The Myth of Invasion Day

by on 29 January, 2015

Sherry Sufi

In 2008, when incoming Prime Minister Kevin Rudd provided Indigenous Australians the apology outgoing Prime Minister John Howard had long refused to, Australians were told:

“The time has come, well and truly come … for all Australians, those who are indigenous and those who are not to come together, truly reconcile and together build a truly great nation.”

While I don’t dispute the sincerity of these words, like many Australians, I remain skeptical of their fulfilment.

Eight years on, the evidence does not exist to support the idea that any progress has been made towards true reconciliation.

On the contrary, activists seem less satisfied and more assertive. Further campaigns have surfaced, which continue to reinforce existing disunity while doing nothing to address Indigenous disadvantage in life expectancy, child mortality, education and employment.

This year’s ‘Invasion Day’ protests in Melbourne and Brisbane mark the 8th consecutive year of Australia Day celebrations being sabotaged by activists.

In 2014, Captain Cook’s 259 year old Cottage was vandalised two days before Australia Day.

In 2013, over 300 rallied outside QLD Parliament with banners proclaiming Australia “always was, always will be aboriginal land”.

In 2012, a frightened Prime Minister Julia Gillard was swept off her feet by security at a disrupted ceremony and escorted to safety, losing her shoe in the process.

In 2011, over 300 gathered outside Tasmanian Parliament calling for Australia Day to be shifted to another date.

In 2010, over 100 marched at Tasmanian Parliament with protest organiser Nala Mansell-McKenna asserting she was there to “mourn those lives, the loss of land and culture” due to British colonisation.

In 2009, Australian of the Year Mick Dodson said 26th January alienates Indigenous Australians and urged for a change of date.

In 2008, more than 100 rallied in Launceston’s City Park with Indigenous activist Adam Thompson setting an Australian flag on fire with a cigarette lighter, followed by cheers from the crowd.

Rudd’s apology was expected to be a real game changer for race relations in our nation. It has been, except in the opposite direction. Apart from convincing the activists they can pretty much get anything they want provided they make sufficient noise, it has achieved little else.

The activists seem more interested in winning short term symbolic battles, rather than focussing on winning the greater war on Indigenous disadvantage. Their demands come from a seemingly endless political wishlist. Grant one, they move to the next. Grant none, all guns come blazing with accusations of coldheartedness, and lack of compassion and empathy.

Post-apology Australia has witnessed the rise of the taxpayer funded Recognise campaign seeking Indigenous recognition in the Commonwealth Constitution using exactly the same arguments as those deployed by the apology campaign activists.

Efforts have been made to produce an Indigenous rendition of our national anthem.

There exists a self-proclaimed Aboriginal Provisional Government that issues unauthorised aboriginal passports and people have attempted to use them to re-enter Australia.

Not only is the Aboriginal Tent Embassy still around, it continues to play an active role in causing further disharmony in the name of reconciliation.

Far from strengthening national unity, Rudd’s apology has opened up a political Pandora’s Box. These demands for greater sovereignty and constant protests are its consequences.

It ought to surprise no one that John Howard has long criticised Rudd for apologising.

The activists are the greatest enemies of national unity. The worst part of it is, their agenda rests on the shoulders of false narratives about our colonial past which, in the absence of an alternative paradigm in our historically indifferent Australian society, manage to plague their way through succesful perpetuation of politicised myths, designed to legitimise what they think they are fighting for.

The myth of Invasion Day is one of many such falsehoods that continues to mislead Australians. Now more than ever before, there is an indispensable need to go right to the very core of these false narratives and dismantle each of them, for once and for all.

So let’s begin, shall we.

As someone who has enjoyed the friendship of many Indigenous Australians over the years, I am well-aware of the challenges many face on a day-to-day basis which can, at times, be difficult for non-Indigenous Australians to relate to.

As a history postgrad, I will also say, there is no dispute that our fellow Indigenous Australians have had it tough. Not only due to the collateral effects of the often well-intentioned albeit badly implemented social policies of earlier Australian governments, but due largely to the harsh realities of survival in geographical isolation from the rest of the world for 40,000 years.

We subconsciously take for granted that the advent of agriculture, irrigation, domestication of animals, pottery, architecture, written language, literature and complex governments are the indicators of ‘progress’ and ‘civilisation’. Be that as it may, what is often forgettion is that throughout history, civilisation by that definition has been a direct by-product of interaction between different cultures, either through trade or war.

Humans learn new ways of doing things off each other, either swap ideas, commodities and technologies, or take them by force. I am not prescribing this as an ideal modus operandi for cross-cultural economic behaviour. I am describing what I observe to be the harsh nature of reality manifest in all human history.

Sophisticated civilisations such as Christian Europe, the Islamic world, China and India have all participated in and ultimately benefitted from centuries of trade and war. Gunpowder, rubber stamps, rifles, cannons, telescopes, compass, medicine, alchemy, algebra, the decimal system, printing press and trigonometry are notable products of the exchange between these cultures.

The Medieval and early modern period was an undeclared race to the top which Europe ultimately won. Driven by an insatiable lust for exploration and discovery, Europe not only went on to conquering most of this planet following Christopher Columbus’ rediscovery of America in 1492 (Viking Lief Erikson had already been there 5 centuries earlier), it held on to most of its colonial possessions until after World War II.

