While a murder of lawyers – under the direction of federal attorney-general-bigot Brandis – combs over legislation in an effort to limit personal freedoms and extend corporate ones, our own coalition state government is joining in the fun.
According to Fairfax, NSW primary industries minister Katrina Hodgkinson (Nationals), has instigated a joint federal/state crack- down on ‘agri-terrorists’, or those who trespass onto intensive animal farm industries and film the activity.
As such, the NSW Primary Industries Legislation Amendment (Biosecurity) Bill 2012 is up for amendment.
Barnaby Joyce (federal Nationals) is also keen to help keep people ill-informed and dumbed down about what they eat and is joining the fray at the national level.
Clearly the effort by activists is to stop or reduce the appalling way in which some animals are farmed. If better legislation were enacted to improve the conditions of animals subjected to inten- sive farming, would there be a need for these laws?
It’s like introducing a bad law to prop up bad behaviour.
Regardless, the 2008 US doco Food, Inc. is a good place to start if you want to be informed about intensive large-scale ani- mal farming. It posits that corporate agribusiness produces food that is unhealthy, environmentally harmful and abusive of both animals and employees.
While free speech works in mysterious ways, it gener- ally only favours those who write the legislation. Thankfully there’s still public submissions. The state legislation is open for public comment until June 27 and is available at www. dpi.nsw.gov.au/biosecurity/legislative-review.
The Guardian and handful of other news outlets reported last Monday something quite significant: church leaders were arrested for an asylum prayer vigil at Tony Abbott’s Sydney office.
Meanwhile, a simultaneous sit-down protest was held at opposition leader Bill Shorten’s electorate office in Melbourne.
The significance of course is that peaceful, law-abiding civilians with strong religious beliefs are now prepared to be arrested over the horrendous imprisonment of 1,023 children in Australian-run immigration detention centres.
More than that, they targeted both political parties that engage in this cruelty, and came from a broad section of the Christian faith: Catholic, Baptist, Anglican and Uniting churches.
Interestingly Abbott’s goons brought the cops in while Shorten let them stay. It follows similar sit-in protests at immigration minister Scott Morrison’s electorate office in March, as well as the office of foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop. Will non-violent protests against human and environmental crimes define 2014?
Heads up hyper-local media junkies – newly released newspaper circulation figures have seen The Byron Echo increase its domi- nance over The Byron News (APN), with a 48 per cent circulation lead. The figures, which are updated every six months, were released last week by the Audited Media Association.
There’s been a general decline for local daily The Northern Star, owned by Australian Provincial Newspapers (APN). The Star now prints 9,662 copies daily, which is down seven per cent on the same period last year. Its Saturday edition is also down 8.8 per cent.
While independent publishers such as The Echo are holding steady and expanding online, the days of complacency are long over. The media’s existence relies on more than just relevant and informative news; it relies on good relationships with its advertisers.
But as for corporate suckholes like Rupert Murdoch, be wary of those who afflict the afflicted while comforting the comfortable.
It’s common knowledge that to get to the front bench in modern politics, it helps to be privately educated and a lawyer. Other prerequisites may or may not include willingness to cut the throat of your opponents and sell your offspring. So, who is the biggest psychopath? Let’s find out…
TONY ABBOTT – Minister for woman’s issues and presumably the PM.
Safe electorate of Warringah on Sydney's North Shore.
Likes flat earths, God, misogyny and sport, especially bicycles and swimming.
As a Rhodes Scholar he studied politics and philosophy and got ‘a solid second’, according to The Guardian. But by most accounts he mostly played sport and honed his bullying skills at Oxford.
A Rhodes Scholar, by the way, is not such a hard gig to get. It’s part of a production line for ‘world leaders’ established by British imperialist Cecil Rhodes. Toned Abbs is proof that connections are more important than ability.
Doesn’t like media, the climate, accountability, transparency, round earths, scientists, gays, fact and reason.
Ironically was a boat asylum seeker himself and wants them stopped. Abbs is clearly the worst example of a ‘leader’ this nation has ever seen.
WARREN TRUSS – Deputy prime minister, minister for infrastructure and regional development.
Electorate of Wide Bay, Queensland (includes Noosa, Gympie). Office in Maryborough
Ex-Kingaroy farmer and councillor, Truss is often mistaken for a wardrobe or hatstand. He can also easily camouflage himself against beige wallpaper, making it hard for predators to spot him. Just slashed $150,000 in Byron Shire infrastructure funding last week and it’s fair to say more is to come.
