Showing posts with label Australian society. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Australian society. Show all posts

Sunday, 24 January 2021

STATE OF PLAY 2021: We live in dangerous times

Kentan Joshi, 17 January 2021:

In March 2019, an Australian white supremacist walked into a mosque, armed with a shotgun, and killed 51 people, including a two year old boy. The man who enacted those killings wanted to wipe out those he’d been told were replacing white people, and erasing white culture. The first thing on my mind when I saw that was this article published only a few months prior.

Though complaints were made to the Australian Press Council, no action was taken to remove the article or punish the media outlet. The reason this article prompted little outcry among the employees of News Corp is because white supremacy, racism and the deadly ideology of the ‘Great Replacement’ belief system are viewed as harmless thought experiments – rather than things that lead to children being murdered by Australians with shotguns.

I wrote, a few days after the Christchurch attack:

Politics and media are each split into two factions: a large number of people who are explicitly racist, and a large number of people who refuse to accept that the other people could ever be explicitly racist. Together, they create an environment necessary, (though, on its own, insufficient) for the spawning of far-right terror and large-scale massacres”

People are already dying. Movements are coalescing. The broader media feedstock into this system hasn’t changed enough, certainly not in Australia. There are no more chances to fuck this up. Stubbornness means lives are lost. A tin ear means innocents suffer. There are no more chances, and there is no more time.


in 2018, Australia’s national broadcaster aired a long interview between Four Corners reporter Sarah Ferguson and alt-right, Nazi-adjacent grifter Steve Bannon. Ferguson said she’d heard others call Bannon racist, and declared that “there’s no evidence that that’s what you are”. That’s the same Bannon who, prior to that interview, complained too many CEOs in Silicon Valley were Asian, and said of black Americans being murdered by police, “What if the people getting shot by the cops did things to deserve it? There are, after all, in this world, some people who are naturally aggressive and violent”.

The problem with that interview is that it provided a stream of content for Youtube videos of Bannon ‘owning’ establishment media and gave him legitimacy on Australia’s most trusted media outlet. Bannon’s goal is not making a good argument – it’s prominence and platform. The format of an interview simply gives liars a free substrate in which to deploy their craft. But the criticism of that interview was not received well by Australia’s journalists…..

Much of this problem comes from the simple fact that Australia’s media landscape is mostly white, and therefore free to see racism as a cute thought experiment. Seeing footage of police officers begging white nationalists to spare their lives because they have children hasn’t really changed that.

How do we know it hasn’t changed? Charlottesville based activist Molly Conger received a long direct message on Twitter from (at the time) unspecified journalists seeking to “interview members of the far-right”; right after Four Corners reporter Sarah Ferguson announced her departure to the US along with Tony Jones, to cover the white nationalist terrorist attacks. After some wry jokes from Twitter folks, Conger confirmed that it was indeed Four Corners and Sarah Ferguson asking to interview white nationalist terrorists. In her original post she included her reply, pleading with the team not to provide a platform.

Don’t lend them the legitimacy of your institution. Don’t publish their words uncritically. Don’t’ publish them at all unless you have a subject matter expert to dissect them and present them as the falsehood they are. This is life and death for us”.

That last sentence has a grave and terrifying reality to it, given Conger lives in Charlottesville. “I get so many death threats I can catalogue them by the gunmaker mentioned”, she wrote in 2019. Of course, it’s completely baffling why they wouldn’t ask for Conger’s perspective. More telling is that they expect her to happily pass on the contact details of people who explicitly want to kill her.

In fact, many American anti-racist activists now refuse to speak to journalists if those same journalists are giving a platform to white supremacists (in much the same way climate scientists had to deny comments if those stories also featured deniers).

A smattering of Australian journalists are tuned into the tactics of white supremacists, the alt-right and terror groups, and are figuring out new approaches to dealing with the rising terror threat of white supremacists…..

This comes at a time when these terror groups are beginning to ramp up in Australia: “Far-right violent extremism constitutes up to 40% of the Australian domestic spy agency’s counter-terrorism caseload, up from 10-15% before 2016″. A teenager from Albury in New South Wales was planning a “mass casualty attack” just prior to being arrested. Australia’s anti-terror regimes are failing to do much of anything about it. An inquiry will focus on social media, but has no mention of television, print or legacy digital media: Andrew Bolt is free to write about the white race is being wiped out by dirty ethnics, as much as he pleases.

