Wednesday, June 30, 2010
An all-Australian issue today
Australia's new Leftist Prime Minister does not support legalising homosexual marriage
Most Australian conservative commentators are thoroughly freaked by Ms Gillard's far-Left background. But there is little of that to see in her deeds or policy positions whilst in government. Both Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan started out on the Left and a Rightward drift is in fact normal as people get older and wiser. I suspect that we are seeing quite a lot of that in Julia. It may also be worth noting that she owes her ascent to PM not to her party's Left but to its Right.
Such a drift has certainly happened before in the Australian Labor Party. Former Queensland Premier Ned Hanlon is a good example of that. Starting out as a Leftist firebrand he ended up so far Right he was almost out of sight. He even used police to crush a strike. I can't remember even the very conservative Premier Joh Bjelke Petersen doing that. The Labor party is tribal, however, so Laborites still honour him, rather incredibly. A major new hospital building in Brisbane was named after him not long ago by the State Labor government.
PRIME Minister Julia Gillard says she does not support legalising gay marriage in Australia. Labor policy on gay marriage will remain the same under her prime ministership, Ms Gillard told Austereo show this morning. "We believe the Marriage Act is appropriate in its current form, that is recognising that marriage is between a man and a woman, but we have as a government taken steps to equalise treatment for gay couples," Ms Gillard said.
Asked if that was also her personal view, Ms Gillard said it was.
The new Prime Minister was left waiting on air while Kyle and Jackie played a song - Gettin' Over you by David Guetta featuring Fergie. "I can listen to a song," Ms Gillard said, when Kyle expressed concern it might be inappropriate to leave her waiting. The choice of song wasn't quite to her taste, however. "I'm a really kind of an eighties dag," she said.
Ms Gillard said she would do her best to be frank with the Australian public in her new role. "I think when you're doing something as complicated as being Prime Minister, there are days when people are going to look at what you're doing and go, 'That's fantastic,' and there are going to be other days when they look at what you're doing and say, 'Why on earth did she do that?'," Ms Gillard said.
"So I'm not going to try and promise people everything's going to be smooth sailing and they're going to be applauding at the end of each day because the job's too tough for that, but I'll be trying my best to be as frank as I can with the Australian people about the challenges we face."
Asked if she would be outlawing redheaded jokes now that she was Prime Minister, Ms Gillard laughed and said she would still allow them. "But expect to get a response when you do," she said.
An openly atheist Prime Minister!
This will go down a lot better in Australia than in the USA. Australians are an irreligious lot and even the small minority of churchgoers often have very vague religious beliefs. She is however not one of the hate-filled atheists like Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens. See the rubric below
NEW Prime Minister Julia Gillard has declared she does not believe in God, Christian or otherwise. The bold assertion risks alienating some Christians and other spiritualists, but is likely to please many others for its simple honesty.
In a morning radio blitz designed to introduce her new Prime Ministership to as many voters as possible before an election, possibly is called within weeks, she was asked if she believed in God. "No I don't. I'm not a religious person," she said bluntly to ABC Melbourne. "I was brought up in the Baptist Church. I grew up going to Baptist youth group and all the rest, but during my adult life I've found a different path.
"I'm, of course, a great respecter of religious beliefs but they're not my beliefs."
She said she would allow people to judge her as they saw fit, but maintained she would not "pretend a faith" she did not feel. "For people of faith, I think the greatest compliment I could pay to them is to respect their genuinely held beliefs and not to engage in some pretence about mine," she said.
"What I can say to Australians, broadly of course, is I believe you can be a person of strong principle and values from a variety of perspectives."
The sheer straight-forwardness of her comments is likely to win her plaudits for not being seen to walk both sides of the street on a question which most people regard as an essentially personal matter.
