An incisive look into Australia’s current affairs.

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A strong defence force is only the beginning - Senator Jim Molan

A strong defence force is only the beginning

  At the NCC National Conference in February this year, retired U.S. Brigadier General Robert Spalding succinctly explained what he believed Australia needed to do to counter an increasingly belligerent Beijing. He advised: “Decouple [economically], have industrial policy, invest in your people, science and technology, STEM education, infrastructure, and manufacturing; and, for heaven’s sake, build a secure, encrypted internet for your people where you can protect them from outside influence from authoritarian regimes.” Meanwhile, Beijing has continued its massive military build-up, building cyber-war capabilities and engaging in infiltration and propaganda campaigns in Australia, not to mention blockading some of our…

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RAND Report: Australia's defence and supply routes

We lack defence preparedness: RAND Australia report

Not only does Australia lag far behind other small nations in “total defence” mobilisation planning, but its ability to keep the nation functioning has been greatly limited by the nation’s diminished industrial capacity, dependence on vulnerable supply chains and unreliable trading partners. Worse, Australia has been assessed as having “zero warning time” for a major disaster or conflict, meaning that the nation has very limited capability to plan for mobilising the nation’s population and industries to manage a crisis. This was part of the findings of a major recent report, Defence Mobilisation Planning Comparative Study by RAND Australia, for the…

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Upper Hunter by-election: coal

Upper Hunter by-election result a warning to Albo on climate policy

The NSW by-election for the state seat of Upper Hunter was yet another warning that Federal Labor will stay in the doldrums as long its climate-action policy opposes coal mining. Labor was not going to win the seat, which it hasn’t held in a hundred years. However, the 7 per cent fall in Labor’s vote to 21.2 per cent was the third consecutive decline in the Hunter region over the last three state and federal elections. Even the sex scandal that precipitated the by-election had little impact on the result, compared with voters’ concerns about Labor’s anti-coal policy, reflecting deep…

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women March4Justice

Wider implications of the March 4 Justice

The extraordinary sequence of events which began with the allegation by a ministerial staffer, Brittany Higgins, that she had been raped in Federal Parliament two years ago by a fellow staffer, has ballooned into a national political crisis affecting the standing of the Morrison Government. The Prime Minister, who said he knew nothing of the allegations until they were aired in the media, announced three separate inquiries into the culture of Parliament House which permitted such a crime to occur, but was widely condemned for the delay in bringing the alleged perpetrator to justice, and for tolerating a toxic macho…

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Western australia Liberals election loss

West Australian Liberals flattened

By Rob Haines The ALP in Western Australia had a resounding win at the state election on March 13. At the time of writing 70 per cent of votes had been counted and Labor was on track to win 52 of 59 seats in the Legislative Assembly and a possible 23 seats out of 36 in the Legislative Council. Labor will have total control of the upper and lower houses and encounter little resistance from the minor parties.

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Liberals empty their ‘broad church’ and then wonder where their support is

Liberals empty their ‘broad church’ and then wonder where their support is

The recent defection of Craig Kelly to become an independent is perhaps a further indication that there are fewer pews left for conservatives in the once broad church of the Liberal Party. Tony Abbott was hounded from his formerly safe seat of Warringah after a sustained campaign that involved many card-carrying Liberal Party members; and more recently, the “father of the House of Representatives”, Victorian MP Kevin Andrews, sadly lost pre-selection for his seat of Menzies, a seat that he had ably held since 1991.

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Attorney-General Porter and Defence Minister Reynolds

Campaign against Reynolds, Porter, a media-led vendetta

Media-led demands for the dismissal of Defence Minister Linda Reynolds over her handling of the alleged rape of a staff member, Brittany Higgins, and for the removal of Attorney-General Christian Porter over contested allegations of rape over 30 years ago, have paralysed Federal Parliament and undermined confidence in Australia’s political system, amid entrenched claims of…

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Nuclear energy debate

No nuclear means more coal, but …

A Nationals bill to lift the ban on nuclear power stations may have strong Coalition backbench support, but there are many technical and political obstacles. Bridget McKenzie, Matt Canavan and three other Nationals plan legislation for a $1 billion arm to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation for investment in nuclear power, high-energy, low-emissions (HELE) coal-fired power generation and carbon-capture and storage technology.

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Nationals' manufacturing policy to revive industry

Visionary Nationals plan to revive industry faces political complacency

A bold manufacturing plan has been laid out by the federal Nationals that shakes up the complacency of the “market knows best” bureaucrats that have held sway over industry policy for the past several decades. But the policy plan’s insistence on linking manufacturing support to modern coal-fired power stations has already raised the ire both…

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government

When both major parties agree on bad policy, society suffers

A succession of Australian federal and state governments of both persuasions have blindly signed up en masse to the “climate-change emergency” and other globalist agendas, threatening the survival of our industries, businesses and living standards. Adding to the economic pain from climate-change policies, 2020 was a year of government-mandated shutdowns in response to covid19, costing economies hundreds of billions (if not trillions) of dollars in lost revenue. One estimate puts the cost to Australia at between $170-$450 billion.

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Allegations of war crimes in Afghanistan

Junior officers shafted in war crimes report

The recently published report by Justice Paul Brereton into allegations of war crimes committed by Australian special forces in Afghanistan ignores the savage nature of this war conducted by a barbaric enemy, and shifts responsibility to low-level servicemen (non-commissioned officers), absolving those higher up from blame for military misconduct of which they were undoubtedly aware.

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Reopening Australia

A Public-Health plan for reopening Australia

by Patrick J. Byrne What covid19 public-health infrastructure is needed to ensure a safe pathway towards, reopening Australia particularly to avoid what Victorians have experienced? Lockdowns are a last-resort pandemic control measure, when a health department and government are caught unprepared with inadequate personal protection equipment (PPE), hospital equipment and training, inadequate face masks, sanitisation,…

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Arthur Calwell Immigration Nation

OUR IMMIGRATION RECORD, ACCORDING TO THE LEFT

Immigration Nation is a documentary series by writer/director Alec Morgan, made by Film Australia in conjunction with the ABC, that purports to be a history of Australia’s immigration policy. It is used as a resource to educate university students and new migrants about immigration to Australia. It is fatally flawed. To say that it is misleading is an understatement. The first thing to be clear about is the oft-repeated refrain of the evils of the “White Australia Policy”. Let’s be clear about this. There is not a single piece of legislation or regulation entitled the “White Australia Policy”. It does…

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Eden-Monaro by-election bad news for Albanese and the Nationals

Peter Westmore The retirement of Mike Kelly, the popular local ALP member in the marginal seat of Eden-Monaro, was always going to make it difficult for Labor leader Anthony Albanese, facing his first by-election test. The history of by-elections very strongly suggested that Labor would comfortably hold the seat. Historically, the average swing against governments…

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Cultural vandals attack Australian history

by Peter Westmore The Black Lives Matter protests, which originated in protests against killings of black Americans by white police, has morphed into a general attack on Australia’s history, with historical monuments vandalised and demands that statues of particular historical figures, including Captain James Cook – who discovered Australia – be torn down. It has also extended to demands that Australian comedy productions by Chris Lilley and Mark Mitchell be censored. As usual, Australia mirrors what has happened in other parts of the world. In the United States, political activists of the left have demanded that the celebrated American Civil…

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Is Andrews’ Victorian ALP bloodletting a danger to Albanese?

by Peter Westmore As Victoria laboured under the weight of a second wave of covid19 infections, the branch-stacking scandal within the ALP was referred to the National Executive of the ALP, which has appointed two senior ALP members to run the Victorian branch for three years, pending a restructure. The branch-stacking was allegedly done by a leader of the right-wing faction in the Victorian ALP, which has been bedevilled by factional stacking of branches based on ethnic communities for decades. Historically, the left was heavily involved in the Greek and Italian communities, but the latest allegations involve members of the…

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ASIO chips away at Chinese Communist Party iceberg

The extent and boldness of the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to infiltrate and influence Australia’s political system is becoming more and more evident with a recent ASIO raid on a New South Wales MLC. According to reports, ASIO believes Chinese Communist Party agents were attempting to infiltrate the NSW Parliament through the office of a Labor backbencher, whose home and office were both raided in the first test of new national security and espionage laws. It is far from the first time that Australian politicians have been subject to efforts at infiltration by the Chinese Communist Party, but the raids…

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Daniel Andrews’ implausible claims over minister’s sacking

Following what the Melbourne Age and Channel Nine described as a “year-long investigation”, the Sixty Minutes program on June 14 aired sensational allegations that a Victorian ALP factional leader and Cabinet Minister, Adem Somyurek, had been engaged in widespread branch stacking. Somyurek is a member of Victoria’s Upper House, and has been responsible for recruiting ethnic Australians into the Victorian ALP, to swell the numbers of the right-wing faction. The Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, is leader of the socialist-left faction. Branch-stacking allegations have been a characteristic of the ALP for as long as anyone can remember, and have also occurred…

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Scott Morrison has shown leadership in covid19 crisis

by Peter Westmore The sudden emergence of a new coronavirus (covid19) from Wuhan, China, at the start of this year marked the commencement of the first pandemic most of us have seen in our lifetimes, and showed how fragile are the systems that have provided rising standards of living throughout the world for the past 70 years. Not since the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic, which took 50 million lives around the globe, has the health of humankind been so threatened by a single disease. The response of countries around the world varied radically, with many developed Western nations fatally underestimating…

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Royal Commission wilfully ignored Pell evidence

by Peter Westmore A careful examination of the “findings” of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which accused Cardinal George Pell of covering up sexual abuse when he was a priest in Ballarat, and when an Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne, shows that the Royal Commission wilfully ignored the overwhelming weight of evidence that contradicted its opinions. Further, it failed in its duty to inform Cardinal Pell that it intended to make adverse findings against him, and failed to give him an opportunity to respond to them, contrary to long-established practice and the principle of procedural fairness,…

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Covid19: Knowns, unknowns and unknown unknowns

by Patrick J. Byrne PART ONE OF TWO PARTS (Read the second part here) Covid19 (or SARS-CoV-2) is a new coronavirus related to the common cold that emerged from China in December 2019. It is a separate species of virus from the annual flu virus, or influenza. The Lancet (March 30, 2020) reported an overall infection fatality rate of between approximately 0.4 and 1.4 and a case fatality rate of between 1 and 3 per cent, both with strong age gradients (the older a person, the more vulnerable they are to the disease). This is much higher than the mortality…

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ABS makes employment figures bend over backwards

by Marcus L’Estrange April’s Australian Bureau of Statistics “Labour Force” unemployment figures of 6.2 per cent must be taken with a massive grain of salt. They are merely a political definition of unemployment, not an actuarial one. How the ABS can claim an unemployment number of 823,000 for April when you have 1.6 million on the dole (not including those unemployed who cannot get the dole due to their partner working and those on the JobKeeper allowance – six million) is beyond me. Similarly, the ABS claims an increase of 118,000 unemployed for April as 600,000 jobs were lost. Terry…

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Why success has eluded our automotive industry

by Craig Milne PODCAST Chris McCormack talks to executive director of the Australian Productivity Council, Craig Milne about the history of automotive manufacturing in Australia; where we went wrong; and what is needed to revive an industry that would yield huge benefits to the economy and advance technological innovation in general. Listen here. THIS IS THE SECOND IN A SERIES BY CRAIG MILNE ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF INDUSTRY POLICIES FOR THE POST-COVID19 AUSTRALIAN ECONOMY. YOU CAN READ PARTS ONE AND THREE HERE AND HERE. Import regulation was needed to facilitate the growth of Australian manufacturing after Federation because Australia was,…

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Cardinal Pell

Cardinal Pell: The story of a targeted assassination

by Patrick Morgan The pile-on against Cardinal Pell, which began when he was appointed Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996, has now dragged its weary way through a quarter of a century. It first manifested itself as an internal insurrection when some local liberal Catholics began to object to his alleged personal style as bullying and authoritarian, though this was based on scuttlebutt, as no actual examples were advanced. On the contrary he was himself publicly humiliated by fellow Catholics on a number of occasions. They disliked him primarily because he asserted basic Christian positions, a grievous fault these days in…

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Crucial to get Virgin Australia flying again

by Peter Westmore When Virgin Australia’s board put the company into administration in April, it had the unenviable distinction of being the largest corporate victim of the covid19 pandemic in Australia. The immediate impact will be felt by Virgin’s 10,000 employees, including subsidiary Tigerair, and many could lose their jobs. But the employment impact will extend far wider, to Virgin’s suppliers, to airport retailers, to businesses in regional Australia, and to the tourist centres that Virgin services. It will not be surprising if an additional 50,000 jobs are impacted. Virgin’s difficulties also threaten the bipartisan “Two Airlines Policy” that has…

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News Weekly

Basin inquiry raises more unanswered questions

by Patrick J. Byrne The latest Murray-Darling Basin report has highlighted deep discontent among regional communities over the Basin Plan’s water allocations, the science behind the Plan and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA). The report into the “Impact of lower inflows on state shares under the Murray–Darling Basin Agreement” was conducted by the interim inspector-general of Murray-Darling Basin Water Resources, and former federal police commissioner, Mick Keelty. It is the latest of about 40 reports on the deeply troubled $13 billion Basin Plan, and comes in the middle of another severe drought. The Plan was put in place by then…

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The rise and fall of Australian manufacturing and covid19

by Geoff Crittenden Australia had a long, proud history of manufacturing throughout the 20th century. With the Federation of Australia in 1901, customs barriers were eliminated between the states so they could more easily trade with another. This prompted the first wave of manufacturing expansion, particularly in Victoria and New South Wales. By 1913, manufacturing employment totalled 328,000 workers and accounted for 13 per cent of GDP.   During World War I, the Australian government quickly realised that our economy was too reliant on imports; it was near impossible to source many products in wartime. As a result, Australia started…

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CARDINAL PELL: High Court practically shouts ‘not guilty’

by Terri M. Kelleher On Tuesday April 7, the High Court allowed Cardinal George Pell’s appeal against his convictions on five counts of child sexual abuse. The High Court unanimously, 7–0, ordered the convictions be quashed and judgements of acquittal be entered in their place. Does this mean that Cardinal Pell got off on a legal technicality? By no means. It is a foundation stone of the rule of law in our legal system that a person is innocent until proven guilty. A prosecutor must bring evidence that proves beyond reasonable doubt that the crimes alleged were committed by the…

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CARDINAL PELL: Locating the golden thread

by Greg Smith SC I was privileged to witness with my brother John the two days of legal argument in the High Court in March this year. It was a familiar battleground for me, as I had appeared there 10 times, as either leading counsel or junior counsel, before my resignation from the New South Wales DPP and election as Member for Epping in the NSW Parliament in 2007. The High Court is the final appellate court in the Australian legal system. It is the final interpreter of the Constitution, statute law and common law of Australia and its decisions…

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Pandemic has exposed our overreliance on imports

by Chris McCormack Ninety per cent of our pharmaceuticals are imported Plastics manufacturer closed after power bills rose by $1.2 million a year Affordable energy key to domestic manufacturing One thing covid19 has highlighted is Australia’s overreliance on imported products as essential medical equipment and other product lines of supply dry up. Manufacturing in Australia has fallen from around 29 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 1960 to around 6 per cent today. Successive governments abolished protections for local industries (by removing tariffs), which has decimated home-grown businesses as cheap – and often inferior – imports undercut the…

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Use detention centres to help deal with covid19

by Peter Westmore Having put in place a range of emergency measures to deal with the covid19 epidemic, the measured response of the Commonwealth and state governments – meeting as a national cabinet – is showing results, as the increase in the number of confirmed cases has slowed down. If this trend continues, emergency and intensive-care wards in Australia will be able to handle the number of cases that emerge, unlike the situation in many other countries. This is not to say that the crisis is over, far from it. But the restrictions that governments have imposed on tourism, mass…

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Guilt by accusation: The kangaroos are roaming freely through Australia’s legal system

by David Flint While tutoring journalism students in Beijing, a leading Australian editor counselled them not to describe an accused person as “guilty”. A student asked: “But if he was arrested, wouldn’t he be guilty?” The rule of law has long prevailed in Australia as in few other countries. But now, its manifestations, the presumption of innocence and that guilt be proved beyond reasonable doubt, are under attack. The guilt by accusation brigade, led by #MeToo, insists that they be replaced by alien concepts such as “(Always) believe the victim” and “Get the villain”. White heterosexual males, Catholic priests, Jewish rabbis…

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Victoria lifts moratorium on gas exploration

by Peter Westmore The Labor Government in Victoria has announced that it will end a six-year moratorium on onshore gas exploration, in response to rising domestic gas prices. The moratorium was introduced by the last Liberal government, in response to pressure from radical environmentalists who wanted to end the use of fossil fuels in Victoria. As no domestic gas was being produced onshore in Victoria at the time, it probably seemed to be a token gesture. But the closure of the Hazelwood Power Station, which put more pressure on other sources of electricity, including gas, together with declining production of…

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Time and timing are crucial to Cardinal Pell’s appeal

by Peter Westmore Cardinal George Pell’s appeal to the High Court took place on March 11 and 12. The case was heard by a Full Bench of the High Court, which includes all seven justices currently on the court. Cardinal Pell was not present – he is confined in Barwon Prison, a high-security facility in Victoria. He was appealing against a 2:1 majority verdict of the Victorian Court of Appeal of last August. It has taken over six months for this matter to reach the High Court of Australia. He was not directly appealing against the original jury verdict, but…

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The world has changed: Now for the new order

by Patrick J. Byrne By the time this editorial goes to print, Australia may be under lockdown, with the Government running a command economy as it has in other crises, like World War II. Covid19 spells the end of globalisation as we have known it. The promise of what economist Dani Rodrik calls “deep globalisation”, also known as the Washington consensus, was that free (unregulated) flows of money, industries and goods around the world would see a rising tide lift all boats. In reality, it led to the failure of the international financial system in the 2007 global financial crisis.…

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Cardinal Pell’s appeal heard in the High Court

by Peter Westmore As News Weekly went to press, the High Court of Australia was hearing Cardinal George Pell’s appeal against his conviction on five charges of sexual abuse of two choirboys at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne, in the 1990s. Cardinal Pell was convicted on the uncorroborated testimony of a single complainant whose testimony was contradicted, at numerous points, by others present at the cathedral at the time of the alleged offences. Technically, his appeal is against the decision of a majority in the Victorian Court of Appeal, which last August upheld Cardinal Pell’s earlier conviction by a County Court…

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‘Black Summer’ bushfire inquiries: What must be done

by Peter Westmore On February 20, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a royal commission into last summer’s disastrous bushfires, with a focus on establishing national coordination in response to natural disasters across all levels of government; improving Australia’s preparedness for such events; and examining the legal framework for the Commonwealth’s involvement in responding to national emergencies. The commissioners have also been asked to recommend ways in which Australia could harmonise aspects of land management, like hazard-reduction burns, wildlife management and land-use planning in all states and territories, through common national standards or rules. Former head of the Australian Defence Force…

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Business joins Big Brother in climate change chorus

by Chris McCormack Business told to agree to climate rules or face global regulators Insurers claim climate change means premiums will have to rise BCA recommends $660 billion be spent on climate change Business groups, financial regulators and millionaire bankers are turning the screws to force governments and companies to act on climate change “or go broke”. Mark Carney, $52 million man and governor of the Bank of England, in an interview with The Guardian, said: “Companies that don’t adapt [to climate change] will go bankrupt without question … Industries, sectors and firms that do very well during [the transition…

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AUSTRALIAN HISTORY What if the French had settled Australia?

