Monday, November 04, 2019

Insane Leftist bureaucracy determined to pervert foreign influence legislation.  Australia's "swamp" in action

They are probably trying to kill the legislation by public ridicule

Tony Abbott has been asked to register as an agent of foreign influence under controversial national security laws, for addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference in August

In the first action of its kind under the foreign-influence laws, the event's Australian organiser, Andrew Cooper, whose small not-for-profit organisation Libety-Works co-hosted CPAC in Sydney with the American Conservative Union (ACU), was ordered to hand over documents and threatened with jail time.

The revelations challenge the integrity of the Coalition's foreign influence registry, which came into effect last December. Attorney-General Christian Porter conceded the actions taken by his department did not represent an effective enforcement of the legislation.

The Weekend Australian can reveal that Mr Abbott was asked to register as an agent of foreign influence one day before he addressed CPAC. The conference was held in Australia for the first time in August and included prominent international speakers including Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage and British political activist Raheem Kassam.

The former prime minister refused the request, labelling it "absurd" and saying "senior officials of the Commonwealth have better things to do with their time". Mr Cooper received an October 21 letter from the Attorney-General's Department demanding the production of documents under the government's Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme.

Like Mr Abbott, he has refused to comply and challenged the department about why it was not focused on more pressing "stories of Chinese Communist Party agents influencing university campuses or bankrolling political candidates"..

The decision by the department to target Mr Abbott and Mr Cooper comes amid a national debate over Chinese influence at Australian universities and research organisations. It coincided with a damning ICAC inquiry that has heard allegations the NSW ALP received a $100,000 donation in an Aldi shopping bag from a banned donor, billionaire property developer Huang Xiangmo.

The government's crackdown on foreign influence has been attacked by legal experts including Sydney University's Anne Twomey, who warned it could force thousands of people, including authors, academics and publishers, to register as agents of other countries.

The letter to Mr Cooper, sent by Sarah Chidgey, the deputy secretary of the Integrity and International Group, advised him to provide all documents "detailing any understanding or arrangement between LibertyWorks and the ACU". She asked for invitations to the event, correspondence with speakers as well as the transcripts and recordings of the addresses. It noted that failure to comply with the order within 14 days carried a maximum penalty of six months' jail.

In his reply, Mr Cooper said the department "appears less like the defender of freedom and more like that of the old East German Stasi". "You hold a gun to our head and demand information that we do not have," he wrote.

He told The Weekend Australian: "I will not be complying with this notice despite the threat of criminal prosecution and jail time. I established LibertyWorks to argue against this type of government control over speech and citizens. "I will not sell out our speakers and delegates by kowtowing to government overlords."

CPAC was aimed at developing ideas for the centre-right of politics and included addresses from conservatives and libertarians. It was heavily attacked by Labor's home affairs spokeswoman, Kristina Keneally, who warned of an "alt-right" takeover and rising white supremacism in Australia.

The first CPAC was held in the US in 1974 with then California governor and future president Ronald Reagan the first headline speaker.

Speakers at the August event included Mr Abbott, former deputy prime minister John Anderson, Liberal senator Amanda Stoker, Liberal MP Craig Kelly, former Labor leader Mark Latham and US Republican congressman Mark Meadows. Mr Cooper said he "just wanted to run a conference".

The department has sent about 500 letters to a range of individuals asking them to consider whether they need to register under the foreign influence transparency scheme. Mr Abbott was informed that, as a former cabinet minister, he had "a lifetime obligation to register any activity you undertake on behalf of a foreign principal".

In a follow-up email, sent by the department last month, Mr Abbott's CPAC address and a September speech to a summit in Budapest, Hungary, were identified as potentially problematic.

