Sunday, June 30, 2019

No forgiveness for Folau’s sins against the PC church

The take-home message of the Israel Folau scandal is as clear as it is terrifying: Christians are no longer welcome in public life.

If you adhere to core Christian beliefs about sin, hell and damnation, you will be purged from polite society.

If you think St Paul was right to argue in his Epistle to the Romans that it is sinful for men to neglect “the natural use of the female” and instead to become “inflamed by their lust for one another”, you will be cast out of the community. If you agree with the word of God — that man “shall not lie with mankind as with womankind”, as Leviticus puts it — you will be branded a moral transgressor.

The irony is almost too much to bear: critics of Christianity now use the tactics Christianity itself once used in its darker moments in history. They demonise certain ideas as heretical, rage against those who holds these ideas and subject these sinful creatures to a PC inquisition.

“Are you now or have you ever been an adherent to the Bible’s beliefs on homosexuality…?”

Answer yes and you’re out, packed off to the moral wilderness, with a metaphorical placard saying “homophobe” — a modern word for evil — hanging around your neck.

Folau’s crime, his sin against political correctness, is to believe that people who have gay sex are destined for hell.

He expressed this belief in a meme he shared on his Instagram page, which said “hell awaits” certain wicked people, including drunks, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolaters and homosexuals.

As an atheist who has engaged in boozing, fornication and idolatry at various times in his life, I guess I’d better prep for an eternity of fire and torture. I don’t share Folau’s beliefs. I was brought up a Catholic, so I know there are many people who genuinely believe homosexuality is a sin. But I’m a lapsed Catholic now, and godless too, and it bothers me not one iota who people choose to have sexual intercourse with. Knock yourselves out. Wear a condom!

Yet I find the persecution of Folau repulsive and an alarming sign of the times.

It demonstrates how far PC intolerance has gone and how thoroughly anyone who doesn’t slavishly subscribe to contemporary orthodoxy can expect to be punished.

It doesn’t matter if you are a Christian or an atheist, straight or gay, uptight about sex or a cheerleader for sexual debauchery — you should still be deeply concerned that a man can be persecuted simply for what he believes, for the convictions that reside in his head and his heart.

Persecution is not too strong a word for it. The dictionary definition of persecution is “hostility or ill-treatment” especially because of one’s “race or political or religious beliefs”.

This aptly describes what Folau has faced. He has had hostility heaped upon him because of his religious beliefs. He has been ill-treated because of his faith.

First, in April, he was dumped by the rugby world. Rugby Australia and NSW Rugby — which oversees the team Folau played for, the Waratahs — issued a joint statement announcing the termination of his contract.

The statement was perverse. It will surely be studied by future generations who want to understand the moral contortionism of the early years of the 21st century.

It claimed Rugby Australia is keen to create an environment in which everyone can feel “safe and welcome” and in which there is “no vilification based on race, gender, religion or sexuality”. And so, because of his Instagram post, Folau had to be cast out.

It is testament to the blinkered arrogance of political correctness, and of those who do its bidding, that these people could not see the profound moral contradiction at the heart of their chilling statement. In the name of preventing “vilification based on race, gender, religion or sexuality”, they vilified Folau on the basis of his religion. In the name of creating a safe environment where everyone can feel “welcome”, they made it clear that Folau — because of his religion — is not welcome.

This Orwellian statement translates as follows: “We will not tolerate vilification on the basis of religion — unless your religion is traditional Christianity, in which case we will vilify you. And we are welcoming of everyone — except people who believe the words of the Bible, whom we will sack and shame.”

This repugnant statement summed up what is the first and last commandment of the ideology of political correctness: “We love and accept everyone. Except anyone we disagree with. We hate those people and we will destroy them.”

Authoritarianism dressed up as acceptance. Intolerance under the guise of tolerance. This is the Newspeak of the PC era, and it is horrifying.

Even worse, Folau’s opponents then sought to make it more difficult for him to defend himself. The sports world effectively made him a moral reprobate; then the capitalist class decided he should not be allowed to raise money for his own defence in his case of unlawful termination against Rugby Australia.

GoFundMe Australia shut down his fundraising page. It did so because we do not “tolerate the promotion of discrimination or exclusion”, it said.

Again with the Orwellianism. We do not tolerate discrimination or exclusion, so we will discriminate against a biblical Christian and exclude him from our services — that is essentially what GoFundMe is saying. Shameless self-contradiction.

Thankfully, the Australian Christian Lobby stepped in, keeping open the possibility of charity for Folau after others almost closed that possibility down. It is testament to the strength of feeling around this issue that the ACL raised $2 million in the first day. Huge numbers of ordinary Aussies clearly want to take a stand for religious freedom and freedom of speech — good on ’em.

This terrible spectacle, this hounding of one man over his beliefs, reveals so much about the culture wars of the early 21st century.

First, it confirms that PC is the new religion. Political correctness now does what pointy-hatted priests used to do: seeks out thought criminals and moral transgressors and punishes them for their wicked beliefs.

No, nobody has been burned at the stake. Folau’s life is not at risk. But there is nonetheless an inquisitorial feeling to the witch-hunting of this rugby player whose only offence is that he thinks differently from the PC crowd.

The second thing revealed by this hounding is that the left will turn a blind eye to the use and abuse of capitalist power if it serves their purposes. So, just as leftists have cheered Silicon Valley oligarchs as they have expelled from social media anyone who has an anti-PC point of view, so they have applauded GoFundMe’s shunning of Folau. It’s a private company, they say, and private companies can decide for themselves who to host and who to ban.

Let’s break this down: what they’re really saying is that the speech rights of a “horrible” Christian come a poor second to the property rights of corporations. So, all their anti-capitalist bluster is stuff and nonsense. When push comes to shove, they will back the internet elites and online Big Business over those who they deem to be morally wicked.

This is a celebration of corporate power over individual speech rights. That’s the kind of thing you would expect from the libertarian right, but not from the supposedly socially conscious left.

And the third thing confirmed by this dispiriting affair is that Christianity is one religion it is acceptable to mock and persecute these days.

If you were to criticise Islam, you would be branded an “Islamophobe”. You would be accused of stirring up racist sentiment. You would be denounced and harassed and censured.

Yet the Koran also attacks homosexuality. It says any man who “practises your lusts on men” deserves to be driven “out of your city”. They should be visited by a “shower of brimstone” — that is, kill them.

I find these views of homosexuals as dreadful as the Leviticus view. But I support the right of Muslims and Christians alike to hold these views and to think that men who lie with men will be punished in the afterlife.

When did we forget this key principle of civilised, enlightened, democratic society — that people should be free to hold even difficult and disagreeable views, and should never be punished for what they think?

Folau should be free to think and say whatever he likes, and he should face no sanction whatsoever.


The Australian constitution is on Folau's side

Section 116 of The Australian Constitution states: “The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth”.

Where there is reference to industrial law, it relates only to the public service and it must be said the ultimate phrase of Section 116 was honoured more in the breach than in the observance.

In the bad old days of sectarian Australia, no Catholic could get a job working for Treasury. Likewise, Protestants looking to get a gig in the Tax Office.

But at least religious freedoms get a mention. All other freedoms are merely implied and that means they are open to being trampled regularly by government.

If dealt with in isolation, the question of religious freedom will be pushed into the murk of a politico-legal world grappling awkwardly with black letter diktats on the nature of religion. It rarely ends well.

In 1983, the High Court had to determine the basic question of what constitutes a religion in Australia. It was a vexed business and once handed down, the judgment revealed the discomfiture of the Full Bench in dealing with such a slippery issue.

The Victorian Supreme Court had labelled Scientology a sham religion, a mockery of established religious observance and determined the State of Victoria was within its rights to claim payroll tax from the group.

When the scientologists took the matter to the High Court, the Supreme Court ruling was overturned. The High Court determined that an organisation that believes it is a religion is a religion, or more properly, if a group of people who associate with a particular organisation believe it is a religion then that is what it is. Thus, Scientology became the Church of Scientology in Australia and got to enjoy all the tax-free goodies.

Far be it for me to say, but the Victoria Supreme Court probably got it right in respect of Scientology but the High Court’s prevailing judgment was one driven by the sensible view that despite their considerable legal expertise, men and women in horsehair wigs, had no business providing a legal checklist for matters of faith and religious belief.

It was the right call, but it led to poor results where a cult like Scientology enjoyed tax free status and further emboldened more cults and sects in Australia to do likewise.

We should be thankful to Folau and to Rugby Australia, too. It is an unpleasant business for him, and others directly involved but in the greater public forum it can lead to very healthy discussions, a renewed focus on our rights and our freedoms, why so many have gone missing and how to get them back.

We need to broaden the argument that sprang from the great sense that Folau has been dealt with disgracefully.

The best and fairest response is to enshrine freedoms of expression, movement and association equally across the board as the foundations for the way people work and live in Australia.

We need to establish where we stand in this country. A bill of rights would make the Australia even noisier and a good deal messier than it is today but I’d suggest in a complex modern society that is no bad thing.


Another man victimized by false allegations

Bettina Arndt

We are fast reaching the point where men won't dare work with children. The vigilantism and community hysteria surrounding sexual abuse accusations combined with our anti-male culture means all men are vulnerable to false accusations which can end their careers.

