Tuesday, June 18, 2019

John Setka has threatened to withdraw millions of dollars in funding from Labor amid Anthony Albanese’s push to expel him from the party

Looks like the Setka stoush goes back to his union's dissatisfaction with Shorten's Greenie policies. Setka represents miners.  Enough said

Embattled union leader John Setka has threatened to withdraw millions of dollars in funding from Labor amid Anthony Albanese’s push to expel him from the party.

Mr Setka, who heads up the Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU), claims the effort to expel him was sparked not by comments he made about domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty, but by the funding threat.

“What I said was no more money to the ALP. We are freezing everything. Not one more cent,” Mr Setka told The New Daily, referring to the same meeting where he supposedly disparaged Ms Batty.

He argued the unions were wasting their money supporting Labor.  “The $12 million the ACTU spent, they might as well have gone down the racetrack and gone to the Crown casino and got a better return,” he said. “They f***ed it all. Their policies. Everyone tip-toed around and did everything we had to do. Millions and millions of dollars. And we are in the gun now.”

The ALP executive is due to meet on July 5. That is when Mr Albanese will move to expel Mr Setka — a move supported by 12 national unions and ACTU secretary Sally McManus.

Speaking to The New Daily, Mr Setka said he would look to challenge his expulsion in the courts. “Look, my view is I will challenge it. It’s up to the members because it would be a costly exercise,” he said. “I am a little bit old school. I actually think you should have actually done something before you get cooked on a spit about it.

“They’ve accused me of bagging Rosie Batty. Now, it’s clear that wasn’t said. Well good luck to them. It’s going to be a long, drawn-out thing.”

Mr Setka denies the accusation that he made disparaging comments about Ms Batty. Other union leaders who were at the meeting have backed him up.

It seems he told the meeting that, according to lawyers he’d spoken to, laws had become skewed against men in recent years, particularly in the wake of Ms Batty’s campaigning and Victoria’s royal commission into family violence.

Those comments are not the only issue behind Mr Albanese’s push to expel him. Mr Setka’s personal conduct is also a factor — he has indicated he will plead guilty to harassing a woman with text messages.

But the Opposition Leader did cite Ms Batty when he publicly called for the expulsion last week. “Rosie Batty is a great campaigner against family violence and the idea that she should be denigrated by someone like John Setka is completely unacceptable to me as leader of the Australian Labor Party. And I don’t want him in my party,” Mr Albanese said.

Mr Setka claimed it was really all about money. “Right now, without sounding like a sook because Albanese is going to expel me, look, I would say no, we are not going to give them a cent,” Mr Setka said. “I said at the start of that meeting, we are not giving one more cent to the ALP. That’s a big threat to a lot of people.

“Why should we give them any more money? That’s the bigger threat. So you’ve got to read between the lines.”


Campus bureaucrats prove timid friends of free speech

The government is mounting a campaign to resurrect freedom of expression in Australian universities. Throughout history, academics have been punished for questioning fashionable orthodoxy. In the 21st-century West, they enforce it by silencing dissent and ostracising dissenters.

Australian university leaders seem not to care much for freedom of speech as a universal right. They willingly ignore the historical fact that when the suppression of dissent becomes state law and institutional policy, democracy dies.

The government is taking a fresh approach to liberating higher education from its orthodox rut. It commissioned an independent review into free speech on campus led by University of Western Australia chancellor Robert French. Major recommendations include that each higher education provider has “a policy that upholds freedom of speech and academic freedom”. A model code is recommended to extend the principle of freedom to all forms of expression, including art and music.

The government is emphasising the importance of freedom of expression and the case made by French across 300 pages is difficult to refute. Lest it be seen as meddling with university autonomy, the Coalition has made the model code voluntary. It is a leap of faith and, I believe, an error of judgment.

The ivory tower is a bastion of orthodoxy protected by billions in taxpayer funding. Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan has revealed universities will receive a record $17 billion funding this year. As such, he thinks they should take some responsibility for their impact on Australian culture.

