Australian Politics 2015-10-31 15:53:00

Biffo uses the words 'darkie' and 'n****r' on TV

Biffo has never pulled his punches (sometimes literally) and he clearly does not like censored speech in others. Surprisingly for a Leftist, he sometimes gets things right.  Note that The High Court of Australia ruled in 2002 that the word "n*gger" is not offensive in Australia so there is little doubt that "negro" is also not generally offensive in Australia.  It was clearly seen by the media personalities as incorrect, however

Former Labor leader and controversial columnist Mark Latham has repeatedly used racial expletives including the N-word in a televised discussion about political correctness.

Mr Latham used the highly offensive terms ‘n****r’ and ‘d**kie’ on Channel Nine's recently launched The Verdict on Thursday night, leaving host Karl Stefanovic stunned at the rant.

The terms were used during a debate around the question of whether 'political correctness is killing Australia', which quickly resulted in a heated discussion of Eric Abetz's recent use of 'n***o'.

The terms were used during a debate around the question of whether 'political correctness is killing Australia', which quickly resulted in a heated discussion of Eric Abetz's recent use of 'n***o'

The Senator had called U.S. Supreme Court Judge Clarence Thomas a ‘n***o’ during a radio interview about the push for marriage equality on 2UE.

But panellists Mr Latham and News Corp columnist Miranda Devine, rejected that ‘n***o’ was offensive.

Mr Latham appeared to use the term to intentionally offend, and the audience sounded shocked at his statements.

‘I am happy to make my weekly donation to Australia’s outrage industry by saying: “N***o, n***o, n***o",’ he said.

‘Back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, n***o was actually a respected, dignified alternative to really racist terms like n****r and d**kie.’

Social media was awash with disgust following his comments, with Twitter users widely criticising Mr Latham.


What Did We Get for the $400 Billion that Rudd and Gillard borrowed?

Just an excerpt below from what one blogger has been able to track down:

4 – Increased welfare – $20 billion-$40 billion

This one depends on how tough you want to be. In 2006-07, welfare spending was $92 billion. For 2015/16, it’s budgeted to be $154 billion.

Within this, among other things, are our current annual welfare bills for:

    ‘families with children’ – $38.1 billion;

    assistance to the aged – $60.1 billion; and

    assistance to people with disabilities – $29.5 billion.

To illustrate just some of the welfare money being wasted on people with no need for it, one need look no further than:

    School Kids Bonus – which started in 2012-13 and which costs $2 billion annually. Apparently, if you have children in school and earn up to $100,000, you’re special and need a bonus; and

    Family Tax Benefits A and B – where, for example, if your family earns ‘only’ $150,000, you need a handout. To be fair, this ‘middle class welfare’ was a legacy of John Howard’s and probably his biggest mistake as this spending has become firmly entrenched. At least Howard had the money to pay for it at the time.

All up, welfare spending has increased by 6% each year since 2006-07.

Given that annual revenue growth was about 4%, you could be generous and say that welfare spending was 2% too high each year over this period (i.e. welfare should only have increased in line with government revenue). In this case, the total wasted spending has been $20 billion.

Alternatively, you could be ‘tough but fair’ and say that welfare should only have increased by the inflation rate (around 2%-3%). In this case, the wasted spending has been $30 billion – $40 billion.

You could also be firmer and say that welfare spending should have been cut given that it amounts to 35.5% of total government spending.

It’s up to you.

Meanwhile, many elderly pensioners still cannot afford to run any heating or air-conditioning. Perhaps they should be having kids?

3 – GFC stimulus package – $42 billion

The infamous ‘stimulus package’ with its $900 cheque mail out program was Rudd’s panicked response to the GFC. In fairness, some stimulus might have been defensible in the circumstances. However, a real leader would have taken time to do actual thinking and then taken a calm and measured approach to the situation (and would have probably realised that nothing needed to be done in Australia). Rudd, on the other hand, needed several changes of underwear and invited everyone – including the dead – to buy a new TV.

2 – NBN – $56 billion

Trying to list all of Labor’s blunders on this project is like trying to individually bag every grain of sand on Bondi Beach.