JULIE BISHOP – Foreign affairs minister.
Division of Curtin, Western Australia. North of Fremantle and Eastern beach suburbs of Perth
As a corporate lawyer in the 1980s, she represented mining company CSR and tried to stop dying asbestos victims getting compensation in what remains Australia’s greatest single industrial disaster. An estimated 1,000 people died who were living and working near the mine at Wittenoom, WA. Now minister for foreign affairs, she is contributing to the decline of Australia’s international reputation. She’s divorced, childless and the only woman in Toned Abbs’s cabinet. Nickname: ‘Token Deathstare’.
ERIC ABETZ – Minister for employment, minister assisting the prime minister on the public service.
Tasmanian senator located in Hobart
Eric Abetz was born in Germany, migrated to Tassie then studied law. After that he spent roughly ten years in obscurity before politics.
Fun fact: Eric Abetz is the great-nephew of SS-Brigadeführer Otto Abetz, Nazi ambassador to Vichy France from 1940 to 1944.
GEORGE BRANDIS QC – Attorney-general, minister for the arts.
Queensland senator based in Brisbane
The Liberals are not known for their sense of humour, empathy, imagination or love of the arts, and Brandis is no exception. But there is comedic value in that he is minister for the arts; he said on ABC TV’s Q&A last year that he doesn’t even listen to music.
He’s also a Queen’s counsel (QC), which is slightly higher up the lawyer food-chain. He developed a large law practice in the mid 1980s specialising in trade practices law, and then in 2003 made a 20-minute speech describing the Green party as Nazis.
And Brandis likes a rort: it was revealed in 2011 that he had billed the taxpayer for attending the wedding of Sydney radio shock-jock Michael Smith. Possibly dangerous, so maintaining eye contact is recommended, although staring into the soulless vacuum of psychopathy is not advised. Best to avoid.
JOE HOCKEY – Treasurer.
Treasurer Hockey is of Armenian and Palestinian decent, a Roman Catholic and a republican.
Electorate of North Sydney
Given that his heritage comes from an oppressed minority, one would expect him to have more empathy for people trying to escape persecution. Prior to public office he completed an arts-law degree, then became a banking and finance lawyer of no considerable note. This Sydney-sider has been in public office since 1996, loves rugby union and bashing the public service.
Enjoys strip-mining public assets and denying essential services for the poor and disadvantaged.
BARNABY JOYCE – Minister for agriculture.
Electorate of New England (Armidale, Tenterfield etc). Office in Tamworth
Pardon me, Joyce, is that another taxpayer-funded event you attended? This high profile Nationals MP can sometimes be mistaken for an iguana.
After he studied commerce, he became an accountant and is now minister for agriculture and public rorts.
Though never short of an opinion or colourful metaphor, I recall he didn’t want to answer my direct question on whether he supports government accreditation of the the renewable industries.
Currently, renewable industries such as solar, wind and hydro are regulated by fossil fuel companies. What could possibly go wrong?
One redeeming feature is that he’s crossed the floor 19 times (ie disagreed with his own party), but alas, he’s best mates with Gina Rinehart. Was ridiculed for his economic thesis, but told me he still stands by it.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE – Minister for education.
Division of Sturt, inland next to Adelaide
After he graduated with a diploma of legal practice he became a solicitor in 1991, but then was elected to public office in 1993.
And while that made him the youngest current member of the Australian parliament, it also makes him one with the least amount of real-life experience.
Pyne is a Roman Catholic and republican, likes ice-cream and is easily distracted by bright colours. Also a big fan on the war on drugs, Broadway musicals and the sound of his own voice.
NIGEL SCULLION – Minister for Indigenous affairs.
Nigel is a NT senator and was a fisherman before joining the Country National Party. Wait, what? Where’s the law degree? Represents Australia’s largest federal electorate boundary: The Northern Territory.
IAN MACFARLANE – Minister for industry.
Division of Groom, west of Brisbane. Includes Toowoomba
This Kingaroy-born National now lives in Toowomba and likes to drill, baby, drill.
Known for his raspy voice, ability to cut red tape and make babies cry, he relishes the job of convincing farmers that plonking drilling rigs on their property is ‘co-existing’.
