Guest Post: Ian Plimer – How to make Canberra efficient

At the IPA presentation in Melbourne by Treasurer Hockey on 31st March, 2015 the emphasis was on taxation. Costs, reducing the size of the bureaucracy and efficiency were not discussed. Here’s my proposal.

The greens, social engineers and bureaucrat advocates all want to change our way of life. Well, so do I. My proposal does not take away your freedoms, would make your life easier, would save zillions and is based on spending much of my life in the outback. It is decentralisation. But with a difference. Decisions would be made at the coalface rather than in Canberra conference rooms (heated or cooled by coal-fired electricity).

Because many Australians live in rural towns, I can’t think of any reason why Canberra’s bureaucrats in today’s electronic age would resign rather than relocate. However, I suspect many would resign from the cocoon of Canberra crassness rather than live elsewhere. This would be a mechanism of reducing the public service budget without a hostile Senate stopping budget cuts. Thousands of tax-paying private sector workers relocate each year so what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

My decentralisation would force bureaucrats to become part of the community they serve and would give them a first hand understanding of the outcomes. If my decentralisation proposal did not work, it wouldn’t matter anyway because the bureaucracy would have been greatly reduced. Continue reading

Posted in Guest Post | 38 Comments

Thomas Sowell on “the most catastrophic international agreement in the nation’s history”

Obama knows better than anyone else, just as he did with healthcare and just as he did with the economy. And now he is bringing his same non-existent analytical skills to solving the tensions in the Middle East by engineering a cave-in to every single demand the Iranians are making about building nuclear weapons. A country that literally floats on oil does not need to build a nuclear power plant. This is Thomas Sowell writing on these matters, in a column titled, Etiquette Versus Annihilation. Here is how he begins:

Recent statements from United Nations officials, that Iran is already blocking their existing efforts to keep track of what is going on in their nuclear program, should tell anyone who does not already know it that any agreement with Iran will be utterly worthless in practice. It doesn’t matter what the terms of the agreement are, if Iran can cheat.

It is amazing — indeed, staggering — that so few Americans are talking about what it would mean for the world’s biggest sponsor of international terrorism, Iran, to have nuclear bombs, and to be developing intercontinental missiles that can deliver them far beyond the Middle East.

Back during the years of the nuclear stand-off between the Soviet Union and the United States, contemplating what a nuclear war would be like was called “thinking the unthinkable.” But surely the Nazi Holocaust during World War II should tell us that what is beyond the imagination of decent people is by no means impossible for people who, as Churchill warned of Hitler before the war, had “currents of hatred so intense as to sear the souls of those who swim upon them.”

Have we not already seen that kind of hatred in the Middle East? Have we not seen it in suicide bombings there and in suicide attacks against America by people willing to sacrifice their own lives by flying planes into massive buildings, to vent their unbridled hatred?

Well, we have seen it, but Obama has not. Or if he has, he has taken a very different lesson from the rest of us. Sowell concludes:

Against the background of the Obama administration’s negotiating what can turn out to be the most catastrophic international agreement in the nation’s history, to complain about protocol is to put questions of etiquette above questions of annihilation.

Meanwhile the most intense current debate in the United States is over whether someone’s religious views should be allowed to influence how they run their business. The US is no longer the leader of the free world. It is even questionable whether Americans are any longer even a free people.

Posted in American politics, International | 18 Comments

More IT spending waste: anyone surprised?

We haven’t heard much about eHealth recently.  There is still the bumf on the website:

A personally controlled eHealth Record (PCEHR) is a secure online summary of your health information.

You control what goes into it, and who is allowed to access it. Your eHealth record allows you and your doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers to view and share your health information to provide you with the best possible care.

But it is fair to assume that over a billion dollars has been spent on this ill-conceived mission and the take-up (and utilisation) of this system is extremely low.

The Coalition government had the opportunity to dump it early on, but now it owns it.  My guess is that it will go the way of all massive IT schemes, certainly public sector ones, with grandiose visions and presumed efficiency gains – it will be eventually junked in the hope that no one notices.

The Victorian Department of Education spent hundreds of millions developing a ‘secure’ intranet site to communicate with teachers.  It was a complete fiasco and has now been ditched.

A now this – can’t get it right on a tiny scale:

A “toxic culture” of denigration and discrimination is driving doctors, nurses and dentists away from the Australian Defence Force. Or so claims a serving medical officer in the Army Reserve.