The insane cost for this white elephant is after the Liberals mercifully put some brakes on the project (going from fibre to the premises to fibre to the node). Just imagine how much more it would be if we were still hopelessly pressing on with fibre to EVERY premises under Labor.

Something tells me that this version of Rudd and Conroy’s ‘napkin’ cost benefit analysis wasn’t far off the reality. And yes, they were trying to tell us at the time that full fibre to the premises would ‘only’ cost $37 billion.

Of course, a real cost benefit analysis probably would have concluded that this kind of project is best left to the private sector which isn’t exactly miles away from rendering the NBN redundant. Just imagine if the private sector was allowed to handle this project or properly compete during this time. Instead we were lumped with a government created monopoly where there was not even the slightest whiff of natural market failure. Marx would be proud.

Let’s just say that the less than 25% take-up rate for the fastest speeds offered by NBN says it all.

To any person with intelligence, it all boils down to a question of cost and priorities – and the NBN certainly doesn’t fall into the ‘we need $100 billion right here right now’ category (which is what fibre to the premises would probably ended up costing). I have no doubt that one day in the not too distant future, we will all require ‘Lamborghini internet’ for modern life in ways we cannot possibly imagine today. However, today is not that day and we simply don’t have the $100 billion for it in any event.

Why couldn’t we have built the fibre skeleton across the nation first and then seen how things were going, rather than starting with fibre to the premises in Tasmania?

1 – Interest on loans – $90.4 billion (rising to well over $150 billion)

I promised irony and here it is. The biggest contributor to our debt is the interest on it. It’s not even close and it’s still contributing at a rate of $15.6 billion per year and rising. You are not seeing things. Here’s our sordid interest bill history:

    2007-08 – $3.5 billion
    2008-09 – $3.9 billion
    2009-10 – $6.3 billion
    2010-11 – $9.3 billion
    2011-12 – $11.4 billion
    2012-13 – $12.5 billion
    2013-14 – $13.4 billion
    2014-15 – $14.5 billion
    2015-16 – $15.6 billion

NB: interest on debt also amounted to $3.5 billion in 2006-07 based on government bonds on issue. However, there was no net debt in 2006 despite this due to returns the government was receiving elsewhere.

Over the next four years, our debt is projected to grow by another $80 billion (that’s the next four years of projected budget deficits). The total interest payments we’ll be making over this time will be around $70 billion – $80 billion. That’s right, the extra amount we’ll be borrowing is just enough to pay the interest on the loan. Feels great doesn’t it?

The second most expensive item on the list (NBN) is not even close and isn’t going to have $15-20 billion added to the pile every year for the next four years – unless we vote Bill Shorten in.

When the interest bill is the biggest contributor to your debt by miles, then you know something has gone disastrously wrong.

Last word

If you’ve been keeping count, then you’ll have noticed that about $320 billion of our money has been tracked down. That still leaves a lot left over to account for our $400 billion loan.

About $50 billion can be accounted for by Rudd and Gillard’s refusal to accept the reality of the government’s declining revenue in 2008-09 and 2009-10 and their attempt to keep our ‘lifestyle intact’. Instead, they defied all logic and kept increasing spending in too many areas of the economy that were never going to provide any return on the ‘investment’:


When normal people are confronted with less income, they cut spending and balance the books until things improve. Sometimes that might mean making hard decision like selling the house or a car or moving the children into public schools. As for Rudd and Gillard….

As for the remaining tens of billions, it’s a case of death by a thousand cuts and almost impossible for a hobby blogger like me to track down. Even if I could, the list would be hundreds of items long and impossible to digest. I can only say that it’s all in there somewhere:

I think it’s time for a stiff drink


Only adoption can rescue abused kids

Miranda Devine

A WOMAN who is 6½ months pregnant last week threatened to commit suicide unless she had an abortion. The 41-year-old mother-of-two told doctors at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne her life was in a “diabolical state”, with financial and relationship problems, and she couldn’t cope with ­another baby.

The story made news on Friday because the hospital’s “termination review panel” ­reportedly refused the late-term abortion, leading the state Health Minister Jill Hennessy to express concern about “limited access to abortion”.

