Thursday, November 09, 2023

Strong response to anti-Semitic rallies in Australia is the only option, writes Peta Credlin

Not long after the Cronulla riots in 2005, the Howard government introduced a citizenship test to try to ensure everyone settling in this country understood what was ­expected of them.

Question 18 of the current ­official practice version of the test asks: “Can you encourage violence against a person or group of people if you have been insulted?” The correct answer, of three alternatives, is: “No, it is against Australian values and the law.”

Question 19 asks: “Should people tolerate one another where they find that they disagree?” The correct answer is: “Yes, peaceful disagreement reflects Australian values in relation to mutual respect.”

To pass the test and be eligible for citizenship, newcomers are supposed to answer correctly all five of the Australian values questions, of which these two are in the practice version. Clearly, sentiments such as “gas the Jews” and “f--k the Jews”, as thousands of people chanted in the forecourt of the Sydney Opera House shortly after the Hamas atrocity in Israel, don’t conform to the values that are supposed to characterise this country.

Some of those proclaiming such race hate would have been Australian born; while others would have been mere residents and, therefore, never exposed to a values test. But many would have been recent citizens, Australians of convenience perhaps, who ­assented to something they didn’t believe in order to gain a privilege.

While history shows there have been racial uprisings in the past (think the Irish rebels at Castle Hill in 1804), there’s really no precedent for the current levels of racial and religious violence.

The fact tens of thousands of Australians now feel strongly enough to join protests, chanting “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, effectively calling for the destruction of Israel in a new holocaust, is hardly consistent with the mutual respect and tolerance that many of them have supposedly signed up to, let alone the decency and respect that previously characterised Australian society.

That’s not to give the Israeli military a leave pass to ignore ­civilian casualties in their drive to destroy the Hamas leadership and to neutralise its terrorist army. But these protesters, many it seems relatively new Australian citizens, are not simply urging a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza; they’re on Hamas’s side in its ­relentless bid to destroy Israel.

What have we done to our country in accepting migrants so at odds with mainstream Australian thinking?

In a powerful and prescient speech delivered a few weeks prior to October 7, British Home Secretary Suella Braverman, ­herself the child of Mauritian and Kenyan immigrants of Indian background, attacked multiculturalism as it’s practised in most Western countries. “Uncontrolled immigration, inadequate integration, and a misguided dogma of multiculturalism” she said, “have proven a toxic combination for Europe over the last few decades.”

“Multiculturalism,” she said, “makes no demands of the incomer to integrate.”

“It has failed,” she said, “because it allowed people to come to our society and live parallel lives in it. They could be in the society but not of the society. And in extreme cases, they could pursue lives aimed at undermining the stability and threatening the security of our society.”

Former PM John Howard has recently made much the same point, telling the Alliance of Responsible Citizenship conference in London that he’d “always had trouble” with the concept of multiculturalism because it meant “we try too hard to institutionalise differences rather than celebrate what we have in common”. His view was “if people want to emigrate to a country”, then they must “adopt the values and practices of that country”.

But that’s hardly what’s happening with at least some of our recent immigrant communities. Nearly all of those found guilty of terrorist offences in Australian courts have been recent immigrants from the Middle East.

And while there are plenty of neo-Marxist academics who see the Israel-Palestine issue through the prism of “white privilege” or “colonial oppression”, many of the angry protesters now flooding Western cities have been from recent immigrant communities that plainly don’t think their Australian or British citizenship means respect for a fellow democracy where the rights of women, gays and other minorities are taken seriously. Indeed, the Israeli parliament is comprised of MPs of almost every faith, including Jews, Muslim, Christians and more; as well as a solid representation of men and women, while most of Israel’s neighbours remain in the dark ages.

One way to limit the impact of unintegrated minorities would be to reduce immigration across the board. This would also have the advantage of alleviating the downward pressure on wages, the upward pressure on housing costs, and the massive pressure on infrastructure produced by current immigration at record levels. But what’s really needed is a much stronger expectation of people that, whatever their background, to use Tony Abbott’s term, they’ll join “Team Australia”. That doesn’t imply migrants should forget their homelands or abandon old values. It clearly does mean, though, a readiness to adhere to Australian law.

