Gay Marriage: Illiberal Plibersek’s Iron Fist Moment

DEPUTY LABOR leader Tanya Plibersek kicked a spectacular own goal this week, suggesting ALP MPs be bound to vote in favour of same-sex marriage should the issue again come before Parliament; her illiberal sledgehammer approach unduly politicised gay marriage, split and angered ALP MPs, and invites Liberal MPs to vote any bill on the matter down. The episode illustrates Plibersek’s ideologically driven, but inept, approach to politics.

Before it fades away in the rear-vision mirror, I wanted to make some comment about the ridiculous push by Labor’s deputy leader, Tanya Plibersek, to impose a binding vote on Labor MPs in favour of gay marriage should a rumoured bill on the matter find its way before Parliament; in what has been described as “a white-hot ‘fuck you'” to opposition “leader” Bill Shorten, Plibersek wants Labor’s national conference later this year to change its platform, and enforce compulsory support of the measure on what increasingly appears to be an angry and divided ALP caucus.

Shorten, of course — like a significant number of his party’s MPs — supports gay marriage, but also a conscience vote on the initiative: and Plibersek’s remarks, paraded under a cloak of “fairness” and “anti-discrimination” as they were, nonetheless seem certain to ensure a bill to legalise gay marriage is defeated if her iron-fisted, dictatorial position is adopted by the ALP.

Some reading on this matter from this week’s press — perhaps unsurprisingly, all from Fairfax — can be accessed here, here, here and here.

I’m not going to take a great deal of time on this tonight, for there are other issues on foot; and whilst I am opposed to gay marriage, I’m also quick to point out that such a fraught social policy issue ought to be decided on a conscience vote by those who are elected as representatives in Canberra, and not by some dictatorial edict from a Bollinger Bolshevik like Tanya Plibersek.

Plibersek might think this will play well in her electorate of Sydney, filled as it is with trendies and compassion-babbling chardonnay drunks — to say nothing of a significant representation of so-called LGBTIQ people — and, with one eye swivelling incessantly over her shoulder and necessitated by the designs on the seat of the Communist Party Greens, perhaps the suggestion that Labor MPs should be forced into supporting gay marriage is one very much aligned with her own interests.

It probably plays well, too, to the storyline she is most interested in: replacing the hopeless, aimless, useless “leader” of her party, and becoming Prime Minister when the venom dished out by Labor against Tony Abbott moves enough grudging electoral support away from the Coalition to make this outcome a reality.

Frankly, if this is Tanya Plibersek’s idea of “leadership,” she’ll make even Shorten look modestly competent in due course — and that, simply stated, would amount to the achievement of the virtually impossible.

The problem here has nothing to do with gay people, or even whether you support or oppose the legalisation of gay marriage, although forcing any group of MPs to vote a certain way on issues that are universally recognised as warranting a conscience vote is a recipe for splits, defiance, recriminations, defections and good old-fashioned bloodletting.

In this case, it would also be the trigger for the Liberal Party to instruct its own MPs to vote in a bloc to defeat the measure, and in those circumstances such an action would be both justified and merited.

No, the problem is that whatever else is written or said about Plibersek’s conduct in this matter, the brain-snap moment of suggesting her party’s MPs be forced to vote in favour of gay marriage has been a lapse into exactly how the Left thinks this country should be governed.

True, Shorten has “led” an obstructionist regime that has flatly refused, in cahoots with the Greens, to allow the Abbott government’s budget (and most importantly, any attempt to fix it) through the Senate.

But I believe Shorten has chosen to behave as irresponsibly as he has out of spite. Because he thinks he’s being clever. Because he truly believes the policy-free outfit he presides over can strangle the government. Because another budget as bad as the last one will deliver Labor votes. There are all sorts of tacky and deeply contemptible base motives behind it.

Plibersek, however, is a much more left-wing creature than Shorten will ever be — some of his “maaates” notwithstanding — and the only thing that really motivates the hardcore socialist Left is a flat insistence that as they say it should be, it will be.

We’ve seen it time and before from the Greens, when they’ve walked away from various pieces of legislation because they’d rather get nothing than have to negotiate and come away with something; we see it every week on the ABC’s #QandA programme, where issues that are important to the Right are shouted down by a biased and numerically stacked panel, or ignored altogether; and we’ve seen it from the Left generally, with their outright lies and deception about global warming, or the misogyny of the Prime Minister, or the insistence that women should be installed all over the place on the basis of gender and not merit — even in light of the obvious contradiction that gender-based selection cannot and will not showcase the great capability of the best women for particular roles who simply elect for whatever reason not to be proactive as those who bang the table and insist on it.

(And I should point out, just to head off the barrage of “corrections” from all sides, that in all cases, the point is just to name a few).

The carbon tax was a good example of a left-wing leader who lied in the face of an election defeat that she would not legislate such a measure, won the handful of extra seats required to negotiate minority government, and then proceeded to do exactly what she’d promised not to do — and tried to make the legislation impossible to repeal — and this last example illustrates the end destination of the undemocratic and illiberal methods of the Left when it flexes its muscles. Without the carbon tax as a focus point, Abbott would have found it heavy going to galvanise the critical mass of support needed to get rid of the Gillard government at an election.

What Plibersek has done by trying to compel Labor MPs to vote for gay marriage is to demonstrate the use of the clenched fist to smash opposing views: the preferred instrument of “persuasion” where the Left is concerned.

Doubtless, there will be some who are overjoyed by such unequivocal and apparently strong-arm advocacy for the measure, but any reasonable thinking person ought to be alarmed.

It might be indelicate to point it out, but the cause of gay marriage, right across the world, isn’t one that grew from some uprising of grassroots support within the LGBTIQ community; it was a measure seized upon by the political Left as a potential (and, as the theory ran, potent) ideological weapon with which to wedge the Right and skewer it, and despite plenty of evidence in other democratic countries that it has achieved nothing of the sort, the ardour for such sledgehammer-like tactics by the Australian Left seemingly remains undimmed.