Over the decades I've been writing about these issues I have talked to so many men in this situation. In this week's video I interview a respected music teacher and school band conductor who is currently banned from teaching in NSW schools. He was subject to false accusations by a number of students which were properly investigated by police and the Department of Community Services and found to have no substance.

It's over a year since the accusations first surfaced and were then investigated, yet the Education Department's secretive investigation unit refuses to remove him from the list banning him from teaching in schools. His career is ruined, his reputation trashed by malicious social media campaigns labelling him as a pederast.

Please watch my video and help me circulate it. People need to know what's happening to some of our most experienced and trusted male teachers.

Via email from Bettina

The plight of boys in a misandrist world

The poison of revenge feminism

I worry more for my 19-year-old son than for my daughters, both in their early 20s. At a dinner party recently, a young woman told me that my son’s school was teeming with rape culture. That’s not true. I tried to explain why — that one bad boy, even a few, does not make a rape culture. But she didn’t seem to be interested in listening to this.

My son’s school has swallowed the fabrication hook, line and sinker. That is the wretched power of misguided accusations and outright lies. Repeat them enough and people believe them.

The confected panic became so ridiculous that at one assembly senior boys were told not to use the word moist as it might offend girls. The boys responded rationally. They muttered for the rest of the day about moist sandwiches, moist weather and so on. Some teachers joined in because, as a rule, overreach is rarely taken seriously.

Now I read that if my son, or one of his gorgeous and clever friends, studies medicine and becomes an obstetrician and gynaecologist, motives need to be checked. Are they in it for power? To enjoy watching women in pain? To perve at women’s private parts?

This is serious. Seriously wrong. I wouldn’t normally respond to another writer in this newspaper. We are a broad church, despite the claims of some ideologically blind critics that we all lean one way. Live and let write, I say. Sometimes their arguments sharpen mine.

Nikki Gemmell’s piece two weeks back needs addressing, not to sharpen opposing views given her claims are so easily sliced and diced. They need to be positioned as part and parcel of a wicked movement that seeks to punish men en masse, even smearing boys for the past deeds of some men.

Gemmell may not have meant to join this miserable movement. Maybe she was naive. But her claim that we should question the motives of why a man would want to be an obstetrician gives cover to others who choose gender as a determination of good or bad motives. Think of the obsessions about the white patriarchy and toxic masculinity. Rather than ­encourage more of these mindless accusations, can’t we agree that this genre of revenge feminism deserves no helpers? And that men should not have to defend themselves against inchoate claims about bad motives?

Revenge feminism is one part of a larger body of grievance politics, each offshoot with its own misguided postmodernist pursuit.

Post-Marxists assert power imbalances, regard objective knowledge as a construct of power, assume bad motives from those who have power, and then they prop up those deemed to be oppressed and punish those assumed to be oppressors. Many are so consumed with finding power imbalances, they do not stop to check whether they have found a real one, or whether they are making sense even when they have found the locus of power.

The redeeming feature of the postmodernist movement is that it is increasingly incoherent. Hence, it will not likely enjoy the same longevity of past, more comprehensible political movements. ­Rational people simply cannot, and will not, abide by the increasingly outlandish claims that emanate from the many parts of postmodernism.

From identity politics more broadly to narrower agendas of intersectional feminism and queer theory, along with their absolutist claims about cultural appropriation, unconscious bias, toxic masculinity, cisgender privilege, heteronormativity, and so on, more people recognise these as ­regressive, not progressive. All are aimed at judging people, not as individuals but as members of assumed oppressed and oppressor classes according to race, sexuality, culture and more.

Revenge feminism that reflexively impugns the motives of men is just another incoherent part of the mother ship of 1960s postmodernism that reworked itself in the 80s. But before each bit is ­finally dumped as part of modernity’s biggest political con, clumsy assumptions about power and gender are exceedingly unfair to men and do nothing good for women either.

My own experience points to the pointlessness of using gender to judge doctors. Three children. Two obstetricians. The first, a woman, was dreadful. Rough, rude, dismissive, she had many complaints against her I learned later. My second obstetrician was gentle and caring and he listened too. I judged both of them not by gender but by their individual skills, or lack of them.

My former father-in-law, a more decent man you could not find, was a GP in country NSW for many years in an era when the local doctor did all manner of things. He delivered so many ­babies that his family frequently bumps into those babies or the mothers and fathers, all much older now. This gentle man does not deserve to have his motives questioned for bringing babies into the world.

Gender stereotypes can blow back on women, too. Working as a young lawyer at a large law firm in Sydney more than two decades ago, I noticed that a higher proportion of senior female lawyers, partners in particular, were rude and dismissive. Kind of like that ­female obstetrician I would encounter some years later.

What was their beef? Maybe some thought young female lawyers had slid too easily into our chosen profession compared with their harder road. But why punish us for their trials and tribulations? Others didn’t discriminate on the basis of sex; they were equally awful to young men and women. The point is that some of us grew wary of older female lawyers and preferred to work for men. The men weren’t necessarily caring or gentle but they were fair.

Today, the pendulum has swung even further. In our biggest companies, in government bureaucracies and at universities too, gender is more prominent than ever. The way it is panning out, with quotas and special privileges for women, we are focusing less on people as individuals.

Today, if you want a genuine equal opportunity employer, your best bet may be a small business that is mercifully free of gender rules, and HR departments that enforce them.

Postmodern quests by social justice warriors have made us more sexist, and more racist, too.

Think of frequent accusations about toxic masculinity, not to mention bogus claims against white privilege. It is not corrective justice to smear all men with bad motives or to claim all white people are privileged. It is not justice of any kind. And it is not good for any of us.

There have always been sporadic contests over the core idea of the West that we treat people equally, as individuals who should be neither punished nor promoted by reason of their race, creed, ­gender or sexuality.

But today there is an escalating drive, under the auspices of identity politics, to divide people into smaller and smaller groups, starting from clumsy assumptions about power, replacing objective knowledge with unverified claims, ascribing bad motives to one class and good motives to another, punishing some, promoting others. It is driving people apart, creating default settings of distrust. Intersectional feminism, for example, is at war with itself, different groups of women laying claim to be the biggest victims.

In the victimhood sweepstakes, a woman of colour beats a white woman hands down, a lesbian woman of colour beats a lesbian white woman, and a trans woman beats a lesbian woman of colour. And a trans woman of colour? That is intersectional bingo. Meanwhile, trans activists in general are at war with biological women, and none of these groups is listening to the other. It is a shouting race to the top of a wonky ladder of victimhood.

It is no wonder then that identity politics is more morose and divisive, infantilising and illiberal now compared with, say, a decade ago. Given that we do not know where this ends or what the point of no return looks like, each of us should surely commit to being living, breathing examples of the great liberal mission.

Respecting and judging people as individuals is the road to genuine and enduring equality. If we start from this first principle, real empowerment and human flourishing will follow too. And a new social justice movement can better judge who holds power, who abuses it and how best to protect those at the mercy of real oppression.

We have to start somewhere. Not impugning the motives of male obstetricians is as good a place as any.


EcoFascists:  The new totalitarians

Melbourne University’s new vice-chancellor, Duncan Maskell, wants to “reach out” and “build partnerships” with the business sector. It may be harder than he thinks. Potential donors might catch up with what the university’s Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute (MSSI) is advocating. MSSI Director, Professor Brendan Gleeson, has just co-authored with staffer Dr Sam Alexander a book Degrowth in the Suburbs: A Radical Urban Imaginary.[1]

The book calls for the overthrow of capitalism en route to a mightily shrunken non–consumerist “eco-socialism”. MSSI cites reviews of the book as a “beacon of hope” for a “a tantalizing and realistic suburban future”, as the authors guide us “through the calamities of the Anthropocene”. MSSI last March also published an update by the Gleeson/Alexander duo, “showcasing new and exciting sustainability knowledge”.[2] The authors respectfully quote Karl Marx and the Communist Manifesto of 1848. But they argue for a decarbonised Australia which for radicalism makes Marx and Engels seem mild as maiden aunts:

Attempting to take control of the state may not necessarily be the best way to initiate the transition to a just and sustainable degrowth economy, for even a socialist state may find itself locked into unsustainable growth just as capitalism is.


A revolutionary consciousness must precede the revolution. If governments will not lead this process, it arguably follows that social movements might have to change the world without (at first) taking state power… [3]

The authors note that Australian householders to the 1950s did a lot of backyard food-growing, dress-making and furniture-making, and DIY building:

This ‘urban peasantry’ declined however in the Post-War Boom, as the rise of mass consumer capitalism enabled households to purchase goods previously produced within the household. We contend that any degrowth or post-capitalist transition may well see the re-emergence of an ‘urban peasantry’ in this sense, albeit one shaped by different times and concerns.

The more pain for citizens the better, apparently, to “shake people awake”:

In our view, it is better that citizens are not in fact protected from every disruptive situation, given that encounter with crisis can play an essential consciousness-raising role. (175).

