Episode 277 – Election Results in Qld and the USA
In this episode, we discuss the Qld and USA elections and a bunch of other topics.
Confession from a Liberal Voter
This is how I felt after voting. I’ve used the 12th Man in this as my confidant because I usually feel my views most closely align with his.
Other than that is you must be corrupting me, because I’m finding myself agreeing with you more and more lately.
Hope you don’t hate it.
The Greens Take a $100,000 donation
The largest political donation in an election year goes to the party with only one MP in state parliament – for now.
Professional gambler and secretive maths genius Duncan Turpie donated $100,000 to the Greens at the end of June, four months ahead of the state election.
Electoral Commission records show Turpie, who is believed to live on the Gold Coast, backing the Queensland branch of the party, having previously donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Greens in other jurisdictions.
His contribution to the minor party came amid an ongoing debate over Palaszczuk Government restrictions on donations and campaign expenditure, which the Liberal National Party has argued will advantage Labor.
Queensland Greens MP Michael Berkman, the Member for Maiwar, has long criticised the influence of major party donors and government support for casino developments.
“The political power of the gambling industry more broadly is well-established and is powered in large part by their hefty donations to both Labor and the Liberal / National parties in Queensland and around Australia,” Berkman wrote in a 2018 parliamentary submission.
“One particularly striking local example is the Queens Wharf mega-casino development in Brisbane. The Committee will be aware of the very significant community concerns regarding corporate influence in the approval of the Queens Wharf.”
In the same year, Queensland Labor Senator and former party state secretary Anthony Chisholm used parliamentary privilege to accuse Turpie of being part of the Punters Club, a gambling syndicate pursued by the Australian Tax Office.
“The Greens virtue signalling on political donations is yet another example of the rank hypocrisy that has come to characterise the Greens,” Chisholm told federal parliament.
At the state election, the Greens are hoping to hold Maiwar and secure another seat, possibly South Brisbane, the electorate of former deputy premier Jackie Trad.
Clive Palmer … again
Our own Trump, complete with a wife with a heavy accent
From Dennis Atkins in the New Daily
… Palmer is using the number of UAP candidates as a device to pump up how much cash he can splash on the campaign. Spending caps limit the amount of money parties can use for advertising, and other purposes, based on how many people stand for election.
By rolling out 55 candidates, none of whom has the slightest chance of winning a seat, Palmer can stay within the law and outlay over $8 million – based on the $92,000 for each candidate at a state level plus a further $57,000 per candidate limit at a local level.
… This election extravagance mirrors, on a smaller scale, the outlay by Palmer of between $60 and $90 million during the 2019 federal election,
… Without any laws prohibiting telling lies in political advertising, Palmer can conduct his election campaign outrages without being called to account in any way.
At the moment, the longest standing and tested laws curbing the use of lies in election advertising are in force in South Australia. Similar laws have recently been adopted in the Australian Capital Territory.
The SA law is simple, setting out a basic test for those who make dubious claims.
It states any claim which purports to be a statement of fact is “inaccurate and misleading to a material extent” and any person who “authorised, caused or permitted the publication of the advertisement” would be guilty of an offence.
Ads like those published by Palmer would be caught by the SA laws.
If someone objects to an advertisement, the electoral authorities can issue desist orders and follow up with enforcement orders by the courts is necessary.
If parties felt particularly aggrieved, they could pursue legal redress after an election and perhaps use any untrue advertising as the basis for a challenge in very close results in particular seats, arguing voters were misled.
Various federal and state parliamentary committees have looked at the SA laws and examined if they breached any Constitutional right to freedom of political communication.
Most inquiries have agreed any legislation preventing misleading and inaccurate statements of fact in political advertising “would be an acceptable and proportional intrusion” on any Constitutional constraint.
Interestingly, the Labor Government of Wayne Goss was set to consider truth in political advertising laws 25 years ago after recommendations from the Electoral and Administrative Reform Commission (set up on the say-so of the Fitzgerald Inquiry in the late 1980s).
This reform hit the fence after the Liberal National Coalition took power in February 1996. Given the blatant lies Clive Palmer has told in the last month, this is a reform well worth revisiting.
The experience in SA demonstrates these sensible laws are easily administered and policed and do not hinder robust and willing electioneering.
Death Tax History
The OECD average inheritance tax is 15%. Italy has one of the lowest inheritance tax rates in the world at 4%, while Japan has the highest at 55%.
When Australia abolished the inheritance tax in 1979, just 9% of deaths were liable for the tax. Most people paid 3% of their estate’s value.
Interestingly, there’s evidence that dozens of those eligible for the death tax managed to cling on to life until the new year when the tax was no longer in force.
The US generally has an inheritance tax of 40%, though high thresholds mean it affects just 0.2% of Americans. The first US$11 million left to heirs goes untaxed.
The taxes are a constant source of consternation in the UK. Inheritance tax sits at 40% for estates worth more than £325,000 (AU$594,000). In 2015, the conservatives’ landmark policy reduced the rate while in 2017 the government proposed (then scrapped) a sharp rise in asset distribution fees.
Death taxes are also making headlines in South Korea following the death of Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee. Inheritance tax is set at 50% in the country, meaning Lee’s family could owe billions.
Federal and SA laws about truth in electoral advertising
A research paper for the Australian parliament from 1996-17
It was not until the passing of the Commonwealth Electoral Legislation Amendment Act 1983 (Cth) that the first provision prohibiting untrue advertising was enacted.(3) The new section 116(2) [subsequently section 329(2)] of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Cth) stated:
A person shall not, during the relevant period in relation to an election under this Act, print, publish, or distribute, or cause, permit or authorise to be printed, published or distributed, any electoral advertisement containing a statement:
- that is untrue; and
- that is, or is likely to be, misleading or deceptive.
Section 116(6) provided that it was a defence if the person was able to prove that he or she ‘did not know, and could not reasonably be expected to have known’ that the electoral advertisement contained an offending statement. A person convicted of an offence under the provision was liable to a fine not exceeding $1 000 or imprisonment of up to 6 months or both, while a corporation would be liable to a fine of up to $5 000.