Some might be tempted to view the gay marriage issue as relatively innocuous compared, say, to Treasury or Foreign Affairs, but that dismissal would be a dangerous one to make in evaluating Plibersek’s latest contribution and the revealing lapse of discipline she has committed.

If Plibersek thinks the removal of choice and the dictation of outcomes — in forums where such questions are resolved by majority vote — is a suitable method of operation over gay marriage, there is no limit to what similar prescriptions she might be prepared to sanction, as leader, on every other aspect of people’s lives.

I might not support gay marriage but I have no problem whatsoever with gay people, and my pragmatic but realistic view is that if elected representatives in Canberra decide, on a vote of conscience, that the measure should be sanctioned then so be it — even if I might expend some energy to argue the counter-case before the event.

But in a democracy, there is no place for dictatorial decrees, and when they come along from time to time they tend to result in heavy punishment at the ballot box. There are plenty of examples, strewn across Australia’s political history and involving figures on all sides of the spectrum, of perceived autocratic despots being kicked out of office.

In Plibersek’s case, perhaps we’ve been spared the bother of finding out the hard way; if this is her idea of how to do things, then she should never become Prime Minister: and as contemptible a specimen as Shorten might be, Labor’s minions would be well advised to find another candidate to replace him — if they ever find the cojones to replace him at all, that is.

There remains a plenitude of left-wing dictatorships across the world despite the collapse of European Communism 25 years ago.

If the gay marriage episode is indicative of the type of “leadership” Plibersek subscribes to, perhaps she should go and live under one of those regimes instead.

 

No Friend: The Real Truth Behind The Bali Nine Executions

WHETHER YOU AGREE with the sentences carried out on Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran today, the Prime Minister is right to recall Australia’s ambassador to Jakarta; behind the campaign to “save” the pair lies an unpleasant reality that has been laid bare by their executions: under its present leadership at least, Indonesia is a dubious friend of Australia at best. We would do well to recalibrate our approach to our northern neighbour.

This has been a divisive and distasteful episode whichever way you cut it, and the executions of recidivist drug traffickers has seen proponents of the death penalty find much common ground with the secondary positions of those who oppose it, and others who eschew capital punishment find succour in other points made by those who advocate that sit below the headline positions of each.

With support for capital punishment in Australia (I believe) growing, irrespective of the executions that took place in Indonesia this morning — one only has to take stock of the outpouring of sentiment whenever a recidivist criminal on release rapes or murders someone else, or the residual outrage against the likes of Julian Knight and Martin Bryant, and other pieces of shit like them — the entire saga, if nothing else, probably suggests it is time for a serious debate over the issue domestically even if such a conversation results in no change to our own system of penalties and sentences.

But distinct hints of an unpleasant reality have emerged throughout the Chan/Sukumaran case, and particularly since the change of government in Indonesia last year, that Australia would be most unwise to ignore.

I’m not going to catalogue anew my arguments over Chan and Sukumaran today; they can be accessed (for those now morbidly concerned with them) here, here and here.

And the offensive, idiotic, brainless stunt yesterday by members of Australia’s acting community that we ripped into late last night, whether you agree with or oppose capital punishment, probably served as a provocation to Indonesian officials that did more harm than good, and whilst we will now never know if a last-minute reprieve might have been secured for the pair, the reprieve given (literally) at the death knock to a Filipino national due to be executed with them shows the possibility was certainly alive in the minds of the Indonesian leadership.

My point in writing this morning derives from the simple fact — evidenced in how events have played out in the Chan/Sukumaran case — that under its current leadership, it is difficult to see how Indonesia can be regarded as a friend to Australia, and if some good can come from their deaths is should be the recognition that the controversy surrounding the Bali Nine has laid bare a cavalier disregard in Jakarta for Australian interests, and this ominous fact is one that should prompt a rethink in Canberra over how we approach an undeniably crucial strategic relationship.

Whilst generalisations invariably contain exceptions, and whilst not all of the traffic in the relationship between the two administrations has been a one-way street, it is no exaggeration to assert that Indonesia has ignored and snubbed the federal government, refused to open communication channels between its President and our Prime Minister, and at times has appeared to revel in the pursuit of administering a regime of justice that the Australian government has consistently and forcefully opposed.

I don’t have the time this morning to spend a great deal of time elaborating on the point; life goes on, and today I’m very busy, and in any case it scarcely seems decent to labour the point.

But this is an unpalatable reality that transcends whether you agree with capital punishment or not; the signs of total Indonesian indifference to the priorities of Australia (unless they coincide with Indonesia’s) has been clear for all to see in recent times, and it follows plenty of other examples of it that have had nothing at all to do with the fate of condemned drug traffickers sitting on death row in Kerobokan prison.

Whether you agreed with the bipartisan position advanced by Abbott, his Foreign minister Julie Bishop, and supported and endorsed by Labor, the fact remains that Indonesia has thumbed its nose at Australia — to the extent, that is, that it hasn’t simply ignored us.

And the fact it chose to commute the sentence of one convict from the Philippines at the last possible moment simply must be interpreted as a signal of Indonesia’s real priorities in the region and its contempt for Australia, however much it might have been a bona fide show of justice in its own right.

The fracas over ASIO surveillance of Indonesian figures — conducted on the watch of the Rudd government, but expediently used by Indonesia to pick a fight with an Australian government of a completely different complexion — is another example of what I am talking about.

And its threats, simply distilled, to unleash a “human tidal wave” of asylum seekers toward Australia if, in short, our government didn’t stop making trouble and noise over Chan and Sukumaran’s sentences is yet another.

These are discussions to be had in full, of course, at another time and when passions and tempers and emotions have all cooled, and when I return this evening (time permitting) it will be to talk about something unrelated to Indonesia that I have “held over” for a couple of days.

Yet have that discussion we must: for the growing frostiness in relations between Australia and Indonesia is unmistakable.

