Sunday, December 17, 2017

The African jungle comes to Melbourne

A 16-year-old boy who was allegedly robbed of his phone, watch and shirt by a gang of brawling youths on a beachside rampage in Melbourne has been left traumatised.

Locals and tourists were allegedly attacked by close to 200 youths of African appearance who were involved in the violence at St Kilda beach early on Thursday morning.

Police struggled to contain the fighting, overwhelmed by the huge numbers of teen thugs.

Alex Carter, the father of one teenage victim, said not only were his son's belongings taken but claimed he was punched over and over again.

'They left them standing half nude in the street,' Mr Carter told 7News.  'These guys are so clever the way they do it [the robberies], that it just sort of looks like a couple of teenagers having a bit of fun.'

Police are now appealing for witnesses  to come forward and urging the offenders to turn themselves in.

Footage of the rolling brawls shows young men and women trading punches and kicks on the beachfront.

Shocked bystanders said close to 200 youths of African appearance were involved in the violence at Melbourne's St Kilda beach early on Thursday morning

Up to 60 youths clashed at a McDonald's restaurant on The Esplanade, and police were called at 2:55am.

Inspector Jason Kelly called the actions of the teens unacceptable and said police are now hunting those responsible.

'Unfortunately last night we had a large number of youth attend, of African appearance, who have engaged in anti-social behaviour,' he said.

'They've committed crimes, they've been involved in a number of assaults on the foreshore of St Kilda.'

Beachgoers eating at nearby restaurants applauded police for their efforts to keep the rampaging teens under control, but said there were simply too many involved.

'Police officers handled it the best that they could, I think they were really outnumbers and struggled to get a handle on it,' said one witness.


Apex gang-linked thug, 20, spared jail despite terrifying series of ice-fuelled jewellery heists

And with sentences like this, there is no hope of restraining African criminals

A young man linked to the notorious Melbourne Apex gang has been spared jail and allowed to travel overseas on a lavish holiday.

Akon Mawien was high on ice and armed with a hammer when he helped steal about $200,000 worth of goods from multiple jewellery stores.

But the 20-year-old has won the freedom to travel to Sudan while on bail, the Herald Sun reported.

Police said his victims are furious they are repairing their businesses while he will be living it up overseas.

County Court Judge Elizabeth Gaynor said Mr Mawien's recent behaviour had been 'impeccable'.

Before the jewellery heist Mr Mawien has been an upcoming cricketer for Sunshine Heights.

He smoked ice for the second time in July 2016 before he and two other teenagers robbed a number of jewellery stores armed with hammers.

The heist was allegedly organised by long-time Apex gang member Mahmoud Taha, who promised them women and a hotel room.

Judge Gaynor said she was worried the victims would think the court was allowing the offender to go an 'exotic holiday'. But she said his recent good behaviour needed to be considered.

'This is a matter of honour… people are putting a lot of trust in you,' Judge Gaynor said.


IT WAS supposed to be the ultimate victory for love, so why has Australia’s joyous embrace of marriage equality resulted in so much hate?

Leftism runs on hate

Joe Hildebrand

Not towards the gay community — if anything the most high-profile opponents of same-sex marriage have slipped quietly into the shadows. Indeed, when the final vote came to parliament Tony Abbott was literally nowhere to be seen.

Instead, the most vocal vitriol came from the winning side. The side that was supposed to be all for love and tolerance and acceptance. The side I voted for.

Just after the new marriage law became enshrined in law last week I was intrigued to see the word “Lyle” trending on Twitter. Being a shameless country music fan I assumed it must have been in reference to the great Texan crooner Lyle Lovett, whom Julia Roberts shamelessly married just to advance her Hollywood career.

In fact it was a massive social media tsunami driven by thousands of users all posting the words “Eat s**t Lyle”, directed at the Christian lobbyist Lyle Shelton. I have never seen a more hateful celebration of love in my life.

This included, it must be said, many people I know and like and some whom I love. They probably just thought it was funny, and maybe it was on the screen.

Still, I thought about Charlotte Dawson, I thought about that porn star who killed herself after being hounded online for some dopey comment and I thought about Adam Goodes, who had to suffer the same baying mob mentality not just online but live in the arena. I went from shameless to ashamed.

Yet even more baffling was the outpouring of rage against the nation’s most high-profile Yes voter in the days after the marriage bill passed to laughter and tears in a near-unanimous vote in the House of Representatives.

It should have been an unprecedented celebration of national acceptance and unity — probably no vote has received such overwhelming support since the 1967 referendum to formally include Aboriginal people in the census. Yet how quickly did it descend into blame-making and name-calling — even after a victory that had been so emphatically won.

The target this time was Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who was variously chastised, mocked and abused for celebrating the win. I won’t repeat the worst insults here but it’s a fair bet anyone engaged in the debate has either seen them or hurled them.

The staggering thing of course is that Turnbull has been a public, vocal and longstanding supporter of same-sex marriage. In fact in 2016 he became the first sitting prime minister to attend the Sydney Mardi Gras, a milestone that was applauded at the time but has been conveniently forgotten since.

Whatever other faults he may have, homophobia is certainly not one of them. In fact his biggest fault is probably that he joined the wrong party.

Either way, the elation and relief Turnbull felt at the same-sex marriage survey result and subsequent parliamentary vote was obvious to anyone who saw or heard him. There were literally hugs, and that’s not something you see politicians doing too much these days without a knife in one hand.

Yet still he has been cast as a pariah by the extreme elements of the same sex marriage campaign. And why? Not because he opposed it, nor because he championed it, but because the result they wanted and that he delivered wasn’t achieved exactly the way they wanted.

Winston Churchill once described a fanatic as someone who can’t change their mind and won’t change the subject. Yet it is a frightening new kind of fanaticism when that same someone gets everything they wanted but still howls in retrospective protest at the way it was achieved. How excruciatingly precious politics has become.

And, most depressing of all, how ignorant.

But, least surprising of all, it is those who consider themselves the most politically aware who are most ignorant of how politics actually works. Or indeed the basic facts of the matter.

Let us take the various scattered complaints one at a time.

Perhaps the most prevalent is that Turnbull deserves no credit for the postal survey result, that the magnificent turnout of almost 80 per cent and overwhelming Yes vote of over 60 per cent occurred despite rather than because of him.

Well, no. Without the Coalition and the weird internal machinations that Turnbull was lumped with there would have been no result at all because there would have been no vote. There would have been no survey, there would have been no act of parliament and same-sex marriage would not be legal today.

Indeed, if there is anyone for whom the Yes vote win occurred despite rather than because of it is the Yes campaigners themselves, who even after the vote being called were not just opposing it but fighting its very legitimacy all the way to the High Court. If anything, it is despite that bizarrely contradictory move that overwhelming numbers turned out to vote and vote Yes, not despite the people who merely held the ballot in the first place.

Of course there are plenty of valid arguments as to why the postal survey was silly, compromised and unnecessary — and it is a matter of public record that I made many of them myself — but once a vote is on, it’s on. It’s pretty rich for one side to oppose the process, attempt to derail the process, in some corners threaten to boycott the process and then when the process turns out in their favour claim all the credit and slag off the people who started the process in the first place. I don’t think I can recall any other landmark political battle in which the winning side so vocally hailed themselves as legitimate victors while at the same time declaring the game was hopelessly rigged.

So there is that. Then there is the argument that Malcolm Turnbull should have just stuck to his principles, defied the binding vote of his party room, trashed the deal he made with the Nationals when he became PM and broken the promise he made to the Australian people when he went to the election and won, albeit by the slimmest of margins.

In other words he should have crossed the floor of parliament and voted against his own party’s official position.

This would have been what Sir Humphrey Appleby calls “a courageous decision”.

For one thing, Turnbull’s own vote would mean nothing were it not accompanied by every single member of the opposition and all the crossbenchers. This would have to have included several Labor MPs of the Catholic variety who may not have been so brave, as well as several whose electorates we now know were of the Muslim and Orthodox variety and also may have thunk twice without a thumping national mandate behind them. It would also have to have included Bob Katter, and frankly I’m not too sure he’s “all in” on the whole gay rights thing. Call me crazy.

If the Liberal party room had allowed a free-conscience vote on what should obviously be a conscience vote issue then that would have probably liberated enough other Liberal MPs to also cross the floor and carry the day. But the fact is the Liberal party room didn’t and so they wouldn’t. That’s the problem with facts, they get in the way of everything — except, of course, a good story.

And yet people who claimed to believe in the “old” Malcolm Turnbull were still calling for him to cross the floor. If only they believed in history too.

The problem is the old Malcolm Turnbull did cross the floor. He did it in 2010 just after he got knifed as Liberal leader for supporting an emissions trading scheme.

As for the emissions trading scheme, we still don’t have one. The Greens ended up blocking it because it didn’t meet their exact ideological standards.

And so Turnbull has much experience in standing on principle. It cost him his leadership, his support base and his credibility — and thanks to the Greens it was all for nothing.

Little wonder he is reluctant to once more march to the guillotine to satisfy the hard left.

But he still could have done it. He could have made a symbolic stand that would have achieved nothing but to show the world how virtuous he was, which now seems to be the cause du jour.

And to be fair it would not have been entirely symbolic. Depending on the timing, the practical impact would be that Tony Abbott would have remained prime minister or Peter Dutton would become the current one.

The amazing thing is that this would be a major victory for the new hard left, who prefer a right-wing prime minister they can protest against than a moderate leader who actually helps the disadvantaged people they pretend to care about.

For while Turnbull has had abuse hurled at him by the trendies for not saying the right things about same-sex marriage, he has been quietly implementing Labor policies that Labor itself failed to bed down.

In what are unquestionably the two most vital areas to address poverty and disadvantage — education and disability — Turnbull has implemented the true Gonski revolution with the blessing of the man himself and fully-funded the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

But it is not just deeply ironic that a Liberal PM is delivering Labor’s two most important and iconic reforms. What is more staggering is that Labor’s supposedly right-wing leader Bill Shorten is opposing them for cynical political reasons while the left-wing Anthony Albanese believes they should be embraced for the greater good.

The truth is that Turnbull is the best Liberal PM the left could ever hope for, and yet they still seek to destroy him. Indeed, there is only one group that hates Turnbull as much as the hard left and that’s hard right — and if that’s not a wake-up call to both of them then God help us all.