The allegations come from Captain Julian Fidge, a general practitioner in Victoria with 10 years’ experience in the ADF as a soldier and then a medical reservist, for the last five years.

They follow revelations late last year of suspected sexual impropriety and drug trafficking in the Royal Australian Navy. Such instances lend weight to Fidge’s claim that insular cultures exist within the ADF.

Fidge is so frustrated by what he claims is the military’s refusal to acknowledge inappropriate treatment of specialist service officers — doctors, nurses, dentists and other health professionals — that he went public this week.

In The Medical Journal of Australia’s electronic newsletter Insight, he writes: “I’ve witnessed contempt displayed towards, and poor treatment of, specialist officers by general service officers, which appears to be instilled at the Royal Military College, Duntroon, and fostered in other training centres such as the Army Logistics Training Centre.”

Fidge tells Weekend Health that during training at Duntroon, experienced health professionals, including doctors and trauma surgeons, are required to “sit through” 20 hours of first-aid training.

“They want to demean you,” he claims. “You get the clear message that you’re not valued, that your rank is not a real thing. It’s a widespread problem,” he says, pointing to incidents in which the orders of doctors and nurses about patient treatment have been countermanded by infantry officers.

Responding in Insight, ADF Major General Paul Alexander acknowledges there are vacancies in all three services for medical officers, but rejects Fidge’s argument that the reason for the vacancies is that health professionals are so harassed that they leave after “short periods” of service.

“There is no evidence to suggest that there is a morale problem among ADF medical officers or that there are widespread concerns that medical officers are treated poorly,” Alexander says.

But Weekend Health has seen similar grievances from other medical experts. One states: “We wish to make a complaint under the Defence Whistleblower Scheme about the management of patients and bullying behaviour by defence staff at the HMAS Albatross Medical Centre.”

The complainants go further: “When we have raised issues about patient management with those in command, we have been criticised for failing to deal with the patient workload appropriately, failing to follow directions of supervisors and failing to understand defence policy.

“This has caused us great distress and led to a deterioration in working relationships.”

They add that they tried to deal with the matter through the “established complaint mechanism”, but to no effect. “A quick assessment was carried out but we were not provided with any details of the outcome, and no further action was taken.”

That fits with Fidge’s experience. He says he’s been charged with insubordination more than a dozen times in the past two years and is suspended from duty.

In November, Fidge wrote to Kathleen Dermody, committee secretary for the Senate standing committee on foreign affairs, defence and trade, seeking leave to detail his concerns to the committee. Fidge says Dermody spoke with him, explaining she would pass his letter on to Defence Science and Personnel Minister Warren Snowdon.

In December, Fidge wrote to Army Brigadier R. J. Marsh, commander 4th brigade, regarding his suspension and complaint about harassment and discrimination against specialist services officers.

Fidge also wrote to Snowdon in December and was assured by the minister that the army “is conducting a detailed assessment into the matters you have raised and I will write to you again when the assessment is completed”.

Last week, however, Marsh replied to Fidge, asking that he resubmit his complaint and urging him to consider psychological counselling. Marsh added: “I do not condone any unacceptable behaviour in the workplace and am committed to ensuring that all incidents of unacceptable behaviour are dealt with appropriately.”

When asked by Weekend Health to confirm the status of the investigation of Fidge’s concerns, a spokesperson for the Defence Minister said the department took claims of unacceptable behaviour seriously. “[But] Dr Fidge has not yet provided the additional information as requested [by Marsh].”

All of which infuriates Fidge, who claims he’s already given ample information for the complaint to proceed, and that he began doing so in 2008. He argues it’s “remarkable and incorrect” to say the onus is on him to provide sufficient detailed information.

“For these officers to be avoiding my complaints . . . instead of seizing the opportunities to address this critical, national security problem beggars belief,” according to Fidge.

“The complaints have been mismanaged from the beginning, and the ADF [has] ignored [its] own procedures in order to conceal the extent of the problem. The whole shambles reflects very poorly on the most senior ranks of the ADF, especially the senior officers of the Australian Army.”

Fidge says: “I remain dedicated to providing the best possible health support to Australian troops and will bend over backwards to co-operate, should the ADF decide to investigate. While the ADF continues to refuse to investigate these matters, I will continue to report them directly to the Minister for Defence.”

