Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Tony Abbott says Peter Dutton is 'absolutely right' about white South African farmers

Former prime minister Tony Abbott says Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton is "absolutely right" about the need to prioritise white South African farmers through Australia's refugee program.

Wading into the internal and diplomatic furore over Mr Dutton's remarks, Mr Abbott said the situation in South Africa was a "national crisis" and "racism of the worst sort", and backed the call for intervention - despite Foreign Minister Julie Bishop rejecting the idea at the weekend.

"There is a very serious situation developing in South Africa. Something like 400 white farmers have been murdered, brutally murdered, over the last 12 months," Mr Abbott told 2GB radio. The farmers were being murdered by "squatters intent on driving them off their land", he said, and it would be a "national crisis" if the same thing were happening to Australian farmers.

"If the boot was on the other foot we would call it racism of the worst sort," Mr Abbott said.

"I think we should acknowledge this as a very, very serious issue of justice and fairness and freedom for people who are trying to do the right thing.

"I think that Peter Dutton was absolutely right to say that under our humanitarian intake program there ought to be a place for people who are being persecuted this way."

Mr Dutton's bid for some sort of special refugee program for white farmers has stoked not only internal tensions within Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's cabinet but a diplomatic furore with South Africa. That country's foreign ministry has refuted the assertion that white farmers are persecuted and demanded an apology for Mr Dutton's claim they needed help from a "civilised country" such as Australia.

The statistic cited by Mr Abbott - that 400 white farmers have been murdered in the past year - has appeared in several media reports, including in Australia, but is disputed. According to Africa Check, a fact-checking website, police and researchers counted 74 farm murders in the 12 months between April 2016 and March 2017, with victims' races not recorded.

South Africa has demanded Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton retract his comments that the country's white farmers are being "persecuted" and deserve protection with special visas from a "civilised country".

At the weekend, Ms Bishop rejected Mr Dutton's pitch for "special attention", telling the ABC's Insiders program the "credibility [of the refugee program] comes from the fact that it is non-discriminatory and that each application is assessed on its merits". There were "no plans" to alter the program, Ms Bishop said.

However, the program is Mr Dutton's responsibility as Home Affairs Minister and Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. Mr Turnbull is yet to publicly articulate a view on the issue.

Ms Bishop confirmed Australia's high commissioner to South Africa was "called in" for a meeting with the government in Pretoria following Mr Dutton's remarks, and explained the nature of Australia's refugee program.

Mr Dutton last week revealed he had instructed his department to examine ways of giving special treatment to white South African farmers, observing there was already a large cohort of South Africans settled in Australia who integrated well and did not live off welfare. "They're the sorts of migrants we want to bring into our country," Mr Dutton said.


Church forced to remove the word 'Jesus' from its Easter advertising as the word is considered to be OFFENSIVE to non-Christians

A church has been forced to remove the word 'Jesus' from its signs ahead of Easter because it has been causing offence.

Elim Church on the Central Coast in New South Wales paid for digital signs to be displayed at Erina Fair shopping centre reading 'the greatness of His Power'.

Pastor Martin Duffy told 2GB radio that shopping centre manager Lendlease objected to the signs and forced them to be changed to read 'Risen Christ' instead of 'Jesus'.

'The phrase 'Jesus is alive'... is the core message of the Christian faith and what Easter's really all about,' he said.

'It's a good message. I think there's a minority group out there that are constantly distorting the message of Jesus Christ. It's just going on and on.'

Elim Church is a West Gosford evangelical church located north of Sydney.

Pastor Duffy claimed Lendlease requested to withdraw the word 'Jesus' from the sign as it may have offended shoppers and non-Christians.

The sign was an advertisement for a free community event being held on the waterfront at Gosford.

'The greatness of His Power - Jesus is Alive!' the sign read.

Pastor Duffy said Lendlease has since changed their mind and allowed the word 'Jesus' to be included in the sign.

He said Lendlease said the word 'Jesus' has yet to be added to the sign but he is hopeful it will be returned eventually.

In a statement, a Lendlease spokeswoman said they regretted asking for the sign to be amended.

'It was an error of judgment to ask Elim Church to change its messaging, and we apologise unreservedly.

'Lendlease values diversity and inclusion, and we welcome people of all backgrounds at our shopping centres.'


Q&A’s near miss with Peterson

In case you missed it — you can’t possibly have missed it — Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson has been touring Australia. Maybe you saw him in Melbourne. Maybe you saw him in Brisbane. One thing is certain: you didn’t see him on the ABC’s Q&A. Why not?