Section 329(2) was repealed in 1984 upon the recommendation of the Commonwealth Parliament’s Joint Select Committee on Electoral Reform.(4) A majority of the Committee expressed the following criticisms of the section:
- While fair political advertising is a legitimate objective, it is not one properly to be sought through legislation.(5) Political advertising involves ‘intangibles, ideas, policies and images'(6) which cannot be subjected to a test of truth, truth itself being inherently difficult to define.(7)
- As evidence was given that even predictions and opinions may imply statements as to present fact, and thus be subject to the section, the section was considered to be so broad as to be unworkable.(8)
- The section would have a disproportionate impact on publishers, who would need to seek legal advice before publishing. This would inhibit political advertising and thus limit the information received by the public.(9)
- The Committee expressed concern that injunctions might be misused to disrupt the campaigns of other parties and candidates. In the context of an election campaign the grant of an interim injunction could have the same effect as a final order.(10)
Consequently, the final recommendation of the Committee was as follows:
the Committee concludes that even though fair advertising is desirable it is not possible to control political advertising by legislation. As a result, the Committee concludes that s 329(2) [161(2)] should be repealed. In its present broad scope the section is unworkable and any amendments to it would be either ineffective, or would reduce its scope to such an extent that it would not prevent dishonest advertising. The safest course, which the committee recommends, is to repeal the section effectively leaving the decision as to whether political advertising is true or false to the electors and to the law of defamation.
A similar view was repeated in 1994 by the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters in its Report of Inquiry into the Conduct of the 1993 Federal Election and Matters Related Thereto.(11)
There have been several unsuccessful attempts to reinsert section 329(2) or a like provision into the Commonwealth Electoral Act since its repeal in 1984.(12) In 1995, attempts were made to introduce provisions similar to the old section 329(2) into Commonwealth(13) and Queensland(14) law. In Queensland the move had the support of the Electoral and Administrative Review Commission’s recommendations in 1991(15) and 1992(16) that controls over political advertising be imposed. However political events in 1996 saw both the Commonwealth and Queensland Bills lapse.
Today, only South Australia has truth in political advertising legislation in force. Section 113(1) of the Electoral Act 1985 (SA) is in quite different terms to the old section 329(2) in its focus upon misstatements of fact. Section 113(1) reads:
- an electoral advertisement contains a statement purporting to be a statement of fact; and
- the statement is inaccurate and misleading to a material extent, a person who authorised, caused or permitted the publication of the advertisement shall be guilty of an offence.(17)
It is a defence for the person to prove that he or she ‘took no part in determining the contents of the advertisement’ and that he or she ‘could not reasonably be expected to have known that the statement to which the charge relates was inaccurate and misleading’. Section 113(1) has supported a successful prosecution and survived a challenge to its constitutional validity in Cameron v Becker.(18)
While section 113(1) of the South Australian Electoral Act is the only provision currently in force that might be called a truth in political advertising provision, there are laws in each other Australian jurisdiction that make it an offence to mislead an elector in relation to the casting of his or her vote. Such laws are phrased slightly differently in the various jurisdictions, but all refer to statements in electoral matter. For example:
- Section 151A(1)(b) of the Parliamentary Electorates and Elections Act 1912 (NSW) makes it an offence for a person to ‘print, publish or distribute any “how-to-vote” card, electoral ad, notice, handbill, pamphlet or card containing any untrue or incorrect statement intended or likely to mislead or improperly interfere with any elector in or in relation to the casting of his vote’.
- Section 209(1) of the Electoral Act 1985 (Tas) prohibits statements ‘intended or likely to mislead or improperly interfere with an elector in or in relation to the recording of his vote’. Section 163(1) of the Electoral Act 1992 (Qld) is in similar terms except that it is expressed as ‘intended or likely to mislead an elector in relation to the way of voting at the election’.
- Section 267B(1) of the Constitution Act Amendment Act 1958 (Vic) reads: ‘A person shall not, during the relevant period in relation to an election under this Act, print, publish or distribute, or cause, permit or authorise to be printed, published or distributed, any matter or thing that is likely to mislead or deceive an elector in relation to the casting of the vote of the elector’. Sections 191A(1) of the Electoral Act 1907 (WA) and 329(1) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Cth) are in like terms.
- Section 106(c) and (d) of the Electoral Act 1993 (NT) prohibits statements ‘intended to or likely to mislead or improperly interfere with an elector in or in relation to the casting of his vote’.
- Section 297(1) of the Electoral Act 1992 (ACT) reads: ‘A person shall not disseminate, or authorise to be disseminated, electoral matter that is likely to mislead or deceive an elector about the casting of a vote’.
In Evans v Crichton-Browne(19) the High Court held that the words ‘in or in relation to the casting of his vote’ in section 161(e) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act were limited to ‘the act of recording or expressing the political judgment which the elector has made rather than to the formation of that judgment’.(20) This may mean that each of the above provisions can only have a minimal impact on preventing false and misleading statements of fact during election campaigns. If interpreted in the same way as section 161(e), they would only relate to statements that affect the actual physical casting of a person’s vote and not to statements that affect the formation of a political judgment by the elector.
They likes what Qld was proposing
In advocating the regulation of truth in political advertising, the Legal, Constitutional and Administrative Review Committee of the Queensland Parliament focused on the aspirational impact of such legislation and rejected ‘the logic that says that since we cannot stop all dishonest intent therefore we will not try to stop any’.(45) In doing so, and in drafting recommended provisions, the Committee decided to err on the side of caution. The majority’s main concern was a pragmatic and sensible one: to develop a standard likely to withstand both political and legal scrutiny. They did this by developing a model that penalises false and misleading statements of fact but is ameliorated by a defence of honest and reasonable mistake of fact. The model put forward by the Committee is designed to deter blatant examples of such conduct rather than to place a blanket ban on any speech likely to mislead or deceive voters in their electoral choices. Free speech in the electoral process is restricted only so far as is necessary to achieve this aim.
An important part of the Committee’s reasoning relied upon doctrines and experience underpinning section 52 of the Trade Practices Act (TPA). The Committee’s reliance upon section 52 to support, by analogy, the case for truth in political advertising legislation in Queensland was perhaps the most important reason why it reached the opposite conclusion to the 1984 Report of the Joint Select Committee on Electoral Reform. Another significant reason for the different approach taken by the Queensland Committee is the recent rise of allegations of ‘dirty tricks’ in election campaigning. One prominent example is ‘push polling’, which was allegedly used in the 1995 Queensland State election.(46) The rise of such practices has perhaps been a factor in what some have seen as the deepening cynicism of the electorate towards the political process and highlights the need, tapped into by the Committee, for ethical standards in electioneering.
