Teach ‘em Green, Raise ‘em Stupid

According to the latest international comparison, Australian kids are falling further behind, despite ever-larger sums of taxpayer cash being poured into the Chalk-Industrial Complex. One reason we’re raising another generation of dolts: propaganda passed off as wisdom

green teacherGreen/Left lobby Cool Australia, backed by Labor’s teacher unions and Bendigo Bank, is achieving massive success in brainwashing school students about the inhumanity of the federal government’s asylum-seeker policies, the evils of capitalism, and our imminent climate peril. The Cool Australia’s teaching templates are now being used by 52,540 teachers in 6,676 primary and high schools (71% of total schools). The courses have  impacted just over a million students via 140,000 lessons downloaded for classes this year alone. Students’ uptake of Cool Australia materials has doubled in the past three years.

Teachers are mostly flummoxed about how to prioritise “sustainability” throughout their primary and secondary school lessons, as required by the national curriculum.[1]  Cool Australia has marshaled a team of 19 professional curriculum writers who offer teachers and pupils easy templates for lessons that  include the sustainability mantra along with green and anti-government propaganda.

Teachers have grasped at the organisation’s labor-saving advantages. As one teacher enthused, “I love the fact they take some of the leg work out of my lessons and allow me to spend more time working on the outdoor gardens etc.” A coordinator (hopefully not of English courses) wrote that the lessons gave her “piece of mind”.

Much of the  Cool material, such as lessons advocating recycling and energy-saving, is largely harmless, even beneficial. But material on hot-button political topics is designed to turn students into green activists and anti-conservative bigots.

Kevin Donnelly: Why Johnny Can’t Count, Spell or Think

On asylum seekers, the basic “text” is the film “Chasing Asylum” by activist Eva Orner, whose intention is to shame Australia and mobilise international pressure against the Pacific solution. At least eleven different lessons for Years 9-10 feature her cinematic agitprop,  billed as a “documentary”. The film hardly conforms to the professed “apolitical” nature of Cool Australia courses.  The film’s descriptor reads:

Chasing Asylum exposes the real impact of Australia’s offshore detention policies and explores how ‘The Lucky Country’ became a country where leaders choose detention over compassion and governments deprive the desperate of their basic human rights. The film features never before seen footage from inside Australia’s offshore detention camps, revealing the personal impact of sending those in search of a safe home to languish in limbo. Chasing Asylum explores the mental, physical and fiscal consequences of Australia’s decision to lock away families in unsanitary conditions hidden from media scrutiny, destroying their lives under the pretext of saving them.

Emphasising that the coalition government is the main target, the film’s trailer plays the Abbott government’s ad featuring Lt-General Angus Campbell and Operation Sovereign Borders.

The title’s introduction says it’s “the film the Australian government doesn’t want you to see” and promises inside inspection to “the places the Australian Government doesn’t want you to go”. The commentary says, “There is sickness, disease, infection. It feels militarized … staff would have to be trained how to use a Hoffman’s knife. The knife would be used to cut people down when they are found hanging.”

A depressed boat person says, “I heard Australia is a safe country, a humane country,  it respects people and refugees”. Another says, “I have to forget my dreams here”  and “Please don’t forget about us, please don’t leave us here”.  A group of boat people chant, “We want our freedom!”. For added music-themed emotional impact, we see children’s drawings of themselves crying behind bars, with commentary: “They are growing up on white phosphate rock in mouldy, damp tents. They have no privacy and no space.”  Director Orner claimed last June that “we are the only people in the world that keeps children in indefinite detention.”

Cool Australia, which boasts that its material is kept up to datedoesn’t enlighten teachers that the number of children detained on Nauru has fallen from 167 in October 2014 to only 45 last October. That sort of data might spoil the narrative. Nor does the lesson explain that the only choice is having the children on Nauru with their parents, or off Nauru without their parents.

Ever politically correct, Cool Australia says teachers should ensure their classes have a safe space before seeing Orner’s confronting propaganda. Teachers should first pre-discuss it with “students, staff, family members and the local community”, and negotiate “classroom agreements” to ensure ownership and agreement that create a safe space for engagement with the learning stimulus and activities.