The problem with fanaticism is that if you always demand everything, pretty soon people will stop bothering to give you anything. That’s why Santa has a naughty list.

Indeed, what better gift could the nation give itself than a resounding declaration that love is love, that all of us are equal and that in a free and fair vote Australians overwhelmingly came out — even those who thought they shouldn’t have to — and flocked to the side of simple decency.

If that’s not a gift to be grateful for then nothing will ever be good enough.


‘They’re Trying To Change Our Holidays’: What Drew Young Australians To Milo Yiannopoulos?

By Max Koslowski. Max Koslowski is an 19-year-old student at the Australian National University

Max Koslowski spoke to supporters of Milo Yiannopoulos outside his recent Melbourne talk. Brace yourself.

Lauren has just left Milo Yiannopoulos’ show, and is still buzzing when her Mum texts. She turns her phone to me: “Don’t post anything about tonight on Facebook if you’re looking for a job”.

Lauren laughs. “It’s true. We are afraid of what to say because of these people,” Lauren waves to protesters on the other side of the road.

“I just went and saw a show, and I’ve been told that I’ve gotta be careful because of these people. And that really annoys me”.

The 22-year-old bartender has just finished watching Yiannopoulos, right-wing British-born provoker, perform in front of around 800 supporters.

“I’ve been called a Nazi. I sat down to listen to a dude speak and now I’m a Nazi. I honestly want to know why!”

Lauren, from Wodonga, 300 kilometres north-east of Melbourne, has come to the Milo show with her boyfriend David. Her main political worries stem from modern day feminism, Australia’s lack of free speech, and the increased power that Sharia law has in her country.

I ask how Sharia law is rising in Australia.

“They’re trying to….” she turns to her partner. “What are they trying to do?”

“I don’t really know what Sharia law is,” David replies.

“They’re trying to change our holidays… yeah, like Australia Day – which is ridiculous. And I don’t like the fact that they are trying to say their culture is very feminist – their law basically shuns women. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe they don’t. But that’s how I see it”.

David fits the profile of a typical attendee at Milo’s show – he’s a 23-year-old who works at a McDonald’s in Geelong while finishing his degree. Most of Milo’s supporters here are young and male, and some have turned up as couples, or as part of a whole family. But most rock up in small friendship groups.

Like Harry and Simon – two 19-year-old high school leavers, who first got into Milo after seeing videos online. They tell me about how they lost friends when they started to support the controversial figure.

“Most of my guy friends are pretty fine with it. A few of my girl friends, I feel like they misunderstand what views on the right of politics are,” Harry explains to me. “Because they’ve got such an agenda being pushed down their throats, the minute you say something against feminism, all of a sudden you’re against all of women”.

But he was hopeful that his strong beliefs weren’t for nothing.

“The political landscape is shifting a bit now. With guys like Milo coming over, there’s a lot more attention being given to these viewpoints, I think people are drifting over and somewhat being converted.

“A lot of kids – we just finished Year 12 – a lot of kids in our year are attracted to him because he’s funny and charismatic.”

Part of the Victorian Police contingent at the protests against neo-Nazi booster Milo Yiannopoulos in Melbourne recently.
Part of the Victorian Police contingent at the protests against neo-Nazi booster Milo Yiannopoulos in Melbourne recently.
I ask them whether they think that Milo galvanises those on the far right.

“I think a lot of them hate him. There’s no Charlottesville-type protests going on here,” Harry replies, referring to violent protests in the Charlottesville, Virginia that lead to the death of one.

“There’s no Antipodean Resistance, or stuff like that,” Simon jumps in.

The Antipodean Resistance are a small Australian neo-Nazi group. I point out that Blair Cottrell, the infamous co-founder of United Patriots Front who once said that there should be a copy of Mein Kampf in every classroom, had attended the protests, and note that he was joined by far right groups True Blue Crew and Sons of Odin.

“But the vast majority were probably normal people,” Harry responds.

“Yeah, I didn’t think it was a genuine concern for people to say that Milo is going to bring out all the racist rednecks, because if he were to, then they’d turn up tonight,” adds Simon. “Maybe there was Blair and a couple of his mates, but I don’t really think it’s a big deal”.

Some rocks and water bottles are thrown in our direction by the protestors on the other side of the road. A police officer asks us to move on, so we head towards the group of Milo supporters who are starting to line up for the next show. One fan, who is wearing a Make America Great Again cap, sits on his friend’s shoulders and holds up a pro-Trump flag. The protesters across the road boo. I realise that the supporters aren’t lining up, but instead voluntarily waiting outside, enjoying the spectacle.

I ask some others waiting outside how they first got interested in Milo. Anna and Harrison, 19-year-old siblings who travelled an hour and a half from Ballarat, say they “probably just saw him on social media or something”.

Duncan, a 16-year-old who is here with his Mum, says the same thing.

I move inside. I try to listen to what people are saying – one supporter asks his friend where all the “beautiful blonde Aryan chicks are”. His name is Carlos, and he is here with his friend Hayden – both are in their 20s, and both work at the same pizza shop.

“He’s for freedom of speech,” Carlos tells me, speaking of Milo. “I’m a bit worried about this country – I feel like I can’t state the wrong opinion or look in the wrong direction without having the wrong intention. I feel like I can’t manspread. I get looks – it’s a bit disconcerting to me.

“I started liking Milo when Trump was going for the presidency. He started calling Trump ‘Daddy’, triggering people and showing their hypocrisy. I just identified with that point of view that hadn’t been stated so bluntly before”.

Carlos had also lost friends because of his support for Milo.

“I don’t have friends anymore. Most of my friends don’t talk to me anymore. Our point of views changed – it came to a breaking point, where I agreed with the right-wing stuff more. I started learning more about the ideas, and everything just changed. They stopped being friends with me,” he said. “Even on little arguments and disagreements, they would think I am implying something, but I wasn’t. I lost a lot of my friends because we were disagreeing. Daily interactions changed.”

The foyer is starting to get packed – a lot of people are holding on to a copy of Milo’s new book, ‘Dangerous’, and many are wearing Donald Trump’s iconic red caps. It feels festive. Someone laughs as they say that they hope a car runs over some of the protesters outside.

It’s a couple of minutes before the show’s start time. The crowd is waiting to be let through the doors. Hayden shouts “Make Australia great again!”, and some clap and whoop in response.

When the doors finally open and the show begins, Milo plays the room well. He doesn’t say much for the first couple of minutes, and then kicks things off by asking a question:

“Australia, what have they done to you?”


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

Friday, December 15, 2017

China businesses wary of Australia's 'suspicious attitude' amid political row

Beijing: Chinese businesses are concerned that "anti-China" sentiment in Australia will put investments at risk or block Chinese energy deals, it has been reported.

However tourism to Australia is unlikely to be hit over the peak Australian summer season, as tours are already fully booked.

Chinese state-owned company China Energy Reserve and Chemicals Group has bid $463 million for Australian natural gas company AWE, but is facing resistance from AWE which has pointed out the Chinese offer would require approval by the Foreign Investment Review Board. On Monday, a rival bid was made by Australian company Mineral Resources.

Northern China is facing an acute natural gas shortage this winter, in the wake of coal bans for heating to combat air pollution. Australia is the second largest exporter of liquified natural gas and was expected to become the largest within a year.

Chinese newspaper The Global Times reported concerns that, following Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's statement that Australia would "stand up", the Chinese bidder may not be treated fairly.

"It is natural to wonder whether energy acquisition deals can be implemented smoothly at a time when anti-Chinese sentiment is on the rise," the paper wrote.

The deputy director of the information department at the China Centre for International Economic Exchanges, Wang Jun, told the newspaper that a shift in Australia's political attitude may bring changes to the business environment in Australia in the long term, and Chinese companies should watch out for "risks".
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However a property developer and a clothing factory manager interviewed by the newspaper said they had seen no impact.

A real estate executive for a company that specialises in sales of Australian houses to Chinese families said Chinese economic sanctions against Australia were more likely in other sectors, such as resources, Australian products and tourism.

Jane Lu, head of Australia for, said: "We believe this row will remain confined to the diplomats and don't foresee any impact on the property market.

"Even if China were to express its unhappiness with economic measures, the most likely targets would be on consumer goods, resources exports, and tour groups. That is what we've seen in the past when China has had serious diplomatic disputes with trading partners."

The People's Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, rarely ventures into reporting on foreign affairs, but carried a prominent story on the Australian diplomatic row for a second day in a row.

Under the headline "Remain vigilant on Australia's biased speech and action against China", People's Daily reported that Labor's candidate for Bennelong, Kristina Keneally, had accused Mr Turnbull of deliberately spreading "Sinophobia".

At a regular press conference on Monday, foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said comments by "the Australian leader have drawn attention in China.

"We advise the relevant personnel to stop making comments which undermine their own image and the China-Australian relationship".


The drop dead drug that creates ‘zombies’ tightens its grip

IT’S a drug so potent that it’s being considered for use in death row executions, and it’s strengthening its grip on Australia.

A string of recent drug deaths in Melbourne and Sydney are believed to be connected to the dangerous “zombie” drug Fentanyl. Fentanyl, in it’s illicit form, is being blamed for the worst opioid crisis in America’s history.

In Australia, the horrible irony is, as users die of overdoses of illicit fentanyl in our streets, hospitals have this year been forced to ration due to shortages of the drug in its clinical form.

Fentanyl, 50 times more potent than heroin, and much cheaper to make, already has the US in its death grip. Also known as the “drop dead” drug, it’s now creeping steadily into Australia’s streets — courtesy of a black market in prescription versions, and, perhaps even more deadly — the fact it's being added to heroin by illicit drug makers and dealers.

Many users think they’re buying heroin. Until a hit prompts an overdose which leaves them unconscious. Or at worst, dead.

Fentanyl was blamed for 13 deaths in Sydney in early 2015, and ten deaths by overdose in Melbourne in late 2015 were linked to the drug.

At first they were put down to a “bad batch” of heroin. Now it’s been discovered the “bad batch” contained the much more powerful opiod fentanyl.

The abuse problem isn’t confined to the cities — rural and regional areas are also in the grip of opioid addiction. Last week, an under-resourced Townsville Hospital complained it was turning away addicts of all types — including those addicted to opioids, who were doctor-shopping to get their fix.

