Archive for October, 2015

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.



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”?