Australian Politics 2015-08-16 15:55:00


Aborigines against homosexual marriage

Probably not a majority concern among Aborigines but impressive that some have risen to the challenge of questioning the Leftist consensus.  There is a bilious Leftist response to the petition here but even they could find no way of claiming that homosexual marriage was acceptable among Aborigines

A bark petition signed by a delegation of indigenous Australians opposing same-sex marriage has been presented to the Coalition, calling on the government to “honour the sanctity” of traditional unions.

Backed by various evangelical Christian groups and organised by anti-gay-marriage campaigner Pastor Peter Walker, the group met with the government’s leader in the Senate Eric Abetz in Canberra yesterday.

The so-called Uluru bark petition was signed by about 30 indigenous people, but claimed to represent the Aboriginal people of Australia.

“This is a cultural initiative, it is not a Christian initiative,’’ Pastor Walker said. “But you can align the two — we have the same values and agree with having traditional marriage.”

Yuminia Ken, an elder from Ernabella in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands, said she wanted “proper marriage” to be maintained. “We want husband and wife, not woman to woman or man to man.”

Senator Abetz praised the group for campaigning to protect traditional marriage, which had been “proven and tested for millennia”. “We as a nation have a choice as to whether we want that which has become a fashionable item with not much proof or record behind it — at best 10 years — or that which has lasted for thousands of years.”

Community members in Mutitjulu, the main Aboriginal settlement in the shadow of Uluru, said they had never heard of the petition.

Dorothea Randall, a director of the Mutitjulu Community Aboriginal Corporation and long-time resident, said locals were “not even worrying about it (gay marriage)”.

Pastor Walker has previously expressed controversial views on same-sex marriage. In 2012, he reportedly told a 200-strong crowd: “I’m convinced that homosexuals (re)produce themselves by molesting children.”


Red tape strangles Australian agriculture

All is not well at the farm gate. At a time when dining is meant to be the boom to help replace mining – even iron ore tycoons Gina Rinehart and Andrew Forrest have got in on the act – farmers targeting the premium end are running into regulators.

In the next fortnight, wagyu beef farmer David Blackmore – whose produce takes pride of place at Neil Perry's restaurants – has to make a decision to defend his livelihood.

In late June, his local council, Murrindindi Shire, in the high country north-east of Melbourne, refused to grant him a permit to continue farming beef in a non-intensive way.

This is despite him earning the name "Mr Wagyu" in the dish's traditional market, Japan, and exporting to high-end restaurants in some 20 countries.

But Mr Blackmore, 65, said he is not fighting alone. "This is a much bigger issue that David Blackmore and Murrindindi Council," he told Fairfax Media this week.

Victoria's planning and agriculture ministers Richard Wynne and Jaala Pulford are reviewing farming zone laws after an increasing number of "treechangers" have butted heads with their farmer neighbours over smells, noises and other issues associated with agriculture practices.

"I am concerned about some recent cases where we are seeing farming families who have been on the land for generations now required to seek a permit to farm," Ms Pulford said.

In Mr Blackmore's case, it began just over five years ago when Perry invited him to a private screening of controversial US documentary, Food, Inc.

Before he watched the movie, Mr Blackmore had used feedlots – an intensive farming practice, where animals are fattened up before slaughter.

The movie, Perry said, showed the harm factory farming, combined with the low cost of corn, was doing to the US agriculture industry.

"David walked away, saying 'Gosh we have to do something about this', and hatched the plan to bring his animals out to walk on grass, lay on grass, roam the paddock and walk up to the end of the paddock to supplement feed from time to time, and run 25 cattle, where you'd normally lot feed 500," Perry said.

"That's the difference between intensive factory farming and what David is doing."

But five years after setting up his new system, Mr Blackmore was forced to apply for an intensive animal husbandry permit. Neighbours complained about his new way of farming, which he said was more intensive than traditional beef farming but on par with a dairy operation.