Deaths from fentanyl in Australia increased 1800 per cent in 15 years, ABC’s Background Briefingreported in November.  A report from the National Coronial Information Service (NCIS), revealed 498 fentanyl-related deaths occurred between January 2010 and December 2015. That was up from just 27 in the previous decade.

In the US, opioid abuse — including that of fentanyl — kills 142 people a day and is so bad the President has declared it a national health emergency.

Senior doctors say the trend in Australia points to a similar emergency. Few know better the power of fentanyl than Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA) president, Professor David A Scott. As director of anaesthesia and acute pain medicine at St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne he has seen and administered the drug in the clinical setting for which it’s intended.

Everything that makes it a brilliant choice as an anaesthetic or painkiller makes fentanyl deadly on the streets, he says. “(Fentanyl) has commonly been used in anaesthesia and for more than 30 years. But the dose we administer is tiny, compared to when it is used as an illicit drug,” he said. “Anaesthetists like it because it comes on quickly and wears off after a relatively short period of time.

Fentanyl has also been used for the treatment of chronic and severe cancer pain, with a patch form listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme for other types of chronic pain since 2006.

There are claims some GPs, emergency doctors and specialists are overprescribing the opioid, and that they are turning up on the black market. “The patches can be quite high levels of the drug, but the intention when they are used in palliative care is to dispense a low, slow dose so it provides a constant background level of fentanyl.

“Certainly, the opioids that are out there now are causing more harm than any good. In some cases they’re causing death — and that’s completely unacceptable,” Prof Scott said. “People take it for the same reason they take other opioids like heroin: it is a potent narcotic and so you have a euphoric high from using a large dose.”

He says those in the greatest danger are illicit drug takers taking fentanyl either unknowingly — when it is mixed with the less potent heroin — or in ignorance of how much more powerful it is. “The high would not be dissimilar to heroin or morphine — they get a euphoric feeling,” he said.

“You must remember some people aren’t actively choosing to take it — they are buying heroin for the heroin euphoric feeling, and then are overdosing because someone at some point has cut in fentanyl as well.  “And if you get a big dose, especially one mixed illicitly where there’s no quality control — it’s even more deadly.”

“It slows breathing. They fall unconscious. And then it stops the breathing.”

Ironically, Australian hospitals have this year suffered shortages of clinically-supplied fentanyl, after the main pharmaceutical supplier, Aspen, could not meet demand. “Shortages which meant it was rationed peaked midyear. That problem was because Aspen got a number of new contracts across the eastern seaboard and suddenly couldn’t fulfil their requirements,” Prof Scott said.

He says it’s a bitter irony that the drug seems at times harder to get it in a legal and safe manner than it is on the street.  “It just goes to show that path ways for illicit drugs are sometimes more established,” he said.

“We should be very afraid of fentanyl in its illicit form. Used illegally, it’s very potent. “The gap between getting the high they are after and having their breathing stop is just too, too narrow. The risk of death is just too high.”


Bennelong: kids caught in campaign crossfire as Keneally loses cool

Kristina Keneally was showing the strain of the battle for Bennelong yesterday, labelling Malcolm Turnbull a “fool” who had “nothing to offer” and chiding a former media colleague who questioned Labor’s “Mediscare” attack. But as the by-election race entered its final days, it seemed Ms Keneally’s team was generating its own share of anger among the residents of the northwestern Sydney electorate who have endured weeks of saturation political campaigning.

Furious parents at Melrose Park Public School in the electorate this week complained to police and Ryde Council when Keneally campaigners “accosted” children with pamphlets as they walked into school on Tuesday.

Disgruntled parents said the volunteer campaigners, had “gone too far” and shown “a lack of ­integrity and ethics” by parking a billboard criticising the Prime Minister outside the primary school.

Jackie Hadley, who was picking up her granddaughter Laeticia, 11, from the school, said campaigning had been “much more aggressive than usual”.

“I’ve been receiving four calls a day from each party with recorded messages telling me how to vote,” she said. Laeticia said “it was just wrong,” describing the volunteers’ campaigning outside her school as an “invasion of privacy”. Another parent, Deborah Riley, said that in her 40 years living in the area, she had never seen an ­election campaign like this. “It’s been so intense. They’re manipulating children as part of their ­campaign ... it’s really dirty tactics. Anyone who is under 18 and can’t vote should not be approached.”

School principal Clare Kristensen said Ms Keneally’s volunteers had a “legal right to be camped outside the school” and “it was the parents who were ­aggressive”. Ryde Council confirmed it had received 11 formal complaints about by-election campaigning.

Labor and Liberal acknowledge the importance of winning Bennelong, with the government poised to lose its one-seat majority in the lower house if its candidate, John Alexander, is defeated.

The Liberal Party is spending about $1 million on its Bennelong campaign and has conducted four electorate-wide direct mailouts worth $110,000 each. Labor sources claim they have spent far less than the Liberals but a Liberal source said when the union and Labor spending on the campaign were combined, they were spending “bucketloads more than us”.

Every campaigning tool has been used. John Howard ­robocalled voters on Tuesday night and both sides have bombarded letter boxes with flyers in both ­English and Chinese in an electorate where more than 20 per cent of voters are of Asian heritage.

Mr Turnbull said it was a “very tight contest”, arguing that a loss for Mr Alexander would mean Bill Shorten would be “one step closer to being prime minister” and unleash a “catastrophe for Australia”.

But despite enlisting the help of Mr Turnbull on the hustings, the PM is nowhere to be seen on his party’s how-to-vote cards, which are written in both English and Chinese and have been widely ­distributed.

The ACTU will today launch an online “cost-of-living tool”, which claims to calculate rises in housing, electricity, gas, healthcare, education and childcare costs. The tool asks users: “Can you afford another term of Liberal government … Send Turnbull a message on 16 December. Vote the Liberals out in Bennelong.”

With internal polling suggesting the Liberals are ahead in the race but published polling indicating a dead heat, Ms Keneally and Mr Alexander were both looking for knockout blows yesterday.

Labor yesterday seized on the Liberals’ use of a website,, which attacks the Labor candidate’s record. “Today we see a Prime Minister who is making a fool out of himself,” Ms Keneally said yesterday flanked by Mr Shorten at Ryde Hospital.

“Turnbull has stood up in front of the nation and admitted that he bought a website in my name for the purpose of smearing me, of spreading lies. Malcolm Turnbull’s website is wrong in his facts and he’s just wrong for the country. He’s acting like a fool, he doesn’t have anything to offer the people of Australia.”

She chided her Sky News colleague Caroline Marcus when asked to clarify her much challenged story about being turned away from a Medicare office and later tweeted that Mr Turnbull was “embarrassing himself”.

Mr Shorten echoed these sentiments, accusing Mr Turnbull of being “up himself” and called his Coalition colleagues the most “grumpy group of people”.

Speaking at a defence event in Macquarie Park yesterday, Mr Turnbull admitted his party had purchased a domain name — ­ — which contains a series of attacks on her record as premier and ties to disgraced powerbroker Eddie Obeid.


Australia enjoys another big lift in jobs

New figures show another 61,600 people found work in November, three times the size expected by economists.
Updated Updated 2 hours ago

Treasurer Scott Morrison has been handed an early Christmas present with news that a further 61,600 joined the workforce in November, a 14th straight month of gains.

The rise, which was three times the size forecast by economists, comprised 41,900 full-time workers and 19,700 part-timers.

It kept the unemployment rate at 5.4 per cent, the lowest level in almost five years.

Thursday's labour force report also included the latest quarterly reading for those people considered underemployed - employed but seeking more hours of work.

The underemployment rate eased further to 8.4 per cent in August, accounting for just over one million workers, after hitting a record high of 8.9 per cent in February.

Mr Morrison will hand down his mid-year budget review on Monday, which is expected to show a smaller deficit than predicted in May, partly as a result of a revenue windfall from a strong labour market.


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

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Australia still ‘totally radioactive’ 60 years after Hiroshima-scale nuclear tests (?!)

This is hysterical rubbish. A few sites in the desert were  decades ago used for small nuclear tests.  But due to their isolation, very little radiation "leaked" far from the original sites.  Some desert-dwelling Aborigines living near the sites were however affected.

Radioactivity levels in 99% of Australia today are no different to anywhere else.  And the tests have long ago been stopped so have no relevance to current uranium mining. And Australia has no nuclear weapons. The guff below is just irrational attention-seeking, mixing up totally different things

AUSTRALIA is a “totally radioactive” country riddled with hidden cancers and birth defects that risks becoming worse for future generations if the government does not limit uranium mining and the use of nuclear weapons.

That’s according to nuclear test survivor Sue Coleman-Haseldine, 67, who was raised in the shadow of British nuclear tests carried out at Emu Field and Maralinga in the 1950s and 1960s, where bombs on the same scale as Hiroshima were detonated and led to fallout known as “black mist”.

The Kokatha woman grew up in a community where people were blinded, killed or made sick from radiation poisoning with fertility problems and birth defects now common in the district.

The devastating effects she’s witnessed first-hand drove her to advocate for an end to weapons and mining on an international stage.

“Australia is totally radioactive,” she told “There’re so many deaths from different cancers. Myself and my granddaughter don’t have thyroids as they’ve been removed. The defects in newborn babies are heartbreaking.

“If you ask one of the young ones [in her South Australian community], ‘What do you think you’ll die from?’ they’ll say ‘cancer’ because that’s what everyone else dies from. The government is doing nothing at all. They don’t want to know.

“As people of Australia, we all need to join forces — everybody: black, white and brindle — and shame the government to sign this treaty to ban nuclear weapons.”

The stark warning has helped capture global attention, with the Australian International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) recently scooping the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo for their efforts. Coleman-Haseldine said it was “absolutely wonderful” to travel with the group of around 100 non-governmental organisations and gain global recognition for those sent like “lambs to the slaughter” to work on nuclear testing sites during British operations in Australia.

“People hadn’t even heard of Maralinga, which was absolutely mind-boggling,” she said. “We’ve been poisoned once, no more. I’ve lived under the shadow of Maralinga all my life. I don’t want the future generation living under a toxic waste dump that they wouldn’t even see coming.”


The British government carried out 12 nuclear tests, including seven at Maralinga, two at Emu Field, both of which are in South Australia, and three at Monte Bello in Western Australia, over the 1950s and 1960s.

