Looking to Asia for guidance on gay marriage is a stupid idea

Senator Eric Abetz has suggested that in deciding the question of gay marriage Australians should look to their Asian neighbours, none of whom have legalised gay marriage. His argument being that as we are a part of Asia, we should follow Asia’s example.

Eric Abetz thinks we should take our lead from Asia on gay marriage. Why? Because it's closer.

Eric Abetz thinks we should take our lead from Asia on gay marriage. Why? Because it’s closer.

This falls into the category of ideas that are so stupid they are almost impossible to refute.

Anyhow, here goes.

While we are increasing our cultural and economic ties with Asia, we are still much more in common with the culture and politics of the European traditions and countries such as Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, New Zealand, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, United Nations, United States, and Uruguay where gay marriage is legal.

If we take look at some of our Asian neighbours, we see some examples of pretty undesirable social and political systems.The important point is certainly knew these countries civil rights and liberties are extremely restricted, one of those restrictions is that placed on gay marriage. Abetz is wrong to suggest that we should look to countries whose civil rights records are appallingly bad.

Gay marriage is not legal in North Korea, but that’s hardly an argument against gay marriage.

It’s not legal in Burma, but that’s a military dictatorship.

Nor is it legal in Vietnam (a Communist dictatorship).

It is certainly not legal in Malaysia where allegations of homosexuality are used to jail opposition leaders.

Abetz is employing a technique that is used by the climate deniers And any other members of the flat Earth Society who seek to deny the most obvious and often scientifically proven positions: say something really stupid and serious people will try to point out where you are wrong.

You can keep saying stupid things for a very long time and they will become preoccupied with trying to correct your thinking.  They miss the point. It’s not what you’re thinking its obstructionist tactics at the employing the important. But what this does is effectively slow down the debate and hinder any social or legislative progress.

When blocking Bill Shorten’s attempt to move the legislative process forward, Tony Abbott used the argument that he wants the legislation on gay marriage owned by both sides of the house.   This is a furphy.

A lot of legislation goes through the house because of supported by the Government and not the Opposition. Much of it is as important as the gay marriage legislation. That’s the way our Parliament works.

But we can expect a small group of totalling out-of-touch conservative (on both sides of politics) reactionary, right-wing, white,  mainly catholic males to block legislation that will have absolutely no effect on their lives whatsoever.

It’s called a democracy.

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Some advice for Nick Kyrgios

I have reached a stage in my life where I am starting to say “when I was a boy” far too often. Things weren’t all that great when I was a boy in the 1940s and 1950s. But there was one thing that I think was better then than it is now.

When I played rugby as a kid, you never spoke to the referee. The captain was allowed to ask him the time but always addressed him as “Sir”. If you were stupid enough to pass a comment in the general direction of referee,  your side was penalised  and marched back 15yds.

Things have changed now, Nick. Players expect the referees to show them respect. And clearly you thought the referee at Wimbledon was not showing you sufficient respect. You have every right to be angry but you should remember that actions speak louder than words.

Nick Kyrgios: not being treated with sufficient respect

Nick Kyrgios: not being treated with sufficient respect

If you don’t like the decisions that are made on the tennis court, withdraw from the tournament. Put your money where your mouth is. And to show them you are serious, don’t turn up next year. That will teach them to show you a bit more respect.

When I was a boy, there was also an outmoded concept that decisions would often go against you (and were often wrong) but that wasn’t the grounds for protest. The idea was that playing sport taught you to deal with the adversity of decisions that you didn’t agree with and were quite possibly wrong and unfair. It was an outmoded idea, but in its time thought to be character-building.

But there you go. That was when I was a boy

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Tony Abbott starts to dodge and weave on gay marriage.

 The Age reports that  “Prime Minister Tony Abbott has slapped down a cross-party attempt to legalise same-sex marriage”

Abbott stated that he  “supports the current policy that marriage is between a man and a woman. The government’s priority is strong economic management and keeping Australians safe.”

