Behind terror

November 17th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Australia’s Grand Mufti has unhelpfully diagnosed the ‘causative factors’ behind Friday’s atrocities.

He claims they are “racism, Islamophobia, curtailing freedoms through securitisation, duplicitous foreign policies and military intervention.”

ISIS, on the other hand, claims the soldiers of the Caliphate targeted Paris because it was ‘the capital of prostitution and obscenity, the carrier of the banner of the Cross in Europe.’

In today’s The Australian I write that attempts to rationalise the behaviour of these demented people serves only to dilute their guilt.

It is enough to say simply that they are our enemy. They are enraged by everything civilised people stand for and claim the authority of Allah to reap carnage in crowded restaurants, streets and concert halls. There is nothing to negotiate; we just wish them dead.


Insulting voters won’t win elections

October 27th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Will slagging off same-sex marriage opponents as gay-haters make Bill Shorten more popular? One suspects not. Identity politics is best left to protest parties such as the Greens.

As I write in The Australian today:

Outside the inner city, the political class’s sudden obsession with gay marriage must seem strange. Why has it suddenly become the burning moral issue of our time? Why should it take precedence in debate over, say, the injustice of indigenous ill-health? What puts the assumed rights of gays to tie the knot ahead of the right of an Aboriginal child to a decent start in life?

One wonders what Chris Bowen’s constituents might make of it all in the western Sydney seat of McMahon. Tanya Plibersek’s electorate of Sydney was home to 2068 cohabiting male couples on the night of the 2011 census. In McMahon there were just 25.


The concentration of same sex couples in inner-city electorates is not surprising.  But it does help explain why same-sex marriage is high on the media’s agenda. The federal electorates favoured by same-sex couple closely matches those where journalists live.

Same-sex couples: Top five seats
Federal Seat Male Female Total
Sydney 2068 598 2666
Grayndler 744 745 1489
Wentworth 1105 219 1324
Melbourne 759 388 1147
Melbourne Ports 701 241 942
Same-sex couples: Lowest five seats
Federal Seat Male Female Total
Grey 21 40 61
Aston 17 41 58
Braddon 26 31 57
Fowler 29 25 54
McMahon 25 26 51

Source: ABS 2011 Census





Back to the future

October 20th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 4.56.01 amBill Shorten’s “referendum on the future” is a laboured attempt to put present challenges aside and cast a veil over its former troubles, I write in The Australian this morning.

Sooner or later Labor will have to seek treatment for its spending habit, but for now it’s behaving like Amy Winehouse. They tried to make it go to rehab, but it says no, no, no. Back to Black? Maybe sometime next century.



The Sofronoff Inquiry

October 18th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Thanks to the diligent work of Walter Sofronoff’s inquiry, we at last have a believable account of the catastrophic flood that drowned 12 people in the town of Grantham on January 10, 2011. It differs substantially from the account that had been accepted as fact until now and vindicates those who called for an independent inquiry.

Commissioner Walter Sofronoff’s report confirms eye-witness accounts of a breakout of floodwater from the entrance to Grantham Quarry that was ignored by the first inquiry.

The study by Dr John Macintosh commissioned by the Sofronoff inquiry found that earthworks at the quarry exacerbated the flood, rather than attenuate it as the Holmes inquiry concluded. Sofronoff’s report concludes that a railway embankment prevented flood waters from dispersing naturally across the flood plain. Instead, it helped funnel water towards the area of Grantham which lies north of the Gatton-Helidon Road where all the deaths occurred.

The crucial question, however, is whether the interruption of the natural flow of the creek by man-made structures played a critical role in the destruction of Grantham and whether the tragic deaths were unavoidable.

On the basis of computer modeling and other expert evidence, Sofronoff concludes that while the man-made structures altered the course of the flood, they did not significantly add to the devastation.

Sofronoff acknowledges in his report: “The modelling is not reality. It is an approximation of reality and will rarely exactly match reality in all respects.” Unlike the first inquiry, however, Sofronoff went to considerable lengths to check computer modeling against physical evidence.

In my view, the commissioner made the only finding open to him on the basis of the evidence before him, and here the matter must rest. We are bound to accept his findings.

Commissioner Sofronoff has conducted the independent inquiry many of us had been demanding with thoroughness and sensitivity. The community owes him a debt of gratitude.


