Sunday, July 14, 2019

We’re better off without a reform agenda

The Left always assume that change is desirable.  A great Australian showed that it is not

Certain commentators are getting themselves into a real lather about the supposed lack of agenda on the part of the re-elected Morrison government, particularly now the income tax changes have been passed.

Consider this bizarre bleat from the failed Labor candidate for Reid, Sam Crosby. “The Morrison government is a husk. It is completely devoid of ideas, intellect and integrity. Deep tribal fault lines run through it.” (Hint to Sam: you might consider a career as a comedian.)

Or this doozy from a “progressive” political journalist: “The vacancy of the Coalition’s agenda has been largely concealed from public view … in part because Labor over the last two terms in opposition styled itself as a government in exile”.

In a similar vein from another “progressive” political journalist (are they nearly all like this, you ask) is this line: “If you are a government elected unexpectedly and with no real agenda, it seems your only real option is to try to define yourself by what your opposition does, or doesn’t do.”

For them, the key question is: why can’t the government simply try to emulate Bob Hawke and implement reforms — a term subject to wide interpretation — across the board?

My advice to these incensed members of the fourth estate is just to calm down. For starters, frenetic activity by governments is almost always a bad rather than a good sign: think of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years. Many of the pieces of legislation that were passed with the assistance of the Greens have thrown up all sorts of problems as well as setting the scene for runaway, uncapped expenditure.

Second, let’s bear in mind Scott Morrison’s refreshing approach to governing. In the Prime Minister’s words: “People just want to be left alone to get on with their own lives and not be lectured to.”

We need to get used to the absence of a daily diet of politics and announcements, something that will come as a relief to many people, although not “progressive” journalists.

And third, in relation to the Hawke years, the reality is that Labor did not take an expansive agenda of reform to the 1983 election. Indeed, Labor won mainly because the public had twigged to the fact that prime minister Malcolm Fraser was a dud.

The Hawke-Keating agenda developed over time, picking off a lot of low-hanging fruit — floating the currency, lifting capital controls, dismantling tariffs, deregulating the financial system, freeing up the labour market — with the assistance of the opposition.

But there were hiccups. Hawke’s refusal to entertain the introduction of a consumption tax — later called the GST — is a case in point. In turn this led to treasurer Paul Keating and finance minister Peter Walsh taking an axe to a lot of government spending, removing many inefficiencies in the process.

Of course there are some longer-term structural challenges that the Morrison government must deal with.

But let me consider here the short-term economic situation, as this is the current context that is spurring many of the clarion calls for the government to “do something”. These calls often reference the recent inappropriate comments made by the governor of the Reserve Bank, telling the government to spend more on infrastructure, among other things.

(Just on the inappropriate conduct of the bank, it was also completely unacceptable for a middle-ranking official to give a speech in which the announcement was made that the bank had revised down its estimate of the non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment from about 5 per cent to 4.5 per cent. This criticism was first levelled by University of NSW professor Richard Holden.)

While the economy is clearly sluggish, it’s hardly a disaster. By historical standards, unemployment is relatively low — a tad above 5 per cent — and the ratio of employment to the working-age population is close to a historical high. (It is at a historic high for women.)

The rate of underemployment — people wanting to work more hours — is about 8 per cent but this has been the case for several years. Again, my advice is for everyone to settle.

Here’s the thing: four things have happened that should make a difference in the short run. First, the income tax package has been passed, providing immediate tax relief to low and medium-income earners. Second, the RBA has reduced the cash rate by 50 basis points in the past two months.

Third, restrictions on lending imposed by the regulator have been loosened.

And finally, the re-election of the Coalition government means the threat of higher taxation on capital has been removed.

Given the pipeline of infrastructure projects that are embedded within the federal and state budgets, there are plenty of reasons to think that economic conditions will improve in the second half of the year, particularly given the ongoing contribution of the export sector and strong commodity prices.

The last thing anyone should wish for is the government going off half-cocked implementing dubious “economic stimulus” measures while blowing the budget projections that involve a return to surplus this financial year and beyond.

Moreover, for anyone who has completed an economics degree — yes, you may ask whether those “progressive” journalists learned anything — it is quite clear that fiscal stimulus measures in the context of an open economy are largely ineffective because of the offsetting impact on the exchange rate.

And this is before we even get to Ricardian equivalence, which is about consumers responding in adverse fashion to budget stimulatory measures because of the fear of the consequences of higher government debt down the track. In other words, if a government decides to stimulate the economy through debt-financed measures, there is a possibility that demand will not alter.

Finally, on the suggestion that even more money be spent on additional infrastructure in the short term, is it unclear whether there are really many sensible projects ready to go. Moreover, it is ­doubtful whether there is spare ­capacity in the related parts of the economy.

