Australian Politics 2020-11-17 15:19:00


Indigenous cricket star, 23, reveals why she WON'T take a knee for Black Lives Matters before sporting contests

An Australian cricketer has opened up about why she won't spark Black Lives Matter controversy by taking a knee on the field, despite her proud indigenous heritage.

Ashleigh Gardner became the first indigenous woman in almost 60 years to represent her country in woman's cricket when she made her international debut as a teenager in early 2017.

Gardner, now 23, is now integral part of the Australian side in all three formats and has embraced her new leadership role as an indigenous ambassador in the sport.

But she refused to follow the lead of sports stars opted to take a knee before matches in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement in US.

This is despite several Women's Big Bash League players and staff pledging their support for the worldwide movement before games.

'Personally, I didn't really want to do that. And that's why I haven't done that, and neither has my team. I think they're in support of my decision,' Gardner told

'Everyone stands up against racism if you're a decent human being, but the whole taking a knee thing is more towards institutional racism, which is why it's so prevalent in America at the moment.

'Of course I'm against racism — Australia can be a very racist country, especially to my people. But taking a knee probably wasn't something I was willing to do.'

A proud Muruwari woman, Gardner paid tribute to her culture in an alternative way by taking part in a Barefoot Circle with teammates and opponents ahead of the WBBL season launch.

Players took off their shoes and formed a circle on the field in a respectful acknowledgment to the traditional owners of the land.

'The barefoot circle is a cricket centric way for players and teams to take a moment prior to matches to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land, connect to each other as opponents and pay respect to the country (land),' Gardner captioned a photo of the powerful moment on Instagram.

'This is done barefoot as a way to connect to country, but also a moment to reflect that we are all common ground, we are all human beings and we need to stand strong with each other, for each other.'

Richmond and Collingwood AFL players, along with the umpires took a knee prior to the bounce of their game which resumed the season after a 10-week layoff

The Black Lives Matter movement has gained momentum worldwide following the death of US man George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis in May after a police officer knelt on his neck for nine minutes.

AFL players were among first Australian sports stars to take a knee when the season resumed in June after a 10 week layoff due to coronavirus.

The powerful gesture was a player-driven initiative supported by the umpires.

The Wallabies rugby union team were set to become the first Australian national sporting team to formally support the global movement prior to their recent Bledisloe Cup clash against New Zealand in Sydney.

They later backflipped on the decision due to public backlash.

No sex please, we’re feminists

Louise Roberts comments on some recent Australian partings

It’s ironic that after decades of telling them that they are strong, empowered goddesses who can make their own choices, the feminist left is now calling for society to protect women from their own ­occasionally bad choices.

It doesn’t make it right, but those who claim to speak for all women need to accept that sometimes those same women will make bad ­choices.

They’ll sleep with the boss, hook up with a junior staffer after too many after-work wines or implode their textbook spouse and kids set-up when they’re caught indulging in a long term affair.

If we are going to accept that women and men are equals, then the fact is they will do equally dumb things.

Yet consensual sexual relationships seem to only become scandals if it is man having an affair with a subordinate female — the line is that he must be somehow exploiting her, never mind her own choice in the matter.

It’s all so puritanical, and thanks to the overreach of modern woke feminism someone has to pay the price for the weakness of an office romance, preferably the bloke.

Even better if both parties have to resign their lucrative positions because then someone can play victim, a bonus point for the sisterhood.

In recent days we’ve seen dragged into the open a secret 2017 affair between former Coalition media adviser Rachelle Miller and then Human Services Minister Alan Tudge.

Both were married at the time and both have since separated from their partners.

And the chief executive of Channel 9 Hugh Marks has quit after his relationship with the company’s former commercial director Alexi Baker was publicly revealed on Saturday. Baker left the business on October 1, the suggestion being that she was keen to avoid any allegations of ­favouritism.

But isn’t it something amid the personal carnage we’ve witnessed in federal politics and at Channel 9 to see the left side of politics defend ­traditional marriage again.

If we want equality then we have to accept that there is, what some might regard, a downside to the celebrated war on gender — personal ­responsibility.

Miller has gone one step further by lodging a formal complaint regarding the way she was treated in the office post affair, alleging federal Employment Minister Michaelia Cash forced her out with a fake redundancy.

