Thursday, August 09, 2018

Opposition to the monarchy: Australians won’t fall for a bandana republic

The Fairfax commentator’s rag-topped, shaggy profile discourages us from taking him or the movement seriously.

The republican movement has its work cut out. Before it can get around to replacing the Queen it apparently has to remove its hapless spokesman.

Pollster Mark Textor predicts the push will fail unless “blokey” men such as Australian Republic Movement chairman Peter Fitz­Simons step aside.

“I just think it’s an ego trip for bandana man,” Textor told Fairfax in June. “His ego is getting in the way.”

Asked to respond to Textor’s criticism, FitzSimons, 57, from the battler-free Sydney suburb of Cremorne, replied: “Whatev.”

The Fairfax commentator’s rag-topped, shaggy profile discourages us from taking him or the movement seriously. Rather, his appearance and somewhat truculent manner bring to mind those Japanese troops who fled to the jungle in August 1945, adamantly doubting the veracity of the formal surrender.

The 1999 referendum was Brexit and Trump rolled into one, a popular call for common sense and a rebuttal of those presuming to be their intellectual betters.

The republic was revealed as an elitist obsession; the strongest predictor of the vote was education, not income or political allegiance. Blue-collar seats like Banks in Sydney’s west stuck loyally by the Queen while the toffs on Sydney’s north shore sipped expensive coffee salted with tears.

There is scant evidence voters have changed their minds. The Australian Electoral Study, one of the most reliable longitudinal measures of political and social sentiment, found that support for a republic in 2016 was at its lowest level since 1993, when the question was first asked.

Significantly, support for the status quo has strengthened among younger voters and ­migrants.

No political party that aspires to win the middle ground would willingly launch a second round of this contentious debate. Bill Shorten’s agenda, however, is determined by the urban sophisticates, to whom the former workers’ party now belongs. The Opposition Leader must feed their tragic addiction to ­causes, even at the risk of seeming remote.

Cooler heads in the republican movement know that a carbon-copy 1999 referendum would be certain to fail. Turning around a 5 per cent deficit in the national vote is inconceivable; winning a majority in four out of six states is probably impossible.

Queenslanders, 62.5 per cent opposed last time, are a lost cause. The odds in Tasmania (59.6 per cent) and Western Australia (58.5 per cent) are insurmountable.

Shorten’s solution is subterfuge. First will come a plebiscite with a high-level yes/no question. Should the result be “yes”, there will be a referendum to decide the type of republic.

Shorten appears to be immune to the charge of hypocrisy. For the record, however, he adamantly opposed the same-sex marriage plebiscite on the grounds of cost.

The offence in Shorten’s proposal, however, is not the unnecessary expense but the cheapness of his politics.

It avoids the hard work of persuading the public that a particular type of republic is better than a system that has functioned remarkably well since 1901.

It displays contempt for the intelligence of voters, who Shorten imagines he can fool with his ­duplicitous plan.

It is an extension of the conspiracy to bypass the Constitution that was hatched by Gough Whitlam in 1975, who used the external affairs provision of section 51 (xxix) to introduce the Racial Discrimination Act, thereby usurping the sovereign rights of the states.

Whitlam expressed frustration at the demands of constitutional democracy, which required the party to gain the approval not only of electors but also of judges. “We were manifestly failing to do either,” he lamented after leaving politics. Yet even Whitlam, one suspects, would be startled by the audacity of Shorten’s plan that seeks to usurp not only the rights of states but the opinion of the general public.

The remoteness of the republicans is revealed in their conviction that Shorten’s stunt might actually succeed.

“The ‘yes vote’ for that question will look like Phar Lap at Flemington, like Bradman at Lord’s — well ahead of the field, and looking good!” FitzSimons told the Nat­ional Press Club.

Yet anyone with their fingers on the public pulse would know that Shorten’s plan will fail. It will fail because Australians don’t like being taken for mugs. When trust in the political and media class is at a particularly low ebb, it is hard to imagine them falling for this one.

Appetite for constitutional change can scarcely be detected, outside enclaves like the smug-drenched paddocks of the Byron Bay Writers Festival. In 1998 two-thirds of Australians answered “yes” to the in-principle question about an Australian presidential head of state in an AES survey. In 2016 the figure was 54 per cent, while a Newspoll in April found support had fallen to 50 per cent.

With the passage of time, ­enthusiasm for a republic has been exposed as a type of post-traumatic stress disorder of the Left, triggered by the dismissal of ­Whitlam, a moment Donald Horne ­described as “the shock of ­assassination”.

The movement gained traction in the 1980s and 90s as public intellectuals, tortured with self-doubt, wrote ponderous books and ­essays, anxiously urging Australians to look deep into their souls and ask, “What sort of a country do we want to be?”

