June 18, 2014 | Graham

Wild Rivers a victory for Indigenous progress

The Federal Court decision to rule the former ALP  Queensland government’s Wild Rivers legislation invalid is a victory for the future of Indigenous Australians, rescuing many of those in northern and western Queensland from the racist assumptions, and corrupt wheeling and dealing, of Queensland’s major left wing parties.

According to The Australian:

Federal Court judge Andrew Greenwood found yesterday that the decision was made too quickly and without enough consideration of the views of the traditional owners.

“The decision to make the declarations was a function of urgently delivering on an election promise … the declarations got ahead of the formulation of the material addressing the preconditions upon which the exercise of the power rested,” he wrote in his judgment.

The government had received 3062 submissions about the declarations, but 2577 of these were pro forma submissions made through the Wilderness Society’s website.

In other words, the decision was made by the minister without proper consideration, and it was made to secure the preferences of Greens voters.

Ironically the plaintiff in this case, Martha Koowarta, is the widow of John Koowartha, who took the Bjelke-Petersen government to court over land rights. Viewed over the course of 40 years, neither Liberal National, nor Labor have much to be proud of when it comes to land rights.

The decision will allow Aborigines to live in an economy, not just a society, and that is what they so desperately need in isolated areas.

Historically the Australian landscape has been one large farm – the ‘biggest estate on earth” as Bill Gammadge terms it in his book of the same name where he explores Aboriginal land management practices using the evidence available from original eye-witness accounts and still apparent in the landscape.

Modern Greens, through a misguided, romantic view of what nature is, and what is natural, deny the Aboriginal history, and deny Aborigines the opportunity to make a living from their own lands.

What’s more, for their own aesthetics, they would prefer to see Aborigines living what they call a “traditional” lifestyle, making them a scenic ornament, and robbing them of the opportunity to do what most other civilisations on earth have done and adapt and progress.

The sanctified Nelson Mandela may have been born in an African settlement, but he didn’t aspire to keep himself or his people there. The dream of black Africans is to join the Enlightenment project, because that project has delivered human health and well-being, as well as human dignity.

Australia’s indigenous are entitled to join the same project, and the evidence is, that when they do, by moving to the cities and becoming part of the national and international economy, their quality of life improves on a whole range of indices.

Of course, in the modern world the biggest estate on earth has to adapt as well, and who better to manage that than its indigenous owners.

The Bligh government’s authoritarian attitude to Indigenous Australians was not what is needed.

Thankfully the current LNP government appears to have learned from its mistakes in the past and is moving to ensure that not only do native landowners own their own land, but they can have proper title to it.

Changes instituted by the housing minister, with support from the Aboriginal affairs minister, means that Aborigines living in settlements are able to gain individual title to land so that they can raise finance to build their own house, or even create their own businesses.

One of the stupidest phrases that I sometimes hear is that “we live in a society, not an economy”. The plight of Aboriginal Australians, enumerated regularly in state of the nation reports, proves that the sort of society you have without an economy, is one that is unsustainable and damaging to its members.

The judgement is a huge leap forward, but it shouldn’t have had to get to the courts at all. No government should have passed the legislation in the first place.

Posted by Graham at 7:30 am | Comments (2) |
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June 12, 2014 | Graham

Stop trashing Tony

What is it about Labor, and the left more generally, that it plays the person rather than the ball, and applies the techniques of social exclusion rather than logic and rational persuasion? And why does the media play along with Labor when it does?

Tony Abbott is overseas representing Australia, and from what I can see, doing a damned good job of it. Yet the demonisation at home continues apace.

We have what Dr Spooner could only have described as the “shining wits” of Twitter picking up on a slight slip of the tongue over #Canadia, which is then magnified and rebroadcast by mainstream media, as proof that Abbott is a dolt.

Yesterday’s edition of Rupert Murdoch’s (yes that Murdoch) throwaway tabloid MX running with the teaser “Grab today’s mX to see how Marinko “Mad Doge” Matosevic made an utter Tony Abbott of himself in London overnight”, using “Tony Abbott” as a synonym for sexist and misogynist.

And then to add insult to injury, Hilary Clinton rushes into the fray, referring to the sexism and misogyny that Julia Gillard had to face as prime minister of Australia, surely a reference to Gillard’s “I will not be lectured by this man” speech, one of the great verbals of this century so far.

This is the same Julia Gillard who is looking more and more the gangster’s moll as the Royal Commission progresses, who ought to be the subject of on- and off-line conversation everywhere on the basis of facts, not allegations of discrimination.

I’ve even been lectured by teenagers on the stupidity of Tony Abbott because a comedian in the US by the name of John Oliver did a satirical video of him, failing to notice that this same John Oliver gave the same treatment to the French president Francois Hollande the week before.

