….Academics have warned of the emerging threat from right-wing extremism at the Conference on Community Cohesion held by University of Western Sydney this past week.
….According to a report by The Age’s Rachel Olding, attendees framed right-wing extremism as a threat on par with Muslim radicalization in Australia, while a police spokesman admitted racial tension was having a direct impact on policework.
….At the conference, counterterrorism expert Anne Aly from Curtin University argued that violent extremism in Australia was starting to mirror that of the United States. Aly presented a recent New America Foundation study which found twice as many people had been killed by right-wing extremists than jihadists since 9/11.
….But what is driving increasing numbers of Australians to far-right views and organizations? Chairman of the Islamic Friendship Association Keysar Trad noted the influence of right wing pundits, suggesting they “take no responsibility for the hostile environment they have created.”
….In the age of the soundbite and 24 hour news cycle, are incautious comments and Islamic terrorism’s presence as the dominant security narrative actually making us less safe? And do we need to reflect on the role of our political leaders and media outlets in amplifying the perceived magnitude of these threats?
….Speaking to the conference, Deputy Commissioner and police force spokesman on cultural diversity Nick Kaldas said that increased perceived discrimination and racial tensions were having a “direct impact on policing and require us to continue to tailor [our] strategies and workforce.”
….A 2014 Ipsos Mori poll found that Australians wildly overestimated the number of Muslims in Australia. Respondents estimated that an average of 18% of the Australian population were Muslim, a full 16% higher than Australia’s actual Muslim population of 2%.
….Could certain views expressed by public figures and the media have enticed Australian citizens to more radical thinking? Furthermore, is it appropriate for members of parliament and the media to broach these issues in arguably indelicate ways, given the tensions that already exist?
….In September of last year, ABC Radio listeners heard Attorney General George Brandis’ contention that Daesh “represents or seeks to be an existential threat to us.”
….South Australian Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi recently won a six-month inquiry into food certification after expressing concern about where money for halal certification “ends up.” Some anti-halal campaigners have expressed concern that the money “funds terrorism” while others have ironically boycotted iconic Australian products like Vegemite in response to its halal certification.
….Even our Prime Minister Tony Abbott has made controversial remarks, stating most notably last year that he found the burqa “a fairly confronting form of attire” and “wish[es] it weren’t worn”.
….It seems possible for a person to contrive, from these and other statements, an extremely negative view of Islam and Muslim people. One that does not contextualize the insignificant number of extreme voices against the whole, the complexity and achievements of the Islamic world, nor the myriad positive contributions of Islamic Australians.
….At the Conference on Community Cohesion, Mr Kaldas labelled far-right extremism and protests which “encourage divisive notions of us and them” as some of the largest challenges facing Australian police. The Deputy Commissioner’s comments follow on the heels of Nationals MP George Christensen who, at time of writing, plans to attend a Reclaim Australia rally in his electorate this coming weekend citing his support for people defending the Australian way of life, culture, and freedom from radical Islam.
….For anyone whose political views stop short of “send them back where they came from,” social cohesion and a respectful multicultural society seem necessary for a prosperous Australia. Not just in these fraught young years of nationhood, but into the future as our country continues to grow.
….It’s imperative that our leaders and media outlets be mindful of their influence, and feel accountable for the extreme worldviews they might inadvertently promote. Australia, we need to talk about extremism, but our own extremist tendencies, and the way we shape debate, shouldn’t escape criticism.
In just a few short years, the Whitlam government: created Australia’s national health insurance scheme, Medibank; abolished university fees; introduced state aid to independent schools and needs-based school funding; returned traditional lands in the Northern Territory to the Gurindji people; drafted the first commonwealth lands right act; established diplomatic relations with China; withdrew the remaining Australian troops from Vietnam; introduced no-fault divorce laws; passed the Racial Discrimination Act; blocked moves to allow oil drilling on the Great Barrier Reef; introduced environmental protection legislation; and removed God Save the Queen as the national anthem.
“Poverty is a national waste as well as individual waste. We are all diminished when any of us are denied proper education. The nation is the poorer – a poorer economy, a poorer civilisation, because of this human and national waste.”
-Gough Whitlam’s 1969 election pitch for equal access to education.
….Prime Minister Tony Abbott has ruled out raising taxes to fund Australia’s participation in the coalition against IS militants in Iraq and Syria.
