Muslim Terror Arrests: Round Them Up, Throw Them Out

WHEN TERRORIST REPRISAL is threatened against law enforcement agencies for doing their job, Australia has an urgent problem to deal with; dozens of arrests in Sydney and Brisbane yesterday are likely to be the tip of the iceberg, with retribution threatened against Police, the military and ASIO and reports of a foiled plot to infiltrate Parliament House. No tolerance should be shown to lawless, vicious thugs plying their wares in this country.

Sometimes in this column, it seems I’m playing a broken record: making the same arguments once again, in this case after yet another chilling reminder that the menace of ISIS/Islamic State/Al-Qaeda is not confined to the Middle Eastern war zone it seeks to establish a terrorist Islamic state upon, but rather threatens the free world.

And in talking about terrorists, jihadists, mujahideen or whatever they want to call themselves, it’s a mark of the impact those on the hard Left in Australia have had that any disclaimer at all needs to be attached to a discussion of “radical Islam,” “Muslim terrorists” or similar: as one writer opined in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph this morning, the perpetrators of this growing outrage — especially those “home-grown” adherents seeking to join the “fight” — actively seek to be recognised as the warriors of Islam, and in acknowledging this elementary truth no slight should be inferred by the vast majority of Australian Muslims who simply want to live in peace.

Yesterday’s anti-terrorism operation, the largest in Australian history, poses more problems than it solves, but Australians can at the very minimum be reassured that those agencies charged with their protection — ASIO, the various Police forces across the country, and the military — are possessed of sufficient mettle to discharge the obligation that becomes them.

It’s a valid point; already, military personnel have been advised to be vigilant on the basis of a heightened threat of attack by terrorist groups that extends to their families; ASIO is said to be targeted, too, over its thwarting of a plot to penetrate Parliament House in Canberra (to achieve God only knows what, but it’s not too hard to guess). We’ll come back to that in a bit.

But calm and sober voices can be heard amid the seething reactions of those who would strike at Australia, Australians and the symbols of our way of life, and amid the entirely justifiable outrage of ordinary Australians who did not ask for the “Islamic State” to have any place in this country, and who are affronted by the determination of those who now seek to see to it that it does.

Voices like Tim Priest‘s in the Tele, who makes the compelling case that defects in governance on Australia’s part, as well as those elements of the Muslim community who cannot and/or will not live by Australian laws and standards, are equally to blame for the rise of the so-called “home-grown” Islamic terrorist.

Or that of a favourite of this column, Piers Akerman, who eloquently argues the case that our all-things-to-all-people, risk-averse, “offend nobody” politicians commit a grave injustice against law-abiding Australians — including the vast bulk of the Muslim community — by shying away from any mention of the Islamic and/or Muslim colours of those seeking to commit their obscene outrages on Australian soil; Piers is also one of the many opinion writers today who acknowledge that Police have been assisted by law-abiding individuals from the Muslim community, and his views can hardly be decried as bigoted or discriminatory.

Yet calm and sober discussion of what promises — literally — to wreak untold carnage and mayhem in Australian society is entirely compatible with ruthless, relentless and determined action to identify and round up those who would participate in such things, root them out of Australian society, and to the extent allowable under Australian law, throw them out of the country.

And in spite of what some of the chardonnay drunks, compassion babblers and self-styled do-gooders with their bleeding-hearted bullshit might protest, those who participate in the planning of terrorist atrocities on Australian soil are every inch committing a crime as those who, unhindered and/or undetected, actually go ahead and do it. So no nonsense in comments today from anyone at the Communist Party Greens, thanks.

Those of us who know people who suffered the misfortune to be caught up in the London bombings, or the September 11 attacks in the US, or the Bali bombings know too well that terrorist outrages are no trifling matter to score political points from, nor a vehicle to assert some purported moral superiority that doesn’t exist: those who seek to do so should be ashamed, and the misty-eyed sentiment that “it could never happen here” echoes perfectly similar sentiments in other free countries whose innocence of such crimes has long-since been violated.

Two of the insidiously barbaric plots foiled by yesterday’s raids and arrests are horrific: one murderous storyline was apparently set to feature terrorist snipers picking off the security detail on the ministerial wing of Parliament House, allowing straightforward access to the Prime Minister’s courtyard and, as one report rather euphemistically described the consequent vantage point from which to keep shooting, “a line of sight into the Prime Minister’s office.”

Another involved Islamic State terrorists randomly snatching and abducting a tourist from Sydney’s Martin Place, beheading the victim on camera, and then sending the footage to what we’ll call the Islamic State press office in Syria for broadcast and propaganda purposes.

This kind of thing — or anything like it — has no place in Australia.

In a way, Australians had a foretaste of this two years ago, as Muslims rioted through Sydney on the flimsy pretext of being “offended” about a nonsense film made in America by an Egyptian Coptic Christian — in breach of parole conditions applied to him at the time — which saw these undesirable Muslim miscreants call for (among other things) beheadings to occur in Australia in accordance with a strict interpretation of Sharia law.

It was unacceptable then, and it is unacceptable now.

I have been criticised in the past for advocating the deportation of these specimens of human filth from our shores wherever possible, and to reiterate — again — the degraded human state to which I refer has nothing to do with their religion, but everything to do with the fact these are bad people who simply do not belong in this country: irrespective of what religious beliefs they hold.

But the problem with throwing them in jail stems from the very characteristic that makes Islamic State such a dangerous presence in Australia in the first place; these networks are comprised of people who are first-class networkers, recruiters and brainwashers, and their recruitment practices tend to focus on angry, disaffected and marginalised people who believe the world — and the country — have grievously wronged them.

How many martyrs and wounded souls are potentially available to such groups within prison populations?

Yesterday’s raids, arrests and associated counter-terrorist operations are merely the first step in what is likely to be an incessant process of finding those who plot against Australia; and those charged with undertaking them — in intelligence gathering, operations and initiation — are to be congratulated rather than criticised or condemned.

Sadly, however, Australia is proving to be a fertile hiring ground for the terrorist machines wreaking havoc in other parts of the world, and the prospect of similar violence and atrocities being carried out on our shores is not hypothetical at all: it is real, imminent and deadly, as the plots thwarted yesterday chillingly demonstrate.

Lock these barbarians away by all means, and get them off the streets, but I reiterate the position on this issue I have held throughout: if they travel abroad to participate in terrorist activities, their Australian passports should be cancelled; those of them holding another citizenship in addition to that of Australia, their Australian citizenship should be rescinded and those affected thrown out of the country.

Let’s be honest: anyone caught planning or executing their savage outrages in this country don’t belong here; and the simple legislative change to citizenship arrangements would merely see those caught in its web either marooned in or deported to countries they profess to want to set up their own state in anyway.

Frankly, our government should do everything in its power to help them get there; and if they find the going a bit too rough once they arrive — like the so-called “Cream Puff Brigade” we looked at a week or two ago — then really, that’s too bad.

 

“Their ABC” Is Vital To Democracy? God Help Us

ARGUMENTS THAT SUGGEST the ABC is “vital” to democracy in Australia are hard to take seriously; whilst some ABC products merit praise, its news and current affairs offerings leave everything to be desired — unless you sit on the hard Left, that is. A cynical article by board member Dr Fiona Stanley, appearing in Fairfax papers today and making that ridiculous claim, is really just a pot shot at the Murdoch press that damns the ABC by omission.

Dr Fiona Stanley is a brilliant and accomplished — and deservedly decorated — scientist, whose work has improved and saved lives both here in Australia and internationally.