They say,

Ultimately, the solution to crisis is crisis: a massive suspension of capitalism as prelude to a new economic and social dispensation…To liberate human prospect, we must cast down not defend the burning barricades of a dying modernity. (15-16)

They extol Cubans for food production in backyards, turning “crisis into opportunity”. The post-2007 Greek debt crisis also furnishes them insights “into ways of dealing positively with challenging and turbulent times”. I’m surprised they haven‘t also cited socialist Venezuela’s shining example of degrowth. They say that living standards, despite degrowth, can be propped up by voluntary sharing and gifting. But they caution the middle classes that “access to expensive handbags through sharing schemes is not progressive if it merely entrenches consumer culture.”

Richard di Natale’s Green’s Party, they say, “has begun to recognize the need for a post-growth economy, even though it treads very carefully knowing that it must not alienate a voting constituency that is still developing a post-growth consciousness” (180). I don’t think di Natale will thank them for that insight.

In one of the sickening clichés of the Gleeson/Alexander academic style – dating back eight years to Alexander’s Ph.D. thesis — the authors time-travel to 2038 and discover what a success their policies have been (145).[4] Large fossil-fuel companies are nationalized in a near “war time mobilization” and their workers handed a job guarantee in renewables (167).

Graffiti daubers in 2038 instead write inspirational slogans: “Graffiti art sprayed all over Melbourne captured the spirit best: ‘I have a little; you have nothing; therefore, we have a little’” (154). Suburbanites share food from their vegie plots, eschew distant holidays (local trips show “hidden delights” within reach of a borrowed electric car), mend their own clothes, eat vegetarian and fertilise their backyard plots with nutrients from their composting toilets. “As old attitudes die, it is now broadly accepted that a civilized society in an era of water scarcity should not defecate into potable water…” they write (158).

“Tiny houses” on wheels proliferate on idle driveways and spare rooms are opened to boarders. Homesteaders enjoy sewing, baking bread and brewing beer. (Home-brewed cider and port feature in Alexander’s previous yurts-and-jam-jar imaginings). People spend their leisure on “low-impact creative activity like music or art, home-based production, or sport. (164)”. But many sport fields get converted to cropping, which is tough on the likes of AFL fans who initially create “instances of social conflict” until won over by Gleeson and Alexander’s insights (159).

The elderly purr along on electric bikes, and neighborhoods share ‘electric cargo bikes” capable of dropping multiple kids at school. The ‘vast majority’ of city people do some food-growing and bee-keeping in their welcome new roles as “urban peasantry”. They convert train-line verges to chicken and goat farms and former car parks to aquaculture. With so much  physical work, people need less public health care, “freeing up more of the public purse for the energy transition” (160).

The ambience at MSSI hasn’t changed much since I last checked them out four years ago. Those earlier pieces — The joy of yurts and jam-jar glassware, Melbourne Uni’s watermelon patch, and A book without peer — can be read by following the links.

MSSI is now running a whole project on eco-socialism’s “Great Resettlement” of the suburbs after we cut loose from our “fatal addiction” to oil, gas and coal. Just for starters, Gleeson/Alexander are now agitating for a top marginal tax rate of “90 per cent or more”,[5] wealth taxes “to systematically transfer 3 per cent of private wealth [do they mean per annum?] from the richest to the poorest” and estate taxes of 90 per cent or more “to ensure the laws of inheritance and bequest do not create a class system of entrenched wealth and entrenched poverty.” In their view, Australia should give a guaranteed living wage to every permanent resident and a “job guarantee” involving the state as employer of last resort (193-4).

The book says the “working class struggle” (91) should involve, of course, a giant increase in State control for a “wholesale eco-socialist transition” (174). There would be “vastly increased democratic planning and perhaps even some rationing of key resources to ensure distributive equity” (195). State and community banks would monopolise most mortgages and use the profits to fund a guaranteed right to public housing (191), with socialization of property per se likely later down the track (190).

To prepare the masses for this Gleesonian world of degrowth, grassroots education campaigns would get special importance and the arts sector would weave “emotionally convincing” narratives about anti-consumerism (195) – — except maybe for climate tragic Cate Blanchett; her portfolio includes a $6m Sussex mansion.

In the book’s sole flash of common sense, the authors say, “Electric cars are still on the rise, but progress is slow as few households can afford them, and their ecological credentials remain dubious in many respects” (164-65).

You may be wondering about this Sustainable Society Institute. It’s not some rogue element of the campus in a reefer-strewn Carlton hideaway but an interdisciplinary Melbourne University standard-bearer. It has a “diverse and vibrant  Advisory Board of experts, leaders and champions of sustainability.” They include Nobelist Peter Doherty and the president, no less, of the university’s professorial board, Rachel Webster.

Housed in the architecture faculty , it has a staff of 21 including four professors, 6-7 PhDs and 10 administrators. There goes about $3m salaries a year in tax and fees, let alone costs of MSSI delegations to annual UN climate gabfests. MSSI purports to produce high impact publications, post-grad research and public debate – although the only debates there are among green-leftists. MSSI has staff exchanges with Germany’s far-left Potsdam Climate Impact Institute, which has helped lure Germany into a crippling energy shortage.

Check out MSSI’s “diverse and vibrant advisory board of experts, leaders and champions of sustainability.” Chair is Melbourne’s deputy mayor Arron Wood, a graduate of the Climate Leadership program run by globe-trotting, CO2-belching Al Gore. Other members include John Bradley, State Environment Department head and previously CEO of power distributor Energy Networks; and various green group leaders like Katerina Gaita, CEO of “Climate for Change”. She’s a fellow Al Gore graduate and daughter of Romulus My Father author Raimond Gaita with whom she shared the jolliest green family chinwags at the Wheeler Centre (below).

The MSSI board, apart from some vested interests, also bulges with corporate high-flyers of the capitalist imperium targeted for destruction by MSSI. These barons and duchesses of a dying order include Rosemary Bissett, sustainability head of National Australia Bank; Gerard Brown, corporate affairs head of ANZ Bank; and Victoria McKenzie-McHarg, strategy manager at Bank Australia. She boasts of leading the campaign to replace Hazelwood power station and stopping another Victorian coal-fired power project going ahead, plus there was her role in the women-in-climate change seminar. Then there’s Adam Fennessy, EY consultancies’ government strategy partner and ex-head of Victoria’s Environment Department. No green lobby would be replete without big emitter Qantas, and MSSI has Megan Flynn, listed as Qantas group environment and carbon strategy manager.[3] Sadly for Qantas, Gleeson’s post-capitalist and climate-friendly world will be a no-fly zone.

Last week Melbourne University’s council and its academics combined to put out an improved free speech policy, not before time as the Institute of Public Affairs audit last year cited some nasty incidents:

Conservative students launched a membership drive and a posse of Melbourne University academics cried ‘Racists!’ and had the conservative students thrown off campus. Former Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella was shouted down and physically confronted during a guest lecture at the University of Melbourne.

The Gleeson-Alexander “array of revolutionary reforms” includes a scenario “to create (or re-create) a ‘free press’” (p194-5). I hope they don’t have a tax or fee-financed bunyip version of Pravda in mind.

Associate Professor (climate politics) Peter Christoff is a long-time MSSI executive committee member. He’s publicly called for legislation imposing “substantial fines” and “bans” to silence conservative commentators of the Andrew Bolt/Alan Jones ilk. This was a contrast to last week’s university policy to promote “critical and free enquiry, informed intellectual discourse and public debate within the University and in the wider society”. Christoff was addressing a 2012 university seminar aptly titled Law vs Desire: Will Force or Obedience Save the Planet? His draconian sanctions were, as per my transcribing from 20 minutes in,

based on the fact that unchecked climate denialism over time would cause loss of freedom and rights, the death of thousands of humans, the loss of entire cultures, effectively genocide , extinctions…

The legislation to be contemplated might be roughly framed around things like Holocaust Denial legislation which already exists in 17 countries, focused on the criminalisation of those who public condone, deny or trivialise crimes of genocide or crimes against humanity…

“The [fifth] objection [to his proposal] is that this is simply unworkable, inquisitorial, having the perverse effect of increased attraction to banned ideas and their martyrs. It will depend on the application of such law. If it is selective and well focused, with substantial fines and perhaps bans on certain broadcasters and individuals whom I will not name, who stray from the dominant science without any defensible cause, it would have a disciplinary effect on public debate. There still would be plenty of room for peer reviewed scientific revisionism and public debate around it, but the trivial confusion that is being deliberately generated would be done away with, and that is a very important thing at the moment.

His proposal was heard with equanimity by the panel comprising Professor Helen Sullivan, Director of the University’s Centre for Public Policy (introducer); MSSI’s Professor Robyn Eckersley; activist Dave Kerin and Professor of Rhetoric Marianne Constable (University California, Berkeley). The young audience showed no negative reaction. Compere was the university’s Dr Juliet Rogers, now a Senior Lecturer in Criminology. (Her Melbourne Law School PhD was on ‘Fantasies of Female Circumcision: Flesh, Law and Freedom Through Psychoanalysis’).

Professor Sullivan, summing up at 1.54.20, says Christoff’s contribution is useful

“just about how you might start to use the law and possibility of the law, to generate a sense of resistance and generate people out of a passivity. I would not want to think Peter’s contribution was off the point; it is ‘in there’ and may be part of the mix and something we need to be thinking about.”

One of three comments on the youtube seminar page reads: “A highly distinguished, diverse group of intelligent human beings openly discussing hard topics to help humanity navigate our way through these hard times with a sense of justice, democracy and reason.” Another begs to differ: “Just listened here to a group of academic Eco-[authoritarians] who all are embracing the biggest scientific swindle of all time. Fascinating insight into lunatics.”