….The clarification comes after comments made by Treasurer Joe Hockey last week suggesting new budget cuts would have to be made to pay for Australia’s annual $500 million AUD military involvement and $630 million AUD expansion of Australian security agencies.
….Despite the PM’s assurances, concern is still bubbling in the community. Head of the Australian Thesaurus Association (ATA) Verr Bosse told Robolenin.com that the PM had his work ahead of him in ruling out synonyms for the word tax.
….“The PM said that there won’t be a tax hike,” Bosse said, in an exclusive interview. “But he didn’t rule out many of the wonderful synonyms for tax such as, contribution, cost, duty, expense, levy, price, rate, tariff, dues, excise, imposition, impost, obligation, tithe, toll, or tribute.”
….“This is a government which believes in lower taxes, not higher taxes,” the Prime Minister said, referring to his government’s policy of cutting public services instead of marginally increasing tax rates for high income earners.
….The government has belayed concerns about a possible rising cost in Iraq by unveiling its new military carpooling system.
….“The new military carpooling system will ensure that even if our involvement in the region escalates, we will never ever exceed annual expenditure of $500 million AUD,” a military spokesperson said.
….Meanwhile, Robolenin.com correspondents entrenched in Bill Shorten’s house have reported that the opposition leader has been losing sleep of late.
….Seemingly regretful of the opposition’s complete compliance with government policy, Shorten now wakes several times a night.
….“This death and deficit government,” Shorten reportedly mumbles, shackled within the cold prison of his own making.
….“Fuck that would poll well… ‘Death and deficit,’ shit.”
Australian Foreign Minister to visit Lao PDR
Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon Julie Bishop MP, will seek to add
further depth to Australia’s already close relationship with the Lao PDR on her
first official visit to the country later this week.
On her 4-5 July visit, Foreign Minister Bishop will seek to continue the
momentum of growing regional and global cooperation and high-level
exchanges between the Lao PDR and Australia over recent years.
Ms Bishop will also underline Australia’s commitment to continue to support
the Lao PDR’s economic development.
Australia remains one of the Lao PDR’s major development partners, with an annual program of over
AUD $60 million (LAK440 billion) in education, human resource development, rural development,
UXO clearance and victim support, trade and business reform, natural resource management and
market-focused agricultural research.
The Foreign Minister will discuss a range of bilateral and regional issues with Prime Minister, H.E. Mr
Thongsing Thammavong, and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, H.E. Dr Thongloun
She will discuss parliamentary cooperation and exchanges with National Assembly President, H.E.
Mrs Pany Yathortou, and launch a major new A$86 million (LAK 631 billion) Australian initiative in
basic education together with Minister of Education and Sports, H.E. Dr Phankham Viphavanh.
Foreign Minister Bishop will discuss opportunities to strengthen two-way trade and investment in
meetings with Minister of Industry and Commerce, H.E. Mrs Khemmani Pholsena, and with
Australian business representatives.
Ms Bishop will also meet senior Lao women leaders to discuss Australian support to promote
women’s economic empowerment and leadership, including the status of gender parity as a national
development priority in the next National Socio-Economic Development Plan (NSEDP).
Australia and the Lao PDR celebrated the 60th
anniversary of bilateral relations in 2012 – the Lao
PDR’s longest unbroken diplomatic relationship at Ambassador level.
More than 1,000 Lao graduates have studied in Australia under Australian Government scholarships.
Over 200 Lao students from disadvantaged backgrounds have received Australian scholarships to
obtain professional qualifications from the National University of Laos.
….Controversy has erupted over documents which appear to have been leaked from the upcoming Australian Federal Budget.
The documents purportedly detail the federal government’s new approach to aged care, disability support and health services among other areas.
….If the leak is to be believed, the budget will ignore many of the recommendations presented in the government’s commission of audit in favor of more decisive measures.
….One area of the budget describes the new government policy of setting the elderly, disabled and chronically ill adrift on Antarctic ice floes.
….“The policy addresses the fact that some people are unable to contribute to society in a time of heavy lifting and should therefore be given a gracious way out,” the document reads. “First there is a cold, a terrible, bitter cold. But after a while there’s just sleepiness. Aren’t you tired after your lifetime of contributions to Australia? Just shut your eyes, it’s really that easy.”