It would be unwise to assume that that country, under the regime presently in charge of it, is friendly to Australia, or even a friend at all: and whilst better weather will no doubt come in the fullness of time, as others come to power in Jakarta who are possessed of a different outlook to Joko Widodo and the interests that back him, this increasingly evident reality will pose problems for the next few years at least that those who shape our policies toward regional neighbours would be ill-advised to ignore.

 

 

“Mercy?” Moronic Video A Final Insult In Name Of Chan, Sukumaran

BALI NINE ringleaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran will almost certainly soon be dead, with capital penalties for drug crimes to be carried out after midnight; but an imbecilic video featuring supposed luminaries of Australia’s arts fraternity is a final insult to those who think the narcotics trade is insidious, and those who ply it evil. This puerile stunt — saturated in ignorance — unjustifiably politicises a reality in which no-one wins.

Let’s be honest about something: anyone who supports the death penalty — as I do — certainly doesn’t think what is about to happen to Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran is some sort of euphoric triumph, a victory of right and might over evil, or some vindictively based get-square that will leave those opposed to it somehow reeling and wallowing in the miserable depths of some irretrievable defeat.

In fact, it’s very sad; and whilst I have neither sympathy for Chan and Sukumaran nor a problem with the punishment they will shortly receive, they have families and law-abiding friends who no more deserve the grief and notoriety and disrepute the pair have brought them than those families who lost loved ones to the insidious scourge of narcotic drugs deserved the terrible fate Chan and Sukumaran sought to inflict on them, wilfully and for profit, and for which they will shortly pay with their lives.

There are no winners here, and to be blunt, any last-minute reprieve that seems certain not to eventuate would do nothing to resurrect the countless souls lost to drug overdoses and the rapes, murders, violence and other savagery that goes hand-in-glove with the drug trade.

It wouldn’t actually do Chan and Sukumaran much good either: it would martyr the pair, even if they lived to tell the tale, and turn them into a precedent case milked by any Australian whose stupidity landed them in comparable circumstances at some later date. In fact, they would probably (and ironically) regret the fact of their escape for the rest of their lives.

And it would do nothing for those seeking for decency and proper standards to be upheld and spread through the community, and one of the most offensive aspects of this whole saga as far as I am concerned is that this pair of specks of human filth have been feted and treated as virtual saints by Australia’s government, with pathetically abject and grovelling appeals to Indonesia to dispense with its own form of justice for no better reason than a sweeping generalisation that “we don’t support the death penalty in Australia,” and that contention is one I would very much like to see tested at a referendum at some point, for I believe support for capital punishment in Australia carries a clear majority of the voting public with it.

In short though, and to reiterate the point, there are no winners here.

Still, one contemptible band of death penalty opponents has chosen today to make a half-arsed, last-ditch stand, and rather than take aim at Indonesia, its President, its legal system and so forth, it has chosen instead to unjustly politicise the imminent executions of Chan and Sukumaran with a directly political attack on Tony Abbott that, in turn, is indisputably predicated on nothing more than lies and bullshit.

Headed up by allegedly the finest acting talent Australia has produced in Bryan Brown and Geoffrey Rush, this four-and-a-half minute diatribe is a moronic rant whose sole objective is to use the capital penalties meted out in and by Indonesia to damage Tony Abbott, and runs counter to the gargantuan (and in my view, excessive) efforts that have been made by the Prime Minister, Foreign minister Julie Bishop, and what appeared to be a bipartisan endeavour with the ALP to get Chan and Sukumaran off death row.

At least one person associated with this unimaginable stupidity must have seen the folly of their actions, for the footage was taken down from video sharing site Vimeo late today.

But someone had the foresight to upload a copy of it to YouTube first — where it has been viewed by tens of thousands of people in less than a day, and attracted about 80% disapproval from those who are registered on YouTube and who passed judgement on it.

Here’s the video; I urge everyone to watch it. It is blood-boiling, sanity-challenging, fact-defying cretinism.

“Fight for our citizens?” It is because Abbott, Bishop, and everyone else in the parliamentary claque have so exhaustively done exactly so that I have been critical of the time, effort, resources, money and diplomatic capital that has been devoted to the interests of two drug peddlers to the detriment of the wider Australian community.

“It’s time to fight for our boys, Mr Abbott,” one participant declares, apparently oblivious to the fact Abbott has done exactly that too.

One aspect of the attack suggests that if Abbott had “courage or compassion” he would “get over to Indonesia and bring these two boys home.” How? Walking onto foreign soil and arbitrarily abducting prisoners held under the law of that sovereign foreign country is an act of war, no less: assuming, that is, whomever undertook the abduction actually made it in and out again without being shot themselves, a defensive course of action the Indonesians would be perfectly entitled to take.

Perhaps the actors and their gaggle of parrots would like Abbott to declare war on Indonesia to “show courage.” What a brilliant thought…

“Grow some balls,” is not the sort of advice an ignoramus in international law ought to be dispensing to the Prime Minister, but it’s all here.

I’m not going to pick the whole thing apart, line by odious line — people can watch, after all — but about the only constructive suggestion this arrogantly bombastic effort makes is that Abbott physically go to Indonesia: and I would counter that given its President, Joko Widodo, has stoutly refused to even speak to the Prime Minister by telephone, showing up in person and demanding an audience is likely to see him left standing on the steps of the presidential palace, humiliated before a hungry international press pack, and achieving nothing.

Then again, seeing Abbott humiliated in such a fashion — despite the unbelievable lengths to which his government has gone to try to have the condemned duo’s sentences commuted — is probably high on the wish list of the bunch who made this film.

And in any case it is, now, too late — and, conveniently, it was already too late by the time this thing went live, too.

