Monday, April 15, 2019

The Bible and vegans

Australia is having a lot of troubles with militant vegans lately, Leftist ones presumably. So what should conservatives think about veganism and vegans?

I cannot improve on the wisdom of our culture's holy book, the Bible. Yes.  The Bible even tells us about vegans.  Vegans might not like to hear it but veganism was also a religious discipline among holy men in Biblical times. In Romans chapter 14 we read:

For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables.  Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him

Short and to the point. Going vegan is a personal matter and we should be tolerant of that weakness.  BUT they should be tolerant of us too -- which they certainly are NOT at the moment.  So it's the best advice for all of us.  But Leftist arrogance is not much prone to seeking advice and even less prone to taking it.

Israel Folau could SUE Rugby Australia for religious discrimination if they terminate his contract

Israel Folau could sue Rugby Australia on the grounds of religious discrimination if his current contract is terminated, an expert has claimed.

Yesterday it was revealed that the Wallabies player would fight the attempts of Rugby Australia and the New South Wales Waratahs to sack him over the contents of a social media post.

Folau made an Instagram post on Thursday which said gay people - and other perceived sinners - would go to hell unless they repented.

The 30-year-old, who holds strong Christian views, was warned last year for making similar comments on social media but escaped disciplinary action.

On this occasion, however, RA announced it would cancel the lucrative four-year deal he signed in January. 

 But one legal expert has said Folau could make a claim against the organisation on the basis of his religion under the Fair Work Act.

 Mark Fowler, an adjunct associate professor of law the University of Notre Dame, told  The Sydney Morning Herald that RA would have to prove they were not terminating Folau's contract because of his religion.

'On what is publicly reported, it would seem hard to say that the action Rugby Australia is proposing is not because of his religious belief.'  

If Folau successfully sued Rugby Australia for the millions of dollars remaining on his contract, it would be a serious blow for the already financially-stretched organisation.

On Friday a meeting was held at the union's headquarters in Moore Park and while the RA's position is unchanged, the Wallabies face the prospect of entering this autumn's World Cup without one of the game's most gifted players.

'As the meeting was held in confidence between the player and his employers, Rugby Australia and the NSW Rugby Union will not comment on the discussions at the meeting,' a statement read.

 The Rugby Union Players' Association accompanied Folau to the talks and revealed in a statement that he intends to honour his contract, adding that the RA's code of conduct must be followed during any disciplinary action.

There has been widespread condemnation of Folau's remarks, including from former Wallabies team-mate Drew Mitchell and New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern.

But former Wallabies coach and prominent media commentator Alan Jones defended Folau's controversial comments - saying the rugby star had a right to freedom of speech.

Jones said Rugby Australia was acting against Folau to shore up the continued support of major sponsor Qantas, whose chief executive Alan Joyce is gay.

Rugby Australia has reprimanded Folau in the past for targeting the LGBTQI community in his social media posts.

He came under fire in 2017 during the marriage equality vote, when he publicly announced he wouldn't be supporting gay marriage.


Stan Grant says moving Australia Day would be pointless because some Aboriginal people are 'wedded to grievance'

Prominent journalist Stan Grant has said that moving the date of Australia Day would be pointless because some of his fellow indigenous people are 'wedded to grievance'.

There have been calls to move the public holiday away from January 26, the day the British First Fleet arrived to create a penal settlement that became Sydney.

Critics have argued that this day marked the beginning of great suffering and torment for indigenous people and should not be celebrated.

Grant, an award-winning journalist of Aboriginal heritage, debated the issue in a piece published in The Weekend Australian magazine on Saturday.

He argued that changing the date of Australia Day might leave January 26 as a day honoured by white chauvinists and risked making the national day more divisive.

Grant added that some Aboriginals would not be satisfied with the date change either because resentment was part of their 'identities'.

'I fear moving the date would only hand it to those who would reclaim it as a day of white pride, turning it into a bombastic day of division,' he writes.

'There are also those indigenous people who cling to Nietzsche's ''politics of ressentiment'', whose identities are so wedded to grievance that to relinquish their anger would be to lose their sense of themselves: moving the date would not satisfy them.' 

