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IndyWatch Aussie Politics Feed was generated at Australian News IndyWatch.

Tuesday, 19 June


Majority believe that funding for all ABC services should be increased or maintained, according to Essential Research survey "IndyWatch Feed"

In May 2018 the Turnbull Government 'slashed' the ABC's 2019-2021 funding by $84 million.

Is this another example of this federal government's tin ear?

Because the Essential Report of 19 June 2018 shows majority support for ABC funding levels to be maintained or increased:

Perhaps Turnbull and Co should stop listening to the Institute of Public Affairs and seek opinion from outside that fetid conservative hothouse and places other than Parliament Drive or News Corp headquarters.


Over $4 billion of taxpayers money being spent on Snowy 2.0 and they get what? "IndyWatch Feed"

The Turnbull Coalition Government in Canberra and the Hodgman Liberal Government in Tasmania have laboured to produce two new energy schemes - Snowy 2.0and the "Battery of the Nation".

These schemes are being touted as clean energy providing stability across the nations power networks, supply into the future and cheaper consumer costs.

One small problem

Both are pumped hydro systems which will actually use more power than they generate as their electricity consumption will be high.

That is, the total megawatts of electricity from other sources required to pump the water into the hydroelectric plant will exceed the megawatts of electricity produced by the plant.

Not all the potential electricity produced by the plant is realised, because pumping water uphill and, the conversions of the potential energy to kinetic energy to electricity is less than 100% efficient across each stage of the entire process. It seems efficiency loss would run somewhere between 20% to 40%.

Then there are the environmental effects....


Arsey: Seven weaknesses of the Ramsay Centre "IndyWatch Feed"

The Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation aims to educate Australians not only in the facts of Western Civilisation, but also in its beauties and wonders and its enduring relevance to Australian life going forward. Can it succeed in those aims? No. The directors of that organisation are wasting the benefactor's money, however much they wax lyrical about him, and they should either desist, or start getting on with it, rather than continue mucking about.


In reporting the fallout between the Ramsay Centre and the Australian National University over their proposed Western Civilisation degree course, traditional media outlets focused on the kerfuffle and the he-said-she-said and the SHOCK CONTROVERSY SHOCK which they (mistakenly) believe sells papers. This is consistent with the unenlightening and tedious way they cover politics and associated culture war issues.

What they did not do, and perhaps could never have done, is examine why the Ramsay Centre might want to partner with a university in the first place. University bureaucracies are large, slow-moving beasts, much criticised over many years by Ramsay Centre board members John Howard and Tony Abbott. Surely the institutions that caused the problem that the Ramsay Centre is seeking to solve (that Western Civilisation is denigrated or underappreciated by university-educated people today) are of limited use in solving it. Surely, the outcome delivered by the ANU was foreseeable by anyone with experience in high-level negotiations of this type.

In recent years, vocational education providers have developed syllabi and offline/online training courses in IT, business, WHS, and other areas using minimal bureaucracy, real estate, or other overheads of large established institutions like ANU. There is no good reason why the Ramsay Centre should not have a complete suite of online/offline courses ready to go, right now, to show ANU and whomever else what they're missing and setting the standard for others to follow. Leave the grizzling to wasters like Nick Cater. Let's be having you, if you're good enough.

One possible indication of the Ramsay Centre's motives can be seen in Chris Berg, an IPA shill who no longer identifies himself as such. He got a PhD from RMIT's economics department, stacked as it is with IPA alumni such as Sinclair Davidson and Steven Kates, and now uses RMIT to sell the cuckoo's egg of IPA policy.

Another is in the image of Ramsay given by Abbott above, someone who liked the idea of a well-stocked mind but who couldn't do it himself. The inaction in Ramsay's name stands in contrast to the more hands-on...


Black helicopters and the Fairfax press "IndyWatch Feed"

Ive mostly given up talking about the nonsense published on a daily basis in the Murdoch press. There are more reliable alternatives, after all. At least so I thought until I looked at todays Fairfax papers, which ran, as the lead, a piece from Peter Hartcher headlined Beijing uses infrastructure as friendly forerunner of political power. Its as obviously loopy as anything Maurice Newman has written on Agenda 21, or Graeme Lloyd on Climategate

Here are the opening paras

The Chinese Communist Party built a road into Tibet and the Tibetans were excited it was their first highway: We were promised peace and prosperity with the highway, and our parents and grandparents joined in building the road, as the president of Tibets government in exile, Lobsang Sangay, tells the story.

In fact, they were paid silver coins to help them build the road. So there was a popular song during those days, it goes like this: Chinese are like our parents; when they come, they shower you with silver coins, the Harvard-educated lawyer recounted at the National Press Club in Canberra last year.

The Chinese soldiers were patient with the local kids and bore their taunts with smiles, he said.

Then they built the road. Once the road reached Lhasa the capital city of Tibet first trucks came, then guns came, then tanks came. Soon, Tibet was occupied. So it started with the road.

Im not an expert on Chinese or Tibetan history, but anyone whos paid the slightest attention knows that China has claimed Tibet as its territory for centuries, and asserted that claim with varying degrees of success over that time. Tibet managed to achieve a fair bit of autonomy during the chaotic first half of the 20th century but once the Communists defeated the Kuomintang in 1949, they established their control over Tibet. For the details, I went to Wikipedia which gives the following chronology

September 1949: KMT defeated, Peoples Republic of China declared
March 1950: Tibetan government opens negotiatons with PRC, seeking to maintain de facto independence
October 1950, Chinese troops enter Tibet, defeat Tibetan forces
March 1951: Seventeen point agreement imposed, establishing Chinese rule.

Infrastructure projects, silver coins and popular songs are conspicuous by their absence from this account, which is consistent with everything else Ive read. Perhaps Lobsang Sangay (born in 1968 in Darjeeling, India to Tibetan exile paren...


Tired of the crisis in Western Civilisation? Come on in and enjoy some hearty climate science denialism ... "IndyWatch Feed"


The pond is finding it difficult to keep up with all the different reptile neuroses, what with the crisis in Western Civilisation consuming so much time, but the pond had to pause to admire this one at the top of the lesser member of the Kelly gang's tweet and piece showing a plant with absolutely no emissions of any kind.

It's a miracle, a bloody miracle why there's just some natural clouds in the sky ...

Well played lesser member of the Kelly gang ...

That's reptile skill of the first order, roughly equivalent to the Daily Terror effort noted in Media Watch last night, as the reptiles wandered from "privatisation deal has many benefits" to "How homebuyers are being gouged for millions."

The pond has never felt the need to re-visit the shameless Terrorists, and what need, with the reptiles of Oz routinely tracking the valiant work of the onion muncher


Rank bank Fin soup! Fake news at the Australian Financial Review "IndyWatch Feed"

Rank bank Fin soup! Fake news at the Australian Financial ReviewThe Australian Financial Review has a peculiar view of bank malpractice: that it doesnt exist. read now...


The ABC generates $1 billion in value "IndyWatch Feed"

Michelle Guthrie hit back strongly according to some media sources against ABC critics in a speech today.

For those who prefer an abacus-type approach to this debate, I have some fresh information. How do you put a price on the value of the ABC? In pursuit of that answer, the ABC has commissioned Deloitte Access Economics to do some research. Their report is still being compiled and will be released next month. The early findings are interesting. They show that the ABC contributed more than $1 billion to the Australian economy in the last financial year on a par with the public investment in the organisation.  Far from being a drain on the public purse, the audience, community and economic value stemming from ABC activity is a real and tangible benefit.

