Sunday, November 20, 2022

Conservative principles should have prevented vaccine Fascism

Instead our elites followed the Chinese Communist example, with predictably destructive results

In July 2021, when ‘vaccine passports’ were still a crazy conspiracy theory, I wrote an article for The Spectator Australia arguing that Australia must not become a checkpoint society based on proof of Covid vaccination. To allow such tyranny would be illiberal and draconian, and contradict everything that the Liberal Party, as conceptualised by Sir Robert Menzies, stood for.

Not long after that article was written, many unvaccinated Australians were barred from public places, doctors’ clinics, hospitals, and even from working because they turned down the jab. Our health bureaucracies and state premiers told us that this was essential for our safety to ‘stop the spread’.

Contrary to the current claims of these backpedalling authorities, following the admission of a top Pfizer representative that their product was never tested for its impact on viral transmission, the assumption of our health departments was that the so-called vaccines would prevent the transmission of Covid.

South Australia’s Chief Health Officer, Professor Nicola Spurrier, told parents that, ‘Vaccination is the best way to protect you, your family, and your friends from getting sick, and reduce the risk of outbreaks and school closures.’ As recently as January of this year, Premier Daniel Andrews told Victorians, ‘At the moment two doses are protecting the vast majority of people from serious illness, but it’s only with three doses that you’ll be prevented not just from serious illness but from getting this virus, this Omicron variant, and therefore giving it to others.’

State governments made Australia a checkpoint society, but when the Covid cases continued to mount on the daily media tallies, it became obvious that the injections did not prevent transmission. Many so-called ‘conspiracy theorists’ already knew that would happen. Yet it didn’t prevent the establishment media, politicians, and health departments from pushing the lie that the injections were necessary to stop the spread. To this very day, many workplaces still have private injection mandates in place.

People’s lives have been shipwrecked, sometimes ended, because of these mandates, which have turned out to be based on a lie just as the ‘conspiracy theorists’ had warned. This is the greatest political and public health scandal of our time. If Pfizer had no data on viral transmission, on what basis were the Therapeutic Goods Administration, the Department of Health, and state Chief Health Officers making this claim from the moment the rollout began?

I am disturbed by the fact that this has taken place in this country, and by the hostility with which those who were cast aside as ‘anti-vaxxers’ were treated. The reason I am a member of the Liberal Party is because I believe in its foundational principles. Namely, ‘In the inalienable rights and freedoms of all peoples … a lean government that minimises interference in our daily lives; and maximises individual and private sector initiative… In those most basic freedoms of parliamentary democracy – the freedom of thought, worship, speech, and association.’ There is no way that mandatory injections to keep one’s job, even if the mRNA injections were the safest and most effective vaccines ever developed (which they clearly aren’t), would be justifiable to anyone who believes in these principles.

Sadly, many found this too difficult to understand, or were not brave enough to speak out, lest their reputation suffer. Sometimes doing the right thing requires being called a fool.

In November 2021, after many Australians had either lost their jobs for not getting jabbed or had been coerced into doing so, I took the view that what was happening in our community was so serious, that I could leave no stone unturned to try to help and along with my Queensland colleague Senator Gerrard Rennick I advised the Prime Minister that I would be withholding my vote in the Senate until such time as the federal government intervened. This was not a position I took lightly but it was a hill I was prepared to die on.

Mandates were state driven, but there were many actions that the federal government could have taken to assist such as, legislating against discrimination in the manner proposed by Senator Pauline Hanson (a Bill I supported), withdrawing the states’ funding, or removing their access to the Australian Immunity Register to name but a few.

I also gave a speech in the Senate calling for an end to the mandates, in which I quoted Sir Robert Menzies:

‘The rarest form of courage, I think, in the world, is moral courage. The courage that a man has when he is prepared to form his view of the truth and to pursue it, when he is not running around the corner every five minutes to say, ‘Is this going to be popular?’

I took courage from Sir Robert’s words but sadly, there was no appetite to change course.