The argument makes sense in light of recent higher education reforms. As education minister, Julia Gillard commissioned a major review of tertiary education. The Labor government adopted two key targets from the Bradley review: at least 40 per cent of 25 to 34-year-old Australians will have a bachelor degree or above by 2025 and students from low socio-economic status backgrounds will comprise 20 per cent of enrolments at undergraduate level.

When universities are funded by Australians to educate 40 per cent of the young population, they should recognise the reciprocal responsibility to educate them well. A part of that responsibility is creating a culture where students learn that mastering the exercise of freedom is essential to becoming a good democratic citizen.

To date, Labor has been far more effective than the Coalition at leading cultural change, usually by embedding institutional reforms in legislation. For example, the Bradley review ushered in major structural changes, many embedded in law. By contrast, the Coalition has struggled to make higher education reforms stick. Spending cuts proposed during Tony Abbott’s time were blocked by a recalcitrant Senate.

More recently, the government’s withdrawal of public funding for inconsequential human­ities research was broadly criticised. University executives joined Labor to condemn the veto of funding for projects such as rioting and the literary archive, and Soviet cinema in Hollywood before the black list. University of NSW president and vice-chancellor Ian Jacobs accused former educa­tion minister Simon Birmingham of unjustified action. UNSW deputy vice-chancellor for research Nicholas Fisk said: “It is distressing for … the academic community … to learn that research proposals selected on the basis of excellence were shunned for no apparent reason.” Other university leaders said the Coali­tion had undermined academic autonomy and free speech.

While Coalition calls to reform campus culture are welcome, the historical tendency of university leaders to adopt cultural bias against freedom of speech is well known.

In Britain and US, the documented history of left-wing bias on campus goes back decades. The left began to march against Western civilisation and conservatism in the 1960s. Since then, numerous attempts have been made to reform political correctness on campus without success. However, the recent adoption of the Chicago statement on free speech by more than 60 universities in the US has inspired hope in Australia.

The French review recommendations may not be met with the same enthusiasm as the Chicago principles. There is no Australian equivalent of organisations such as the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education or Campus Watch dedicated to disseminating insider news about the prevalence and harm of politically correct bigotry in universities. As a result, there is less public pressure mounted on politicians to challenge it. We also lack the constitutional imperative for protecting freedom of expression as a patriotic duty. Thus, the Prime Minister would not have the ready justification available to US President Donald Trump when he issued an executive order on free inquiry in universities earlier this year.

Tehan has started his campaign to resurrect freedom on campus by trying to reason with chancellors and vice-chancellors. He has assured sector leaders that the government will protect their autonomy while advocating for greater accountability in respect of core democratic freedoms.

However, there is no financial incentive for vice-chancellors to challenge faculty orthodoxy and no punishment for allowing it to continue. And some university executives have been involved in what many perceive as the punishment of dissenting speech.

After the Federal Court upheld physics professor Peter Ridd’s right to intellectual freedom, the management of James Cook University issued a statement. It claimed that Ridd had “engaged in serious misconduct, including denigrating the university and its employees and breaching confidentiality directions regarding the disciplinary processes”. On the face of it, Ridd’s major transgression was to call into question orthodox environmentalist beliefs. If the Federal Court cannot convince university leaders about the importance of protecting intellectual freedom, who can?

The government is facing a great challenge in trying to liberate free speech from the chains of PC orthodoxy on campus. There will be no lasting change to freedom of expression in Australian universities until it is legislated at a federal level with quantifiable targets that are tied to funding.

The principal reason to protect free speech on university campuses is to nourish democracy for generations to come. Freedom of speech is a means and an end. It is the foundation of public reason that makes human progress possible. We must defend it or we will lose the battle for democracy.


Catholic Cardinals, bishops issue declaration: homosexual acts, gender reassignment are ‘grave sins’

Two cardinals and several bishops have issued a declaration to correct “almost universal doctrinal confusion and disorientation” they claim is endangering Christians’ spiritual health.