But as a board member of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and, specifically, as a defender of any crucial role the ABC plays in Australian democracy, she makes a very good doctor indeed.

I have been reading an article this morning in The Age that is also being carried in other Fairfax mastheads, and it surprises me that anyone — even an ABC board member — would actually put their name to such a vapid, misleading piece that blatantly seeks to bamboozle its reader with bullshit, but which in fact simply substantiates the very problem it attempts to claim is a fiction.

The fact anyone or anything associated with the ABC would lash out at the Murdoch press, however, comes as no surprise; and it’s something of an oxymoron that an article purporting to show the ABC as “vital” to democracy in this country should appear in the pages of once-revered and formerly robustly independent Fairfax titles that, as descendants of their past selves in name only, often provide little more than a PR channel for Australia’s Left.

I actually had to look twice at the headline on Dr Stanley’s article — once to check it actually said what I thought it said, and once because I couldn’t believe who had written it — and to be blunt, it reinforces just about every criticism levelled at the ABC by those who take an interest in the public affairs of this country and who do not sit on the Left.

And those criticisms are valid: after all, it is rare for the ABC to have anything favourable to say about anyone from the Right (with the exception of Malcolm Turnbull, unilaterally adored by the Left) or to pursue any of the Right’s causes at all, let alone with the vigour it seems to commit to the agenda of the Left.

Before I go through Dr Stanley’s article in some detail, I should point out that the ABC’s board — funnily enough, just like that of Fairfax Media — is bereft of actual, hands-on media experience: with the exceptions of its Chairman, Mark Scott (ironically, a Fairfax man) and the staff-elected director, Matt Peacock, the other six who sit on it can hardly be said to be senior media industry figures, or even media industry figures at all.

It’s an important point; certainly, some diversity in the make-up of the board of a statutory authority such as the ABC is a good thing. But the ABC is a media organisation first and foremost — an assertion entirely compatible with its charter — and whilst I don’t suggest for a moment that the skew toward career corporate executives is responsible for the abrogation of the ABC’s duty to be impartial, or any moral imperative to exercise balance in its handling and presentation of national events, it is noteworthy given the same criticisms have been levelled at Fairfax for the same reasons: and Fairfax isn’t the national broadcaster at all.

(Thank goodness for that).

But I digress.

Dr Stanley singles out The Australian very early in her article as the villain of the piece; of all of the critics she alludes to — journalists and politicians, all dumb and delusional, of course — it is the only one she actually identifies, and does so three times (although she does single out “the government” — meaning Tony Abbott’s government — for abolishing the ABC’s international Australia Network indulgence).

Her “before” and “after” exercise, designed to show just how good the hard done-by ABC is despite the affront of the miserly conditions under which it is forced to operate, can only hold sway with those who have no idea of how a media organisation actually functions: and the first point I would make is that for the ABC to deliver everything it does today, by Dr Stanley’s own admission with 1,500-odd fewer staff and $80 million less than it did in 1986, merely shows how bloated and inefficient the broadcaster was and probably still is.

So the ABC runs four channels now instead of just the one in 1986: so what? A vast proportion of the content these channels broadcast is outsourced (and I’m talking about production, not necessarily whether they are Australian programmes or not) and it only takes a well-organised and efficient traffic manager to load the content into the cart — literally hit “enter” — and the broadcast of that material, barring technical issues, simply happens.

(For the uninitiated, and to put it very simply, a traffic manager at a TV or radio station — whilst an integral job with a big workload and usually a salary that’s less than it should be — is basically an administrative function that requires some knowledge of production specifications).

Far from dazzling her readers with the giddy-headed infinitude of the ABC’s audience and reach, all Dr Stanley is really telling her readers is how pitifully inadequate these measures are: of 10 the million people are reached by ABC1, for example, this means just 40% of the population tunes in for at least 15 minutes per week, which is hardly a success to scream from the rooftops.

20 million plays per month from iView doesn’t equate to much to be proud of either; I watch #QandA on iView every week and I only watch it to keep an eye on the open forum the ABC provides the Left. There are plenty of people who only ever go onto ABC portals to “see for themselves” the latest outrage they have heard about on the national broadcaster.

And trying to brag about the likes of Radio National and Classic FM, which barely rate better than community radio, is like bragging about a couple of hundred people showing up to a suburban football match the same day 90,000 people are at the MCG watching Carlton maul Essendon.

So yes, Dr Stanley is right on that count: so much for quantity, as she says herself.

This brings us to Dr Stanley’s next question. What about quality? What indeed.

Whilst Dr Stanley relies on an “independent Newspoll” that isn’t even referenced (perhaps because Newspoll appears in The Australian) to support her case, and waxes lyrical about data the board receives showing how much citizens value its content, and how “impressed” board members are with reviews penned by obvious sycophants and fellow travellers, the key flaw in her entire defence of the ABC — indeed, the key offence committed by the ABC against its charter — follows soon after.

Talking of a list of “wicked problems” that includes climate change, environmental degradation and “inequality” — bedrock issues of the Left — Dr Stanley says, in a direct answer to her own question of why the ABC is “so important” for Australian democracy, that “citizens need to be informed about these issues to support appropriate political and whole of government policy solutions.” (My emphasis and underlining).

Who the hell is the ABC to be the arbiter of what political solutions to anything are “appropriate?”

We could simply stop there; that sentence, if representative of the ABC’s philosophy from the top down — and there is absolutely no reason to believe that it isn’t — encapsulates everything that is wrong with the ABC, and neatly validates the trenchant criticism it attracts from those who regard it as little more than a propaganda service of the Left that is (outrageously) funded by taxpayers.

Read a little further, and the real agenda emerges; this article is a backdoor attempt to advance the climate change theories of the rabid Left by re-emphasising the “science.” I’m sure, as Stanley claims, that the ABC’s reporting accurately reflects the “science” on coal, coal seam gas, and the other things she mentions.

The problem is that the “science” on climate change is not settled; there are differences of opinion held in respected quarters within the scientific community that organisations like the ABC simply fail to mention, Or if they do, they call it “bad science” as Dr Stanley has, or something similar. It’s hardly the kind or rigorous approach you’d expect from someone of her calibre.

It’s all a campaign; an enterprise designed to ensure one position prevails over the other. There is nothing objective about it. At the very minimum, if the ABC were all the good things Dr Stanley claims of it, the broadcaster would spend a considerable amount of time presenting both sides to allow its viewers to form their own opinions. But remember, folks, it can do no such thing: Dr Stanley has also said, in writing, that the ABC’s efforts are designed to persuade its viewers to support appropriate political solutions — appropriate as the broadcaster sees fit.

I tend to rattle on, with increasing frequency, about the ABC’s #QandA programme; billed as “Adventures in Democracy,” this weekly one-hour programme is just about the most blatantly biased brainwashing exercise ever conducted in this country.

Those who haven’t seen it will understand, when they do, that host Tony Jones has to be counted as a panellist: he is no simple moderator; featuring a panel of six that routinely splits 4-2 (and usually 5-1) in the favour of the Left, ordinary weekly shows see a barrage of pre-screened questions directed to panel members, and the questions themselves generally either raise the pet issues of the Left or seek to put the token panel presence of the Right under as much pressure as possible.

The beaten Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella was a favourite #QandA target in this regard; the hapless Mirabella would invariably find herself under siege from both the audience and the rest of the panel.

And to cap it, Jones exhibits a disturbing tendency to simply cut off any audience participant showing any pro-Liberal sentiment.