Posted in Uncategorized | 29 Comments

Lies, damned lies and politics

The interviewer is Dana Bash. The interviewee is Harry Reid, former Senate Majority Leader in the United States. During the election in 2012, he helped lie Obama back into the White House by stating that Mitt Romney hadn’t paid taxes in ten years. And so, the other day this is what he said:

BASH: So no regrets about Mitt Romney, about the Koch Brothers. Some people have even called it McCarthyite.

REID: Well… [shrug] … they can call it whatever they want. Um … Romney didn’t win, did he?

This is how it works on the left in politics everywhere. There are the “intellectuals”, academics and journalists. And there are those who are on the receiving end of a pipeline of government money, some rich (crony capitalists and all) and most not so rich. Good governance is the farthest thing from their minds. With the media as slanted to the left as Pravda in the days of the Soviet Union, it is a generally winning combination. That the US is now a mess, and becoming less consequential every day, is no concern of theirs. Harry Reid speaks for them all. Admits he lied, but so what. Obama won and Romney didn’t.

And in Australia. You have the same combination of the left intellectual “elite”, who generally are anti-market, and the ALP/Green support base, who have little clue where the good things in life come from, other than knowing they aren’t getting their fair share. What’s cheaper electricity and a more reliable supply got to do with anything? If you can make ownership of poles and wires work for you, you can win government. Everybody at the top of the Labor Party knew Martin Ferguson was right. But had it not been for him and a few others, Labor might have won the election, just as Obama did in 2012.

In Australia, our media is not as slanted. You do get to hear both sides on most issues – although the ABC, being a public broadcaster and the most far left of the lot is a major distortion in our news and information flow. Under the Harry Reid Principle (or lack of principle), Martin Ferguson is being forced out of the Labor Party for telling an inconvenient truth. Truth in politics is what you can get away with.

Victoria’s union chiefs have unanimously called on Labor to expel Rudd-Gillard frontbencher Martin Ferguson from the party as anger rises over recent comments savaging the ALP and the trade union movement.

Mr Ferguson, a former ACTU president and federal resources minister, describes himself as “Labor to the bootstraps” despite now working as a lobbyist for the oil and gas industry and representing companies including Shell, Exxon Mobil, Woodside and BHP.

But a slew of recent political attacks by Mr Ferguson have sparked frustration and a strong push to turf out the former Labor heavyweight from the party.

Tensions spilled over this week, with Mr Ferguson publicly supporting the reinstatement of the hardline Australian Building and Construction Commission, claiming the militant construction union must be “brought to heel”.

He also accused NSW Labor leader Luke Foley of “rank opportunism” and “blatant scaremongering” in the run-up to Saturday’s state election. Mr Ferguson became the face of a NSW Liberal Party campaign ad, where he expresses disgust over his party’s anti-privatisation campaign. [Bolding added]

And where are we now? Labor might well have won had Ferguson not said what he said as publicly as he did. The entire east coast would have then had the same junk governments, and Tony Abbott would have had to go. An informed electorate is one thing; a perpetually deceitful and ignorant media class is quite another.

And I draw your attention to the implicit bias in the story which clearly implies that working for the resources sector and trying to control rogue unions is somehow against the Labor Party ethos. It may well be so, but it is not a winning combination for the long-term prosperity of this country.

Posted in Media, Politics | 28 Comments

We just need more tax revenue calls become shriller

I guess the Labor Party thinks it gets good value for the increasingly insane output of the Grattan Institute.  Recall that Gillard and Brumby handed over huge amounts of taxpayer money to fund this outfit. (There is some irony there.)

Having campaigned on superannuation tax concessions and negative gearing, all the time ignoring both theory and facts, they are now turning their attention to capital gains tax.

The idea that there is a discount in the capital gains tax regime is just silly; it is what it is.  The taxing of 50 per cent of capital gains at marginal tax rates is just an easy way to deal with the impact of inflation relative to the complicated adjustment that was previously required.

Whether or not the 50 per cent is precisely accurate depends on the length of time an asset is held and the rate of inflation over that time.

The idea that capital gains should be taxed at full marginal tax rates just beggars belief.  Danielle Wood should know better. We want to encourage capital accumulation.  And it is not equivalent of annual income.

At least, Professor Miranda Stewart, who is fully in the “we need more tax revenue camp”(her centre is funded by taxpayers as a result of a recommendation of the Henry tax review) has the honesty to say that there is no where in the world where capital gains are taxed as income.