The “Declaration of the truths relating to some of the most common errors in the life of the Church of our time’, released last week, took aim at some of the liberal positions on controversial issues taken by Pope Francis and others.

It was signed by US Cardinal Raymond Burke, who was the Vatican’s principal legal officer for six years, appointed by Pope Benedict, but who was sacked by Francis in 2014.

In 2017, Francis restored Burke as a judge on the Vatican’s highest court, the Apostolic Signatura.

Other signatories were retired Latvian Cardinal Janis Pujats, and Kazakstan archbishops Tomash Peta and Jan Pawel Lenga and bishop Athanasius Schneider.

The declaration said the church was in a state of “almost universal doctrinal confusion and disorientation’’ which necessitated their exercising responsibility to speak up: “One has to recognise a widespread lethargy in the exercise of the Magisterium on different levels of the Church’s hierarchy in our days.’’

Many Christians, they said felt “an acute spiritual hunger’’ and a need for “a reaffirmation of truths that are obfuscated, undermined and denied by some of the most dangerous errors of our time.’’ Many people felt abandoned in a kind of existential periphery, a situation that “urgently demands a concrete remedy’.’

The Declaration covers dozens of issues, crystallising decades-old debates that have recently come to a head. It is a comprehensive restatement of centuries of church teaching, upholding, for example that “hell exists” and that people condemned there “for any unrepented mortal sin” are there eternally.

That insistence will be as welcome among some bishops, priests and Catholics as Israel Folau’s tweet on a similar subject was at Rugby Australia. The Declaration says “homosexual acts” and gender reassignment surgery are “grave sins” and same-sex civil marriages are contrary to natural and Divine law.

Father Paddy Sykes, chairman of Australia’s National Council of Priests, said the document “highlighted the huge divisions in the church, around the world and in Australia’’. The NCP has 1200 to 1500 paid up members. Its quarterly magazine, The Swag has a circulation of 4000 to 5000.

The divisions in the church, Fr Sykes said, were clear when the Australian bishops’ conference split 50/50 last year between Brisbane’s archbishop Mark Coleridge and Sydney’s archbishop Anthony Fisher, with Archbishop Coleridge, regarded as the more progressive and liberal, appointed president on the grounds of seniority. “I’m glad he was,’’ Fr Sykes said.

Fr Sykes, a parish priest in the NSW country diocese of Wagga, said the new declaration was 100 per cent correct theologically. It would appeal, he said, to “people whose natural inclination was to have certainty in order to feel safe’’.

“Pope Francis recognises that life is not like that and that we need to deal with the fluidity of the life of the world,’’ he said. The pope had “shaken a few cages’’.

But Fr Sykes agreed that Francis was dogmatic on some political subjects, such as climate change. Last week, the pope told energy executives at the Vatican that the world faced a “climate emergency’’ and called for radical action.

Australian Confraternity of Catholic Clergy chair Fr Scot Armstrong took a different line to Fr Sykes. He said the cardinals and bishops had produced a “quality, comprehensive’’ document to offer “concrete spiritual help to address the difficulties being experienced as unity (in the church) is further stretched, and in some cases, even breaking down’’.

It was “a useful reminder that the faith is not our own concoction but received from Christ’’ Fr Armstrong said. It could not be altered “as a political party might change policies, or a corporation might change its business approach’’.

“Pope Francis recently remarked — jokingly — that if some don’t like the faith they can go and found their own church,’’ Fr Armstrong said. “He was joking, but the point was made. This document serves to strengthen that point.’’

In the declaration, the cardinals and bishops said abortion was “forbidden by natural and divine law” and euthanasia, which becomes lawful in Victoria under tightly controlled conditions this week, was a “grave violation of the law of God” because it is the “deliberate and morally unacceptable killing of a human person”.

Marriage, they said, was “an indissoluble union of one man and of one woman … ordained for the procreation and education of children”. The priesthood must be reserved for males.

