Episode 215 – China and the looming NSW theocracy

Hopefully we won’t be swatted

Barely two weeks after winning $3m at the Fortnite World Cup, Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf was “swatted” in the middle of a livestreaming session.

The 16-year-old was broadcasting to his legion of fans on streaming platform Twitch as he played Fortnite with friends when the incident occurred. Swatting involves a hoax call to the police in the hope of armed officers descending on someone’s home. The practice has led to the death of at least one person in recent years: in 2017 Andrew Finch was shot and killed by armed police responding to a fake hostage report at his home. A Los Angeles man was later sentenced to 20 years in prison for the hoax call. He had been angry after losing an online game of Call of Duty to Finch, a 28-year-old father of two.

Andrew Hastie on China

What did he say?

This will be immensely difficult. It is impossible to forsake the US, our closest security and investment partner. It is also impossible to disengage from China, our largest trading partner. This is the central point: almost every strategic and economic question facing Australia in the coming decades will be refracted through the geopolitical competition of the US and the PRC.

The West once believed that economic liberalisation would naturally lead to democratisation in China. This was our Maginot Line. It would keep us safe, just as the French believed their series of steel and concrete forts would guard them against the German advance in 1940. But their thinking failed catastrophically. The French had failed to appreciate the evolution of mobile warfare. Like the French, Australia has failed to see how mobile our authoritarian neighbour has become.

We must be intellectually honest and take the Chinese leadership at its word. We are dealing with a fundamentally different vision for the world. Xi Jinping has made his vision of the future abundantly clear since becoming President in 2013. His speeches show that the tough choices ahead will be shaped, at least on the PRC side, by ideology – communist ideology, or in his words, by “Marxist-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought”.

Xi’s view of the future is one where capitalism will be eclipsed and “the consolidation of and development of the socialist system will require its own long period of history … it will require the tireless struggle of generations, up to 10 generations”.

Josh Frydenberg on China and the USA

From The Australian

Mr Frydenberg, who called for calm last week as the sharemarket sank on US-China trade tensions, told a dinner at the American-Australian Leadership Dialogue in Perth on Friday that it was Australia’s duty to stand with the US in times of global uncertainty. “It’s not only our privilege to be strong, it’s our duty to be strong and this is where America’s place in the world is so important,” he told the audience, which included congressman Joe Courtney, US senator Roy Blunt and Labor leader Anthony Albanese.

“It’s more important than ever that our two great nations, the United States and Australia, work more closely than ever.

“We need to work together in an unprecedented way across the economic, the strategic and the political realms, and to do so consistent with our values, consistent with our objectives, and faithful to our history. America, after all, is the nation of Lend-Lease, the ­Marshall Plan and “Mr Gorbachev, tear down that wall!”

He said “the peace and prosperity that we in the world enjoy today” was due in no small part to the projection of American values beyond its shores.

Is China Fascist?

From episode 184

Fascist Vs Nazi

Fascism is a form of radical authoritarian ultranationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition and strong regimentation of society and of the economy, which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe.

Nazism is a form of fascism and showed that ideology’s disdain for liberal democracy and the parliamentary system, but also incorporated fervent antisemitism, scientific racism, and eugenics into its creed.

From Simon Leitch in Quillette

China is an ethnonationalist, corporatist, authoritarian state. The government harasses, imprisons, or murders those who demand the right to vote. It engages in cultural genocide and seeks to make the Chinese dictatorship ideologically inseparable from the self-image of the Chinese people. It protects its domestic economy from foreign competition, subsidises all its important industries, mandates that government officials sit on the boards of all large companies, and does not allow independent labour unions. Despite the use of the word “communist” in both the name of the state and the name of its ruling elite, China is fascist. The label of communism is now merely a historical anomaly, relevant only to the extent that totalitarianism remains an underlying principle, the source code of a regime that has likely killed more people than any other in history.

Refugees fleeing Europe

Fleeing despotic European countries

 

A recent article in the German press (Die Zeit, 15 May 2019) discusses the case of a Norwegian woman who fled her country because she feared the state would take away her baby. Silje Garmo claims she was harassed by Barnevernet, the Norwegian child protection agency. The agency claimed Garmo led a “chaotic life”, which prevented her from adequately caring for the child.

The woman feared the agency would take the child into custody – as had happened with her older daughter. In May 2017, mother and then newborn baby went into hiding – fleeing to Poland shortly thereafter. Garmo eventually applied for asylum in Poland. This was granted in December 2018, triggering a diplomatic crisis between the two countries.