A recent innovation, which the ABC apparently prides itself on, is to vary the “weekly issues” focus with a series of “special” #QandA programmes built around set themes; this week it was “Science,” and more specifically a bitching session about what nasty arseholes Tony Abbott and his mates are for their “attack” on universities. A few weeks ago it was “Dangerous Ideas” from an all-female panel spouting unbridled left-wing drivel. The prospects of one of these “special” programmes ever investigating labour market deregulation, or taxation reform, or “welfare vs work,” or anything else that is remotely connected to competent governance, are zero.

So much for balanced and unbiased content from the ABC.

I make the point that so many voices on the Left who rail against the outrageous conservative bias of the Murdoch press (and especially those, like Dr Stanley, who sit in their ABC or Fairfax citadels) conveniently ignore that fact that Rupert Murdoch made it his mission, for example, to get their hero Gough Whitlam elected in 1972. Or that his papers turned on the best Prime Minister this country has ever had to see the contemptible Kevin Rudd swept to power in 2007.

I remember watching #QandA one night in a Hobart hotel room back in early 2010 — when an audience full of school students ripped Rudd to pieces — and thinking the ABC had finally turned over a new leaf. But silly me; all it was doing was the bidding of those who wanted Julia Gillard made Prime Minister, although in a macabre way I agree that helping to tear Rudd down must at least have made many people at the ABC feel good about themselves.

But for ABC types like Stanley to hit out at the Murdoch press, and The Australian in particular, is disingenuous; to the extent the Murdoch editorial position endorses or favours anyone or any side of a given issue, that position evolves and changes with the flux of events.

As a commercial enterprise boasting market-leading products that deliver a return to their shareholders, it is perfectly entitled to do so: and I would challenge Dr Stanley, or any of her cohorts at the ABC, to nominate which news journalists at The Australian are such embarrassments to their profession as to either warrant or deserve the grubby little attack she has launched at them from the glassy confines of Fairfax’s Media House.

The simple truth — and it’s an unpalatable one for those who think they are entitled to sinecures from which to propagate the drivel of the Left and/or to commit the sin of omission by simply ignoring anything they dislike — is that the ABC is a failure as an entity.

It is a failure as a media outlet; it is a failure as a reputable purveyor of news and current affairs content; and it is a failure weighed against the clear mandate its charter imposes upon it.

How anyone can seriously claim the ABC is “vital” to Australian democracy in its current state beggars belief, but there you are — Dr Stanley believes it; but with the exception of the slavering Left and those whose trust at face value in the ABC to deliver balanced content is systematically abused, a growing number of Australians rightly question the value of “their ABC:” irrespective of what the latest “independent Newspoll,” or distorted and misrepresented ratings statistics, might suggest to the contrary.

 

 

Mushroom Principle: Royal Commission Creeps Closer To Shorten

A BAD DAY for Labor at the Heydon Commission into the union movement signals trouble for opposition “leader” Bill Shorten and for the puerile oaf seeking to be Premier of Victoria, Daniel Andrews; for now, allegations made at the Commission are just that — allegations — but the picture they paint belies the most solemn assurances of good faith by the unions. In Shorten’s case, the behaviour depicted is hardly Prime Ministerial in nature.

It was never going to take a crystal ball of any clarity to foresee that from the moment a Royal Commission into trade union misconduct was convened, tremendous embarrassment would be the best the ALP could hope to be exposed to; now, stories are beginning to emerge that paint its federal “leader” in an extremely poor light, and his accident-prone counterpart in Victoria doesn’t fare any better.

It’s a quick post this morning, as I am (and have again recently been) rather pressed for time; even so, my early morning scan of the news portals has drawn my attention to a story being covered by both Fairfax and the Murdoch press through The Australian. Readers are advised to peruse the articles provided in the interests of timeliness today.

To date, I have steered away from providing the kind of running commentary on the Heydon commission that is available in other independent online opinion columns; for one thing, I don’t have the resources (or the time) to attend to the proceedings as comprehensively as others do, and for another, this column aims to provide opinion across a range of issues on foot at any given time, and the Heydon commission is enough to sustain such an enterprise on its own.

But Industry 2000 — apparently an AWU-aligned slush fund described by prominent Labor identity (and state Labor candidate) Cesar Melhem as ” a vehicle to assist like-minded individuals” has the potential to throw spokes into any number of spinning wheels.

As Fairfax reports, this “Industry 2020″ fund was selectively generous, writing out cash cheques including $100,000 for candidates contesting elections at the disgraced Health Services Union; cash cheques to a suburban soccer club in Melbourne said to be linked to branch stacking activities within the ALP; cash cheques to factional heavyweights in the ALP including the party’s state secretary in Victoria, Noah Carroll; and “tens of thousands of dollars” transferred to “other slush funds” including one attached to the plumbers’ union, which is aligned to Bill Shorten.

Melhem didn’t dispute the accusation, telling the commission that “in hindsight…you live and learn.”

As for “like-minded individuals,” one has to wonder what the common ground uniting these people might have been.

The revelations cause problems for Victorian ALP leader Daniel Andrews at an inconvenient time, just nine weeks out from a state election; they implicate the head of the party’s organisational wing in scandal at a time when all his efforts should be focused on winning the looming election, and they cast a pall over his parliamentary team by virtue of the fact one of them — Melhem — now finds himself with questions to answer in the context of a judicial probe into union misconduct.

Andrews — already under fire (and deservedly so) for links to the ultra-militant CFMEU, which he refuses to abandon or disown — needs this latest distraction like he needs a hole in the head, given he is already under sustained pressure for his backflip over Melbourne’s East-West Link freeway project: a misstep I believe has probably snuffed out Victorian Labor’s election prospects anyway.*

More question marks over Labor’s suitability and fitness to govern are the last thing Andrews would wish to have to contend with.

But the real meat in yesterday’s sandwich were the revelations thrown up, in the course of this particular line of inquiry, that the AWU — on Bill Shorten’s watch as its state secretary — struck a “deal” with a mushroom farm that allegedly enabled wages to be reduced in return for a series of “unusual” payments being made to the AWU’s own slush fund.

One report I saw claimed the monies — said to be in the order of $4,000 per month for six months — were designed to “ease union concerns” over the company, Chiquita Mushrooms (now MushroomExchange) increasing the size of its casual labour force.

Apparently, the money was supposed to pay for training that would be provided by the AWU. However, the company’s general manager at the time, Stephen Little, said he could only ever recall a single two-hour seminar being conducted by the AWU.

Where this becomes disturbing is the suggestion made to the commission by Little, and apparently not disputed, that the $4,000 each month was “in part to buy industrial peace.”

The reports from the commission of both Fairfax and the Murdoch press also note that the agreement under which these payments were conducted and received were approved by Shorten during his time in charge of the AWU.

If this is true — and time will tell, it always does — then Shorten has some explaining to do.

I don’t find it remotely appropriate that a small-ish enterprise like MushroomExchange should be forced to cough up several thousand dollars each month just to stop the unions instructing their members not to go on strike or otherwise cause industrial anarchy.

And I would be very interested to know whether this kind of arrangement sits happily or not with the criminal code applicable to whatever is the appropriate jurisdiction in which it was struck.

Even if there is nothing illegal in such an arrangement, I’d like to know whether Shorten thinks it’s acceptable that companies should have to pay money to unions to stop the employees they also pay out wages and salaries to from going on strike; and I would like to know what Shorten’s thoughts might be on the notion that having received those monies, a union might then disburse the proceeds in a fashion similar to the slew of cash cheques — and their recipients — that Melhem admitted to distributing from his Industry 2020 slush fund.