The first “operation buffalo” at Maralinga involved a 15 kilotonne atomic device that was the same strength as Hiroshima, to test the “red beard” tactical weapon. It led to radioactive clouds being sent towards the east coast with subsequent clean-up operations in 1964 and 1967 only making the contamination worse according to Dr Liz Tynan, who wrote a book about the Maralinga story called Atomic Thunder.

More than 60 years on, the Australian-founded group won the world’s top peace prize despite problems that persist in Australia. The win was based on ICAN’s work persuading the UN to adopt a Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons which provides a “pathway” to a nuclear-free world.

ICAN’s Asia-Pacific director Tim Wright has been involved with the campaign since its inception and Australia remains a “big part of the problem” when it comes to nuclear weapons. While the country does not have its own, it is protected under the US “nuclear umbrella” that would mean the US retaliating with nuclear weapons if Australia was attacked.

“We believe that Australia should take a principled stand against them just as it’s done for biological, chemical weapons, cluster bombs and landmines,” he said, adding that “you can’t have 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world” and avoid them being used.


Power bills prices to fall after Australia receives unexpected gas surplus

A big new gas mine was about to come on stream in Queensland about now so that may be a large part of the change

Australia has narrowly avoided a crippling gas crisis that would have forced multiple businesses to close their doors, according to a new report by a consumer watchdog.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says wholesale gas prices have fallen by about 50 percent since September, with a forecast shortfall turning into a potential surplus.

Australian families can eventually expect to see benefits of this surplus with reduced power bills, Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said.

“We will see reduced pressure on power bills for Australian families,” he said.

“We’re already seeing more gas being made available as a result of the intervention of the domestic gas market. This is very significant. “But we’re not out of the woods yet.”

It follows threats by the Turnbull government to impose export controls on gas giants, diverting gas to domestic markets.

The ACCC chairman Rod Sims said the companies had taken action to address a looming shortfall, claiming “things have improved significantly” since. “We now have a situation where a potential shortage seems to have disappeared and companies are able to get gas,” Mr Sims said.

“So that’s more supply, lower prices and that’s good news. But the market is still tight and prices are still probably higher than they should be.”

Mr Sims said a number of industrial companies had narrowly avoided going out of business, calling the situation “extremely dire”. “You’ve got a lot of commercial industrial customers making glass, bricks, paper, fertiliser – a whole lot of products we take for granted – if they didn’t get gas by January 1, 2018, they (would have) had to close,” he said.

“Virtually all of the companies that were struggling to get gas now have gas.”

Shadow Energy Minister Mark Butler said the government had failed to deliver on its promise to halve gas prices for Australian manufacturers this year.


Hysteria over Beijing’s influence can be costly

EARLIER this year a Newcastle University lecturer complained about being “confronted” by a Chinese student during a discussion about the status of Taiwan.

In a lecture, the academic had called the island off the Chinese mainland “a country”, which does not reflect the view of most Chinese or many Taiwanese.

After the lecture, the student approached the academic and complained. There is no evidence of anything amounting to intimidation – no raised voice, as has been suggested.

This is one of four recorded occasions when Chinese students have “waged war” against “politically incorrect” lecturers in Australia.

Some perspective is needed. As academic James Laurenceson points out in a Lowy Institute post, there are, right now, 108,269 Chinese students studying at more than 30 Australian universities.

Despite this, only four events classed as intimidation or other threatening behaviour have been reported, including the Newcastle example cited.

This kind of over-reaction is all too common in Australian-Chinese relations.

We fret about the Chinese buying all the property in capital cities, making housing too expensive for our sons and daughters.

There are breathless reports of the Chinese wanting to buy our farming land and scoop up minerals and other resources.
Chinese tourists, students and business are worth billions to Australia’s economy. Picture: AAP Image/Josh Woning

There’s no doubt the Chinese have interests in Australia and look at our myriad resources as targets for investment and purchase.

After all, China has one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world, estimated at about $US3 trillion.

However, as suggested by the facts about Chinese students, the reality often does not match the common perceived wisdom.

At the moment there’s a mild panic spreading through the political and intelligence communities about the Chinese.

There’s no doubt we should be vigilant about possible Chinese interference and any attempts to meddle in our politics.

Like other countries, they will be in it if there’s an opportunity and, with useful idiots like New South Wales Senator Sam Dastyari – who was yesterday forced to quit Parliament because of his careless associations with the Chinese – there’s an abundance of potential.

The Chinese crave attention and influence. They want to have their interests heard and reflected in policy-making in other nations.

They also aren’t very good at working the system. As a one-party state they think they can snap their fingers and get their way.

It can be ugly, as it was when the bussed-in Chinese students disrupted the 2008 Olympic torch parade in Canberra with red flags.

It can also be comical, on a Peter Sellers “Inspector Clouseau” level, as we saw with the Dastyari autocue news conference on the South China Sea.

The danger in all this is that we overreact and unnecessarily put the Chinese off-side.

After all, as the Parliamentary Library reminds us, we can’t do without China economically.

“Today, China is Australia’s largest trading partner in terms of both imports and exports,” says a recent Library report.

“Australia is China’s sixth largest trading partner; it is China’s fifth biggest supplier of imports and its tenth biggest customer for exports.

“Twenty-five per cent of Australia’s manufactured imports come from China; 13 per cent of its exports are thermal coal to China.”

The Chinese have reacted very negatively to comments from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and resulting media reports about proposed laws to curb foreign interference in Australia’s politics.

While Turnbull said these laws were “not about any one country”, there has been an anti-Chinese flavour about the Government’s rhetoric which has not gone down well in Beijing.

Following Turnbull’s statements last week the Chinese Canberra Embassy took the extraordinary step of issuing a formal response.

Attacking claims of “so-called Chinese influence and infiltration”, the embassy said they were made up and reflected an anti-Chinese hysteria.

The embassy argued recent reports had “unscrupulously vilified the Chinese students as well as the Chinese community in Australia with racial prejudice, which in turn has tarnished Australia’s reputation as a multicultural society”.

The danger in loose words about China is that the reaction can be unfairly harmful.

China is a Communist command nation and economy. They can turn taps on and off, whether they are for resources or services.

It is easy for the rulers in Beijing to get the word out that Australia is not a good destination for tourism or the best place to send children for tertiary studies.

In respect of tourism, about 1.4 million Chinese visit Australia each year resulting in an average spend of about $8000 for each visit. This is serious money.

Education services for Chinese students are worth more than $6 billion a year for Australia and this figure is expected to climb significantly under the new China-Australia Free Trade Agreement.

Yes, Chinese activity in Australia should be closely monitored, and Beijing should be kept in line on all fronts, whether it’s donating money or seeking influence.

However, the short step to hysteria can carry a very heavy cost.



NSW govt won't back down on shark nets

Once again the Green/Left want to toy with people's lives by introducing unproven safety measures.  The whole point behind their activism is to save the lives of other creatures that get caught in the nets.  Who cares if a few people get attacked?  Greenies think people are pollution

The NSW government won't stop its shark net meshing program despite a Senate inquiry report finding nets provide a false sense of safety.

A shark expert has called on the NSW government to change its approach to shark prevention, insisting shark nets can't be relied upon to provide safety to beachgoers.

The criticism follows the release of a Senate inquiry report on Tuesday, which had been charged with examining shark mitigation and deterrent measures.

The report recommended shark nets across NSW beaches be phased out as their effectiveness was difficult to evaluate, but the significant damage caused to other marine wildlife was clear.

The NSW government has refused to put an end to its controversial netting program, noting on Wednesday there had only been one shark attack fatality at a meshed beach in NSW since the 1930s.

University of Sydney shark bite researcher Christopher Neff has slammed the government's decision, insisting the nets are not a "reputable approach" to beach safety. "If the government ignores the most comprehensive study on shark prevention in Australia, they need to rethink their approach," Dr Neff told AAP on Wednesday. "There is absolutely no evidence to support that shark nets are the leading beach safety option."

He urged the government to consider drones as an inexpensive early warning direction system that would work "phenomenally" with shark shields on surfboards.

The Greens-dominated Senate committee found the measures implemented by some governments, including mesh nets in NSW, provided beachgoers with a false sense of security.

But NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair has remained firm in the government's decision to keep the meshed nets in place.

"I find it insulting to the staff that have been researching this area, insulting to the investment we've put in and more importantly it's insulting to the communities that have been affected by shark attacks," Mr Blair told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday.

Following concerns about the amounts of by-catch caught up in the nets, the government made modifications to reduce the effects on marine wildlife and continues to investment in SMART drumlines and drone technology as part of a suite of measures to make beachgoers safe, Mr Blair said.

Marine conservationist and drone operator Dean Jefferys also championed the use of drones as a "ridiculously cheap" option but said it was about time the government came on board and phased out the nets.

"If the government refuses to implement the recommendation of the Senate inquiry, we will launch an international social media campaign urging tourists and locals to not swim at beaches with shark nets," Mr Jefferys told AAP on Wednesday.


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

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Malcolm Turnbull opens door to national anti-corruption body but dismisses ICAC model as beset by 'hearsay and rumour'

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has for the first time suggested he is prepared to consider creating a federal anti-corruption watchdog.

Mr Turnbull said he is not yet persuaded the case has been made for such a body but that "the policy objective is zero tolerance, I take that very seriously".

With all other parties in the Federal Parliament prepared to support such a body, Mr Turnbull's government – which has thus far resisted calls from the crossbench, Greens and Labor – is the final obstacle.

And in an interview with Fairfax Media to mark the end of the Parliamentary year, Mr Turnbull also ramped up pressure on Bill Shorten to sack embattled NSW senator Sam Dastyari, arguing to do otherwise was a failure of leadership.

The Prime Minister also played down the impact on Australia-China relations of the government's new foreign interference legislation, arguing the furious reaction from Beijing was "of a kind that we have seen before".

Mr Turnbull said that if a federal anti-corruption body were to be created, he favoured something modelled on Victoria's IBAC, the independent broad-based anti-corruption commission, rather than New South Wales' ICAC, the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

The ICAC has been criticised for having powers that are too broad; the IBAC has, conversely, been criticised for powers that are too narrow and do not allow it to fully investigate suspicions of corruption or misconduct in public office.

After a difficult 2017 that saw the Coalition consistently trail Labor in published opinion polls – and his government beset by divisions over same-sex marriage, the citizenship crisis and energy policy – an optimistic Mr Turnbull said he had dealt with those three large "barnacles" attached to the ship of state.

