Sunday, January 10, 2016

Navy’s Muslim captain Shindy praised gay-bashing mufti

Surely it is a security risk to have this person in the armed forces?

The navy’s most senior Muslim officer described Mufti Musa ­Ismail Menk, who has taunted gays as being lower than animals, as "always a source of wisdom" only months before her social media activities were shut down.

Captain Mona Shindy was ­appointed the Chief of Navy’s strategic adviser on Islamic affairs, but was forced to shut down her public commentary via a Twitter account that published a series of contentious tweets and retweets questioning foreign ­policy, attitudes towards Muslim Australians and terrorism.

The account also retweeted Zimbabwe-based Islamic cleric Mufti Ismail Menk, who was­ forced to cancel a tour to Britain in 2013 after describing homosexuals as "filthy" and "animals".

The tour of British universities was abandoned in November 2013 after Mufti Menk was filmed comparing homosexuals to animals. "With all due respect to the ­animals (homosexuals) are worse than animals," the mufti said at one stage.

On her account, Captain Shindy described Mufti Menk as "a source of wisdom" retweeting his advice not to get "rude, abusive or insulting". Captain Shindy did not re­tweet comments endorsing the mufti’s views on gays.

Captain Shindy has been under pressure this week since the decision to close down the @navyislamic account. The ­Australian revealed this week that Captain Shindy was "counselled" on the Twitter feed by Chief of Navy Vice-Admiral Tim Barrett, who had become concerned her tweets overstepped a "fine line between personal opinion and naval policy".

The ADF has not commented on whether Captain Shindy was counselled over her retweeting of the controversial sheik, only ­saying that the Twitter account @navyislamic was closed down after attracting increasingly "contentious comments" with "increased public debate on Islam".

The ADF last year also ­appointed Imam Mohamadu Nawaz Saleem as part of the ADF’s religious advisory committee, which provides a link between the ADF and religious groups.

Imam Nawaz Saleem controversially put his name to a letter with several prominent Muslims defending the extreme but legal Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir from Tony Abbott.

Australian Defence Association executive director Neil James said it was clear that the ­experiment of the Islamic cultural adviser had "failed", and the navy and broader ADF should focus on the use of clerics for ­religious instruction.

"There is a tendency for the pendulum to swing too far and I think we’ve seen that with this Islamic cultural adviser," Mr James said.

"What they should have done is appoint a Muslim chaplain earlier and making a clearer distinction about what is the cultural advice needed and the religious advice needed."

Mufti Menk is a social media savvy cleric with more than 700,000 Twitter followers and about 1.3 million fans on Facebook. On Facebook, he describes himself as "a broadminded, motivational speaker who has won the hearts of many".

He has tens of thousands of followers on YouTube, where he posts lectures primarily in English.

Mufti Menk attracted controversy when Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev retweeted him just before his terror spree with his brother on April 15, 2013.

The tweet read: "Attitude can take away your beauty no matter how good looking you are or it could enhance your beauty, making you adorable."

The mufti quickly condemned the Boston bombings and pointed out Tsarnaev was not even one of his followers.


Union standover men got big donation to the ALP

The Labor Party failed to disclose a $30,000 corporate donation to its 2013 federal election campaign that was brokered by the militant Maritime Union of Australia and described last week as "extraordinary" by trade union royal commissioner Dyson Heydon.

The Weekend Australian has confirmed that neither the ALP nor the donor, marine contractor Van Oord Australia, disclosed the payment in election returns to the Australian Electoral Commission, meaning both face ­potential penalties under the act.

The gift has been kept hidden from public scrutiny despite it being among the biggest corporate donations Labor received during its 2013 election campaign.

Labor yesterday admitted to the nondisclosure and said it would send an amendment to its 2012-13 return to the AEC.

West Australian branch secretary Patrick Gorman, who took over only a few months ago, said the ALP office at the time "was not provided with the appropriate ­information relating to this ­donation" and became aware of it only this week after a query from The Weekend Australian.

In his final report, Mr Heydon found the donation to the ALP candidate for the West Australian seat of Hasluck Adrian Evans, the deputy state secretary of the MUA, had been made for the purpose of securing industrial peace.

Documents tendered to the royal commission show that the $30,000 was transferred from Van Oord Australia to a bank ­account called ALP (WA) Hasluck federal campaign.

Mr Heydon found that the ­donation was an extraordinary thing for a multinational company such as Dutch-owned Van Oord to do.

The royal commission was told that Mr Evans’s campaign fundraising director, MUA state secretary Chris Cain, approached Van Oord Australia senior executive Herm Pol in May 2013 to seek the donation.

The request was made after a discussion between Mr Pol and Mr Cain over manning levels for a vessel on a new project.