And if he does find such arrangements to be acceptable, I’m sure Australian voters would be fascinated to know what his basis is for holding such a belief.

They certainly don’t corroborate vociferous claims made by the PR organs of the union movement to facilitate constructive partnerships between workers and employers.

It comes as no surprise to note — as reported by Fairfax — that Shorten’s office rather drily stated that it had not responded to any specific claims from the commission and that “it would not start today.”

Well, I think that if Shorten believes the type of grubby arrangements heard by the commission yesterday constitute acceptable conduct, it merely underlines his complete unsuitability to hold the office of Prime Minister: although on that score, there are plenty of other grounds that disqualify him from that.

And the day will come when Shorten — as a very senior and pivotal trade union figure prior to his entry to Parliament — will have to start responding to matters raised at the Heydon commission; even now, the commission has only scraped the tip of the iceberg. As everyone in Australia knows, it’s only a matter of time before Shorten himself is called to give testimony: and then he won’t be given a choice over whether he responds or not.

 

*Daniel Andrews’ announcement last week that he would tear up any contract signed to build the East-West Link if elected Premier — despite earlier supporting the project and agreeing to honour such a contract, citing sovereign risk — is one issue I intended to publish on that time constraints have prevented me from doing. I believe his “quantum leap” U-turn has probably cost the ALP its chance of winning government in Victoria, and I will post the full article if events in coming days make it appropriate to do so.

 

Dedicated Aboriginal Seats In Parliament? Absolutely Not

HOT ON THE HEELS of a nuclear attack on China, touting on Hobart radio for a man with a huge penis and sharing too much information on the unkempt state of her pubic mane, idiot Senator Jacqui Lambie has put her latest idea on the table: the creation of reserved seats in Parliament for Aborigines. Far from fostering social inclusion, the notion is radically divisive, and would harm the Aboriginal interests Lambie clearly thinks it would help.

There’s nothing wrong with going to Canberra to fight for what you believe in, or to represent the constituency that elected you.

But Jacqui Lambie is quickly showing — to the extent she represents anyone at all in the classic sense except for herself, and perhaps Clive Palmer — that what she believes in and what is in the best interests of the country as a whole are, by and large, mutually exclusive subsets.

We already know she thinks she should be Prime Minister, and we know that because she was naive and/or inexperienced enough not to know that running around trumpeting that kind of ambition is off-putting to many people.

Especially when you’re a rookie Senator and ineligible to serve in the post anyway without securing a seat in the lower house, at the very minimum: and winning electorates in the House of Representatives means cobbling together a majority of the two-party vote in one location, something even her boofhead leader could only manage by a couple of hundred votes, off a primary vote of just 26%, and despite throwing a fortune of his own money at the contest.

So it should probably come as no surprise that Lambie — who presented herself in her maiden speech to the Senate as a sixth-generation descendant from an Aboriginal ancestor (a detail disputed by some Aboriginal elders, in response to which she has refused to provide proof) — has taken it upon herself to call for indigenous representation to be embedded in federal Parliament by way of dedicated seats for Aboriginal representatives.

As reported in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph last night, Lambie claims that “3 to 4 percent” of the population being Aboriginal equates to nine seats in Parliament, which would break down for constitutional reasons as meaning three in the Senate and six in the House of Representatives. It isn’t clear whether these seats are meant to be included in or in addition to the existing numbers in federal Parliament, but such a distinction is actually irrelevant.

Even so, these seats might make it easier for Lambie to remain in Parliament when her term expires, as the Tele notes; despite standing under the banner of a high-profile and well-resourced minor party and at the top of its Senate ticket, Lambie polled just 6.4% of the vote in Tasmania last year, finishing fourth behind the Communist Party Greens — an outfit well and truly on the nose with voters nationally at that time.

And in terms of her designs on the Prime Ministership, moving into a reserved Aboriginal seat in the House of Representatives might get her into the lower house, but the small matter of forming a government (and a majority on the floor of the chamber) is a different proposition altogether: and with all due respect to her sincerity, I’d rate her prospects of doing so equivalent to the proverbial snowball’s chance in hell.

So the first point I would make is that if this suggestion is being offered up by Lambie to further her own prospects, it would be a complete waste of other people’s time to even consider it.

But if this really is intended as a contribution seeking to advance the cause of Aboriginal people generally, it is misdirected.

For one thing, coming as it does as the details of a future referendum on constitutional acknowledgement are being worked through, Lambie’s ill-considered proposal risks being too much too quickly: the merits or otherwise of Aborigines achieving more than a favourable referendum result notwithstanding, to lob this latest idea into the mix at such an integral point in that process represents overkill that could derail the entire thing — including the referendum — ensuring Aborigines achieve nothing.

For another, a few seats in Parliament aren’t going to change the lot of the Aboriginal community; government policies are, and the best avenue these people have to advance their interests is through working with whichever of the major parties best fits their outlook to formulate and execute legislation that will achieve those ends. If the desired approach is to be welfare-based, it will be the ALP; if it’s opportunity-based, it will be the Coalition.

By contrast, Jacqui Lambie and the huge chip on her shoulder — even with the backing of Clive Palmer — can offer virtually nothing.

And where this whole thing really falls to bits in my view has to do with a distaste that runs deeply in my DNA: the pandering to minorities, and the attendant handouts, goodies, and other special considerations shovelled out to minority interests to the direct and disproportionate cost of the majority of the people who live in this country.

In case anyone thinks I’m just picking on Lambie, I should quickly note she’s not the only person in the national arena trying to engineer handouts, quotas, or special favours for this constituency or that: the “wimmin’s lobby” as personified by the ghastly Emily’s List wants its 35% of everything for women (although to qualify as “female” in the jaundiced estimation of Emily’s List, membership of the hard political Left is also required); Labor “leader” Bill Shorten stood for the post on a platform of quotas for gays, lesbians, Aborigines, and God alone knows who else; some sections of the Left want special seats in Parliament reserved for certain migrant communities to reflect “diversity.” On and on it goes. Whether it’s money, or preferment, or seats in Parliament, it’s all a handout. The only difference is the format.

And in every case, the “silent majority” in Australia simply becomes more marginalised in its own country. These things aren’t inclusive, or conducive to promoting cohesion, or contrived to right a wrong — real, alleged or imagined.

Shovelling out preferment to minority groups becomes a self-perpetuating and self-destructive cycle; the more you shovel out, the less satisfied the recipients become with it and the more they want, so more largesse is shovelled out and the cycle continues.

Parallel to this, those who don’t fit into the compartmentalised box of one minority group or another simply grow angrier and more resentful. After all, these are generally the people footing the bill for the preferential treatment being doled out. And what does the majority receive for its trouble? Comparatively little, if anything at all.

(And before anyone counters with an argument about “middle class welfare,” it should be observed that it is the majority in the community that by and large pays for that too).

Handing any minority group in Australian society its own, special, reserved allocation of parliamentary seats is going to drive that resentment rather than redress anything. And in this case, what Lambie wants is hardly going to achieve anything for the Aboriginal community she claims to represent.

Lambie has suggested that special electorates allocated to Maori in New Zealand are “evidence” her policy would work, to which I say the suggestion is based on a false premise: New Zealand is a different country, with a considerably different political system, and in which race relations are an entirely different proposition to the situation that exists in Australia between Aboriginal people and other Australians.

In turn, this speaks to something else that readers know boils my blood: the usage by politicians of one set of “international standards” or another to justify something they either want or have done, often where little or no support exists for it. If New Zealanders thought it a good idea to flock to Melbourne so they could jump off the West Gate Bridge, should we all follow suit? Of course not. It might be a frivolous analogy but it still illustrates the point.