Indeed, in New Zealand and Singapore, there is no capital gains tax and in the US, the capital gains tax is only 15 per cent.  Viewed interntionally, Australia’s capital gains tax regime puts us in the top half already.

I really feel this discussion is getting out of hand.  We need to reward risk taking and entrepreneurship – not kill it off with punitive taxes.

The government could save up to $5.6 billion a year if it wound back the 50 per cent discount on capital gains, which experts said was too generous and predominantly benefited the wealthy.

The Grattan Institute says 2 per cent of the highest income earners receive 52 per cent of the capital gains and the discount should be scrapped altogether.

Joe Hockey’s tax paper, released Monday, questions whether the rationale for the capital gains tax discount, and the size of the discount, is still appropriate. “One issue that is contested is the role that negative gearing plays in driving investment in rental properties,” the paper also says.

Grattan Institute fellow Danielle Wood, a former Australian Competition and Consumer Commission economist, said the interplay between the two concessions was the problem.

“The fact you can write off your investment losses in full against your wage but you are only taxed on half of your gains is a problem,” she said.

“In our view the first best policy solution is take way the capital gains tax discount. Then you have symmetry between the way you treat gains and losses.”

Miranda Stewart, the director of the Tax and Transfer Policy Institute at the Australian National University, said there might be a case for lowering the tax on bank savings and, on the flip side, increasing tax rates for capital gains.

Labor’s Henry tax review recommended a 40 per cent capital gains tax discount but former prime minister Kevin Rudd quickly ruled it out as an option.

“One approach would be just to bring capital gains in as assessable income and tax everything at the same marginal rates,” Professor Stewart said.

That would certainly remove some planning burdens. But no country does that, I have to say.”

Posted in Uncategorized | 37 Comments

More complete tosh from Mark Kenny

Yes, I know what you are thinking: does Mark Kenny write anything else?

He has absolutely no idea about superannuation tax concessions and even quotes the totally discredited figure of $30 billion in revenue foregone.  Oh dear.  Has he not read anything on this issue, including the definitive rejection of the figure by the head of revenue in Treasury, Rob Heferen?

As for the idea of a bipartisan deal, pull the other one.  Labor’s idea is to expropriate superannuation balances of people who have amassed these balances under the existing rules.  This is what Communist governments do.

And don’t you just love Labor’s trade off: accelerate the SGC to 12 per cent, the ultimate wet dream of industry super funds.  They are like drug addicts that have been deprived of their rising doses.

Here’s the thing: there are two key variables that drive the tax concessions – the SGC and the tax scales.  If the top marginal tax rate increases, so does the value of the super tax concessions rise.  Go figure.

The key now is that the Coalition is not trapped into promising something in this space which is bad and desperate policy.

Of course, Labor’s idea of bipartisanship is Labor’s way or the highway.

Here is the drivel:

The prospect of a breakthrough on the contentious tax treatment of superannuation earnings has moved a step closer with Labor extending a rare offer of bipartisanship to a cash-strapped government.

With Treasurer Joe Hockey this week inviting a national conversation on tax reform, and struggling to craft a budget amid a declining revenue outlook, Labor’s Chris Bowen has offered support for a crackdown on the super incomes of the super rich.

It would likely apply to those with millions of dollars sitting in superannuation accounts from which they derive tax-free six-figure annual salaries.

“The Labor Party believes the taxation treatment of superannuation is unfair and needs to be fixed,” Mr Bowen said in Melbourne.

“I pointed out that this could be a matter of some bipartisanship if the government chose to agree as part of this so-called national conversation.”

The Shadow Treasurer cited figures provided by the industry body, the Association of Superannuation Funds for Australia.

“ASFA shows, for example, that there are 475 people with more than $10 million in their superannuation accounts earning $1.5 million in income and there are 100,000 people in Australia with superannuation balances in excess of $2 million,” he said.

“This is a real issue which needs to be addressed. The Labor Party is prepared to lead the way.”

One possibility is that Labor could support new tax arrangements for high-end super fund accounts in exchange for a commitment from the government to recommence the staged progress toward a 12 per cent compulsory employer-funded superannuation goal, which has been paused by the government.

Because of the favourable treatment of superannuation, revenue forgone in concessional tax rates – mostly 15 per cent on contributions rather than the relevant marginal income tax bracket – is extremely expensive, currently costing the budget more than $35 billion annually.

