Thanks Mr Shorten, we’ll get back to you on that.

January 27th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

 

Will Bill Shorten be able to get as far as an election without being forced to address the structural fiscal crisis?

Illustration: Sturt Krygsman, The Australian

Illustration: Sturt Krygsman, The Australian

So far, as I write in The Australian today, Labor under Shorten appears to suggest that the government is just making the debt problem up as an excuse to be mean to poor people.

It is hard to believe that he’ll be able to get away with this for long. But then again, journalists seldom challenge the Leader of the Opposition. The words “debt” and “deficit” have not appeared in Bill Shorten’s official interview transcripts for almost eight weeks. Not, in fact, since Leigh Sales gave him a touch-up on ABC’s 7.30 on December 3.

The transcript is worth reading. Shorten’s response, as abridged by Bill Leak in a memorable cartoon this month, ran as follows:

“We’ve got to go for growth, and the way you go for growth is you spend money … if you’ve got growth you’re creating national wealth then a lot of pressure comes off the budget so what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to built the infrastructure of the future … you’ve got to have the skills and training of the future … it’s about the future… if you don’t know where you’re going any road will get you there.”

FULL COLUMN 

Also in The Australian today, the Opposition’s Andrew Leigh suggests Labor tax its way back to surplus:

Since coming to office, the Abbott Government has thrown out significant sources of revenue like the carbon price and the mining tax…  If Mr Abbott and Mr Hockey had made more sensible decisions on all these fronts, today’s budget outlook would likely be much less bleak…

The bottom line is this: if the Abbott Government hadn’t scrapped the carbon price and the mining tax while splashing out on an unfair parental leave scheme and an ineffective carbon plan, the budget would be comfortably back in surplus in 2017-18.

 

 

 

 

 

Shirtfronted

January 21st, 2015 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

A bloke in a checked shirt takes issue with my dreary column about Bill Shorten and frightbat feminists. He complains in The Guardian:

Screenshot 2015-01-21 06.08.34What do the Australian’s columnist Nick Cater, video game hate group #Gamergate, Norwegian mass shooter Anders Breivik and random blokes on YouTube have in common? Apart from anything else, they have all invoked the spectre of “cultural Marxism” to account for things they disapprove of – things like Islamic immigrant communities, feminism and, er, opposition leader Bill Shorten.

To everyone who has clicked through to my blog over the last couple of days via The Guardian‘s handy link, welcome.

Screenshot 2015-01-21 06.58.27‘It takes a fair bit to offend me these days but Nick Cater’s new book The Lucky Culture and the Rise of an Australian Ruling Class has done the trick.’ 

Mark Latham

 

 

 

 

 

Friends of the fishes

January 21st, 2015 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

The eco-creeps seem determined to turn Queensland into the place where the people of La La Land go for their sunshine break, I write in The Australian this week.

Their spurious campaign to link the preservation of the Great Barrier Reef with mining in the Galilee Basin is infecting the Queensland State Election with a dishonest crusade by GetUp! to unseat Campbell Newman.

Illustration: Sturt Krygsman, The Australian

Illustration: Sturt Krygsman, The Australian

The campaign to make Labor the party that supports coral and brightly coloured fish is as absurd as it is disingenuous. Palaszczuk has pledged to stop dredging spoil being dumped in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, but how is another question. The High Court’s December 1975 ruling on Gough Whitlam’s Seas and Submerged Lands Act locates the continental shelf under commonwealth, not state, jurisdiction. In any case, since Tony Abbott’s government promises to introduce its own legislation to that effect, Palaszczuk’s gesture is pure moral posturing…

Labor is investing heavily to build its reputation as the saviour of the reef, guessing that it will play well in the gentrified suburbs of Brisbane, including Ashgrove, where the Premier is struggling to retain his seat. It is a dangerous game that obliges Labor to enter a shadow alliance with ecological warriors who want to destroy the state’s coal industry, and much more besides.

GetUp!’s effective endorsement of Annastacia Palaszczuk is absurd when you consider that it was a Labor government that opened the Galilee Basin to miners and pushed the expansion of the Abbot Point coal loading terminal:

Beattie and Bligh, despite their thriftless habits, understood that wealth had to be created, not just redistributed. They recognised that Queensland was sitting on some of the greatest untapped coal reserves in the world, allocating tenements in the Galilee Basin and announcing plans to expand the coal terminal at Abbot Point.