These terror groups aren’t growing in the widespread air of suspicion and paranoia that surrounded Islamic terror in the 2000s. They’re free and unhindered. They have the support of sympathetic voices in police, political and media establishments, and they have the support of people who can’t process that they’re a direct threat to our safety. They have journalists hunting tirelessly to find ways to elevate their voices to larger audiences……

Journalists: please, don’t wait until a mass casualty attack in Australia before you decide to stop playing directly into the hands of white supremacists. There are no more chances. We are here now, and we are in danger.

Read full article here.

Thursday, 14 January 2021

Kevin Rudd: "Donald Trump may have lit the match that caused his country’s turmoil, but it was Rupert Murdoch who crammed the joint full of explosives"

Crikey, 12 January 2021:


Donald Trump may have lit the match that caused his country’s turmoil, but it was Rupert Murdoch who crammed the joint full of explosives. 

His systematic manipulation and radicalisation of the American right-wing polity at large, and the Republican Party in particular, should ring alarm bells throughout our nation, including in the office of the prime minister. 

Over the past 25 years, Murdoch has used his Fox News network to unite American conservatives under his banner and shift them from the centre right to the far right with an intoxicating diet of grievance-driven, race-fuelled identity politics. 

By the time Trump announced his presidential campaign, these voters had been indoctrinated into a universe of “fake news”, “alternative facts” and elaborate conspiracy theoriesThe operational definition of fake news, in the eyes of the Trump presidency, became anything other than Fox News. 

After some initial disagreements, Murdoch backed Trump all the way to the White House. And they kept in lockstep throughout the Trump presidency. 

Trump would often repeat publicly the talking points he’d picked up from Fox. Newt Gingrich, the former Republican speaker, recommended booking interviews on Trump’s favourite shows as among the most effective ways of communicating directly with the Oval Office. And nothing delighted Murdoch’s swaggering ego, hard-right ideology and business tax interests more. 

Fox covered up for Trump’s mistakes, trying desperately to keep track with his shifting claims about the mildness or severity of the coronavirus. 

When Fox’s news reporters found nothing newsworthy in documents relating to Joe Biden’s son Hunter, Murdoch’s New York Post (under the watchful eye of his leading Australian henchman Col Allan) swooped in by pressuring junior reporters to put their names to its dubious front page story.

Like Trump, Murdoch’s news outlets also gave succour to the dangerous QAnon cult, with the devastating consequences witnessed in Washington last week. 

It is now beyond time for Scott Morrison to stand up and denounce QAnon before it can fully take root here in Australia. Even if it strains the prime minister’s personal friendships with members of the far right, he should send the sort of crystal-clear signal that Trump proved himself unable to before it was too late.....

Read the full article here

Personally, I believe it is too late to save Scott Morrison from himself. He lacks the ability for genuine self-examination.

Morrison was always attracted to Donald Trump, as one flimflam man often admires another more successful confidence trickster.

SNAPSHOT: Peter van Onselen

Scotty from Marketing has clearly drunk the QAnon-Trump Kool Aid, wrapped himself in his personal closet racism, his foreign Legion of Merit medal and those evangelical & pentecostal contacts he appears to prize above the interests of the Australian nation, so that he is now willingly protecting those members of his own government who are just the sort of greedy, self-interested, ignorant crazies who have driven American society into the ground.


Tuesday, 5 January 2021

Perspectives on Prime Minister & Liberal MP for Cook's one-word change to the 36 year-old* Australian national anthem

Luke Person writing at Indigenous X on 1 January 2021:

Last night the Morrison government announced that they were changing the national anthem, to be more inclusive of Indigenous peoples and of migrants (the not white ones anyways), by changing a single word, ‘young’. It’s now ‘one’.

We are one and free.

We are One Nation.

Pauline must be stoked.

This, from the same political party who every Invasion Day assure us that Indigenous peoples aren’t interested in meaningless symbolic gestures like Australia no longer throwing a party on the anniversary of invasion, are now confident that Indigenous peoples will be so excited about this meaningless symbolic change that presumably we will no longer refuse to sing it at national sporting events.

Changing the anthem from ‘young’ to ‘one’ is not only problematic because it’s symbolic tokenism aimed at silencing dissent that completely misses the nature of the dissent in the first place, but it’s also problematic because it’s the same wrongly labelled ‘one’ as the one made famous by ‘One Nation’.