The takeaway message?

the ABC contributed more than $1 billion to the Australian economy in the last financial year

Sounds good, except as Michelle Guthrie acknowledges thats just about how much the ABC receives from taxpayers.

Then there are deadweight losses of taxation if the ABC gets $1 billion to spend and generates $1 billion of economic activity then the ABC is losing the value of the deadweight losses.


I suspect Ms Guthrie thought this information would bolster her case. But no. That is even before we consider any crowding out effects.

Then she cited some statistics.

And the facts show Australians overwhelmingly value the outcome of this foresight: 82% of Australians look to the ABC as their trusted source of information; 78% cite the ABC as an important contributor to our national identity; and critically, 77% of Australians think a healthy ABC is essential for Australias future.

That regard is a precious commodity at a time when trust in our institutions is so rare.

Chris Berg and I collected some statistics from various issues of the ABC annual report.

This is how Chris and I interpret that table:

The ABCs satisfaction indicators are very impressive. A selection of those indicators are shown in table 1. Eighty-six per cent of Australians value the ABC. Seventy-se...


The government ignores the value of the ABC "IndyWatch Feed"

It took the offer of a Chinese company to bring better telecommunications to the Solomon Islands to remind our government of the value of soft diplomacy. After years of savage cuts to the Foreign Aid budget, ironically accompanied by huge increases in the defence and arms industry budgets, all of a sudden we can find

The post The government ignores the value of the ABC appeared first on The AIM Network.


Cosy corruption "IndyWatch Feed"

Since Thompson and Clark have been in the news over their undemocratic and bullying behaviour around Southern Response, people have been looking hard at what parts of government they've been doing business with and what exactly they're doing. And the picture exposed is... not good. First, there was their dubious manipulation of DoC to cover up public domain information. But they've now been exposed as having dubious dealings with MPI and the SIS which have resulted in the State Services Commissions' inquiry into them being broadened to cover the entire state service.

The dubious behaviour was apparently revealed by OIA requests to those agencies. I haven't seen the MPI one, though they have a press release here about it. But the SIS one is on FYI, and it is... disturbing. The SIS's Protective Security Engagement Manger, responsible for making sure government agencies handle information securely, had a very chummy relationship with someone from Thompson and Clark, and steered business their way. They provided them with information to help bids, got them into classified meetings, arranged for them to do a bug sweep for someone who had contacted SIS for assistance. The head of the SIS notes in response to this:

In light of this correspondence, I have asked for several matters to be looked into. The emails raise questions in relation to conduct and possible bias in favour of Thompson and Clark. These questions are the subject of an internal investigation. I have also asked for our internal processes, policies and guidance to be reviewed to ensure that our (necessary and important) engagement with private sector providers is professional, appropriate and even-handed.
And, as noted, the SSC is now investigating as well. as they should - because this is basicly a case of cosy corruption, mates helping mates, and at the heart of an agency (the SIS) we trust to be above such things.

This relationship is far too cosy. The best thing the government can do is amputate it.


Julian Assange "IndyWatch Feed"

The persecution of Julian Assange must end. Or it will end in tragedy.

The Australian government and prime minister Malcolm Turnbull have an historic opportunity to decide which it will be.

They can remain silent, for which history will be unforgiving. Or they can act in the interests of justice and humanity and bring this remarkable Australian citizen home.

Assange does not ask for special treatment. The government has clear diplomatic and moral obligations to protect Australian citizens abroad from gross injustice: in Julians case, from a gross miscarriage of justice and the extreme danger that await him should he walk out of the Ecuadorean embassy in London unprotected.

We know from the Chelsea Manning case what he can expect if a U.S. extradition warrant is successful a United Nations Special Rapporteur called it torture.

I know Julian Assange well; I regard him as a close friend, a person of extraordinary resilience and courage. I have watched a tsunami of lies and smear engulf him, endlessly, vindictively, perfidiously; and I know why they smear him.

In 2008, a plan to destroy both WikiLeaks and Assange was laid out in a top secret document dated 8 March, 2008. The authors were the Cyber Counter-intelligence Assessments Branch of the U.S. Defence Department. They described in detail how important it was to destroy the feeling of trust that is WikiLeaks centre of gravity.

This would be achieved, they wrote, with threats of exposure [and] criminal prosecution and a unrelenting assault on reputation. The aim was to silence and criminalise WikiLeaks and its editor and publisher. It was as if they planned a war on a single human being and on the very principle of freedom of speech.

Vichy Media

Their main weapon would be personal smear. Their shock troops would be enlisted in the media those who are meant to keep the record straight and tell us the truth.

The irony is that no one told these journalists what to do. I call them Vichy journalists after the Vichy government that served and enabled the German occupation of wartime France.

Last October, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation journalist Sarah Ferguson interviewed Hillary Clinton, over whom she fawned as the icon for your generation.

This was the same Clinton who threatened to obliterate totally Iran and, who, as U.S. secretary of State in 2011, was one of the instigators of the invasion and destruction of Libya as a modern state, with the loss of 40,000 lives. Like the invasion of Iraq, it was based on li...


Rocking the G7: Trump Stomps His Allies "IndyWatch Feed"

Disruption, disturbance, eruption, the words crowning the presidency of Donald J. Trump, who has effectively demonstrated an idea made famous by Nazi doodler of law and political theorist Carl Schmitt: politics is defined, not by identifying with friends in cosy harmony but with enemies in constant tension. There are many ways that Trump might be

The post Rocking the G7: Trump Stomps His Allies appeared first on The AIM Network.


In which the pond's heart goes out to the reptiles still suffering a crisis in Western Civilisation ... "IndyWatch Feed"

This juxtaposition startled the pond today

Yes, the dog botherer went there but perhaps some remarkable sixth sense told the dog botherer to keep it short ...


Strange, the pond had never noticed a reluctance by the reptiles when it came to slurring Islamics, but never let it be said that women should walk the streets unconcerned about their safety.

That sort of wild-eyed talk can only lead to trouble

As for the dog botherer talking about not spitting blame and guilt widely, the pond just had to roll the jaffas down the aisle, and will bear it in mind, the next time the dog botherer announces the next crisis in Western Civilisation, and assigns the blame and the guilt you wretches know who you are ...

And so to the alarming news from the Islamics, as the current crisis in Western Civilisation gets wider and deeper



Said it before. Will say it again. "IndyWatch Feed"

Spartacus has said it before and Spartacus will say it again.  Kevin Williamson is a fantastic writer and analyst.

For those unfamiliar with his recent history, Williamson was a long time writer for National Review and was poached by The Atlantic Magazine.  After 1 article for the Atlantic Magazine and a lefty revolt and hissy fit that would put ANU students and academics to shame, Williamson was fired.  And for what?  Officially because of something he said in jest in a podcast some 6-12 months earlier.  Unofficially, because the lefty media likes every kind of diversity except view point diversity.

Williamson has now returned to write for the National Review, although sadly less frequently, and his latest contribution is called Asymmetrical Capitalism.  Please, please read it.  In it, Williamson writes about an issue dear to Spartacus heart; that the debate should not be about (re)regulation or deregulation, but right-regulation:

Consumer regulation based on the power of exit rather than on the power of mandate will tend to help markets function rather than push private-sector service providers gradually in the direction of regulated quasi-public utilities and nobody much loves their utility company, either.

