Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Australia's Green Party: A Rabble Without a Cause

The Greens have been heavily infiltrated by old Trots.  Both Rhiannon and Bandt are former members of Trotskyite organizations. Trots are the heavy haters among Leftists

The similarity between the words “progress” and “progressive” is one of the great curiosities of modern politics. Could perchance the two be related?

The meaning of the noun progress is clear enough, having served as a statement of political intent since the dawn of democracy. Progressive, on the other hand, is an adjective struggling to give coherence to a succession of exotic causes, many of which are likely to send us backwards.

Which leads us to the Greens, a party easily bored by the prosaic challenges of government — balancing budgets, defending borders, efficient service delivery, that sort of thing. How will the party fill its working day, now the battle of the rainbow has been won?

No amount of pink champagne could hide the Greens’ disappointment when the changes to the Marriage Act were agreed. It must have hurt like Hades to see a Liberal prime minister lapping up the applause. Even worse, with such a potent issue now off the agenda, the Greens are beginning to look like a rabble without a cause. In the fickle world of progressive politics, that is the quickest way to irrelevance.

Adam Bandt was less than exuberant when the Marriage Act amendments were passed. It wasn’t victory, he told parliament, merely “a watershed moment”. It was “not the end and not the beginning” since equality “will continue to elude us well after this bill is enshrined in law”.

What on earth could he mean? We were led to believe that the right to be joined in secular matrimony was la cause du siecle, the fulfilment of the promise of liberte, egalite et fraternite, not to mention sorority, and that once the legislation was passed we would ­finally be able to hold up our heads as members of a civilised nation.

But no, says Bandt, it is just “a step on a long, winding path towards justice”.

“We must remember that we are only dismantling one part of a system that bombards LGBTIQ people from every angle with a message that they are different,” he said.

A long, winding path towards justice is an essential element of the progressive narrative. Another is the dark past and bloody struggle, and Bandt made sure there was one of those as well.

“We must remember that every step towards equality for LGBTIQ Australians has been paid for with pain and sometimes blood — the blood of queer Australians and their allies who took to the streets to stand up for their rights, only to be batted down by batons and fists,” said Bandt, reaching for the cliche bowl. Australian lesbians and gays had faced “hundreds of years of persecution”; had been “callously murdered for daring to be who they are”; “innocent blood was spilt”; it was “an unspeakable tragedy”; the horrors of which “many of us can only imagine”.

A postal plebiscite, scrupulously conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and bloodless as far as we can tell, seems a tame ending to such an epic struggle. It is little wonder Bandt felt obliged to denounce this dastardly democratic act. It was a “final humiliation ... a cruel twist”. How so? Because “the fundamental rights of a minority were decided by the very majority that oppressed them for so long”.

It seems unlikely that sex will return to being simply an activity rather than a political cause. The Greens have invested too much in these boutique human rights to give it away, even if their search for aggrieved minorities is yielding ­diminishing returns.

The Greens’ next big cause is not immediately clear. The Labor Party has stolen their pitch on ­climate change, and it seems only a matter of time before the federal ALP turns its back on coal altogether. Labor is well on its way to embracing Palestine. The Greens lost the moral high ground on asylum-seekers eight years ago, when the toll of drownings became too big too ignore.

The struggle to carve out a constituency in a crowded market for minor parties is a challenge for Green parties across the democratic world. In Germany, the Greens finished in sixth place in last September’s federal election as they struggled to hold their own against Die Linke, a left-wing populist party. Green parties are struggling for members in Britain and France too. In Australia, Richard Di Natale’s strategy of leaning towards the mainstream is in trouble. The Greens failed to maintain double-digit support for much of last year.

A convincing by-election victory in the Victorian state seat of Northcote late last year and the strong possibility that the Greens could win the federal Victorian seat of Batman in the event of a by-election show the party’s resilience, but highlight its dilemma.

It can clearly hold its own in demographically exceptional enclaves where university lecturers outnumber plumbers, but if its support nationally is to rise beyond 10 per cent it needs wider appeal.

The party’s internal tensions are strongest in NSW, where the Left Renewal faction is in open revolt against the federal leadership.

“Talk about misreading the portents of our times,” Hall Greenland wrote recently on his blog Watermelon Papers. “Social democracy everywhere shifts to the left and the Australian Greens parliamentary leadership decides to go in the opposite direction.”

Greenland says Labor has stolen the march on ­renewable energy and urges the party to keep the ecological ­“crisis” at the centre of its agenda. His vision for the future for the party is two-speed: an “activist extra-parliamentarianism” — an ugly word for an ugly concept — while using parliament for “carrying popular causes”.