Barnevernet is frequently accused of heavy-handedness, including by a number of Polish immigrant families who have lost custody of their children. This could be ascribed in part to the difference in cultural attitudes towards child-rearing between liberal Norway and conservative Poland.

That point of friction may also be why Poland eventually decided to grant Garmo asylum, something Polish authorities do exceedingly rarely: it offers Poland moral leverage in its fight for the Polish parents in Norway who are seeking to regain custody of their children. That fight has escalated earlier this year, with first Norway and then Poland expelling consular staff from each other’s diplomatic missions. Relations between the two countries are now at their lowest point in living memory.

Public Servant Sacked for Anonymous Tweets

Keep in mind

Her job was to be an apolitical public servant lawyer acting in the communications department of the DIAC

Intro

Michaela Banerji was fired in 2013 from the then Department of Immigration and Border Protection after it found she was behind an anonymous Twitter account critical of the agency.

Using the name “LaLegale”, she posted thousands of tweets concerning topics including offshore processing and Australia’s international obligations to refugees.

All but one were sent from outside the office and on her own mobile phone, and none of them disclosed confidential information.

Following complaints by departmental staff, an investigation was launched into whether Ms Banerji breached the public service code of conduct. When she received her termination notice in September 2013 she suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and a month later lodged a workers’ compensation claim.

However, the High Court found today that an earlier Administrative Appeal Tribunal that upheld Ms Banerji’s compensation claim, had erred in its interpretation of public service rules.

Constitutional expert Anne Twomey has warned the High Court may have gone “too far” when it upheld a decision to sack a public servant after she criticised the government’s immigration policy from an anonymous social media account.

Professor Twomey, a constitutional law expert at the University of Sydney, questioned the decision when it came to limiting free speech.

“The reality is you really should not be judging people on what they say on Twitter, but how they perform in their job,” Professor Twomey told The Australian. “If you have a particular view on refugees or climate change that shouldn’t necessarily affect your ability to perform your functions as an apolitical, impartial or efficient public servant.

Comcare v Banerji [2019] HCA 23 (7 August 2019)

At some time prior to 7 March 2012, she began broadcasting tweets on matters relevant to the Department, using the Twitter handle “@LaLegale”[4]. There were more than 9,000 such tweets, at least one of which was broadcast during the respondent’s working hours[5], and many of which were variously critical of the Department, other employees of the Department, departmental policies and administration, Government and Opposition immigration policies, and Government and Opposition members of Parliament[6]. The Tribunal found[7]that “[s]ome of the tweets are reasonably characterised as intemperate, even vituperative, in mounting personal attacks on government and opposition figures”.

What was her job and reasons for sacking her?

The internal breach decision said:

… I find that they are often highly critical of the Government, the Minister, the Immigration portfolio and DIAC’s Communication Manager, Sandi Logan. I also find that your statements are in direct conflict with the department’s Code of Conduct Guidelines which state that: 

It is not appropriate for DIAC employees to make unofficial public comment that is, or perceived as:

  • harsh or extreme in its criticism of the government, a member of parliament or other political party and their respective policies that questions the staff member’s ability to work professionally, efficiently or impartially – such comments do not have to relate to the staff member’s area of work

In a letter dated 26 August 2013 Ms White wrote to Ms Banerji offering a further opportunity to make submissions on the proposed sanction. She set out her considerations in that regard:

    • It is clear that your actions were inappropriate and inconsistent with the APS Values and Code of conduct and the Department’s social media guidelines. You worked in the National Communications Branch, which has responsibilities including the management of external communication activities (including media liaison), and policy and publications articulating expectations in respect of social networking sites and guidance on their use. Accordingly, I consider that you should have been aware that the comments you were making in relation to policies and programs administered by the Department were wholly inconsistent with your role as an APS employee in the National Communications Branch of the Department.
    • The Department’s social media policy was provided to all Departmental staff via email on 1 June 2012. That policy relevantly provides that:

APS employees must still uphold the APS Values and Code of Conduct even when material is posted anonymously, or using an ‘alias’ or pseudonym, and should bear in mind that even if they do not identify themselves online as an APS employee or an employee of their agency, they could nonetheless be recognised as such. As a rule of thumb, irrespective of the forum, anyone who posts material online should make an assumption that at some point their identity and the nature of their employment will be revealed. Social media websites are public forums. Inappropriate public comment on such sites could put employees at risk of breaching the Code of Conduct.

I consider that you were sufficiently aware of the Department’s policy in relation to the use of social media.