The reason I drew a line in the sand was simply that it was the right thing to do, and the only course of action consistent with the values of the Liberal Party. Those of us who didn’t allow ourselves to be bullied into silence and compliance have been vindicated. Others have woken up to the fact that they were lied to as the bureaucratic tyranny expanded.

Courage is contagious, as they say. The quiet Australians are speaking out. The pushback against Covid authoritarianism has been, in many ways, tremendous. The protests in Victoria, Sydney, and Canberra were the largest I remember seeing in Australia, and drew many people from all walks of life, despite the legacy media’s best efforts to smear the peaceful protesters as dangerous weirdos.

The Covid narrative has been exposed. Conservatives who grasp the concept of liberty know that the mandates were both medically and morally wrong. Australians are ready for leadership that is unconcerned with the banal criticism of the craven establishment and courageously pursues the truth. Let’s give it to them.


Scholars shed light on Bruce Pascoe’s claims about Aborigines in "Dark Emu"

It took seven years for Australia’s anthropologists and archaeologists to test the claims in one of the most popular books ever published about First Nations people – the best-selling Dark Emu: Aboriginal Australia and the Birth of Agriculture, by Bruce Pascoe.

And it’s telling that Peter Sutton and Keryn Walshe, who somewhat reluctantly took on the task of challenging Pascoe’s thesis that pre-colonial Aboriginal people were agriculturalists who built stone houses and cultivated the land, are freelancers who work outside the academy.

Their book, Farmers or Hunter-Gatherers? The Dark Emu Debate, published last year, has been short-listed for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, in the running for the $80,000 top prize in the history section when winners are announced on December 13.

They were late to the fray, partly because they didn’t take Pascoe’s 2014 book very seriously and were busy with other work, but ­Sutton thinks the silence from the universities stemmed from fear.

“You can lose a job (if you challenge an Indigenous issue),” Sutton tells Inquirer from his home in South Australia. “You can be vilified in public or in social media. It’s notable that both (of us) are retired. Most people didn’t have the stomach for the fight because you are cancelled if you have a view that’s not liked by certain people, you are cancelled simply on the basis of being white.”

He says if the “relevant scholarly professionals” had reviewed Dark Emu – said to have sold more than 250,000 copies, generated a children’s edition, and on school curriculums – they would not have had much of a future.

Instead, says Sutton: “What happened was that Bruce developed more and more of a public image. In fact, he became someone with instant brand recognition among the middle classes.

“(As) part of the genre of anti-racist literature in this country, (Dark Emu) appealed to people who were concerned about the wellbeing of Indigenous people.

“There were lots of stories of gaps that wouldn’t close and other depressing things about children not attending school. So here’s something that comes along with a positive message. It’s anti-British, anti-colonial.”

Sutton says Pascoe’s identification as Indigenous didn’t hurt ­either: “No one would have bought a book … written by a white fella from Mallacoota.”

At 76, Sutton is one of the nation’s most significant social anthropologists and linguists who has worked in the bush for more than 50 years – recording and learning Indigenous languages, mapping Aboriginal cultural landscapes, and working on a total of 87 land claims.

He has written or co-written 15 books on Indigenous issues, including his controversial 2009 challenge to public policy, The Politics of Suffering: Indigenous Australia and the End of the Liberal Consensus.

Born to working-class parents in Melbourne in 1946, he went to “the only school for Christian Scientists’ children in Australia”. He became “devoted” to the metaphysics of the religion and as a young adult spent two years as a Christian Science practitioner, or healer, someone others seek out for “assistance and wisdom and things to read and also for healing”.

Later, armed with his degree in literature and linguistics, he did bush fieldwork, recording – and learning – endangered Indigenous languages in Queensland. He is still in touch with the great great grandchildren of the Old People he sat with 50 years ago.

“There are many (descendants) who don’t speak the language but want to know more about the very big movement in Australia and Canada and the US for language revitalisation,” he says.

