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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The shame of Dutton's blame game

The shame of Dutton's blame game

Australia's Liberal Party has waged war on refugees and asylum seekers ever since Prime Minister John Howard took the helm in 1996. Whenever, the Liberal Party's popularity dipped, Howard would roll out another boatload of asylum seekers to scare the population into believing that only he could protect us from this 'invasion'.

Truth never really factored into these unwarranted attacks. For instance, the lies about Children Overboard were exposed in a Senate Enquiry. Not that it made much difference because people ignored the truth and believed Howard's lies. Including the whopper that boat people are illegal entrants. Under the Refugee Convention that Australia is a signatory to, asylum seekers are not to be punished for entering a country in a manner that would normally be considered illegal. So Australia detained them indefinitely and subjected them to cruel and inhumane punishment, in contravention of a number of UN Conventions, including the Refugee Convention, the Convention on Torture and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The demonisation and scapegoating continued with a passion under Tony Abbott who took to having billboards driven around the country advertising how many boats were entering Australian waters when the Labor Party was in government. Every boat arrival was grist to Abbott's mill. It meant that the Libs could now blame Labor for this fabled invasion of asylum seekers.

Most recently, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has upped the ante by extending the blame from Labor to one of his own. Dutton now blames the Liberal Party's former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser. During the 1970s, Fraser ran a compassionate refugee program that allowed thousands of refugees in from Vietnam, Cambodia and Lebanon.

Dutton has stated that two thirds (22 out of 33) of the Australians charged with terrorist-related offences are second or third generation descendants of the refugees that Fraser bought into the country almost 40 years ago(1). Therefore, Fraser stuffed up ... according to the feckless Minister Dutton.

Process this: second and third generation.

Process this: NONE of the thousands of refugees who Fraser brought in were charged with terrorism-related offences.

Just when we think the government's racism and xenophobia can't get any worse,  Dutton jumps the shark.

Is Dutton suggesting that the Department of Immigration now vet the unborn off-spring of refugees? I'm going out on a limb and suggesting that this could be problematic. How many unborn generations are they supposed to assess before issuing visas? Should they stop at the third generation or the fourth? Maybe the fifth?

Rather than taking cheap political shots at others, Dutton should focus on the effects of the Liberal Party's refugee policies. Policies which legitimise torture and child abuse. Policies which have been criticised by the United Nations, Amnesty International and human rights lawyers for legitimising human rights violations of vulnerable people fleeing persecution.

These are policies which physically, mentally and emotionally abuse already fragile people. These are policies that keep families from being reunited, that pay refugees less than the dole while preventing them from gaining employment or undertaking training. These are policies which reinforce to refugees that they are second class citizens in Australia.

These are policies which have caused people to suicide or self-harm.

Yet Dutton and his Liberal Party colleagues continue to blame everyone else for their failures while failing to acknowledge the damage they are causing to asylum seekers and refugees in order to score political popularity with an electorate driven by xenophobia.

So unethical is the Liberal Party's approach to refugees that they are now wanting to ban any refugee, any GENUINE refugee, from entering Australia if they initially came here by boat.

Just a reminder of Article 31 of the UN Refugee Convention(2):

'The Contracting States shall not impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence, on refugees who, coming directly from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened in the sense of Article 1, enter or are present in their territory without authorization, provided they present themselves without delay to the authorities and show good cause for their illegal entry or presence'.

These refugees have come directly from their countries of origin to Australia. If travelling east from Africa (e.g. Somalia), Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and so on, then Australia is the first country they will come to who is a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention. The Convention doesn't say to go to the nearest country. It says that they are to come 'directly'.

Then there is the matter of refoulement, in which refugees are returned to their country of origin where they could be persecuted, tortured or at risk of disappearing or being killed. Article 33 of the UN Refugee Convention states(2):

'No Contracting State shall expel or return (“refouler”) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion'.

The federal Liberal Party is hung up on the rule of law and constantly labelling people 'illegal', yet their own actions are illegal under international law. Interestingly, the government's own website acknowledges that asylum seekers should not be referred to as 'illegal'(3):

'The UNHCR emphasises that a person who has a well-founded fear of persecution should be viewed as a refugee and not be labelled an ‘illegal immigrant’ as the very nature of persecution means that their only means of escape may be via illegal entry and/or the use of false documentation'

Dutton's blame game is his shame. It speaks volumes about the character of a man who is more interested in casting dispersion on people who can't defend themselves than he is in acknowledging and rectifying his own faults and those of his Party. Faults which have broken up families and driven innocent people to the depths of despair, to suicide, to self-harm.

If the government is so concerned about Australian Muslims becoming radicalised, then they should be spruiking policies of inclusion, not exclusion. People who are marginalised, criticised and made to not feel welcome in their own land will always be at risk of radicalisation. To counter that, all people need to feel welcome and valued, not vilified or harangued because of their religion or race. But policies of inclusion, tolerance and acceptance don't win political points, so Dutton and his ilk will resort to their go-to position of scapegoating and stereotyping.

Of course, any criticism of the government's policies by those who've experienced them firsthand is all but banned, with whistle-blowers risking two years jail if they speak out. It seems the Libs are happy to criticise others, but to expose their brutality and inhumane operations is to see them cower behind laws aimed at stifling dissent.

Fraser may not be able to defend himself against Dutton's asinine attack on policies that were far more compassionate and successful than those of today's Liberal Party, however, he had defended his record on numerous occasions when he was alive. Around 90% of asylum seekers who arrive by boat in Australia are found to be genuine refugees(3), and Fraser once commented, 'I do not believe you need the brutality of the policy of deterrent... If they are genuine refugees, there is no deterrent that we can create which is going to be severe enough, cruel enough, nasty enough to stop them fleeing the terror [they face] in their own lands'(4).


1. ABC News, Stephanie Anderson, 'Peter Dutton suggests Fraser government made mistake by resettling Lebanese refugees', 20 November 2016, Accessed 20 November 2016.

2. United Nations High Commission for Refugees, 'Convention and Protocol relating to the status of Refugees Accessed 20 November 2016.

3. Parliament of Australia, 'Asylum seekers and refugees: what are the facts', Accessed 20 November 2016.

3. ABC News, 'Former PM Malcolm Fraser calls for royal commission into Australia's management of offshore processing', 25 July 2013, Accessed 20 November 2016.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Trump, nationalism and the rise of white supremacy in the USA and Australia

Trump, nationalism and the rise of white supremacy in the USA and Australia

The election of Donald Trump was a step backwards for human rights, unity, diversity, multiculturalism and respect for each other.

Many who opposed Trump did so because of his platform of racism and bigotry. Trump had few policies, yet he appealed to a mass of people who believed his hype about 'Make America Great Again' and that somehow America had lost its greatness because of minority groups, migrants and the poor.