There is, of course, an alternative, which in a previous era would have been seen as a natural win-win for everyone, particularly the baby: adoption.

But adoption has become such a dirty word in Australia that not only is it barely mentioned as an alternative to late-term abortion, it is not even used to rescue abused and ­neglected children.

The scandalous power of the anti-adoption industry is laid bare in a brilliant, searing new book by child protection ­expert Jeremy Sammut, ­research fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies. The Madness Of Australian Child Protection makes the moral case for adoption to rescue Australia’s ­underclass children.
Adoption in Australia is peculiarly low; last year we had only 203 local adoptions, compared with 50,000 in the US.

Meanwhile, child abuse and neglect is soaring, with 43,000 children shifted in and out of government-funded, out-of-home “temporary” care.

Mistreated children are ­reported repeatedly to welfare authorities that refuse to ­remove them from drug-­addled, violent, dysfunctional parents until it is too late.

“Children are not removed from unfixable families in a timely fashion, and these children are not provided with safe and stable adoptive families.”

Sammut cites various reasons for this perverse situation, including the emphasis on ­official apologies for past practices of forced adoption and “Stolen Generations”.

The radical shift from child rescue to family preservation is grounded in the 1960s radical school of social work which is hostile to “supposedly bourgeois institutions, such as marriage and the nuclear family”.

Add in a simplistic social justice credo which claims that adoption victimises the poor by denying their “right” to parent children, and you have an ideological perfect storm. Three case studies give Sammutt’s conclusions added power.

? Dean Shillingsworth, a two- year-old boy strangled by his mother, who shoved his body into a suitcase and threw it in a lake in Western Sydney in 2007. Dean had been the subject of 34 reports about his ­welfare.

? Ebony, a seven-year-old autistic girl who died of starvation in her parents’ Housing Commission home on the NSW mid-north coast in 2007, also was the subject of numerous child welfare reports.

? Four-year-old Chloe Valentine died from horrific internal injuries after her single mother and de facto repeatedly placed her on a motorbike and filmed her falls while they were drunk and high on ice, in South Australia.

Chloe had been the subject of 21 welfare reports. The state welfare department, ­incredibly, had approved a case plan which allowed Chloe’s mother to use drugs.

They are victims of the prevailing orthodoxy in child protection, which is to keep children with their “family” at almost any price.
“Children suffer prolonged exposure to abuse and neglect by clearly unfit parents because of the policy and practices of family preservation, which seek to fix even the kinds of families that starve and strangle children,” Sammut writes.

The underclass children caught up in the child protection system live in homes that are “unimaginable to most Australians,” writes Sammut. “In these chaotic worlds of ­unchanged nappies, putrid kitchens and garbage-strewn rooms, fridges are full of grog and parents feed drug habits while pantries and children’s bellies remain empty.

“There is regular violence between adults instead of consistent care and loving, nurturing interactions with children.”

But the prevailing social work ideology is that you can’t be “judgmental” about what constitutes a “good family”.

Thus the links between the rising rates of single motherhood over the past 40 years and rising rates of child mistreatment are ignored, and parental drug use is tolerated.

The only solution is to dramatically increase adoptions.
Sammut proposes national annual adoption targets, and an incentive payment scheme that rewards states that increase the number of adoptions.

If the children of the underclass are to receive the “fair go all Australians should expect as their birthright” then we have to make tough decisions to ­remove them from people who have foregone the right to call themselves parents. 


Paul Zanetti on Waleed Aly

HERE he goes again. Waleed Aly preaching to the rest of us about ‘morality’.  Mr Aly would do very well tidying up affairs in his own backyard before lecturing Australians.

Waleed Aly is a Sunni Muslim. As are Islamic State. And we all know how Islamic State follows Islamic teachings to the letter. The evidence is all over the internet. They proudly advertise Sunni Islam in all its gory technicolour.

The latest tut-tutting from Waleed Aly is in today’s Sydney Morning Herald in one of his regular columns, a moral mound looking over the rest of Australia.

