We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

An Australian senator is summoned by the Equal Opportunities Commission

This is an excerpt from Hansard Australia recording a debate that took place in the Parliament of Australia on the 3rd September 2020:

Chamber Senateon 3/09/2020

Item ADJOURNMENT – Freedom of Speech

Senator CHANDLER (Tasmania) (17:45): Last week in the Senate I spoke about World Rugby’s efforts to defend the integrity and safety of women’s sport by ensuring women’s rugby is for female players. At the end of my speech, I referenced the recent case of a woman being fired from her job for speaking about the reality of biological sex. I posed the question:

How do Australians know that they are able to speak freely about women’s rights and the reality of biological sex without being censured or fired by their employer?

Well, it didn’t take long to get the answer to that question. The answer is that Australians are not free to acknowledge the realities of sex or to defend the integrity of women’s sport.

Today I received a letter from the Tasmanian equal opportunity commission, summoning me to attend a conciliation conference to answer for my statements on free speech and sex based rights. The complaint, made under the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Act, is in relation to an op-ed I had published in The Mercury earlier this year about, quite ironically, free speech. My op-ed started:

The recent publication of an open letter signed by 150 writers and academics in defence of free speech offers a glimmer of hope that we can put a stop to the anti-democratic cancel culture which has taken root in many corners of society.

Well, I’m not so sure about there being a glimmer of hope for free speech now. The complaint letter I received today says, in referencing my actions: ‘It is clear or can be inferred from her comments that she considers people who are born male and seek to live as a female should not have access to female toilets, facilities or sports. This is problematic because excluding someone who is designated male at birth and currently expresses their gender as female from single-sex facilities or sport may be direct discrimination on the basis of gender identity.’ It is open to the commissioner to dismiss the complaint as vexatious but without substance, but she has chosen instead to pursue it and to compel me to attend a compulsory mediation with the complainant.

Many democracies have a system whereby parliamentary committees or their equivalent demand the attendance of citizens so that questions can be put to them by the MPs. These sessions almost invariably display elected lawmakers at their most arrogant. I cheered when Dominic Cummings refused to appear before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee of the UK Parliament. But I have found one thing I hate more than elected politicians summoning members of the public for (theoretically) compulsory questioning: unelected bureaucrats summoning elected politicians for actually compulsory “conciliation”.

“Compulsory Conciliation” was the title of the post in the pro Scottish Independence blog “Wings Over Scotland” where I saw this illustration of how fast once-cherished notions of free speech can fall. It would have surprised me in 2014 to know that in 2020 I would be grateful to Stuart Campbell for the good work he is doing to protect civil liberties in Scotland. But that is the sort of thing that happens when a Bill allows as much scope for abuse as does the Hate Crime Bill (Scotland). People from all quarters of politics have seen the danger and come together to oppose it. And do not think for a moment that what happens in Scotland or Australia can be ignored elsewhere.

By the way, I was not particularly interested in Senator Claire Chandler’s exact views about the transgender issue, only in the fact that an “equalities” official can summon a Senator of the Parliament of Australia for questioning over her “problematic” opinions.

An Australian farce

The following article comes from a senior British academic and friend who has asked for his name not to be published. From my point of view (Jonathan Pearce) everything in this article, in terms of what I know about the cant of so much contemporary bank PR spin, this article rings 100 per cent true.

Western businesses like Australia’s ANZ have toyed with Chinese communism so much they have put themselves on an inevitable road to ruin. As a new Cold War between the West and China’s increasingly despotic and brittle communist regime comes into ever sharper view, one of Australia’s major banking groups has emerged as the world’s exemplar of what not to do when it comes to strategy and reputation.

The Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) has long been mired in scandal and rumour. Predictably, it is currently facing court battles concerning share price fixing and cartel accusations.

However, under the leadership of CEO Shayne Elliott and the bank’s Chair David Gonski things have become so toxic that some observers are detecting unprecedented levels of incompetence.

Unable or unwilling to execute a coherent strategy, Elliott and his team have wasted several years honing a quintessentially woke public relations veneer in an attempt to disguise the bank’s massive involvement in totalitarian China.While publicly talking the talk of ‘diversity and inclusion’, ANZ’s leadership have made sure the bank is walking the walk of the CCP.