Australia and Canada have many things in common, but perhaps not as many as might have been. If things had been different, France might well have claimed Australia, or part of Australia. For some time, France seemed likely to claim Western Australia, for example. Britain claimed WA when it created a settlement in Albany in 1826, before it established the Swan River Colony in 1829. The colony, under the command of founding governor Captain James Stirling RN, did not prosper for many years. Pamela Statham-Drew, in her biography, James Stirling (UWA Press, 2005), makes it clear that Admiral Stirling, as…

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MANUFACTURING Renewables push puts aluminium smelters at risk

High prices of electricity coupled with unreliability of supply have cast doubt on the future of two of Australia’s largest aluminium smelters, Portland and Tomago (Newcastle), which convert alumina into the high-value metal aluminium. Aluminium smelters require vast quantities of electricity to reduce aluminium oxide to molten aluminium metal by electrolysis. Alcoa’s Portland smelter was opened in 1986 as a showcase of downstream processing of minerals in Australia. To guarantee both price and continuity of supply, the then Victorian government established the Loy Yang A power station in the Latrobe Valley. When the Victorian power industry was privatised in the…

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COVER STORY Coronavirus: China must answer hard questions

The fact that China’s top virus research institute is located in Wuhan, the same city in which the coronavirus outbreak first appeared, raises questions which require answers. Only a full disclosure of what has been going on at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where research has been carried out into the spread of the coronavirus from animals to humans, will satisfactorily resolve these concerns. Since the identification of the new virus in China last December, at least 43,000 people have become infected, and over 1,000 have died. After Chinese authorities stated that a link had been found between infected people…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Bushfires: Never let a good crisis go to waste

Media reports on the recent bushfires in Victoria and New South Wales that at times have immersed Melbourne and Sydney in smoke, have been widely described as the “worst on record”. The Guardian headlined: “Yes, Australia has always had bushfires: but 2019 is like nothing we’ve seen before.” 7News claimed: “Australians could become ‘climate refugees’ due to rising global temperatures.” And ABC News headlined a firefighter’s statement: “The Blue Mountains bushfires are the worst conditions I’ve ever faced.” Do any of these statements account for the historic reality? Much of the information about the history of bushfires in Australia is…

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COVER STORY Sensible environment policies can counter extremists

While the bushfires have allowed the green-left media to regroup on climate change after the issue fell flat at the federal election, if the Morrison Government articulates a coherent environmental policy dealing with pollution and water needs, it can defang the environmental extremists. Meanwhile, the Earth, rather than heading for catastrophe, just keeps getting greener. Climate change failed to be the deciding 2019 federal election issue, with 80 seats swinging against Labor and only 33 to Labor in outer metro, regional and rural areas. Even in the “greener” inner-metropolitan seats, as many seats swung against Labor (22) as to Labor…

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RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION Bill Mark II a shade better but still faulty

Attorney-General Christian Porter has released a second exposure draft Religious Discrimination Bill (RDB2). Following feedback from the consultation on the first exposure draft Bill, the RDB2 makes some welcome amendments. For example it allows “religious bodies” to preference people of their religion and provides that religious bodies do not discriminate when they engage in conduct to avoid injury to the religious susceptibilities of adherents of their religion. However, there are still limitations on the protections the Bill provides against religious discrimination. The freedom to make statements of faith is still unduly restricted. It is not only statements of belief that…

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Cardinal Pell and the Appeal Court judges

One hope remains for George Cardinal Pell: that the High Court will overturn his guilty verdict. The case should be heard fairly early this year. Much has been written about the two-to-one decision against George Cardinal Pell in his appeal to the Supreme Court of Victoria and the remarkable contrast between the reasoning of the two judges who ruled against him and that of the judge who ruled in his favour. Cardinal George Pell The dissenting judge, Mark Weinberg, stated: “An unusual feature of the case was that it depended entirely upon the complainant being accepted, beyond reasonable doubt, as…

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Wildfires: Lessons from the past not yet learnt

Not surprisingly, most of the media have blamed the terrible wildfires that have caused massive damage in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales on the Morrison Government’s inaction on climate change. A simple question tells us whether this claim is true: if the Morrison Government had pursued the totality of the Greens’ agenda – closing down all coal-fired power plants, banning coal exports, and ending the use of all fossil fuels, which include petrol, diesel and aviation fuel – would it have stopped the bushfires? The answer to that question clearly is “No”. In fact, without fossil-fuel powered cars,…

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THE QUEEN V PELL: A blight on the whole of the criminal justice system

This article first appeared in the September edition of Annals Australasia   I have never seen a clearer illustration of prejudgement than this case. An avalanche of adverse publicity, a Royal Commission, even a book judging his guilt led up to his day in court. I say this as a former lawyer, not from any religious perspective. I am not a Roman Catholic and I don’t write this from any religious perspective but rather these days as a retired barrister very troubled by the charging and conviction of George Pell. I spent nearly thirty years of my working life at…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Labor must own up to why it took the thrashing it got

When the Australian Labor Party was trounced for a second time at the 1977 election following the humiliation and shock of the post-Dismissal election of 1975, the party went away for one of the most important resets in its history. Then, the Labor Party decided to take a genuine hard look at all its policies, including and especially, its economic policies. There were a series of papers written by Labor shadow ministers and other leading lights in the party that constituted a genuine effort to prepare for being a good government after the chaos of the Whitlam years. It was…

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EDITORIAL Bushfires: One step forwards, one step backwards

Media portrayal of the NSW and Queensland bushfires as “catastrophic” erroneously implies that they are unprecedented, whereas droughts make bushfires inevi­table in Australia’s highly flammable eucalypt forests. Certainly, threats to life and property have increased as more people build a “house among the gum trees”, but that’s more the reason to manage fuel loads around settlements and towns. Contrary to claims by the Greens and environment ideologues that this season’s fires are the result of human-caused climate change, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) warned in September that a severe drought was likely, due to a 40-degree warming of the atmosphere…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED ALP’s self-examination will entice no one back

At the last federal election, the Australian Labor Party took to the people the most radical policy platform since Gough Whitlam’s in 1972 amid the near-certainty of its frontbenchers that they would be in government to implement those policies. Left: Labor’s policy model; right; Schematic of how to fix and explain it. Like Jeremy Corbyn’s neo-Marxist Labour in the United Kingdom and the zany Democrats in the United States, who try to outdo each other in taking down the wealthy, Labor went for bold change, but was rejected by the people. And amid the ashes of that shattered dream, the…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Cardinal Pell’s appeal to go to High Court

The High Court of Australia has granted leave for Cardinal George Pell to appeal against his conviction on sex-abuse charges. The controversy over the conviction of Cardinal George Pell has not gone away, despite the time that has elapsed since his conviction in December 2018, and sentencing last March. Cardinal Pell has not been moved to an ordinary prison, as would normally be expected, but remains in solitary confinement in the Melbourne Assessment Prison. He is fighting to clear his name by appealing against his conviction to the High Court, which will hear his case early next year. On November…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Thoroughbreds are literally racing for their lives

Horse racing does not usually make it into the pages of News Weekly, though no doubt the “sport” has its followers among the journal’s readership. But what is happening in the sport now reaches deep into matters that touch both economics and social attitudes. The industry is said to be a big part of the economy and a significant employer of what has become highly specialised labour. This writer starts with a confession. He has been a follower of horse racing. Not, it should be noted, as a bettor, but as a lover of the spectacle, and the horses. I…

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EDITORIAL A second chance to secure Australia’s future

Australia missed the opportunity to invest its huge export earnings from the resources boom in new industries and products. However, record low interest rates have given us a second chance. The problems There is a well-known problem in economics. When a country has a boom in export commodities (like iron ore, gas and coal), the nation’s currency appreciates in value, making domestic manufacturing and rural industries less competitive. In worst-case scenarios, sustained commodity export booms lead to de-industrialisation as manufacturing companies either close down or move offshore. After the 1960s boom in North Sea gas bought windfall returns to the…

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EDITORIAL Time for Australia to rethink the neo-liberal experiment

The ongoing migration boost to Australia’s population has masked troubling social indicators – a marked decline in marriage, family formation and fertility. There was an 18 per cent decline in women getting married in their prime child-bearing years (20-34) in the 10 years to 2016; the median age of women marrying increased from around 22 in the 1980s to 30.1 years in 2017; and the birth rate has continued its long decline to a low of 1.74 children per woman in 2017. In part, the decline in marriage follows the decline in religion. In 1902, 96.5 per cent of weddings…

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OPINION When Maggie (Sanger) met Mickie (Mann)

U.S. 2020 presidential hopeful, the ageing socialist Bernie Sanders, has belled the cat. Sanders has suggested that, to save the planet, America must fund abortion in poor countries. As The Christian Post reported: “Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders railed against the Trump Administration for ending U.S. funding of abortion businesses overseas and said one of the benefits of abortion is that it reduces the population.” It happened at a recent Democrat townhall on climate change. “A woman asks Bernie Sanders how he would help curb overpopulation of the Earth. Sanders replies – I kid you not – that we need increased…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Inquiry into the Family Law Act: that misnamed source of misery

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on September 17, 2019, that the “awful human mess” of the family law system will be the subject of a new inquiry. This new review realises an election promise by crossbench Senator Pauline Hanson. The inquiry will be headed by Kevin Andrews. Pauline Hanson will be the deputy chair. Labor and the Greens have initially opposed the inquiry. Another inquiry There have been many inquiries into the Family Law Act 1975 divorce law. A 2017 parliamentary inquiry, “A better family law system to support and protect those affected by family violence”, made 33 recommendations. In…

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VICTORIAN AFFAIRS Tolerance Bill aims to ‘eliminate’ vilification

Remember the Catch the Fire Ministries case? Two pastors, Danny Nalliah and Daniel Scott, were taken to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal (VCAT) on a complaint of racial vilification under the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act (the Act) by the Islamic Council of Victoria for comments about Islam. The parties settled out of court so the test for “conduct that incites hatred against, serious contempt for, or revulsion or severe ridicule of” another person was not decided. Now Fiona Patten, Reason Party leader in Victoria’s Legislative Council, has introduced a bill to amend the Act that would change…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Why Cardinal Pell is appealing to the High Court

Just as Cardinal George Pell’s conviction on five counts of sexual assault shocked those present in court when the jury verdict was handed down in December last year, there was also shock when Victoria’s highest court, the Court of Appeal, confirmed the jury verdict by a 2:1 margin on August 21. David Marr, a journalist and outspoken critic of Cardinal Pell, who attended some days of the trial in the County Court and celebrated his conviction, said after the Court of Appeal hearing in July that he expected Cardinal Pell to be acquitted, and described the Crown barrister’s performance as…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Confucius Institutes: China’s art of soft power

        “To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”   Sun Tzu, Art of War           Did you know that there are 14 Confucius Institutes throughout Australia, plus 67 Confucius Classrooms in primary and high schools? Thirteen institutes are in universities, and one is in the New South Wales Department of Education. Australia has the third-highest number of Confucius Institutes and Classrooms in the world, after the United States and Great Britain.   I had no idea they existed until the recent protest at the University of Queensland on July…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Why an indigenous referendum is misconceived

The 2019 Garma Festival of Traditional Culture, which took place in early August, became the focus of new attempts to give indigenous Australians a special place in the Australian Constitution. Note of sanity: Ken Wyatt It reaffirmed the Uluru Declaration of 2017, which called for “the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution”, and specifically, a “Makarrata Commission” to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and indigenous Australians. The precise form of this was not further defined but, if implemented, would establish a race-based division within the Commonwealth Constitution that is fundamentally at odds with the…

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EDITORIAL When will Morrison stamp his authority on his mandate?

Scott Morrison’s win forced the Queensland Government to take the brakes off coalmining developments in the Galilee Basin and forced federal Labor to allow Parliament to pass his tax cuts. This win makes his planned industrial relations reforms more likely to pass. Morrison has also been adept at rallying general party support with his attacks on the campaign run by GetUp to unseat conservative Coalition MPs at the election. However, the Government is yet to present effective and decisive policies on major issues of concern to the electorate. The election flattened Labor’s radical environmental policies, which would have involved a…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS High power prices lead to more deaths of elderly

Soaring energy prices are leading to an increased number of hospital admissions of elderly Australians, with some dying of hypothermia, according to recent studies by NSW Health and the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne. Information released by NSW Health in May revealed that more than 130 people were admitted to NSW emergency departments last winter with cold-related problems, including hypothermia. This is a 34 per cent rise in 10 years. The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) says that wholesale power prices have soared by more than 150 per cent in the last four years but, for many people, prices have gone…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS High power prices lead to more deaths of elderly

Soaring energy prices are leading to an increased number of hospital admissions of elderly Australians, with some dying of hypothermia, according to recent studies by NSW Health and the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne. Information released by NSW Health in May revealed that more than 130 people were admitted to NSW emergency departments last winter with cold-related problems, including hypothermia. This is a 34 per cent rise in 10 years. The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) says that wholesale power prices have soared by more than 150 per cent in the last four years but, for many people, prices have gone…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS A Q&A to clarify issues in Cardinal Pell’s appeal

Is Cardinal George Pell guilty of the sexual attacks with which he was charged? Having sat down before the Court of Criminal Appeal, listened to the appeal and read the evidence, there are two opposing camps. There are those who start with the presumption of innocence, to which we are all entitled, and weigh up the uncorroborated evidence of the complainant with the corroborated evidence of Cardinal Pell and have a reasonable doubt about the accuracy of the attacks. Then there are those who start with the presumption of guilt, ignore the corroborated evidence of Cardinal Pell and arrive at…

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Q&A to clarify issues in Cardinal Pell’s appeal

Is Cardinal George Pell guilty of the sexual attacks with which he was charged? Having sat down before the Court of Criminal Appeal, listened to the appeal and read the evidence, there are two opposing camps. There are those who start with the presumption of innocence, to which we are all entitled, and weigh up the uncorroborated evidence of the complainant with the corroborated evidence of Cardinal Pell and have a reasonable doubt about the accuracy of the attacks. Then there are those who start with the presumption of guilt, ignore the corroborated evidence of Cardinal Pell and arrive at…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Cardinal Pell’s appeal: An account from the live streaming

After two days of full and intense submissions by both Cardinal George Pell’s legal Counsel and the Prosecution, the Victorian Court of Appeal has reserved its decision in the matter of the conviction of Cardinal George Pell of sexual abuse of two choirboys at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne more than 20 years ago. No indication has been given when that decision will be handed down. The Appeal judges, Chief Justice Anne Ferguson, President Chris Maxwell and Justice Mark Weinberg, listened closely to all the arguments and actively asked questions of both the Appellant’s counsel and the prosecution. Chief Justice…

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Cardinal Pell’s appeal, June 5-6, 2019: An account from the live streaming

After two days of full and intense submissions by both Cardinal George Pell’s legal Counsel and the Prosecution, the Victorian Court of Appeal has reserved its decision in the matter of the conviction of Cardinal George Pell of sexual abuse of two choirboys at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne more than 20 years ago. No indication has been given when that decision will be handed down. The Appeal judges, Chief Justice Anne Ferguson, President Chris Maxwell and Justice Mark Weinberg, listened closely to all the arguments and actively asked questions of both the Appellant’s counsel and the prosecution. Chief Justice…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Keating’s ‘nutters’: Don’t blame the messenger

The comments made by Paul Keating in relation to the activities of the heads of Australia’s intelligence agencies attempting to influence the opinions of MPs in an anti-China crusade have been read in some places as being intemperate and even “colourful”. However, we must remain clear minded in listening to and considering these comments, particularly as Keating has in the past shown a capacity for effective management of international affairs and indeed the effective use of intelligence in the service of good policy outcomes. A quick look at his record as Prime Minister of Australia provides evidence of this. If…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS The trial of Cardinal Pell … an injustice

Much has been written and spoken about the trial of George Cardinal Pell on charges of historical sexual abuse. The media (especially the ABC), filled with indignation at the ban on reporting throughout Australia during the trial, showed their displeasure when this ban was lifted. The gates of rage broke open and the biased reporting went into overdrive. Cardinal Pell had been charged and finally found guilty of five sexual abuse offences purportedly committed in 1996–97. Finally, on Wednesday, March 13, 2019, he was sentenced to six years jail with a non-parole period of 3.8 years. The first trial resulted…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Recapping the trial as Cardinal Pell’s appeal approaches

Cardinal George Pell’s appeal against his conviction on five charges of sexual assault against two choirboys at St Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral in 1996 is due to take place over two days in June (5–6).    Since his sentencing on March 13, Cardinal Pell has been imprisoned at the Melbourne Assessment Prison. It is true to say that there has been much coverage of the Cardinal’s case since then, a frenzy almost since the lifting of the ban on reporting on the trials. Moreover, some significant voices have been raised in astonishment at the verdict, given the flimsiness of the case…

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COVER STORY Scomo routs Labor, the Greens, GetUp and the left-wing media

The victory of Liberal Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who single-handedly led the Liberal Party to victory on May 18, will go down as the greatest win since Labor’s Paul Keating defeated John Hewson 25 years ago. Labor’s heavy focus on climate change flopped in Queensland, the nation’s most decentralised state, and the huge campaign to stop the Adani coalmine only turned voters away from Labor to the LNP. The left-wing media, particularly the ABC and the Fairfax press, were completely wrong-footed by the result. Predicting a Labor landslide when the campaign began in mid-April, they backed Labor leader Bill Shorten…

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EDITORIAL How Scott Morrison routed Labor, the Greens, GetUp and the left media

The triumph of Liberal Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who single-handedly led the Liberal Party to victory on May 18, will go down as the greatest win since Labor’s Paul Keating defeated John Hewson 25 years ago. Labor’s heavy focus on climate change flopped in Queensland, the nation’s most decentralised state, and the huge campaign to stop the Adani coalmine only turned voters away from Labor to the LNP. The left-wing media, particularly the ABC and the Fairfax press, were completely wrong-footed by the result. Predicting a Labor landslide when the campaign began in mid-April, they backed Labor leader Bill Shorten…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED If independents rule in House, stability is a goner

Should the May 18 election end up being a close result, the outcome of a gaggle of independents and minor party members controlling the House of Representatives looms as an unwelcome prospect. Such a result would be bad news for Labor, which would have to cut even more bad deals than it did under Julia Gillard with the insatiable Tony Windsor, Rob Oakeshott and Greens in control, but even worse for the Coalition, which would be unlikely to be able to form government.  As things stand, Labor remains favou­rite to win the election in its own right. Bob Katter is…

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EDITORIAL Religious freedom will be suffocated if ALP elected

  Labor and Greens promise end to exemptions from gender laws for religious schools Parental liberty to choose the religious and moral education of their children is trampled Duty of care for non-transgender children is fatally compromised It is a sad reality that in Australian law there is an absence of strong protections for freedom of belief. Indeed, as some leading lawyers have commented, religious freedom has been reduced to tenuous exemptions in anti-discrimination laws introduced since the 1980s. Now, key exemptions in the federal Sex Discrimination Act (SDA), that allowed faith-based schools to enrol and employ people according to…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Labor to people traffickers: “We are open for business”

Because of the extraordinary success of the Coalition Government since 2013 in stopping the trafficking of boat people to Australia, the issue is unlikely to figure highly in the current election campaign, despite the fact that over 300,000 illegal immigrants are currently living in Indonesia. The Coalition’s policy of tow-back worked; Labor’s won’t work. But the policies of the Australian Labor Party, while professing to maintain Australia’s border security, will undoubtedly lead to a resurgence of people trafficking into Australia. If you read the first line of Labor’s policy, it seems unequivocal. It says: “Labor’s policy on asylum seekers is…

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COVER STORY What counts is who you have in your corner

  Morrison looks the stronger contender so far in the campaign Shorten has been found wanting when he has had to explain policy The media has an interest in talking up the “Sco Momentum” Younger voters may find Shorten the more “virtuous” choice The recent turnaround in fortunes for the Coalition has been remarkable, but it masks an underlying intergenerational shift in the Australian community that will in all likelihood still install Bill Shorten into the Lodge in a few weeks’ time. The election remains Bill Shorten’s to lose, although Scott Morrison has surprised pundits with a disciplined, focused and…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Bill Shorten’s bizarre electric car policy

Do you believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden? If so, you’ll love Bill Shorten’s plan for 500,000 new electric vehicles (EVs) to be sold in Australia in 2030, compared with just 1,124 sold across the country in 2017 (the latest year for which there are figures). In the run-up to the Federal Budget, Mr Shorten announced Labor’s environmental policy for the next election, saying it will take serious action on climate change, lower power prices, cut pollution, boost renewables and create more jobs. While the whole policy deserves careful examination, one striking aspect was his plan for…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS NSW Liberals re-election gives a boost to Morrison

The return of the Coalition government in New South Wales, led by Premier Gladys Berejiklian, marks the end of a Labor surge that saw the return of the Andrews Government in Victoria and the election of a Labor government in Western Australia. Gladys Berejiklian claims victory. Despite being forced to change leaders five months ago after former leader Luke Foley resigned over sexual misconduct allegations, NSW Labor was confident of defeating the two-term Coalition Government in NSW. The incumbents faced huge problems caused by the drought in rural NSW that has devastated farms and rural communities, and forced up prices…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Coffers are full but Treasurer will take spending cautiously

Josh Frydenberg was to deliver his first and possibly last budget as Federal Treasurer on Tuesday, April 2, just after this edition of News Weekly went to print, and it was expected that he would showcase the Coalition’s strongest suit: economic management. It was the Government’s last chance to contrast its policies with Labor’s plans to introduce the most radical change to the taxation of investment income in living memory. The Frydenberg Budget was expected, therefore, to be “fiscally responsible” but also likely to offer modest tax cuts to voters who are feeling cost-of-living pressures and several years of moderate…

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COVER STORY Federally, the pro-family voter is starved for choice

The quandary facing the socially conservative, pro-family and pro-Australian voter at the coming federal election is a difficult one, with no obvious answer and no certain outcome even if they can find a party aligned with at least some of their views. Instead of eschewing the disunity and instability of the previous Labor government, the Liberal-National Coalition has inexplicably entrenched these in the political culture during its two terms of government. The economy remains robust and employment is strong (traditionally indicators for the certain re-election of a federal government), but the Coalition’s superior economic management has been overshadowed in voters’…

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BANKING ROYAL COMMISSION Dealing with disaster back into the too-hard basket

  Events outside the control of farmers have long been an inevitable aspect of rural life Financial products that do not allow for the inevitable lean years are not fit for purpose Semi-autonomous communities are key to rectifying crises Few would dispute that today many rural enterprises, on-farm and off, are struggling. Unfortunately, disasters have been abundant across Australia over the last few months, and years. These comments from Commissioner Kenneth Hayne in his Financial Services Royal Commission Interim Report highlight the limits of management: “All agricultural enterprises are subject to the effects of events beyond the control of the…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Coal ban just one front in Beijing’s war on everyone

The decision by Beijing to block Australian coal ships at some of its ports is a concerning sign – of the present state of relations between the two countries but also of possible things to come for our economy as an increasingly emboldened China seeks to flex its muscles at lack of cooperation from key trading partners. The Beijing coal scuttle. It is no secret that China has been growing more frustrated with Australia in recent times, though it is not easy to pinpoint exactly what triggered the decision to make Australian coal ships sit idle waiting to unload coal…

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EDITORIAL Beijing’s warning shot hits our soft economic underbelly

  Restrictions apply to Australian coal but not to coal from competitors like Russia or Indonesia Australia has resisted Beijing on several strategic and security fronts A national development bank with a focus on decentralisation is essential to Australia’s sovereignty Beijing’s sudden restrictions on our coal exports are a warning about Australia’s overreliance on exports to China and overreliance on imported Chinese manufactured goods due to the loss of Australia’s industries. Last week Beijing announced restrictions on the offload of Australian coal in five ports at and near Dalian in northeast China. A Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs official claimed…

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BANKING ROYAL COMMISSION A step too small?