NB S.52 TPA
Misleading or deceptive conduct.
is misleading or deceptive.
(2) Nothing in the succeeding provisions of this Division shall be taken as
limiting by implication the generality of sub-section (1).
“Trump’s incompetence and influence on the darkest part of the national character make it morally impossible to vote for him. But his opponents are lying, witch-hunting scum in their own right, a club of censorious bureaucrats whose instincts for democracy and free speech hover somewhere between the mid-seventies GDR and the Church of Scientology. I thought all year I’d be able to do it, but I wake up this week unable to talk myself into voting for these people, even against Trump. What choices they give us! Thank God at least it’s about to be over. If it’s about to be over. Please, let it be over.”
My colleagues at Rolling Stone recently endorsed Joe Biden for president:
Biden’s lived experience and expansive empathy make him not just a good, but an outstanding candidate… This is a fight between light and darkness…
Joe Biden is a corpse with hair plugs whose idea of “empathy” is to jam fingers in the sternums of people who ask the wrong questions, or call them “fat” or “full of shit,” or dare them to “try me” — and that’s if he remembers what state he’s in. Is he a better human than Donald Trump? Probably, but his mental decline has hit Lloyd Bridges-in-Hot-Shots! levels and he shares troubling characteristics with the president, beginning with a pathological struggle with truth.
Biden spent much of 2020 lying about everything from his Iraq War vote to his educational history to a fantasy about being arrested in South Africa with Nelson Mandela. The same press that killed him for this behavior in the past let it all slide this time. Same with the growing ledger of handsy-uncle incidents that had adolescent girls and campaigning politicians alike wondering why a Vice President needs to smell their hair or plant lingering kisses on their heads while cameras flash.
Biden’s entire argument for the presidency, and it’s a powerful one, is his opponent. This week’s election is not a choice between “light or darkness,” but “pretty much anything or Donald Trump,” and only in that context is this disintegrating, bilious iteration of Scranton Joe even distantly credible as a choice for the world’s most powerful office.
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On my travels, I saw a vision of two Americas – but which one will triumph?
In my reporting from America’s battleground states, I‘ve met voters who share one nation but believe in two wildly opposed ideals for its future…
It was a grey autumn Saturday earlier this month at a Republican rally just outside Youngstown, Ohio – a once prosperous city in the heart of America’s rustbelt, embedded in a region that flipped to Donald Trump in 2016.
What started as a casual political gathering, however, descended into a full-throated confrontation that encapsulated the stark divisions that underscore this seminal election, and perhaps the state of the country as a whole.
A bashed up red Chevy pickup daubed in handmade “Dump Trump” signs pulled up slowly. And a lone protester, Chuckie Denison, a former factory worker at a local General Motors plant that closed last year, jumped out to berate the assembled crowd.
“Two-hundred-and-twenty-thousand Americans have died under Trump. And our jobs have gone.” he shouted. “And all we ask is for somebody to represent all of us.”
I’d come to Youngstown because Donald Trump had made direct promises to the people living here; to restore a failing economy and bring back manufacturing jobs after years of decay. But poverty and jobless rates continue to soar here.
In that crowd of Trump supporters were people who had worked at the same plant as Denison, and others who had lost their jobs during the pandemic. And yet they still believed Trump would bring stability to their lives.
“He’s probably paid,” said one Trump supporter – dismissing Denison, who had been accosted by a number of the flag wavers.
Within minutes, Denison’s signs were ripped from his truck and he was sent away in a whirlwind of abusive language.
The passionate public disagreement I saw in Youngstown felt emblematic of a divided country and there are dark forces underpinning much of it.
Donald Trump has weaponized extremist misinformation to bolster his campaign and reverted to pushing conspiracy theories that cast doubt over election integrity, and, most recently, question the ethics of doctors working to save the lives of Covid-19 patients. He has declined to disavow QAnon, a baseless far-right conspiracy movement, which suggests Trump is the victim of a ‘deep state’ plot run by satanic paedophiles tied to the Democratic party. Instead, he described the movement as being filled with patriotic citizens “who love America”.
Recent polling indicates that half of his supporters now believe in the conspiracy movement.
On an intensely humid day in Peach county, central Georgia, I hitched a ride with organizers for Black Voters Matter, a voting rights advocacy group targeting marginalized Black communities in a bid to boost turnout and fight rampant voter suppression. Georgia is a battleground state for the first time in decades, and turning out voters in low-income minority neighborhoods could be the key to swinging it for the Democrats.
But Fenika Miller, a regional organizer, already faces an uphill task – and pervasive disinformation has made it even harder.
The enthusiasm for Biden is palpable in many of the neighborhoods we visited. But one encounter was chilling.
“Joe Biden, he’s trying to legalize paedophiles,” said one young man as he explained to Miller that he was already registered and voting for Trump.
I ask where he got his information from. “Every morning I get on my phone and watch different videos and stuff. You just put two and two together.”
Miller is coming into contact with these dangerous falsehoods on a daily basis.
“We’re living in dangerous times under a dangerous administration,” she said. “It’s intentional misinformation they’re putting out specifically targeting young voters and Black voters.”
In Texas, which for the first time in generations is now a battleground state after record early voter turnout, I met Rick Barnes, chairman of the Tarrant County Republican Party in suburban Dallas. I asked him if Trump’s child separation policy at the southern border had ever given him pause to question the morality in his party.
“That was not a policy that Trump put in place. That was a policy of the predecessor,” he replied.
I pointed out this was untrue and that Trump’s former attorney general Jeff Sessions had specifically instructed his Justice Department to separate children from their parents as a deterrence, something unprecedented in US history.
“That’s something we’d have to agree to disagree on,” he replied.
In Florida, a critical swing state, I met Malcolm Out Loud, a conservative radio host who argued that Dr Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert is “a fraud” and that the official Covid-19 death toll is inflated.