Prolonged geographical isolation from the Afro-Eurasian world meant that Indigenous culture would develop along a remarkably different trajectory. Over 40,000 years of sustained existence, Indigenous Australians were able to develop advanced techniques to hunt, gather, fish and trek their way through vast amounts of desert and jungle. Theirs is an admirable tale of survival in the face of nature’s harshest environmental challenges. It would be absurd to expect that they should have been up to speed with the European, Islamic, Chinese and Indian stages of civilisation.

Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians will today agree that Australia is one of the finer by-products of European colonisation. Having never had a civil war, a revolution or an assassinated leader, our track record as the world’s bastion of political stability remains self-evidently pristine. Our societal values uphold the freedoms of thought, expression, association, choice and worship. We have equality of opportunity for all citzens, affordable access to healthcare and education, no conscription, no death penalty, no rigid class structure, no feudal hierarchy, no caste system and a very manageable population stationed on land abound in nature’s gifts of beauty, rich and rare.

Australia is, without much exaggeration, the closest thing to paradise on earth. A utopia as Sir Thomas More (the wise man beheaded by King Henry VIII) would have called it.

Yet the fact that paradise was to be built on an island already inhabited by humans from a stage of development the Europeans had overcome through trade and war many thousand years earlier, remains a happenstance of nature. Neither party had deliberate intention to inflict malice upon the other.

In fact, relations between early settlers and natives were far more cordial than most Australians realise. British perceptions of the natives of ‘New Holland’ as it was then known were primarily shaped by the sympathetic accounts of discoverer Captain James Cook, authored two decades prior to the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788.

In a journal entry in his Voyages of the Endeavour, Cook writes:

“From what I have said of the natives of New Holland they may appear to some to be the most wretched people upon earth, but in reality they are far happier than we Europeans, being wholly unacquainted not only with the superfluous but the necessary conveniences so much sought after in Europe, they are happy in not knowing the use of them. They live in a tranquility which is not disturbed by the inequality of conditions. The earth and sea of their own accord furnishes them with all things necessary for life, they covet not magnificent houses, household stuff etc., they live in a warm and fine climate and enjoy a very wholesome air, so that they have very little need for clothing and this they seem to be fully sensible of, for many to whom we gave cloth etc. to, left it carelessly upon the sea beach and in the woods as a thing they had no manner of use for. In short term, nor would they ever part with any thing of their own for any one article we could offer them, this in my opinion argues that they think themselves provided with all the necessaries of life and that they have no superfluities”.

This little known passage is an indication of the mindset of late 18th century British colonisers.

For most of his career, Captain Cook was fascinated by the cultures of lands he had explored and never saw the natives as ‘savages’ as often falsely assumed. (It remains greatly ironic that he was brutally speared to death by the natives of Hawaii during an expedition in 1779).

What would begin with the arrival of the First Fleet on 26th January 1788 was settlement, not invasion. It cannot be defined any other way.

Invasions are organised military expeditions launched after failed diplomacy. They involve an intention to subjugate followed by a declaration of war. They are usually met with sovereign resistence and return fire, until the army that suffers the most damage reaches a point where it can no longer keep up the fight and is forced into surrender.

Alexander the Great going into Persia in 330 BCE.

Julius Caesar going into Britain in 54 BCE.

William of Normandy going into England in 1066.

Sultan Mehmed II going into Constantinople in 1453.

Adolf Hitler going into Poland in 1939.

These are all invasions.

Poor old Captain Arthur Phillip bringing a bunch of disease stricken, poorly fed, uneducated convicts to their new prison country on the other side of the planet was most certainly not an “invasion”.

The natives initially identified settlers as ghosts returning from the dead. After a while, they realised these were just humans. Over time many noticed that Europeans had one thing the arduous life of a hunter-gatherer lacked, that was surplus of food. Natives chose to remain close to early settlers as they often ran out of fish and the settlers provided what they could.

As first Governor of New South Wales, Phillip developed a fondness for the Eora people upon the founding of the colony at Port Botany. He befriended native man Woollaraware Bennelong who became the first Indigenous Australian to be escorted to England to meet King George III. (The Federal seat of Bennelong held by Prime Minister John Howard for 33 years from 1974 to 2007 is named after him). On one occasion, Captain Phillip was speared in the shoulder by the natives for merely reprimanding one for stealing one of his shovels.

Phillip survived the attack and ordered his men not to retaliate. He understood that in Indigenous culture people shared what they had with their family and friends, thus lacked a concept of personal belongings. Misunderstandings of this sort often led to mutual mistrust sometimes culminating in hostile encounters despite the lack of intentional belligerence on either part.

In 1816, Governor Lachlan Macquarie ordered for hostilities to be ceased at once. He welcomed the natives and appointed Indigenous tribal leaders to act as conduits between settlers and natives. Macquarie gave away many plots of land to the natives who chose to be a part of the newfound colony and encouraged them to view the benefits of becoming self-sufficient through the embrace of the European ethic. His efforts were often thwarted by native defiance of British law and order.

Cook’s sympathetic view, Philip’s close ties with the Eora and Macquarie’s inclusiveness all stand to dispel the false narrative that British colonisation was intentionally vile and sought to eliminate the natives like the Spanish conquistadors had attempted to do to their natives in the Americas.