Typical of right-wing politicians, the scapegoating was unleashed in earnest. Trump threatened to deport millions of 'illegal' migrants, to ban Muslim migration, to build a wall to keep out Mexicans and attacked black people in numerous ways(1), including criticising the Black Lives Matter movement, accusing black people of being lazy and having greater rights than whites.

Since becoming President-elect, much of the threats that the anti-Trump brigade warned about have already become reality, with Trump choosing white nationalists and racists to lead his transition team(2), including:
  • Stephen Bannon, a racist, white supremacist, anti-Semite, who runs the nationalist website,, appointed as Chief Strategist(3)
  • Myron Ebell, a climate denier, who has actively worked against the Environmental Protection Agency and climate change, appointed to head the environmental transition team(4)
  • Stephen Mnuchin, a man who led a bank accused of racist lending, to be Treasury Secretary(5)
  • Jeff Sessions, another accused of racism, to be Attorney-General(6)
With Trump populating his team with white supremacists and racists, it is no surprise that they have already mooted a register and internment camp for Muslims(7). Seriously.

There were western countries who used internment camps during the Second World War for Japanese and others who we were at war with. But the west is not at war with Islam.

Just a reminder of the politician who set the benchmark for internment camps and registers, Adolf Hitler. When he came to power, he immediately set about creating internment camps in which those he disliked were held, including Communists, Unionists, Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, and other 'dissidents'. He also created a register of Jews which was later used to round up Jews and freight them off to concentration camps during the war.

Hitler never started with the premise of massacring all of those held in his concentration camps. It wasn't until his failed invasion of the Soviet Union which had been undertaken to secure the agricultural land in the Ukraine and southern parts of the Soviet Union. It was his plan that this food-bowl would feed his soldiers and ultimately, Germany. The failure of the invasion resulted in wide-spread food shortages. He couldn't feed his own people, let alone the prisoners-of-war and the Jews and dissidents held in his concentration camps. Soviet POWs were allowed to starve. The Jews and dissidents in concentration camps? Well, that is when the Nazi machine settled on the Final Solution which resulted in the extermination of millions(8).

Why is it so important to invoke Godwin's law and drag up history like this?

Trump is appointing white supremacists, nationalists and racists. They are discussing very similar strategies that Hitler discussed and implemented. While it is highly unlikely that Trump is planning a genocide akin to the Final Solution, it needs to be understood that Hitler wasn't planning one either when he initially started the concentration camps. In fact, he was looking at ways to deport the Jews and others, similar to what Trump is already espousing with Muslims and migrants. It is ethnic cleansing, with the aim to make America as white as possible.

So where are the Christians in all of this? Why aren't they calling out Trump's Hitleresque policies? Well, some of them are wearing white hoods. The Ku Klux Klan who claim to be Christian, endorsed and actively supported the Trump campaign(9). The religious right believe that Trump is appointed by God, with some even believing Pat Robertson's vision of Trump sitting at the right hand of God(10) - Trump has usurped Jesus who used to also sit on the right hand of God. Apparently, it is more important that homosexuals can't marry, than it is to wage a campaign of ethnic cleansing throughout the land.  Interestingly, this is not unlike the Christians in Hitler's time, who also believed that the land needed cleansing of communists, Jews and homosexuals.

One of the reasons that Christians felt led to vote for Trump was that political correctness was an attack on Christian values(11). Really? The values they are defending are hardly Christian. Those values included attacking LGBTIQ people, Islam, migrants and defending the wealthy over the poor(12).

Respected German pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer once stated, 'We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, but to drive a spoke into the wheel itself'. It's a little hard for Christians to stop the wheels of injustice, when they're aligning themselves to the power source that keeps those wheels churning along. Bonhoeffer also observed, 'Christianity stands or falls with its revolutionary protest against violence, arbitrariness, and pride of power, and with its plea for the weak. Christians are doing too little to make these points clear. Christendom adjusts itself far too easily to the worship of power'. These words were true when Bonhoeffer observed them in relation to Christians supporting Hitler and they are true today as Christians support Trump.

Instead of driving a spoke into the wheel of bigotry and xenophobia, the religious right are more interested in defending the right to be racist than in opposing racism. They claim they want religious freedom, but then campaign to ban Islam and to start a Muslim registry. Their idea of religious freedom only extends to their twisted version of Christianity.

Until Trump takes the helm in January 2017, it is difficult to know how much of his racist rhetoric will be implemented.

Disturbingly, Australia has decided that the lessons to be learned from the Trump ascendancy are that politicians need to embrace right wing hate in order to garner their support.

Proud racist, Pauline Hanson has already aligned herself with the Trump bandwagon. No great surprise there as she has always been in white nationalist territory.

Most surprising however, was Labor leader Bill Shorten, suddenly spruiking of an Australia First policy, similar to Trump's America First. Shorten confined his jingoism to jobs, criticising the issuing of 457 visas and sending of jobs overseas.

Less surprising was the Liberal Party who has been courting One Nation policies since the first rise of Hanson in the 1990s. Some of the Liberal Party's most vocal MPs include Cory Bernardi and George Christensen who manage to dupe the religious right into believing they're good, God-fearing Christians while unleashing hate-filled diatribes against Muslims and other minorities. Nothing says KKKristianity like ethnic-cleansing.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, then continued the Liberal Party's go-to position of attacking refugees. Whenever the Libs are looking to garner support, it's on the basis of demonisation and scapegoating of refugees and asylum seekers, with an unhealthy dose of Islamophobia thrown in. That's one way to win the electorate over - and sadly it works. The Libs usually blame Labor for the refugee 'crisis'; a crisis that was invented by the Liberal Party to whip up fear and play on the xenophobia of the electorate. In a somewhat unexpected move though, Dutton has now turned the blame to former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, also of the Liberal Party, accusing his policies of being to blame for a number of 'descendants of those refugees' going to fight in foreign conflicts, such as for ISIS(13). Dutton has provided no evidence of this other than a blanket statement aimed at stirring up more xenophobia. It is dog-whistling. But that is what the Liberal Party is best at.

So what if Dutton is telling the truth? Does it represent a failure of immigration policy? Clearly the refugees who were brought in from Lebanon didn't return to fight in these wars, nor did they drive terrorism against Australia. If their descendants have engaged in this, then it is more a failure of Australia's acceptance of migrants. It shows the importance of accepting and welcoming communities, of policies of inclusion and not exclusion. Besides, the reasons for fighting with ISIS are somewhat different to the reasons that Australia brought Lebanese refugees in. Dutton is conflating two separate issues purely for populist politics. The creation of ISIS was a direct result of the USA's illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003, which Australia was a part of. With Saddam Hussein out of the way, Al Qaeda in Iraq moved in and morphed into what is now ISIS. There are some who believe this invasion was an attack on Islam and this is fuelled by the anti-Muslim rhetoric that has permeated global politics for years. Dutton should look at his own party's attitudes and actions which have motivated some Australians to fight for ISIS in what they see as a way of defending their faith against western aggression.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights recently stated that Australia's migration policies had 'eroded human rights and tarnished Australia's reputation'. He went on to state that 'politicians who have engaged in this negative discourse seem to have given permission to people on the street to act in xenophobic ways and to allow for the rise of nationalist populist groups'(14).