Just read it.

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Press Council refuses to investigate The Australian over multiple falsehoods "IndyWatch Feed"

Press Council refuses to investigate The Australian over multiple falsehoodsThe Australian Press Council has declined in investigate an article in The Australian by its former editor, Chris Mitchell, attacking Julia Gillard, despite the piece containing at least five clear errors of fact. read now...


Monday Message Board "IndyWatch Feed"

Another Monday Message Board, except its on Tuesday. Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.


Green side up "IndyWatch Feed"

Ontario was once the wealthiest province in Canada, back when I used to live there, but no more. It is in the process of proving that while there may be much ruin in a great nation, eventually you really can ruin the place if you work at it long enough and hard enough. Australia is apparently going to go down that same path: Dual threat to energy guarantee from ALP and conservatives. Here then is a cautionary tale proving there are some people for whom no level of ruin is ever enough: $312 Billion: Green Energy Makes Ontario the Most Debt-Ridden Province on Earth. Not long, worth your time, and here is something to get you started.

A major issue has been crippling energy and environmental policies. It began when, in 1992, then-premier Bob Rae appointed businessman and former UN Under-Secretary-General Maurice Strong to be chairman of Ontario Hydro. At the time, Ontario was a prosperous, economically sound province. Strong changed that when he applied the energy and environmental policies he proposed for the entire world. In 1992, he introduced them through his creation of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and the conference he chaired in Rio de Janeiro.

At the conference, Strong introduced his creation of Agenda 21, a global energy and environment policy of world-shattering implications, and got it ratified. It was at the same conference that world leaders signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The UNFCCC set the ground rules for the UNs climate science body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In Article 1 of the UNFCCC treaty, it specified:

Climate change means a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over considerable time periods.

It is a definition that predetermines the outcome of the IPCCs work. You cannot isolate human causes of climate change without knowledge and understanding of natural changes and mechanisms. The fact that we cannot forecast the weather beyond 72 hours demonstrates how lit...


Which Kerry Schott quote would you prefer? "IndyWatch Feed"

Kerry Schott is the chair of the Energy Security Board, yet another bureaucratic entity governing the National Electricity Market (sic).

She is the one who has come up with the details of the deeply misconceived National Energy Guarantee that just provides an ongoing free kick to the renewable energy sector.

But she clearly needs to pretend to change her tune when it suits.  Just pick your preferred quote.

I can assure you that, unless theres a change of technology, there would be absolutely no way that anybody would be financing a new coal-fired generation plant.  So, people might want to see them go faster, but theyre going anyway.


All the guarantee does is ensure that there is sufficient power for all customers when and where they need it. The NEG is the best chance in over a decade of climate policy instability to provide a reliable and lower cost energy system. Surely we have all had enough of escalating prices and low investment in reliable dispatchable power?

Lets get real here: there wont be any investment in reliable dispatchable power under the NEG maybe a bit of expensive gas peaking, but thats it.

And whats this about climate policy instability?  We have had the RET (since 2001), so whats she on about?  It has achieved precisely what was intended an avalanche of investment in unreliable renewable energy, driven out coal fired power and prices have massively escalated.  Whats not to love, Kerry you want more of it.

For the government it is a clear case of WRONG WAY, GO BACK.


Time for the government to pay up "IndyWatch Feed"

Yesterday, the New Zealand Nurses Organisation voted to take strike action. While they'd been offered a half billion dollar pay package by DHBs, this was mostly focused on divide and rule and raising salaries for those already at the top of the pay scale, with only crumbs for the overworked and underpaid masses at the bottom. And clearly, their membership felt that this was unacceptable, that after nine long years of austerity under National, they deserved more.

And they're right. They do deserve more. And the government has to pay up. Pleading poverty won't help - everyone knows that their "poverty" is entirely self-inflicted, a voluntary adherence to National's budget targets in a vain effort to please the business community (who will never be pleased, so there's no point). But people elected this government to fix the social infrastructure National had eroded, to make sure we had schools and hospitals which actually work. The bill for that is now due. Either they can pay up and promise more money, or they can see those hospitals stop working and pay the political price for that.


Let's do this "IndyWatch Feed"

Westpac has been modelling the effects of the government's proposed capital gains tax, and concluded that it would be effective in lowering house prices:

House prices would fall, rents would rise but home ownership would improve if a capital gains or some other type of property tax was brought in according to a new study.

Westpac Bank has looked at six possible changes to the tax system, ranging from a capital gains, property or land taxes through to a new way of taxing rental income.

A 10 percent capital gains tax, a 1 percent land tax or 0.5 percent property tax would result in house prices falling 10 or 11 percent.

A deemed rate of return, which would tax landlords on an assumed rate of return, say 5 percent on their properties, could see prices fall by 20 percent.

In all cases, the tax changes would boost home ownership rates as investing became less attractive, but would also cause rents to rise.

Rents would rise because landleeches would have to actually make a (taxed) profit from their houses, rather than using rent as a loss-leader for untaxed capital gains. OTOH, the drop in house prices will make it far easier for people to own their own home, as well as removing some of the unearned, paper wealth of those who have benefited from the bubble, so it'll reduce inequality as well. The task for the government will be to ensure that there's a good supply of new houses, so that people can buy, rather than being trapped paying rent to some greedy Boomer forever.


Partially right: rejecting neoliberalism shouldnt mean giving up on social liberalism "IndyWatch Feed"

Partially right: rejecting neoliberalism shouldnt mean giving up on social liberalism

File 20180618 85863 ra58wl.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1


Richard Holden, UNSW and Rosalind Dixon, UNSW

Richard Dennisss Quarterly Essay, Dead Right: How Neoliberalism Ate Itself and What Comes Next, is a thought-provoking call to arms against an array of perceived ills economic rationalism, market forces, small government, tax cuts, incentives, even corporate sponsorship.

Denniss provides a useful provocation for a much-needed debate in Australia about the proper role of government versus markets, and the interests of firms versus workers and consumers.

But he risks throwing out what is good about liberalism in attacking neoliberalism. One wonders whether, in his heart, Denniss doesnt actually recognise this.

His conclusion seems eminently sensible. He talks of a society with some markets rather than a market society, of Adam Smith seeing both the virtues and limits of free markets. We and mainstream economists couldnt agree more.

Markets and competition

For Denniss, neoliberalism is anti-regulation and anti-competition, and pro-crony-capitalism. Mainstream economics, how...


Catallaxy Exclusive Australian Broadcasting Corporation has not paid tax for at least 20 years "IndyWatch Feed"

In an investigative exclusive, it can be reported that the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has not paid any company tax for at least 20 years.

A deep analysis of the ABCs 2016-17 audited financial accounts has shown that, despite revenues of over $1.1 billion (Government and own source), not a single cent of tax was paid.  But according to the ABCs Chief Economics Correspondent, Emma Alberici:

And while the Treasurer and Finance Minister warn that Australias relatively high headline corporate tax rate means Australia remains uncompetitive and companies will choose to invest in lower taxing countries, the facts dont bear that out.

