Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Pitting modern secular beliefs against the entire Bible

That faith ledership should be by men only is made clear in both the Old and New Testaments. It's not a view common to all religions. Many pagan religions actually worshipped women. But it is a marker of the Judeo-Christan faith as recorded in the Bible.

So you either believe the Bible is right or not. If not, you are just a modern pagan, not a Christian. Christ himself was most energetic in preaching from the Old Testament so there is no doubt where the loyalties of his folowers should lie

There is no doubt that women can and do good works both within and outside the church and a division of labour between men and women is very common. Why must a faith-based division be condemned? The opposition is in fact religious: Pitting a Leftist equality religion against the religion of the Bible

The claim below that Bible-based Anglicans are obsolescent is the big joke. The Sydney diocese hosts around a third of the nation's Anglicans. They are thriving. It is the secularists who are obsolescent. As ever, the faith of the Bible is powerfully attractive to people. The secularists have nothing compared to it. The Sydney diocese is having the last laugh

One of the oddest, little-known contradictions in this country will be occurring in Christchurch St Laurence, on the fringes of the Sydney CBD, this weekend, quietly and with little fanfare.

The most powerful woman in the Australian Anglican Church, the Archbishop of Perth Kay Goldsworthy, will be preaching in the Sydney Diocese – a place where women are not allowed to be priests or lead congregations that contain men. Here, Goldsworthy can’t be an archbishop, a bishop or even just a priest once her plane’s wheels hit the tarmac in Sydney – she can only operate on the lowest rung of the clergy, as a deacon.

If she were to fly here when a bloke was being consecrated as bishop or inaugurated as archbishop, she could not take her rightful part alongside her male colleagues, but would sit in the pews. She can’t wear her funky purple episcopal robes, either.

It’s so weird, and wildly offensive to female clergy around the country. You are less, you are different, you must step back, here, you must submit to men.

A private protocol – of which I have obtained a copy - was drawn up to manage this situation after all bishops, including the females, were accidentally invited to the consecration of a male bishop in St Andrew’s Cathedral, Sydney, in 2014. Awkwardly, then Archbishop Glenn Davies needed to uninvite all the women.

Davies pointed out that these bishops must operate as deacons in Sydney, with an important caveat: they cannot contravene Sydney Diocese’s “understanding of the restrictions of the apostle in 1 Timothy 2:12.” This verse, reflective of the patriarchal culture of its time, reads: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.”

Sydney Diocese is now operating under a kind of gender apartheid, where women operate under a different set of rules, and need to submit to men, and male authority, or be ostracised. Some have gone to be ordained elsewhere, and very many have left. It’s pure geographical absurdity.

A spokesman for Sydney Diocese advises me this protocol is still in place.

The Sydney diocese has fought long and hard, at great expense, in synods, courts and commissions for more than half a century, to stop women becoming priests. It has come to define it, and been their symbol of doctrinal purity, a source of internal pride if occasional public embarrassment.

When he was archbishop, Glenn Davies continued to hold the line against women priests. Like Peter Jensen before him, and Raffel after, he has been a leader in GAFCON – the Global Anglican Future Conference, which aims to counter the liberalising tendencies of church leaders who have accepted women as priests, same-sex marriage and been relaxed about divorce.

The Sydney diocese has actively promoted and supported “church planting” in other Anglican dioceses for nearly two decades – setting up churches in other parts of the country that are theoretically independent but closely aligned with their conservative ethos, thumbing their noses at the geographical differences they enforce for women, ignoring the protocols of the local bishop.

In those four decades, a lot of women, especially those of a modern, feminist bent, have left the church over this nonsense. Yes, I know there are women who comply with this doctrine of headship, who claim to thrive under its hierarchy, but most just think the whole thing is nuts.

Some church leaders try to shove it under the rug when visitors come by. But it matters; the Anglican church runs schools, aged care homes, counts three million odd Australians as members. There are many fine people there doing important work. As Keith Mason, KC, a retired judge who has struggled for the equality of men and women in the Diocese for many years told me: “The idea that you can be ‘separate but equal’ was a terrible and deceiving lie in South Africa. It doesn’t work for an Australian Church claiming to be modelled on the teachings of Jesus either.”

Did you know the Sydney synod – the parliament of the church – was sitting this week? No, nor did most people. Once it was front page news, now it’s barely reported on, barely discussed outside the church. Many people have, quite simply, forgotten that this is going on, that women are treated this way. This pure, distilled sexism once provoked outrage, now it is seen as absurd, archaic and inexplicable. Surely undervaluing and silencing women for decades, in both flamboyant and secretive ways, simply underwrites your own obsolescence.


