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Last Word on the Mayo By-election

If you are voting in the by-elections tomorrow, who should you vote for?

The key question is: “What do you want Australia to be?”

When you have a clear image in your mind of what you hope our future will be, you need to compare the candidates and ask which of them has the education, experience, tenacity, energy and intelligence to help make your vision a reality.

This is a Federal election. That means we are electing people to be part of the government of our nation. Local issues, and “What can you do for me?” should be a long way down the list.

I know that often they are not, and Liberal/National candidates are just as bad as anyone else at pandering to the notion of electorate X deserves more, without ever asking “More than who? Which electorates deserve less?”

The idea that Federal members are elected primarily to look after their electorate is not only alien to our history and constitution, it can have disastrous results. This is sometimes called pork-barrelling. It means that more needy electorates are neglected, or projects which would benefit the country as a whole are mismanaged or left undone entirely.

I will just add at this point that I am not a “rusted-on” Liberal supporter. I have never been a member of the Liberal Party. I did not vote for the Liberal candidate at the last Federal election, and sometimes when I have, it has not been with any enthusiasm, but simply because all the other parties and candidates were worse.

I am still not entirely enthusiastic about Malcolm Turnbull’s government. But in terms of candidates this time, there is one who is clearly more likely to form part of an effective, positive national government.

There are seven candidates in the Mayo by-election. Only two, Rebekha Sharkie and Georgina Downer, have any chance of being elected. Neither Family First nor Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives have a candidate this time.

There have been suggestions about both Sharkie and Downer that they do not belong, or are ring-ins. I don’t accept those arguments on either side.

Rebekha Sharkie lives in the electorate and clearly cares about the community. I wish she had sorted out her citizenship issues before causing this expensive and frustrating election, but now that she has genuinely revoked any citizenships other than that of Australia, she is clearly entitled to stand.

Georgina Downer’s family has lived in, worked in and been part of the Mayo electorate for over 100 years. She was raised here, went to school here, was married and had her early working and family life here. It is just silly to suggest she does not belong or cannot represent Mayo. By that argument, anyone who left Kangaroo Island for whatever reason; work, family, education, and then returned, would never again be a local or belong, no matter how long they had lived here, or what their family connections to the Island’s history. Some of those who make that absurd argument about Georgina would be rightly upset and angry if the same reasoning were applied to them.

I have never met Rebekha Sharkie. I get the impression from those who have that she is pleasant and well-spoken, and is genuinely concerned about the needs of the community. That is great. So is Georgina. At the same time, it is impossible to pin down what Ms Sharkie really believes, or what are her guiding principles.

She was a member of the Liberal Party, then deserted to join Nick Xenophon. That in itself is an issue, because apart from trying to stop poker machines, a cause in which he was completely ineffective, Nick’s political career seem to have been a mixture of self-promotion and following whatever issues he thought might win him votes. When Nick failed to get elected, Rebekha became an independent who votes mostly with Labor and the Greens. If you think Bill Shorten and Adam Bandt have the answers, then by all means go ahead and give her your vote. But think about what this means, both for the nation and for our electorate.

I will just give two examples of why this matters.

Small businesses include fishing, farming, tourism, medical practices, retailing and service. Small businesses are important. They belong to their communities in ways that big business cannot. They are responsive to their communities’ needs in ways that big businesses cannot be, and they employ locals when there are no big businesses to do so.

Small businesses are in trouble. The number of Australians employed by small businesses decreased by 330,000 (-7 per cent) between 2007 and 2016. High taxes, high energy costs and growing red tape have all contributed to this. A reduction of costs and of compliance burdens will help family businesses and help employment, especially in smaller communities.

The Treasury Laws Amendment (Enterprise Tax Plan) Bill 2016 reduced the tax burden on small businesses. Rebekha Sharkie voted against this. There are nearly 20,000 small businesses in Mayo. If she and the Labor/Greens alliance had had their way, every one of these businesses would now be worse off.

Ms Sharkie also voted with Bill Shorten and the Greens against legislation to tighten Australia’s immigration policy. This is not to stop legal immigration. No one has a problem with that. Most of us, if we are not immigrants ourselves, are the children or grandchildren of immigrants. The Migration Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 stopped people applying for visas which could lead to citizenship after they had arrived in Australia illegally. This is about security, fairness, and economic cost to legal immigrants and taxpayers.

Of course we have a duty to welcome genuine refugees and asylum seekers from neighbouring countries who are desperately fleeing war or famine. That legislation did not apply to those people, but to those who tried to shortcut the rules, enter the country illegally, and once here, apply to join a process leading to citizenship. That is wrong, unfair to Australia, and unfair to those who want to come, who have skills to offer, and who make the often time-consuming and expensive effort to do the right thing.