(The lesson to draw from this treatment is not that Abbott is an idiot, but that Australia looms as large in the US as France).

And then there was Abbott’s “Yeah, I know I’m being set up but I think I can handle it” wink when a talk back caller claimed to be a 67 year old grandmother reduced to phone sex work to make ends meet, which the Twits, and many media described as “sleazy”.

Oh, and getting off Abbott for a moment, how is it a scandal for some protesters loosely supportive of the coalition to brandish banners saying “Ditch the Witch” in reference to Julia Gillard, but not when Tony Burke sends out emails under the ALP banner calling Bronwyn Bishop “Dolores Umbrage”, one of the witches from the Harry Potter series?

(I’m pointing out the hypocrisy here, not disputing the accuracy of either description).

None of this is accidental, and all of this is typical.

To see how typical it is, just look at the last election campaigns the ALP has run around the country. In every single one of them, rather than arguing policies, the pitch has been that their opponent is either too stupid, or too corrupt, to run the country.

In the last round of elections these allegations didn’t work, but they did work a treat for a number of years.

It’s ironic that at the same time as we are being urged to become culturally more sensitive to bullying, half of our polity is engaged in the school yard “mean girls” approach to gaining and winning power.

It’s about time that the nerds struck back.


Posted by Graham at 8:04 am | Comments (31) |

June 05, 2014 | Graham

Mike Seccombe says Tony Abbott lies _and_ keeps his promises

Are you confused by this title? Well, not half as confused as I am by Andrew Bolt’s, Janet Albrechtsen’s and Alan Jones’ war on Malcolm Turnbull.

I hope more coalition MPs than just Malcolm are having dinner with Clive Palmer. The idea that having any cross-party socialisation is somehow treason to the team is bizarre, and doesn’t belong in anything that I’d recognise as a parliamentary democracy.

Malcolm was just demonstrating commonsense by talking to Palmer, and from the Liberal Party’s point of view, sending your biggest plutocrat in to talk to the biggest plutocrat in the parliament, would seem to be a smart thing to do.

By not only criticising Turnbull, but provocatively raising the temperature, the troika are doing exactly what Turnbull accused them of doing – the “Labor Party’s work”.

But as bizarre as Bolt, Albrechtsen and Jones can be, they are nothing compared to the denizens of the left like Seccombe.

In his piece for the Saturday Paper, Seccombe says:

There is one group to which Tony Abbott has kept his promises since becoming prime minister: the Institute of Public Affairs.

This is an interesting distinction, as though Abbott made two sets of promises – one to us, which he has dishonoured, and one to some other group, which they have cashed in.

So what are these secret promises?

They are:

  • Repeal the carbon tax
  • Abolish the department of climate change
  • Abolish the clean energy fund
  • Repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act
  • Abolish new health and environmental bureaucracies
  • Save $1 billion in red tape every year
  • Develop northern Australia
  • Repeal the mining tax
  • Create a one-stop shop for environmental approvals
  • Privatise Medibank
  • Trim the public service
  • Stop throwing good money after bad on the NBN

Hands up those who didn’t think those promises applied to them? Hands up those who don’t think most of them are good things?

I thought so – most of you put your hands up both times, but a little fewer for the second proposition.

So what is Seccombe’s beef? Appears to be that he didn’t think of them first, and that some other organisation – the IPA – did.

Or is it that if Tony Abbott does it, it is a priori  a “bad thing”, if not a “very bad thing”, even if in an imperfect world it makes perfect sense?

We live in a toxically partisan age where people can earn large sums of money writing or proclaiming hate speech for media organs that apparently appeal to the intelligentsia, in the case of the Saturday Paper, or “Struggle Street” in the case of Jones et al, without adding anything to the sum total of humanity.

In their recent joint stage appearence Bob Hawke and John Howard seemed to suggest that times were better in the past. I think they were, but even then, both of them have been rank and unprincipled opportunists, and only one of them, Howard, can claim to have acted altruistically while leader of the opposition.

It is to Howard that we owe the large economic strides of the last 30 years, because he was the only federal opposition leader I can think of who has allowed unpopular reforms to pass through without trying to make political capital out of them.

Australia owes John Howard twice over – once for his prime ministership, and once for his leadership of the opposition.

But while it might have been altruistic, it was also self-interested. By allowing Labor to implement good, but unpopular policy, Howard ensured he inherited a fit and healthy economy.

That’s something Bill Shorten ought to think about, because if he continues on his current Peronist path he’ll win government, but won’t have an economy worth owning.

Far better for his own future, and ours, to niggle at the budget, but allow the significant savings to pass.

Posted by Graham at 10:40 pm | Comments (11) |
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