Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Military mop ups after floods, fires and Covid leave ADF unprepared

Former Brigadier General Mick Ryan has blasted the way the Federal Government has used the military in the past two years, “significantly impacting” training capacity at a time that China has accelerated its coercive behaviour.

In a wide ranging review on the state of our military during a lengthy interview with Sky News, the retired officer also said the national security budget needed to double to four per cent of GDP to deter or combat emerging threats.

He specifically called out the Chinese Communist Party’s coercion – including cyber, informational, political, economic and military activities – as “well beyond” anything the nation had seen since Federation.

“So it’s not just about military readiness, it really is about the government convincing the Australian people that they need to be ready for what might come in the next decade,” the veteran officer said in a three-part documentary called Are We Ready For War?, airing from Wednesday.

When asked if Australia was ready for war, the 35-year veteran said no and pointed to a domestic shift by troops “far outside” its core mission.

“At a time when there were lots and lots of people sitting at home on JobKeeper, the government chose to have soldiers, sailors, and aviators checking in people into Covid hotels and checking passes on state borders. That probably was not the right thing to be doing because we now have a military that is at a lower readiness than it needs to be.”

“It doesn’t take long for a military organisation to lose readiness when it’s not able to practice what it does, so our readiness now would be less than what it was before Covid, and even that was less than what it needs to be, to be able to undertake the kind of deterrent activities that the government talked about in its July 2020 defence update which talked about a shape, deter response strategy.”

He said the fault sat with government, not Defence, which just had to respond to the call-outs.

“What it does is, when we respond to large scale disasters here and overseas, it takes away defence assets. It is the first call of the government and when you have large amphibious ships and large parts of the army cleaning up after floods, fighting bushfires, or overseas, they’re not able to train for what is their principal role, which is to be a deterrent against threats against Australia or to respond to those threats in a military way.”

The General did praise the government for starting to introduce a narrative to the public on the kind of threats we face, notably calling out China. He said any war between the US and China would be catastrophic, Taiwan was a trigger point but so were other areas like the disputed but uninhabited Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. Both Japan and China claim the islands and have been involved in tense military stand-offs as recently as this month.

Any conflict involving the US would also include Australia under the AUKUS arrangements, Gen Ryan said.

It was Chinese Premier Xi Jinping’s “manifest destiny” to take Taiwan back in his lifetime and the People’s Liberation Army have been war gaming how to do it over the last decade, he said.


Momentum is shifting on this divisive Voice

If you feel yourself slipping into a blank-faced coma and have to be restrained from crawling under the doona at the mention of the Voice, you are not alone.

Battered by escalating rhetoric and biffed by claim and counterclaim, you could be forgiven by clapping your hands over your ears and screaming “Enough!”

I’ve emerged from the doona for just long enough to notice that the conflict between Yes and No becomes more strident by the day as it becomes increasingly obvious that the initial attempt to present the proposal to Australians as a matter of simply “doing the right thing” is unravelling.

Your average voter, it seems, is a bit smarter than the federal government thought and has failed to roll over and accept Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s paternalistic assurances that “she’ll be right, mate,” and “don’t you worry about that”.

Sitting around the nation’s kitchen tables, mum, dad and the kids could not but help reach the inescapable conclusion over recent months that someone is being economical with the truth or to put it less politely, telling porkies.

It is difficult, for example, to accept the assertion that it really isn’t such a big deal and that we should just vote Yes and let the experts work out the detail.

Changing the Constitution is a very big deal which is why the founding fathers ensured it could only be altered if the changes were approved by a majority of voters in a majority of states.

So is it about giving Indigenous people a fair go?

There are hundreds of bodies presently dealing exclusively with Indigenous issues and the federal government spends billions of dollars a year a year on supporting Indigenous causes, spending more per capita on Indigenous Australians than on non-Indigenous Australians while Indigenous people are overrepresented in federal parliament on a per-head-of-population basis that suggests they get more than a fair go.

We’ll soon have a pamphlet outlining both sides of the argument to discuss around the table after the PM, having refused to consider publishing one, suddenly agreed to do so when it became obvious that this refusal was damaging the Yes case.

A fair go for both sides? Only when forced to do so by public opinion.

You might like to think, in a moment of supreme optimism, that the creation of the Voice will see the beginning of an end to the alcoholism, domestic violence, sexual abuse and lawlessness that plagues many Indigenous communities.

I think I can speak for all Australians in saying that we would like nothing better than to see a brighter future for young Indigenous people and greater protection for Indigenous women but change like that has to come from within.

It is difficult to see how the creation of another level of bureaucracy will achieve this, somehow discovering the silver bullet that has eluded the best efforts of the well intentioned and lavishly funded for so long.

The issue of black sovereignty has now been tossed into the mix but no one seems to know what this means. According to Oxford Languages, it is “the authority of a state to govern itself or another state”.

Any suggestion that the ultimate aim is the creation of a separate Indigenous state with separate powers should be enough to cause people on both sides of the argument to pause for thought.

It seems to me that the Voice has the potential to forever divide the country along racial lines and destroy the concept that we are all Australian citizens and are all equal. It’s a concept that is the very essence of our system of democratic government.

We elect this government, all of us, in this hugely diverse electorate composed of people from every racial background on the planet.

There have been some good governments and some ordinary ones but the system has served us well. It seems to me that creating a special class of Australians based on race with special privileges that are unavailable to the rest of us is to chart a dangerous course and one which once embarked upon, cannot be reversed.

In the context of the Voice, we should look to the common good and reassert the deeply held view that we are all in this together or risk the creation a permanent them-and-us society which would serve neither side well.


Leftist Victoria’s Indigenous shame

Matthew Bach

If you believed the A-Grade spin emanating from the Victorian government’s massive media team, you would be forgiven for thinking that our state is a land of milk and honey for Indigenous folks.

