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What is democracy? — A procedural approach

In a previous post responding to an article in The Atlantic which argued that Australian democracy was at risk, I wrote that “democracy is a process, it is not a set of values”. I note here that, in the earlier post, I did not actually define what I meant by democracy beyond this assertion. The (since lost) responses on Medium to that post challenged this assertion. This post intends to clarify.

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Citipointe contract is just the start of the Liberals’ war on queer kids

A school in Brisbane has been the subject of public remonstrance over an enrolment contract foisted on to parents last week which appears to allow the school to expel LGBTI students and those who present as anything other than their “biological sex”. The Citipoint Christian College is a Pentecostal school whose governing body believes that homosexuality is morally equivalent to paedophilia. The contract is almost certainly in breach of the state of Queensland’s Anti-Discrimination Act (and the state education board is investigating) but if the federal Liberal government gets its way, that won’t matter. In any case, the contract is abhorrent and could potentially get the school in trouble — but not for the reasons you would think.

Continue reading “Citipointe contract is just the start of the Liberals’ war on queer kids”

AEC Twitter experiment outrages election conspiracy theorists

The Australian Electoral Commission has logged on, and both drips and antivaxxers are outside the window shouting at them to log off. (Show yourselves, cowards!)

Misinformation about voting is clearly at the top of the minds of election administrators around the world. The culture war is truly transnational and nonsense about Dominion voting machines, elections being a big scam, and people intentionally voting more than once is increasingly infecting the Australian discourse just as they have ruined America’s.

The Australian Electoral Commission, the independent government agency that runs federal elections, is acutely aware of this trend and have become extremely online — as the conspiracists are — in response. Earlier this year, they have taken advantage of YouTube’s Shorts feature to make shareable videos debunking common misconceptions. Since October, they have also become active on Twitter responding to the public’s takes on the procedures governing the upcoming election.

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Scabs riot outside Victorian CFMEU headquarters; organisers attacked

Protestors from the pro-death movement held a violent protest outside the Victorian offices of the CFMMEU’s construction division today, violently bashing in the John Cummins Building’s front door and assaulting much of the union’s leadership who were trying to calm protesters. This protest is the latest in a number of unsanctioned “unionist” protests by the (largely overlapping) anti-vax and anti-mandate movements.

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No Conor, Australia is not falling to COVID dictatorship

An excerpt from my newest post on Medium •

Australian democracy is not on COVID-induced life support

In 2020, American governments decided that it was acceptable to overwhelm their health system, permanently maim a potentially innumerable number of people with post-COVID syndrome, while slaughtering six hundred thousand of their own people in defence of their citizens’ right to go to a Denny’s. In 2021, the Australian states, who decided not to accept this outcome, ordered restaurants to use Uber Eats and click-and-collect: How utterly Orwellian?

At least, reasonable controls on movement during a pandemic being “Orwellian” appears to be the position of writer Conor Friedersdorf who sensationally questioned in The Atlantic whether or not Australia remains a liberal democracy.

His analysis lacks an engagement with the broader history of national emergencies in consolidated democracies and seems oversimplistic.

Read the rest here →


Post image © Sam Wilson (CC BY SA)

Could one stack The New Liberals?

Victor Kline, leader of The New Liberals, an upstart party which seeks to replace the Liberals on the centre, tweeted to those seeking to join the party, but who were unable to pay the party’s modest $50 a year fee ($10 for unwaged people), that there were generous benefactors who would “sponsor” their fees. The party will likely need more members, and is currently applying for a new name, in light of a government bill which will increase the ballot access requirements for political parties.

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Video: ANU students confront vice chancellor in protest of lack of action on sexual assault and harassment

Brian Schmidt AC and Grady Venville, surrounded by student protestors who are expressing their discontent with the ANU's lack of action on a Human Rights Commission report into sexual harassment and assault on campus.

Viewers, especially ANU students, are advised that this post may contain content that may cause distress to survivors of sexual abuse and institutional betrayal

Students at the Australian National University gathered in the Kambri Cultural Centre yesterday to mark the fourth anniversary of the release of the Australian Human Rights Commission’s landmark Change the Course report into sexual assault and harassment on university campuses with a protest. Since the release of the report, the ANU has been slow to implement its recommendations. Vice Chancellor Brian Schmidt AC admitted that reform had not been to the expected pace and told students that the reforms that are needed were “hard” to implement.

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Serial neo-Nazi pest finally in jail (update: he got out again)

A couple of days ago, Melbourne neo-Nazi Neil Erikson, former media coordinator of the fascist outfit United Patriots Front and founder of at least fifteen spin-off organisations, was jailed for ten weeks by the Victorian Magistrates’ Court for his part in a horrific invasion of the queer-friendly Melbourne Metropolitan Community Church. He carried out the vile trespass in a livestream with fellow provocateur Claudia Benitez (better known by her alias Dia Beltran) in May 2019. Erikson and Beltran entered the church, where Erikson started accusing those inside, predominantly queer people, of being heathens and shouting homophobic slurs.

This post looks back at some of his previous hate crimes against both Christian churches with whom he disagrees and Muslims in public.

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About that time Malcolm Fraser created a fake department…

With the controversy erupting earlier this year over Scott Morrison’s decision to keep embattled ministers Christian Porter and Linda Reynolds in his cabinet, it may be worth remembering how much worse it could have been had the Prime Minister not been able to find “real” jobs for Porter and Reynolds. He could have, as Malcolm Fraser did in 1982, created a fake department for one of them to lead.

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What will it take for the ANU’s tenants to pay their workers?

A few years ago, student newspaper Woroni caught the (now-closed) Sumo Salad restaurants in LK and the Canberra Centre underpaying its workers using a similar sham “training” arrangement of the kind that Grill’d would be caught doing a year later. This week, ANU Observer caught grocer Daily Market and popular bubble tea joint Chatime paying workers as little as $15 an hour while not receiving payslips.

In recent years, the ANU itself has been accused underpaying staff at University House, and tutors in the College of Science and College of Computer Science and Engineering. A report by UnionsACT in 2020 found that over 77% of on-campus workers experienced some form of underpayment.

Continue reading “What will it take for the ANU’s tenants to pay their workers?”