A Few Good Men

#auspol      #gordonthomsonci   #rac_sydney     #labor4refugees1    #Greens  #AustralianLabor

 Coalition bully-boy Scott Morrison has had plenty of opportunity since the elections to chest-beat, yap and howl over asylum seeker policy and so-called “border protection”..  We well remember the three-word “Stop the Boats” bogan slogan and brand-new hot Lindsay MP Fiona Scott wailing about the millions of leaky boats heading up the M4.

Now as promised they have found a two-star general, promoted him to three-star general and made him the fall guy for when things go wrong, which will happen – we would only need another Siev X  to watch this failed process in action.

We have no doubt that the newly minted Lieutenant-General is a fine soldier and good bloke. He probably deserves a VC for having served under John Howard in administrative as well as combat roles.

However he is now the bombastic Morrison’s scapegoat for anything that goes wrong with their boat policy.

And rest assured, this government will be very keen to find scapegoats for anything of theirs which goes wrong. Especially if they can sheet the blame to a soldier or public servant.

The unfortunate Lieutenant-General Angus Campbell

The unfortunate Lieutenant-General Angus Campbell

Cartoon by Wes Mountain

North Korean despot Kim Jong-Un hails the name of Australian xenophobic border policy as aligning with his government’s own paranoia

We cannot help thinking of North Korea as we watch the new government rush to drag a veil of secrecy over its great big new militarised response to asylum seekers and boat arrivals

We remember how keen the Coalition were when they were in Opposition from 2007 to stir up the bogots into a hate frenzy every time a boat arrived, to the extent that racism is now an integral part of Coalition policy. We remember how they poured scorn on any attempts to humanise Australia’s approach to refugees and asylum seekers. We know the awful far right Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) has given them a shopping list of demands which include the abolition of the AHRC

But two men, Christmas Island locals, are trying to shine a light on the shrouded, ridiculously-titled “Operation Sovereign Borders”.

One of them is Gordon Thomson. Gordon Thomson is the Secretary of the UCIW, which covers all workers on the island except for those in the AFP.

Gordon Thomson, general secretary of the Union of Christmas Island Workers. Photo: Wolter Peeters

Via his Twitter, Thomson is keeping the rest of the world informed on boat arrivals.

Thomson has long advocated for better treatment for asylum seekers incarcerated on Christmas Island. He is now providing an information source to the public on boat arrivals. The service the government will not give you.

The second man is Jon Stanhope, former Chief Minister of the ACT and now Administrator of Christmas Island.

Jon Stanhope Administrator of Christmas Island

Stanhope also has long advocated better treatment for asylum seekers. As a public servant and former Labor politician he is likely to lose his job as the new regime purges the public service to make room for its yes-men.

So a heads-up to the bogots. The boats will still come.

Except your prime minister is not going to tell you. So you know where to direct your unfocused and ridiculous anger and hate  from now on – to your prime minister.

Another information source

The Curmudgeon’s Magazine

Tony Abbott and George Brandis – champions of “freedom of speech” hate speech

Flushed with the recent victory of its owner Rupert Murdoch in the Federal elections, The Australian decided to highlight what it obviously considers as a triumph for the new regime and a number one priority.

Budget cuts announced? Talks with regional partners? Business taxes? Education?

No folks, it was this (paywall).

NB If you type the article title into the Google search box you will be able to read the whole article

freedomofhatespeech1

Some highlights (or lowlights) of the article

TONY Abbott plans to roll back Labor’s laws that limit free speech on the basis of not “giving offence”, defend religious freedom and reform the Australian Human Rights Commission.

When conservatives use the word “reform” it inevitably means a backward step. So until we hear otherwise it no doubt means that that the AHRC is going to be stifled, its powers reduced and its individual commissioners cut in number.

This would involve amending the Racial Discrimination Act, which prohibits remarks that offend others on grounds of race or ethnicity. This was the provision used to prosecute newspaper columnist Andrew Bolt.

So rabble-rousing second-rate hacks and aggro shock jocks, along with the bogotariat in the ‘burbs we deal with here will be given open slather to hate and vilify.

The text of the Act is here

Quote from Abbott:

” ….then we’ve got to allow people to say things that are unsayable in polite company

So Abbott is not only sanctioning the race to the bottom, he is happy to stand there with the starter pistol.

Tony Abbott explores the bottom

Mr Abbott’s stance on championing the right of free speech also involves support for the position of Senator Brandis that the Human Rights Commission Act may need to be amended to guarantee reform in its outlook and its promotion of traditional democratic freedoms.

In other words the AHRC, the main national safeguard against defamation and vilification of minorities, a body whose reach retired MP and former Attorney-General Nicola Roxon was hoping to strengthen and extend, is to be totally gutted – all in the name of protecting and nurturing those shonks who do not need protection.

freedomofspeech

Senator Brandis has attacked the Human Rights Commission as “an anti-discrimination commission” with little attachment to classical human rights.