If we here at The Weekend Australian have been asked that question once this week, we’ve been asked it a thousand times, in the comments section of our website and while we — me and Janet Albrechtsen — have been on tour too, meeting subscribers.

How can the ABC claim to have the nation’s No 1 show for ideas and conversation, and not have Peterson — the conservative rock star du jour — on the panel? Was he not invited? Did he refuse to go on? The answers to those questions are no and no, meaning yes, he was invited, and no, he did not refuse to go on.

Peterson’s publisher, Penguin Random House, tried hard to make it happen, and Peterson himself was keen, telling The Australian: “I would have stayed longer if it would have helped.” It wouldn’t have helped. The problem was that Peterson was due to be speaking to a sold-out show in western Sydney at the exact moment that Q&A was going live from ABC headquarters in Ultimo.

He couldn’t move his commitment, and Q&A couldn’t either. Nobody is ruling out a future appearance should Peterson return to these shores, and you can see why the ABC would want him: Peterson is box office. His book, Twelve Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos is storming up bestseller lists here and abroad. He’s selling out shows at which he just stands and talks for two hours.

Q&A, by comparison, is in trouble. That is not ABC bashing. although of course that’s how it will be read. It’s a simple statement of fact: the show that used to rate 750,000 a week now gets about 430,000. On March 12, which is when Peterson would have been on had they been able to swing it, the program didn’t make the top 20 for the night.

What’s gone wrong? You could be generous and say it’s 10 years old, so fair enough that some people are a bit bored with the format, but there is absolutely no denying that there is also a feeling — and this comes through extremely strongly when you talk to subscribers of the Oz — that Q&A is failing because it’s a nest of leftie vipers.

Some of the things they’ve done through the years boggle the mind. For mine, the low point was when they decided to make a hero of the toaster guy, Duncan Storrar. You’ll remember that episode, but it’s worth revisiting in the wake of #MeToo. Storrar became a Q&A hero — a hero of the left, a hero on Twitter — after he asked a question about tax breaks for the rich, while telling viewers at home that he barely had enough money to take his children to the movies.

Storrar was rewarded with oceans of sympathy and stacks of actual cash after someone started a crowd-funding campaign to buy him a toaster. A day or so later, one of his young-adult sons came forward to say: hey, hang on, just so you know, the recipient of all your leftie love had been convicted on multiple occasions of serious crimes against women. Oh, for #MeToo, back then.

News Corp Australia, being a company of reporters, dutifully checked the record and found that Storrar indeed had breached multiple apprehended violence orders, threatened violence and made threats to kill, and he had been sent to prison for it. The backlash — against News, mind, not Storrar — was fierce because obviously even a bloke with a long rap sheet for terrorising women is, in the minds of Q&A and its Twitter audience, better than anything that comes out of News Corp.

Others will say the Storrar episode was nothing compared with the appearance by Zaky Mallah, who was invited to be in the audience. Mallah is most famous for saying that two women who worked for News deserved to be pack-raped. He was cheered because obviously being a rapist sympathiser also is better than being a conser­vative from The Weekend Australian.

Audience aside, it’s probably fair to say that some panellists also make the show unwatchable. There’s no need to name names, but who has had enough of the unctuous lefties who roll their eyes whenever the conservatives speak? Who insist on getting all loud and sweary while making their very passionate points? Who talk all over the others, and arrive equipped with lame jokes they are so desperate to use, they end up butchering the punchline or inserting them at precisely the wrong moment? That person still gets a huge cheer, of course. By contrast, talk to conservatives and they’ll tell you it’s a bleak experience going on that show. You’d be hard pressed to say that Albrechtsen hasn’t done her best to yank Q&A towards the middle. She has been on 13 times — compared with, say, Tanya Plibersek, who has been on 29 times — but took a break back in 2013, saying she got tired of being the token conservative.

“I don’t want to legitimatise a show that makes no genuine attempt at balance,” Albrechtsen said at the time. They coaxed her back for this year’s special #MeToo episode, hosted by Virginia Trioli, who I can assure you is no leftie luvvy, and it was excellent, although there was a telling moment when one of the other panel­lists, Isabella Manfredi, turned to Albrechtsen and said: “Can I just say as well, Janet, I agree with most of what you said, which is … I never thought I’d say that in my life …” The transcript records the audience response: (LAUGHTER).