New Zealand doesn’t have an upper house of Parliament, but I don’t hear the self-interested Senator Lambie advocating we follow suit on that count.

In closing today, I make two points.

One, that Lambie exhibits a dangerous and developing characteristic of presenting herself as “an expert” on those issues she arrogates to herself as her own: I am very reliably informed, for example, that a lot of serving and retired military personnel are affronted by the fact this Army truck driver and military policewoman has had the temerity to parade herself as an authority on military and defence matters since her election, which her outbursts over China have shown her up as the fraud she is; now she seeks to replicate the act over Aboriginal affairs, and the “solution” she advocates shows just how little grasp she has of what might serve that noble people well, and what will further harm both their interests and their standing.

And two, there is already quite enough buying off of lobby groups, minorities, rent seekers, gravy train passengers and other constituencies going on in Australia, in one form or another, without adding to this insidious method of government even further.

The ordinary decency of good people — coupled with various politically correct laws foisted on an unwitting public by successive waves of governance by the Left — has meant that much of the hostility and resentment the mainstream majority community feels about such things is muted or often silent, but it is there. It would be a shame, and a disservice to Aboriginal Australia, if indigenous Australians were made the focal point of this ill-will by elevating them above every other section of the community by providing them their own dedicated parliamentary sinecure — which, at present, is not enjoyed by any other single group in Australia.

It is a grotesque irony that parties such as the one Lambie is a member of tend to spring up as a direct consequence of the very resentment the idea she is proposing would fuel.

Personally, I don’t care if self-interest is motivating Lambie on this issue, or whether she really is incompetent enough to think that what she advocates could be implemented without fuelling social discord.

But I’m certain of one thing: the last thing we need in this country is a carve-up of Parliament into sectional interest groups, be they based on race, gender, sexuality or whatever; the country has enough problems that aren’t being adequately dealt with as it is without wilfully adding to them, and without embarking on jingoistic misadventures that would almost certainly render more harm than good — and with unknown and unpredictable consequences, no less.

 

 

Terror And Reality: Those Who “Hail War With The West” Are Not “Aussies”

WITH THE elevation of Australia’s official terror threat from “medium” to “high” — meaning a terrorist attack on Australian soil is considered likely — has come greater media coverage of locally-based Muslims bent on “jihad” against the West; from threats against military personnel and plots to carry out terror strikes in this country, to travelling to fight “jihad” in the name of ISIS, those who do so have no right to call themselves Australians.

Until very recently, with the advent and apparent entrenchment of ISIS and Al-Qaeda in a rapidly expanding tract of “Islamic Caliphate” territory in the Middle East, this column has mostly avoided talking about issues primarily based on Islam; such matters have become an incendiary sore point in Australia, with those who (rightly) point to problems of spiralling religious violence in other Western countries potentially becoming replicated in Australia slapped down — and armed with a pile of legislation designed to outlaw their grievances — by an army of chardonnay-swilling, politically correct trendies determined to ram “diversity” down the throats of whoever dares as much as question it, let alone voice any opposition to it.

I have steered clear of such things because in many respects they are arguments you can’t win; there are Muslim people who simply want to be left alone and to live in peace (in Australia and elsewhere) and there are those who want to kill infidels, wage “jihad,” and rape and murder and pillage — all in the name of Allah, of course; it’s religion and faith that is used to justify such slaughter.

Those who defend the rights of the Muslims in the first category to live in Australia are shot down by those determined to round up and deport all Muslims in order to ensure the complete removal of those in the second category from Australian shores, and the paradoxical truth of the matter is that the arguments of both carry some merit.

But those Muslims who live in Australia and who have become “radicalised,” to use the current jargon — and who want to either mount terrorist attacks in Australia, or skip the country to fight alongside “brethren” in the Middle East in a “jihad” against the Western world — have no right to call themselves Australian, and as far as I am concerned should not be welcome in this country under any circumstances.

The official escalation this week of Australia’s terror threat to “high” for the first time ever — and taking it to the second-highest level on the four-tiered scale adopted a decade ago — comes as the issue of radical Islam and the threat it poses globally is arguably the most prominent it has been since Muslim terrorists flew hijacked aircraft into various landmarks in the USA on 11 September 2001, killing thousands.

What is now clearly two rival complements of radical fundamental Muslims — Islamic State and Al-Qaeda (the latter initially thought to have spawned the former) — are busily laying waste to a rapidly growing tract of the Middle East, and the obscenity of the crimes being committed against humanity in the process are too revolting to countenance.

In the three and a half years I have been publishing this forum, I have posted articles devoted to Islam just four times, and it speaks volumes that one of these — an angry piece penned in the wake of Muslim riots in Sydney two years ago — remains, to this day, the most widely read article ever published here (although a pre-election expose last year about Communist Party Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young comes a very close second).

And it says much, too, that of the other three, two of them have been in the past ten days, both dealing with ISIS: those who didn’t see these can access them here and here.*

But I read yesterday, among other things on the subject, an article in the Weekend Australian that demands comment for the simple reason that anyone who “hails war with the West” might well possess Australian residency or citizenship — although those things can be changed — but they have no moral or social right whatsoever to categorise themselves as “Australian.”

To put it bluntly, these are not the kind of people this country either needs or wants, and they should be deported. But more on that later.

One of the more disturbing aspects of the fundamentalist terror advocates that have at least partly underpinned the Commonwealth’s heightened state of terror alert is the fact their activities are so open; these people are either extremely careless or extremely cavalier, conducting their campaigns of recruitment and propaganda in full view of anyone who cares to look.

The Australian‘s story features “Australian Islamic State fighter” Abu Khaled, who it seems maintains an easily accessible propaganda presence on Twitter and Facebook; Khaled — said to be a “former Melbourne man” of Fijian and Cambodian ancestry, neither of which are typical of Islam — is apparently also the “star” of a soon to be released propaganda video from Islamic State.

I’m not going to drone on about every detail carried in these reports (although a selection may be accessed here, here, here and here for those wishing to read further). Suffice to say, however, Australia — thanks to immigration policies that are either inadequately rigorous and/or too easily circumvented when it comes to rooting out religiously motivated troublemakers — now finds itself at risk from the local adherents of these murderous groups who hate everything about liberal democracy, freedom and the rule of law, and anything that doesn’t fit with their extremely strict conservative interpretation of the Islamic holy book, the Qur’an.

For once, one will say something favourable about the Fairfax press; it’s obsession with the hobby horses of the Left (such as “tolerance” and “inclusion”) has seen it publish today a piece focused on Ibrahim Abu Mohammad, the Grand Mufti of Australia, who not for the first time presents as the reasonable voice of the moderate Muslim community (which — as I have repeatedly noted in this column — is actually most of the Muslim community).

But Muslim voices such as Dr Ibrahim’s are all too infrequently heard: it may be that comparatively little attention is paid to them, it may be because of prejudice, or it may be that they simply don’t speak up to the degree they ought to. But what seems indisputable is that those who seek to act in the name of Islam to perpetuate mass killings and other outrages pay no heed to responsible leaders in their communities like Dr Ibrahim whatsoever.

I am not a bigot or a redneck, and I disagree with those whose “answer” to the threat posed by violent religious jihadists is to throw every Muslim out of Australia; to do so (were it even possible) would be to respond to a local threat posed by the comparative few in a fashion utilising the polar opposite extreme to tar the many — wrongly — with the same brush.