Another problem we must tackle head on is mosques and ­Islamic centres that spew violence and hate under the guise of religious preaching. In Britain and France, the failure of successive governments to take this threat seriously has enabled some Islamic institutions to become de facto radicalisation centres and we cannot allow that to become further entrenched here. Entities of concern should all be audited, sermons translated and assessed for hate speech and any government support or charitable status urgently reviewed.

We must also call out the false flag of all-but-non-existent “Islamophobia” trotted out by politicians of the Left whenever they’re forced to condemn demonstrable and rampant anti-Semitism. The hypersensitivity to Islamophobia, as opposed to anti-Semitism, shown by leaders from US Vice-President Kamala Harris to NSW minister Jihad Dib reflects the diffidence, verging-on-self-loathing that our New Left progressive establishments have for societies like ours that are far from perfect but, nonetheless, are the best ­societies that mankind has yet produced; and in which Jewish people have long been respected high achievers.

As global challenges escalate, the sooner we snap out of this ­cultural confusion the better it will be for almost everything. A good start would be identifying those who’ve taken part in the ­recent anti-Semitic protests, prosecuting those who are Australian citizens and deporting those who are not.


Costing the earth: support for climate action and renewable falls

It might be tempting to look down from on high in the renewable energy transition on the protests of ordinary people worried about the cost and discomfort of change, but evidence is growing that this would be a mistake. Cost overruns and delays are making the federal government’s target of achieving 82 per cent renewables by 2030 appear increasingly unlikely. Together with engineering and financial concerns, there is a public revolt by those who feel they can neither afford it nor understand the need to destroy their piece of nature to save the planet.

This is a phenomenon not confined to Australia. It has been a feature of renewable energy deployment from the start. What has changed is the scale of the ambition and the pushback. It is important that government and industry understand what is happening and where it might lead. Early signs of unravelling are snowballing through Europe where governments in Britain, Germany and France are walking back their ambitions on net-zero, which peaked in the lead up to the 2021 Glasgow climate conference.

Cambridge University academic and social commentator Rob Henderson has explored the concept of “luxury beliefs”, which he says are ideas and opinions that confer status on the upper class while often inflicting costs on those less well off. Henderson is controversial for his views on a range of issues but it is possible to see the public swell of support both for renewable energy and climate-change action in terms of them being a luxury belief. Pro-climate action helped propel the Albanese government, together with a raft of climate-focused independents, most notably the Teals, into office. The danger for the political class is that once a specific luxury belief loses social value, people are eager to discard it.

Public protests at the rollout of large-scale renewable-energy projects and the transmission lines needed to support them is a reflection of social licence under strain. Rising energy costs and less-certain supplies of electricity are now firmly a mainstream concern. Henderson argues that a core feature of a luxury belief is that once a believer is no longer insulated from the consequences of his or her belief, it dissipates. So, does greater public awareness of the size and cost of the challenge involving action on climate change signal the souring of a luxury belief?

For evidence, despite publicity about extreme weather events and negative impacts of climate change, research by global analytics firm Dynata holds some uncomfortable truths. It finds that Australia has one of the largest proportions of people globally who report not being worried about global warming. More than half of Australian consumers (58 per cent) are also unwilling or slightly unwilling to adopt a more climate-friendly lifestyle if it costs more money.

Compared with 12 months ago, about the time of the election of the Albanese government, 41 per cent of those surveyed said they were less interested in buying a hybrid or electric car and 36 per cent were less interested in renewable energy. Rising cost-of-living pressures can help explain the change in sentiment. Older generations said they were less likely to make financial sacrifices to adopt a more climate-friendly lifestyle: 65 per cent of Gen X and 69 per cent of Baby Boomers were unwilling or slightly willing. When it comes to adopting climate-friendly behaviours, people said they were more willing to sacrifice time and convenience than money. This was especially the case for younger generations.

Dynata’s research report draws on responses from 11,000 consumers across 11 countries including the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands, China, Japan and Australia. The results show that waning interest is not confined to Australia. In the US, 44 per cent of respondents strongly or slightly agree that they are less interested in buying a hybrid or electric car than a year ago because of inflation and rising costs. Forty two per cent strongly or slightly agree that they were less interested in renewable energy than a year ago.

In the United Kingdom, 43 per cent of respondents were less interested in buying a hybrid or electric car and just below one third (28 per cent) were less interested in renewable energy than a year ago. And if it cost more money, 57 per cent were slightly willing or not at all willing to make lifestyle changes.

