Australian Politics 2015-10-17 15:54:00


A defence of Muslim hostility from "New Matilda"

Using a typical Leftist strategy, Michael Brull looks at only part of the story in his article below.  He addresses in general terms what blind Freddie knows is in fact an issue about Muslims.  The plain fact is that Muslims constantly demand that we change what we do to accommodate them and express so much hostility to Australian society that some of them go out and randomly shoot innocent Australians who have done nothing to them.  There are some peaceful Muslims but there are a lot of creeps too.

So it is reasonable to suggest that if they dislike us and our arrangements so much, why don't they go elsewhere?  And representatives of both major Australian political parties have done just that recently. Even Neil El-Kadomi, the chairman of Parramatta Mosque, who condemned extremists in his Friday sermon last week was worried enough to say: “If you don’t like Australia, leave". He was a rare Muslim in saying that, however.  He was obviously worried about backlash.

And in making such comments, all three were saying that Australia's tolerance has its limits, as all tolerance must.  It was saying that our patience with a troublesome subgroup was running out.  And there is no doubt that in saying that the speakers were saying what a great majority of Australians think.

But Leftists like Muslims.  They are united in hate. Leftists share with most Muslims a great dissatisfaction with current Western society generally -- and Australian society in particular.  Both groups want to destroy the existing arrangements in this country -- what Leftists used to call "the system".  I imagine that some far-Leftists still use that term.

So that is where Brull comes in.  He mounts an attack on "go back" talk under the pretext that such talk is intolerant and bigoted.  And he makes his case by saying that such talk is IN GENERAL intolerant and bigoted -- which indeed it can be. 

But circumstances alter cases and Muslims are a particular case. A major reason why we have courts and judges is that general principles don't cover equally well all the cases they might be applied to.  And that is where the Muslim situation is going.  So far we have put up with their antics but there are limits to tolerance.  Brull seems to think there should be none.

But I doubt that he really thinks that.  I think he implies that as a way of defending Muslims only.  Does he think racism should be tolerated, for instance? I am pretty sure he doesn't.  But if we reject racial supremacism, why should we tolerate Muslim supremacism?  Why should we not tell them to take their supremacist attitudes elsewhere?

Religious supremacism is not exactly the same as racial supremacism but both are obnoxious to non-members of the groups concerned.  They are both offensive.  And we don't tolerate offensiveness these days do we?

Malcolm Turnbull may be a sophisticated lawyer, but it didn’t take long for him to join in the national dog-whistle. That is, “It is not compulsory to live in Australia. if you find Australian values are, you know, unpalatable, then there’s a big wide world out there and people have got freedom of movement”. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, unable to oppose official racism from the Coalition, rushed to agree: “If you really hate Australia, well then you should go.”

Though it is in a sense predictable, it should be regarded as strange that in the name of Australian values, the major parties are embracing intolerance. Though we are supposedly a secular country, mainstream political discourse is approaching consensus on political dogmas that shouldn’t be challenged. Those who adopt “Australian” values – whatever those might be – can stay in Australia. Everyone else should leave.

There are lots of reasons someone might want to live in a country. I don’t see that one reason is more valid than another. One person might live in Australia because he loves the country. Another might do so because she loves her family. Another person might just live her because that’s where she was born, and out of inertia isn’t interested in looking into living in other countries. Any citizen of Australia can live here for whatever reason they want.

Attorney-General George Brandis once scandalised many Australians with the comment that we have the right to be bigots. Brandis expressed horror that a man could be taken to “federal court merely because he expressed an opinion about a social or political matter”. Yet it seems to be perfectly acceptable to repeatedly, openly state that people with unpopular political views should leave Australia. It seems only those who adhere to official orthodoxies are welcome.

Saying that those who don’t share Australian values should leave contains within it a certain dog-whistle. Suggesting that dissidents should leave implies that there is something less Australian about them than the rest of us. It doesn’t quite go so far as to say that they are foreign. Just that they would be happier somewhere which is foreign. And as it so happens, this rhetoric is targeted at Muslims who don’t like Australian values.