Inheritance tax will only hurt middle Australia

The newly appointed chairwoman of the Productivity Commission, Danielle Wood, is very keen on taxation, especially new taxes. Indeed, the staff at the Grattan Institute, which she now leaves, have rarely seen a tax they don’t love or wish to increase.

Higher GST? Tick. Greater GST coverage? Tick. Higher taxation on older people? Tick. Higher taxation on superannuation? Tick. Property taxes on owner occupiers? Tick. Limits on negative gearing? Tick. Lower discount on capital gains tax? Tick. Carbon taxes? Tick. Inheritance tax? Tick.

On the face of it, Wood’s strongly held views on taxation policy could prove an embarrassment for the Albanese government. Indeed, just before her appointment being announced, she delivered a lecture in Tasmania where she endorsed the option of introducing an inheritance tax as well as including the value of the family home in the Age Pension assets test.

“While so-called ‘death taxes’, but more correctly ‘intergenerational transfer taxes’, are political dynamite, the windfall wealth gains of older generations and structural budget pressures mean we should at least have a sensible conversation about the possibility of taxing large inherit­ances,” she said.

She added: “At minimum, we should not be subsidising inheritances via some of the existing rules that allow the accumulated value of superannuation tax breaks to be inherited by the next generation, as well as the exclusion of virtually all the value of the family home from the Age Pension assets test.”

While strenuously denying the suggestion that the Albanese government plans to introduce an inheritance tax, senator Deborah O’Neill made the weak point that Wood’s speech came before the announcement of her appointment as chairwoman of the Productivity Commission. The fact is that Wood’s views on this matter have been well-known for a very long time.

But OK, let’s have an open mind about inheritance taxes, at least until you have read to the end of this column. We can all agree they are political dynamite, but are there sound economic reasons for considering such taxes? What does the international evidence tell us?

It’s always worthwhile returning to the basic facts before discussing policy options. Indeed, Wood refers to the previous work of the Productivity Commission on intergenerational wealth transfers but misses the main point. In her speech, she states “the Productivity Commission projects that among current retirees, just 10 per cent of all inheritances will account for as much as half the value of bequests.”

She quotes Thomas Picketty who likens this to a Jane Austen world “where inequality is exacerbated by ever-growing inheritances”. In fact, the Productivity Commission report shows the reverse. A key conclusion is wealth transfers actually improve wealth inequality. “When measured against the wealth they already own, those with less wealth get a much bigger boost from inheritances on average, about 50 times larger for the poorer 20 per cent than the wealthiest 20 per cent,” the report read.

On a dollar-for-dollar basis, wealthier people receive more inheritances and gifts but “less as a percentage of their existing wealth”, an effect the Productivity Commission expects to persist into the future. “Children tend to enjoy a similar relative wealth position to that of their parents, but inheritances are not the main driver of this.” These findings match international research. But just like bank robber Willie Sutton, it’s not surprising those seeking more tax revenue would eye off intergenerational transfers given the sums of money involved in annual bequests are substantial – currently close to $200bn annually.

In fact, Australia used to have a number of death duties levied by both federal and state governments. Currently there is a 17 per cent tax levied on any superannuation balance held by a deceased person not given to dependants. Capital gains tax is also payable by beneficiaries on inherited assets apart from the family home.

If we look across the world, many countries have inheritance taxes but many don’t. Interestingly, nine OECD countries have abolished them since the early 1970s. The Nordic countries don’t have them. In the US, the exemption levels are extremely high – assets of up to $11m given to children attract no tax, for example.

But the main take-out point of the international experience is how little revenue is generated from inheritance taxes – a mere 0.5 per cent of all tax revenue on average of those OECD countries with such taxes. It’s a lot of trouble to go to for such a little return. In Australia’s case, we would be lucky to drag in around $3bn a year.

Note also that the compliance costs of inheritance taxes are extremely large, including the required addition of gift taxes. Only annual wealth taxes have higher compliance costs. In those countries that have inheritance taxes, there is a thriving estate planning industry that is essentially productivity-sapping.

Let’s be clear on another point: the very wealthy don’t pay inheritance taxes. They have trusts, companies, overseas assets – complicated arrangements that mean that death doesn’t trigger a tax event. It’s only the middle classes that get caught in the inheritance tax net, which has been the recent experience in Britain.