KEVIN ANDREWS – Minister for social services.
Menzies electorate: City of Manningham, spreading along the Yarra River from Bulleen to Wonga Park, in Melbourne. Office in
As a former Howard government Liberal MP, Andrews has a long history of racism and bigotry. He implemented the controversial WorkChoices labour market reforms, revoked on character grounds the visa of Dr Mohamed Haneef and cut Australia’s refugee intake from African nations in 2007.
This Victorian ex-barrister is a Roman Catholic and is a member of the Lyons Forum, a socially conservative Christian faction within the God-fearing coalition. God help us.
MALCOLM TURNBULL – Minister for communications.
Division of Wentworth, eastern beach suburbs of Sydney
Bob Brown told me once, ‘there are two things you can see from outer space: the great wall of China and Malcolm Turnbull’s ego’.
And well, why not. He was far richer than anyone else in parliament until Clive Palmer and has also done much more than the rest; from representing high-profile personalities as a lawyer to inventing the internet. He’s also been a journalist, investment banker and venture capitalist.
And while he appears politically centrist, don’t be fooled.
Like his colleagues, he wants to sell Australian land and companies to overseas corporations and embraces global free market fanaticism at the expense of nation building.
He had a hard time defending his inferior broadband network, but to his credit looks awkward and uncomfortable next to everyone else in the cabinet. They’re all idiots, aren’t they, Malcolm?
Roman Catholic, republican and spoonfed.
SCOTT MORRISON – Minister for stopping immigration and border protection.
Electorate of Cook in South-eastern Sydney. Office in Cronulla
Don’t ask questions about asylum seekers or our concentration camps – I won’t be answering them.
Look over there, there’s an adorable cat on the internet. Isn’t X-Factor on?
Scott Morrison will hopefully, at one point, be tried for crimes against humanity.
Ironically his background is actually tourism – after receiving an honours degree in applied science at NSW Uni for economics and geography, he then went on to be managing director of Tourism Australia. Now contributes to Australians’ reputation as bigoted arrogant thugs.
GREG HUNT – Minister against the environment.
Division of Flinders in Victoria. Includes outer southern suburbs on the Mornington Peninsula including Dromana, Hastings and Portsea.
Enjoys wrecking the climate for future generations through rigorous debate.
Okay, so he’s another lawyer, having graduated from Melbourne Law School with first class honours as well as Yale University. Hunt was adviser to the odious South Australian Alexander Downer before being elected as member for Flinders in 2001.
He confused everyone when he said recently he uses Wikipedia to source information – high school students would be ridiculed for such stupidity.
Bravo, well played.
PETER DUTTON – Minister for health, minister for sport
Electorate of Dickson, Qld. North-western suburbs of Brisbane, including Albany Creek, Kallangur and Strathpine.
This Liberal Queenslander was a cop for nine years, working on the drug squad in Brisbane.
He then studied business in 1991 but then five years later became a pollie. And he’s just 42 years old.
BRUCE BILLSON – Minister for small business.
Electorate of Dunkley. South eastern outskirts of Melbourne; it includes the suburbs include Frankston, Frankston North, Frankston South, Langwarrin, Langwarrin South, Mt Eliza, Mornington and Seaford, and parts of Baxter and Skye.
This bureaucrat turned pollie entered politics in 1996 and was educated at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. He worked at Hastings Shire Council as a ‘manager of corporate development’ before being an adviser to Victorian Minister for natural resources, and then policy adviser to the shadow minister for the environment, Rod Kemp.
ANDREW ROBB AO – Minister for trade and investment.
Electorate of Goldstein is in inner city bayside Melbourne. It extends from Elsternwick on the north, Beaumaris in the south, the Frankston railway line in the east and Port Philip Bay in the west.
Andrew was a power-broker behind the scenes before emerging as a political contender. As federal director and campaign manager for John Howard in the 1996 federal election campaign, he helped overthrow Keating and then settled us in for a 13-year run of being relaxed and comfortable.
As a youngster, Robb gained an economics and agricultural science degree from Victoria’s La Trobe University, and has sat on many corporate boards. He’s a Roman Catholic and has a history of suffering from depression, which may or may not be related.
DAVID JOHNSTON – Minister for defence.