In a swipe at the joint Muslim/Catholic document signed in Abu Dhabi in February by Francis and Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, imam of Cairo’s Al-Azhar Muslim University, stating that the “diversity of religions” is “willed by God”, the signatories insisted that “the religion born of faith in Jesus Christ … is the only religion positively willed by God.”

Referring to the confusion over divorce, remarriage and the reception of Communion generated after Francis’s encyclical Amoris Laetitia [It was NOT an encyclical] and the Vatican’s 2014 and 2015 synods on the family, the signatories insisted it was unacceptable for Catholics who divorced their spouses and entered into subsequent civil unions to receive Communion.

In contrast, many of the 17,457 submissions collected during the consultation phase of the Catholic Church’s Plenary Council, suggest many Australian Catholics favour modernisation of church structures and teachings, with calls for married priests, women priests, an end to LGBTIQ discrimination, greater transparency and reform of church governance. But others advocated a reassertion of tradition and better faith education.

Australia’s Catholic bishops are in Rome to meet Pope Francis on their five yearly ad limina visits.


Censoring unis ‘will lose best students’ researcher warns

Universities will lose reputation and talented students if they fail to defend free speech against an activist campus culture bent on shutting down debate, warns research­er Matthew Lesh.

“I’ve been phoned by parents and students asking which is the best university to go to for intellectual freedom,” said Mr Lesh, who audits campus freedom for the Institute of Public Affairs.

On Saturday, Education Minister Dan Tehan complained that universities were failing to take up the challenge of protecting free speech and had “their heads in the sand”.

Mr Tehan pointed to several attempts at censorship last year but agreed with former High Court chief justice Robert French, who reported on the issue in April and said Australia did not have the “crisis” seen in the US.

But Mr French said university rules and policies that could be turned against freedom of expressio­n were “rife” in Aust­ralia’s higher education sector.

And Mr Tehan said if the secto­r was on its way to a campus speech crisis, “we will end up a more divided and less harmonious Australia — and we should do everything we can to avoid that”.

Peak lobby group Universities Australia yesterday said the sector­ had put out a joint statement last year “reaffirming an endurin­g commitment to academic freedom and freedom of expression on our campuses”.

UA chief executive Catriona Jackson said the French report was getting “careful consideration”. When that report was released­, UA warned against imposition­ of sector-wide rules aimed at “a problem that has not been demonstrated to exist”.

Mr Lesh welcomed the University of Western Australia going it alone with a new manifesto on free expression that tells students they must be open to a robust exchange of ideas that may clash with their beliefs and make them feel uncomfortable.

The new statement, announced by UWA vice-chancellor Dawn Freshwater, represents the first serious response since the French report to incidents last year where campus activists tried to harass and silence controversial visiting speakers.

Also last year, James Cook University dismissed­ physics professor Peter Ridd, a critic of climate science methodology. This was unlawful, a court held in April.

Mr Lesh said UWA’s competitors for the best students were far away but serious commitment to open inquiry and free speech could become a factor in Sydney and Melbourne, where each city had elite rival institutions.

“If one of the major east coast universities decided to stake itself out as being for intellectual freedom, they could almost certainly attract more students,” he said.

The new UWA document stresses learning through “openness to considering ideas that challenge existing belief struct­ures”, resisting “inappropriate constraints on the freedom to ­express (ideas)”, while noting that “vilification of marginalised groups” remains taboo.

“Beyond (such) constraints, freedom of expression is unfettered within our university, and so a multitude of ideas will be encountere­d here,” it says.

“This freedom to express ideas is constrained neither by their perceived capacity to elicit discomfort, nor by presuppositions concerning their veracity.”

Professor Freshwater, who left school at 15 and stepped up from a diploma in nursing to a degree and then a doctorate, told ABC radio last year about the value of “being stretched (and) put in an uncomfortable position” as you learn. She likened this to free speech exposing young students to difficult ideas and feedback they might not want to hear.

The British-born educator now chairs the elite Group of Eight universities, and has just been headhunted by Auckland University to become its first female vice-chancellor next March.


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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