Yassmin Abdel-Magied, ANZAC Day, The ABC: Get Some Perspective

IN THE brouhaha over a token ABC “celebrity” indulging her proven immaturity and lack of any sense of occasion by posting disrespectful left-wing propaganda on Facebook, one point is clear; this is no question of free speech, much less one of Ms Abdel-Magied’s religious views — this time — but of the ABC’s role as a taxpayer-funded national broadcaster, and what it tolerates in terms of content, balance, and the behaviour of some of its staff.

Some years ago, as the Abbott government contemplated, then shied away from, sorely needed reform of section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act, Attorney-General George Brandis waded into the debate with the inadvisable and cringeworthy observation that “people are entitled to be bigots;” widely slated for this crass (and politically damaging) utterance, Brandis was pilloried across the country, branded — among other things — as “a bigot” himself; I’ve known George for decades, and whilst I haven’t seen him for a while, he never changes. The last thing anyone who knows him would call him is “a bigot.”

Yet Brandis, in the literal sense, was correct; it is not the role of government to legislate thought, and nor should it be the role of government to legislate speech; people must have the right to think and say whatever they like: but the reciprocal obligation is upon the rest of us, whenever and wherever the nutcases show themselves, to shout them down and show their words for the offence to reality they are.

And small point as it might be to note, Brandis wasn’t actually encouraging people to be bigots. Quite the contrary.

At the time, the voices who shout loudest in this country (which emanate almost exclusively from the Left, amplified by such fine institutions as the Fairfax press and the ABC) pronounced with all the finger-shaking pomposity they could muster that not only was Brandis Public Enemy #1, but that his “honesty” amounted to an unrebuttable case as to why S18c should be strengthened, not watered down or (God forbid!) abolished altogether (as it should be).

Fast forward to early this year, and that waste of taxpayer cash, Gillian Triggs, found her way into the public discourse with a diatribe lamenting that it was regrettable that the state was unable to control the “free speech” that occurred around the kitchen tables of family homes around Australia: and if this didn’t frighten the hell out of ordinary good folk, whose only real crime is to have an opinion, then I don’t know what would.

I begin my remarks this morning thus because as a fervent champion of free speech — genuinely free speech — I have watched over the past few years, with increasing dismay, as this issue (which ought to be something Australia as a country is renowned the world over for as a strong, free country) has become little more than a political football and a slogan to be kicked around and used to hurt opponents politically.

And with ANZAC Day having been and gone again for another year, this year’s festivities have been marred by an ugly public spat over a despicable post in social media by someone who should have known better, employed by people who ought to have provided the guidance to stop her.

By now, most people will have heard of the fracas over Muslim ABC identity Yassmin Abdel-Magied’s foolhardy words on Facebook; those who haven’t can check out this article from The Australian (and I am using this, rather than any of the other reports available, as I wanted to include the opinion offered by Graham Richardson on the issue).

“Lest we forget (Nauru, Manus, Syria, Palestine),” she wrote. This reference to the hard-Left agenda of ending offshore detention, withdrawing from the Middle East and its obsession with sticking fingers (or worse) into the eyes of Israel is too blatant to claim as a coincidence, and too tastelessly timed to be anything other than a jab at another object of left-wing hatred: ANZAC Day.

Predictably, the voices of the Right roared. It was obscene, un-Australian, treacherous, disrespectful, blasphemous, an insult to the men and women who fought and died for Australia’s freedom.

It was indeed all of those things.

But the voices of the Left returned fire, claiming that calls for Ms Abdel-Magied to be sacked by the ABC proved that once and for all, the great conservative cause of free speech was nothing but a hoax; here they were, trying to shut down “free speech” from someone on the Left. How dare they! After all, Abdel-Magied was entitled to offer an opinion, wasn’t she? Or was this just because Abdel-Magied is a Muslim, and conservatives are “bigots?”

Yet again, the football that is free speech gets kicked around — and the central point (or in this case, problem) is missed.

This column believes Ms Abdel-Magied should be free to think whatever she likes, turgid and contemptible as some of those sentiments are: and courtesy of her status as one of the ABC’s tokenistic fabricated “celebrities” — who, to be blunt, would be of little interest to anyone, the ABC included, were it not for the fact she hails from a minority community — we are learning more and more about the thoughts of this lamentable excuse for a TV personality.

Such as the ridiculous notion that Islam is “the most feminist religion” in the world, when irrefutable evidence of the savagery and barbarism of fundamentalist Islamic regimes towards women in many parts of the world tells a very different story.

Or the equally fatuous suggestion that Sharia Law is purely concerned with “mercy and kindness,” and that the law of sovereign nations always takes precedence over it — when again, there is ample evidence over many years and from many countries that nothing could be further from the truth.

I think Ms Abdel-Magied is shrewd; she’s been appointed to government taskforces on multiculturalism and domestic violence; she was sent on a tour of Muslim countries by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to “promote Australia;” she was appointed to the board of the Queensland Museum; and she’s been packaged up as a “media identity” by the ABC (possibly as the ABC’s answer to Waleed Aly on The Project, about whom my objection has nothing to do with the fact he’s a Muslim and everything to do with the fact he’s a socialist idiot whose views I vehemently disagree with).

Even in an era where political, social and cultural institutions are dominated by the Left in this country, it still takes a degree of guile to extract and compile that kind of CV — much of it with salary cheques attached to it — especially for a 26-year-old, no less, and it is obvious that guile is not a commodity in which Abdel-Magied is lacking.

But I don’t think her views are in any way representative of the silent majority of Australians; and I think elements of those views are so insidious that it behoves anyone dishing out what can only be described as CV-building items to think long and hard about what kind of national “celebrities” they are creating.

Herein lies the nub of the matter: the culpability of the ABC.

“Their ABC.” The ABC of the finger-shaking Chardonnay drunks of the self-styled “elites” of the Left who would have a clear world view if they could only extract their heads from their rectums.

Too much of what the ABC puts to air — especially where politics and current affairs are concerned, and especially wherever any kind of panel or discussion is involved — is unapologetically misused as a forum to advance the causes of the political Left; whether it’s to omit key details from its coverage (like failing to identify Islamic terrorist acts as being committed by Muslims) or to stack the loathsome #QandA panel every week with a majority of leftist and radical socialist identities, the only time the ABC feigns any pretence of impartiality is when anyone tries to hold it to account.

My point is that for all the (justified) uproar over what Ms Abdel-Magied had to say on Facebook, the ruckus isn’t a question of free speech: Abdel-Magied was free to post what she did, and the rest of us were free to slap it down as the odious rubbish it was. The fact she took the post down (and apologised) is a clue that someone belatedly got through to her that there are some things you just don’t do.

But organisations like the ABC, which are responsible for providing people like Abdel-Magied a national platform from which to disseminate fringe opinions, also bear some responsibility for what their media creations subsequently say or do: if Yassmin Abdel-Magied was just a nameless resident of Brisbane — irrespective of her religious convictions — who posted something like she did on ANZAC Day, it’s doubtful anyone would have noticed, let alone cause the fuss we’ve seen over the past two days.

No big media profile, no public interest in social media profiles. One follows the other. The ABC made her a “star.” Its curt dismissal of her post, or the callous claim that deleting it was “acceptable,” simply isn’t good enough.

If you create the monster, you own its handiwork. The ABC can’t have it both ways.

Nobody doubts Ms Abdel-Magied’s ability; and nobody could criticise the daughter of migrants trying to carve out a niche for herself. It is her judgement that is in question.

Whilst she should be free to think (and indeed, say) whatever she likes, trying to misappropriate the national spotlight for herself on what is tantamount to a sacred day in Australia, with opinions that are offensive drivel to most Australians, is not the way to go about it.