The government is wary of even discussing superannuation rules after promising in iron-clad terms before the election that there would be no negative modifications to the oft-tampered-with rules during its first term.

However, it is increasingly becoming accepted that the generous concessions for super at the top end have no utility in public policy, because they do nothing to keep people of such obvious wealth from claiming the age pension for which they are not eligible anyway – the original purpose for the concessional treatment.

Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has acknowledged that superannuation does need to be discussed as part of the broader tax mix, albeit with any changes to occur in subsequent terms of parliament.

“At the same time we need to be very conscious of the fact that we made that commitment at the last election that there’d be no adverse or unexpected changes to super and that we need to look right across the board and not just, as the Labor Party likes to do, at the higher income earners,” he said.

His predecessor in the role, the respected NSW senator Arthur Sinodinos, has also acknowledged that some action needs to be taken on “equity grounds”.

Posted in Uncategorized | 37 Comments

ASADA’s Darkest Day

ASADA chief Ben McDevitt got asked if he felt like an April fool and if yesterday was the blackest day in anti-doping administration in Australia.

All of a sudden the “blackest day in Australian sport” was an unfortunate throw-away line.

That’s a cheap line … That’s a sensationalist line … Just crazy, I mean let’s just dismiss that, I mean I don’t think its a useful descriptor for any of us. Are you saying its a black bad for ASADA?

Shock. Horror. No.

Well nice try. Small problem though. Even the ABC are onto this:

Yesterday’s finding by the AFL anti-doping tribunal – that not a single one of the 34 players charged for taking a banned substance was guilty – was supposed to bring to an end the two-year saga stemming from the “blackest day in Australian sport”.

It hasn’t. It’s blown open the biggest sports doping case this country has seen and revealed it to be a shell built on rumour, innuendo and bullying.

The Essendon players are justifiably relieved. The coach is so worn down he just wants to coach. The chairman wants to get the show back on the straight-and-narrow.

When the dust settles, each party has the right to be aggrieved and seek recompense.

For its part, the AFL is unapologetic. ASADA, though, is mad as hell. They look to have been bluffing and blundering for two years.

It’s not just ASADA that gets both barrels.

And what of the ACC report that was at the heart of it all? The promises of a thriller complete with crime gangs, match-fixing and rampant drug use? The only thing missing from the mix was a brothel. Headlines rang out, editorials were full of it, program after program echoed the shock and awe. What happened to that?

Heh – “The only thing missing from the mix was a brothel.” Well done that journalist for reminding us. From the Herald Sun:

With Julia Gillard’s prime ministership under sustained threat from Kevin Rudd, and multiple scandals running in the press, the Labor Government was desperate for a diversion, and they found it in their “darkest day’’.

The then-Opposition immediately cried foul, with South Australian Liberal MP Jamie Briggs telling Parliament the Labor Government had sought to create a “media circus’’.

“Of course, if there are allegations of criminality or criminal activity in sport then they must be dealt with forcefully,’’ he said, two years ago.

“The Coalition, however, has long been concerned that the Gillard Government saw the Crime Commission report as an opportunity to divert attention away from their political troubles and leadership tensions at the time.’’

Whether it was a diversion or not, it failed. Mr Rudd succeeded in toppling Ms Gillard four months later, Senator Lundy lost her portfolio, Mr Clare lost his position in Cabinet, and Labor ultimately lost government in 2013.

A case built on rumour and innuendo compounded by bullying for the political gain of the government of the day.

I can think of no reason why the current head of ASADA should be able to simply dismiss the “blackest day” comment as being a cheap line – it set off a corrupt process for a corrupt purpose. I hope the former opposition – now government – follow up on that “media circus”. A full investigation of both ASADA and the ACC is warranted.

Posted in AFLgate | 49 Comments

Wednesday Forum: April 1, 2015

Posted in Open Forum | 797 Comments

Guest Post: Brad Emery – Tim Winton’s message of ‘peace’ was anything but…

Easter is a time for reflection.  Regardless of whether or not you’re a Christian, it’s an opportunity to take time out and assess your life and perhaps even express thanks for what you’ve been given.  Obviously for Christians, it’s a time for us to stop and acknowledge the redeeming work of our saviour, Jesus Christ.

It’s generally a time for peace.