But whoever the idiot in the video was that suggested Abbott somehow confer diplomatic immunity on a couple of hardened, recidivist, big-league international drug traffickers as a way of secreting them out of Indonesia, I can only shake my head. Ignorant doesn’t begin to describe it. Dangerous either, for that matter. These people purport to be intelligent individuals. But their effort with a camera and editing software, in this case, suggests the complete opposite to be the case.

I have said enough about Chan and Sukumaran; whether you agree with their fate or desperately dispute the suitability of their sentences, or support the death penalty or its abolition, and whether vengeance or compassion or punishment or forgiveness is your watchword, the time for an outcome that does not feature their execution by gunshot appears to be at its end.

But every person who participated in that video — from Rush and Brown down — ought to be ashamed of themselves.

Very few commentators — whether for or against the death penalty — have sought to politicise this matter in a partisan fashion; I have been careful, too, not to present this in Liberal vs Labor terms, for it is nothing of the sort.

It is true that I think efforts to persuade unreceptive Indonesian officials to alter the death penalty have gone on for too long and, indeed, have gone too far; it was obvious, months ago, that Indonesia had determined to be resolutely impenetrable where pleas for Chan and Sukumaran were concerned, and so it has proven.

If anything, Australia — its government, its opposition, community leaders and individual citizens — have gone too far simply on account of the grotesquely slavering and fawningly sycophantic flavour these efforts have taken on in recent weeks: and this, far from persuading Indonesia, has probably only galvanised its opposition to any form of clemency and hardened its resolve to give no quarter in making public examples of the pair as part of its crackdown on (and execution of) drug smugglers apprehended on its soil.

In fact, I have to wonder whether the announcement this morning that Chan and Sukumaran would be denied their choice of religious counsellors to witness their execution is somehow a response to such a notion; certainly, this was a brazen and wanton act of cruelty that I find horrific. I might be in favour of capital punishment, but that particular decision by the Indonesians today was brutal, heartless, and unnecessarily inflammatory, given the passions and competing interests that are at stake.

Those who made that video have sought to lie, mislead, and deceive; no sane or rational person could do anything other than laud Abbott and his government for their efforts, and it is telling that for perhaps the only time in years, Shorten-led Labor and its MPs have not merely supported the government, but commendably walked in lockstep with it.

But one bunch of grubs on the Left — unable to control themselves on the endless, senseless quest to destroy Tony Abbott without principle, without proof, and using literally any pretext to do so without compunction — nonetheless has taken it upon themselves to sink the boot into the Prime Minister publicly, at a time they must have known was far too late for anything further to be done, and in a way that will merely compound Australia’s humiliation in Indonesian eyes on account of the excessive effort that was invested in the quest to get Chan and Sukumaran off death row in the first place.

The real offence in what they have done is to those who have been adversely touched by the drug trade in some way, for their filthy little hick flick won’t damage the Prime Minister.

And so — whether you think Chan and Sukumaran should be executed or not — this is just one final insult contrived in their names.

There might be no winners from their deaths, but these grubs have ensured the episode will remain that much more painful — and divisive — than it had to be, and for much longer than it should be, once the sounds of gunshot are replaced by deafening silence in a few hours’ time.

Executions Imminent: No-One Should Lose Sleep Over Chan And Sukumaran

FORMAL NOTICE, by Indonesian authorities, that convicted Bali Nine drug traffickers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran will be executed after a minimum 72-hour period has elapsed brings a distasteful episode that has lasted a decade very close to its end; Chan and Sukumaran are human filth who profited recklessly from trading in the misery and ruination of the lives of others. Nobody should be perturbed once they are gone.

Those readers who oppose the death penalty probably won’t like this, but the world is set to be permanently deprived of two more insidious drug traffickers early next week, and I can only say that I fully support the punishment they are about to receive for their crimes.

And to those who seek to spread the word about the “rehabilitation” of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, my response is that either they have been hoodwinked — after all, who wouldn’t say and do anything to avoid a date with a firing squad? — or that they have lost sight of the fact this contemptible pair of miscreants were in fact key players in a major international racket that smuggled narcotics, including the almost 20lb of heroin destined for sale on Australian streets when they were caught, and prominent figures in a criminal outfit that cared nothing for the lives of the users of their product that they wrecked, those of their friends and families, and cared nothing for who might have died as a result of its evil enterprise.

The news that Indonesian authorities have now formally provided Chan and Sukumaran with the requisite 72 hours’ minimum notice of their executions is, as far as I am concerned, years overdue, given the charade of pointless appeals for clemency and other attempts to secure recourse on an endless string of legal technicalities has been going on for almost a decade since the duo were found guilty and sentenced to death in 2006.

And quite frankly — given Chan and Sukumaran chose to engage in illicit activities knowing that, if they were caught in Indonesia, they could well face a capital penalty — I must say I wholeheartedly approve.

There are no “heartstrings” to pull here; no emotion that can be appealed to: the simple fact is that some countries retain the death penalty for certain crimes, and the onus is on Australians operating in those countries to be mindful of that fact.

In this case Indonesia has applied its own laws to offences committed on its own soil — as it is entitled to do — and irrespective of the pressure applied to it by other countries, their governments, or international organisations like the UN, Indonesia is perfectly within its right to not only confirm a capital sentence in this case, but to proceed to administer that penalty.

I have been disgusted by the obscenity that has played out in Australia, which has extended as far as being forced to witness the Prime Minister of this country — in addition to the Foreign minister, the Leader of the Opposition, and Labor’s spokesperson on Foreign matters — lighting candles and staging a vigil, in the name of convicted hardcore drug traffickers, and at no less a venue than the lawns of Parliament House in Australia.

Whether one approves of the death penalty or not, the misuse of Parliament House in this fashion by people whose positions oblige them to behave with responsibility and decency is highly offensive, to say the least.

And, one way or another, it matters naught whether Chan and Sukumaran have been “rehabilitated” or not, for the punishment about to be meted out to them is in answer to specific crimes they committed when they should have known better, at a time both were old enough to distinguish right from wrong, and when ample evidence exists to suggest both are simply rotten: bad to the bone, indifferent to the lives of others, and irredeemable.