Rebekah voted against this amendment. If she and Bill Shorten and the Greens had won that vote, those who show no regard for our rules and attempt to jump the queue would have been treated better than those who show their respect for Australia by acting in accordance with our laws.

Because of these kind of votes, and because Ms Sharkie has so frequently changed her mind about her allegiances, it is not possible to have any confidence in her future votes or actions, regardless of how nice a person she seems to be.

There could not be a greater contrast with Georgina.

Georgina, as I have noted before, gained degrees in Law and Commerce in Melbourne and a Master’s Degree from the London School of Economics. She has worked as a solicitor and consultant, was a director of the Indigenous arts project The Torch, was a researcher for US Senator Chuck Hagel and for Baroness Howe of Idlicote in the House of Lords in the UK, represented Australia as a diplomat with the Australian Embassy in Japan, and has been a research fellow at the IPA, Australia’s leading free market, small government, evidence-based policy research and lobby group. And on top of all that has raised two young children, Henry and Margot. She has an exceptional degree of education, experience, commitment and skill.

What is just as important for Mayo and for her role in our national government is that she is clear and consistent about the principles that guide her thinking. She is committed to freedom of speech, to free markets, to small government and lower taxes, and to evidence based policy.

It comes down to this. What do you want Australia to be? Who of the candidates can you best rely on to make this vision a reality?

Mayo by-election …

I note with concern the report in today’s Islander in which candidates in the current Mayo by-election are asked “What will you do for us..?” as if this should be the key factor in deciding who to vote for.

I cannot fathom why anyone with any understanding of our Federal parliamentary system would think this question has anything to with the reasons for which a Federal member is elected.

Of course local members should know their electorates, and where possible, should have life, work and educational experience in them. But imagine every member thinking their job was to gain every possible advantage for their own electorate. It would be chaos.

We are not electing a lolly lady. We are, or should be, electing the person we believe has the experience, education, energy and intelligence to make a strong, long-term, positive contribution to an effective national government.

“Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests;
which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates;
but parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole;
where, not local purposes, not local prejudices, ought to guide,
but the general good, resulting from the general reason of the whole.”
Edmund Burke

A Bridge to Kangaroo Island

A bridge to Kangaroo Island..

It would be an amazing project, and an amazing feat of engineering. It could certainly be done.

7 News | KI Bridge

A multi-billion dollar proposal to build a bridge to Kangaroo Island has been met with anger from residents. The local Mayor says a bridge could be disastrous to the island's unique attractions and he is prepared to fight it.http://www.7plus.com.au/news #7News

7 News Adelaideさんの投稿 2018年7月22日日曜日

But not everything that can be done should be done. Would it be a good thing?

Firstly, by the time additional required infrastructure is installed on both sides, and provision made for safe passage of tankers and container ships under the bridge, the cost will be $12 billion, not $5 billion.

Secondly, Kangaroo Island certainly doesn’t need any more debacles like the airport. We were promised no cost to ratepayers, and more flights and more passengers. Ratepayers have been left with a $2 million debt, fewer flights and fewer passengers. But we’ve sold some paintings, so that’s nice..

So NO taxpayer or ratepayer funds, unless there is a genuine, independent business plan, as opposed to the in-house fairyland plan that was used to justify the expenditure of $22 million of taxpayer and ratepayer money on an airport. For fewer passengers. But some nice paintings.

Let’s say the bridge makes economic sense even with realistic costing and a rigorous business plan. Economic considerations are not the only considerations.

I have been amused, I have to say, by comments from a few of those who talk loudly about equity, diversity, open borders, inclusiveness, blah, blah, blah, saying this must not be allowed to happen because it would make it too easy for the riff-raff to get here. I’ll just go past that one…

Then there is this: “Nature’s island would be ruined! More people means more environmental destruction.” I can understand that concern, but it doesn’t hold up based on experience elsewhere. The more people who come to visit a place to admire and enjoy the environment, the more incentive there is, and the more money there is, to ensure local habitats, wildlife and scenery are preserved. More people coming to the Island would help to ensure the Island’s unique combination of wildlife and scenery are preserved for future generations, and for their own sake.

“Foxes and rabbits would get to the Island!” Well.. it’s a long walk across a long bridge, which would almost certainly be gated for tolls on one side, so that seems unlikely. Unless a bridge means people are going to start hiding those things and bringing them over over in their vehicles. Well, maybe. I guess. We’d certainly still need some biological restrictions and perhaps random checks.