Last Sunday, a number of people took to the streets of Perth, apparently to rally in the name of peace.  Unfortunately, what was spoken at that rally and subsequently published in the Fairfax press, was bile filled accusations at basically anyone one who wouldn’t choose to join such a march.  Nope, not an off-the-wall extremist cleric calling for a holy war on Israel.  This slander came from an apparent man of faith, Tim Winton, on behalf of the Justice4Refugees movement.

By Tim’s judgement, Palm Sunday was the perfect opportunity to vilify anyone with a differing political view on how to manage our borders and provide assistance to legitimate refugees.

Even more disturbingly, Winton started off his tirade talking about Jesus.  Well, he actually misquoted Jesus from Luke 11:11 when Jesus is promising that God will give eternal salvation to all who ask: ‘And of which of you that is a father shall his son ask a loaf, and he give him a stone? Or a fish, and he for a fish give him a serpent?

He misquoted Jesus, because it fit with the argument he was about to launch into.

Winton opens by telling the crowd that they’re not there to celebrate the country we live in but rather that ‘…We’re here to reflect. To hold ourselves to account. We didn’t come here today to celebrate power or to hide in its privileged shadow. We’re here to speak for the powerless. We’re here to call a spade a spade…

Sorry Tim, but you weren’t.  You were there with a political agenda to condemn the government of the day for policies you disagree with and label anyone who dare dissent from your particular point of view as believing in ‘vicious, despicable nonsense’.  Those of us who don’t agree with Tim are apparently collaborators in a society where, ‘…something foul is festering in the heart of our community, something shameful and rotten.

There you go. Happy Easter.  If you are one of those who lends any sympathy to the border protection policies of the current government you have something ‘shameful and rotten’ inside you.

According to Winton, it’s that we’re afraid of asylum seekers.  It couldn’t be that we have actually used our intellect to assess all the possible practical policy alternatives on border protection and believe the current model works best.  No, it’s because we have a ‘phobia’; the safety word used by those most desperate to push an ideology rather than engage in meaningful debate.

Of course from the outset and indeed throughout his entire piece, Winton offers no actual alternative.  One can only assume from his lengthy rant that Australia should basically open our borders and let every boat destined for our shores, land.

And what of it?  What if we let the boats come by the hundreds or thousands, as if by doing so we wouldn’t see a humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions.  An open door policy where asylum seekers pay thousands of dollars to organised crime for a place on an unseaworthy vessel in an attempt to cross the treacherous Timor Sea.

If such a policy were introduced, upon whose hands would the blood lay for every person that drowns attempting the ocean crossing? Winton’s?

Or perhaps to avoid such an unsafe practice, the government should regulate the free transit of people seeking asylum in Australia.  Of course to be fair, it would have to be orderly.  Hang about.  We already have such a system.  That’s because Australia subscribes to and helps fund the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) whose mandate as outlined on their website is to ‘…strive to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and to find safe refuge in another State, with the option to return home voluntarily, integrate locally or to resettle in a third country.

Instead of offering any real suggestions or alternatives, Winton’s piece descends into typical left-wing waffle, painting the whole issue as being as simple as a Dickensean tale of good versus evil.

Disregarding all the foul hyperbole – where Winton accuses anyone who agrees with the policies of the current federal government as holding the worth of beef cattle higher than the life of a child – there is a definite undercurrent contained in Winton’s speech that is as dangerous as it is insulting.

That is the notion that someone cannot claim to be a Christian if they disagree with Winton’s particular political view on the handling of asylum seekers; that if they agree with the current border protection regime, they are not really followers of Christ, but rather cowering bigots.

Seeing as Winton is not God (despite his standing with many lefties), this is an almighty insult to any follower of Jesus who has wrestled with this issue from a Biblical, moral and political perspective and come to a different conclusion.

For example, nowhere does Winton address the insidious and evil issue of people smuggling.  This criminal enterprise is the modern day cousin of the slave trade of the 18th century.  A trade where, as Winton himself puts it, ‘Asylum seekers are rendered as objects, creatures, cargo, contraband…’

A trade where people pay thousands of dollars to highly organised criminals to become cargo, shipped from one port to another.  I truly believe that great Christian fighters like William Wilberforce, who stood up against the evils of the slave trade, would have been as ardent a supporter of destroying the people smuggling industry.

An unrestricted opening of our borders won’t stop people smuggling; it will only serve to boost their trade.  It would see more people risking their lives on the open sea in boats that should long have been destroyed.  It would see more money going to organised crime that oppresses rather than liberates.