Christoff and Eckersley in 2014 co-wrote a chapter in the Christoff-edited book “Four Degrees of Global Warming, Australia in a Hot World”.[6] They reached the following “Conclusion” (p201):

 The American political scientist Chalmers Johnston called 9/11 and the continuing War on Terror ‘blowback’, caused by United States’ imperial foreign and defence policies from the 1950s to the start of the century. If we do realise a Four Degree World…we will have cause to call the results for Australia ‘climate’ blowback or ‘carbon’ blowback.

It seems disrespectful to 3000 murdered Americans to suggest that the attack was America’s fault, or “blowback”.

Here’s more Gleeson/Alexander book extracts, free speech indeed (Trigger warning for snowflakes):

# “A massive, disruptive adjustment to the human world is inevitable. The next world is already dawning. Humanity will surely survive to see it…capitalism will not…it will collapse under the weight of its internal contradictions. (15)

# Their recipe for suburban reform is for “radicals and progressives – indeed all who experience a sense of care and responsibility for viable human futures – to loudly indict a dying but still lethal capitalism for its crimes against human and natural prospects.” (204)

# Eco-warrior David Holmgren, writing in the book’s Foreword: “The global economy is a Ponzi scheme of fake wealth that will inevitably follow the trajectory of previous bubbles in the history of capitalism – but this time, the tightening grip of resource depletion and other limits will make this boom cycle the final one for global capitalism.’ Holmgren says he found the Mad Max movie the “primary intellectual reference point” about the energy-scarce future. (vi)

The co-authors argue that we should not “callously close borders”, as we need to take in not just (so far mythical) climate refugees but invite the world’s poor in general for reasons of “solidarity and compassion”.

“We must oppose the tide of scapegoat racism that seems to be driving the wave of populist nationalism that today calls for the closing of borders at a time when we must be opening our hearts” (18-19).

Concurrently, somehow, the state should enforce constantly reducing resource availability, such as 3 per cent a year, to ensure degrowth plus justice and sustainability (184).

They quote Slavoj Zizek, their oft-cited Slovenian philosopher, describing the capitalist economy as “a beast that can not be controlled”. It must, however, be brought to heel before it propels humanity, and all we presume to govern, into the abyss, they add (9). Zizek is a particularly odd fish.[7]

Their war-cry: “We should raise an infernal racket about the narcosis that has settled in the dying hours of capitalism. Sleepers awake! We have the right to imagine and create a more enlightened world. To work…in the suburbs, now.” (205-6)

Back in the real world, bike and vegetable-friendly co-author Alexander, who lives gas-free, says he has draped his home with solar panels to  produce six times more electricity than he draws from the grid (1kWh per person per day). His annual bill is zero. “None of this has required wearing hairshirts of living in a cave without lights,” he says (120), overlooking how much his free electricity is subsidized by taxpayers, renters and non-solar householders.

Maybe the authors will win the 2020 economics Nobel with their proposal for suburban currencies.[8] Puckle Street forex traders ought to give my Flemington dollars a good rate against their Moonee Ponds buck.

I’ve visited some nice universities like Oxford, Cambridge, Chicago, Bologna and Padua. But maybe tourists should give Melbourne University’s Sustainability Institute a miss — unless, like visitors to Hogarth’s Bedlam, they enjoy observing lunatics going about their strange business.


 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

Friday, June 28, 2019

Some Leftist bile over free speech

The angry Jacqueline Maley, complete with forced smile

Jacqueline Maley of the SMH exhibits the angry, abusive Leftist mind very clearly.  Below are some excerpts of what she wrote about Bettina Arndt.  It would be called hate speech if a conservative had written it. It reeks of hate.  A comment about it received from Bettina Arndt below:

" Signs of desperation from journalist Jacqueline Maley in her extremely nasty, personal attack on me last week in the Sydney Morning Herald. The feminists are clearly worried that I am winning a few rounds."

Maley starts out on an hilarious note.  She seems to think free speech was alive and well when the Riot Squad had to be called to enable Bettina's talk to go ahead.  She is clearly just a Leftist bigot determined to think that the coercive Left can do no wrong

And, most ironically,  after her explosion of bile directed at Bettina she ends advocating "civility, and the will, to listen to each other respectfully".   She clearly is in deep denial about her own behaviour.  Freud would find her mental defences fascinating

It is largely because of publicity around a talk Arndt gave at Sydney University last year that federal Education Minister Dan Tehan called a review into free speech in universities.

The Arndt talk was part of what she called her "Fake Rape Crisis Tour". She was invited by the university's Liberal Club. About 40 students, led by the women's group on campus, protested against the event. Police were called when some tried to block the entrance and disrupt the talk. They were unsuccessful - it went ahead. Arndt was free to spread her views.

Somewhat awkwardly, the independent review into campus free speech, conducted by former High Court chief justice Robert French, found that "claims of a freedom of speech crisis on Australian campuses are not substantiated".

Not having got what they wanted - confirmation of a crisis they asserted existed - the usual voices in the conservative media, and Dan Tehan, have focused instead on French's recommendation that universities adopt a Model Code to promote free speech on campuses.

In the conclusions of his report, French mentions the idea of "intellectual rubbish", and notes, rather drily, that "there certainly is an abundance of it".

As French puts it: "The question may be asked whether a higher-education provider should be obliged to host any intellectual rubbish that wants to cross its threshold."

The answer is probably yes, as long as the content of the speech is not unlawful.

For my money, Arndt's views fall into that category. They are laughable, as Bolt demonstrated, but also dangerous because they promote misogynistic and incorrect claims about women.

But probably the best antidote to Bettina Arndt's ideas being promulgated is Bettina Arndt.

The more she speaks the more it becomes clear she is floating, weightless, in some sort of fact-free space-void, hoping for a Mark Latham or a Milo Yiannopolis to come and lend her some true notoriety of the kind that might help her sell a few books.

Perhaps Arndt could join with union boss John Setka for a speaking tour - the ultimate intellectual odd-couple, they seem to share some views on men's rights. Call it "Betts and Sets" and watch the tickets sell themselves.

As Sydney University Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence has pointed out, our entire culture is becoming more polarised and tribal in its views, and we are losing the civility, and the will, to listen to each other respectfully, or admit when we have it wrong.


Two prominent conservative commentators defend Folau's right to advocate Bible values

Israel Folau continues to divide the nation in his fight against Rugby Australia, but it hasn't stopped the donations from flooding in.

Shortly after 8pm (AEST) on Wednesday evening the donations to Folau surged past $2 million on the Australian Christian Lobby fundraising page. He is now less than $1 million away from his goal.

Speaking on his 2GB show this morning, radio host Alan Jones said "we should all be doing our little bit because Israel Folau is fighting the battle for all of us".

Jones described Folau's fight as "one of the defining cases of our time" and called for people to donate.

"These are essential's a bit like the Mabo case, these are significant changes that must be made to the way we run our society if we are free and democratic," Jones said.

But despite calling for Australians to donate to Folau, Jones admitted he found the debate "utterly self-defeating".

"Why can't we simply say that as a world we treat people as we find them. The business of marginalising people because they're gay is appalling," Jones said.

"All we need to do here is to teach young people to respect people for who they are and what they are. We need to teach them to obey the law but beyond that we should obey our own sense of decency."


Fellow conservative commentator Andrew Bolt offered a similar opinion this morning, admitting that while he doesn't agree with what Folau said, he does not agree with the way the rugby player was punished. And the big mistake was to turn on Folau's wife Maria.

He said Folau's comments were "vile", but the bullying he and his wife had received "should alarm us all".

"Just when I was feeling bad about defending gay-damning Israel Folau, some idiot at the ANZ bank decides to bully Folau's wife," Bolt wrote in his Herald Sun column.

"Seriously? How brainless are these bankers to so misread the public mood?"

Bolt touched on ANZ's involvement in last year's banking royal commission. "I doubt a bank would recognise an ethical line if it was tied around its fat neck, but ANZ apparently believes it now knows ethics better than does the Bible," Bolt said.

The Herald Sun columnist sarcastically called Folau's Instagram post "charming" but said it still qualified as free speech. "Is this really what free speech means? The right to say things that hurt some people, including, in this case, people I love? Er, yes. That's indeed what it means," he said.

"If I defended only free speech I liked, I would not be arguing for a principle. I'd be arguing for my own convenience."

Folau states he is in the "fight of his life" after Rugby Australia terminated his multimillion-dollar contract in May after he posted a controversial social media message.

The post said "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters" would go to hell unless they repented.

As the saga continues to roll on, the pressure has only amplified on Folau with his wife, Maria, now facing the heat after two major netball partners issued negative statements about the New Zealand and Adelaide Thunderbirds star.

But it hasn't stopped the donations, in fact it may have only amplified the matter. Folau's original GoFundMe campaign reached $750,000 over four days.

The alternative fundraising site was established after Folau's original campaign on GoFundMe, asking for donations to help fight his legal battle, was taken down.

After his page was pulled down on Monday morning, the ACL had set up the new fundraising page by Monday evening and in less than 24 hours it had surged past the seven figure mark.