Heading into 2018, his focus will be on delivering personal income tax cuts for middle Australia and trying again to cut company taxes for businesses with a turnover of more than $50 million a year.

But it is his failure to rule out a federal anti-corruption watchdog that is most significant.

"New South Wales, we all understand the problems that arise if these things turn into places where hearsay and rumour can be thrown around free of any responsibility," he said, referring to that state's anti-corruption body.

"So you have to make sure that you re-assess these agencies, reassess the work they are doing, ask the question if they are adequate to the task – there has been a Senate Select Committee recently [looking] at a National Integrity Commission."

"I am considering that report very carefully and if the government's conclusion is that there are gaps in our armoury, then we will look at the best way to fill them. But you have just got to make sure that you get it right, as the experience has been mixed."

The Senate inquiry, which concluded in September 2017, recommended the Commonwealth give careful "consideration to establishing a Commonwealth agency with broad scope and jurisdiction to address integrity and corruption matters", as well as a Parliamentary Integrity Commissioner.

It also suggested additional resources be allocated to the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI), which monitors police agencies.

There have already been discussions in the public service about transforming a "super-sized" ACLEI into an anti-corruption body.

On Senator Dastyari, who is under mounting pressure to quit Parliament over his links to Chinese Communist Party-linked political donor Huang Xiangmo, Mr Turnbull said it was "absolutely screamingly obvious that Dastyari should not be in the Senate".

"The Dastyari episode is a shocking one, I think it will provoke nothing less than contempt in Beijing that an Australian senator would behave in this way – and it's a terrible indictment on Shorten and his failure of leadership," he said.

The proposed foreign interference laws were not about China, he said, but simply focused on ensuring that anyone who sought to influence Australian politics and decision making did so openly.

"There is no taint about representing the interests of a foreign government in Australia, as long as you do so transparently and honestly."

Mr Turnbull would not comment on whether any state or federal politicians had been identified by government agencies as possible agents of foreign influence.

Mr Turnbull suggested that the significantly changed complexion of the Senate crossbench – six senators, including two from One Nation, two from the NXT, one Family First senator and Jacqui Lambie have all gone – could open the door to his government successfully steering the company tax cut through.

But in a direct pitch to middle Australia, Mr Turnbull said "the next priority is personal income tax cuts, middle income tax cuts – the timing and extent [of which] is obviously a question of affordability".


Electricity and gas bills take up to 12 per cent of household budgets

Large low-income families, pensioners and indigenous Australians have been hardest hit by the rise in energy costs and face increasing difficulty paying electricity and gas bills that could consume 12 per cent of their household budgets.

Research to be released today by KPMG, using census data and the Household Expenditure Survey published this year, pinpoints the impacts of “energy poverty’’, suggesting about 42,000 families are struggling to deal with rising power costs.

The paper, authored by demographer Bernard Salt, who acted as special adviser on the research, and Cassandra Hogan, KPMG’s national sector leader for power and utilities, suggests that spending on energy rises only modestly as income rises.

Per-person spending in the lowest income bracket averaged $15.57 a week compared with $18.91 in the highest income bracket. This meant low-income families had limited ways of reducing energy costs and large families and pensioners were most vulnerable to rising bills.

A low-income family of five with an estimated weekly energy cost of $77.85 would be spending about 12 per cent of their weekly income of about $650 on energy. A pensioner couple’s weekly energy costs of about $31 would be 5 per cent of a weekly income of $650.

Ms Hogan said the rising cost of energy could affect a household’s quality of life “in a very real way since energy is a fixed, as opposed to a discretionary, cost’’. “And the reason why it is devastating is because it exposes no less than 1 per cent of the Australian nation, including no less than 200,000 kids, to the bruising effects of energy poverty,” Ms Hogan said. “Poor households with big families in the public housing estates of our biggest cities are most exposed. For these Australians there is no defence.’’

The impact of energy poverty includes about 10,000 low-income families in the western Sydney suburbs of Fairfield and Liverpool. Energy poverty hot spots in Melbourne include about 9700 families in the city’s north at Hume and the southeast at Dandenong. In Brisbane, the impact is clustered around Logan to the south of the city, affecting 3700 families. In Perth about 3000 families, centred on Gosnells, are affected. And in Adelaide, the impact is on about 2400 families around Salisbury.

The research found that weekly average household spending on domestic energy had risen 26 per cent over six years to $40.92 from $32.52 in 2010.

Ms Hogan said better targeting of relief payments and hardship schemes was required from government and retailers. She said customers facing hardship could be automatically placed on the best available energy offers. She also called for improved efforts to offer early assistance to customers struggling to pay.

“The federal and state governments need to develop a national concessions framework to ensure a consistent and transparent approach to customer assistance that minimises costs for retailers and hence consumers,’’ she said.

Smarter technology enabling customers to understand where costs were escalating quickest would help them manage. They would also benefit if retail plans were made easier to understand and to compare like-for- like.

While new technology such as gas and battery storage and more energy-efficient appliances could help, gas remained a potential problem. There were insufficient options to alleviate gas consumption, which represented a large proportion of household energy usage.


Whistleblower compensation is sorely needed

I was a teenager working at Walton's department store when, in 1986, one of Walton’s senior managers discovered that the store's new owners, the Bond Corporation, had embarked on a creative method of recognising revenue.

As he had repeatedly reported the matter internally without a response, the manager felt there was no other option but to report the transactions to the company's external auditor.

The following morning he was greeted by this auditor and Alan Bond. And, just like that, this senior manager’s 25 year career at Walton’s was over.

The auditor had told Bond, one of Australia's most powerful businessman, that this manager had blown the whistle. Eight months later, he left the business. He was 51 years old.

This story stayed with me after I left Waltons and became a policeman. In 1992, while I was investigating a major drug syndicate, a whistleblower came forward providing important details of the syndicate’s supplier.

The whistleblower was registered as a confidential informant and in return for his information, he was entitled to a monetary reward.

The cops, not known then for progressive thinking, had nevertheless worked out that for a person to risk their safety or career to help catch a bad guy, something more than the warm, fuzzy feeling of helping expose corruption was needed.

Fast forward to 2015. Sixteen years into my career as a forensic accountant and I was interviewing a minor player in the centre of large corruption scheme which ultimately led to seven executives being charged and convicted.

Not benefitting from the scheme personally, but aware that the conduct of his executives was wrong, the employee said he had helped cover up their misconduct for fear of losing a job he had held for 12 years.

Asked to co-operate and provide evidence, the employee asked: "what is in it for me?" The only honest answer I could give was: 'nothing.'

Decades after the cops twigged that rewards were needed to solve crimes, our corporate crime busters, the federal police and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, can offer little to entice potential whistleblowers to risk their career to help expose corporate corruption.

Yet think of the benefits of exposing corruption before it causes a major scandal. The impact on a company, its employees and shareholders if this is not done can be significant, causing major damage to reputation, share price and company morale.

The impact can shudder through the economy. Thousands of mum and dad investors or policy holders were adversely impacted by scandals involving Enron, OneTel and HIH.

Whistleblowers represent the innate part of the human spirit where there is value placed on doing the right thing.

Society needs to protect these people who often risk more than they will ever gain by speaking out.

They represent the honest and decent core of our community, often protecting shareholders or the general public from the fallout if corruption is not exposed before it spreads.

In October, the federal government released the first of what will hopefully be a much wider program of legislative reform aimed at encouraging corporate and tax whistleblowers to speak out.

The draft legislation, which is currently before the Senate, aims to protect whistleblowers who may expose themselves to significant personal and financial risk.

The bill has received mixed reviews with some proponents suggesting the proposed reforms are limited and in some cases unworkable for many companies.

As part of the wider reform program, the federal government is expected to review the recommendations from the parliamentary inquiry into whistleblowers, including the consideration of a reward program and establishing an independent Whistleblower Protection Agency.

I largely agree with this report's recommendations, but I do not subscribe to the 'US bounty' style payments for whistleblowers.

I was not surprised that this has not found its way into the draft legislation.

Still, some form of compensation scheme is badly needed.

The introduction of a Whistleblower Protection Agency with independent members and the inclusion of judicial experience could help manage this, ensuring appropriate compensation is delivered for the loss of future earnings (rather then a US style cut of any penalty faced by the company).

Strong penalties for those that fail to protect whistleblowers are also necessary to ensure corporate Australia takes notice.

The scheme should be designed to protect the senior manager who blew the whistle at Waltons and to punish those in the company who destroyed his career.

For those wondering what happened to this maligned whistleblower, after leaving Waltons he focussed on raising his seven children. A whistleblower scheme could have seen this man prolong his professional career.

But my father told me that if he had his way again, he'd still have spoken out. I don't doubt him for a moment.


The Dystopia in the Desert: Australia’s Remotest Aboriginal communities

In the clear-skied springtime of 2010, an enthusiastic new recruit to desert life named Tadhgh Purtill clambered aboard a light plane and took the long flight out to Warburton community, the little capital of the Ngaanyatjarra Aboriginal lands in Western Australia. He was a true believer, a robust advocate of strong self-determination, a supporter of the idea that indigenous people should be free to live on their ancestral lands.

Purtill felt these people had “every right to place themselves at a distance from mainstream Australian society, even to opt out of it, and that their cultural interests and rights might be best served by such a situation”.

He spent 2½ years in the remote world of the Ngaanyatjarra, first as a community development adviser and then as a managerial mentor to the region’s staff. None of his initial convictions survived his time in the bush: in fact, he found the opposite of his dreams.

His account of this remote community sojourn, The Dystopia in the Desert, brings together what he saw, heard and learned, and builds a theory from his observations. It is a detailed and disquieting narrative, at once an adventure of personal discovery and an exercise in wild social analysis. He plunges into delicate terrain, and deals in explicit fashion with matters that are usually airbrushed out of view. This is a work to set beside the darker texts of modern anthropology, and one that reveals a good deal about its author as well as its ostensible subjects.