This elitist exercise in self-flagellation seemed somewhat strange to most Australians, who preferred Barry McKenzie’s assess­ment rather than that of the hand-wringers, holding that they live in “the greatest living country in the world, no risk”.

This is more than blind patriotism; it is an objective assessment of a nation with an internal stabil­ity and outward reputation few ­nations can match.

That Australasia is one of only two continents never to succumb to tyranny or host a civil war is hardly unrelated to our institutions and the system used to settle civic disputes embodied in the constitutional monarchy.

The other continent, incidentally, is Antarctica.



Intolerance spreads as cultural wowsers shut down ‘dangerous’ debate

Social media and reporting of it in mainstream news are producing intolerance not seen since anti-communist senator Joe McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1940s and 50s.

The free-thinking rebelliousness of the 60s grew out of a backlash against McCarthyist repres­sion of what was regarded as sedi­tious activities, literature, plays and movies inspired by com­munism to undermine American values.

Today it is the storm troopers of the student Left and musicians and actors who lead a daily barrage of threats against people whose free thought they can’t tolerate.

Usually these involve “look-at-me” verbal violence against US President Donald Trump for ­do­ing in office exactly what he promised to do before the 2016 presi­dential election.

Public outbursts of moral outrage by multi-millionaire stars such as Madonna or Robert De Niro show just how intolerant parts of the modern Left are.

While intimidation of Australia’s politicians falls far short of anti-Trump hysteria, there is among students, artists, journalists and political activists an increasing intolerance here, too.

In the past month activists have tried to prevent Canadian conservative Lauren Southern staging public events; a writers festival has sought to exclude Germaine Greer and Bob Carr because of their “unsafe” views; a prominent ABC host has written a column to defend the presence of the occasional conservatives on The Drum; and mainstream media personalities have tried to dismiss reporting of African crime gangs in Melbourne.

Southern, 23, a Canadian journalist, is described as alt-right by critics but sees herself as libertarian. She is accused of racism for saying what many people privately think about unauthorised mass migration, mainly by Muslims from Africa and Syria.

She was billed $68,000 by Victoria Police for security at a $750-a-head rally on July 20 in Somerton, 20km north of the Melbourne CBD. Last week police prevented Southern from walking on a public footpath past the Lakemba Mosque in Sydney’s western suburbs for fear her presence might provoke violence by Muslim worshippers.

Both incidents seem to reverse the onus of civic responsibility. Why were police not protecting Southern’s right to free assembly in Melbourne, or to walk freely about suburban Sydney? Why in Brisbane on July 29 did police warn she could be fined if any police were injured if she persisted with attempts to interview protesters outside her Brisbane Convention Centre rally?

Shutting down of other people’s opinions is counter-productive. Surely after the Brexit and Trump votes anti-racist protesters should realise worldwide concern about immigration cannot be sil­enced by intimidation. In democracies voters get their own back.

The withdrawal of invitations to Carr and Greer by the Brisbane Writers Festival is even more troubling for free thought. Southern is a provocateur, for sure, but Carr and Greer are intellectuals whose books should be discussed even by people who dislike their ideas, as I do.

Richard Flanagan, 2014 Man Booker Prize winning Tasmanian author of The Narrow Road to the Deep North, published a blistering response to the festival’s decision in Guardian Australia on July 29. “A writer, if they are doing their work properly, rubs against the grain of conventional thinking. Writers are often outcasts, heretics and marginalised. Once upon a time writers festivals celebrated them, and with them the values of intellectual freedom,” he argued.

Flanagan went on to criticise the same festival’s 2016 handling of US author Lionel Shriver after a fiery blog by former ABC personality Yassmin Abdel-Magied, who had heard only a third of Shriver’s presentation but accused her of laying the foundations “for genocide”.

“For Shriver the talk was about the damage identity politics could do to writing. For her critics it was about belittling the movement against cultural appropriation,” Flanagan wrote. Whatever your view, the debate was important, but Flanagan says “the BWF betrayed Shriver when she was at her most vulnerable”. As a fan of her writing, I agree.

“The Shriver controversy was the first time Australian writers festivals began to feel like a foreign country occupied by a strange regime, hostile to what writers stand for,” Flanagan wrote.

Carr is probably being dropped because of his sympathy with China and Greer because of comments suggesting not all rapes are equally serious and some should be considered “non-consensual … bad sex” as most “don’t involve any injury whatsoever”. Apparently the gentle “Volk” of Brisbane will not feel “safe” hearing such things.

Well here’s the rub. “Writers festivals, like … (literary) prizes have … become less … about books and more … about using their … power to enforce the new orthodoxies, to prosecute social and political agendas”, Flanagan wrote

Even the ABC is facing intolerance from the Left.

Julia Baird, part-time host of The Drum, used her column in The Sydney Morning Herald on July 28 to call out social media intimidation she was receiving for supposedly privileging panellists from the Institute of Public Affairs. Baird said the show had included only three IPA appearances this year, two by the same person.

