Monday, November 20, 2017

Yes Vote Means a New Minority Needs Protection

Miranda Devine

ON Thursday night, 24 hours after the same-sex marriage result, young Christians from the No-voting western half of Sydney took five litres of black paint to Yes-vote heartland, inner-urban Newtown, and painted over an offensive mural of Cardinal George Pell and Tony Abbott engaged in a sex act.

The giant mural depicted the former Prime Minister as a bride with his hand down the topless Cardinal’s rainbow underpants, complete with pubic hair and caption “The Happy Ending”. It was painted on the wall of the Botany View Hotel on Wednesday as a perverse celebration of the 61.6 per cent same-sex marriage ‘Yes’ vote.

Within hours someone had splashed white paint across the wall, obscuring Cardinal Pell’s face.

But it took 28-year-old Maronite Catholic builder, Charbel, to do the job properly.

He and a mate drove to Newtown and proceeded to paint over the mural using a long-handled roller, respectfully leaving the artist’s name intact and choosing a colour that blended in with the rest of the building. He was impervious to abuse from passers-by calling him “fat wog” and “bigot”.

And then on Friday night, to the horror of locals, a group of 30 Christians from the western suburbs turned up with rosary beads and incense to pray the “Hail Mary” next to the painted-out mural.

“This mural was a direct attack on Christians or anyone who believes in a god,” says Charbel. “This is homosexual activists saying we are here, we are loud and strong and when you oppose us we’ll accuse you of hate and not being reasonable and acceptable. What I want to know is, where’s our acceptance?”

This is the cry of the four in ten Australian who voted No and are being treated now like outcasts by gloating Yes campaigners, chief among them the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

In his triumphalist speech when the result was announced, the PM lauded the 7.8 million Australians “who voted yes for fairness”.

But he barely acknowledged the 4.8 million Australians who voted No, not because they believe in unfairness, but because they are concerned about the consequences of such a profound change to our foundational social institution. He said nothing to allay their fears.

All he said was: “I know a minority obviously voted no. But we are a fair nation.”

To be fair, he deserves credit for sticking with his election promise to hold a plebiscite, and he has been vindicated with an extraordinary participation rate of almost 80 per cent.

Same-sex marriage has been legitimised by the mandate of the majority, and those of us who were on the losing side accept the result in good faith.

But Turnbull assured us during the campaign that he believed in religious freedom “even more strongly” than in same-sex marriage.

And now social conservatives find themselves disenfranchised and unprotected.

Last week they were being ridiculed for trying to protect basic freedom of expression, association, thought, conscience or religion, and for upholding the right of parents to ensure the education of their children is in accordance with their beliefs.

Crikey accurately described the “general hilarity” that greeted Senator James Paterson’s serious effort to craft a bill that balances competing rights when same sex marriage becomes law. Ignored was his 35,000-word explanatory memorandum containing 19 examples from countries where people have been persecuted for holding a traditional view of marriage, from the Irish baker, the Canadian law school and the British adoption agency to the Washington florist, the Sydney GP and the Tasmanian bishop.

According new rights to one minority should not leave another minority vulnerable and afraid that they will be persecuted for deeply held beliefs.

This is why treasurer Scott Morrison, who was the first politician to advocate a plebiscite, in June 2015, has intervened now to insist on amendments to the marriage bill to protect basic freedoms.

“There are over four million people that voted no in this survey who are now coming to terms with the fact that on this issue, they are a minority.

“They have concerns that their broader views and their broader beliefs are also now in the minority and therefore under threat. And they are seeking assurances that… the things that they hold dear are not under threat also because of this change.”

If Morrison, and those valiant Liberal MPs who still believe in freedom, don’t prevail, the gulf between No-voting Australia and Yes-voting Australia will tear our society apart in ways we can’t even imagine.

WITHIN hours of the same-sex marriage announcement on Wednesday, an outspoken No voter who owns a beauty salon in Perth was floored by a gay wedding request.

Belinda received a booking inquiry on her salon’s Facebook page from gay couple Brad and Chris for “a full body wax to make our honeymoon extra special”.

“My partner Chris and I have started planning our big day for Jan now the vote thing is over, So excited!”