Many had been hoping for substantial changes to the financial system after the extensive misconduct so publicly revealed in the last year. Instead, in the Final Report of the Financial Services Royal Commission, we have a string of modest recommendations, largely dealing with technicalities or chosen specifics. This is most surprising, since the Australian financial system has incubated an extreme and historically unprecedented level of debts, too often without establishing serviceability. For example, rural enterprise and urban household debt totals have grown much faster than have servicing incomes. Yet, “sprucing up” is recommended, just as (more) very heavy weather threatens!…

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FINANCE Hayne royal commission sets agenda for bank reform

The final report into the banking system by Royal Commissioner Kenneth Hayne, a former High Court judge, has documented systematic abuses of power by the “Big Four” banks, as well as finance brokers and some non-bank financial institutions. Royal Commissioner Kenneth Hayne The Federal Government established the commission to investigate and make recommendations to deal with misconduct in the banking, superannuation and financial services industry. Mr Hayne’s report shows that the banks have had a culture of putting profits ahead of the interests of their clients, particularly small businesses, retirees and primary producers, and of rewarding personal greed. Despite an…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS The strategic silence of the secularists

In the last edition of News Weekly, Robin Speed offered readers a close, legally informed reading of the successful appeal by Archbishop Philip Wilson against a conviction for failing to report sexual abuse of a child. In this edition, Paul Collits takes account of the social context of the case and how church guilt over child-abuse cover-ups have shaped media coverage and public perceptions, both within and outside the Catholic Church. The recent decision by an appeals court to overturn the earlier conviction of Archbishop Philip Wilson will have come as a relief to his friends and supporters. The verdict…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Awaiting Hayne: full report sure to shake finance sector

The release of the Report of the Financial Services Royal Commission will be an event eagerly awaited by many as we begin 2019. The only local precedent is the wider-ranging 1935 Banking Royal Commission. That inquiry initiated the establishment of an Australian institutional structure that for half a century not only avoided depression and further reckless lending but also helped secure rising prosperity throughout our society. To simplify, the 2018 Financial Services Royal Commission (FSRC) has in little more than a year identified and detailed many serious problems. Two dozen case studies have been examined in depth but we can…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Archbishop Wilson free, but trial was no witchhunt

Does it follow from the successful appeal by Archbishop Philip Wilson against a conviction for failing to report child sexual abuse that the prosecution was a witchhunt? Certainly not! The prosecution was reasonably based and, although not successful, is a warning to those, no matter how high up, promptly to report information to the police. It should be made clear that the abuse of children in the Hunter region by Roman Catholic priests was shocking and the pain and suffering brought on those who were meant to be cared for is beyond comprehension. Yet no senior person in the Church…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Immigrants caught in English-language nether world

The International English Language Tests (IELTS) and the Pearson Test of English (PTE) – a computer-generated English testing system – need to be closely scrutinised, as inconsistencies are becoming all too apparent in test results, affecting the lives of hardworking migrants who wish to continue to contribute to Australia. In the May 19, 2018, edition of News Weekly, in “No fairytale ending from the Land of a Fair Go”, Helen Jurcevic OAM highlighted the case of Maria and Ivan (not their real names) who had immigrated to Australia in 2007. Between them, they now possess four Masters degrees and a CPA diploma, all obtained at Australian universities and that have, with tuition fees, cost them nearly $170,000. They initially both…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Divisions undermine Morrison’s leadership

Just three months after replacing Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister and six months before the 2019 federal election, Scott Morrison is finding out how hard it is to be Prime Minister, presiding over a divided party room, and dealing with a vengeful predecessor and a resurgent opposition. Mr Turnbull, turn that frown upside down. While Labor has serious tensions within its own ranks – which nearly cost Bill Shorten his job early this year – the Labor Party now looks a model of unity and stability compared with the Coalition. It is important to note that deep residual divisions remain…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Regions are in no state to accommodate immigrants

With 85.7 per cent of Aust­ralia’s 2.3 million immigrants between 2006–16 choosing to live in the capital cities, the Federal Coalition Government has flagged a population package to entice or force migrants to live in the regions to ease congestion and infrastructure deficiencies in the cities. Minister for Population Alan Tudge has indicated that the Government plans to draw new migrants to the regions via such means as awarding additional points through the points-based skilled migration system to temporary visa holders if they move to a regional area or a capital city other than Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane for a…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Migration numbers: a new discussion begins

The level of migrant intake, especially in respect of refugees, has become a sensitive issue in recent times throughout the developed world. Are Australia’s problems different from those of the rest of the world? Not entirely. Along with other devel­oped economies, Australia is committed to a refugee intake under a United Nations agreement. Apart from that, in recent times we have been pursuing an unendorsed (nothing has been legislated) policy – as if it were a self-evidently valid aspect of national life – of consciously seeking to increase our population, effectively without limit. It is that particular proposition rather than…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Drought: just one element in a bigger climate picture

We should thank Bryce Camm (Queensland Country Life, August 8, 2018), Ben Rees (QCL, August 30, 2018), Geoff Edwards (QCL, August 30, 2018) and Peter Westmore (News Weekly, August 25, 2018) for initiating a much-needed and long overdue conversation and rethink about “drought ”. Yet, this did not generate the discussion that we urgently require. Why not? Drought impacts on farmers, but should the wider community be concerned? Droughts impose extraordinary costs on farm operations, generally tipping most of them into the red. Droughts just expose the marginal returns in agriculture. Yes, most farmers will recover, but generally they are…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Opposition mounts to legalisation of cannabis

A private member’s bill introduced into Federal Parliament by NSW Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm (pictured below) to legalise the possession for personal use of cannabis is now under consideration by a federal parliamentary inquiry. Cannabis (marijuana) is the most widely used illicit drug in Australia. Senator Leyonhjelm is a radical free-market advocate who believes that rest­rictions on drug use should be removed as a matter of principle. In May, he introduced the Criminal Code and Other Legislation Amendment (Removing Commonwealth Rest­rictions on Cannabis) Bill 2018. He said: “Adults should be free to make their own choices, as long as…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson conviction conundrum

Archbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson is reported to be the most senior Catholic in the world to be charged and convicted with not disclosing information to the police about child sex abuse. He did not witness or participate in the alleged abuse. It appears that he was simply told by the victim in 1976 what is alleged to have happened in 1971, and was charged 39 years later with not going to the police with what he had been told. The prosecutor, in calling for a jail sentence of up to two years, said: “For the purposes of sentencing, denunciation…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Can Greens regenerate, or are they mulch?

Following disappointing results in the recent Batman (Vic) by-election, convincingly won by Labor, and a poorer than expected showing in the recent South Australian election, the Greens face major problems in the months ahead. Greens’ leader Richard Di Natale: Pressure’s on. The Greens’ national conference, to be held on 19–20 May in Brisbane, is the party’s last chance to resolve issues of concern to possible supporters before the next election, including widespread opposition to key Greens policies in the areas of reliable base-load power, legalisation of marijuana, and promotion of the “Safe Schools” program. The Greens had been expected to…

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Committal hearing dismisses main charges against Cardinal Pell

After a four-week hearing, Melbourne Magistrate Belinda Wallington dismissed the most serious charges brought by police against Cardinal George Pell, and ordered that lesser charges be heard in the Victorian County Court at some time in the near future. Cardinal Pell has repeatedly and firmly denied the allegations made against him. Cardinal George Pell The prosecution of Cardinal Pell was brought by the police, not by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), which normally handles major offences. It was reported in the media that the police brief was twice submitted to the office of the DPP, and twice returned, indicating…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Sydney Archdiocese aims to eliminate slavery in supply chain

In an effort to curb modern slavery and human trafficking, the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney set up an Anti-Slavery Taskforce at the behest of the Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher OP. The Taskforce’s report, released in February 2018, was compiled by the Taskforce executive, comprised of John McCarthy QC and Katherine Moloney. The report’s foreword cites Pope Francis: “[modern slavery is] an open wound on … contemporary society, a scourge upon the body of Christ. It is a crime against humanity.”[1] The purpose of the Taskforce was to identify and eradicate from the supply chain of products, services and investments…

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Cardinal Pell firmly denies sex abuse allegations

As the four-week committal hearing in the Melbourne Magistrates Court concluded, Cardinal George Pell’s barrister, Robert Richter QC, stated that there was no evidence to support charges of historical sexual abuse against his client, after the examination of accusers and witnesses ended. Cardinal George Pell Mr Richter will make his concluding statement on April 17, and the police prosecutor will do likewise. The magistrate issued a prohibition order concerning the charges against Cardinal Pell. The first two weeks of the committal hearing were conducted in camera, so no details of this evidence have been released. After this evidence was heard,…

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COVER STORY The deeper causes of Australia’s social malaise

The recent controversy over Australian cricketers’ ball tampering in South Africa, the increasing incidence of road rage, “one-punch” attacks, home invasions, online bullying and public vandalism reflect a deepening malaise in Australian culture. A generation ago, these would have been either rare or even unthinkable, and their causes deserve to be the subject of national reflection. The usual response to such events is either to say that the answer is more education, or alternatively, that Australians should “be nice” to one another. However appealing these sentiments may be, the education system has been promoting these values for the past 50…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS The deeper causes of Australia’s social malaise

The recent controversy over Australian cricketers’ ball tampering in South Africa, the increasing incidence of road rage, “one-punch” attacks, home invasions, online bullying and public vandalism reflect a deepening malaise in Australian culture. A generation ago, these would have been either rare or even unthinkable, and their causes deserve to be the subject of national reflection. The usual response to such events is either to say that the answer is more education, or alternatively, that Australians should “be nice” to one another. However appealing these sentiments may be, the education system has been promoting these values for the past 50…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Liberals take power but plan for none for SA

The headline result of the South Australian election was a resounding win for the Liberal Party, which won a clear majority of 25 seats (at the time of writing) in the 47-seat House of Assembly, with Labor winning just 18. Independents are expected to hold the remaining four seats. Steven Marshall However, a closer examination of the results will leave no party particularly happy. Because of demographic changes in recent years, an electoral redistribution was made that ended the pro-Labor electoral bias by rebalancing the number of votes in each seat. Purely as a result of this redistribution, the Liberal…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Liberals’ Tasmanian victory: the implications

The Tasmanian Liberal Party was returned to office on March 3, only the second time that the Liberals have won a second successive term in office. Will Hodgman, son of the late Michael Hodgman QC, a former Liberal federal minister and state politician, was returned as Premier. Will Hodgman Labor leader Rebecca White, in conceding defeat, lacked the customary grace in failing to congratulate Mr Hodgman on the Liberal victory. Cassy O’Connor, leader of the Greens, also declined to offer congratulations. The following day, White apologised, saying it was an oversight on her part. At the time of writing, the…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Cashless debit card records positive results

The recent reports of a Tennant Creek toddler who had been raped being placed back into the care of her abusers, known to be heavy drinkers,[1] and of underage Aboriginal girls contracting syphilis at 60 times the rate of non-Aborigines,[2] highlight the necessity of curbing alcohol and drug abuse in remote indigenous communities. The Federal Government’s cashless debit card (CDC) aims to curb alcoholism, gambling, violence (sexual or otherwise) and neglect. Under the scheme, indigenous and non-indigenous welfare recipients in certain communities, with some exceptions including aged pensioners and veterans, receive 80 per cent of their welfare payment on a…

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COVER STORY Media ensure a comfy rise for Bill Shorten

Although Australia’s economy in 2018 is cruising forward with rising prosperity and declining unemployment, the Turnbull Government cannot take a trick. Even Malcolm Turnbull’s success in persuading U.S. President Donald Trump to exempt Australia from his steel and aluminium tariffs has been portrayed as leaving Australia exposed to Chinese dumping. Trade Minister Steve Ciobo’s suggestion that Australia might support action by the European Union (EU) to overturn the tariffs in the World Trade Organisation has also rebounded on the Government. Earlier this year, the Canberra media had been full of salacious details of the affair which led to the resignation…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Liberals return for second term in Hobart

The Tasmanian Liberal Party was returned to office on March 5, only the second time that the Liberals have won a second successive term in office. Will Hodgman Will Hodgman, son of the late Michael Hodgman QC, a former Liberal federal minister and state politician, was returned as Premier. Labor leader Rebecca White, in conceding defeat, lacked the customary grace in failing to congratulate Mr Hodgman on the Liberal victory. Cassy O’Connor, leader of the Greens, also declined to offer congratulations. The following day, White apologised, saying it was an oversight on her part. At the time of writing, the…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Bob Santamaria and free trade agreements

Over the first weekend of February, the National Civic Council held its annual get-together. An important part of the proceedings was a tribute to the contribution B.A. “Bob” Santamaria had made to public life in Australia. Twenty years have now passed since his death. Are free trade agreements meant to be bindingor are they meant to be free? NCC National President Peter Westmore, in what might be regarded as a keynote address, spoke movingly about his association with Bob over more than 20 years. He noted, in particular, that far from being an ideologue, Bob was a man driven by…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS We need a development bank and a higher population

If Australia is to be taken seriously in the fastest growing region of the world, it will need to expand its population to around 50 million and requires a development bank to put the infrastructure in place. Recently, the Federal Government’s Infrastructure Australia warned that while the population expected to grow by an extra 12 million people over the next 30 years, the current $50 billion infrastructure program only dealt with current congestion and productivity issues in the nation’s capital cities. Voters are angry at the inflated house prices and congestion from the nation’s rapid population growth, which will require…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Our clinging to the fringe is stultifying development

Ask any big-city dweller and topping the list of concerns (if they are employed) are paralysing traffic congestion, out-of-reach housing prices leading to commensurately high rental prices, and crime rates. Housing unaffordability and congestion in Australia’s capital cities continue unabated but a fair-dinkum government policy of decentralisation could arrest these problems by encouraging population growth outside the capitals. The problem is threefold. Large-scale immigration, ranging from 176,500 to 299,900 arrivals each year between 2007 and 2016, is placing a strain on capital city infrastructure. Between 2006 and 2016, 77 per cent of Australia’s population growth was confined to the capital…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Australia is far from fulfilling its potential

The following is the entire text of Tony Abbott’s address to the Global Warming Policy Foundation, London, which he delivered on October 9, 2017. As a former prime minister of this country, of course Mr Abbott requires no introduction. I add only that, after the media hailstorm that his speech provoked, it is as a gesture of justice and a great pleasure to present to readers the actual words Mr Abbott spoke. Tony Abbott It would be wrong to underestimate the strengths of the contemporary West. By objective standards, people have never had better lives. Yet our phenomenal wealth and…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Abbott gets brickbats for exposing house of straw

The speech Tony Abbott delivered to the Global Warming Policy Foundation in London (see the entire text here) has attracted all manner of ad hominem attacks, while few have addressed the validity of his claims. Criticisms of Tony Abbott. Help yourself. Among the most infuriated were climate-change devotees. As the saying goes, “if you’re not getting flak, you’re not over the target”, proving that Abbott had hit a raw nerve by exposing the irrationality of climate-change policies. One of the many points Abbott made was that pronouncements in relation to anthropogenic climate change such as “the science is settled” followed…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Our barmy Army: all politically correct

A prime minister who cared about this country’s security would take steps to ensure our armed forces were of the highest possible quality. In particular, he would put a stop to the politically correct madness which is seeing fit men being turned away from recruiting offices so the Army can meet a “target” of, it is said, 50 per cent women. Fear us, world! It is reported that the Australian Army has put a ban on male recruits in a bid to increase female ranks – and fitness tests have been slashed to four push-ups and 20 sit-ups, which even…

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AFL GRAND FINAL Bob Santamaria predicted the sunset of Aussie Rules

Bob Santamaria was born in Sydney Road, Brunswick, almost in the shadow of Princes Park, the home ground of the Carlton Football Club. Throughout his life he was a loyal follower and supporter of the Blues. Left to right: Miriam and Brian Peachey, andBob Santamaria at the 1992 Grand Final at the MCG. Australian Rules football meant much more to him than being a one-eyed follower. In 1983 he said: “Throughout my life I have had such a deep regard for the game as exemplifying the very best in the Australian character and I would regard it as a disaster…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS The economic agenda Australia needs won’t come from Mal or Bill

Young men will only have themselves to blame if they cannot find work, because they waste too much time on computer games, according to Dr David Gruen, deputy secretary for economic policy at the Prime Minister’s Department. Playing neatly into the “mediocre male” narrative worming its way through various opinion pieces about workplace gender and ethnicity quotas, Dr Gruen’s pronouncement at the Economic and Social Outlook Conference in July grabbed headlines, distracting attention away from the Government’s lack of a economic strategy to deal with stagnating wages, rising housing and living expenses, rising job insecurity, and unemployment that is far…

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Cardinal Pell charged: the process is the punishment

The charging of Cardinal George Pell with “historical sexual assault offences”, as the police described them, is the culmination of a lengthy media campaign led by the Fairfax press and the ABC to bring down Cardinal Pell.   The police investigation of allegations against Cardinal Pell was the subject of a recent book, Cardinal: the Rise and Fall of George Pell, written by ABC journalist Louise Milligan, which traversed the matters which are now the subject of court action.   The book contained a number of uncorroborated allegations against Cardinal Pell which date back at least 20 years. None of…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Low job prospects keep a generation at home

A perfect storm of unaffordable housing, high unofficial unemployment rates and negligible wage growth are conspiring to drive down the standard of living in Australia and abroad. It is fostering resentment as many young people are forced to live with their parents well into their 30s. Moreover, their resentment is leading to the rise of populist political parties. Thirty-one per cent of 18 to 34 year olds and 53 per cent of 18 to 24 year olds have never left home, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2012–13 Multi-Purpose Household Survey, an increase from 27 per cent and 47…

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Is Cardinal Pell just the tallest poppy of them all?