Through her public utterances on #QandA and this week through her deleted Facebook post, whatever else you might think of her, Ms Abdel-Magied has exhibited a distinct lack of maturity: and if she can’t or won’t behave like a grown-up, then those who dish out the dough — like her employers at “Their ABC” — ought to think twice about providing her with taxpayer-funded junkets and/or platforms to spruik her wares.

Where the ABC is concerned, the notion of being “independent” is too easily distorted into an excuse to propagate blatantly biased left-wing propaganda, using carefully selected messengers (such as Ms Abdel-Magied) to enable dissent to be portrayed as a racist/sexist/homophobic/Islamophobic (insert your favourite lefty taunt here) attack on nice people with “valid insights.”

Sorry Aunty. You created her and if you can’t control her, piss her off. The rest of us don’t need to be lectured, and especially not by a kid who apparently doesn’t even value the traditions of the country that has given her a better life than her homeland ever would have.

 

 

Quick Wrap: Attack Is Great, But Useless Without A Plan

TONIGHT’S POST is a short piece to reconfirm yet again that I have not disappeared, but merely continue to operate at a million miles per hour; even so, there is a Newspoll due out later this evening (and I will get to it if I can), but a vicious and brilliant attack against ALP “leader” Bill Shorten by the PM will count for nowt if not followed with proper policies — and other things have been afoot that we will allow to percolate a little further.

I am heartily sorry for the break over the past week and a half, but revenue-generating activities (and the airport) have intervened to thwart us; after a lightning in-out trip to Canberra on Thursday to attend to an urgent business matter — in a week bookended by weekends during which I worked almost the full four days on a project I’m launching with one of my other hats on — I’m now contemplating three interstate trips over the next nine days, beginning with an in-out run to Sydney tomorrow, and scarily enough that tally of return flights is likely to grow. So whilst I apologise for the absence, I ask regular readers to bear with me.

Indeed, there is a Newspoll due for publication in The Australian later tonight, and if I can get to it before I head out to Tullamarine by 6am tomorrow I will; if you don’t see it, you’ll know the clock has beaten me.

But it will be interesting to see the picture this survey paints in terms of the Turnbull government’s fortunes, for last fortnight’s offering was (as readers could probably tell) very close to the point in my view at which Turnbull, and possibly the Coalition in this phase of holding office, passed the point of political and electoral no return.

It was cheering (and I mean this sincerely, given my trenchant criticism of Malcolm Turnbull) to see the PM rip into Labor’s alleged “leader” last week in brutal and uncompromising terms; Bill Shorten isn’t merely the least appropriate figure ever fielded by either major party as a candidate for the Prime Ministership, but is a vindictive, lying and downright obsequious piece of work to boot.

I don’t go along with the school of thought that has found its way into mainstream press analysis that “the troops” should take heart from this one-off piece of vitriolic savagery from Turnbull; the fact is that the “sycophantic parasite” Turnbull painted Shorten as should have been torn into so many pieces by the Coalition over the past four years that even a sparrow should be having trouble filling its beak with one peck.

In other words, Turnbull merely did what he should have been doing for the past 18 months — and what Tony Abbott should have been doing for two and a half years beforehand.

Whether the onslaught against Shorten continues remains to be seen; Parliament sits again next week, and it’s the way of these things that such attacks are invariably made from the safety of parliamentary privilege. But whilst destroying Shorten might amount to a case of “be careful what you wish for” — he could be replaced by someone more adept at selling a convincing, and honest-style, message — nobody on either side of politics can claim with credibility that Shorten adds any value whatsoever to Australian politics.

Leave him where he is and his opportunistic, hypocritical, populist style wreaks pandemonium on the ability of the government to govern; permit him to win an election, and the sum total of his behaviour to date adds up to the highest-taxing, highest spending, highest debt government Australia will have ever seen in which violent, militant union thugs run roughshod over democracy and the general public. A Shorten government would burn through the economy like a nuclear blast, with the likely impact of tax rises and ill-considered changes like abolishing negative gearing contributing to a hefty recession, and so even if it makes the next election even more winnable for the ALP, it is in the national interest for Bill Shorten to be driven out of the Labor leadership (and, preferably, Parliament too) at any and all costs.

Credit where it is due though: Turnbull has finally laid a glove on the imbecilic opposition “leader.” More of the same, hopefully, will follow.

A surer bet is the apparent decision by the government, from Turnbull down, to suddenly champion the consumer where essential services are concerned; what one British MP once described as “all this Greens bullshit” has led to the farcical situation whereby electricity and gas are now almost priced beyond the reach of ordinary households to afford — and what there is available to them to consume isn’t even a reliable supply, as the uselessness and unfitness for purpose of renewables to generate constant baseload power has been laid bare after a summer in which much of the country has experienced extreme heatwaves for months.

Perhaps the penny has finally dropped — perhaps — that government in Australia is not a vocation in prosecuting the trendy crusades of the smug left on climate change, Muslim immigration and “gender fluidity” (whatever the hell that is), but is in fact an obligation to govern for the people who live here in order to improve, and maintain, the standard of living they are accustomed to enjoying.

I have been blunt over the years that with Australia accounting for less than 1% of global emissions, the moves to price cheap, inexhaustible coal out of the energy mix in this country is tantamount to a criminal negligence against its citizens; even if you accept human emissions are responsible for climate change — and I don’t, for I think it’s puerile to use 150 years or so of data to make ridiculous pronouncements over millions of years of history — there is literally no difference Australia can make to the overall global emissions load.

Yes, clean up industry and yes, wherever possible, make smoke stacks belching shit into the air a thing of the past, but not at the cost of ordinary families being slugged with $500 bills every three months to turn the lights on.

Even here, I think the safest bet is to simply wait and see.

For whilst I have been implacable in my insistence over the years that Turnbull isn’t, wasn’t and won’t be the ideal candidate for the Prime Ministership, my personal view of him is very high indeed (even if I don’t hold some of his mates in the same warm esteem); if there is some way Malcolm can not only deal himself back into the game, but carry the millions of lost conservative votes back into the Coalition tent with him, nobody will cheer him on more loudly than I.

I do think such a storyline, however, remains improbable in the extreme.

But now experimenting with hard policy as a way to cut the cost of living on utility prices, maybe a flutter of success (and a flicker of cognisance in the opinion polls) might finally induce Malcolm to do what this column has been calling for over a period of months: to outline a program of comprehensive reform (however difficult the Senate might render its execution) on taxation, industrial relations, welfare and education reform, along with a sweeping program of cuts to Rudd-Gillard era spending programs and a severe cull of federal public servants, and — most importantly of all — a hard-hitting and efficacious communications and political strategy with which to sell it — not the festering, pustulent crap with which the Coalition has approached matters of mass communication in office for far, far too long now.

Of course, a poor Newspoll result might render any talk of tentative upswings entirely redundant. We will see.

I am off to watch the ghastly ABC talkfest that is #QandA, which tonight features Attorney-General George Brandis as the chief token Liberal amid the usual stacked panel of pinko sycophants and Australia-hating left-wing filth.

It should at least prove a more edifying spectacle than last week’s all-out brawl between the cringeworthy Jacqui Lambie — whose credentials, based on her performance last week, as the stupidest person ever elected to an Australian House of Parliament are well and truly intact — and Muslim activist Yassmin Abdel-Magied.

For once Lambie was right, although her apparent bogan tic of terminating every sentence with “that’s BOOLSHITT!” wore very thin by the end of the show: even so, the suggestion by Abdel-Magied that Islam is a “feminist” religion, and that criticisms of Sharia law are based “in ignorance” when women, children and babies are routinely raped and slaughtered under regimes predicated solely on the strictest possible interpretation of Sharia law, well and truly deserved the tsunami of condemnation it elicited in the mainstream press and in social media this week.