One of the problems of Wood’s endorsement of an inheritance tax, as well as a number of other taxes/penalties to be imposed on older folk, is they essentially involve double taxation. In the case of superannuation, it would be triple taxation – at the point of contribution, earnings and pension.

People have accumulated assets using post-tax incomes or, if they have used negative gearing, are liable for capital gains tax on any realisation of assets. The presence of an inheritance tax and all the attached regulations carry the risk of deterring investment and capital accumulation, which would have wider negative economic effects.

That older people are wealthier than their children and grandchildren has always been thus. It potentially becomes an economic issue with a (slowly) ageing society. But it’s not helpful to set up a narrative about intergenerational conflict, as is Wood’s wont, in part because the older generation continues to help out, both financially and non-financially, younger generations.

As Wood takes up her role, she must bear in mind that she is heading up the Productivity Commission. It’s not about taxes which, to varying degrees, are productivity-sapping. The work of the Productivity Commission about productivity gains that could be made in the large non-market, government-funded services sector is important in this respect. If these gains could be achieved, then the need to raise taxes would be commensurately reduced.

As Paul Krugman opined, “productivity isn’t everything, but in the long run it is almost everything”. Wood may care to have this famous quote framed to hang in her new office.


Innocent boy, 11, dragged into a paddy wagon

A heartless and irresponsible bureaucracy at work

“No, no, no. Let me go!” The cries of the 11-year-old Indigenous boy pierce the Northern Territory neighbourhood as two uniformed police officers force the struggling, sobbing child into the cage of a police wagon.

He’s done nothing wrong. A child protection worker assures him of this – “you haven’t done anything wrong” – as she calmly observes police manhandle the screaming child out of his home, carry him by his hands and feet, whatever limb they can grasp, ­before bundling him, alone and distraught, into the back of the police van.

His “crime”? He’d run away from a foster care placement and didn’t want to return. He wants to be here, with *Tom and *Marie, the couple he calls Mum and Dad, the people who raised him from just seven weeks old until he was removed by Territory Families two years ago and cycled through more than seven foster homes. He wants to be with his biological sisters and the odd assortment of family pets that mingle underfoot in a home adorned with family photos.

Video obtained by The Australian shows the highly distressing removal of the boy known as Benny. Forceful tactics and use of the secure cage of the police wagon raise questions over the treatment of the traumatised boy – questions that NT Police and Territory Families refused to ­address on Monday.

In the video Benny tries to ­explain, be heard, stand up for himself. Resist. The police wave their court order at Tom. Benny is not authorised to be here because Tom and Marie are no longer certified foster carers. They require Benny to come with them but he will not leave voluntarily and Tom has told police he’ll let him go, but he will not force the boy to leave.

There’s only one way this will end.

The video shows three armed uniformed officers wrestling the child out of the house and down the long driveway late on Friday afternoon.

“I’m not moving,’’ Benny tells police when they finally get him to the police van parked on the road. “No thank you,’’ he tells them again, struggling to regain his composure. “You have no right to touch me.’’ He’s yelling now, panicked. “I said no thank you. I want to stay here. It’s not up to you, it’s up to me. I don’t want to f..king go!’’

He’s offered the choice to get into the NT government vehicle or the police van but to Benny it’s a false dilemma. He’s already told them he’s not moving.

He struggles against the police restraining his arms either side, tries to stamp on one officer’s toes, swears at them.

Three Territory Families staffers watch on as he’s forced into the cage of the police wagon, screaming “no no no, I’m not going back”. He bangs on the locked door as he’s driven away.

It’s a deeply troubling scene. Any hope of forging trusting ­relationships with authority figures have likely been burned in this moment.

Benny’s older sister, Jess*, who has endured her own trauma in a birth family wracked with intergenerational trauma, is crying. She can’t stand to watch. “If he dies in his next placement his blood is on your hands,’’ she tells police.

She’s a young adult now, safe in the knowledge they can’t take her. A younger sister, Milly*, who has suffered significant attachment ­issues since her earliest days, is staying put in her bedroom. Tom and Marie, a non-Indigenous couple who work in education and health, say the teen is in constant fear she too will be taken away.

“To know that’s happened to her brother, and it could be her next, and to see him so traumatised is horrendous. It’s wrong on every level,’’ Marie says.

They watch this drama, this struggle between three police and a boy unfolding outside their house, in disbelief. After all they’ve heard about trauma-informed care, this is deemed the best way to handle a child who requires extra care with his diagnoses of foetal ­alcohol spectrum disorder, intermittent explosive disorder and ADHD?