Although previous ABC research has shown that Qantas has not paid company tax for 10 years, the ABC has not paid tax for longer than that.  Alberici further noted:

A zero corporate tax bill at Qantas has certainly seen one significant wage rise at the company the chief executives. The benefit to workers has been less pronounced.

This is a similar phenomenon at the ABC with its chief executives salary being at least $0.9 million per annum and its top presenters salary being $0.5 million per annum.

When contacted, the Australian Tax Office (ATO) refused to comment on whether there was any investigation of the ABCs tax payments being undertaken.  ATO spokesperson Bob DBuilder said:

The ATO does not comment on such company specific matters.  But as a citizen, I enjoy watching ABC shows, especially Peppa Pig.  #justsaying.

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JOHN PILGER: Bringing Julian Assange home "IndyWatch Feed"

JOHN PILGER: Bringing Julian Assange homePrime Minister Malcolm Turnbull can seize this opportunity to defend the life of an Australian citizen and bring Julian Assange home. read now...

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Monday, 18 June


In which the pond indulges in its regular Cater Watch ... "IndyWatch Feed"

Well, there's a tidy way to start off the day's Caterist watch, thanks to Media Watch here

And so the Caterist piece of the day, though the pond will leave the question of whether the Caterist will seek to prove his truths without expert evidence to more learned judges

So what's the theme of the day?

The free market? Oh, that reminds the pond that it should pause for a sponsor message. 

This homily on the free market is helpfully aided by a government grant from the Department of F...


My mother was lucky to survive giving birth to me in Papua New Guinea "IndyWatch Feed"

I was born in the small coastal village of Kivori, in Papua New Guineas Central Province. With no healthcare centre nearby, my mother gave birth to me at home, with the help of several traditional birth attendants as well as a traditional healer.

Instead of a delivery bed, an empty rice bag was spread on the ground for my mother to use during childbirth, and my umbilical cord would have been cut with a sharpened stick of a sago palm.

With no access to an ambulance and the nearest hospital and doctor a four-hour drive to Port Moresby, my mother would have been praying that there were no complications.

More than 30 years later, little has changed for the mothers of Kivori. Globally, and within the Asia-Pacific region, PNG has some of the worst maternal and child health indicators. At least one woman loses her life in childbirth every day. Most of these deaths are preventable.

It was on a visit to Australia last year that I was reminded how shocking the conditions are for mothers and their newborns in PNG. We may be Australias closest neighbour, with just 160km separating us, but the differences in our healthcare systems are like night and day.

The Royal Brisbane Womens Hospital has 410 doctors. This is only one of many hospitals servicing the city of Brisbane. The whole of PNG has fewer than 400 doctors, and my home province of Central Province has one doctor servicing almost a quarter of a million people.

In fact, the entire healthcare system in PNG is beset by shortages in doctors, nurses, midwives as well as facilities, medicine and equipment to make childbirth safer.

My village used to have a small aid post, but government funding cuts and a lack of trained staff saw it close in 2013. So mothers wanting to give birth in a healthcare facility must now walk 10kms to a health sub-centre. Here, they will find a building without electricity or running water, without mattresses for the consulting beds, and a severe shortage of proper medical equipment.

It is not uncommon for clinic to run out of medicines even paracetamol. There are only two staff working here with the same skills as a nursing assistant in Australia so clinic times are office hours only.

If anything should go wrong, the closest ambulance is a 45-minute drive away if transport can even be found. If they reach the ambulance, the cost of the journey to Port Moresby Hospital is around 200 Kina; the equivalent of over a months salary and completely unaffordable for the majority of families.

This dire lack of professional, accessible healthcare is why so many women from my village will choose to inste...


Day to Day Politics: Two weeks of mayhem. "IndyWatch Feed"

Tuesday 19 June 2018 After further consideration and another clue I am prepared to say that it is still possible to have a federal election in September or October. The next two weeks of the sitting of the Parliament the Government has a full agenda and noticeably missing is a bill to ban foreign donations.

The post Day to Day Politics: Two weeks of mayhem. appeared first on The AIM Network.


John Pilger: The Persecution of Julian Assange Must End + Transcript "IndyWatch Feed"

Dandelion Salad Updated: June 18, 2018 with John Pilger WSWS on Jun 18, 2018 Hundreds of people participated in Sundays demonstration in Sydney Town Hall Square to demand Julian Assanges safe return to Australia. The rally, organized by the Socialist Equality Party, featured speeches from SEP Australia national secretary James Cogan and independent journalist and []


OUR ABC: Will voters be foolish enough to believe Turnbull Government protestations of innocence? "IndyWatch Feed"

The Liberal Party of Australia Federal Councilcomprises 14 delegates from each State and the ACT - the State / Territory President, the State / Territory Parliamentary Leader, the President of the Young Liberal Movement, the President / Chairman of the Womens Council and 10 other delegates.

More than 100 Liberal Party MPs, senators and party members were in Sydney on 16 June 2018 for the partys 60th annual federal council which is expected to be the last one before the next federal election.

Here are some of the smiling faces at the event readers might recognise.

Twitter: A bevy of Liberal ministers: Sen. Mitch Fifield, Sen. Mathias Cormann, Julie...


Worshipping Trump has a scary parallel "IndyWatch Feed"

United States of America, May 2018

Deutsches Reich, also known as the Third Reich, circa 1933-1945

'Dedicated:  in unutterable thanks to the blessed parents the mother who gave birth to "Our Furhrer"' - Text of a handmade Mother's Day card sent to Adolf Hitler [Daily Beast, 12 April 2015]


After womans death and a sexual attack in a park, Victoria Police tell citizens, Take responsibility for your safety "IndyWatch Feed"

Strict gun control laws in Australia make it very difficult for a woman to best determine how to take responsibility for her own safety. Do tell #GunControlNow crowd (who love the gun control model of other countries), why do you Continue reading


What do you call a crooked union official in jail "IndyWatch Feed"

What do you call a crooked union official in jail?  A good start?  Not enough?  Desire?  All of the above?

As reported in the AFR:

Derrick Belan, the former head of the National Union of Workers NSW, has been sentenced to four years in jail after being found guilty of defrauding his union more than $650,000 and spending the money for his own personal benefit, including botox injections, a tattoo, cruises and a Harley Davidson.

Good thing there is no Prime Ministerial Pardon power in Australia.

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The perils of popularism "IndyWatch Feed"

This week we originally were going to be discussing Pauline Hansons One Nation party and their apparent habit of losing Senators. After all, to lose one Senator is careless, two is a concern and so on. Apart from the Betoota Advocate doing the satire better, they also bring in the relevant point of popularism. Hanson is President

The post The perils of popularism appeared first on The AIM Network.


Cutting High Functioning Autism Funding Re: NDIS "IndyWatch Feed"

By Jane Salmon The person who allegedly killed Euridyce Dixon has been said to be struggling with autism. This is not an excuse for anything he may have done. What has happened is inexcusable. Not only has a fine woman of wit and conscience had her life taken  Not only has someone innocent died in

The post Cutting High Functioning Autism Funding Re: NDIS appeared first on The AIM Network.


A new society shattering statistic "IndyWatch Feed"

In 2004 I introduced a new statistic to the Australian policy debate:

In 1996/97, the top 25% of income earners paid 61% of total net tax; by 2000/01 they were paying 64% of it.

At the time this caused a huge kerfuffle. It just wasnt true, Davidson is making up statistics on the spot, the tax burden is proportional, etc. etc. etc.