The raised funds are to go towards Folau's legal fight against RA over unfair dismissal which he believes could go all the way to the High Court.

After days of remaining silent, Folau responded to the astonishing generosity with a message on his Instagram account. He also stated he held no "ill will" towards people who have criticised him.

In a video released on Tuesday night, ACL Managing Director Martyn Iles called for Prime Minister Scott Morrison to make a stand.

"It's time for our politicians to lead. It's time for Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese to outline in detail how they will protect people of faith and the important principles of freedoms that are raised by Israel's case," he said.

"This sort of public lynching is unacceptable in a supposedly tolerant and ethnically and religiously diverse country like Australia and our politicians cannot simply wash their hands like Pontius Pilate."

At the rate the donations are rolling in, the goal of $3 million could be reached by Thursday evening. Of course the website won't close once the target has been hit.

Mr Iles said he could "not go into detail" about where any money above the $3 million mark would go.

Asked by the Today Show host Deborah Knight about the potential excess donations, Mr Iles said: "It will be distributed in a way that is consistent with ."

Knight interrupted: "Distributed where though?"

"It will go to different causes that are completely consistent with the intentions of the original donors," Mr Iles replied.

Pressed for where that will be exactly, Mr Iles said: "I am not able to go into the detail at this stage."


Gender reassignment surgery could soon be ILLEGAL in Tasmania under sweeping changes to protect intersex children

The Tasmanians get something right at last

Tasmania could become the first state in Australia to make sex-assignment surgery on intersex children illegal.

The Tasmania Law Reform Institute (TLRI) seeks community feedback on a controversial proposal to criminalise gender normalisation surgery without the consent of the child.

Doctors only need parental consent to conduct the surgery on children, babies and children born with intersex variations under current laws.

The institute is particularly keen to hear from medical professionals and the broader community on the 'complex' issue of sex-assignment surgery.

The bold proposal is part of a TLRI Issues Paper examining the Justice and Related Legislation (Marriage and Gender Amendments) Act 2019, ('the JRL Act') passed by the Tasmanian Parliament in April.

Making gender optional on birth certificates was among the landmark laws passed.

While legal amendments relating to recording sex and gender information on birth certificates were consistent with international trends and human rights obligations, the issue of consent to invasive medical procedures on children remains unresolved for the TLRI.

Paper co-author Dylan Richards said many concerns raised in earlier debate were addressed in the final Act or can be resolved through minor amendments or administrative procedures.

'However, non-consensual medical procedures performed on intersex children, often with long-term adverse physical and psychological impacts, remain a concern to the intersex community,' Mr Richards said.

'There are increasing calls from international bodies for legislation to protect the rights and dignities of intersex children.'

The institute has also called for a specialist tribunal be set up to oversee all operation performed on an intersex child with the exception of emergency surgery.

 Mr Richards said Tasmanians are still confused about the recent amendments.

'We hope that the clear explanation in the Issues Paper will provide a basis for an informed community conversation about the issues the JRL Act was designed to address,' he said.

Community feedback is open until August 20.

The Institute hopes to deliver its final report to Attorney-General by the end of September, which is due to be publicly released by the end of October.


How to Create a Country with no Heart

By Viv Forbes

What happened to Australia's once-bipartisan policies favouring decentralisation? Why is every proposal to develop an outback mine, dam, irrigation scheme or a real power station now labelled "controversial" by the ABC and opposed by the ALP/Greens?

This coastal-city focus and the hostility to new outback industry (except for wind/solar toys) has surely reached its zenith with the recent state budget for Queensland.

The population of coastal and metropolitan Queensland is surging with baby-boom retirees, welfare recipients, grey nomads, tourists, overseas students, migrants and winter refugees. But the outback is dying with lagging industry and many aging farmers retiring to the coast. We are creating a country with no heart.

The growing urban and seaside population needs power, water and food.

However two critical power-water-food infrastructure projects that have been on the drawing boards for decades did not even rate a mention in the state budget - an expansion of coal-fired power at Kogan Creek and a water supply dam at Nathan Gorge.

The current policy of all major parties is cluttering the countryside with piddling subsidised intermittent power producers like solar panels and wind turbines plus their expensive network of roads and transmission lines. This is inflating electricity prices, and future generations will see this bi-partisan energy policy as a disastrous blunder. It is also a mistake to encourage or subsidise private electricity cartels and put politicians, not engineers, in charge of power generation.

The Kogan Creek power station with its adjacent coal mine was opened in 2007. It is connected to the National Grid and integrated with local gas-fired and solar supplies. It was always planned to add another generating unit at Kogan Creek, but twelve long years have passed with no action.

Kogan Creek is crucial to maintaining a stable power supply to eastern Australia. This was demonstrated recently when a fault temporarily shut down Kogan Creek. The National Grid was barely maintained for about 30 minutes by the battery in SA until other base load generators could be started. With the likely 7 month closure of one damaged generating unit at Loy Yang power station, East Australian electricity supplies are now even more precarious.

Moreover, with the complete failure of the $105M Kogan solar booster and delays to other solar plants in this area which were to be connected to the grid, the duplication of Kogan Creek is urgently needed.

Coal produces reliable low-cost electricity from a concentrated area with less real environmental damage than gas, wind or solar. These low density energy sources need much more land to collect equivalent continuous energy from a wide area of bores, pipelines, turbines and solar collectors plus their backup generators, connecting roads and transmission lines.

Most CSG wells also need to pump salt water from each bore before the gas will flow. Even if costly processes are used to extract fresh water from this salt water, brines are left behind and must be stored safely. This evil-genie of salt should be left in its underground lair and disturbed as little as possible.

It is becoming clear that that CO2 does NOT drive global warming. Even if it did, when careful life-of-project studies are done for all of Qld energy sources, coal and hydro look likely to have the lowest carbon footprint with the least environmental harm (and they do not slice, dice or fry birds and bats).

The surface disruption from an open cut coal mine is 100% and it shocks the senses. However, it recovers 100% of concentrated energy from a small area of land - far less than is permanently sterilised by roads and schools, and there is no intention of restoring them. Even if the open cut was abandoned at the end of mine life, slow but relentless natural healing would immediately start. However, instead of treating the final void as an expensive liability to be refilled with overburden, it should be seen as an asset to be contoured as a pleasant lake or used for burial of the growing mountains of urban waste.

The need to conserve more water is also urgent. Nathan Gorge has been known as an ideal dam site for 50 years, but still nothing is done. The site and catchment make it likely to be a high-yielding, cost-efficient dam. It is vital to the continuing development of the Surat and southern Bowen Basins and its water could be used for irrigation, power generation or fed into the Condamine/Darling River in droughts.

Kogan and Nathan are decentralising projects that could provide community insurance for blackouts, floods and droughts.

It is the outback that produces most of Australia's food, minerals, energy, water, exports and jobs. And it produces serious income for state governments addicted to ever-rising taxes and royalties.

Anti-development policies, land-use sterilisation, climate alarmism and green law-fare are destroying the future for our kids and grandkids. Current policies will stack-and-pack the coasts and major cities leaving a depopulated outback to uncontrolled floods and droughts, lantana and woody-weeds, wild cats and dogs, wild fires, feral pigs and the occasional park ranger or tourist bus.


Bernardi pays price for staying on right track

Cory Bernardi and his now -defunct Australian Conservatives have been both a symptom and a cause of the drift and correction on the conservative side of politics through the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison period.

The former Liberal senator can claim credit for helping to redirect the Coalition from outside, while simultaneously moderating other right-wing breakaway parties, in a way that has essentially done him out of a constituency.

If Scott Morrison and the -Coalition had suffered a heavy election defeat it would have precipitated a bitter falling out between the moderate and conservative wings of the Liberal Party, as well as within the Nationals and between the Nationals and Liberals. This fracturing would have enlivened the Australian Conservatives, sending some members their way, as right-of-centre politics went through another period of recrimination and realignment.

Instead - partly because of the policy influence from Bernardi from outside - the Coalition under Morrison began a reset to the right, to the mainstream of national affairs, which was enough to win another term. And this has rendered the Australian Conservatives redundant. The party won barely more than 100,000 votes nationally in the Senate election, far less even than the first preferences won just in NSW by Liberal senator Jim Molan in his solo, below-the-line campaign. With all the advertising from Clive Palmer's United Australia Party, all the star power and controversy around One Nation, and the Coalition's return to the mainstream, Bernardi's "common sense" conservatism was completely overlooked.

One Nation and UAP between them won 10 times more votes than Australian Conservatives, the lion's share of them electing another One Nation Queensland senator. Australian Conservatives are left on the sidelines electorally, and even in the Senate, where One Nation and Centre Alliance are likely to hold a pivotal balance-of-power alliance.

Bernardi, to be sure, has cooked his own goose. He was elected under the Liberal banner in 2016 as a disgruntled conservative backbencher, ditched the party to start his own breakaway organisation and wasn't up for re-election this year. So he sits in the Senate courtesy of Liberal Party votes and -remains, therefore, a rat to the party - even if he has been its most reliable crossbench vote.

And he faces a choice between political mortality or asking the party to accept back its prodigal son.