It is a mark of Australia’s lack of serious attention to questions about remote Aboriginal life that this book has been ignored while headlines have been devoted to the elusive dream of indigenous constitutional recognition. For Purtill, the realm of the Ngaanyatjarra, a quarter of a million square kilometres inhabited by some 2000 people, is a place unlike any other:

The region is home to a social and organisational event of disorienting complexity. It is also home to a culture of deep darkness, one that is not seen in the official and statistical registers. This culture is not the Aboriginal culture. It is an operational culture that has grown up within the region, partly through what is perceived to be necessity, partly through convenience, partly through neglect, but in all cases through a strange encounter between Aboriginal culture and whitefella culture, and the contrary expectations of each.

The “region” is, in other words, a modern frontier zone, an ambiguous, shifting domain where policy ideas and strategies clash with each other, and interest groups and individuals strive for advantage in an ill-charted murk.

The rules are elaborate, and unwritten: Purtill sets them out. In this era of self-determination, those who run the communities, the “staff”, must appear to consult their Aboriginal subjects and obtain a degree of consent for the regulations they impose and the initiatives they advance. Welfare and municipal funds provide the life blood of the system: access to and control over the money flow equates to power. Administrators naturally seek accommodations with community leaders; they tend to favour their clients in return for expressions of support. Locals give lip service to the outside staff in return for benefits such as access to vehicles, housing, travel funds, store and fuel vouchers, all the items that lubricate remote community life and contribute to status and advantage.

This kind of patronage system is familiar enough in authoritarian regimes around the world, where power decides resource allocation. The novel element in the Australian remote indigenous community context is that the entire system is itself dependent on dependency. Locals depend on administrators and their service organisations, and service organisations depend on government. Worse is better: the poverty and dysfunction of the Aboriginal bush is what generates the necessary funds. Hence a premium is placed on the absence of progress.

“It is reasonable,” writes Purtill, “to ask whether any organisation that depends on government money, and whose entire existence therefore depends on a demonstration of its own need, is likely even to have the operational capacity to develop the independence, capacity and power of its own constituents.” Purtill came by his interpretation of the system through a hard exposure to its workings. He took up his initial post in a tiny Ngaanyatjarra community that he is careful not to name. It was in fact Tjirrkarli, one of the grittiest Aboriginal outposts in the Western Desert.

His experiences there and more broadly through the lands were exorbitant: he reports that violence and bullying were endemic. Advisers like him were regularly abused, threatened and on occasion assaulted by Aboriginal community members seeking money or protesting against local regulations and rules: “Most staff have witnessed violence among community members, or have dealt with its immediate aftermath, and perceive that threats made against them are not idle.”

In his 19 months at Tjirrkarli, a place with fewer than 25 residents, he saw a community member bashed outside his office, a man attacked with a machete, and a woman assaulted with rocks and projectiles by a group of eight or 10 assailants. He saw an older woman threatened with a brick by her own son after she refused him money; he found a man wandering about the community with a deep cranial gash and a piece of stick protruding from his forehead after an attack by a petrol sniffer. Death threats came his way from time to time. Sometimes tensions ran so high, he felt it best to spend his nights away from his house in the community.

One natural result of this pervasive atmosphere of threat and aggression is a high turnover of outside staff. Other writers seeking to convey the texture of remote community life tend to present this in oddly humorous terms, as a token of the amusing incompetence and ­naiveties of incoming do-gooders. Purtill provides a more sombre anatomy of the standard cycle of community employment. The new staff member arrives with much enthusiasm and sets to work with a will, determined to improve things. Over time they experience various stressful, disappointing or even frightening situations involving other staff or locals, and from that point on the person lives in “an emotional state in which his private tension never completely ­subsides”.

Then comes self-questioning, disillusion or a sense of defeat. Decision time now looms: either leave, or stay and accept that this is how things are in the bush communities.

Often this second course of action gives way to a position of acceptance: the staff member ceases to be offended by the social dysfunction and comes to see it as legitimate, as somehow authentic, as “the way the locals want to live”.

At this point the staff member has become part of the system, and even comes to resist any attempts at reform.

The missionary — nowadays the well-meaning secular idealist — becomes the disillusioned but well-remunerated mercenary and then, having lost his moral and ideological bearings, morphs into the ensconced misfit. The transformations are never witnessed or recognised by others because the others are not there long enough to see all three phases occur in the same person; and the eventual misfit himself continues to believe that he is still acting from noble motives.

Perverse progression! But perverse incentives and consequences, and ill-kept secrets and half-articulated compromises, are endemic in the portrait Purtill presents of the lands. This is a realm where staffers can forge the signatures of community leaders, where some shopkeepers feed themselves from the stock of the community store, where staff administrators running a strict alcohol-free zone drink in their homes and where spending public money irresponsibly is an art form. Purtill gives, again, examples from his own experience: a plumber based in Kalgoorlie is sent 900km to fix one pipe in a community, does the job and then, without offering his services to anyone else there, turns around and drives back. A school has too much food for its breakfast program, but reducing the oversupply is bureaucratically impossible and the surplus food mountain continues to grow. A plane flies in from Alice Springs to take a girl to boarding school, but no one has arranged the pick-up and it flies back without her.

Episodes of this kind are familiar features of remote community life. What is less familiar is Purtill’s willingness to describe the pattern.

His observations lead him to his theory: the entire Ngaanyatjarra region, he argues, has now become a special “operational space” where a greatly transformed post-traditional Aboriginal society interacts with the Western administrative culture. Much of this interaction is nominal, rather than real.

Training, employment, schooling, governance — the Ngaanyatjarra themselves tend to be apathetic towards these activities, and participate only when benefits, in the form of a barbecue, perhaps, or a sitting fee, are on offer. New programs aimed at community development come and go in quick succession. Work by ­locals on local projects is often skipped or poorly done, school attendance is low, the official claims of success and progress in economic or educational ventures are facade claims, quite at variance with reality.

“What we now have,” writes Purtill, “is a general image of disorder, imbalance, pointlessness, confusion — in its essence, futility.” It is a “carnival” of administered chaos, there is “the swirl and lurch of different people and processes, the cross-surgings, the many goals of a motley system”.

Deceptions and self-deceptions are everywhere, dewy reports to government that misrepresent the dire condition of the communities are routine. Meanwhile the entire frontier zone operates to maintain the dystopian status quo. Not only do Aboriginal people not run their communities, they do not have the capacity to run them.

The polite story locals and administrators profess to believe is that the whitefella staff carry out the wishes of Aboriginal leaders, but this is “simply a myth”. Aboriginal leaders have influence, of course, but that influence falls far short of self-determination, and the powerful “custodial class” of long-established whitefellas in the region has no desire to surrender control.

Hence the unspoken arrangement in place, the “implicit moral contract in which whitefellas gain professional status, salaries and operational power while Aborigines retain formal pre-eminence and personal freedom from the burdens of operational responsibility”.

What has developed in the far desert Ngaanyatjarra lands is not, then, a society that is in a state of dysfunction but a smoothly running mechanism, a successfully dysfunctional little state.

This is quite a charge sheet, made yet more potent by its evident relevance to scores of other similar groupings of remote indigenous communities strewn across the centre and the tropical north: Aboriginal people viewed as indolent, manipulative, violence-prone and devoid of any serious commitment to economic or educational advancement; whitefella staff as mediocre, profiteering, hypocritical basket cases, presiding over a failed, chaotic network of human zoos. The whole remote community world as a long-running enterprise of conspiracy devoted to propagating a profitable lie.

A handful of the key administrators and anthropological specialists who work in the Ngaanyatjarra region have read The Dystopia and, unsurprisingly, disagree with the harsh contours of Purtill’s analysis. No doubt Ngaanyatjarra men and women would be wounded, if they read it, by certain aspects of the frontier portrait the book sketches out.

No work of such critical intensity has been published to date on the modern remote community system, and while there is much in the portrayal that is frank, fearless and precise, there are aspects of it that invite modifying commentary. This is a work pitched, for all the specifics and case examples, at a high level of abstraction, an elegantly written intellectual jeremiad rather than a standard memoir of a season spent in the indigenous bush. This its besetting difficulty.

Purtill seems not to have learned any Western Desert language, and not to have enjoyed close relations with any local informants. The Aboriginal figures who appear in the narrative are ghostly shadows, rather trapped and exploited by their compliant-seeming whitefella custodians.

The view of Western Desert traditional culture that is presented is at once respectful and elegiac. Yes, there are times of “creativity, joy, celebration, happiness” in the communities, and these are often related to ceremonial life, but regional bodies in the desert are seen as overplaying the cultural strength of the locals because they know that their own legitimacy is strongly tied to that culture’s continuing resilience.

The truth, for Purtill, is that the culture is fading away, and “to admit the true extent of cultural depletion” would be “an embarrassment”. And of course by some fundamental, pre-contact benchmark, indigenous culture is changing, adapting, becoming a less potent dilution of what it originally was, and in a fateful way all Aboriginal societies are following this trajectory.

But if there is one place in Australia where the picture is a little different, it is the deep Western Desert region centred on Warburton and the Ngaanyatjarra lands.

From this January to May, a vast ceremony cycle bringing more than 200 desert men together unfolded smoothly, in secret, free from all outside involvement, at sites in the vicinity of Warburton.

Once the enduring position of ceremony, ritual, law and the bonds they forge is given its central role in desert community life, Aboriginal behaviour begins to look slightly less inexplicable, less feckless and perverse.

For many of the current generation of senior men and women leading traditionally accented lives, religion and law provide the heartbeat for their world, and the administrative presence and the programs and incentives that seek to usher them into a modern existence are mere distractions from the true, fulfilling purpose of their lives.

Resistance and noncompliance with the dreams of mainstream Australia for a placid, integrated Aboriginal society in the remote bush thus have a certain logic. It is a resistance that runs paradoxically alongside submission to welfare dependency and to the encroaching blandishments of Western influence, its alcohol, drugs and tidal waves of mass entertainment.

It’s a resistance that has the strategy of exploiting its masters and the effect of subverting their reforms.

Purtill himself hovers close to this more nuanced analysis in his final pages, as he describes the limits that inevitably preclude full comprehension by outsiders of the desert world: “That world, a foreign domain of thought and feeling, novelty and inheritance, with its seething weave of the tragic and the beautiful and the intriguing — its different notions of what is — can it ever be really understood?”

There is an unknowable hinterland that he sees stretching out beyond his compass of desert life. “It is in that hinterland that the communities of the Ngaanyatjarra region are functioning, and creating, and defying. The defiant creation, the dystopian system, caters to inextinguishable Aboriginal instincts — the instinct to survive as a people, to refuse to become something else.”