I’m the first to draw the distinction between moderate Muslims and Islamic extremists — something the far Right refuses to acknowledge even exists, and which the Left roundly dismisses as “racism” and bigotry” — but the simple truth is that graphic videos of women being raped and/or beheaded by Muslim men, in some cases apparently with the sanction of the Islamic states involved, are readily available online and are more than enough proof that if anyone is delusional, it’s the young Abdel-Magied who has had the benefit of a free life in Australia, not the sisters she dishonours with talk of “feminist” Islam.

After all, if her words contained a grain of truth, there would be no women from Muslim backgrounds in Australia (or any other free country) at all: life would be too good where they came from to abandon.

So let’s dispense with the nonsense that the ABC is in any way impartial or factual by providing a platform for such views, and condemn whomever approved the expenditure at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for the taxpayer-funded field trip to Muslim countries for Abdel-Magied that was — and let’s call it for what it was — an attempt to curry favour with yet another minority group whilst the interests of the majority, who largely pay for such ridiculous trifles, are ignored.

 

Why We Do, In Fact, Need To Talk About Islam

IN THE wake of TV identity Sonia Kruger being all but crucified for suggesting Muslim immigration be halted — and after the ABC’s latest, awful #QandA show, which quickly descended into a pack attack on Pauline Hanson — Australia, whatever the Left thinks, must openly grasp and deal with the issue of Islamic arrivals. Failure to do so will, now or in future, rip the country apart: as it will Western society generally if the challenge is not resolved.

If Australia, like the rest of the Western world, has a growing problem with Muslim immigration and the rise of radical Islamic terrorism — and I believe that it does — then it has several inter-related other problems, too, almost all of which are entirely of its own making.

That is not to say the scourge of Islamic terrorism is the fault of liberal democracy, or even the product of “invading their countries” (it isn’t), but just as there is a problem — and it is potentially an existential one, where the future of Western society is concerned — it isn’t good enough for the aggrieved to point the finger at “towel heads” from “stone age lands” following a “religion of slaughter” and some of the even less savoury insults that are being bandied around these days, nor to slap such idiot-simple and incendiary provocations down with the insistence that Islam is a subject only discussed by bigots.

Even so, the vast majority of Muslim people are decent people who don’t actually harbour any wish to visit death and terror on Western society; I believe that to be a factually correct statement, and it has been borne out from time to time in my dealings with some of these people as they have crossed my path: people who simply want to get on with their own lives, some of whom most people would not even recognise as Muslims — they’re not all called Mohammed, or wear the niqab — and who to all appearances are no different to anyone else.

On the other hand, it is also a factually correct statement that those countries which have experienced the highest levels of Muslim immigration in recent decades — Belgium, the Netherlands and, of course, France — also have the biggest problem with Islamic terrorism and religiously motivated violence against majority populations, and no amount of finger shaking or character destruction crusades by the Left can change that fact.

But the default position of major political parties these days is to play down any suggestion that a problem exists with this newest source of mass additions to the Australian population, with rhetoric about social cohesion and tolerance and acceptance being spouted in the absence of anything more substantial (or even pertinent); the default position of the media — to its shame — is, and especially where the mouthpieces of the Left are concerned, not to report on the religious affiliation of the perpetrators of terrorist attacks, lest this shatter the integrity of carefully constructed diatribes around inclusion, humanity and social justice; and the default position of the Muslim community itself (or more particularly, those charged with acting as its mouthpieces) appears to be to refuse to add its own voice of outrage to wider condemnations whenever any of its own are involved in committing unspeakable atrocity, followed by lengthy justifications that their own “condemnation” should be withheld on the basis it’s merely a trophy sought by bigots wishing to drive them out of their adopted country.

These realities are more or less uniform throughout the Western world, and whilst our discussion today is focused on Australia it could as easily relate to Britain, or France, or Belgium, or the USA.

But Australia has witnessed in recent times the rise, on its far Right, of political candidates and parties which seek to foment public unrest over the presence of an expanding Muslim community and/or advocate some pretty heavy duty measures with which to “deal” with it (such as the compulsory deportation of every Muslim in Australia) and this is no solution to what is, as I said at the outset, a problem, and one that isn’t going to be resolved in any constructive way by the series of default positions it attracts depending on where the response comes from.

Serial troublemaker Pauline Hanson — well versed in whipping up hysteria over “problems,” but never with the hint of a meaningful solution in sight — isn’t looking at leading a Senate team of perhaps three Senators merely through a protest vote against Malcolm Turnbull by so-called “Del-Cons:” she has been elected by those who, for whatever reason, are deeply concerned by an issue they know is not going to be addressed by either of the major parties: the ALP because it harvests the overwhelming majority of Muslim votes; the Coalition because it doesn’t want to rock the boat.

The Australian Liberty Alliance, which is perhaps even uglier in its approach to social issues than Hanson could ever dream of, performed an electoral belly flop, scoring less than 1% of the national vote.

But if you look at the Senate, and factor parties and candidates that might be characterised as “far Right,” almost 10% of voters cast a primary vote for these entities: the support base might be fractured, and spread across a competing and disparate number of recipients, but a far Right vote nearing 10% is a phenomenon it would be dangerously unwise to dismiss as a protest.

The end destination of such a movement is likely to be arrived at in France next year, when leader of the far Right Front National, Marine Le Pen, is expected to get as far as the runoff round in France’s presidential elections; this wouldn’t be the first time such a divisive contest had been joined, of course, for Le Pen’s father Jean-Marie made it to the final round against Jacques Chirac in 2002. The elder Le Pen was trounced by Chirac on that occasion. But Frances’s problems with its Muslim community have arguably grown far worse in the years since.

So let’s be clear: the capacity for some kind of popular uprising, should people take matters into their own hands if they feel the establishment parties will not, cannot be dismissed out of hand.

Whilst France’s problems stem largely from its botched management of settling immigrants from its former African colonies, the problem in Australia is almost the reverse: too much “tolerance” and “generosity,” but the wrong kind of each — the kind that is legislated by governments, and funded by a tax paying public that is prevented by law from having an opinion and/or roundly abused by Left wing champions of “diversity” and “understanding” whose ideas about free speech boil down to people being free to say whatever they like, so long as it’s the message that has been predetermined and approved for them by people who know “better.”

Whether you like it or not, Australia is a Christian country founded on the same Judeo-Christian and liberal capitalist principles that underpin almost all of the societies of the Western world.

It is true that Australia is a nation of immigrants, and indeed everyone that lives here (including, at least partially by blood, a goodly number of those identifying as “Aboriginal”) possesses at least some cultural heritage than can be traced to other parts of the world; readers know I identify as Scottish as much as Australian, and I’m proud of both traditions. Millions of our fellow Australians have their own unique stories in this regard.

But the very nature of immigration, and certainly since 1945, means that those coming to this country are joining it; the onus is not — irrespective of what any Left-wing imbecile likes to proclaim — on the rest of Australia to be modified and to adapt itself to fit the specific requirements of one particular group of newcomers.

The key to making immigration work (and the reason Australia has historically been so successful at it) is to get the new arrival communities fully involved in mainstream society; if you live in Melbourne (as I do) half the people you meet are from a Greek or Italian background; go to Sydney, there are Vietnamese people everywhere you look; in Brisbane, I see a greater Chinese presence these days, along with the residual (much smaller) Greek and Italian communities that were there when I was growing up. People from Eastern Europe have joined us over the past 20 years or so in great numbers, and Melbourne is of course the largest Jewish community outside Israel and excluding New York. These are general examples only, and they are intended to be, but the point is very simple: having these people with us works, and it works very well indeed.

Some of these nationalities have brought great cultural enrichment: think food, think music, think the arts. Apart from absolute rednecks, does anyone seriously think we’d be better off without them? Even the Asians Pauline Hanson so famously launched her political career claiming would swamp Australia seem to get along with everyone else just fine. Yes, there are concerns about the sale of Australian infrastructure to China, but not through any racism; rather, it’s because most of the buyers are state-controlled companies with links directly to a Communist regime. But are their people welcome here? I think they are, absolutely, although others may disagree.