“This entire pandemic has been a setup,” he said.
I pointed out he had no public health background or any expertise to make such a claim.
“We can agree to disagree,” he replied, mirroring the refrain from Barnes.
Fist: Post Modernist were the first to devalue truth. Postmodernist philosophers in general argue that truth is always contingent on historical and social context rather than being absolute and universal and that truth is always partial and “at issue” rather than being complete and certain.
Trump and the economy
His fans point to the stockmarket
According to Patricia Cohen in the NYT
A whopping 84 percent of all stocks owned by Americans belong to the wealthiest 10 percent of households. And that includes everyone’s stakes in pension plans, 401(k)’s and individual retirement accounts, as well as trust funds, mutual funds and college savings programs like 529 plans.
“For the vast majority of Americans, fluctuations in the stock market have relatively little effect on their wealth, or well-being, for that matter,” said Edward N. Wolff, an economist at New York University who recently published new research on the topic.
Roughly half of all households don’t have a cent invested in stocks, whether through a 401(k) account or shares in General Electric. That leaves half the population with some exposure to financial market whims, but as Mr. Boshara said, “some exposure can be 100 bucks.”
“It’s too bad such a small percentage of the population has any real or meaningful ownership stake in equities, given their historic and current growth,” Mr. Boshara said.
Most households had less than $5,000 in total holdings in 2016, the most recent year analyzed by Mr. Wolff. Despite the slow recovery in housing prices, the wealth of middle-class Americans is still concentrated in their homes, which remain their single most valuable asset.
For 9 out of 10 households, even a shift in value of 10 percent — enough to qualify as a “market correction” — would “at most, have a 1 or 2 percent impact on their wealth holdings,” Mr. Wolff said.
The stockmarket is not the real economy
If companies find new ways to screw employees, stocks go up, but that is not good for the economy.
Democracy – American Style
From The Guardian
America has long held itself up as the world’s leading democracy, but it has an equally long history of denying people the right to vote.
… The 1965 Voting Rights Act, a crown jewel of the civil rights movement, blunted many of these racist tools, in part by requiring places with a history of voting discrimination, like Texas, to get voting changes pre-cleared before they went into effect. But in 2013, the US supreme court gutted that provision, saying it was no longer necessary. States, freed from federal oversight, unleashed a wave of new voting restrictions, including new voter ID laws and efforts to close polling places.
Nb.in a case called Shelby county v Holder. In a 5-4 vote, the court struck down a formula at the heart of the Voting Rights Act, the landmark 1965 law that required certain states and localities with a history of discrimination against minority voters to get changes cleared by the federal government before they went into effect.
It’s hard to overstate the significance of this decision. The power of the Voting Rights Act was in the design that the supreme court gutted – discriminatory voting policies could be blocked before they harmed voters. The law placed the burden of proof on government officials to prove why the changes they were seeking were not discriminatory. Now, voters who are discriminated against now bear the burden of proving they are disenfranchised.
The supreme court also refused to block a Republican-written Florida law that required people with felony convictions to pay financial debts before they can vote again. Writing in dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the move would block people from voting “simply because they are poor”. An estimated 774,000 people in Florida, one of the closest swing states in the country, can’t vote because they owe money.
From Pew Research
Nearly 56% of the U.S. voting-age population cast ballots in the 2016 presidential election, representing a slight uptick compared with 2012 but less than in the record year of 2008.
Looking at the most recent nationwide election in each OECD nation, the U.S. placed 26th out of 32
AOC couldn’t run for president in 2020 but could in 2024. Here’s a rundown on the presidential age minimum
Next week US voters will choose between the two oldest presidential candidates in history —Joe Biden at 77 or Donald Trump at 74.
In 2016, Trump made history as the oldest person to assume office at 70 years old.
If Joe Biden is elected, he’ll break that record at age 78.
While American electors don’t have much choice this year, it’s already being speculated that the 2024 election could usher in a younger generation of political candidates.
We already saw the beginnings of this younger energy this year, when Democrats Pete Buttigieg and Tulsi Gabbard ran in the Democratic primary aged in their late 30s.
If Joe Biden is elected in 2020 but opts not to run for a second term, 31-year-old Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (often called AOC) is touted as another 2024 candidate.
Born on October 13, 1989, she would be 34 years old for all but three weeks of the 2024 presidential race, and would have just turned 35 by election day.
But is that too young? How young is too young to run for president of the United States, and when does the rule kick in?
The over 35 rule
Article II of the US constitution says candidates must be 35 years old to take office as president.
To be a senator you have to be 30, and to be a member of the House of Representatives you must be 25.
Those rules haven’t changed for over 200 years — they were written into the constitution in 1787, and came into effect in 1789.
Does the age rule apply from election day, or inauguration day?
It applies on inauguration day — which these days is usually January 20, in the year following the election.
That means a candidate can campaign in a primary race, be nominated as their party’s candidate, and even be elected to the presidency at 34 years old — as long as they’ll be 35 by the date they take office.
Back in the 1972 election, one virtually unknown Delawarean senator-elect reached this age minimum by the tightest of margins.
Joe Biden was 29 when he was elected, and had just turned 30 by the time he was sworn in.
US Supreme Court
We have 2 new High Court judges. Can you name them?
The daughter of a former High Court chief justice, and a former Melbourne tax lawyer will be the two new faces on the High Court bench.
- The appointments come as two High Court judges near the mandatory retirement age (70)
- Justice Jacqueline Gleeson is currently a Federal Court judge, and is the daughter of former chief justice Murray Gleeson
- Simon Steward enters the High Court after sitting on the Federal Court bench in Melbourne
The two current Federal Court Judges Jacqueline Gleeson and Simon Steward will replace outgoing Justices Virginia Bell and Geoffrey Nettle.
Has had a revelation.
Trump is shameless but he never pretends to be more moral than anyone else. He doesn’t shame other people for poor morals.
He is the opposite of Clinton’s “basket of deplorables”.He doesn’t tell potential supporters that they are bad people.
Labor luminary Barry Jones warns of the ‘retreat from reason’
A lifetime of reading, study and analysis, coupled with experience, has led Jones to the bleak conclusion that political systems here and overseas are failing to adequately grapple with these challenges. He mostly blames political leaders. But citizens are not absolved of responsibility. We have never been better educated yet our public discourse has never been dumber.