The Liberal Party had a “women problem” and was rife with “sexism”, is the message on high rotation.

In effect, Miller says she was punished for an affair that she “bitterly regrets” and performance at work was in question as a result.

“I lost a lot of self-confidence because I didn’t feel I had any power at all to be able to stand up for myself,” she said.

“I knew I was leaving a job that I really loved, but I didn’t see that there was any other way out.

“You know, I actually at that time viewed myself as damaged goods and I was really worried about this coming out and impacting our chances at the election.”

A workplace relationship has the sisterhood salivating for a witch hunt.

Lust must be punished, you don’t have a right to a private life and so on.

But the truth is this — we wanted equality and sometimes the results of that aren’t fabulous.

So how exactly do we see women? We need to make up our minds as a society.

Do we support a woman’s right to have an affair and make her own mistakes or do we want to be the new ­morality police and crowbar every woman into the victim slot?

As one colleague noted, according to the new rules you can only sleep with people at your level on the org chart.

Feminism is held up as a blueprint for life and we’re all supposed to conform. But is this the space we want to occupy with our daughters — raising them to be a victim and someone without sexual agency?

While neither Miller nor Baker have gone this route, what we’ve seen too often in others is women having affairs and blaming men when it all goes wrong, no matter the real victims such as wives who have been discarded and the bewildered children scarred for life.

The so-called “sexual revolution” was never really about sex but overthrowing staid bourgeois institutions like the nuclear family.

That having been achieved, now the left is anti-sex again.

George Orwell, in his way, predicted this in his novel 1984, which featured a “junior anti-sex league” that promoted complete celibacy for both sexes.

And that means that professional women are victims in an illicit affair, as despite all their achievements, they have no will of their own or power to resist the entreaties of men.

So how is it that women can have total free choice as decreed by the feminist yet absolutely none at all? It makes no sense.

Cheating is no more of a hardwired tendency for males than for females. We need to stop treating women as shrinking violets.

And file modern feminism where it belongs — as the annoying friend who stops you doing what you desire.

‘Woke’ consensus ruining our universities

Universities are our primary institutions for knowledge creation. And we assume the search for truth guides academics in their research and teaching, irrespective of their political views. However, while academics, particularly in the social sciences, have long leaned left, that bias is increasingly lopsided.

Academics who do not buy into certain left orthodoxies, particularly on issues of social justice, increasingly find themselves self-censoring their views to avoid damaging their career prospects.

Since I became a member of Heterodox Academy, an organisation founded to promote viewpoint diversity and respectful disagreement in academe, I’ve become increasingly aware of the ways the academic system selects against viewpoint diversity.

One junior academic, who we will call Sarah, has a promising scientific career ahead. She has an excellent publication record, international collaborations, strong teaching reviews, and has already been awarded significant grant funding. However, she has grown critical of the “diversity, ­equity and inclusion” sector that is such a dominant force in our universities. Sarah would like to be more publicly critical of this “woke” consensus that focuses on gender and racial identity, but doesn’t feel she can speak out for fear of offending academic colleagues, many her senior. Only when she has climbed the ladder and been promoted to professor would she feel secure to do so.

In a new book, Unassailable Ideas: How Unwritten Rules and Social Media Shape Discourse in American Higher Education, academics Illana Redstone and John Villasenor explain how academe encourages conformity and the risks you face criticising diversity initiatives: “Well-intentioned cri­ticism of any proposal involving diversity is perilous … (and) might well be detrimental to his or her reputation and career growth.”

Academic progress relies in large part on the approval of other academics, who review publication drafts and grant funding proposals and promotion applications. As such, academics with heterodox views reasonably prefer not to get offside with their ­colleagues and administration.

Sarah isn’t the only one to realise junior academics are constrained when speaking about controversial issues. Katy Barnett, a law professor, describes how her senior position allows her a freedom to express unorthodox ideas that other academics cannot: “I am much more comfortable with speaking out now I am a full professor. We can’t have a situation where the only people who can speak out are powerful. It’s a recipe for disaster.”

Recently, researchers found more than half of left-leaning academic philosophers said they would be willing to discriminate against hiring someone applying for an academic position if the candidate held right-of-centre views. Many added they would discriminate when reviewing publications and research grant proposals that expressed right-leaning views. Social psychology academics feel much the same about scuttling the careers of their ideological opponents.