His piece is headlined:


Fancy being reprimanded by Waleed Aly about morals.

In his most condescending tone we’re advised by Mr Morality how ‘deaths at sea’ is a ‘crassly nationalistic argument’.


I – and most compassionate folk – thought stopping ‘deaths at sea’ was a humanitarian ideal. But that could be just our simplistic view of the world.

The column is dripping with so much erroneous righteousness, so much so that I began thinking it was a parody piece and waiting for the final punch line.

He makes the hopelessly dangerous case that doctors at Melbourne Royal Children’s Hospital should not discharge kids back to detention because these doctors are ‘not political’.

Which is exactly why these doctors should not be getting involved in a political debate. They should simply do their job. Leave the repercussions to our politicians who know more than the doctors about the impact of political decisions, particularly the lessons learnt by the inhumanely lethal Labor-Greens model advocated by Aly.

Moving the children on the mainland sounds like the right thing to do on the surface but will have devastatingly deadly consequences.

In Aly’s world, first we release the children onto the mainland on ‘humanitarian grounds’.

Then the parents and family must absolutely join them on ‘compassionate grounds’.

Then we’ll have a wave of kids sent to Australia by ruthlessly opportunistic people smugglers who must immediately be sent to the mainland (because they’re children).

Followed by the parents (for the childrens’ sake).

He argues the doctors’ judgement is clinical and ethical, without a hint of nod to the clinical and ethical consequences of their demands – kids  torn from their mothers’ arms and dropping to bottom of the ocean. And how many kids will be intentionally harmed once it gets out that ‘harmed children’ are the ticket to the mainland?

Ethical? Clinical?

If Waleed gets his way, people smugglers will be advising parents this is their best bet to settling in Australia.

The reason kids are in detention is because their parents illegally attempted to enter Australia – queue jumpers pushing genuine refugees to the back of the line. The illegals chucked their papers away, having used the same papers to country-hop to the last Indonesian port before Australia.

My criticism is not of the doctors per se who I have no doubt do care about the kids’ welfare.

It’s the consequence of their demands that have me more than a little worried. More kids on the mainland equals more dead kids on the bottom of the ocean.

Which is worse? A kid in detention or a dead kid?

Whose up for the morality test? Waleed’s hand is up, sir.

While he’s on his self-righteous crusade, he reminds us that the notion, ‘that each individual is sacred; that no individual can simply be sacrificed in order save others – lies at the heart of our civilisation’.

He goes on, “It’s the reason we’ve prohibited torture. It’s why we’ve abandoned the death penalty in this country, no matter the crime. Indeed, it’s the basis of the whole idea of human rights, which this nation was so instrumental in distilling into law. It’s meant to be the basis on which we do our public reasoning. So it’s hugely significant that right now, it’s also the opposite of the argument our politicians are running.”

He hasn’t finished yet. He’s on a roll.

Cop this, “It’s the morality that can make anything from slavery, to torture, to Stalinism possible: an ethos that has no rules, only results; where nothing has intrinsic value except whatever “greater good” you wish to serve.

Under this sort of cover, almost any atrocity can be sanctified. And if it can do even that sort of heavy lifting, then what’s the mental disintegration of a few hundred asylum seekers – whether they’re children or not?”

Here are some inconvenient truths about Waleed Aly.

He’s a former executive member of the Islamic Council of Victoria, yet we’re still waiting to hear him condemn all the horrific atrocities in the name of, and for the advancement of his religion.

He has the connections, he has the profile, he has the community ear. But does he have the moral fortitude?

His gall at demanding from our government what he turns a blind eye to in his own belief system, is breathtaking.

The slavery, torture, human rights abuses, death penalties and atrocities he claims might be sanctified by us, is actually sanctified and practiced as a means to enter Islam’s Paradise.

Once Waleed Aly starts lecturing his own side about tidying up the atrocities of Islam from within, then he can get on that moral high horse about the rest of us.

Not a word has he ever uttered about the ‘morality’ of Islamic teachings. Credibility factor : zero.


Malcolm Turnbull should champion free speech on race

It’s good to hear the Prime Minister has great faith in the Australian people. He is right to say we are able to conduct a civil debate about same-sex marriage.