Though this may offend Australian patriots, if intolerance of political unorthodoxy is to be an Australian value, I think Australia should change. Indeed, I think we would benefit from importing values from another country. That is, from revisiting principles of freedom of thought established over 70 years ago in the Supreme Court of the United States of America.


1000 crimes on building sites

The Turnbull government will today use evidence of rising “lawlessness” and union militancy on building sites revealed in the ­industry watchdog’s latest annual report to launch a fresh attack over the CFMEU’s influence on Bill Shorten and the Australian Labor Party.

The Fair Work Building ­Industry Inspectorate investig­ated ­almost 1000 breaches of federal workplace laws in the year to June — overwhelmingly by Construction Forestry Mining and ­Energy Union officials — and its report cites “alarming rates” of lawlessness and an “increasing battle” against the militant union.

Penalties levelled against unionists by the courts for right-of-entry breaches jumped tenfold in 2014-15, and those imposed for coercion jumped 64 per cent. There was a 50 per cent rise in legal action, mostly directed at the CFMEU, the report states, noting that Queensland was a “hotspot” for new complaints.

Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said yesterday that the Fair Work Building and Construction report, to be tabled in federal parliament today, “further confirms the disturbing reality that has been obvious in the building industry for far too long”.

“The independent regulator, the courts and the police have all expressed their serious concerns about the CFMEU’s culture of contempt for the law,” Senator Cash told The Australian.

“This is the same union that Bill Shorten relies on for his leadership and who the Labor Party relies on for their policy direction.”

Unlawful behaviour resulted in higher infrastructure costs, delayed projects, lost jobs, lost opportunities and stalled growth, she added. “We must end the ingrained culture of fear and intimidation.”

In his forward statement to the report, inspectorate head Nigel Hadgkiss says: “I regret to report that the 2014-15 financial year has been marked by alarming rates of lawlessness in the building and construction industry.

“I believe the contents of this annual report demonstrate two important points: firstly that the rule of law is severely lacking in the industry; and secondly, that the agency is doing all it can within its jurisdiction and means to curb that lawlessness.”

Mr Hadgkiss says the agency is “winning many battles in court against unlawful behaviour but we are not winning the war to stamp out this unlawfulness or the notion by some participants that it is ­acceptable to break the law in this industry — it is not.”

The FWBC report reveals the agency has been instrumental in supplying material to the trade union royal commission, referring more than 125 incidents dating back to 2006 to the inquiry.

The commission requested further details for about half of those matters.

Of the 948 breaches of commonwealth workplace laws investigated by the FWBC in 2014-15 — up from 890 the previous year — 40 per cent were contraventions of right-of-entry laws, with freedom of association, unlawful industrial action and coercion the “other significant” areas.

Penalties imposed as a result of FWBC litigation in 2014-15 totalled $1.4 million — the fourth year that penalties yielded by the ­agency and its predecessors topped $1m.

Overall, new investigations fell from 327 in 2013-14 to 197, as the FWBC referred more complaints about wages and conditions to the Fair Work Ombudsman to focus on “core” activities such as unlawful industrial action, coercion and right-of-entry breaches.

Yet the number of new investigations in Queensland rose as the state remained dominated by “hot spots” of unlawful industrial ­action, leading the agency to ­redeploy staff to Brisbane.

The number of legal cases commenced rose to a record.

The FWBC intervened 26 ­separate times in the past year in Fair Work Commission decisions on issuing right-of-entry permits for union officials.

It received more than 3000 requests for assistance, with more than 2000 coming through the agency’s 1800 hotline.

The agency also relied heavily on hard-won compulsory examination powers, which Mr Hadgkiss said had become a “critical tool in breaking down the walls of silence in the industry”. The report notes that the government extended the agency’s compulsory powers for two years before they were due to expire in May. The government is likely to use the findings in the report to bolster its case in its battle to restore the more powerful Australian Building and Construction Commission, which held tougher penalties, after its legislation was blocked in the Senate.

Mr Hadgkiss quotes Federal Court judge John Logan’s June decision against the CFMEU that notes that an industrial organisation persistently “engaging in unlawful conduct cannot expect to remain registered”.