A whole course for Years 9-10, involving ten lessons,  is devoted to the book “This Changes Everything”, an anti-capitalism, anti-fossil-fuel polemic by Canadian activist Naomi Klein.[2] She advocates populist uprisings – “Blockadia” — against fossil-energy developments, and for gigantic dollar transfers to (mostly corrupt) Third World governments to repay the West’s (mythical) “climate debt”. She attacks even the major green groups such as WWF and Nature Conservancy as sell-outs to the fossil-fuel industry.[3]

One Cool Australia lesson about Klein’s book is titled, Climate Changes vs Capitalism.[4] It decries the impact on the environment of “our economic system’s push for continual growth”  and the “quality of life for all people”.[5] [6] In an unintentionally revealing disclosure, Cool Australia’s Teacher Notes describe the supposed climate crisis as “an opportunity for a new economic modelthat accounts for both people and the planet in a just and sustainable way…  After all, it will be young people who will inherit the world we have created… and who will reinvent a different future.” (My emphasis). This echoes similar sentiments by Christiana Figueres, when a top UN climate official: “This is  probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model, for the first time in human history.”[7]

It is a shock to realize that 50,000 teachers are taking in their stride this sort of officially-endorsed green loopiness:

“Students will then analyse a proposed plan for wealthy countries to pay Ecuador not to sell its oil, and write arguments to explain their position on the strategy of having wealthy countries compensate poorer countries for not exploiting their oil reserves.”

Worth noting is that Ecuador vainly sought from the West a total $US3.5b to refrain from oil production in the Yasuni basin. Having reneged on various Western loans, Ecuador is now dependent on Chinese aid, to be repaid by stepped-up oil production. Ecuador now risks becoming one of China’s client states. One can only wonder if or how teachers convey such real-world complexities to their 16-year-olds.

To demonstrate the inhumanity of Western capitalism, the course falls back on the Exxon Valdez oil spill of nearly 30 years ago and Shell’s oil exploitation and pollution in the Niger delta.[8] Shell’s worst spill was in fact nearly 50 years ago. The Niger Delta this century has degenerated into civil wars, while most of the oil-spill pollution involves breaking of pipelines to steal oil. The course, however, hectors students with questions like, “How would Australians react if, every year, an Exxon Valdez-worth of oil spilled into waterways in one of their communities? Why do you think so much oil has been allowed to spill in the Niger Delta for more than fifty years?”

Klein, awardee last month of the “tremendous honor” of the lunar-Left’s Sydney Peace Prize, gives Venezuela a big tick for poverty reduction and independence from Western oil barons. Back in the real world, oil-rich but socialist Venezuela is now barely staving off bankruptcy.

Students are served up extracts from the book and tested on how well they have grasped Klein’s message. One case study is Indian villagers’ protests against a new coal-fired power station. Teacher notes include:

Explore alternatives to economic growth that serve human needs and minimise the impact on the environment. Begin by having students read the This Changes Everything book excerpt…List the strategies described in the text.

The notes do not mention that energy poverty – chiefly, the lack of cheap and reliable electricity — is the main force consigning the Third World’s poor to destitution. Instead, teachers provide students with Cool’s inane questions. A typical asininity: “How do you think climate change would be affected if the global economy collapsed?” And here’s another leading question:

“What impacts is (sic) coal having on our environment? (Suggested answer: Coal mining activities are having a devastating effect on the Great Barrier Reef, and is affecting food production, water security and communities across the nation.)”

No material contrary to the dark-Green’s shtick is provided, other than several quotes including a supposedly tainted one from a Western Fuels US spokesman.[9]

Similarly, Cool Australia takes pains, despite its profession to “highest-quality” science, to screen out any peer-reviewed science sceptical of the IPCC conclusion that man-made CO2 has caused more than half the past 60 years’ warming, relative to natural forces. One unit indeed is titled, “Who is a climate sceptic?” This lumps sceptic science output with pro-smoking studies, anti-vaccination, vested fossil-fuel interests, creationism, and alien visitors. By posing the issue as accepters versus  non-accepters of “the climate science” Cool Australia disappears the hundreds of peer-reviewed science studies per annum (more than 250 in 2015 alone) rejecting the IPCC’s line.

To ensure students aren’t influenced by several quoted sceptic statements, the lesson gives students two “resources” to consult, the Skeptical Science blog, and The Consensus Project. Both, despite the first’s misleading title, are entities of John  Cook of Queensland University, who runs “myth-busting” courses on how to  combat what he calls Climate Denialism. Cook knows quite a bit more about promoting myths, as he is the man responsible for siring and propagating the furphy that 97% of scientists believe in man-made global warming.