The bottom line is that when it comes to the government having an agenda, the problem is much more in the eyes of disappointed commentators than in reality. As we all know, slow and steady wins the race.

Yes, there are several longer-term structural challenges and non-economic issues that the government must deal with, but going about these undertakings methodically is the preferred ­option.


New Religion, old hypocrisies

This is a parable about a new religion that has deep roots on the secular left side of politics. The starting principle for moderates and extremists alike is that those who challenge their moral code are not just wrong, they are immoral; nonbelievers have no legitimacy in the public square. And hence, why the new moral code is part of a new religion.

A fortnight ago, Andy Ngo was bashed by a mob of antifa protesters, who are best understood as extremists from the new religion. Ngo is a young Asian man, a journalist who is not part of the left-leaning media. He carried his new GoPro camera to report on antifa’s march through the streets of Portland, Oregon. Ngo has been reporting on stories that major US media outlets would rather ignore, including the activities of antifa. Their name suggests they are anti-fascists, but bashing a journalist is a common tool of fascists.

While Ngo was mobbed by thugs in masks, police stood back. He ended up in hospital, treated for head injuries including a sub­arachnoid haemorrhage. Film of the violent assault went viral. Yet news outlets went largely silent, eventually shamed into some cynical coverage.

Ngo is the gay son of Vietnamese immigrants, which is worth juxtaposing against antifa’s make-up and mission. A group of angry white millennials protesting against white supremacy violently assaulted a young Asian gay man. Make sense of that.

The lack of concern from major media outlets speaks to the hypocrisy of the left’s moral code. Imagine their rightful outrage if Trump supporters bashed a young left-leaning journo. The same media organisations that routinely pounce on Donald Trump for his media baiting at campaign rallies — think CNN, The New “Woke” Times and The Washington Post — seemed relaxed with antifa’s excuse that Ngo deserved it because he reported on antifa.

When some media outlets finally popped up, Ngo was painted as a troublemaker who deserved no sympathy. “Don’t worry about Ngo. He’s been discharged from hospital, with a big fat GoFundMe of around $160,000 and any number of armed, right-wing groups offering to act as ‘bodyguards’,” wrote one misguided, or malevolent, pundit in The Independent.

The same chap suggested that the far right wanted to treat the assault on Ngo as “their own (cut-price) Horst Wessel moment”. Wessel was a 22-year-old Nazi stormtrooper who was fatally shot by communists on January 14, 1930, his death becoming a rallying cause that propelled the Nazis to power.

Ngo is not a Nazi stormtrooper. He is a curious journalist who challenges modern cant working in a liberal democracy, like ours, that is increasingly imperilled by a new religion that seeks to punish nonconformists in various ways.

Over two thousand years ago, Christianity set down a moral code for people. Biblical stories tell of deadly sins and heavenly virtue, commandments guide us, there are offers of forgiveness and paths to redemption. There were also dark periods when those who questioned rising and rigid religious orthodoxy, and hypocrisy, were shut down. And non-­believers were persecuted.

Today, there is a new religion, with a new moral code enforced by a new sainted class that includes corporate leaders, government bureaucrats, those at the top of industry groups, university vice-chancellors and sporting bosses too. Like old established religions, the clerics of the new ­religion presume to hold a monopoly over morality. This new papal class also enforces a rigid ­orthodoxy similar to old established ­religions.

Those who stray from this new moral code do so at their own risk. There are public condemnations so fierce they aim to rewrite history. Think of those same-sex marriage activists who have not just attacked tennis player Margaret Court for her beliefs but consider her thought crimes so ­serious that the Margaret Court Arena must be renamed. According to Billie Jean King, Court’s Christian views justify trashing her record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles. Note that Court is not asking King to subscribe to her views. But King demands that Court change hers or lose her standing as a tennis legend. Only in degree is that different from historical cases of estab­lished religions persecuting heretics.

The new religion makes no room for nonconformists. Its followers want to shut down voices of dissent. Instead of changing the channel or reading a different newspaper, Richard Di Natale was caught during the last election saying that he wanted sections of Sky and News Corp shut down.

Proponents of the new religion search and punish people for tiny transgressions, confecting fake outrage. And they make no room for redemption or forgiveness. The orthodoxy is so powerful that conservatives are even sacking their own when faced with the shitstorm unleashed by disciples of the new religion. In Britain, Roger Scruton and Toby Young were both sacked from their quangos when the May government succumbed to social media outrage. Burning witches at the stake in a grassy field is an old variant of new witch-hunts on ­social media platforms.

It did not help that Young, a man with a passion for education, apologised unreservedly for comments he made during an earlier career as what he called a “journalistic provocateur”.