He also said his stocking levels – the number of cows he keeps in his paddocks – was significantly less than the previous owner's, who established the farm, which borders the Goulburn River near Alexandra about 165 kilometres north-east of Melbourne, in 1998.

The council rejected his application against advice from its planning officers and agriculture consultant Professor Roger Wrigley, who recommended Mr Blackmore's operation continue subject to a few conditions.

This raised the ire of Perry, who started an online petition at and has now attracted more 91,000 supporters.

"This absolutely should be held up as the benchmark of how supplement feed animals in Australia should be treated because it's ethical and sustainable," Perry said.

"That's why I'm so pissed off about the whole thing. He is a pioneer and creative guy but he's one of the leading farmers in the country. Essentially they don't have a box to put him in, so they put him in the intensive, factory farming box, and it's just not the case."

A retired couple who bought a lifestyle acreage, surrounded by Mr Blackmore, were among those who complained. Mr Blackmore says he doesn't blame them or anybody, instead taking issue with planning regulations.

He said rural zone policies were at odds with state and federal governments urging farmers to become more productive and adopt more efficient farming practices.

Mr Blackmore said an unintended result from shifting his cows to pasture was increasing his yield – or cattle weight gain – by about 20 per cent.

"People said I was mad when I did it, saying I could wreck a good business because the meat would become tougher because the cows would be using their muscles walking around," he said.

"But the opposite happened. The animals are content. They lay down on the grass all day, chewing their cud. In the feed lot, they'd only lay down if they were absolutely exhausted."

Cindy McLeish, the local Liberal MP representing Eildon where Mr Blackmore's farm is located, said this type of innovation should be encouraged.

Instead she said the confidence of farmers in her electorate "has certainly taken a hit".

"The farmers now question their right to farm," she said.

"People that move to [farming] areas really need to have their eyes wide open about what it means to be living next to a farm and understanding that the paddocks might be green at the moment but it's an operational farm."

The state's peak farm lobby, the Victorian Farmers Federation, has called on the government to "make sensible planning reforms to protect agricultural land".

"We are calling for ... planning schemes that encourage the growth of farm businesses, rather than stifle them with uncertainty," VFF president Peter Tuohey said.

"Farming needs to take precedence in a farming zone. While tree and seachangers may love the rolling hills and open spaces, they can't then object to the dust, smell and noise that are part of everyday life in the farming zone."

Among the VFF's recommendations to the government are scrapping planning permits for wool and beef farmers, but retaining them for piggery, feedlots and broiler chicken operations.

Mr Wynne has heard the message. "I am working with Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford's office and we are identifying problems and potential solutions for farmers," he said.

"We need to make sure the definition and interpretation of farming policy is clear – one thing farmers can be very sure of is this government's commitment to protecting their industry."

In the meantime the clock is ticking for Mr Blackmore, who is yet to decide whether he will appeal Murrindindi's Council's decision or close the gates of his farm.


Brandis defends Abbott Government, Unions Royal Commissioner

ATTORNEY-General George Brandis agrees that it was a boisterous week in parliament, but said it’s “nonsense” to say the government is in disarray.

It was a week in which Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s hand-picked Speaker was replaced, cabinet ministers openly disagreed on how the government should approach a national vote on same-sex marriage and a royal commissioner was tied to a Liberal fundraiser.

Senator Brandis insisted on Sky News this morning that it was a “good government” with professional relationships among cabinet members and ministers, but “that doesn’t mean we always agree on everything, you wouldn’t expect that to be the case”.

Royal commissioner impartiality

Senator Brandis believes the conduct of unions royal commissioner Dyson Heydon has been “unimpeachable”.

The former High Court judge was billed to deliver the 2015 Sir Garfield Barwick address later in August but pulled out last week after being told it was a Liberal Party-organised event.

“He is plainly not biased, he is not a party political person,” Senator Brandis told Sky News.

Labor and unions have been outraged that Mr Heydon considered giving a lecture at a Liberal fundraiser, calling for an end to the royal commission.

Senator Brandis retorted, saying there had been a campaign designed to smear Mr Heydon, “a person who frankly doesn’t deserve it”.

