Look At All That Diversity

By Justin Campbell

Last night the Australian Greens stood up for Australia’s multicultural diversity by walking out of Senator Hanson’s maiden speech. Naturally, they had a cameraman on hand to record this heroic act. Senator Di Natale gave a touching speech on how his own family had experienced racism 50 years ago.

Looking at this group of heroes, I couldn’t but help notice how diverse they were. I mean when your party’s poster child for diversity is a former surgeon from an Italian-Australian background, you’re really grasping at straws. As he spoke, a bunch of white-middle class faces nodded intently behind him. “Yes, indeed Australia’s multicultural fabric needs to be protected.” They all thought in unison.

So just how diverse are the Greens?

Sarah-Hanson Young: White, Female, University Educated.

Richard Di Natale: White, Male, University Educated.

Larissa Waters: White, Female, University Educated.

Scott Ludlam: White, Male, University Educated. (Born in NZ, that’s worth half a minority point)

Rachel Siewert: White, Female, University Educated.

Peter Stuart Whish-Wilson: White, Male, University Educated/Military.

Lee Rhiannon: White, Female, University Educated (Points for being a crazy old communist though)

Nick McKim: White, Male, Former Prisoner/Environmental Tour Guide

Janet Rice: White, Female, University Educated.

 

That’s a lot of white middle class privilege in one little room. Luckily, white people can understand and interpret the cultural experience of ethnic minorities. Oh wait they can’t.

40% opposition can just lose you an election

By Henry Innis

 

Most people support the lockout laws.

Most people support the greyhound ban.

Yet, since these things have come into play, an odd thing has happened. The Baird Government’s support has been tanking in recent polls, down 4% on the election result that won him government.

 

People point to these large polls and seem to think that there must be another issue at play. Is it the federal issues (given Baird bucking the trend with Abbott, the evidence suggests no)? Is it economic troubles?

 

I’d suggest it’s neither. The polls around greyhound bans and lockout laws may tell us more than we think.

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On the Question of Political Donations

By Rowan Cravey

There are many maligned things in political life. Spending money on ski trips or chartering chopper transportation are two examples, but the most incendiary issue of the now, is the one of donations.

In the majority of the public’s eye, donations essentially equal corruption most foul and should be spat on at the earliest possible convenience. They ‘buy’ politicians as serial narcissistic peacock, Nick Xenophon would allege. They influence policy direction for the benefit of the highest bidder, so to speak.

This is foolish. The Greens and some leftist minor parties have made huge hay out of claiming the higher moral ground and greater righteousness simply because fewer people donate to them. Creating a dichotomy between the donated-to and the not-donated-to is just another way for them to set themselves as different to the major parties, and therefore worth paying attention to.

While political games are the usual for the political class, this fallacy and morphed into what is cast as an utter certainty. Donations at their most basic, are supporters of a political party or individual who wish to see them win government or positions of influence, because they believe in what they stand for. This theoretically leads to policy development that will align with the donators beliefs. The more cynical view of donations, as oft proclaimed by the Greens and others like Xenophon, is that the money is given solely for the purpose of bribing a party to shape policy simply for the benefit of those who donate most. But there is a missing link in all of this.

The missing link is action. Governments must still put into action policy that either reflects the donators interests, or the party’s stated beliefs and principles. If the Government receives cash from a donator, then can simply say thank you for your support, and then move on to policy development, independent from the donators wishes. The causal link of donations to action is simply not there.

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The question of political donations looms higher than ever with Senator Dastyari’s recent actions

Indeed, those who are willing to be influenced by donations, such as ‘junior senator’ Sam Dastyari, are a problem, but in the end, garish difference of advocacy and inconsistency between himself and the rest of Labor have led to being outed. While Dastyari’s conduct is deplorable, the presence of mandatory disclosure of donations is a strong force to ensure accountability and transparency. But in the end, donations are simply not the problem, not the root of any problem. Politicians willing to be bought and be puppets for the highest bidder are.