The rise of extremist groups that include neo-Nazis, racists, fascists, nationalists and white supremacists is a poor indictment on the policies of the right-wing.

Where will all this end?

While right-wing policies continue to empower anti-Muslim, anti-migrant, anti-refugee sentiment, the world will continue on a road to fascism, nationalism and white supremacy.

How will all this end?

Unless we reign this in now, it won't end well. History has shown us what happens when the government is driven by an agenda of hate and scapegoating.

When will it end?

When people realise that we are all one community who have similar values, similar goals, pursuing happiness, health and love.

While there may be cultural or religious differences, we all have a right to exist and no one holds the monopoly on morality or superiority, and no government should establish one group of people as being superior or more worthy than another, whether it be by religion, race, gender, sexual orientation or other identifiers.

Rather than driving an agenda of hate and intolerance, the government should be encouraging love, respect, tolerance, unity within diversity, understanding, sharing and compassion.


1. The Huffington Post, Zeba Blay, '12 Reasons Donald Trump Would Not Be Good for 'Blacks' ', 12 March 2016, Accessed 19 November 2016.

2. Time, Eric Pooley, 'Trump's Transition Team is Straight From The Swamp', 16 November 2016, Accessed 19 November 2016.

3. ABC News, 'US election: Who is Donald Trump's new chief strategist Steve Bannon', 15 November 2016,'s-new-chief-strategist-steve-bannon/8026140. Accessed 19 November 2016.

4. The Huffington Post, Jeremy Symons, 'Meet Trump's Pick to Dismante EPA', 11 June 2016, Accessed 19 November 2016

5. The Huffington Post, Alexander C. Kaufman, 'Bank Led By Trump's Top Treasury Contender Accused of Racist Lending', 17 November 2016, Accessed 19 November 2016.

6. The Huffington Post, Ryan J. Reilly, 'Trump Picks Jeff Sessions, Senator Accused of Racism, For Attorney General', 18 November 2016, Accessed 19 November 2016.

7. The New York Times, Jonah Engel Bromwich, 'Trump Camp's Talk of Registry and Japanese Internment Raises Muslims' Fears', 17 November 2016, Accessed 19 November 2016.

8. Frankopan, Peter, 2015. The Silk Roads. 1st ed. London: Bloomsbury.

9. Reuters, Mohammed Zargham, Jonathan Oatis, 'Ku Klux Klan newspaper declares support for Trump', 2 November 2016, Accessed 19 November 2016.

10. The Business Standard News, Michael Hoult, 'Robertson Said He Had Vision of Trump Seated 'At the Right Hand of the Lord' ', 14 July 2016, Accessed 19 November 2016.

11. LifeSite News, Jonathan van Maren, 'The painfully obvious reason Christians voted for Trump (that liberals just don't understand)', 14 November 2016, Accessed 19 November 2016.

12. The Huffington Post, Tony Campolo, 'Explaining Evangelical's Support for Donald Trump', 14 July 2016, Accessed 19 November 2016.

13. The Sydney Morning Herald, Tom McIlroy, 'Peter Dutton attacks Malcolm Fraser's refugee legacy', 18 November 2016, Accessed 19 November 2016.

14. The Guardian, Helen Davidson, 'Australia's politicians have promoted xenophobia: UN', 18 November 2016, Accessed 19 November 2016.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Who's to blame for Trump? A response to Jonathan Pie, and you're not going to like it.

Who's to blame for Trump? A response to Jonathan Pie, and you're not going to like it.

Shortly after Donald Trump became President-elect, a British satirist named Jonathan Pie produced a video about who was to blame for the rise of Trump. There is a transcript at the bottom of this article and the video can be viewed here.

Who did he blame?

Not the people who voted for Trump, but the left-wing.


Because they had called the right-wing names, such as racist and bigot.

Apparently, because the right-wing's feelings got hurt they voted for Trump and in an puerile temper tanty blamed the left-wing.

I'll just point out the bleeding obvious here, that the left-wing didn't vote for Trump. Trump was elected because of the people who voted for him and that wasn't the left-wing, it was those who ticked Trump at the ballot.

Pie goes on to say that not everyone who voted for Trump is a racist. Well ... Trump's campaign was so full of racism that it beggars belief that anyone who voted for Trump wasn't racist.

The 2010 Australian of the Year, Chief of Army, Lieutenant-General David Morrison, once stated 'the standard you walk past is the standard you accept', when he stood up against the abuse of women in the Australian Army. If people are happy to walk past the racism, sexism and bigotry espoused by Trump, then they are accepting racism, sexism and bigotry. There is no point claiming that people who voted for Trump aren't racist if this is the standard they accept.

If you don't want to be called a racist, then don't act like one, don't vote for one.

Pie states that because the left can't make an argument for their cause, Clinton is now seen as liberal. Um ... really? Clinton was the best Republican candidate the US had. Few, if any on the left, see Clinton as liberal.

He pointed out that Clinton offered nothing different, no change, whereas Trump did offer change. Seriously? This is the problem. People wanted change but didn't challenge the kind of change that Trump offered. Nor did they challenge the veracity of his outlandish statements. Politifact reported Trump's truthfulness at 4%, yet the right-wing went into denial about his lies, blaming leftist media rather than facing the truth. It is this unwillingness of the right-wing to accept facts that led to the rise of Trump, not because of the left-wing challenging his lies.

Pie states that argument isn't won by hurling labels and insults. This is true. However, people on the left have been subject to just as much abuse from the right-wing. How many of us have been called 'libtards', traitors, loony left, pinko faggots, do-gooders. But we don't use that as an excuse to vote for a despot like Trump.

He believes that the left refuses to accept or listen to opposing views. I'm not sure who he hangs around with, but most left-wing people are more than happy to discuss well-considered opposing views. They aren't willing to accept racism, sexism and bigotry. The nature of debate is to make a point, counter it, respond. If the point is convincing, then concede it, however if it isn't convincing then continue the challenge.

Pie makes quite the profound comment in suggesting that the left-wing would be better off having meaningful dialogue with the right-wing. Hear, hear. Oh so true. There are some right-wingers who can engage in meaningful discussion, but for far too many on the right the moment that their claims are challenged, they lose their shit and scream left-wing bias, do-gooders, political correctness. Evidence that their views actually contradict facts results in the most vicious outbursts associated with cognitive dissonance.

Having said that, many of us on the left do engage with right-wingers and try to convince them of our arguments. However, the fact is that few people change their minds that dramatically; particularly the religious right-wing who have turned capitalism into a cult.

