Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Friday, 23 September 2016

Tangled SSM Web

Courtesy Tandberg

Whilst this isn’t an issue that I’m deeply passionate about, it’s very important to many of my fellow Australians, and worth a comment.

Before he was dumped, Tony Abbott left a booby trap around this issue. Under pressure from the harpic* Right of his party, he came up with the idea of a plebiscite. Like most of the hyper partisan negative activity he introduced into Australian politics, it has taken on a life of its own – a bit like a fungus.

The effect of this was essentially to kick the issue down the road, whilst at the same time attempting to divide and rule his own party, so that the conservative tail was put in a position where it could effectively wag the moderate dog. Whilst Abbott couldn’t have foreseen that the Coalition would end up with a one-seat majority, that outcome has added another dangerous dimension to his trap.

To cap it all, this was to be a non-binding plebiscite.

Individuals like Tubby Christensen have finished up with a whole lot more power than their support warrants, and the threat of an alliance between him and One Nation has the government terrified.

With good reason – imagine what that unholy union could do to the country - talk about an alliance made in hell!

Anyway, Labor are also extracting every last piece of political advantage from the standoff.

I’ll give some advice to Shorten for free. 

He should negotiate with the Coalition, and set up two conditions for Labor’s support of the plebiscite. Mark Dreyfus is meeting George Brandis in Brisbane on Monday. Dreyfus should put these conditions on the agenda.

The first would be to remove the allocation of taxpayer funds from both the “yes” and “no” case proponents.  That would save money and potentially take some of the dangerous heat out of the lead-up. The Irish didn’t deem it necessary.

The second would be to make the outcome binding on all members of both parties, including the Coalition. They would be expected to vote in support of the plebiscite outcome, irrespective of private views.

Each of these conditions is completely fair, and doesn’t favour one side or the other.

I doubt that Turnbull has the power to agree, as he is effectively held hostage to the harpics, but at least his refusal to do so would expose for the voters to see, the political shenanigans behind the plebiscite notion.

It’s also worth noting that members of the LBGTI community have something in common with other minority groups – they have become political collateral. Politicians are quite happy to use them as ideological cannon fodder.

As a Vietnam veteran, I am very familiar with this process.

It’s time this cynical use of minorities was no longer part of Australian politics.

*Clean round the bend

Friday, 16 September 2016

The Return of Auntie Jack

Like Auntie Jack, she’s back.

Pauline Hanson, that is.

And like Auntie Jack, most of what she represents, or claims to represent, is fantasy. Our Pauline is largely a figment of her own imagination.

She tells outright fibs -

The problem is we have not had leaders with the foresight or the intestinal fortitude to cast aside political correctness. They have failed to discard old treaties and agreements that are not in our best interest and have signed new ones giving away our sovereignty, rights, jobs and democracy. Their push for globalization, economic rationalism, free trade and ethnic diversity has seen our country’s decline. This is due to foreign takeover of our land and assets, out-of-control debt, failing infrastructure, high unemployment or underemployment and the destruction of our farming sector. Indiscriminate immigration and aggressive multiculturalism have caused crime to escalate and trust and social cohesion to decline. Too many Australians are afraid to walk alone at night in their neighborhoods. Too many of us live in fear of terrorism.

So there we have it - neatly summarized.

One Nation rejects the twenty-first century. The “evils” listed are all artifacts of twenty first century life. It’s apparent that Hanson simply does not understand that change is part of life, and change has occurred, and will continue to do so. It’s called progress. The improvements in life expectancy, health, and quality of life are all evidence of this progress, but Hanson and her followers have very short attention spans. In Australia we currently have one of the world’s strongest economies.

Anyone who has a basic understanding of economics acknowledges that our country's success has been bolstered by globalization and international trade. Hanson doesn’t have this basic understanding of course, and this ignorance explains a great deal.

The economic reforms of the 1980s and 1990s opened the country to globalization. We benefited from this, and even if we wanted to go back, we couldn’t, unless you believe that “stop the world, we want to get off” is a possibility.

To say that these reforms have harmed the Australian economy is simply nonsense. Economic data (“facts”, in other words), shows that Australia has experienced unprecedented economic growth and stability.