In June 2011, Bligh announced a $6.2 billion expansion, with a capacity to ship almost 300 million tonnes a year. Six months later, she went further, announcing that Abbot Point would be supersized to a $9 billion project producing 400 billion tonnes of coal and loading 1300 ships a year.

The Labor government in Canberra bent over backwards to help, making 33 of the 34 approval decisions the development needed. Infrastructure minister Anthony Albanese told the ABC it was one of the best industrial developments he had ever seen.

Memo to Palaszczuk: the Greenies are not your friends. Labor’s job is to support jobs and prosperity, the very thing the eco-warriors want to stop.

FULL COLUMN

 

Backlash? What Backlash?

January 14th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Clooney at the Golden Globes

Clooney at the Golden Globes

Brendan O’Neill pulls apart the contrived theory of Islamphobia today in Spiked! He’s right: it’s not Islmaphobia that George Clooney should fear, but Islamism itself.

 

… as the bodies of the four Jews were being prepared for the flight to Israel, George Clooney told a bunch of fawning journos how worried he is about ‘anti-Muslim fervour’ in Europe. It’s surreal; real through-the-looking-glass stuff.

 

The cognoscenti nightmare of the backlash that never comes muddies our thinking on Islamism, says O’Neill.

If Europe really wants to pay tribute to the journalists and cartoonists massacred in Paris last week, it could do worse than ditch the term ‘Islamophobia’. For this empty, cynical, elitist phrase, this multicultural conceit, has done an untold amount to promote the idea that ridiculing other people’s beliefs and cultures is a bad thing. In fact, the widely used but little thought-on i-word has pathologised the very act of making a judgement. It has turned the totally legitimate conviction that some belief systems are inferior to others into a swirling, irrational fear — a phobia — worthy of condemnation and maybe even investigation by officials…

Europe… is so riven by relativism, so allergic to making moral judgements, that even saying ‘Islamic values are not as good as Enlightenment values’ is now treated as evidence of a warped, sinful mind, as a crime, effectively.

Daniel Pipes in The Australian today says the Islamists cannot win:

In sum, self-indulgence and strategic ineptitude are the hallmarks the Islamist campaign. The catastrophe of the Islamist program is matched by the ineptitude of its tactics. I conclude, its fate will be the same dust-heap of history where fascism and communism can be found.

Like those two other totalitarianisms, it promises terrible destruction and many deaths before ultimately failing. The war will be long and painful but in the end, again, the forces of civilisation will vanquish those of barbarism.

READ O’NEILL IN FULL

READ PIPES IN FULL

The world after Charlie

January 13th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Islam struggles with pluralism – the simple ability to live and let live. That much is clear from last week’s slaughter at the offices of the satirical weekly, Charlie Hebdo, I write in The Australian today.

Illustration: Sturt Krygsman, The Australian

Illustration: Sturt Krygsman, The Australian

The slaughter at Charlie Hebdo, more than any other jihadist attack on a Western target, has illuminated the fault line that divides Islamism from the rest. The enemies of harmony in France were not Marine Le Pen and her chums in the French National Front but the jihadists themselves. It was they who sought to punish free speech with bullets, they who shot men armed only with pens and they who targeted shoppers in a Kosher supermarket because they hated Jews.

The Islamists forgo the right to membership of the civilised world not because of their exoticism but because of their intolerance.

Unlike other major religions, Islam in its fundamentalist form cannot simply live and let live. It despises personal liberty and cannot cope with pluralism.

The rough justice prescribed for infidels across significant parts of the Muslim world tells of a faith that has little capacity for diversity. The act of apostasy — the renunciation of one’s religion — is a criminal offence in 23 Muslim countries.

FULL COLUMN

Cartoon of the year?

January 6th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

leakBill Leak in The Australian yesterday.

Making friends with the frightbats

January 5th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

 

Eric Lobbecke's illustration  in The Australian

Eric Lobbecke’s illustration in The Australian

Ever since Julia Gillard’s dishonest attack on Tony Abbott’s alleged sexism took off on YouTube and the compilers of the Macquarie Dictionary devalued their brand by redefining the word misogyny, Labor has appeared convinced that feminism is a political trump card, I write in Tuesday’s The Australian.