Now gay marriages been blamed for a lot of things. Corey Bernardi believes it will lead to an increase in bestiality. Bernardi was reported in the SMH  as saying that the “next step” after recognising same-sex marriage was to support “creepy people” who chose to have sex with animals.”

 Bernardi sees gay marriage as opening the floodgates  not as a civil rights

Bernardi sees gay marriage as opening the floodgates not as a civil rights

But it appears that if gay marriages introduced to Australia economic  management will go to hell in a hand basket and Australians will be far less safe. I’m not certain if Abbott thinks this is direct cause and effect or if the amount of intellectual effort required to introduce and pass legislation will make him unable to concentrate on anything else. Whatever way is a pretty strange position to take.

But be ready for the opponents of gay marriage to use every trick in the Parliamentary rule book to avoid having legislation come before the Parliament. It will be a rearguard action that will demonstrate how small group of right-wing reactionary white males are able to frustrate what is clearly a widely supported piece of legislation.

Perhaps someone should explain them that the legislation will only make it legal not compulsory.

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Tony Abbott: ISIS coming after us

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott says Australians may not think they’re at war with Islamic State, but Isis is at war with Australia. ‘As far as the Daesh [Isis] death cult is concerned, it’s coming after us’

Hey, hold on!

 Australia is currently deploying a squadron of Super Hornets in the Middle East.

F/A-18F Super Hornet

F/A-18F Super Hornet

Now if having the merry bejesus bombed out of you by these babies isn’t “being at war” then I’d be interested in what Tony Abbott’s definition is.

Like it or not, Australia is at war with ISIS and in their eyes that will make us a legitimate target for terrorist attacks. Some security experts think they  do not have the logistical ability to deliver those attacks.

The Australian public should be in no doubt about the very fundamental fact. Our participation in the war against ISIS, be it right or wrong, increases our security risk. The

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Time to examine Liberal party fundraising

Joe Hockey has been awarded $200,000 in damages for hurt feelings over headline and a tweet. The judge made the interesting distinction between articles published in The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald, which didn’t defend the Treasurer, and the headlines used to advertise the article on billboards, which did.

Joe Hockey arrives at court with his wife Melissa Babbage

Joe Hockey arrives at court with his wife Melissa Babbage

It’s a fine technical point. But it’s the law and Joe won so he is now $200,000 richer. Some people might think that’s a lot further that feelings. Particularly pensioners.

But this really is beside the point.

There are a number of important questions arise from this case which should be answered in the public interest.

  1. Who gave money to the Millennium Forum (and indeed other Liberal party fundraising bodies?
  1. What were the sums of money?
  1. Did the people who donated these sons later gain privileged access to the Minister?
  1. If so, what issues were discussed and what submissions made during the meeting?
  1. And finally, what decisions were subsequently made by the Minister?

This matter has become even more important with the revelations on Four Corners that Amanda Vanstone reversed a deportation order by immigration Minister Philip Broderick that allowed a man that the Sydney Morning Herald maintains is a mafia boss, Frank Madafferi, to stay in Australia.

 Amanda seems surprised to find out that the Madafferi boys were alleged to be members of the mafia

Amanda seems surprised to find out that the Madafferi boys were alleged to be members of the mafia

This decision was allegedly made after a fundraising function attended by Vanstone and the Madafferi brothers where they made substantial contributions to the Liberal party.

Amanda Vanstone claims that she made the decision on “humanitarian grounds” and that deporting Madafferi would have an adverse effect on his family.

Frank Madafferi was granted a visa for family reasons

Frank Madafferi was granted a visa for family reasons

The SMH goes on to state “There is no suggestion Ms Vanstone acted improperly in either case, though confidential police assessments suggest it indicates that her South Australian Senate office had probably been infiltrated by Mafia figures.”

Nor is it any suggestion of improper conduct on the ex-Senator’s part when the son of a prominent Mafia godfather was given work experience at the Australian embassy in Rome during her term as ambassador.

There is only one way to get to the bottom of all these issues and Tony Abbott knows what it is: call a Royal Commission.