In 1970, he made an extensive field trip across the eastern Gulf country of Queensland to Palm Island, working there with Indigenous man Johnny Flinders – one of the last speakers of the Wurriima or Flinders Island language. Johnny is dead and Sutton says that he is now the only person alive who can speak the language.

Back in the city, Sutton spent a couple of years in the sound section at the then Institute of Aboriginal Studies in Canberra before heading bush again in 1974 on a long ethnographic mapping trip. It was a “much more muscular activity (than the language trips) involving some fairly strenuous fieldwork” and Sutton loved it.

The next year, he was out again, mapping hundreds of sites across 300km from the Lockhart River settlement south to Port Stewart. He spent three years from 1976 on field work with the Wik people in Cape York, first for a PhD in anthropology then anchoring the anthropology for the Wik native title case. In 1979, he went to work exclusively on land claims for the Northern Land Council before moving with his young family to settle in South Australia.

Since then he has been largely self-employed, working continuously on land claims, publishing widely, and attending professional conferences. He spent six years as head of anthropology at the South Australian Museum and holds an honorary position with the University of Adelaide. He has done casual teaching, but has never had a permanent university job.

You get the sense he could have done without writing the Dark Emu critique but felt it important to refute an author he accuses of “cherry picking” evidence to suit his thesis. He says: “Scholars have extensive libraries and it took me a few seconds each time to go to my library and pick up most of the sources … and check whether they were correctly used.”

Sutton has written most of the forensic examination of Pascoe’s claims but asked Walshe, who worked at Flinders University and the South Australian Museum before leaving to pursue her own research, to add her archaeological expertise to the book.

Walshe had found Dark Emu impossible to read. “I couldn’t actually get through it … I just began seeing so many problems with it,” she says. “But I could see the pace of the narrative was exciting to some readers and it almost had the thrill of an adventure. I could understand people getting captivated by it.

“But in the end, I was confounded because (the excitement around the book) suggested the average reader, even a well-informed one, doesn’t actually have a good grounding in Australian Aboriginal culture. That was really quite alarming. People seem to be so taken with it … seeing it as a truer history, or perhaps the only history they have ever absorbed.”

Walshe anticipated being caught in the culture wars – “that the Andrew Bolts of the world would latch on to it” – but says it’s not been as bad as she thought. She has been disconcerted, however, when meeting Indigenous people who are unhappy with Farmers or Hunter-Gatherers but who confess they haven’t read it. In the main, those who approach her have felt uneasy about Pascoe’s work and are “deeply grateful” for a cautious, science-based critique.

Did the academy, who know so much about pre-colonial Indigenous life, fail to explain this to Australians? Says Walshe: “In Australia we struggle to popularise academic work. There’s a real gap in the publication market. I don’t think it’s the fault of academics because they’re under enormous pressure to keep up their own profiles via research and they don’t have time to write a popular book.”

Sutton is more direct: “There were heroic efforts to penetrate the wider society for the past 60 years. If people say that we weren’t told about this, they are just showing that they are ignorant … Unfortunately, Pascoe was not aware that many of these issues had been gone into.”

Walshe contributed two chapters that include a refutation of Pascoe’s claims that Aboriginal people have been present on the continent well beyond the generally accepted span of more than 60,000 years.

“Some of his claims were pretty wild, getting up to 100,000 to 120,000 years, for which there’s ­absolutely no evidence at all,” ­Walshe says.

She also challenges Pascoe’s claims that western Victoria and the area around Lake Condah was a region of complex eel farming where permanent populations built stone houses and preserved food.

Walshe says western Victoria is “a fabulous place, and archaeologically it’s really interesting, there’s no disputing that, but the claims for the processing of eels I have always felt were exaggerated and unfounded. Certainly, people were trapping eels and catching eels. It was a seasonal activity that people flocked to and really enjoyed. It was a chance for high protein and plenty of food. So I could imagine that a lot of people would have gathered at that time of year. But they did not preserve yields, there is no evidence for this whatsoever. They did not smoke eels in trees, and then store them somewhere for the rest of the season so they could be sedentary in that area.”