Refugees, Rights and Wreckers

October 8th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Citizenship is surely worth more than a flag of convenience hoisted at the stern of a Monrovian-registered freighter, I write in this month’s Quadrant.

rena-stern-angle-Jan_2012.jpg 620×413 pixels


The romantics who set the terms of much of the immigration debate are enthralled with diversity. They consider it a virtue to declare oneself a citizen of the world. The influx of the supposed dispossessed amounts to the cleansing of the colonial soul, the overturning of tyranny and the revenge of the oppressed.

In practical terms, however, the clash of languages, cultures and peoples strains the social fabric…  A multicultural nation is by definition one which lacks a shared historical core.

The state-funded multicultural industry encourages the formation of ethnic fiefdoms with vested interests in favour of sectarianism. Human rights bodies harvest grievances and reinforce the state of victimhood. Institutional bias quickly develops; the emphasis is on difference rather than the ties that bind.


The Martian versus the zeitgeist

October 6th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

martian2015.jpg 1,008×1,494 pixelsBehind the drama and suspense of The Martian lurks a deeply subversive message for our eco-anxious times: taming a planet is a good thing to do.

Ridley Scott’s movie offers welcome relief from the fatalism that has darkened the screens of late. In a battle between the human race and the forces of nature, our collective ingenuity, industry and mettle will succeed in the end.




Truthiness The Age and the super snatchers

October 6th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

What are we to make of The Age‘s splash on Friday? Apart from the fact that it’s claptrap?

The Fairfax tabloid claimed the Government had “reached in-principle agreement with unions, employers and welfare organisations to reduce a raft of tax breaks, including negative gearing and superannuation concessions, that primarily benefit the rich”.

I confess I hadn’t read it when Waleed Aly called me to discuss the issue on ABC 774 (approx 5 mins in). If only I had. It was an example of what Steven Colbert calls “truthiness”, a story lacking factual support that the writer thinks ought to be true.


Illustration: Eric Lobbecke, The Australian

The fear that the unscrupulous rich are rorting their super has developed into full-blown moral panic, I write in The Australian this morning.

The imagined inequities of the system are discussed ad nau­seam at polite dinner parties, overtaking public subsidies for private education as the wrong that must be righted…

As sociologist Howard S. Becker wrote in 1964, the moral crusader “feels that nothing can be right in the world until rules are made to correct it”.

“He operates with an absolute ethic; what he sees is truly and ­totally evil with no qualification. Any means is justified to do away with it.”


Breaking the consensus

October 2nd, 2015 | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

image“Consensus is the word you use we you cannot get agreement,” Margaret Thatcher said in 1981.

Consensus seeking has once again become popular in politics. I believe we instead seek common ground – which is quite a different thing.

Thatcher made her remarks at Monash Universirty, Melbourne, when giving the Sir Robert Menzies Lecture on October 6, 1981.

“I count myself among those politicians who operate from conviction,” she said.

“For me pragmatism is not enough. Nor is that fashionable word consensus. When I asked one of my Commonwealth colleagues at this conference why he kept saying that there was a consensus on a certain matter another replied in a flash “Consensus is the word you use when you cannot get agreement”.

To me consensus seems to be the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies in search of something in which no one believes but to which no one objects. It is the process of avoiding the very issues that have to be solved merely because one cannot get agreement on the way ahead. What great cause could have been fought and won under the banner “I stand for consensus”?


A deficit of dignity

September 30th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 6.32.35 pmIn 1971, one in 16 families with dependent children was a parent short of a couple. Now it’s one in six. Surely not even the most steadfast social engineer would consider this to be progress, I write in The Australian this week.


Plumbers versus lawyers: An update

September 28th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Lawyers outnumber plumbers by 15 to one in Joe Hockey’s seat of North Sydney, I noted in The Australian last week.

Kenny (Shane Jacobson) from the 2006 movie

Kenny (Shane Jacobson) from the 2006 movie

As an indicator of the social, cultural and political divide in contemporary Australia, the lawyer-to-plumber ratio is as good as any.

The Kenny Index shows that there are at least twice any many lawyers as plumbers in 21 out of 150 federal lower house electorates.

They are, I suggest, the seats where the Liberal’s new leader Malcolm Turnbull is likely to prove most effective.