Every time there seems to be a national intake of breath over one migrant community or another — think the Japanese, with their investments on the Gold Coast and in Cairns in the 1980s — it has always worked itself out.

But just as I’ve taken a rather circumlocutory route to come back to the issue of Muslim immigration, people from all of these countries of origin have, by and large, come here and made a go of it in their new country. The fish and chip shops once run by the Greeks (and famously, by Hanson) are now run by the Vietnamese. Indians and others of South Asian origins increasingly form the backbone of the local IT industry.

We could give other examples. But by and large, for the first time, we are confronted by something very different indeed.

If you go to your local supermarket now, you are as likely as not to buy “Halal compliant” goods. Go to the butcher, and there’s a good chance the meat you purchase will be Halal as well. It is no longer acceptable to celebrate Christmas in some schools, or to wish people a Merry Christmas: “Happy Holidays,” grotesquely, is now the approved nicety. Human rights bodies exist to uphold the rights of minorities — and let’s not kid ourselves, an awful lot of this nowadays means Muslim minorities — and anti-discrimination bodies and legislation exist to stop anyone making a serious attempt to lawfully outline legitimate grievances with these communities or groups. Many Muslims live in relatively closed communities, and most of their leaders don’t even speak English. People are unsettled by the sight of those walking around wearing the niqab. Mosques are closed shops for Islamic preachers to communicate to Muslim audiences. Community “leaders” gently sell the “compatibility” of Sharia law with Western law. There are gender-segregated sporting facilities in some parts of Sydney, and it’s well known that bacon is not sold in fast food outlets in areas with high (but not majority) levels of Muslim residents.

Now, of course, Australia has witnessed three recent examples of Muslim terror on its own soil — the slaying of two Police officers in Endeavour Hills in Melbourne, the murder of NSW Police civilian worker Curtis Cheng, and most insidiously, the Lindt siege in Sydney perpetrated by an individual who ought to have been thrown out of the country 20 years ago.

Part of the problem, of course, is that the do-gooder lunacy of the Left that infests every issue it concerns itself with has also infected the judicial system; jail is a last resort, they say; mitigating factors (such as marginalisation, oppression, blah blah blah) warrant leniency for doing the wrong thing, they say; and penalties and sentences seem to grow more divorced from community expectations with every year that passes.

But just as white, Anglo-Saxon Australians — and others — get away too often in the court of public opinion with a slap on the wrist for criminal misconduct, Muslim miscreants benefit to the same degree; there are those who use this point to suggest that White Australians don’t get deported for committing crimes, and that therefore neither should Muslims. But this country already has a bad enough (and worsening) problem with crime, committed by people who are Australian citizens by birth, without merely adding to its scope on the specious pretext of “compassion.”

There are those who suggest that Islamic terrorism is the West’s fault. “We invaded their countries,” they screech. But we hadn’t when New York was attacked by radical Islamists flying hijacked aeroplanes on 11 September 2001, and such a simplistic justification for future acts of terror by radical jihadis ignores the fact that just as they increasingly seem to want to inflict carnage upon Western society, they have been doing the same thing to each other for decades — if not for centuries.

The Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, for instance, was a conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims; in many respects, the current quagmire that is Islamic State — whilst aspiring to a global Islamic caliphate — also involves a similar conflagration between disparate Muslim factions as a precursor to establishing internal supremacy.

The point is that the radical elements of Islam (as opposed to the moderate ones who really don’t want to go down this track at all) have been fighters by nature long before they came to our shores; of course, the scourge of radicalisation — fuelled by regimes such as the Taliban in Afghanistan, or Al Qaeda and its various proxies as galvanised by Osama bin Laden — has given such endeavours an “anti-infidel” flavour directed malignantly at the “decadence” of Christian Western society, and I contend (although it’s an argument for another time) that the “clash of civilisations” bin Laden sought to ignite would have found a spark irrespective of whether George Bush and Tony Blair led a Coalition of the Willing into Iraq in 2003 or not.

Now, we agonise over what to do with “radicalised” Muslim youth who want to go to the Middle East to fight for or against Islamic State; I actually think the best thing to do in this particular instance is to let them go, but make damn sure they never come back: fighting a civil war is not an Australian way of life, and those who wish to do so probably shouldn’t be here anyway.

But in terms of a broader discussion of Muslim immigration, the Muslim community and the way it is treated and conducts itself, these are fraught issues that are as good as forbidden to speak of in this country.

I’m no apologist for Pauline Hanson (quite the contrary, as past articles in this column will show) but the approach of the “social justice” Left was belligerently illustrated on the ABC’s ghastly #QandA programme on Monday night: Hanson was outnumbered and cornered, 5-1, by a stacked panel and a hostile audience that for three-quarters of the show focused solely on the issue of Islam with a lynch mob mentality and the determination to skewer Hanson in a wild pack attack. It was as unedifying as it was disgraceful.

Earlier that day, Nine network identity Sonia Kruger opined on national television that she thought Muslim immigration should be stopped altogether: there wasn’t to my mind a great deal of cogency in the remarks, which were slapped down the following day by Muslim TV personality (and host of Network 10’s The Project) Waleed Aly on the grounds Kruger was “scared.” I almost thought, for once, that I would agree with the insidious Aly, over whom my objection has nothing to do with the fact he’s Muslim but everything to do with the fact he’s a socialist gnome with a very big soapbox to spruik from. But even then, he lost me: Aly’s column twisted the issue to allow himself to talk about how “scared” he was — of his, and his (Muslim) friends,’ treatment by the majority community.

Part of the problem is that the Muslim community’s leaders seem to think they are presiding over some kind of closed shop; if members of their flock do wrong, unequivocal denunciations are rarely heard.

What the majority community does hear, though, is lunatic pronouncements that Western women are like “plates of uncovered meat” in explanation of sexual assaults they suffer — and similarly offensive rhetoric — that might hold sway in some of the places they come from, but which has no place in Australian society.

It looks at the UK, where British Labour now routinely gender segregates attendees at major televised election functions, or at France, where random acts of mass slaughter committed by Islamic terrorists are on the rise, and then it looks closer to home where so-called “lone wolf” attacks are dismissed as not examples of Islamic terrorism at all, but of dislocation resulting from the refusal of the majority population to accept Muslims into its midst.

And it hears the e’er gentle suggestions from the Islamic community that Islam is a “religion of peace,” often made in tandem with helpful ideas about how Sharia law can “co-exist” with Western common law: people see the thin edge of the wedge, and they don’t like it.

Having a proper, open, candid discussion about the place of the Muslim community in Australia is, ironically, potentially as much to the benefit of the Muslim community itself as to anyone else living here.

But through a labyrinth of politicians, social commentators, the finger-shaking Chardonnay drunks of the Left and a wall of legislative and regulatory prohibitions on daring to raise the matter at all, it’s only a matter of time before the current approach of stifling debate completely (and attempting to destroy those who attempt to start one) leads directly to vigilantes and other undesirables taking matters into their own hands — which, to be clear, is every bit as unacceptable as the grievances, legitimate or imagined, they purport to hold.

This is the wake-up call Hanson, and others like her, represent: they may not advocate lawless behaviour and vigilante conduct themselves, but the very fact of their growing support means that the core issue can no longer be ignored, wished away or countered by legislated silence and personalised malice.

As I said at the outset, I think most Muslims don’t want to hurt anyone; like every barrel, there’s a bit of shit in the bottom of that particular one where the couple of rotten apples have liquefied into a lubricious scum: and in this sense, the same is true of any mass grouping of people, be they Islamic, Christian or otherwise.