The temptation to regard their “rehabilitation” as nothing more than an elaborate act is overwhelming, following as it does a path well-trodden by criminals sentenced to significant punishments: “model” prisoners who “assist” prison authorities and who “find” God.

Blah, blah, blah.

In my view, there are two groups of people who deserve sympathy and support, and two only: the families of those who fell victim to the terrible contraband the pair derived significant financial gain from trafficking; and their own families, of whom there is no suggestion of criminality, and who scarcely deserve the shame and notoriety into which their contemptible kinsfolk have unceremoniously dumped them.

Chan and Sukumaran deserve the unbridled scorn and contempt of a nation; not its endless sympathy, nor the despicable spectacle of political leaders from all parties and sides of the spectrum effectively bending over — to use the vernacular — in an odious and unforgivable show of weakness before our Indonesian neighbours on their behalf.

And to the extent they are “sorry” at all, I suggest they are only sorry they were caught.

Even though I support the death penalty for certain crimes, would I advocate execution of Chan and Sukumaran had they been caught in Australia? No.

But this is scarcely the point. The law that applied in the jurisdiction in which they were apprehended has been applied. Australia can have no objection to it now being carried to its conclusion.

Oddly, something I said on Thursday in relation to fraudster Belle Gibson is equally applicable in the case of Chan and Sukumaran, and whilst I certainly don’t advocate execution for the kind of thing Gibson appears to have done, the principle is the same — and it goes to the heart of standards in what we, in Australia, like to think of as a civilised and highly developed society.

Those standards, as I pointed out, seem to slip a little further every time something like this comes along; on this occasion, there seems to have been a distinct message to the Indonesians from all quarters that somehow Chan and Sukumaran should be exempt from the consequences doled out under Indonesian law for their actions simply on account of an “official” position that “we, in Australia, do not support the death penalty.”

Well, some of us certainly do — and I think what Chan and Sukumaran are about to get is nothing less than they deserve.

With freedom comes responsibility and, as Margaret Thatcher once observed, you cannot have order unless you obey the law.

By their actions, Chan and Sukumaran have repeatedly thumbed their noses at both of these basic truths of a truly ordered and civilised society: in Australia, in Indonesia, and beyond, and I note again (from the first article I linked to today) that Chan at least could as easily have been convicted and executed in China a decade ago if not for a little undeserved luck sprinkled in with his drug peddling activities.

Of the seven other Bali Nine members serving life sentences, I simply say they have been lucky.

But Chan and Sukumaran were the ringleaders of a filthy plot to smuggle almost 10kg of heroin through Indonesia and into Australia; both are hardened criminals who have committed these kinds of offences previously; and neither — “rehabilitated” or otherwise — has anything to offer of any consequence.

Too much time, money, effort and diplomatic capital has been expended on this delinquent duo; the grovelling and obsequiousness displayed toward Indonesian authorities on behalf of two big-time drug traffickers is a national embarrassment.

It is cringeworthy, not some cause for pride, that Australian authorities have lowered their colours toward a foreign government so desperately in the name of a pair of filthy crooks.

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran are about to get their comeuppance from what both probably expected would be a lucrative life underpinned by the ducats of the destitutely addicted, the ravaged, and those prematurely exterminated by overdosing on their wares.

When the dastardly pair is shot this week, no decent person should spare them another thought.

Malignant Con: Why Belle Gibson Must Be Prosecuted

ENFORCING THE PRINCIPLE of deterrence has seldom been more important than in the case of disgraced blogger, entrepreneur and “cancer” patient, Belle Gibson; the admission her ailments, tumours and surgeries were false — coming after months of media scrutiny that included the loss of a publishing contract and a deal with Apple — must now see her charged. The need to terminate a dangerous precedent outweighs any concerns for her welfare.

I’m not really departing from the political theme tonight, for law enforcement is a practical application that results from the political process; and with that in mind, I want to say a few things about a despicable matter of public interest that — even now — appears to continue to be played like a piano by the beautiful, charming, fork-tongued miscreant at its epicentre.

I’m not going to trawl over the seemingly endless saga of Belle Gibson that has held a disgusted and appalled public riveted for months as first doubts, then questions, and finally the truth emerged: this apparent medical miracle, “cured” of cancers of the liver, spleen, uterus, and “terminal cancer” of the brain by healthy eating and lifestyle choices — and who claimed to have died on the operating table during cardiac surgery — has finally admitted, beaten, that the whole thing was a fabrication.

Those who’ve been living under a rock this year can get the gist of the story — good word — from reports in today’s press here, here and here, and it seems poetic that one of the most widely read publications in Australia, Women’s Weekly, is publishing a humiliating tell-all interview with Gibson under the heading “My Life-Long Struggle With The Truth.”

Quite.

But if Belle Gibson were merely a congenital liar, that might be where this story starts and ends, with the exception of those close to her feeling betrayed and exploited, and some of those around her recognising her as the liability she clearly is — and opting to get on with their lives unencumbered by her acquaintance.

But — and there’s always a “but,” where this kind of thing is concerned — there’s money involved. Lots of it. Just how much is hard to discern through the tightly woven tapestry of lies and bullshit, but there’s money behind this story: and much of it appears, at face value, to have been acquired under false pretences.

Like the fundraising done in the name of “at least five charities” — none of which appears to have ever been distributed.

Or the revelation that of those five, investigations by Fairfax Media (see the linked article) revealed four of them were unaware fundraising activities even took place, whilst the fifth received a paltry $1,000 after the journalist contacted it.

Or the fact Fairfax confirmed Gibson and her business entities are not legally registered as fundraisers.

Or the recipe app, said to have been downloaded 300,000 times at a unit price of $3.79 — there’s well over $1.1 million just there — which has apparently hoodwinked desperately sick, desperately gullible people into dumping conventional medicine in favour of Gibson’s snake oil remedies: and Gibson’s own spiel boasted that it “helped” people abandon the very treatments that offered the best prospect for saving their lives.