There is no reference in Cool’s lesson on sceptics about what is now the 20-year absence of significant global warming, contrary to almost all orthodox climate models[10]; the steady downgrading in peer-reviewed work of climate sensitivity to CO2; and importance to climate of natural ocean, cloud and solar effects.

The final Klein-based lesson involves students designing and implementing a “community action” project, such as a public screening of This Changes Everything. Parents may not be aware that the national curriculum now wants “young people to design action that will lead to a more equitable, respectful and sustainable future.”

Cool Australia enjoys tax-deductible donations as a charity. [11] Its schools campaigns launched  in 2008 as the brainchild of Jason Kimberley, one of the Just Jeans’ Kimberley family, which grossed $64m from the group’s sale in 2001.

The sustainability requirement is acting as a Trojan Horse for sly green groups like Cool Australia to brainwash pupils. Why conservative state and federal governments have gone along with the conversion of schoolkids to Tiny Trots is a mystery. With half of parents voting conservative, it’s time for their own uprising against Left/green indoctrination in schools. Keep in mind that Cool Australia is just one of at least half a dozen green lobby groups — the Youth Climate Coalition is another peddler of pernicious propaganda — that have acquired carte blanche to harangue the classrooms.

Tony Thomas’s previous essay on Cool Australia is here. His new book of essays, That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, is available here


[1] Aboriginality and Asian engagement are likewise required as cross-curriculum topics, even in mathematics.

[2] The courses also proffer a film on the topics by Klein’s husband Avi Lewis. The trailer mainly consists of street protests dramas. Nine lessons focus on Tim Flannery’s ridiculous 2006 book, We Are the Weather Makers.

[3] Klein, a Jew, is an avid supporter of the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel – a cause she adopted at the height of the Gaza war in 2009. She is now campaigning for international sanctions against the US if Trump dumps the Paris climate accord.

[4] “ Use some of these keywords to initiate conversation (about capitalism): profit, money, private wealth, rich, poor, winners, loser, consumption, stuff, resources, economic systems, private ownership, humans.”

[5] Skeptic blogger Paul Homewood comments on Klein, “In reality, emissions in the West have declined substantially since 1990. Most of the increase she refers to has come from communist China. But it seems that communist emissions are good.”

[6] Klein, asked if one could fight climate change without fighting capitalism, replied, “No, I don’t think there is a way. We’ve been trying that for a long time…So the need for another economic model is urgent, and if the climate justice movement can show that responding to climate change is the best chance for a more just economic system, that creates more and better jobs, greater social equality, more and better social services, public transit, all these things that improve peoples daily lives, people will be ready to fight for those policies.”

[7]  See also,    “Climate policy has almost nothing to do any more with environmental protection. The next world climate summit is actually an economy summit, during which the distribution of the world’s resources will be negotiated.” Ottmar Edenhofer, IPCC stalwart, 14/11/2010.

[8] “Keywords: Climate debt, climate justice, social inequality, legacy of colonialism, economic development, This Changes Everything.”

[9] Klein has an apocalyptic impression of Australia, writing last June: “In recent months, the world’s gaze has landed again and again on a hellish Australian terrain of climate-related disaster.” She views the Pacific solution as a “monstrous” and as a racist attack on black and brown lives.

[10] The IPCC itself says 111 of 114 model runs over-estimated the warming trend.

[11] Prahran-based Cool Australia last year had revenue of $923,000 ($45,000 from government grants)  and posted a $73,000 loss, leading to a net liability of $282,000. It reported having 11 full and part-time workers. It creates a huge national impact for an under $1m organization.

COMMENTS [8]

  1. Bran Dee

    “Why conservative state and federal governments have gone along – – -”. An appropriate question posed by Tony Thomas and it could be asked of Conservatives in government during the last 40 years and on many topics.
    Working back from the present time:
    Why did Malcolm Turnbull appoint a Green as an advisor? Why appoint a progressive judge such as James Edelman to the High Court?
    Why did Tony Abbott appoint the former Democrat, Natasha Stott-Despoya? Why did Abbott allow and fund, the [Notso]Safe Schools program? Why does Mike Baird put up with NSW Education Minister Picoli and his gender bending? Why did we not oppose James Spigelman to become Chair of the ABC board in 2012 as he had been an advisor to Whitlam in 1972 when they purged the ABC board of conservatives. Why was Mark Scott, formerly of Fairfax Press, allowed 2 terms of hands-off management in the worker’s collective? Why did Mike Baird appoint him to NSW Education when he has been proven to be shy of conservative reform [remember he was Fairfax compatible? etc.