By the same token, however, I am on the record in my view that nobody should be permitted to come to Australia and seek to change the place to what they think it should be, and in this sense the Muslim community does have to be singled out. The fact bacon is not sold in some mainstream food establishments for example, or that some multinationals sell halal meat only to avoid giving offence, is a nonsense that has no place in this country at all.

And the suggestion that arises periodically from some sections of the Muslim community that Australia should adopt Sharia law is an insult to more than 20 million Australians who are not of the Islamic faith, and frankly, those who advance the calls for it to be introduced have no place in Australia either.

Australia is a very welcoming country, perhaps the most welcoming in the world; as a nation of immigrants, one of our strengths is that we reflect the very best of many cultures alongside the primary roots of British settlement and, for those to whom it is important, Aboriginal custom.

Yet if one group wishing to come here wants Australia to adopt their laws in place of ours — in this case, Sharia — then they shouldn’t come here at all; they should stay where they are instead, however horrible they think their lot is, or go somewhere else that might be more sympathetic to their demands to overthrow the system — literally.

But with a welcoming and tolerant country also comes responsibilities.

On one level, I don’t really care if all of these so-called “jihadists” want to go off somewhere secluded and blow each other to kingdom come. In a macabre sense, if they want to do this to each other in a place nobody else has to be affected by it, they’d be doing the rest of the world a favour.

But on another, I think it is a moral and human outrage that in choosing to do so they are content — nay, happy — to rape and torture and kill civilians, innocents, women, children, the helpless and the unsuspecting.

And it is particularly disgusting that these atrocities are done in the name of “God,” “religion,” or any other justification based on exploiting and perverting a developed system of theological values.

The reason I have posted links to a broad sweep of what has been published on Islamic terrorism in Australia in the past couple of days (and there is plenty more; I’ve merely used the first few articles I encountered on my daily sweep of the news portals yesterday) is because nobody can seriously argue that there is no problem posed by violent, radicalised Islamic groups in this country, or by the gullible and dislocated individuals they are recruiting to their ranks.

I have said previously that any permanent Australian resident or citizen who travels to the Middle East to take part in the fighting going on in the name of Al-Qaeda and Islamic State should have their passports and citizenship revoked, and permanently denied re-entry to Australia.

If it leaves them stateless and consequently stranded in the middle of a war zone then frankly, so be it: life is full of choices, and choices come with consequences.

Australia cannot — despite the fervour and zeal of the Left — tolerate and diversify and compassion itself to the point that it becomes a haven for the murderous, the lunatic and the despotic.

Especially when the target of such people and the groups to which they belong is the way of life we enjoy in this country, and everything it stands for.

And I note that the problems that are now starting to really become apparent in Australia — even to those who, for whatever reason, have chosen to avert their eyes in denial — are not unique to this country; all over the Western world, in the USA, the UK and Europe (and even in places like Russia), organisations based on this radical brand of Islam are growing in strength and prominence, with everything they find disagreeable in their crosshairs.

Clearly, it is not possible to speak for those in other Western countries, although the sentiment probably holds good irrespective of whether we’re talking about Australia, the UK, or somewhere like the Netherlands, which is notorious for rising levels of Islamic violence and social trouble.

The escalation of Australia’s terror threat level is not something done on a whim, or for purely political reasons; indeed, the decision to do so stems from ASIO, not the Abbott government, and Bill Shorten must be given his due for publicly falling into lockstep with Prime Minister Tony Abbott in response (even if some of his less-principled colleagues see it as an opportunity for political point scoring).

And there’s no diplomatic way of saying this, so let’s call a spade a spade: the reason for the change in terror alert, very simply, is due to a threat posed by violent Islamic fundamentalists.

If any of the people involved in these terrorist cells — like Khaled who, of course, is long gone — possess the citizenship by birth or ancestry of any other country, then as far as I am concerned their Australian citizenships must be rescinded.

If they are off fighting overseas, then they will never return; if they continue to dwell on Australian shores, their tenure should be summarily and abruptly terminated, and they should be deported along with their vicious ideas and violent intentions.

There are too many compassion babbling voices peddling bleeding-hearted bullshit about being tolerant of diversity: this isn’t an issue of racial or religious diversity, per se. It is an issue of terrorism, of murder and brutality, of rape and torture and slaughter. Whatever the basis for such monstrosity can and should also form the basis upon which this country rids itself of the threat.

I’m happy for Muslim folk who go about their business peacefully to call Australia home for as long as they are prepared to join our way of life, and provided they do not expect to turn the place into a Sharia society: there is a place for that, and it isn’t here.

But those who revel in death and destruction — indeed, those who “hail war against the West” — have neither the right nor the entitlement to call themselves Australian. They do not belong here and they are not welcome. And by whatever means possible, now Australia faces a heightened risk of terrorist indecency being carried out on home soil, it warrants the removal of those who would perpetrate such horrors from our midst.

 

*The fourth was a piece opposing the establishment of a dedicated Muslim enclave in Sydney a couple of years ago; all I will say on the subject today — and no, I don’t want a debate on it now — is that most Muslim nations would look very poorly indeed (to put it extremely mildly) at a bunch of white Australians setting up closed enclaves in their own countries, and there’s no more justification for them to do it here as for us to do it there. Enough said.

Abbott Government Must Move On From Arthur Sinodinis

AN ARTICLE in the Murdoch press — reporting that sidelined Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinis wants “to rejoin the Abbott team” once his duty to co-operate with an ICAC investigation into donations has ended — ignores the political reality that for now at least, the only place Sinodinis should be is on the backbench. Rightly, wrongly, fairly or otherwise, the government cannot afford to restore Sinodinis to his vacant ministerial post.

At the outset, let me be crystalline in my clarity about something: in publishing this morning’s article I seek in no way to judge Sinodinis personally; I make no accusation of guilt or misconduct; and seek to express no presumption of guilt in relation to any of the alleged misdeeds, on Sinodinis’ part, that fall within the remit of the ICAC investigation in NSW that is probing donations to the Liberal Party and which have necessitated his appearance at ICAC to answer questions about what — if anything — he knows of the matters at hand. On the contrary, my opinion of the Senator is sufficiently high that I would be both horrified and dismayed if there was so much as a shred of evidence against him.

And I certainly don’t seek to impugn his character in any way.

No, today’s piece is a purely political assessment of an environment around political donations that has grown toxic for the Liberal Party — in NSW, at least — and against that backdrop (and irrespective of any rights or wrongs, as the case may be) the Abbott government simply can’t afford to restore Sinodinis to his ministerial post when his time in ICAC’s so-called “star chamber” has concluded.

Perception is everything in politics. Remember that, folks. We’ll come back to that point.

When it comes to ICAC — the NSW anti-corruption and misconduct body set up by the Greiner government in 1989 — there are two (and two only) broad strategies for dealing with the adverse publicity and/or findings that emanate from its highly visible activities: one, to stand firm, batten down the hatches, denying everything whilst attempting to ride out the storm; and two, for those found to have done the wrong thing to resign their offices and, if the circumstances warrant doing so, to await prosecution as far away from the incessant and incendiary glare of media attention as possible.

NSW voters (and Australians generally) have already seen the end result of the first of these strategies: a Labor state government that had the living shit kicked out of it so badly at the polls in 2011 that it recorded Labor’s worst result in NSW in almost a century, defeated even more heavily than Jack Lang’s government was in 1932 following its dismissal by the Governor of the day, Sir Philip Game.