A professional counsellor for more than 20 years, Anne Lastman specialises in dealing with post-abortion grief and helping victims of child sexual abuse. Louise Milligan’s tome, Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell, is no more than an exercise in reputation deconstruction and assassination. Even the title of this book gets the reader interested because it mentions “the rise and fall of George Pell”. This is an assured seller. Ms Milligan has enticed the reader with a title that asserts that His Eminence is indeed guilty. According to the author, history has been analysed, George Pell has been declared…

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Graceless new book takes hatchet to Cardinal Pell

The title of the new book, Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell, says it all: Cardinal Pell is guilty, and must be brought down. Although no charges have been laid against the Cardinal, the author, ABC journalist Louise Milligan, has tried him and found him guilty. With much fanfare, this new book, published by Melbourne University Press, attempts to claim that Cardinal Pell has not only routinely covered up for paedophiles in the Catholic Church, but is himself an abuser. The 370-page book is littered with errors, small and large, which show that the author has little knowledge…

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NATIONAL CENSUS Typical family: married mum and dad, two kids

The first release of data from last year’s Australian census shows that the typical Australian family consists of a married couple, mum and dad, with two children, buying a family home. The census shows that the typical Australian family is very different from the artificial construct produced by Hollywood, the television networks and the majority of media outlets. Just “typical”. Last year’s $400 million national census was clouded by controversy. It was intended to be the first census in which most people completed it online, and was touted as the next wave in information technology. Millions of Australians were to…

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Decentralisation: an undeveloped country

In 1891, at the end of Melbourne’s first property boom, the nation’s original capital was the largest city in Australia with almost half a million inhabitants. Melbourne or bust. It constituted 42 per cent of Victoria’s population and, as Geoffrey Blainey observed, “some economists thought that such a centralising of the people in a capital city was quite without precedent and utterly unhealthy”. Imbalance continues Fast-forward 126 years and that “unhealthy” trend has become much worse as 77 per cent of Victoria’s population are now in Melbourne. The vastness of Melbourne is something to behold and the centralising of Victoria’s…

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Commission’s “Get Pell” campaign fails on facts

The credibility of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has been tainted by a submission by counsel assisting that repeats unsustainable allegations of cover-up by Cardinal George Pell. The Cardinal rebutted the allegations systematically, both in torrid cross-examination last March and more recently, through his legal counsel. Other submissions to the royal commission support his evidence. Cardinal George Pell While the submission by counsel assisting has been widely reported in the media, the responses of Cardinal Pell and others who know the facts have been ignored, suggesting either that someone “leaked” the submission, or that there…

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Cardinal rebuts commission’s ‘Get Pell’ campaign

The credibility of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has been tainted by a submission by counsel assisting that repeats unsustainable allegations of cover-up by Cardinal George Pell. The Cardinal rebutted the allegations systematically, both in torrid cross-examination last March and more recently, through his legal counsel. His evidence has been supported by other submissions to the royal commission. Cardinal George Pell While the submission by counsel assisting has been widely reported in the media, the responses of Cardinal Pell and others who know the facts have been ignored, suggesting either that someone “leaked” the submission,…

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MANUFACTURING Australia’s once and future car industry

    WHAT HAPPENED TO THE CAR INDUSTRY? by Ian Porter, with cartoons by Mark Knight and John Spooner Scribe, Melbourne, 2016 Paperback: 128 pages ISBN: 9781925321500 AUD$24.99 Reviewed by Jeffry Babb      Always back the horse named self-interest, son. It’ll be the only one trying. Jack “The Big Fella” Lang,Premier of NSW, 1925–27, 1930–32   Tattooed on the heart of every crusading editor are the immortal words of C.P. Scott, editor and owner of the Manchester Guardian, Edwardian England’s foremost organ of progressive liberal opinion. Scott said: “Comment is free but the facts are sacred.” What Happened to…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Chinese Australians deplore Mao celebration

A large number of Australians of Chinese descent have signed a petition deploring concerts being held in Sydney and Melbourne in September, to mark the 40th anniversary of the death of Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong. A flyer promoting the concerts, written in Chinese, says that Mao “brought 76 years of peace and stable development for the Chinese people, until today where China has been restored to the status of an international major power”. Shangxiao Han, who migrated to Australia in 1988, just before the Tiananmen Square Massacre, recalled the tens of millions of people murdered as a result of…

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CULTURE WARS Australia Council cuts funding to Quadrant

The decision of the Australia Council – the Australian Government’s autonomous arts funding body – to refuse funding for the literary pages (poetry, short stories, essays and book reviews) of liberal-conservative magazine Quadrant is probably the most disgraceful and indefensible in the history of Australian arts administration. Who’ll bid five bob for this extremely rare, in fact, unique Autumn 2016 edition of Overland? It is without a fig leaf of pretence at objectivity. Quadrant editor-in-chief Keith Windschuttle has called it “a political decision designed to devalue our reputation and demonstrate that the left remains in control of the arts.” It is…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Welcome backdown on vaccinations

Just weeks after an article was published in News Weekly – and after months of campaigning by concerned Australians – the Victorian and federal governments have agreed to make vaccinations available to refugee children in Australia holding temporary protection visas. The sudden backdown was advised by the Victorian Department of Health to the Victorian Women’s Friendship Group, which has led the campaign for free vaccinations. President of the group, Helen Jurcevic, emailed the good news to people who had campaigned on the issue. She said: “After months of letter, emails, telephone calls to the politicians, the press and a publication…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Temporary protection visa holders left exposed

In Australia, anyone who does not hold an Australian or New Zealand passport is required to have a visa of some sort, to establish their entitlement to remain in the country. No $300, no jab.   Most visa holders are people who have come to Australia temporarily as holidaymakers, tourists, backpackers or for work. However, people who have arrived in Australia without proper documentation are held in detention centres until their status is determined. Many of these are asylum seekers, and once their claim for refugee status has been assessed, they are issued with a permanent visa to remain in…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS SA pays price of solar and wind generation

For years, successive governments in South Australia, backed by radical environmentalists, have trumpeted alternative energies such as wind and solar as the future for the energy-starved state. Leigh Creek township relies almost entirely on the coalmine. Unlike the eastern states, which have plentiful supplies of coal for base-load power generation, South Australia has relatively little coal, and its major deposit is found at Leigh Creek, over 500 kilometres north of Adelaide. The source of electricity until the 1940s was the privately owned Adelaide Electricity Supply Company, which refused to use the brown coal from Leigh Creek. Seventy years ago, when…

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SPEECH IN PARLIAMENT Credit where credit is long overdue: B.A. Santamaria

Senator Joe Bullock is an Australian Labor Party senator for Western Australia in Federal Parliament. He delivered this speech to the Senate on Tuesday, December 1, 2015. It is a fine testament to the life and work of the founder of the National Civic Council, B.A. Santamaria, the centenary of whose birth is this year. Senator Joe Bullock There is a common and very human tendency to accept unquestioningly that the way things are is the way they must be, as if history has been guided by some predetermined inevitability which has led us to where we are today, that it…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Turnbull government is not serious about defence

When Malcolm Turnbull replaced Tony Abbott as Prime Minister in September, one of his first moves was to replace Kevin Andrews, the no-nonsense Minister for Defence who had taken a firm line in Chinese military adventurism in the South China Sea and put defence procurement back on an even keel, with Marise Payne, a Turnbull loyalist without senior ministerial experience. Julie Bishop, left, and Marise Payne. It has taken less than three months for the defence portfolio to start to unravel. First came the revelation that a Chinese company, Landbridge, had been sold a 99-year lease on the Port of…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Cabinet door must be open to public service

I am departing from my usual formula to comment, not on economics or trade, but on broader government administration. This should not be seen as anything of a departure: government, and how it works, is actually my first love. Indeed, I am identified in this journal as a former deputy secretary of the Department of Trade. The intangibles team: Malcolm Turnbull promises to be “better at selling policies”. I am very much a bureaucrat, by inclination, training and experience. Readers will recall that earlier this year I presented my ideas on what were the problems Tony Abbott would have to tackle…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Turnbull divides party in Cabinet reshuffle

Malcolm Turnbull has given a very clear indication of the type of government he will lead, with the reshuffle announced on September 20. The new Cabinet will include Liberal feminists, together with the people who played a key role in Turnbull’s accession. Marise Payne goes to Defence. At the same time, competent ministers who had served in senior positions in the Abbott government have been unceremoniously dropped to the backbench. It was inevitable that there would be a sense of outrage among many supporters of former prime minister Tony Abbott when he was forced out by a party-room coup. If…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Turnbull divides party in Cabinet reshuffle

Malcolm Turnbull has given a very clear indication of the type of government he will lead, with the reshuffle announced on 20 September. The new Cabinet will include Liberal feminists, together with the people who played a key role in Turnbull’s accession. Prime Minister Turnbull announces his new ministry At the same time, competent Ministers who had been served in senior positions in the Abbott government have been unceremoniously dropped to the backbench. It was inevitable that there would be a sense of outrage by many supporters of the former Prime Minister when he was forced out by a party-room…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Rise in coal use makes climate summit irrelevant

The growing use of coal for both electricity generation and for the production of iron and steel across the world makes claims that the forthcoming Paris climate summit will cut fossil fuel use around the world inconceivable. Two anti-coal environmental groups in the U.S., the Sierra Club and CoalSwarm, have recently published figures on the expansion of the use of coal worldwide. The figures appear in the jointly produced research paper, Boom and Bust, which purports to show that coal is in decline. Its Executive Summary shows that the quantity of new coal production coming online has declined since 2013.…

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INTERVIEW A politic apprenticeship: Greg Sheridan

Ticky Fullerton spoke to journalist and author Greg Sheridan ahead of the release of his new book, When We Were Young & Foolish. In this book, Sheridan, now foreign editor of The Australian, described his political apprenticeship with the National Civic Council and people who would later play an important role in public life, including the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott. This is the transcript of the interview on Lateline.  Greg Sheridan on the ABC’s Lateline. TICKY FULLERTON: If Labor leader Bill Shorten has been having trouble staring down his party’s left wing over boat turn-backs, he can take heart in knowing…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Shorten weakened by royal commission appearance

The appearance of Bill Shorten at the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption has done nothing to strengthen the Labor leader’s position in the run-up to the ALP National Conference. Bill Shorten The controversy over his appearance, and the evidence of an undeclared donation from one employer for Mr Shorten’s 2007 election campaign, largely obscured the evidence of widespread corruption, particularly in the building industry. In his submission to the commis­sion at the start of three weeks of hearings into the activities of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) in the ACT, counsel assisting the commission…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Human Rights Commission backs same-sex marriage

In its latest report, Resilient Individuals: Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity & Intersex Rights, the Human Rights Commission has called on the federal government to legalise same-sex marriage promptly, calling the existing law “state-sanctioned struc­tural discrimination … which has flow-on impacts in legitimising institutional and interpersonal discrimination.” Tim Wilson The report was launched by a Human Rights Commissioner, Tim Wilson. In his introductory message, Mr Wilson said: “I have also taken on the role as the de facto SOGII Commissioner at the commission to ensure that LGBTI [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex] people have a voice.” As Mr Wilson is a…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Joan Kirner’s legacy: VCE, Emily’s List and abortion

The death of Joan Kirner, former Socialist Left premier of Victoria and national co-convenor of Emily’s List, was followed by near universal acclaim for her role as the first female premier of Victoria and champion of women’s rights. Joan Kirner Less well publicised was her role in abolishing the Higher School Certificate in Victoria, which was replaced by the Victorian Certificate of Education, and the formation of Emily’s List, to promote pro-abortion feminists in the ALP. Nor did Mrs Kirner’s role in the passage of Victoria’s infamous abortion laws, which permit abortion up to birth and enforce compliance by medical…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Floating reasons to build our submarines here

Now that Defence Minister Kevin Andrews has made a commitment to support the naval shipbuilding industry in Australia, it is opportune to consider the technical, economic and strategic reasons to build in Australia the submarines that are to replace the ageing Collins-class boats. Kevin Andrews It is a salient fact that Australians have been historically, and continue to be, high achievers when it comes to technical innovation. The refrigerator (yes, the fridge), the underwater torpedo, the black-box flight recorder, the electric drill, the ultrasound, Wi-Fi, the bionic ear, the pacemaker … Need I go on? And now, with the closures…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Can Australia Post be saved?

Like any plant or animal, all businesses have a life cycle. Australia Post is a business, no less so for being wholly owned by the Commonwealth government.   In order to survive, any trading entity must produce a surplus. You can call it a transfer to reserves, a profit or any other term that takes your fancy. When an organisation does not produce a surplus, it can no longer cope with reverses in the economic environment, invest for future growth or pay for unanticipated outgoings, such as a surge in inflation or wages. Examples of the business life-cycle abound. One…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Intergenerational Report: a waste of time and money

The IntergenerationalReport, a five-yearly preview of the situation in Australia in 40 years’ time, inevitably suffers from the fact that it is a government document, in fact a Treasury document, which deals with the government’s own agenda rather than the challenges facing the country in the future. Under the Charter of Budget Honesty Act 1998, the Treasurer is required to publish an Intergenerational Report every five years that assesses the long-term sustainability of current government policies over the next 40 years, taking account of the financial implications of demographic change. To date, four such reports have been published (May 2002,…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Human Rights Commission’s partisanship exposed

The release of the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)’s report on children in immigration detention is a deeply flawed attempt to use the plight of children in immigration detention to attack the Commonwealth government’s policy of off-shore processing of illegal boat arrivals. AHRC president Gillian Triggs While conditions in immigration detention are in some respects unsatisfactory, the conditions in which these children lived before setting out for Australia were far worse, and successive Australian governments have tried to ensure that adequate levels of food, clothing, nutrition, education and safety are available to these children. The AHRC has ignored this reality.…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Coalition family package must include homemakers

Now that the Coalition’s paid parental leave (PPL) scheme has been scrapped, to be replaced by a “families package”, let’s hope that any new policy addresses the discrimination against families who choose to raise their children at home. Minister for Social Services Scott Morrison An Australian Family Association study found the majority of Australian women surveyed prefer to raise their own children rather than relinquish that role to a childcare centre. With the slashing of financial incentives such as the baby bonus, which helped families with the cost of raising a family and encouraged a steady birth rate in order…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Productivity Commission’s IR inquiry doomed before it starts

Whatever the theoretical benefits of an inquiry into Australia’s labour laws, the Productivity Commission inquiry commissioned last December by federal Treasurer Joe Hockey, but whose terms of reference were released early in February, is doomed because of the stalemate in the Senate, and the legacy of the Howard government’s ill-fated WorkChoices legislation. Peter Harris The Productivity Commission exists to give independent advice to governments, but its policy remit ensures that its conclusions are based only on narrow economic reasoning, ignoring all other factors, including the social, regional, employment and political consequences of its recommendations. As a result, its recommendations are…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS What’s behind the Australian Liberty Alliance?

With Dutch politician Geert Wilders planning to help launch the Australian Liberty Alliance, where will this new party sit in the Australian political scene? Serge Trifkovic  In March 2014, Geert Wilders, member of the Dutch parliament and leader of the country’s Party for Freedom (PVV), delivered a message from the Netherlands (via YouTube) to a Stop Islamisation of Nations (SION) conference held in Melbourne, pledging that he would return to Australia in early 2015 to help launch the Australian Liberty Alliance.[1] The 2014 conference was organised by the Q Society of Australia,[2] which is also behind the formation of this…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Will Australia strengthen country-of-origin labelling laws?

Following the recent report of a parliamentary inquiry into deficiencies in laws regarding product labelling, the onus is now on the Commonwealth government to strengthen consumer protections by requiring stricter country-of-origin labelling on food. The House of Representatives report, A Clearer Message for Consumers, was tabled in October 2014. Strengthening consumer law will also benefit Australian food producers who have long argued that food manufacturers and the large supermarket chains have used weak laws to mislabel foods as “made in Australia”.  The report is particularly relevant in light of concerns about food safety in China, the third largest source of…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Greens’ bid to ban toys that ‘reinforce gender stereotypes’

You can count on the Greens to come up with utterly idiotic ideas, proving yet again that they should never be allowed to mix with grown-ups, especially when it comes to running a country. Senator Larissa Waters (Greens, Queensland) Now they actually want a ban on gender-specific toys. Yes, you read that right:  “A Greens senator has endorsed a grassroots project linking gender-marketed children’s toys to serious social issues in later life, such as domestic violence and poor self-esteem. Larissa Waters has backed Play Unlimited’s ‘No Gender December’ campaign, which calls on parents to boycott Christmas presents that reinforce gender…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Latest federal push for same-sex ‘marriage’

New South Wales libertarian Senator David Leyonhjelm was poised to introduce a federal bill to change the Commonwealth Marriage Act, as this issue of News Weekly was going to press last week.  According to The Australian (November 25, 2014), the bill would replace “husband and wife” with the words “two people” in the Marriage Act, leaving marriage open to any two people regardless of sex, sexual orientation or gender identity.  The Leyonhjelm bill appears to be aimed at defining a unique platform for his Liberal Democratic Party, and at pushing Tony Abbott’s Liberals towards supporting a so-called “conscience vote” on…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Mining tax repeal puts government back on track

After weeks of patient negotiations during the winter recess, the Abbott government has secured a major breakthrough with most of the minor party senators voting to repeal the mining tax, one of the signature promises of the Prime Minister in the run-up to the 2013 election. Clive Palmer  At that time Mr Abbott promised that, if elected, he would repeal the carbon tax, repeal the mining tax, stop the influx of illegal boat arrivals and, over the course of his parliamentary term, balance the budget. Three of the four commitments have now been fulfilled, and if the Senate is co-operative,…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Nick Minchin tells ADM to try again for GrainCorp

If Australia’s iconic wheat single-selling desk was dismantled because of corrupt practices by AWB Ltd, then it surely follows that Treasurer Joe Hockey should reject Nick Minchin’s recent proposal that United States grains giant ADM should make a new bid for Australia’s GrainCorp. The grain-growers’ single desk was dismantled after AWB Ltd was found culpable in the oil-for-food scandal, which involved kickbacks to the former Iraqi dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.[1] Nick Minchin (left) and Joe Hockey  ADM, or Archer Daniels Midland, “has a long history of corrupt price-fixing”, according to Max Baker, lecturer in accounting at the University of Sydney…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS The odd couple behind the same-sex marriage push

Just before federal parliament rose for the winter recess, poll results were announced, almost simultaneously in the two major news networks, News Limited and John Fairfax, that Australians overwhelmingly support same-sex marriage. Mark Textor The Melbourne Age and the Sydney Morning Herald both headlined, “Support growing for same-sex marriage”. It quoted the poll conducted by the Liberal Party’s pollster, Mark Textor, as saying that “support among Australians for same-sex marriage and for a conscience vote on the issue in the Coalition has reached an all-time high” (SMH, July 15, 2014). It added that the poll “is expected to bring a…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Web of criminality unveiled by royal commission

The Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption, established by the Commonwealth government in March this year, has unveiled a web of corrupt practices. Its findings are expected to lead to major legislative changes to improve unions’ accountability to their members and end standover tactics and intimidation perpetrated by some union officials in co-operation with criminal organisations, including outlaw motorcycle gangs. A CFMEU official on a Grocon site  The royal commission was established following years of hushed-up allegations of fraud in the Health Services Union involving senior officials, including Craig Thompson, later a federal Labor MP, and Michael Williamson,…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Govt minister attacked for comments on cohabitation

Families Minister Kevin Andrews has come out recently saying that marriage is better for couples than cohabitation, and predictably he is getting flak for saying so. But he happens to be absolutely correct. The statistics and data he offers on this have long been known, even if it is politically incorrect to say so. Kevin Andrews MP  Let me very briefly summarise the evidence on de facto or cohabitating relationships, and compare this with the benefits of marriage. First, the shortcomings of cohabitation: Cohabiting couples are less likely to stay together, are more likely to have extra affairs, offer less…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Same-sex marriage polls flawed: National Marriage Coalition

A longer, fully-referenced version of the following article appears in the attached PDF file.   During the last sitting week of Parliament before the winter recess, two polls were released claiming 1) that Australia had decided in favour of same-sex “marriage”, 2) that opposition to it had collapsed, and 3) that there was no reason to delay legislation. This followed Ian Thorpe’s disclosure of his sexual identity in a paid television interview with Michael Parkinson, broadcast on Sunday, July 13. Thorpe’s disclosure of a private matter has nothing to do with redefining marriage, nor should it. The next day, in…

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AUSTRALIAN MANUFACTURING How Australia can rebuild its car industry

Western Australian state Liberal parliamentarian Peter Abetz (brother of Tasmanian Liberal Senator Eric Abetz) argues that Australia still has the capacity to develop a flourishing car industry. Peter Abetz MP I believe that the decision to allow the car industry in Australia to come to an end will have very serious implications, not only in the short term for employment, but also for the future well-being of our nation. Over the summer holidays I read Bob Worth’s book, The Battle for Australia: A Nation and its Leader Under Siege (Macmillan Australia, 2013), which recounts much of the internal goings on…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Euthanasia bill to come before Australian parliament

A few weeks ago, a controversial euthanasia bill was re-introduced in the Canadian provincial parliament of Quebec. If passed, the laws will decriminalise euthanasia as “medical aid in dying” and protect doctors from criminal prosecution if they choose to participate in medically-supervised euthanasia. It has been widely feared by pro-life activists that similar legislation could be introduced in Australia. Such a bill, called the Medical Services (Dying with Dignity) Bill 2014, was made public in Canberra on June 24 as an exposure draft by Greens health spokesman and former GP, Senator Richard Di Natale of Victoria. The timing of Di…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Flawed inquiry ignores Chinese investment in real estate