Belinda, who is afraid to use her real name, is certain she is being trolled by gay activists. “It’s not genuine. They know I’m an active No voter and they think they can goad me…

“Are they going to turn up at the shop tomorrow? Where do I stand now if there are people out there deliberately trying to force me to participate in gay weddings?”

Belinda says her Catholic faith prevents her from endorsing a gay wedding. “But I’ve been in business 15 years and I have heaps of gay clients. I have no problem with gay people but I need a safeguard from crazy people.”

In other countries where gay marriage exists, activists have targeted conscientious objectors, florists, bakers and innkeepers who don’t want to service gay weddings.

Labor, the Greens and like-minded Liberals insist the rights of No voters need no protection, but Belinda’s dilemma is just the start.


Australia slow at adopting electric cars

In the race to adopt electric vehicles, Australia is sputtering along in the slow lane.

Rather than growing, Australian sales of electric cars are actually in decline. In 2016 they represented just 0.02 per cent of new car sales — even lower than in 2013.

Contrast that with Norway, the country with the highest levels of electric car adoption. Almost 30 per cent of new cars sold there in 2016 were electric.

Why are Australian motorists rejecting electric cars while those in other advanced economies are embracing them? As the National Roads and Motorists' Association (NRMA) has previously pointed out, high vehicle prices are an obvious barrier.

But that is only part of the answer.

Our current research, in which we used online questionnaires to survey Australian motorists' attitudes to electric vehicles, suggests that a comprehensive network of recharging stations — particularly on popular intercity routes, is essential to encourage drivers to go electric. This seems to be even more important than subsidising the cost of the cars themselves.

Rechargers on highways, in country towns and at service centres need to be fast and convenient, so that motorists are not unduly delayed. Without the right charging infrastructure, there is no foundation to allow Australian motorists to go electric with confidence.

The average Australian motorist drives 36 kilometres per day for all passenger vehicles. This is well within the range of modern fully electric vehicles - more than 150km for the models on sale in Australia — and actually less than Norwegians, who drive more than 40km a day on average.

Norwegian drivers also enjoy the highest proportion of rechargers in the world. But on another criterion the world leader is Estonia. It's credited as the first nation to build a country-wide network, with a recharging station every 50km on major roads, and one in every town with a population of at least 5,000.


'Yeah, nah': She's a top fighter but Keneally won't win Bennelong

Imre Salusinszky

Sometimes I think about my seven years reporting on state politics as a love-affair with the NSW Labor Right faction. My brief during those seven years, or at least the brief I constructed for myself, was to capture some of the unusual characters who populate NSW political life and make it so special.

In NSW politics, there are vivid, interesting characters in all parties and all factions. For example, to have any considerable experience of Fred Nile is to suspect one has entered the pages of a Charles Dickens novel. And whatever you think of Lee Rhiannon​'s politics, which in my case is not much at all, she's a character all right, all the way down to her made-up surname and her insistence on saying "v" instead of the word "very".

Former NSW premier Kristina Keneally is Labor's candidate for the byelection in Bennelong, taking on Liberal John Alexander.
But for sheer political cunning, mixed with policy nous, and all wrapped up in a delicious package of profoundly filthy language, it's hard to go past the NSW Right.

Just the beginning of a list of noteworthy characters from the faction would include Bob Carr, Michael Egan, John Della Bosca, Frank Sartor, Barrie Unsworth, John Robertson, Morris Iemma, Carl Scully, Amanda Fazio and – my spiritual adviser for many years – Michael Costa.

And, of course, Kristina Keneally. Smart, funny, confident, and yes, American, she was one more thing that made NSW politics between 2007 and 2011 every journalist's dream gig – and one more incredible and indelible character thrown up by the Right.

Her swearing wasn't as good as Costa's or Sartor's, but it wasn't bad.

I first interviewed Keneally on the day she became Minister for Disability Services and Ageing in 2007, and pretty much tracked every move she made between then and her retirement from parliament in June, 2012. She was always great copy.

Following Keneally around on the 2011 campaign was to exist in a parallel universe. The Labor government's numbers, and her own numbers by this stage, were catastrophic, yet she was mobbed everywhere we went. Like a subsequent NSW premier to whom I eventually got much closer, she had star power.

