Thursday, March 30, 2017
In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is cynical about attempts by Turnbull to repeal the 18C "human rights" law.
Democracy triumphs over Turnbull’s unfathomable foreign policy fiasco
It was a great day for democracy in Australia as the political class rejected the debasement of our laws and legal system involved in ratifying the extradition treaty between Australia and China, and rejected likewise the enormous pressure the Chinese government brought to bear on the matter.
The unsuccessful attempt to get the treaty ratified is the single worst foreign policy fiasco in the life of the Turnbull government.
It represents a failure in principle, as well as a failure in political and process management, on an epic scale.
Rejecting the treaty was the right thing to do. Those Liberals who considered crossing the floor are an advertisement for decency and values in politics.
The way the process unfolded also offers a serious measure of justification for Cory Bernardi in leaving the Liberal Party. Outside the party, he was able to produce a result he could not have achieved from inside the party.
But the Turnbull government has achieved for itself the worst of all possible results — it has embarrassed itself and the Chinese, it has embarked on a course which contradicts fundamental Liberal values and its campaign of justification for the proposed ratification was at times bizarre and frequently rested on inadvertent factual mistakes from ministers who gave every impression of not understanding the process.
Surely the most objectionable element of the government’s arguments was to cite the situation of Australians who are now in Chinese custody.
The government’s argument contradicts itself and making it publicly is one of the most irresponsible actions I have ever seen from an Australian government.
If the Chinese government is going to mistreat Australian prisoners because Canberra does not ratify a treaty this is itself proof beyond question that the Chinese legal system is not independent or truly based on law.
But for an Australian government to make public reference to the fate of individual Australians in foreign custody, in support of a doomed and grossly mismanaged parliamentary ratification process, is cynical, irresponsible and frankly improper. I am surprised this element of the government’s behaviour has not excited wider comment. The government’s misuse of such arguments smacks of desperation and panic.
Two other elements are notable. The Labor Party has behaved well here. People are mistaking Penny Wong’s reticence to criticise the treaty in principle, but rather to base Labor’s public justification for rejection in process issues, as meaning Labor has no objection to this treaty in principle.
That is dead wrong, as Bill Shorten’s several comments on the matter illustrate clearly. Instead, Labor consistently tried to offer the government a way out of the mess of its own making which did not humiliate the Chinese and caused as little diplomatic fallout as possible.
That goes back as far as the Labor members’ dissenting report in the joint treaties’ committee.
Finally, the fact that we have some other extradition treaties with countries with dubious legal systems is no argument for having one with China. Those other agreements may themselves be problematic, but there are two fundamental differences with China.
No country other than China makes a remotely comparable effort to manipulate, coerce and control the political activities of its diaspora population in Australia as China does.
And no other country has China’s ability to pressure an Australian government.
This appalling treaty would institutionalise that manipulation and invite that pressure.
To bring it back onto the public agenda was a massive self inflicted injury by Turnbull. The source of his motivation for doing so remains an unfathomable mystery.
The homofascists are on a roll
Having pressured Coopers, IBM and PwC and their senior staff to sever links with Christian associations, gay rights activist Michael Barnett has turned his sights on academia, demanding Macquarie University force one of its lecturers to renounce a Christian educational organisation.
The move led the Christian group to warn the onus was on the university sector, as a national pillar of freedom of thought and expression, to back its academics against political pressure from LGBTI campaigners.
Mr Barnett, who tweets as “mikeybear”, re-posted the list of directors of the Lachlan Macquarie Institute, a training organisation established by the Australian Christian Lobby, and singled out Macquarie University senior research associate Steve Chavura as a member of the LMI board. “A bad look @Macquarie_Uni having a Lachlan Macquarie Institute board member and director on your payroll, as a @PrideDiversity member,” Mr Barnett tweeted.
Mr Barnett yesterday told The Australian he believed Macquarie University was conflicted while it was a member of the Pride in Diversity campaign which supports LGBTI individuals’ rights and safety in the workplace, while Dr Chavura was a director of LMI.
Mr Barnett said he did not know if LMI or Dr Chavura had ever issued any anti-gay material, but said “I don’t think they are going to be running floats down Mardi Gras.” Mr Barnett issued the post as The Australian revealed that ACL and LMI had been granted official permission to keep their board members’ names secret on the grounds of “public safety” after abuse and threats from gay activists forced IBM executive Mark Allaby to quit the LMI board.
Dr Chavura yesterday said he would not resign as a lecturer and director at LMI, and would resist what he described as an attempt by Mr Barnett to “weed out any dissenters from his view” about sexuality, in any public institution.
“I hope the university is strong enough not to capitulate” to this type of pressure, Dr Chavura said.
But Macquarie University yesterday declined to support Dr Chavura. “As a matter of practice, Macquarie University does not comment on individual matters pertaining to employees,” spokeswoman Megan Wright said in a statement to The Australian.
“When commenting publicly, the university asks that employees adhere to the university’s public comment policy.”
Dr Chavura, who lectures in history and political theory at the university and LMI, said while he privately maintained traditional Christian views on sexuality and marriage and would talk about them if asked, he did not canvass them in his teachings which ranged widely from Karl Marx to liberalism to political concepts.
“I think it’s a bad look for the tweeter, seeking to destroy the career of someone who has engaged in no abuse, no inflammatory speech whatsoever,” Dr Chavura said of Mr Barnett.