“The two hegemonic political parties (the Coalition and Labor) are oligarchies which are essentially looking inwards,” Jones tells Inquirer. “Their major preoccupation is finding loyal people around them who will put their hand up at the right time and who are not particularly interested in great ideas.
“When I was in parliament, even though many had left school early and did not have formal qualifications, the quality of debate was electrifying. Politicians were passionately interested in ideas; now politicians are passionately interested in not losing the support of their base and winning the next election.”
He warns that in the US and Europe, and to some extent in Australia, liberal democracy and Enlightenment values are at risk. “We see a retreat from reason; the rejection of facts and expertise; the rise of populism, snarling nationalisms, tribalism, and conspiracy theories; a fundamentalist revival and hostility to science; a failure of ethical leadership; deepening corruption of democratic processes; profound neglect of the climate change imperative; and the triumph of vested interests,” Jones writes.
“It is possible to change things,” Jones insists. “If we change the political culture, we’ll change the way people react if politicians get out and argue a case. Well, that doesn’t happen any more.
“We are in an era now of political minimalism, with an ultra-cautious and short-term view. There is a failure of nerve, not only by the government but by the opposition as well.”
What Is To Be Done blends an astonishing array of scholarly research with insights from history, philosophy and literature, coupled with biographical reflections and anecdotes, to assemble political and policy recommendations that make a persuasive case for a new way forward.
It includes a damning indictment of Australia’s major political parties. “If you were going to rename the parties, you might rename the Liberal Party as the Self-Interest Party, the National Party, which represents miners more than farmers, could become the Coal Party and the Labor Party could be renamed the Tepid Party,” he says.
Jones lashes Anthony Albanese and Bill Shorten. He says Labor lacks boldness and conviction, the capacity to develop detailed policies, and the ability to argue convincingly and persuade voters; and is plagued by a short-term, reactionary approach to politics. He describes Labor as “undemocratic, structurally moribund (and) heavily factionalised”.
It is unimaginable that Neal Blewett, John Button, John Dawkins, Michael Duffy, Bill Hayden, John Kerin, Susan Ryan or Peter Walsh could win preselection for a safe Labor seat today, or indeed himself, Jones says. It is almost impossible for anyone without union or factional patronage to break into Labor’s parliamentary ranks.
“Typically, the reason people join political parties today is not because they have a passion for an idea, it is because they see it as a career,” Jones says. “I remember saying that if you look at those national conferences, over which I’ve presided, and you saw the serried ranks of well coiffured graduates, you would be more likely to find a platypus than you would a working-class delegate who came off the factory floor.”
Scott Morrison, Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott are not exempted from Jones’s critique. Nor are the Liberal and National parties. “Morrison is essentially a salesman, a Willy Loman,” Jones writes. “In an age of retail politics, the fundamental issue for him is, ‘Will it sell?’ (At the last election) he was essentially selling a single product: short-term self-interest.”
In chapters that address Australia’s political system, Jones explains how a focus on retail politics and the dumbing down of public debate has alienated voters. “Many current MPs simply don’t know how to frame a debate,” Jones says. “They receive a set of dot points, then repeat, repeat, repeat. They simply don’t listen to the alternative argument.”
… “If Labor would find a bit of courage, they might encourage the other mob to be courageous as well and to concentrate not so much on asking how we win the next election but what is the kind of Australia we want? Are we wanting to be an intelligent, thoughtful, understanding, compassionate, embracing kind of society which can be a model for the world? Or do we not need to worry about generating new forms of national income because we have got stuff we can dig up that’s low in added value and just concentrate on that? It’s not enough and it won’t be enough.”
Today he worries that the escalating cost of humanities degrees will see graduates with skills that may be obsolete within decades while missing out on an education in “the life of the mind”. It is in reading books, listening to music, enjoying the performing arts, exploring history and philosophy, and marvelling at great works of art that can be the most illuminating and fulfilling experiences in life.
Jones turned 88 this month. The secret to living a long and productive life, he suggests, is to remain curious about the world and to never stop trying to understand it and shape it. It also satisfies a need deep within. “I’m curious to understand myself, perhaps in the tradition of Montaigne, as much as anything else.”
Barry Jones’s What Is To Be Done: Political Engagement and Saving the Planet is published by Scribe on Tuesday
Review of Adolph Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”
Published in New English Weekly, 21 March 1940
There is a good Youtube clip as well. Thanks to Peter for the tip.
It is a sign of the speed at which events are moving that Hurst and Blackett’s unexpurgated edition of Mein Kampf, published only a year ago, is edited from a pro-Hitler angle. The obvious intention of the translator’s preface and notes is to tone down the book’s ferocity and present Hitler in as kindly a light as possible. For at that date Hitler was still respectable. He had crushed the German labour movement, and for that the property-owning classes were willing to forgive him almost anything. Both Left and Right concurred in the very shallow notion that National Socialism was merely a version of Conservatism.
Then suddenly it turned out that Hitler was not respectable after all. As one result of this, Hurst and Blackett’s edition was reissued in a new jacket explaining that all profits would be devoted to the Red Cross. Nevertheless, simply on the internal evidence of Mein Kampf, it is difficult to believe that any real change has taken place in Hitler’s aims and opinions. When one compares his utterances of a year or so ago with those made fifteen years earlier, a thing that strikes one is the rigidity of his mind, the way in which his world-view doesn’t develop. It is the fixed vision of a monomaniac and not likely to be much affected by the temporary manoeuvres of power politics. Probably, in Hitler’s own mind, the Russo-German Pact represents no more than an alteration of time-table. The plan laid down in Mein Kampf was to smash Russia first, with the implied intention of smashing England afterwards. Now, as it has turned out, England has got to be dealt with first, because Russia was the more easily bribed of the two. But Russia’s turn will come when England is out of the picture—that, no doubt, is how Hitler sees it. Whether it will turn out that way is of course a different question.