No doubt, violent clashes between settlers and natives occurred on occasion. These are well-documented and close examination of the records reveals they were precipitated by a circumstantial context as opposed to some insidious government plot to wipe out the natives as falsely assumed.

Natives often attacked farmers and their cattles which led to retaliation. Even so, the rule of law did what it was there to do. When British settlers were found to be at fault, they were brought to justice. The Myall Creek massacre is a case in point. 30 natives were killed by 10 Europeans and 1 African on 10th June 1838 at Bingara, New South Wales. After two trials, 7 of the 11 involved were found guilty of murder and hanged.

Given the widespread lack of awareness about the reasons that brought about the colonisation of Australia, the other half of the false narrative would have us believe that greed was the principal driving force.

From late Medieval to the early modern period, Britain was faced with unprecedented chaos and instability. The English Civil War saw King Charles I beheaded. England fell from one form of absolutism to another under Oliver Cromwell, until Monarchy was restored in 1660. Religious intolerance, poverty and crime resulted in overcrowded prisons. English exploration of the Americas had come with the option to transport convicts and religious minorities to the newfound colonies across the Atlantic.

In 1776, that option was taken away when American rebels disgruntled by the British Crown’s imposition of taxes without Parliamentary representation fought for and won their independence, giving birth to the United States of America.

Confronted by the need to find an alternative settler and penal colony, New Holland whose existence the British had prior awareness of due to Captain Cook’s earlier voyages, became the obvious choice.

To suggest that the British Empire should not have colonised Australia would stand to contradict the reality that all societies are the result of human migration at some point in history. Some later than others.

If Creationism is true, then having descended from Adam and Eve we all migrated out of the ancient Near East to populate all continents of the earth.

If Evolutionism is true, then having evolved from prokaryotes and eukaryotes we evolved into bipedal hominids and migrated out of Africa to populate all continents of the earth.

Either way, humans have gone where necessity has taken us. The means by which we move around tends to reflect the norms and pressures of the timeframe in which our migration occurs combined with the relative power and resources available to us.

As for the question of sovereignty, the ‘nationstate’ is a 19th century political construct that emerged in reaction to the ancien régime aristocracy rooted in European imperialism. Until the aftermath of Europe’s decolonisation of its acquired territories, the creation of the United Nations in 1945 and the enforcement of international law, there was no globally applicable legal mechanism that prevented discovery, exploration, settlement, war and conquest. Grievances resultant from the perceived or actual effects of colonial activities undertaken by those who lived prior to this period cannot be held against their cultural descendants today.

Besides, this dynamic was already in force in pre-1788 Australia, albeit it never left its shores. The inhabitants of New Holland were as ethnolinguistically heterogenous as their European counterparts and as prone to territorial conflict. The Battle of Hastings (1066), the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453) and the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815) stand as proof of the longstanding rivalry between the English and the French despite both being a European people.

It is equally oversimplifying to think of the Eora, Noongar, Darambal and Gunai people as a homogenous Indigenous people. For the most part, they either knew nothing of each other’s existence or (to put it in contemporary terms) frequently violated each other’s ‘sovereignties’ upon contact like the various strands of Europeans had done, notably the English and the French.

That being the case, it is not surprising that most nationstates on today’s world map are melting pots of diverse human varieties united by common boundaries, under one flag, in an exchange that renders the significance of ancestral chronology, irrelevant.

The Vikings arrived in England before the Normans.

The Berbers arrived in Morocco before the Arabs.

The Ainus arrived in Japan before the Nippons.

The Pelasgians arrived in the Aegean Peninsula before the Greeks.

The Etruscans arrived in Italy before the Romans.

The Incas arrived in Peru before the Spaniards.

The list is endless.

As evident, no piece of land or its sovereignty exclusively belongs to its perceived or actual ‘first comers’.

It is a job for the political order that triumphs in the end to treat all its citizens with justice and fairness, regardless of the chronology of their ancestral presence and that is a job modern Australia has done exceptionally well.

This nation was settled, not invaded. Our founding narrative is to be celebrated, not lamented.

That said, neither is our society perfect, nor is perfection our goal.

Rejoicing in what we got right, learning from where we went wrong and improving what we can do better tomorrow is the goal and its fulfilment is an eternal journey. One that does not involve formatting our national hard disk and installing a new operating system, but one that involves our readiness to run software updates when the occasion and justifications are right.

Our nation has run more of those updates than we give ourselves credit for. This is part of the reason why modern activists perpetually encourage those they purportedly represent to remain engulfed by the self-destructive victim mentality built upon false narratives and exaggerations of the sort I have sought to dismantle.

Instead of lamenting Indigenous exclusion, we ought to honour Indigenous enfranchisement through the 1967 Referendum masterminded by Prime Minister Harold Holt.

Instead of lamenting terra nullius, we ought to honour the historic Mabo Decision and the Native Title Act (1993) presided over by Prime Minister Paul Keating.

Instead of lamenting Stolen Generation, we ought to honour Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s well-intentioned Apology that was long sought and at last provided in 2008.

We ought to rejoice in the triumphs of many successful Indigenous Australians who, if our nation was half the Apartheid modern activists make it out to be, would not remotely come close to being the success stories that are the lives of Cathy Freeman, David Wirrpanda and Australian of the Year 2014 Adam Goodes.

