India: misjudged as Tampa event

Religion, nationality, sex, and race cover a fair amount of the “identity” ground and Prime Minister Scott Morrison has trampled over a fair amount of it recently.

Identity is a distorting prism. It both splits the light and reflects it. Hence, during the 2019 election Labor supporters and a lot of the commentariat got it totally wrong when they thought that the outward expression by Morrison of some of the weird beliefs of his Pentecostal faith would turn voters off.

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Media distorts Covid reality

Every word of a media report can be true and accurate, but it can still mislead.

“Two dead of blood clotting after vaccine” is a classic case.

Novelty is an essential element of newsworthiness. The first Covid deaths got wide coverage. The 900 th got much less.

It explains Australians’ inconsistent approach to the risk Covid presents. 

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Housing: Reserve cannot be the driver

Putting on his best Churchillian accent, Yes Minister’s Jim Hacker envisioned his destiny and said: “When a country is going downhill, it’s time for someone to get into the driver’s seat and put his foot on the, er,  . . . “, only to have Bernard Woolley bring him to the absurd reality of bus hurtling out of control and Hacker as driver putting his foot on the accelerator making matters worse.

These days we like to think that our economic bus is guided by the steady and independent hands of the Reserve Bank.

Even so, the Reserve Bank seems to be having trouble at the moment making the economic bus perform as well as it should.

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History suggests crunch is coming

At some stage western democracies are going to have to tell the Chinese Communist Party that enough is enough and do so with more than just sanctions against a few individuals.

The US and European nations have imposed the sanctions against individuals in protest against the Chinese Government’s “mass arbitrary detention, torture, separation of families, forced labour and violations of reproductive rights” of the Uighur and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, in the words of Human Rights Watch Australia.

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Are women jurors being talked over?

There’s nothing like a bit of research to find out what has been going on. The publication this week of “Sex, Lies and Question Time” by former Labor Minister Kate Ellis adds to a series of earlier revelations about the toxic, misogynist culture in Parliament House.

Leaving aside the physical, mental and verbal assaults, the sidelining of women’s views, and men constantly ignoring or talking down and over women has obviously made our government worse, to the cost of all of us. 

It makes me wonder about other decision-making bodies. What if the talking down and over women and ignoring their views is also happening in jury rooms around Australia. Unfortunately, we can only wonder and not know. Ellis was able to interview women from all parties about their experiences and the revelations have done us a service. But the law in every jurisdiction in Australia makes it a criminal offence to interview jurors.

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Super class-warfare hypocrites

The hypocritical class warfare by some Coalition MPs over superannuation is not – as the cliches would have it – “sickening” nor “breath-taking”. It is merely just to be expected.

Those MPs are sitting in the Canberra bubble with their $200,000 plus salaries plus 15.4% superannuation on top. And their advisers are all on at least 14% superannuation and salaries way over the average wage.

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Porter case: prolonging the spotlight

If Prime Minister Scott Morrison thought that hell had no fury like the people demonstrating for gender equality and justice on Monday, just wait until Attorney-General Christian Porter gets awarded a bucketload of money in his defamation action smack in the middle of next year’s election campaign.

For all its nuances and complications, defamation law in Australia can be boiled down to two simple words: “media loses”. 

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Debating contests spawn poor culture

The location of the allegations made against Christian Porter (which he has vigorously denied) was the World Universities Debating Championship at Sydney University in 1988.

As it happened, two other now Federal Ministers also attended the event – Greg Hunt and Paul Fletcher.

Indeed, a lot of parliamentarians (both here and overseas, especially the UK) have been competitive school and university debaters. It has helped spawn an unfortunate culture in our Parliaments. True, not as destructive as the pervasive misogyny, but destructive nonetheless.

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Howard’s way: turning aged care into profit

One of the greatest sins of the Howard Government was its changes to aged care. And I must apologise for not mentioning it in last week’s column on the appalling legacy of the Howard Government. Events this past week show it was a bad omission.

In 1997, the Howard Government introduced the Aged Care Act. Under the guise of streamlining hostel and nursing care into one system, it opened the way for aged care to become a for-profit industry.

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