    • Warty

      All very good questions Bran. I might ask further: why have a bunch of deplorables voted for Donald Trump to be their president? Why have 1.7 million Australian voters abandoned the major parties in favour of a few minor parties? Why are there moves afoot in Europe to elect yet more conservative presidents and governments? Why is Francois Hollande on the nose, and Sarkozy cast aside along with Alain Juppe, the latter electing to pursue a ‘business as usual’ course with regards to the problem of Islam, and thereby losing pre-selection to the more decisive Francoise Fillon?
      My feeling is that we have not as yet drunk our fill of the Green bucket of fermented swill; nor have we put aside our tendency towards a ‘she’ll be right’ Australian complacency. But the time will come when it will all be too much to stomach, and our own ‘unwashed’ will want their time at the helm. We simply lack the leader with the degree of vision to lead us out of our own swamp.

    • Rob Brighton

      Because we let them.

  2. Bill Martin

    Contemplating the effects of the stupefying nature of the school curricula is more than a little alarming. Will the next generation of Australians consist mainly of largely illiterate/innumerate, far-left green freaks? Besides the fact that my advanced years will save me from having to endure such calamity, I am also heartened by my childhood experience of growing up in Hungary under Soviet communist domination. Most of us kids knew from our elders that what we were taught in schools – apart from the three r’s – was simply not true and most often reality was exactly the opposite. I do suspect, however, that the understanding of reality by the adults in that community was probably more robust than it is here in present day Australia. Still, I do hope that it still counts for something.

    • Warty

      Oh yes, it does count for something. I fact, I think you’ll have to extend your stay at least another 10 – 20 years Monsieur Bill, just so that you can persuade the adults in Australia that some particularly untoward things are going on under their noses. I have read a few accounts, recently, of life in Hungary during Soviet times, and it was quite a different ‘reality’ altogether.

  3. gray_rm

    I can only agree. Last week my daughter had someone come into school and talk to her Year 8 group about how the Barrier Reef is dying because of developments, mining, and man’s impact. Then she had an Aboriginal group talk about how they were dispossessed from their lands, and watched Rabbit Proof Fence to convince them of their guilt.
    It’s brainwashing.
    And the faux-Liberals do not care.
    Where’s our Trump?

  4. Bran Dee

    I am thinking Gray that in Australia’s game of chance our trump is Pauline Hanson and One Nation.

The Discordant Life of Paul Robeson

I’m one of a dwindling band who can say, “I heard Paul Robeson sing.” These days most people under sixty would respond, “Paul who?”

To answer that question briefly, Robeson (1898–1976) was the son of a former slave. He took up the cause of Negro liberation (like most of his race in the US at the time, he referred to himself as a Negro) from the 1930s, while achieving greatness in sport, acting, and especially singing folk and protest songs in his magnificent bass. He was also a militant Stalinist.

I was twenty when Robeson ended his 1960 tour of Australia at Perth. At 2 a.m. on Friday, December 2 he accepted a railways union invitation to sing at the Midland Railway Workshops at lunchtime. By noon, in a remarkable feat of logistics, the unions had mobilised a throng of 2000, including me. Robeson was a big black man wearing a curious black beret, delivering beautiful deep music from the back of a truck outside the workshop gates.

It was just coincidence, but my mother Joan the following year was with an Australian communist delegation to China and Russia, and in Moscow she was lodged at a dacha for the elite outside the city. She discovered that Robeson was secreted away in the same dacha complex. The unlikely explanation she was given was that he was being hidden from potential CIA evil-doers; he was actually hidden to conceal from the world the mental breakdown that began in the wake of his Australian tour.

When my mother died in 2008, my jobs included selecting the funeral music. After batting away numerous well-meant suggestions from third parties, I settled on Robeson singing “Deep River”. (I didn’t know then that “Deep River” had also been among the music for Robeson’s own funeral.) I gave the funeral director a CD including that track, and it played fine. But the funeral director let the CD run on to the next track, which to my horror was Robeson singing “The Killing Song”, from his 1935 movie Sanders of the River. Given that my mother had spent her life as a peace activist and stalwart of the Australian Peace Council, the lyrics were awful:

On, on, into battle, 

Mow them down like cattle! 