As China stamps on people’s freedoms at home, in Hong Kong, and further afield (not to mention its use of concentration camps and the forced sterilisation of minorities), ANZ has not only been left with oceans of increasingly questionable investments in China but it has also been exposed for having worked alongside China in its information warfare assaults on western free speech.

Shamefully, ANZ even fed the career of one of its own employees, the US citizen and star trader Bogac Ozdemir, to a Chinese disinformation operation because he dared to speak out against the Chinese Communist Party.

Similarly, while ANZ is headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, the bank’s leadership has placed the organisation’s key data centre in the Chinese city of Chengdu.

Despite Chinese cyber-attacks on Australia and the recent expulsion by China of US diplomats from Chengdu, this is the city that Elliott chose as the location for ANZ’s main data ‘hub’ – therein putting at risk vast amounts of their customers’ personal information (not to mention all manner of emails and other communications).

Indeed, so far reaching has ANZ’s involvement and exposure to China been that Brussel’s EU Reporter recently likened the bank to running “the risk of becoming a twenty-first century Krupps or IG Farben”.

Strategically, ANZ is caught between the spokes of an unsustainable strategy on China, an overheating mortgage market in Australia, and a US-led west determined to face down the CCP and its proxies.

While most observers now expect Elliott’s contract with the bank will not be renewed in October, one insider in Melbourne goes so far as to say “he is toast,” adding, “Gonski’s exposure to China is so big he will have to go too.”

Truly, if ever you wanted to see a western business toy with totalitarianism, and in so doing place itself on a road of economic and reputational ruin, then this is it.

Devoid of morality, coherence and basic common sense, the failings of ANZ are so great they should make an entertaining MBA case study for years to come.

If it wasn’t so tragic, it would be funny.

There is a much simpler way to do this, you know

Like someone who comes out blinking from having seen a crime movie in the cinema only to find a crime scene in real life, I have emerged from being obsessed with the most important British election campaign of my lifetime to find that while I wasn’t looking politics has only gone and happened in other countries too.

Apparently the Australian government is trying to bring forward a bill banning religious discrimination. The Australian edition of the Guardian has an informative article about it:

Religious discrimination bill: what will Australians be allowed to say and do if it passes?

Statements of religious belief

Protection received: statements of religious belief will not be found to breach other federal, state and territory discrimination laws.

Examples:

  • A Christian may say that unrepentant sinners will go to hell, an example cited in the EM which mirrors the facts of Israel Folau’s case
  • A doctor may tell a transgender patient of their religious belief that God made men and women in his image and that gender is therefore binary (EM)
  • I can see why the coalition between the Liberal and National Parties that is currently in power in Australia wants to pass this bill. In the Anglosphere the politically correct Establishment continues its left wing course even when a vaguely right wing government is in power, as is the case in Australia now. It is common for this Establishment to try to suppress the freedom of speech of religious people, particularly Christians. If it became law this bill would redress the balance somewhat. It also does related things like give religious doctors the right to “conscientiously object to providing what the Guardian calls “a health service”, meaning contraception and abortion, and allows religious institutions to require their employees to hold the relevant religion.

    This will help some individuals who are being bullied by the Australian State, but only at the cost of cementing yet more firmly the idea that the only way to escape such bullying is to get your particular group defined as a “protected category”.

    I have an idea. Let’s put everyone into one big protected category.

    Truly the other side of the world

    “More than 60% of voters approve of major parties’ performance” reports today’s Guardian.

    Well, actually tomorrow’s Guardian, because it’s the Australian edition. I saw that headline and thought I had slipped into a parallel universe. A happier one:

    While national politics frets about its trust crisis, the bulk of Australian voters appear reasonably sanguine with both of the major parties five months on from the federal election, with more than 60% of the Guardian Essential sample rating the performance of the Coalition and Labor as excellent, good or fair.