In a sharply worded response, sent on Wednesday and obtained by The Weekend Australian, Mr Abbott said: "Neither speech of mine was given 'on behalf' of a foreign principal. I spoke for myself. Any suggestion that I was speaking on behalf of a foreign entity is absurd ... I decline to register and suggest that you rethink the making of such misplaced and impertinent requests in the future. "Surely senior officials of the commonwealth have better things to do with their time"

The department's handling of the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme angered Mr Porter. "I have made it clear to my department that I expect it to demonstrate a focus on the most serious instances of noncompliance," the Attorney-General said. "I'm not persuaded this focus has been perfectly demonstrated to date."

Mr Abbott said it was easy for the bureaucracy to turn "well-intentioned government policy into something which turns out to be radically different to what their ministers and staff intended".

The letter to Mr Cooper was the first and only order for the production of documents issued under section 45(2) of the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme, which was introduced by Malcolm Turnbull to help counter the "serious threat posed to Australia and our interests by covert interference and espionage".

Mr Cooper told the department on Friday that Liberty-Works "cannot, and will not, comply with this notice". He informed the department that it was impossible to produce the thousands of documents requested within the 14-day timeline. "The breadth and scope of the requirements in your notice betray a lack of specific concerns and you do not 'reasonably suspect' we are required to register with the scheme," he wrote.

The department sent the letter to Mr Cooper, asking him to passage the request by the close of business on Friday, August 9.

"So they threaten me with jail, and then expect me to be their agent so they can go after someone else?" Mr Cooper told The Weekend Australian. "They can go and get stuffed."

The department also wrote to former Liberal politician Ross Cameron in August for speaking at CPAC, asking him to consider registering as an agent of foreign influence.

From the "Weekend Australian" of 2 Nov., 2019

Don't demean, ignore or dismiss dads' daily devotion

Chris Kenny

My daddy blog could be a major hit, generating millions of hits and thousands of dollars as fathers flock to read think pieces on the hardships of being a dad, swap tips on coping with the work/family balance, and share a whinge about how their wives don't understand.

Or perhaps not generally speaking, blokes just aren't into this. Eavesdrop on a walk around the park or at the cafe and you'll know women discuss these life and relationship issues endlessly, swapping ideas and supporting each other.

Blokes tend not to; we are wired differently. Sure, some might be outraged that I've made such a generalisation, and yes, there will be exceptions to prove the rule, but we all recognise the essential truth here. This is not a value judgment, it is
just reflecting reality.

The reason I mention this is because I think fathers get a bad rap. Fatherhood seems undervalued. It is constantly measured against motherhood — if only mothers could have wives, if only fathers did what mothers do — and fatherhood always comes up short.

There seems to be an underlying resentment that motherhood can be different to fatherhood, that fathers seem to get it easy, and so fatherhood can be diminished. Yet fathers have never done more, nor been more flexible and involved in parenting arrangements.

Fathers do brilliant work every day, something that should be celebrated, nurtured and encouraged rather than dismissed or derided. Motherhood and fatherhood, are different, obviously, equal but different

Thanks to technology and changing social norms there is now a high level of flexibility around shared responsibilities. Sure, as a father of four, I have a dog in this fight. But believe me this is not a competition. There is not a father alive who is not in awe of mothers and motherhood. Most mothers work miracles daily, their physical and emotional energy and endurance make the world go around and their juggling of parental responsibilities and careers is extraordinary.

We hear a lot about this in books, on websites, in newspapers and magazines and on television and radio, where mothers are supported, celebrated and encouraged. This is all to the good — I am not averse to dipping into this genre to enlighten myself.

But this column is about dads. In our age of priestly pedophile scandals, predatory criminals and gender quotas, we should not forget that to improve options for women and protect children we need to leverage the good works of fathers, not diminish them in campaigns against toxic masculinity or outdated gender stereotypes.

Where biology once determined a divide in duties between mothers and fathers, it plays a much smaller role now, with couples able to swap or share almost all tasks. Yet, surely, just as we shouldn't be slaves to traditional roles, we don't need to be prescriptive about the future. Let us have our options and choose.

If, even in the most prosperous and enlightened of societies, most families opted for traditional roles, who would be so arrogant or ideological as to condemn their life choices?