The original version of ‘we are one’ was a view of multiculturalism which tried to encourage white Australia away from its traditional view of a fair go meaning ‘if your skin ain’t fair, you gots to go’ and to accept instead the notion that we could be ‘one nation with many cultures’.

This was quickly co-opted by racist ideologues who replaced that sentiment with the assimilationist idea that one nation meant ‘one culture with many races’ and that was quickly cemented into the national consciousness by Pauline Hanson who seized the moment and took the name for her political party ‘One Nation’.

Despite One Nation tainting the concept of ‘one nation,’ both meanings have persisted in Australia without much national discourse or reflection on which one we should have, but it’s been pretty clear from a Liberal Party standpoint since the days of John Howard that they aren’t huge fans of the multiculturalism actually meaning multiple cultures.

They are generally more on the side of white/western supremacy, which many liberals have hinted at, and which Tony Abbott flat out stated on multiple occasions when he was PM.

Their views on Indigenous assimilation are much the same.

This can be seen by their political insistence that reconciliation can only be achieved by ‘closing the gap’ rather than by recognising Indigenous Rights as defined by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Having an ambiguous working definition of multiculturalism began as a contest between the two, which the nation should have chosen between by now. Instead, both definitions have been left unchallenged to ensure that politicians can conveniently dog whistle to both sides whenever they talk about us being the ‘most successful multicultural country on Earth’.

This change plays right into that blurring of the lines between the two definitions.

We are one. And we are free. And from all the lands on earth we come.

You’d have thought they would have just straight up changed the anthem to ‘I am Australian’ by the Seekers, but I guess it has too much brand association with QANTAS these days, and because you don’t want to be seen as caving in to the politically correct demands of the slightly left of centrists who were presumably campaigning for this change.

Yesterday, on the last day of 2020, IndigenousX published a powerful piece from Gregory Phillips called ‘Can We Breathe?’ talking staunchly about truth telling, and about Indigenous empowerment.

Today, on the first day of 2021, we are talking about the anthem, or at least we are meant to be.

Instead of continuing to explain why the new anthem is just as shit as the old one though, I’m going to remind people of what some of our Indigenous Rights are:

Article 3: Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

Article 4: Indigenous peoples, in exercising their right to self-determination, have the right to autonomy or self-government in matters relating to their internal and local affairs, as well as ways and means for financing their autonomous functions.

Article 5: Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions, while retaining their right to participate fully, if they so choose, in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the State.

Article 8.1: Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right not to be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their culture.

That’s only four of them, there are 46.  Read them. There will be a test.

This is the test, and Australia is failing at it.

These are what needs to be informing our discussions around change.

Australia has worked hard for decades now to poison the well of Indigenous Rights discourse by reframing any such discussion as ‘Indigenous people want special treatment and free handouts’.

We need to move beyond the fear of being shown in this light and embrace the reality that being the Indigenous peoples of these lands and waters is special, and it brings with it special rights and responsibilities.

This is not us wanting something for nothing. This is us demanding our rights, and we have already paid far more than we should ever have had to for them.

Adjunct associate professor at the School of Psychology, University of Queensland, and proud Wiradjuri man, Joe Williams, writing in The Guardian on 1 January 2021:

I was made aware on Thursday by a friend of the incoming changes to the national anthem. My reply was an “eye roll” emoji with the words: “But we aren’t all one, we certainly aren’t treated as one; and many, sure as hell, aren’t free”.

I put out a tweet on Friday with my thoughts:

For we are one and free, is like a present from yr nerd uncle, who tries to be cool, but fails hard. I mean, is that line trying to convince us, or you? Cos’ we definitely aren’t treated as one, & many sure as hell aren’t free”

Prime minister Scott Morrison was quoted as saying the change “takes away nothing … but adds much”.

'We are one and free': Australia's national anthem to change in attempt to recognise Indigenous history

Is it supposed to hit the “warm and fuzzies”, taking away the notion of “us and them” by pretending that all people who live on this continent are one big happy family?

Let’s be brutally honest, we aren’t.

You all know the rates of incarceration when it comes to First Nations v non-Indigenous Australians, deaths in custody, the drastic health disparity and the difference in life expectancy between First Nations and non-Indigenous Australians. You know of the negative profiling when it comes to mainstream media between the two (if you don’t, it’s not hard to Google). Why on earth would anyone think that the changing of just one word would encourage First Nations people to feel as “ONE” with any Australian?

