Andrew James Whalan

Poet Blogger Writer

Tag: Politics (page 1 of 3)



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Green is the new Red!

Apparently, being concerned about the environment and supporting Same Sex Marriage is red.

Communist red that is!


Or rephrased as Green is the new Red!


Let’s look at the history then…

Caring for the environment was never a priority for any communist state. Name one. Certainly not China. Or the Soviet Union. Both countries are replete with environmental disasters.

As for same sex marriage and communism, they never walked down the same aisle. Name one. Chechyna is continuing that old tradition.

Maybe what was meant was…anything I don’t agree with is red/communist)…

So do you know what communism is?

Communism essentially puts the means of production in the hands of the workers. Name one state that does that. Anybody? Anybody?

The USSR tried. Then the state ran all production, much as any self serving totalitarian dictatorship would.

Even red wasn’t red!

And as for Green being red, it never was.

Next time research history so you can actually describe what you’re opposed to.  Otherwise it’s like saying beware of danger without saying what it actually is. Maybe it’s not dangerous at all!

When the Rainbow Opened My Eyes

My niece got engaged yesterday to her partner. Now my brother has two daughters instead of one. I’m joyful for both as they’ve found that love is love is love. But it took me a while to understand…

For I must have lived in a sexual vacuum. Growing up I never even knew what homosexuality was. Then in my teenage years, the epithets cat and poofter were bandied around.

I still didn’t know what they were talking about.  It sounded bad so I wanted no part of it. I didn’t even know about heterosexual sex!!

Then later, at university, I discovered what homosexuality was. And decided it wasn’t for me. And paid no attention to it. Even in the Catholic Church it wasn’t mentioned at all.

And so I slumbered happy in my ignorance.

That was until I joined a Pentacostal church.

When it happened, I was working in Sydney, away from home. I working back as there was a huge amount of work to be done. But I couldn’t work more than forty hours so I finished early on a Friday. So when we had drinks of a Thursday, of course I would hang back.

And I started talking to one of my workmates. And he freely admitted that he was gay. And I was so confronted I kept talking to him!

And then he told me what he did in his spare time. He was counselling and assisting people with AIDS. Remember this was the nineties when the prognosis was almost always pessimistic. And my immediate thought was that’s where I’d find Jesus, ministering to the modern-day lepers.

For the established church has a poor record of ministering to minorities : women, homosexuals, sexually abused, etc, etc, yet it is those people to whom the gospel is preached. Sometimes I think they’ve missed their mission by the length of heaven!

That was Sydney. Then I went back to Brisbane. And listened to the worst sermon ever (See When Will There Be Rainbows in Church?)

And since then I’ve met others, a man who was a mentor to me, a lesbian couple who were like an old married couple, a man through university who had been  in a long-term relationship.

And I couldn’t tell the difference between their love for each other and my love for another.

And then my niece (now engaged) came out. Which was a joy and blessing to everyone, for she had found out who she was.

And surprisingly, they’re not pedophiles, nor totalitarians wishing to impose their values on others.

Just people living their lives, trying to find happiness, same as you and same as me.

And dear reader, before you condemn homosexuality and same sex marriage, follow my path, meet them for themselves.

And then make up your mind.


Political Insults? Been There Heard That!

As a writer who was in a verbally abusive relationship for many years, the current political climate is rather familiar.

Funnily enough my main reaction to both is the same. It’s not being offended at being insulted.  After the initial six weeks (in a relationship) or fifty years (in politics), I become bored…

  • Socialist
  • Communist
  • Stalinist
  • Marxist
  • Snowflake
  • Bed wetter
  • Leftist
  • Do-gooder
  • Social justice warrior
  • UnAustralian
  • Latte drinker, etc.

And much like being called a creep, bastard, wanker, an apostate (had to look that one up as I was not studying for the ministry), oversensitive, etc, I have the same sense.

That the standard of political sledging has slipped: to the same level experienced by those in abusive relationships!

Insults on repeat.

And similar to sport, my prescription is the same.  We need to raise the standard see Australian Institute of Sledging?

For I do prefer, the insult that make me laugh. The one that makes me think.

Not the one that makes me nod off. Been there, Heard that.

Freedom of Speech Doesn’t Exist

Freedom of speech belongs to the loud and aggressive.

Freedom of speech is their cacophony of voices shouting all at once.

Freedom of speech is their smothering words that silences all  other.

Freedom of speech is the preserve of  the crowd that excludes all but them.