The worker’s party has become the warm and fuzzy party. It struggles to explain how to fix the budget but rest assured that once Labor is back in power Australia will be a fairer, more compassionate and more inclusive place.

Gender equity seems at first glance to be a natural fit for the self-styled party of virtue. Yet a fairer deal for the fairer sex (undoubtedly we’re not allowed to call them that) has been a bipartisan aim for as long as anyone can remember. The legal and institutional barriers to equality fell long ago and if, perchance, some residue of gender prejudice was discovered in the statute books, it would be removed without fuss.

To differentiate its product, Labor has made the dangerous leap from practical politics to the ideologically charged language of modern Feminism. It is siding with a crowd not content to merely improve the world; they think they have the formula to fix it.

FULL STORY

 

Stop Press: Fat may actually be good for you

December 30th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

More than half a century since nutritionists began their anti-fat crusade, there is still no conclusive evidence that lowering consumption of saturated fats reduces the risk of hear disease, I write in The Australian today.

The story of a hypothesis that simply refuses to stand up is catalogued in The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet.

The demonisation of fat has altered Western diets conspicuously in the past 50 years without any solid evidence that eating less animal fats actually makes you healthier.

There is little doubt that lowering consumption of saturated fat will reduce cholesterol levels in the bloodstream, but scientists have yet to demonstrate that you are less likely to die as a result. Unlike the link between cigarettes, cancer and coronaries, the case against saturated fat is unproven.

Worse still, claims Teicholz, the increased consumption of processed, carbohydrate-laden food that came with jumping aboard the cholesterol bandwagon has made us fatter, increased the likelihood of diabetes and raised our blood pressure. 

Correlation is not causation, and the relationship between nutrition and health is complex. If nutritionists have made a mistake, however, Teicholz says it will have been a monumental one. “Measured just by death and disease, and not including the millions of lives derailed by excess weight and obesity, it’s very possible that the course of nutrition advice over the past 60 years has taken an unparalleled toll on human history,” Teicholz writes.

“It now appears that since 1961, the entire American population has, indeed, been subjected to a mass experiment, and the results have clearly been a failure. Every reliable indicator of good health isworsened by a low-fat diet.”

FULL STORY

 

Offending the politically correct

December 28th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

In The Sunday Times today, I discuss the Prime Minister’s latest brush with modern feminists.

Surveys of social attitudes in Australia suggest Tony Abbott was right to claim that women are more focused on household budgets than men.

The government’s official advice on workplace diversity says women control or influence 72%of spending in the household budget. Paradoxically, however, the percentage of Australians who think that not enough is being done to extend equal opportunities to women has increased substantially in the past 25 years.

A national survey in 1990 found that barely a quarter of Australians wanted more to be done to promote equal opportunities for women. The same survey last year found that almost half the population was frustrated about the rate of change.

FULL ARTICLE

 

Struggling with the I-word

December 23rd, 2014 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

ABC PM presenter David Marks hesitates about calling Man Haron Monis an Islamist but is happy to call him nuts, I write in The Australian today.

“His lawyer believes he was damaged, others that he was possibly mentally ill,” said Mark. “What are we to call this? Was this an act of terrorism or was this just the act of a disgruntled and bitter man, possibly with mental health issues?”

By describing Monis as a man with “issues” rather than a foaming, frenzied lunatic, Mark was clearly treading carefully. Not carefully enough, however, for the mental health sector, which by Thursday was up in arms. “The caricatures about this man as having a mental illness is actually having an impact upon people in our community,” Hunter Institute of Mental Health director Jaelea Skehan complained to PM’sLexi Metherell. “People are trying to demonise not only the person but many other people in the community through their use of language and the assumptions that are being made.”

Demonisation, and the avoidance thereof, has become a trap for young players in the political correctness caper. To avoid offending one minority group — Muslims, for example — we risk offending another; say, the mentally ill. Since the hierarchy of victimhood is such a fraught and complicated business we’re inclined to say nothing at all.

FULL COLUMN