To me, changing just one word with the view of inclusion does very little for actual inclusion, and does next to nothing for the hope of uniting a nation......

The song I believe is a beautiful representation of a united, multicultural Australia is the one written by Judith Durham, Uncle Kutcha Edwards, Lou Bennett, Camilla Chance and Bill Hauritz. It’s time for a fresh start and to get a new song. And if we are genuine about this word “reconciliation”, we need to start a relationship before we try to heal one that never existed. 


* Advance Australia Fair became the national anthem on 19 April 1984.

Friday, 1 January 2021

Trust in Australian media is at an all time low in this house


On Saturday 26 December 2019 The Guardian Australia published an article by its political editor and member of the Canberra Press Gallery, Katharine Murphy, titled This was the year Australia restored trust in its politics – and that really is a miracle”.

I clicked on the article with some eagerness given Ms. Murphy’s solid reputation.

It was then I realised that I was being served opinion based on alleged facts I could not at that point in time corroborate.

The link to the initial findings of the Scanlon Foundation’s "Mapping of Social Cohesion 2020" led to another Guardian article published on 17 December whose own link purporting to go to these finding led to yet another Guardian article published in November 2019 which clearly predated the 2020 findings.

To make matters worse the link supplied in the Murphy article led to a bowdlerized comparison graph bearing little resemblance to past Scanlon Foundation social cohesion mapping graphs.

The Murphy article stated that the initial survey findings had been released on Thursday, 24 December 2020, which was a misleading statement.

On 26 December 2020 no initial finding were displayed on the Scanlon Foundation’s website, nor that of Monash University or ANU Social Research Centre.

In addition, as background Ms. Murphy cited a 2009 social cohesion survey pool of 3,000 individuals, when in fact that year the national pool stood at 2,000 individuals with another 6 local-level surveys with a combined total of 1,800 individuals.

It’s seemingly small facts relating to methodology which give clues as to how reliable are comparisons between annual surveys.

In fact in refining the national survey the number of respondents has gone both up and down over time and the number of local-surveys has varied across the years since 2007. While questions on the questionnaire form have been altered, as well the form changed in length with different interview duration.

What readers of The Guardian articles of 17 and 26 December 2020 could not know at the time of publication is what methodology changes may have occurred in the initial findings for Mapping of Social Cohesion 2020” because there was no full disclosure of these finding by the newspaper. 

This is the graph that The Guardian published on 17 December 2020:

It leaves the reader to guess what percentages should be consigned to "Only some of the time", "Almost Never" and "Refused/don't know".

This is the more informative graph supplied by the Scanlon Foundation in 2019:

The Guardian articles of 17 and 26 November 2020 appear to be telling readers that national trust in the federal government to generally do the right for the Australian people has risen by 25 per cent between 2019 and 2020.

Alas, this reader must remain unsure until such time as the Scanlon Foundation’s "Mapping of Social Cohesion 2020" is finally published. 

Then there is the case of the somewhat conflicted columnist

Meet Ms. Parnell Palme McGuiness, columnist in Fairfax-Nine publications.

Managing director of Thought Broker Pty Ltd and managing director of Agenda C Pty Ltd. Both companies being in the business of developing targeted, traditional and digital media campaigns to create maximum impact for their clients and both operating from the same business address.

And who are their clients? Well that is not disclosed on company websites.

However, Ms. McGuiness did admit to having the Liberal Party of Australia as a client at one point and Austender reveals that over the last 18 months Agenda C has been granted three limited tender federal government contracts which appear to have been aimed at facilitating the Morrison Government's social media presence.

Agenda C states of itself; "What’s even better than telling your story yourself? Having someone else tell a story about you! We understand what makes you interesting to the media and work with it to make you interesting to the world..... Agenda C assesses, plans, acts and measures to steer you through tough times. Our experienced traditional and digital media teams work together to take control of the narrative so you’re back in control."  

Thought Broker says of itself; "Thought leaders offer a distinctive point of view by linking their subject matter expertise with wider debates, and in doing so, they present a credible and authoritative voice. Over time, they come to be sought out as an expert in their field and asked to weigh in with their experience. A thought leader communicates intelligently with people who can make a difference in business and public life, setting the agenda or shifting the debate by introducing a new perspective. Each of our thought leadership campaigns is based around a bespoke strategy which answers our clients’ business problem and supports their advocacy requirements."