Stamp them into the dust! 

Kill, shoot, spear, smash, smite, slash, fight and sla-a-ay!

I flinched as the verses rolled on, but no one was paying attention, they were too busy chatting.

The favourite CD in my collection is Paul Robeson, The Legendary Moscow Concert. It was “legendary” in half a dozen different ways, some to Robeson’s credit, some not. That concert evening encapsulates many of the paradoxes of Robeson as a great man, a great talent, a great fighter, and a great hypocrite.

Angered by the toxic racism of the pre- and post-war US, Robeson made himself a champion for the thousand times more toxic regime of Joseph Stalin. Robeson’s lifelong principle was always to laud and never to criticise the Soviets. This was not the self-delusion of other “political pilgrims”; Robeson knew first-hand of the reality and lied through his teeth about it for the good of the cause.

The story of that concert in Moscow on June 14, 1949, is dramatic enough, but the back-story twists and turns like an over-plotted work of fiction.

Robeson was invited to perform at the Tchaikovsky Hall, Moscow, as part of celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the birth of Pushkin. Meanwhile Stalin, in his final spasm of butchery, was working up the “doctors’ plot” as a presage to a holocaust of Russia’s remaining Jews. The “plot” was that Jewish doctors were poisoning high-ranking party patients. The doctors were, unsurprisingly, confessing under torture. When a couple of them held out, Stalin commanded the interrogators to “Beat, beat, and again beat!”—a rare instance of the Lubyanka’s thugs being criticised for half-measures.

Robeson was friends with the Moscow theatre director Solomon Mikhoels and the poet Itzik Feffer, both Jews. He met them, in company with Albert Einstein, when they were fund-raising in the US in 1943 for the Soviet war effort.

In Moscow he was troubled by evidence of anti-Semitic purges, and asked his Soviet minders to arrange for him to meet Mikhoels. Robeson knew Mikhoels had mysteriously died—he had taken part in a memorial service for Mikhoels in New York. His minder said that Mikhoels, sadly, had died of a heart attack. The reality was that eighteen months previously, the MGB in Minsk had set up Mikhoels one evening via an agent, jabbed him with a poisoned needle, then bashed his temple in, shot him, and ran over him with a truck, leaving his body in the snow by the road, along with the body of their own unlucky agent. Stalin’s daughter Svetlana overheard Stalin on the phone directing that “car accident” be cited as the cause of death, although Robeson’s minders cited heart attack.

Robeson then insisted on meeting Feffer, who in fact was in the Lubyanka awaiting execution. Feffer was roused from his cell bed, tidied up, sent home to be dressed, then brought to Robeson’s hotel room. The room was bugged and, in any case, Feffer’s family were hostages for his good behaviour.

Feffer alerted Robeson—who spoke fluent Russian—to the facts by gestures and notes on scraps of paper, while conversing about innocuous matters. On one scrap of paper Feffer wrote, “Mikhoels murdered on Stalin’s order”. As for his own future, he drew his hand across his throat.

Robeson had to work out a discreet way to save his friend’s life. He had a powerful position—his farewell concert the next night was being broadcast live throughout the Soviet Union, and he had untouchable stature as a US friend of the regime.

His solution was to use the concert to send a coded message to Stalin himself, endorsing Mikhoels and Feffer by name, and the Jewish community in general. He could get away with it because the purge had not yet become explicitly anti-Semitic and he couldn’t be expected to know all the secret rules governing public behaviour.

The capacity audience included party bigwigs and Jewish intellectuals, both groups now living in fear of the midnight arrival of MGB vans. (The point of Stalin’s terror was its arbitrariness.)

Late in his concert, Robeson, in Russian, said he would dedicate a special encore, the song of the Vilna Jewish partisans, to his dear friend Solomon Mikhoels, “whose tragic and premature death has saddened me deeply”. He added to the shock by speaking of his pleasure at meeting Feffer, who he said was well and hard at work on his memoirs. There were gasps of astonishment—many there would have known Feffer was on death row. Robeson then said he would sing in Yiddish the song of the Vilna partisans, first translating into Russian a verse, “When leaden skies a bitter future may portend” that ends, “We survive!”

The audience was in an unbearable emotional state. Their very lives were on the line and here was Robeson fearlessly albeit indirectly deploring the purge.