“The crime rate would go up!” Yes, probably. That’s what happens when the population increases and there are more visitors. We would also have more police, and more available police and other emergency service workers. I think that one evens out.

“We’d need more accommodation, better services, better roads.” Absolutely. We need better roads and services now. One of the ongoing financial issues for KI Council is how to provide services over such a large area for such a small population. Increased population density means more efficiency and better services. Increased population and tourism means more government spending on infrastructure. This would mean most of the population would be both better off, and have access to better services.

There would be less reliance on ferries and planes to Adelaide, and no, or at least far fewer, issues with cheap and easy transport to the Island. This means greater convenience, and greater cost saving for both residents and visitors, even if, as seems inevitable, the bridge was partly funded by a toll.

Possibly, given better insfrastructure, services and accommodation, direct flights from cities other than Adelaide might then be feasible.

A bridge would transform the Island. Would that be a good thing? I would be happy, as long as environmental protections remain in place, and as long as Islanders are not saddled with another massive debt.

Georgina Downer and the Mayo By-Election

The current by-election in Mayo has been made necesary because Rebekha Sharkie was not entitled to stand or be elected because she was a citizen of another country at the time of her election.

That is not just my opinion! That is what the Court found, and that is why another expensive election is necessary.

One of the things that has frustrated me is that some of those who have expressed their intention to vote for Rebekha have had the unmitigated hypocrisy to describe Georgina Downer as a “ring-in.” Georgina, whose family has lived in, worked in, and been part of this electorate for over 100 years. Who grew up here, went to school here, worked here, got married here, had her early family life here.

Apparently going interstate and overseas to broaden her education and work experience means, according to some, that she doesn’t belong here. What rubbish.

Georgina gained degrees in Law and Commerce in Melbourne and a Masters Degree from the London School of Economics. She has worked as a solicitor and consultant, was a director of the Indigenous arts project The Torch, was a researcher for US Senator Chuck Hagel and for Baroness Howe of Idlicote in the House of Lords in the UK, represented Australia as a diplomat with the Australian Embassy in Japan, and has been a research fellow at the IPA, Australia’s leading free market, small government, evidence-based policy research and lobby group. And on top of all that has raised two young children, Henry and Margot.

Georgina Downer and Family at Home in the Mayo Electorate
Georgina Downer and Family at Home in the Mayo Electorate

With a long-standing background in Mayo, and this breadth of education and experience, it is difficult to imagine anyone more qualified both to represent Mayo, and to make a strong and positive contribution to our national government.

This is not a local Council election. An interest in, history in, and commitment to the local community is important, and Georgina has all those things in spades. We are electing someone to form part of the Federal Government. We need to elect someone with the skills, energy, intelligence and experience to help Australia grow strong and prosperous into the future.

We have a choice between a lolly-lady and a future Prime Minister.

Non-whiny Students Leave the Plantation

Some Hispanic students express the view that their failings are their own fault, and that the way forward is to accept responsibility and work harder.

Naturally, academia is appalled. Can’t you see there’s no point in trying? You’re oppressed! It’s all whitey’s fault!

Thankfully more and more young people are rejecting the elite/liberal/luvvie/progressive philosophy that leads to a lifetime of failure, poverty and resentment.

Who Are the Fascists?

Wikipedia is not always the most reliable of sources, but its definition of fascism is a reasonable starting point for discussion. A fascist is a follower of a political philosophy characterized by authoritarian views, desire for a strong central government, and no tolerance for opposing opinions. All forms of socialism, including Germany’s national socialism, are inherently fascist. They embody the two key identifying factors of fascism; strong central government and no tolerance for opposing views.

So what about the US president the media consistently denounce as a fascist, an idiot, and “literally Hitler”?

The Trump administration has removed red tape as fast as practically possible, repealing twenty-two regulations for every one enacted. This removes the brakes on private effort and enterprise, and shifts power away from government to the people. The opposite of fascism.

One of the first actions of the Trump administration was to reduce taxes. This gives more wealth and more freedom of choice to the people, while reducing the power of government. The opposite of fascism.

The Trump administration has partially reversed the onerous, limiting and expensive burden of Obamacare, restoring the right of individuals and businesses to buy whatever health insurance they want, or not to buy insurance at all. This reduces the power of government and bureaucrats and gives more power and choices to the people. The opposite of fascism.

He is insisting on rule of law, acting on resolutions passed by Congress, ie, the will of the people’s elected representatives, rather than simply ignoring the law, or directing law enforcement bodies not to enforce laws he does not like. The opposite of fascism.