Europe prepares to kick off free trade talks with Australia

As part of a new trade and investment strategy announced on Wednesday, the European Commission said it would seek authorisation from its 28 members to open separate negotiations with "close partners" Australia and New Zealand.

Any deal with the EU would have big implications for Australian farmers which have long been pushing for lower tariffs and greater access to a European market of some 500 million customers.

However, the EU announcement said any deal would need to take into account "agricultural sensitivities" with European farmers likely to oppose any substantial relaxation of protectionist measures for sheep, beef and dairy imports.

Agriculture in the EU is heavily subsidised, with payments under the Common Agriculture Policy accounting for 40 per cent of the organisation's budget.

According to the European Commission, Australia ranked as the EU's 21 largest trade while the EU represented Australia's third largest trading partner after China and Japan in 2014. Total trade in goods amounted to €38.7 billion in 2014.

Australia's exports to the EU have traditionally been dominated by mineral commodities and energy as well as agricultural products while EU's exports to Australia are predominantly manufactured goods such as cars.

The European Commission said the new trade and investment policy was a direct response to the "current intense debate on trade in the EU - including on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership".

Australia this month signed the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement, which will create a free-trade area covering 40 per cent of the global economy aimed at addressing "21st century trade issues" such as intellectual property protections, digital trade rights and protections for investors. The TPP followed another high-profile free trade deal struck with China in June.

Trade Minister Andrew Robb said a deal with the EU was a "missing piece" after the conclusion of the other agreements.

A number of steps must be completed for formal negotiations to begin. First, the EU will conduct an impact assessment of the FTA. Second, it will commission a study to examine areas of negotiation. The European Council's 28 members must also give their permission to open negotiations but EU officials are confident previous consultation mean this stage is a formality.

One of the goals of the EU trade policy is to "expanding measures to support sustainable development, fair and ethical trade and human rights".

The potential focus on human rights clauses has been a source of tension in the past. Former EU ambassador Brendon Nelson has previously argued Australia should never sign a free trade agreement with the EU if talks included demands for tough clauses on human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

A trade deal with Europe was discussed at last November's G20 meeting in Brisbane


Australia’s jobless rate steady at 6.2%

Australia’s unemployment rate remained stable at 6.2% in September, data showed on Thursday, with some analysts suggesting it may have peaked as the economy moves away from a dependence on mining.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showed that in rounded terms, some 5,100 jobs were lost from the economy, with full-time positions falling by about 13,900 and part-time roles increasing by around 8,900.

The seasonally adjusted reading was better than analysts’ expectations of an increase to 6.3%, although the market was disappointed with the decline in the number of jobs.

In unrounded percentage terms, the data were more positive, with unemployment dipping slightly from 6.22% in August to 6.16% in September.

The Australian dollar slipped by a third of a US cent to 73.06 US cents.

“It’s moving in the right direction,” JP Morgan economist Tom Kennedy told AFP, adding that the latest unemployment figures reinforced positive readings from forward-looking labour force surveys. “We’ve probably seen the worst of it in terms of the rise in the jobless rate.”

The participation rate - which measures the proportion of adults in work or looking for work - eased from 65% to 64.9%. [currently 62.6 percent in the US]

The unemployment rate has fluctuated between 6%-6.4%, a decade high, over the past year as Australia emerges from an unprecedented mining investment boom that has helped the economy avoid a recession for 24 years.

The central bank has slashed interest rates to a record low of 2% to boost economic activity outside the resources sector, but such industries have so far been slow to fill the gap left by the fall in mining investment.

Despite this, the unemployment rate has yet to hit the 6.5% peak that the Reserve Bank of Australia forecast amid the transition to non-resources driven growth.

“Two per cent year-on-year employment growth is not bad,” Deutsche Bank’s Phil O’Donaghoe told AFP, adding that he expected the cash rate to remain unchanged for some months amid “reasonably robust” jobs growth.

The figures came as new consumer and business confidence indicators recorded modest rises after multi-millionaire former banker and businessman Malcolm Turnbull became prime minister when he ousted Tony Abbott in a party coup last month.