Suppose that Hitler’s programme could be put into effect. What he envisages, a hundred years hence, is a continuous state of 250 million Germans with plenty of “living room” (i.e. stretching to Afghanistan or thereabouts), a horrible brainless empire in which, essentially, nothing ever happens except the training of young men for war and the endless breeding of fresh cannon-fodder. How was it that he was able to put this monstrous vision across? It is easy to say that at one stage of his career he was financed by the heavy industrialists, who saw in him the man who would smash the Socialists and Communists. They would not have backed him, however, if he had not talked a great movement into existence already. Again, the situation in Germany, with its seven million unemployed, was obviously favourable for demagogues. But Hitler could not have succeeded against his many rivals if it had not been for the attraction of his own personality, which one can feel even in the clumsy writing of Mein Kampf, and which is no doubt overwhelming when one hears his speeches. I should like to put it on record that I have never been able to dislike Hitler. Ever since he came to power—till then, like nearly everyone, I had been deceived into thinking that he did not matter—I have reflected that I would certainly kill him if I could get within reach of him, but that I could feel no personal animosity. The fact is that there is something deeply appealing about him. One feels it again when one sees his photographs—and I recommend especially the photograph at the beginning of Hurst and Blackett’s edition, which shows Hitler in his early Brownshirt days. It is a pathetic, dog-like face, the face of a man suffering under intolerable wrongs. In a rather more manly way it reproduces the expression of innumerable pictures of Christ crucified, and there is little doubt that that is how Hitler sees himself. The initial, personal cause of his grievance against the universe can only be guessed at; but at any rate the grievance is here. He is the martyr, the victim, Prometheus chained to the rock, the self-sacrificing hero who fights single-handed against impossible odds. If he were killing a mouse he would know how to make it seem like a dragon. One feels, as with Napoleon, that he is fighting against destiny, that he can’t win, and yet that he somehow deserves to. The attraction of such a pose is of course enormous; half the films that one sees turn upon some such theme.
Also he has grasped the falsity of the hedonistic attitude to life. Nearly all western thought since the last war, certainly all “progressive” thought, has assumed tacitly that human beings desire nothing beyond ease, security and avoidance of pain. In such a view of life there is no room, for instance, for patriotism and the military virtues. The Socialist who finds his children playing with soldiers is usually upset, but he is never able to think of a substitute for the tin soldiers; tin pacifists somehow won’t do. Hitler, because in his own joyless mind he feels it with exceptional strength, knows that human beings don’t only want comfort, safety, short working-hours, hygiene, birth-control and, in general, common sense; they also, at least intermittently, want struggle and self-sacrifice, not to mention drums, flags and loyalty-parades. However they may be as economic theories, Fascism and Nazism are psychologically far sounder than any hedonistic conception of life. The same is probably true of Stalin’s militarised version of Socialism. All three of the great dictators have enhanced their power by imposing intolerable burdens on their peoples. Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people “I offer you a good time,” Hitler has said to them “I offer you struggle, danger and death,” and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet. Perhaps later on they will get sick of it and change their minds, as at the end of the last war. After a few years of slaughter and starvation “Greatest happiness of the greatest number” is a good slogan, but at this moment “Better an end with horror than a horror without end” is a winner. Now that we are fighting against the man who coined it, we ought not to underrate its emotional appeal.
Keep in mind that international banking regulators have been both warning banks to consider these issues and to be transparent about their exposures to possible stranded assets for some time, and that the Australian regulator, the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority, has told the banks they must report their exposures.
But this did not stop a Cabinet Minister, no less, David Littleproud, of making what could only be described — and in fact was described so by former regulators — as a grossly reckless statement threatening to revoke government guarantees for ANZ bank deposits as revenge for its stricter climate change lending policy.
“The Nationals will review every policy lever at the Federal Government’s disposal — including the availability of deposit guarantees — to protect Australian farmers from these sorts of arbitrary boardroom ideological agendas,” Littleproud said.
Littleproud and the band of Nationals MPs and senators who joined the ANZ-bashing conga line seemed to have little regard for things like a bank board’s obligation to make risk management decisions in the best interest of their shareholders, or indeed to be transparent about their actions.
But maybe that is not all that surprising. It is hard to think of a recent government that has done more to reduce transparency or frustrate inquiries into activities carried out in its name.
Thanks Greg for the Paypal donation
The Fist is Obsessed with Murdoch
So are 500,000 Australians
But, are they Australian and is it 500,000 unique petitioners?
Still, it’s a record.
Prayers in Brisbane City Council
Brisbane City Council is expected to retain its traditional Christian prayer to open council chamber meetings, despite a petition calling for it to be scrapped.
Two petitions were submitted in response to the first, calling on the council to keep the prayer as part of the city’s cultural heritage.
The original petition calling for the prayer to be scrapped had 862 signatures, arguing the prayer did not show respect to traditional custodians, did not “foster inclusion and participation of the community” and was not appropriate “for a city that celebrates the rich and diverse fabric of its residents”.
Two responding petitions gained 1323 signatures and 341 signatures respectively, with one saying the prayer was “an integral part of the foundational culture and heritage of Brisbane and the way it is governed”.
The other petition argued that to scrap the prayer “takes away something of Australia’s cultural heritage”.
The committee response
“In the Australian Federal Parliament, a prayer has been read at the beginning of meetings of the
House of Representatives and the Senate since 1901,” the draft petition response says.
“The Queensland Parliament commenced reading a prayer to open proceedings of meetings in
1860 and has continued to this day.”
The council’s first documented mention of a Brisbane council meeting opening with a prayer was in 1960, while an acknowledgement to country became part of the weekly council openings in February 2017.
“As the reading of a prayer is a long-standing tradition in all levels of government in Australia,
this practice will continue to be followed during council meetings,” the draft response concludes.
In July 2017 another petition calling on the prayer to be removed was also lodged, garnering 493 signatures, with the same response provided.
The committee will determine if it approves the response before presenting it to council next week.
NTOS Black Mass and other matters
It was a big success.
St. Michael’s Church, Belfield
Black “Mass” in Noosa QLD
A small group of us went to Noosa, 2-3 hours N of Brisbane to pray outside where there were having the first satanic “mass” in Queensland. It was 6:00pm Friday that they scheduled it for. A very awkward time as the Brisbane traffic going N is horrendous on a Friday afternoon. We left at 2:30. I am glad that I didn’t have to drive. The man who drove took the afternoon off from work. Others couldn’t go because of work. Anyway a few people met us there and we ended up with ten people. The satanists didn’t do much better. They claimed it was sold out at 275 people but in fact only about 20 people paid the $6.66 entrance fee and went in. Another ten-twenty stayed outside. A large percentage of them were openly queer. So their event wasn’t very popular thanks be to God.