The trend is also true in China where 37 per cent were less interested in buying a hybrid or electric car and 35 per cent were less interested in renewables. If it costs more money, 35 per cent of Chinese respondents were slightly willing or not at all willing to make lifestyle changes. The fall in support explains why Chinese president Xi Jinping puts energy security and coal-fired power ahead of environmental posturing and British Prime Minister Riki Sunak has applied the brakes to the UK’s net-zero transition. Political leaders in Germany and France have been quick to follow Sunak’s lead.

Implicit in Sunak’s retreat was a recognition that elite opinion had lost touch with the average person. “What I have concluded during my time so far as prime minister is that those decisions can be so caveated, so influenced by special interests, so lacking in debate and fundamental scrutiny that we’ve stumbled into a consensus about the future of our country, that no one seems to be happy with,” he said.

Sunak said Westminster’s politicians did not have the courage to look people in the eye and explain what was really involved. Plans included a ban on gas heating, mandatory home upgrades for property owners, taxes on eating meat and compulsory car sharing if you drive to work. “Now I believe deeply that when you ask most people about climate change, they want to do the right thing, they’re even prepared to make sacrifices,” Sunak said. “But it cannot be right to impose such significant costs on working people, especially those who are already struggling to make ends meet, and to interfere so much in people’s way of life without a properly informed national debate.”

Australian politicians must closely watch what is happening abroad. Many of the imposts, including gas prohibitions and mandatory building regulations, are being introduced by state governments. New building regulations in NSW that mandate higher levels of insulation and double glazing that took effect on October 1 increase the cost of building a home by up to $50,000 at a time of rising political concern about a housing shortage.

Those pushing net-zero can expect the same sort of political disruption evident in Europe. Already there are signs the issue of nuclear power has become more pressing. Public sentiment is changing. And there is reason for government to take notice. In the 2023 update to its Net Zero by 2050 Roadmap, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said much of the momentum was in small, modular clean-energy technologies such as solar PV and batteries, but these alone were not sufficient to deliver net-zero emissions. “It will also require large new, smarter and repurposed infrastructure networks; large quantities of low-emissions fuels; technologies to capture CO2 from smokestacks and the atmosphere; more nuclear power; and large land areas for renewables,” the IEA said.

Globally, electricity transmission and distribution grids will need to expand by approximately two million kilometres each year to 2030. Investment will need to climb to about $US4.5 trillion a year by the early 2030s from the current $US1.8 trillion. Despite the level of investment, carbon emissions from the energy sector reached a record high of 37 billion tonnes in 2022, one per cent above their pre-pandemic level.

For Australia, a sobering statistic is that China is building enough new coal-fired electricity capacity every six months to equal Australia’s total coal-fired capacity. Australia is only at the beginning of its journey to net-zero. Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen is developing plans for decarbonisation across the economy. Areas include electricity and energy, industry, the built environment, agriculture and land, and transport and resources.

Bowen says the “level and quality of dialogue and collaboration with industries, experts and citizens will set these plans apart from anything that’s been done before”.

“This is a shared endeavour: we must work together to do what’s both possible and practical to stop dangerous climate change and realise the economic opportunities of net zero,” he says. “The end result will be six net-zero sectoral plans that are robust, ambitious but achievable, and accepted by the broader community.”

Evidence abounds that maintaining public support is becoming the priority challenge.


Truth and Pronouns in the Australian Judicial System

Katherine Deves

Manifest political bias on the bench

The task of the common law system is not the pursuit of truth, but the arbitration of the adversarial disputation of the truth. In a post-modernist world where truth is personal and experienced, the common law court system is the last stronghold of dispassionate inquiry into the truth. The court’s role in that system is to hold fairly the balance between the contending parties without itself taking part in their disputations.

Because language and the law are symbiotic, controlling legal language is the prize of gender ideologues, enthralled in the eradication of biological sex from law. Control the language; control the narrative.

The Australian judicial system has recently found itself captured by the ideological aversion to sex-based language. This is no doubt due to the relentless lobbying efforts of said gender ideologues who achieve their aims by decoupling sex from reality in policy and legislation by stealth.

This week, South Australia announced it would be joining Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia in endorsing ‘preferred pronouns’ in the court as a ‘matter of respect’. Bench Books (handbooks for judges) and Practice Notes (guidelines governing court conduct and processes) have been quietly altered to insert ‘preferred pronouns’ as normal court etiquette.