Already, we are getting a very clear picture of the other, too, courtesy of the NSW Liberals affected by ICAC’s probe into banned donations from property developers: a torrent of resignations, both from the NSW ministry and from State Parliament altogether, which has included the Premier who slew Labor at the 2011 election — Barry O’Farrell — being forced to fall on his sword over the failure to declare a bottle of wine that was gifted to him by a donor.

That picture — ominously — has reflected in opinion polling of state voting intentions in NSW, and it’s not pretty; the latest indications appear to suggest that O’Farrell’s successor as Premier, the impressive Mike Baird, will be re-elected come March, albeit narrowly; the absurdity of a government elected with almost two-thirds of the two-party vote facing the realistic possibility of defeat after a single term underscores both the revulsion of voters to wrongdoing by politicians and the scope the type of matters before ICAC possess to cripple the electoral prospects of political parties.

The fact NSW Labor is led by a man who has publicly admitted to self-adjudicating a $3 million bribe he was offered — and taking it upon himself to decide not to report it — and is nonetheless within shouting distance of overhauling the Coalition in a single leap simply amplifies the point.

People are fed up with corruption and official misconduct, be it alleged, proven at law, or a taint that attaches to individuals or parties either by implication or suggestion, and the higher up the food chain it runs, the heavier the fallout.

NSW Labor leader John Robertson should, by rights, have rendered himself unelectable by admitting he didn’t refer the bribe he was offered to ICAC, and in a less tumultuous political climate, he would have been. But the Liberals govern NSW now, not Labor; and despite its ghastly track record and the stack of ALP identities who have faced or await prosecution, it is the ALP in NSW that can now claim the outraged indignation of opposing a government being picked apart by ICAC. It is certainly reaping the political benefits that come from it, if the published polls are anything to go by.

For those who are caught out by ICAC, it seems going to the crossbenches or quitting Parliament altogether don’t cut it in the eyes of voters; as of yesterday the Liberal Party in NSW has now lost 10 of its 49 lower house MPs through these routes, with the member for Port Stephens, Craig Baumann, the latest to be forced to leave the party after admitting to ICAC that he improperly declared donations totalling $79,000 before the 2007 state election to hide the fact the monies originated from property developers.

There is no need to canvass the minutiae of all 10 of the Liberal MPs who have fallen foul of ICAC’s investigations, for even the details of what Baumann has admitted to is enough to paint the picture; the fact that 10 of these guys have effectively had their careers terminated by ICAC leaves little cause to wonder whether NSW voters are angry or not, or whether their ire is justified.

Here is where we return to Sinodinis, whose appearance at ICAC (and the article I mentioned in my leader provides some elaboration) was to answer questions around what he knew, if anything, about allegations that a fundraising arm of the Federal division of the Liberal Party, the Free Enterprise Foundation,  had been used to disburse otherwise prohibited developer donations to the NSW Liberals, thereby circumventing the ban on doing so directly.

Sinodinis is quoted in that article as saying he’s looking forward to “rejoin the Abbott team,” from which it is reasonable to infer that he means a resumption of his ministerial post.

Rightly or wrongly, it can’t happen.

The issue of developer donations to the NSW Liberals and the alleged use of the Free Enterprise Foundation to facilitate them brings the ICAC taint of the NSW Liberals directly to the federal party, and to the Abbott government: like it or not, innocent or not, people will form their own conclusions based on their own perceptions.

Already, there has been some attempt by the Communist Party Greens to drag Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s Chief of Staff, Peta Credlin, into the ICAC quagmire; to date, the best the Greens can come up with has been to focus on Ms Credlin’s role as a channel for communication throughout the government and beyond, and the inescapable fact that this role inevitably encompasses interaction and involvement with the Free Enterprise Foundation through the simple reality of its affiliation to the Liberal Party.

Just as the Greens don’t like Abbott, they really, really don’t like Credlin either.

And just as I am adamant that I seek to cast no aspersions on Senator Sinodinis, I am equally adamant that none should befall Credlin either. Yet the fact this has been raised by the government’s opponents at all clearly shows that if its political enemies have anything to do with it, the Abbott government (to use the vernacular) is going down over the ICAC fiasco that threatens to engulf the NSW division of the Liberal Party.

This is where the moronic calls for a “federal ICAC” — which are growing louder — originate from; the Greens are campaigning for such a body with great vigour, aided in no small part by the Fairfax press, and demands to the same end have emanated from the Palmer United Party, too. Some press coverage (chiefly from Fairfax, again) has claimed that the ALP seems unfazed by the idea, which is perhaps unsurprising given the likelihood of its own procession of public shame as a result of the Royal Commission into the trade union movement being imminent.

But whether Labor wants a “federal ICAC” or not is to some degree a moot point; dangerous, malevolent enemies of the Abbott government that are bent on causing it harm are prepared to fight for it, and both Palmer and the Greens have proven themselves more than capable of generating great political trouble for the federal Coalition when issues and circumstances suit them.

It hardly takes a rocket scientist to see that in the case of the Greens at least, their motives stem not so much from any over-arching commitment to probity or accountability as from their barely disguised hatred of Tony Abbott personally, the Coalition more broadly, and the fact it sits in government at all: the Greens are capable of doing anything in their mad obsession with ripping Abbott apart, and a “federal ICAC” appears to be simply another intended battering ram or sledgehammer with which the Greens seek to prosecute this objective.

And this is where it becomes untenable for Arthur Sinodinis to resume his spot as Assistant Treasurer.

It has nothing to do with innocence or guilt; as I said at the outset, perception is everything in politics.

It should not be so, but whether Sinodinis has a case to answer or not is scarcely the point when the question is evaluated on a purely political basis.

With its self-inflicted budget woes and the truly shocking inability it exhibits to either sell its positive wares or to persuasively argue the merits of its tougher measures, the Abbott government needs the taint of ICAC, the backwash of public revulsion it is generating, and the get-square prospect of a “federal ICAC” like it needs the proverbial hole in its head.

Rightly or wrongly, the restoration of Sinodinis to the ministry would be a lightning rod for the forces ranged against the government — both inside and outside Parliament — to redouble their efforts to smear it with the fallout from ICAC and to paint it as corrupt at a time when it simply can’t afford any distractions or firestorms over and above those it is already battling to extinguish.

I feel for Sinodinis; I think he’s a good man. But for the good of the government he so rightly wishes to serve, the best place for him right now remains on the Senate backbench.

It doesn’t have to be forever; and it doesn’t exclude other avenues to participate more actively, perhaps through a committee role.

But with the fires of hell raging in NSW and threatening to spread as far as Canberra, the public perception of restoring Sinodinis to the executive government is, for now, simply too politically fraught.

If anyone is to blame, it is those who actually have already prejudged his guilt when there may well be nothing for him to be guilty of; and this in turn speaks to other areas of standards of conduct in public office — the sheer lies and malicious slander that has become a standard tool of trade for Australia’s Left — that I, like millions of others who live in this country, am fed up to my back teeth with.

 

 

Institutionalising Deceit: Labor’s Plan To Fiddle Budget Forecasts

THE MASQUERADE of expediency as “principle” is arguably the biggest driver of public discontent with politics — after outright lying — and the ALP is an adept practitioner of both of these dubious arts; today shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen is spruiking an “initiative” in response to ALP claims Joe Hockey manipulated budget forecasts to fit the Coalition’s political goals. The measure clearly seeks to distance Labor from its own incompetence.

There are many people in Australia (and in most other democratic countries, for that matter) who find the idea of removing things from the control of politicians to be a fine idea indeed; as a small government conservative, it should theoretically appeal to me too.