Yesterday I did it again. Well to be fair, Chris Berg and I did it in our new book Against Public Broadcasting: Why and how we should privatise the ABC.  Yesterday the Outsiders on SkyNews tweeted a very specific claim we make in the book and in our The Spectator piece published last Thursday.

A 2013 survey revealed that ABC journalists are almost 5 times more likely to be Greens voters than the average voter and twice more likely to vote Greens than the average journalist.

Twitter has gone mad. Gone mad you say? Yes.  Its just not true, Davidson has made it up, why does my employer employ me, etc. etc. etc.

So here is the link to the peer reviewed research: Hanusch, F. 2013. Journalists in times of change: evidence from a new survey of Australias journalistic workforce. Australian Journalism Review, 35(1): 29 42.

Here is the plain language explanation of the peer reviewed research.

However, 41.2% of the 34 ABC journalists who declared a voting intention said they would vote for the Greens, followed by 32.4% for Labor and 14.7% for the Coalition.

In contrast, 46.5% of 86 News Limited journalists who answered this question said they would vote for Labor, 26.7% for the Coalition, and only 19.8% for the Greens. As well as The Australian, the News stable includes some of the countrys best-selling tabloids such as the Herald Sun, Daily Telegraph, Courier-Mail, Northern Territory News and the Adelaide Advertiser, and some suburban newspapers.

Among the 86 Fairfax Media journalists who responded, Labor was by far the most popular party at 54.7% support, followed by the Coalition and the Greens, both on 19.8%. The Fairfax journalists came from outlets including the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Canberra Times, a range of regional and suburban news...


Paterson's Curse ... "IndyWatch Feed"

Up Tamworth way, the cockies and squatters were always wary of Paterson's Curse. It was a blight on the landscape

Of course we could argue about the spelling - some prefer Patterson - and the name - some prefer Salvation Jane - but the pond prefers the Curse, and according to science writer Peter Macinnis, here, it scored this name as a result of the Paterson family introducing it into the Albury district in the nineteenth century

These days it's still to be found everywhere, and a new variant strain of the Curse has turned up lately in the lizard Oz.

Apparently the lizards of Oz are unaware of the dangers, and so, in order to maintain their crisis in Western Civilisation, they imported Paterson to deliver a few curses

The pond knew immediately it was important because they assigned Urban to regurgitate what the Paterson scribbled

That's how it goes when the reptiles are on a crusade.

Run the opinion piece, and also run an alleged news piece on the opinion piece, so there's a tupenny bunger making a louder noise.

The pond has no idea what the urbane Urban feels about being made a parrot for a remarkably stupid idea, but she does her job of pa...


Eurydice Dixon: The message for women is clear "IndyWatch Feed"

Eurydice Dixon: The message for women is clearIn Australia, violence against women and girls is considered an inevitability about which authorities can apparently do nothing. read now...


Jesus, Sacrifice & Forgiveness. Why We Need to Take Another Look. "IndyWatch Feed"

This is a longer than usual piece. So grab a cuppa and take some time

For most of my life Ive thought that the Old Testament sacrificial system was a way for people to be forgiven for their sins. The death of an animal was a powerful reminder to Israelites that they deserved to die for their sin, but that God accepted the animal as a substitute for them.

This then affected the way I read the story of Jesus. When he forgave sins without requiring people to offer sacrifices at the temple, he was effectively declaring that he,  not the temple, now represented the presence of God. When he died on the cross, he became the sacrifice of all sacrifices, paying the penalty for my sins so that I could be free.

Recently I have been reading through the Old Testament teaching around sacrifice. Its not something we often do, for it is a very foreign world with its talk of things and places being holy, clean or unclean, and is full of intricate and detailed rules regarding ways sacrifices are to be made. Given we no longer make sacrifices it is difficult to be motivated to explore these texts. Yet I have been surprised to discover that the Old Testament sacrificial system was not about the forgiveness of sin but the ritual cleansing of the pollution of sin. This has significant implications for how we understand Jesus and his death.

The sacrificial system is described in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Leviticus the most extensive. There were five types of sacrifice:

1. Burnt offering
2. Grain offering
3. Fellowship offering
4. Sin offering
5. Guilt offering

The two sacrifices related to forgiveness of sin were the sin offering and the guilt offering. These are extensively described in Leviticus chapters 4-6. They were not sacrifices for the forgiveness of sins in general, but could be offered only for unintentional sins. Chapter 4, which describes the sin offering, begins

when anyone since unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lords commands

In verse 13 it continues

if the whole Israelite community since unintentionally does what is full beaded in any of the Lords commands, even though the community is unaware of the matter, when they realise their guilt and the sin becomes known, the assembly must bring a young bull was a sin offering

The guilt offering seems to be distinguished by the fact that it is for unintentional sins in regard to any of the Lords holy things (5:15).

The sacrificial system did not provide a means by which the adulterer, the murderer, the thief, the violent, the oppressive, could find...


Where every failure is punished with more money and power "IndyWatch Feed"

The United States has the largest number of people in jail. And not per capita but in absolute terms. Yes, despite a population of around 1/4 of China (325 m vs 1.4 billion), there are more people in US jails than in Chinese jails. And of the perhaps 2.5 million in US jails, see the lovely diagram following, perhaps 1/7th are incarcerated in California.

Why are these numbers so and what happened around 1980 that kicked up a previously continuous 60 year trend? Well, consideration might be given to increased focus on crime or perhaps the notion of privatised prisons. But greater weight should be given to the role of prison guard unions.

In 2016-17 in California, it cost around US$71K per annum to house to incarcerate an inmate:

Since 2010-11, the average annual cost has increased by about $22,000 or about 45 percent. This includes an increase of $7,900 for security and $7,200 for inmate health care. This increase has been driven by various factors, including (1) employee compensation, (2) increased inmate health care costs, and (3) operational costs related to additional prison capacity to reduce prison overcrowding.

And not only did the numbers of inmates increase and the quality of prisons decrease but:

The growth of Californias incarceration system, and the decline of its quality, tracks the accession to ...


Resources curse PNG communities future "IndyWatch Feed"

Author: Michael Main. Source: East Asia Forum

Two recent reports on the massive ExxonMobil-led PNG LNG project have brought renewed attention to the undesirable economic and social impacts of Papua New Guineas largest-ever resource extraction enterprise. This research shows that PNG LNG has hurt, rather than grown, PNGs economy and that it has inflamed violence and tensions in the PNG highlands region. Papua New Guineas so-called resource curse has hit local communities the hardest.

Violent conflict in the PNG highlands, certainly among the Huli landowners of Hela Province where PNG LNG is based, has been an almost constant feature since before first contact with colonial forces in the 1930s. Levels of violence have fluctuated markedly in response to historical conditions. The 1970s and 1980s were relatively peaceful, as PNG transitioned from Australian administration into the early independence years. But local political frustrations combined with the introduction of guns led to high rates of violence in the highlands around the 1992 elections.

Since that decade, Papua New Guineas government services have been in constant decline. A new generation of Huli has emerged that is less educated than the generation of its parents Huli who were educated between the 1960s and 1980s are more literate and fluent in English than those who were of school age from the 1990s onwards. Health has deteriorated with a decline in health services and the introduction of store-bought processed food. By the late 2000s, when the PNG government was promoting the PNG LNG project as a looming economic miracle for the country, the Huli population was desperate for a project that they believed would raise them from the state of poverty and neglect that had gradually descended upon them since independence.