I think the real solution here is enhanced screening — of candidates for settlement in Australia — backed by an improved regime for weeding out undesirables before they arrive, and getting rid of those who quickly show they simply don’t belong here, which means most would get to stay, but some would never set foot here in the first place.

But a growing number of Australians, as inelegantly expressed by Kruger this week and as explosively needled by Hanson for years, are finding an awful lot to be apprehensive about where the presence of Muslim immigrants in this country are concerned, and looking at the countries of Western Europe — where the problem has been percolating for some years longer than it has been here — they see precedents they do not wish to see repeated in Australia under any circumstances.

Stop the abuse, stop the name-calling, make sure everyone is involved and grasp this issue in a proper national debate, for even if the Muslim community doesn’t destroy our society and way of life under its own steam, the reaction to it — if left unchecked, or not conducted on more reasonable grounds designed to find a solution — will almost certainly do so.

Wishing this out of existence and ignoring it just aren’t options. The longer it takes, the harder it will be to fix.

 

Yes, Labor Has Peaked; Its Momentum Has Stalled. But…

TWO WEEKS from polling day — in what ranks as the most insipid contest in years, if not ever — the unlikely but unmistakable march of the contemptible Bill Shorten toward The Lodge has been stopped in its tracks; what seemed a shock upset a week ago has been turned on its head by inadvisable pronouncements from Shorten on the economy and on asylum seekers. Yet just when the tide runs the Coalition’s way, along comes Malcolm Turnbull.

There are those who will say the result of this year’s election was never in any doubt; that Malcolm Turnbull — principally because he isn’t Tony Abbott — was always destined to gallop off to a thumping election win, carrying the Liberal and National Parties on his back.

Perhaps he will — and perhaps the government will survive its meeting with voters on 2 July almost unscathed — but I still believe this is a see-sawing contest, not because the polls say it is, but rather brutally because both sides appear to be held in such low esteem by the general public that whoever makes the fewest mistakes will win.

Until a week ago, unbelievably, it seemed the prize was there for the moronic Bill Shorten to take.

I apologise to readers for yet another leave of absence; perhaps it is time to say I will aim for two, three, four articles per week (as opposed to the five to seven that were a regular feature before my workload ramped up so drastically a year ago) and to stop apologising for being busy. But this morning, in restarting proceedings, I want to speak very broadly about where I think we are at.

Six days ago, I opined that thanks to his admissions on what a Labor government would do with the federal budget if it was elected next month — namely, to drop the pretence that Labor’s Senate obstruction over the past two years had been in any way responsible, and to admit the party would adopt in government tens of billions of dollars of Abbott government cuts it derided as “cruel” and “unfair” — Shorten had ensured the 2 July election would come to be seen as having been won or lost on that day; I am beginning to think that diagnosis was right on the money, and it looks as if Shorten’s attempt to dump the bad news at a time the country was heading into a long weekend and with three weeks in hand to recover will explode in his smarmy face.

Or does it?

The tone was set on Tuesday by Mark Kenny from The Age, in his article exploring the notion that Labor’s campaign had peaked; Kenny made no mention of Shorten’s budget proclamations, but he didn’t have to, for the only “game changing moment” that has occurred in this campaign to date was the hurried press conference on Thursday last in which Shorten and his Treasury spokesman, Chris Bowen, effectively admitted to millions of intending Labor voters that they had been duping them all along.

And of course, it has been all downhill for Labor from there.

Not content with peddling the ridiculous lie that a re-elected Turnbull government intended to privatise Medicare, this week Labor wheeled out ageing former Prime Minister Bob Hawke to bolster its scare campaign; that the ALP should place such faith in such a grotesquely crass smear is bad enough, but for Hawke to lower his colours to be dragged into it speaks volumes for both the desperation that must be seeping into the Labor bunker, and for the complete lack of credibility Labor’s predictable, formulaic and decade-old prophesies of doom in Australian healthcare under the Coalition have come to assume these days.

Labor rattles the tin of “Liberals to kill hospital beds and nursing jobs” with such monotonous regularity one could set a watch by it: and in any case, it’s a mark of just how pathetic Labor’s offering as a party of national government really is that whether credible or not, it really only ever builds its campaigns on two state issues — Health and Education.

Yes, it talks about other things too, but the mentality that if Labor simply talks about these two subjects it can win anything is so pervasive as to be almost literally tangible.

Meanwhile, Shorten — who has had inordinate trouble keeping his sheep within the fold when it comes to the fraught issue of boat arrivals and would-be economic migrants paying people smugglers to circumvent proper process — also announced this week that the 30,000 arrivals left over from the 50,000 who turned up during the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government would, under a Labor government, be granted residency, work and welfare rights: overturning, once again, the successful policies of a Coalition government that stopped unending (and ever-increasing) streams of people chancing their luck to get to these shores by sea, with over 1,200 drowning in the process during the ALP’s last stint in office.

It’s a win for the socialists and compassion-babbling Chardonnay drunks at the Greens and the hard Left, but mainstream Australia will be unimpressed; it took Rudd on his word, in good faith, when he dismantled the Howard government’s Pacific Solution, with solemn assurances that no human tide would suddenly bear down on this country looking for the easy way in.

It won’t be quite so trusting now.

From Sideshow Alley, Shorten’s trusty mate in Melbourne, union hand puppet and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, has treated the country to a spectacular demonstration of the ALP’s political judgement and strategic nous, choosing the middle of a federal election campaign to create the unwanted distraction of capitulating to a union Labor owed its 2014 state election win to — the hard-Left United Firefighters’ Union — by sacking the independent board of the (largely volunteer-comprised) Country Fire Authority in order to ram through a deeply reviled “enterprise” bargaining “agreement” that is, in all but name, a takeover of the CFA by the UFU and a blunt message to the volunteers to either submit to their new union masters or to fuck off.

In a gift that really doesn’t keep on giving for Shorten — or at least, not in a way that is of any use to anyone but the Liberal Party — the details of the so-called EBA have become public over the past few days, including details of stamp duty refunds on houses purchased by firefighters posted to other locations within Victoria (savings of up to $40,000 that the rest of the population doesn’t get) as well as thousands of dollars in extra pay-offs and perks, all at taxpayers’ expense, that can amount to nothing more on a reasonable assessment than a payment for services rendered.

It isn’t a case of the “benefits” of being a union member: rather, an illustration of how public finances are abused by unions, with the ALP deeply complicit in the rort, to gain control over sinecures that can be taken over for no other reason than they simply can’t resist once a government — a Labor government — adds its muscle to the endeavour.

Next time you see people at a polling booth masquerading as firefighters and ambulance drivers, you can get a fair idea of just how lucrative the abuse of their public positions for political gain really stands to be for their unions.

But it has added weight to the growing public acceptance of the line that Labor governs solely for the benefit of the unions; with less than 15% of the working population now choosing to belong to one union or another (and with the proportion likely to be down to single figures now, when public sector employees are excluded), this anachronistic approach to public office simply doesn’t fit with the contemporary outlook of the vast majority of people who live in modern Australia — an uncomfortable reality for a Labor Party that has grown increasingly beholden to violent and lawless outfits like the CFMEU.

Everywhere you look, Labor’s luck — and the cohesion of the past two-and-a-bit years that was founded on a series of “smart” answers, deceptive half-truths, and outright lies — is suddenly beginning to falter.

It was reflected in Shorten’s performance on the ABC’s ghastly #QandA programme on Monday night; the rent-a-crowd brought in by the ABC predictably clapped and cheered, in a characteristically partisan production that showcased the alleged merits of the Left’s latest hero in all his ugly glory.

But Shorten’s virtuoso performance was, in fact, terrible; his vocal delivery alternated between a dead flat drone and a ghoulish, wavering screech that sounded like a bizarre mixture of excessive excitement and a death rattle. His points were shallow, his attack lines predictable, and much of what he had to say was downright dishonest: like his repeated characterisation of negative gearing as “a subsidy” as he persists with a policy ostensibly designed to win support by kicking hell out of “rich” people, but which instead will hurt hundreds of thousands of mum-and-dad investors badly before it even gets to anyone who might be described as “rich” at all — and probably causing a recession along the way for good measure.