In the absence of any other ­viable radical progressive minor party, the Greens clearly cannot be written off. The apparent drought of moral crusades should not fool us into thinking that progressive politics is likely to become any less fruitier.

After all, there is one thing we know for certain: when the next batty progressive cause arrives, it will catch the centre-right by complete surprise. It will make the mistake of assuming that the cause will collapse under the weight of its own craziness, failing once again to recognise that the unopposed absurdity of today becomes the conventional wisdom of ­tomorrow.


Students’ skills ‘no issue’ for employers

Universities and academics have hit back at claims some graduates are being poorly prepared for work, accusing Education Minister Simon Birmingham of using ­student attrition rates as “political fodder” and questioning how ­recent $2.2 billion funding cuts will improve the sector.

Senator Birmingham said yesterday that new figures on completion rates and degree suit­ability in the workforce showed an increase in non-completions and a fall in employer and graduate satisfaction levels, “so we need to nip that in the bud”.

An annual government-­funded employer satisfaction survey found that more than 10 per cent of graduates surveyed said their qualification was “not at all” ­important and another 15 per cent “not that” important for their job soon after beginning.

Innes Willox, head of employer organisation Australian Industry Group, said the survey showed that some new entrants to the labour market were “verging on the unemployable” ­because their tertiary credentials were not relevant to the field they were in.

Universities Australia chief Catriona Jackson saidg employer satisfaction had risen in all categories of graduate skills since last year’s survey, including employability, teamwork, adaptability and general communication skills.

“This survey gives us important, transparent information to guide our understanding of the complex transition from study to work,” Ms Jackson said.

She said the research found that more than four in five ­employers were satisfied with university graduates who worked for them, and 88 per cent of ­graduates felt their qualification prepared them well for their current job.

She stepped up criticism of $2.2bn in funding cuts recently pushed through in the form of a two-year freeze in federal grants funding.

Senator Birmingham yesterday defended the cuts, saying they were designed to “actually see outcomes from unis that are a value to not only taxpayers but importantly to the students themselves and, of course, to our overall economy”.

National Tertiary Education Union president Jeannie Rea ­accused Senator Birmingham of creating “political fodder” out of university outcomes.

She said the question of whether ­students found their ­degrees relevant immediately upon entering the workforce needed to take into account “ongoing qualification needs” in many industries.

“The more interesting thing is to look five years out, so that someone might start in a job with an undergraduate degree, then in order to progress their career go on to a masters, and so on,” Ms Rea said.

“One of the things that’s also missed is that it’s not all people in their early 20s, but many are ­mature-aged students who’ve had to change their job; sometimes they’ve been made redundant and had to choose a new field where they start again at the bottom of the pile.”


Mark Latham is saving Australia Day

The national day has been under threat from insidious leftie councils and those radical yoofs over at Triple J, but the former Labor leader is fighting back — and he’s got a very interesting partner in patriotism.

Alice Springs councillor and indigenous leader Jacinta Price will be the voice of the campaign to keep January 26 as the national day in a series of radio and online video ads.

“We’re also looking to raise enough money to get the ads on TV in the week before Australia Day,” Latham tells Strewth!.

Latham and Price argue any symbolic shift from the arrival of the First Fleet — considered a day of invasion and subjection by many Australians — would not help the plight of indigenous Australians in any practical way.

Latham also thinks the First Fleet’s arrival was a pretty good thing.

“It was the arrival of Western civilisation to our shores: our democratic system, education, healthcare ... And you could argue it was the beginning of multiculturalism in Australia — all those diverse people and cultures that came.”

Both Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten say the date will never, ever change but Latham doesn’t exactly trust them to hold the line: “Labor was against same-sex marriage and then came under a lot of pressure ... and there are people in the Labor left who have publicly said they want to change the date.”

Latham and Price will unveil their campaign in Sydney’s trendy, leftie Glebe tomorrow with the help of Sydney PR king and regular Latham collaborator Max Markson.


Legal experts call for changes to NSW roadside drug testing advice

LEGAL experts are calling for reforms to confusing government advice on ‘drug-driving’ after hundreds of drivers say they have tested positive for marijuana despite being sober.

Some drivers even say they have tested positive almost two weeks after taking the drug. Some say they have even been punished after inhaling passive smoke, eating hemp seeds or rubbing hemp balm on their skin — which is perfectly legal.