Widely-held concern that foreign purchases of houses, particularly from people born in China, are pushing up the price of housing in Australia, has prompted a federal parliamentary inquiry into foreign investment in residential real estate. Kelly O’Dwyer MHR (Liberal, Victoria) Last March, the House of Representatives standing committee on economics established the inquiry to examine: • the economic benefits of foreign investment in residential property; • whether such foreign investment is directly increasing the supply of new housing and bringing benefits to the local building industry and its suppliers; • how Australia’s foreign investment framework compares with international experience; and…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Greens’ bid to legalise same-sex ‘marriage’ by stealth

While Australians were preoccupied with the Budget, the Greens’ Sarah Hanson-Young has introduced legislation in the Senate to recognise same-sex “marriages” contracted overseas. The significance of the South Australian senator’s bill is that it seeks to reverse a 2004 amendment to the Commonwealth Marriage Act 1961, which defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman, entered into for life. South Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young. At the time, it was feared that Australia’s marriage laws, if un-amended, could be circumvented. Homosexual couples could go overseas to be “married” in Canada or the American state of Massachusetts (where…

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TRANSPORT: Finding a better solution to our traffic problems

Jackie Fristacky is mayor of the city of Yarra, which is rapidly becoming one of Melbourne’s wealthiest municipalities. The City of Yarra is the brainchild of former Liberal Premier Jeff Kennett, whose government oversaw a round of council amalgamations. Grouping Richmond, Collingwood, Fitzroy and North Carlton didn’t seem to have much logic at the time, but it’s worked. Richmond was the original Struggletown, as documented in Professor Janet McCalman’s study, Struggletown: Public and Private Life in Richmond 1900-1965 (MUP, 1984; 2nd edition, 1998). I can remember, long ago, meeting a distant relative from Sydney. He was a waterside worker and…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Racial discrimination amendments rule out hate speech

On the bustling station platform in a huge, new modern city in China the announcement over the loudspeaker system to commuters is: “Be polite and be kind to others!” There is nothing wrong with the sentiment, but one wonders about the effectiveness of a disembodied voice from an anonymous person delivered in a public place in moulding people’s behaviour. At the bottom of opposition to the Abbott government’s proposed amendments to the Commonwealth’s Racial Discrimination Act is a false expectation of what the law can do. The reality is that the law cannot make people nice to one another. Section…

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COVER STORY: Union-related corruption: the issue that won’t go away

The announcement of a royal commission into union-related corruption, particularly in the building industry, marks the fourth such inquiry into this industry. Earlier inquiries in New South Wales and federally had unearthed much illegality, but led to few prosecutions, and their recommendations were reversed when Labor governments later came to power. The response by union leaders and federal Labor leader Bill Shorten to the announced royal commission indicates that they will take a similar view to this inquiry. Shorten argued that allegations of impropriety were a police matter, and should be pursued by a police taskforce, ignoring the fact that…

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BORDER PROTECTION: Abbott stops illegal boat arrivals on Australia’s shores

When the Abbott government was elected last September, one of the most intractable problems it faced was the flow of boat arrivals on Christmas Island, just off the coast of Java, by people from the Middle East seeking refugee status in Australia. During the period of the Rudd and Gillard Labor governments, the trickle had become a flood. Following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in the late 1990s and sectarian conflict on the Indian sub-continent, the number of asylum-seekers heading to Australia rose rapidly. Throughout the 1990s, the number of people arriving in Australia by boat had been counted in…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Open hostility towards new human rights commissioner

The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) received a 25 per cent boost to its funding, between June 2010 and June 2013, from the previous federal Labor government, according to the AHRC’s annual reports. An outspoken champion of free speech, Tim Wilson, was appointed by the Coalition Government last December to the Australian Human Rights Commission, a body he once wished to abolish. AHRC president Gillian Triggs Attorney-General George Brandis said that the appointment of Wilson as a commissioner would “help to restore balance to the [AHRC] which, during the period of the Labor government, had become increasingly narrow and selective…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Scant media coverage of Parliamentary Prayer Service

On October 8, 2013, more than 200 MPs and senators and their staff gathered for the traditional Parliamentary Prayer Service in Canberra to mark the commencement of a new parliament. This year’s service was held at St Christopher’s Catholic Cathedral in the nation’s capital. At the service the new Liberal Prime Minister Mr Tony Abbott read from the Book of Wisdom, while the Labor Opposition leader Mr Bill Shorten read from Proverbs. The church leaders present included the host, Monsignor John Woods, who was joined by leaders of the Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran and Uniting Church denominations. The service was organised…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: High Court challenge to same-sex ‘marriage’ in ACT

The validity of a new law permitting same-sex marriage in the Australian Capital Territory has been challenged in the High Court by the Abbott Coalition government. The ACT Labor government on October 22 passed its controversial Marriage Equality Same-Sex Marriage Bill in the territory’s single-chamber parliament, the Legislative Assembly, with the support of the sole Greens MLA, Shane Rattenbury. However, the Commonwealth government has argued that the new ACT law, taking effect on December 7, is invalid because it is inconsistent with the Commonwealth Marriage Act 1961, the Family Law Act and the ACT Self-Government Act 1988. Under the Australian…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Joe Hockey and the ADM takeover bid for GrainCorp

The day after News Weekly went to press, the federal Treasurer Joe Hockey announced that he would block ADM’s intended purchase of GrainCorp. We nevertheless reproduce the following article online as it raises many important issues concerning foreign investment and the national interest. Treasurer Joe Hockey would be seriously neglecting his responsibilities to the nation if he approved the proposed sale of Australia’s GrainCorp to the U.S. corporation, Arthur Daniels Midland (ADM). Hockey is to have the final say on the $3.4 billion takeover bid and is scheduled to hand down his decision on December 17. Politically, it may be…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Foreign takeover bid for Australia’s GrainCorp..
ADM’S murky history

If the Australian grain-trading company AWB Ltd’s culpability in the oil-for-wheat scandal — involving kickbacks to the former Iraqi dictatorship of Saddam Hussein — warranted the dismantling in 2008 of Australia’s wheat single-selling desk,[1] then the government should reject U.S. corporation Archer Daniels Midland’s takeover bid for Australia’s GrainCorp, given ADM’s long history of corruption. Dwayne Andreas, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM)’s CEO, 1971-1997.  In 1997, a U.S. court imposed a $100 million antitrust corruption fine on ADM, an American global food-processing and commodities-trading corporation, with headquarters in Decatur, Illinois. The fine was the largest of its kind in U.S. history…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED: Bill Shorten and his carbon tax dilemma

New Labor leader Bill Shorten has a serious dilemma on his hands in regards to the Abbott Government’s iron-clad commitment to repeal the carbon tax legislation once in office. Does the new Opposition leader acknowledge Abbott’s mandate to repeal the tax? Or does he still cling to Labor’s now entrenched article of faith on global warming? And even if Mr Shorten takes the easier route and allows Abbott’s repeal legislation go through now, what does he do come the next election? Is the carbon tax dead for good or just temporarily buried? Whichever way Shorten moves, he will be creating…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Just how ‘independent’ is GetUp?

GetUp! is an Australian online left-wing activist group. It claims to be “an independent, grass-roots community advocacy organisation which aims to build a more progressive Australia by giving everyday Australians the opportunity to get involved and hold politicians accountable on important issues”. According to its website, “Since its inception seven years ago, the GetUp! community has grown to include over half a million members who are not afraid to stand up and have their say about important progressive political issues, helping shape the direction of Australian politics.” Former GetUp! director and Greens candidate Simon Sheikh, right, with Greens leader Christine…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: ‘Same-sex marriage’ would require change to Constitution

A leading Australian constitutional lawyer, Dr Augusto Zimmermann, has questioned whether amendment to the Commonwealth Marriage Act to permit “same-sex marriage” would be constitutional, and said that such a change could only be adopted through a constitutional amendment. Dr Augusto Zimmermann Dr Zimmermann was speaking at the Victorian Parliament House, during National Marriage Day celebrations on August 13. Brazilian-born Dr Zimmermann is an internationally-recognised legal scholar who teaches at Western Australia’s Murdoch University School of Law, where he currently is senior lecturer in law as well as associate dean for research and director of postgraduate studies. He was appointed to…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Building infrastructure for Australia’s future prosperity

The key national issue that is not receiving the attention it merits in this federal election campaign is the state of Australia’s infrastructure. The National Infrastructure Plan, published by the Commonwealth government’s Infrastructure Australia in June 2013, highlights the two main pressures that will bear on Australia’s infrastructure in the decades to come. Externally, the pressure will come from the extraordinary growth of Asia, which by 2050 will be producing over half of all global output. Between 2009 and 2030, the population of the Asia-Pacific region will increase significantly, resulting in the largest regional market in the world. Rising living…

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QUEENSLAND: How Labor’s Queensland strategy has backfired

It is often claimed that federal elections are decided in Queensland, and this is largely true. This is due to the larger swings recorded in the state compared to other parts of the country. Only weeks ago, the federal Labor government was hoping that having Kevin Rudd at the helm would assist its Queensland vote on September 7. However, recent polling shows Labor slipping in popularity. For example, Newspoll showed that, by mid-August, the ALP primary vote in Queensland had dropped to 34 per cent, despite Rudd’s vigorous campaigning in key seats. The battle for Queensland votes turned against Labor…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Treasurer’s fantasy of a budget surplus by 2016/17

“Bad news on jobs, deficit and growth”, was how the Weekend Australian greeted the Rudd Labor government’s economic statement delivered on August 2. The economic statement was an unusual way for Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to usher in a federal election. But his strategy was to contrast Labor’s supposedly proactive approach with the Abbott-led Coalition’s alleged intention to “cut to the bone”. The new Treasurer Chris Bowen’s statement, nevertheless, has created a sensation nationwide. Owing to “revenue shortfalls, he has now forecast a budget deficit of $33bn, instead of the $19bn announced by former Treasurer Wayne Swan only 11 weeks…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Garnaut calls for new industries, lower dollar

Professor Ross Garnaut recently signalled that Australia needed new industries built alongside mining and called for the exchange rate to come down about 40 per cent. Australia’s prosperity has been substantially dependent on supplying raw materials — minerals and energy — to feed China’s rapid growth over the past two decades. However, in an interview with MacroBusiness TV (May 21, 2013),[1] Garnaut said that huge structural changes were underway in China’s economy. In part he said that China is managing four simultaneous structural shifts: 1) a shift away from exports; 2) a shift towards growth in its interior provinces, driven…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Last-minute law change a threat to religious freedom

Australians once used to enjoy freedom of religion. Later, under anti-discrimination laws, they were still permitted special exemptions and exceptions. But last week, these exemptions were eroded when the Labor-Greens government passed changes to the Commonwealth’s Sex Discrimination Act 1984. The act, which was originally designed to protect women from workplace discrimination, has now been expanded to make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status. What is of concern is that, despite government promises that the Sex Discrimination Act’s exceptions and exemptions for faith-based organisations would be maintained, these have in fact…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Labor to lose seats over boat people policy

Actions by the Rudd and Gillard Labor governments in dismantling the Howard government’s policy on boat people will cost it the forthcoming election, Labor MPs have admitted. The Howard government policy of mandatory detention and offshore processing reduced the number of illegal arrivals to almost zero by 2007. The Rudd government denounced the policy as inhuman, and abolished both mandatory detention and offshore processing. Since then, about 43,000 boat people have arrived, despite futile attempts by the government to stem the flow. At least a thousand more are believed to have died at sea. Since the beginning of 2013, over…

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EDITORIAL: After the Ford closure: the future of the car industry

Ford’s announcement of the closure of its manufacturing operations in Australia from 2016, with the loss of over 600 jobs in Geelong and over 500 at Broadmeadows in Victoria, is a body blow to the motor manufacturing industry, affecting hundreds of component manufacturers and thousands of their employees across the country. It will leave only two car manufacturers in Australia, Holden and Toyota, and seriously erode the economies of scale needed to preserve viable motor manufacturing in this country. The announcement was not entirely unexpected. Ford has lost $600 million over the past five years, and it had earlier announced…

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COVER STORY: Survey reveals left-wing slant of ABC journalists

A survey of over 600 Australian journalists, conducted by a senior academic from the University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, has cast a revealing light on the political beliefs of Australian journalists. It shows that over 40 per cent of ABC journalists support the Greens, over 30 per cent support Labor, and just 15 per cent support the Coalition. While political beliefs do not automatically result in biased reporting, the left-wing dominance suggests that the culture of the ABC is overwhelmingly to the left, so that many journalists are unaware that their views are far to the left of the…

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NATIONAL INTEREST: Australian appeasers, past and present

Long ago I bought my first house. The walls had kalsomine paint which hadn’t been touched for over 50 years. Pulling up some ancient lino, I found a copy of the West Australian, Perth’s daily newspaper, from September 1939. One article caught my eye. It concerned a German freighter that was in danger of being impounded. Couldn’t something be done to help the poor crew, who stood to be interned, or the poor ship-owners, who would lose their ship? This silly little tiff over Poland would surely be over in days — weeks, at most! There is an eerie feeling…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Queensland ports targeted in anti-coal export campaign

The Thomas Foundation has asked wealthy environmental philanthropists to double the $1.5 million fund for a campaign to stop the expansion of the Australian coal industry. The appeal was made by David Thomas, founder of Cellarmasters home wine sales and of the Thomas Foundation, at a dinner for selected philanthropists in Brisbane. His foundation will provide $2 for each dollar contributed. The funds are to be used in a concentrated television advertising blitz during this year’s federal election. The Thomas Foundation recently brought to Australia marine conservation biologist, Callum Roberts from Britain’s York University, to raise the campaign’s profile.[1] Professor…

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COVER STORY: Australia’s motor industry on the edge of the abyss

About 1,100,000 new motor vehicles are currently sold in Australia each year. This is, by any measure, a significant automotive market. And yet the local industry builds, for domestic and export sales, a mere 210,000 units — about the same number that it produced in 1957. At its peak in 1974, the Australian motor industry built more than double the number of units than it did in 2012. Australian production has fallen to the level of over half a century ago, when the market was less than a quarter of its current size. It gets worse. The locally manufactured share…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: The legacy of Labor’s leadership fiasco

Despite the adverse sentiments of backbench members of the parliamentary Labor Party, most of the media and a clear majority in successive the opinion polls, Julia Gillard was re-elected unopposed in a leadership spill before Parliament rose for the winter recess. Simon Crean. The events which unfolded on March 21 began with high drama. After days of speculation about Labor’s dwindling political fortunes, the fiasco of Labor’s media reform laws and the withdrawal of Labor’s planned legislation to consolidate anti-discrimination laws, there was widespread speculation, fanned by Labor’s whip Joel Fitzgibbon, that Labor would turn to Kevin Rudd to lead…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Push to change ALP and Coalition on marriage

The same-sex marriage lobby is planning bills for state and territory legislatures, while pressing both the federal Labor Party and Coalition to change their policies on the issue. A New South Wales upper-house inquiry is preparing the way for a state bill. Despite the defeat of such a bill in the Tasmanian upper house, there are plans for an inquiry to find a way around Section 51 of the Commonwealth Constitution, which gives the federal government the “power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to … marriage”. A same-sex marriage bill…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Geert Wilders’ agenda in Australia examined

Prominent anti-Islam campaigner and Dutch politician, Geert Wilders, recently conducted a short speaking tour of Australia’s eastern states. His visit to the country was sponsored by the Q Society of Australia Inc., which is campaigning against the “Islamisation” of Australian society. Wilders heads the Party for Freedom (PVV), the third largest party in Holland, which has 15 seats in the 150-seat Dutch parliament. The PVV derives its support from its opposition to Islam, its opposition to the European Union, and opposition to the financial austerity program introduced by the present government of Holland. In his public statements, Wilders has claimed…

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BUSHFIRES: The deadly consequences of dismantling bushfire controls

There is a basic mantra amongst the bushfire brotherhood: bushfires cannot be prevented, but bushfire damage can. Fires will always start. Our climate and human nature see to that. But the unstoppable killer bushfire, just like the plague epidemic, is not inevitable; it is a product of mismanagement. Through good management the risks can be foreseen, foreshadowed and forestalled. There was a period in the early days of Western Australian forest and bushfire history when it was thought that fire could be expunged from the face of the earth. All it would take was a good fire brigade. Every time…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: New anti-discrimination bill threatens religious freedom

A new federal anti-discrimination bill will place the onus of proof on those accused of discrimination, restrict religious freedoms and may require political parties to employ people from opposing political camps. The draft Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012 has just been released for comment. Submissions to an inquiry on the bill by the Senate legal and constitutional affairs committee are due by December 21, with the committee due to deliver its report by February 18, 2013. First, Attorney-General Nicola Roxon has presented to parliament legislation that means that no longer will the person making a complaint about “discrimination” be…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: AFA calls for wide-ranging inquiry into child sex abuse

Following a national outcry over widely-reported public statements by police and witnesses to both the NSW and Victorian inquiries into child sexual abuse involving the Catholic Church, Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced the establishment of a royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse in Australia. In New South Wales, Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox publicly called for a royal commission, after stating on the ABC program Lateline that he had irrefutable evidence of a network of paedophile priests in the Maitland diocese. He also said he had been transferred to other duties while investigating child sexual abuse allegations…

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IMMIGRATION: European crisis should open door to new migrants

The protracted European debt crisis, which has created economic stagnation and high unemployment throughout the Eurozone, provides an opportunity to redirect Australia’s immigration policy towards these countries, which have high education levels and are culturally similar to Australia. Historically, most of Australia’s population came from Europe; but with Europe’s growing prosperity over recent decades Australia’s immigration program has shifted towards Asia and the Middle East. But as Europe’s financial crisis has deepened, the number of Europeans coming to work in Australia has increased. There are at any time around 130,000 people in the country with short-stay working visas, of whom…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Coalition must restore the baby bonus

Families with unwaged at-home mothers are the main casualties of the Labor government’s recent cuts to the baby bonus. Labor’s decision is not entirely unexpected and has very little to do with the government’s budget shortfall. First, it is not unexpected because it has long been Labor’s policy, in line with its reigning radical feminist ideology, to squeeze two-parent families where one of the parents leaves the paid workforce to work at home raising children. The previous Howard Coalition government introduced the Family Tax Benefit Part B as a universal payment to unwaged at-home mothers regardless of the father’s income.…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Now to win the debate on marriage

As sometimes happens in politics, first you win the vote, then you win the argument. The defeat of bills for same-sex marriage in both houses of federal parliament was decisive. But debate on the issue remains unresolved. Why is this so? Many politicians voted against same-sex marriage, because they had far more to lose than to gain on the issue. Polling by the Ambrose Centre in late 2011 found that more Australians were “strongly opposed” to same-sex marriage (18 per cent) than “strongly in favour” (14 per cent). This poll also showed that more than two-thirds of Australians believed same-sex…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED: Gillard unleashes gender wars against Abbott by national correspondent

Julia Gillard lit a match to ignite a “gender war” against the leader of the Opposition during a fiery speech in parliament that is now being celebrated in feminist circles as a seminal moment in the advancement of women. For feminist commentators, particularly those geographically a very long way from the reality of Australian politics, Ms Gillard was holding aloft a torch for women victims of sexism and misogyny everywhere. As Susan Mitchell, South Australian author of Tony Abbott: A Man’s Man (Melbourne: Scribe Publications, 2011), said of Gillard’s speech: “Whatever happens, Gillard’s words will never be erased. They are…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: RBA cuts rates as economy braces for “perfect storm”

The Reserve Bank of Australia’s decision to cut interest rates to 3.25 per cent anticipates a serious cloud over the Australian economy, but its silver lining will assist struggling Australian families facing sharp increases in gas and electricity charges as a result of the carbon tax and the mining tax. The official interest-rate level is approaching the lowest level reached at the height of the global financial crisis in 2009, when it appeared that the economy was headed for recession, if not worse. On that occasion, the federal government responded with a spending spree, firstly with direct payments to taxpayers…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Australian people win on marriage

A campaign conducted over a number of years by members of the Greens Party and the homosexual lobby to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples, has been convincingly defeated. Both houses of federal parliament — and, more recently, the Tasmanian parliament — have rejected moves to redefine marriage. Since Australia was established as a nation over a century ago, marriage in Australian law has been understood as the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life. In 1901, at the time of Federation, this was the common understanding throughout the…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Labor and Coalition now eager to court the DLP