And refusal helps create the present impasse, and invites the ever more concerted policies of surveillance and supervised community-based work governments are now mandating in a bid to promote change.

But the present landscape contains a double bind: the remote Aboriginal frontier, ­chaotic as it is, offers no obvious prospect of constructive evolution in conformity with mainstream desires. Hence the vital, unask­able questions: How long can the bush communities continue to exist in their present form? How might they develop, and under what terms? And who, what kind of people, will live in them in generations to come?


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

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

No-vote MPs put the pressure on Ruddock

The conservative pushback to same-sex marriage has begun with No-voting MPs seeking to influence a review of religious freedoms led by former Liberal attorney-general Philip Ruddock.

Conservatives yesterday said the substance of unsuccessful amendments to protect religious freedoms — defeated on the floor of parliament despite the passage of a historic gay marriage bill last week — needed to be revisited by the Ruddock review or risk being seen as an affront to No voters.

South Australian Liberal senator David Fawcett, who helped devise five of the unsuccessful amendments to the bill that passed the parliament last week with overwhelming support, yesterday signalled his interest in ­resurrecting his changes through the expert panel review process.

“Having been involved in this since the Senate select committee which I chaired that led me to become one of the leading advocates for amendments for protections in the actual same-sex marriage bill, I’m clearly disappointed that they were voted down,” Senator Fawcett told The Australian. “And I’ll be looking to work with Mr Ruddock and the government to ensure protections are put in place.’’

Labor MP Chris Hayes, who used his speech in the House of Representatives to argue for religious freedoms to be examined in the Ruddock review, said there was a need to consider enshrining Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in Australian law to better uphold religious liberty.

“I think there’s some utility in investigating the application or bringing into Australian domestic law the tenants of Article 18 of that convention,” he said. “I would think that it would be one of the areas that the expert panel might care to look at.”

Other Coalition MPs who supported religious freedom amendments voiced concern they had not been consulted over the decision to announce the expert panel, which includes Australian Human Rights Commission president Rosalind Croucher, retired judge Annabelle Bennett and Jesuit priest Frank Brennan.

“The inquiry panel was selected without consultation and largely reflects the biases and relationships of the Yes voting cabinet members,” one Coalition MP said. “I hold little hope after a close look at the voting patterns of both the Senate and the Reps with respect to the amendments (being revisited).”

A spokesman for the postal survey No campaign said supporters of traditional marriage remained “hopeful but extremely concerned” about whether religious freedom protections would be secured through the Ruddock review, which is due to report at the end of March.

“Not only has there been a lack of consultation, there is no clear understanding that this process will lead to an actual legislative outcome that provides protections for Australians of faith,” the spokesman said. “The absence of a prominent No voice on the inquiry is of concern, and does not send a positive message to the millions and millions of No voters.”

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said he supported the Ruddock review, and schools should have the ability to “teach in accordance” with their religious world view. “Once we’re out of the shadow of the marriage debate, the sorts of protections we talked about in the last parliamentary sitting week, I think it is proper for those to be considered,” he said.


Is this how we stop Sudanese Apex gangs? Boot them out

Violent migrant youths could be kicked out of Australia on their 16th birthday under a hardline proposal to stop African Apex gangs from terrorising neighbourhoods.

Federal Liberal MP Jason Wood, a former police detective, made the recommendation for unprecedented action as the chairman of a parliamentary inquiry into migration settlement.

The Melbourne-based backbencher, whose electorate of La Trobe is home to Sudanese Apex gangs, said the mandatory deportation of youths convicted of violent crimes, when they turned 16, would 'stop crime and keep communities safe'.

His report also proposed the compulsory cancellation of the visas for those convicted of sexual assault, serious assault, home invasion and carjackings when they became an adult at 18.

'We need to make it clear to those who commit serious and violent crimes that their actions will have consequences,' he said. 

'I have seen this in my own electorate with the rise of the Apex Gang, a group of young people with a Sudanese background terrorising suburban Melbourne with riots, thefts, carjackings and violent home invasions.'

Cabinet ministers were told about the recommendations and had offered their support, New Corp reports, however Labor members of the committee accused Mr Wood of 'hijacking' the report to win political support in his electorate.

The recommendation follows the pending deportation of Sudanese-born former child refugee Isaac Gatkuoth, now 20, who was imprisoned for an armed, ice-fuelled carjacking committed in November 2015.

Gatkuoth was last year jailed for 14 months in a youth detention centre for pointing a sawn-off shotgun at a driver in Frankston, south-east of Melbourne, as the youth rode in a stolen BMW with four others when it rammed another car.

The youth, who came to Australia as a nine-year-old refugee, was given a deportation order for being linked to the Apex gang, along with three New Zealanders.

Labor members of the parliamentary committee released a dissenting report, accusing Mr Wood of 'hijacking' the report for political purposes.

'Despite minimal or no evidence the report focuses on young humanitarian entrants from Sudanese backgrounds who engage in criminal activity,' they said.

The Labor MPs, including Melbourne-based Maria Vamvakinou, also disagreed with Mr Wood on the idea of amending the Migration Act of 1958 so visas would be automatically cancelled for youths, aged 16 to 18, convicted of serious violent crime.

'The current character and cancellation provisions in the Act were an adequate method of addressing non-citizens who have been involved in criminal activities,' they said.

When it becomes to radicalisation, the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 already contains provisions to cancel a dual national's citizenship, for those aged 14 or older, if they engaged in terrorist acts.

Ahead of the report's release, Mr Wood last month released date showing Sudanese youth as young as 10 had committed 400 per cent more violent burglaries in just three years.

It showed the number of Sudanese-born criminals, aged 10 to 18, committing aggravated burglary in Victoria surging from 20 in 2014-15 to 98 in 2016-17, with Apex gangs particularly active in south-east Melbourne suburbs like Frankston and Pakenham.

The data he released also showed a 55 per cent increase in serious assaults by Sudanese youth, between 2014 and 2017, from 29 to 45.

Sudanese-born youths, aged between 10 and 18, are the most represented ethnic group when it comes to aggravated burglaries, car thefts and sexual offences.

Victoria's Crime Statistics Agency last year released data showing aggravated home invasions by Sudanese-born youth, aged 10 to 18, had risen 10-fold between 2012 and 2016, to 40 incidents

Apex-linked gangs are notorious around the Frankston, Sandringham and Cranbourne/Paken­ham rail lines, the Victorian police revealed in 2016.

But there have also been incidents in Melbourne's inner-west and western suburbs.

In June, a man was struck in the head with a tomahawk when a gang of men burst into a Melbourne barber shop and started brawling.

Up to 15 men, many who are believed to be of African descent, entered the shop in inner-city Footscray and began fighting.

In April, a gang of five Sudanese teenagers allegedly bashed their autistic classmate, in a horrific attack on a bus at Tarneit, in Melbourne's west.

The 17-year-old student was travelling alone to the city centre, when five boys approached him and told him to hand over his mobile phone and new Nike shoes.


Hefty Yiannopoulos bill shows Victoria Police has taken sides with the Left

THE last group you’d expect to indulge in victim-blaming is Victoria Police. Our police force is meant to protect and serve, not fine victims of lawlessness for needing police protection.

That is essentially what happened last week when police command decided to send a hefty bill of at least $50,000 to the organisers of the Milo Yiannopoulos tour.

Not only does the decision set a dangerous precedent for free speech in Victoria, but it also reveals a perverse lack of fairness.

The enormous bill reflects the significant police resources that were needed last Monday night when feral mobs rioted for five hours in the streets of Kensington while trying to stop ticketholders from entering the Australian Pavilion.

Assistant Commissioner Stephen Leane first threatened to fine the venue before it was determined that the organisers would foot the bill. Police Minister Lisa Neville said: “For these sort of rallies, but also for the AFL and those big events, there is an agreement around the costs.”

This attempt by the minister to compare the charges to what sporting bodies routinely pay is disingenuous nonsense.

A law-abiding crowd of 3000 attending a ticketed event would not require 300 police officers, including dozens in riot gear.

That came about purely because violent far-Left activists converged on the venue to try to shut down the event — an all-too-regular occurrence in Victoria.  Not satisfied with hurling vile abuse, the protesters also threw rocks, sticks, bottles, and even street signs.

If it were the ticketholders rampaging, then I’d have no qualms about saddling the organisers with the bill.

However, the small number of police that would normally be needed, and paid for by organisers, at an event of this size ballooned to something entirely different thanks to the actions of extreme Left agitators.

Anyone who has seen footage of the mayhem would be surprised to learn that police arrested only two people that night.

Victoria Police may have created a rod for its own back by punishing the injured party and effectively rewarding the thuggish louts who want to use violence and intimidation to shut down events, meetings and rallies of their ideological opponents.

Today, the event organiser, Penthouse publisher and free speech advocate Damien Costas, spoke of his dismay over “political grandstanding” in Victoria.

“Our attendees did nothing wrong. They lined up quietly and looked on as the protesters that weren’t invited and, frankly, weren’t welcome, threw rocks and bottles at police,” Costas told the Herald Sun.

“We negotiated in good faith with the Victorian police and we reached an agreement as to what was required and what we needed to pay for.” Mr Costas also revealed that he was yet to receive the bill, and would refuse to pay it if it did arrive.

“This is nothing more than political grandstanding … we haven’t received a bill and there’s been no talk from police on our end to even suggest we’re getting one,” he said.

But last week, Ms Neville warned that the bill had to be paid, saying: “(It’s a) big call to say you’re going to ignore a bill from Victoria Police.”

Yiannopoulos’s events in Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland went ahead with little trouble. In NSW, demonstrators were aggressive, but not as violent or as destructive as their Victorian counterparts.

NSW police arrested seven protesters, who were charged with offences including assaulting police, hindering police, affray, failing to comply with directions, and breaching the peace. It seems they take upholding the law and protecting the peace a little more seriously north of the border.

In one sense, we shouldn’t be surprised with the climate of censorship in Victoria, where conservative commentators have had to cancel book launches, and members of the Jewish community cannot meet with MPs due to fears of violence from far-Left activists amusingly calling themselves “anti-fascists” or “anti-racists”.

Meanwhile, Melbourne’s CBD is regularly thrown into disarray by activists who block traffic to protest over a variety of national and international issues.