During the first few years of the PNG LNG projects construction, it looked as if all its grand promises were being fulfilled. ExxonMobil and its partners invested US$19 billion a staggering amount for a country whose GDP was a little over US$8 billion in 2009 (just before construction began). Cash was everywhere in the projects area, and this cash was accompanied by plentiful....


In which the pond does a double bill of the Major and the Oreo but patrons need to bring their own popcorn ... "IndyWatch Feed"


The pond was expecting that the reptiles' very own Major Mitchell would explain this day what would happen should the dogs ever catch the car.

For years the reptiles have railed at the ABC, and finally they're ever so close to the car, so close to achieving the dream, and then Stephen Brooks gets cold paws, and worries about catching the car...

Surely Brook's bleat about the ABC being privatised is completely wrong, surely the Major would have the inside nod from the Chairman about the way he was preparing a privatisation bid, surely the Major had a plan for when the reptiles caught the ABC ownership bus

Sadly, as he often does, the Major failed the test, and instead the pond was confronted with this double bill and a shortage of popcorn

Sheesh, more bloody Trumpism, as if the world wasn't full enough of it already but the pond knew its duty, and buckled up for the double bill

It's true, it's true, the Soviet Union is no more.

But look on the bright side. They've got the Crimea back, they've made a mess of the Ukraine and they're well a...


Not achieved "IndyWatch Feed"

Back in 2010, the then-National government sacked the elected Canterbury Regional Council and replaced it with a group of unelected dictators. One of the key tasks of National's dictators was to implement the Canterbury Water Management Strategy, a collaboratively developed plan to improve Canterbury's water. But it turns out that the strategy has been a failure:

A report looking into the 10th anniversary of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy (CWMS) suggests it has failed numerous goals to protect the health of rivers and the environment.

But an Environment Canterbury councillor is pouring cold water on the concern, saying it was not an official report.

The report, presented to CWMS's regional committee, gives marks out of 10 against the strategy's initial goals, and how it was meeting them.

Some goals, such as maintaining rural community viability, and "ensuring high levels of audited self-management", received good marks. However, protecting "ecosystems, habitats and landscapes and indigenous biodiversity received a zero out of 10.

And really, that's not surprising: the strategy's use of regional "zone committees" in practice means turning over control of water to farmers, who unsurprisingly give it to themselves. The committees are so conflicted and corrupt and unwilling to consider environmental issues that environmental organisations have simply walked away from them rather than lend them legitimacy. Which is a huge failure for a strategy supposedly based on "collaboration".

The only way we will get proper management of Canterbury's water is with a fully elected council which gives a full voice to Canterbury's people. Fortunately that will be happening next year.


18C bottles handing on the wall "IndyWatch Feed"

As Cats and others who pay attention to news in Australia will know, there have been some horrible (alleged) child abuse incidents in the Northern Territory recently reported.  Spartacus has long wanted to write something on the matter but has been put off by the risks posed by Section 18C of the Race Discrimination Act.  Spartacus will write something on the subject later, but it will will not be what Spartacus really wants to write.  Not because Spartacus was wanting to write something racist, but because someone, a single person somewhere out in the ether might be offended.

And for those who think that 18C is not a plague on speech in Australia, you are either ignorant or idiotic.  As John Courtney Murray said in 1961, yes 1961:

I suggest that the real enemy within the gates of the city is not the Communist, but the idiot. Here I am using the word idiot not in its customary, contemporary vernacular usage of one who is mentally deficient. No, I am going back to the primitive Greek usage; the idiot meant, first of all, the private person, and then came to mean the man who does not possess the public philosophy, the man who is not master of the knowledge and the skills that underlie the life of the civilized city. The idiot, to the Greek, was just one stage removed from the barbarian. He is the man who is ignorant of the meaning of the word civility.

The system of speech supervision that has flowed from Section 18C and its administration by the Human Rights Commission has created a model of asymmetric costs and benefits.  There are almost no costs (economic or reputational) for lodging an 18C related complaint, and in fact, a complainants identity can be protected.  On the other hand, the costs (economic or reputational) for having an 18C related complaint lodged against you are enormous (reference Bill Leek).

The Human Rights Commission also claims to act as an impartial arbiter of complains, but unlike a Court of Law is not bound by proper administrative processes (reference QUT students).  Further, unlike a Court of Law, the Human Rights Commission does not make costs order against complainants where the complaint is spurious, is withdrawn or fails.

Coupled with the Human Rights Commission touting for business and its bureaucratic incentive to have as many complaints as possible so as to maximise its budget and importance, this creates a system that is biased against speech.  Basically, heads speech is punished, tails no speech occurs.

And for what?  For causing offence or insult.

The barbarians are not at the gate.  They are inside th...


Nice personal data you have there shame if something were to happen to it "IndyWatch Feed"

Nice personal data you have there shame if something were to happen to itWhat we need to know is all our personal information is being compiled to be accessed by one little identifier called MyGovID. read now...


You Choose "IndyWatch Feed"

Spartacus is currently reading a wonderful book by Jonah Goldberg called Suicide of the West.  Highly, very highly, recommended.  And it is rather topical at the moment with the on going discussion of the teaching of Western Civilisation in Australian universities.

However, in his book Goldberg makes an interest contrast.  He describes capitalism as a system which makes everyone richer, but some richer faster than others (inequality).   He then describes socialism as a system that makes everyone poor, but equally poor (equality).

So Australians.  There is a choice to be made at the next election so dont be confused.  The choice seems not to be how much inequality we can tolerate so that every boat is lifted but rather how much poorer do we want to be so that we can say there is less inequality.

You choose.

And if this sounds like Australias climate policy where we are making everyone poorer, not to impact climate, but to say we are doing something, this is probably not a coincidence.

Follow I Am Spartacus on Twitter at @Ey_am_Spartacus
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Australias carbon tax Mark II "IndyWatch Feed"

I have an article this morning in Quadrant-on-line addressing the latest developments involving  The National Energy Guarantee (NEG) Australias new carbon tax.  This is to operate by requiring electricity retailers to ensure their supplies conform to a progressively declining level of greenhouse gas emissions.  And, as each generator has a unique carbon footprint, there will be a diversity of prices.

We are, therefore reintroducing a price on carbon, the carbon tax, enclosed in a vanilla wrapper, disarmingly advertised as technology neutral.

Not only do we have a carbon tax but its implementation adds a new complexity to the electricity market.

As renewables are more costly than coal and gas the average price to households and businesses will increase.

It is easy to see why this economy-wrecking policy has been put into place.  The original carbon tax was introduced by Julia Gillard and devised by the then Secretary of the Climate Change Department, Martin Parkinson.  Malcolm Turnbull, as leader of the Opposition, supported that policy and, after refusing to reconsider, was defeated on the issue by Tony Abbott.  Under Gillard, Parkinson was promoted to the Secretary of Treasury.

On becoming Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, in line with his commitment, repealed the carbon tax.  After a decent interval he also fired Martin Parkinson.

On becoming PM, Turnbull appointed Parkinson to head up his own Department, from which position he has immense influence to dictate energy and climate policy.  Moreover as head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Parkinson is able to play a key role in selecting appointments in the bureaucracy proper and in the quangos that administer and advise on energy policy.