As the Australian public has finally woken up to the Greens Party’s extremist political agenda, so the Greens’ vote has gone into a steep decline. Currently, the Greens’ nine senators hold the balance of power in the federal upper house. However, this could change at the next election. This has prompted key power-brokers from both the Coalition and Labor to court the favour of two senators whose votes could be crucial to passing legislation after the next election: the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) senator from Victoria, John Madigan, and the independent senator from South Australia, Nick Xenophon (Australian Financial Review,…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Violent Islamism erupts on the streets of Sydney

The Clash of Civilisations — that is what the world is witnessing. Vast mobs of rage-intoxicated Muslim thugs have embarked on a rampage through cities across the globe, ostensibly in response to a pathetic video that most of them haven’t seen, but which they have been told is an unforgivable insult to Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, and which they have been assured justifies their outrageous behaviour. “We are Your Soldiers, O Muhammad”, said the headbands worn by the hardcore militants at the centre of the Sydney riot on Saturday, September 15, while their T-shirts proclaimed their commitment to “the…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Coalition divided over local government referendum

The Liberal-National federal opposition is set to reject a Labor-Greens plan to hold a referendum during next year’s federal election campaign so that Canberra could gain control of Australia’s entire local government sector. However, getting the Coalition parties into this position has been an arduous task. One reason is that two senior Queensland parliamentarians — Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce and Liberal deputy Senate leader George Brandis — have been claiming that the Labor-Greens plan will win Coalition backing. Both have called on Opposition leader Tony Abbott — who has previously said he would consider any “sensible proposal” on this…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Left demonises opponents on environment, same-sex laws

Australians have a healthy dislike of abusive or violent behaviour, as seen in the public criticism of Labor MP Belinda Neal, and negative reaction to Kevin Rudd’s treatment of an unfortunate RAAF flight attendant on a VIP flight a few years ago. The left have exploited this sentiment by claiming that those who oppose the carbon tax and legalised same-sex coupling are engaged in threatening behaviour. One instance came in allegations, first printed in the Canberra Times in June 2011, which stated that unnamed climate scientists at the Australian National University’s Climate Change Institute had been subjected to death threats,…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Rural Australia, heartland of the nation

Most Australians have their lives narrowly defined by the five conurbations on the coast, but most of the nation’s wealth is created by the one-third of the population that lives in the bush. And, as WA Nationals’ leader Brendon Grylls has shown with his Royalties for Regions policy, discontent in the bush can be electoral dynamite. The Nationals’ Royalties for Regions scheme earmarks 25 per cent of WA’s income from mining and petroleum royalties for use in regions outside of WA’s major centres, in particular Perth. The Royalties for Regions scheme was the price the Nationals extracted for supporting the…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Push for new laws to attack churches, schools

The Gillard Labor Government’s inquiry into new anti-discrimination legislation has become the source of a concerted attack on churches, independent schools and government funding to church-based welfare organisations. In keeping with ALP promises made at the last federal election platform, the department of federal Attorney General Nicola Roxon is holding an inquiry into consolidating the Commonwealth’s four separate anti-discrimination laws — the Racial Discrimination, Sex Discrimination, Disability Discrimination and Age Discrimination acts — as well as the Australian Human Rights Commission Act (1986) and provisions in the Fair Work Act 2009. Ms Roxon issued a discussion paper inviting comment on…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: ASIO investigates

How ironic that federal Energy Minister Martin Ferguson has ASIO investigating anti-coal mining campaign groups funded by federal and state governments, and which enjoy federal tax-deductibility status! Two environmental groups behind the campaign to halt expansion of Victoria’s brown-coal deposits have received over $775,000 in federal and Victorian state government grants over the past two years. It’s part of a much wider campaign to contain, then shut down, Australia’s coal-mining industry. Friends of the Earth (FoE) runs the Quit Coal campaign, which recently saw three of its members chain themselves together inside the offices of Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu.[1] FoE…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Craig Thomson affair discredits Labor government

Allegations that the federal MP for Dobell, Craig Thomson, a former federal secretary of the Health Services Union, and the union’s suspended federal president, Michael Williamson, misused union funds to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, have damaged the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and the federal Labor Government because the Prime Minister has stood by Mr Thomson. The allegations against Craig Thomson go back to 2008, not long after he was elected to federal parliament as part of the “Kevin 07” bandwagon which defeated John Howard. Thomson’s successor as federal secretary of the HSU, Kathy Jackson, initiated an…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Same-sex marriage: attack on religious freedom and parents’ rights

Alongside their push for same-sex marriage, radical gay and lesbian organisations have told an Attorney-General’s inquiry that they oppose any exemptions for churches and schools under new anti-discrimination legislation. It is clear that the strategy of these groups is to have the federal government introduce same-sex marriage, then to use planned new anti-discrimination legislation to force compliance on church organisations and schools. Their intention is to muzzle churches and require primary and secondary schools, and even kindergartens, to teach children about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual lifestyles and that having two mothers or two fathers is no different from having…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Anti-coal campaign gets underway in Queensland

Last week, two radical environmental organisations committed to halting Australian coal-mining helped launch an operation to stop the development of two coal-mines in central Queensland. Both organisations were involved in producing the recently leaked Stopping the Australian Coal Export Boom draft strategy document. In a media release dated March 22, the Queensland branch of the Wilderness Society announced that the anti-coal-mining campaign aims to stop not only the Waratah Coal mine near Alpha, about 450 km west of Rockhampton, but to deter another nearby Hancock Prospecting mine nearby. The mines plan to export coal via a new rail line to…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Radical green strategy to sabotage Australian coal-mines, railways and ports

The radical environmentalist group Greenpeace has spearheaded a push to block the expansion of Australia’s coal export industry, with “generous support from the Rockefeller Family Fund”, a charitable foundation based in New York.[1] The organisers’ draft plan says that it aims to raise funds in the United States as well as Australia to bankroll the campaign. Another foreign group involved in the campaign is CoalSwarm. After the draft plan was leaked to the media, a campaign spokesman said that, to date, the plan had failed to attract the necessary amount of base funding. The project originated with an anti-coal-mining alliance,…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Federal Coalition commits to defending marriage

Federal Coalition members have decided to continue the Coalition’s support for the current definition of marriage between one man and one woman. As parliament was resuming for 2012, a Coalition meeting rejected bogus calls for a so-called “conscience vote” on planned legislation to change the Marriage Act to include same-sex marriage. Realising that they don’t have the numbers for changing the Marriage Act, the Greens have moved their 2010 bill for same-sex marriage to the Senate committee on legal and constitutional affairs, in order to buy more lobbying time. Before the Coalition reaffirmed its support for marriage, thousands of emails…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Government “hides” report of coming fuel crisis

Australia is rapidly running out of locally-derived petrol for cars, dieseline for heavy haulage trucks and tractors, and aviation fuel. However, Julia Gillard’s Labor-Greens Government has refused to release an expert report which highlights the imminent danger. But the attempt to suppress this report has been thwarted by a French whistleblower, energy expert Mr Jean-Marc Jancovici, who has published it on his personal website at www.manicore.com. The report, titled Transport Energy Futures: Long-Term Oil Supply Trends and Projections, Report 117 (March 2009), was prepared for the Minister for Infrastructure Anthony Albanese by Dr David Gargett of the Bureau of Infrastructure,…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Treasurer Swan’s budget cuts hit unwaged mothers

Treasurer Wayne Swan plans to use his mini-budget to cut the baby bonus in order to help put the federal budget back in surplus. The planned cuts will exacerbate the government’s discrimination against families receiving the baby bonus compared to those receiving paid parental leave. The Treasurer proposes cutting the baby bonus from $5,400 to $5,000. It has been indexed to inflation, but he now proposes suspending indexation for three years. Meanwhile, the government’s new paid parental leave (PPL) scheme won’t be touched. PPL already discriminates in favour of families on two full-time incomes who are more likely to use…

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COVER STORY / EDITORIAL: Mining tax will hit Australian industry and super

In the last sitting days in the House of Representatives this year, the Prime Minister pushed through the new mineral resources rent tax (MRRT) and expanded petroleum resources rent tax (PRRT) — collectively called the mining tax — which will go to the Senate in the new year. Along with the carbon tax and the surrender to people-traffickers, this represents the culmination of Julia Gillard’s year of “decision and delivery”. Public debate on the mining tax issue has concentrated almost exclusively on its effect on the mining industry, because the new tax was negotiated between the Federal Government and three…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Same-sex “marriage”: litmus test for Gillard

Julia Gillard’s survival as Prime Minister could depend on whether she stares down the push from the homosexual lobby, the Greens and the ALP left to change ALP policy on marriage at the forthcoming ALP national conference. When the left initiated the push to reverse the ALP’s long-standing support for marriage last year, the Prime Minister’s position was unequivocal. She described herself as a traditionalist on marriage, and said explicitly that she supported the definition of marriage contained in the Marriage Act, as between one man and one woman, entered into for life. It is widely known that when she…

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CARBON TAX: Power industry warns Canberra against carbon tax

The Australian power industry’s peak body, the National Generators Forum, has warned the Federal Government that its carbon tax will impose massive costs on electricity generators, businesses and consumers, while having little impact on emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2). The forum represents all sections of the power industry, both government and private. It also covers different forms of power generation: gas and coal-fired plants, as well as hydro-electric plants and wind farms. In a letter sent to all federal MPs and senators, the power industry forum said it could not support the government’s carbon tax in its present form. “The…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Greens set Labor’s agenda on euthanasia, same-sex marriage

Bob Brown and the Greens are using two bills in the Senate to advance euthanasia and other radical legislation, and the Gillard Labor Government is dancing to their tune. In August, the Senate passed Senator Brown’s Territories Self-Government Legislation Amendment (Disallowance and Amendment of Laws) Bill 2011. The bill, passed with the unanimous support of Greens and Labor senators, aims to remove the power of ministerial veto of legislation passed by the ACT and Northern Territories. Instead it will require that territory legislation can only be blocked by a majority vote in both houses of federal parliament. Senator Brown’s bill…

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IMMIGRATION: Labor in denial after High Court sinks “Malaysia solution”

Despite the High Court’s 6:1 judgment against the Federal Government’s plan to relocate asylum-seekers from Christmas Island to Malaysia, senior Government ministers intend to stick with the bungled plan. The judgment clearly shocked the Gillard Government to its foundations, prompting the Prime Minister herself to launch an unprecedented attack on the Chief Justice of the High Court, Mr Justice French. As Julia Gillard is by profession a lawyer, she cannot have been unaware that her attack on the Chief Justice was both vindictive and partisan, because she received full media coverage for her attack; but the Chief Justice, who does…

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COVER STORY: Canberra rally: “Don’t meddle with marriage”

Around 1,000 political, civic and religious leaders, along with families, gathered in Parliament House, Canberra, on August 16, to send a clear message from mainstream Australia to the nation’s politicians: “Don’t meddle with marriage”. The meeting filled the Great Hall in Parliament House, with people from all states of Australia. It was chaired by Major-General Peter Phillips, former national president of the RSL, and was addressed by politicians, churchmen and leaders of many family organisations. The rally was convened by the Australian Family Association and the National Marriage Coalition, with the support of the Australian Christian Lobby and the Dads4Kids…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Who stands to gain from the Gillard-Greens gravy-train?

The big winners of the coming Gillard-Greens carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions tax will be high-earning accountants, lawyers and merchant bankers. The reason that accountants will profit from the tax is that they will be the ones consulted by businesses primarily to help evaluate various implications of the forthcoming new tax as well as to assist in minimising outlays on the new tax. Firms will also be seeking advice on how to cash-in on a range of promised Canberra hand-outs on their usage of costly non-coal derived energy. According to a special IBISWorld report, accountants and financial advisers will be the…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Comment on the 2011 federal Budget

1. Budget savings and return to budget balance This is a “nothing” budget in terms of returning the budget to surplus in 2012-13. The claim that this will be achieved in a couple of years is hard to believe. The savings (Budget Paper No 1, Table 3, p.314) of several billion annually is pitiful. The few billion in reduced spending would only be in the error margin of a $368 billion budget. In addition, most of the reduced expenditure comes not from cuts to the regular budget, but from the end of the one-off stimulus programs implemented in the wake…

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IMMIGRATION: The vexed question of illegal immigration

On April 20 this year, the federal Villawood detention centre in New South Wales was the scene of an ugly riot, with fires gutting nine buildings and protesters sitting on the roof hurling tiles at firemen and other emergency service personnel who were trying to restore order. It was not a particularly edifying scene and was reminiscent of recent similar incidents, including last year’s clashes at Villawood and on Christmas Island. Among the 100 recent Villawood rioters, an estimated 22 were believed to be responsible for carrying out arson and attacks and will face criminal charges. They might plead that…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Growing anger at supermarket price war

The overwhelming market dominance of the Coles-Woolworths duopoly is coming under fresh scrutiny as a milk discount war rages in South Australia. Many consumers are no doubt pleased at being able to purchase milk from supermarkets for as little as $1 per litre. But how many of them are aware that, upon lowering the price of milk, Coles simultaneously raised the price of around 1,000 other products? Or that Woolies raised the price of around 1,500 other products? (Figures sourced from an independent retailer-commissioned survey). How many shoppers have noticed familiar brand names rapidly disappearing from shelves, especially in the…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: “Carbon” tax an expensive fiasco

As details of the yet-to-be-finalised carbon tax trickle out from the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and her Climate Change Minister, Greg Combet, the new tax is emerging as an expensive, confusing and contradictory mess which will ratchet up already soaring prices of gas, petrol and electricity, for no national benefit. The Government needs to introduce the new tax to placate the Greens, with whom they are in alliance, and to raise the billions of dollars needed to bring the federal budget back from deficit into surplus, as Julia Gillard has repeatedly promised. But the growing public backlash against the new…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED: Julia Gillard face wipe-out on her “carbon” tax

With opinion polls showing a further swing against Labor, the Gillard Government’s bid to impose a carbon tax on the Australian people is shaping up as an almost impossible mission, with even the Labor Party at war with itself over the policy. 2011 was meant to be Julia Gillard’s “year of decision and delivery”, but the carbon tax is joining a raft of other major Rudd/Gillard policy proposals in health, taxation, water policy and immigration that are heading toward a quagmire of indecision and crippling compromises. The Australian Workers Union — a union which had a pivotal role in installing…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Water Act won’t work: Harvard professor

A leading Harvard University water expert has told an Australian Senate inquiry that the Commonwealth Government’s Water Act to manage the Murray-Darling Basin “would not work and could not work”. Professor John Briscoe’s comments were part of a recent submission to the Senate inquiry into the provisions of the 2007 Water Act, formulated by the then Minister for Water, Malcolm Turnbull. The act required the Murray-Darling Basin Commission to produce a new Basin Plan. In protests across the Basin last year, farmers burned copies of the draft plan (see News Weekly, October 30, 2010), which proposed taking around 30 per…

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Howard left federal Budget in surplus (letter)

Sir, Patrick J. Byrne asserts that “in Howard’s last year … the federal Budget went into deficit (“Business leaders call for national investment fund”, News Weekly, March 5, 2011). This is wrong. The Howard Government left the federal Budget in surplus. The last financial year of the Howard Government was 2007-08. As the current Budget papers affirm, the Budget outcome for 207-08 was a surplus of $19.7 billion in underlying cash terms, and the fiscal balance was a surplus of $21 billion. The federal Budget has been in deficit ever since that surplus in the last year of the Howard…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Business leaders call for national investment fund

A group of Australia’s biggest corporate leaders have called for a Norwegian-style sovereign wealth fund to channel windfall revenue from Australia’s mining boom into national investment. The chief executives from Lend Lease, Tabcorp, Mirvac, CSL, Foster’s, Orica, and Coca-Cola Amatil, and the chairmen of Mirvac, Pacific Brands and Gloucester Coal, told The Age newspaper’s BusinessDay (February 18, 2011) that they favour such a fund. Others who have called for the fund to be established include Commonwealth Bank chief executive Ralph Norris, Amcor boss Ken MacKenzie, Boral chief Mark Selway, Fairfax chairman Roger Corbett and Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens. The…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: The DLP returns to Canberra

The election of John Madigan as a Senator from Victoria, marks the return of the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) to the Senate, after an absence of 35 years. His election marks a further revival for the DLP, which has been represented in the Victorian Legislative Council by Peter Kavanagh since 2006. DLP Senator-electJohn Madigan. John Madigan’s success arises, in part, from the positive influence which Mr Kavanagh has exercised over recent years, keeping the DLP’s public profile high in Victoria. During the recent abortion debate in Victoria, Peter Kavanagh played a prominent role in the upper house, and he has…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: The Green menace we must mobilise against

An assessment of the new Gillard Government, and the 43rd Australian Parliament, must begin with a few simple facts. The two independent MPs from NSW, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott, were not solely responsible for throwing Julia Gillard a lifeline. The outcome could not have occurred without support from two of the new MPs, Adam Bandt (Greens) and Andrew Wilkie (ex-Greens). The new minority government rests on a knife-edge, 76 seats to 74. A by-election or two – or even a few too many bungles – could see a change of government before 2013. Such a change occurred during Australia’s…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Can the independents agree on a policy agenda?

After the recent federal election, can the independents make a decisive difference in a hung parliament? At the time of writing, it appears that some combination of independent MPs, and possibly a Greens MP, will be needed in order for either Julia Gillard or Tony Abbott to be able to form a government over the coming weeks. Some commentators and federal politicians are furiously arguing that the independents will destabilise the two-party political dominance of the federal parliament. They argue that the electorate won’t wear such instability, and that another election in a year or so will be needed to…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Christians launch the Canberra Declaration

An Australian manifesto of support for religious freedom, the sanctity of human life, traditional marriage and family values, has been launched at Parliament House, Canberra. Following on from the US Manhattan Declaration (2009) and the UK Westminster Declaration (2010), the Canberra Declaration, which aims to mobilise Australia’s Christian community, was launched on July 23, 2010. The impetus for the timing of the launch was the forthcoming federal election. And with Prime Minster Julia Gillard’s atheism currently being a topic of debate, and the likelihood of the Greens securing the balance of power in the Senate, the declaration is an attempt…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Julia Gillard’s long-term agenda

Don’t say we haven’t been warned. Our new Prime Minister is not the mainstream, centrist leader that the media want us to think she is. Julia Gillard comes with a lot of ideological baggage from her radical-left past. For several years she has played down her past political affiliations, attempted to mainstream herself and altogether presented an agreeable image to the public. So appealing is she that she has won plaudits from across the political spectrum, even from conservatives such as Christopher Pearson and Janet Albrechtsen. The left-dominated media, no doubt with an eye on the forthcoming federal election, have…

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COVER STORY: Financing of terrorism in Australia

The financing of global terrorism has been transformed over the past two decades; so the publication by the Australian Institute of Criminology of its report, Financing of Terrorism: Risks for Australia, by Russell G. Smith, Rob McCusker and Julie Walters, is to be welcomed. There are three main reasons for this transformation. First, the end of the Cold War greatly reduced the previously massive flow of funds from the Soviet Union and the communist bloc to guerrilla and terrorist groups pursuing left-wing and separatist political objectives. Many of these groups have subsequently attempted to become self-financing, chiefly through large-scale illegal…

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FEDERAL BUDGET: No budget relief for single-breadwinner families

Special report “The Rudd Government’s Budget will not alleviate financial strain for Australian families facing unaffordable housing, rising interest rates and the high cost of raising children – Australia’s future taxpayers,” a spokesman for the Australian Family Association, Tim Cannon, has said. “The recent Budget’s modest tax cuts for low-income earners are likely to be swallowed up by inflation and rising interest rates.” Mr Cannon suggested that, in the longer term, an increased superannuation rate of 12 per cent and the 50 per cent tax concession on interest earned from savings would together provide a welcome boost to Australia’s overall…

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COVER STORY: A program for Australia’s future

Regardless of the federal election outcome, Australia needs policies for industry and finance to handle the risks posed by the ongoing global financial crisis and from Australia’s “two-speed” economy. Failure to confront these problems today, while it can still reap the benefits of the mining boom, risks Australia, in a fit of absent-mindedness, being drawn into the orbit of China and, ultimately, compromising its sovereignty. Following the global strategic and economic transformations underway, the world will be a vastly different place. However, Australia has been lucky to have been largely insulated from the global financial crises of the past two…

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COVER STORY: Henry Tax Review’s vicious attack on miners, families

It took over four months for the Rudd Government to respond to the report of its tax review panel, headed by Treasury Secretary Dr Ken Henry. The Government will impose a 40 per cent Resource Super Profits Tax on mining companies from July 1, 2012. This is the centrepiece of the Government’s response, and will yield $9 billion in 2013-4, if mining profits continue to rise at their present rate. While the Prime Minister trumpeted the slashing of company tax from 30 per cent to 28 per cent, most if not all of this will be swallowed up in increased…