Nonetheless, her frank position is in stark contrast to most political leaders, who have often paraded religious faith as the moral underpinnings of their policies. Kevin Rudd, for example, was often criticised for his invocation of faith and his habit of holding weekly Sunday morning doorstop interviews in front of a Canberra church. Just days ago, both Mr Rudd and Liberal leader Tony Abbott, a Catholic, conspicuously courted the Christian vote at the politically conservative Australian Christian Lobby.
Ms Gillard did not take the Bible in her hand when sworn into Parliament in 1998.
The downside of Julia's living arrangements
Living as a de facto with her partner may suit Julia Gillard, but does that make her a good role model for others?
By Bettina Arndt
Julia Gillard doesn't want to move into the Lodge until she gets a democratic tick of approval. Or so she says. Maybe the real reason she is stalling is to test the waters about public reaction to moving her first bloke in there with her.
Most media commentators are relaxed about a de facto first couple. Why not, they say, everyone's doing it. What's the big deal about living together?
They are right about the fact cohabitation - what some call "marriage lite" - is changing the social map. Census figures show the proportion of adults in de facto relationships more than doubled between 1986 and 2006. With other countries showing similar shifts, many social scientists studying this trend conclude marriage lite is not a change for the better.
It's fine for Gillard - a 48-year-old woman - to live with her bloke. Yet as a popular role model for women, her lifestyle choice may influence other women into making big mistakes about their lives.
Cohabitation produces two groups of losers among women and children. Most women want to have children - Gillard is an exception - and some miss out after wasting their primary reproductive years in a succession of live-in relationships that look hopeful but go nowhere, leaving them childless and partnerless as they hit 40.
People often drift into living together - someone's lease runs out or they get sick of running home for fresh shirts and underwear. They slide rather than decide, and frequently fail to discuss their mutual expectations for the relationship.
It's the women who end up stranded when they spend years in a succession of de facto relationships waiting for Mr Not Ready or Mr Maybe to make up his mind. Women's tiny reproductive window means they pay a high price for wasting precious breeding time in such uncertain relationships.
While the de facto lifestyle leads some women to miss out on having children, others are taking the risk of becoming parents despite these unstable relationships. A growing proportion of children is now born to de facto couples - up from less than 3 per cent in 1975 to 12 per cent in 2000, according to data from the Household Income and Labour Dynamics Survey.
It is often assumed these children will provide the glue to keep de facto relationships together, but sadly this is not so. David de Vaus, a sociology professor from La Trobe University, found cohabiting couples who have children are more like to break up than married parents, increasing their risk of the negative impacts of family breakdown.
If Gillard chooses to play house with Tim Mathieson in the Lodge, this choice sends a strong message to the huge numbers of women who rightly admire her and seek to follow her example. A lifestyle suited to her particular needs may be riskier for many women and their children.
As a Labor politician, Gillard is hardly likely to spell this out. Her brand of politician is too nervous of offending natural constituents to express concern about lifestyle choices. But it wasn't always like that.
In 1972, an intriguing discussion between Germaine Greer and Margaret Whitlam was published in The National Times. Whitlam, whose husband had just become prime minister, was outspoken in her criticism of ex-nuptial births, declaring it was irresponsible to produce children outside wedlock. When Greer confessed she was considering having a child on her own, Whitlam was forthright: "Well, I think that's just a selfish thought."
Later in the interview, she relented a little. "It may be all right for people who are well known and who have position and who can organise themselves . . . but it's not OK for everybody," she said, questioning the impact of Greer's decision on her many fans.
At the heart of this conversation was role models. People in the public eye, our influential leaders, need to think through whether others who don't share their circumstances will follow their example and get into trouble.
Every day we see well-known Australians making dubious lifestyle decisions being lauded in the media - celebrities choosing to become single mothers, unwed fathers, parents dragging children through a succession of chaotic "blended" families.
Pat Rafter was made Australian of the Year just as he was about to become an unmarried father. What did that say to his many male fans about the importance of committed fathering?