Yet Bernardi is anything but disappointed or needy. He is satisfied with what he has been able to achieve, phlegmatic about whether the Liberals want him back and torn between a thirst for the staying involved in the crucial policy debates that will shape the future of the nation and his long-held belief that he would be ready to move on from politics by the time of his 50th birthday. He turns 50 in November.

If Bernardi retires from politics before the election his place goes to a Liberal Party nominee. So the government will do just as well on the Senate floor to see the rogue senator retire as return. And even if he stays in the Senate as an independent, his vote can be counted on for anything other than the most unexpected Coalition intervention.

His future matters more when it comes to the shaping of -Coalition policy and the national debate. His contribution has been more influential than most would give him credit for and his departure would see the loss - at least from parliament - of an articulate, reasonable and relatively youthful voice for traditional conservatism.

Back in 2017, soon after launching his party, Bernardi spoke about "bursting the Canberra bubble" and included the title in his policy manifesto.

Sound familiar?

It is worth pondering the -moment Bernardi found himself estranged from his party - the moment when he would argue the party moved away from him rather than vice versa.

It happens to be the same moment that reanimated Pauline Hanson and One Nation, as well as creating the environment for the revival of Clive Palmer's United Australia outfit.

It was when Malcolm Turnbull challenged and defeated Tony Abbott in 2015. Bernardi had been made an opposition frontbencher and forced to resign on separate occasions by his leaders over a thinly veiled swipe at Christopher Pyne under Turnbull and a colourful rhetorical version of the "slippery slope" argument on gay marriage under Abbott.

The South Australian senator never hid his antipathy towards Turnbull and while he was frustrated at times by Abbott's prime ministership, he was shattered by the coup. From that moment on he was likely to defect; but it didn't happen for almost two years, after he conveniently won another term under the Liberal banner at the 2016 election.

The fear of Bernardi and many Coalition voters was that Turnbull would take the party to the left. Indeed, the very fact and manner of the former Australian Republic Movement chief's ascension confirmed that move to many supporters.

Hence One Nation was resurrected, Bernardi's cultivation of an "Australian Conservatives" forum was successful and morphed into a political party, and Palmer decided to start throwing his weight and money around.

All this activity and fracturing on the conservative right of politics was a direct reaction to the moderate coup in Canberra.

The only way for Turnbull to succeed was to recognise this and keep faith with the conservative constituency.

He failed to do this in rhetorical and economic terms, and eventually surrendered his leadership by pursuing his decade-long dream of a bipartisan climate deal with Labor. Understandably this period created greenhouse conditions for One Nation, Australian Conservatives and Clive Palmer; they thrived.

Yet Bernardi's contribution was always more measured, intelligent and intellectually consistent than that of the Queensland figureheads. He became the sensible voice of conservative debate, helping to lead the debate on lower taxes, smaller government and non-discriminatory but reduced immigration.

Bernardi pushed for reductions in foreign aid, which have occurred, and a serious examination of -nuclear power options, which is being pursued. He also had a motion passed declaring the path to surplus involved curbing spending rather than increasing taxes. Without overstating how much credit he is owed (many other players and factors were involved), his intercessions not only helped to lead the Coalition down a better policy path over time, they also helped to moderate the other minor parties. Even Hanson dropped her blanket Muslim immigration ban in favour of a security-based argument modelled on Donald Trump's policies and -advocated by Bernardi.

The Australian Conservatives helped to take the xenophobia out of the immigration debate, highlighted deep-seated concerns about freedom of speech that have proven alarmingly prescient, and relentlessly argued for smaller government and lower taxes. This was a fruitful and entirely productive role in national affairs - even though he was using a platform provided by Liberal voters, he was pulling back on the -Coalition's drift to the green left and encouraging a more tolerant and sensible approach from the right-wing breakaway parties.

Then Turnbull self-destructed on climate policy and Morrison ended up as prime minister. The Paris-driven climate elements of the national energy guarantee were scrapped, and the Coalition set about reconnecting with the mainstream.

Morrison understood what was required, walking the party back on climate invective and immigration levels, while Kerryn Phelps and Bill Shorten gifted him additional differentiation on border protection. Together with Josh Frydenberg he offered a short, medium and long-term path to lower income taxes.

With the Coalition back on the right track (pun intended), at least partly a result of Bernardi's manoeuvrings, and One Nation and UAP winning attention through personality, lunacy and advertising, the Australian Conservatives became electoral roadkill.

So Bernardi has reached a crossroads.

Had he kept his party going and run under its banner in 2022, perhaps Bernardi would have won a Senate seat - but probably not.

Chances are we will never know, because Bernardi is likely to go one of two ways. He could be lured back to the South Australian Liberal Party fold where he would be a strong contributor from within (former minister, factional powerbroker and Bernardi's arch-enemy Pyne might have something to say about that). Or, perhaps more likely, he could resign from parliament, return to the Liberal Party the Senate spot he owes it, and find another way to influence public affairs from outside the Canberra bubble.


 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

Thursday, June 27, 2019

'It's the next to go': Apartment block just 150 metres from evacuated Mascot Towers is suffering from 'cracks and sinking foundations' - as experts warn thousands of properties across Australia are unsafe

Careless builders should be held liable and made to pay

An apartment building just 150 metres from the cracking Mascot Towers could be the 'next to go' as Sydney's building defect crisis deepens.

Pictures show the six-storey complex, completed in 2009, had waterproofing issues, sinking foundations and sediment cracks as far back as July 2014 - when it was only five years old.

Real estate agent Edwin Almeida, who took the images, told Daily Mail Australia on Tuesday the problems were still there - and getting worse. 'That's the next one to go,' he said on Tuesday. 'There are a lot of issues.'

In a video from 2009, the real estate agent shows concrete coming apart at 19-21 Church Avenue at the touch of his hand, and points out peeling render, water seeping into the basement car park and concrete cancer.

'We're not talking about something you could put a step ladder on and fix it, we're talking about scaffolding going up five or six levels,' he said in the clip.

At the time, he estimated it would cost owners nearly $1million to repair the damage.

When Mr Almeida visited the property again on Sunday, he remarked: 'It's only getting worse.'

Experts say thousands of homes with similar issues are at risk across the country.

Mascot Towers, a 10-storey high rise just 150 metres away, was evacuated on June 14 after engineers found multiple cracks in the building's car park. Since then, it has emerged the 132-unit building is sinking.

The Mascot Tower evacuation comes just months after residents at the Opal Tower in Olympic Park were forced to flee when the building cracked on Christmas Eve, leaving hundreds with nowhere to go. 

Mr Almeida said the problem has spread 'all over Sydney', and affected everything from apartment towers to free-standing homes.

He claims issues facing homeowners today are a result of the 'deregulation of the construction industry', and the issue 'has been exacerbated by the dilution of the liabilities the developers and builders had in 2014'.

Mr Almeida said height and space restrictions when it came to large-scale development had been loosened in the past few years, and that building was taking place en masse on water tables, which increased the risk of water damage and the prospect of more devastating structural damage.

'The problem isn't just with high rises,' he said. 'It extends out to normal homes. It's a widespread problem, which is even more frightening, because there are more homes being built with imported materials.'

He said the issues were not just structural either. With water damage, comes mould, which can result in illnesses for residents.

'We've got families with little kids living in mould-infested apartments all around the east coast,' he said.

Peter Georgiev, director of Archicentre - which provides design, advice, assessment and inspection services - said building standards began slipping in the 1990s, and had been on a 'downwards slide' ever since.

'Once, building codes were quite prescriptive,' he said. 'If you built in the 70s, the walls were brick, the floor was concrete. If you wanted to change that, too bad.

Mr Georgiev said the issue would have widespread implications, as scores of homes and buildings became uninhabitable.

'It's not going to go away, this issue,' he said.

'This is just the tip of the iceberg. The flow on effect here is going to be the devaluing of real estate across the board, everything from speculative single houses in the outer suburbs, redeveloped properties in middle suburbia... anything that is a volume builder based product, we are finding these are the issues.

'It's not just a few people affected, it's hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions - we need a road map as to how we [are going to] do things in the future.'

The architect, who has been working since the early 1980s, said Australians should 'absolutely' be concerned as to whether their apartment was safe - but said ultimately there was no clear path to resolving the issues.  

Mr Georgiev says the Federal Government needed to take responsibility and force builders and developers to fix their cut corners.

'To know we've got this problem with waterproofing is the first step, but the second is how do you hold builders and developers accountable?' he said.

'At the moment, the government is saying the consumer has to pay - it's total bull dust. 'The builder should be held accountable.

'We want the government to say no, you go and fix that - we'll give you a low interest loan but you'll pay. They've got to come up with something cleverer than throwing consumers to the wolves.'


'From first to last bell': Mobile phones are BANNED in State  schools across Victoria in a bid to clamp down on cyberbullying

Victorian public school students will be banned from using their phones from next year.

Students will have to switch off their phones and store them in lockers until the final bell, Education Minister James Merlino announced.

'This will remove a major distraction from our classrooms, so that teachers can teach, and students can learn in a more focused, positive and supported environment,' he said in a statement.

'Half of all young people have experienced cyberbullying. By banning mobiles we can stop it at the school gate.'

In the case of an emergency, parents or guardians can reach their child by calling the school.

The only exceptions to the ban will be where students use phones to monitor health conditions, or where teachers instruct students to bring their phone for a particular classroom activity.

