University of Western Australia Student Rebecca Lawrence discusses how the Australian National Union of Students fails students – and is in the process of destroying itself:
I have always been outspoken about my views on the National Union of Students. The organisation is neither national nor united, and certainly doesn’t represent the best interests of students. It is no secret that I, along with most ordinary students in this country, believe that university student unionists have no right pay tens of thousands of other students’ dollars to the NUS every year in affiliation fees, much less pay for their own flights and accommodation on junkets several times a year. Yet, year after year, our voices go seemingly unheard and the NUS marches forward, as deaf to the concerns of ordinary students as ever, just as lefty-charged and anti-democracy as its predecessor was until the day it died (the Australian Union of Students, which dissolved under the leadership of 1983 President Julia Gillard due to uncontrollable levels of debt, disunity and corruption).
Or does it? Despite what one would expect from a NATIONAL Union of Students, the NUS only managed to achieve an affiliation rate of around 50% this year – of Australia’s 39 universities, only 20 affiliated to NUS in 2014 (not one university in Queensland affiliated). As the NUS’ income is almost solely dependent upon the money it collects in affiliation fees, this meant that the Union racked up a deficit of over $95,000 over the last 12 months. A leaked audit shows that the deficit over the last three years amounted to $366,360. Unsurprising as this is (the Union is run by Labor students), this fact should come as a grave concern to all students, who are forced to pay for the NUS’ spending through their compulsory student union fees (the Student Services and Amenities Fee, or SSAF – around $280 per year, per student).
The reaction to the horrors that unfolded this week in Martin Place has shown just how willing Australia’s politically correct elite are to remain in denial of the threat posed by radical Islam.
As is often the case in difficult areas of public debate, what was said in the wake of the Sydney siege was just as revealing as what was left out.
On the day of the siege the ABC published a several hundred word profile of Man Haron Monis that failed to use the words Islam, fundamentalist or Muslim. ‘Terrorism’ was used only once in the context of Monis’s lawyer denying any links to terrorist organisations, instead repeating the spurious claim that the gunman was simply “damaged goods.” Lead opinion writer for the ABC’s “the Drum” took to Twitter to downplay the seriousness of the threat, declaring that connecting the siege to a death cult was “made up” before even our security agencies had reached a view on the matter. Most stunning of all was the Chairman of the Press Council Julian Disney’s claim that media reports calling the incident terrorism were “exaggerations” and “dangerous misinformation”.
These reports, along with many similar statements paint the picture of Man Haron Monis not as a product of radical Islam but simply a crazed mad man.
In reality, even a cursory glance over Monis’ history is enough to tell you that his religious convictions were not merely incidental to his crazed actions. For over ten years Monis had worked as a self styled sheik, giving public lectures renouncing Western society and providing counselling as a spiritual healer. The appalling letters he wrote to the families of soldiers killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were also predicated on his anti western fundamentalism. These views were also spelt out on Monis’s public facebook profile with over 63 thousand followers.
Despite this, some have insisted that although Monis purported to act under the banner of radical Islam, he was not a real terrorist because he lacked formal links with ISIS or other terror groups. In other words, since the beliefs espoused by Monis were inconsistent with the mainstream teachings of Islam, he could not be properly regarded as an Islamic fundamentalist.
This might be plausible if not for the small problem that ISIS, the Taliban or Al Qaeda have always been regarded as fringe groups unrepresentative of the views of greater Islam. This is the point behind the prefixes “radical” or “fundamentalist” which highlight that although these groups preach Islam, most Muslims consider their activities marginal and unrepresentative.
The terror label has also been resisted by those claiming that Monis was a ‘lone wolf’ not acting under the direction of any known terrorist group. Such naivety seriously misapprehends the real nature of the terror threat being faced by Australia and the West. The rise of ISIS has seen dozens of young Australians radicalised and willing to sacrifice their lives in foreign wars in the name of Jihad. Indeed, David Hicks showed that it was possible for Australians with no prior connection to terrorism to voluntarily submit themselves to fundamentalism. Even ignoring that Monis had previously been included on terror watch-lists, a significant part of the terror threat is the ability of these groups to use their clout to influence and recruit well beyond their immediate geographical reach.