And the stone houses? She says rocks were used as a base for scaffolding of tree branches and foliage to create a “warm, snug, cozy little hut” but there is no evidence of more significant dwellings. Nor does there need to be: “(The area) deserves the World Heritage nomination and status. We don’t need to exaggerate it, it is already incredibly impressive.”

Pre-colonial Aboriginal people were great conservers, she says. “People took what they needed for the purposes of not just feeding yourself but for that communal living. To come together as hunter-gatherers was so important, to be able to share food, because in sharing food, of course, you share story, you share culture, and you create cohesive groups, but there wasn’t any excess … there’s no concept of long-term storage.”

Sutton and Walshe reject Dark Emu’s implication that agricultural society is more developed and “better” than that of hunter-gatherers. “I don’t go with the hierarchies,” says Walshe. “I don’t think it’s a linear progression: we don’t start off as hunter-gatherers anywhere in the world and then finally find our way into agriculture. I think that’s a complete fallacy. There is never any need for a group of people who are living a highly successful and sustainable life to suddenly become agriculturalists.

“It’s certainly not racist to say that hunter-gatherers who were living here were among the best, if not the most supreme, hunter-gatherers in the whole world. Most hunter-gatherers on other continents have had to cease under­taking their way of life or compromised and taken on bits of agriculture and so on, but it was here in Australia right up until almost 1800 that they were living as complete complex hunter-gatherers. That’s remarkable.”

For his part, Sutton is scathing about the idea that “people were actually closer to being British farmers” and thus more advanced. Such thinking, he says, “is the road to hell, because it’s going back to social evolutionism. It’s also a bit insulting to kind of (say) who’s the clever boy now, or they’re so clever. That’s demeaning.”

He concedes Dark Emu has reached a whole new audience and encouraged people to think about Indigenous issues. But he says: “The trouble is there is so much misinformation and disinformation in Dark Emu that someone has now created a body of people whose ignorance or blankness has been replaced by a mixture of fact, fantasy and untruth. That’s an awfully big job to get that undone.”


Religious leaders in the NT urge government to revise proposed changes to anti-discrimination laws

Leaders of several religious groups in the Northern Territory have joined forces to raise concerns over proposed changes to anti-discrimination laws, warning the NT government of a voter backlash if the changes are legislated.

The Territory's Labor government is expected to pass the reforms when parliament sits this week, with LGBTQI+ groups saying the legislation includes important protections.

But speaking on Saturday out the front of St Mary's Cathedral in Darwin, NT Bishop Charles Gauci and Christian Schools NT chief executive Phoebe Van Bentum said the proposed changes could end up removing faith from religious schools.

"We are not about discriminating against people ... but when they come to our schools, the teaching they uphold in the public stance needs to be in line and respectful," Bishop Gauci said.

Ms van Bentum said the changes would "completely remove the protections for religious schools to employ people of the same belief".

Among those backing the comments were members of the Islamic, Sikh, Hindu and Buddhist community.

Chief among the religious groups' concerns is the repealing of existing laws which allows churches and schools to impose a religious requirement for teaching jobs.

"[The changes] are completely contrary to the longstanding tradition we have had in Australia. That tradition is for religious schools being able to operate schools in their own ethos and religious principles."

Bishop Gauci said the proposed reforms risked imposing a form of "reverse discrimination" in which schools would be unable to hire teachers and executives based on their adherence to the religious beliefs.

"No other jurisdiction has proposed or enacted laws as strict as this present law is enacting," he said.

Bishop Gauci said looming elections would allow religious groups to present the facts to voters, warning there were thousands of Territorians who attended church.

"I am not involved in party politics and I want to stay above party politics, and I'm not about supporting one party versus another.

"I'm about speaking the truth as it is and letting people decide for themselves."

Pride group praises changes

While religious groups are expressing their concerns, the reforms are being praised by the Territory's LGBTQ+ community.

Top End Pride Committee member Paige Horrigan said protecting against discrimination based on sexuality would create more-inclusive learning environments.