  • You continued to post comments on the LaLegale twitter account after the forwarding of the DIAC policy to all staff on 1 June 2012, which were wholly inconsistent with the Department’s social media policy, and you did not remedy your behaviour.
  • You also continued to post material that related to the Department’s policies and programs and government actions and actors after you were notified that an investigation into alleged misconduct relating to your use of Twitter had commenced, and after you were informed of my decision that your conduct constituted serious breaches of the Code. I consider that your conduct to date indicates that it is likely that you will continue to post material in contravention of the APS Values, the Code and the Department’s policies.
  • At our meeting of 19 October 2012 you made significant admissions in relation to the inappropriate comments on Twitter, expressed contrition and indicated that you had apologised to Mr Logan in writing earlier that day. However, in an email sent to Geoff McKinnon (copied to me) on 7 November 2012, you withdrew “any express or implied admission of wrong doing”. An employee’s contrition will generally constitute a mitigating factor in consideration of an appropriate sanction, your revocation of the admissions and your inconsistent responses to the determination of breach of the Code means that I do not consider that it would be proper for me to afford significant weight to your earlier admissions and contrition in considering what sanction should be imposed.

Employee Sabotage?

Several of these tweets were reproduced and tendered. Counsel for Comcare took the Tribunal to one sequence occurring on 5 March 2012; the tendered records appear to show the Twitter handles of the correspondents, the text of the tweets and the time the tweets were sent. On that day Sandi Logan, the Department’s communications manager, tweeted:

Melbourne Uni’s first African refugee doctor to graduate in faculty’s 150th year. Read inspiring story of Garang Dut…

At 7:52am Ms Banerji (under the handle @LaLegale) tweeted:

Perhaps Dut can now make up for deaths and agonies of unlawful, immoral and destructive IDCs. Different kind of ‘refugee camps’

At 8:13am Mr Logan tweeted:

Give it a rest @LaLegale. #DIAC celebrates success, not mired in harping. If you have policy frustration, take it where it will make a diff.

Another tweeter, one Carol Christie, tweeted:

What a rude response! And where would you suggest @LaLegale take her ‘policy frustration’?

Ms Banerji retweeted Ms Christie’s response at 3.14pm. She agreed in her evidence that retweeting meant that her followers could read Ms Christie’s criticism of Mr Logan.

The Code Of Conduct for APS Employees

It is quite acceptable for DIAC employees to take part in the political life of their communities. The APS Values stipulate that the APS is, among other things, ‘apolitical, performing its functions in an impartial and professional manner’. This does not mean that DIAC employees must be apolitical in their private affairs. Employees should, however, avoid behaving in a ways [sic] which suggests that they cannot act apolitically or impartially in their work…

The Code of Conduct requires APS employees to behave at all times ‘in a way that upholds the APS Values and the integrity and good reputation of the APS’—section 13(11) of the Public Service Act 1999 (the PS Act). When APS employees are making public comment in an unofficial capacity, it is not appropriate for them to make comment that is, or could be perceived to be:

  • being made on behalf of their agency or the Government, rather than an expression of a personal view
  • compromising the APS employee’s capacity to fulfil their duties in an unbiased manner. This applies particularly where comment is made about policies and programmes of the employee’s agency
  • so harsh or extreme in its criticism of the Government, a member of parliament from another political party, or their respective policies, that it raises questions about the APS employee’s capacity to work professionally, efficiently or impartially. Such comment does not have to relate to the employee’s area of work
  • so strong in its criticism of an agency’s administration that it could seriously disrupt the workplace. APS employees are encouraged instead to resolve concerns by informal discussion with a manager or by using internal dispute resolution mechanisms, including the APS whistleblowing scheme if appropriate
  • a gratuitous personal attack that might reasonably be perceived to be connected with their employment
  • unreasonable criticism of an agency’s clients and other stakeholders
  • compromising public confidence in the agency or the APS.

 

 

Examples of those tweets include:

@ASRC1 Rubbish@ Think of the deaths we are responsible for in Iraq! Think of the refugees we have created by our invasion of Iraq!

@taylor_jessie Think of thousands killed in unjust war in Iraq, of Saddam Hussein murdered without trial, of Gadaffi assassination.

@SandiHLogal Substance: asylum. Process: Rule of Law. Result: onshore processing #nodetention @inhumane @nooffshoreprocessing

@whitegirlinasia Where states fail to offer legal asylum to refugees, that state fails. #itsnotwelfare @SandiHLogan

@Correllio @Juliagillard There’s something in common about the way @JuliaGillard uses words and the way that Craig Thomson uses credit cards

Offshore processing is unlawful…IMHO “@janafavero: Wilkie will not sign @OakeyMP Bill…reignite offshore processing http://tiny.cc/he82aw”

@InjusticeFacts While Bob Carr, our new Minister for FA, sheds crocodile tears for 16 deaths in Afghanistan. #intellectualdishonesty #Auspol

When a nation state permits eighty-six percent of detainees to suffer mental health problems, it #fails. Understanding #itsnotwelfare

@BarackObama Tell us a speech about your conversation with @JuliaGillard in Australia implicating country and people in your war games.