    Such contentment is strange to see when one considers how alienating and painful the Guardian commentariat found Scott Morrison’s surprise election victory in May:

    The woman checking my name off the list around 8pm is angry and crying and saying, “I don’t get it, we went in with policies, they went in with nothing.”

    Inside it is awful. This is meant to be Bill Shorten’s victory party, but the energy is heavy – as if some trauma had taken place and a great shock was being absorbed. Inside no one is talking, and if they are, it is quietly and involves references to franking credits.

    I do not post Brigid Delaney’s article merely to mock. I could relate to her sense of shock at discovering that half your country does not, after all, broadly share your values that she describes in the following passage:

    In 2016 Britain voted for Brexit and America for Trump. In those countries, part of the national trauma was the realisation that one part of the country was so ill-acquainted with the other part. Citizens stopped knowing each other. The polls got it wrong, the media got it wrong, people were so siloed in their own tribes and social media bubbles that the other side winning felt like a profound shock. Like it wasn’t meant to happen. The falcon couldn’t hear the falconer and all that. And in those countries, it’s only gotten worse. Part of the damage in the years since has been the hardening of the lines and divisions between these tribes, between red and blue.

    (Though in my case the sense of shock came from realising just how many people support a limited democracy like that of Iran, in which one may only vote for options within a permitted range.)

    And yet five months after that day when the chasm opened, here we are: “more than 60% of the Guardian Essential sample rating the performance of the Coalition and Labor as excellent, good or fair”. The falcon hears the falconer just fine, thank you and the shape with the lion body and the head of a man and a gaze blank and pitiless as the sun is snuggled up next to the rough beast and snoring gently.

    What is Scott Morrison doing right?

    Oh no! We might not have to overthrow capitalism after all

    “Climate change: Trees ‘most effective solution’ for warming” reports the BBC.

    Researchers say an area the size of the US is available for planting trees around the world, and this could have a dramatic impact on climate change.

    The study shows that the space available for trees is far greater than previously thought, and would reduce CO2 in the atmosphere by 25%.

    The authors say that this is the most effective climate change solution available to the world right now.

    But other researchers say the new study is “too good to be true”.

    I do not know enough to say whether this paper by scientists at the Swiss science and technology university ETH Zurich really is too good to be true. But the paper was published in the respected journal Science, and seems to be being taken seriously by the scientific establishment.

    I cannot help remembering that when Tony Abbott was Leader of the Opposition in Australia and he suggested the planting of twenty million trees as a climate change mitigation measure, he was roundly mocked.

    It is a measure of how cynical I have become about the entire field that my first thought when I read this report was “why are they letting this be said now?”. Do not let us be consumed by cynicism: the answer to that might honestly be “because that seems to be the way the latest research is pointing”. It would be nice if so. Planting a lot of trees would hurt fewer people than almost any other massive state-backed programme I can envisage.

    Samizdata quote of the day

    How can an organisation claim it does not discriminate on the grounds of religion – which is a set of beliefs – and then fire someone for expressing those beliefs outside the organisation?

    Tim Newman

    “It was billed as the climate change election, and the climate lost.”

    So says the first line of the Guardian‘s report on the unexpected victory of Scott Morrison’s Liberal-National Coalition party in the Australian federal election.

    The election was framed as a great climate showdown. The Coalition has held power over a tumultuous six years, which has seen it topple two prime ministers and suffer from catastrophic infighting, largely over energy policy, as the party has been unable to agree on taking action on the climate crisis, or even agree as to its reality.

    The Labor party, which proposed introducing a target of reducing emissions by 45% by 2030, said the difference between the parties’ policies on the climate crisis was “night and day, black and white”.

    As I have said once or twice before, my level of belief in CAGW is two-and-a-half letters to the left of most people here. If you are curious, “CAGW” stands for Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming, though as of yesterday the Guardian‘s style guide has changed “Global warming” to “Global heating”. Yes, a rebranding exercise. All that is needed now is a shiny new logo and twitter handle and success is assured. After all it worked for The Independent Group Change UK The Remain Alliance For Change UK.

    What with this result in Australia and the French gilets jaunes movement born out of anger at a carbon tax on fuel, does anyone else get the impression that the latest burst of upping the political ante on climate change works splendidly right up to the moment when it meets the voters?

