Tuesday, July 04, 2023

Islamic State flag should be cut from ban list, Canberra group argues

On their logic, the Swastika should not be banned because it had an honourable history before the Nazis adopted it -- and it is still widely displayed in Asia

A decision to include the Islamic State flag alongside Nazi symbols in a nationwide ban has been criticised by the Canberra Islamic Centre because it is seen to unfairly target the Muslim faith and symbols.

The federal government has introduced into Parliament new legislation banning the public display of "prohibited symbols". The legislation says there are three kinds of prohibited symbols: two Nazi symbols, and the flag of the Islamic State terrorist group.

Under the legislation the swastika will be allowed for religious Hindu and Buddhist purposes but the Islamic State flag, which includes words of faith to Muslims, would not be covered by similar exemptions.

Canberra Islamic Centre president Ilyas Rahaman said the words inscribed on the Islamic flag were sacred and written by Muslims on a daily basis.

"To ban those words is to prohibit the free exercise of Islamic religion in Australia, which is contrary to section 116 of the Australian constitution," Mr Rahaman said.

The flag in question bears the declaration "There is no God but Allah" and "Muhammad is the messenger of Allah". These words form the shahada (Arabic), meaning the profession of faith, are one of the five pillars of Islam.

Mr Rahaman said the words on the Islamic flag predated the terrorist group IS and had been used by early Muslims.

The Canberra Islamic Centre said it deplored the Islamic State and what it stood for but it disagreed with point five of the legislation which said the Islamic State flag "is widely recognised as representing and conveying ideologies of hatred, violence, and racism that are incompatible with Australia's multicultural and democratic society".

Similar to the swastika being misappropriated for use by the Nazi regime, Mr Rahaman said the Islamic State flag was hijacked by the terrorist organisation.

"Islamic State did not design the flag; the flag has existed since the time of the Prophet Muhammad," he said.

He was disappointed consultations were not held with the Islamic community, which would have explained the misappropriation of the flag by the Islamic State.

"It's disappointing. The bill was widely discussed to stop the trade of Nazi items; not once was their mention from the government that they were intending to ban the Islamic flag," Mr Rahaman said.

ANU Professor Greg Fealy, who specialises in Islam and Southeast Asian Jihadist groups, said the tightly worded legislation regarding the ban of the IS flag would cause obstructions in research.

He noted the original 2005 anti-terrorism law which prohibited direct contact with convicted terrorists which he said caused many difficulties for researchers and journalists who sought information directly from such people.

"I think the aim of that law had been to target those consorting with terrorists, but in the end, legitimate research was obstructed," Prof Fealy said.

Historically there have been many flags that have used the monochrome black-on-white format, but Mr Fealy said the IS flag, with its white circle, was more distinctive and far less widely used.

"The design of the flag was inspired by historical accounts that the Prophet Muhammad addressed his community with black flags behind him. This is the reason many jihadist movements have adopted variations of the black flag," he said.

Prof Fealy said the use of the IS flag in Australia by members of the public has been rare, unlike the provocative use of the swastika by neo-Nazi groups.

"I think we should question whether the attempt to ban the ISIS flag with its attendant risk of ensnaring entirely peaceful Muslims who are innocently using a flag containing the shahada is worth the desired outcome of stopping the occasional use of a terrorist symbol. I have my doubts about this," he said

Islamic Studies lecturer at Charles Sturt University, Zuleyha Keskin, said banning the IS flag would create problems and confusion,

"It is like banning something good because someone evil has used that good. It is like throwing out the baby with the bathwater," Prof Keskin said.

She said confusion would come about if the proposed ban comes into effect because many Muslim Australians display the words on the IS flag in their homes, as stickers on their cars, in mosques, or as artwork in various forms.

"A law enforcer or politician is unlikely to know the nuanced differences between an IS flag and the use of the creed by a member of the Muslim community in their personal lives. This may result in unnecessary suspicion at the minimum or an arrest at its worst," Prof Keskin said.

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security has commenced a review of the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment Bill and is accepting submissions from the community.

The Canberra Islamic Centre will make a submission calling for the removal of the Islamic State flag from the legislation.

Committee chairman Peter Khalil said: "The committee will consider all submissions made to the inquiry and report its findings and recommendations to the government."


Pay hike for foreign workers to fuel pain in regions

Farmers, clubs, beekeepers, early educators and small businesses are warning that lifting the minimum pay for temporary skilled migrant workers to $70,000 could smash regional economies and fuel the jobs crisis.

Employers fear the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold hike – rising from $53,900 to $70,000 on Saturday – will threaten access to foreign workers and impact thousands of jobs across the country.

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil announced the TSMIT change in April as a “down payment on the type of migration system” the government is building. Unions have endorsed a suite of Labor migration policies aimed at cracking down on temporary foreign workers.