We ought to honour Labor Senator Nova Peris and Liberal MP Ken Wyatt whose Parliamentary presence stands as proof of both our major parties’ committment to providing Indigenous Australians the support and representation they rightfully deserve.

We are a nation with a stable operating system. What Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians don’t need is the bug that has disrupted Australia Day celebrations for 8 years in a row.

The provisional government, the tent embassy, the separate passports, the changed anthem, constitutional recognition and the myth of invasion day will not make this Commonwealth of ours renowned of all the lands.

For that, we must resolutely banish our national obsession with hollow symbolic gestures and join forces to fight Indigenous disadvantage, for that would be true reconciliation embodying the spirit of Advance Australia Fair.

Today more than ever before, Australians will appreciate Prime Minister John Howard’s reasons for refusing to provide that apology:

“I have always supported reconciliation but not of the apologetic, shame-laden, guilt-ridden type.”

“I think in the past we have become obsessed with things like apologies and there are millions of Australians who will never entertain an apology because they don’t believe that there is anything to apologise for.”

“They are sorry for past mistreatment but that is different from assuming responsibility for it.”

Sherry Sufi is a WA based academic with qualificiations in Politics, History, Philosophy, Information Systems and International Studies. He has worked as a Policy Adviser to both State and Federal MPs. Sherry’s PhD research investigates the role of first language in ethnic conflict and nationalism. He can be reached via facebook here.

How Do You Rate The Performance of the Federal Government?

by on 28 January, 2015

The Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance has put together a short survey on the performance of the Federal Government.

If you could click HERE to take 5 minutes to fill out, it would be appreciated!

Public Forum: Lessons from the Victorian Election

by on 27 January, 2015

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What are the lessons for the Liberal Party from the Victorian Government’s historic loss in the 2014 state election? 
What message should Tony Abbott and the Federal Liberal Party take away from this stunning defeat?

The Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance is proud to present a panel discussion and q&a on the lessons from the Victorian election with five of Victoria’s most prominent political voices: John Roskam from the Institute of Public Affairs, Christian Kerr from The Australian, former Victorian Senator Helen Kroger, Vice-President of the Victorian Young Liberals Jess Wilson, and Professor Sinclair Davidson from RMIT.

There will be significant opportunities for attendees to share their views with the panel, and for an interactive discussion to take place.

DATE: Friday, 30th of January
TIME:  6:00pm for a 6:30pm start
VENUE: Morgans at 401, 401 Collins St Melbourne
COST: $20 Adults, $10 Concession
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/events/1053930647966057/
RSVP: http://www.taxpayers.org.au/event/public-forum-lessons-victorian-election/ 

We hope to see you there!

No contraception, no dole. Wrong idea, right direction

by on 25 January, 2015

John SlaterJohn Slater argues that while former Labor Minister Gary Johns’ recent call for welfare recipients to be made to use contraception is impractical, it nonetheless opens up a vital debate many would rather not have. 

Former Labor Minister Gary Johns’ recent call for welfare recipients to be made to use contraception or have their payments suspended has been met with a predictable mixture of outrage and contempt, even drawing comparisons with Nazi Germany.

Under any realistic assessment, Johns’ proposal is impractical to enforce and would amount to an intolerable interference with personal liberty. That said, by bringing attention to some of the unintended consequences of the unintended consequences of Australia’s welfare state, Johns’ has opened up a conversation others would prefer closed.

If we wish to live in a society that values self-reliance and individual responsibility, there should be no state inducement or financial incentives to have children people otherwise couldn’t afford.

This is not to say that the state should prevent people below a certain income from having children altogether. This distinction was clearly lost on Sunrise host Monique Wright. During her interview with Johns she asserted that his idea “interfered with basic human rights.”

There is a human right to conceive a child with another consenting adult. However, this right doesn’t extend to having such children subsidized indefinitely by other taxpayers.

As the age old adage goes, having children is a privilege. It is also a decision not to be taken lightly. Aside from the time and emotional commitment, the changes to lifestyle and the financial burden that come with child rearing are significant and permanent.

In fact, the burden of parents providing for their offspring is arguably the biggest natural limitation on having children in the first place.

The trouble with incentives like the baby bonus and increased welfare payments is that they push the costs of raising children away from the forefront of the decision-making process. By imposing these costs on third parties – namely taxpayers – prospective parents are given the artificial choice of having children without feeling the full weight of the financial responsibility that comes with raising them.

It is a fact that children born into households of welfare dependency suffer worse outcomes in life. In Australia, young adults without at least one parent in long-term work have an unemployment rate of close to twice the average. More detailed studies conducted in America show that children of long-term dependent families completed less years in school, had lower academic results and more difficulty obtaining work as adults. The result was that these children were far likelier to become welfare recipients over the course of their lives themselves.

As Johns points out, children will always be born into undesirable circumstances. Nevertheless, by allowing parents to shirk the financial responsibilities of parenthood, welfare tied to having children makes this all the more easy.

This should not to be confused with the far more elitist view that welfare recipients, past and present, should never be parents. Rather, it is simply acknowledging that individuals currently unable to sustain themselves are not fit to assume responsibility for the care of another.

In her interview with Johns, Sunrise host Monique Wright also made the point that in Australia we are lucky to live in a civilized and inclusive society. While few would disagree with these sentiments, they are symptomatic of the general tendency of the media and public to view welfare as an unqualified right, with conditions to access an unfair indignity to recipients.