Whatever gripes Territory Families have with this couple – and there are many, on both sides – this video of forced removal of an Indigenous child by police looks like something from the dark past.

You watch it and can’t help but wonder how the best interests of a vulnerable boy who has done nothing wrong are best served in the cage of a police wagon.

Tom and Marie are still shaken when they speak with The Australian in the aftermath of his ­removal.

NT Police refused to comment on the case when contacted by The Australian on Monday. A spokesperson for Territory Families would only say that the safety and wellbeing of children and families is their “utmost priority’’.

“Child protection work is extremely complex and is done with (a) range of partners from police, health, and non-government organisations. This work is regularly reviewed to ensure the actions were appropriate and in the best interests of the child.’’

There have been no allegations that Benny was unsafe with Tom or Marie, or lacked love and care or was denied cultural connection. They have close bonds with the children’s birth family. Two grandparents and an aunt told The Australian earlier this year they were content for the children to live with Tom and Marie because they got to see them, were welcomed into the family home.

But the matter has been escalating since August 2021 when the couple were informed their authorisation as foster carers had ­expired. Standard-of-care concerns had been raised and Benny and Milly were removed without warning and before the couple could respond to the concerns.

“We were not permitted to have any contact with the children, not even to explain or say goodbye,’’ they said.

In a letter to Territory Families they said: “Had we been given the opportunity to respond, the issues could have been examined and quashed and the children would not have been traumatised by being removed from our care.’’

Milly was subsequently shuffled through 13 foster placements and two residential centres. “A mentally unwell child, and they did that to her,’’ Tom said.

She kept running away, back to Tom and Marie who’d cared for her since she was 18 months old. “She’d come back to us and then we’d have to force her to leave. It was horrendous,’’ Tom said, ­describing the trauma of physically forcing the screaming child into a car. “After about the 11th time we said we can’t do this anymore. I had to say, ‘I am not going to make you get in the car. I’m not going to send you away anymore.’’

That was late last year and Milly has been allowed to stay with them since then. They say that Benny, living nearby in other foster care arrangements, was not allowed to visit or see his siblings, even on special occasions, a matter of ongoing concern in light of the Aboriginal placement principle that puts connection with kin as a high priority.

It’s understood matters escalated over recent weeks when he was about to be moved to another foster care home. He too ran back to Tom and Marie.

A letter from Territory Families, sent last Thursday, referred to the “repeated occasions’’ the couple had had Benny in their home without authorisation and ordered them to return him, noting they were no longer certified carers. The letter warned that the department had the power to apprehend and remove the child, who is under the guardianship of the department’s chief executive officer until he’s 18.

Police and Territory Families workers had attended their home previously and requested that Benny leave with them but he ­refused. “I said to them ‘I am not stopping you from taking him’,’’ Tom says. “I just wasn’t prepared to force him to go. He was choosing to be here, he was self-placing and refusing to leave.’’

Marie says they encouraged him to give his new foster care placement a go, but he was steadfast in his refusal.

They believed mediation was still an option at this point. ­Arrangements were being made for meetings between the couple and the department this week, but before that could happen, in the back and forth of arranging suitable dates and times, police and departmental officials arrived last Friday with their court order and police van.

It’s the culmination of a 13-year ordeal that began when Tom and Marie agreed to foster Milly and Benny and their two older siblings, Jess and another child, who killed himself at the age of 15 while living in a residential care home.

It’s a story of a couple without children of their own who offered a loving home to the four siblings who’d been removed from their parents following neglect, malnourishment, serious abuse and extreme family violence.

With little support, at times, in dealing with the highly traumatised children who all displayed troubling behaviours, Tom and Marie increasingly found themselves at loggerheads with case managers and the department. They felt their calls for help, their evidence of violent outbursts from the children and their times of heightened stress were used against them to blame them for not coping.

Eleven-year-old Benny struggles with Northern Territory police before being dragged into a paddy wagon on Friday.
Eleven-year-old Benny struggles with Northern Territory police before being dragged into a paddy wagon on Friday.
In the “standard-of-care concerns” used to justify removing the children, Territory Families listed the significant levels of stress the carers exhibited. They were accused of not working collaboratively and constructively with the department’s care team, of being unwilling to follow advice, being inconsistent around their needs for respite care and differential treatment of the children.

