Monthly Archives: September 2011

DIMIA thinks being a “guardian” is about deporting children and denying them access to independent lawyers

That’s some catch, that Catch-22:

NT Legal Aid’s Susan Cox, QC, said the commission was concerned that unaccompanied asylum seeker children were also not being provided with independent legal advice. NT Legal Aid had been blocked by the immigration department from gaining access to three unaccompanied minors in Darwin, she said.

The department replied that the minister for immigration was the guardian of unaccompanied asylum seeker children, so it was up to the department to appoint legal representatives.

The children can’t get a lawyer to look after their interests being ignored by the Department because the Department is the only entity that it will permit to arrange for them to have lawyers.

Check and mate, abused children.

Government to enforce AFL monopoly on scalping?

A nasty consequence of the pro-AFL “anti-scalping” laws passed by the previous government:

About eight weeks ago Michael… thought he had done well getting a premium ticket package which included pre and post match entertainment for $2170…. After he managed to to get a ticket as an AFL member for $138, he tried to sell his package ticket on eBay for $20 less than he had paid.

Yesterday he received a curt message from the AFL’s legal department cancelling his ticket with no compensation. He also discovered he faces possible charges for suspected scalping, an offence outlawed by the state government in 2006.

Net profit for the AFL: $2170. Net loss to Michael: $2170. Justification for this transfer of money from an ordinary (if apparently obscenely wealthy) citizen to the (much more obscenely wealthy) AFL? None that makes any sense.

If the anti-scalping laws were supposed to stop profiteering off Grand Final tickets, clearly the AFL’s $2170 tickets demonstrate how poorly they’re working. If they were supposed to further entrench corporate privilege at the expense of ordinary people… well, then mission accomplished. It’s the nasty way non-physical property is going these days. You don’t own the software you’ve paid for – just a “licence”. You don’t own the full game you’ve paid for – just the portion of content that isn’t locked away with a single-use code. You don’t own the tickets you’ve paid for – they can be cancelled.

Choice nails the real substance of the “anti-scalping” laws, in which Parliament enforces the privileges of a monopoly in screwing over its citizens:

Choice’s director of campaigns, Christopher Zinn, said he believed the problem of scalping was overblown by sports bodies like the AFL who wanted to monopolise ticket sales… ”We think there should be a legal secondary market so people can sell their tickets if they are ill or can’t attend for some other reason.”

If someone’s sick, why exactly should the AFL just get to keep their money and resell the seat? How is that just?

Here’s hoping the current government reviews the anti-scalping laws urgently. Here’s betting they won’t.

ELSEWHERE: Geelong’s principled support for the pokie reforms makes it the easy team to back on Saturday.

It’s not like sport existed before pokies

The AFL and NRL are courageously pointing out that sport will cease to exist if poker machine operators are required to give gamblers the ability to limit their losses with pre-commitment limits the gamblers themselves set.

Well, quite. Who doesn’t remember how the invention of sport followed the invention of pokies? Who doesn’t know a footballer who’ll abandon the game the moment that money isn’t coming from the pockets of the poor? Who doesn’t know, deep inside, that the activity of playing physical games of skill and competition will cease the minute that pokies have, shudder, pre-commitment facilities?

A highlight of the 2010 AFL Grand Final

And congratulations on the industry that profiteers on the misery of the poor for having the courage to run the same contradictory argument that the defenders of polluters are running against the carbon price – the “it will be completely ineffective but will simultaneously be devastating” line. They’re claiming the money they’ll lose – money that comes, by definition, from problem gamblers who as a result of the reforms manage to limit their losses – will be enormous; but that it will also make no difference whatsoever to the gamblers. That’s right – money only counts when it’s them losing it, not when problem gamblers do.

It must be difficult for that nation’s media to report such rubbish without actually laughing at it. It’s not possible that they don’t see the obvious contradiction. Which makes their discipline, sitting through press conferences by the pokie lobby without calling them on the absurdity, so impressive.