He did it over the pink bats issue and he did it over union corruption. Now he should do it over Liberal party fundraising. But don’t bet on it.

However, should Labor Party win the next election and Bill Shorten becomes the next Prime Minister, he may think it’s a very good idea.

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Outstanding edition of Q&A

Last night’s Q&A programme came out with all guns blazing and showed that it was prepared to subject itself to public scrutiny over the issue of the participation of Zakky Mallah in last week’s programme. It even invited to Liberal party sympathises, Tim Wilson and Paul Kelly onto the programme. The only person from those whom they could have expected some support, Tania Plibersek, was lukewarm to moderate.

The real stars of the programme were counter-terrorism expert Anne Aly

 Intelligent, well-informed and rational

Intelligent, well-informed and rational

and theoretical physicist and cosmologist Lawrence Krauss.

What is it about theoretical physicists?  They always seem so  intelligent, even when talking about politics.

What is it about theoretical physicists? They always seem so intelligent, even when talking about politics.

And, of course, Tony Jones who remained calm in the face of some pretty obnoxious behaviour from one of the panellists.

One of  Australia's outstanding journalists

One of Australia’s outstanding journalists

Jones also noted that the ABC’s editorial standards “tell us to present a diversity of perspectives so that over time no significant strand of thought or belief within the community is knowingly excluded, nor disproportionately represented”.

And this is really the issue.

The ideas that Mallah expressed, in particular the idea that he would have had his passport cancelled and been deported under legislation proposed by the current government yet was found not guilty in a court of law, goes to the heart of the debate on the legislation before Parliament.

There is no doubt that many people would found his presence and many of the ideas he has expressed on the Internet completely repugnant. But this is a difficulty. Often the types of ideas that he is expressing come from people you probably wouldn’t want to invite round for a cup of tea. But the ideas do need to be heard, in this case the choice of messenger was pretty unimpressive.

The other great thing about the programme was the Liberal party boycott of Q&A. But only for a week, unfortunately. Next week Barnaby Joyce will be on  (as well as right-wing Piers Akerman).

I won’t be watching

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Paul Krugman on the Greek crisis

Paul Krugman, columnist with The New York Times and winner of the 2008 Nobel prize for economics, opened his article on the Greek financial crisis with  “It has been obvious for some time that the creation of the euro was a terrible mistake. Europe never had the preconditions for a successful single currency – above all, the kind of fiscal and banking union automatically protects (people).”


Don’t you just love it when guys like Krugman demolish a large proportion of the world economy in one sentence, well in this case a paragraph!

He goes on to say “You need to realise that most – not all, but most – of what you’ve heard about Greek profligacy and irresponsibility is false. Yes, the Greek government was spending beyond its means in the late 2000s. But since then it has repeatedly slashed spending and raised taxes. Government employment has fallen more than 25 per cent, and pensions (which were indeed much too generous) have been cut sharply. If you add up all the austerity measures, they have been more than enough to eliminate the original deficit and turn it into a large surplus.

So why didn’t this happen? Because the Greek economy collapsed, largely as a result of those very austerity measures, dragging revenues down with it.

And this collapse, in turn, had a lot to do with the euro, which trapped Greece in an economic straitjacket. Cases of successful austerity, in which countries rein in deficits without bringing on a depression, typically involve large currency devaluations that make their exports more competitive. This is what happened, for example, in Canada in the 1990s, and to an important extent it’s what happened in Iceland more recently. But Greece, without its own currency, didn’t have that option.”

And finally whether the Greek population should vote yes for a continuation of the austerity measures, “They shouldn’t, for three reasons. First, we now know that ever-harsher austerity is a dead end: After five years Greece is in worse shape than ever.

Second, much and perhaps most of the feared chaos from Grexit has already happened. With banks closed and capital controls imposed, there’s not that much more damage to be done.

Finally, acceding to the troika’s ultimatum would represent the final abandonment of any pretense of Greek independence.”

My other post on the Greek crisis

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