Well hey George, how do you intend to go about protecting the rights of the vulnerable and the powerless….oh wait…?

Back in March we foreshadowed such changes to the Racial Discrimination Act on this blog. We can probably say that vilified minorities will have no choice in seeking remedies but to submit to the expensive and long process of civil court litigation.

Or, as is no doubt hoped by Brandis, they will silently endure defamation, harassment and vilification to keep happy all of those pure-at-heart libertarians, including members of his own party.

So is Brandis going to abolish the protected status MPs and Senators enjoy under parliamentary privilege? Like Liberals Corey Bernardi and Luke Simpkins for instance?

In fact the appalling far right stink think tank Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), a frat boy grooming club and finishing school for future Coalition pollies, has suggested that “market forces” will punish discrimination.

Yeah right…

Courts are generally rightly concerned about the impacts of racism and bigotry and sympathetic towards its unfortunate victims. However successful litigation costs money. Minorities do not have the money, sometimes do not have the language skills to easily describe their distress and sometimes do not have the experience to successfully navigate the system.

The landmark findings against anti-Semitic vilification Gutnick v Dow Jones & Company Inc, upheld later on appeal, came firstly from a case mounted by an individual with considerable personal resources and secondly from an aggrieved Jewish organisation.

The second matter resulted in contempt charges against the defendant who refused to remove anti-Semitic material from a website.

More recently a case was brought against Andrew Bolt by nine prominent Indigenous people disgusted by Bolt’s references to their ancestry and skin colour.  Mike Carlton outlines its results here. The point of the case was not so much that these prominent people necessarily felt personally humiliated by the sneeringly patronising venal remarks made by Bolt. They would not have been surprised because like us they know full well that Bolt is an ignorant boofhead kept on a chain in Murdoch’s stable specifically to stir up those stupid enough to read his drivel.

The point was that not only were they appearing in court for themselves but they represented people who would have been aggrieved and hurt but who would not necessarily have had the wherewithal or the power to pursue such a case.

It would be desirable that all those demeaned and vilified by racists and bigots could easily and affordably access legal remedies, and that the law was enabling such access.

However it looks like the Coalition is keen to close off one of these avenues, so keen that it was one of its first announcements after what has been a puzzling policy vacuum.

The Coalition and those it protects will find out that letting the dogs loose works both ways

Read more

Senator George Brandis wants you offended and insulted

Andrew Bolt: his rights, our freedom reblogged by us here

Nuts come out after the truth has bolted

Nuts come out after the truth has bolted

Mike Carlton

October 1, 2011

The usual reactionaries have risen as one in defence of Andrew Bolt, the Melbourne columnist and village idiot, convicted on Wednesday for breaching the Racial Discrimination Act. An attack on freedom of speech, they howled. A dark day for democracy.

Since the verdict, Bolt himself has played the martyred victim, drenched in self-pity, a sickening spectacle.

His fellow Murdoch hack, Miranda Devine, invoked the spectre of Nazi concentration camps, thereby immediately losing the argument. The shadow attorney general, George Brandis, blathered about George Orwell’s 1984.

Most ludicrous of all, one Sinclair Davidson, a Melbourne economics professor and, predictably, a “Senior Fellow” at that sink of right wing propaganda, the Institute of Public Affairs, wants to scrap the law altogether and let “market forces” punish discrimination. This is not satire. He meant it.

What these savants ignore is that Bolt just got it wrong. That’s W-R-O-N-G. As Justice Moredecai Bromberg found, the columnist’s two offending emissions in the Murdoch Herald Sun were shot through with “gross errors”.

The bottom of Bolt’s rant was that pale-skinned Aborigines were more white than black, and should behave that way. Instead, they had decided in adult life to become “official” or “professional” blacks, thus muscling in on “other people’s glories” – jobs, preferment and prizes that should be reserved for proper Aborigines.

He sprayed special venom upon the academic Larissa Behrendt who, he claimed, had a German father. “Which people are ‘yours’, exactly, mein liebchen?” he sneered. Bolt clearly prefers his darkies dark.

In fact, Behrendt’s father was a black Australian. She – and the other eight plaintiffs in the case – were raised from infancy in Aboriginal culture and society. Given that crashing blunder, the rest of his stuff falls in a heap, exposed for the racist garbage it was.

The judge did not smother free speech. He skewered dud journalism.

Bolt’s parents were from Holland. If he believes that freedom of speech carries a licence to spear people for their ethnicity, he will not then object to me suggesting he would do better to quit the media and take up growing tulips and making cheese. Wearing clogs. Ah, the Lying Dutchman.

Never let the facts get in the way of a good story, Mynheer.

Mike Carlton is a columnist with The Age

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