But the idea the shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen is flogging today — that the Parliamentary Budget Office should be invested with the power to “independently” set forecasts for use by Treasury and the Treasurer to then formulate budget policy against — is a red herring, and typical of the sort of sham Labor, with its intellectually lazy but too clever by half approach to opposition politics, has sought to foist on voters since they booted it out of office a year ago.

Chris Bowen is one of the more capable MPs in Labor ranks, and in its depleted state following last year’s election debacle the ALP needs all of the able hands on deck that it can muster.

Yet Bowen — both as Treasurer in the dying days of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government, and again as a shadow minister in opposition — has proven highly adept at the cynical, empty sloganeering that has characterised the worst aspects of the Labor Party over the past decade or so, and his latest offering simply continues that inclination to prioritise meaningless drivel over anything of substance.

And it goes without saying that (surprise, surprise!) his “initiative” makes a none-too-subtle attempt to diminish Labor’s shocking record of economic management in government, and to disown the hapless legacy it saddled the country with that will take years to erase, if ever.

Some people will be impressed by this: under the cover of hitting out at what he describes as the Coalition “mythology” of a budget emergency, Bowen advances what I would term a “principle-style” proposal to remove the ability of elected politicians to modify, adjust or otherwise influence growth estimates and other economic forecasts that are used in framing federal budgets.

Those who find such a concept appealing will be further heartened by the fact Bowen nominates an “independent agency” in the PBO to take this task into its remit, thereby setting down a framework of “rules” by which future generations of politicians, both Liberal and Labor, must abide.

But a big part of the motivation for this seems to stem from the fact that Hockey’s estimates of the size of budget deficits over the next four years were double the size of those published by Labor, when Bowen was Treasurer, just four months earlier.

And it can scarcely be a coincidence that in filing a reasonably detailed report on this issue, The Australian alludes to the budget cuts Labor is ferociously opposing and the $667 billion of debt that is forecast to be accumulated by 2024 without them: a figure never even hinted at by Labor in office, and not publicly uttered by the Coalition until the initial phase of its review of the budget was completed late last year.

As the latest empty gimmick aimed at conning votes out of the gullible, the stupid and the (understandably) apathetic, Labor probably thinks it’s onto a real winner here, no pun intended.

So let’s call a spade a spade, and canvass a few scenarios that are firmly grounded in fact.

Labor, under the stewardship of the self-important and contemptible Wayne Swan, made in excess of 600 explicit pledges to deliver a budget surplus by 2013, none of which were met. On all of those occasions, Swan — as Treasurer — had control over the economic settings and mechanisms Bowen now seeks to strip from the grasp of whoever occupies the Treasurer’s office. Would the mooted change (with the improvement in the quality of forecasting it implies) have enhanced outcomes on Swan’s watch? Hardly.

Former Treasurer Peter Costello (who, unlike Swan, actually delivered surplus budgets: 10 of them in 12 years) developed, over his time in the portfolio, a legendary reputation for the uncanny knack of producing forecasts around economic growth, inflation and other key indicators that were almost invariably more accurate than those provided by Treasury; in the years prior to the Howard government, of course, some Treasurers got such questions right and some got them wrong (and in the case of Paul Keating, he managed to get them both right and wrong at different stages in the economic cycle). Would Bowen’s changes have improved Costello’s performance? Such a proposition is insulting to the intelligence, especially when it emanates even obliquely from the ALP.

With an eye on the preposterous claims to astute and rigorous economic management that Labor arrogated to itself in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis — based on nothing more than the ability to fling tens of billions of dollars around the economy in the most inefficient manner it could find — even a cursory look at the budget summaries during the time Swan spent as Treasurer shows the former government consistently overestimated economic growth and revenue, and underestimated outlays, and these estimates (again, presided over by Swan) were the only way the ALP could get within cooee of producing a surplus, and even then only on paper.

And as affronted as Bowen and Labor appear to claim to be over the Abbott government’s estimates of budget deficits totalling $123 billion over four years, as opposed to the ALP’s estimate of $63 billion, there has not been a single detailed case published by the opposition (or by Treasury, for that matter) to discredit the revised figure produced by Hockey in December last year.

There are several points to make.

One, and it’s simplistic to say this, but things change — sometimes very drastically and very quickly. It was Labor that was in power in August and September 2008, when the global economy began experiencing the seismic first strikes of the GFC. It should have learnt this very basic economic fact from its own experience, but quite clearly, it didn’t. The proposal to rely on an annual set of numbers provided by someone offsite is peculiar, to say the least, when considered thus.

Two, Bowen’s proposal reeks of seeing to “invest” in Labor’s future by outsourcing the blame, in advance, to someone else to provide cover for any future repeat of the ALP’s utter incompetence as an economic manager. On all three occasions Labor has been kicked out of government in the past 40 years, it has left behind an absolute quagmire where the financial affairs of the country are concerned. Being able to point the finger at someone else for providing “dodgy” numbers to work with seems a very cynical pretext for fiddling with official economic forecasting. Costello certainly didn’t need such a crutch, and whatever you think of his budget, the fact Hockey is prepared to put infinitely more dire numbers against his own name suggests he doesn’t seek such a ruse either.

But three — and this is important — there’s a bigger factor here: what do we actually elect members of Parliament to do? So many functions of government are outsourced, handballed, thrown into the laps of disposable advisors (and yes, I say that despite my criticisms of the Abbott government’s advisors) and otherwise placed at arm’s length to those supposedly accountable to Parliament that you have to wonder just how much responsibility for anything some of those in politics are even prepared to accept.

Unsurprisingly, this outsourcing — to “independent” bodies, statutory authorities that are laws unto themselves, committees, reviews — tends to occur disproportionately whenever Labor is in office.

I think anything that prevents ministers of the Crown from exercising the responsibility their offices invest in them is dangerous; further — and especially so in this case — ministers must be able to exercise control over their portfolios. If a Treasurer is responsible for producing a federal budget, he (or she) is also responsible for the assumptions, forecasts and settings that underpin that budget. It is almost an abuse of process to suggest these critical functions be handballed to somebody else.

Bowen may complain of fiddling the figures. But the real nature of what he advocates is to absolve a Treasurer of responsibility for something he (or she) would have neither input to nor control over, and that is not representative of the sort of governments we need in this country.

All of this is to be outlined in a speech to the National Press Club later today, the text of which has been obtained by The Australian, and some of which is quoted in its article.

“A government unafraid of accountability and transparency would not be afraid of outsourcing this forecasting in their budgets and economic statements (sic),” it apparently says. Where is the causal link between accountability and transparency, and the total abdication of a key element of the budget management process? There is no such link, of course.

In other words, rather than allow the nasty Liberals (who are “onto” Labor’s shocking mismanagement of the budget in office) to “fiddle” forecasting onto what might be a more accurate footing, Labor’s latest grand plot is to fiddle the entire process altogether: to masquerade as upholders of the “principle” of accountability and independence, aiming a kick at the Liberal Party in the process for daring to expose the ALP as the economic wrecking ball it is, and washing its hands of as much responsibility for its own actions as it can.

Ironically, Bowen inadvertently hits the nail on the head in another passage from his speech reproduced by The Australian today when he says that “while budget decisions will always be a matter for the Treasurer and the government of the day, the underlying forecasts should not be a political plaything.”

Exactly so. Which is why — as the minister responsible for them anyway — the Treasurer should be able to go about his business, free of this kind of semantic nonsense that doesn’t even pretend to pay lipservice to the improvement of final budget outcomes, instead of having it cheaply politicised by Bowen and his cohorts in the name of trying to slither back into government by way of the greasiest and most intellectually dishonest means they can engineer.