Of course, since the scandal erupted some months ago, Gibson’s footprints have quickly disappeared, with her blogs taken down and her social media presence vanishing into the wind; a promised “open letter” to explain the emerging inconsistencies in her story never materialised — and even if it had, it seems Gibson is so cavalier about the truth that it could scarcely have been believed.

But there’s a bigger issue here as well; so far this year there have been three “outings,” to different degrees, of young women in the health space for misleading people, broadly, over medical treatments or weight management regimes; aside from Gibson, so-called Bikini Body Ashy Bines has been accused of — and admitted — plagiarising content for her books and online publications; even so-called “wellness warrior” Jessica Ainscough, who died in February, reverted to chemotherapy and other orthodox oncological treatments shortly before her death after years advocating that a vegan diet and supplements could cure cancer.

They didn’t, and they don’t.

The point in raising them is that when it comes to frauds, charlatans, soothsayers and snake oil salespeople, where there is one, there are usually others; of those who have been exposed to date Gibson is the highest profile, and it is Gibson at whom my remarks are primarily aimed.

I don’t think it’s particularly significant that these three are all female; there are plenty of male shysters floating around the place. But the fact that beautiful, charming, smooth-talking young women are being revealed as charlatans probably says something about an opportunity that is taken more often than anyone can know, and certainly more often than the silently guilty would ever care to admit — until they are caught.

And the fact that these examples all fall broadly within the “health and wellbeing” silo is probably irrelevant too; as sure as night follows day, it’s only a matter of time before others — in other fields, peddling bullshit predicated upon some whole other set of lies, half-truths, exaggerations and wild claims designed to elicit sympathy, attention, and for profit — are unmasked.

People — good people — are, on the whole, extraordinarily generous; they will give time and money to what they perceive to be a good cause, especially if it’s in the name of someone sick, suffering, or otherwise dealt a poor hand in life.

The inherent goodness of such people doesn’t — as a rule — extend to the kind of deep suspicion and distrust that specimens like Belle Gibson ought to inspire.

And that is why she should not get away with what she has done, scot-free.

It’s not just the easy money these grubs pocket — and as anyone who has put money, houses, livelihoods and potentially marriages on the line to try to build a business knows — it’s the fact that many, like Gibson, stand to walk away with most or all of their ill-gotten booty intact; those who genuinely invest money, honest hard work, and with no guarantee of legitimate success as entrepreneurs have every right to be affronted by Gibson.

That affront knows no bounds, as Victoria Police recently declined to pursue Gibson, which raises the question of whether she is allowed to pocket at least a million dollars without consequence, albeit on a false premise.

For every Belle Gibson who does this kind of thing — and gets away with it — someone, somewhere, is going to sit up and take note, and go and rip someone else off: and this is merely another reason why the law must now fall on Gibson like the proverbial ton of bricks as a deterrent to others.

Yet it seems justice is too much to ask; as readers will note from the articles I have linked to, Gibson is already mounting a defence based on a “difficult childhood” — standard fare for the criminal, the mercenary, and the bad to the bone — to which I give my standard answer that I couldn’t care less about her childhood: she’s old enough to know better, and obviously intelligent enough to tell right from wrong if she can lift an easy million dollars from the unsuspecting based on a lie.

The rest of her utterances — as quoted in all of the material I have linked today — show this pretty girl with the forked tongue is already deploying a clever use of language to attempt to slither away from her responsibility, her culpability, and the fact she has committed a rotten outrage against people who will think twice before trying to help someone who genuinely needs it.

(This — published an hour and a half after my own article — is precisely the kind of gullible apology for Gibson’s ills her “explanations” are designed to elicit).

And, finally, comes the issue of community standards, which seem to slip a little further every time something like this comes along; rhetoric about her background, or her troubled life, or her “problems” with the truth are offered up as cover for potentially criminal misconduct: and if as a society the likes of Gibson are excused and tolerated because of what is probably another fairy story, then it sends the message to everyone else that they can behave according to the law of the jungle, for under proper laws there won’t be any consequences.

So long as they get the story straight.

With Gibson’s admissions, there is now ample evidence of misleading, deceptive, and fraudulent conduct — everything she has said, done and published can be distilled down to that simple summary.

There must logically also be money or other assets that can can and should be recovered and, where practicable, liquidated and returned to either the original purchasers/donors or distributed between the charities in whose names Gibson amassed her filthy lucre in the first place.

A deal with prosecutors and/or other relevant government agencies doesn’t cut it.

Abruptly stopping the precedent Gibson has set for the less ethical to emulate is more important than any concerns over her welfare, or limp-wristed sanctions that effectively exonerate her: it is to be hoped that saner heads prevail in the law enforcement agencies that to date have refused to prosecute her, and that Gibson is hit with the full force of the law.

Moronic: Throwing Beer Cans At Asylum Seekers No Laughing Matter

MOST AUSTRALIANS will not have heard of Katie Hopkins and for this they can be well pleased, for the inveterate British commentator has overstepped the mark with a frenzied, cruel and dishonest portrayal of our country and the policies of the Abbott government. People may or may not agree with policy around the treatment of asylum seekers, but it is not funny, constructive or incisive to foment violence and victimisation against the helpless.

Apologies to readers for my silence these past few days; as I might have mentioned, I had a rather large job to get out of the way and — to be frank — by the time it was done, I was exhausted: and so the absence of articles this week reflects both a complete lack of time to write them as well as the inevitable “crash” once a complicated and significant project was complete.