He didn’t do himself any favours, and those who can be bothered revisiting this excruciating piece of television can access the video file here.

Of course, there are other things Shorten and the ALP have been up to; after 18 months of opinion poll leads prior to the ascension of Malcolm Turnbull to the Prime Ministership, and the re-establishment of a winning position over the past few months, Labor suddenly can’t take a trick.

And the polls, whilst not lurching toward the government en masse, are picking up shards of it: Essential saw Labor move back into the lead last week with a 51-49 margin over the government, and Ipsos, for the Fairfax press, found the ALP maintaining the same buffer over the Coalition.

Yet two ReachTel polls showed 51-49 leads for the Coalition — the first in some time — whilst a Newspoll analysis of marginal seats published in The Australian today shows the Coalition would hold onto almost all of the disputed electorates it is defending in a fortnight’s time.

I don’t agree with analyses that show the Coalition nearing 52% of the vote on an aggregation of polling results — experience and gut instinct still suggest it’s nearer to 50-50, and that the government may not as yet have clawed its way back in front. But that is certainly the direction reputable measurements of electoral sentiment are now heading in, and if Turnbull isn’t in a genuinely winning position yet, it can only be a matter of time given the apparent determination of the ALP to surrender whatever credibility — and the winning position — it might have held.

But then, Malcolm reverts to being Malcolm.

Already saying virtually nothing about the disgusting lawless mess that is the union movement these days — the supposed pretext for holding a double dissolution in the first place — and ignoring key issues like negative gearing, genuine tax reform (as opposed to a revenue-yielding patchwork fix) or industrial reform, Turnbull continues to show he has a tin ear when it comes to issues that resonate with the voters he depends on for re-election: the Coalition’s bedrock and those swinging voters inclined to vote with it.

Just days after 102 gay people were murdered or maimed by a Muslim gunman in a vile atrocity in Orlando, Florida, Malcolm saw fit to stage a highly publicised dinner with key Muslims to celebrate the end of their month of fasting: and whilst tolerance and inclusion are well and good, the fact remains that both major parties are guilty of thumbing their noses at genuine voter concerns about Islamic violence — at home and abroad — and their resentment at simply being told they must accept that people like Turnbull know what is good for them.

To add insult to injury, an anti-gay cleric was invited to this gala extravaganza at Kirribilli House: a man whose views on homosexual people, Jews, adulterers and even Christmas border on barbaric.

Turnbull must have known the dinner would have received wide media coverage, and he must have known the attendees — hardly any of whom engender any public support or affection beyond the political Left and the Islamic community — would be closely scrutinised.

Yet when called out over the attendance of Sheik Shady Al-Suleiman — who thinks adulterers should be stoned to death and that God should “destroy the enemies of Islam” — the best Turnbull could do was to blame his staff.

Andrew Bolt, without a syllable of the extremism he is too often (and baselessly) accused of, nails his blistering critique of Turnbull in today’s metropolitan Murdoch publications.

And just as Shorten isn’t doing himself or his party any favours, the same could be said of Malcolm: a telling example is that even after the vicious onslaught against Labor’s economic management “credentials” by Finance minister Matthias Cormann, which arguably wrong-footed Shorten into his humiliating about-face on the budget last week, the subject has been allowed to drop; with the state of the national finances a very real (and increasingly urgent) consideration, the absence of any coherent attempt to prosecute this case once and for all that has marked the span of this government has simply resumed.

But more generally — in the most lacklustre, uninspiring and insipid election campaign in living memory, if not ever — there have been plenty of instances of Malcolm dropping the ball instead of putting it through the hoop for a slam-dunk.

His voice may be harder, more articulate and easier to listen to than the nasal blather of Shorten, but all too often Turnbull’s messages are just as empty and just as full of misdirected slogans as his opponent’s have always been.

The only real difference is that Malcolm is far more honest than little Billy Bullshit: which isn’t saying much, for when it comes to matters of real substance, Turnbull hasn’t actually been saying much at all.

What he has been saying and doing, however, has proven sufficient to get Shorten off the hook: and it may yet prove so once more.

We started this campaign suggesting it was Bill Shorten’s election to lose, and last Thursday, he may well have lost it.

But election campaigns by their nature remain fluid until the last vote is cast: and with the propensity to pander to left-wing fancies and parade “credentials” that will only enrage his own support base, Turnbull may yet hand Shorten the means with which to extract a victory from the jaws of defeat.

This Monday night, Turnbull gets his turn at a solo performance on #QandA: I will be in Brisbane, and a house guest, so I regrettably won’t get to watch it, at least not until I find time a day or two later to catch the archived version online.

But you’d have to say that virtually anything could happen.

The conventional wisdom (and I do agree with it, for these things are inherently changeable) suggests that Labor is cooked, and that Shorten will lose. The only question seems to be by how much; and if it comes to pass, I will have no sympathy for the lying bastard — and neither, for the record, should anyone else. If Shorten’s career ends in a fortnight’s time, the national polity will be greatly enriched by his departure.

In any contest between Shorten and Turnbull, it’s a lay-down misere in Turnbull’s favour; I might not have any truck with the moderate faction of my own party, and I don’t care for the socialist trifles it appears determined to at least flirt with on Turnbull’s watch. But I have no appetite for a stint in opposition to “disinfect” the party (as some on the conservative wing are desperate to engineer) and I do not resile from my position that any government led by Bill Shorten would, in terms of the national interest, be utterly cataclysmic.

But for all that, Malcolm is not home and dry yet: there is still a fortnight to go.

If he ends up somehow losing the election from here, the only person Malcolm will be able to blame is himself.

A deceptively steep hurdle awaits on Monday night. It will be interesting to see whether Malcolm is able to clear it.

 

#QandA, Newspoll: Albo Postures As Bill Shorten Burns

BILL SHORTEN is a solitary percentage point from the worst preferred Prime Minister rating of any Labor leader in the history of Newspoll, based on numbers out today; as the ALP consolidates its apocalyptic standing under “Billy Bullshit,” likely replacement Anthony Albanese appeared on the ABC’s ghastly #QandA programme last night in what can only be described as a showcase of his leadership claim. Labor is a mess. The time to act is nigh.

When it comes to Newspoll — published in The Australian today — those in the know in Canberra sit up and take notice; and when it comes to the Labor Party, the fact Bill Shorten has now been strongly outpolled as preferred Prime Minister by the undecided vote will do nothing to assuage rumours and leaks of a leadership change that persist weeks after we broke news in this column that a change was in the offing.

Before we get into the machinations of the past 24 hours, I should like to note that the information I received about a change in the Labor leadership came from an impeccable source, and was validated in cross-checking with another; despite one highly partisan reader trying to force me to reveal who these people were (moi, being dictated to by some stool pigeon of the Left? I. Don’t. Think. So), I have no intention of identifying them beyond noting (as I did early this month) that the leak did not come out of Shorten’s office. At least, not directly, if — if — that’s where my sources learned of it.

But I have clarified several times since then that whilst the information I was given stipulated a November resignation by Shorten, politics was and is a fluid business in which things change and evolve even if the eventual outcomes do not: and even if Shorten remains Labor’s “leader” on 1 December, it will be as a fatally marked man, a dead man walking, indeed, and whilst he might survive November, his political lifespan will by then be predicated solely on borrowed time.

It will not necessarily mean my information was wrong, especially if Shorten’s head is lopped off in the weeks immediately thereafter, but those on the Left who take a purely literal view of such things merely illustrate the flat Earth thinking that has seen Labor lose five of the last seven elections, and technically lose a sixth in 2010.