It’s the same when broadcaster Alan Jones goes on. Twitter lights up with: “My god, I can’t believe I’m agreeing with Alan Jones!”

Shouldn’t the audience be more even than that? They say they do their best, even busing in people from Sydney’s west to try to make it more mainstream — if that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about who is normally there, nothing does — but clearly it’s not enough.

That said, guess what happened when News Corp’s Sharri Markson went on two weeks ago? (For the record, she’s not a conservative — she’s a superstar reporter — but she works for Rupert, and there are always plenty in the audience who will find plenty wrong with that.) They made her a cake. They really did.

Apparently they remembered from the last time she was on in 2014 that it was her birthday that week, so they brought a cake and candles into the green room and sang Happy Birthday to her, and not only that, ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie stopped by with her best wishes (for those who think she doesn’t know or care what’s going on at Q&A, we can report that she also sat in a camera blind spot in the audience and watched the whole thing).

But yes, I know, you’re going to scoff and say, so what if they came with cake? Let them eat cake. The ABC has a statutory obligation to reflect a diversity of opinion. We all fund the broadcaster, and Q&A is the flagship show for debate, which is why it matters not only that Peterson didn’t get on this time, but also that so many people instinctively — no, reflexively — believed it was because they didn’t ask him. Next time, you’d have to think, there can be no excuse.


Canada guilty of a "trade war" too -- against Australian wine

Why the Canadian wine industry is in any sense strategic is a mystery

Canada is shaping as a fresh hotspot in a world of budding trade wars thanks to a battle over Australian wine exports.

Australian trade officials recently met with their Canadian counterparts to object to extra taxes and mark-ups on imported wine sold in Canada that the Australian wine industry believes breach international trade rules and threaten Australian wine sales.

The Canadian measures, which Australian trade minister Steve Ciobo has criticised for “discriminating against Australian wine imports” also include the adoption of separate distribution channels reserved for Canadian wine only, and extra fees on imported wines.

The discussions, which occurred over two days early this month in Geneva, came at a sensitive time in global trade, coinciding with the worldwide outrage generated by US President Donald Trump’s comments that the world’s biggest economy would introduce stiff new steel and aluminium tariffs.

Canada itself reacted with anger to the Trump tariff move, with its foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland saying: "As the number one customer for American steel, Canada would view any trade restrictions on Canadian steel and aluminium as absolutely unacceptable."

In January Australia launched formal World Trade Organisation dispute settlement action against Canada over the various wine measures, the first time Australia has initiated formal WTO action since 2003.

The formal consultations between representatives of the two nations were the first stage in World Trade Organisation dispute settlement action over the matter.

According to figures recently released by Wine Australia, Australian wine exports to Canada were valued at $187 million in 2017, equal to seven per cent of Australia’s total wine exports for the year of $2.6 billion and our fourth biggest wine export market.

Tony Battaglene, chief executive of Winemakers Federation of Australia, said Canada was a significant market for Australia.

“It’s an important market at a higher value price point as well...They do like premium wine,” he said.

“It’s our fourth biggest market, so it’s significant, so we take it very seriously. The issue is that the Canadian liquor boards are trying to give preferential treatment to domestically produced product.

“One of the reasons we’re involved in this dispute is a fear that the US will seek the same rights as the Canadian industry, and then they would get equal access and that would leave us in a very adverse position."

The Australian industry is also about to start spending a significant amount of money on promoting Australian wine in both America and Canada, and believe exports to both countries could be increased.

In Canada most provinces have what are called liquor control boards, which Mr Battaglene likened to government-owned liquor monopolies that raised substantial revenue for provincial governments.

“When they start giving preferential treatment to domestic product it means that you don’t have any other way to sell your product but through those outlets, and that means that you suffer a significant disadvantage,” Mr Battaglene said.

“This issue has been around for some time, a number of years, but it’s become we think, almost a systemic problem. So each province is introducing new measures all favouring their domestic producers, and they differ between provinces."

Mr Ciobo said he had initiated World Trade Organisation dispute settlement proceedings as a result of ongoing concerns held by the Australian wine industry.

“The Australian wine industry is a big export earner for Australia, and helps create many jobs for Australians. I want to make sure we stand up for our producers and not allow other countries to discriminate against us, costing us export income and potentially jobs," he said.

“Australia requested formal WTO Consultations on measures discriminating against Australian wine imports that we consider to be clearly inconsistent with Canada’s WTO commitments."


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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