This little-known Liberal senator from Western Australia graduated in law in 1979 and then became a barrister in Kalgoorlie and Perth. His area of expertise, according to himself, is criminal, mining, native title and administrative law. He entered politics in 2001
MATHIAS CORMANN – Minister for finance.
The WA Liberal senator and lawyer joined the party in 2007 and became an Aussie after migrating from Belgium. Roman Catholic and only 43.
Note: this article has been amended from print to include electorates and which state the senators come from.
It’s either good or bad news: the NSW Environmental Defender’s Office (EDO) was thrown a cash lifeline by the federal government last week after the state government, with pressure from the mining sector and News Ltd, cut some of its funding late last year.
The EDO is a small team of lawyers, with offices in Sydney and Lismore, which examines government policy and represents and advises the public in environmental law cases.
So re-instating their operational costs is good news if you value free speech and a differing opinion.
But as reported in News Ltd’s The Australian, it’s bad news.
Its Friday July 5 headline, ‘Boost for anti-coal body shows Labor knows how to alienate its heartland,’ can be found amid stories spruiking new mining projects.
According to corporate shill journalist Chris Merritt, Hunter Valley coalminers should reject Labor because they are now funding the EDO, which ‘advises those who want to destroy their industry.’
In contrast to News Ltd, the ABC reported at the time of the funding slash that there was ‘an angry backlash in the Hunter Valley’ over the EDO cuts. So which media outlet offers less spin?
Bulga-Milbrodale Progress Association vice-president, John Krey, told ABC that without the EDO’s help, mining expansions such as the Mount Thorley-Warkworth mine will continue unabated. ‘We could not, as a community group, afford to run and pay full fees for legal teams to run our case.’
Meanwhile NSW resources minister Chris Hartcher told The Australian late last year there’s a ‘left agenda to destroy the economy.’
Politics aside, if the mining industry were prevented from dictating Australia’s economic growth and we adopted best practice sources of renewable energy already available, our economy and environment would be in much better shape. Preventing the fossil fuel industry from regulating the renewable sector would be a start. It should be noted that our local NSW MP, Don Page, appeared to have no interest in fighting against his government’s cuts to the EDO.
There’s a few young guys currently hanging out in the streets of Mullum asking for money.
They don’t look particularly drug-addled or destitute. In fact they seem well fed and in reasonabe mental health. It has challenged my sense of compassion not because I never give money to strangers but because they don’t look like they need it.
And while I never reached the low-point of street begging, in my early 20s I was certainly grateful to the Salvos for furniture and clothes, the Hare Krishnas for healthy cheap food, and yes – the government for providing the funds to allow me to study music.
This year’s Anti-Poverty Week kicked off October 14 and co-incides with a new report by the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) which claims one in eight people overall and one in six children live below the internationally accepted poverty line.
That equates to 12.8 per cent of us.
While the report lays into our meanness given ‘years of unprecedented growth and wealth creation,’ it is also scathing of changes passed in the Senate last week which will result in over 100,000 sole parents on the Parenting Payment being between ‘$60 and $100
a week poorer from January 2013 when those with children over eight years of age are dropped to the lower Newstart Allowance.’
Will this report make a difference? Unlikely. That’s because collectively, our attitude generally is to demonise those less fortunate and aspire to wealth.
One of the most powerful – and evil – conservative narratives is that there is a section of society who are moochers that willingly suckle at the wealth the rest create. It plays into an incorrect assumption: that the poor like being poor and don’t want to aspire to better themselves. Instead they are labelled lazy and dumb and that’s their fault. It also ignores mental health issues.
Not only are they somehow a threat because they may multiply, they must be punished and suffer with less and less. Given that logic, anything that can’t exist without assistance (like tax breaks), should be allowed to fail. Goodbye big oil, coal and auto... and the rest.
Tax breaks for über rich individuals and corporations is obscenely disproportionate to whatever crackers you throw at the poor.
Subjugating the disadvantaged – who you know nothing about by the way – reflects our distrurbing collective psychopathy (lack of empathy).
It all fits neatly under the banner of ‘neo-fascism.’
Genocide is on our doorstep and it looks like we are complicit. One of our closest neighbours, the West Papuans, are being systematically murdered and enslaved by the Indonesians, says indigenous activist and musician Ronnie Kareni.
It’s a topic we don’t hear much about in the mainstream press, he says, because both Australia and Indonesia benefit from strip- mining the region’s resources and subjugating its inhabitants.