We prayed the fifteen decades of the rosary interspersed with the long exorcism of Leo XIII, which I said in Latin and the faithful in English, Prayer to St. Michael, Litany of the Saints with its prayers and that is about it.
Thank you for the prayers and penances done in reparation for this event. They were effective. I think the satanists will be discouraged by their lack of support and not schedule another one soon. They invited politicians to attend but it doesn’t appear that even they stupid enough to go.
Grace Grace says something less offensive than Martin isles but he would be protected because it is a statement of faith.
Forgot to look at Qld Anti-Discrimination Act 1991
7 Discrimination on the basis of certain attributes prohibited
The Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of the following attributes—
(i)religious belief or religious activity;
(j)political belief or activity;
(k)trade union activity;
(l)lawful sexual activity;
(p)association with, or relation to, a person identified on the basis of any of the above attributes.
10 Meaning of direct discrimination
(1)Direct discrimination on the basis of an attribute happens if a person treats, or proposes to treat, a person with an attribute less favourably than another person without the attribute is or would be treated in circumstances that are the same or not materially different.
R refuses to rent a flat to C because—
- C is English and R doesn’t like English people
- C’s friend, B, is English and R doesn’t like English people
- R believes that English people are unreliable tenants.
In each case, R discriminates against C, whether or not R’s belief about C’s or B’s nationality, or the characteristics of people of that nationality, is correct.
(2)It is not necessary that the person who discriminates considers the treatment is less favourable.
(3)The person’s motive for discriminating is irrelevant.
R refuses to employ C, who is Chinese, not because R dislikes Chinese people, but because R knows that C would be treated badly by other staff, some of whom are prejudiced against Asian people. R’s conduct amounts to discrimination against C.
(4)If there are 2 or more reasons why a person treats, or proposes to treat, another person with an attribute less favourably, the person treats the other person less favourably on the basis of the attribute if the attribute is a substantial reason for the treatment.
(5)In determining whether a person treats, or proposes to treat a person with an impairment less favourably than another person is or would be treated in circumstances that are the same or not materially different, the fact that the person with the impairment may require special services or facilities is irrelevant.
15 Discrimination in work area
(1)A person must not discriminate—
(a)in any variation of the terms of work; or
(b)in denying or limiting access to opportunities for promotion, transfer, training or other benefit to a worker; or
(c)in dismissing a worker; or
(d)by denying access to a guidance program, an apprenticeship training program or other occupational training or retraining program; or
(e)in developing the scope or range of such a program; or
(f)by treating a worker unfavourably in any way in connection with work.
Division 10 Administration of State laws and programs area
101 Discrimination in administration of State laws and programs area
A person who—
(a)performs any function or exercises any power under State law or for the purposes of a State Government program; or
(b)has any other responsibility for the administration of State law or the conduct of a State Government program;
must not discriminate in—
(c)the performance of the function; or
(d)the exercise of the power; or
(e)the carrying out of the responsibility.
Maybe there is an action against Martin Isles?
124A Vilification on grounds of race, religion, sexuality or gender identity unlawful
(1)A person must not, by a public act, incite hatred towards, serious contempt for, or severe ridicule of, a person or group of persons on the ground of the race, religion, sexuality or gender identity of the person or members of the group.
(2)Subsection (1) does not make unlawful—
(a)the publication of a fair report of a public act mentioned in subsection (1); or
(b)the publication of material in circumstances in which the publication would be subject to a defence of absolute privilege in proceedings for defamation; or
(c)a public act, done reasonably and in good faith, for academic, artistic, scientific or research purposes or for other purposes in the public interest, including public discussion or debate about, and expositions of, any act or matter.
Uniting Church received assurances from political parties
Rev David Baker
Uniting Church in Australia, Queensland Synod
… Many of you will know that Religious Instruction (RI) in schools has been a personal passion of mine. I have spent a considerable amount of time over the past few months lobbying the political parties to obtain a commitment from them in relation to this. Whether people believe in Christ or not, Religious Instruction will always play a key role in our school curriculum and it is pleasing to see political parties acknowledge the contribution these volunteers play within the development of our young people. We have won commitments from the major parties that RI will continue during curriculum time in state schools. Now the work of enhancing this ecumenical ministry of 3500 volunteers, reaching out to over 150,000 children will go forward in confidence.
Indigenous community in far north Queensland says euthanasia is against Aboriginal culture
Standing up: Augustinian Father Robert Greenup (left), parish priest at St Thomas of Villanova, Mareeba, and who visits remote communities alongside Aboriginal Deacon Ralph Madigan (right) both say euthanasia is against Aboriginal culture.
MANY indigenous Queenslanders hold grave concerns about voluntary assisted dying (VAD), finding it frightening and at odds with their culture, according to Church leaders.
If Queensland politicians pass VAD laws, Townsville Bishop Harris has warned fear of euthanasia would weaken cultural ties and “lead to indigenous people shying away from medical help when it’s needed, particularly in remote regions”.
After attending a plenary meeting of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC), Bishop Harris said he had been struck by the many cultural insensitivities and unaddressed fears being mentioned by its members.
National Anthem at State of Origin
From Scomo’s Facebook page
A good and welcome decision by the NRL to ensure our National Anthem remains a feature of Origin. The NRL have done the right thing by acting quickly and listening to their fans.
We have all faced a year of struggle and heartbreak and it has never been more important to be coming together to celebrate Australia and to be able to sing together our national anthem at the game so many of us love.
If you step back and think about it for a bit, though, the idea that a sports league “must respect” the flag is actually very strange. We don’t listen to the national anthem at other mass cultural events. The latest Marvel film doesn’t open with “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Nor is it normal, internationally speaking, for sports teams to play national anthems before domestic sporting events. You don’t hear “God Save the Queen” before English Premier League matches. When you ask non-Americans about the patriotic spectacle that suffuses American sports, they tend to find it bizarre.