"It's going to greatly impact the community and provide more opportunities for LGBTQ+ people in the education system, that in the religious education system … haven't previously existed, which is going to be really great to see and create a lot more acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community," they said.

They also added the harm for students at religious schools — to see gender or sexuality diverse people rejected for employment — could have a negative impact on their wellbeing.

"A young person seeing that someone like them being rejected from a job that they are so often around, it can be quite disheartening and [they can] think, 'Oh, will I not be able to get a job when I'm older just because of who I am?'"

In response to questions from the ABC, the Northern Territory's Attorney-General, Chansey Paech, held firm on the the proposed legislation, saying it had been "extensively consulted since 2017".

Bishop Gauci rejected this, and said the government had done "very, very little" consultation over the changes.

Mr Paech pointed to exemptions within the existing legislation that would allow religious schools and all employers to select candidates for roles based on "genuine occupational qualification".

"This [legislation] is not about eroding religious freedoms, it's about enhancing protections against discrimination so that staff at faith-based schools have the same protections against discrimination as staff at non-faith based schools, and workers generally," he said.

"The reforms ensure our anti-discrimination legislation is reflective of contemporary needs, and builds upon the objects of the legislation which includes equality of opportunity."


Demand for Queensland metallurgical coal set to increase despite global trend

Metallurgical coal is coal that is used to convert iron into steel -- in a blast furnace

Despite global demand for coal continuing to plummet by 2050, the need for Queensland metallurgical coal is expected to increase during that time, state government analysis shows.

Queensland Treasury has painted a picture of what future international demand for the state's thermal and metallurgical coal could look like in a new report based on the International Energy Agency's (IEA) World Energy Outlook, released this year.

The IEA's report looked at three different scenarios for future coal demand to 2050.

One was based on current policies international governments had in place, the second factored in governments achieving climate-related policy commitments, and the third modelled the outcome of global net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 being achieved.

Under all scenarios demand for coal by 2030 was predicted to fall — ranging from 10 per cent to 45 per cent depending on the scenario — and between 2030 and 2050 demand was expected to decline a further 25 to 82 per cent.

Despite this the IEA expects Australian coal exports to increase 10 per cent by 2050, largely driven by metallurgical coal which is used for steel making.

Queensland Deputy Under-Treasurer for Economics and Fiscal Dennis Molloy said the government expected demand for metallurgical to remain strong, but the need for thermal coal – used in electricity production — would suffer.

"We know from analysis that's been done by organisations such as the International Energy Agency that with the adjustment to a lower-carbon economy, that that will mean that thermal tonnages will come under pressure," he said. "But what Queensland has the advantage of is that we're predominantly metallurgical coal.

"There's still a very bright outlook for metallurgical coal because of the industrialisation in India, which is going to be very important for us.

"The quality of our coal, where we are positioned geographically, our supply chains, our skilled workforce and the incredible resilience of the industry, really positions us so well to be able to make sure that we've still got very strong volumes of coking coal into the future."

Queensland Treasury's report noted demand for metallurgical — or coking — coal would continue for some time due to the lack of current alternatives to coal in the steelmaking process.

Queensland is the world's largest seaborne exporter of metallurgical coal, and produced 90 per cent of the country's coking coal in 2021-22.

The report highlighted that record hard coking coal and thermal coal prices drove the value of Queensland's coal exports to a record high of $79.7 billion for the year to September 2022.

India picks up export black hole left by China

The Queensland Treasury report also looked at the impact of China's unofficial ban on Australian coal imports which took place in October 2020.

The ABC previously reported Australia exported close to $14 billion of coal to China in 2019 — most of that coking coal.

Mr Molloy said China used to be Queensland's largest export market for coal, but the losses had now been largely filled by India.

"Obviously, when those informal bands came in place in 2020, that required a very significant adjustment by the industry," he said.

"But the industry has been extraordinarily resilient and responsive and has been able to diversify away into other markets including India, and also Japan and Korea.

"What that has allowed the industry to do is replace over 90 per cent of the tonnage that was lost to China."




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