If I have time (and if there is nothing better to talk about) I may make some mention of Monday’s episode of the ABC’s #QandA programme, which was held at the Melbourne Recital Centre and which I attended; despite a panel that at first glance suggested decent consideration of mainstream issues that actually matter — with veteran broadcaster Derryn Hinch and standout Abbott government minister Andrew Robb in the mix — the programme descended, as usual, into a gabfest mostly centred on pet subjects of the Left, complete with an attempt by some on the panel to paint Robb as thoroughly heartless and prevent him from confirming he’d used official discretion as a minister to allow some children to remain in Australia and overturn deportation orders made in lower (and apolitical) jurisdictions. Best to keep the blowtorch on those Libs; best to ensure everyone knows they’re just a bunch of cruel misery merchants with hearts of stone.

To his credit, Robb was able to get his position — and the truth — on record with to #QandA audience, despite the obfuscation; the fact remains, however, that the only useful purpose this programme serves is to keep an eye on Australia’s Left, what it is saying, about whom it is said, and what its stacked panels attempt to pin on decent individuals whose only “crime” is to represent the mainstream Right.

Even so, the ills of #QandA pale in comparison to idiotic British commentator Katie Hopkins, who has roared onto the radar this week with a thoroughly uninformed and bigoted rant against African asylum seekers in Europe, and admiring depictions of a regime of treatment doled out to asylum seekers by Australia that simply does not exist. (A second article on the subject — also from the Fairfax press — can be accessed here).

It disturbs me that Fairfax, with its deeply ingrained loathing of anything to the right of socialism, has chosen to characterise Hopkins as “conservative” when in truth, she is just an imbecile: until yesterday the thing I best remember her for is a silly diatribe against parents who call their kids things like “Chardonnay,” and the declaration she would never allow her own children to play with such odious specimens from low-grade bogan stock.

Hopkins isn’t a conservative, she’s just a moron: and if she chooses to identify as “a conservative” then in my view she is an embarrassment.

Now it seems she has discovered, in some alternative universe, an “Australia” where state-sanctioned, bigoted violence is not just rampant, but a cause for great adulation; a country whose inhabitants possess “balls of steel, can-do brains, tiny hearts and whacking great gunships” that are utilised to threaten asylum seekers “with violence until they bugger off.”

Referring to African asylum seekers as “cockroaches” (with the unspoken inference that they should be squashed), Hopkins advocates an Australian-style system of turning back asylum seeker boats lest Britain’s towns and cities become “festering sores, plagued by swarms of migrants and asylum seekers, shelling out benefits like Monopoly money.”

And returning to her theme that asylum seekers are like cockroaches, and “built to survive a nuclear bomb,” Hopkins cheerily asserts that Australia’s border control regime features military personnel “throwing cans of Castlemaine” (sic) at asylum seekers in “an Aussie version of Sharia stoning.”

It might be a tiny detail, but so ill-informed is Hopkins that she is unaware that “Castlemaine” isn’t even a commodity anyone would recognise; and whilst XXXX is a variety of beer that is justifiably likened to the bodily movements of cats, it’s a typical marker of a brainless dolt like Hopkins that she can’t even get the minutiae of her venomous attacks right.

Where all of this becomes particularly unhelpful is that in Europe — just like the situation in Australia prior to 2014 — asylum seekers, trafficked by people smugglers and trying to reach the EU, are dying; and as the Fairfax reports correctly note, 1,300 asylum seekers perished at sea in the past fortnight alone in waters off the Italian coast in a ghastly reflection of the countless hundreds who died en route to Australia under failed Gillard-Greens policies: a travesty dismissed by Communist Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young as “an accident.”

The fact is that on a fraught issue characterised by competing and unpalatable options, no single measure is going to be ideal; and short of unquestioningly releasing asylum seekers into the Australian community — a negligent and dangerous prospect for a whole different set of reasons — the suite of policies that affect their arrival and eventual passage into Australia constitute the best course currently available among a raft of measures that all come with drawbacks.

I don’t propose to get into a wholesale analysis and defence of the Abbott government this morning over its policies on asylum seekers, but I will make the point that for all the blather from the Left about the number of children held in detention under the Abbott government, fully 90% of the kids held when the government took office have been released, with the backlog expected to be cleared later this year; and despite the riots and hunger strikes and other forms of blackmail deployed by some asylum seekers to try to force the government to speed their release into the community, most asylum seekers realise their ambition of residency in Australia as soon as their bona fides can be established.

Australians generally (and the Abbott government in particular) certainly do not subscribe to the racist, flat-earthed view articulated by Hopkins, and any thinking conservative will be insulted and affronted to be lumped in with Hopkins and smeared by the association with such ignorant and uninformed opinions.

Certainly, I’ve never heard this kind of sentiment advocated behind closed doors inside the Liberal Party, and not even (as some on the Left would believe) to the Right of the party, where I nominally sit.

I make three points: one, Hopkins is entitled to her view, but it is an offensive and noxious view at best, and not one that can be attributed to conservative notions of governance with any fairness or accuracy.

Two, some on the Left might snigger and welcome the opportunity to use her words as fodder against the Liberal Party; they would be irresponsible to do so and should be crucified by media outlets like Fairfax if they do, for this kind of drivel has no place in mainstream political discourse in Australia.

And three, if any good can come from Hopkins’ intemperate outbursts at all, it should be to serve potent notice to the likes of the cabal that holds court every week on #QandA — posing misguidedly and with pomposity as it does as the arbiter and protector of moral right in Australia — that words can be deadly, and as a reminder that its vitriol against the Right (for no better reason than a disagreement of views) fade into insignificance against elements that truly do advocate the manner of ills they irresponsibly and erroneously accuse Abbott and his government of in the interests of cheap, petty political expediency.

 

 

Turnbull’s GQ Interview Borders On Leadership Treachery

A PROFILE ON Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull in chic magazine GQ — containing just enough foolish hypothesising to raise eyebrows — borders on disloyalty to the present Liberal leadership; minor as it may seem, Turnbull has indirectly sanctioned a resumption of leadership speculation through the timing and substance of an inadvisedly given interview that serves no purpose other than to posture for the Prime Ministership.