However, Labor workplace relations spokesman Brendan O’Connor insists there is an apparent conflict of interest.

“The proceedings to date are tainted entirely from beginning to end,” he told ABC TV this morning.

Asked about possible legal action by unions against the royal commission, Mr O’Connor said: “Any affected parties before the commission have to look at their rights here.”

He said there were questions over the conduct of the commission, including inconsistent use of cross-examination and information being released to the media before it was given to affected parties.

Marriage equality decision ‘should be soon’

Attorney-General George Brandis wants the issue on how the federal government approaches a national vote on same-sex marriage decided as soon as possible.

But he’s not sure whether that will happen at tomorrow’s cabinet meeting, its first since the coalition joint party room opted for a plebiscite or referendum over a conscience vote on same-sex marriage.

“But I do ... expect that this is a decision the government should make very soon,” the senator told Sky News.

Cabinet ministers Joe Hockey and Scott Morrison have called for a referendum on same-sex marriage.

But Senator Brandis said it was not necessary because the constitution would already enable parliament to legislate for same-sex marriage, should it choose to do so.

“So the right way to test public opinion on this issue, given that it doesn’t raise a constitutional question, is to have a plebiscite,” he said.

He said the precise question will take a lot of careful thought but plebiscites are basically an “up or down, yes or no vote on a proposition”.

Victorian Greens senator Janet Rice said this was all a delaying tactic that is just putting “hurdle after hurdle and roadblock” in the way of marriage equality.

“If we had our politicians actually listening to the community and had a free and fair vote in the parliament, well then a vote would succeed,” she told ABC television.


There is a stronger case of Dyson Heydon being biased in favour of Labor then the Liberals

Bill Shorten, the Labor Party and the Unions have unloaded on the credibility of Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon demanding he resign or be sacked for actual bias and the Royal Commission should be terminated. The problem is there is no evidence to support actual bias and very little to support perceived bias.

Although it would not be strong there is better evidence to support a case that Heydon is biased in favour of the Labor Party given what some say is his kid gloves treatment of Julia Gillard. Bill Shorten and crew have also been slapped down by Labor’s own Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus who says they are not claiming any actual bias by Dyson Heydon. This starts to paint the true picture of the desperation of Shorten, Labor and the Unions.

The alleged reason for the attack on Dyson Heydon is that he was invited to give a talk at a Liberal Party function for lawyers. This was reported by Fairfax Media on Thursday (13/8/15). (Click here to read more) An hour or so after the story was published Dyson Heydon issued a statement that he would not be attending the function. He also released emails that show he said he would not attend the function if it could be construed as a Liberal Party function. No real damage done.

The Labor Party and Unions have been busy telling lies saying this shows actual bias by Dyson Heydon which it clearly does not. At least one Labor politician said in the media Heydon went to the Liberal Party function which is also a lie because it is not scheduled for another 10 days on the 26th of August.

The below video shows federal MP Tony Burke saying that Commissioner Heydon is “biased and conflicted” and needs to stand down or be sacked. Then it shows Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus contradicting Burke and saying “it is not being suggested that Dyson Heydon is actually biased”. That made both of them look stupid. It is worth watching for the look on Tony Burke’s and Tanya Plibersek’s faces as they are sitting directly behind Dreyfus when he says it.

Shorten needs to prove the bias

At this point Bill Shorten and the Unions have failed to produce any evidence of actual bias by Dyson Heydon yet have been happy to defame him in the media and say he is biased. But Bill Shorten is happy to defame Heydon as my last post shows.

The ACTU and others are threatening legal action if Dyson Heydon does not resign which has boxed themselves in. Because if Heydon and the federal government stand their ground which I expect they will then the ACTU will have to take legal action or shut up.

The ACTU is calling on Tony Abbott to immediately terminate the Royal Commission into trade unions given the appearance of bias by Justice Dyson Heydon’s acceptance of a guest speaker role at a Liberal Party fundraiser.

ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver and President Ged Kearney have written to the Prime Minister calling for immediate action.

What they do not say is that they themselves are both biased because they have skin in the game so to speak. Ged Kearney is paid about $50,000 a year as a Director of Cbus which the Royal Commission has found to have acted corruptly. Dave Oliver took a bribe off Julia Gillard in 2013 and had his wife Suzanne Jones appointed a judge of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia by Julia Gillard. Gillard was trying to shore up support at the time as Kevin Rudd was trying to oust her as Prime Minister. I wrote an article in 2013 titled “Prime Minister Julia Gillard bribed ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver to keep his support” (Click here to read the article)

In court you do not need to prove actual bias for a judge to stand down, proving perceived bias is enough. The problem for the ACTU is there is not even enough evidence to prove perceived bias let alone actual bias so they will not take the legal action which would do nothing more than highlight the corruption they are trying to hide. It is likely the bias of Ged Kearney and Dave Oliver would be exposed further in court and/or the media which is another reason they will not take legal action.

One point for Dyson Heydon’s defence in any bias application

There are plenty of people who are not happy with Dyson Heydon’s findings regarding Julia Gillard. They believe Heydon went too soft on her and that is what I think as well.

Heydon cleared Gillard of any criminal activity but said Gillard at “times gave “evasive”, “excessive” and “forced” evidence to the commission”. (Click here to read more) To me Heydon’s findings of Gillard giving “evasive” and “forced” evidence shows her trying to conceal criminal activity and Heydon failed to say that in his report.

It could be argued that this shows bias by Heydon in support of the Labor Party and Julia Gillard. While others might argue it is not strong evidence it is more than Bill Shorten or the Unions have produced regarding Dyson Heydon being biased against them.

Be that as it may, Heydon gave Gillard a pretty good run and that could be used to show Dyson Heydon is fair and balanced in any application of bias against him.


Half Australia’s unis in world elite as QUT joins top 500 in ARWU

It should be noted that, although it is the oldest, the Shanghai Jiao Tong index is only one approach to ranking universities.  That being said, I am mildly pleased that UQ did so well.  I graduated from there and my son still goes there

Australia now has more than half its public universities listed in a prestigious international ranking after Queensland University of Technology made the top 500 for the first time.

Melbourne University was again named Australia’s best university by the Academic Ranking of World Universities, being placed at 44th in the world for a second year in a row.

Making up four universities in the top 100, Melbourne was followed by Australian National University and the University of Queensland, both on 77, and the University of Western Australia on 87.

Australia now has 20 universities in the top 500, with its overall strong performance consolidated by three institutions — Curtin, Wollongong and Deakin — all making a significant move upwards in the Chinese-based ranking.

Glyn Davis, vice-chancellor of Melbourne University, said he was incredibly relieved with the result having watched governments in Asia and Europe lift research investment in their universities.

“Having 20 universities in the top 500 is something to be proud of. That helps us attract the best international students which gives us the income to stay competitive,” Professor Davis said.

The ARWU, which comes out of Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China, is based on objective measures of research performance, such as academic papers and citations and the number of Nobel laureates a university has produced. It bears no reflection on teaching quality.

Tony Sheil, an expert in university rankings from Griffith University, said Australia was the only medium-sized world economy “with half its university system ranked in the world elite”.

“For the first time Australia matches Canada and Italy and is well ahead of Japan which has ‘lost’ 18 universities in the top 500 since 2003. Japan originally had 36 institutions listed and was at the time by far the strongest performer among Asian countries,” Mr Sheil said.

“This is a remarkable advance for the credibility of the Australian higher education model.” Mr Sheil said.

Peter Coaldrake, head of QUT, said big investments in science and engineering had finally paid off after his institutions’ inclusion in the ARWU having proved “elusive” for many years.

He said his and other universities had been hiring high-performing professors from around the world which was contributing to Australia’s overall strong performance.

Harvard was listed the world’s best university for the 13th year in a row. It was followed by Stanford, MIT, University of California Berkeley and Cambridge.