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.

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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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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.

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ASIO pours cold water on Dutton’s false equivalency

As expected, in their submission to the parliamentary inquiry into political extremism, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation had almost nothing to say about left-wing violence and plenty to say about right-wing violence.

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I know it’s a bit late but scrap the link tax.

So, you’re telling me that a bill that provides disincentives for Facebook to cooperate disincentivised them from cooperating? And we’re supposed to be mad at Facebook for this‽ Anything to protect Rupert and Peter, I guess.

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Tudge and Porter must resign; Porter must be struck off if he sues Four Corners

Mr Tudge breached the ministerial standards and Mr Porter has had, at the very least, long-term misogynistic behaviour incompatible with the role of Attorney-General revealed for the world to see. In light of the allegations which are undisputed with regards to Tudge, and apparently well corroborated with regard to those against Porter, presented in last night’s episode of Four Corners, both should resign immediately.

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You can break the law. Just don’t break my rules.

On Sunday, Bridget McKenzie finally resigned from the ministry – setting off a leadership battle in the National Party in the process – but not for stealing $100 million dollars of Sports Australia’s money to run a re-election slush fund. It was a technicality, her membership of a clay target shooting club to whom she gave a grant constituted an conflict of interest in breach of the ministerial code.

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IPA researcher Wild doesn’t understand the ANAO. Or democracy. Or much of anything, really.

Last night, Daniel Wild, the Director of Research at conservative think tank the Institute of Public Affairs, published an article on Sky News in which he argues that Senator McKenzie is the victim of a “political hit-job” carried out by the ANAO at the request of shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus.

Mr Wild is wrong and his article shows an incredible lack of research and a lack understanding of how the ANAO, the public service and Australian democracy work. This post will explain why he is wrong by annotating the entire article.

Continue reading “IPA researcher Wild doesn’t understand the ANAO. Or democracy. Or much of anything, really.”