National Farmers Federation chief executive Tony Mahar said “this is just one of many migration issues hurting farmers” and while the group backed a TSMIT rise, the new level would likely put the skilled migration program out of reach. “The cost to a farmer is far more than just the salary – it costs about $30,000 just to get a skilled worker into the country,” he said. “This is backed by Grattan Institute research showing we will lose 84 per cent of skilled visa workers if TSMIT lifts to $70,000. What farmers need is a visa designed for agriculture, rather than Frankensteining other schemes.”

The Australian on Tuesday revealed that farms and tourist towns are fearing a backpacker exodus, with visa costs soaring to $640 on Saturday and the government considering a migration ­review recommendation limiting permits for working holiday-makers to one year.

Duxton Bees general manager Keegan Blignaut, who operates one of Australia’s biggest beekeeping operations with 4500 hives across the Murray-Darling region, said the increase would have a significant impact on his bottom line as he employs mostly overseas workers.

“Moving the TSMIT to $70,000 means that our business will have at the minimum an 8 to 10 per cent wage impact because we have to move every current visa holder up,” Mr Blignaut said.

“Plus existing staff who’ve been here longer, who say have been on earnings of $65,000 – which is already $10,000 above the TSMIT – now they require to be on $70,000, but they are an experienced team member, are they are going to be put in the same bucket as somebody who newly arrives in Australia?”

Opposition immigration spokesman Dan Tehan said: “Any worker earning less than $70,000 after July 1 will have to get a pay rise, find a higher paying sponsored job or leave the country when their current visa expires. Businesses sponsoring temporary workers will have to pay the new increased wage.”

Duxton Bees general manager Keegan Blignaut, who operates one of Australia’s biggest beekeeping operations with 4,500 hives across the Murray-Darling region, said the increase would have a significant impact on his bottom line. Picture: Supplied.
Duxton Bees general manager Keegan Blignaut, who operates one of Australia’s biggest beekeeping operations with 4,500 hives across the Murray-Darling region, said the increase would have a significant impact on his bottom line. Picture: Supplied.
The government says the new TSMIT level is where it should have been if it had been indexed over the previous 10 years.

Restaurant and Catering Australia chief executive Suresh Manickam said: “From almost overnight, the cost of labour goes up, so it affects the sector from that point of view.”

In a submission to the migration review, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA supported a TSMIT rise to $60,000 because any level higher “would further restrict” employers in low-wage sectors from securing workers. “Raising the TSMIT, for example, to $70,000, would exclude around 23,000 workers in the hospitality and ­retail,” the submission said.

The Early Learning and Care Council said the current threshold allowed early learning educators to be sponsored, with average wages sitting between $51,850 and $55,250: “A significant increase ... would result in a large proportion of the early learning workforce ... being locked out.”


What genocide, ABC?

For those who don’t watch the national broadcaster, it came as a surprise to discover that the federal government is apparently engaged in a campaign of ‘genocide’ to eradicate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

The news was delivered by Dana Morse, an ABC reporter on the Insiders program last Sunday 25 June who identifies as ‘plangermaireener palawa’, that is a woman of Tasmanian Aboriginal descent. She said that what people were protesting about on Australia Day is the invasion of Australia and ‘the genocide of Aboriginal people that is ongoing today’.

The statement was immediately condemned as false by the opposition spokeswoman on Indigenous Affairs Jacinta Nampijinpa Price and fellow No campaigner Warren Mundine but not by anyone on Insiders or anywhere else at the ABC. ABC Fact Check hasn’t bothered to fact-check it perhaps because they think it is self-evidently true. An ABC spokesperson told the Speccie, ‘The comments were intended to summarise the perspectives and reasoning of people protesting against the Australia Day date rather than expressing a position by the ABC’. Elsewhere amongst progressives, there was a stony silence. There was no comment from Prime Minister Albanese or the Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney.

So is there an ongoing genocide in Australia? Morse’s most recent article on the living conditions of Indigenous Australians looks at updated data on ‘Closing the Gap’ produced by the Productivity Commission (PC) released a fortnight ago on 15 June. She writes that ‘the latest figures show a number of incremental improvements across the socio-economic indicators, but overall, the gap is not closing’. That doesn’t sound like evidence of an ‘ongoing genocide’. And the good news is that the latest ABS data states that 812,000 people identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in the 2021 census, which amounts to 3.2 per cent of the population. This was up from 2.8 per cent in 2016, and 2.5 per cent in 2011.

So if the Albanese government is conducting a genocide against Aboriginal Australians (and I sincerely hope and believe it is not) it is not doing it any better than it is doing anything else such as bringing down electricity prices.

The PC data paints a revealing picture. There are 17 targets which are motherhood statements couched in the peculiar language of Australian bureaucrats. Target 1 is: ‘Everyone enjoys long and healthy lives’. Mysteriously, the data that might explain the gap in life expectancy between indigenous and non-indigenous people is still ‘under development’ including rates of smoking, alcohol and drug use, obesity, dietary factors, and physical activity.