For example, at every opportunity Daniel Andrews trumpets his virtue on issues like Treaty and the Voice to Parliament. As we all seek reconciliation there is a place for symbolism, to be sure. But let’s look for a moment at that pesky detail: actual outcomes on the ground.

Have a guess: which Australian jurisdiction has the worst outcomes for Indigenous children? The Northern Territory, I hear you say. Of course, given such awful reports of grog-fuelled violence.

Well, if that was your guess, you’d be wrong. According to new data from no lesser authority than the Productivity Commission, the worst state or territory in which to be an Indigenous child is Victoria.

In Victoria, no fewer than one in nine Aboriginal babies are removed by the state. They are then placed into a broken care system in which violence, drug abuse, and sexual exploitation are rife. Next stop, youth justice – and don’t even get me started on the hellholes that are Victoria’s youth prisons.

Now, you don’t have to believe me. These are the harrowing findings – again and again – of Victoria’s independent Commission for Children and Young People. As a result, record numbers of vulnerable Indigenous children are dying: 30 in the last three years.

When Indigenous people die in custody there is rightful anger and much community interest. Why should we care any less about the most vulnerable children in our society, who are literally in the care of the state?

Not only is this state of affairs utterly unacceptable, it’s getting worse. Since Labor came to office, eight years ago, the proportion of Indigenous children in care – if you can call it that – has increased by 63 per cent. And there is no plan to bring it down.

One of the reasons for this egregious failure of government policy is the hegemony of key unions in Victoria. The Community and Public Sector Union, a major donor to the Labor Party, want more and more (unionised) child protection workers.

These folks do amazing work, after families have reached a crisis point. But what we actually need is to radically reorient our whole approach, away from the government and towards the community.

Big Government has failed. Instead, we need to empower community organisations to support vulnerable families early. Labor will never do this; it would mean fewer union fees for the CPSU.

It may surprise you to learn that I grew up loving the Labor Party. You see, I was born into care in 1983. At the time Victoria had a fabulous (Labor) Minister for Child Protection, Pauline Toner. I went into foster care, and then into a permanent placement with a wonderful family.

After a year they adopted me, and ever since have loved and supported me just as much – maybe more – as any biological family could. It’s only because the system worked so well, under Labor, that I’ve had a life of such amazing opportunity.

Today it’s a very different story. You wouldn’t want to put your dog in Labor’s care system today, where no one gets a permanent placement; volunteer foster carers are underpaid and leaving in their droves; and kids get dumped in group homes out in the burbs, to smoke drugs, beat each other senseless, and prostitute themselves.

And unlike under previous governments – Labor and Liberal – Daniel Andrews’ Child Protection Ministers form a conga-line of party hacks and non-entities. I’ve now seen off four of them in the last year and a half alone and am on to my fifth.

You’ve got to give it to Daniel Andrews. He’s a very cunning politician. I’m sure his constant virtue signalling on Indigenous issues is clever politics. It must poll well in focus groups.

But it does nothing for vulnerable Indigenous children. They deserve a care system that works, just as much as I did.


Labor risks getting on wrong side of religious leaders over school hiring rights

Anthony Albanese’s initial response to the concerns of faith-based schools being severely limited in their rights to hire teachers who share the same faith is true, but risks being seen as tricky.

After the Prime Minister was asked in his own party room about the fears of religious schools being denied the existing right to preference teachers in employment who share the same faith and ethos of the school he said Labor had supported the position “for a long time”.

This is true and it is also true that the Australian Law Reform Commission’s proposal still “allows” schools to preference teachers of the same faith when hiring.

But, the reality, particularly as all the religious schools of all faiths see it, is that the commission’s proposal is such a severe limitation of that right, with so many potential legal hazards, challenges and costs, that it is a denial of that right.

The commission has proposed that faith-based schools only be allowed to preference teachers who would support the school’s ethos in a role where “religion is a genuine requirement” while in all other subjects teachers would not have to share the schools beliefs, ethos or even have to support those beliefs.

The argument is that teachers of religion would be allowed to be hired with a preference over teachers who didn’t share the school’s faith or ethos but all others would be subject to the same employment requirements as state schools.

The religious schools argue this would defeat the creation of an ethos, put a new and uncertain test into employment law, increase litigation and deter schools from hiring a candidate of the same religion in preference to other candidates.

This mix of religious rights, the rights of parents, employment rights and gay rights has dogged governments for more than a decade, cost Scott Morrison dearly in his inability to bring forward religious protection laws and is recognised by Labor as a potent political issue.

Albanese’s reassurance to his colleagues reinforces the ALP argument that religious teachers will be allowed to be hired on the basis of religious belief and that will satisfy the faith-based schools.

But, the faith-based schools are aware of the impact of the detail of the proposal and see a threat to their ability to operate as faith-based schools in the interests of millions of students and parents.

As shadow attorney-general, Julian Leeser, argues: “If the only people that are modelling a life of faith is the religious education teacher then the school is no different to a government school where you have … a special religious education class for a session once a week.”

“This is about schools creating communities of practice. Schools creating teachers that model a life of faith,” he said.

The 30 faith leaders who have reacted strongly to the proposal argue: “The purpose of religious schools is not only to impart intellectual knowledge, but also to instil religious values. In addition to teaching the prescribed curriculum, they provide religious activities that seek to demonstrate to students what a life lived in accordance with the relevant religion looks and feels like in practice.”

Labor needs to recognise that glossing over significant detail with a general affirmation is not going to pacify the religious leaders who are clearly not going to allow the millions of fee-paying parents to be fobbed off with disingenuous claims to longstanding positions.


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM -- daily)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

http://jonjayray.com/blogall.html More blogs


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