When have the socialists, anarchists and other assorted fringe-dwelling malcontents ever been sent a bill for the police presence needed at their rallies, or a bill to cover the cost of the loss of productivity that comes about as a result of CBD streets being blocked for hours at a time?

The desire to silence opposing views is a phenomenon of the Left.

You don’t see speeches by visiting Left-wing commentators with far more outlandish views than Yiannopoulos — who was farcically misrepresented by much of the media — being subjected to violent protests.

Look at the extraordinary measures the organisers of the Yiannopoulos tour went to, to minimise the violence of the Left.   The venues were kept secret until a couple of hours before each event, to prevent activists from monstering the venue and intimidating the staff and business owners.

Those same activists now have another weapon in their arsenal to silence opposing views.  By rioting and causing maximum mayhem, they can financially punish their political opponents.

Who will bother to bring out any speaker with Right-of-Centre views when the threat of violence from a small group of pests could result in an enormous bill from the police?

This decision will embolden totalitarian thugs to behave even more violently.


Antifa Australia goes for the jugular

They are so filled with hate that anyone who disagrees with them is a "Nazi".  That is a problem

The first rule of antifa is you do not talk about antifa. Not to a journalist, at any rate. It is less an organisation than a broad objective across the radical left; a determination to block, frustrate and ultimately silence far-right politics. It is fundamentally illiberal and necessarily secretive. For these reasons, it is poorly understood and readily mischaracterised.

Antifa activists are not mindless thugs. They are well organised and, generally, experienced political and social activists who are prepared to resort to violence — they say reluctantly — to deny the far right any platform from which to promote its ideas. In Melbourne and Sydney this week, they mobilised more than 100 supporters within an hour to shout down a speaking event by the alt-right’s charismatic bomb thrower, Milo Yiannopoulos.

Yiannopoulos was not stopped from having his say but the fact he was unwilling to publicise the locations of his shows in advance is being celebrated as a victory of sorts across Australia’s anti-fascist network. The morning after anti-fascist activists and right-wing “patriots” traded blows on the streets of Kensington and police were pelted with rocks, the group that organised the Melbourne protest, the Campaign Against Racism and Fascism, heralded it as a success.

The following night, seven people were arrested in Sydney when protesters tried to disrupt a Yiannopoulos speaking event in the inner-west suburb of Lilyfield. Speaking to Inquirer shortly before the protest, organiser Omar Hassan explained that although he was not looking for a fight, he was ready for one.

“Primarily, the way the far right can be beaten is not through individual acts of violence but collective empowerment and the building of mass movements,” he said. “These mass movements have to do what is required to stand their ground and challenge bigotry. Sometimes that involves a physical altercation, but that is not of our choosing, that is just something we are prepared to do.

“We know from history that when the far right organises, the violence that is inflicted on communities is much more severe than anything we have seen at any of these protests.”

Tess Dimos, a spokeswoman for the Campaign against Racism and Fascism, argues that when you’re confronting white nationalists on the streets, violence is part of the gig. “They are not the kind of people you can stand quietly next to and have some kind of vigil,” she says. “These people go to these demonstrations intending to pursue violent acts. We do whatever we can to try to keep everyone safe and together.”

The antifa view of the world is that far-right politics — particularly white supremacy, nationalist chauvinism and the kind of fascism that tore Europe apart in the middle of the 20th century — is again on the rise across Western democracies.

In the US, this conviction has made bedfellows of anarchists, Marxists, socialists, anti-racists and other militant activists beneath the antifa doona. In Australia, existing left-wing groups such as Socialist Alternative have diverted resources from other campaigns to fight what they describe as the fascist menace. New groups, such as Jews Against Fascism, have formed to fight the far right.

The start of this counterculture war can be traced to the Easter weekend two years ago when a large Reclaim Australia rally took over Melbourne’s Federation Square. Hassan is a 31-year-old bartender and events manager. He is also an active member of Socialist Alternative who contributes regularly to its online publication, Red Flag. “The size and breadth of that mobilisation of the far right shook many of us up,” he says. “Nationally, we decided to prioritise anti-fascist organising.”

The same event prompted Jordana Silverstein, a University of Melbourne academic, to form Jews Against Fascism. “We fundamentally disagree that if you ignore fascists they will go away,” she tells Inquirer. “They don’t. They become emboldened.”

Asked when violence is acceptable, Silverstein’s response is instructive: “We don’t have a strict line on that. My grandparents were in concentration camps and ghettos from 1939 to 1945. The focus needs to be on the violence that fascism perpetrates and the racist violence that the state ­perpetrates against marginalised groups. That is the more pertinent question for the media to be dealing with it.”

The antifa armoury includes more than protest chants and punches. Mark Bray, formerly an activist in the Occupy Wall Street movement, is the author of Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook, published in Australia by Melbourne University Press. In interviews with anti-fascist activists in Europe and the US, Bray explores antifa tactics including the dark art of doxxing, a form of online sabotage pioneered by computer hackers.

In the antifa context, doxxing means the outing of Nazi sympathisers — the publication of ­information that identifies anonymous far-right bloggers or activists, which in turn puts pressure on employers to sack them. This year a University of Nebraska philosophy student, Cooper Ward, was doxxed and unmasked as the voice on an anti-Semitic podcast, The Daily Shoah. Bray says he was driven off campus and into hiding.

“Despite the media portrayal of a deranged, bloodthirsty antifa … the vast majority of anti-fascist tactics involve no physical violence whatsoever,” Bray writes.

“Anti-fascists conduct research on the far right online, in person and sometimes through infiltration; they dox them, push cultural milieux to disown them, pressure bosses to fire them and demand that venues cancel their shows, conferences and meetings; they organise educational events, reading groups, trainings, athletic tournaments and fundraisers; they write articles, leaflets and newspapers, drop banners, and make videos … But it is also true that some of them punch Nazis in the face and don’t apologise for it.”

The antifa doctrine on violence, justified loosely as a form of first-strike, preventive defence, is summed up for Bray in this billboard quote from Murray, an Anti-Racist Action member in Baltimore: “You fight them by writing letters and making phone calls so you don’t have to fight them with fists. You fight them with fists so you don’t have to fight them with knives. You fight them with knives so you don’t have to fight them with guns. You fight them with guns so you don’t have to fight them with tanks.”

The contention here is that antifa resorts to violence only when earlier tactics fail to achieve its aims. If this were true, and if antifa were fighting only Nazis, many people wouldn’t have a problem with the occasional push turning to shove. There is a reason we laugh during The Blues Brothers when Elwood guns his Dodge Monaco across a bridge and forces a hapless band of Illinois Nazis to leap into the river. There is a reason the blood-spattered scenes in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds seem a little less gratuitous when it is a Nazi skull meeting a baseball bat. There is a reason footage of American white supremacist Richard Spencer getting punched in the face on the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration went viral. After all, they’re Nazis.

A problem for the Australian antifa, and indeed for anti-fascist groups in Europe and the US, is that few people and organisations they oppose here have much to do with Nazism. Consider the rollcall of hard-right leaders who turned out in Kensington in support of Yian­nopoulos. Neil Erikson, a far-right agitator and leader of a small group known as Patriot Blue, used to be a Nazi but in recent years has publicly disavowed his former beliefs and now says he is a supporter of Israel.

Blair Cottrell, the hulking former leader of the defunct United Patriots Front, is fascinated by Adolf Hitler as a historical figure but ridicules neo-Nazism as a contemporary political movement.

Avi Yemini, a tough-on-crime activist, is a former Israeli soldier. He recently joined Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives and hopes to stand as a candidate in next year’s Victorian election.

As for Yiannopoulos, although some of his supporters are Nazi sympathisers — Inquirer was sent a picture of a man giving a Nazi salute as he walked out of his Kensington speaking engagement — there is scant evidence that he is.

When Yiannopoulos was preparing a treatise on the alt-right for the Breitbart website early last year, he sought the input of a white nationalist blogger and self-described Nazi, Andrew Auernheimer, and forwarded it along with contributions from other hard-right figures to his co-author, a Breitbart staff journalist. When the Buzzfeed news site obtained emails exchanged between Auernheimer and Yiannopoulos, it reported them as proof that “Breitbart and Milo smuggled Nazi and white nationalist ideas into the mainstream.” There was no smuggling involved, Nazi or otherwise; Yiannopoulos’s treatise was a rambling cook’s tour of right-wing groups, with Auernheimer quoted as an on-the-record source.

Yiannopoulos’s presence here was bound to provoke antifa. The term has been in use in Europe since the 1980s but it first pierced the American public consciousness last February when black-clad violent demonstrators trashed the University of California’s Berkeley campus and forced the cancellation of a Yiannopoulos show. The demonstration, which caused $US100,000 worth of damage, was a tactical success but, arguably, a strategic failure.

Since Berkeley, Yiannopoulos has found it difficult to find venues in the US willing to host his show. He quit Breitbart after a video emerged of him appearing to condone sex between men and 13-year-old boys. His supporters say his star is rising. His opponents argue he is already flaming out.

The fallout for antifa has been mixed. Speaking to Inquirer from New York, Bray says the movement is stronger and better organised than it was a year ago. “The spectacle of Berkeley and the precedent it set emboldened a lot of anti-racists and anti-fascists,’’ he says. “It was a call to arms for the movement.’’

Berkeley also set in train a series of events that last week culminated in FBI director Christopher Wray announcing that antifa activists were the subject of a counter-terrorism investigation. Wray told the US House of Representatives homeland security committee: “While we are not investigating antifa as antifa — that’s an ideology and we don’t investigate ideologies — we are investigating a number of what we would call anarchist-extremist … people who are motivated to commit violent criminal activity on a kind of antifa ideology.’’

Now that Yiannopoulos’s tour has ended, antifa in Australia will readjust its sights to homegrown targets. Hassan makes clear this will not be limited to the extreme right: “It is about building an anti-racist movement with the confidence to challenge bigotry in all its forms,” he says. “That includes taking on the far right but it also includes the establishment right as well: Cory Bernardi, George Christensen, Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull.”

The risk here is that, in the absence of genuine Nazis to punch, antifa will employ its tactics against people who hold legitimate conservative political views.

Bray, who introduces his book as a “unashamedly partisan call to arms”, defends militant anti-fascism as a “reasonable, historically informed response to the fascist threat”. If that threat in Australia is more perceived that real, where does that leave antifa?


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