all Australians … not a policy statement on welfare or for particular ethnic groups, or religions or refugees,” he said, adding that the use of the word integration did not reflect a US policy of assimilation but recognised people must accept Australian values while bringing new ideas and connections.
Senator Seselja said the government had included national security to address “the elephant in the room” and it reflected a need to promote social cohesion.
Malcolm Turnbull said that during a time of increased anxiety over terrorism, it was important to reaffirm what should be Australian values.
“We are defined not by race, religion or culture, but by shared values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law and equality of opportunity,’’ he said.
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