Now the IPA, even though supported by big businesses and Australia’s richest woman, Gina Rinehart, is not the Ku Klux Klan. It was founded in 1943 by Charles Denton Kemp, father of Howard government ministers Rod and David Kemp. Although associated with free-market economic policies in recent decades, it was very much a Keynesian institution until the early 70s.

Wrote Baird: “The art of persuasion has been thoroughly trounced by polemic in public debate. Online, in comments sections, in staccato bursts of hate and attack, in the citing of feelings over facts, we see people shoving pillows over divergent views and trying to stop them being aired at all.”

She complained about the Twitter campaign to silence the IPA on The Drum. Just exactly what are Twitter’s twits afraid of? On subjects from migration to power prices, climate change and taxation reform, many on the uneducated Twitter Left would benefit from hearing well-argued conservative views. They might even learn why voters around the world disagree with most social media pieties.

The worst example of left-wing censoring of debate last month concerned opinion-makers from Waleed Aly to ABC journalists Jon Faine and Virginia Trioli trying to shut down discussion of Mel­bourne’s African gang violence. No amount of fudging the figures will change the fact this is a real issue and Africans are overrepresented in crime statistics, even if total numbers reflect the small African population.

Yet Aly said on Ten’s The Project on July 19: “If there really are a bunch of African gangs, frankly I am offended to not at least have been asked to join one.” His eight-minute segment was praised, of course, on social media.

Victims of gang crime who can’t afford the salubrious and safe suburbs inhabited by privileged members of the commentariat will just feel more isolated. No African migrants will be helped.


Do you know your foo foo from your joystick? How university students are being forced to use bizarre, childish terms for their genitals in politically correct 'consent classes'

University students are being forced to take classes about consent during which they're told to use words like 'joystick' and 'vajayjay' rather than anatomically correct names for genitalia.

The Consent Matters class at the University of Technology, Sydney was brought in this year as a compulsory module that all students must complete in order to pass their course.

The class involves an online test in which students must score 100 per cent to pass. The test features slides of social scenarios, some involving drinking, and uses words such as 'hotdog' and 'vajayjay.'

A voiceover to the test informs the young adults that using slang like this instead of standard language makes it easier to discuss sex and consent.

The module is part of an initiative to deal with issues of sexual assault and harassment on campus.

'Our program of work is focused on a broader goal of bringing about a sustainable cultural change to enable a zero-tolerance approach to sexual violence in our community,' the University webpage says.

The Introduction to Diversity class at the University of Sydney is required for anyone who wants to minor in 'diversity' and is run by lecturer Dr Jane Park, who regularly brings her white poodle cross to class.

'It is not just about let's hate all men and white people, that can be fun for like five seconds and then it gets boring. Also my dog is white. It is about white dog privilege. The idea of divide and conquer which brought us here — colonisation, capitalism, patriarchy,' Dr Park told a packed lecture theatre, reported The Daily Telegraph.

'Our identity and our value is defined by our commodification as being valuable in a capitalist society that has to become something else, that has to become definable,' she said.

Australian Catholic University lecturer and education commentator Kevin Donnelly said he is concerned universities are no longer places of open debate where people can argue the evidence on certain topics.

'It is part of the PC movement, where we have safe spaces, victimhood, and students are no longer able to have robust debate because everyone is part of some victim group,' Mr Donnelly said.


Australia really IS a laid-back place

The great Australian motto, "She'll be right, mate", is the antithesis of worry

Feeling stressed at work? Australian employees are among some of the least worried workers in the world - and the Brits aren't far behind

If you've been thinking your job is giving you a host of worries you may need to reevaluate as it has been revealed Australian workers are among the least stressed in the world.

A global study found employees Down Under are the second most relaxed nation in the workplace.

The survey of more than 23,000 working professionals in eight countries was conducted by Robert Half and studied full and part-time workers.

Australia's lack of stress closely followed the Netherlands, who were labelled the least anxious workers across the globe.

The British came in as the third least stressed country followed by the US, Belgium, Canada, France and Germany.

The study also revealed Australian workers aged 55 and above were the least stressed and those aged between 18 and 34 carried the most anxiety.

The research suggested those earning higher wages, more than $150,000, were highly stressed - as were women when compared to men.

The most relaxing industry for a career appeared to be IT, administration and accounting while health care and manufacturing fell at the opposite end of the spectrum.

'Stress in the workplace is sometimes unavoidable with many subtle yet insidious contributors,' Robert Half Australia director Nicole Gorton said.

'Stressed out employees not only negatively affect company performance, but can also impact overall team morale.

'Eliminating all work-related stress in the office may not be possible, but taking proactive steps to reduce it can improve staff performance, engagement and overall workplace happiness.'

The study revealed employers who hired large numbers of temporary staff helped reduce stress by managing high workloads.


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

No comments: