WA Government Deregisters World’s Oldest Rock Art Collection As Sacred Site – Written by AMY McQUIRE

MP expresses ‘deep shame’ as historic site loses protection. Amy McQuire reports.

The world’s oldest and largest collection of rock art – the Burrup Peninsula, or Murujuga, on the Dampier Archipelago – has been deregistered as a sacred site under new guidelines to the Western Australia’s weak Aboriginal heritage laws, which state there must be evidence of religious activity to qualify it as a ‘sacred site’.

The change has led to questions about whether the art will be reinstated to the cultural heritage register following a successful Supreme Court decision that ruled against the WA government’s definition of a ‘sacred site’.

Last week, WA Indigenous affairs minister Peter Collier produced a list of the 21 sites that were deregistered as a ‘sacred site’ under new guidelines to section 5 (b) of the state Aboriginal Heritage Act, produced by the state Aboriginal Cultural Materials Committee (ACMC).

The guidelines were based on advice given by the State Solicitor’s Office (SSO) and adopted by the ACMC in 2013.

The revelations followed questions in state Parliament from Greens MLA Robin Chappelle following a recent decision by the Supreme Court that quashed new definitions of a ‘sacred site’, adopted by the ACMC in July 2013.

The guidelines, produced by the ACMC, specified that a sacred site needed to be “devoted to a religious use rather than a place subject to mythological story, song or belief”.

Justice John Chaney quashed the ACMC’s definition of a ‘sacred site’ after Marapikurrinya traditional owners challenged the committee’s de-registration of a spiritually significant waterway which takes in the harbour and numerous creeks adjoining it – Marapikurrinya Yintha. Marapikurrinya Yintha is associated with the Warlu, or rainbow serpent.

Justice Chaney found the new guidelines were inconsistent with the Aboriginal Heritage Act, and the historic interpretation of ‘sacred site’.

“To suggest, however, that for a place to be a sacred site, specific rituals or ceremonies are required to be associated with it is to deny the expression ‘sacred site’ any specific meaning,” Justice Chaney said in his judgement.

“There is no justification for treating the word ‘sacred’ as conveying no meaning beyond ritual or ceremonial.”

The landmark ruling led to the Indigenous Affairs Minister Peter Collier acknowledging 21 other sites had been deregistered under the guidelines.

One of these sites is the culturally, and spiritually significant Burrup Peninsula – which holds a museum of some of the world’s oldest and most significant, but sadly endangered, rock art.

The site had previously been registered by the ACMC nearly a decade ago, but the news that it had been taken off the register is shocking to Greens MLA Robin Chappell who calls it the “largest concentration of rock art in the world… an extraordinary cultural landscape telling the story of ancient Aboriginal occupation over the past 30,000 years or more.”

The fact the Supreme Court ruled against the ACMC’s definition of a ‘sacred site’, and overturned the SSO advice, means the WA government must now look at placing the Burrup Peninsula back on the state Aboriginal heritage register, he says.

“We are now saying if that advice has been overturned by the Supreme Court, the government needs to immediately reinstate those 23 sites, and the Burrup is one of them,” Mr Chappell told New Matilda.

He says if the Greens hadn’t asked the question, the status of the Burrup could have gone unreported.

“That’s the nature of the department. They have been to a large degree doing the bidding of the state government, who really wants to be able to fast track development in a number of areas. It’s been acquiescing to the direction the state government wants to go in. If we hadn’t asked the question, we may never have known,” Mr Chappell told New Matilda. 

Mr Chappell says he will now be asking questions about when the department will be reviewing and reinstating the 22 sites.

In the case of Port Hedland, the ruling doesn’t actually stop development, as agreements between traditional owners and the Port Hedland Harbour Authority have already been established.

The weak provisions of the state Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 do not overrule development on Aboriginal sites. Amendments to the act which will go before Parliament later this year, and which weaken the act even further, have been almost unanimously condemned by Aboriginal groups.

As academics Thor Kerr and Shaphan Cox wrote in the Conversation recently  “The Act has a poor record of protecting Aboriginal heritage. Only in rare cases has a determined group of Aboriginal people been able to use it to prevent damage to their heritage. With the proposed legislative change, even such slim hope may be lost.”

But Mr Chappell says changing the definition of a ‘sacred site’, and deregistering sites, speeds up development.

“I think they want to make things quicker and easier, faster. The act has been weakly presented over the last 20 years in my view and it doesn’t do anything to stop development. It’s a quicker, easier process. This was one of the ways of getting rid of an impediment,” he says.

“That’s particularly the case of the Port Hedland Port Authority…. They already had an agreement in relation to the site. It was only in passing reference that Traditional Owners found out it was no longer a sacred site.”

In the case of the Burrup, Mr Chappell believes it would be “naïve” to think the department would still not consult with traditional owners given the international concern over the vulnerability of the priceless rock art.

“In many cases, when you come to the Burrup, it would be naïve to think government would not engage with the TOs. But this is one of those instances where it would make life easier. When you’re dealing with 6000 registered sites (on the Burrup), that’s the main obvious site over the parcel of land so even though there are sites in that area that are unregistered, it would have made it easier for companies moving to develop in that area.”

But he says it’s time for Mr Collier to reinstate and review the sites and place them back on the register.

Mr Chappell says it shows it is part of the history of humanity.

“We have to remember Indigenous people were developing stone tools way before we as Europeans did it. They started rudimentary farming and all these sorts of things. Aboriginal civilisation was far more advanced than we had in Europe or Africa or anywhere else. They developed a method of working on land, recorded culture that no one else had.”

He said recently in a statement, the news that the Burrup had been deregistered had left him “deeply ashamed”.

“It is without question one of the most important heritage locations in Australia and arguably the world; an ancient cultural and historical record of our nation’s first peoples.

“Irrelevant of the department’s interpretation of the heritage act, the Burrup Peninsula is a sacred site and deserves to be treated as such.”

– See more at: https://newmatilda.com/2015/04/30/wa-government-deregisters-worlds-oldest-rock-art-collection-sacred-site#sthash.PHe7YupW.dpuf

Anzacs behaving badly: Scott McIntyre & contested history – Written by THE CONVERSATION

BADANZACS

 30 April 2015

Bad Characters: Sex, Crime, Mutiny, Murder and the Australian Imperial Force By Peter Stanley, Allen & Unwin, 2010

Given the grimmer aspects of Australian military history, there is a clear public disconnect between myth and truth. University of Newcastle’s Director of the History of Violence Centre, Professor Philip Dwyer, says Scott McIntyre’s comments were timely.

SACKED FOR tweeting remarks about Anzacs that are considered “inappropriate” and “disrespectful”? Let me try and put SBS sports journalist Scott McIntyre’s tweets in historical perspective. Over the Anzac Day weekend, McIntyre was fired from SBS for a series of tweets about the grimmer aspects of Australian military history.

We know the Anzacs could get up to mischief. That was part of their image even during the first world war.

Take my grandfather, for example. Frederick George Fazey joined the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) in 1918, but it was only when I looked up his records in the National Archives in Canberra that I discovered he was “apprehended” in London, and fined four days pay before being sent to the Western Front.

That was a story he never told the family, but his transgression is excusable, and seemingly innocent. He was a boy after all, only 16 or 17, and no doubt wanted to experience a bit of life before being sent to a place where there was a good chance of being killed or maimed.

Less excusable and far less innocent, even with the knowledge of hindsight, is the behaviour of the Anzacs stationed in Egypt before being shipped to Gallipoli. There the men treated the locals in an overtly racist manner.

One soldier, Victor Ault, wrote about how

“we thrash the black fellows with whips … Every nigger who is impudent to a soldier gets a hiding … I can’t say how many I’ve belted and knocked out.”

On Good Friday 1915, things got out of hand. Around 2,500 Anzacs rioted in the Wazza district of Cairo, sacking and setting fire to brothels, terrifying the locals, and clashing with military police who tried to intervene. These were no angels. Between 12 per cent and 15 per cent of the AIF had contracted venereal disease.

The battle of the Wazza, as it was dubbed, was not the only riot that took place. Others followed. Drinking and whoring, leaving bills unpaid, threatening, bullying and beating locals because they were “niggers”, and generally behaving in ways that we now condemn our sportsmen for behaving was standard fair for these boys who had money, were far away from home, and had no one to control them.

All this is well known to historians, but clearly less well known to the public. There is an obvious disconnect between what historians know and what the popular perception of our past is. It is this disconnect that has jarred with some in the public and led to McIntyre’s sacking.

It is difficult if not impossible for historians to overturn popular myths. Myths are popular because they represent stories we want to hear; they feed into the collective psyche. Anzacs behaving badly is not something we want to acknowledge.

The “summary executions” tweet (below) made by McIntyre is a case in point. Most people are familiar with the Japanese treatment of Allied POWs, but Australian soldiers killed Japanese prisoners in Papua, including on at least one occasion wounded Japanese soldiers in hospital.

Take the 1943 diary entry of Eddie Stanton, an Australian posted to Goodenough Island off Papua New Guinea, who wrote:

‘Japanese are still being shot all over the place, ….The necessity for capturing them has ceased to worry anyone. From now on, Nippo survivors are just so much machine-gun practice. Too many of our soldiers are tied up guarding them.’

This was tit-for-tat killing. Anzac and American troops systematically shot Japanese prisoners in the Pacific, in part because it was expedient to do so, in part out of revenge after being witness to what the Japanese were capable of, and in part because there was so much racial hatred. The Pacific theatre was a racialised war in which atrocities were committed on both sides.

It is naïve to expect men to kill and die for their country, to live through the horrors of a particularly barbaric war, and to come out the other end unscathed. Hence McIntyre’s tweet that Anzacs raped – among others – Japanese women.

Listen to the testimony from an Australian officer, Allan Clifton, who acted as interpreter in Japan in 1946:

“I stood beside a bed in hospital. On it lay a girl, unconscious, her long, black hair in wild tumult on the pillow. A doctor and two nurses were working to revive her. An hour before she had been raped by 20 soldiers. We found her where they had left her, on a piece of waste land. The hospital was in Hiroshima. The girl was Japanese. The soldiers were Australians.

The moaning and wailing had ceased and she was quiet now. The tortured tension on her face had slipped away, and the soft brown skin was smooth and unwrinkled, stained with tears like the face of a child that has cried herself to sleep.”

Every invading army, regardless of the side they are on, regardless of the war, rapes. The Allies raped in France and the Philippines, in Italy and Japan. According to American historian Bob Lilly’s estimate, between 14,000 and 17,000 women were raped by American military personnel in Europe between 1942 and 1945.

And that is not counting the Pacific. Australians may not have behaved as badly as the Russians in Germany, but thousands of Japanese women were raped in the years after the war, some of them by Australian and New Zealand soldiers who made up the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan.

As for Hiroshima, as well as Nagasaki, we think that a combined total of the number of civilian deaths was a little under 100,000. This was comparable to the Allied bombing of Dresden in February 1945 and of Tokyo in March 1945, which led to the deaths of, roughly, around 25,000 and 97,000 civilians respectively.

Was the Allied bombing of civilians a war crime? Some respected historians, among them Donald Bloxham, professor of modern history at the University of Edinburgh, would argue that it was.

Historically speaking then, McIntyre is not all that far off the mark, but he has been sacrificed on the altar of populist outrage. I try to teach my students to see the world differently, to think differently, to always question accepted opinion and then, when necessary, to speak out.

The decision made by the managing director of SBS is disappointing. Are journalists, academics and public figures only ever to tell people what they want to hear?

The response to McIntyre’s tweets is a demonstration that the popular perception of Anzac is completely out of step with the historical reality —but his remarks are also timely. We should not forget that war is never a one-sided affair in which our boys are squeaky-clean heroes and their boys murdering, raping villains.

War brings out the worst (as well as the best) in people. Some Anzacs were neither heroes nor particularly likeable characters — and some behaved little better than thugs and hooligans. I certainly would not have wanted to meet some of them in the back alleys of Cairo in 1915 after they had been on the piss all night.

But in the atmosphere of nationalistic chest-beating that surrounds the Anzac commemorations, there are not likely to be too many dissenting voices.

The ConversationThis article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

 

Anzacs behaving badly: Scott McIntyre & contested history – Written by THE CONVERSATION

30 April 2015

Bad Characters: Sex, Crime, Mutiny, Murder and the Australian Imperial Force By Peter Stanley, Allen & Unwin, 2010

Given the grimmer aspects of Australian military history, there is a clear public disconnect between myth and truth. University of Newcastle’s Director of the History of Violence Centre, Professor Philip Dwyer, says Scott McIntyre’s comments were timely.

SACKED FOR tweeting remarks about Anzacs that are considered “inappropriate” and “disrespectful”? Let me try and put SBS sports journalist Scott McIntyre’s tweets in historical perspective. Over the Anzac Day weekend, McIntyre was fired from SBS for a series of tweets about the grimmer aspects of Australian military history.

We know the Anzacs could get up to mischief. That was part of their image even during the first world war.

Take my grandfather, for example. Frederick George Fazey joined the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) in 1918, but it was only when I looked up his records in the National Archives in Canberra that I discovered he was “apprehended” in London, and fined four days pay before being sent to the Western Front.

That was a story he never told the family, but his transgression is excusable, and seemingly innocent. He was a boy after all, only 16 or 17, and no doubt wanted to experience a bit of life before being sent to a place where there was a good chance of being killed or maimed.

Less excusable and far less innocent, even with the knowledge of hindsight, is the behaviour of the Anzacs stationed in Egypt before being shipped to Gallipoli. There the men treated the locals in an overtly racist manner.

One soldier, Victor Ault, wrote about how

“we thrash the black fellows with whips … Every nigger who is impudent to a soldier gets a hiding … I can’t say how many I’ve belted and knocked out.”

On Good Friday 1915, things got out of hand. Around 2,500 Anzacs rioted in the Wazza district of Cairo, sacking and setting fire to brothels, terrifying the locals, and clashing with military police who tried to intervene. These were no angels. Between 12 per cent and 15 per cent of the AIF had contracted venereal disease.

The battle of the Wazza, as it was dubbed, was not the only riot that took place. Others followed. Drinking and whoring, leaving bills unpaid, threatening, bullying and beating locals because they were “niggers”, and generally behaving in ways that we now condemn our sportsmen for behaving was standard fair for these boys who had money, were far away from home, and had no one to control them.

All this is well known to historians, but clearly less well known to the public. There is an obvious disconnect between what historians know and what the popular perception of our past is. It is this disconnect that has jarred with some in the public and led to McIntyre’s sacking.

It is difficult if not impossible for historians to overturn popular myths. Myths are popular because they represent stories we want to hear; they feed into the collective psyche. Anzacs behaving badly is not something we want to acknowledge.

The “summary executions” tweet (below) made by McIntyre is a case in point. Most people are familiar with the Japanese treatment of Allied POWs, but Australian soldiers killed Japanese prisoners in Papua, including on at least one occasion wounded Japanese soldiers in hospital.

Take the 1943 diary entry of Eddie Stanton, an Australian posted to Goodenough Island off Papua New Guinea, who wrote:

‘Japanese are still being shot all over the place, ….The necessity for capturing them has ceased to worry anyone. From now on, Nippo survivors are just so much machine-gun practice. Too many of our soldiers are tied up guarding them.’

This was tit-for-tat killing. Anzac and American troops systematically shot Japanese prisoners in the Pacific, in part because it was expedient to do so, in part out of revenge after being witness to what the Japanese were capable of, and in part because there was so much racial hatred. The Pacific theatre was a racialised war in which atrocities were committed on both sides.

It is naïve to expect men to kill and die for their country, to live through the horrors of a particularly barbaric war, and to come out the other end unscathed. Hence McIntyre’s tweet that Anzacs raped – among others – Japanese women.

Listen to the testimony from an Australian officer, Allan Clifton, who acted as interpreter in Japan in 1946:

“I stood beside a bed in hospital. On it lay a girl, unconscious, her long, black hair in wild tumult on the pillow. A doctor and two nurses were working to revive her. An hour before she had been raped by 20 soldiers. We found her where they had left her, on a piece of waste land. The hospital was in Hiroshima. The girl was Japanese. The soldiers were Australians.

The moaning and wailing had ceased and she was quiet now. The tortured tension on her face had slipped away, and the soft brown skin was smooth and unwrinkled, stained with tears like the face of a child that has cried herself to sleep.”

Every invading army, regardless of the side they are on, regardless of the war, rapes. The Allies raped in France and the Philippines, in Italy and Japan. According to American historian Bob Lilly’s estimate, between 14,000 and 17,000 women were raped by American military personnel in Europe between 1942 and 1945.

And that is not counting the Pacific. Australians may not have behaved as badly as the Russians in Germany, but thousands of Japanese women were raped in the years after the war, some of them by Australian and New Zealand soldiers who made up the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan.

As for Hiroshima, as well as Nagasaki, we think that a combined total of the number of civilian deaths was a little under 100,000. This was comparable to the Allied bombing of Dresden in February 1945 and of Tokyo in March 1945, which led to the deaths of, roughly, around 25,000 and 97,000 civilians respectively.

Was the Allied bombing of civilians a war crime? Some respected historians, among them Donald Bloxham, professor of modern history at the University of Edinburgh, would argue that it was.

Historically speaking then, McIntyre is not all that far off the mark, but he has been sacrificed on the altar of populist outrage. I try to teach my students to see the world differently, to think differently, to always question accepted opinion and then, when necessary, to speak out.

The decision made by the managing director of SBS is disappointing. Are journalists, academics and public figures only ever to tell people what they want to hear?

The response to McIntyre’s tweets is a demonstration that the popular perception of Anzac is completely out of step with the historical reality —but his remarks are also timely. We should not forget that war is never a one-sided affair in which our boys are squeaky-clean heroes and their boys murdering, raping villains.

War brings out the worst (as well as the best) in people. Some Anzacs were neither heroes nor particularly likeable characters — and some behaved little better than thugs and hooligans. I certainly would not have wanted to meet some of them in the back alleys of Cairo in 1915 after they had been on the piss all night.

But in the atmosphere of nationalistic chest-beating that surrounds the Anzac commemorations, there are not likely to be too many dissenting voices.

The ConversationThis article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

THE MYTH OF POLITICAL SAMENESS – Written by AD ASTRA

August 24, 2014

We are pleased to offer this piece by Ad astra – the well known and popular writer from the long running blog The Political Sword. In this article Ad astra
closely examines a way of understanding differences between the
thinking of progressives and conservatives, as expressed through the
work of cognitive linguist, George Lakoff.


The myth of political sameness: Why progressives and conservatives think differently.


Cock your ear at your local watering hole, listen to the boys as they
clasp a frosted schooner of VB, and you’re bound to hear: ‘They’re all
the same these pollies. Ya just can’t trust em’. Of course they are
right to some extent. The deception and deviousness we see day after day
from our politicians has earned them that condemnation. On the other
side of the coin, by and large politicians enter public life to make a
difference, to do good things, to make life better for their
electorates, indeed the whole nation. Only the Eddie Obeids of this
world have self-interest as their driving force.


Similarly, political parties have good intentions and many comparable
policies. It’s not surprising then that many voters perceive
politicians and parties as ‘all the same’.


This notion of sameness needs debunking, lest too many entitled to
cast a vote swallow the myth that the ‘sameness’ of the parties absolves
them from making a critical decision about who is best equipped to lead
the nation, who has the best policy agenda, who has the most acceptable
ideology, who has the most suitable approach to policy development, who
can take us to a better future.


Politicians and parties are not ‘all the same’.


In his book: Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think, (University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2002), George Lakoff, linguist and cognitive scientist, tells us how very
different are conservatives from progressives, and how the major
differences in their mindset affects their approach to politics. Because
he studied US politics, he uses the term ‘liberal’ to describe
‘progressives’ (in the US, Democrats; in this country Labor and perhaps
the Greens), and ‘conservative’ to describe conservatives (in the US,
Republicans or their extreme variant, The Tea Party; in this country the
Liberal National Party, the Coalition). Most of the quotes in this
piece are from this book. I quote him extensively; my words could not do
a better job than his.


His underlying thesis rests on a central metaphor: ‘Nation as Family’. He elaborates on this as follows:


  • The Nation is a Family.
  • The Government is a Parent.
  • The Citizens are the Children.


We know that the metaphor is not wholly applicable, but many people
find it a comfortable one with which they can identify readily. They can
accept that family dynamics and economics might be seen as applicable
to the nation’s dynamics and economics, even though there are many
fundamental differences. Our politicians often use this metaphor, making
reference to the family budget to argue that the nation, like a family,
must ‘live within its means’.


Building on the Nation as Family metaphor, Lakoff identifies two
types of family based upon two distinct styles of parenting, which he
assigns to conservatives and progressives respectively. When applied to
the Nation as Family metaphor, they result in vastly different
behaviours.


The two parenting styles are:


  • The Strict Father model, and
  • The Nurturant Parent model.


At the center of the conservative worldview is a Strict Father model;
the liberal (progressive) worldview centres on a very different ideal
for family life, the Nurturant Parent model, which encompasses both
parents.


Lakoff asserts that the Strict Father model is a metaphorical version of an economic idea. He explains:


It is based on a folk version of Adam Smith’s economics:
If each person seeks to maximize his own wealth, then, by an invisible
hand, the wealth of all will be maximized. Applying the common metaphor
that Well-Being Is Wealth to this folk version of free-market economics,
we get: If each person tries to maximize his own well-being (or
self-interest), the well-being of all will be maximized. Thus, seeking
one’s own self-interest is actually a positive, moral act, one that
contributes to the well-being of all.


Lakoff goes on to cite some words and phrases used over and over in
conservative discourse, words that reflect the Strict Father model:


Character, virtue, discipline, tough it out, get tough,
tough love, strong, self-reliance, individual responsibility, backbone,
standards, authority, heritage, competition, earn, hard work,
enterprise, property rights, reward, freedom, intrusion, interference,
meddling, punishment, human nature, traditional, common sense,
dependency, self-indulgent, elite, quotas, breakdown, corrupt, decay,
rot, degenerate, deviant, lifestyle.


How many times have you heard Coalition members use these words,
particularly those who have responsibility for the economy: Tony Abbott,
Joe Hockey and Mathias Cormann? Countless times!


Lakoff continues:


Liberals [progressives], in their speeches and writings,
choose different topics, different words, and different modes of
inference than conservatives. Liberals talk about: social forces, social
responsibility, free expression, human rights, equal rights, concern,
care, help, health, safety, nutrition, basic human dignity, oppression,
diversity, deprivation, alienation, big corporations, corporate welfare,
ecology, ecosystem, biodiversity, pollution, and so on. Conservatives
tend not to dwell on these topics, or to use these words as part of
their normal political discourse.


How often have you heard Labor members and Greens using these words? Over and again!


Lakoff summarises:


The conservative/liberal [progressive] division is
ultimately a division between strictness and nurturance as ideals at all
levels—from the family to morality to religion and, ultimately, to
politics. It is a division at the center of our democracy and our public
lives, and yet there is no overt discussion of it in public discourse.


He continues:


Yet it is vitally important that we do so if Americans
are to understand, and come to grips with, the deepest fundamental
division in our country, one that transcends and lies behind all the
individual issues: the role of government, social programs, taxation,
education, the environment, energy, gun control, abortion, the death
penalty, and so on. These are ultimately not different issues, but
manifestations of a single issue: strictness versus nurturance.


In Australia, an identical and just as fundamental division exists
between the Coalition, the conservatives, and Labor and the Greens, the
progressives. This division results in the striking differences in
attitude, behaviour, rhetoric, policy, and indeed morality, which day
after day define our own conservatives and our own progressives. It
explains so much of the contrast we see.


Lakoff summarises the relationship between morality and politics as follows:


The Strict Father and Nurturant Parent models of the family induce…two moral systems…

The link between family-based morality and politics comes from one of
the most common ways we have of conceptualizing what a nation is,
namely, as a family. It is the common, unconscious, and automatic
metaphor of the Nation as Family that produces contemporary conservatism
from Strict Father morality and contemporary liberalism from Nurturant
Parent morality.


According to Lakoff, conservatives cannot understand the thinking of
progressives, nor can progressives understand conservatives.
Conventional logic does not help; it is only when the two methods of
parenting are used as explanatory models that understanding comes into
view with a startling flash of insight.


To assist understanding, Lakoff compares conservative and liberal (progressive) moral systems:


Conservative categories of moral action:

1. Promoting Strict Father morality in general.

2. Promoting self-discipline, responsibility, and self-reliance.

3. Upholding the Morality of Reward and Punishment.

a. Preventing interference with the pursuit of self-interest by self-disciplined, self-reliant people.

b. Promoting punishment as a means of upholding authority.

c. Ensuring punishment for lack of self-discipline.

4. Protecting moral people from external evils.

5. Upholding the Moral Order.

Liberal categories of moral action:

1. Empathetic behaviour, and promoting fairness.

2. Helping those who cannot help themselves.

3. Protecting those who cannot protect themselves.

4. Promoting fulfillment in life.

5. Nurturing and strengthening oneself in order to do the above.


He clarifies these concepts as follows:


In the conservative moral worldview, the model citizens
are those who best fit all the conservative categories for moral action.
They are those (1) who have conservative values and act to support
them; (2) who are self-disciplined and self-reliant; (3) who uphold the
morality of reward and punishment; (4) who work to protect moral
citizens; and (5) who act in support of the moral order. Those who best
fit all these categories are successful, wealthy, law-abiding
conservative businessmen who support a strong military and a strict
criminal justice system, who are against government regulation, and who
are against affirmative action. They are the model citizens. They are
the people whom all Americans should emulate and from whom we have
nothing to fear. They deserve to be rewarded and respected.

These model citizens fit an elaborate mythology. They have succeeded
through hard work, have earned whatever they have through their own
self-discipline, and deserve to keep what they have earned. Through
their success and wealth they create jobs, which they “give” to other
citizens. Simply by investing their money to maximize their earnings,
they become philanthropists who “give” jobs to others and thereby
“create wealth” for others [trickle down economics]. Part of the myth is
that these model citizens have been given nothing by the government and
have made it on their own. The American Dream is that any honest,
self-disciplined, hard-working person can do the same. These model
citizens are seen by conservatives as the Ideal Americans in the
American Dream.

We can now see clearly why liberal [progressive] arguments for social
programs can make no sense at all to conservatives, whether they are
arguments on the basis of compassion, fairness, wise investment,
financial responsibility, or outright self-interest. The issue for
conservatives is a moral issue touching the very heart of conservative
morality, a morality where a liberal’s compassion and fairness are
neither compassionate nor fair. Even financial arguments won’t carry the
day. The issue isn’t about money; it’s about morality.

What we have here are major differences in moral worldview. They are
not just differences of opinion about effective public administration.
The differences are not about efficiency, or practicality, or economics,
and they cannot be settled by rational argument about effective
administration. They are ethical opinions about what makes good people
and a good nation.


Lakoff illustrates his thesis with an example from America that has application in this country:


Take a simple example: college loans. The federal
government has had a program to provide low-interest loans to college
students. The students don’t have to start paying off the loans while
they are still in college and the loans are interest-free during the
college years [similar to our HECS – HELP loan program].

The liberal rationale for the program is this: College is expensive
and a great many poor-to-middle-class students cannot afford it. This
loan program allows a great many students to go to college who otherwise
wouldn’t. Going to college allows one to get a better job at a higher
salary afterward and to be paid more during one’s entire life. This
benefits not only the student but also the government, since the student
will be paying more taxes over his lifetime because of his better job.
From the liberal [progressive] moral perspective, this is a highly moral
program. It helps those who cannot help themselves. It promotes
fulfillment in life in two ways, since education is fulfilling in itself
and it permits people to get more fulfilling jobs. It strengthens the
nation, since it produces a better-educated citizenry and ultimately
brings in more tax money; and it is empathetic behavior making access to
college more fairly distributed.

But through conservative spectacles, this is an immoral program.
Since students depend on the loans, the program supports dependence on
the government rather than self-reliance. Since not everyone has access
to such loans, the program introduces competitive unfairness, thus
interfering with the free market in loans and hence with the fair
pursuit of self-interest. Since the program takes money earned by one
group and, through taxation, gives it to another group, it is unfair and
penalizes the pursuit of self-interest by taking money from someone who
has earned it and giving it to someone who hasn’t.


Lakoff explains:


I started with college loans because it is not as heated
an issue as abortion or welfare or the death penalty or gun control. Yet
it is a nitty-gritty issue, because it affects a lot of people very
directly. To a liberal, it is obviously the right thing to do. And to a
conservative, it is obviously the wrong thing to do.


I trust that these extensive quotes from Lakoff’s book paint clearly
the differences that he postulates exist between the mindset and
thinking of conservatives and progressives.


Although Lakoff’s description of the extremes of conservative and
progressive thinking might lead one to conclude that there is a spectrum
along which this thinking is distributed, somewhat after the fashion of
a bell-shaped curve, which could throw up ‘moderate’ or ‘middle of the
road’ conservatives and progressives, Lakoff maintains that there are no
such politicians. He acknowledges that sometimes conservatives may have
a progressive view on some issues, and progressives may have a
conservative view on other issues, but insists that there are no
moderates. A conservative is a conservative, and a progressive is a
progressive.


Lakoff spells out in detail just how conservatives and progressives see the world:


It should now be clear why, from the conservative
world-view, the rich should be seen as “the best people”. They are the
model citizens, those who, through self-discipline and hard work, have
achieved the American Dream. They have earned what they have and deserve
to keep it. Because they are the best people – people whose investments
create jobs and wealth for others – they should be rewarded. Taking
money away is conceptualized as harm, financial harm; that is the
metaphorical basis of seeing taxation as punishment. When the rich are
taxed more than others for making a lot more money, they are, according
to conservatives, being punished for being model citizens, for doing
what, according to the American Dream, they are supposed to do. Taxation
of the rich is, to conservatives, punishment for doing what is right
and succeeding at it. It is a violation of the Morality of Reward and
Punishment. In the conservative worldview, the rich have earned their
money and, according to the Morality of Reward and Punishment, deserve
to keep it. Taxation – the forcible taking of their money from them
against their will – is seen as unfair and immoral, a kind of theft.
That makes the federal government a thief. Hence, a common conservative
attitude toward the government: You can’t trust it, since, like a thief,
it’s always trying to find ways to take your money.

Liberals, of course, see taxation through very different lenses. In
Nurturant Parent morality, the wellbeing of all children matters
equally. Those children who need less care, the mature and healthy
children, simply have a duty to help care for those who need more, say,
younger or infirm children. The duty is a matter of moral accounting.
They have received nurturance from their parents and owe it to the other
children if it is needed. In the Nation as Family metaphor, citizens
who have more have a duty to help out those who have much less.
Progressive taxation is a form of meeting this duty. Rich conservatives
who are trying to get out of paying taxes are seen as selfish and
mean-spirited. The nation has helped provide for them and it is their
turn to help provide for others. They owe it to the nation.


He could scarcely make it any clearer. How relevant is this
exposition to the contemporary dispute about the Gonski model for school
funding here!


Lakoff goes on to assert a worrying trend:


The conservative family values agenda is, at present,
being set primarily by fundamentalist Christians. This is not a
situation that many people are aware of.

These groups have been most explicit in developing a Strict Father
approach to childrearing and have been extremely active in promoting
their approach. On the whole, they are defining the conservative
position for the current debate about childrearing, as well as for
legislation incorporating their approach. Since the ideas in
conservative Christian childrearing manuals are fully consistent with
the Strict Father model of the family that lies behind conservative
politics, it is not at all strange that such fundamentalist groups
should be setting the national conservative agenda on family values.

In short, conservative family values, which are the basis for
conservative morality and political thought, are not supported by either
research in child development or the mainstream childrearing experts in
the country. That is another reason why the conservative family agenda
has been left to fundamentalist Christians. Since there is no
significant body of mainstream experts who support the Strict Father
model, conservatives can rely only on fundamentalist Christians, who
have the only well thought out approach to childrearing that supports
the Strict Family model.

The claims to legitimacy for the conservative family values
enterprise rest with the fundamentalist Christian community, a community
whose conclusions are not based on empirical research but on a
fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible. And that…is based on Strict
Father morality itself. Thus, there is no independent or non-ideological
basis whatever for conservative claims about family values.

Is this group of fundamentalist Christians representative of
conservative attitudes about childrearing? I don’t know, but they are in
charge. They are the people setting the conservative family values
agenda.


We have become aware of the influence of fundamentalist Christians in
The Tea Party on the recent debt ceiling debate in the US, which
resulted in the closure of some government departments, and threatened
the government with the prospect of defaulting on repayment of its
borrowings. They pressured their less radical Republican colleagues and
almost succeeded in overwhelming them.


Lakoff comments on the funding of policy think tanks:


Because of the way conservative think tanks are funded –
through large general block grants and virtually guaranteed long-term
funding – conservative intellectuals can work on long-term, high-level
strategies that cover the whole spectrum of issues.

Liberal [progressive] think tanks and other organizations are not
only out-funded four-to-one, they are also organized in a self-defeating
manner. There are three general types: advocacy, policy, and monitoring
the other side. The advocacy and policy organizations generally work
issue-by-issue. Few are engaged in long-term, high-level thinking,
partly because of the issue-by-issue orientation, partly because they
are kept busy responding to the current week’s conservative assaults,
and partly because they constantly have to pursue funding. The funding
priorities of liberal foundations and other funders are also
self-defeating. They tend to be program-oriented (issue-by-issue) and
relatively short-term with no guarantee of refunding. Moreover, they
tend not to give money for career development or infrastructure. And
liberal organizations tend not to support their intellectuals! In short,
they are doing just the opposite of what they should be doing if they
are to counter the conservatives’ successes.


I’m sure these words will resonate in Labor hearts in this country,
where we have seen several well-funded conservative think tanks (the IPA
is a classic example) outperform the few progressive ones, set the
policy agenda for the Coalition, and fashion the most effective framing
of these policies. Labor has not been able to match this, has been
manipulated to use the frames set by the Coalition, and thereby has
repeatedly failed to get across its message.


It is heartening to see that the Centre for Policy Development, a local progressive think tank, has this year written a book: Pushing Our Luck: ideas for Australian progress,
about which reviewer Ken Wolff tells us that it ‘presents a wide
ranging picture of the changes needed in our economic and social
structures if we are to maintain our “luck” into the future’.


Finally, in another Lakoff book: The Political Mind – A Cognitive Scientist’s Guide to your Brain and its Politics
(Penguin Books, London, 2009), he asserts that the different thinking
of conservatives and progressives has a neural basis. He argues:


To change minds, you must change brains. You must make
unconscious politics conscious. Because most of what our brains do is
unconscious, you can’t find out how people’s brains work by just asking
them. That is why neuroscience and cognitive sciences are necessary.


There is not space here to elaborate; that will have to wait for another piece.


book2To
me, Lakoff’s thesis was a revelation. As one who applies logic to
resolve puzzling matters, Lakoff showed how pointless this process is in
attempting to understand how conservatives and progressives think, and
why they think so differently. He also showed the pointlessness of
expecting conservatives and progressives to explain why they are so
different; they don’t know themselves!


Lakoff provides a plausible explanatory model. I for one believe he
has tapped into a rich vein of understanding that for me explains the
extraordinary differences between our own conservatives and
progressives, which until I read his thesis, defied explanation. What he
says makes sense. Hereafter, it will enable a depth of comprehension
for me that was not previously possible.


Try keeping Lakoff’s thesis in mind as you now listen to
political dialogue, no matter what the forum. You might be surprised how
much more sense you are able to make of it!


What do you think?


This article was first published on The Political Sword

IPA ( INSTITUTE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS) THINK TANK FOR THE LNP CONSERVATISM –

IPA 2-004

THE EVIL ORGANISATION PLANNING TO DESTROY DEMOCRACY AND AUSTRALIANS WELL BEING

Repeal the carbon tax, and don’t replace it. It will be one thing to remove the burden of the carbon tax from the Australian economy. But if it is just replaced by another costly scheme, most of the benefits will be undone.
Abolish the Department of Climate Change
Abolish the Clean Energy Fund
Repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act
Abandon Australia’s bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council
Repeal the renewable energy target
Return income taxing powers to the states
Abolish the Commonwealth Grants Commission
Abolish the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
Withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol
Introduce fee competition to Australian universities
Repeal the National Curriculum
Introduce competing private secondary school curriculums
Abolish the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)
Eliminate laws that require radio and television broadcasters to be ‘balanced’
Abolish television spectrum licensing and devolve spectrum management to the common law
End local content requirements for Australian television stations
Eliminate family tax benefits
Abandon the paid parental leave scheme
Means-test Medicare
End all corporate welfare and subsidies by closing the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education
Introduce voluntary voting
End mandatory disclosures on political donations
End media blackout in final days of election campaigns
End public funding to political parties
Remove anti-dumping laws
Eliminate media ownership restrictions
Abolish the Foreign Investment Review Board
Eliminate the National Preventative Health Agency
Cease subsidising the car industry
Formalise a one-in, one-out approach to regulatory reduction
Rule out federal funding for 2018 Commonwealth Games
Deregulate the parallel importation of books
End preferences for Industry Super Funds in workplace relations laws
Legislate a cap on government spending and tax as a percentage of GDP
Legislate a balanced budget amendment which strictly limits the size of budget deficits and the period the federal government can be in deficit
Force government agencies to put all of their spending online in a searchable database
Repeal plain packaging for cigarettes and rule it out for all other products, including alcohol and fast food
Reintroduce voluntary student unionism at universities
Introduce a voucher scheme for secondary schools
Repeal the alcopops tax
Introduce a special economic zone in the north of Australia including:
a) Lower personal income tax for residents
b) Significantly expanded 457 Visa programs for workers
c) Encourage the construction of dams
Repeal the mining tax
Devolve environmental approvals for major projects to the states
Introduce a single rate of income tax with a generous tax-free threshold
Cut company tax to an internationally competitive rate of 25 per cent
Cease funding the Australia Network
Privatise Australia Post
Privatise Medibank
Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function
Privatise SBS
Reduce the size of the public service from current levels of more than 260,000 to at least the 2001 low of 212,784
Repeal the Fair Work Act
Allow individuals and employers to negotiate directly terms of employment that suit them
Encourage independent contracting by overturning new regulations designed to punish contractors
Abolish the Baby Bonus
Abolish the First Home Owners’ Grant
Allow the Northern Territory to become a state
Halve the size of the Coalition front bench from 32 to 16
Remove all remaining tariff and non-tariff barriers to international trade
Slash top public servant salaries to much lower international standards, like in the United States
End all public subsidies to sport and the arts
Privatise the Australian Institute of Sport
End all hidden protectionist measures, such as preferences for local manufacturers in government tendering
Abolish the Office for Film and Literature Classification
Rule out any government-supported or mandated internet censorship
Means test tertiary student loans
Allow people to opt out of superannuation in exchange for promising to forgo any government income support in retirement
Immediately halt construction of the National Broadband Network and privatise any sections that have already been built
End all government funded Nanny State advertising
Reject proposals for compulsory food and alcohol labelling
Privatise the CSIRO
Defund Harmony Day
Close the Office for Youth
Privatise the Snowy-Hydro Scheme

via GetUp! – Become a core member.

Rising Hunter jobless rate out of step with rest of NSW | The Maitland Mercury — Written by NICK BIELBY

JOELFITZGIBBON

April 28, 2015, 8:09 p.m.
DIVERSITY NEEDED: Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon says the employment rate follows the highs and lows of the mining industry.

DIVERSITY NEEDED: Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon says the employment rate follows the highs and lows of the mining industry.

The Hunter’s unemployment rate has bucked the state trend and continued to rise.

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed that the unemployment rate for the Hunter, outside Newcastle, was 12.8 per cent in March.

This was a slight rise from 12.4 per cent in February and 11.5 per cent in January.

But the state’s jobless rate dropped from 6.2 per cent to 6 per cent from February to March.

The Hunter’s unemployment rate for March was the highest in regional NSW.

The next highest jobless rate was recorded in Richmond-Tweed at 9.7 per cent.

Federal Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon said unemployment in the Hunter had been as high as 13.5 per cent and as low as 3.5 per cent during his 19 years in Parliament.

He said employment figures in the Hunter followed the highs and lows of the mining industry.

“The mining industry not only employs many people directly, but many people indirectly, including in the manufacturing sector,” he said.
See your ad here

“That’s what people don’t often understand when they are critical of the presence of mining in the valley.”

Mr Fitzgibbon said it was important that the region continued to develop strong manufacturing, service, tourism, agriculture and viticulture sectors.

“It’s about economic diversity,” he said.

“We have lots of it, but we can never have too much.”

State opposition spokesperson for regional development David Harris said unemployment was rising across many parts of regional NSW.

He said the unemployment rate in the Hunter was about double that of when the Coalition formed government in 2011.

“While the Premier [Mike Baird] talks up his economic prowess, key regions of our state such as the Hunter, Richmond-Tweed, the Southern Highlands and Kiama-South Coast are being left behind,” Mr Harris said.

“The unemployment rate in the Hunter has blown out to 12.8 per cent on Mike Baird’s watch – more than double what the Coalition inherited.

“The Baird government has no plan to create regional jobs.

“To any family living in regional NSW, the Premier’s economic boasts look pretty out of touch.”

Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian said last week that 26,000 new jobs had been created in NSW in March.

She said this accounted for almost 70 per cent of jobs created across Australia last month.

via Rising Hunter jobless rate out of step with rest of NSW | The Maitland Mercury.

Bali 9: our selective compassion has come undone — Written by SUNIL BADAMI

Remnants of the vigil for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran at Martin Place.PHOTO: Remnants of the vigil for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran at Martin Place. (AAP: Frances Mao)

You can’t abuse human rights in defiance of international law and then criticise others for doing the same. How did this weaken our ability to plead for mercy for our own citizens? Sunil Badami writes.

“Only a pathetically weak leader would execute the powerless to prove his strength.”

That’s Fairfax journalist Peter Hartcher’s assessment of the cruel and inhumane way in which Jokowi put humanity and judicial rigour aside in the lead-up to the executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

He’s right.

But substitute the words “people smuggler” for “drug smuggler” and ask yourself this: how is Indonesia’s unjust, hard-line, domestically focused mistreatment of foreigners any different to ours?

Australia too has refused to acknowledge the humanity of foreigners; Australia too has mistreated people in defiance of international law; Australia too has defended its policies using hyperbolic language – all on the basis that punishing a few will save many more.

But will Jokowi’s actions stop drug smuggling any more than Australia’s mistreatment of refugees and their children will prevent people smuggling or stop people fleeing war and unrest?

In the end, Indonesia isn’t the only country punishing the weak and the powerless for the sake of a weak and powerless leader’s grasp at popularity.

Something to remember in the next few days is that you lose any claim to moral superiority if you only selectively choose to be compassionate. Human rights are universal, not optional. Many in Australia have criticised Indonesia for pleading clemency for its own condemned nationals overseas – but you can’t abuse human rights in defiance of international law and then criticise others for doing the same.

As Tony Abbott said today:

It was completely unacceptable for Indonesia to proceed as it did when critical legal processes were yet to run their course, raising serious questions about Indonesia’s commitment to the rule of law.

These executions significantly weaken Indonesia’s ability to plead mercy for its own citizens facing execution around the world.

So what of our refusal to allow for appeals for refugees, to retrospectively change the law, to ignore refoulement contraventions, to designate unborn children “illegals”, to excise the Australian mainland from Australia’s migration zone?

When the Prime Minister boasts that his Government won’t “succumb to the cries of human rights lawyers“, why should he expect Jokowi’s government to do this?

And what of our casual treatment of Indonesia’s borders in the name of our “sovereign” ones? How did this weaken our ability to plead for mercy for our own citizens? And how do our human rights abuses affect our ability to lecture others on theirs – a particularly pertinent point, given our bid to join the UN Human Rights Council, even as the new Sri Lankan government accuses the Abbott Government of being silent about the Rajapaksa regime’s human rights abuses in return for cooperation on Australia’s asylum seeker policy?

What happened in Indonesia last night was terrible – but so too is what is happening every day in our detention centres and on the seas. The same secrecy, the same defiant cruelty, the same indignantly self-righteous sophistry.

Chan and Sukumaran definitely did not deserve such a punishment for a foolish mistake they made as young men, but why do children and babies, brought by their parents or born in detention, deserve the punishment meted out to them by the Australian Government and its contractors – a life spent in detention without rights or adequate medical and other care?

If only the Government acted as quickly on reports of sexual abuse in detention as it has in regards to these poor Australian men.

And if only our Government – whether Liberal or Labor – recognised that you only have moral authority if you exercise and respect, rather than dodge or ignore, your moral obligations.

If only. It’s a tragedy for all of us, whether Indonesian or Australian.

Sunil Badami is a writer, broadcaster and performer. Visit his website.

ANTHONY ALBANESE A GREAT LEADER OF LABOR VALUES –

  Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Friday, 5 December 2014

A plan to get into government, but no plan to govern.

ANTHONY ALBANESE THE LABOR RANK AND FILE CHOICE FOR LEADER OF THE LABOR PARTY
YOU CAN TRUST ALBO NOT TO SELL OUT OUR LABOR VALUES

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Fair Pay for the Australian Defence Force – The Today Show

Published on 6 Nov 2014

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Tony Abbott can’t win the battle of ideas with no ideas

Tony Abbott can’t win the battle of ideas with no ideas

Tony Abbott can’t win the battle of ideas with no ideas

Tony Abbott’s negativity made him a formidable opposition leader, but
the cynical opportunism of that time has held him back as prime
minister

tony abbott


‘The opposition leader who promised so much has morphed into a confused
prime minister – a man rapidly sinking into the quicksand of his own
negativity’ Photograph: AAP


Those
great philosophers, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, wrote and sang in
1965: “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”. Australian voters might be
reminding themselves of this today, as they consider the disappointment
known as the Abbott government.
This is a government defined by disappointment, deceit and incompetence.

The opposition leader who promised so much has morphed into a
confused prime minister – a man rapidly sinking into the quicksand of
his own negativity. The source of this government’s dysfunction is the
cynical opportunism of its period in opposition.

Most
parties in opposition focus on holding governments to account and on
rebuilding their credibility by developing new ideas. Like Dan Andrews
did in Victoria, they make themselves participants in the battle of
ideas.

When the Abbott government was in opposition its only focus was on
attacking the former Labor government. As opposition leader, the prime
minister built his entire case for power on anti-Labor hatred and
three-word slogans.

Everything was about politics and nothing was about policy.

That is why the Tories have retreated to their comfort zone today.
Without positive ideas they have been forced to lean heavily on Tony
Abbott’s regressive and punitive personal ideology – one that values
individualism ahead of equity and opportunity.

Abbott’s negativity did make him a formidable opposition leader, but
it makes him a pretty bad prime minister. We now see that negativity is
all he ever had. It is his only weapon. He is a one-trick Tony.

You cannot win the battle of ideas if you have no ideas; you cannot
run an economy on three-word slogans; you do not create jobs by saying
“no” to everything; and you do not inspire people by misleading them.

Before the election, the prime minister promised no cuts to health,
education, pensions, the ABC or SBS. He promised no new taxes. In
government, he has cut $80bn from health and education, slashed funding
for the ABC and SBS and created new taxes whenever people visit a GP or
fill up their car at the petrol bowser.

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Rubbing
salt into the wounds, he has since insulted the electorate’s
intelligence with Monty Pythonesque claims that he has not broken any
promises.

The prime minister is on the wrong side of history; his place defined
not by leadership and forward-thinking but by a sad yearning for a less
equal and less progressive past – a place where average Australians pay
a Medicare levy every week only to be told they have to pay again to
visit a doctor; where education is about entrenching privilege, not
spreading opportunity; where climate science is derided; and where a
visiting US president’s praise for the splendour of the Great Barrier
Reef is attacked by those opposite as an affront to our national
sovereignty.

It is a place where our renewable energy target has been so
successful that it has to be scrapped; where we have only one woman in
the cabinet; where radio shock jocks and partisan newspaper columnists
set the government’s political agenda; where bigotry is a right; where
people communicate over ageing copper wire rather than 21st century
fibre; and a place where the long-faded trappings of our colonial past
are revived through the reintroduction of the British honours system.

The Abbott government has misread the egalitarian nature of
Australian culture. Australians care about the fair go. Australians
support measures to improve the budget, but they are not stupid.

They know that when a single income family on $65,000 a year will be
$6,000 a year worse off every year, while corporate tax cheats are a
protected species, that budget repair is being used as a cover for an
ideological agenda. The 2014 budget was not a plan for the future but an
attack on the gains of the past. Australians know it is unfair and they
are demanding better.

In my own area of infrastructure, the prime minister has treated his election promises like plates at a Greek wedding.

The government said it would preserve the independence of
Infrastructure Australia. What they have done is try to remove that
independence through legislation – an attempt abandoned only after
pressure from Labor and business groups, including the Business Council
of Australia, Infrastructure Partnerships Australia and, indeed,
Infrastructure Australia itself.

The government said they would reappoint Sir Rod Eddington as the
chairman of Infrastructure Australia but they appointed a former Liberal
party minister instead. They said they would not invest in
infrastructure without cost-benefit analysis to ensure value for money.
Then they took money from Infrastructure Australia priority projects
that had had cost-benefit analysis done and reallocated it to the East
West Link, Westconnex and a Perth freight link.

The government said there would be cranes and bulldozers at work on
new projects within 12 months of their election. But there are no
bulldozers, just bull dust.

They said they would pay money to states for infrastructure projects
in stages, based on the achievement of milestones. Then they gave the
Victorian government a $1.5bn advance payment for the East West Link, a
project that has not commenced construction.

They pretend they are investing in new infrastructure, but they
continue to travel the nation on a magical infrastructure
re-announcement tour, seeking ownership of existing projects funded by
the previous Labor government.

Worst of all, the few new road projects in the budget are being
funded by cuts to all Commonwealth investment in public transport
projects not under construction.

The prime minister, in his manifesto Battlelines, wrote:

Mostly there just aren’t enough people wanting to go from a
particular place to a particular destination at a particular time to
justify any vehicle larger than a car and cars need roads.

That is an absurd proposition for any national leader to make in 2014.

I do not remember a more cringeworthy moment than when he had an
opportunity to speak to the world’s leaders about a vision for the
future at the recent G20 meeting in Brisbane. Abbott’s contribution
involved whinging about Australians not supporting his GP tax and
proudly declaring he had removed a price on carbon.

There is no issue too big for Abbott to show how small he is. Serious
world leaders want to act on climate change and envy our system of
universal health care.

The problem is not that Abbott is stuck in the past. It is that he
wants the rest of Australia to go back there and keep him company.

Australians are sick of the negativity this government has brought to national political debate.

They want a government to focus on what really matters: them, jobs,
access to health care, equity of opportunity through access to
education; cities that are productive, sustainable and liveable; healthy
communities that value diversity; and an integrated transport system
that includes both public transport and roads.

Above all, Australians want a government that governs in accordance with Australian values, like that of the fair go.

Albanese Brands ‘Negative Abbott’ A ‘One Trick Tony’ In Stinging Parliamentary Attack | newmatilda.com

Albanese Brands ‘Negative Abbott’ A ‘One Trick Tony’ In Stinging Parliamentary Attack | newmatilda.com

Albanese Brands ‘Negative Abbott’ A ‘One Trick Tony’ In Stinging Parliamentary Attack

By Chris Graham

If
you like passionate politics and zinging one-liners, then Anthony
Albanese’s speech in parliament today won’t disappoint. Chris Graham
reports.


Labor
heavyweight Anthony Albanese has delivered a stinging rebuke of the
Abbott Government in parliament today, describing the Prime Minister as
‘one-trick Tony’, courtesy of his incessant negativity in opposition and
government.

Speaking to an almost empty parliamentary committee room, the
Opposition spokesman on Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism delivered a
speech that was clearly pitched at the party faithful. Although this is
one of those occasions where you can actually pick your party – both
Labor and Liberal appear to be heartily sick of Abbott.


As all good ageing hippies should, Albanese began his speech with a reference to the Rolling Stones.


“Those great philosophers Jagger and Richards wrote and sang in 1965
‘I can’t get no satisfaction’. Australian voters might be reminding
themselves of this today as they consider the disappointment known as
the Abbott Government,” Albanese said.


And then he got nasty.


“This is a government defined by disappointment, deceit and
incompetence. The opposition leader who promised so much has morphed
into a confused Prime Minister, a man rapidly sinking into the quicksand
of his own negativity.


“Not only can he not lead the nation, he cannot even lead his own
government, which is desperately split on policy and political direction
and crippled by internal power struggles.


“The source of this government’s dysfunction is the cynical opportunism of its period in opposition.


“Most parties in opposition focus on holding governments to account
and rebuilding their credibility by developing new ideas. That’s what
Dan Andrews did in Victoria in the past few years. He made himself a
participant in the battle of ideas and now he is Premier of Victoria.


“When the Abbott Government was in opposition its only focus was attacking the former Labor government.


“As Opposition Leader the Prime Minister transformed the Coalition
into the Noalition, building his entire case for power on anti-Labor
hatred and three word slogans.


“Everything about politics, and nothing about policy.


“That’s why the Tories have retreated to their comfort zone today.
Without positive ideas, they’ve been forced to lean heavily on Tony
Abbott’s regressive and punitive personal ideology, one that values
individualism ahead of equity and opportunity.


“The Prime Minister’s negativity did make him a formidable opposition leader, but they make him a pretty bad Prime Minister.


“We now see that negativity is all he ever had. It is his only weapon. He is a one trick Tony.”


And you’ll note Albanese hasn’t even got to the part about Abbott’s broken promises yet. Or the budget.


“You can’t win the battle of ideas if you have no ideas. You can’t
run an economy on three word slogans. You don’t create jobs by saying no
to everything. And you don’t inspire people by misleading them.


“Before the election, the Prime Minister promised no cuts to health,
education, pensions, the ABC or SBS. He promised no new taxes.


“In government he has cut $80 billion from health and education,
slashed funding for the ABC and SBS and created new taxes, whenever
people visit a GP or fill up their car at the petrol bowser.


“Rubbing salt into the wounds, he has since insulted the electorates’
intelligence with Monty Python-esque claims that he hasn’t broken any
promises.”



And at this point, Albanese really got started, zeroing in on the
Coalition’s real weak spot – virtually everything it’s done since it got
in office.


“The Prime Minister is on the wrong side of history, his place
defined not by leadership and forward thinking but by a sad yearning for
a less equal and less progressive past. A place where average
Australians pay a Medicare levy every week, only to be told they have to
pay again to visit a doctor. A place where education is about
entrenching privilege not spreading opportunity. Where climate science
is derided and where a visiting US president’s praise for the splendor
of the Great Barrier Reef is attacked by those opposite as an affront to
our national sovereignty.


“It’s a place where our renewal energy target has been so successful
that it has to be scrapped, where we have only one woman in the cabinet,
where radio shock jocks and partisan newspaper columnists set the
government’s political agenda, where bigotry is a right, where people
communicate over ageing copper wire rather than 21st century fibre, a
place where the long-faded trappings of our colonial past are revived
through the re-introduction of the British honours system.


“The Abbott Government has misread the egalitarian nature of
Australian culture. Australians care about the fair go. Part of what
defines us is a generosity of spirit, one that embraces a sense of
community and common interest.”


Which is all, of course, true.


But you might equally argue that the parliamentary wing of the
Australian Labor Party has misread the electorate too, by installing
Bill Shorten to the leadership position, rather than Albanese.


You might also wonder why this sort of parliamentary theatre is delivered to an empty committee room.


Either way, Albanese’s stirring speech suggests that Labor senses
there’s more than a few drops of Prime Ministerial blood in the water,
and they intend to finally start turning up the heat.


It’s the final sitting week of parliament for 2014… expect things to descend from here.


You can watch the full 10 minute speech on Albanese’s Facebook page here. Albanese moves onto transport and infrastructure, and a brief tirade on the G20.


* New Matilda is an independent Australian media outlet that relies almost entirely on reader subscriptions for its survival. You can help fund New Matilda here. 

SOME THINGS DO NOT CHANGE.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

ALBO , OUR TRUE LEADER
Anthony Albanese MP
Campaigning against the closure of the Medicare office in Marrickville, 1996.
SHARE if you’re against Tony Abbott’s GP Tax.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Where is Labor? – The AIM Network

Where is Labor? – The AIM Network

Where is Labor?

where_are_you

 

The despair at the inaction of Labor is growing louder. The groups
they are supposed to represent are under attack and all we hear is
endless support for Tony Abbott’s warmongering.


Labor have been gifted a first year of Abbott government that has
been so bad that they should be seizing the opportunity to reshape
themselves as a viable alternative but all we hear is “our policies will
be revealed in good time before the next election and they will be
fully costed” or “we aren’t the government”.


A quick look at the last few days news stories provide endless
material that, for some unknown reason, Labor seems too ineffective to
capitalise on.


Our Prime Minister for Women has delivered a budget which modelling shows that the worst hit – by far – will be women in low-income households.


Just as Tony Abbott releases one of his ‘earnest and sincere’ videos
saying that his government’s main motivations in future will be
“protecting the vulnerable”, it might be opportune to point out that
analysis, conducted by the Australia Institute, shows women in the
poorest 20 per cent of households will be $2566 worse off in 2017 as a
result of the budget.  Women in the wealthiest 20 per cent of households
will be only $77 worse off on average in 2017.


Or perhaps, as our Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs jets off on
his long-awaited trip to Arnhem Land, it might be worth mentioning the
report in the SMH saying


Tony Abbott’s takeover of indigenous affairs is in “disarray“,
public service insiders allege, with hundreds of specialist public
servants retrenched, funding and programs stalled and staff morale in
the “doldrums”.

Senior leaders in the Prime Minister and Cabinet department’s
Indigenous Affairs Group have based themselves in Canberra’s dress
circle, nearly 10 kilometres away from their rank-and-file workers, who
are still reeling after repeated restructures to their workplaces.”


Now would be a good time to remind people of how much Tony Abbott has
cut from the Indigenous Affairs budget and how many services are
closing.


“For decades the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) has been providing legal aid
in the remote town of Nhulunbuy, on the northern tip of Arnhem Land, as
well as in the nearby community of Yirrkala and surrounding
outstations.

But the agency is set to close its doors in Nhulunbuy at the end of
the year, in anticipation of severe budget cuts, and is seeking a
meeting with the Prime Minister during his visit.”


With the revelations from ICAC proving just how endemic corruption is
in our political system, now would be a good time to push for a Federal
ICAC.


As Errol Brandt points out at nofibs


“there is a deafening roar from social media calling for
the establishment of a federal ICAC. Not because the public wants cheap
entertainment, but because the revelations in NSW confirm what many have
long suspected: entrenched unethical and illegal behaviour is festering
in our the nation’s political shadowlands.”


Does anyone believe Bill Shorten when he says


“I think we’ve all been shocked at the revelations that
have come out in NSW ICAC… I don’t believe the same case has yet existed
to demonstrate these problems are prevalent in the national political
debate in Australia.”


Rob Oakeshott certainly thinks otherwise as he calls for reform in the area of political donations.


“THE rules are simple: fight the bastards, bankroll the
other side of politics, cause them damage until they learn to ignore
treasury and finance advice and start listening instead to that grubby
leveller in politics – money.

Whether it’s tax or carbon or gaming, this is the policy inertia of
Australia today. Money is beating our long-term standard of living to
death. It has sent many necessary policy reforms to the doghouse, and it
keeps many others on the short chain.

Our key decisions for the future of Australia are now being
outsourced at a level never before seen. Parliamentary democracy is
going through its own sort of privatisation….”


Oakeshott points out the undue influence that wealthy people exert on
political decisions which are no longer made in the best interests of
the people. This is underlined by Gina Rinehart’s latest call for assistance
as iron ore prices fall.  Rather than facing business risk like the
rest of us, she wants the government to change the rules to increase her
profits.


“Mrs Rinehart singled out red tape, approvals and burdens as addressable bureaucratic policies.

“Each one of these adds costs and makes it harder to compete
successfully, risking Australian jobs and revenue,” Mrs Rinehart told
The Australian.  “The government needs to better recognise this and
world conditions, including various falling commodity prices and the
contraction in jobs in Australia’s ­mining and related industries – and
urgently cut bureaucratic ­burdens.”

The government needs to act to help reduce the costs placed on
Australian miners, who are disadvantaged against international
competition, Mrs Rinehart said.

Mrs Rinehart has previously warned that Africa is a much cheaper
investment option, with workers willing to take jobs for $2 per day.

It was estimated at the time that while Mrs Rinehart was talking
about pay rates for African workers, she was earning $600 a second.”


Andrew Wilkie is also angry at the influence of vested interests with Barnaby Joyce promoting the interests of his mates.


“The Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce is reportedly set
to exempt Saudi Arabia from the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System,
which would be the first step in undoing the modest animal welfare reforms of the last parliament.

“This is the government saying loud and clear to overseas markets:
`we don’t care how you slaughter our animals’,’’ Mr Wilkie said. “This
will have horrendous consequences for Australian animals that will be
sent overseas to cruel and shocking deaths with the blessing of the
Australian Government.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the
Australian Government is a pack of sadists who seem to get some sort of
unholy thrill out of knowingly promoting animal cruelty.

Barnaby Joyce in particular is beholden to money and his mates in
that tiny part of the red-meat industry which exports livestock. But
even there he is incompetent because the only way to ensure the red-meat
industry is commercially sustainable over the long term, and have broad
public support, is to end the cruelty.”


As Tony Abbott woos the Chinese in search of a Free Trade Agreement,
someone should warn him that they are likely to impose tariffs on our
exports as they move to an ETS.


“Just two months after Australia trashed its carbon price
because it was “too high” and would “trash the economy”, China has
flagged that its planned carbon trading scheme will cover 40 per cent of
its economy and be worth up to $65 billion.”


Tony Abbott keeps telling us that repealing taxes will create jobs
but, on so many fronts, his actions show little regard for creating
employment.


The main public sector union is demanding urgent talks with the Australian Taxation Office over a proposal to move outsourced backroom functions to Asia.


The CPSU says it is “deeply concerned” after revelations that a giant
multinational contractor wants to take ATO work to the Philippines and
that Health Department work has been going to India for years.


Support for mining and agriculture will do little to help as, at its
peak, the mining sector employed less than 2 per cent of the workforce,
and agriculture, forestry and fishing employs about 3 per cent.


Withdrawing support for the car industry will see a huge number of
job losses with even more for South Australia if the government chooses
to buy Japanese submarines to replace the Collins class fleet.


But at present, the only policy the government has to tackle
unemployment is lowering wage rates by, for example, getting rid of
penalty rates and introducing low junior wages.


As Paul Malone points out


“The conventional response that our tradeable services
will compete successfully on the world stage, significantly adding to
our export income and keeping large numbers of our population employed,
is laughable. If we can sell architecture services via the net, so can
lower paid Indians.

The currently much vaunted sale of education services is in reality
an immigration marketing program, where many students study here in the
hope that they can win the right to live and work here.”


While our students become increasingly concerned about changes that will see them saddled with huge debts, Scott Morrison is busy announcing a new type of visa
that will allow foreign students to come and study diploma courses at
private colleges like the one Frances Abbott attends which has benefited
from a great deal of favourable government legislation since they gave
her a scholarship.


‘The number of international students seeking to study in
Australia continues to rebound positively, with an increase of over 27%
in the number of visas granted to offshore applicants in the 2013/2014
programme year,’ he pointed out.

‘Extending SVP arrangements will help capitalise on these trends,
reducing red tape and helping to attract further students from
overseas,’ he added.

Invitations to participate will be sent to eligible providers in the
second half of 2014. The government proposes to implement this extension
by early 2015, under the stewardship of Michaelia Cash, Assistant
Minister for Immigration and Border Protection.”


Even though small business
is a huge employer, they too have been attacked by the Abbott budget.
It seems only billionaires and global corporations rate a mention
nowadays.


“The Coalition has scrapped the tax concessions linked to
the mining tax, including the company loss carry-back provision, which
allowed loss-making businesses to claim back tax they’d paid in previous
profitable years. Also cut were accelerated depreciation allowances or
asset write-offs.

“The Coalition have said that they would be small business-friendly,
they understand we are the backbone of the economy, that we employ a lot
of people – all those sorts of things – and they would do anything they
could to make sure our lives were easy enough so we could run our
business, and they’ve done the opposite with this decision,” said Peter
Strong, the executive director of the Council of Small Business of
Australia (COSBOA).”


While Abbott talks of growth, he seems to have little idea of how to
achieve it and is actually working against measures to reduce inequality.


“The federal budget took active steps towards increasing
inequality and that sits in stark contrast to the discussions held at
the G20 and now the L20 meetings. Youth unemployment is a critical issue
for the Australian economy but has largely been ignored in favour of a
crackdown on ‘dole bludgers’ and ‘welfare queens’.

There is a clear disconnect between our federal government and the
L20, who are promoting a return to more inclusive growth, which benefits
workers across the income distribution. The L20’s focus is long overdue
— the national income share from wages has been declining for decades —
but it’s a message that has clearly fallen on deaf ears in Australia.”


Abbott tells us that we must be innovative but at the same time cuts
funding to research and ignores the advice of scientists, much to the
chagrine of our chief scientist Ian Chubb.


“In the space of a fortnight we were encouraged to be
advocates for science and then rebuked for “whinging” by a minister who
in the same breath claimed to be on our side. That came as something of a
shock.

Much has been said and written about how Australia punches above our
weight in research and innovation in the past and present. We have in no
way reached our capacity. We need long-term research funding, clear
translational mechanisms and strong links with business. We need more
blue sky research, not less, and we need to figure out smarter ways of
funding and translating it.

Most of all, scientists need allies in parliament, and increasingly
it appears we have none. Acknowledging that isn’t being a “precious
petal”, and it’s not whingeing. These are big-picture issues, these are
long-term issues, these are dreams and ideas about what we think our
country can do and how we can bring it into the future.”


These are just a few of the stories from the last few days yet the
nation, including the Labor Party, have been mesmerised by talk of
terrorism even though there is no discernible threat other than “tens”
of angry young men who our police force already seem to be watching.


If Shorten cannot man up and start presenting some credible
alternatives to the disaster that is our current government then I am
very fearful for our future.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Kiss the ‘fair go’ goodbye: Tony Abbott gives individualism absolute priority

The government is attempting to spark a shift in our national culture – but Australians cannot and won’t be convinced to care less for each other
Tony Abbott
Tony Abbott Photograph: Mark Nolan/Getty Images
Through its policies, budget and rhetoric, the government is attempting to spark a shift in our national culture – one that gives the concept of individualism absolute priority, to the exclusion of any concept of collective interest.
I’ve always been cautious about flag-waving politicians who seek to ascribe to all Australians a common set of values, but there is something very real and unique in the concept of the Fair Go that the current government doesn’t seem to recognise.
There is a generosity of spirit within Australian culture – one that embraces a sense of community and common interest. Australians respect success at the individual level, but they also believe that our society is only as good as the way we treat our most disadvantaged members.
We believe every Australian has a right to health care, equal access to education and a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. We don’t let our pursuit of individual success come at the cost of fairness.
This is the mindset that Abbott and treasurer Joe Hockey challenge with their budget attacks on the disadvantaged and their insistence that people are either “lifters or leaners’’.
At one level, Abbott’s approach is unsurprising because it has failed before. Former prime minister John Howard thought he could change attitudes when he introduced the unfair Work Choices laws industrial relations laws, which emphasised individual workplace bargaining. But by rejecting Work Choices and tossing Howard out of office, Australians voted for a Fair Go.
The surprise in 2014 is that Abbott seeks to extend this creed well beyond industrial relations and into the full range of government activity. The budget undermines policies which enhance equity, presumably on the basis that the government believes Australians can be convinced to care less for others and more for themselves.
For example, while Labor created Medicare as a universal health system, Abbott seeks to undermine it with his new GP tax. While Labor lifted education funding and created the access to tertiary education based upon merit rather than capacity to pay, Abbott has cut spending and wants to make university degrees more expensive by deregulating the sector. Rather than supporting the Fair Go, such reforms entrench privilege.
Labor supports proper indexation of pensions but the government wants to cut pensions. Labor invests in public transport. But Abbott has withdrawn all public transport funding. In his book Battlelines, he wrote that there was no need for any vehicle larger than a car.
Labor believes in helping the jobless with income support and training, while Abbott and his ministers vilify the unemployed and expect jobless school leavers to live on nothing.
Another great example of the lack of generosity is the current campaign to end weekend penalty rates in industries like retailing and hospitality. Unsurprisingly, the vested interests that funded Abbott’s election campaign argue that they are bad for business – but most Australians know that penalties are built into the wage structure of weekend workers. If penalties were removed, hospitality workers would be denied a living wage. Like their American counterparts they would have to rely on tips to get by.
Abolishing penalty rates would also send the worst-possible message to the community about the value we place on the dignity of labour. To me, there is dignity in all work. If we scrap weekend penalty rates, the message we send is that even though shop assistants or hospitality workers are prepared to work hard, they don’t deserve the living wage that we pay to people in other jobs.
If Abbott and his colleagues think that’s fair, they really don’t understand their fellow Australians.
This is an edited extract of a speech Anthony Albanese delivered this week to the national conference of the United Voice union on the Gold Coast

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Labor would give rail its proper place: Albanese

Labor would give rail its proper place: Albanese

Labor would give rail its proper place: Albanese

Shadow infrastructure minister Anthony Albanese is already mapping out policy for a future Labor government, challenging…

Michelle Grattan



Anthony Albanese says a returned Labor government would invest in urban rail.
AAP/Daniel Munoz

Shadow infrastructure minister Anthony Albanese is
already mapping out policy for a future Labor government, challenging in
particular the priority Tony Abbott has given to roads and stipulating
greater collaboration between levels of government.

He says in a speech to an infrastructure conference in Melbourne
today that a returned Labor government would invest in urban rail to
ensure cities have better public transport. This would drive
productivity.

Abbott has scrapped billions of dollars of investment in urban rail
projects including the Melbourne Metro and Brisbane’s Cross-River Rail
project and his preference for roads was also causing states to think
less about rail, Albanese says.

“If the Commonwealth is offering grants for roads but not rail,
there’s a direct incentive to take the money for roads. Premiers with
the good sense to want to invest in rail will get no help from Canberra.
Labor believes in investing in roads and rail.

“We need an integrated system that serves our community and our
economy, not a poll-driven approach that serves the electoral interests
of the government of the day.”

He says an integrated approach needs co-operation between all levels
of government, with the Commonwealth giving leadership to the other
levels in urban policy.

The pressure on cities will increase in coming years with
technological, demographic and workplace changes. “We need to look at
planning, housing affordability, population density, utilities, social
mobility, public housing, recreation and a range of other issues that
bear on the health of our cities.”

Governments should involve stakeholders in infrastructure planning to
harness all available intellectual capacity, Albanese says.
“Regrettably, the Abbott government sees consultation as talking to big
business only.

“Big businessmen have useful contributions to make about
infrastructure, but in many cases they also have financial stakes in the
outcome of deliberations. Labor also wants input from experts in
planning and design, financing and other areas.”

He says also to the forefront in his policy thinking for a possible
second chance at the portfolio is that Australian governments need to do
more to build communities.

“When delivering infrastructure we need to think more about the way that our built environment supports the community.

“In particular, we need to consider how changes bearing down upon us,
including the effects of an ageing population, will affect the way our
communities work.

“We have to guard against social isolation of the elderly, for instance.

“We need to ensure our changing communities have public space and
recreational areas; safe and effective links for pedestrians and
cyclists and mixed-use precincts that include a range of uses that
contribute to the way people experience their lives.”

Blood On Their Hands: The Secret Government Treaties That Helped Kill Chan And Sukumaran — Written by CHRIS GRAHAM

Early this morning, two healthy and well-loved young Australian men – Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran – were taken out into a clearing in an Indonesian forest and shot in the heart, executed by the Republic of Indonesia for their role in an ill-fated 2005 heroin trafficking operation. New Matilda had intended to publish this story in March, but we decided to withhold it after Indonesian president Joko Widodo sought to justify the executions by pointing to a poll conducted by ABC’s Triple J radio station which claimed 52 per cent support among Australians. Chris Graham reports.

If you believe the rhetoric, then Prime Minister Tony Abbott understands the widespread anger at the execution this morning of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, two of the ‘Bali 9’ caught trying to smuggle 8.3kg of heroin out of Denpasar Airport in April 2005.

“I would say to people yes, you are absolutely entitled to be angry, but we’ve got to be very careful to ensure that we do not allow our anger to make a bad situation worse,” Abbott told reporters.

But don’t believe it. It is just rhetoric.

It’s the sort of thing politicians say when they want you to focus on their words, and not their actions.

And it’s not just Abbott. In truth, what our government is saying publicly, and what it, and a succession of governments before it have done quietly, are two very different things.

For despite what both sides of Australian politics will tell you today, Australia does support Indonesia’s policy of executing drug traffickers, and we have done for more than two decades.

There’s one simple reason for this: politics.

Executing drug dealers is popular in Indonesia. A 2006 poll found more than three-quarters of the nation believed that drug dealing should be a capital crime.

Equally, opposing the execution of drug dealers is good politics in Australia, particularly drug dealers who are Australian, and have clearly reformed. It’s the sort of issue that won’t lose a government votes, but might just win them a few.

Of course, Indonesia President Joko Widodo – the man with the power to stop the killings – knows all this. He knows that when Foreign Minister Julie Bishop threatens him with sanctions, they’ll likely be mild, and brief.

Widodo also knows that whatever price Bishop decides to extract – and whatever personal damage he’s done to his relationships with Australian politicians – the storm will pass. The executions are worth their weight in political gold for Widodo.

Above all else, he also knows that when the Australia Government says publicly it opposes the death penalty, privately, it harbours a much more pragmatic view.

Widodo knows this because he has the signatures of multiple Australian officials (some elected, some not) on a succession of treaties (some public, some not) which outline how far Australia is prepared to go in support of Indonesia’s ‘tough on drugs’ approach.

This story is about those treaties, and the bureaucratic and diplomatic weasel words which, two decades ago, helped set in train a political process that would ultimately pave the way for the deaths of Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan.

 

AUSTRALIA’s first treaty with Indonesia was signed way back in 1959, when Robert Menzies was still Prime Minister.

As you might expect, it was linked to trade.

Over the years, Australia’s relations with Indonesia have grown. As we sit today, we’ve notched up just over 200 treaties, and the agreements cover everything from joint efforts to fight terrorism, the construction of roads and bridges to helping Indonesia secure water supplies for poverty stricken populations.

Ironically, one of those water supply treaties was signed in February 1981, just two months before the birth of Myuran Sukumaran. It’s entitled, ‘Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Republic of Indonesia and the Government of Australia relating to the Cilacap Water Supply Project in Indonesia’, and saw Australia tip in $7,000,000 to the project, a very significant foreign aid contribution by 1980s standards.

Cilacap, of course, was the scene of a grim circus yesterday and early this morning. It’s the small-town staging post for families, police and media waiting for the ferry to travel the few hundred metres across a channel to Nusakambangan Island, the final stop for prisoners awaiting execution.

The scene at Cilacap yesterday afternoon. Centre is Sukumaran's mum, Raji, captured by Sky News.

The scene at Cilacap yesterday afternoon. Centre is Sukumaran’s mum, Raji, captured by Sky News.

It was the site of gut-wrenching scenes, as the families of Chan and Sukumaran arrived for their final visit.

But back to the treaties. Australia signed eight of them with Indonesia in 1981, and just one in 1984, the year Chan was born. But by the mid 1990s, the pace had increased considerably, with almost 50 signed by 1995.

The most significant of those – and the one that would underpin the relationship between Australian and Indonesian officials for the next two decades – was signed on October 27, 1995. It’s also the one that ultimately signed Chan and Sukumaran’s death warrant.

It’s called the ‘Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters (Republic of Indonesia)’ Treaty, and it formalizes how Australia and Indonesia would work together to tackle trans-national crime, in particular drug trafficking.

It was Australia’s first major crime fighting treaty with Indonesia, and was hailed at the time as a breakthrough in relations between the two countries.

What wasn’t publicly promoted is that while the treaty states that Australia must refuse any request for assistance from Indonesia if we suspect it relates to “prosecuting or punishing [a] person on account of [their] race, sex, religion, nationality or political opinions….”, on the question of capital punishment for drug traffickers, Australia left the door wide open.