After his unexpected encore, one brave woman stood up and applauded; the whole hall then erupted in waves of frantic applause. People broke down, weeping, or flung themselves tearfully into the arms of strangers.

Stalin waited three years, then executed Feffer anyway. The censors locked away the tape of the concert for half a century; it was released only in 1995, after the demise of the Soviet Union, minus Robeson’s provocative comments. The tape generated the CD, and with the CD I can now read the cover notes about Mikhoels and Feffer written by Paul’s son Paul Jr (1927–2014), and hear Robeson’s Yiddish song. I can also hear the first seconds of the fifteen-minute storm of applause, the rest of it snipped by the original censors.

But this rounded story, which so impressed me initially, unravels. First, Feffer had in fact been an NKVD/MGB informer since 1943, but got caught in the meat-grinder himself. Under interrogation, he falsely accused a hundred other Jews, but at his trial he had the courage to express pride in his Jewish identity.

Second, how was Robeson going to handle his knowledge of Stalin’s murderous ways, while remaining an advocate for the socialist paradise? He chose to lie about it, to deny the undeniable. On his return to the US, he told a reporter from Soviet Russia Today that allegations of Soviet anti-Semitism were wrong: “I met Jewish people all over the place … I heard no word about it.” He said the Soviets “had done everything” for their national minorities. “Everything” in reality included genocides of Cossacks, Ukrainian peasants, Crimean Tatars, Kalmyks, Volga Germans and many other minorities.

In his book published in 1950, a year after his Moscow concert, Robeson wrote:

The Soviet Union’s very existence, its example before the world of abolishing all discrimination based on color or nationality, its fight in every arena of world conflict for genuine democracy and for peace, this has given us Negroes the chance of achieving our complete liberation within our own time, within this generation.

He never again publicly mentioned Mikhoels and Feffer, nor criticised Stalin, whom he saw as safeguarding the interests of the downtrodden, especially Robeson’s “own people”.

Shortly after his Moscow concert, Robeson told Paul Jr the truth, but swore him to secrecy about it during his (Paul Sr’s) lifetime. An account of the Moscow hotel meeting with Feffer leaked, via the widow of film director Sergei Eisenstein. Paul Jr vehemently denied the account as “wholly false according to my father’s personal recounting of these events to me”. Paul Jr was also lying, but he recanted and told the truth in 1981.

Robeson viewed the Soviet Union as his “second motherland”, and even thought “first” might be more accurate. He began his visits to Russia in 1934, getting dizzying  veneration and opportunities, contrasting with the America of Jim Crow. He was even inspired to place Paul Jr in a Moscow school.

Paul Jr admitted that his father knew of the Ukrainian famine during his visit, but told him in 1937 that he couldn’t undermine the anti-fascist Soviet Union. Paul Robeson didn’t just ignore the Stalin-created Ukrainian famine, he lied his head off, telling the Daily Worker:

I was not prepared for the happiness I see on every face in Moscow. I was aware that there was no starvation here, but I was not prepared for the bounding life; the feeling of safety and abundance and freedom that I find here, wherever I turn.

Robeson’s position on the purges in the late 1930s was ambiguous. At the height of the terror he sided against the victims of the regime:

I can only say that anybody who lifts his hand against it ought to be shot! It is the government’s duty to put down any opposition to this really free society with a firm hand and I hope they will always do it … It is obvious that there is no terror here …

In 1952, when he’d become a pariah in the US, Robeson received the USSR’s highest honour—the Stalin Prize, worth US$25,000, an enormous sum in those days.

Even after Khrushchev’s denunciation of Stalin’s crimes in 1956, Robeson never criticised the dead vozhd (boss). When the Soviets invaded Hungary in 1956, Robeson supported them.

Robeson’s pro-Soviet advocacy turned US blacks against him, often in ways harrowing and humiliating for Robeson. In one 1951 incident in a Harlem bar, he told a famous black pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Don Newcombe, that Newcombe was one of his heroes. Newcombe responded, “I joined the army to fight people like you.” They nearly came to blows. One account has Newcombe being led out of the bar by one of Robeson’s quasi-bodyguards with a switchblade.

The nadir of Robeson’s career was his April 1949 speech at the Congress of the World Partisans of Peace in Paris, involving 2000 delegates, Picasso and luminaries such as Nobel-winner Frederic Joliot-Curie. The repercussions included the US government withdrawing his passport, trapping him in America from 1950 to 1958 and encouraging his blacklisting as a concert performer, which cut his income from US$100,000 a year to barely $5000. (Robeson did his 1960 Australian tour because he was offered a fee of US$100,000.)