On my first speech in 1996 I said we were in danger of being swamped by Asians. This was not said out of disrespect for Asians but was meant as a slap in the face to both the Liberal and Labor governments who opened the floodgates to immigration, targeting cultures purely for the vote…

This is a well-worn meme which has inhabited the minds of the ignorant for a long time. The trouble is that it has absolutely no basis in fact. No discernible ethnic voting trend has ever been documented in this country. Any political party that relied on the assumption that individuals of any specific ethnic background would vote one way or another purely on the basis of race or origin would have a short shelf life in this country. I challenge Hanson to produce evidence for her contention.

Australia is predominantly a Christian country, but our government is secular.

To quote Wikipedia – “In an optional question on the 2011 Census, 61.1% of the Australian population declared some variety of Christianity. Historically the percentage has been far higher and the religious landscape of Australia is changing and diversifying. Also in 2011, 22.3% of Australians stated "no religion" and a further 9.4% chose not to answer the question. The remaining population is a diverse group which includes Buddhists (2.5%), Muslims (2.2%), Hindus (1.3%) and Jews (0.5%).”

So whilst Hanson is correct to say that Australians are predominantly Christian (or identify as such in a census), the trend is rapidly changing, and that “predominance” stands at a relatively low 11%. Her bĂȘte noire, Islam, constitutes 2.5% of the population. Once again, she has dumbed down the fact to suit her version of reality. The narrative being sold is of a uniformly Christian country under threat from other creeds, especially Islam. It doesn’t bear close scrutiny.

She has a habit of making observations as facts –

Why then has Islam and its teachings had such an impact on Australia like no other religion?

Taking this literally, we’d have to accept that no other religion in our country’s history has had such an impact as Islam. This is arrant nonsense. The “impact” she is probably referring to relies on media beat-ups about terrorism. The perpetrators usually claim an affiliation with Islam, because the kind of reaction favored by Hanson gets them the result they seek. She is doing their bidding, but is too thick to understand.

I’d have to think very hard to come up with any “impact” of Islam on my life, unless it was my kids telling me about visiting mosques when they were at school, or the reality of having to go through security at airports. 

She continues to get stuck into Muslims –

Muslims are imprisoned at almost three times the average rate. The rate of unemployed and public dependency is two to three times greater than the national average.

There are a couple of observations to be made about this. One is that indigenous Australians are imprisoned at a much higher rate than anyone, including Muslims, yet that didn’t get a mention. I guess that Hanson has been there and done that – remember her maiden speech as the member for Oxley in 1996?

I note that she quotes no reference for these figures. The ABS doesn’t publish a breakdown of prison populations by religion. A study looking at prisoners on the basis of country of birth is worth looking at. 

It does not support the contention that “Muslims are imprisoned at almost three times the average rate”, if you assume that prisoners born in Lebanon, Turkey and Middle East (other) are Muslim, they are imprisoned at a higher rate, but it’s not three times the average, and is about the same as Vietnamese.

As for welfare dependency, the most rapidly growing group is aged pensioners not Muslim immigrants

I can only guess at why this has been ignored by Hanson. Could it have anything to do with the fact that she knows the senior demographic is her support base?

She makes this statement about reaction to terrorism –

The grand mufti and other Muslim leaders are deafening with their silence, or lack of sympathy

Which is, put simply. a blatant lie

 There are many examples of this, all completely either unknown or treated with disregard as far as Hanson is concerned.

 But Hanson ignores all this. It doesn’t fit her narrative, which reminds me of a line in the Simon and Garfunkel hit “The Boxer” – 

A man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest

Some parts of Hanson’s speech resemble stand-up comedy  –
Halal certification is not a religious requirement but a moneymaking racket, and certification is unnecessary for Muslims’ welfare because non-halal products can be consumed, provided the word “Bismillah” is said over the food and a prayer is recited.

Apart from the fact that she has absolutely no understanding of the notion of symbolic sacrifice (raised as a Catholic who doesn’t eat meat on Friday during Lent I reckon I do), she (or her advisers) can’t read the Quran. 