Pie tells the left to 'stop thinking that everyone who disagrees with us is evil'. (Firstly, plank/speck - the right-wing tends to do this very well). Besides 'evil' is a strong word with religious overtones (did I mention the religious right?). We do not see disagreement in itself as evil. How do people view racism, sexism and bigotry? Regardless of what side of the political spectrum people align, there are many who would view racism, sexism and bigotry as evil, or at least something to condemned and criticised. Why shouldn't we challenge views that directly result in harm to others, views which attack other races, religions or sexual preferences? Since Trump's election there has been a marked increase in hate-crimes across the United States. Is this evil? It's certainly not good and definitely not acceptable.

Besides, anyone from the left who has had experience in discussing issues with the right, would know how evil they think we are. They see us as pagan socialists who are willing to sacrifice babies to abortion. Many of us have been told innumberable times to f*ck off back to Moscow or Cuba for daring to suggest that there should be more equitable distribution of wealth, that workers should have a greater say and share in the wealth they create for their employers.

Take Obamacare. If ever there was a self-defeating argument it was the opposition to universal health care. Many of us tried explaining how it would assist in keeping people out of poverty, keep them from being bankrupted if they had affordable and universal health care as other countries have, such as Australia. But nooooo ... the right-wing saw this as evil socialism. Many of them frothed at the mouth every time it was mentioned and when Trump said he would ditch Obamacare, they cheered. This is one policy that negatively affects many of his voters, yet no amount of reason could convince them that not only was Obamacare good for them, but it should actually be expanded into something similar to Australia's health care policy that provides essential health services at no cost to the user.

Pie's video has been shared by thousands of right-wingers all looking to blame someone else for their support of Trump. For that matter, a number of left-wingers have also shared it, accepting Pie's argument. While it is true that there should be more dialogue between the two sides, this hasn't been for want of trying.

In the end, it was the right-wing who chose Trump. They can't continue to blame others. They heard from his own mouth what his views were on migrants, various races, women, homosexuals, the left-wing. His views were analysed and criticised for their sexism, racism, bigotry and even contradictory positions. Yet, the right-wing still voted for him. It wasn't just the left-wing who pointed out that Trump's entire campaign was one of chicanery, there were many on the right-wing as well, including some notable Republicans who disavowed him. Trump was a mountebank, telling people anything that they wanted to hear in order to trick them into seeing him as the saviour of America, that only he could restore America's greatness (whatever that was, because he never truly defined it). Instead he created an illusion of greatness and then scapegoated minorities and the left-wing as being responsible for America losing this perceived greatness. People on the left and right warned Trump supporters of this. As the old saying goes, 'you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it think ... er ... drink'.

Trump supporters can't absolve themselves of responsibility, just because their feelings got hurt. But this is quite simply the modus operandi for many on the right-wing. They can't accept responsibility for their actions. They have to blame someone else. They need a scapegoat. This is why they look to people like Trump who scapegoated foreigners, Muslims, blacks, LGBTIQ people, the poor, the left-wing.

The nineteenth century German philospher, Arthur Schopenhauer, observed, 'The discovery of truth is prevented more effectively, not by the false appearance things present and which mislead into error, not directly by weakness of the reasoning powers, but by preconceived opinion, by prejudice'.

Schopenhauer believed that choice emanated from a person's immutable character. Those who voted for Trump identified with the character of Trump and the nature of his policies.

One can try to rationalise as much as possible with someone else, however, if there are pre-conceived opinions, prejudices, then it makes no difference. What else can one do if a person won't listen?  Labelling their opinions? Why not? Reason, labelling, insults. It doesn't change a person's prejudice. Ignoring them sometimes works, except when it is the future of the free world at stake.

The rise of Trump can be accredited to a number of issues, including the failure of the Democrats to truly engage with the people. However, if voters blamed Obama for their low wages and high unemployment, then they needed to look a little further. It was the Republicans who consistently blocked Obama's employment creation policies and who protested most vehemently against raising the minimum wage. So what does the right wing do? They elect someone with extreme right wing views; someone who wants to repeal Obamacare, tighten up welfare and has vacillated between opposing any increase to the minimum wage and supporting it. Why vote for this?

To sum up Pie's summation of the election: The right-wing got their feelings hurt and voted for a quasi-Hitler, but it's the left-wing's fault. The left forced them to vote for Trump. Got it.

Having said that, the Democrats did contribute to the rise of Trump through Clinton who represented the establishment, the old guard, when there was a massive groundswell within Democratic ranks for change as well and many felt this could best be delivered through Bernie Sanders. Some reports now indicate that Sanders may well have defeated Trump in the presidential election.

What were the options on election day?
  • Vote for Trump - a sexual predator, racist, bigot, xenophobe (ooohh ... name calling again, but he needs to be called out for who he is) and his policies represented this
  • Vote for Clinton - same ol', same ol' - sometimes this is the lesser of two evils, as in this case regardless of whether Pie or others want to accept this. Clinton's policies were lame, but she undersands the political scene, understands foreign relations, which are kind of important to holding the most powerful position in the world.
  • One of the other candidates on the ticket who has no chance of winning, but sends a message to both major parties
  • Don't vote - not the best option, but around half the country chose this. If there were better candidates, then more may have voted.

If the right-wing wants change, for that matter if the left-wing wants change (ahem - Bernie Sanders, who Jonathan Pie was personally in favour of), then lobby politicians. A protest vote is one thing, but a protest vote for a man of such vile character as Trump reflects on the character of those who voted for him. A vote for the policies of the nature that Trump espoused, reflects on the nature of those who voted for them.

Got your feelings hurt because someone labelled you a racist because you chanted 'Build the wall' or waved your flag every time Trump attacked someone? Rather than getting all petulant and puerile, it wouldn't hurt to become circumspect and question what sort of person votes for the sort of person Trump is and the sort of policies he promoted.

Want change? Then as Gandhi said, 'be the change you wish to see in the world'.

Is sexism, racism and bigotry the change that Trump supporters want? If not, then why vote for it?