The ban will start from term one in 2020.

It comes after McKinnon Secondary College banned phones from its grounds and reported students as being more focused during class and communicating more in the school yard.

In February 2018, ahead of the November state election, the Liberals announced a policy of banning students from using phones in classrooms.

At the time the Andrews government said bans were the decision of individual schools. 'I guess policy imitation is the greatest form of flattery,' former Liberal leader Matthew Guy tweeted on Tuesday night.


'I lost my job and my marriage': Refugee, 36, starts a GoFundMe page claiming his life's been 'ruined' since a girl, 19, lied about him sexually harassing her as he helped fix her car

"Always believe the woman" feminists say.  They ignore that there are a lot of lying bitches around.  Thankfully, this one is being prosecuted

A Bosnian refugee falsely accused of sexual harassment has set up a GoFundMe page to help him get his life back on track.

Kenan Basic helped Caitlyn Gray, now 20, fix her car for two hours in Bankstown, west Sydney in November.

Gray, who was 19 at the time, lied to police that he demanded sexual favours and lunged at her breasts and crotch when she refused.

Basic found himself charged and locked up in Silverwater maximum security jail for two weeks.

He lost his job and his wife divorced him and he has now launched a fundraising page. On the page, Mr Basic writes: 'Hi my name is Kenan Basic and l been falsely accused and jailed my life has been ruined after I was wrongly accused of indecent assault.

'I lost my job and my marriage.

'After all this happening to me it's really hard to come back on track when l don't know where to start from.

'So I am rising this profile for me if you guys can help me with anything l would extremely appreciate to all of yous (sic) who help me to come back on track of my life.'   

Gray faced Bankstown Local Court on Tuesday and pleaded guilty to lying about her initial accusations.

She said she did it because he had said something to offend her and she wanted him to go to jail. She submitted a written apology to Mr Basic. 

Gray falsely accused Mr Basic - who had spent more than two hours helping fix her car at a western Sydney petrol station after she had a minor collision - of acting inappropriately towards her.

She wrongly claimed Mr Basic had made unwanted advances towards her and subsequently grabbed her breast and vagina as a way of 'payment' for assisting her with the damaged vehicle.

The court heard Gray, who has no prior criminal history, had regularly been seeing a psychologist in November last year - before making the false accusations against Mr Basic.

Her psychologist's clinical notes, counsellor notes, character references and job history was also handed to the court.

Magistrate Glenn Walsh told Gray to ensure she attended Campbelltown Community Corrections office within seven days so that a full sentencing assessment report could be completed.

Gray will reappear in court for sentencing on August 7.

Mr Basic previously said he was grateful to be free after all charges, but was now hesitant to help strangers.

CCTV captured the interaction between the pair, but Gray told police he followed her after she drove away.

Mr Basic admitted he did follow her, but claimed he did so to ensure her car didn't break down again. - not to harass her as she claimed.

Gray later went to Liverpool police station and gave a statement about the ordeal - which resulted in the arrest of Mr Basic on November 23.

Mr Basic was then charged with multiple offences including one count of incite person over the age of 16 to commit an act of indecency and one count of stalk and intimidate intending to cause fear or physical harm.

Five days later police spoke to Gray again after they failed to find any CCTV evidence to comply with her version of events.

Again, Gray continued to lie and insisted she had been telling the truth. When she spoke to police for a third time on November 29 she repeatedly insisted she had been telling the truth.

Shortly after, Gray came clean and admitted she had fabricated the accusations.

'No-one would ever expect that as a Good Samaritan you stop to assist a broken down motorist that then you would subsequently be charged with these serious offences,' Mr Basic's lawyer said.


City of Sydney climate debate a microcosm of political decline

Chris Kenny

We have shrunk from a lively public square as a clearing house for the issues of the day into darkened silos of hate-filled barbs, cultivated on social media and thrown into a new public debate that doesn't so much seek to win contests over ideas but to shout down, silence and demonise opponents.

A little example of how sad this has become played out this week in the Sydney City Council where a motion was passed declaring a climate emergency in the NSW capital. The Sydney councillors happily took to the Town Hall steps displaying a "climate emergency" banner and waving flags - apparently sharing their delight about drawing attention to our impending doom.

The motion they passed was nonsensical and alarmist. It accused a federal government committed to the Paris climate targets of presiding over a "climate disaster" and warned of heatwaves and rising sea levels creating chaos in the Pacific as it declared an official "climate emergency" in concert with other activist groups and organisations worldwide.

A Liberal Party councillor, Craig Chung, pointed out how ludicrous the motion was and tried to amend it. When his amendments were rejected, he voted for the motion regardless. On Sky News' The Kenny Report yesterday I asked him why.

"The language is absurd, this was the fundamentalist Clover (Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore) at her best, using alarmist language and warning us that the world is going to end," Chung said.

"The reality is that I'm a Liberal councillor in the city of Sydney, the majority of the seats are taken up by the Clover climate fundamentalists and while the language that she uses is completely alarmist and is completely catastrophising what is going on, some of the contents of that motion are things that we really need to address, and if I want to sit at the table, if I want to be there taking part in the policy debate, I've got to get a seat at the table."

This seemed worrying; Chung knew the motion was ill-founded but went along it all the same. It sounded like he was dragooned into it. It seemed inappropriate for him to support a motion he knew was nonsensical just to fit in.

"This Left group, they love to preach the idea of free speech and being inclusive," Chung explained, "but I tell you what the moment you don't get involved in their motions and the moment you cut yourself out, you get called all sorts of names, last night I was called a flat-earther and a coal lugger despite the fact I do think we need to take some action.

"The gallery was full of people, Clover supporters, all of these people who were absolutely jeering me and cheering Clover. I moved an amendment, that was absolutely jeered by the gallery there, an amendment that took out the language of the warnings and catastrophising and moved an amendment that said we need to do this and we need to do it rationally and calmly. But that was voted down unanimously.

"We're not talking just about the Clover Moore people, we are talking about the Labor Left rump that are there as well, these are people who absolutely don't want to hear from anybody else."

Chung should be strong enough to stand up to this sort of political grandstanding and argue and vote for what he believes is right. But however courageous or timid he might be, it can be no excuse for his opponents.

"That's the way the city of Sydney runs, that's the way Clover Moore runs business there, this is a closed shop for Clover Moore. This is about her preaching to her choir, about getting a headline, but actually offering no solutions," Chung said.

So this councillor voted for a motion that condemns the federal government for doing nothing (something Chung knows is false) and spreads alarmist fearmongering (something Chung abhors).

"I know that some people will criticise me for (supporting the motion) but at the same time, if I don't do that I'm never going to get a seat at the table, I'm just going to have slogans thrown at me and abuse thrown at me, I need to be able to stay at that table to maintain a rational debate."

Nobody should give in to bullies, it only encourages them. But I fear this pointless debate in Sydney's Town Hall tells us much about the deterioration of our national political discussion.


 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

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Attempt to shut down Christian campaigner backfires

In response to the shutdown, Christians dig deep to protect religious freedom

Donations are pouring in at $1,000 per minute for Israel Folau after the Australian Christian Lobby set up a new fundraising page for his legal battle against Rugby Australia.

The page, hosted on the lobby's website, has already been given more than $400,000 just hours after the star player's GoFundMe campaign was shut down.

Between 6am and 7am on Tuesday, the amount donated had doubled from around $40,000. By 10am it had reached around $400,000.

The new campaign was set up by ACL Managing director Martyn Iles who said his group will donate $100,000.

Hundreds of supporters, angry with GoFundMe, said they had doubled or tripled their donations this time around. 'We gave twice what we were going to give,' said one. 'I have now donated more than double the amount I had previously donated,' added another.

'Israel's case is our case if we want to live free and embrace our beliefs without fear of being marginalised or discriminated against,' Iles said.

He writes on the page: 'Recently the online fundraising platform GoFundMe shut down Israel Folau's legal defence fund and turned away hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations.

'On behalf of the Australian Christian Lobby, I have spoken to Israel Folau to let him know that ACL will be donating $100,000 to his legal defence, because it's right and it sets an important legal precedent.

'I have also offered to host his online appeal for funds here on our website and he has accepted our offer.

'All gifts you give on this web page will be deposited into a trust account to pay for Israel Folau's legal case.  'So, please give generously today to help Israel Folau stand for your religious freedom.'

The ACL, based in Canberra, has 135,000 members and aims to influence politics with Christian beliefs.

It comes after it was revealed GoFundMe shut down Folau's page while allowing a preacher to raise money to fund legal costs over anti-LGBTI comments.

Canadian Christian preacher David Lynn, who was arrested for allegedly making 'disparaging' comments has raised more than $50,000 on his still active page.

Folau launched his appeal for $3million on Tuesday and had raised more than $750,000 within six days. But the fundraising platform said on Monday it was pulling the campaign and refunding thousands of donors.

More than 95,000 people signed an online petition calling on GoFundMe to take down the page, noting its purpose was against the website's terms and conditions.

'After a routine period of evaluation, we have concluded that this campaign violates our terms of service,' GoFundMe Australia's regional manager Nicola Britton said in a statement.

'As a company, we are absolutely committed to the fight for equality for LGBTIQ+ people and fostering an environment of inclusivity.

