Illogical religious licence

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Attorney-General Christian Porter launched the updated version of their religious discrimination legislation last week as the real hell fires burned around them.

But the new version is no better and no less illogical as the original. It, too, goes well beyond what is needed or justified.

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Money tipped into non-education

The OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment tests not mere regurgitation, but capacity for analysis, thinking and evidence-based deductions. In 2019, Australia scored its worst result since the tests began in the early 2000s. At the same time we have a growing incapacity of our political leaders to think, analyse or draw evidence-based conclusions.

They grab at any straw to bolster the ideology of their side irrespective of evidence or logic.

Indeed, Education Minister Dan Tehan did this very thing when looking at what should be done about the PISA results.

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Let’s have MPs’ super all round

The Treasury’s current Retirement Income Review should have one figure firmly in mind. It is 15.4 per cent.

All Australians should be as concerned about this “review” as they are concerned about the quality of their mattresses. We spend a third of our lives asleep and almost a third of our lives in retirement. So we better not fall asleep while this review is used to degrade the superannuation entitlements of the bulk of Australians.

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Two-state solution should be discarded

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement that the US no longer finds Israeli settlements in the West Bank “inconsistent with international law” could in the long run do more to threaten Israel as a Jewish state than to buttress it.

Pompeo’s statement follows the US’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the earlier recognition of Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights which it conquered from Syria in the 1967 war.

In that war Israel also captured the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan and Sinai and Gaza from Egypt. It has only given Sinai back. But Syria, Jordan and Egypt have shown no signs of wanting their remaining territories back.

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Labour’s lost share of the cake

UNSPECIFIED – CIRCA 1865: Karl Marx (1818-1883), philosopher and German politician. (Photo by Roger Viollet Collection/Getty Images)

Wages are stagnant and inequality is rising, so maybe Karl Marx got it at least half right after all: capitalism, if left unbridled, carries the seeds of its own destruction.

We know the other half of Marxism is wrong: that after the working class rises up a utopian dictatorship of the proletariat will emerge. Three 70-year experiments tell us that all you get is a dictatorship – and repressive ones at that.

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US military’s got climate right

Please, Prime Minister, can we follow the US military into battle this time. We blindly and foolishly followed them into war in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, imagining, quite wrongly that it would improve our national security. But this time, for once, it would be intelligent to follow the US military in its global war against the climate crisis.

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Populism and fake news are here to stay


Labor’s excruciating navel-gazing and entrail-picking review this week of its May election loss makes a couple of good points – Bill Shorten was unpopular and Clive Palmer bought a lot of votes – and misses another crucial point – fake news and misinformation are beyond combatting.

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Lost chance to fix tax

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s knee-jerk dismissal of one of his backbencher’s tax proposals was a wasted opportunity and a hypocritical one at that.

The well-respected moderate Western Australian Liberal backbencher Senator Dean Smith proposed that payroll tax – perhaps the most insidious anti-jobs tax ever invented – and property stamp duties be abolished and in their place the GST be widened and/or increased slightly and that a modest land tax be introduced.

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FYI: get rid of big donations

Unsurprisingly, a survey of Australia’s federal politicians published this month did not directly mention the free flow of information, or lack of it, among the attributes of our democracy that they like or dislike.

But indirectly, they rated it as the most important thing to help restore trust in Australian democracy because three-quarters of them want tougher caps on both electoral spending and political donations.

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The not-so-private health and education

Terry Snow’s well-intentioned and generous gift of $20 million to Canberra Grammar School nonetheless highlights the major anomalies of education funding in Australia.

The Coalition Howard Abbott Turnbull and Morrison Governments’ blinkered ideology and Labor being hopelessly wedged has meant that far too much education funding is going to private schools which already educate their children very well, while public and the non-elite Catholic schools struggle for money that would greatly improve the education of their students.

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