The truth is that Monis had pledged loyalty the Islamic State. Being a card carrying member of ISIS is clearly no pre-requisite to an individual posing a serious threat to our national security.
To ignore that Monis is at least in part a product of radical Islam is not ‘tolerant.’ It is politically correct sophistry.
A useful contrast with this pathological denial of reality can be found in the coverage of Anders Breivik’s massacre of 69 teenagers in Norway. In this instance, reporters and academics alike had no issue describing Breivik as a ‘Christian Fundamentalist” who believed that all Muslims should be deported from Europe. Unsurprisingly, there were no calls to stop the use of the word Christian. Presumably, it was assumed that people were capable of recognising that Breivik was no disciple of mainstream Christianity.
This politically correct doublespeak would be more amusing if the threat of radical Islam was not real and present. Just this year ISIS has laid claim to almost 24 000 deaths across the Middle East while enslaving children as young as 12 and 13 as sex-slaves and child soldiers. The plots for attacks on our own soil recently foiled by our security agencies, the tragedy of the Bali bombings and the events of this week show our geographical remoteness provides no immunity from this threat.
Today’s terrorist organisations have a clear commitment to destroying the values of individual freedom and liberty that are the bedrock of secular Western democracies. The patent inability of the politically correct chattering class to acknowledge this reality raises the question of whether these people have any commitment to the values which define a free and civilised society to begin with.
John Slater is the current President of the University of Queensland Liberal National Club and is in the third year of his Law/Arts degree. John’s main ambition is to lift the profile of classical liberal ideas in Australian political debate. In particular, he is interested in exposing the failings of left wing economic policy, fighting state paternalism and changing the perception of right-of-centre political thought. John has also been involved in grass roots campaigns against curfew laws limiting night time trading hours for pubs and clubs and the former Labor Government’s SSAF tax on students.
It is a law of nature that any gathering of two or more politically active people in Australia will invariably turn to US politics and, irrespective of where we are in the political season, Presidential Primaries, so being conversant with what is going on is essential to all politicos.
But what if you want to hold your way in conversation, but don’t want to dedicate your life to researching every single little detail? What should you do when the question comes up?
The correct answer would be to say: “It’s way too early, are you insane for asking me this question?”
However, that doesn’t really cut it. What you need to do is have opinions – and strong ones at that. Even better is to have opinions that challenge the prevailing orthodoxy.
That’s why, once again, created the following crib notes guide to the US Primaries (starting with the Democrats), so you can confidentaly express an opinion, without knowing any of the facts.
Because really, this is politics, and who needs facts when you have a strong opinion?
Is the Federal Government Really Cutting Spending? Tim Andrews from the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance looks at the numbers:
Almost every day we hear shrieks in the media about how the Federal Government is drastically slashing spending.
Even the Federal Government uses the rhetoric of cutting spending and “budget repair”.
But is this actually true?
Is the government cutting spending?
Make no mistake – our public spending levels are out of control, and things are only going to get worse as debt piles up, and our aging population puts increased costs on health and welfare.
Our economy is already being held back by big government. So spending cuts are desperately needed.
So is the Federal Government actually making them?
Because unlike politicians, the numbers don’t lie:
I believe there are 5 clear lessons from the Sydney Lindt store attack.
1. Live and love every day. This is the latest in a string of tragic events around Australia that remind us how uncertain life is and how precious it is. Live every day to the full, love completely and without reservation, and never part from your loved ones in anger if there is any way to avoid it.
2. The police cannot protect you. The police WANT to protect you, they will do everything they CAN to protect you, but the reality is they can’t. It’s just simple physics. They can’t be everywhere, and attackers (be they terror motivated, or just common criminals) will pick places and times when their victims are vulnerable. All the laws in the world would not have stopped this attack. And once again we see someone with a long and violent criminal history being released by our court system to strike again. It’s a story we’ve seen repeated far FAR too many times over in this country. In short, if you believe you are safe because of the police, our courts, or our laws, then the truth is you are not safe, you’ve just been lucky so far.
