Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Isaac Levido: the Australian political strategist credited with Boris Johnson's victory

From his name and colouring, I am guessing that Isaac is of Portuguese ancestry. Alternatively, he could be a Sephardic Jew.  His family have been in Australia for several generations however, so it is all probably well diluted by now

Lynton Crosby protege behind Scott Morrison’s unexpected win chalks up another triumph with the UK Conservatives’ successful re-election campaign

National election campaigns – by definition a team effort – are somewhat unfairly often credited to the performance of a single person.

But thanks to a sharp, focused campaign that produced a large majority for Boris Johnson after a period of unprecedented political instability there was just one name being sung out at Conservative headquarters on Thursday: Isaac Levido.

A protege of veteran Australian political strategist Lynton Crosby, Levido is not a household name in his home country, despite playing a senior role in the upset re-election of Scott Morrison’s government in May.

He is just 36, but former Liberal Victorian state director Simon Frost says Levido has “experience beyond his age”.

No stranger to the UK, Levido worked on the 2015 and 2017 general election campaigns before setting up Crosby-Textor’s Washington DC office and returning to Australia to serve as Liberal party deputy director from January 2018 to mid-2019.

After a change of prime minister in August 2018 plunged the Liberal-National Coalition government into minority, they faced a seemingly impossible task of picking up seats from Labor to stay in power despite three years of polling deficits.

Levido had responsibilities spanning the party’s research and polling, through to day-to-day operations setting up headquarters in Brisbane, and organising the ground game with state directors.

Frost says Levido was “cool and calm under pressure” as he assembled the nuts and bolts of a Liberal party campaign run with a ruthless focus on the leftwing economic policies and personal unpopularity of Labor leader, Bill Shorten.

In Australia, Levido worked with Michael Brooks, a pollster from Crosby’s British company CTF Partners, and digital content experts Sean Topham and Ben Guerin from New Zealand – a team that was later transplanted to run Johnson’s campaign.

While the British Labour party took a leaf from Australian Labor’s formidable 2016 campaign – both claimed the conservatives would privatise public health services – Levido and his team capitalised on Brexit fatigue with the winning pitch that a majority Johnson would “get Brexit done”.

Andrew Bragg, a Liberal senator and former acting party director, is a life-long friend of Levido from their time at college at the Australian National University.

Bragg describes Levido as “a country guy from Port Macquarie” and “not a wanker” – echoing the personal reflections of other colleagues who say he is quiet, unassuming hard worker who doesn’t self-promote, is not too serious and can have a laugh at himself.

Bragg says Levido has “been able to get to top of his game really quickly”.

“If I were federal director, he’d be the one I’d want running the campaign,” Bragg says, echoing a sentiment that Australian conservatives hope they can call on Levido’s skills again – if he is not lost to the UK for good.

“He understands politics, polling and … modern campaign infrastructure. He’s an earthy machine man.”


Queer how Press Council would suppress the truth

Jennifer Oriel

Australia is sleepwalking into a state of political censorship. While major media organisations have united to defend the free press against government interference, the chilling effect of political correctness does not prompt such unified action.

Yet state-designated minority groups frequently target journalists who dissent from PC ideology. The Australian Press Council should make the unfettered pursuit of truth its core business. But it has handed down guidelines ­advising journalists how to write on sexual politics, including queer and transgender issues.

The APC guideline for reporting on people “with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics” is derived from the particular school of thought known as queer theory.

Queer politics is not the same as gay liberation or lesbian feminism. The notion that queer activists speak for a “community” of people who are homosexual, ­bisexual, transgender or intersex is a myth. Rather, lesbian feminists and high-profile gay liberals have opposed the radical queer fringe since it emerged.