Transcript of Pie's video:

Great f*cking sweet. Yep.
What? What?
I'm not shocked at all, Tim.
Tim, I haven't even been into make-up yet, Tim.
I'm not shocked at all. I've been saying this for f*cking months.
Nearly a year.
The moment you think he can't do it, is the moment he takes the White House.
Of course Trump f*cking won. What is everyone so f*cking shocked about?
Jesus, the media, the political elite, the pollsters, the markets, you.
How can everyone be so f*cking stupid?
Hillary Clinton, what were the Democrats thinking?
Hillary Clinton ... don't get me wrong
I'd personally vote for Lucifer over Donald Trump.
Trump ...
The pussy grabbing, wall building, climate change denying, healthcare abolishing, tax dodging, sh*t spewing demagogue.
How sh*t do you have to be to lose to that?
Where was Sanders?
Why wasn't he on the ticket?
I have no doubt in my mind that Sanders would have beaten Trump, hands down.
But instead, they chose Clinton, a candidate who's been cosying up to the banks and dry humping corporations for years.
Who is on record telling her corporate friends that you should have a public and private persona.
Don't tell the truth to the plebs, or you won't be able to rip them off.
She'll do ...
That was the feeling.
What did they think was gonna happen?
People keep saying to me, 'how did this happen'?
They're dumbfounded, but it's so simple.
The left did this.
This is my fault, people like me.
When are we going to learn?
The left have given up putting any argument across at all, to the point where Clinton is considered left. Liberal.
On many issues, Teresa May is less right wing than Clinton.
That's just a f*cking fact.
And yet my friends are on Facebook saying, 'I'm with her'.
I'm f*cking not.
'Oh, but she's better than Trump'.
Sorry that's not good enough. Clearly. Clearly, she's not good enough.
And if I see - f*ck me ... one more tweet containing a #TrumpWins, next to a #EverdaySexism, I'm gonna drop a f*cking b*llock.
Not everyone that voted for Trump is a sexist, or a racist.
Some of them are, but most aren't.
Most people didn't vote for her, not because she's a woman, they didn't vote for her because she offered no palpable change. What so ever. Same old sh*t.
Trump represents a change.
A terrifying change, but a change nonetheless.
Hillary represented, well she ... represented very little actually.
Because she protects corporate interests.
Because she doesn't call the police when questions from the debate are leaked to her in advance.
I notice we barely reported that.
Not everyone who voted for Trump is a sexist or a racist.
How many times does the vote have to go our way before we realise that our argument isn't won by hurling labels and insults.
Tory majority government ... Brexit
What next?
When will we learn that the key is discussion.
If you're unwilling to discuss then you are creating the conditions in which Donald Trump can thrive.
But instead of persuading people to vote,she just courted celebrity endorsements, and then lost.
What's going on?
It's almost as if the political acumen of Beyonce and Jay-Z count for nothing.
And then she loses it and loses the election, and she locks herself in her hotel because she's too upset.
Or perhaps it had never occurred to them to even write a concession speech.
Either way, grow up!
I have no sympathy for her whatsoever. Be a better candidate.
But thing is, I can't say this to any of my friends, Tim.
People like me, I'd get f*cking lynched if I said this.
Because people like me won't listen. I did this. This is my fault.
F*cking Donald Trump. The left is responsible for this result.
Because the left have now decided that any other opinion, any other way of looking at the world is unacceptable.
We don't debate any more, because the left won the cultural war.
So, if you're on the right, you're a freak. You're afraid. You're evil. You're racist, you're stupid.
You're a basked of deplorables
How do you think people are going to vote, if you talk to them like that.
When has anyone ever been persuaded by being insulted or labelled.
So now if you're on the right or even against the prevailing view, you are attacked for raising your opinion.
That's why people wait until they're in the voting booth.
There's no blame, or shame, or anything, and you can finally say what you really think and that is a powerful thing.
The Tories in charge, Brexit, and now Trump.
And all the poles were wrong, all of them.
Because when asked, people can't admit what they think.
They can't admit what they think, they're not allowed to.
The left don't allow them to.
We have made people unable to articulate their position for fear of being shut-down.
They're embarrassed to say it.
Every time someone on the left has said, 'you mustn't say that', they are contributing to this culture.
It's time so stop the moaning.
It's time to stop crying over spilt f*cking Brexit.
It's time to stop ignoring your opponents, or worse, trying to silence them.
It's time to stop banning people from speaking in universities.
It's time to stop thinking that reposting an article on your Facebook feed is political engagement. That banning a gymnast from doing what he's good at, because he insulted someones religion, somehow achieved something.
And sorry, when did the gymnast's association start thinking it was appropriate to start enforcing blasphemy laws.
It's time to start realising that reading the Guardian doesn't make you a liberal.
That retweeting Green Peace doesn't  lower your carbon foot print.
And if my mansplaining is triggering you, you can either f*ck off to your safe space or you can engage, and debate me, and tell me what I'm getting wrong, because Trump just won the White House.
Being offended doesn't work any more.
Throwing insults doesn't work any more.
The only thing that works is f*cking bothering. Doing something.
And all you have to do is engage in the debate.
Talk to people who think differently to you and persuade them of your argument.
It's so easy, and the left have lost the art.
Stop thinking that everyone who disagrees with you is evil ... or racist, or sexist, or stupid, and talk to them!
Persuade them otherwise, because if you don't I'll tell you what I don't get.
You get President Trump!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Degenerate Christianity, the Rise of Trump & WWDD

Degenerate Christianity, the Rise of Trump & WWDD

And right there, I'm done with Evangelical Christianity.

Well, to be fair, I was kind of over it some years ago with its prosperity doctrine (essentially 'greed is good'), Islamophobia, judgement of others and general sense of superiority. Oh, and its unwillingness to protest against human rights abuses while vehemently protesting against same sex marriage (because it's more important to stop gay people getting gay married than to stop the torture of children).

But 8 November 2016 did it for me. The date Evangelicals boasted that Donald Trump's election to President of the USA was an answer to prayer, that he was sent by God, that this was a vindication of Christianity.

Vindication of Christianity? Errr ... no ... it was the degeneration of Christianity.

Evangelical Christianity is degenerate. It has accepted a man who won on the platform of hatred, racism, sexism, bigotry, lies and fear. He used that fear to whip the community into a foaming cess-pit of hate. How is that Christian?

Oh, actually, I can answer that. Hillary will kill babies in the ninth month of pregnancy. At least, that was the lie spun to ensure the gullible didn't do something silly, like vote for Clinton. It was just one more lie, although a powerful one that gullible Christians believed. Anyhoo, there are no ninth month abortions as doctors at this stage deliver the baby regardless of whether or not it will live. This was clearly articulated by Dr Jennifer Gunter (specialist in obstetrics and gynecology) in an article that showed Trump had 'confused birth with abortion'(1). Of course the funny part about Trump opposing abortion is that it wasn't that long ago that he supported abortion(2).

So how did so many people believe him? In this day and age where one can easily research any claim and discover the truth, there is no excuse for the stupidity of people who believed Trump's lies. Trump's 'whole truth' rating was 4%(3). By contrast, Clinton's 'whole truth' rating was 25%(4) and when comparing 'true, mostly true and partly true', Trump sat at a meagre 30%, while Clinton was a whopping 75%.

It wasn't just Trump's veracity that was in question. He also changed policy positions from tweet to tweet. This election campaign revealed that Trump's policies are like putty. They can be moulded into whatever works at the time. Addressing women on abortion? Hey, have two. Addressing evangelicals on abortion ... ooh it's bad, jail women who have and abortions and don't forget that Hillary wants to rip the heads off unborn babies just before delivery.