DIAC doesn’t see the steps: 1. Is Oz first place of asylum? 2. Is person security cleared? 3. Is person risk persecution? #getitright

@ScottMorrisonMP @jasonclaremp I would prefer you were reading the international convention on refugees! And understanding it! 

Indeed! “@dbvalentine: Watching Julia Gillard & Wayne Swan’s “reading” of budget over coffee was just embarrassing #FAIL #abc730 #Auspol”

@NorthcoteIND @abc730 Neither of the parties get it: What are our obligations under international law? #auspol @senatormilne

Oz does not abide by RC. “@GROGParty: @LaLegale @lyndsayfarlow sorry RC and Protocol, not following???”

 

 

The Employee case

If it were the case that the mere engagement in Commonwealth employment ( or any public or private sector employment regulated by Commonwealth Acts, Awards or Enterprise Agreements) precludes an employee from expressing private views inconsistent with the government of the day or their employer (as the case may be), then by way of example only, no public servant or other Commonwealth employees (including judicial officers) could:

(a) express any criticism of the government in the capacity of an active member of the political party in opposition;

(b) participate in a public demonstration against government policies,

(c) engage in industrial action against government wage policy;

(d) express any negative view on government policy to friends over dinner;

(e) make any criticism of government policy when delivering public addresses or conference papers etc.

The Government case

First, it only applies to persons who choose to be employed in the executive branch of the Commonwealth government. Second, the restriction is limited to political communications which damage the reputation of the Australian Public Service as an apolitical service or otherwise damage the integrity or good reputation of the service or violate the APS Values in some other way. Non-public servants are not affected by the law and public servants remain free to engage in political communications which do not compromise the apolitical nature of the service or which do not otherwise uphold APS Values. 

Should religious pharmacists be able to turn away transgender people?

Fom “Out in Perth”

The head of the Human Rights Law Alliance has laid out what he expects the government will allow in its religious focused anti-discrimination legislation.

In a recent presentation in Perth for the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), John Steenhof the Managing Director of the organisation, listed a range of examples where he felt people’s religious freedom had been compromised.

One of the examples Steenhof notes is the case of a pharmacists who he says ended up resigning from their job because they felt an equal opportunity commission was going to force them to fill the prescriptions of people who are transgender.

“Just yesterday I was speaking to a pharmacist who’s quit her job because she’s been threatened with a discrimination claim for refusing a female hormones prescription at her pharmacy for a biological male.” Steenhof said.

The Human Rights Law Alliance is a non-profit legal organisation that is closely aligned with the Australian Christian Lobby. Steenhof’s predecessor Martyn Iles is now the head of the ACL.

 

School Funding

An ABC News investigation has revealed for the first time the gaping divide that separates the capital expenditure of Australia’s richest and poorest schools.

The investigation, which encompasses more than 8,500 schools teaching 96 per cent of students, reveals:

  • Half of the $22 billion spent on capital projects in Australian schools between 2013 and 2017 was spent in just 10 per cent of schools
  • These schools teach fewer than 30 per cent of students and are the country’s richest, ranked by average annual income from all sources (federal and state government funding, fees and other private funding) over the five-year period.
  • They also reaped 28 per cent (or $2.4 billion) of the $8.6 billion in capital spending funded by government.

Part of the problem with the current system, according to critics, is that private schools have two public sources of capital funding — the Commonwealth and the states — whereas public schools only receive capital funding from state governments.

“I’m not at all surprised to see some well-off private schools at the top of the list for capital spend. Parents and others are of course welcome to fundraise for the schools they support,” said the Grattan Institute’s school education program director Peter Goss.

“But every one of those schools also receives substantial recurrent funding from the Australian Government and it’s legitimate to ask whether taxpayer funding is contributing to making our education system even more unequal.”

“The results [from highly-funded private schools] are no better than those coming out of government schools where there are similar students. So a lot of money is going in for a very, very poor return to government,” he said.

“And we wonder why Australia is slipping behind… That money would be far better spent at the struggling end of the [socio-economic] scale because that’s where we will lift results.”

Notes

Public transport and public libraries and public swimming pools

It’s cheaper to educate high socio economic kids

 

Joe Hildebrand discovers the left

An article for News.com.au

This time last week I wrote a long, considered piece arguing that free speech, even that considered offensive or “hate speech”, should not be banned — with the obvious and explicit exception of any incitement to violence.