One example is the decision of Congress, made while Bill Clinton was President, and ratified by Congress every few years since, that the US embassy to Israel should be in Israel’s capital city, Jerusalem. This decision by the people’s representatives was simply ignored by Clinton and subsequent Presidents. But not by President Trump. The opposite of “literally Hitler.”

Trump is the only Western leader in sixty years to bring North Korea into direct discussions with South Korea and the West. With this he has brought the hope of peace and freedom for the first time to millions of North Koreans. South Korean leaders have expressed astonished gratitude and openly said they believe Trump deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.

Reporters asked in mocking tones whether Trump was happy with the level of respect he had shown Kim Jong-Un and other North Korean leaders, and whether he regarded Kim Jong-Un as an equal. Trump replied that he would do whatever was necessary to secure peace. The opposite of fascism.

OK, but what about his racist Muslim travel ban?

Firstly, Islam is not a race. It is a religious and political ideology. Secondly, the seven countries affected by the ban were highlighted as severe security risks because of poor control of identity and travel, not by Trump, but by the Obama administration. Thirdly, 80% of Muslim countries and ninety percent of Muslims are unaffected, and fourthly, two of the countries, Venezuela and North Korea, are not Muslim countries. A nation’s leader has not only has the right, but the responsibility to work to ensure the security of his country and its people. That is not fascism.

OK, but what about tearing children away from their asylum-seeking families?

Rules requiring that children not be held in adult detention centres were established under President Bill Clinton in 1997. They have been enforced ever since, including during the eight years of the Obama administration.

Just as the media in Australia suddenly discovered a conscience about children in detention immediately after a government was elected which did not put children in detention and was doing its best to get them out and into the community, so the US media suddenly discovered a conscience about children being separated from their families as soon as a President was elected who was not convinced that this policy led to the best possible outcomes for the children concerned, for their families, or for the US.

By the time Time Magazine published its article denouncing Trump’s policy (it wasn’t his policy) and picturing him looking down sternly at a little girl in tears after being separated from her parents (she was never separated from her mother, they were housed together in a family unit in Texas) and by the time the shrieking hordes gathered in the street calling Trump a fascist for this heartless policy and demanding its repeal, he had already signed an executive order requiring that minor children arriving illegally in the US with their parents be housed with their parents for the duration of any necessary detention.

OK, but what about Melania visiting a detention centre wearing a jacket that said “I really don’t care. Do you?”

Let’s note first of all that the husbands of first ladies Clinton, Bush and Obama all placed children in detention separately from their parents. Not one of those ladies ever visited a centre where they were being held. Melania did. And she didn’t wear that jacket in, to, or anywhere near the detention centre. She wore it as she got on the plane in Washington as a message for the purveyors of exactly that kind of fake news.

Now let’s look at the self-titled “resistance.” Antifa wear masks to their violent riots, where they protest about laws they don’t like by beating passers-by, burning cars and breaking windows. That’s fascism.

Coddled university students stage sit-ins and violent protests to prevent speakers whose opinions they do not like from speaking or being heard. That’s fascism.

Democrat Maxine Waters said businesses should be forced to serve anyone who comes in the door anything they want, unless the customers are Republicans, in which case case they should be denounced and refused service. That’s fascism.

You don’t have to agree with all of President Trump’s policies. I am not convinced by his policies on trade. But I also know that a system where other governments, eg Canada’s, impose huge tariffs on US goods while expecting unfettered access to US markets, or, like the EU, provide huge subsidies to farmers and manufacturers while expecting the US to operate on a “level playing field,” is both unfair and unsustainable.

Disagreements about policies do not entitle me or anyone else to call Trump a fascist. He is simply not.

Gays, Bakers and Sarah Huckabee Sanders

I am astonished by claims of moral equivalence between a baker declining to make a cake with images and text contrary to his beliefs, and the refusal of service to White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders on the basis of who she works for.

The bakers did not refuse service because the customers were gay – they have other gay clients. They did not refuse to serve them because of their political views – they never ask clients what their views are because that is irrelevant to serving them. The bakers simply declined to make a cake with decorations and text they found offensive.

The clients, on the other hand, drove a hundred miles, past a dozen other bakeries, in order to find one they thought might decline to make their cake, so they could then pretend to be hurt and offended and take the bakers to court. That is not seeking freedom and justice, it is bullying.

Sarah Sanders was having dinner with her family at a local restaurant, when the proprietors ejected her because she held political views different to theirs. They then followed her across the street, abusing her as she went, and immediately bragged about doing so on social media. Instead of suing the restaurant or even making any fuss about it, Sarah did not say anything. She simply went somewhere else with her family. She only responded after the restaurant’s bragging about kicking her out was brought to her attention.