When you start from the same point — that dissidents are so morally depraved they must be stopped — only the consequences differ. Some adherents of the new religion chose to bash Ngo, while others demanded that Young be sacked.

It used to be the case that we rendered unto Caesar the things that were Caesar’s, and unto God the things that were God’s. The new moral code is so omnipresent it reaches on to sporting fields, into boardrooms, universities and ­bureaucracies.

The sacking of Israel Folau is bigger than a legal biff about a contract and a code of conduct. Folau was sacked for sinning against the new moral code. It is a totemic clash of religions, between old ones such as Christianity (but it could be Islam next) and the new religion promulgated by a new secular class that wants to stop a man from posting different moral judgments drawn from a centuries-old code of conduct called the Bible.

Some followers of the new religion have become blind to what is at stake. The ABC, for example, struggles to show much curiosity. Interviewed this week on Radio National about religious freedom, Barnaby Joyce mentioned the Folau saga. Presenter Hamish Macdonald interrupted, saying that Folau had been covered enough. Except it has barely been covered at all on the taxpayer-funded ABC.

Later, on Monday evening, a Q&A audience member raised the Folau matter. Host Tony Jones directed it to the openly gay panel member Penny Wong. No one else was asked for their views.

If the ABC is the media arm that spreads the new religion, Rugby Australia’s Raelene Castle has become its self-appointed priestess. During Folau’s code-of-conduct hearing, Castle seemed to suggest it was fine for Folau to post good bits from the Bible, but not bad bits. Was she presuming to sit in judgment of a book that is thousands of years old, with a few billion followers? Who is Castle to decide what individuals should decide for themselves?

People who presume to speak about moral issues for others, rather than just themselves, are found in droves in corporate Australia. A new class of corporate clerics presumes to speak for shareholders on everything from same-sex marriage to changing the Australian Constitution to preference one race of people with a special chamber of their own.

Corporate clerics are easily identified. They spend more time virtue-signalling about getting the right gender balance and exposing society’s unconscious bias than they do on issues that go to the core of their business: boring ­issues such as tax reform and industrial relations reform.

Alas, this hard work is handballed away by faux trust-seekers who would rather feel the warm glow that comes from standing in a room of like-minded corporate clerics signing up to social campaigns using other people’s money. And those quick to attack Qantas’s Alan Joyce should remember he is one of the few to ­advocate for social change and sound economic policy.

The reverence paid to diversity by corporate Australia mirrors the hypocrisy of Billie Jean King in sport. They make no room for political diversity. It’s another sign that the new moral code is religious in nature, because few ­religions, not old ones and not this new one, handle diversity of thought well.

A spokesman for the self-­appointed corporate virtue-signallers, former KPMG chairman Peter Nash, told this newspaper last week that companies needed to push social causes to rebuild trust with people.

Here’s my advice — and it’s free. Companies will rebuild real and lasting trust by treating customers fairly, respecting the diversity of shareholders whose money pays their generous wage, and advocating economic policies that allow companies, workers and our economy to flourish.

At universities too, bureaucrats use codes of conduct to enforce new moral codes using vaguely drafted commandments that you must not behave in an uncollegial manner.

At James Cook University, vice-chancellor Sandra Harding used the university’s code of conduct to remove physics professor Peter Ridd from his job. Ridd taught at JCU for decades. Students adored him. His sin was to challenge the quality of research by some JCU colleagues about the state of the Great Barrier Reef.

A university committed to the liberal education of its students, and finding the truth, would have been curious about Ridd’s work. Instead, JCU sacked him.

How is his removal different to heretics being removed by established ­religions?

When it comes to thou shall implement gender equality, the new religion has become irrational and fanatical. As The Australian reported this week, the Queensland Mines Minister could not seek expert advice from the Coal Mining Safety and Health Advisory Committee because the committee, lacking 50-50 gender representation, was forced to cancel meetings.

Meanwhile six workers died in Queensland mines and quarries in the past 12 months.

It’s early days. But this new religion and sections of its ruling class are already so corrupted with hypocrisy, it needs a reformation, a Martin Luther to post 95 theses exposing the equivalent of those old papal indulgences. Consider this Thesis # 1.


Revealed: The bizarre plan to spend $400million of YOUR money on 'fake clouds' to save the Great Barrier Reef

It's most unlikely to happen but would be a disaster if it did.  That pesky sunlight makes plants grow.  So cutting it back would also cut bank plant growrth, leadingto crop failures. But it's crops that provide our food.  Good for our waistlines, I guess

A bizarre $400million tax-payer funded rescue plan to protect the Great Barrier Reef from being destroyed by climate change has been revealed.

The Great Barrier Reef Foundation is expected to publish a 113-page plan on Friday, which details how it plans to spend a $444million federal grant to save the reef.