This has placed irresistible pressure on the Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg who has to sell the policy and seek out ways he can neutralize some of its features.

My Quadrant piece is...


Worldwide Protests to Take Place on Sixth Anniversary of Julian Assange Entering the Ecuadorian Embassy "IndyWatch Feed"

Protests will be taking place across the globe on Tuesday as supporters of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange call for his freedom on the sixth anniversary of his entering the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

There are confirmed rallies in the USA, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Switzerland, India, Sri Lanka, and the UK.

In the United States, protesters will be hitting the streets outside the White House as well as in New York City, Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco.

The Gateway Pundit will be present at the rally outside the White House in Lafayette Park, which begins at 11 a.m. EST. Speakers include activists from across the political spectrum including Ray McGovern, Marsha Coleman Adebayo, Margaret Flowers, Code Pinks Medea Benjamin, Kevin Zeese, Angel Fox and Lee Stranahan. More information about the protest can be found on the Facebook event page.

According to a press release from organizers, the protesters are demanding that Australia, Britain and the US abide by the UN ruling that Assange be allowed his freedom and be compensated for the injustice that has been done to him. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has repeatedly ruled that Assange is being illegally detained.

In March, Ecuador caved to pressure from the United States and Spanish governments to isolate Assange by revoking his right to have visitors, make phone calls or use the internet. With no access to the outside world or means of communication, he is now being kept in conditions worse than our prisoners in solitary confinement.


The post Worldwide Protests to Take Place on Sixth Anniversary of Julian Assange Entering the Ecuadorian Embassy appeared first on The Gateway Pundit.


The RMA and deterrence "IndyWatch Feed"

Our environment is under threat. We have farmers polluting our rivers and sucking aquifers dry. Our own "defence" force is poisoning people's drinking water. Greedy property developers cut down protected native trees. And that's just a few recent examples. In theory, all of this should be prevented by the RMA: environmentally damaging activities require resource consent, and there are hefty fines or even prison terms to deter people who don't bother. But the problem is that none of that is enforced: local councils just don't prosecute:

Fewer than a hundred prosecutions are being carried out under New Zealand's main environmental law each year, despite thousands of breaches.

Now a legal researcher is investigating whether the 27-year-old Resource Management Act (RMA) is having the deterrent effect that any law including criminal offences should.


"There is a difference between the law itself and how it works in practice," he said.

"There are thousands if not tens of thousands of breaches of the RMA every year, yet under 100 prosecutions a year."

Many of those breaches are minor, and better resolved by an infringement offence and bringing them into compliance. But local councils are looking the other way on major environmental crimes with irreversible effects. And the effect is obvious: people keep on committing those crimes, because there is no penalty for them, not even one as simple as having to stop. And that's just not good enough.

Our environmental laws need to be enforced. If local councillors are unwilling to direct their councils to do that, then we should elect ones who are. Local government elections are just over a year away, so making sure your council knows that you will be judging them on their prosecution rate is probably a good idea.


Stopping the orcs in their tracks "IndyWatch Feed"

When the government was elected, they promised to end mining on conservation land. And they're delivering:

An application to mine coal on public conservation land near Te Kuha in the Buller District has been declined, Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage and Minister of Energy Resources Megan Woods announced today.

Rangitira Developments Ltd had applied for an access arrangement under the Crown Minerals Act to mine 12 hectares of public conservation land in the Mt Rochfort Conservation Area, near Te Kuha, as part of a large opencast coal mine.

The 12 ha area is part of the companys 116 ha mining proposal and compromises approximately 10 per cent of the planned mine site and open cast pit. Most of land which the company seeks to mine is within the Westport Water Conservation Reserve vested in, and managed by, the Buller District Council. The Council is the decision-maker for mining access to that area.

The Ministers declined the application to mine 12 hectares of conservation land because it was not considered that the mines potential economic benefits were large enough to outweigh the irreparable damage to an area with very high, unique and nationally significant conservation values.

This decision was made under the existing law, and was made possible simply by having a different Minister who listened to DoC's views on ecological significance rather than ignoring them as National had done. Obviously, we want a safer framework so we don't have to rely on that happy coincidence in future, but for the moment it'll do. The orcs have been stopped in their tracks!

The Minister has saved a whole mountain from being dug up and turned into a scar. But she's also sent a clear message to the coal industry that they have no future in New Zealand (or at least, no future on conservation land, which is pretty much the same thing, because that's where most of the coal is). If it has a chilling effect on future coal investment, so much the better: this is not an industry we want or can afford to have in New Zealand anymore. The sooner it dies, the better.


The Turnbull Government: Those that would destroy the ABC "IndyWatch Feed"

The Turnbull Government: Those that would destroy the ABCThe 110 members of the annual Federal Council of the Liberal Party have voted overwhelmingly to sell off the ABC. read now...

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Sunday, 17 June


In which the gravedigger is blessed by a Lobbecke and stakes a claim for a weekly column in humbuggery ... "IndyWatch Feed"

First the pond must pause to admire today's admirable - nay epic - effort by the reptiles at doing a Copperfield and disappearing its "Newspoll" from the tree killer edition front page  

Oh it's there tucked, away in a box, below the ravaging of Comrade Bill, magically headed "Turnbull hits high", as with a wave of the wand, the 34th 52/48 loss in a row is transformed into a win

Of course trolls and bots on the Twitter feed weren't quite as impressed


How cruel and how unkind, and with that under its belt the pond thought it might ease into Monday with a most worthy Oreo lite biccie because whoever has been blessed by a Lobbecke must have attention paid,  suggesting, as it does, a grand attempt at hypocrisy and humbug

Yes, not even the original undiluted Oreo is blessed this day with a Lobbecke of that quality, and it turned out that it was the attention-seeking Sexton doing his very best to ingratiate himself with the lizard overlords

Anyone who can work "the politicall...

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Monday, 11 June


Everywhere and always Gods graceful presence. Letting go of a God of fear and fury for the God of Jesus "IndyWatch Feed"

  Grab a cuppa and give yourself some time. This is a longer than usual piece

When I was a teenager I remember being both excited and fearful when one of my non-Christian school friends came to church. I was excited because they were expressing an interest in faith. I was fearful lest they take communion, for it had been drummed into me that anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup unworthily, eats and drinks damnation on himself. Looking back on it now it seems so odd. How could it be that the very ritual that signified grace and love could simultaneously be an object of fear and terror?

The answer was centuries in the making. The fourth century theologian, Augustine, gave us the doctrine of original sin, which held that not only do human beings sin, but that they possess a sinful nature that makes it impossible for them not to sin and renders them unable to do anything truly good. Although Augustine recognised the doctrine could not be demonstrated from Scripture it became the orthodoxy of the Church for centuries to come. For example, I was encouraged to take up this view as a teenager when I read Holiness, a book first published in 1877, written by Anglican bishop, JC Ryle, and considered a classic. Reflecting the theology of original sin Ryle says

I ask my readers to observe what deep reasons we all have for humiliation and self- abasement. Let us sit down before the picture of sin displayed to us in the Bible, and consider what guilty, vile, corrupt creatures we all are in the sight of God.

Even babies were afflicted with this despised nature.