This culture is acute in the ­social sciences, where the political views of academics often encroach upon their research and teaching activities.

At a recent academic conference in Australia, a high-profile professor and keynote speaker said: “Sociology demands you have a social justice lens. Any right-wing sociologists should be booted out of the club.” She received enthusiastic app­lause from most of her audience.

At what point did academic disciplines become “clubs” where one could be excommunicated for views deviating from orthodoxy? Social scientists are often concerned with power relations between oppressors and the oppressed. How might junior academics with heterodox political views see their career prospects when left-wing thought is all but mandated by those in power?

Last year, the University of California announced it was requiring all applications to new academic faculty positions to submit a “diversity statement”, declaring a candidate’s commitment to the cause. Applicants deemed insufficiently committed to a specific component of diversity — namely, racial and gender diversity — would be removed from the pool of viable candidates irrespective of the quality of their work.

It hasn’t taken long for Australian universities to demand the same as part of the agenda for diversity, equity and inclusion. It is nothing short of political screening of academics in a sector already ideologically homogenous.

While Australian universities face unprecedented challenges wrought by COVID-19, let’s not neglect the problems they faced before the pandemic, which will persist well into the future.

Federal government legislation may have strengthened the legal basis for academic freedom to a level recommended by the French review. But there are deeper cultural issues within academe demanding our attention.

Universities should be environments that can handle a diverse range of views and in which academics can have successful ­careers regardless of where they sit on the political spectrum.

Robodebt victims welcome the Federal Government's $1.2 billion settlement

Victims of the Federal Government's controversial Robodebt system are welcoming a settlement that includes $112 million in compensation.

The total value of the deal is $1.2 billion — $721 million was announced in May when the Federal Government agreed to repay debts it illegally clawed back from 327,000 Australians.

It also agreed to waived $398 million in debts it was still pursuing and coughed up $112 million in compensation.

The class action's lead plaintiff, Katherine Prygodicz, said the settlement was a "relief".

"I can't answer for 400,000 people, I can only speak for myself, and I'm very happy that I don't have a Robodebt and that I don't have to pay money back to the Government," she told the ABC. "I am glad that it's come to closure, and I'm very happy with the result."

Ms Prygodicz initially received a demand for $4,000, but that was later recalculated to $3,000 after she questioned the debt.

"I'm not sure how they came up with that number and that was what motivated me to look into it a bit a bit more deeply," she said. "I didn't mind if I had a genuine debt and I needed to pay it back, I just wanted to understand how it was calculated.

"I know to the very best of my ability that I report the things accurately — I'm a maths and science teacher, and worked as a scientist, so I deal with numbers all the time and I couldn't understand why I had a debt."

The answers she got from Centrelink did not help, and the outstanding amount was taken from her tax return. "I was told that it was based on algorithms that would be too difficult for me to understand," Ms Prygodicz said.

Sydney woman Leonie Campbell was also hit with two debt notices in 2018, for money she was paid almost a decade prior when she was at university. The first demand arrived the week before her wedding.

She was originally pursued for $14,000 but managed to fight it down to half that. Ms Campbell is still waiting to be completely reimbursed.

"I had to troll through years and years of bank statements to get all the information they needed, and when I asked them what proof they had on their end, they didn't have to provide me with anything," she said. "I just thought that was completely wrong."

Ms Campbell also welcomed the end of the court process and the Commonwealth's decision to settle. "I think their response shows just how illegal the system was, and the stress that it put a lot of people through," she said.

"I'm pretty lucky, I would have been one of the lucky ones. "I had a full-time job, but I'm imagining that wasn't the case for a lot of people who had debts raised."

Andrew Grech from Gordon Legal, the firm managing the class action, said there was nothing victims needed to do straight away to get access to any compensation. The Federal Court is yet to approve the terms of the deal. "What they need to do is wait for the court to notify them of the next step, that will happen in about three to four weeks' time," he said.

"They just need to wait for the court process to unfold and they'll be notified of the next steps."

He conceded $112 million split between a potential pool of 400,000 people was slim pickings considering the vast amount of money the Commonwealth had been demanding from people. "Never enough money, but it's the best that can be achieved in all the circumstances," he said.