Another relatively brief piece from me today, as I have a lot of work to chew through this weekend (although I am heading across to the MCG this afternoon to witness what I hope will be a regulation belting of the detested Essendon Football Club, dished out by my beloved Carlton, but we will see).

But in what is being billed as “The Power Issue” — quite — Turnbull’s latest appearance in the trendy GQ magazine can really only be interpreted as a tacit green light to ongoing speculation that he will replace Liberal leader Tony Abbott, becoming Prime Minister, and I think it is fair criticism that when all factors are considered, Turnbull’s participation in the GQ feature borders on an act of disloyalty against his leader.

It is no wonder his critics accuse him of compromising the political and electoral interests of the Liberal Party, for they are causes that will receive no advancement as a consequence of this latest media foray.

POWER ISSUE...Turnbull's GQ feature makes it clear he remains a willing contender for the Prime Ministership.

POWER ISSUE…Turnbull’s GQ feature makes it clear he remains a willing contender for the Prime Ministership.

Already badly damaged by the abortive putsch against him in February, Abbott and his Treasurer Joe Hockey now face a difficult imminent budget that appears to be a losing proposition whichever way you cut it; snookered by an exceedingly hostile Senate in which an irresponsible Labor “leader” marshalls votes against virtually any constructive legislation put to it, Hockey and Abbott have spent months trying to suggest the coming budget will be mild, uncontroversial, incremental at best, and not “scary:” all bywords for a damp squib that will eschew meaningful action on the increasingly urgent redress the national finances require.

Already, Abbott in particular is backtracking from tough action to fix specific issues — the GST being the most prominent at present — at a time those issues are virtually exploding in the Coalition’s collective face, suggesting instead that others (in this case the state Premiers) sort them out instead, in a distasteful and confused double actin which Hockey seems to be posturing over the need to get moving with reforms over the very same issues.

The outrage lobby to the government’s Left is pre-emptively attacking the Coalition for even daring to contemplate tough action; the government’s critics on the mainstream Right are  voicing disapproval at best that Abbott’s government appears hellbent on avoiding any further attempts to do what it was elected to do after last year’s disaster, which is to fix the federal budget.

And all the while, the Coalition — which has been very poorly served by its recruitment of so-called “tacticians,” “strategists” and “communications” personnel — continues to drift dangerously toward the political oblivion of a first-up election loss when next it faces the people.

Yet none of this bothers Turnbull, who posed for GQ in the sort of (admittedly impressive) outfit reserved for power pics of the up-and-coming.

His admission, when asked if he would have stood for the Liberal leadership if the February spill attempt had succeeded, that “people would have been astonished if I hadn’t” breaks the cardinal political rule of not fuelling destabilising chatter against the leader of the day — unless, that it, destabilisation is exactly the desired effect.

And whilst Turnbull himself may not be directly responsible for GQ‘s provocative headlining of the “Primed Minister” or its crass assertion that his “next stop” would be The Lodge — “maybe” — Turnbull should have had the brains and the judgement to have realised that co-operating with GQ at this time and for this type of feature he would merely fuel unrest against Abbott’s leadership — and declined to participate.

Tellingly, his office is said to have refused to comment when contacted and asked whether Turnbull was happy with the finished article GQ is publishing next week after its most recent interview with him.

And I think Joe Hildebrand, writing in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph today, has it about right with his satirical interpretation of the Turnbull interview.

I have said it before and I will share the piece with readers once again, and I am prepared to do so until the cows come home: Malcolm Turnbull is no solution as Prime Minister, and no amount of glib posturing or smugly provocative media appearances will change that.

In an ideal world, Abbott would sack his minister for disloyalty, for certainly Turnbull has honoured his obligation not to undermine his leader in only the most literal sense: his activities and his utterances within cooee of leadership chatter make it painfully clear that not only is Turnbull agitating to become Prime Minister himself, but that he considers himself more than ready to join the battle the moment it begins.

Alas, such a decisive confrontation is too fraught with risk for Abbott to contemplate, for in the febrile world of Coalition politics and the government’s still-dire (if improved) standing in reputable polling, there is no guarantee he would emerge victorious from such a contest.

Turnbull will therefore carry on with his mischief-making and his subterranean intrigues, and these will in turn continue to damage the government and the Prime Minister personally irrespective of Turnbull’s protestations otherwise.

In the meantime, nobody wins, except perhaps for the disreputable and vacuous specimen leading the Labor Party at present. If Turnbull does not want to help facilitate a Labor triumph at next year’s election, stunts like his GQ appearance are an odd way of proving it.

AND ANOTHER THING: with an eye on some of the attacks I have been fielding on Twitter of late from the lunatic trolls of the Left, there is a grotesque irony in the fact that cretinous tweet-bombers who rail against “people like me” for daring to advocate low-tax, workplace flexible policies designed to maximise incentive and encourage reward for old-fashioned hard work are also the sort of people who tell pollsters with reckless abandon that not only do they support Turnbull as preferred Liberal leader, but that (unbelievably) they would vote for the Coalition were he to be restored to the position he lost in 2009 as a result of his disregard of the Liberal base and non-existent political judgement.

These people will no more vote Liberal than I would propose Communist Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon as president of the HR Nicholls Society, and it amazes me that even in the interests of mischief-making, these types would advocate for one of the richest men in Parliament to become Prime Minister: a man who admittedly had a severely compromised upbringing, but who has made millions of dollars through hard work and is the epitome personally of the cultural change I would like to see take hold in this country, even if his political utterances and ideas are not reflective of this.

It’s yet more evidence that the iron sulphite promise of Turnbull as Prime Minister is preposterous and fanciful bullshit. The same stellar opinion numbers that propelled Kevin Rudd back to the Prime Ministership in 2013 would as surely disintegrate beneath Turnbull’s feet the moment he was elevated to the post as they did for Rudd. Turnbull is an election loser in the making, and it is the very people who agitate for his ascendancy now who would guarantee it at the polls in 18 months’ time.