In any case, Shorten’s deputy — and the man chosen as their leader two years ago by the ALP rank-and-file — Anthony Albanese appeared on the ABC’s #QandA programme last night in what can only be described as a leadership “audition” in the same sense Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull put in a similar showing in the lead-up to his own move against Tony Abbott for the Liberal leadership some months ago.

But a little more on that later.

The Australian is carrying Newspoll results today that confirm Labor’s election-losing position yet again, and reveal that on the question of who voters prefer as Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull’s lead has now blown out to a whopping 49% with Turnbull (64%, up 3% in a fortnight) now heading Shorten (15%, down 3%).

With the solitary exception of a survey in November 2003 in which Simon Crean polled 14% as “preferred PM” against John Howard (and which precipitated his removal the following month) Shorten’s result in this Newspoll is the worst by any Labor leader on that measure since Newspoll began surveying voter sentiment more than 20 years ago.

Alarmingly for Shorten, there is ample scope for his ratings to fall further. On this occasion, he has been outpolled by the “undecided” vote (21% prefer this as Prime Minister to Shorten’s 15%). It is clear Labor is in a hole going nowhere on the watch of its incompetent incumbent dud.

I’m not going to pull the Newspoll figures apart in overly great detail beyond making the observation that the 53-47 two-party finding it makes of Labor’s likely electoral fortunes under Shorten probably understates the Coalition’s actual current position; the average of all reputable polls since Turnbull’s ascension is near 54% on this measure, and on the basic rule of thumb that half of the “Others'” primary vote of 10% and a quarter of the Communist Party’s Greens’ 11% would flow to the Coalition on preferences, my extrapolation is that Newspoll has rounded down a 53.3% finding in the Coalition’s favour.

It means Labor is on track, at best on current trends, to suffer a repeat of the belting inflicted upon it in September 2013. With Shorten in charge, the propensity of the final report from the Royal Commission into the unions to damage Labor (even if Shorten is untouched) and the ALP’s defective strategic approach continuing apace on Shorten’s watch (see here and here), the prospect of a further blowout in electoral intent toward the government is obvious.

Labor’s position is a double-edged sword, and whilst the settled (average) eight-point two-party lead it maintained whilst Tony Abbott remained Prime Minister has quickly been replaced with an equally settled seven point deficit with Turnbull at the helm, I have been adamant that not calling a double dissolution for next month and translating his advantage into a fresh mandate could well prove to be a tactical blunder on Turnbull’s part; the longer he leaves it in the new year to go to the polls, the greater the danger some or all of this new-found advantage will be squandered.

But the only conceivable way Labor can take any paint off the Coalition now appears to be the leadership change we’ve heard so much about behind the scenes; Shorten, quite bluntly, is never going to win an election against Turnbull (and would probably have lost — narrowly — against Abbott too, although that’s a more speculative call open to much debate).

To this end, Albanese’s performance on #QandA last night is telling. Those who missed it should spend the hour watching through the link provided at the top of this article.

It had everything: lofty, soaring rhetoric. An emphasis on “national values.” An extollation of the virtues of his “diverse electorate, the rumours of Albanese’s switch to a seat less at risk to a Greens onslaught notwithstanding. The presentation of Australia as a “global microcosm.” You name it, Albanese checked off every requisite box for the presentation of an alternative face for the ALP in a clear showcasing of his pitch to assume his party’s leadership.

And if anything were going to save Shorten (or at least prolong his agonising, if useless, tenure), it would have been the events of the past fortnight.

Turnbull’s response to the terrorist atrocity in Paris has been tepid, confused, and reeking of appeasement as it seeks to eschew hard action against ISIS in favour of endless talking; the public debate over GST reform is eliciting ridiculous nightmare scenarios from the ALP that are left publicly unchallenged by the government; and former Prime Minister Tony Abbott is probably more in tune with public sentiment than Turnbull is with his calls for military strikes against ISIS targets to attack “the toxin (of Islamic terrorism) at its source.”

None of this has put a dint in Turnbull’s standing on any measure. He merely pulls further ahead in the estimation of the voting public. If you were Bill Shorten, you’d be asking what in hell he’d done to deserve it.

In the end, the metaphor of Shorten writing off his deceased mother’s car by crashing into a row of parked cars in inner Melbourne last week neatly sums up his “leadership:” and I would add that if reports of spilt coffee in his lap being the trigger for the collision in the first place, then Shorten should be prosecuted for traffic offences for good measure, if not for the look of it to set an example to others.

He won’t be, of course…

The bottom line is that Shorten is finished — completely, utterly finished — and this latest finding from the reputable Newspoll, long regarded as the most accurate of all the reputable surveys, merely shows that his time is well and truly up.

Labor is in a mess. It faces electoral Armageddon. It is time for those around Shorten to act, and to put this despicable excuse for an alternative Prime Minister out of his misery once and for all. A Labor leadership change mightn’t win it government next year, but it will almost certainly halt the carnage and conceivably win Labor a swag of seats currently held by the Liberal and National Parties.

Come on down, Anthony Albanese. You know you want to. Your party’s members prefer you over Shorten by almost two to one. You are ready and waiting. And your performance on the ABC last night proved it.

 

#QandA Obscenity and Today’s Newspoll

A VERY SHORT piece from me today, as I am on the run; but last night’s episode of the ABC’s #QandA programme once again attracted controversy, which on this occasion should be kept in perspective. Further, the avoidable stupidity of a wayward Liberal Party member inviting unions Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon to a party event has coloured today’s Newspoll in The Australian: and once again sent the Abbott government into freefall.

I am off to Brisbane today — for the first time since the incident a fortnight ago that ended with a diverted return flight and a night in a Sydney hospital — and whilst I am not anticipating (or hoping for) any trouble on that front, it does mean a very full day juggling business and personal commitments.

However, I wanted to post very quickly on two subjects this morning that will fill political discussion today.

Firstly, the latest outrage to erupt from an episode of the ABC’s notorious #QandA programme last night (see here and here) is, for once, something the Right (and the wowsers) should take a Bex and lie down over before trying to skewer the ABC with it; I watched #QandA — as usual — and whilst the discussion was unremarkable (and with Virginia Trioli again deputising for Tony Jones was greatly improved as a viewing experience) the unfortunate own goal kicked via the #QandA Twitter feed is not the kind of thing producers would have complete oversight of.

The #QandA Twitter feed (as published on the ABC’s programme portal) carries a disclaimer that the broadcaster is not responsible for the material shown; despite some oversight, it is also impossible for every Tweet included in the feed to be exhaustively vetted without destroying the “real time discussion” nature of the inclusion of that feed.

Moreover, whilst whoever thought creating a Twitter account called @AbbottLovesAnal needs to take a long, hard look at themselves — it isn’t funny, appropriate, incisive or clever — the subject of the Tweet was hardly incendiary; and as distasteful as a similar lapse a year or two ago featuring an account called “@Smell_Mike_Hunt” this might have been, climbing all over the ABC looking for blood on this particular occasion looks petty, and would merely damage the cause of those seeking to use it as leverage for instigating any meaningful overhaul of the broadcaster’s conduct.

Meanwhile, Newspoll today shows that whilst the Coalition remains eight points behind Labor after preferences — unchanged from the previous survey — the personal and “preferred PM” ratings of Prime Minister Tony Abbott have again taken a hit, whilst those of Labor “leader” Bill Shorten are, whilst remaining truly terrible, slightly reflated.

The Liberals really only have themselves to blame for this, and as I have unapologetically noted before, whoever the fucking idiot at the NSW Liberals was who thought inviting the Commissioner of a politically-charged inquiry into the union movement to address a Liberal-organised function ought to be run out of the party.

The ensuing uproar might not have cost the Coalition more support in this survey — and already constituting a 7.5% swing against the government from the last election, it scarcely needed to — but a clue to voters’ likely behaviour, if the Royal Commission fails to prosecute hefty numbers of union criminals and/or is abandoned, lies in the marginally improved findings for Shorten.