Grant also argued that abolishing or moving the date did not change the identity of the nation.

Instead, Grant said the history of the day, and what has come since, is inherently tied to where we are now.  

'Australia is more than a day, it is more than a date - whatever that date may be. Moving the date or abolishing Australia Day does not answer the question, who are we?' Grant writes.

Grant said Australia Day was not a day to be at war with himself as he says he identifies as neither black or white but rather a 'synthesis' of the two. 

The journalist's father Stan Grant Sr, was awarded a special Australia Day honour as a respected elder of the Wiradjuri people.

He was recognised for helping to revive the Wiradjuri language to share it with all Australians, as he believes his heritage is everyone's heritage.

Grant said his father has lived a life of 'brutality' and 'bigotry' but is proud to be an Australian.

Grant admitted to wrestling with questions about Australia Day as says he is torn between pride in the country and his family's legacy of suffering.

He also called for a new declaration, a Declaration of Country, as the current founding document does not recognise indigenous people.

Before going into the media, Grant experienced a troubled youth and was sent to 13 different primary schools, while struggling with his heritage.

Grant says he still has a strong connection to his hometown Griffith, in central western New South Wales, despite a difficult upbringing.

'My great-grandmother lived here and out the back was a broken-down Model T Ford. My parents called it 'the honeymoon suite' because when they first got together that's where they lived – in a broken-down car,' Grant said on ABC/s Home Delivery in 2016.

'I was born a year later and we were all here. This was it, in the back of a car in the back of my great-grandmother's house.'

A month before the Sydney Olympics in 2000, Stan Grant resigned as the host of Today Tonight after leaving his wife Karla Grant for Seven Network colleague Tracey Holmes.

Grant, then 36, was at the centre of a love scandal - eight years after becoming the first indigenous host of an Australian prime-time commercial television show.

The breakdown of his 16-year marriage to Karla, an Aboriginal SBS presenter who was also the mother of his three children, was front page news.

Grant and Holmes went on to marry and have a son together, before also living in Abu Dhabi and Beijing.


Tax skirmish sets up election campaign

Campaign 2019 has begun with a bid by Scott Morrison to smash Bill Shorten’s polling ascendancy, his credibility and his policy strategy — while Shorten’s immediate response is to stay cool, keep his nerve and refuse to be intimidated.

On the opening day, the Prime Minister released data documenting the price of the Opposition Leader’s change-of-direction audacity. Labor will levy an extra $387 billion in tax by the end of the decade, equating to an average extra $5400 for households annually, prompting the Labor leader to condemn this as a “bucket of lies”.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said: “Bill Shorten is proposing a dangerous experiment on a scale that has never been conducted before.” Despite the government-Labor brawl over the status of Treasury’s costing, the $387bn figure is essentially accurate.

The figure itself has not been challenged by Labor. It is so high partly because Labor — to display its rival priorities — refuses to put on the table any medium-term tax package. While numbers will shift with new announcements, these numbers testify to a fork-in-road election choice for Australians.

The $387bn, however, also equates to Labor’s war chest that it will utilise over the next five weeks to try to keep its entrenched polling lead.

The government extended its attack yesterday saying that by 2022-23, the end of the next parliament, people earning above $45,000 will be worse off under Labor’s tax policy.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, told Inquirer: “Bill Shorten may run rhetoric targeting the rich for political effect. But in truth he will pursue anyone earning more than $45,000 per annum from 2022-23 with higher income taxes. Someone earning $45,000 is not rich. Yet they will be forced to pay more tax under Labor, putting more pressure on them with their cost of living.”

This opens up a new dispute. A spokesman for Labor’s Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen rejected Cormann’s claim last night, saying the threshold that mattered was $90,000. “Labor will keep an enhanced low and middle income tax offset for the decade,” the spokesman said. “This means in 2022-23 for all income earners below $90,000, people are equal or better off under Labor.”