The NSW Centre for Road Safety website states THC (the active ingredient in cannabis) can typically be detected in saliva by a Mobile Drug Testing (MDT) stick for up to 12 hours after use. Stimulants such as speed, ice and pills, can typically be detected for one to two days.

Stiff penalties apply for those caught by the state’s roadside drug stings. Drivers caught with drugs in their system will face court, could lose their licence, be fined and end up with a criminal record. They can also be directed to undertake driver education programs.

Leading criminal barrister Stephen Lawrence said he has heard of hundreds of cases where drivers have tested positive to cannabis — despite saying they have smoked marijuana “well outside of the 12-hour period”. In several cases he said people claimed to have last smoked pot almost two weeks before they were busted.

“It’s possible, I suppose, that some of these people may be lying about when they last consumed cannabis,” he said.

“But, when you, as a magistrate or a criminal lawyer see a constant run of cases where people are saying exactly the same thing and you judge it, as a practitioner, not to be said in a self-serving way — you form a view.

“A lot of practitioners have certainly now formed the view that the 12-hour figure is misleading.”

Lawrence said it has been a “constant issue” since the state’s government announced a crackdown on drug driving in 2015 — warning that mobile drug testing would triple to almost 100,000 tests each year by 2017.

He has written several papers on the issue and said the government needs to look at its advice urgently.

In a scathing judgment, Lismore magistrate David Heilpern also said he had heard hundreds of similar cases in the space of just a few months in which drivers said they had waited days, sometimes weeks, after smoking cannabis before driving — but still tested positive.

He said the prosecution remained silent throughout hundreds of cases early in 2016, even when the defendants claimed they tested positive for cannabis after passive smoking, eating hemp seeds, rubbing hemp balm or taking medicinal tincture.

“In the vast majority of cases the time frame has been over 12 hours,” Mr Heilpern said. “On not one occasion has the prosecution cavilled with this contention. “The prosecution have remained silent when people claim that they consumed cannabis weeks prior.

“Not once has any scientific evidence been produced to this court that supports the contention that the final or any other test only works for 12 hours.

“It could be that every single one of those defendants are lying to the police. However, on balance, I find that this is unlikely.”

Mr Lawrence agreed, adding: “As a criminal lawyer, you get a sense, over a long period of time, as to whether people are being self-serving and dishonest or whether they are being honest and frank to you.”

However, Professor Jan Copeland, director of National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre, said the idea a driver could test positive to cannabis days after smoking it was based on a misunderstanding of how the oral test works.

She said the oral swab does not test for metabolised cannabis which can stay in the system for up to 90 days for regular users.

“They only test for the active THC,” she told Fairfax Media. “While there can be a delay of hours since the person smoked, they can still have active THC in their blood and be impaired.

“So the idea that you can be picked up on an oral fluid swab and not be impaired is very unlikely.”

Mr Lawrence said motorists who feel like they’ve been misled by the government’s advice may be able to make an appeal.

“It is a defence to a criminal charge if a person has an honest and reasonable mistaken belief in a state of affairs which, if it exists, means they are not guilty,” he said.

“So for example, if you had an honest and reasonable belief based on things that you read on a government website about how long active THC stays in your system, you had structured your behaviour around that advice and then you tested positive for a roadside test — then you should be seeking legal advice about whether you might have a defence of honest and reasonable mistake of fact.”

However, he added that drivers should not come to the conclusion that there is a safe amount of cannabis to use or a fixed time frame they should stick to. “Because illicit drugs are not regulated, there is no way to tell you how much you have taken,” he said.

The Centre For Road Safety’s Executive Director Bernard Carlon told that the length of time that illegal drugs can be detected by MDT depends on the amount taken, frequency of use of the drug, and other factors that vary between individuals.

“Any positive screening test at the roadside is always confirmed by a laboratory test,” he said. “With cannabis, a driver is only charged with a presence offence if THC, the psychoactive component of the drug, is confirmed in the sample.

“These illegal drugs can be detected in your saliva by an MDT for a significant time after drug use, even if you feel you are OK to drive.”

A NSW Police spokesman said roadside drug testing will continue as normal. “NSW Police are committed to drug testing drivers for illicit substances and will continue to have a highly visible presence on our roads, in order to save lives,” a spokesman said.

“All police area commands, along with the Traffic and Highway Patrol Command, have the resources and supplies to conduct random drug testing at any location at any time.

“Driving with drugs in your system is dangerous to yourself and other road users for a number of reasons, including slow reaction times, loss of concentration, poor decision making, and aggressive driving.”


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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