    For those who do truly believe that the peril of global warm.. heating is imminent and severe, it is time to get real. It is time to face the fact that drastic changes in lifestyle are necessary; that sacrifices are going to have to be made.

    Yes, it is time to drop your enjoyable revolutionary delusions and face the fact that if climate change mitigation is to happen at all it will be done within the capitalist system.

    Samizdata quote of the day

    Forty-one were killed at the Dean Ave. mosque, the first one that was targeted, where the murderer had plenty of time and at one point returned to his vehicle to reload. There were only seven killed at the Linwood mosque because one of the worshippers was armed.

    – John Hinderaker, Observations on Christchurch, referencing this article in the New Zealand Herald. (Via Instapundit.)

    Edit: When I read the NZ Herald report quoted by John Hinderaker it said the following:

    A second shooting happened at a mosque in the Linwood area of the city.

    One Friday prayer goer returned fire with a rifle or shotgun.

    Witnesses said they heard multiple gunshots around 1.45 pm.

    A well known Muslim local chased the shooters and fired two shots at them as they sped off.

    He was heard telling police officers he was firing in “self defence”.

    However as Hinderaker said in his very next sentence, “Early reports of catastrophic events like these always turn out to be wrong in some respects” and several later accounts such as this one in the UK Telegraph say that a worshipper, Abdul Aziz, grabbed one of the killer’s own abandoned weapons, tried to fire it but found it empty, but then used it to smash Tarrant’s windscreen. (Tarrant had gone back to his car to get more weapons or ammunition.) The Telegraph and other sources quote Mr Aziz as saying that it was because the windscreen shattered that Tarrant got scared. I presume Tarrant thought the gun had been fired and could be used against him, since I cannot see why the threat of being hit with a blunt object would cause an armed man in the middle of a murder spree to break it off and flee.

    Thanks to SkippyTony and John Galt for pointing this out. As John Galt says, “Presumably the now disarmed New Zealand public should go looking for guns dropped by active shooters in future events.”

    Those awful Americans and their guns. Not like civilised New Zealanders.

    The Times reports:

    Online stalker who flew round the world shot by girl’s mother

    A 25-year-old man who flew 9,000 miles from New Zealand to see an American teenager he had met online was shot by her mother as he was breaking into their house.

    Troy Skinner was armed with a pocket knife, pepper spray and duct tape when he began battering doors and smashed a window at the family’s home, detectives in Virginia said. He was taken by air ambulance to hospital in a critical condition after being shot twice, once in the neck, but was expected to survive.

    Sheriff James Agnew, of Goochland County, said: “The manner in which he attempted to enter that home in the face of a firearm pointed at him and the implements we recovered from him, the only inference is that he had very bad intent. He was not invited here, he was not expected here. He had been told the daughter no longer wished to communicate with him.”

    Mr Skinner had struck up a relationship with the 14-year-old girl on a video gamers’ chat app called Discord about four months ago, the sheriff said. The app says that it is a place for people who “love playing games” to share “relationships, memories, and laughs”.

    Mr Skinner decided to travel halfway across the world to see her when she tried to break things off. He had taken three flights and a long interstate bus trip to get to her house. “This was not random. This was not spontaneous. This was something very planned,” the sheriff said.

    And

    The mother told police that she was at home painting with her two teenage daughters when Mr Skinner came to the door. She refused to open it, but he then went around the back and tried to break down a rear door with a concrete block from their garden.

    The girl’s mother warned him several times that she was armed with a handgun and she opened fire when he smashed a glass panel and started reaching inside to try to open it by the latch.

    My apologies to readers from New Zealand. The sarcasm of my title was just a rhetorical device to make a particular point. Of course I am aware that this type of madman can arise in any country. The roles could easily be reversed, with an American obsessive armed with knife, pepper spray and duct tape trying to break into the house of a fourteen year old New Zealand girl.