Cormann’s analysis rests on stage two of the government’s plan when the low and middle income tax offset is replaced by a lift in the threshold for the 19 per cent tax bracket to $45,000, providing benefits that flow through to income earners above this level.

Cormann said families on more than $45,000 who would be adversely impacted “should always read the fine print” in what Shorten says.

Shorten was unforgiving yesterday. He stood squarely behind Labor’s strategy. He said Labor’s priority was not tax cuts but shutting tax loopholes in the cause of funding schools, Medicare and cancer treatment costs. He tried to argue closing tax loopholes did not constitute tax increases.

Labor Senate leader Penny Wong reflected her party’s “not for turning” stance: “Labor chooses better schools, better hospitals, not bigger tax loopholes, and we have been consistent with that for years.” Bowen has said the government’s income tax cuts are “fiscal recklessness on an unprecedented scale” — but the test is whether Labor can hold its nerve or it cracks under this assault and spells out more income tax policy during the campaign.

Shorten is running on an election agenda that would have been inconceivable a few years ago. His assumption is that Australia has changed.

Labor has gone radical in the belief that people, seized by concerns about inequality, climate change and services, will accept a decisive shift to the Left and embrace a more progressive economic and social program.

In this sense the 2019 election is a watershed. The test is whether the public will repudiate conventional Liberal economics along with its distaste for the government’s five years of internal brawling. The heart of Labor policy is a major tax redistribution that punishes many categories of people and its belief the public will value social spending on health and education before income tax cuts.

The crux of this battle centres around the three commitments that define Labor’s strategy — it is pledged to repeal the bulk of the legislated $144bn tax cuts from last year’s budget; it opposes the bulk of the $158bn tax cuts from this year’s budget; and it proposes a range of tax increases and closing of tax loopholes affecting investors, retirees and higher income earners, from changes to negative gearing, capital gains, superannuation, franking credits, trusts and the deficit levy tax.

Government figures show over the decade Labor’s extra tax revenue will be $230bn from opposing the Coalition’s income tax cuts (Bowen says $226bn) and $157bn from its list of tax redistribution measures.

The immediate lesson is that Morrison is no Malcolm Turnbull. Not only is he not afraid to run a negative campaign, his aim is to ­fatally damage Labor at the start.

The Morrison government is playing straight to the hip-pocket nerve. The government is assaulting the tax policy framework Labor has developed over recent years and months that have underpinned its polling lead. The Liberals believe the public has not focused on what Labor’s tax policy actually means, no doubt diverted by internal brawling among the Liberals themselves.

Explaining his $45,000 threshold figure, Cormann says: “Under our plan from 1 July 2022 we increase the top income tax level of the 19 per cent tax bracket from $37,000 to $45,000, replacing the low and middle income tax offset, while preserving the tax relief which will also flow through to anyone earning more than $45,000 per annum.

“The effect of that income tax relief, which is quarantined to low and middle-income tax earners through the tax offset for the first four years of our plan (2018-19 to 2012-22), will start flowing through to those earning above $45,000 from 2022-23 onwards. Everyone earning more than $45,000 per annum is worse off under Bill Shorten and Labor because they have to pay more tax. His higher income taxes would not only harm the economy but would also put jobs at risk.”

Labor rejects Cormann’s claim but even Labor’s $90,000 threshold means that the number of losers will be significant.

Asked about Cormann’s claims, a Labor spokesperson said: “No one believes him. This is unlegislated and off in the never-never. You would have to vote for Morrison two more times. Labor is offering a better tax cut this year, not a fantasy in the future.”

The government’s hip-pocket assault on Shorten’s policies focuses on his refusal to respond to stages two and three of the government’s tax cuts. Shorten lashed out at the government, saying: “The Liberals are lying about taxes. Let’s just call it as it is.”

Shorten said the government is defending “unsustainable subsidies and rorts” and then claiming when Labor tackled these issues that it was “increasing taxes”.

He said the government is defending the “super wealthy” when “we have got waiting lists in our hospitals” and massive out-of-pocket costs for people diagnosed with cancer. Trying to change the tone, he said: “I don’t see the government as the enemy. I see cancer has my enemy.”