….The documents have provoked dissent from within the Coalition with some individuals revealing to Robolenin.com that the budgetary decision caused a schism within the party room.
….“We were divided pretty much 50/50,” the informant said. “Many of us believed that putting people onto the ice flows was ridiculous. Australia has some of the best desert wasteland in the world and it is absurd that the taxpayer would pay the cost to have these people transported to a barren freezing hellscape.”
….Robolenin.com reached out to the government for comment but were told that the Australia does not comment on frozen water operations.
….The disquiet comes at a difficult time for a government faced with crumbling approval ratings and a rapidly diminishing supply of nonreplenishable synonyms for the word ‘tax’.
….Other major shakeups in the documents include a re-imagined social security system. The Coal for the Dole program will see Centerlink applicants sent to open cut mines across the country. Payments will be issued to customers as a percentage of coal mined.
….The budget also includes provision for a HECS Heavy Lifting pilot program which will explore the ability for arts and climate science students to pay off their university debts via coal enterprise.
….Finally, the documents have revealed details regarding the government’s immigration and direct action climate policy. The Rickshaws for Citizenship initiative aims to provide a cheap, infinitely replenishable workforce to mitigate the negative effects of climate change.
….“We examined many models for direct action on climate change,” the documents read. “But the one that really struck a chord with us was indentured servitude. While some might think that forcing immigrants to pull rickshaws for a decade after coming to Australia is extreme, we think that it’s a natural next step in Australia’s immigration policy and a pivotal point in the country’s attitude towards carbon emissions,” the document concluded.
….Australia’s Coalition government announced today the implementation of its
12.4 24 billion AUD Pensioner Heating Assistance Programme (PHAP). In a rare show of bipartisanship the government will go ahead with the plan, formulated under the previous Labor government.
….The announcement comes just days before the public release of the government’s Commission of Audit. The report is expected to recommend vast changes to government expenditure with big-spend welfare programmes slated to be cut. PHAP has been described by political observers as a move by the government to assure Australia’s ageing population that they will be no worse off under the changes.
….Under PHAP, pensioners will be moved en masse to state of the art nursing home facilities in Williamtown, NSW and Tindal, NT. Tarmacs enclosing the nursing homes will see constant sorties of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, especially during the winter months.
….“It is of the highest importance that we uphold the social contract to our elderly,” said government spokesperson Massif Fanker. “We will not let the people who built this country go cold because of rising electricity costs. We simply won’t allow human suffering for some kind of frivolous and utterly unnecessary government expenditure,” concluded Fanker.
….PHAP will also enable pensioners to supplement their incomes by salvaging broken parts of the jets and selling them for scrap. Head of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme Lieutenant Chris Bogdan stated during a recent visit to Australia that as more planes enter active service parts are coming off the aircraft “too frequently” for maintenance.
….“It’ll be a bit like an easter egg hunt,” said Fanker. “The F-35 hasn’t even met its reliability goal of 50 percent. Currently the aircraft operates for four hours between critical failures, so there’ll always be some kind of malfunction to keep the elderly busy.”
….Some members of the left have criticised the move saying that the money could be better spent on trees, rescuing wallabies or returning the budget to surplus. The criticism lead to a response from the Coalition stating that they had found the Jets in the wine cellar at Kirribilli and if anything it was Labor’s jet-debt.
….“Of course the PHAP programme does have a secondary function,” said Fanker. “These are state of the art vehicles of destruction, no doubt about it. With the continued forced liberalisation of ethnically Australian people in New Zealand, PHAP is a necessary deterrent. The rehabilitation of Australians who return as pro-gay-hobbit-lovers is a continuing and acute drain on the taxpayer purse,” he concluded. When asked if Australia would consider the Annexation of New Zealand Fanker winked and replied; “We’ll see.”
…Trial PHAP programmes have seen such great success that the Coalition government is looking into other methods to increase the quality of life for at-risk groups. One such programme, still in its developmental stage will aim to provide much needed mobility for disabled individuals by transporting them on the hulls of a new Australian submarine fleet. The Disabled Underwater Mobility Baseline (DUMB) aims to insure that no disabled Australian is negatively affected by budgetary cuts.
….“We need to tackle this issue in a comprehensive and considered way. We don’t need knee-jerk reactions and stunts that give the illusion of action, but don’t make any real, lasting difference,” wrote Tony Abbott in his open letter to the nation shortly before stating the the matter was “in the hands of state and local governments.”