Freedom of speech is not our freedom extended to the foreign other.

Freedom of speech is not  our freedom to accommodate a new point of view.

Freedom of speech belongs to  the true listening of the quiet and thoughtful, the ones crushed underfoot.

National Insecurity, Citizenship and Exile

As posted on Gumption-inc

With less than eighteen months remaining in its first term, (or less according to some commentators), the Australian Government has been determined to show that it is tough on national security. One of those measures is legislating to strip citizenship of anyone who has joined the fighting in Syria and Iraq. In this action, all they are doing is following the lead of Canada and Great Britain.

UN Passport

UN Passport

Great Britain’s response to the increasing number of citizens joining the war in Syria was to try and ensure they didn’t return. One tactic in the case of dual passport holders was to revoke their British citizenship. In fact, revocations have increased in Great Britain since 2013.  The power to revoke citizenship resides with the Home Secretary and utilises existing powers. Despite provision to appeal the decision through a court process, due to the decision occurring while the person was abroad, the result is that many individuals have been left stranded overseas.  In some cases individuals have been left stateless. The justification is that of protecting national security and/or deterring potential and actual terrorists. As a consequence of those grounds, little is known of those people who have had their citizenship revoked.  Great Britain is now in the process of enacting and enforcing even more strict laws.

Passport and Handcuffs

Passport and Handcuffs

Following the British example, Canada introduced new rules for revoking citizenship again citing terrorism and national security concerns. Again most cases will be decided by the Minister with a provision for a courts process. No provision is made it seems for dual citizens who are overseas. As the Canadian Bar Association states such actions in effect will exile citizens effectively through a paper based process. As the Toronto Star states citizenship has now been criminalised and is effectively been used as a tool to achieve Government objectives, such as deporting undesirables. But as we are seeing in Australia, once citizenship becomes expendable, then proposals to revoke it on trivial grounds appear from nowhere. However in Canada, those grounds remain terrorism offences overseas,  national security offences and serving overseas in armed forces against Canada. Again note that neither Canada nor Great Britain are considering the revocation of citizenship for single nationals.

Claiming that it is extra tough on national security, but really following suit, the Australian Government introduced a proposal to revoke citizenship from dual nationals who had travelled overseas to fight. This proposal was put to the Cabinet and involved an administrative process with no provision for appeal. After a rebellion by some ministers,the proposal was amended to include a judicial review process.

In the meantime, there has been many views expressed including that the legislation was unconstitutional. But then the legislation was introduced and it appears flawed. Grounds for revocation of citizenship now include terrorism, national security offences, serving in the armed forces of another country and being in a so-called prescribed area such as Raqqa, the capital of Islamic State. But the extent of offences now may include whistle-blowing and the vague phrase of using a thing (undefined) to commit an act of terrorism (a paper glider flown through Parliament perhaps?) noting that offences may be applied retrospectively. So that means a person could visit Iraq or Syria for religious reasons but then lose their citizenship as the war has spread to their location.

World Wide

World Wide

In all of that the Australian Prime Minister was quoted as still pursuing means to strip the citizenship of single-nationals who have left Australia to fight overseas.

This is troubling for democracy. In Australia, at least, a law will be enacted that imposes penalties and offences without recourse to court. This law too will mean that potentially Australians fighting overseas will be rendered stateless and have no means of regaining their citizenship. The law provides no means of holding these terrorists to account for their crimes by extraditing them back home. This law, and such laws like it, fails to deter and in fact provides more grounds for fighters to leave a country, commit terrorism and not return.

This government don’t know what they are doing. If they suspend the citizenship of dual nationals who have committed crimes overseas, how will these people be brought to justice? They’ve effectively got away with their crimes internationally. Such suspension effectively rewards (not punishes) these people with exile. Such people contemplating going overseas may be more motivated if they lose their citizenship. And now they want to impose restrictions upon those with single citizenship through an quasi-legal accounting of their actions which could potential break international law (again).

These laws and laws like it are stupid and destined to fail.




Why Mark Latham Can’t Get It Right On Domestic Violence

Perhaps it really was a quiet news week. Apart, that is, from the Budget, Johnny Depp’s dogs, double-dipping mothers and the Rohingya refugee crisis. But perhaps with domestic violence in some of the news, Mark Latham decided to single dip and write another opinion column.

And he’s done it again. Or to use the academic expression, more research is required before a conclusion can be drawn.