In my household, both parents are busy with careers and the daily rush between drop-offs, pick-ups, cricket, footy, music, nippers and incidentals is as demanding as it is chaotic. As the dad, could I pay more attention to the logistics and perhaps do a little more of the cooking? Sure.

But fatherhood is not some blissful dream of unburdened genetic distribution. Halfway through drafting this column, on top of the usual pick-ups, meal preparations and bath duties, I discovered new-found skills in amateur make-up artistry and costume arrangements for Halloween hijinx.

Fatherhood is the school of lifelong learning. In her recent essay Men at Work, Annabel Crabb interrogated the differing expectations we have of fathers and mothers. She asked why we were so interested in how New Zealand's Jacinda Ardern would cope as a prime ministerial mum, yet were not fussed by how Scott Morrison would get his girls off to school in the mornings.

Quite obviously, our Prime Minister was not gestating, delivering and nursing a child, so there are biological imperatives that are unavoidable in this case. But Crabb makes a telling point when she asks:

"What I want to know is: why do we expect so little of fathers? Why do we fret so extensively about the impact on children of not seeing their mothers enough, but care so little about what happens when it's Dad who's always away? Do we think dads are just for weekends? 'Or are we simply so roundly prepared — based on what we see — for their absence that we neither mourn it nor remark on it?"

This is where we need that daddy blog. Families expect an enormous amount from dads, and dads expect everything from themselves. The daily strain is all about parenting, providing, presence and prioritising; surely most mothers see fathers in this daily juggling act. There are bad fathers, just as there are bad mothers, but my daily brushing of shoulders with dads over more than 30 years as a parent only fills me with optimism and admiration for what they do with and for their families.

Crabb used Morrison and Josh Frydenberg as the laboratory rats in her analysis. Their vocational demands and enforced absences make them extreme examples. Over the years, I have had private discussions with each of them about the joy and devotion of their parenthood. The absences of politics make family life difficult and most politicians know they won't do it forever. They work through shared responsibilities with husbands, wives and wider families, to cope as best they can.

For all that, they are no orphans. Many families across the country deal with one parent or another on night shift, flying in and out on a 10-day turnaround, or deployed overseas with defence forces. Most often it is dad who is away, but certainly not always.

This is what families do. We make choices and share burdens for the benefit of our family, not to fit the expectations of some progressive social experiment. Families do not exist to fulfil some idyllic Brave New World of non-gendered roles and cookie-cutter parenting. Families are dynamic organisms and, like snowflakes, all have different designs. Whether it is socially ingrained or deeply embedded in our DNA, like a mother's nurturing instincts, fathers feel a deep-seated responsibility to provide for their family. Most fathers would sooner endure any absence than stay home and feel they are failing their family.

"I'd always been quietly enraged by the interviews with female CEOs that start with the question of how they manage their families along with their jobs," wrote Crabb.

This intrigued me. As a dad, I have always wondered why on earth we don't get asked. It has never seemed patronising for women to be asked this question; how could it be belittling to be asked about something so vital to us?

Rather, it has always seemed insulting that men are spared the questions. Just because we don't blog about fatherhood, are we assumed to be uninterested? Like most fathers, I suspect, I think of myself first and foremost as a father. It is that role that defines me, to myself and to all those I love.

Fatherhood is the greatest privilege and heaviest responsibility; a daily journey of success and failure, overwhelming joy and deepest hurt, duty and indulgence, pride and anxiety, constant learning and endless aspiration. We fathers know this; we seldom discuss it openly in the way mothers might share their trials and tribulations, but we check in on each other, and we watch and learn and emulate.

I have been privileged to grow up surrounded by superb male role models. Men who are strong and gentle, brave and kind, wise and loving. Men like my father, who I always knew valued fatherhood above all else, and his brothers, the eldest of whom was buried this week, surrounded by children, grandchildren and great-grand-children, amid stories of his patience, wit, devotion and kindness.