JK Rowling waded into the fray saying on X (formerly Twitter):

‘Asking a woman to refer to her male rapist or violent assaulter as ‘she’ in court is a form of state-sanctioned abuse. Female victims of male violence are further traumatised by being forced to speak a lie … Personally, I wouldn’t be compelled, I’d take contempt of court. It’s time for mass non-compliance with this bullshit.’

Her comments were rebuked by the Chief Justice of the South Australian Supreme Court as anxious social commentary.

It is not the place of lawyers to criticise the judiciary lest the profession and the administration of justice be brought into disrepute. And ‘…ay, there’s the rub’.

Certain norms are employed in court and legal practitioners are duty-bound to uphold them. Professional obligations not to mislead the court, to act with honesty and candour, and to be frank and fearless have percolated by precedent over millennia to maintain public confidence in the independence of the system.

Civility and professional courtesy of themselves are professional obligations. In many circumstances, a breach of these obligations will coincide with the breach of concurrent ethical obligations. The requirement of civility and professional courtesy is a requirement to be honest and courteous in all dealings in the course of legal practice. It requires practitioners not to engage in conduct, which is likely to be prejudicial to, or diminish the public confidence in the administration of justice and bring the profession into disrepute.

However, the content of civility in the context of legal practice is affected by the purpose which it serves. There can be no inherent inconsistency between the requirement for civility and the practitioner’s obligation to advance, within other ethical constraints, frankly and fearlessly, their client’s interests in the contest for the adjudication of truth.

Abiding these principles, the common law system therefore cannot be seen to coalesce to a movement that compels people to ignore reality in the name of courtesy or civility. The system only survives by reason of the fact that its officers can maintain the independence and fearlessness necessary for the robust testing and adjudication of truth.

Viewed in this light, the claim that ‘preferred pronouns’ are an ‘important component of ensuring public confidence in the proper administration of justice’ is palpably erroneous.

Compelling officers of the court to participate in the rituals of an ideology predicated on subjective truth, viz. that a person is the opposite sex if they claim to be, is antithetical to the fundamental objectives of our common law judicial system. The judiciary is a quintessential arm in our democracy and must maintain the agnosticism essential to the enduring public confidence in its ability to arbitrate truth.

It is apparent to anyone paying even the most fleeting attention that the word woman is under assault. The legal meaning ascribed to woman is fast cementing the right of men to identify not only into a defined sex class, but to impugn women who have the audacity to seek to protect themselves by taking preventative measures against male-patterned violence in the form of designated female spaces. That this is a reality emerging from a society, that simultaneously mourns the deaths of 6 women murdered by men in a mere 11 days, is utterly unfathomable.

Earlier this year, the reasons for the judgment delivered by the NSW District Court attracted international attention when the decision referred to ‘her penis’ in relation to a man who committed sexual offences against a child in a public male toilet.

In 2022, a male sex offender was charged with 72 counts of incest, assault, choking, sexual assault and acts of indecency against his younger minor sisters. In the hearing for the bail application, which was granted, the Local Court remarked, ‘[t]o [her Honour’s] grand astonishment I am told she (sic) would be held in the male section of the AMC and that would clearly not be in the interests of a person who identifies as a woman.’ The accused was thereby released to civil society free to enter any female-designated space he chose.

In the UK in 2018, the sentence against a 26-year-old male who assaulted by battery a woman in her 60s was reduced because the victim did not use her male attacker’s preferred female pronouns.

These are but three cases. There are more. And we can be certain there will be more still.

As the ephemeral concept of ‘trans and gender diverse’ is further concretised into law as a protected characteristic (despite the absence of a settled and objective definition beyond the performance of outdated stereotypes), it seems almost inevitable that participants in the legal process will be compelled by dint of their professional obligations to employ ‘preferred pronouns’. And with this, the agnosticism, fearlessness, and independence of the profession charged with the duty to protect the robust arbitration of truth will be enfeebled.

In compelling truth in the name of respect, the role of the court process as arbiter of the truth is compromised. The common law legal system must be inoculated against to the whims of populism masquerading as kindness and respect. Telling lies and compelling others to do the same is not respectful, and it is not kind. It is conduct unbecoming of a profession charged with custody of the robust and fearless contest for truth.