I put forward a number of reasons both principled and practical but chief among them was that allowing freedom of expression is an invaluable way of identifying extremist sentiments in society and hopefully, through reason and open discourse, turning those sentiments around.

The piece was written in response to calls to ban a right-wing UK activist from entering Australia and as it turned out, the reaction to the piece overwhelmingly proved its point.

The only irony is that the extremists it identified were all on the Left.

One respondent opened by calling me a “c**t” and then, in the very same tweet, bemoaned the lack of civil discourse in public debate.

Another began their first tweet with the words, “get f***ed Joe” and then in their second, complained that I wouldn’t have a polite discussion with them.

And of course the more vicious the abuse, the more voiceless and victimised the abusers claimed to be. They also appeared to be mostly white and university educated, both statistically unusual indicators of oppression.

You honestly could not make this stuff up and it is a sad reflection of where we are at that we don’t have to.

… And so imagine my lack of surprise when one of my more vociferous anti-free speech Twitter critics proudly described themselves as “Left of Lenin”.

And they are far from alone in doing so.

Of course, I was a student socialist back in the day but at least my influence was limited to whoever I was chanting at on the steps of Parliament House or having a bucket bong with in my lounge room. And at least, unlike Lenin and many of my then-comrades, I had the good grace to actually be poor.

These days, as then, socialism is the domain of the disaffected, upper middle-class so-called intellectual. The only difference is that these days such insufferable twats can bang on about it 24 hours a day, creating the impression that it is a growing movement rather than just a spreading disease.

And of course because it is the domain of the over-privileged, the causes du jour have shifted from elevating the poor — or the “dictatorship of the proletariat” as Lenin so progressively proclaimed — to the niche obsessions of identity politics that have so dominated public debate.

… But just like Vlad, they see anyone on the right as a fascist and even centrists as fascist enablers.

And while the brutally oppressed and impoverished people of 1917 Russia can be forgiven for embracing such an ideology, no one with even a passing understanding of history or complex thought could hold such a view in the information age. These are people less interested in backstories than backs against the wall.

Which is why we did death by capitalism  … but I digress

This brings us to the most profound response to left-wing extremism, which is the number of sensible, compassionate and thoughtful people who once considered themselves progressive but now feel abandoned and isolated, as the movement has been hijacked by hardcore ideologues. And little wonder.

As one former fellow traveller mournfully said: “ALP/Greens/lefty social democrat my entire life … and I am really starting to detest the left. De. Test.”

Another: “My upbringing and instinct too but increasingly embarrassed at the level of self-bullshit, hysteria, hate/division and gesture politics in Left circles.”

Another: “I’m feeling you man. Their hysterical application of ‘fascism’, their antagonism to free speech, their often violent disruption of legitimate political meetings, their inability to see the contradiction between open borders and a welfare state and the hierarchy of victimhood.”

And another: “It’s becoming a mass exodus. But where to go? Not Lib that’s for sure. The politics of group identity and emotions over facts however, leave a lot of us feeling homeless … In a political sense.”

These are the lost tribes of the left. Needless to say, I know how they feel.

And of course not only do hardcore socialists and hand-wringing identity ideologues turn anyone with a brain or a sense of humour away from their cause, they also play into the hands of the right by making the whole Left side of politics look ridiculous. Donald Trump might appear crazy compared to a centrist but he looks sensible compared to a Stalinist.

… And so the message to the sensible Left is don’t give up hope. Don’t let dead-eyed socialist extremists or elitist ideological dilettantes trick you into thinking that they are the future of the Left or the champions of working Australians. They are the shackles on their feet, the ones who would rather go down spitting and shrieking than work for meaningful and achievable change.

Society progresses through evolution, not revolution. And it is the extremists who have yet to evolve. The centre will survive. The centre will hold. And the centre will eventually bring us together.

 

 

Juice Media Double Standards

Can anyone else see a double standard?

AC Grayling is in town promoting a book

From an old 2006 article

It is time to refuse to tip-toe around people who claim respect, consideration, special treatment, or any other kind of immunity, on the grounds that they have a religious faith, as if having faith were a privilege-endowing virtue, as if it were noble to believe in unsupported claims and ancient superstitions. It is neither.