Australians will give people a go: but if someone is unfairly maligned or baselessly attacked, they will compensate often by moving in the opposite direction, which to a degree is how Abbott was ever able to become Prime Minister in the first place.

And so it is in Newspoll today, where the blanket allegations of bias screeched by the ALP and some of its less-than-impartial press friends — however baseless those allegations are — have seen a clear show of sympathy for Shorten turn up in the figures, although not enough (yet) to make the opposition “leader’s” position remotely plausible.

The other feature I would quickly note is that at 54-46 to Labor, Newspoll has become settled in a 53-54% two-party result for the ALP; movements (including the 51% recorded by the Coalition two months ago) now remain within the statistical margin of error; and that the ALP primary vote, which once fed similar two-party results off a primary figure in the low 30% range, has gradually crept up and now also stabilised at or just below 40%.

In other words, Labor has solidified its base in the face of Coalition incompetence, poor governance and communications, and incidents like the Heydon fiasco are now arguably sealing the strength of the overall ALP position.

It seems the Coalition is running out of chances to retrieve its position: the credible discussions of calling a snap double dissolution election just two months ago have now evaporated thanks to the fiasco over Bronwyn Bishop’s travel expenses, and now over Dyson Heydon.

We will see in a few weeks how the Canning by-election plays out, but the portents are not encouraging: and on that note, I bid all readers a great day — and as Wednesdays have become almost impossible for posting articles for the time being, look forward to seeing everyone again on Thursday.

 

Less Outrageous, But #QandA Still Doesn’t Get It

SCANDALISED YET DEFIANT after its outrageous disregard for social and editorial standards last week, the ABC’s #QandA roared back onto screens across the country last night; after a week in which the broadcaster has come under heavy criticism for providing a platform for a convicted criminal, terror suspect, and advocate of the pack-rape of female journalists on national television, it remains stoutly but implausibly insistent it did no wrong.

First things first: for those who’ve been under a rock somewhere, my midweek article — a follow-up to the disgusting farce perpetrated by #QandA last Monday — can be accessed here, and this piece also provides a link back to an earlier piece which features a link to that episode.

Those who did not see last night’s follow-up episode of #QandA can watch it here.

And for a slightly different perspective, I am also including a link to this article today from conservative journalist (and former ABC board member) Janet Albrechtsen, which paints an accurate picture of the ingrained left-wing bias of the national broadcaster and a compelling portrait of its systemic refusal to meet its obligations in terms of political balance and impartiality.

Senior Liberal Party figures Nick Cater and MP Alan Tudge drew the ire of the broad Left yesterday for refusing to appear on #QandA last night, and I made the point during the show on Twitter that a “line in the sand” drawn by Liberal Party figures refusing to appear is understandable, given the almost explicit anti-Liberal, anti-Abbott government agenda this programme — and by extension, the publicly funded broadcaster itself — is wont to pursue.

As we argued during the week and as Albrechtsen points out, there is no “free speech” defence to what transpired last Monday night, and whilst ABC figures from #QandA host Tony Jones down were yesterday claiming that had they known the criminal they featured, Zaky Mallah, had also championed the gang rape of journalists Miranda Devine and Rita Panahi on national television they would never have invited him to appear, the claim is as hollow as it is disingenuous.

For one thing, even without the gang rape incitement, Mallah still represented an unsuitable person to whom to  provide a platform of national airtime at public expense; and for another — as last-minute #QandA panel member Paul Kelly, Editor-at-Large of The Australian, noted — there is no “free speech” defence when Mallah’s appearance was a deliberately contrived “gotcha” ambush against a government MP, and that much at least was established during the week as well.

The final word on Mallah’s suitability to appear on a national programme like #QandA, ironically enough,  came from Mallah himself; a heavy user of social media to spread his opinions, I noticed last night he had tweeted that Liberal MP Steve Ciobo was “society’s cum stain (sic)” for having the temerity to stand up to him last week and suggest he should be thrown out of the country.

There is a stain at the centre of these discussions, to be sure. But it is not Steve Ciobo.

I think the ABC and its key personnel know they overstepped the mark — badly — last week, and I equally think they couldn’t give a shit about it; the whole point of its diatribes about “free” speech to justify its actions is to send the message that the ABC will say and do whatever it likes — and if that means demonising the Australian Right in order to advance the interests and positions of the Left, then so be it.

After all, host Tony Jones’ cheery declaration at the start of last night’s episode that over time, #QandA would leave no strand of opinion out of the programme is disingenuous: “over time” gives ABC staff more than enough scope to manipulate and abuse its execution of that promise.

Does a solo #QandA performance by, say, Joe Hockey after a federal budget count as “coverage” of conservatism or as a sop to the Liberal Party? If it does, that frees up more “space” at other times for stacked panels of pinkos taking aim at everything they despise.

To that end, conservatives are too often included on #QandA as either “tick-a-box” token inclusions (so the ABC can claim not to have left the Right out, even if the discussion has been fixed and sabotaged beforehand) or as targets for abuse, ridicule, humiliation, or downright bullying.

Former Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella was regularly invited onto #QandA, only to face vicious onslaught from her fellow panelists — Jones included. NSW conservative Christian MP Fred Nile was recently invited onto a “special” #QandA show on marriage where he was outnumbered five to one. There have been plenty of other examples.

The voice of reason last night belonged to Kelly, who — graciously, patiently and eloquently — made the case that the ABC had engaged in an endeavour last week to ambush Ciobo in pursuit of a “gotcha” moment with the specific objective of embarrassing the Abbott government, and that in so doing, it provided a national platform for an individual whose presence on any ABC production is and was unjustifiable.

The real message of the ABC’s “contrition” came from the persistence of panellists to defend Mallah; one even suggested getting him media training so he would be more “media savvy” in future.

Spare us!

But none of the panellists from the Left were having a bar of Kelly’s admonition; and his fellow last-minute ring-in replacement — Human Rights commissioner Tim Wilson — probably delivered the line of the night, bluntly telling Jones that he and his colleagues should have been ashamed of themselves over last week’s effort.

But defiant to the end, the insistence that editorial independence and a right to free speech contrived to dictate no fault on the ABC’s part for including Mallah last week tells the story; these people are not sorry, and the apologies they have offered should be sneered at with the same contempt with which the ABC itself dismisses anyone who disagrees with it.

The ABC simply doesn’t get it, and the fact anyone from the national broadcaster is defending last week’s episode at all proves the point: in its own world view the ABC is above criticism, beyond reproach and immune to the consequences of its actions, and I would go so far as to suggest that those responsible for #QandA really don’t care for the damage they have done to the ABC’s reputation, and to political discourse in Australia more generally.

Those who doubt this contention need look no further than the fig leaf Jones tried to appropriate as an excuse for Mallah’s presence at all: as I pointed out at the outset, he claimed that had ABC types known of Mallah’s advocacy for the gang rape of Devine and Panahi on breakfast television, then Mallah would not have been allowed into the audience or onto the ABC’s premises at Ultimo in Sydney.

In the final analysis, that the ABC has used feigned ignorance of the threat of pack rape against prominent female identities as its excuse for allowing last week’s outrage to happen is a damning indictment on those people at the national broadcaster who were involved.

Distilled to the essence, it is disgraceful that a public broadcaster would use something as tawdry to rationalise away its culpability.

Last night’s episode might have been nowhere near as bad as the one that preceded it, but the events of the past week — culminating in last night’s broadcast — show the ABC to not only stand behind its inappropriate actions last week, but that it offers no real apology or contrition for them at all.

At a cost of $1.1 billion dollars to the taxpayer each year, it is not a situation that can be permitted to continue, and the lawless ABC needs to be held rigorously to account.