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BUSHFIRES: Victoria changes tack on fuel-reduction burns

The deaths of over 170 people in the Victorian bushfire tragedy of February 2009 has led to a change in policy by the state’s Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE), which is now trying to conduct large-scale burn-offs around Victoria. Evidence given to the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission showed clearly that the failure to reduce fuel loads in state forests and national parks over recent decades contributed to the huge death toll and the extensive loss of property during the bushfires. The 2009 bushfires burned over 400,000 hectares (ha). Although wildfires in some previous years burned larger areas, the 2009…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: $16 billion education fiasco traps Julia Gillard

As the fiasco surrounding the Federal Government’s multi-billion dollar home insulation affair widens, there is mounting criticism of the Government’s $16 billion school infrastructure program, part of the Government’s economic stimulus plan. The school improvement plan operates under the Orwellian title, Building the Education Revolution (BER). In some cases, state education departments are alleged to be charging the Commonwealth Government inflated sums for relatively small-scale projects. Among other cases, minor refurbishments of the Pleasant Hills Primary School near Wagga have been quoted at $275,000, including GST; $900,000 is being charged for a government-provided prefabricated library at Berridale State School, in…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Tony Abbott’s faux pas alienates allies

Since winning the leadership of the Liberal Party from Malcolm Turnbull last December, Tony Abbott has restored the Coalition’s battered morale by a highly disciplined performance highlighting the Rudd Government’s ideological obsession with climate change and its maladministration of the national stimulus package, particularly the waste of billions of dollars on school renovations and the home-insulation fiasco. Now Mr Abbott has deeply alienated many of his supporters by walking away from his previously-stated position on the abortion issue, and by unveiling a paid parental leave scheme which will subsidise working mothers while doing nothing for mothers who care full-time for…

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COVER STORY / EDITORIAL: Moment of truth for Bushfire Royal Commission

Over a year after the tragic bushfires which took 173 lives on “Black Saturday”, February 7, 2009, the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission has heard compelling evidence about the necessity for fuel-reduction burning, an issue which prompted the largest number of submissions to the Royal Commission. The interim report of the Royal Commission last August made only passing reference to fuel-reduction burning. The Royal Commission heard evidence from officers of the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE), which is responsible for management of almost eight million hectares (ha) of state forests and national parks, as well as from people from the…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Rudd and Henry politicise Intergenerational Report

The Intergenerational Report was commissioned by the former Howard Government, in accordance with the Charter of Budget Honesty Act, to provide independent advice from the Treasury to the Australian people and government about the long-term consequences of Australia’s population growth. However, the third Intergenerational Report (IGR2010) released by the Rudd Government has clearly been drafted by Treasury to promote the Rudd Government’s proposed changes to health insurance and its emissions trading scheme. The politicisation of this Treasury report raises real concerns that Ken Henry’s review of the taxation system, given to the Government last December, will be similarly politicised. Risks…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Senate committee recommends against same-sex marriage

A bill which would permit same-sex marriage should not be carried, a Senate committee has recommended. The bill was introduced in the Senate last June by South Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, and referred to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee for consideration. With 86 per cent of Australians saying children should be raised by their biological parents, the Australian Family Association welcomed the Senate committee’s recommendation. AFA spokesman John Morrissey said that the push for same-sex marriage is aimed at widening gay access to children, but nobody has the right to a child any more than a man…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Rudd’s ‘Indonesia solution’ has been in place since 2007

Despite Labor’s trenchant attacks on the Howard Government’s Pacific Solution – under which asylum-seekers were processed offshore – it has now emerged that Kevin Rudd’s Indonesia solution has been in process since the 2007 election. Map showing Tanjung Pinang. The detention centre in which the Rudd Labor Government wanted to place the 78 asylum-seekers picked up by the Customs vessel Oceanic Viking is near the town of Tanjung Pinang, on the Indonesian island of Bintan. The West Australian revealed that this detention centre was built with Australian Government funds. Approval for its construction was given in early 2007 by the…

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COVER STORY: Why Australians should oppose a human rights charter

Accompanied by leaders of the Catholic, Baptist, Presbyterian and Pentecostal churches, and with the strong support of the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal Dr George Pell, went to Canberra on October 23 to inform both Government and Opposition of widespread church concern about and opposition to the proposed charter of rights or human rights act. At the same time, he issued this statement. The Christian churches strongly support human rights and their attendant responsibilities. But religious freedom should not be eroded by stealth. The Brennan Committee’s report on human rights gives the government…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: How the human rights consultation was hijacked

The National Human Rights Consultation Committee, appointed by the Federal Labor Government to investigate human rights in Australia, has predictably recommended that the Federal Parliament enact a federal human rights act, overriding widespread opposition to such a measure in both the community and in Parliament. The consultation was conducted by Father Frank Brennan, the chairman; Philip Flood, a former career diplomat; journalist Mary Kostakidis; lawyer and former police commissioner Mick Palmer; and indigenous lawyer, Tammy Williams. The committee invited public participation, and said that it had received over 35,000 submissions, “the largest number ever for a national consultation in Australia”.…

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COVER STORY / EDITORIAL: Australia’s asylum-seeker policy unravels

The Rudd Government’s attempt to soften the Howard Government’s policy of offshore detention of boat-people by abolishing the “Pacific Solution”, has been followed by a sudden upsurge in the number of boats arriving at Ashmore Reef off the north-west coast of Australia, the detention in Indonesia of a boatload of 255 people originally from Sri Lanka, and a further 78 people who were taken aboard the Australian customs vessel, Oceanic Viking, off the coast of Java. Further arrivals are expected off the coast of WA in the near future. Despite government claims to the contrary, the increase in asylum-seekers over…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Political lobby groups funded by your taxes

The past year has seen a surge of activity by Australian lobby groups, many of which are taxpayer-funded statutory bodies. On issues, ranging from same-sex marriage to equal opportunity laws and charters of rights, these groups have had plenty to say. One such example is the Australian Human Rights Commission, whose activities persist in the most provocative of ways. Aside from its ridiculous and uncalled for inquiry into religious freedom and belief, it has more recently provided a partisan political submission to the parliamentary same-sex marriage inquiry. In its submission, the AHRC twists UN protocols to suit its purpose and…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Misguided move for women in combat roles

The Minister for Defence Personnel, Greg Combet, has announced a review of the tasks which women can undertake in the defence forces, including their involvement in combat roles from which they are currently excluded, to improve recruitment and retention of women to the Australian Defence Force (ADF). The minister said: “A priority of the government is to improve the recruitment and retention of women in the ADF. My own view is that all categories should be open to women. The only exceptions should be where the physical demands cannot be met according to criteria that are determined on the basis…

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COVER STORY: Government push for sell-off of Telstra’s infrastructure

The Federal Government announcement that it wants the voluntary separation of Telstra’s infrastructure from its retail operations will bring to an end many years of recriminations in the telecommunications industry, and inaugurate an era in which the focus is on improved services for users, rather than on profits. The announcement was part of the Government’s plan to set up a company to build and run the next generation national broadband network. Proposals to have this network run by the private sector were abandoned last April. The “voluntary and co-operative” separation will allow Telstra to sell off its infrastructure. Its shareholders…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Rio Tinto, China and Australia’s national interest

China appears to be taking a more robust attitude to its relationships with trading partners – especially Australia. It attempted to take a significant stake in the coal/iron ore producer Rio Tinto, and for a time the management of Rio seemed interested. Of course, the Chinese acquisition could not have gone ahead without the approval of the Australian Government. There was no shortage of gratuitous advice to the government. Dedicated free market enthusiasts, predictably, insisted that foreign investment was a necessary and desirable acquisition, whatever the source. More considered opinion regards this view as too facile. As to how the…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Regional consultation needed on new Murray-Darling plan

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) is to produce a draft water reallocation plan for the basin, but on what science will it be based and how closely will communities be consulted? The draft plan on water reallocation is to be ready next year. If it is to strike an acceptable balance between the environment and socio-economic issues, it will require close, detailed and extensive consultations with farmers and communities on the complex land-riverine health issues across this huge tract of Australia. The basin produces 40 per cent of the nation’s food. Such a process is needed to replace the “token”…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Aboriginal disadvantage: more than question of money

For many decades governments, both state and federal, have attempted to address the problem of disadvantaged Aboriginal people and communities by a multi-billion dollar combination of direct spending and affirmative action. The Australian Productivity Commission’s latest report Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage 2009 shows that, in spite of some improvement in the economic condition of Aborigines, these programs have largely been a failure. The biennial report, commissioned by state and federal governments, attempts to put together reliable statistical information to assist policy-making in relation to Australia’s indigenous populations. The report makes clear that the information in the latest report does not accurately…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Limit foreign ownership of key industries: NCC

Following the attempted move by the Chinese Government-owned corporation Chinalco to take a large share in the mining company Rio Tinto, the National Civic Council (NCC) has called for the federal parliament to restrict foreign ownership of strategic Australian industries. Although the Chinalco investment did not proceed, the issue remains very pressing, with Chinese Government-owned companies seeking a controlling interest in several other Australian companies. NCC national vice-president Patrick J. Byrne, in a written submission, stated that foreign investment rules should be tightened regarding investment in Australian companies by foreign government-owned sovereign wealth funds (SWFs), and by foreign government-owned businesses.…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Rudd’s emission trading scheme hits roadblock

The Senate’s decision to delay the Federal Government’s emissions trading scheme (ETS) will effectively prevent the Rudd Government having in place legislation before the climate change conference in Copenhagen in December. With federal parliament going into its winter recess, the Senate will not consider the matter again until August, and with the combined opposition of the Coalition parties, the Greens and independents, the legislation seems doomed to fail then. While Mr Rudd can reintroduce the legislation at any time, he is expected to delay reintroduction of legislation to implement his so-called Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) – which actually has…

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Santamaria

MEN AND IDEAS: Bob Santamaria’s role in Australia’s culture wars

The significance of B.A. Santamaria‘s many contributions to public life was discussed by Professor Gabriël A. Moens in a speech he delivered on the occasion of the inauguration of the B.A. Santamaria Library, Cloverdale, Perth, on June 10, 2009. I propose to comment upon the history of the Movement led by Mr B.A. “Bob” Santamaria (1915-1998) and the leadership it has provided in Australia for nearly seven decades. In doing so, I should like to remind my listeners that I am not necessarily the most suitably qualified person to perform this function. This is because I arrived in Australia in…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Why Rudd’s emissions trading scheme should be defeated

As unemployment soars, the handicaps that an ETS would impose on the Australian economy are the last thing we need, writes Peter Westmore. Kevin Rudd’s promised emission trading scheme – with the Orwellian-sounding title of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) – is facing more or less inevitable defeat in the Senate. The name of the scheme is a misnomer, as it is designed to deal with Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions, not emissions of carbon, which are an entirely separate problem not dealt with by the legislation. The Prime Minister put forward the scheme before the 2007 elections, and is…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Fund infrastructure with a development bank

There is a better way to finance infrastructure than relying on budget deficits or raiding superannuation funds, argues Patrick J. Byrne. A development bank would be a better vehicle for investing in nation-building projects – and for rolling over some of Australia’s huge foreign debt. The federal budget announced $22 billion for new infrastructure projects, which KPMG accountants estimate will actually cost $80 billion. However, most of this won’t start for some years. Only $1.7 billion will be spent in 2009-10, and just $3.05 billion the following year. The Opposition has attacked the Rudd Government over its projected future large…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: From Baghdad to Beijing: Labor’s dodgy dealings

From the time of the Whitlam Government till today, some senior Labor politicians and party officials have been prepared to conduct business dealings with some of the most unsavoury, not to say murderous, regimes in the world. Joseph Poprzeczny reports. Labor’s besieged Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon and his two secret China trips, bankrolled by Madame Helen Liu, fit snuggly into a seldom-noted Labor tradition that’s best described as cosying up to authoritarian regimes. Members of three of the last four Labor governments – Gough Whitlam’s (1972-75); Bob Hawke’s (1983-91); and now Kevin Rudd’s (2007-) – have had links with such…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: China’s Rio bid: Australia’s independence at stake

The Commonwealth future fund should take a $20 billion stake in Rio Tinto mining to protect Australia’s independence from Beijing’s strategy of controlling key world mineral supplies and pulling Australia into China’s orbit, writes Patrick J. Byrne. Australia is currently borrowing $500 million per week from Beijing. If the worsening economic crisis causes Australia to become dependent on China for the refinancing of our nation’s $658 billion net foreign debt (about 60 per cent of our GDP), then Beijing may well demand a controlling interest in Rio Tinto in exchange. Together, these concessions to Beijing would draw Australia out of…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: The Liberal Party faces moment of truth

The Liberal Party has not only deteriorated at the top; things are even worse at the lower ranks, writes Joseph Poprzeczny. Sixty-seven years after Sir Robert Menzies moved to form the Liberal Party to combat socialism and centralism, the party finds itself in a predicament. Its leaders, Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop, are increasingly perceived as being well qualified for middle-rank posts in a Kevin Rudd-led Labor ministry. Nothing about either distinguishes them from most Rudd ministers. Both are left-of-centre Liberals. To make matters worse, the man most likely to replace Turnbull, former party deputy leader and Treasurer, Peter Costello,…

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BUSHFIRES: Greens adopt tobacco lobby tactics

The green lobby’s tactics to virtually halt fuel-reduction measures in Australian forests, around homes and along roadways, are eerily similar to tactics employed by the powerful tobacco lobby. Patrick J. Byrne reports. This photo, taken of the hills to the west of the Myrtleford-Beechworth Road, north-eastern Victoria, shows the value of fuel reduction. The hills to the right (going north) had controlled burns last winter, but the left-hand side of the hill (going south) did not. When the February 7-8 fire came from the west, it went around the area that had been fuel-reduced, but heavily burned through the area…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Australia challenged by US strategic decline

Although the US will remain the world’s single largest power in 2025, China, India and Russia may supplant the West as leaders of the world, diminishing the role of the US, writes Patrick J. Byrne. The weakened role of the US will raise fundamental issues for Australia, which has been heavily dependent on the US strategic umbrella. The US National Intelligence Council has recently produced its fourth Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World report. It analyses the possible future world strategic balance given the consequences of the huge economic, demographic, political, military and technological changes underway across the globe. The…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Assessing the Australian Christian Lobby

Some of the ACL’s recent activities have given cause for concern among pro-life, pro-family and faith-based activists, writes Damian Wyld. Since its founding more than a decade ago, the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has become a prominent player in public life. Indeed, its own website claims the group has “positioned itself as one of the premier political lobbies in the country”. It also provides a regular source of media commentary on a range of issues and is quoted in parliamentary debates. Given these facts, it is only fair to ask what policies ACL pursues. ACL’s longstanding acceptance of some level…

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AUSTRALIAN POLITICS: A successful conservative party ready to rebuild

Professor David Flint AM argues that the Liberal Party should neither be ideologically driven nor try to copy Labor. Instead, it should seek to represent Australia’s “forgotten people” with whose support Menzies built the original Liberal Party. The Liberal Party has never been an ideological party. The contrast with Labor could not be clearer. And yet it was only by presenting himself as leading a party little different from the Liberals that Kevin Rudd was able to win the November 2007 election. The Liberal Party seeks to apply in government those mainstream values, values that are spectacularly different from the…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Defending Australia’s independence

The centre of economic gravity is shifting from debtor nations of the West to the savings nations of the East. Patrick J. Byrne reports. The National Civic Council has produced an important brochure analysing the historic global power-shift underway from debtor nations of the West to the savings nations of the East. This shift will have major consequences for Australia. The NCC’s Strategic Report, The global power shift: defending Australia’s independence, argues that Australia’s over-dependence on foreign borrowing and direct foreign investment is leaving the nation vulnerable to a new form of strategic dominance. The famous US investor, Warren Buffett,…

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COVER STORY: CANBERRA OBSERVED: Kevin Rudd’s desperate gamble

Prime Minister Rudd has told the nation to continue to spend, spend, spend, as if there were no tomorrow. Kevin Rudd has decided to stake his Government’s credibility by directly challenging the economic crisis which has engulfed the world. After months of languishing amidst reviews and reports and bureaucratic malaise, Mr Rudd appears to have grasped the moment which will define his prime ministership. Realising that the seminal moment in his term of office has arrived, Mr Rudd has opted to spend the budget surplus early and in large dollops to try and prevent a recession. And he has declared…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Concerns over Chinese investment in WA mining

The federal government needs to set new rules for Chinese investment in Australia’s resources sector, WA’s premier has warned. Patrick J. Byrne reports. WA’s new Liberal Premier, Colin Barnett, has warned that Australia risks losing control of its economic development unless it sets new rules for investment from China. “Australia could be overwhelmed by the weight of Chinese investment,” Mr Barnett told The Australian (September 30), just prior to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in Perth last week. “I am not trying to discourage Chinese investment. Chinese investment is welcome. But I believe Australia as a whole needs…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Remembering Menzies’ “forgotten people”

Robert Menzies, in constructing the Liberal Party, wanted it to be free of the behind-the-scenes big business interests that had controlled the finances and policies of the old United Australia Party, writes Jeffry Babb. The Liberal Party is at the crossroads. It is facing a Labor government determined to transform Australia. Based on historical experience, it has two options: either totally and implacably oppose the Rudd program, which may help a Liberal return to government, if not in one term, then certainly two, when the bankrupting effect of the Rudd program becomes evident; or else adopt the Rudd “lite” option,…

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VICTORIA: Vic. court hands gambling decision back to council

A court ruling has upheld the rights of a community to determine its future against the power of central government. The Victorian court of appeals has upheld the rights of the citizens of the small country town of Romsey to refuse a gaming licence to their only pub, despite the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) approving the licence. Will this precedent set the grounds for local councils to make the final decision regarding sex shop and brothel applications? Regional Victorian councils have been fighting with state authorities over the approval of applications for brothels and pornography outlets (sex shops)…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Ten concerns about Rudd’s first 100 days

In the lead-up to last November’s federal election, Kevin Rudd carefully projected a public image of himself as a compassionate conservative with Christian leanings. How authentic was this image, asks Bill Muehlenberg. It is early days yet for the new Rudd Labor government, but already we have been given some pretty good indications as to where and how this government will proceed. These first few months in office make up the “honeymoon period”, in which the media and others are supposed to be kind to the new government, and only use kid gloves in their evaluations and interaction. The problem…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Brian Burke and Kevin Rudd cross paths again

Joseph Poprzeczny assesses the controversial Rudd-Burke relationship that’s dented Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s reputation. Kevin Rudd and Brian Burke have more in common than their just-released e-mails may suggest. Both were raised Catholics and both were taught by Marist Brothers – Burke at Perth’s Marist Subiaco College while Rudd attended Brisbane’s Ashgrove Marist College – even though Rudd plays this down now that he’s an Anglican. Both have been Australian diplomats – Rudd serving in Stockholm and Beijing; Burke in Dublin and the Holy See as ambassador. Both sought and gained leadership of the Labor Party – Rudd nationally; Burke…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: EI inquiry hears of more quarantine failures

After last year’s equine influenza outbreak, Australians are entitled to ask whether our quarantine system in relation to import of plants and other animals (including aquarium fish) has experienced similar failures. Further evidence of the inadequacies of Australia’s quarantine regime which led to the outbreak of horse flu last August has been given to the commission of inquiry into the outbreak of equine influenza (EI) in Sydney. The commission is headed by a former justice of the High Court of Australia, Commissioner Ian Callinan. For the past four months the commission has heard evidence from staff of the Australian Quarantine…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: A stern test for multiculturalism

A proposal to build an Islamic school in Camden, NSW, has provoked heated community opposition. John Miller reports. If ever a policy has become a time-bomb, ticking away at the heart of Australian politics, it is multiculturalism. The Australian electorate has never been given a chance to vote on this policy, which was introduced by the Whitlam Labor Government (1972-75). Prior to that, migrants were expected to assimilate; but since the inception of multiculturalism, assimilation has become anathema to those who drive our immigration policy, irrespective of their political party. One cannot seriously question the proposition that migrants have enriched Australia culturally.…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Can Rudd restore an impartial public service?