As I waded through this column, looking for insight, I found it. But I had to ignore all the flim-flam frippery about Tim Watts, Peter Walsh, the ALP,  Government intervention, Parliamentarians Against Family Violence, Attila the Hun (some interesting juxtapositions there), Paul Keating, government intervention (again), until Latham finally, finally, at last, made his point. “This is an issue where politicians have struggled with their own behaviour, let alone found solutions for the rest of the country.” True. And I thought to myself, does he have a solution?

And he does. He diagnoses the root cause of domestic violence easily, simply and elegantly. But perhaps he’s been watching too much Struggle Street. The cause is self-evident. Poverty and unemployment. Wife bashing (as he calls it) can be solved by making the poor rich and giving them a job.

If I was a heavy-duty latte-sipper I would’ve spilled froth everywhere. But being a mere flat white drinker, I just skimmed the rest.

And my conclusion. Mark Latham does not know what he is talking about. His focus is too narrow. Domestic violence is wife bashing. But domestic violence is intimate partner violence.Domestic violence won’t be solved through fighting poverty and unemployment important as those issues are. Domestic violence would then have been solved as the rich and employed wouldn’t commit it. But domestic violence isn’t confined to class, or race or creed or sexual preference. A glib answer. A slick solution.

Domestic violence is an attitude.

And my advice. Don’t read the column. Don’t get mad at Mark. Talk to him about it. Talk to him about poverty and unemployment. Talk to him about the victims of domestic violence. Let him do his research and then draw his conclusions.

The Self Doubt of Greg Hunt

Hidden among the reaction to the first Australian Government Direct Action emissions abatement auctions is an interesting and revealing response from the relevant minister Greg Hunt.
To recap, the Direct Action scheme has spent 25% of the funds allocated to abate carbon. For that spend, it will  theoretically abate 15% of the required 5% emissions reduction. Both figures are far too low by world standards.
Hunt believes that the full target can be achieved in the timeframe. No-one else does.
Hunt has derided his critics as ALP stooges and exaggerated the price of carbon under the ALP government ($1300) without an accompanying explanation.
Typically, it seems, much like his colleagues he’s afraid of criticism and prepared to exaggerate. So there’s nothing to see here, just move along.
But it was Hunt’s recollection of his conversation with  John Connor of the Climate Institute  that was for me most revealing.
Hunt claimed they gave him  full approval. The Climate Institute clarified the conversation just stating they saw the process as transparent and the projects had potential
I wondered, “Why would Hunt do that?”
My surmise is that those are the words of a man driven by self-doubt.
His course should now be clear. Hunt should admit he needs a better plan. A real ETS. It would cure his self-doubt too.

Pyne’s Folly

When Alaska was purchased, it was almost universally condemned as Seward’s folly. Funnily enough the action strengthened both Canada and the United States of America whilst weakening Russia and England.

But the same cannot be said of Christopher Pyne‘s folly. To recap,  to encourage the Senate to pass the latest version of his contentious university funding legislation, he is threatening to cut university research funds. The condemnation has been quite vociferous including doubts raised by Government backbenchers. It would be too easy to join the long queue condemning him. Pyne’s folly really is in the long-term to weaken the House of Representatives and the Liberal and National parties whilst strengthening the Senate, the ALP, the Greens and the too many to mention Senators that hold the balance of power.

Clearly, Pyne has created an atmosphere where this particular bill will not be passed. Again it has shown the incredible failure of the Government to negotiate. With the exception of perhaps the carbon and mining tax repeals, the Government simply does not have the skills to negotiate with stakeholders, the 2014 Budget being the prime example.

But what Pyne and the Abbott Government have overlooked are the long-term effects of the short term tactics of bullying and threatening (that is linking passing one piece of legislation to another). Christopher Pyne foolishly has started a process that will almost certainly backfire on him as follows.

First, due to these bullying and threatening tactics, the Senators who hold the balance of power will have even less contact with him due to these tactics, in which case legislation will take even longer to pass if at all.

Secondly, Labor, The Greens and sufficient Senators could group together to also tie the passing of Government legislation to a broader agenda or no agenda at all, either of which couldn’t favour the Government. Already this has been hinted at through the potential tabling of a motion safeguarding both the research funds and jobs. Pyne’s most response to this has been to decouple the link between deregulation and research funds (with the cuts to funds occurring later). But it’s too late.

In either case, the Senate and House of Representatives ultimately will be deadlocked. All because of Christopher Pyne.

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