'While we welcome GoFundMe's engaging in diverse civil debate, we do not tolerate the promotion of discrimination or exclusion,' she said. 


Let’s not fall for this myth of generational injustice

Intergenerational injustice is a myth. Labor unwisely used the theme of supposed intergenerational injustice as part of its losing campaign strategy, arguably prompted by the misleading and ongoing campaign waged by the left-leaning Grattan Institute.

Grattan maintains that unfairness in the treatment of the generations arising from features of the tax and transfer system must be tackled. Note here that this outfit supports the introduction of inheritance taxes.

Before discussing the empirical aspects of the debate about ­intergenerational injustice, it’s worth thinking about how societies work when there isn’t a big central government taxing citizens and redistributing income and benefits.

The social compact runs along these lines: parents and often grandparents are involved in the rearing of children; parents are expected to work to provide for their children and their parents; one way or another, older folk who can no longer work are looked after.

None of this is regarded as unfair; it’s the way it is and should be. Indeed, in many developing countries couples deliberately have large families to ensure there will be enough children with resources to look after them in old age.

So what do we mean by intergenerational injustice? The Grattan view is that people on the same income should be taxed in exactly the same way irrespective of their age.

It doesn’t matter to the researchers that the income of young people is overwhelmingly sourced from wages and salaries whereas retirees’ incomes are mainly made up of returns to ­assets that have been accumulated, often from post-tax income or from compulsory super­annuation.

Two features of the tax system that the Grattan Institute thinks should be scrapped immediately are the seniors and pensioners tax offset and the higher income threshold for exemption to the Medicare levy that applies to senior citizens. These measures offer a modest degree of tax relief for people of pensionable age who continue to work.

But here’s the thing: they cost the budget only about $700 million a year, which is peanuts given that the federal budget now involves annual expenditure of close to $500 billion. Age Pension payments alone cost more than $48bn. Moreover, encouraging people to keep working is sensible policy.

Labor, unsurprisingly, was not particularly interested in attacking these minor features of the tax system. It was going after the big stuff — abolishing cash refunds for franking credits, slashing negative gearing, increasing the rate of capital gains tax, increasing the tax on super­annuation — but the effects would have been felt overwhelmingly by older people with ­assets.

For Labor that was a plus, but the electorate didn’t see it that way.

Another aspect of the debate about intergenerational injustice that is often raised relates to the different wealth positions of young versus old people.

It has always been the case that more wealth is held by older people as a consequence of their years of work, saving and investing.

Young people are investing in their education, establishing a family, hopefully buying a house — in other words, they are not saving. It is only after these ­expenses start to diminish that people can save for their retirement, although compulsory superannuation has partly foisted this task on the young as well.

In this context, it is often mentioned that young people are now finding it increasingly difficult to buy a house and it has been predicted that some people may never become homeowners.

In reality, the changes in the rate of home ownership have not been as dramatic as some of the media would make out.

Overall, the rate of home ownership has fallen from 71 per cent in the mid-1960s to about 65 per cent now. There have been some bigger falls for certain age groups: 45 per cent of 25 to 34-year-olds now own a home compared with just more than 60 per cent 25 years ago.

For those aged between 35 and 44, the rate of ownership has fallen from 75 per cent to just more than 60 per cent. Even so, home ownership rates have fallen for all age groups bar for those aged over 65.

While it is true that the house price-to-income ratio has risen sharply during the past two decades, the cost of servicing a debt of a given size is significantly lower than was the case when the parents of many young adults were buying houses.

The biggest barrier to home purchase now is accumulating a deposit of a sufficient size to get into the market.

This is where the bank of mum and dad becomes useful. It has been estimated this bank is now among the top 10 home loan providers. It’s hard to see how this phenomenon squares with the idea of a generational clash.

The bigger point here is that it is not a useful exercise to tot up what benefits and taxes different generations receive and pay and how this has changed across time. To say that fewer older people now pay net tax than was the case 20 years ago is to say nothing: it was always relatively trivial and it still is.

Moreover, to impose a higher tax burden on retirees runs the serious risk of retirees, both now and in the future, organising their affairs to qualify for the Age Pension — a very expensive outcome for the federal government.

The parents of young adults may not have paid university fees — but note that a much smaller proportion undertook higher education than is the case today — but there were no childcare subsidies or family tax benefits.

Mortgage-holders had to endure interest rates close to 20 per cent even though houses were much more affordable.

And retirees now face pitiful returns on their savings. It’s kind of six of one, a half-dozen of the other.

To intergenerational injustice, I say bunkum. And good luck to any political party that plans to eliminate legitimate and well-established concessions for retired folk unable to work and adjust their portfolios.


PM Morrison wants to bust over-regulation

From his recent Perth, WA, speech to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry

To provoke the much needed  ‘animal spirits’ in our economy we must also remove regulatory and bureaucratic barriers to businesses investing and creating more jobs.

Congestion is not just on our roads and in our cities.

We also need to bust regulatory congestion, removing obstacles to business investment.

When we came to power in 2013, our Government launched its ‘Cutting Red Tape’ Initiative.

Working across every government department in Canberra, we set ourselves the goal of reducing the burden of regulation on the economy by $1 billion each and every year.

And we succeeded.  Between September 2013 and December 2016, this initiative yielded red tape savings of $5.8 billion.

Removing what governments identify as excessive or outdated regulation is one thing. Whether we are really focusing on the barriers that matter to business in getting investments and projects off the ground is another.

Take the WA mining industry for example. In 1966, the late Sir Arvi Parbo took the Kambalda nickel mine near Kalgoorlie from discovery to operation in 18 months.

By contrast, the Roy Hill iron ore mine took around 10 years to complete around 4,000 approvals. Delays to the project meant delays to over 5,000 construction jobs and 2,000 ongoing jobs.

This in a region where iron ore mining has been taking place for decades and is relatively low risk.

There is a clear need to improve approvals timeframes and reduce regulatory costs, but in many cases regulators are making things worse.

Look at the WA Environment Protection Authority and the uncertainty it has created over new emissions requirements for the resources sector. Business will also make valid criticisms of many Commonwealth agencies and departments.

That’s why I’ve asked my colleague Ben Morton – as Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister – to work with me, the Treasurer and other Ministers, to tackle the full suite of barriers to investment in key industries and activities.

This will be a renewed focus on regulatory reform but from a different angle.

Rather than setting targets for departments or government agencies, we’ll be asking the wider question from the perspective of a business looking, say, to open a mine, commercialise a new biomedical innovation, or even start a home-based, family business.

By focusing on regulation from the viewpoint of business, we will identify the regulations and bureaucratic processes that impose the largest costs on key sectors of the economy and the biggest hurdles to letting those investments flow.

What are the barriers, blockages and bottlenecks?  How do we get things moving?

I urge the business people in this room and around Australia to engage with this process.

Step one is to get a picture of the regulatory anatomies that apply to key sectoral investments. Step two is to identify the blockages. Step three is to remove them, like cholesterol in the arteries.

While reducing taxes has had a major impact in the United States, it was actually the Trump Administration’s commitment to cutting red tape and transforming the regulatory mind set of the bureaucracy that delivered their first wave of improvement in their economy.  You can be assured I have begun this term by making it clear to our public service chiefs that I am expecting a new mindset when it comes to getting investments off the drawing board.


Ads highlight CSR concerns

In the past two weeks, we have witnessed full page newspaper ads proclaiming that a slew of big companies “support the Uluru Statement from the Heart”. This followed the announcement of support for Recognition by 21 investment banks, super funds and accounting firms.

This renewed bout of corporate politicking was clearly planned in anticipation of an election victory by the Labor party, which had pledged to fast-track a constitutional referendum on a Voice to Parliament.

In the wake of the Morrison government’s re-election, big business — like many commentators and pundits — have found themselves on the wrong side of history … and found out just how tin their political ear is.

The election result offers a timely opportunity for those operating within the corporate bubble to reconsider what is being done by companies in the name of CSR.

I hope my book encourages such a reconsideration through the critique it offers of the current — highly political — approach to ‘social responsibility’ that is being enthusiastically embraced at the highest levels of business.

What the election result has demonstrated is the validity of the insider vs outsider thesis about modern politics.

The Quiet Australians’ rejection of Labor’s embrace of identity politics and progressive ideology has exposed the cultural divide between so-called inner city elites and ordinary Australians in the outer suburbs and regions holding mainstream views.

What the election result also ought to burst is the insider bubble —the propensity for corporate elites to live, work, and socialise with like-minded elites and not question self-reinforcing progressive agendas.

Bursting the bubble surrounding CSR exposes the contradiction that lies at heart of the CSR philosophy.

The standard argument for CSR is that that in order to earn a ‘social license’ to operate, companies must fulfil a range of social obligations beyond their traditional profit-making role, by considering the social impacts of their activities on the interests of broader groups of stakeholders in the community.

The book turns around the reputational and branding arguments for CSR to make the case against CSR by pointing out what the election result has now made even more obvious.

This is that corporate involvement in divisive social questions on which there is no community consensus among shareholders, stakeholders, employees and customers, can have negative brand and reputational consequences for companies that risk acquiring reputations for being ‘being political’.

The book, therefore, argues that because CSR politicking can be bad for business, corporate leaders should be encouraged to take a more hardheaded approach.


 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