Eddie Obeid and Joe Tripodi played a decisive role in Keneally's victory over Sartor for the leadership in December, 2009. That said, she did not have a close personal relationship with Obeid. She was extremely close to Tripodi.

Did she know the pair were corrupt, as eventually found by the Independent Commission Against Corruption? Absolutely not. Love her or hate her, Keneally is as straight as a die, and has strong values rooted in her family and her faith. Anybody who knows her is aware of the deep sense of betrayal she harbours towards Tripodi today.

Even Sartor, the chief nemesis of Obeid and Tripodi, wouldn't swear they were corrupt in 2008 or 2009. There was one senior Labor figure who looked me in the eye back then, on Phillip Street as it happens, and said the pair were corrupt and would end up in jail. That was the MP for Liverpool, Paul Lynch.

So Keneally was certainly Obeid and Tripodi's candidate, but was she their "puppet"? I don't think anybody can nominate particular outcomes she engineered for the pair once she was premier.

I speak with considerable authority on this subject, because if anybody was a puppet of Obeid and Tripodi, it was I. I liked and trusted them and used them as sources for innumerable stories. I wrote an essentially positive profile of Tripodi for my newspaper's glossy weekend magazine.

On the day Keneally became premier, The Daily Telegraph branded her a puppet on its front page, and she instantly became a highly popular figure across NSW. This popularity was worn down over time: by the venality of her colleagues, by the clever long game of Barry O'Farrell, and by her own missteps in the back half of 2010.

The Tele repeated the treatment on Wednesday, and it will give her a mild electoral boost. People dislike victimisation and vilification, especially of women.

But will Keneally unseat John Alexander in Bennelong and trigger a change of government in Canberra?

No, she won't. Bill Shorten's gambit is the sort of thing political tragics love, but for the voters of Bennelong it will be more a case of, "Yeah, nah."

Keneally is a great fighter, but Alexander is a popular and hardworking local member. His citizenship travails are likely to engender sympathy, particularly in a heavily multicultural electorate. The big issues in Bennelong are usually over-development and housos, and he will know exactly what to say.

But Keneally will improve the result for Labor, which will signal "Mission Accomplished" for Shorten. I fully expect she will be nominated for a winnable seat in 2019 and will be a real asset in a Shorten ministry, if there ever is one.


Queensland has too many public servants: Howard

Former prime minister John Howard has hit out at the size of Queensland's public service, undermining Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls' promise not to cut jobs.

The Liberal Party elder statesman campaigned alongside LNP MP Tarnya Smith in her marginal Brisbane electorate of Mount Ommaney on Friday as he joined the state campaign for the first time.
Former prime minister John Howard said Queensland has too many public servants despite LNP leader Tim Nicholls promising no cuts.

Asked about Queensland's rising debt problem, Mr Howard said economic growth and activity would help eliminate money that was owed but also said a slimmer public service would reduce the burden.

"You also eliminate debt by not just appointing unnecessarily large numbers of state employees," he said. "You need a certain number of state employees but I think it's fair to say that the number appointed by the present government has got a little bit out of proportion."

Mr Nicholls has been haunted during the election campaign over the role he played in the sacking of 14,000 public servants during Campbell Newman's government.

The Opposition Leader has repeatedly apologised and ruled out axing government workers if he is elected to govern.

Mr Howard also lashed Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk over her mixed messages about the Adani coal mine. "The first requirement of effective leadership in politics, whether you're Labor or Liberal or National Party or LNP or whatever, is to know what you believe in and where you stand," he said.

"The problem Annastacia Palaszczuk has is that I don't know where she stands on the Adani mine."

Mr Howard said the premier's views had changed based on where she was in Queensland. "In one part of the state she's for it, in another part of the state she's sort of against it and in another part of the state (she's) right against it," he said. "Now that is unimpressive irrespective of what your politics are."

The premier has come under fire during the election campaign over her handling of the Adani issue after she vowed to veto a $1 billion federal taxpayer-funded loan to the mining giant.

She initially said the decision was to avoid the perception of a conflict of interest following revelations her partner Shaun Drabsch worked on the loan application with employer PricewaterhouseCoopers. But Ms Palaszczuk later said it was to meet a 2015 election commitment.


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

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