This is wrong. Australia’s welfare system represents the modern social contract under which wealth is redistributed to alleviate disability, poverty and disadvantage. Moreover, our welfare system has limited resources but is subject to a vast array of competing interests. The task of using these finite resources to satisfy the public’s unlimited demand for social services is performed by the political and policy-making processes.

Within this context, it is perfectly reasonable that policy-makers adopt measures that encourage lifestyle choices that lift people out of state dependency. Unfortunately, subsidizing people already unable to provide for themselves to have children will usually have the opposite effect of entrenching dependency and disadvantage – not just in the present, but into the future generations as well. Moreover, such spending also comes at the expense of other alternative uses more aligned with the public good, for example funding for health, education and infrastructure.

It is understandable that Johns’ suggestion that welfare recipients should be compelled to use contraception has been labeled an overreach. However, the more fundamental point that welfare cannot be allowed to undermine the values of individual responsibility and self-reliance, particularly when it comes to something as sacrosanct as parenthood, is one well worth talking about.

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.

A New Year, A Bigger Tax

by on 23 January, 2015

10547978_508484902631689_4330841723284768163_o Clark Cooley argues for abolishing the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF):

As university students enter the 2015 academic year this February, new and continuing students alike are set to be taxed. This tax is not for their further education, rather for non-educational services, the spending of which is dictated largely by unrepresentative student unions.

The Student Services and Amenities Fee, or SSAF is a yearly expanding tax imposed not withstanding of a student’s income, their wish to use the services the ‘fee’ funds, or even their ability to obtain value for money.  In 2014, the average amount paid by students in SSAF equaled $280. With the increasing aspect of SSAF, new students for 2015 will pay an average amount $1300 over the lifetime of a typical 4 year degree. It’s no wonder 70% of students wish to have a university wide vote on the abolishment of the SSAF all together. (The Australian 2014)

Objections to the SSAF are not just financially motivated however, accompanying the payment of this fee is the legal requirement of compulsory membership in student unions. This requisite violates the basic rights of students to the freedom of association, the same freedom that Australian’s have advantage of in the workplace, where compulsory unionism has long been outlawed. Our university campuses however, continue to require students to join organisations that they in large have opposition too.

Free Speech Must Be Defended

by on 9 January, 2015

Jack Baker looks at the violent intersection of democratic free speech and the offence taken by some Muslims.

The attack and murder of twelve defenceless women and men in France by three Islamist men wielding assault rifles is as cowardly as it is disgusting. The supposed crime of most of the people murdered was to work at satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which in 2011 published cartoons mocking Islam and its founder Muhammad.

Sadly, this is merely the latest occurrence in a litany of absurd reactions stretching back decades. The commonality is that every time, a number of Muslims have been offended by something said, drawn or recorded about their religion, and chosen to react violently.

Following the publishing of Salman Rushdie’s book ‘The Satanic Verses’ in 1988, scores of people were killed around the world and hundreds injured. 20,000 people protested in Parliament Square in London, burning effigies of Rushdie. Bookstores in the United States and England were firebombed. The publishers or translators of the book in numerous countries were stabbed and shot.

When the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published 12 cartoons of Muhammad in 2005, numerous Danish embassies were set on fire. Over one hundred people were killed in protests, primarily in Muslim countries. Staff members at the newspaper continue to face death threats.

When an obscure American threatened to burn the Qu’ran in 2010 and then did so in 2011, dozens of people were killed around the world. In contrast, when a Muslim cleric in Egypt burned the Bible in front of thousands of people in 2012, it went largely ignored by the media and there were no violent riots.

Don’t cut your nose off to spite your face

by on 8 January, 2015

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Scott Lynn argues that it is time to give Tony Abbott another chance and forget the Labor-Greens alliance.

In 2014 Tony Abbott and his Liberal/National led coalition removed the Carbon Tax, Removed the Mining Tax, helped create 160,000 new jobs, established Free Trade deals with important trading partners in Japan, China and South Korea (giving us the ability to have a better standard of living) and dramatically halted the people smuggler boats to a single boat but appear to be trailing in the polls approximately two years away from the next election. However, how the budget was sold did not help matters. Abbott’s heart appeared to be in the right place during 2014, and yes he should fix the budget debacle with its rapidly increasing bloated budget growth problem – yes I know that Labor largely caused the budget mess and have retreated away from its economic positioning of the 1980s, but slowly, slowly first and explain your position to the people, if bold policy or procedural measures need to be employed. Yes, slowly, slowly but not too slow.

Talk about free trade benefits with China, Japan and South Korea; along with the strengthened trade talks with India and joint military exercises. So a question has to be asked, how many Free Trade Agreements did Labor establish in six year of power? Wait … wait … Nothing, Zero, Zip, Zilch and NADA. Kevin Rudd was supposed to be a hero (in his mind), for Chinese Australians, so being caught out on video calling them Rat F###ers was probably not the wisest of his many foolish moves.

Australia’s Free Trade Deal with South Korea has the ability to raise Australian living standards, while enabling opportunities that we as Australian citizens simply would not have under Labor. So yes, it should be clearly noted that if this deal was not struck, Australia would face increased costs of over 70 percent. Plus, the probability of our important agricultural exports of various feed, livestock and crop development and ingenuity opportunities would go sadly wanting. Australia would miss out on a 5 percent increase in agricultural exports, and be a sad day for farmers – our Australian farmers of wheat, beef and dairy amongst other things.