Newly-elected Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has spoken of the need for evidence-based policy-making. To get his way, however, he will need to replace the ideologically-driven advisers who have dominated Canberra for much of the past 30 years, writes Colin Teese. We have just witnessed an election in which a long-serving government and its leader have been spectacularly rejected. Less remarked upon has been the triumph, once again, of our Australian political democracy. Almost uniquely in the world, our system normally confers political power on the basis of the votes of a majority of the population of voting age. It is,…

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OPINION: Four factors that have shaped the new PM

Jeffry Babb examines the major influences on Kevin Rudd. Kevin Rudd has a life-long fascination with China. China helped lift him from the obscurity of a Queensland farm to the Lodge. Four factors shaped Kevin Rudd’s life – the Labor Party, China, his religion, and the death of his father when he was 11. Because of his rural Queensland background and his lack of union links, it is sometimes assumed that Rudd is a technocrat and diplomat rather than a person driven by ideals – a manager rather than a conviction politician. The truth, however, is that Rudd has been…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Will we learn from our quarantine debacle?

Many of Australia’s most lucrative exports could be jeopardised if we don’t heed the lessons of the recent equine influenza outbreak, warns Colin Teese. Who could have anticipated it? The latest casualty of mal-administrated quarantine rules has been Australia’s horse population. Official inquiries notwithstanding, don’t be fooled! The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) and the Commonwealth Government are to blame. Somehow, our quarantine guardians have managed to allow a horse, or horses, to enter Australia while infected with equine influenza (EI). For the racing industry, the outbreak could not have come at a worse time. Horse-racing hit the headlines because,…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Rudd and Howard woo the Christian vote

Audience responses (or indeed lack of response) to Howard and Rudd’s addresses at the National Press Club should give party strategists some insight into the minds of Christian voters. Mary-Louise Fowler reports. On August 9, 2007, around 200 Christian church leaders and “para-Christian” leaders gathered at the National Press Club to listen to what was hailed as the landmark “2007 Make It Count – Howard/Rudd Address Christian Voters” broadcast. Harnessing the latest technology, around 100,000 Christian leaders and congregations packed church halls all around Australia, to watch the two leaders address them by live web-cast. Was this really a landmark…

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NATIONAL CENSUS: Making sense of the Census

The traditional nuclear family and Christian belief are still clearly favoured by the great majority of Australians, despite media reports to the contrary, writes Bill Muehlenberg. The 2006 National Census data have just been released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, with a number of interesting details. What is also interesting is the way the media has put a spin on certain parts of the Census material. Going by some media reports, you would think that the nuclear family in Australia is nearly extinct, and that Christianity has just about had it. But with a bit of number-crunching, and closer…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Why Kevin Rudd leads in the polls

Australian families are entirely justified in instinctively disliking the Howard Government’s deregulationist economic policies, which have resulted in a massive redistribution of income away from households and towards company profits. Colin Teese reports. John Howard is behind in the polls. And, yes, it’s happened before, and he has pulled up. But this time it is beginning to look different. It is beginning to look like a re-run of when Mr Howard beat Prime Minister Keating in 1996. Whatever the Prime Minister says, the electorate does not seem to care. At the same time, whatever minor setbacks overtake Mr Rudd don’t seem…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Water and ethanol – time to think big

The water debate has widened with Queensland Premier Peter Beattie’s proposal to harness some of north Queensland’s massive water flows. If realised, it could massively boost Australia’s fledgling ethanol industry, writes Patrick J. Byrne. According to independent federal MP, Bob Katter, whose electorate of Kennedy covers most of north Queensland, “If just 7 per cent of the waters of the Gulf [of Carpentaria] rivers could irrigate some two million hectares of sugar cane in the Gulf region, this would provide ethanol to replace all the petrol in all motor vehicles in Australia and 4,000 megawatts of electricity, about 10 per…

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BUSHFIRES: Fuel-reduction burn-offs needed – ACT Coroner

Bushfires are bound to recur and wreak even more devastation unless we undertake pre-emptive fuel-reduction burn-offs, writes Peter Westmore. The tragic loss of four lives and the destruction of 500 houses in the January 2003 bushfires in and around Canberra were the subject of a Coroner’s inquest concluded last December. Most media reports focused on the actions of the ACT Government and Emergency Services Bureau and Bushfire Service in handling the fire emergency. But Chapter Four of the coronial inquiry examined the state of the forests around the ACT at the time of the bushfires, and made recommendations for the…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Sheik’s outburst – more than once is enough!

To what extent can a democratic country permit what is effectively a hostile counterculture to exist unchecked in its midst, asks social scientist Dr Christopher J. Ward. Australia’s top Muslim cleric – the “grand mufti” of Australia, Sheik Taj al-Din al-Hilaly – has done it again. He has proved quite conclusively that he has learned nothing from his inappropriate remarks demeaning Australian women as “uncovered meat” in October 2006. Neither his self-proclaimed exile nor taping his mouth has stopped him from appearing on Egyptian television to once again denigrate this country, criticising Australian law, culture and values, although one is sorely tempted…

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WORKPLACE RELATIONS: New laws exploit vulnerable employees

The Howard Government’s Work Choices legislation has isolated individuals in the workplace and put them at a disadvantage when bargaining with powerful employers, argues Tim Cannon, a former union organiser. Since the passing of the Work Choices amendment to the federal Workplace Relations Act, the controversial legislation has rarely been absent from the headlines. While many employers have approached the changes cautiously, it is worthwhile noting the response of the labour movement. After languishing in a period characterised by muted public hostility and member disillusionment, it would appear that the labour movement has rediscovered its cause. This re-invigoration was clearly…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Government’s challenges over AWB-Iraq saga

The Coalition parties still seem to be in a state of confusion over the concept of the single selling-desk, writes Colin Teese. The Royal Commission inquiry conducted into the behaviour of the AWB in relation to wheat sales to Iraq has now concluded, and its chairman Mr Terence Cole QC has brought down his findings. Importantly, the Foreign Minister, the Minister for Trade and their various officials have been exonerated from any wrongdoing arising from the behaviour of AWB Ltd. That outcome is hardly surprising. The terms of reference given to Mr Cole allowed him only to enquire into whether the…

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BUSHFIRES: Comprehensive approach needed to fight fires

The extent and severity of today’s bushfires owe more to current management practices than to drought and climate change, argues Reg Reichel from the Rural Fires Association of Queensland. There is an apparent correlation between increased bushfire occurrence and severity with the vast increases in area of publicly-owned lands since the early 1970s. During this time, vast areas have been locked up in National Parks that were previously managed as state forests or as vacant lands. An adequate and experienced workforce of professionals carried out previous management over these lands for conservation purposes, and this included the essential scientific use of…

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BOOKS: THE PARTNERSHIP, by Greg Sheridan

The state of the American alliance THE PARTNERSHIP:The inside story of the US-Australian alliance under Howard and Bushby Greg Sheridan(New South Wales University Press, 2006)Rec. price: AUD$29.95 In The Partnership, Greg Sheridan, The Australian’s Foreign Editor, has written a most informative account of the current state of the Australia-US alliance, and the political consequences of the alliance on its two member states. This alliance, undoubtedly the cornerstone of Australia’s foreign policy, was forged during the traumatic years of World War II, when Australia found itself abandoned by Great Britain, then struggling for survival against Nazi Germany, and turned to the…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: T3 sell-off will not end Telstra’s woes

As News Weekly goes to press, Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo is fronting the financial markets to talk up the company ahead of the Federal Government’s sale of a further $8 billion of Telstra shares, the third tranche of Telstra shares sold as part of the government’s privatisation of the telecommunications utility. Despite the hype, and the Government’s attempt to nobble adverse financial comment on the deal, the fact is that Telstra’s share price has been in decline since CEO Sol Trujillo was brought over from America to run the company in 2005, and at the time of appointment, not one…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Opening door to embryo experimentation

Practices that grossly violate human dignity will become legal if an expected private member’s bill to accept key findings of the Lockhart Inquiry is accepted by Federal Parliament. Pat Byrne reports on the key issues. Just four years ago, Australia’s federal and state parliaments voted to ban human cloning and restrict access to human embryos for scientific research. In a radical about-turn, the Lockhart Inquiry has recently recommended legalising human cloning, the cloning of animal-human hybrids and granting scientists greater access to human embryos for embryonic stem-cell research. These proposals will allow scientists to produce a subclass of human beings…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Energy self-sufficiency for Australia?

Oil and gas multinational Sasol Chevron has proposed a scheme that could enable Australia to be self-sufficient in energy, reports Joseph Poprzeczny. “Australia is at a cross-roads regarding energy supply and security for the 21st century.” That’s the opening line of the Perth-based Sasol Chevron joint venture’s submission to the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs Transport Committee. The submission continues: “The declining domestic supply of oil, combined with rising demand for transport fuels, is increasing Australia’s dependence on oil imports when the cost and security risk of these imports is also increasing.” Few would dispute that this succinct assessment puts…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Liberals turning to Whitlam-style centralism

The Howard Government is seemingly repudiating the Liberal Party’s traditional defence of states’ rights, writes Joseph Poprzeczny. Federal Treasurer Peter Costello apparently plans to transform Australia’s six sovereign states into mere spending departments for Canberra. But a more likely outcome of his centralist blueprint is that it will be the precursor of the break-up of Australia as we know it. Yet commentaries on the Costello centralisation plan (being marketed as “new federalism”) have failed to acknowledge the real risk of such an outcome. The reason is that all commentators have ignored the Australian Labor Party’s post-World War I platforms that…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Snowy Hydro: the unresolved issues

Prime Minister Howard’s backdown on the sale of the Snowy Mountain Hydro scheme has been a major victory for the Australian public, but Colin Teese warns that the battle may not yet be over. Surely, nobody can claim to have anticipated the Prime Minister’s back flip on the selling of the Snowy Mountain Hydro scheme. Certainly, as a result of it, there must be no shortage of red faces – most notably, on the Government’s side, Finance Minister Senator Nick Minchin. Only a week before he had boldly observed, “Even if the Commonwealth does not sell it, the Snowy will…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Will Snowy Hydro sale create Australia’s Enron?

Shortly after this issue of News Weekly was printed the sale of Snowy Hydro was cancelled by the Federal, NSW and Victorian governments. The privatisation of Snowy Hydro could create another Enron-style California electricity crisis and further undermine the reliability of timed irrigation water releases down the Murray and Murrumbidgee River system. Both concerns are a threat to Australia’s national interests, writes Patrick J. Byrne. At stake – in the current proposed sell-off of Australia’s great infrastructure project, the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme – is strategic control of both the principal water system and the principal electricity market in Australia.…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Snowy Hydro’s privatisation is theft

The privatisation of Australia’s iconic infrastructure project is set to go ahead despite widespread public opposition, writes Peter Westmore. The New South Wales, Federal and Victorian Governments have agreed to privatise one of Australia’s greatest infrastructure projects, the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme, and have presented the sale to the Australian people as a fait accompli. Despite calls in New South Wales for an inquiry into the sale, the NSW Premier, Morris Iemma, ruled out any delay in the privatisation, which is due to be completed this year. Mr Iemma is understood to want to use the $2 billion – which…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: A political vacuum waiting to be filled

A leading Canberra journalist Gerard McManus observes that the major political parties are increasingly out of touch with mainstream Australian values. Now, with the Australian Democrats and the Greens seemingly in decline, could Family First be the party to fill the resulting political vacuum? When British Prime Minister Tony Blair recently addressed the Federal Parliament, one event went unreported – but not unnoticed: the fact that John Howard not only introduced Family First leader Senator Steve Fielding to Mr Blair, but the amount of time the two men spent together. No other politician received the same treatment. That meeting signalled…

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BORDER PROTECTION: Why Australia needs naval, air force bases in Torres Strait

Australia’s border defences are failing to stop the increased smuggling of people and drugs across the Torres Strait – a failure that also poses a serious threat to Australia’s quarantine regime. Revelations on a recent ABC program that people from Pakistan, Vietnam and other Asian countries have been smuggled into Australia across Torres Strait – following the flight of a boatload of West Papua refugees across Torrres Strait several weeks ago – highlight the urgent need for Australia to upgrade its border defences in the region. Currently, the only border protection measure is a twice-daily Coastwatch flight over the area.…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Australian Democrats, Greens move to restrict religion

Australian Democrats leader Senator Lyn Allison’s moves to restrict religion have been attacked as instituting “intolerance on a grand scale”. An attempt by the Australian Democrats and Greens to abolish prayers in Parliament, and to remove tax advantages for religious groups, was defeated in the Senate on March 1. Parliamentary leader of the Australian Democrats, Senator Lyn Allison, introduced a notice of motion in the Senate, calling on the Howard Government, “if it is serious about a secular state”, to take steps to:- “(i) remove religious references from statutory oaths and pledges, (ii) abolish official parliamentary prayers, (iii) remove tax…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Public outcry against human cloning

Human cloning should be totally prohibited, according to an overwhelming majority of submissions to a Federal Government review of cloning and embryo experimentation laws, reports Richard Egan. Submissions to the Lockhart Committee, which has been appointed to review the Prohibition of Human Cloning Act 2002 and the Research Involving Human Embryos Act 2002, officially closed on September 9. However, extensions have been granted to some groups to finalise their submissions. Over 850 had been received by the end of September and the first 400 of these published on the committee’s special website at www.lockhartreview.com.au An analysis of these 400 submissions…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Could Australia cope with a natural disaster?

Australia is ill-prepared for any sort of natural disaster, such as the predicted bird flu epidemic, warns former senior Commonwealth public servant, Colin Teese. Worst of all, the Federal Government is misguidedly dismantling Australia’s strict quarantine standards in the name of ever more trade liberalisation. If the recent tragedy in New Orleans tells us anything, it is that governments can’t leave risk management – as it relates to public policy – to chance. When only the government can protect citizens from natural or induced disasters, then they must do so. Terrorism is one obvious example of such a circumstance. Here…

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INTELLIGENCE: Past espionage failure spooks US partnership

Australia should not get too euphoric about a recent supposed upgrading of its intelligence relationship with the US, cautions a former senior intelligence officer, John Miller. Negligible action was taken on a federal police probe in the early 1990s, which revealed that a number of ASIO officers were spying for hostile intelligence services. A recent front-page headline of The Australian (September 1, 2005) declared: “New ranking lets us share in US secrets”. In what appears to have been a scoop story, The Australian‘s foreign affairs editor, Greg Sheridan, wrote that US President George W. Bush “has issued a decree upgrading…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Quarantine and trade policy – a deadly mix

Upholding strict quarantine standards is essential for maintaining Australian agriculture’s global reputation as a disease-free source of produce, argues former deputy secretary of the Department of Trade, Colin Teese. The Federal Government, however, has been prepared to sacrifice quarantine protection on the altar of free trade, and, in doing so, risks jeopardising the future health and prosperity of our important farm exports. It’s bad enough to identify policy heading off in the wrong direction. It’s worse still when the Government’s policy actions leave us guessing about its real intentions. Quarantine is an example of the latter dilemma. What is more,…

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WORKPLACE RELATIONS: New workplace reforms: the devil is in the detail

Unskilled and semi-skilled workers could be worse off under the Coalition’s proposed workplace reforms writes Peter Westmore. Although the exact shape of the Federal Government’s new industrial laws is still to be finally released, some aspects of the Government’s proposed laws threaten to seriously weaken the position of employees with little bargaining power. The main issue of contention remains the Federal Government’s plan to remove unfair dismissal laws for companies which employ fewer than 100 workers. There can be no doubt that unfair dismissal laws have discouraged many small businesses from taking on additional employees; and some strange decisions of…

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WORKPLACE RELATIONS: No more hurdles for Howard’s dismissal laws

Neither John Howard nor Kim Beazley seems to have grasped the inadequacies of the Coalition’s impending workplace relations legislation, argues Colin Teese, former deputy secretary of the Department of Trade. Mr John Howard’s Coalition government takes numerical control of the Senate from the week beginning July 4. Henceforth, the Coalition needs no support from outside parties to pursue its legislative program. That, however, does not mean the automatic passage of anything Cabinet decides to endorse. Although the Labor Opposition, with or without the support of minor parties is now powerless, the Coalition backbench may not be. We have already seen…

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AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Behind the branch-stacking allegations

At least seven federal Labor MPs are under threat of losing preselection for their seats. Throughout its history, the factions within the Australian Labor Party have sought power by enrolling members in branches, so as to secure the election of delegates to ALP conferences and win ALP preselection for parliamentary seats. These time-honoured tactics were taken to a new low in the 1950s, when the far left permitted non-members to attend and vote at ALP Conferences in defiance of the party rules, to expel their ALP Industrial Group opponents, particularly in Victoria. Since then, the left has systematically enrolled members…

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NATIONAL COMPETITION POLICY: Review whitewashes National Competition Policy

A major report on competition policy fails to explain why European countries not pursuing deregulation have much higher output per hours worked than countries pursuing these policies, such as Australia, writes Pat Byrne. A major report on competition policy fails to explain why European countries not pursing competition policies have much higher output per hours worked than countries pursuing these policies, such as Australia. The glaring inconsistency appear in the just-released, 500-page Productivity Commission’s Review of National Competition Policy Reforms. The same inconsistency was pointed out by the Australian Financial Review columnist, Brian Toohey, when the commission’s draft report on…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Trade and Australia’s farm dependent economy

While Australia continues to pursue free trade in world agriculture, there are warnings that the current World Trade Organisation proposals on agricultural reform may see farm subsidies increase, not decrease. Warning of what was on the table, Dr Brian Fisher, from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE), said that under the new proposals the US could increase subsidies for wheat, feed grain, rice, cotton and oilseeds. Currently, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has underway an agricultural round of trade rule negotiations, ostensibly aimed at reforming farm subsidies, particularly in developed countries. Former Deputy Director of the Department…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Infrastructure back on the agenda

A report for the Business Council of Australia has highlighted the terrible deterioration of Australia’s ageing infrastructure, but it is flawed in its solutions. Infrastructure like roads, bridges, power stations, water delivery systems, eventually need replacing due to age, and new investment is needed to meet growing demand. Government spending on infrastructure is at its lowest since its peak in the mid-1960s. On water, the report’s assumption is the same as that of numerous other recent state water reports – no new dams. Instead, it wants market forces to limit consumption. It proposes raising the price of water to shift…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Reserve Bank governor defends his record

Any prudently cautious commentator must feel a concern for this country’s economy when the Reserve Bank governor, in the face of evidence to the contrary, insists on holding to current orthodoxy. Reserve Bank governor, Ian Macfarlane, recently gave evidence about the state of the economy to the Standing Committee on Economics, Finance and Public Administration of the House of Representatives. If Mr Macfarlane is to be believed, the economy is in very good shape. The housing boom has been dissipated with a soft landing. Excess borrowing for housing has now diminished. Home-owners, it appears, are continuing to borrow as before;…

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BUSHFIRES: COAG inquiry skirts the real issues

A recent inter-government report into the 2003 Australian bushfires – the worst since 1939 – has ignored advice on how to prevent a similar outbreak again. The recently-released COAG report into the 2003 Australian bushfires, commissioned by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), has failed to deal with the central problems of bushfire management: the need for prescriptive fuel-reduction burn-offs, and providing more manpower for fire control and fire-fighting. The 2002-3 bushfire season destroyed over 50 million hectares, mainly in Queensland, NSW and Victoria; burnt over half the ACT; destroyed some 600 homes in Canberra; and took ten lives. The…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Top free-market think-tank warns of ‘banana republic’

Australia is at risk of becoming a “banana republic,” one of Australia’s leading economic consultancies has warned. Access Economics, a major free-market think-tank close to the Liberal Party, has warned in a report, launched on January 24, that Australia’s current account deficit is pushing Australia into “banana republic” range. “OK, it’s panic-button time,” declared Access Economics director Chris Richardson the day before the launch. “It will take longer than markets realise to rein in a current account deficit in the ‘banana republic’ range.” He said that debt levels, high imports and poor export levels were creating an unsustainable situation. In…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Labor needs new direction as well as new leader

The sudden but inevitable resignation of Mark Latham as Labor leader poses much deeper problems for the ALP than merely finding an electorally-appealing alternative to John Howard as Prime Minister. If that is all that the Labor Party does, it will be shuffling deck-chairs on the Titanic. Labor’s defeat in last October’s election owed something to Mark Latham’s arrogance and wilfulness – encapsulated in his deal with the Greens over Tasmanian forests to secure Green preferences, the imposition of rock star and extreme environmentalist Peter Garrett into a safe ALP seat in NSW over the heads of rank-and-file members, and…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS: The bubble economy – can it last?

Just as St Peter reminded his flock that charity can cover a multitude of sins, so it is (for entirely different reasons) that politicians need reminding that good economic times cover a multitude of political mistakes. In other words, voter tolerance to political failings often depends on just how well the voter himself is doing. John Howard is at the zenith of his career and many of his former critics have used the occasion of the passing of Bob Hawke’s record as Australia’s second longest-serving Prime Minister to sing his praises and re-evaluate the Howard era. The public have been…

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