 

Rowan Cravey is currently interning for the Australian Taxpayers’ Aliance

Why free speech matters more than poor taste

By Satyajeet Marar

hklA few weeks ago, cartoonist Bill Leak published a now infamous image in The Australian. I’ll spare you the description because you’ve probably already seen it before.

Now, leaving aside the tastefulness of the concept and the message, there’s no denying one thing – this cartoon got people talking. A. Lot. And isn’t that the ultimate aim of satirical commentary? They weren’t just talking about a supposedly racist cartoon – they were talking about the real issues of indigenous kids in custody and whether cycles of family violence and neglect endemic in some indigenous communities were being ignored over concerns of political sensitivity.

Despite repeated complaints and outrage at the cartoon’s racial overtone – the Australian Press Council agreed!  “Satire and cartooning should be afforded great latitude in a free and vigorous press’’ said the council’s chairman Professor David Weisbrot. Weisbrot argued that the publication of two opinion pieces in the newspaper, offering contrasting views, had settled the matter.

I’m inclined to agree. I must admit, when I first saw the cartoon I too thought it had crossed the line of good taste. The cartoon’s timing – in the wake of a Four Corners scandal on the abuse of indigenous teenagers in custody, seemed like especially poor form. I could easily empathise with the majority of indigenous parents doing the right thing by their kids, trying to raise them in a world which is, inconvenient truth be told, still plagued by instances racism and prejudice.

But it’s also worth remembering that stories evoking strong emotion can sometimes cause us to forget sides and perspectives which are equally important. In the wake of the twin towers attack, now nearing its 5th anniversary, Oprah Winfrey was the victim of racial and sexist harassment because of her anti-war stance. Today, we have a more nuanced understanding of what happened and know that conflicts in Afghanistan and especially Iraq, could have been handled a lot better and were often conducted in a manner which has left these regions unstable to even more sinister forces in the years since.

There’s no denying the existence of inconvenient questions in the wake of the Four Corners expose – how did these kids get in custody in the first place? Was it even their first offence? Were there factors other than an allegedly oppressive police system responsible for this cycle of behaviour not seen in more stable communities – both indigenous and non-indigenous? It’s no secret that communities facing cycles of crime also often feature broken or dysfunctional family structures with one or more absent parents. This problem intensifies in poor socio-economic conditions, especially those of remote communities which are propped up on taxpayer aid despite a lack of economic opportunities for children forced to grow up there by families unwilling to relocate to where a better albeit less certain future may be.

In a very different situation, the offices of Charlie Hebdo – a magazine known for publishing ‘blasphemous’ images of the Islamic prophet as part of its edgy political and social commentary style, were shot up by terrorists more than a year ago. The incident provoked outcries of support for freedom of speech and solidary with the magazine and those writing for it.

By shutting down or trying to shut down these controversial voices and opinions – are we really any better than the terrorists – lack of firepower, aside? When free speech is held hostage by those inflamed by emotion or missing the bigger picture rather than choosing to engage in the debate – we all stand to lose. Pardon my French, but F&%k that.

Satyajeet Marar is a Macquarie Law student currently interning with the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance. 

Public Sector Superannuation Rort: How the fattest fat cats stay fat – and make you pay for it.

By Satyajeet Marar

What if I were to tell you that the savings from the government’s superannuation reform which limits your own lifetime earnings is completely offset by the rise in public sector superannuation benefits? 

It’s no secret that Australian public servants, especially those in top roles, are some of the highest paid in the developed world, with the heads of several government departments earning almost double what even the US President earns.

To add insult to injury, they’ve taken things a few steps further. A recent article in The Australian has revealed how the public servants’ salaries have been manipulated through the use of remuneration tribunals and other dubious tactics,  causing astronomical increases of 70% or more since the GFC in 2006 and drastically outstripping private sector wage growth, with some fat cats now pocketing nearly $1 million a year. This really begs the question, how do people as crafty as this still manage to run technologically redundant websites which fail or crash when the public need them the most?

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