A doubter might go off on a tangent that there is nothing for automotive suppliers, and if you are a member of Labor or the Greens with communist values this might be possible. But no, they would be terribly wrong with Korea being Australia’s third largest market that we export to for self-contained and specific motor parts – Korean tariffs will be removed to create further ventures and enterprise opportunities for Australians as well as Koreans. There will be more job opportunities, unlike Labor promising you the world and delivering very little apart from wasteful spending, debt and botched and incredibly cost projects that fail to meet a signified target set by Labor themselves.

Our Free Trade Deal with Japan will ultimately cut the tariff our beef exporters have to pay, and by doing this we create many more opportunities for Australian citizens and our Japanese counterparts. Australia wins out because Japan is the biggest buyer of Australian beef.

Electronics will be cheaper, even if Labor and the Greens with communist values would prefer for this not to be a foreseeable reality. We would have plenty more white goods and electronics, and they would be cheaper with the tariffs on these items getting shown the door – GET OUT!!! But wait there is more, as Japanese cars will be cheaper for the Australian consumer to buy, and ultimately it is your choice.

100% Australian owned telecommunication businesses will be able to gain never before seen access to supply relevant and important modes of communication services in China itself; I don’t recall Labor achieving this in six largely wasted years. Tony Abbott, Andrew Robb and Julie Bishop should all take a bow because without them 95 percent of our exports to China will not be tariff free. Even our Aged Care companies will be able to set up facilities in China, while also being able to own 100 percent of these homes and make a profit.

Now, just in case Labor and the Greens with communist values were not paying attention to the fact that Australia is also set to have a Free Trade Deal with India, they should sit up and note that it is likely to happen in the next 12 months. Even if they did not want to acknowledge this, they could be so kind to acknowledge that we now have closer diplomatic ties and security measures in place with India. Yes, Tony Abbott should be given more credit for such achievements not to mention a closer collaboration on water resources management – both countries know what drought means. I guess Labor could not have been bothered in six years of government.

In terms of Higher Education, the government has even made amendments that are careful, fair and well balanced, but you wouldn’t hear that from Labor with their vile lies about $100,000 degrees springing up as high as the eye can see. WA Labor Senator, Sue Lines has even acknowledged that Batchelor Degree fees for the University of Western Australia (covered under HECS) will be just $16,000 per annum or $48,000 across three years from 2016 – not the $100,000 that Bill Shorten and his crazy Labor mates have been banging on about. So why won’t they media pick this up and run with it? I think it is something that needs to be pursued, because surely they would prefer to give a more balanced view, instead of what many of them are currently peddling out.

Labor has pulled the wool over many University students eyes, and no I don’t think it will be easy for Bill Shorten and the majority of the Labor Party to admit that students will not pay $100,000 or more for every degree under the sun, they are too irrational to do this and they will have to be dragged kicking and screaming for there to be such a chance. Labor will not even admit that you do not pay anything upon entry of university for a Batchelor Degree, even worse they will not tell you that you would only start paying your HECS bill back (the government/taxpayer would pay for 50 percent of your course), if and when your income is $56,000 or more. Labor will not acknowledge that revised changes would make sure your HECS bill would still be linked to CPI – this sounds fair and only paying for 50 percent of your course, if you are lucky enough to earn over $56,000 should be seen as fine and reasonable unless you have a shrine of Karl Marx in your room and think the government should control your thoughts.

In terms of women in Cabinet there are now two, Julie Bishop as Foreign Minister and Deputy-Leader of the Liberal Party; and Susan Ley as Minister for Health, and even Minister for Sport. You did not hear Labor say too much about this, partly because they don’t appear to like Liberal women that get to higher positions through merit. Even in their own party they don’t think women can get there by merit, but instead try to employ a quota system that can cause both women and men missing out as a candidate when they should not.

Labor have also been incredibly quiet that Senator Marise Payne, yes a woman, is Minister for Human Services; or that Kelly O’Dwyer has been elevated on merit to the position of Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer; or that Senator Fiona Nash is the Assistant Health Minister, and Deputy-Leader of The Nationals in the Senate; or that Senator Michaelia Cash is Assistant Minister for Immigration & Border Protection, and Minister Assisting the Prime Minster for Woman; or even that Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Social Services; and importantly don’t forget Karen Andrews, who is Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry and Science. Furthermore, Labor and the Greens appear to have duck taped their mouths with Australia officially having a Minister with the title Science Minister, again, because they pretended we did not have one because Tony changed it to the Minister for Innovation which should have been easy enough to work out even for a Greens supporter hyped up on various unknown substances. But yes, Ian Macfarlane is the ‘new’ Minister for Industry and Science.

Labor and Greens with communist values have also chosen to ignore that Australia, under Tony Abbott is playing an important part to tackle climate change, with Australia pledging $200 million over a period of four years to the international Green Climate Fund. Really, I thought the communist Greens would have been more interested.

In terms of state politics, I am deeply saddened to say that Clem Newton-Brown won almost 45 percent of the primary vote in Prahran and lost, not to the Labor candidate on 25 percent, but the Greens candidate that finished third with 24.75 percent of the primary vote – I think that is unfair as none of the other candidates got within a bulls roar of the Liberal candidate in Clem Newton-Brown who worked so hard for local businesses, education and the LGBT community. Australia and Victoria need to have a First Past the Post voting system, so the candidate with the most votes actually wins and does not get shafted due to dodgy or ill-conceived preference deals.