While Australia today officially opposes the death penalty in all circumstances, the Mutual Assistance Treaty (MAT) notes that the Australian Government may assist Indonesia in requests that “relate to the prosecution or punishment of a person for an offence in respect of which the death penalty may be imposed or carried out”.

The MAT was negotiated between the Keating and Suharto governments, Suharto reportedly having a close relationship with Keating, despite the fact Suharto was universally regarded as a brutal dictator, and oversaw the slaughter of more than 100,000 East Timorese and West Papuans.

Enter the Howard government, which, in 1999, passed regulations in Australian Parliament to give legal affect to the agreement negotiated by its predecessor.

Those regulations honour the original treaty, and make clear that Australia was prepared to have a bet each way on Indonesia’s death penalty.

Australia has another series of treaties it has signed with Indonesia, and like the MAT, they also afford plenty of wiggle room for Australian officials to assist Indonesians on capital crimes.

But unlike the MAT, the details of these treaties are not publicly known. They remain a closely guarded state secret.

In 2002, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Indonesian National Police (INP) negotiated a separate treaty detailing how both agencies would work together to tackle trans-national crime. Drug trafficking, in particular, was a focus of the agreement.

The treaty is called, ‘Memorandum of Understanding Between the Government of the Republic of Indonesia and the Government of Australia on Combating Transnational Crime and Developing Police Cooperation’, and was an extension of a similar treaty signed in August 1997.

Every Australian government since Howard has been a signatory to it. It was re-signed by the Howard government in 2005, before the Rudd government re-signed it in 2008, and the Gillard government re-negotiated and re-signed it in 2011.

A spokesperson for the AFP confirmed to New Matilda that although this treaty expired in November last year, it is still in force today.

Requests by New Matilda to access the treaties were denied by the AFP.

“[No documents] will be made publically available as the documents were developed in confidence with a foreign government and their publication would disclose police methodology,” a spokesperson said.

But while we don’t know what’s in them, their timing provides an important backdrop to the Bali 9 case.

On August 31, 2004, Minister for Justice, Chris Ellison wrote to Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty, directing him to forge closer ties with foreign agencies.

Ellison said that one of the expectations of the Howard Government was for the AFP “to be active in pursuing opportunities for cooperation and strategic alliances with… international partners in law enforcement, to support effective action against multi-jurisdictional crime.”

Ellison specifically directed the AFP to give “special emphasis” to “preventing, countering and investigating trans-national and multi-jurisdictional crime [involving] illicit drug trafficking”.

The Bali Nine were captured just seven months after Ellison’s directive.

Seven months after that, on November 19, 2005, Australia renewed the 2002 agreement between the AFP and INP at a ceremony in Jakarta. Despite growing public awareness – and anger – over Australia’s role in the Bali 9’s capture, a ‘treaty database’ maintained by the Indonesian Government reveals the 2005 agreement was renewed without change: “This MoU same renew MoU dated June 13, 2002,” the database reads.

Minister Ellison’s direction to the AFP also ordered the Police Commissioner to ensure his officers “meet Commonwealth interests in a safe and secure Australia by actively fostering relationships with other law enforcement agencies … within Australia and overseas, where the provision and exchange of information is consistent with AFP functions …”

It’s that last phrase – ‘the provision and exchange of information’ – that turned out to be key in the Bali 9 case. It’s also the smoking gun which proves that not only did the Australian government not oppose the executions of Chan and Sukumaran in the early days, but that it worked hard to actively assist.

 

 

CONTRARY to popular belief – Lee Rush, the father of Scott Rush, one of the Bali 9 – was not the cause of his son’s downfall.

Australian media have reported widely that Rush Snr – believing his son was travelling to Bali to commit a crime – dobbed Scott into the AFP, and asked police to prevent him leaving the country.

The story is only partly correct.

Lee Rush did make contact with police, as evidence to a Federal Court case in late 2005 revealed (Scott Rush and three other Bali 9 couriers unsuccessfully tried to sue the AFP, arguing that the AFP owed a duty of care to Australian citizens and that by assisting the Indonesian’s in their arrest, the AFP had exposed them to the death penalty).

Before his son left Australia, Rush Snr rang a friend – a lawyer named Robert Myers, who had acted for Scott Rush in some comparatively minor offences a few months earlier – and asked for his help.

Footage obtained by Channel 10 showing Scott Rush being searched in Denpasar Airport.

Footage obtained by Channel 10 showing Scott Rush being searched in Denpasar Airport.

Myers agreed to contact a cop he knew within the Queensland Police Service, who had been seconded to the AFP. That officer’s name is Damon Patching.

According to the evidence of Myers, Patching promised to make a few calls, and gave Myers an assurance that Scott Rush would either be detained at the airport, or, if that wasn’t possible, he would be warned by police that they knew he was “up to no good”.

Patching arranged to issue a ‘PACE’ alert on Scott Rush, an automated system which triggers a warning to Customs officers if Rush sought to leave the country.

As it turned out, Rush couldn’t be detained at the airport. While he was on bail for minor offences committed in Queensland, his bail conditions didn’t prevent him from travelling overseas.

But not only did the AFP have no legal power to stop Rush from travelling, it also had no inclination, because the syndicate behind the Bali 9 had already been under active investigation for two months.

On the morning of April 8, as Rush was preparing to fly to Bali, that investigation stepped up a notch.

 

 

IT’S WELL known that the AFP assisted the Indonesians in their capture of the Bali 9. But the level of assistance our national police service provided is perhaps not as well understood. In order to get a sense of the scale of the betrayal of Chan and Sukumaran by a nation which claims to oppose the death penalty in all circumstances, it’s worth revisiting.

On April 8, 2005, as Scott Rush and several of the Bali 9 were heading to Sydney airport, the Australian Federal Police were already arranging to have them intercepted at the other end.

AFP Officer Paul Hunniford – the AFP Senior Liaison Officer based in Bali – wrote to a member of the Indonesian National Police (“the INP”) in Denpasar. The document was headed ‘Heroin couriers from Bali to Australia – Currently in Bali’.

Dengan hormat,

The AFP in Australia have received information that a group of persons are allegedly importing a narcotic substance (believed to be Heroin) from Bali to Australia using 8 individual people carrying body packs strapped to their legs and back. More specifically the information received that:

The group planned to conduct an importation in December 2004. The group travelled to Bali in December 2004 but the importation was cancelled because there was not enough money to buy ‘the stuff’ and that they would be travelling again in 3-6 months. The group returned to Australia.

 

The couriers were given instructions not to smoke cigarettes for two weeks prior to travel as they would not be allowed to smoke on the return flight as they may appear nervous. They were to carry body packs (containing white powder) back to Australia by using packs on both legs and the back supports. They were also supplied back supports. The packs were to be tightly taped to the person’s body. Members of the group were given expense money and told to change the money into local currency to allow them to buy oversized clothes and thongs. The clothes and thongs were not to have any metal on them to avoid the metal detectors at the airports. The couriers received pre-paid mobile telephones. On return through Customs they were told to be carried [sic] a wooden carving for declaration to Quarantine to by-pass Customs.

 

COURIERS

YANG, Alice dob 9 Dec 1985
NGUYEN, Thanh Nhan dob 30 Nov 1986
LEE, Francis dob 14 March 1983
CAO, Shaode dob 26 Sep 1986
HUANG, Danny dob 7 Dec 1986
LAU, Ina Yuk Teng 3 Feb 1986
LAWRENCE, Renae 11 Oct 1977
NORMAN, Matthew 17 Sept 1986

 

Enquiries reveal that Andrew CHAN organised travel for some of the December 2004 couriers. Travel movements show that CHAN has travelled previously to Bali in August 2004 (11 days) and October 2004 (7 days).

On Sunday 3 April 2005 CHAN departed Sydney for Denpasar, Bali. His travel itinerary indicates that he is booked to stay at the Hard Rock Café Kuta and is due to return on Friday 15 April 2005.

On Wednesday 6 April 2005 four suspected couriers departed Sydney for Denpasar on AO7829:

 

Renae LAWRENCE bn: 11/10/1977
Matthew NORMAN bn: 17/09/1986
Martin STEPHENS bn: 13/04/1976
Si Yi CHEN bn: 19/03/1985

 

They are due to return to Australia on Friday 15 April 2005, the day after CHAN returns. At this stage it is unknown who is the source of the narcotics in Bali.

About 0900 hrs this date Friday 8 April the AFP have received information that a further 3 suspect couriers departing on Australian Airlines flight no AO7829 to Denpasar. Return date not confirmed at this stage.

 

Tan Duc Thanh NGUYEN bn: 30/10/1982
Michael William CZUGAJ bn: 21/06/1985 (Russian)
Scott Anthony RUSH bn: 03/12/1985

This information – the names, birthdays, dates and locations of the Bali 9, plus a few extras – was passed on to the Indonesian Police by the AFP in the full knowledge that if arrested with drugs, and convicted, each of them could potentially receive the death penalty.

As it would later transpire, six of the Bali 9 did. Chan and Sukumaran, plus Si Yi Chen, Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen, Matthew Norman and Scott Rush were all, at one time, sentenced to death.

In the case of the latter four, they each had their death penalties overturned on appeal, with life sentences in their place.

But the AFP didn’t just limit its co-operation to tipping Indonesia off to names and dates. It also had a number of specific requests.

Request

The AFP would like to identify the source of the drugs and the organisers (other that CHAN) in Australia. We would also like to gain evidence of association between CHAN and the suspected couriers. To do this it I ask that:

1. That the suspected couriers due to arrive this date be oversighted to identify their intended address in Australia.

2. INP obtain as much evidence/intelligence as possible to assist AFP identify the organisers in Australia and source of narcotics in Indonesia.

3. We request surveillance to be carried out on CHAN and the couriers (if possible) until departure.

4. Should they suspect that CHAN and/or the couriers are in possession of drug at the time of their departure that they take what action they deem appropriate.

5. Could INP make enquiries to establish if CHAN is staying at the Hard Rock Hotel and to identify any associates, especially meetings with the above mentioned or the identity of other possible couriers.

6. Could copies of all passenger arrival cards be obtained.

7. Request photos to be taken of any meetings for possible use in proceedings here.

8. If possible obtain phone records of any numbers being called in Australia by either CHAN or the couriers. This may assist AFP identify the organisers in Australia and possible telephone interception.”

In the later correspondence of April 12, Hunniford wrote: “If arrests are made on 14 April it is likely that NYUYEN [sic], CZUGAJ and RUSH will become suspicious of the arrest and decide not to attempt to board the Saturday flight with narcotics. I therefor [sic] request that you consider searching NYUYEN [sic], CZUGAJ and RUSH soon after the first group are intercepted.

But the AFP’s assistance didn’t end there.

After the Bali 9 were arrested, AFP officers continued to provide intelligence and assistance to the INP, despite clear public statements from Indonesian officials that at least some of the Bali 9 would face death.

The details of that assistance are not publicly known.

That’s an extraordinary action for the national police force to take, given it’s serving a country which says it opposes the death penalty. The AFP were able to do it, courtesy of some carefully crafted loopholes in our multiple treaties, and regulations.

For a start, the Mutual Assistance Treaty provides the authority for Australian officials to assist, even in death penalty cases. The MoU signed in 2002 between the police forces also allows for assistance on death penalty cases.

In addition to that, when the AFP is involved in a trans-national criminal matter that may attract the death penalty, officers must operate under what’s called the ‘Death Penalty Charge Guide’. This prevents the AFP from assisting the Indonesians – or any other nation – with the prosecution of an Australian citizen once the person has been charged with a capital crime.

Minister Ellison explained it succinctly in late 2005, amid growing public anger over the role of the AFP.

“Once charges have been laid, you then stop with the police-to-police assistance, and you then act in accordance with the Mutual Assistance Treaty,” Ellison told the ABC.

“Now that means if the Indonesians do require assistance they have to make a formal request under that treaty. It has to come to myself as the Minister for Justice and I then make a decision on the matter.”

Former Justice Minister Chris Ellison, in an ABC Lateline appearance.

Former Justice Minister Chris Ellison, in an ABC Lateline appearance.

Of course, what Ellison neglected to mention – and what the AFP relied on as the loophole – is that unlike Australia, in Indonesia, people accused of a crime aren’t charged until the matter finally proceeds to court.

In the case of the Bali 9, they waited seven months before their first appearances. In addition to the detailed tip-off and request, the AFP also admits to continuing to provide assistance to the Indonesians after the arrests, but before they were formally charged.

Of course, there’s a pay off. If we share intelligence with the Indonesians, the Indonesians will share intelligence with us. And if we deliver up the bodies of a few Australian drug traffickers in the process, who is going to object? Certainly not the Indonesians.

The AFP’s goal in trading the lives of some of the Bali 9 was to get information back from Indonesia about the syndicate kingpins back in Australia. That ultimately never happened, although the syndicate was smashed, and several Australians were sentenced to jail back home.

This horse trading is best summed up by federal agent Mike Phelan, the Deputy Commissioner, National Security for the AFP and the ‘senior officer’ who ultimately gave approval for the Bali 9 to be exposed.

Phelan gave a lengthy interview to the ABC in 2006: “In order for us to enforce the laws in this country we need to be able to work within… an environment where there is free and frank intelligence exchange [with foreign police] and it is a quid pro quo.

“How could people expect the Indonesians, for example, or the Philippines government to supply information to us on terrorism related matters if we were not willing to supply information to them in relation to narcotic matters that reflected and directly affected their own country?”

In the AFP’s defence, they can – and have – claimed that they were simply following orders. After all, Justice Minister Chris Ellison had directed them to foster better working relationships with foreign police forces only months before the Bali 9 were arrested. What better way to build relationships than give the INP a handful of Australians to execute?

Says Phelan: “The guidelines clearly say that the ministerial discretion or government discretion is invoked at the time of charging. The government has made a conscious decision to leave those decisions prior to the charging of offenders to the AFP and we are the ones that discharge that duty. Should the government see fit to have the policy elsewhere then we would operate within that….”

And ultimately, that’s exactly what the Australian government pretended to do. In the words of Stephen Keim SC, patron of Australians Against Capital Punishment: “They tightened the regulations so that you could no longer drive a truck through them. Now you can just drive a car through them, but they’re riding motorbikes.”

 

 

IN POLITICS, if you’re going to tell a lie, then one with weasel words is always easier to defend down the track. That certainly appeared to be the thinking of former Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, in a 2013 opinion piece for The Australian newspaper while he defended the record of his government, and the AFP, over the Bali 9 outrage.

“The AFP were not directly involved with the arrest of the Bali Nine but more broadly, AFP co-operation with the Indonesian authorities is important to Indonesia’s anti-drug campaign,” Downer wrote.

The Labor Party has also played its part in muddying the waters in the minds of the public.

In 2005, Labor tried to make political mileage out of the Bali 9 issue by attacking the Howard government for the operation of the Mutual Assistance Treaty, an agreement Labor had negotiated just 10 years earlier.

Then opposition justice spokesman, Joe Ludwig claimed Ellison didn’t even understand the treaty, and called for a review of its operations.

But two years later, and back in government, there was no change. According to the Indonesian treaty database, Labor simply re-signed the 2008 treaty: “This MoU replaces the same MoU signed 18 November 2005,” it reads.

More recently, Labor has been quick to make public comment on pleas for clemency, but not so willing to answer questions about its own Bali 9 role.

Earlier this week, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten issued a statement condemning the death penalty.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten. Tanya Plibersek is pictured bottom right.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten. Tanya Plibersek is pictured bottom right.

“We oppose the death penalty in every circumstance, in every country,” Shorten said.

So New Matilda sought comment on why his party signed multiple treaties which still allow Australian police to assist in the conviction of capital crimes.

Shorten’s office referred us Tanya Plibersek, the shadow minister for Foreign Affairs.

Plibersek’s office also declined to answer the questions, referring us instead to shadow Attorney General Mark Dreyfus (although Plibersek seems to be well across Labor’s ‘talking points’, also telling media, “We are united in opposing the death penalty in this case as we are in every case.”)

Dreyfus’ office also declined to answer the questions, and referred New Matilda to public comments already made by Plibersek.

It seems there’s political mileage in opposing the death penalty, but none in explaining your role in it.

For their part, the AFP also remains unrepentant about their role in the arrests and convictions of Chan, Sukumaran and the rest of the Bali 9.

Just like the loophole the AFP used over Indonesia’s lengthy charge process, the AFP also took to hiding behind ongoing diplomatic efforts to save the lives of Chan and Sukumaran, in order to avoid public scrutiny over their actions.

In a speech to the Lowy Institute earlier this year, the new Commissioner of the AFP, Andrew Colvin (appointed in October 2014) publicly denied his agency had “blood on its hands” over Chan and Sukumaran. But he was reticent to talk in too much detail.

“While the government’s efforts are continuing, now is not the time for me to go into that.”

If Commissioner Colvin was silent on explaining the actions of his organisation, he managed to find voice in defending it, declaring that “several reviews and judicial hearings that have scrutinized the AFP’s actions”.

That one is straight from the Downer playbook.

While it’s true that the AFP won their case in the Federal Court, and were found to have acted legally, Justice Finn used his opening statement in his judgment to make clear that he was troubled by the actions and processes of both the AFP and the government.

“The circumstances revealed in this [court case]… suggest there is a need for the Minister… and the Commissioner of Police to address the procedures and protocols followed by members of the Australian Federal Police when providing information to the police forces of another country in circumstances which predictably could result in the charging of a person with an offence that would expose that person to the risk of the death penalty in that country.

“Especially is this so where the person concerned is an Australian citizen and the information is provided in the course of a request being made by the AFP for assistance from that other country’s police force.”

Just a few months after Justice Finn’s decision in 2006, Mike Phelan, the now Deputy AFP Commissioner who okayed the handover of information to Indonesia on the Bali 9, told the ABC Justice Finn’s views would be “taken into account”.

And then he added this: “Even with the aid of hindsight, should the same set of circumstances present themselves again with another syndicate or other people, we would do exactly the same thing … there have also been a large number of young lives on the other side of the ledger that have been saved as a result of the AFP’s operations over many years.”

One wonders how that squares with Phelan’s appearance, along with that of his boss Mike Keeltly, as a witness for Scott Rush in his successful appeal against his death sentence.

Channel 10 footage of Mike Phelan's appearance at the appeal of Scott Rush.

Channel 10 footage of Mike Phelan’s appearance at the appeal of Scott Rush.

One also wonders how Mike Phelan is feeling this morning.

We tried to find out, but AFP media advised he was “unavailable for comment” and that this morning was “not an appropriate time”.

The AFP is planning to stage a press conference later today, although it’s not clear yet if Phelan will be attending.

Despite the AFP’s continued insistence it has no blood on its hands, one government – Gillard’s – finally did move to tighten regulations around police assistance on death penalty cases.

Previously, if the AFP were considering passing on information about a crime that could attract the death penalty, it had to be approved by a ‘senior officer’.

Today, the AFP must notify an ‘even more senior officer’ – someone at the “Manager/SES Level 1” and above. Someone like Mike Phelan, for example.

The Gillard government also pretended to close the loophole used by the AFP around the lengthy time it takes Indonesia (and other nations) to formally charge someone who has been arrested.

A spokesperson for the AFP advised: “Currently… Ministerial approval is required in any case in which a person has been arrested or detained for, charged with, or convicted of an offence which carries the death penalty.”

It’s perhaps not all that hard to imagine that the families of Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan will find little comfort in the changes, namely that Australia can now only choose to support the death penalty at the senior bureaucrat and Ministerial level, as opposed to more junior bureaucratic ranks.

 

 

IT IS a terrible thing to take a human life. Drugs do that every day, a fact that should not be lost on anyone contemplating the crimes of the Bali Nine.

But for those crimes, two of them have now paid with their lives.

Shortly after 3:30am AEST this morning, Chan, aged 31, and Sukumaran, aged 34, were taken from the prison on Nusakambangan Island, to a nearby clearing.

We don’t know if the men chose to sit or stand, and face the firing squad with their eyes open, or wear a hood or blindfold. But Sukumaran told friends he intended to refuse the blindfold, and stare his killers in the eye.

Whatever his choice, 12 men with assault rifles then lined up before them, between five and 10 metres away. Three of those gunmen were sporting live rounds, the others had blanks, so that none of them will ever know for sure who fired the fatal shots.

A target was pinned to the chests’ of Chan and Sukumaran, and they were shot.

What is also not yet known is whether either of the men required an extra bullet to finish the job. That’s the part of Indonesia’s brutal death protocol which requires that if a condemned prison hasn’t bled to death within a few minutes, an official must step forward and shoot him in the head.

Whatever happened, however they died, the lives of Chan and Sukumaran were snuffed out this morning, like that of wild animals in the bush.

That is what the Australian Federal Police – under instructions from successive Australian governments – aided and abetted.

Tony Abbott was right to say this morning that we are “absolutely entitled to be angry” but the question remains, angry at who?

Should we be angry with the Indonesian government, which, when you boil it all down, is following the letter of their law? Or should we be angry at successive Australian Governments, which have spent the past two decades looking for ways around ours?

In the not-too-distant future, of course, little of this will matter to anyone beyond the families and close friends of Myuran and Andrew.

We will have all moved on, and the issue will once more disappear off our front pages.

That is, until the next time. Because the Australian legislation, regulations and treaties that helped paved the way for the legal homicide of two Australian citizens this morning, remain in place today.

* New Matilda is a small, independent Australian media outlet. This sort of reporting is extremely labour intensive, so if you appreciated it, please consider subscribing here, or just slinging us a few bucks here. You can also support our work by sharing this story on social media (see the icons below).

– See more at: https://newmatilda.com/2015/04/29/blood-their-hands-secret-government-treaties-helped-kill-chan-and-sukumaran#sthash.L71Fb9tJ.dpuf

State sanctioned murder – Written by BRUCE HAIGH

 29 April 2015

POLITICALREPORTER
Buzzfeed political reporter Alex Lee with a plea for mercy in the last hours before the execution (Image via @alex_c_lee / buzzfeed.com.au)

Joko Widodo’s decision to senselessly execute foreigners is about strengthening his political base at the expense of international relations — so he should be taught a lesson, says retired diplomat Bruce Haigh.

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran are dead — shot for a crime that no doubt deserved a gaol term but not the death penalty.

The contradiction between Indonesia’s position relating to the death penalty imposed on its own citizens sentenced to death off shore and its domestic attitude to imposing the death penalty have been widely canvassed and discussed. There is no logic in the Indonesian position. The only conclusion that can be drawn in view of their vigorous lobbying for reprieve of the death sentence in countries such as Saudi Arabia is that Chan and Sukumaran are hostages to the political fortunes of Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Indonesian law has little to do with it. The former President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, was prepared to accept this aspect of Indonesian law in the breach; Joko Widodo could have granted a pardon.

There are some who say Australia should accept that the imposition of the death penalty on the two Australian’s is a matter of Indonesian law within the framework of Indonesian sovereignty. That is a bit rich when Australia opposes the death penalty. It avoids addressing the issue of a fundamental injustice all in the name of preserving Australian/Indonesian relations. Avoiding issues will not strengthen the relationship amply demonstrated by the East Timor fiasco.

The Australian Government and its advisers are hoping to minimise the impact of this prolonged process, in itself cruel and inhumane, on the bilateral relationship. Good luck to them. There will be considerable public anger from both the left and the right — the former driven by concern for human rights and natural justice, the latter by racism, jingoism and twisted nationalism.

Policy may well be driven by popular reaction.

These deaths could become a touchstone every time there is a problem in the relationship. This state sanctioned murder could fester away. It could become the regional version of the execution of Breaker Morant.

It seems likely that Widodo, fixed as he is on strengthening his weak political base, has been prepared to ignore international reaction or, more likely, hasn’t a handle on international relations. That being the case, he should be given a lesson. Any reaction by the international community, including Australia, will be salutary but not terminal in terms of the relationship. On past experience recovery time will be measured in months not years. In any case even when there have been prolonged lows in the past, business has gone on, if nothing else Indonesians are pragmatic.

The official reaction of recalling the Australian Ambassador demonstrates that we do not like having our representations ignored, that we are concerned that due process under Indonesian law did not occur and that serious allegations of corruption were not investigated before the death penalty was carried out. The recall indicates that Australia is not a walk over, which of course it is.

We do not occupy the moral high ground; we have broken Indonesian law and transgressed their sovereignty with respect to turning back the boats of asylum seekers. We have failed to engage over processing the increasing number of asylum seekers in Indonesian. The Indonesian elite have little respect for our current crop of federal politicians. Had Abbott a skerrick of nous and style he might have been able to negotiate with Joko Widido over Chan and Sukumaran, but he has long been written off internationally, regionally and domestically.

The deaths of course were preventable. The AFP should never have shopped them and having done so they should have done everything in their power to overturn this outcome.

But they didn’t because their writ is to deal with the corrupt Indonesian police, naval and army personnel to prevent boats coming to Australia. They are embedded; they are almost part of the system. We need to know why the AFP shopped the nine. The involvement of the AFP in these executions needs investigation.

Chan and Sukumaran are victims of an incomplete and flawed relationship that Australia maintains with Indonesia. If Indonesia had been colonised by the British and spoke English and played cricket the relationship would be substantially different. It wasn’t and it requires work, commitment and understanding. It requires Bahasa to be taught in our schools, it requires insular and inward looking Australian politicians to travel within the archipelago as frequently as they do to Europe. With the exception of Julie Bishop and Tanya Plibersek, the current political class does not do regional diplomacy very well.

If Australia wishes a permanent reminder of the injustice of what has taken place and also a beacon to the future it should establish a scholarship scheme in the name of Chan and Sukumaran for young people of both countries to travel and study in either country.

Bruce Haigh is a political commentator and retired diplomat. You can follow him on Twitter @BruceHaigh2.

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via State sanctioned murder.