Former professor of political science Sheila Jeffreys explained the basic difference between the schools of thought: “Sexual liberals are those who subscribe to the 1960s agenda of sexual tolerance, to the idea that sex is necessarily good and positive, and that censorship is a bad thing. Sexual libertarians … advocate the ‘outer fringes’ of sexuality, such as sadomasochism, with the belief that ‘sexual minorities’ are at the ­forefront of creating the sexual revolution.”

Queer activism arose from sexual libertarians who believed sexual minorities were the true revolutionaries. The more that a practice or behaviour deviated from the mainstream, the more queers celebrated it.

Under the banner of queer even pedophilia was regarded as defensible because it was considered ­immoral by the society. Yet ­heterosexuality and standard ­expressions of gender were rejected because they formed the basis of the traditional family — an ­object of radical queer contempt.

The new morality celebrated whatever was restrained by law and/or shunned by the majority. Queer was — and remains — the most reactionary movement in left-wing sexual politics.

The revolutionary aspect of queer politics attracts people ­inclined to fundamentalist thought. Many are deeply intolerant of tolerance and treat dissent as a grave offence rather than the cornerstone of democratic society.

The onus is placed on dissenters not to offend, rather than queer activists learning how to handle different opinions.

The APC has fallen afoul of reason by promoting queer ideology as good journalistic practice. Its stated aim is “to assist journalists and publications to improve standards of reporting so as not to ­exacerbate … particular concerns faced by (LGBTQI) persons”.

The APC does not explain how the pursuit and revelation of truth is assisted by its advice. Perhaps because truth has relatively little to do with it. It is more about politics and the suppression of unfashionable truths. The published advice extends from a list of language rules to advising journalists how to avoid giving offence while interacting with interview subjects. In the recommended literature, there is even advice on what might be called PC grammar.

My favourite is the guide where journalists are instructed to ask “what is your pronoun” and discouraged from assuming it ­because, “misgendering can have negative consequences for a person’s mental health”. Compelling journalists to lie about biological fact to appease PC activists makes them a party to deception.

It is hardly conducive to a journalist’s psychological wellbeing. Yet the APC’s list of recommended guidelines includes gender ­diversity literature that suggests physical organs should not be ­labelled male or female because it can lead to discrimination.

Questioned by The Australian, the APC was at pains to stress the guidelines were not mandatory. It is cold comfort. Those of us too old to be naive know that radical activists are content with conventional debate until they begin to lose. Then they compel dissenters to comply. In the final act, they ­enforce.

The APC guidelines on sexual diversity are an invitation to lie where the lie is considered noble and the truth cruel. But a journalist cannot change the biological fact of birth sex and should not feel compelled to do so.

Artists who endure life in totalitarian regimes have spoken of how parallel institutions and realities are created to suppress unfashionable truths. Ran Yufei, a Chinese public intellectual who was imprisoned for exercising freedom of speech, described the need to ­refuse becoming complicit with such lies.

In The New York Review of Books, he said: “You have to learn how to argue. Too few public intellectuals in China have learned how to argue logically … the (Chinese Communist Party) created a parallel language system (of ­untruth) that is on an equal basis with the language of truth.”

Political censorship is the refuge of cowards. The censor is unable to mount a compelling ­argument and unwilling to compete fairly in the contest of ideas. Freedom of thought leads naturally to the free expression of speech in the spoken and written word. Their suppression is ­obtained in reverse motion; the censor introduces a penalty for words he dislikes because they ­embody ideas that challenge him.

By attacking the words or ­images, he attacks dissenting thought. If the assault is suffici­ently punitive, the message is clear: use that word and you will suffer. As the words change, so too do the ideas that precede them. They lose clarity, sharpness and direction. If a certain word is not permitted, the idea has nowhere to go. The frustration of knowing truth that cannot be expressed makes the pursuit and revelation of knowledge unappealing.

When faced with the risks of telling the truth in a state of political censorship, writers and artists often retreat. They adapt to the new order where truth is partial or, in radical times, completely ­reversed. In a state of political censorship, liars control the truth and make truth a lie.