One minute he wants to carpet bomb Syria, next he wants to end US intervention in foreign countries.

He is a chameleon.


He is deceitful. Saying whatever it is that people want to hear. He is manipulative.

And he manipulated the evangelicals.

To be fair, the evangelicals didn't need much manipulating. There was no way in the world they would vote for a Democrat who might dare support abortion, marriage equality ... and even worse ... socialism ... who might expand Obama's universal health care so the poor are looked after, who might raise the minimum wage so the low paid are looked after, who might welcome refugees and the widow and ensure that people of colour have the same opportunity to education, justice, housing, health and employment that white people do. You know, the sort of things that Jesus Christ spoke of.

Remember the cute little saying that Evangelicals used to bust out and which translated itself into t-shirts, stickers and bracelets: WWJD. (No, not 'We Want Jack Daniels'), but 'What Would Jesus Do?'

My challenge to the evangelicals who claim the Trumpenfuhrer is God's gift to the world, is this:

Let's replace WWJD with WWDD!

What Would Donald Do?

Let's see how that pans out:

1. Pastor, I need prayer:

WWJD: Gather around, lay hands on and pray

WWDD: Grab her on the pussy and pray

2. Ooh, there's a Muslim:

WWJD: Love your neighbour / Love your enemy (take your pick)

WWDD: Deport them / ban them / vilify them

3. Welfare for the poor

WWJD: For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me

WWDD: Get a job you bum, stop bludging off the government. End welfare, it's only a rort. Pay your own medical treatment.

4. War

WWJD: Blessed are the peace-makers.

WWDD: Carpet bomb them.

5. Boasting

WWJD: Blessed are the meek

WWDD: Screw the meek and mild. I'm the greatest.

6. Human rights

WWJD: Blessed are those who thirst for righteousness. Do to others as you would have them do to you. For you are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works

WWDD: Get stuffed, you do gooder, lefty, pinko faggot. Stop the political correctness. I have a right to be a bigot and to speak my mind.

7. Refugees

WWJD: God defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners and refugees.

WWDD: We're going to ban all Muslims from entering America. We're going to stop refugees. We're going to kick out all immigrants.

8. Abortion

WWJD: Poverty is the major cause of abortion. Help end poverty, ensure there is a welfare safety net and free health care. Raise the minimum wage to a living wage. It is the responsibility of the government and the church to care for the poor.

WWDD: Don't have an abortion, it's evil, but too bad if you can't afford to feed the baby. It's your own fault for getting pregnant in the first place. Once its born, don't you dare go on welfare.

WWJD: er ... how can you say you're pro-life when you wage war and hate welfare?

WWDD: Seriously, Lord? You need to pray for more guidance.

9. Wealth

WWJD: Sell your possessions and give to the poor. It's easier for a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to rock into heaven.

WWDD: 'Oh Lord, look how righteous I am, please bless me with more wealth ... and more wealth ... and a bigger share portfolio' ... Sell my possessions? Hell no! Accumulate, accumulate, accumulate.

10. Socialism

WWJD: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.

WWDD: Wait, Jesus, you just quoted Karl Marx!

WWJD: er... no, that was Acts 4:32- 35 (which is almost the same as Exodus 16:16-18):

Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold,35 and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need

WWDD: Umm ... er ... socialism is bad, m'kay ... Bernie's a socialist. Obama's a Muslim Socialist. Don't be a socialist, Jesus.

11. Blaming others

WWJD: You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.

WWDD: But they're to blame, you wouldn't understand! You didn't have to put up with refugees, and Muslims and Mexicans and gays and ...

WWJD: Does 'plank / speck' mean anything to you?

WWDD: Hippy

11. Love your neighbour

WWJD: Love your neighbour

WWDD: Who is my neighbour, Lord? Oh that parable about the Good Samaritan? Yeah, great story we often share it in church. Sadly we don't have any Samaritans here. Lovely people. Instead we're overrun with Latinos, Muslims, blacks, gays, socialists. We love them. We just don't want them here so they can get f*ck out of our country ... in the blessed name of Christ. We love them, just hope the door doesn't hit them on the arse as they leave.

That's enough. You get the picture.

So how can any Christian have voted for Trump as an act of Christianity? Sure, vote for him because of any other reason, but to claim it was your Christian duty? Seriously? Read the bible.

Christ was a socialist, do-gooder who loved all and called for us to love all.

He didn't promote hate, fear, bigotry and xenophobia.

When the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan is giving a victory parade in honour of your candidate(5), then your candidate is clearly not Christian. Krist, perhaps. Kristian, perhaps. But not Christ. Not Christian.

It's not just the KKK who are stoked with Trump's victory. Racists have become emboldened by Trump's hate speech and vitriole. Since the election there has been a dramatic increase in hate crime across the United(?) States(6).

Evangelical Christianity has been on a downward spiral since the so-called Moral Majority in the 1970s, managed to dumb-down Christianity to two core issues: abortion and homosexuality. Since then, it has gravitated to ultra-far right politicians who preach intolerance and hate of other religions, other races, other nationalities, homosexuals and socialists while wrapping their message in a flag and loosely binding it together under the auspices of a twisted scripture that ignores key values such as love your neighbour, love your enemy, turn the other cheek, care for the poor, the downtrodden, the persecuted. But hey, if gays can't marry, poor people are forced into crime to care for children they can't afford, and women are forced to carry a fetus to full-term even though it has no chance of living, then all is right with the world.

Pro-lifers lose all legitimacy the moment they oppose welfare and support warfare.

Poverty and war: two of the biggest causes of abortion and child deaths respectively.

By trumpeting Trump, Evangelicals can no longer call themselves Christian. Religious, maybe. In the same way that radical Islamists are religious but not Muslim. In the same way that Hitler's power was shored up by Christians. In fact, German Pastor Martin Niemöller blamed Christians for Hitler in this speech which was later published in Die deutsche Schuld, Not und Hoffnung' ('The German guilt, misery and hope')(7).

When Pastor Niemöller was put in a concentration camp we wrote the year 1937; when the concentration camp was opened we wrote the year 1933, and the people who were put in the camps then were Communists. Who cared about them? We knew it, it was printed in the newspapers. Who raised their voice, maybe the Confessing Church? We thought: Communists, those opponents of religion, those enemies of Christians - "should I be my brother's keeper?" Then they got rid of the sick, the so-called incurables. - I remember a conversation I had with a person who claimed to be a Christian. He said: Perhaps it's right, these incurably sick people just cost the state money, they are just a burden to themselves and to others. Isn't it best for all concerned if they are taken out of the middle [of society]? -- Only then did the church as such take note. Then we started talking, until our voices were again silenced in public. Can we say, we aren't guilty/responsible? The persecution of the Jews, the way we treated the occupied countries, or the things in Greece, in Poland, in Czechoslovakia or in Holland, that were written in the newspapers. … I believe, we Confessing-Church-Christians have every reason to say: mea culpa, mea culpa!