Politicians today rarely question social trends, even when all the evidence is they are having negative social consequences. John Howard was the rare exception, when he went into bat for a child's rights to a father in the debate over single mothers and IVF. But the actions of our role models speak louder than any words. The well-heeled tennis hero cheerfully embracing unmarried paternity, the feminist toying with sole parenthood, the prime minister living with her boyfriend - why wouldn't their many fans not seek to walk in their shoes?
Australia most Leftist major newspaper sinks to new low in an antisemitic attack on a Jewish businessman
The Melbourne Age newspaper has stunned and appalled the Jewish community today by confecting a scandal about the fact that the Prime Minister’s partner works for a Jewish businessman Albert Dadon.
It inaccurately describes Albert as an “Israel lobbyist” which suggests he is paid to promote Israel. That’s simply not correct and conveys a false impression. Dadon is an investor, in property and many other things and was the Chair of Melbourne’s international Jazz Festival and created the Australia Israel Leadership Forum, which we assume he modelled on the Australian-American Leadership Dialogue formed by Phil Scanlon.
We have never read Scanlon described as a “pro-American lobbyist.”
(The Age) suggests that because Julia Gillard’s partner works for a Jewish businessman that she is therefore incapable of making up her own mind about foreign policy matters relating to Israel. This is about as low and disturbing as it gets.
Indeed, we understand that the editor of the Age, Paul Ramadge, has previously put much effort into duchessing Mr Dadon in an attempt to rescue that newspaper’s reputation in Melbourne’s Jewish community which increasingly regards it as an apologist for misogynist and racist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah that are sworn to Israel’s destruction.
Sources tell VEXNEWS that Dadon went to some effort to encourage The Age to open its eyes to both sides of the story in the Middle East and that a member of The Age’s staff was invited to attend Australia Israel Leadership Forum events, including one in Israel.
Ramadge endorsed this and went to some trouble to undo the damage done by his predecessor Andrew Jaspan whose attacks on Israel seemed to know no decent bounds. That reputation will be confirmed by today’s breathtakingly anti-semitic attack that deems all Jews to be “pro-Israel lobbyists”.
The story was based around a letter from a retired and grouchy Arabist crank, Ross Burns which prompted a page seven story in the Sydney Morning Herald. Naturally the Age put it on the front-page and beat it up within an inch of its life.
We have previously written of the fact that Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has a real problem with anti-Israel bias. Ross Burns, a career diplomat who was given many sweet plum Ambassador appointments, is a perfect embodiment of this.
Burns has now retired into the comfort of superannuation and is completing a PhD at Macquarie University on archaeology in Syria. He very frequently visits Syria. He has a keen interest in its antiquities and ancient ruins.
He has a long history of blowing anti-semitic dog-whistles against Israel, with a steady stream of cranky letters to the editor, speeches, appearances on an appreciative ABC and so on.
His latest suggests that because Julia Gillard’s partner works for a Jewish businessman that she is therefore incapable of making up her own mind about foreign policy matters relating to Israel.
This is about as low as it gets. Where will this obscenity end? Will The Age’s Jewish employees soon be subjected to tests to ensure they are not “pro-Israel lobbyists.”
As for Burns, he is an old crank, who is just running out his private hatreds of Israel in public view, for his private benefit. No doubt he’s prominent on the wily Syrian Ambassador’s invitation list to sip on Johnny Blue in the wee hours. He’s an angry old man who is entitled to peddle his nasty views. But The Age has a greater responsibility than that.
And when journalists wonder why we will celebrate the imminent demise of this newspaper, this is why. Many journalists worry about what most regard as the Age’s inevitable end.
Two newspapers in a city are better than one, as a general proposition. Certainly better for journalists at both publications. Competition is a force for good, for consumers too. But The Age’s sickening effort today reveals it not to be a force for good in any respect.
The newspaper’s revenues are in freefall, its employees facing further redundancies, its circulation numbers rigged, the shares of parent company the most shorted in the entire stock market. Its end is nigh. And we’ll be dancing in the streets when that day finally comes.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.