Hopefully the pokie industry can thank them properly when the time comes to splash huge sums of money on a shamelessly dishonest advertising campaign.

PS: Thank you to the Australian Christian Lobby for having the decency of going much harder on gay marriage than problem gambling. We were worried that you might be more concerned with the thing that actually hurts people.

UPDATE: Um, don’t do a google image search for “pokies”. It’s not what you think.

UPDATE #2: Leigh Sales actually did ask that question on tonight’s 7.30 on ABC. The Clubs Australia guy refused to answer it, and Leigh didn’t push him, but credit where it’s due. It’s a step towards journalism in Australia.

Monday morning links

Elizabeth Warren: “Nobody in this country got rich on his own”:

And, also in the US, following the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, marine recruiters start setting up stalls in gay centres. Come fight and die for the country that’s only just sort of willing to tolerate your existence!

Meanwhile, back home, Alex Greenwich from Australian Marriage Equality tries to reassure Jim Wallace that the diabolical “gay agenda” wants what he wants:

Jim, let me assure you WE COME IN PEACE.

Loving same-sex couples don’t want to destroy marriage. We want to be a part of it and help this great institution flourish and grow as it has in other nations that have allowed same-sex couples.

If you don’t believe me, look north to the Scandinavian countries and to American’s north east states. They have had same-sex marriage longer than most and heterosexual marriage rates have actually gone up!

Let me reassure you that we respect and uphold the right of churches to not marry a gay couple if they don’t want to.

Of course this should also mean that those faith communities, like progressive synagogues, that want to marry gay couples should be able to. This is matter of religious freedom, which I know you support.

We also share your concern for the wellbeing of children.

You recently launched the For Kids’ Sake report by Professor Patrick Parkinson which found kids with married parents do better.

With that in mind wouldn’t you agree that the children of same-sex parents deserve the right to married parents too, something that is currently denied to them?

I guess what I’m saying is that the most common arguments made against marriage equality – respecting marriage, protecting religion and enhancing children’s rights – are actually arguments for marriage equality.

In other words, you have nothing to fear from us. Jim, we come in peace.

Man, Jim must feel pretty silly after reading that. All of his anger, all of his wasted effort, for no good reason at all! Ah well. At least he can move on now.

Actually, even non-government MPs have a “mandate” – and it’s different from the government’s

I know it’s The Australian, and they’ll run anything that bashes the Greens, no matter how stupid, but I was a bit nonplussed to hear the published claim from some “retired professor” from South Australia that there was something wrong with them not voting for the Coalition’s legislation if it won a majority of seats in the House of Representatives.

THE Greens need a lesson in democracy, veteran political commentator Dean Jaensch fears…

Jaensch believes the Greens, unlike the Democrats, who passed Reith’s own workplace relations bills early in the Howard years, do not give much credence to the concept of a mandate.

“Environmentalism is an ideology that can be very powerful,” he explains. “I don’t think that they would recognise any mandate that had been won by the Liberal Party. It’s that ideology coupled with party politics that really defines the Greens.”

What “mandate” is he talking about? The Coalition has a “mandate” from its voters to push the policies in parliament it said it would push before the election. The ALP has a “mandate” from ITS voters to push the policies in parliament it said it would push before the election. The Greens have a “mandate” from THEIR voters to push the policies in parliament they said they would push before the election.

If the Greens have the ability to block Coalition legislation then it means, by definition, that the Coalition do not have a majority of seats. So why precisely should they get their way? Why should any party vote for legislation it told its voters it would oppose? THAT would be betraying its “mandate”.

We do not have a “winner takes all” system of government. We have a parliament. And the job of the members of that parliament is to represent the voters who entrusted them with their votes. The Coalition represents the voters who want big business to get more of its own way. The ALP represents the voters who think it doesn’t want big business to get more of its own way. And the Greens represent voters who want more economically, socially, and environmentally progressive government. It would be a betrayal of any of those voters for their representatives to suddenly, after the election, start voting for legislation they said they’d oppose.