The church's attitudes to 'others' doesn't seem to have changed much.

The Religious Right are wrong about almost everything in their interpretation of the bible. Their support and gloating over the election of Trump proves this categorically.

Thankfully, there were some Christians who called out Trump's behaviour and questioned how Christians could support him, including the not-so-conservative Pope Francis(8), conservative Max Lucado(9) and a number of others(10). The Christian Post declared that now was not the time for Trump, that he was a scam and called on Christians to 'pray for personal repentance, divine forgiveness and spiritual awakening for our nation'(11).

The Religious Right are only interested in power and wealth, not in the message of Christ which is summed up in one word: LOVE.

If Trump's platform is so Christian, then take the challenge and ask 'where is the love' in each of his policies. It isn't there. Hate and fear are the hallmarks of Trump. WWJD: 'Perfect love casts out all fear'. So how can Christians spruik that Trump is an answer to prayer.

Sadly, the Religious Right is in denial and actually believes that the accusations (such as sexual assaults, corruption, racism and so on) against Trump are perpetuated by a 'leftist media'.

One word: Google.

Seriously, don't just take the word of the 'leftist media', Google the veracity of the claims, check out Trump's speeches on YouTube. The man, by his own behaviour and words is a racist, a xenophobe, a sexist, a misogynist and a fear-monger. Blaming the leftist media is merely shooting the piano player. 

Trump is a sexual predator who has whipped up violent hysteria against minorities. Where's the love? If this is the candidate who is blessed by God to be President, then why are minorities being physically and verbally abused by his followers?(12) White Christian America has a long history of racism. It is so entrenched in the American psyche that the Religious White don't even recognise it as a sin or a crime. They feel that they should be able to stamp their authority over minorities and any criticism is just 'political correctness'.

Just to demonstrate how desperate the Religious Right is to justify their support of Trump, Franklin Graham jumped the shark with his truly ludicrous claim that 'because Abraham lied, Moses disobeyed God and David committed adultery, Trump should get a pass, not just on his personal behavior but also on his deception, cruelty and appeal to bigotry'(13).

Sure people can vote for Trump, after all this is the nature of democracy. However, no-one can legitimately claim that Trump ticks the Christian boxes and is favoured by God.

In essence, Trump is NOT the Messiah, he is a very naughty boy and the Religious Right cannot be trusted or believed if this is the man in whom they put their faith, if they are willing to believe lie after lie, if they are willing to accept hate speech and fear.

The Religious Right has forgone all credibility and cannot call themselves Christian if this is where their values lay.

Christian leaders endorse Trump (13)


1. The Huffington Post, Dr Jennifer Gunter, 'Donald Trump Confuses Birth With Abortion. And No, There Are No Ninth Month Abortions', 20 October 2016, Accessed 8 November 2016.

2. The Washington Post, Philip Bump, 'Donald Trump took 5 different positions on abortion in 3 days', 3 April 2016, Accessed 11 November 2016.

3. Politifact, 'Donald Trump's file', Accessed 8 November 2016.

4. Politifact, 'Hillary Clinton's file', Accessed 8 November 2016.

5. Independent, Feliks Garcia, 'Ku Klux Klan announces Donald Trump victory parade as white supremacists celebrate nationwide', 10 November 2016, Accessed 11 November 2016.

6. Al Jazeera, 'Reports of racist attacks rise after Donald Trump's win', 11 November 2016, Accessed 11 November 2016.

7.Harold Marcuse, Martin Niemöller's famous quotation: "First they came for the Communists ... ", Accessed 11 November 2016.

8. ABC News, Michael Vincent, 'Pope Francis says Donald Trump is 'not Christian' because of immigration policies', 19 February 2016, Accessed 11 November 2016.

9. National Public Radio, NPR Staff, All Things Considered, 'Pastor Max Lucado Baffled Over Evangelical Trump Supporters', 6 March 2016, Accessed 11 November 2016.

10. Religion News Service, Emily McFarlan Miller, '14 Conservative Christians who are not supporting Trump', 21 June 2016, Accessed 11 November 2016.

11. The Christian Post, CP Editors, 'Donald Trump is a scam. Evangelical Voters Shoul Back Away', 29 February 2016, Accessed 11 November 2016.

12. The Huffington Post, Lilly Workneh, 'Countless Acts of Hate Have Been Carried Out Since Trump's Win', 12 November 2016, Accessed 12 November 2016.

12. The Washington Post, Michael Gerson, 'Evangelical Christians are selling out faith for politics', 23 June 2016, Accessed 11 November 2016.

13., Gus Leonisky, 'doing enough... ', 23 June 2016, Accessed 11 November 2016.

Updated 12 November 2016

Sunday, November 6, 2016

In loyalty to their kind they cannot tolerate our minds

In loyalty to their kind they cannot tolerate our minds

The words of the indomitable Grace Slick and Jefferson Airplane's song, Crown of Creation, resonate today, stronger than ever with continuing attacks by politicians and other groups on the freedom of speech of those with whom they disagree.

While all politicians use spin to portray themselves in a better light than their opponents, the last two terms of the Liberal and National Party coalition federal government in Australia has seen an unprecedented attack on freedom of speech. An attack that has even extended to whistle-blowers who can be prosecuted for reporting criminal behaviour.

During the 2013 election, Tony Abbott successfully led the Coalition to victory, securing himself as the 28th prime minister of Australia. One of his promises during that election was that there would be no cuts to the ABC or SBS, both publicly funded media organisations. This became just one of many promises that Abbott broke. His first budget revealed cuts of $254 million to the ABC and $25 million to SBS, with around 500 jobs lost(1)(2).

These budget cuts were announced only months after Prime Minister Tony Abbott accused the ABC of not being 'on Australia's side' because they dared to suggest that asylum seekers could be telling the truth about abuse meted out to them by the Australian Navy(3). During this interview, Abbott also criticised the ABC's Fact Checking Unit, saying they should focus on news gathering. Apparently, actually checking facts isn't important, so it could be deduced that the government is only concerned about facts when they reveal their dishonesty.

ABC Fact Check had a field day with Abbott, for instance, exposing as false his claim that asylum seekers are illegal(4). No wonder he hated the Fact Checking Unit.

The man who would overthrow Abbott in a bloody coup, Malcolm Turnbull, was Communications Minister at the time. While many had hoped that replacing the feckless Abbott with the more statesmanlike Turnbull would result in better and more honest government. But nothing changed. Turnbull continued the government's subservience to the far-right parties and pandering to bigotry instead of challenging the lies and misrepresentations of the right wing extremists. But just like Abbott, Turnbull and the right-wing generally, struggle when the veracity of their claims is tested. So Turnbull maintained Abbott's attack on the ABC by axing the Fact Checking Unit(5).