We might enhance the respect others accord us if we are kind, considerate, peace-loving, courageous, truthful, loyal to friends, affectionate to our families, aspirants to knowledge, lovers of art and nature, seekers after the good of humankind, and the like; or we might forfeit that respect by being unkind, ungenerous, greedy, selfish, wilfully stupid or ignorant, small-minded, narrowly moralistic, superstitious, violent, and the like. Neither set of characteristics has any essential connection with the presence or absence of specific belief systems, given that there are nice and nasty Christians, nice and nasty Muslims, nice and nasty atheists.

That is why the respect one should have for one’s fellow humans has to be founded on their humanity, irrespective of the things they have no choice over – ethnicity, age, sexuality, natural gifts, presence or absence of disability – and conditionally (ie. not for intrinsic reasons) upon the things they choose – political affiliation, belief system, lifestyle – according to the case that can be made for the choice and the defence that can be offered of the actions that follow from it.

It is because age, ethnicity and disability are not matters of choice that people should be protected from discrimination premised upon them. By contrast, nothing that people choose in the way of politics, lifestyle or religion should be immune from criticism and (when, as so often it does, it merits it) ridicule.

Those who claim to be “hurt” or “offended” by the criticisms or ridicule of people who do not share their views, yet who seek to silence others by law or by threats of violence, are trebly in the wrong: they undermine the central and fundamental value of free speech, without which no other civil liberties are possible; they claim, on no justifiable ground, a right to special status and special treatment on the sole ground that they have chosen to believe a set of propositions; and they demand that people who do not accept their beliefs and practices should treat these latter in ways that implicitly accept their holder’s evaluation of them.

The Morrison Theocracy Gathers Pace

Morrison meets faith leaders

5 August 2019

In an historic meeting in Sydney on Monday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison met with 21 leaders of major faith communities in Australia to discuss progress in the government’s plans to introduce a Religious Discrimination Bill later this year (see picture).  The Jewish, Catholic, Anglican, Uniting Church, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Greek Orthodox, Coptic, Assyrian and Melkite communities were among those represented at the meeting.

ECAJ co-CEO Peter Wertheim, who represented the Jewish community, hailed the meeting.

“There cannot be many other countries in the world in which the head of government can have a constructive conversation over one and a half hours with such a diverse range of faith community leaders on as sensitive a topic as religious freedom  and discrimination,” he said.

“Each of us outlined what was of importance to our respective communities not only with regard to the proposed legislation but also in terms of Australia’s broader cultural attitudes with regard to religion”, Wertheim said.

“There was a large measure of agreement in the room about many of the principles that the government is grappling with in seeking a fair and workable balance between religious freedom and competing rights and freedoms.  This sends a positive message to the world about how effectively Australia operates as a multi-faith and multicultural society”.

Wertheim emphasised that the government is still working on the draft legislation, and that there will likely be further consultations as the process unfolds.  “We all welcomed the Prime Minister’s assurance that the government is ‘not rushing this’ and will continue to proceed in a measured and considered way.”

“The Prime Minister praised the role that religious belief has played in community building”, Wertheim said. “From the tenor of his comments and responses to our concerns, I felt reassured that the rights and freedoms of people of faith to practise and preach their beliefs, and the rights and freedoms of faith-based schools and institutions to operate in accordance with their ethos, will continue to be protected in accordance with international norms”.

NSW – lots of news and it’s all bad

At least 500 P&C groups across NSW will be sent an information pack with advice for parents on identifying if their child is being “indoctrinated” by “radical gender activists” at school.

The political lobby group Binary will distribute the packs, launched on Wednesday in NSW Parliament by One Nation MLC Mark Latham, around the state from next week.

The packs also have the backing of Finance Minister Damien Tudehope, who had planned to join Mr Latham to launch the kits but was called away on parliamentary business.

Several MPs were also at the launch, including Corrective Services MP Anthony Roberts, Mulgoa MP Tanya Davies and upper house MLC Matthew Mason-Cox.

“Barely a day goes by when we don’t hear from another parent concerned about what their child is being exposed to at school … transgender speakers, de-gendering language, pronoun police, explicit sex-education programs and inappropriate library books,” Mrs Smith said.

Mr Latham, who chairs the upper house’s education committee, said One Nation had a policy to end transgender self-identification.

“This problem is increasingly common in NSW schools, urged on by left-wing political activists,” Mr Latham said.

The information pack urges P&C groups to insist that the schools keep them “in the loop” about measures being taken to accommodate students “practicing gender fluidity”.

“Schools are reluctant to reveal policy, if any, around these issues,” the kit says.

It says parents should ask their school which toilets “trans students use”, where “trans students sleep on school camps” and whether “biological males can participate as females” in sporting teams.

“Remember, the school may have been very careful with the wording. Often indoctrination programs are referred to in politically correct ‘code’ words like ‘anti-bullying’,” the kits says.