Morrison left no doubt he intends to hang the tax issue around Labor’s neck.

“The more Labor spends, the more they tax,” he said. “The more they tax, the more they hurt the economy, which means the less money there is for all Australians.

“Higher taxes hold all Australians back. Higher taxes make it harder for families, for small businesses, for those saying for the ­future, for retirees.”

Frydenberg said: “Despite Chris Bowen’s desperate attempts at distraction, none of his frontbench colleagues have disputed that Labor’s new taxes total $387bn, the equivalent of an extra yearly tax bill of $5400 per household.” The $5400 does not relate to an income level. It is calculated by dividing the total extra Labor tax take by the number of households.

Frydenberg confirmed yesterday the government asked Treasury for the analysis. “The Australian people deserve to know the true cost of Labor’s policies,” he said.

Bowen wrote to Treasury secretary Phil Gaetjens yesterday, expressing concern at the government’s claims its figures came from Treasury modelling and analysis. He reminded Gaetjens “it has been a longstanding position by the Treasury that it does not cost opposition policies”.

In his reply, Gaetjens told Bowen “no breach of conduct or impartiality has occurred”. He said in this case Treasury received requests from Frydenberg’s office that a number of policies be costed — but no reference was made to the opposition. The costing was done and completed before the caretaker period began.

The secretary said his department was not asked to cost “another party’s policies” and it would not do so if such a request was ­received.

The core point about this entire dispute is that a Labor government would decide on future tax cuts according to its discretion. Labor is pledged in the immediate 2019-20 year to match the government’s tax rebates across the income range $48,000 to $125,000. But it refuses to be drawn beyond that. However, any notion a Labor government would not cut income tax before the end of the decade is fanciful. Of course it would.

The point is that Labor refuses to engage in this debate because it has other priorities. This is a substantial gamble that reflects Labor’s high confidence about the election. Labor calculated it could tolerate the sort of government attack now under way. Time will tell whether that judgment was valid.

Morrison’s intention is to use the tax issue to destroy Labor’s electoral strategy.

Frydenberg released a detailed breakdown on the cost of Labor’s policies with Treasury as the source. The medium-term impact to 2029-30 is as follows: abolition of refunds on franking credits, $57bn; the crackdown on family trusts, $27bn; changes to housing tax arrangements, $31bn; higher superannuation taxes, $34bn; and imposing a 2 per cent deficit repair levy on high-income earners to 2022-23, estimated at $6.5bn.

The total cost of all these associated measures is estimated at $157bn over 10 years.

The government calculates that under Labor — on its current policies — the tax-to-GDP ratio at the end of 10 years will be a high 25.9 per cent compared with the Morrison government’s cap of 23.9 per cent. Once again, this will not happen because any Labor government would cut tax during this period. But because Labor refuses to produce a medium-term tax policy, the government can generate such a figure.

Bowen has used KPMG analysis to say the tax take under Labor at the end of the four-year forward estimates would be 24.2 per cent. He says this is lower than under the Howard era.

“Under a Labor government, Australia would have a lower tax take than Japan, New Zealand, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands and most other OECD economies,” he says.

The logic is apparent: Shorten and Bowen are determined to resist the Morrison government’s tax assault. What will Labor do with its immense war chest? It will reinforce its strategy with more funding for education and health and it will deliver on Bowen’s pledge to have bigger surplus figures across the forward estimates. That is, some of Labor’s extra revenue will deliver superior fiscal ­accountability.

The moral is that beyond the posturing this election constitutes a decisive choice of future direction. Morrison is probably correct to say it will shape the next decade. That choice is between the Liberal economic orthodoxy of Morrison and Frydenberg as reflected in the recent budget and an emboldened Labor that has discarded the “small target” model and, convinced that Australia wants a ­radical shift, runs on more social spen­ding, higher taxation, ­redis­t­ri­­bution and climate change targets that must cause economic pain.

For Morrison, the politics are obvious — he cannot just rely on the government’s economic credentials. He must document and try to destroy Shorten’s agenda. The test is how Shorten performs under pressure.


 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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