The government continues assailing the ABC. Most recently by trying to influence its staffing policies, which ABC Chairman Jim Spigelman described as 'a fundamental challenge to the ABC's independence'(6).

While the ABC and SBS are publicly funded, their charters demand independence from political influence, yet it seems that our current leaders would rather the ABC and SBS were mouthpieces of the government. Perhaps it would be easier if the ABC was just renamed as TASS (the Russian New Agency whose every word was tightly controlled by the Soviet government back in the day).

In loyalty to their kind
They cannot tolerate our minds 

Individual ministers in the government have also shown their inability to handle criticism and willingness to hide the truth.

National Party member and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce was accused of arranging for the official parliamentary record, Hansard, to be changed after he gave a wrong answer regarding drought assistance to farmers. Following this, a letter was written to Joyce by Dr Paul Grimes, the then head of the Department of Agriculture, explaining that he had lost confidence in the integrity of Joyce. Within days of the letter, Grimes had stood down as secretary and shortly after, was sacked by Joyce who stated that their relationship lacked confidence and had no 'future prospects'(7). However, the letter from Grimes has now been made public following a Freedom of Information request, resulting in Joyce being accused of covering up not only his involvement in the changing of the Hansard record but also the reason for Grimes being sacked, namely that it was Joyce's integrity that was at the core of the issue(8). In keeping with his political leaders, Joyce showed he was unable to handle criticism, and worse, cover it up.

And then there's Attorney-General George Brandis. In true megalomaniac style, Brandis took it upon himself to establish a legally binding directive that no politician could directly access the Solicitor-General without first going through the Attorney-General. The Solicitor-General's role includes providing apolitical advice to politicians from any party as well as representing the Commonwealth in legal matters. The Solicitor-General Justin Gleeson understandably took exception to the directive issued by Brandis, believing that it undermined his independence and was pay back for an accusation from the government that he had met with Opposition leader Bill Shorten during the election campaign in 2016 (which is something he can do as his advice is considered non-partisan). The relationship between Brandis and Gleeson deteriorated to the point where Gleeson resigned, citing that their relationship was 'irretrievably broken'(9).

The government's highest law officer also has an inability to handle criticism.

Perhaps the most disturbing example of the government shutting down dissent is in relation to its refugee policies. The government has boasted of the effectiveness of these policies in stopping people smuggling, deaths at sea and 'illegal' migration (refer previously mentioned fact check article on the legality of asylum seekers). However, these are not the humanitarian policies that the government claims. Multiple agencies, including Amnesty International and the United Nations have reported systemic child abuse, torture and human rights abuses in the government's detention facilities.(10)(11)(12).

So what does the government do? Instead of rewarding whistle-blowers who expose human rights abuses, sexual assaults, child abuse and so on, it has made it illegal for people to reveal the horrors of Australia's gulags. It was only after a legal challenge in the High Court of Australia that the government quietly lifted the gag order on doctors. All other whistleblowers still face two years in jail under the Border Force Act if they expose the conditions and treatment of asylum seekers(13). In an era where there are Acts to protect whistleblowers, it is inconceivable that the government has made whistleblowing illegal when it comes to revealing human rights abuses.

When Gillian Triggs, President of the Human Rights Commission, dared to deliver a report that suggested Australia's treatment of refugees, in particular children, was found wanting. Numerous members of the government launched an all out war on Triggs, demanding her resignation(14). They were more incensed by the report's criticism than its contents. They'd rather shoot the messenger than stop abusing children in detention.

Even for those who are not employed or contracted to work in these centres, obtaining information is proving difficult. An accidentally released email shows that the Department of Immigration and Border Protection has been freezing the processing of Freedom of Information requests associated with asylum seekers on Nauru. This is a deliberate breach of the FOI legislation(15). Both the Abbott and Turnbull governments have relied on secrecy to avoid their turpitude being exposed. If questioned directly about asylum seekers, the standard response is that it can't be discussed because it is an 'operational matter'.

Australians pride themselves on living in a democratic country, where freedom of speech is revered and people can safely express their opinions and discuss events they have witnessed without the threat of bullying, intimidation, termination or imprisonment.

Australia's right-wing is stifling free speech through totalitarian censorship by either removing those who dissent, enacting laws that imprison those who speak up or by attacking the reporting capabilities of independent media outlets.

Instead of arguing over the right of people to be bigots (another of Brandis's claims)(16), Australians should be more concerned about the disturbing and ongoing attacks on our liberty and freedom of speech.


1. Australian Government, Ministers for the Department of Communication and the Arts, The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, 'The Future of  our Public Broadcasters', 19 November 2014, Accessed 6 November 2016.

2. ABC News, 'ABC funding to be cut by $254 million over five years, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull says', 19 November 2014, Accessed 6 November 2016.

3. ABC News, Latika Bourke, 'Prime Minister Tony Abbott says ABC not on Australia's side in interview with 2GB', 4 February 2014, Accessed 6 November 2016.


5. ABC News, 'ABC Fact Check unit to close following budget cuts', 18 May 2016, Accessed 6 November 2016.

6. The Sydney Morning Herald, Matthew Knott, 'A fundamental challenge to the ABC's independence': ABC chair unloads on Turnbull government, 2 November 2016, Accessed 6 November 2016.

7. ABC Rural, Anna Vidot, 'Agriculture Department secretary steps down after falling out with Minister Barnaby Joyce', 13 March 2015, Accessed 6 November 2016.

8. The Australian, Jared Owens, 'Barnaby Joyce accused of cover-up over Paul Grimes sacking', 25 October 2016, Accessed 6 November 2016.

9. ABC News, Henry Belot and Ashlynne McGhee, 'Solicitor-General resigns over 'broken' relationship with Attorney-General George Brandis', 24 October 2106, Accessed 6 November 2016.

10. Amnesty International, 'Australia's regime of cruelty has turned Nauru into an open-air prison', 17 October 2016, Accessed 6 November 2016.

11. The Sydney Morning Herald, Nick Miller, 'UN human rights review: Countries line up to criticise Australia for its treatment of asylum seekers', 10 November 2015, Accessed 6 November 2016.

12. Human Rights Law Centre, 'UN finds Australia's treatment of asylum seekers violates the Convention Against Torture', 9 March 2015, Accessed 6 November 2016.

13. Al Jazeera, 'Australia lifts gag order on doctors treating refugees', 20 October 2016, Accessed 6 November 2016.

14. The Age, 'The attack on Triggs is an Abbott stitch-up', 26 February 2015, Accessed 6 November 2016.

15. Guardian Australia, Paul Farrell and Ben Doherty, 'Immigration official says deparment is 'freezing' release of documents about Nauru', 2 November 2016, Accessed 6 November 2016.

16. The Conversation, David van Mill, 'Free speech: would removing Section 18C really give us the right to be bigots?', 8 August 2016, Accessed 6 November 2016.