No policy that excludes cutting out the cancer of people smuggling will have any impact in truly helping asylum seekers.

And as such, as a Christian, I disagree with Winton and believe his policy perspective is flawed.

Therefore, according to Winton, I am a person complicit with a brutal regime and have something foul, shameful and rotten festering inside me.

As if to emphasise this horrible theme running through Winton’s speech, he concludes by again misusing Jesus own words from Mark 8, “What shall it profit a man to gain the whole world only to lose his soul?

Jesus was talking about surrendering our heart, soul and mind to God instead of to the world.  He wasn’t talking about left-wing, geopolitical activism dressed up as faith.

Brad Emery is a freelance writer and attends Church by the Bridge Kirribilli.

Posted in Guest Post | 43 Comments

Who can explain the anti-American American media

obama iran negotiations cartoon

There was a time I could understand what is going on in politics. I wouldn’t necessarily agree, but I could follow it. But what has me utterly mystified is the negotiations between the Americans and Iran. And it’s not Obama. He’s a known quantity. It’s everyone else, and the absence of any serious reaction.

Let me begin with this. Here’s a story from yesterday: Poll: Clear majority supports nuclear deal with Iran. Here’s what the survey showed, according to the opening para:

By a nearly 2 to 1 margin, Americans support the notion of striking a deal with Iran that restricts the nation’s nuclear program in exchange for loosening sanctions, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds.

If it comes to that, I support a deal that restricts Iran’s nuclear program. But it is the second para of the story that brings clarity to what American really believe:

But the survey — released hours before Tuesday’s negotiating deadline — also finds few Americans are hopeful that such an agreement will be effective. Nearly six in 10 say they are not confident that a deal will prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, unchanged from 15 months ago, when the United States, France, Britain, Germany, China and Russia reached an interim agreement with Iran aimed at sealing a long-term deal.

So try a question like this instead: Are you in favour of striking a deal that leaves Iran with nuclear weapons while their leaders continue to repeat, “Death to America”, and who threaten to use a nuclear weapon to obliterate Israel?

It is media who have asked their own poorly framed but obviously biased question, who have left out the necessary qualification in how they have reported the story, and who have done so to help ease the way towards an outcome that achieves what absolutely no American could possibly want. We know whose side the media are on, but does anyone know why that is? We also know which side the American administration is on, which leads to exactly the same question again.

Then from Drudge, these were yesterday’s sub-heads at the top of the page:

Iran talks lead to more talks…
Tehran refuses to give up enriched nuclear material…
Iran militia chief: Destroying Israel ‘nonnegotiable’…
Hackers threaten ‘electronic holocaust’…
Drone Spat in Iraq…
Saudis Make Own Moves…
Rabbi compares Obama to Haman, archenemy of Jewish people…
French Fear Plans To Make Iran Key Middle East Ally…
Venue for talks is ‘gilded cage’ under constant surveillance…
ABCWASHPOST POLL: Clear majority of Americans support deal…

About that “nonnegotiable” destruction of Israel. This is the opening of the story linked above:

The commander of the Basij militia of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said that “erasing Israel off the map” is “nonnegotiable,” according to an Israel Radio report Tuesday.

Militia chief Mohammad Reza Naqdi also threatened Saudi Arabia, saying that the offensive it is leading in Yemen “will have a fate like the fate of Saddam Hussein.”

So far as negotiations go, the Iranians are a certainly more hard-edged than the Americans. These are the sub-heads from today:

HOW ABOUT JUNE?
Talks extended past deadline…
Tehran refuses to give up enriched material…
Netanyahu: Deal will allow nuclear breakout in less than year…
Militia chief: Destroying Israel ‘nonnegotiable’…
Hackers threaten ‘electronic holocaust’…
Iranian plane buzzes Navy copter…
PAPER: Even Chamberlain would not make deal Obama eager to conclude…
Saudis Make Own Moves…
Yemen nears ‘total collapse’ as Mideast powers trade blame…

So why are the Americans so intent on reaching a deal? Anyone’s guess, but protecting American interests does not appear to be amongst them.

UPDATE: I find myself both depressed and very angry, and think of none of the past six years of the Obama Administration as anything other than tragic. But the cartoon added above is not there because it makes you laugh, but because it so perfectly captures our present reality.

Posted in American politics, International | 39 Comments