The Federal Court of Australia will soon hear a legal challenge, ironically argued entirely by a bar table populated exclusively by female practitioners, to determine the right of a self-evidently adult human male, emboldened by a female sex marker on his Queensland-issued birth certificate, to enter female designated spaces. In Tickle v Giggle, Sall Grover of Giggle will defend the right of all people to assert honestly, without fear or favour, the existential reality of sex when they see it. In defending this right, Sall is not being disrespectful.


Labor must put aside its social media socialists

Socialism is a plaything of the rich. The very authors of The Communist Manifesto were the original one percenters: Marx the son of an upper-middle-class lawyer whose family owned multiple vineyards, and Engels the heir to an empire of cotton mills.

They had no genuine experience of poverty or the working class. Instead they surveyed and studied poor people, as an animal liberationist might pity the elephants in a zoo.

The tradition of angry rich theoretical leftists continues – as I and others have often railed against and as any number of Extinction Rebellion rap sheets will attest – however, shocking weekend poll results show that this sociopolitical identity crisis has now reached a tipping point.

Up until this point, suburban battlers and inner-city luvvies managed to co-exist within Labor for about half a century with only occasional bloodshed.

This was because Labor’s sensible right wing held dominance, especially during the brilliant and unmatched Hawke-Keating era.

As the running in-joke of countless party conferences went, it was a perfect arrangement in which everybody got what they wanted: the right got to win and the left got to go down fighting.

But the pendulum has now swung ever so slightly so that the left now holds a majority at National Conference and in most states and territories, the shining aberrations being NSW and South Australia – who also have the handsomest premiers, just saying.

The right’s only salvation, ironically enough, has been Anthony Albanese, a former factional war lord of the left who has heroically resisted the lunar demands of his erstwhile comrades to keep the party on a straight and centred course as Prime Minister.

But in politics, unlike religion, salvation is fleeting, not eternal. And Albo now faces a potential existential threat if bombshell RedBridge polling numbers are anything to go by.

The numbers are significant for both what they are and who they come from.

Redbridge was co-founded by Kos Samaras, a former senior Victorian Labor figure who has been an outspoken and often lonely voice on the need for Labor to reconnect with working-class and migrant communities.

As for the numbers themselves, they are brutal.

In August, RedBridge had Labor leading the Coalition 39 per cent to 28 per cent among voters with year 12 or equivalent and 36 to 29 among voters with a TAFE, trade or vocational education.

But by last week support for the major parties had reversed, with the Coalition leading Labor 37 per cent to 28 per cent with year 12 or equivalent voters, and even among TAFE, trade or vocationally trained voters – the very definition of the educated working class – the Coalition now leads 35 per cent to 33 per cent.

This is not the kind of wake-up call where someone shoves a piece of paper under a leader’s nose and he raises his eyebrows. It is the kind of wake-up call where someone pours a bucket of ice water over your head and then slaps your face for good measure.

If this continues, the Labor Party won’t just have to change its policies. It will have to change its name.

We saw this in the Victorian state election in which Dan Andrews picked up once-unwinnable seats in leafy Liberal electorates while losing votes in western suburbs heartlands.

That might be seen as a cunning steal, but it also leaves Labor exposed to cunning Teals. If rich progressives are Labor’s new base, how long before their more affluent seats start falling to preachy doctors as quickly as the inner suburbs have fallen to the Greens?

Meanwhile, the Teal incursion has not only made Peter Dutton opposition leader but forced him to focus wholly on precisely those outer suburban and regional voters who Labor desperately need to secure re-election. If only an uncannily good-looking newspaper columnist had warned of this at the time!

And so these are the questions that Labor needs to ask itself:

How do typically mainstream middle Australians of Lindsay and Longman view Labor from their heavily mortgaged McMansions of outer Sydney and Brisbane?

How do the traditional working-class and migrant voters of Labor strongholds in western Sydney and Melbourne know that this is a party that is still of them, that still shares their values and aspirations?

And how ready is the party for another Dai Le, or a hundred Dai Les in every safe seat in the country?

This is an existential threat, but the good news is there is a clear pathway to survival. The problem is hard but the solution is easy.

All it requires is today’s overprivileged social media socialists to stop telling ordinary people what to think, and for Labor to instead listen to what they really do think.




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