Yet this data is readily available elsewhere. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in 2018-19, 43 per cent of indigenous Australians smoked compared with 15 per cent of non-indigenous Australians who smoked in 2017-18. The death rate from lung cancer is more than double in indigenous populations (66 per 100,000) compared with non-indigenous populations (25 per 100,000). Obviously, the sooner indigenous people stop smoking the quicker the gap will be closed. This is not evidence of genocide. It is evidence of the fact that it is difficult to give up smoking.

Most of the data presented for Target 1 focuses on infant and child mortality. It shows that in 2017-2021, the leading cause of death for indigenous children aged 1 to 14 years was land transport accidents. They died at a rate of 3.7 per 100,000 children, a slight increase compared with 2014-2018. It’s a sad reflection on the fact that in many remote communities, royalties from mining are used to buy cars that are frequently crashed and replaced when the next lot of royalties are paid. Many crashes involve dangerous driving and unlicensed drivers including underage drivers.

If you work through the targets there is a failure to document the most obvious contributors to disadvantage. For example, Target 2 is ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are born healthy and strong’ but the proportion of mothers who smoke or consume alcohol during pregnancy is ‘under development’.

Target 10 is ‘Adults are not overrepresented in the criminal justice system’ which it seeks to achieve not by reducing criminal behaviour but by reducing the rate of incarceration by at least 15 per cent.

Target 13 is that ‘By 2031, the rate of all forms of family violence and abuse against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children is reduced at least by 50 per cent, as progress towards zero’ but no data has been added since the baseline year of 2018-19 when 8.4 per cent of indigenous females aged 15 years and over experienced domestic physical or threatened physical harm.

The Closing the Gap Agreement is between all Australian governments and the Coalition of Peaks, which includes all the national, state and territory non-government Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak bodies and statutory authorities responsible for Closing the Gap.

They are not starved of funding. In 2015‑16, the most recent report from the PC, the estimated expenditure per person was $44,886 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, around twice the rate for non‑indigenous Australians ($22,356).

The government’s claim that somehow an unelected indigenous Voice to parliament will stop people smoking or crashing cars seems unlikely.

One area where the gap is growing rapidly is in land rights. This is covered in Target 15 which states innocuously, ‘People maintain a distinctive cultural, spiritual, physical and economic relationship with their land and waters’. What that turns out to mean is that there is a commitment that between 2020 and 2030 there will be a 15 per cent increase in the land and sea controlled by Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders under Native Title. Why 15 per cent? There is no explanation. The PC simply states that, ‘A high or increasing area is desirable’. No doubt.

In 2022, Native Title already covered 4,138,356 square kms of Australia and 91,111 square kms of sea country. By 2030, it is intended to rise to 4,498,431 square kms of land and 103,790 square kms of sea country. That’s an area of land bigger than India or Argentina. So 3.2 per cent of the population of Australia will control more than 58 per cent of its landmass and more than 1 per cent of its exclusive economic zone. Not bad. But do those Native Title holders want to be dictated to by an unelected Voice? That seems unlikely.

The reality is that nothing in the Closing the Gap data shows the slightest evidence of genocide. It is despicable that the ABC allows its journalist to make this statement without correction or clarification. But it’s their ABC. They do what they want. We just pay for it.


Home after seven weeks of overseas travel

Mike O'Connor

Fifty-one days without sitting through a welcome to country message or acknowledgment of traditional owners past and present.

Fifty-one days without being harangued about the Voice, or being branded an entitled white male for having worked all my life to make a living and being accused of racism for daring to air the belief that I am convinced that the Voice will be bad for my country.

Fifty-one days. What bliss.

Then we arrive home and I immediately hear the demands for special treatment, the cries of victimhood, the insistence on truth-telling or rather one group’s version of it at the expense of everyone else’s.

The US Supreme Court last week outlawed university programs used to select student applicants on the basis of race that have given black and Hispanic Americans preferential admission treatment.

“Eliminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it. The student must be treated based on his or her experiences as an individual – not on the basis of race,” said Chief Justice John Roberts.

“These (affirmative action) policies appear to be leading to a world in which everyone is defined by their skin colour, demanding ever-increasing entitlements and preferences on that basis,” said Justice Clarence Thomas.

Writing in The Australian last weekend, historian Geoffrey Blainey described claims of “powerlessness” by Indigenous people as “a kind of crocodile tear”.

“In the past half-century, Aboriginal groups have been handsomely recognised by their acquisition – under the Fraser and Keating governments – of ownership or certain rights and interests in 55 per cent of the Australian land mass,” he wrote.

“Few Australian voters know this fact.

“It constitutes one of the largest peaceful transfers of land in the history of the world.”

As Blainey says, moves to create a special class of Australians would if successful break one of the golden rules of that democracy: one person, one vote.

There comes that moment at the end of a long holiday when you realise that the sunny shores of the Mediterranean are but a distant memory and that you are back home in dear old Brissie.

It came when I flicked on the telly to be greeted by an image of Premier Palaszczuk trying to defuse the latest government fiasco by announcing with outstretched palms: “I am an honest person. I answer questions as honestly as I can.”

Of course you do, Premier.


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM -- daily)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

http://jonjayray.com/blogall.html More blogs


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