Playing the national anthem before national sports games started for very specific historical reasons — the need to get the public to help the war effort during World Wars I and II, specifically. This justification no longer held after 1945, but leagues came to realize that infusing sports with patriotism was great advertising and continued the practice. The NFL playing the national anthem is less about genuine honor for the country and more a way of keeping fans invested in professional football.
“The Star-Spangled Banner” is a poem written in 1814 the morning after a battle at Fort Henry in Baltimore, and was later set to an English drinking song. It only became America’s unofficial national anthem in 1916, when President Woodrow Wilson ordered its use at military and other national ceremonies (it took until 1931 for it to become official).
A year later, the United States entered World War I. This, as Mental Floss’s Matt Soniak explains, brought the song into use during sports events. The patriotic fervor stirred up by the war made the song popular — and thus, good business, as Major League Baseball discovered:
During the seventh-inning stretch of game one of the 1918 World Series, the band erupted into “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The Cubs and Red Sox players faced the centerfield flag pole and stood at attention. The crowd, already on their feet, began to sing along and applauded at the end of the song.
Given the positive reaction, the band played the song during the next two games, and when the Series moved to Boston, the Red Sox owner brought in a band and had the song played before the start of each remaining contest. After the war (and after the song was made the national anthem by a congressional resolution in 1931), the song continued to be played at baseball games, but only on special occasions like opening day, national holidays and World Series games.
It took World War II, Soniak writes, for the national anthem to become a staple of every game.
“During World War II, baseball games again became venues for large-scale displays of patriotism, and technological advances in public address systems allowed songs to be played without a band,” he explains. “‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ was played before games throughout the course of the war, and by the time the war was over, the pregame singing of the national anthem had become cemented as a baseball ritual, after which it spread to other sports.”
For most of Australia’s history, the national anthem was only played at sporting events when it was a genuine international between an Australian team and the team of another nation. The Americans might play the Star Spangled Banner before every baseball, NFL and hockey game, but we did not. We weren’t much of a flag-waving, national-anthem singing type people in any case. (Look it up. We weren’t.) We only started singing national anthems before big sports matches about the same time the players started doing high-fives and talking about “DEE-fence”, and “OH-fence”, rather than defence and attack. As went big-time American sport, so went big-time Australian sport, and with it came playing the national anthem before big sporting events like Origin.
Is the Labor Party Woke?
I tried to find the ALP’s policies but the party’s homepage has nothing newer than 2018. Why is one of the main political parties incapable of updating its policies since 2018? It at least partly explains why Comrade Albanese has so little to talk about, doesn’t it?
However, with regard to my claim that the ALP is being compromised by woke politics there’s this:
And unconditional support for ‘woke TV,’ or SBS as most people call it, which acts as the propaganda arm of the social justice movement. This is the public broadcaster that goes out of its way to tell Australians that they are a bunch of racists and sexists. SBS was a great idea when it was created but in the intervening years it has been well and truly captured by the woke left.
Plus Paul sent a link on International Mens day
No word on Julian Assange reporting (or lack of) in Spectator or Spiked?
Is the Liberal Party Woke
A bunch of virtue signallers when it comes to China?
The same people who say “virtue signalling is a moral weakness and protect the economy even if it costs Australian lives are often the same people who say forget about protecting the Australian economy if we have a chance to virtue signal against the Chinese.
Australian wine imports ‘suspended’ by China as trade tensions with Beijing continue
China’s Government has dramatically raised the stakes in its economic campaign against Australia, with multiple Chinese importers receiving verbal directives to stop shipments of Australian wine this week — dealing a blow to a market worth more than a billion dollars last year.
- Industry sources say wine imports will not clear Chinese customs after Friday
- Wine exports to China totalled $1.26 billion in 2019
- The Federal Trade Minister says the reports are concerning and the Government is trying to get more information
At least four wine importers have been advised by their local distributors to stop importing Australian wine, with Chinese Commerce officials in multiple cities arranging “off-the-record” meetings where phones were banned to relay the new directive.
Australian industry sources have told the ABC they have been warned by importers that shipments of Australian wine will not clear customs after Friday.
Several distributors also told the ABC that wine was not the only target, with shipments of Australian lobster, sugar, coal, timber, wool, barley and copper ore to also be unofficially suspended from November 6, dealing a potential five to six billion-dollar blow to Australia’s economy.
But Chinese authorities are rejecting claims of new directives, with representatives of major ports at Ningbo and Guangzhou telling the ABC they have not received any new notice of changes.
Officials at China’s Commerce Ministry have reportedly denied the existence of any new directives targeting Australia.
China tightens the screws on Australian coal imports
THE ANNOUNCEMENT that the Chinese Government has ordered a number of State-owned enterprises to stop buying Australian coal should not have come as a surprise to anyone.
China has already imposed a number of trade restrictions in response to political tension with the Australian Government over such issues as the Morrison Government’s advocacy of an inquiry into the causes of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although notionally about learning how to improve future responses, the inquiry push was correctly seen as motivated by U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign to blame China for what he has variously called the Chinese virus, the Wuhan virus and “kung flu”.
Coal advocates like Matt Canavan argue that we sell more coal to Japan and South Korea than to China and that export demand from other countries will rise to offset any switch in Chinese demand for imported coal.
But Japan now has only a couple of coal-fired power stations under construction and will probably never build another. Old coal-fired power stations are closing and this will continue for the next decade. Meanwhile, Japanese financial institutions are divesting from coal (and other carbon-based fuels). The latest to do so was Mitsui, which announced last week that it was divesting from coal-fired power plants. That follows similar announcements by Nippon Life, Mitsubishi, Dai-ichi and Mizuho among others. Japan’s export finance agency, the Bank for International Co-operation, has been a prominent lender to international coal projects but is now being forced to scale back its activities.
Among our existing markets for coal, China is therefore the only one with any realistic growth prospects in thermal coal. The same is true of metallurgical coal used in making steel, where China dominates world production. More importantly, as divestment becomes the norm for financial institutions around the world, China is the main source of significant new finance for coal mines and coal-fired power stations. That includes Australian coal miners like Whitehaven, as well as developments associated with the Belt and Road Initiative.
The longer Australia relies on coal exports, the more dependent on China we will become.