In a letter of complaint, Tom and Marie described the allegations as unsubstantiated and nebulous. They attempted to describe their challenges working with the department. “We are constantly called on to explain and re-explain, justify and re-justify to staff who are frequently unaware of the history of these children despite having access to years of paperwork.

“The huge turnaround of staff results in their ill-supported responses and strategies. What we have carefully created with one set of teams is immediately dismantled by the incoming team with opposing frameworks, philosophies or beliefs.’’

The Australian has heard similar complaints from other foster carers in NSW and the Northern Territory who raise the risks of becoming known as “problematic carers”.

Marie said they challenged the reasons for the children’s removal “via any avenue we could find’’, but to no avail.

A child psychologist who worked with the family said that Tom and Marie had shown “a lot of resilience and love towards the children. They have shown to be very capable of caring for the children.’’

“I believe there needs to be support from Territory Families towards the family but also towards myself as I have had no luck in trying to collaborate with the … caseworkers for the family.’’

The principal at a school attended by Benny was also glowing in his assessment of Tom and Marie. “Their love and care … was a constant in his life since he was a baby and with their support we could all see that [Benny] had a real shot at a successful happy life.’’

Tom and Marie can only hope this is still the case.

They don’t know how Benny is coping after Friday’s events. They have no right to any information about him and don’t know where he is.

As for Milly, Territory Families has engaged an external psychologist to do a thorough assessment to determine her needs. “I appreciate that you have engaged in this process. TFHC await a final report from the psychologist to determine the most appropriate arrangements for [Milly],’’ the department said in a letter to Tom and Marie.

So now they must wait, while assuring the children that whatever happens, they love them.

“We made a lifelong commitment to the children,’’ Tom says. “We remain faithful to them.”


South Australian small businesses struggle to absorb higher power costs as bills rise by $650

South Australian business owners say they are being forced to rethink how they run their services, with the most recent round of power price hikes already taking a significant toll.

Over the past year, butcher Steve Howell said he has seen a significant jump in the cost of running his small business.

"With electricity, gas and lots of other things — the rising cost of just life — it is difficult," Mr Howell said.

"I'm finding that I have to work longer hours if that's possible but I do it, because it needs to be done."

Earlier this year, the Australian Energy Regulator announced that from July 1, electricity prices would increase between 20 and 25 per cent for residential customers in South Australia, New South Wales and south-east Queensland.

It also said small businesses would face rises of up to 29 per cent, depending on their region.

Mr Howell said he was concerned the latest surge in electricity costs would make it difficult to keep prices low for customers.

"Every time we do get one of these hikes I need to re-evaluate the costs of everything," Mr Howell said.

"The people that produce the products that I buy in store, they've got electricity hikes as well, so it just filters down and so unfortunately the consumer has to pay.

"It's just layered, it affects us and it hurts a lot of us and we're losing small business."

Salon owner Maria Paglia said on top of hefty electricity bills, the soaring cost of living has meant many people are increasingly cutting back on luxuries, including hair appointments.

"We have noticed a big change," Ms Paglia said.

"It's a bit of a struggle as clients are stretching out their services which is making it harder as they're not coming in as regularly.

"Everything is going up day by day and it is making it very hard and we're trying not to pass it on [to customers] but we're pretty much going to have to, otherwise we won't be able to stay afloat."

SA households paying up to $250 more, report finds
A report by the Essential Services Commission of South Australia found in the 12 months to the end of June, power bills had increased by up to 16.5 per cent, equating to nearly $650, for small businesses across the state.

It also showed the average South Australian household is paying up to $250 more.

South Australian Council of Social Service CEO Ross Womersley said the escalating prices are particularly concerning for households on low incomes.

"We know that many families are making decisions not to put food on the table quite as often as they might or indeed to feed their kids but not necessarily to feed themselves in an effort to save money so that they can afford to keep paying their energy bills," Mr Womersley said.

In the June state budget, the South Australian government announced additional electricity bill relief measures which included rebates of up to $500 for eligible households on concession payments.

Mr Womersley said while the introduction of the rebates was a step in the right direction, major energy retailers responded "almost immediately" by increasing their prices.

"So the advantage, the protection, that that payment was likely to provide just has been eroded in seconds literally," he said.

"The really terrifying thing is that even with those costs increasing and with that energy relief payment, what happens when we get into the next cycle once that money has run out?

"It raises big issues about what our governments can be doing to ensure that particularly low income households get the benefits of solar and insulation so that their energy demand isn't continuing to escalate."


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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