Man-made clouds, mist and bio-degradable surface films were all revealed to be the 'best option' to fend off solar radiation and protect the Great Barrier Reef from climate change, The Courier Mail reported.

While coral replanting and seeding to restore lost cover has been considered, experts have argued the exercise is not only costly but also labour intensive. 

The foundation realised it needed to think outside of the box, so it partnered with a consortium of experts and devised the forward-thinking reef restoration plan.   

The report concluded the best option for reef-wide protection lies in large scale solar radiation management, which led it to considering the radical approaches.

'The concept of creating shade through clouds, mist, fog, or surface films assumes that decreased solar radiation protects corals from bleaching,' the report stated.

The GRBF report also found with the proper research and development effort, the goal of recovering the reef from the effects of climate change is possible.

The foundation drew emphasis to the hefty costs to replace heat-resistant coral in the reef, saying it would take as many as 700,000 divers working around the clock.

The report comes as the latest Australian Institute of Marine Science data found there has been a general decline in coral cover over the last five years.  

According to the latest AIMS report, crown-of-thorn starfish outbreaks, cyclones and coral bleaching events have been the most detrimental to the reef in recent years.

The AIM research also showed while healthy coral reefs had cover of up to 50 per cent, others areas were barren with sparse skeletons covered in turf algae.


Hanson slams Aborigine recognition ceremonies

Meaningless Lerftist nonsense.  Every Australian already knows that there were Aborigines here before us.  We spend enough on welfare for them

Pauline Hanson has unleashed on commercial airlines in a bizarre radio rant, saying she was “gobsmacked” about a few simple words.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is set to veto all moves to enshrine an Indigenous 'voice to parliament' constitutionally.
Firebrand conservative politician Pauline Hanson has unleashed on commercial airlines that perform Welcome to Country mid-flight, as the debate over Indigenous recognition in the Constitution heats up.

The One Nation Party leader appeared on 2GB Radio in Sydney this morning to share her views on the push for a referendum to formally recognise Australia’s first peoples in the preamble to the Constitution.

Senator Hanson is not in favour of the proposition, which was put back on the agenda by Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt on Wednesday.

In the 48 hours since, divisions have emerged in the Coalition, with a number of right-wing figures expressing their concerns.

On the long-running issue of constitutional recognition, Senator Hanson said she has long been “warning people … do not fall for it”.

“They are actually causing divisions,” she told 2GB.

“We are all Australians together. I don’t care if you are Indigenous or if you were born here or if you are actually a migrant, we are not 200 years in the past, we are now in the future. We are in the future generation.”

But it was her claim about encountering Welcome to Country speeches on two commercial airliners mid-flight that has raised eyebrows.

“I actually flew into Rockhampton today and into Townsville and prior to my landing they actually put across that we must acknowledge the Aboriginals as the traditional land owners of this land and it is basically Welcome to Country,” Senator Hanson said. “I was gobsmacked, absolutely gobsmacked.”

Acknowledgement of Country and Welcome to Country are two different things. The first acknowledges the traditional owners of lands, while a Welcome to Country is performed by an Indigenous Australian as a greeting to visitors to lands.

It’s unclear which Senator Hanson encountered.

Senator Hanson did not mention the airline by name and her office did not respond to requests for comment from

But Australia’s major airlines say they don’t typically acknowledge country or perform a Welcome to Country while in the air. Spokespeople for the major airlines said procedures surrounding mid-flight duties were fairly rigid.

Senator Hanson is likely to be a major figure in the No campaign camp should the constitutional recognition referendum take place.

Mr Wyatt said it was his hope a referendum could be held in this term of government and Prime Minister Scott Morrison has indicated his support.

Mr Morrison has also met with Labor leader Anthony Albanese to discuss a bipartisan approach to the issue.

But already, a number of Liberal politicians have spoken out, with Sydney MP Craig Kelly saying he would campaign against recognition.

Queensland Senator Amanda Stoker and her Victorian counterpart James Patterson have also expressed their doubts.

A furore over a so-called third chamber in parliament — stemming from the 2017 Uluru Statement, which called for an Indigenous voice in Canberra — has forced Mr Morrison to pledge that no such proposal would be included in the referendum.

Sky News host Chris Kenny has labelled the idea of 'a third chamber or an Indigenous veto' as 'a furphy, misleading and ...
Instead, the focus would be on inserting language acknowledging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the original inhabitants of Australia, although the proposed wording hasn’t been finalised.

The right-wing think tank the Institute for Public Affairs said any Indigenous voice to parliament was “a divisive ideology based on race” and that “race has no place in the Australian Constitution”.

In a speech to the National Press Club on Wednesday, Mr Wyatt conceded the steps towards a referendum would not be easily tread. But he invited all Australians to “walk with me”.


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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