3. It’s true that VERY few Muslims will ever commit an act of terror, and the vast majority would work to STOP such an attack if they could… yet it’s ALSO true that the vast majority of terrorists today self-identify as Muslims (Whether rightly or wrongly is mostly irrelevant). We need to acknowledge that and deal with that reality, not wish it away because it is confronting and politically incorrect. The Muslim community needs to find ways to identify and stop these sorts of people before they strike, for the sake of their reputation and acceptance within Australian society, and for the sake of all Australians.
4. It’s not a surprise to see it happening so close to home, and judging by other western cities around the world it could get a lot worse before it gets better. Terror attacks (by which I mean random attacks designed to make a political point or score religious brownie points, rather than criminal attacks which are targeted and designed to personally benefit the criminal) have become frequent in Europe and most go unreported over here. Anyone saying ‘I can’t believe it happened here’ hasn’t been paying attention, or has been lying to themselves for the last few years. This is not the last time it will happen in Australia
5. This attack re-enforces my view that we need to be able to defend ourselves at an individual level. Terror attacks have morphed. They have become individual, lone wolf, strike anywhere at any time attacks. In many ways they make no sense and it’s hard or impossible for police or ASIO to anticipate the where, when or who of these attacks. In other words, they can’t really be stopped in advance, only dealt with once they are underway. And the best person to deal with an attacker is one of the intended victims. We all saw the pictures coming out of Sydney. The police were there in their hundreds, the best people we have were on the scene with the most advanced weapons money can buy, and all they could do was stand outside and hope. All those guns in all those highly trained hands were worth less than a single gun in the hands of one of the staff or one of the shoppers would have been. The ability to INDIVIDUALLY defend ourselves has once again become necessary. Less than 20 years ago Australia issued permits for people to carry firearms on themselves as they went about their daily lives for their own protection and the protection of everyone around them. It’s time to re-introduce such a system. We can see clearly that criminals can get guns, even people with a long criminal history (or should we say ‘especially people with a long criminal history’) can get them easily enough. And when someone attacks us the first thing we do is call for help from people with guns (the police) who, as we’ve seen, can’t always help us. So the only people who have been disarmed by anti-gun laws are the victims themselves, which are the very people who most need them and the people who are best placed to use them. It’s long past time to re-introduce sensible personal gun ownership into Australia.
Some people will hate me for saying the above, and so be it. I’ve said EVERY SINGLE ONE of the above 5 points numerous times before, and I’ll keep saying them for as long as it takes to see some common sense in our laws and in our responses to those who would do us harm.
The following is reproduced from a Facebook post with permission. You can follow Topher Field on Facebook HERE.
A major Twitter campaign began trending on the afternoon of the Sydney Lindt Café siege which left two innocent civilians dead: #illridewithyou.
The hashtag encouraged people to protect Muslims from racist Australians by offering to ride with them on buses, trains and cars. This ostensibly heart-warming gesture came as a result of one twitter user, Tessa Kum becoming saddened when she saw a Muslim woman considering to remove her veil inside the train on the day of the siege.
However for the less media-savvy, one would reasonably presume that this is a response to some kind of widespread anti-Muslim attack in our city. As Bill Shorten wrote on Twitter, “Australians tonight doing what we do best – uniting to overcome intolerance and hate.” What hate? What intolerance? There was certainly hate and intolerance, but it was happening inside a café and not a train carriage. Another Facebook user wrote, “Come on Australia, we’re better than this – #illridewithyou.” Better than what exactly?
The left has successfully managed to turn the greatest evil of the day, the evils of Islamic terrorism to the evils of racism. But where are all these evil racists? Let’s find out.
In the morning following the tragedy, I witnessed first hand the love of real ordinary Australians as I along with hundreds of others brought flowers to pay respect to the dead and to take the opportunity to thank the police for everything they have done. The sea of flowers left by hundreds of mourners was a most moving scene and it brought tears to the toughest of men. In my short visit, I saw among the hundreds gathered a number of Muslim women wearing their religious headscarf. They showed no fear of the fabled angry mob, and two even thought that it was safe enough to bring their children along! There was no animosity, no angry look from anybody and no racist attack.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the hostages and police involved in this morning’s siege in Sydney.