To most Australians, it sits to the left of Papua New Guinea. It’s not something I am proud of, but until I met Kareni and Blue King Brown’s Natalie Pa’apa’a, I had little idea about the place. And that appears to be how the Australian and Indonesian governments like it. The ‘free press’ like it as well, because advertisers who pay their wages are also profiting from the mining and rainforest logging, says Kareni. In light of that, it’s always worth thinking about where your next outdoor ensemble originates from.
Since the Indonesian military occupation in the 1960s, it’s estimated over 100,000 West Papuans have been killed, according to www.freewestpapua.com.au. But Ronnie says studies from Sydney University in 2009/10 claim it to be around half a million.
Its population of 3.5 million has been reduced to around 48 per cent indigenous, with the other half mostly Indonesian. It’s a stark difference to the time before the occupation, he says.
Perhaps invading underdeveloped countries is not personal; after all, the indigenous are just getting in the way of expected returns on investments (ROI). Case in point is that the Freeport gold mine in West Papua is one of the largest on the planet.
It harks back to the days of King Leopold II of Belgium, possibly the most evil imperialist to ever live. This fucker is responsible for the death of an estimated five to 15 million Congolese around the late 1800s. Eventually he was forced to hand over his private enterprise to the Belgian government, but that wasn’t before he extracted a fortune from the Congo. Initially it was ivory, but after a rise in the price of rubber, he enslaved natives to collect sap from rubber plants.
It’s an uncomfortable truth that almost all wealth in human history has been created from slavery and the consumption of finite and polluting resources. Even more uncomfortable is a news cycle generally wasted on petty crime and celebrity gossip. At least we can be thankful that there are other options. To learn more visit www.freewestpapua.com.au.
Thanks to the locals who are raising awareness of Iran’s Sakineh, the Iranian mother of two condemned for adultery. She has been imprisoned since 2006 ‘for having an illicit relationship’ with two men, according to freesakineh.org/ and there are currently 219,571 signatures calling for her immediate release.
Last Saturday – August 28 – 110 cities around the world rallied and organised events for ‘100 World Cities Against Stoning Action Day’. Byron Bay was also involved through activist Harsha Prabhu and friends.
August 28 coincided with the date Sakineh was informed by authorities that she would be executed. So far there is no word on what has happened. According to www.stopstonningnow. com/wpress/ ‘there has been no news concerning the completion of this death sentence. It seems that the Islamic Republic, while under immense international pressure, wanted to give the impression that it would not bow to world public opinion.’
In her country, the penalties for such actions are horrendous and unjustifiable. Death by stoning violates any and all definitions of human rights, but it still continues throughout parts of the Middle East and Africa.
The countries that participate, according to www.stop-stoning. org are Afghanistan, Iran, Nigeria (about one-third of the 36 states), Pakistan, Sudan, and the United Arab Emirates.
‘Some of these countries have since repealed the law of stoning,’ it says. ‘While the penalty has never been carried out in Nigeria, or by the state in either Pakistan or Iraq, incidents of stoning have been carried out by communities, seemingly encouraged by the existence of the punishment in law.’
In Iran, ‘Rajm’ is an Arabic word that means to stone, and refers to the traditional Islamic Hudud punishment. Hudud punishments are considered to be ‘claims of God,’ and include theft, fornication, consumption of alcohol, and apostasy.
This highlights the barbaric, primitive and dangerous nature of religious fundamentalism.
The website concludes with ‘Culture is not static, but constantly re-created and re-defined by the various interests of groups in positions of power in a society at any given time. There is no excuse for the killing of women. Murder is a brutal violation of the most basic human right – the right to life – and any practice which harms women or impinges upon their agency and autonomy contradicts fundamental rights, such as the right to security; the right to freedom from violence; from inhuman, degrading treatment and punishment; from terror;
the right to choose a marriage partner; and the right to not face discrimination under the law. No‘culture’ has the right to kill and harm women based on their perceptions of morality or honour. The freedom of belief does not mean freedom to kill. Stoning is a brutal example of how culture and religion are being misused to perpetuate violence against women.’
These sentiments are are hard to refute – at least our culture has thankfully progressed past the stone age.
The petition can be signed at http://freesakineh.org/ and more information found at http://stopstonningnow.com/wpress/