The fairest babe that has entered life this year, and become the sunbeam of a family, is not, as its mother perhaps fondly calls it, a little angel, or a little innocent, but a little sinner. Alas! as it lies smiling and crowing in its cradle, that little creature carries in its heart the seeds of every kind of wickedness! Only watch it carefully, as it grows in stature and its mind developes, and you will soon detect in it an incessant tendency to that which is bad, and a backwardness to that which is good. You will see in it the buds and germs of deceit, evil temper, selfishness, self-will, obstinacy, greediness, envy, jealousy, passion which, if indulged and let alone, will shoot up with painful rapidity.

JC Ryle, Holiness

According to this narrative the essential truth about...

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Thursday, 31 May


Reconciliation Can Change Us All for the Better "IndyWatch Feed"

I am 52 years old. In the half century of my life there have been dramatic shifts in the relationship between non-indigenous and indigenous Australians: the 1967 referendum to include indigenous peoples in the census and grant to government power to make decisions that positively discriminated towards indigenous people; recognition of land rights; Keatings Redfern speech; the Mabo decision, its recognition that the Australian land mass was not empty but was taken from the indigenous nations, and the recognition of native title; and the apology to the stolen generations.

These changes at the national/formal level have been accompanied by some profound shifts at the popular level. In my childhood and youth I often heard people telling jokes about indigenous peoples that were not only racist but were venomously so. I dont hear them very often today. Nor do I often hear the stereotyping of indigenous peoples as lazy and unreliable (usually masked behind the assertion that they would go walkabout) that were common in my youth. Similarly, we seem to be coming to grips with the ability to describe the colonisation of Australia as an invasion and to recognise that it was violent and unjust.

Nonetheless, we still have some way to journey. Indigenous people as a whole continue to suffer the long overhangs of two centuries of dispossession, marginalisation and exclusion. The annual Close the Gap reports by the Department of Prime Minister make clear that indigenous Australians, as a whole, have poorer health, education and lifestyle outcomes than non-indigenous Australians. For example, indigenous children are twice as likely to die before their fifth birthday than nonindigenous children; average life expectancy for indigenous people is still a decade less than that of the non-indigenous population. These are the outcomes of dispossession. As the Uluru Statement from the Heart puts it:

Proportionally, we are the most incarcerated people on the planet. We are not an innately criminal people. Our children are aliened from their families at unprecedented rates. This cannot be because we have no love for them. And our youth languish in detention in obscene numbers. They should be our hope for the future.

These dimensions of our crisis tell plainly the structural nature of our problem. This is the torment of our powerlessness.

And too many Australians retain racist attitudes. A 2014 survey by Beyond Blue found that one in five of us would move away if an indigenous person sat near us; one in five would suspect an indigenous person in a shopping centre is likely to steal; and one in 10 of us would not offer an indigenous person a job.

I am a white middle-class male. I have never experienced discrimination like this. I cannot begin to imagine the corrosive imp...

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Monday, 21 May


Why even Republicans like me got sucked into the royal wedding "IndyWatch Feed"

Try as I did to resist, this last week I found myself pulled into the vortex of joy that was the royal wedding. In the leadup I disdainfully dismissed it as the pompous ceremony (and yes I mean pompous ceremony not pomp and ceremony) of an elitist and sexist institution that regarded the church as chaplain to its power except that what I found was a celebration of love and marriage that captured the hearts and attention of the world and a preacher determined to shape power rather than submit weakly to it.

The British monarchy has long ceased exercising real political power. On this occasion it seemed to do something far more important: it symbolised hope. Few Britons will ever meet Harry, but that does not stop them owning and loving him. They have shared his life, from the day he was born to the young boy who lost his mother in a tragic accident, whose grief was lived out publicly, to the brash adolescent whose misjudgements were reported internationally, into the decent and good man who has owned his calling to serve the community that he now appears to be. And this week they were with him again as he celebrated his marriage to the American actress Meghan Markle and appear ready to adopt her as their own.

The Royals play a role in society unlike any others. In a way no politician, celebrity or other institution can, they can represent the hopes of the people, embody and project back to them everything they want to be. Its not just that the people love Harry. The British monarchy, when taken into the hearts of the people, becomes a sign that we can be good, noble, kind and generous; that there are traditions, like marriage, that are worth preserving and celebrating; and that there is a possibility for genuine nobility of being (even if not of birth).

Observing from a distance, it seemed that for a long time this was centred on the Queen Mother. Some of her grandchildren may have behaved like right royal shits but she enjoyed almost saint-like status. Since her death the Queen assumed the saint-like mantle (we Aussies may not like the idea of the monarchy but we all admire the Queen), which the British (and I dare say Australian) public have also conferred on William and Harry. Sure, its grounded in mythology that will never stand close scrutiny, and its ironic that the Royals represent what we can be when we can never be who they are, but isnt that the nature of all symbols? For the crowds that lined the streets and the millions who watched on TV, the wedding brought them together to hope for the best, to celebrate the good, and to take joy in life. Im still a passionate republican, but if events like the Royal wedding can help us hope for the best, believe the best, long for the best and strive for the best I will celebrate them too.


Thursday, 17 May


Moving the Immovable Force. The Unchanged Sexism in the Christian Churches. "IndyWatch Feed"

I entered theological college in 1987. It was a time of ferment and upheaval among Evangelicals in the industrialised world as a growing number of scholars and leaders challenged the biblical basis for the traditional gender roles that operated within the church. Just months before I sat in my first class, IVP, one of Evangelicalisms leading publishing houses, released Women, Authority And The Bible, a collection of essays in which 27 well-regarded scholars argued the case for an evangelical feminism. Before the end of my first year, the Council for Biblical Manhood And Womanhood was formed. It brought together evangelical leaders and scholars determined to resist the feminist redefining of the roles of men and women. Its Danvers Statement became the classic articulation of the doctrine of Complementarianism and its publications, such as RecoveringBiblical Manhood and Womanhood: a Response to Evangelical Feminism, were widely read. From the mid-1980s up until the turn of the millennium a myriad of books and articles around questions of gender were produced as scholars traded blows over the interpretation of the biblical texts.

By the end of the 1990s the ferocity had left the debate but there had been no satisfactory resolution.  The denomination to which I belong, the Baptist Churches of NSW & ACT, recognised that Christians equally committed to Christ and the Scriptures could be found on either side of the question. A compromise was found. Ordination was about setting someone apart for a particular ministry such as a lead pastor. This responsibility was devolved from the denomination to the local church, meaning women friendly churches could ordain if they pleased.

Yet this did not translate into significant change. More than twenty years have passed since that vote, yet in 2015 less than 5% of recognised Ministers in the Baptist Churches of NSW and ACT were women, less than 2.5% were women serving in churches and even fewer as team leaders/senior pastors. Yes, women are more likely to serve in lay leadership roles, but when it comes to pastoral leadership Baptist churches in Australia are among the least gender representative organisations in the country.

And we are not alone. Whatever their rhetoric, many churches in the western world remain overwhelmingly male in leadership. The US National Congregations Survey is conducted every 5 years to measure the state of affairs in North American churches. In 2012 it showed that women held 41% of full-time secondary pastoral positions and 53% of part-time secondary roles, but just 11.4% of churches had a female in the role of head clergy person or primary religious leader, a statistic that was virtually unchanged since 1988. More than four in ten churches would not allow a female in such a role. Within the evangelical community female participation rates were much lower. Women filled only 3% o...

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