Mr Barnett, who describes himself as a campaigner for human rights and equality, is convener of Jewish LGBTI group Aleph Melbourne. He denied his post against Dr Chavura was an assault on the academic’s rights to freedom of expression, religion and association. “No one is stopping him going to church, being a member of a faith,” he said. “Being a member of a board is not religion.”
Food Fascists strike again
Australian parents were outraged earlier this month when two mothers were shamed for daring to let their children bring cake to school.
But now a Melbourne mother has revealed that even a organic Greek yoghurt snack was now against the rules.
And they didn't stop there. The staff also informed Aleesha that her daughter's second snack of Vegemite on cheese Cruskits also didn't meet their healthy standards.
Aleesha revealed that her daughter had not been allowed to eat either of her snacks. 'Seriously, where do you draw the line?' the mum wrote in a post about the incident on a parenting group.
A number of parents quickly agreed, revealing that their own healthy snacks of carrots with hummus or zucchini muffins were rejected by their children's schools.
And some feared that the strict dietary standards would only lead to their children developing unhealthy relationships with their food.
Adelaide mum Jessica Gianoni's daughter Isabel declared 'You're in trouble mum' after a similar incident.
Jessica received a note from her kindergarten after she sent the four-year-old to school with a piece of cake.
'Sorry, cake is a sometimes food,' the note read, adding that it didn't align with the schools 'Healthy Eating Policy'.
The note said Jessica's daughter had been provided with a 'healthy alternative instead' and invited her to ask staff for nutritious snack suggestions.
Jessica shared a photo of the note on Facebook, where a number of parents were equally outraged.
And, earlier this month, a South Australian mother was also shamed for including a slice of chocolate birthday cake in her three-year-old's pack.
She was given a note with an sad face emoji informing her that cake was from the 'red food category' and that she needed to 'choose healthier options for Kindy'.
'It's destroying the innocence of childhood': Experts slam 'sexism' program aimed at stamping out gender stereotypes in preschools
A new program targeting four-year-old children who show signs of sexism in preschool has been slammed by education experts.
Thousands of early childhood educators in Victoria will be trained to implement Respectful Relationships programs in a bid to stamp out gender stereotyping in the state's kindergartens.
A tender to train 4,000 educators suggests four-year-old children can show signs of sexism and gender discrimination.
'As young children learn about gender, they may also begin to enact sexist values, beliefs and attitudes that may contribute to disrespect and gender inequality,' the document says, according to The Australian.
'Professional learning will increase the capacity of early childhood educators to understand and implement respectful relationships and gender equality into their program delivery.'
Senior research fellow at Australian Catholic University, Kevin Donnelly, told the Herald Sun children in preschool do not have the capacity to understand complex teachings on gender and sexuality.
'It is far too early... It is quite outrageous and quite offensive to think that young children of that age will be indoctrinated with this very cultural, left gender and sexuality theory,' Dr Donnelly said. 'It really is destroying the innocence of childhood.'
Opposition education spokesman Nick Wakeling has previously slammed Respectful Relationships programs.
'[Premier] Daniel Andrews should stop implementing ideological programs and forcing his values on other people's children, and start focusing on the basics such as teaching our kids to read, write and count,' he said.
The new program will reportedly cost the taxpayer $3.4 million.
Coal hatred behind South Australian blackout
Windmills are given huge subsidies but a small subsidy for a much more useful generator was denied
The owner of the now-defunct Port Augusta power station made a secret offer to keep generating electricity until mid-2018 in return for $25 million from the State Government — 22 times less than its $550 million power plan.
Extensive details of Alinta Energy’s bid to subsidise the 520 megawatt Northern plant’s operation are revealed in a May, 2015, letter from the company to the Government.
The Port Augusta power station. Picture: Kelly Barnes
Seizing on the explosive revelations, Opposition Leader Steven Marshall branded the rejection of an affordable deal to keep power prices down and prevent blackouts as the State Government’s biggest failure since the 1991 State Bank disaster.
In the six-page letter supplied to The Advertiser by the Liberals, Alinta warns of significant risk to the security of South Australia’s power supply and a surge in electricity prices — costing the state $56 million to $112 million a year — if the power station and associated Leigh Creek brown coal mine were to close.
Other sources have told The Advertiser that Alinta made another bid for $30 million to the government, which made a rejected counter-offer of only $8 million. Alinta then announced in June 2015 that it would close the station.
The secret Alinta letter revealed also warned that closure of Flinders Power, which included the Northern power station and Leigh Creek, would trigger a $150 million annual blow to regional GDP and cost 450 jobs.
The bulk of Alinta’s demand was for a 70 per cent subsidy of maintenance costs for the 250km Leigh Creek railway, which supplied brown coal to the power plant — equivalent to about $8 million over three years.
SA has been hit by three major blackouts, including a statewide outage last September, since the closure last May of Alinta’s Flinders Power operation.
Businesses across the state took an estimated $450 million hit because of the statewide blackout and mining giant BHP Billiton has said that outages at Olympic Dam cost it $137 million.
The Port Augusta power station on a clear day, in 2008. Picture: Supplied
Electricity prices for forward contracts in SA have jumped from about $80 per megawatt hour in mid-2016 to about $140MW/h.
Premier Jay Weatherill this month branded the Port Augusta plant a “clunky, old, coal-fired power station”, declared Alinta’s temporary offer did not secure SA’s energy future
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