Since Labor winning the Victorian Election, the state has started to head down a dark and poorly lit road with hazards and problems of their own making (I get a feeling they will try and blame the Liberals and Nationals), as their will be no East-West Link and above ground boulevard through the city, no train to Melbourne Airport, no Metro Rail Link – not even the Liberals design and now no Flinders Street Station revamp, which also appears to mean no start of the art amphitheatre near the water. Unions appear to be taking over.

In NSW, Liberal Premier and good guy Mike Baird will be elected by the people of NSW in March, and I just hope that QLD Premier Campbell Newman is re-elected, especially with all the hard work he has done with strengthening the QLD budget, the economy, health, education and cracking down on many of the members of illegal motor cycle gangs like that of ‘The Hells Angels’ from peddling even more ICE and Ecstasy to the vulnerable on a boulevard of broken dreams.

Think when you vote!

Scott Lynn is a 28 year old Deakin University graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Media and Communication who works in Aged Care.

Here’s how to slash WA’s deficit by next week

by on 31 December, 2014

Matt Mckenzie discusses what the nation’s wealthiest state can do to slash its deficit. 

The government of Australia’s wealthiest, most successful state has plunged into deficit.

Things aren’t going well for Colin on the GST distribution front or on the royalty income front, and understandably, there are issues. I accept that lots of the government’s projects are going to be quite cool, so because I’m a helpful sort of person I’ve come up with a few ideas to halve the deficit and then fund tax reduction.

For clarity before I start, asset sales and capital investment don’t effect the state government’s operating balance.

Reform utility subsidies ($450 million)

Western Australia budgeted to spend almost $2 billion this year on utility subsidies. The Public Tranport Authority led the way at $747m, electricity subsidies were $616m, and water subsidies $583 million.

I think a lot of people accept that it’s important to ensure vital services are accessible to disadvantaged and vulnerable people, but the current mechanism of service delivery does that at enormous cost. Services are subsidised for all, regardless of usage. Effectively a family that wants to reduce bills by turning off its air conditioning during summer is supporting families that keep the appliance on. Big businesses that draw massive amounts of electricity are subsidised by those that do not.

That is not fair.

We should do away with these supply subsidies and instead give the support up front, transparently, to those who we think need it. That will sharpen people’s minds when it comes to using products that have previously been subsidised, and will ensure support is fairly targeted.

We’re half way through the financial year, so let’s assume that we reduce subsidies from January 1, with probably around half the budgeted amount unspent. That’s an expenditure reduction of $978 million. To give the state government credit, it has already announced it will reduce subsidies by $65.1 million, by forcing these departments to make reductions to their costs.

A large portion of the savings could be set aside, perhaps half, and credited directly to the accounts and smart riders of concession card holders every fortnight.*

The net impact, excluding the government’s existing savings, is a reduction of around $450 million.

Delay royalties for regions programs ($100 million)

Due to the substantial drop in royalties, this year payments from the royalties for regions program will actually exceed 25 per cent of total royalty income, the ratio specified when the program was created. Under the act, however, the spending locked in for this year must go ahead despite the fall in royalty income.

Well, that’s a bit silly.

The government should be looking to delay a number programs at least until the end of the financial year. The savings can go straight into the royalties for regions future fund and be spent on largesse for regional voters in decades to come. Please think of the children.

I’ve had a look through the budget, and to be even more helpful I thought I’d highlight a few specific line items: Seizing the opportunities in agriculture” ($48.9 million), “Underground power in the Pilbara” ($75 million), “Regional groupings and individuals” (read as “regional shires slush fund”, $50 million). I accept that there might be strong demand for some of these programs, but if we’re being honest here, the people of Coolup, for example, have already waited 2 years to receive their $1.7 million upgrade to the regional equestrian centre. I’m sure the coming six months will race by.

Furthermore, I just looked outside my window and there are definitely above ground power lines in Perth, so I’m sure they don’t need to be underground up north.

Axe these programs/departments ($130 million)

You’ve really got to wonder why government gets involved in sports and the arts.

What sort of people go to the theatre exactly? People who wear expensive suits. They don’t need subsidies. The Department of Arts has a budget of $127 million this year. Just get rid of it. Providers in the industry can use crowd sourcing, develop partnerships with businesses, rely on private generosity or change their pricing and cost structures to survive.

In the long term this would be positive for the arts community. It would ensure it was relevant to the needs of aficionados and it would free it from bureaucratic oversight. Then they could host operas staged in cigarette factories until their hearts were content.

Elite sport receives $24.5 million. Why? If the AFL can make a billion dollars on television deals, they’ll be fine to run their own programs. Other sports may not be able to secure such high funding, but if people are interested in watching it, why should they pay for it?

The department of racing, gaming and liquor dishes out $107 million of subsidies, mostly to the racing industry as I understand it.

I can count on one finger the number of times I’ve been to a racetrack. If people can spend thousands on stupid fascinator hats they can pay for themselves to watch horses run laps. This issue is a bit more complex, as the TAB receives most of its income from gambling on racing, so it has an incentive to subsidise the industry. I’m sure the market would sort it out when TAB becomes privatised.