Ms. McGuiness obviously sees no conflict of interest in being both a columnist whose subject matter is frequently political in nature and a director of two businesses (dedicated to using mainstream and social media to manipulate public perceptions), one of which derives income from federal government contracts.

In my opinion she is deluding herself if she believes everyone else see her self-proclaimed independence in the same light.

Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Australian Society 2020: and the annual female death by violence count grows


Destroy The Joint

There are 52 weeks in every year. As of 22 December 2020 the Counting Dead Women project has recorded a a total of 54 women who have died violent deaths in Australia, predominately at the hands of their partners, family members or people they knew socially.

A satirical comment on Australian politics and society in 2020


Thursday, 17 December 2020

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare releases a new report but the problem of homelessness remains

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), media release, 11 December 2020:

More than 290,000 Australians were assisted by government-funded Specialist Homelessness Services during 2019–20, according to a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The latest Specialist Homelessness Services annual report covers the 2019–20 period, including months before and during the COVID-19 pandemic and is accompanied by updated Specialist Homelessness Services Collection Data Cubes with information on clients assisted in states and territories.

Government-funded Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) assist Australians who are experiencing homelessness—or at risk of becoming homeless—with services such as advice, counselling, professional legal services, meals and accommodation, said AIHW spokesperson Dr. Gabrielle Phillips.

Between 2015–16 and 2019–20, the number of clients helped by specialist homelessness agencies increased by an average of 1.0% per year from 279,200 to 290,500 people. ‘In 2019–20, about 114,000 clients were homeless when they first presented to services seeking help and 152,300 were at risk of homelessness.’

Of the 290,000 clients who were assisted in 2019–20, 60% (174,500) were female and 29% (85,000) were aged under 18 years.

About 119,000 clients assisted by Specialist Homelessness Services had experienced family and domestic violence, up from 116,000 clients in 2018–19. Ninety per cent of adult clients who had experienced family and domestic violence were female and over half (51%) of clients aged under 18 years had experienced family and domestic violence.

About 88,300 clients accessing services in 2019–20 reported having a current mental health issue which was almost 1 in 3 of all SHS clients (30%).

People with current mental health issues is one of the fastest growing client groups, increasing by 22% since 2015–16,’ Dr. Phillips said.

Various factors, including increased identification, community awareness and reduced stigma, may have had an impact on the increase in self-identification and reporting of mental illness among Specialist Homelessness Services clients.’

About $68.7 million in financial assistance was provided to clients in 2019–20, up from $61.1 million in 2018–19. This included $32.3 million used to help clients establish or maintain existing tenancies and $21.9 million to provide short-term or emergency accommodation, some of which was related to COVID-19 responses.

Clients supported each month can be found in our SHS monthly data product; the latest release includes preliminary data for the June–September 2020 time period.

In New South Wales in 2019-20 homeless agencies provided 70,400 individuals with a a service – 41% of these people were in regional areas, 1% in remote areas and 58% in major cities.

At least 38,334 of these individuals were homeless when they first presented (around 3,066 having no shelter or improvised shelter) and the majority of these homeless people appear to have been female.

Given that 1.6 million women in Australia are thought to have experienced sexual and/or physical violence from a partner it should come as no surprise that family or domestic violence was one of the top three reasons given by those seeking assistance.

The services offered by homeless agencies could have been information only, referral to another agency, overnight accommodation, short-term accommodation, advocacy in an effort to obtain permanent accommodation pr retain existing accommodation - or no assistance was able to be given at the time so that the individual walked out as homeless as when they entered the agency. On average 25 requests for assistance went unmet each day.

The 2016 national census revealed that across Australia 116,000 people were experiencing homelessness on census night. It also revealed the NSW Northern Rivers region was no stranger this homelessness. In the Richmond Valley – Hinterland 57.5 persons out of every 10,000 were homeless, in Richmond Valley – Coastal it was 53.9 persons per 10,000, the Tweed Valley 48.6 persons and Clarence Valley 44.8 persons.

In 2020 it was reported that local police believed that up to 400 women were sleeping in tents or cars in the Byron Bay area and it is thought that over 200 people may be sleeping rough in the Clarence Valley.