The wisdom of Australians doesn’t end there, of course. Which is why Malcolm Turnbull should also start a conversation about the proper limits of free speech in this country.

The PM has been quick to reopen the economic debate too. Good for him that he is keen to put his mark on the new government as a reformer capable of conversing honestly with Australians, negotiating with the mixed bag of independents and even extracting a dose of bipartisanship from Labor.

Now it’s time for Turnbull to take a confident step into the cultural arena. Whereas Tony Abbott disappointed many Australians, especially the Liberal base, by dumping an election promise to reform section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act on the premise that it was causing division within the Muslim community, Turnbull can score an important, long overdue win for freedom.

In the process, he can also turn the jeers he faced at the recent NSW Liberal conference into cheers by taking on an issue that Abbott dropped.

And let’s face it, Turnbull may be just the person to win over people in a way the former PM never could.

Indeed, Turnbull’s lovey-dovey honeymoon with the press has a focus so soft and blurry it makes the final scenes of The Bachelorette look like gritty TV.

Sections of the media who couldn’t bear Abbott have found their man in Turnbull. ABC 7.30 host Leigh Sales giggled and smiled her way through an early Turnbull interview, apologising for interruptions in a manner Abbott could only have dreamed of.

The Australian Financial Review last week ran a rather hilarious piece by academic Elena Douglas. Quoting Manning Clark (of course), Douglas drew the distinc­tion between two types of Australian prime ministers: the “enlargers of life” who want “all human beings to have a life and have it more abundantly” versus the “punishers and the straighteners”.

Douglas claims Australia has never had an enlarger from the Right — until maybe now, with the arrival of Turnbull. That’s probably news to millions of Australians who voted in the Howard government four times, but that’s for another day.

The point is that Turnbull is in a particularly blessed place right now and it can’t last.

One way to transition from the honeymoon weeks into a stable, long-term relationship with the Australian people is to seek out their respect on the economic and cultural reform fronts.

Turnbull shouldn’t waste time drawing on his political capital wisely, carefully and boldly to go to places that Abbott could not.

Of course, dark clouds will gather, special interest groups will squeal and the going will get tougher when the reform process moves to the pointy end of fine details and negotiations. But again, Turnbull may be the right person to handle this.

Last week Turnbull said the government had no plans to change the RDA at all. He should reconsider. There is a simple and convincing conversation to be had around free speech. It goes something like this: the current balance in Australia around so-called hate laws is entirely out of kilter.

On the one hand, laws that aim to stop real cases of hate speech and incitement to violence have failed us.

Turnbull can point to NSW, where there are moves to change section 20D of the NSW Racial Discrimination Act. That law set the bar so high that, since its 1989 enactment, not a single prosecution has been launched against those who preach hatred or incite violence in NSW. State prosecutors couldn’t even manage to bring a case against Ismail al-Wahwah, the head of Hizb ut-Tahrir, who in a sermon last March called on Muslims to rid the world of “Jewish hidden evil”.

The PM could point out that reforming section 20D is entirely sensible, that surely we can all agree to set a legal bar against hate speech that incites or encourages violence. Only then can we hope to shut down the hate preachers who have free rein to radicalise impressionable Muslim boys.

The PM could then point out that other laws at the federal level have set the bar too low, to the point where words that merely offend or insult someone are prohibited.

He could say the case for reforming section 18C of the federal RDA should never have been about Andrew Bolt. It’s about a law that allowed a federal judge to say he didn’t like the tone taken by a writer. Turnbull could say the bar here is too low in a liberal democracy such as Australia.

Defamation laws protect reputations; laws that protect feelings have tilted the free speech balance sheet in the wrong direction. Surely it’s time to correct the balance, to ensure real hate speech and genuine cases of inciting violence are outlawed and expressing opinions, even if they offend some people, are protected?

If Turnbull meant what he said on The Bolt Report earlier this year — that it is a sensible reform to excise “offend” and “insult” from section 18C — he should support senator Bob Day’s private member’s bill that seeks to do just that.