Gunmen have taken hostages in the Lindt chocolate shop in Martin place, and a jihadist flag has been held up against the window.
UPDATE: Like all Australians, we are devastated by the tragic end to the events in Martin Place and the loss of innocent life. Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone and their families. A truly tragic day.
Terje Petersen argues that immigrants to Australia shouldn’t be let in for free but should instead pay an immigration tariff of $25,147 each:
There are many reasoned arguments as to why immigration is good for the economy and good for the country. Some estimate that global GDP could be increased by 50 to 150% if completely open immigration was implemented globally. Without wishing to dismiss such arguments there is however a sense in which letting foreigners into the country is akin to giving away our sovereignty. Let me explain.
Australia is a vast nation with lots of land. For the purposes of this discussion I’m going to assume that large tracts of it are currently worth next to nothing. For example if a million illegal immigrants secretly arrived tomorrow, secretly set up camp in the Simpson desert and then secretly did their own thing there for the next 50 years or so, it is not as if we would feel deprived of the land they occupied. The reality is that we are not using lots of our land.
Some of our land however is extremely valuable and this tends to be land in cities where there is a high amount of established public infrastructure. Libertarians will at times argue that some of this public infrastructure should be privatised or even given away to Australian citizens. However they would not generally argue that ownership of this infrastructure should be given as a gift to foreigners. Given that public infrastructure is essentially owned by the Australia people, via our sovereign government, any admission of additional new Australians represents a dilution of our equity in this stock of public infrastructure. Of course in such a vast land we have the capacity to build new cities with additional public infrastructure but none the less any admission of new Australians represents a dilution of our equity in the current stock.
The stock of public infrastructure in Australia is worth in the order of $600 billion. With a population of 23.7 million this equates to a per capita value for public infrastructure of $25,147. At the margin this is the amount by which our equity in public infrastructure is diluted each time an immigrant is admitted into the country.
This dilution of equity does not occur with private infrastructure , such as housing, because private infrastructure is not owned collectively by all Australians. It is owned individually and privately. An immigrant that moves to Australia may get to use the same footpath you use but they don’t get to use part of your house. The footpath will become more crowded but your house won’t.
Amidst the navel gazing and blame-shifting in the fallout of the disastrous Victorian State Election result, one simple story has so far escaped media attention.
This is an issue that cuts through the spin and goes to the heart of the Victorian Liberal’s woes – and, more importantly, is a cautionary tale for the Abbott Government – one they ignore at their peril.
Few members of the public would remember the radical and historically unprecedented changes that former Victorian Liberal Premier Ted Baillieu made to staff selection mechanisms upon his election.
And why would you? The internal hiring processes of a government is hardly front page news.
But what was instituted really was revolutionary. Under the Westminster system, Members of Parliament traditionally had the right to determine their staff. Under the new system, however, all Ministers had to have their staff cleared by Premier’s office in what was then dubbed the “Star Chamber”, run by factional warrior Michael Kapel. The result was brutal – hundreds were denied positions, with only Yes-Men let through, staff guaranteed to not challenge the head office line.
The Victorian election result was the inevitable outcome. Too focussed on the goals of appeasing the Leader’s Office, staff were either unwilling or unable to give the advice needed to enact meaningful reform for Victoria. Short term goals trumped the long term, and, with talent and political insight being almost guaranteed as a veto quality in job applications, despite a few good staff slipping through, is it any wonder after 4 years of a sclerotic yes-man regime, that the Victorian electorate voted as it did? Granted, the Victorian Government, did have a number of quality staffers who got through the process, and their number certainly increased following the elevation of Denis Napthine to premier, but the rot in the government set in early, and this certainly was a contributing factor
More disturbingly – and perhaps more tellingly – is that this practice of refusing all but yes-men has spread Federally, and even expanded in scope.
Following the previous Federal election, rules issued by the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, Peta Credlin, set out that – not just ministerial staff, but all parliamentary staff, had to be cleared by the Leader’s office.