So what did Robeson say in Paris? Immediately after the speech Associated Press reporter Joseph Dynan filed his report, which was picked up throughout the US press. It had Robeson purporting to speak on behalf of the 14 million US Negroes to the effect that they wouldn’t fight for the US against Russia in the event of a war. Mainstream Negro organisations disowned Robeson and protested their loyalty to the US. Robeson found himself isolated from both black and white America.

Dynan’s report quoted Robeson thus:

I bring you a message from the Negro people of America that they do not want a war which would send them back into a new kind of slavery … It is unthinkable that American Negroes would go to war on behalf of those who have oppressed us for generations against a country which in one generation has raised our people to the full dignity of mankind.

Robeson’s supporters claimed he had been stitched up by Dynan’s false report. They cite other, less damaging versions of his impromptu speech, such as the following, after translation into French and then back again into English:

We shall not put up with any hysterical raving that urges us to make war on anyone. Our will to fight for peace is strong. We shall not make war on anyone. We shall not make war on the Soviet Union.

There were half a dozen reports of the speech, all different. The closest to Dynan’s, in the UK’s Daily Worker, read:

It was unthinkable for himself and for the Negro people at home, that they should go to war in the interests of those who have oppressed them for generations, against a country which had shown there was no such thing as a backward people.

To me, as a reporter who has done hundreds of similar conference reports, the Dynan version is the most plausible. The role of a wire-service reporter is to get an accurate report filed as soon as possible. Dynan went straight from the hall after Robeson spoke, to write and despatch his copy. Dynan was an experienced professional and recent war correspondent in Italy. It’s a silly idea that he would delay to concoct a version to damage Robeson. The phrases in Dynan’s version are authentic Robeson. I’ve heard some of them on a tape of a private speech he gave in Perth eleven years later. Dynan couldn’t invent this Robeson-speak; he must have heard it.

Call it coincidence, but communist leaders elsewhere were expressing similar or more aggressive sentiments than Robeson. In Australia, for example, a month before the Paris conference, CPA general secretary Lance Sharkey said that “if Soviet Forces in pursuit of aggressors entered Australia, Australian workers would welcome them”. Sharkey got a three-year sentence for sedition.

Robeson provided only a muted denial of the AP report, saying that he was referring to Negro people globally as war-averse, not just to US Negroes.

The major controversy for half a century was whether Robeson was a Communist Party member or merely a supporter. He lost his US passport from 1950 to 1958 because he refused on principle to answer the question, “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party of the USA?” Witnesses who testified that he was a member were attacked by Robeson supporters as government shills. Robeson’s sympathetic biographer Martin Duberman concluded in 1988, “On the most obvious level, he was never a member of the CP-USA, never a functionary, never a participant in its daily bureaucratic operation …”

But in reality Robeson was a CP-USA member for decades. The party had decided he would be more effective for the cause if his membership remained secret—disclose the fact and you’d be expelled. When CP-USA general secretary Gus Hall was serving an eight-year sentence in the 1950s on McCarthy-era charges of conspiracy to advocate the violent overthrow of the US government, Robeson campaigned for his release on civil liberties grounds, without of course disclosing his own party membership.

But in 1998, on the hundredth anniversary of Robeson’s birth, Gus Hall announced, “We can now say that Paul Robeson was a member of the Communist Party.” Robeson’s membership was, he said, “an indelible fact of Paul’s life, [in] every way, every day of his adult life”. Robeson’s most precious moment, Hall said, occurred:

when I met with him to accept his dues and renew his yearly membership in the CP-USA. I and other Communist leaders like Henry Winston, the Party’s late, beloved national chair, met with Paul to brief him on politics and Party policies and to discuss his work and struggles.

Paul Jr, himself a CP-USA member from about 1948 to 1962, was a practitioner of dissembling. But when his father was outed—along with himself—he put it succinctly: “If people want a politically correct hero, then Paul Robeson’s not the man.”

Robeson’s reputation has come full circle, from guarded respect up to 1945, vilification for most of the Cold War as a Soviet stooge, and now respect again, especially from the liberal media. A recent profile on America’s PBS television gave him a twenty-one-gun salute, managing to make no mention of either communism or the Soviet Union. I must say the contradictions involved with any assessment of Robeson make him a tough subject to handle.