Message to the Greens: whatever votes you’ve received, and whatever seats you’ve won (against the odds of a system stacked undemocratically in favour of the big parties), have been given to you to advocate those policies you said you’d advocate. That is your mandate. If you were to vote for legislation opposed to those principles, then you would no longer deserve our votes.

Remember what happened to the Democrats. They promised their voters they would not vote for the GST. Then they negotiated with Howard and voted for it – partly under the stupid claim that Howard had a “mandate” for the GST despite having not won enough seats to implement it without their help. And the Democrats’ politically-engaged voters, realising they could not rely on the Democrats to do what they said they’d do, abandoned them and went to the Greens.

The Oz quotes from a former senator from that failed party who seems not to have grasped that lesson:

Former Australian Democrats senator Andrew Murray remains respected on both sides of politics for his measured approach. He talks about an authoritarian streak in the Greens and a desire to impose their world view.

“Authoritarianism is characteristic of those messianically convinced of their rightness, like divine-right kings, theocrats and dictators; but political movements too can be like that,” he says.

Following what you said you’d do is “authoritarianism”? Murray just doesn’t get it. Authoritarianism is disregarding the people. Democracy is representing them. And the only way a party can represent its part of the electorate is to do what it said it would do before it was entrusted with the amount of power it received.

Any opposition party that thinks the government party’s “mandate” from the government party’s voters means that the opposition party has to abandon its responsibilities to its own voters deserves the Democrats’ oblivion.

Big parties do get away with it, true, but that appears to be mainly because they are appealing to the pool of voters who think they “must” choose one of the big two parties “that can form majority government in their own right”, even though they both regularly break promises (“That was a non-core promise!”). They also appeal to the politically-disengaged who don’t care or have any particular general view on issues. And of course they run such broad and often contradictory platforms that they don’t really stand for anything anyway.

But smaller parties, whose voters deliberately choose them FOR their specific policy stance, betray them and it at their peril.

Fortunately, unlike Mr Jaensch, the Greens don’t need a “lesson in democracy” at all. They understand that they are there to represent their voters – and that as long as they do that, their voters will continue to vote for them. And while The Australian doesn’t understand that, its relentless smears and attacks will continue to be ineffective in reducing the Greens’ support.

Won’t somebody think of the executioners?

So much of the liberal world is up in arms over the proposed execution of another likely innocent person in the southern US – temporarily and at-the-last-second delayed by the Supreme Court moments ago, but only on hold: Davis may well be killed in the next few hours anyway – as if they want the country to stop executing innocent people.

That’s just how anti-job the left is. What about the executioners and their families? What else are they supposed to do? If you’ve spent a career building up the expertise to hold someone down while someone else injects them with a poison, and then the state stops killing prisoners, what other jobs are you qualified for? Where do you put “dragging corpses out to the incinerator” on your resume? I suppose the left just wants these people on the dole, sucking down a government payment for doing NOTHING, instead of a government payment for killing people.

Why won’t somebody think of the executioners?

Whinge away – as long as you’re not part of the problem

The Punch publishes an article declaring that “Disrespecting pollies is as Aussie as flies at a barbie“:

In the final analysis, if political offices and political participants yearn for more respect, the first lesson they have to learn is that respect has to be earned. That is the message voters should send to their elected representatives.

Unfortunately, Mr Jaensch doesn’t spell out what this would entail: VOTING FOR POLITICIANS THAT DON’T DO THE THINGS YOU SAY YOU DESPISE.

The problem is that the people who whinge loudest about politicians “lying” to them keep voting for the ones that do. The people who whinge loudest about parties being beholden to “factions” keep voting for big parties made up of factions. The people who whinge loudest about corruption keep voting for parties that are corrupt.

The only way to get better politicians is to vote for better politicians. I am confident that I do. If you’re not confident about yours – perhaps you should vote for someone else.