    Of course given that in New Zealand, as in the UK,

    Gun licenses are issued at the discretion of the police in New Zealand provided the police consider the person to be of good standing and without criminal, psychiatric or drug issues as well as meeting other conditions such as having suitable storage facilities. To be issued, they must be issued for a valid reason, which may not include self defense.

    …if this had taken place in New Zealand or the UK the mother would have had no gun and the girl would have been raped and murdered.

    Samizdata quote of the day

    Key to the party’s operations in Australia is collapsing the categories of Chinese Communist Party, China, and the Chinese people into a single organic whole—until the point where the party can be dropped from polite conversation altogether. The conflation means that critics of the party’s activities can be readily caricatured and attacked as anti-China, anti-Chinese, and Sinophobic—labels that polarize and kill productive conversation. And it is only a short logical step to claim all ethnic Chinese people as “sons and daughters of the motherland,” regardless of citizenship.

    John Garnaut

    Bondi – beyond the Pale! And ‘Judenrein’?

    In the deep Australian winter, comes a chilling judgment from the New South Wales Land and Environment Court, a plan to build a synagogue is refused by a planning authority, partly on the ground that it presents an unacceptable risk to neighbours, due to the threat of terrorist attack.

    In New South Wales, the Local Authority objected to the proposed development with a ‘Contention 3’, which was tested in proceedings before the Land and Environment Court.

    Site Suitability
    3. The proposed development should be refused as the site is not suitable for
    the proposed synagogue use as the Preliminary Threat and Risk Analysis relied on by the Applicant raises concerns as to the safety and security of future users of the Synagogue, nearby residents, motorists and pedestrians in Wellington Street and the physical measures proposed to deal with the identified threats will have an unacceptable impact on the streetscape and adjoining properties.

    And the Court found against the Friends of Refugees from Eastern Europe, who wished to build a synagogue:

    Who bears the onus of proof?

    Having found that Contention 3 identifies a potential unacceptable risk of threat and there is a factual basis for the contention, the onus to address the contention rests with the applicant.
    Is the evidence of Mr Rothchild sufficient to address Contention 3?

    For reasons set out in the previous paragraphs I do not accept that Mr Rothchild has provided sufficient evidence to address Contention 3.

    So, as we can’t keep you safe, you can’t build on your own land. I have long wondered how long it would take Lefties to use planning law to well, enforce a policy of ‘Separate Development‘, that well-known Lefty plan from elsewhere in the Southern Hemisphere, now swept away.

    It is a judgment that presumes that the State cannot uphold the law (and in that it may be right!). It also has an indirect consequence of pointing to something like the ‘Pale of Settlement‘ of Tsarist Russia, where the law determined where Jews may or may not live, but here, live freely. To be fair to those Tsars, others apart from Jews had restrictions on their movements and residence, but that is not to excuse them. And to be fair to the Court, they are not targeting Jews, just simply upholding the law, following precedence perhaps, or even orders. The same could happen to Christians next, all you need to do is terrorise them, it seems.

    In my understanding, ‘beyond the Pale‘ derived from English settlement in Ireland going out beyond the protection of the law. Ironically, here the law says that under it, you are beyond its protection, at least if you are an observant Jew, or near to one.

    I have some modest, tongue-in-cheek suggestions for these unsafe Antipodeans:

    1. Re-submit the application but ask to build a mosque, church or temple.

    2. Offer to become Crypto-Jews, like those of Belmonte in Portugal, who finally felt safe and ‘came out’ in 1917 (rather poor timing given looming events in Germany, but thankfully they remained safe) having hidden their faith for centuries.

    3. Build a proper Ghetto like Venice, and with a few canals you might have a tourist attraction, and wait for Napoleon to liberate you.

    Advance Australia Fair.

    Footnote (edit): This council is in the Federal constituency of Australia’s Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull.

    Edit: 10th August 2017 H/T to Confused Old Misfit below: The Daily Mail reports that the Council have now agreed to the Synagogue being built. I wonder why?

    “The Setting of Their Leftist Suns”

    I loved the title of this autobiographical article by Tim Blair, describing how he came to turn away from the left wing views of his youth.*

    Tell your personal stories of political evolution, in any direction.

    *Basically he can’t keep his mouth shut.