Turnbull is in the position as leader to launch a compelling, conviction-filled conversation about why our freedoms and our values matter, why we must defend them and why we need to reform misguided laws that impinge upon them.

The PM can already count on support from some on the Left, among them David Marr, Jonathan Holmes and Julian Burnside. Turnbull even may convince a few free-speech nay-sayers. Can’t you just see those people who have never defended free speech when it meant defending opinions they despise, cocking their heads towards Turnbull, listening to him rather intently and saying, “Heck, doesn’t he make sense?”

To be sure, others on the Left will never give an inch on free speech. For them, even a minor change to the balance sheet will deliver their worst nightmare — more open debates on anything from immigration to climate change. From hounding Geoffrey Blainey out of the University of Melbourne in the 1980s to stopping Bjorn Lomborg from even getting a foothold in an Australian university this year, these anti-freedom crusaders will always defend the barricades of their own minds with anti-free speech bazookas.

Beyond those walls, Turnbull can win this debate. First, he needs to conquer his reluctance to give his long-time internal opponents a win, men such as Cory Bernardi and Ian Macdonald, who both support Day’s private member’s bill. There is something far more important at stake than a few internal enemies grandstanding over a win. If Turnbull chooses, he can score a win for freedom in Australia in a way that others never could. How ’bout it, Prime Minister?


Guatemala: Now What?

I have an analysis of Guatemala's recent election up at Warscapes with Guatemala: Now What?
The Guatemalan government will continue to confront serious challenges in establishing the rule of law and improving the day-to-day lives of millions of its citizens. However, the instability brought on by criminal investigations undertaken by the attorney general’s office and CICIG that led to the resignations and arrests of the former president and vice president and the sustained mobilization of the people against corruption and politics as usual have kicked open the door to a potentially more just future. However, they will have to achieve convictions in open corruption cases and continue to pressure their elected officials to take democracy seriously over the next four years as it is not clear that the president, or those recently elected to congress, will do so on their own.
A little instability might just be what Guatemala needs.

President Rubio?

When Marco Rubio scored his attack hit against former mentor Jeb Bush in the recent Republican debate, he may have been signalling that he was running against the old families of both parties.  For a long time observers and commentators have worri...

30/10/15: ‘Internet Natives’: Power of Value Creation + Power of Value Destruction

A very interesting Credit Suisse survey of some 1,000 people of the tail end of the millennial generation (age 16-25) across the U.S., Brazil, Singapore and Switzerland. Some surprising insights.

Take a look at the following summary:

The results are seriously strange. Around 48% of all respondents use internet for payments transactions, but only 19% on average use it for obtaining financial advice. In other words, convenience drives transactions use, but not analytics demand.

Meanwhile, on average just 20% use internet for earning money or working. Which makes you wonder, what jobs (if any) do the respondents hold if only 1 in 5 use internet to execute it? And, furthermore, look at the percentages of respondents who use internet for job searches compared to earning money or working. Once again, something fishy.

Internet use for political and social engagement heavily exceeds personal relations. And this is true for all countries surveyed. Which simply does not bear any relationship to young generation voting participation in the real world, but does match their responses to whether or not they use internet for voting.

While responses across previous set of questions suggest that internet-based social (political / civic) engagements are more prevalent amongst the young respondents than personal engagements, there is the opposite view of internet as bearing personal benefits as opposed to social benefits.

This is especially true in the U.S. and Switzerland, where the gap between those who think internet is a positive personal platform as opposed to social platform is 12-13 percentage points.

Confusing? May be not. The ‘web naturals’ that we all are, we are simultaneously experiencing two aspect of internet-enabled life:

  • Too much information and clutter; and
  • Significant value to the power of engagement.

What this means to me is that social and interactive platforms have to stop inventing new channels to push through to us - information users - commercialised crap and start letting us take charge of content once again. To do this, the successful platforms of the future will need the following:
1) Own brand capital that is clean from being pure advertisement pushers;
2) More creative and empowering deployment of user-generated content; and
3) Ability to re-focus their business strategies on margin delivery.

Otherwise, they will end up cannibalising themselves and destroying our - users’ - value.