Again, we’re halfway through the year so I divided the savings by two.

And in the out years

For this financial year, we’ve cut the deficit in half in just three easy moves. In future years, the savings will add up to more than $1.2 billion annually, remembering that we would still have a very generous, but better targeted, support system for utility usage and that the royalties for region spending delay can’t be counted twice. Unless, of course, you get rid of it!

In 2016-17, adding these savings on top of the government’s projected $300 million surplus will enable a reduction of the payroll tax rate by about a third or will almost be enough to abolish stamp duty. The state government has no need to run a massive surplus because it can use asset sales to pay off debt, so a modest surplus is fine.

*Note: Around a quarter of Australians hold concession cards, so if the same portion is true in WA, that’s around 625,000 people. $450 million would be around $720 each, very generous for just half a year of public transport, water and electricity usage.

Matt Mckenzie is journalist at Business News in WA, covering economics, employment relations and agribusiness. He was formerly the UWA Guild President and co-creator of The Oak Point current affairs show on West TV.

Tony, Don’t Drop the GST Free Import Threshold.

by on 30 December, 2014

Kerrod Gream

Kerrod Gream makes the case not to reduce the GST Free Import Threshold in an obvious case of rent seeking from the retail industry.

Coming into Christmas and New Years there have been renewed calls from the retail industry to change GST Import Laws, which the industry itself acknowledges will hurt consumers. It’s been advocating a drop in the current GST free import threshold of $999.99. While many claim that Britain and Canada are examples of countries that show that low import thresholds on sales taxes are cost-effective ways of raising tax revenue that make the local retail industry more competitive, a lower threshold simply would not be feasible in Australia.

Why the Renewable Energy Target Must Go

by on 28 December, 2014

Kerrod GreamKerrod Gream argues that the RET is a serious problem in pushing up costs of electricity for every day Australians.

The Renewable Energy Target(RET) has long been a contentious issue. While environmental groups claim it is needed to ensure a safe, low-pollution future, others assert that it is worse than the carbon tax. Following the repeal of the carbon tax, the Liberal Government rightly put the RET in their sight, by introducing the Warburton review into the RET.

The RET debate has re-emerged in the media with Labor MP for Fraser, Andrew Leigh, making an ‘economic’ case for the RET. Leigh’s case is filled with elementary mistakes that he rarely made prior to entering parliament. In summary, his argument is that according to the Warburton Review the RET contributes to lower electricity prices. And these lower prices increases investments and create jobs, while also creating a cleaner environment.

While he claims to care about the environment, he ignores the impact the RET has on consumers and claims that it actually benefits them. Let’s look at what exactly the Warburton Review actually said: “The direct costs of renewable energy certificates contribute to higher retail electricity prices. This impact on household electricity bills is estimated to be in the range of four per cent in 2013-14 and higher for energy-intensive businesses.” The report states that, on average, in NSW the RET adds $107 onto a yearly electricity bill, and $65 and $62 in QLD and WA respectively. But that’s not all. If Mr Leigh had bothered to look at the generation costs of each energy type he would have realised that the ‘savings’ passed on consumers from the RET don’t exist either. Coal, gas, and nuclear are all by far the cheapest options for consumers(pg 56), and their power plants all have the ability to increase production in times of peak demand, unlike standard renewable energy resources(outside of hydro-electric). Mr Leigh however is only talking about solar, and wind generation sources and again completely ignores the possibility of nuclear as a clean and efficient method of producing electricity.

Enforcing renewables production pushes up costs of electricity production

Mr Leigh then goes onto state the amount of jobs that are ‘created’ through this legislation. Not only does this ignore the fact that there are unseen jobs that aren’t created in other sectors due to the higher cost of electricity to the consumer giving them less discretionary spending money; it also ignores the jobs that are created in other sectors of the electricity generation sector. The coal industry directly employs 54,900 people in Australia, with potential future projects generating up to 75,000 jobs for Australian workers. But Mr Leigh ignores this and claims that only the RET can deliver these jobs. Proponents also ignore the costs of implementing the bureaucracy required to implement the RET. As well as ignoring the unseen costs of loss of manufacturing and other businesses that feel the increased cost going offshore where these governmental costs aren’t incurred. 

He argues that future investment in renewables may not happen if the RET is scrapped. What does this tell a good economist(which Leigh was prior to entering parliament)? That it’s not economically viable in its current form without the government creating a mandate that people be forced to use it. But instead it’s lost investment potential to Mr Leigh, investment that would occur in other areas of the economy if they failed to occur in the renewable energy sector. But again, he continues to say the Liberal Government is attacking jobs and investment, while saying the only way for the renewable sector to operate in Australia is for everyone else to be forced to pay more for their electricity and harm every day Australians.

For people that claim to hate corporate welfare the Greens and Labor sure love giving it to the renewable energy sector, while ruling out the cheaper and cleaner alternative that is nuclear energy. Encouraging nuclear power into Australia’s energy mix could turn the 2,000 already employed in nuclear related industries into 37,000, while not forcibly increasing costs to the consumer and being able to survive without inefficient quick fire gas generators when peak demand increases substantially.

Rather than continuing to hamper our economy with these Renewable Energy Targets Mr Leigh should be advocating for their removal and open up the Australian market to more economically viable alternatives.