I had uncles on my mother's side scarred by Changi or being orphaned young, but who grew to impart tenderness through calloused hands.

At kids' weekend sport there is masculinity aplenty without a hint of toxicity, as boys and girls learn to take risks, succeed and fail. There is a nonchalant benevolence in all this, lighting a path for our children.

We risk missing one of the most valuable influences in our community life if we somehow demean, ignore or dismiss this daily devotion of dads. Crabb, maybe, reaches a similar realisation. "Now," she writes, "I don't get mad when female leaders are asked that question. It's a bloody sensible question. Now I just get mad when male leaders aren't asked it. Not asking is actually, in itself, quite a powerful message. It says, 'No one expects you to care about this'."

Yes, not asking about families insults men. Don't blame the dads. Ask them sometime, they might never shut up. Being a dad, like being a mum, is to surrender yourself to a life that supersedes your own — a crushing and enlivening realisation that your own interests will never again be pre-eminent, there is another life for whom you would, in the twinkling of an eye, surrender your own. Life that depends on you, a weight that is somehow uplifting, ever-present and inspiring. Dads know it and live it every day.

From the "Weekend Australian" of 2 Nov., 2019

Home Affairs minister Peter Dutton wants the states to charge protesters the cost of police responding to demonstrations

Mr Dutton, who has previously called for protesters to be publicly shamed and stripped of their welfare payments, called on the states to act after a week of anti-mining demonstrations in Melbourne.

"We don't have 150 police just sitting around in Melbourne or Brisbane or Sydney waiting to respond to these people who spontaneously pull these stunts together," he told the Nine Network on Friday.

"These police are being diverted away from other activities and there should be a price to pay for that."

The prime minister is set to announce a plan to crack down on "indulgent, selfish and apocalyptic" environmental activists.

Mr Dutton, a former Queensland cop, has enthusiastically backed the idea.

"For many of them they don't even believe in democracy," he said. "This is not about free speech, it's not about the ability to protest. These people are completely against our way of life.

"These people can protest peacefully, as many people do, but the disruption that they seek to cause, the disharmony that they seek to sow within our society is unacceptable."

Mr Dutton also took aim at magistrates courts for being too lenient on law-breaking activists. "If you're going to the courts eight times and getting a slap on the wrist, why wouldn't you do it a ninth time?"


Catfish and shrimp take precedence over drought-hit farmers

Environmental madness

Twenty-two billion litres of precious water have been flushed into a swamp in one of Australia's most drought-stricken regions.

The New South Wales state government started releasing 22 gigalitres of water from Wyangala Dam from the middle of last month.

The move was intended to help increase flow to the heavily parched Lachlan River and its tributaries.

But the decision has been criticised because the water has been used without consulting farmers.

The dam has seen its water level fall by 20 per cent as a result and the state's water minister has questioned the timing of the release.

'I would like to see evidence this was the best time to release water for the environment when the Bureau of Meteorology is indicating little to no inflows over the next 12 months,' NSW Water Minister Melinda Pavey said.

The water released from the dam could have sustained 30,000 people living in nearby towns including Cowra and Forbes for over a year.

Instead it will make its journey west down the river to the Great Cumbung Swamp where the Lachlan River ends.

The government agency which operates the state's rivers said in a statement the water release was critical to the survival of the rivers flowing out of the dam.

The Commonwealth Environment Water Holder said the water was vital to improving the health of the river system along the length of the Lachlan River.

A senior green agency source also told The Daily Telegraph the increased supply to the river system would benefit the resident catfish and freshwater shrimp.

But Ms Pavey said 'during times of extreme drought we need flexibility, not blind recklessness'.

The partial opening of the dam has dropped its capacity to about 18 per cent, compared to 23 per cent at the beginning of last month.

The dam is already subject to a proposal to raise its walls by 10 metres at a cost of $650million.

The river stretches almost 1,500km across New South Wales' south and is part of the Murray-Darling Basin which has faced brutal drought conditions in recent years.


 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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