Conservative Christian plot to take ‘control’ of NSW Liberal Party

A group promoting religious freedom is working to recruit 5000 Christian conservatives to the NSW Liberals as part of an ambitious scheme aimed at taking “control” of the state division of the party.

Leaked documents obtained by the Herald, which contain metadata leading back to Federal and NSW parliaments, reveal the NSW Reformers group hopes to recruit thousands of members across Sydney.

A 900-word document titled ‘NSW Reformers – Taking Back Our Nation Through Good Government’ lays out the group’s intentions to exert influence on politicians by joining Liberal branches and gaining pre-selection votes.

“If we recruit 5000 Christian conservatives we will control the NSW division of the Liberal Party,” it reads.

The document’s metadata suggests it was written by a staff member in a federal ministerial office last year. The staffer did not return calls or text messages.

The Herald revealed on Tuesday that several Liberal MPs were concerned the NSW Reformers were working to erode their support base in Sydney’s Hills District.

Other documents show names, addresses and contact details of hundreds of constituents were collated from a series of petitions advertised on the NSW Reformers’ page.

The petitions that netted the data of hundreds of constituents refers to “gender ideology”, “gay surrogacy”, religious freedom and Zoe’s Law legislation, which would make it a crime to cause death to a fetus.

The spreadsheets also contain lists of dozens of churches across Sydney to be targeted in the recruitment drive.

The forms outline plans to call a specific amount of phone numbers listed in the documents per day, and estimate how many party memberships could be recruited.

The NSW Reformers manifesto also outlines why the group is targeting the Liberal Party and not Labor or the Australian Conservatives.

“The Australian Conservatives’ survival relies upon a supportive silent majority. This silent majority does not exist,” it says, arguing this was proven by the same-sex marriage survey result.

We cannot afford to flee from a major party as this will forever reduce Conservative Christians to a minor influence in society with very little ability to determine legislation.”

Several Liberal MPs have told the Herald of anger within the party at what they believe is a concerted effort to stack out their electorate branches.

One federal NSW Liberal MP said he believed the Reformers was run by factional allies of the party’s hard-right conservative Liberals.

“They’re using the abortion bill to try to recruit numbers,” the federal MP said.

“They’re taking those views and leveraging them for political advantage. Their dearest wish would be to get rid of Alex Hawke.”

Mr Hawke is a powerful centre-right factional player close to Prime Minister Scott Morrison. His defection from the hard-right faction of the NSW Liberals a decade ago caused great enmity among conservatives.

NSW Liberal president Philip Ruddock said he didn’t have a problem with “branch development”.

“My view, as the party president, is if you’re worried about being stacked, then outstack,” he said.

Religious Freedom Events are being used to recruit Christian Liberal members

Members of the Liberal Party’s hard-right faction are attempting to erode the support of factional rivals in Sydney by organising religious freedom meetings that double as branch stacking events.

Several Liberal sources have told The Sydney Morning Herald there has been a concerted effort by facets of the party’s hard-right to undermine sitting members in several safe state and federal seats, including in the Hills district.

Several religious freedom events have been organised through the region over recent months, with attendees asked to sign up to the Liberal Party at the end of the meetings.

It is not against Liberal Party rules to engage in branch stacking.

If You Are Worried – Attend a Rally

From The Star Observer

Following last weekend’s Sydney rally against anti-discrimination law exemptions for religious organisations, most other Australian capital cities are set to host their own protests.

Thousands of protesters are expected to attend these rallies throughout the rest of August as the Morrison Government prepares its so-called religious freedom and religious discrimination bills.

In Brisbane, protesters will gather at Queens Gardens next Saturday August 17 between 1-3pm.

Speakers will include veteran LGBTQI activist Shelley Argent, who is a PFLAG Australia spokesperson, former Queensland Senior Australian of the Year, and author of the recently published book Just a Mum.

A Perth rally will be held at Forrest Place from 12pm on Saturday August 24.

Canberra will hold a protest at Garema Place from 11am on Saturday August 31.

Also on Saturday August 31, a Melbourne rally will be held at the State Library of Victoria on Saturday August 31 between 1-4pm.

Ahead of the Melbourne rally, a working bee to create banners and placards will be held this Sunday afternoon from 1-4pm at the Victorian Trades Hall.

Anyone wishing to attend the rallies can register their interest via above the Facebook links, or just show up on the day.

From Watley:

A pertinent question coming from this is why is it only the alphabet soup mob who are able to pull off a protest like that? What happened to the rest of our backbone?