The reference to being allowed to eat non-halal specifies the unavailability of other food, and a prayer is said in acknowledgement. Hanson’s interpretation sounds something like the witches in Macbeth.
Given the length of her monologue, it took some time for me to find something she said which was factual. I worked hard, and found it –

Burqas are not a religious requirement

She’s right! The wearing of the Burqa is cultural, not religious, Mind you, if she had pointed out that (for example) FGM and honour killings are also cultural, and not tenants of Islam, that would have been consistent. But consistency is not a characteristic of One Nation doctrine.

By the way, you can’t get a driver’s license in any Australian state unless you can furnish a photograph of your uncovered face. If you don’t believe me, try it.

Every now and again she came out with statements which were so grossly inaccurate as to be laughable –

High immigration is only beneficial to multinationals, banks and big business, seeking a larger market while everyday Australians suffer from this massive intake.

Spoken by the inhabitant of a country that would not exist without “high immigration”, this statement is bizarre. Obviously she believes that the all institutions in this country have been taken over by dark forces intent on destroying “everyday Australians”.

Shades of Macbeth again………..

Then, of course, our Productivity Commission (an independent body) has found that migration has had a net positive impact on the economy, bringing new workers and new consumers to Australia, and lowering the country's average age.

Towards the end of her speech she meanders off into conspiracy theory. In Hanson’s binary world, all the evil in the world is queuing up against “everyday Australians” and she is their only hope. Her narrative reminds me of a pre-adolescent view of the world that most of us grew out of by the end of primary school.

To have someone with this infantile mindset occupying the senate benches is truly frightening.

Maybe Shakespeare was prescient -  
What's here? the portrait of a blinking idiot,

Presenting me a schedule! I will read it.

Make sure you take Shakespeare's advice and read her speech. It provides a very clear picture of the deluded perceptions she sells. I'm not sure what the bard would have made of it.
Perhaps - "The lady doth protest too much, ...."

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Walter Mitty Motoring

Complete with winky blinky orange light.

This week I had another bush trip, and as has been the case recently, I was allocated a hire rather than a fleet car.

We hire from Avis, and a four-wheel drive is specified, so I’m usually set up with an SUV, mostly  Outlander or X Trail. Apparently, that is what is specified by the agency if you’re heading off the beaten track. O H & S etc.

Not this time.

When I went to collect the vehicle, Avis’ computers were down, which was creating a major headache for staff. They couldn’t tell what vehicles were required, and when, and it severely limited their flexibility.

Only vehicles not usually up for hire could be allocated, so I ended up with a Toyota Prado. With the mining downturn, plenty of these things are spare at the moment.

It was well and truly kitted out for mining work.

It had an HF radio, a bull bar, a winky blinky light on top, an orange flag, and a first aid kit.
Fortunately, I didn’t need any of these things during my trip, although I did enjoy leaving the scanner switched on and eavesdropping on the CB communications up and down the Warrego.

HF Radio, extinguisher and smelly seatcovers

 I heard language I remembered from the army.

Driving it reminded me of my stint in the North-West. In those days we used Toyotas, but they were generally 80 Series Cruisers. This thing, a J150, had done 41000 km, and was in fairly good nick.

It lacked bumps and scrapes, unlike most rental vehicles, so I don’t think it had a hard life. It felt like an 80 Series, but had all the gismos (Bluetooth, cruise, USB music and the foulest smelling plastic seat covers I’ve ever encountered.

They looked proof against nuclear attack, and could probably have been hosed clean.

It drove OK, once you accepted that it had general steering. By general steering, I mean that it generally followed the direction you pointed the wheel in. You had to be a bit patient, and wait for the direction to change. It always did, generally.

It was powered by a big lump of a four cylinder knocker (diesel) with a turbocharger, which lacked the response of (say) a Territory diesel, but cruised easily at 110km/hr.

Didn't get to use the orange flag.

Economy is not necessarily a strong point, as it averaged 9.5 lit/100km according to the readout.  

Overtaking was a bit fraught, and had to be planned carefully.

Surprisingly for a work truck, it was very comfortable, and the seat/wheel alignment could be adjusted to suit my bizarre anatomy.

Perhaps the only downside was the occasional dirty looks I received from some of the locals.
Miners aren't all that popular along the Warrego, especially in Miles.  

 Here's a bit of video (West of Dalby) - 


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