Who in these situations acted in ways consistent with fairness and respect for others?

More Anti-Energy Silliness

There is no reasons why activists should not be allowed to have their say, as long as policy is based on facts rather than ideology.

A saw a video recently purporting to be of a Norwegian fisherman lamenting the negative impact of the oil industry, and particularly of acoustic imaging, on Norwegian fisheries.

OK. Except that output from Norwegian fisheries has almost tripled over the last twenty years, at exactly the same time as huge growth in Norwegian oil exploration and export.

There is no negative impact at all. Just as there has been no negative impact in Australia, where whale populations in Southern and Western Australia have grown at close to maximum possible numbers at exactly the same time as large areas of ocean floor have been surveyed and new areas opened up for exploration and development.

I am reminded of the pioneering work of Professor Irving Janis on groupthink:

1. A group of people come to share a view or belief without proper refernce to real-world evidence, or wihout weighing other options or risks.

2. They then insist their belief is shared by all caring, right-thinking people. Consequently, people who disagree are perceived as evil or uncaring.

3. Those who adhere to the “correct” view attach themselves so strongly to their beliefs that it forms the basis of their sense of purpose and self-worth. Any disagreement is seen as an existential attack on them personally.

4. Because their view has little foundation in reality, they can defend it only by repeating the same falsehoods over and over, and by making irrational and sometimes savage attacks on anyone with a different view.

Citizenship and Australian Politicians

It is not controversial that if you are part of the government of a country, then your loyalty to that country should be undivided. It is perfectly reasonable to require that members of the Australian Federal Government should be citizens of Australia, and not of any other country.

Finding a clear way to make this work, however, has not been easy, as the recent spate of people forced to leave parliament because they are dual citizens of Australia and some other country has demonstrated.

In some cases this was simply carelessness. Those standing for election did not familiarise themselves with the law, or their parties did not undertake adequate checking. But in other cases, the law seems to have applied in ways its framers did not intend.

Barnaby Joyce, for example, was born in Australia, in Tamworth, NSW. He never considered himself anything other than Australian, never had any reason to believe he was anything other than Australian, and never felt any loyalty to any other country. But under New Zealand law, New Zealand citizenship was conferred on him at birth because his parents, though they had permanently moved to Australia, were still New Zealand citizens when he was born.

In another instance, Senator Lucy Gichuhi, who was born in Kenya, renounced her Kenyan citizenship when she became an Australian citizen in 2001. She took expensive legal advice, which confirmed that at the time of her election to the Senate she was a citizen only of Australia. However, in 2010, Kenya changed the law to allow dual citizenship. Those who became citizens of another country did not by doing so automatically void their Kenyan citizenship. This has renewed politically-driven speculation about Senator Gichuhi’s eligibility to be part of our government.

Senator Lucy Gichuhi
Senator Lucy Gichuhi

It is absurd for Australian law to be so unclear in its meaning and application that the laws of other countries can determine who is and who is not eligible to be a member of the Australian  government. At the moment, someone validly elected to our Parliament, and eligible to be elected at the time, can suddenly be rendered ineligible, not by any decision of the Australian people or government, but at the whim of a country half way around the world.

The stability of our government should not be dependent of the whims of the leadership of any other country, or on the vagaries of its laws. This needs to be fixed, now.

The solution is simple:

1. If a prospective member was born overseas or to parents who were citizens of another country, that person must show they have taken reasonable steps to ensure they are not a citizen of any country other than Australia.

2. All prospective members, whether born in Australia or not, or to Australian parents or not, must make a public statement that they formally and irrevocably renounce any other citizenships they may hold, or may become entitled to hold, during the period of their membership of the Australian Federal Parliament.

The law must be changed to note that this statement is an adequate renunciation of other citizenships for the purpose of membership of Parliament, regardless of laws or regulations in force in  any other country.

Every Day in Every Way …

“Every day in every way, I am getting better and better” was the catch-phrase of Émile Coué, French psychologist and pharmacist, who believed people could be healed and their lives improved through the power of aut0-suggestion.

His theories have long since fallen out of favour. But what is true is that every day, in almost every way, the world is getting better and better; cleaner, safer, healthier, happier.

The driving forces behind this change have been free trade, rule of law and secure property rights.

It is interesting how much of this progress towards a cleaner, safer, healthier, fairer world has been accomplished by three types of industry; pharmaceuticals, oil, and agri-science. Yet, those are the three types of companies the luvvies love to hate.

Free trade, rule of law and secure property rights are a recipe for a better world.
Free trade, rule of law and secure property rights are a recipe for a better world.
Cheap energy and science help too!
Cheap energy and science help too!