At least you can attend a rally … Chinese students take a risk

Chinese authorities approached the family of an international student who participated in high-profile protests at an Australian university and warned his parents of the potential consequences of political dissent.

The apparent intimidation tactics suggest the Chinese government was monitoring the demonstration at the University of Queensland to record who attended, in a development one influential Liberal MP said was alarming.

… within days of the rally the student received a call from his mother in China to say the family had been approached by “a guest”.

His mother told him the authorities had issued a warning about engaging in “anti-China rhetoric” in Brisbane and warned him not to “join any events where people are gathered together”.

“As long as you do that, we can make sure you’re safe and we’re safe,” his mother told him.

She said the family had assured officials that their son was loyal to the Communist Party.

Patrons

Thank you patrons

 

Clowns

Send in the clowns – except on a cruise ship

A holidaymaker dressed as a clown prompted a mass brawl on a cruise ship in which passengers used furniture and plates as weapons, according to witnesses.

The late-night fight in the buffet area onboard P&O’s Britannia left a member of staff injured as they tried to intervene while onlookers fled in fear.

The brawl, which took place in the early hours of Friday morning during the return leg of a week-long cruise to Norway’s fjords, reportedly followed an alcohol-fuelled afternoon of “patriotic” partying on deck.

…  “One witness, part of a group involved in the trouble, explained to staff that things kicked off when another passenger appeared dressed as a clown. This upset one of their party because they’d specifically booked a cruise with no fancy dress. It led to a violent confrontation,” he wrote.

A Digital tax

Trump won’t like it

Ensuring global tech companies pay their fair share of tax outside their home base of the United States was not covered in Australia’s major inquiry of digital platforms by its competition watchdog.

But releasing the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s 600 page report and 23 recommendations on Friday, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said it is an issue the government remains “very much focused on”.

Instead, the Morrison government is working on a digital tax through the G20 and the Organisation for Economic co-operation and Development.

It would appear it is an area Australia and others will need to tread carefully after France faced the wrath of US President Donald Trump having gone it alone with a tax aimed at US technology companies.

An angry president says France can expect a “substantial reciprocal action”. “If anybody taxes them, it should be their home Country, the USA,” Mr Trump tweeted in response to French President Emmanuel Macron’s “foolishness”. “I’ve always said American wine is better than French wine!”

Tax aside, the ACCC has unravelled the growing complexity of the digital world and the power the likes of Google and Facebook enjoy in its report that took 18 months to complete.

Asked whether Labor supported a special tax on tech companies, opposition communications spokeswoman Michelle Rowland on Sunday said the issue was “complex”.

“I don’t think you’d find an Australian who would be against everyone paying their fair share.

“I think that it is an open question about whether they are paying their fair share, I don’t have any evidence in front of me,” she told Sky News this morning.

“I think it’s right to expect that their contribution is commensurate with the value they get from Australian consumers.”

Her frontbench colleague Matt Keogh said it is important to improve digital literacy so people understand what they see at the top platform feed they use may not be accurate information.

“It is also important to recognise the way in which entities like Facebook and Google put their own manipulation over the top of that,” he told ABC television on Saturday.

‘Unaccountable titans’: New Labor senator calls for controversial Google tax to ‘disrupt the disrupters’

Union leader-turned-senator Tony Sheldon is demanding tech giants face a controversial new tax, blasting companies like Google and Facebook for “failing our economy and our democracy”.

Senator Sheldon backed a world-first tax, passed earlier this month in France, that imposed a 3 per cent levy on the annual revenue of Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple.

Google Australia reported a revenue of $1 billion in 2017, including $604 million from advertising. It paid $37 million in tax on a total profit of $125 million. Facebook’s Australian revenue increased to $476.8 million but the social media powerhouse reported a loss of $9.6 million after settling a $31.6 million debt for previous years with the Tax Office.

Free Time for Peasants

Life for the medieval peasant was certainly no picnic. His life was shadowed by fear of famine, disease and bursts of warfare. His diet and personal hygiene left much to be desired. But despite his reputation as a miserable wretch, you might envy him one thing: his vacations.

Plowing and harvesting were backbreaking toil, but the peasant enjoyed anywhere from eight weeks to half the year off. The Church, mindful of how to keep a population from rebelling, enforced frequent mandatory holidays. Weddings, wakes and births might mean a week off quaffing ale to celebrate, and when wandering jugglers or sporting events came to town, the peasant expected time off for entertainment. There were labor-free Sundays, and when the plowing and harvesting seasons were over, the peasant got time to rest, too. In fact, economist Juliet Shor found that during periods of particularly high wages, such as 14th-century England, peasants might put in no more than 150 days a year.


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