….“Boxing taught me many things, including the power of a single punch… we all want to see the courts absolutely throw the book at people who perpetuate this kind of gratuitous, unprovoked violence,” Abbott continued, unaware of the damage George R. R. Martin’s A Storm of Swords can cause when hurled at the back of someone’s head on a busy Saturday night.
….Elsewhere in his magnum opus Abbott compared the outrageous drinking habits of ‘youngsters’ to the healthy manner in which the older generation drinks. “… there’s a world of difference between having two or three drinks a night and occasionally a bit more on a Sunday night and this new binge drinking culture which sees young people drinking nothing from one week to the next and then, when they decide to have a drink, not knowing when or how to stop,” the Prime Minister wrote.
….It is indeed a mystery how a new generation could turn something so healthy as 14-21+ drinks a week into something so ugly as a dozen drinks on the weekend.
….At the same time a recent spate of marijuana fueled violence has failed to draw comment from the Prime Minister.
….“I just said that I was a big fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Books and I had a backlog of other things to watch,” said one man who preferred to stay anonymous.
“He proceeded to quite slowly wail on me, stopping only when he momentarily forgot what he was doing,” he said.
….Spokesperson for the Australian Association of Weedaholics, Saweet Sativa said that she was not surprised by people’s actions. “Some people are predisposed to violence with certain substances,” she said. “It’s a shame but it’s also a fact of life that some people are just biologically predisposed to become hyper violent while hitting a bong in their parents basement. Luckily these have had a lot of success drinking alcohol instead. Honestly we’re just lucky they have the choice.”
Behind the Satire
I have to admit I felt a little guilty writing this piece. That is to say despite my attitude towards satire as a constructive force in itself I felt compelled to write an afterword. While reading articles connected to Abbott’s open letter I came across tragic stories of violence that have left lives and families shattered.
After a night of drinking a man punches another man in the back of the head. Tomorrow the headline reads, teen binge drinking epidemic. It’s a very neat way of squaring the blame at the younger generation. These kids have just started drinking to excess for no reason whatsoever. Alcohol just necessarily leads to violence.
Or does it?
In the six months I’ve been living in Laos (Southeast Asia) I’ve not seen one fight. Not one punch, not one push, not even one burst of profanity. It seems pretty far away from Hindley St in Adelaide where walking down to your favorite bar is like doing a slalom around guys beating the living shit out of each other.
And that’s not to say that the Lao don’t like getting drunk. They definitely do. But their ‘binge drinking culture’ just doesn’t have that violent aspect to it.
Blaming drunken violence on ‘binge drinking culture’ is an easy way to avoid the painful truth that it’s not binge drinking that’s the problem. It’s us.
It’s our conception of masculinity in Australia that is driving violence on our streets, not alcohol. In many ways men drink heavily because they think it’s a ‘manly’ activity. In a society where our Prime Minister instructs us, for our health, to only have three drinks a night plus more on the weekends every person with a predisposition for alcoholism will surely feel its pull.
What does it mean to be a man? What exactly do we tell our boys from a young age? How does mass media, popular culture and I think most importantly Australian culture inform the way that males behave?
A man is ‘supposed’ to not cry, or accept insult, or be beaten in a contest of bravado. An Australian man is meant to be no-nonsense, he’s meant to be ‘blokey’ he’s meant to be crass and tough.
If a man is beaten in a contest of bravado, if someone shows up his machismo, then he is less of a man and more of a woman. It’s almost impossible to argue that being seen as feminine in mainstream male Australian culture isn’t undesirable.
The only way for the man to correct the grievance, to reclaim his rightful masculinity, is to display his dominance and perform an act of violence.
Don’t get me wrong, the mainstream idea of what it is to be feminine is equally absurd, but there are plenty of wonderful and far better versed feminist writers and activists who talk about this issue that I won’t go into it here.
The phenomenon of binge drinking has encompassed the public discourse because it allows us to distance ourselves from our own culpability.
Again, what makes a man want to punch another man over some minor grievance? What makes him think that nothing less than striking a perfect stranger will keep the respect of his friends? What makes him think that the kind of respect that requires violence is worth having?
Until we face the cold truth that we have become a society that values the transformation of men into monsters imbued with a violent code of conduct we will never stop our violent ‘binge drinking epidemic’.