Just think about this for a moment. Every backbench constituent officer had to go through an approval process by the Prime Minister’s Office.
Reilly Thomas explains why the Coalition should resurrect its Treasurer, not replace him.
There has been quite a bit of talk about the performance of Australia’s Treasurer, Joe Hockey, recently. Much of this talk has boiled over into speculation about the Treasurer’s future, including, if reports are to be believed, within the party room. The name of Malcom Turnbull, who is always mentioned seemingly whenever a high-ranking member of the Government gets into a bit of trouble (not least, the Prime Minister), has been floated as a possible alternative.
However, there are two general, core reasons why the Right, especially Liberal Party members, should continue to support Hockey, particularly in the public sphere.
The first reason is that Hockey has not performed as badly as a lot of the rhetoric would suggest. He was a successful Shadow Treasurer, and was widely regarded as one of the opposition’s chief salesmen. He was a rival with Turnbull in this regard, especially considering a widely held perception that Turnbull often does not quite completely believe what he is saying. With the exception perhaps of his expressions of support for the Paid Parental Leave scheme, nobody could really substantively accuse the Treasurer of the same crime.
Even looking at Hockey’s current stretch of time in office, it is unrealistic to burden him with too much of the blame regarding the passage of the Budget, and to attribute this as ‘poor performance’.
The Treasurer faces significant economic challenges. Unlike other Ministerial portfolios, such as Immigration and Border Protection, the actions and decisions taken by the Treasurer are only one of many factors influencing the economy and, as such, it is an upward battle for any Treasurer at the best of times. And these have definitely not been the best of times. There shouldn’t be any need to convince any right-wing person of the mess Hockey inherited.
With such a mess to begin with, Hockey always had a mammoth task ahead of him. And then there is the political situation of the Senate. Although the Government has passed almost 99 percent of revenue measures, attempts to reduce the deficit have been consistently blocked by an obstructionist ALP devoid of any alternative policy suggestions, the Greens, a mixed bag of independents, and what was until recently, the ‘Clive Palmer bloc’- a rampantly populist group with zero ideological or policy consistency.
No doubt, Hockey was banking on the hope that enough Senators would break from populism and see the bigger picture involved in the budget repair, unfortunately, they haven’t.
Hockey has also faced difficulty within Cabinet in constructing a budget narrative. Reports are beginning to emerge of the Prime Minister’s office insisting on delaying plans to reveal the situation outlined in the National Commission of Audit, hampering the Treasurer’s wish to begin a national conversation on the necessity of cuts and like measures well before budget day.
So, my point is, Hockey himself has not performed as badly as to warrant political execution- factors outside of his control must be taken into account, when assessing the individual minister.
The second reason why the right should stand with our Treasurer is that it is the only viable, pragmatic step towards Coalition political victory and, with that, successful Budget repair.
If Hockey were to be replaced, there is no reason to think that this would break the deadlock in the Senate. A new face, selling the same measures, as the Labor Party proved during Rudd-Gillard-Rudd, is nothing but a cosmetic change, and not actually that effective.
The long-term political cost of this cosmetic change far outweighs even the most generous suggestions that a new Treasurer would bring a fresh start for the Government. It would provide an endless target for the Opposition, who would point out that a man who served for years as Shadow Treasurer was dumped after little more than a year in the actual job. The Prime Minister’s judgement would be repeatedly called into question, and these political games would continue right up until the next election.
In addition, the suggestion that Turnbull in particular would replace Hockey is absolutely nonsensical. There is no way that Abbott, who is struggling with personal approval ratings himself, would promote the man widely seen as the alternative option for the Liberal leadership.
The Coalition needs its Treasurer to have a resurrection, not a replacement. It needs to stand firmly with Hockey while he tightens his message and reworks his approach, and its supporters should do the same. Hockey shouldn’t be replaced, he won’t be replaced, and anyone with good will towards the Liberal Government, and its budget repair effort, should be working against destabilisation, in order to enable him get on with it.
Reilly Thomas is a student studying Politics and International Relations, and Business Law, at the University of Western Australia. He has been actively involved in working with like-minded students in strengthening the presence of the Right on-campus.