The APC guideline should be rejected for what it is; an exercise in PC sophistry that renders truth subordinate to fallacy. I will not submit.


Court action after ‘old school’ CFMEU tactics ruin concrete pour

The Australian Building and Construction Commission has launched Federal Court action against the CFMEU and three of its officials alleging they disrupted a concrete pour during construction of an aged care centre in New South Wales.

In a statement of claim, the ABCC alleges a threat by one official, Gerasimos Danalis, to engage in “old school” tactics on the Kiama Aged Care Centre project led to a critical concrete pour being halted and three trucks laden with concrete being wasted.

The ABCC alleges the union and the officials contravened the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Act by organising or engaging in an unlawful picket and breached the Fair Work Act by failing to produce a valid federal right of entry permit and hindering and obstructing and acting in an inappropriate manner.

The maximum penalty for each contravention of the BCIIP Act is $210,000 for a body corporate and $42,000 for an individual. The maximum penalty for each contravention of the Fair Work Act is $63,000 for a body corporate and $12,600 for an individual.

The ABCC alleges Mr Danalis and fellow officials, Anthony Dimitriou and Anthony Burke entered the project in November last year, with Mr Burke saying “we have an issue with access and egress”.

The trio returned three hours later with a notice of entry alleged suspected contraventions including issues with the concrete pour, front left leg of pump sinking in soil, workers working under boom, and no signage.

Mr Burke allegedly demanded workers be removed from a first floor work area and be re-inducted.

Mr Danalis is alleged to have said, “we’ll do it old school and block the concrete trucks”, before walking to the back of a reversing concrete truck and preventing it from unloading.

When a second concrete truck tried to enter the project site, the ABCC claims all three officials blocked its path.

It claims Mr Danalis shouted, “we are shutting down the site” before running “his finger across his throat”. A third concrete truck was prevented from entering the site and the concrete in all three trucks had to be disposed of.

Mr Danalis and Mr Dimitriou returned to the site the following day and allegedly again refusing to show their right of entry permits.


THE soaring cost of gas and electricity is the top financial concern for households in 2020, a new report has found

Despite an energy pricing shake-up this year resulting in cheaper deals for many, power prices still remain a significant burden on budgets. Canstar's 2019 Consumer Pulse report, which surveyed 2000 people, found that 14 per cent of respondents said their biggest monetary concerns for the coming year were electricity and gas.

Next was grocery prices (10 per cent), job security (10 per cent) and running out of retirement savings (8 per cent).

Canstar's Simon Downes said power bills remained a "consistently high cost that is a shock to the budget". The report found that three out of four people opted to pay
power bills quarterly, which Mr Downes said was a big part of the problem. "If you are paying quarterly you are almost setting yourself up for a shock every quarter," he said.

"Quarterly energy bills can be $600 or $700 and it triggers shock in your head, leaving you cursing energy bills." He urged households to look for a provider that bills monthly or to set money aside each month.

The Australian Energy Market Commission's 2018 Residential Electricity Price Trends report shows the national average annual residential bill in 2017-18 was $1522. Origin's Jon Briskin said most of their customers "still receive and pay for their bills quarterly" but there were alternatives.

"Another option that many customers find helps with managing their household's budget is to set up a payment plan and make regular monthly, fortnightly or weekly payments," he said

"For people with a smart meter in their home, an easy way to reduce the stress of big quarterly bills is to switch to monthly billing and make smaller but more frequent payments." However households with a smart meter may still face an "estimated" read, which does not reflect actual energy use.

EnergyAustralia's head of retail. Mark Brownfield said most of their customers were billed quarterly. However he said that of those with a specific payment plan, 16 per cent paid weekly, 64 per cent fortnightly and 20 per cent monthly. "When people use the EnergyAustralia smart phone app, they can check their electricity usage down to the hour," Mr Brownfield said.

From the Brisbane "Sunday Mail" of 8 December, 2019

 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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