"Thus there was a direct temporal connection between a meeting on workplace issues, Chris Cain’s request for a contribution to the campaign of a deputy state secretary of the MUA for election to federal parliament, and the agreement of Van Oord, through Herm Pol, to contribute $30,000," Mr Heydon found.

The MUA argued there was no evidence that Van Oord made the donation to secure industrial peace or that Mr Cain asked for it as the price of industrial peace.

But Mr Heydon rejected that argument. "When a trade union official with Chris Cain’s forceful manner requests a contribution from an employer’s representative, it would be a foolish representative who did not appreciate that ­refusal would offend and that consequences would flow from that," he said.

Mr Evans lost the 2013 battle for Hasluck to Liberal Ken Wyatt.

The royal commission was told that Van Oord also donated $1.2 million to an MUA-backed training company in 2013 and 2014 as well as $70,000 to sponsor the MUA state conference in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Van Oord did not respond to requests for comment.


Future Federal education funding still uncertain

Jennifer Buckingham

When federal education minister Simon Birmingham confirmed last week he will not 'give a Gonski' and commit to the ultra-expensive final two years of the former Labor government's schools funding policy, he drew a line under one aspect of the debate but left open the more important question of what it will do instead.

Only one thing is certain. A new federal funding model will not be as generous. The federal government budget deficit is a problem and is likely to be for the foreseeable future. Large increases in federal spending on education are not on the cards, especially given the chequered relationship between funding and school performance.

There is ample research showing that not all education spending can be considered an investment in the sense that it leads to measurable benefits. This is not to say that school funding should not increase at all but that any funding increases must be carefully targeted and used in ways that are most likely to be effective.

The Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation (CESE) in NSW, recently published an evaluation of the impact of the former federal Labor government's multi-billion dollar Smarter Schools National Partnerships over four years from 2009 to 2012.

The analyses of the results are highly detailed and compare NAPLAN scores, School Certificate and Higher School Certificate results, and attendance and retention rates of schools that received Low SES NP funding with similar schools that did not.

Although the impact on NAPLAN scores was reported to be statistically significant, this is partly a function of the very large sample size. In real educational terms, the effects of the funding were small. Over the four years of Low SES NP funding, NAPLAN scores in participating schools increased by a total of 5.04 points on average compared to non-participating schools, after controlling for student characteristics and school location. To put this in context, Year 3 NAPLAN reading scores are out of 700 scaled score points. It is difficult to see this as a strong result given the amount of the funding involved.

Any new federal funding agreement is likely to have an impact factor, with proven effective practices and programs, or accountability for results as conditions. Wanting to see the benefits of increased funding is understandable but getting the right balance of autonomy and accountability, both for individual schools and for states, will be a challenge.


Qld. Cop accused of using excessive force loses court battle over forced station transfer

A Surfers Paradise police officer with 28 complaints against him who has been stood down over allegations of excessive force has lost a court battle over being forcibly transferred. Senior Constable Nathan Irwin has been the subject of 28 complaints and 68 allegations over the past nine years, many relating to the use of excessive force.

In March, Sen-Constable Irwin was told he was being "temporarily redeployed" to Coomera and was not to attend the Surfers Paradise Police Station unless under senior supervision. Acting Assistant Commissioner Stephen Hollands wrote to Sen-Constable Irwin again in April asking him if he would prefer to be transferred to Southport or Nerang.

Sen-Constable Irwin objected to being moved from Surfers Paradise and with backing from the Queensland Police Union, took the case to the Supreme Court.

Court documents show Assistant Commissioner Hollands wrote that since 2007 there had been an "adverse pattern of behaviour" involving Sen-Constable Irwin. He said there had been 28 complaints and 68 allegations since 2007, "most notable with respect to matters involving assaults/excessive force".

"Irrespective of the possible causes, the preceding allegations are indications that your level of professionalism is below that expected of a Senior Constable of Police in the Queensland Police Service. "Removing you from your current workplace will enable you to work in an environment where the frequency of confrontation with members of the public is less likely."

Barrister Peter Davis QC argued the court should rule the transfer was invalid because it would be for the purpose of disciplining him for misconduct.

This week Justice Philip McMurdo dismissed Sen-Constable Irwin’s application and found the purpose of the transfer was "one of risk management".

"The factual preconditions for the exercise of disciplinary powers do not exist because there has not yet been a conclusion of misconduct," Justice McMurdo said. "He (the Acting Commissioner) has not sought or indicated that he will seek any disciplinary sanction."

Sen-Constable Irwin has been the arresting officer in a number of high-profile cases of alleged police brutality, including that of youth worker Ray Currier, who suffered brain damage after his arrest.

The QPU said the transfer was based on complaints that had not been proven.


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