Forty of Tony Thomas’s Quadrant essays have recently been published by Connor Court as That’s Debatable—60 Years in Print

Alberici and Their ABC, At It Again

The latest episode of Foreign Correspondent says so much about the spigot of bias that is our national broadcaster it is difficult to know where to begin. Let us start, though, with the show’s inherent dishonesty — and then wonder why an allegedly conservative government funds a billion-dollar disgrace

alberici subway IIABC TV’s Emma Alberici wants us to believe that lice are twice as popular as US president-elect Donald Trump. In her 34-minute Foreign Correspondent special on Sunday night (20/11) she splices in (at 29mins) polling data showing 54% of respondent voters favored lice over Trump, while only 28% favored Trump over lice.

This doubtless had Alberici’s luvvie pals squirming with pleasure. It did nothing for the credibility of herself, Foreign Correspondent or the ABC. Nor did she see any  inconsistency worth explaining between the lice “finding” and Trump getting 61 million votes in the election.

She provided no context for the lice poll, merely lifting the factoid in from a youtube clip. In fact, the poll involved 1222 respondents nationally last May, and generated a raft of other crazy memes like Trump being slightly more popular than haemorrhoids and cockroaches.

Needless to say, the pollsters never sought views  on whether Hillary Clinton was more popular than lice, cockroaches or haemorrhoids, or whether Trump supporters hung up the phone  rather than take any more anti-Trump insults. But it was good enough for Alberici as part of Foreign Correspondent’s juvenile stitch-up of Trump and his supporters.

Other gems from the episode:

  • Alberici verbals Trump as boasting about “sexually assaulting” women. She edited the covert 2005 recording to delete his comment that the women consented to his advances
  • She takes seriously supposition from  New York Times Trump-hater Tim O’Brien, author of Trump biography TrumpNation, that if and when Trump family members work with him in the White House, they will plunder government money to corruptly enrich themselves. She even relays the hypothetical criminality to Republican congressman and  budget executive Tom Cole for comment, asking, “How will you make sure he puts the American people first and not his businesses?”
  • She lards her Trump “analysis” with further abuse from O’Brien:“His entire life has been short-term money-grubbing. That is the single biggest animating force, other than his need for attention” and “You mean you’re surprised that Donald Trump lies? He’s a serial fabulist to the point of almost being pathological. He will not hesitate to lie if he sees it in his short-term interest.”
  • Another Alberici talking head, a comedian apparently, likens Trump to a tame chimpanzee “who seems fun but someday Coco is going to tear your f—g limbs off.”
  • With cavalier imprecision, Alberici inserts grabs of Trump taking extreme positions, such as banning Muslim immigrants, without mentioning that Trump has already toned-down his policy to “extreme vetting” of those from terror-prone countries.
  • Alberici mocks Breitbart News  for a headline “Political Correctness Protects Muslim Rape Culture”. Alberici, bless her, has never heard of the recent rape epidemic by Muslim immigrants in Western Europe or  the 2012 conviction of nine Pakistani Muslims for gang rapes of scores of women over many year in Greater Manchester, while authorities looked the other way rather than ruffle the multicultural harmony thery prefer to believe is the normal state of affairs.
  • Her Main Street interviews with Trump supporters all happen to be white, fat. ageing, and working class.
  • She produces a New York Times reporter, Tim Rutenberg, as sage and oracle about Trump, as if the NYT had covered itself in glory with prescient coverage of the Trump/Clinton contest. In fact, the NYT publisher  issued a post-election apology and pledged to ‘re-dedicate  ourselves” to good  journalism.
  • Alberici, post-election, gets on a New York subway carriage where, surprise, other passengers are staring out the window or accessing their cell-phones. “I feel like a ghost at a funeral,” Alberici says, as if people on the subway there normally engage in merry japes and  folk dancing.
  • She ends the program with a protester waving a sign, “Not Mein Fuhrer”, and a factory churning out hideous face-mask caricatures of Trump.

At least twice in the 34 minutes, Alberici asks her interview subjects how they feel about Trump “boasting about sexual assaults” in the Access Hollywood tape.

To  black female Trump staffer Omarosa Manigault: “How did you feel when you saw that Access Hollywood tape with Trump boasting about sexually assaulting women?” (She plays her interview with Manigault with a straight bat, given that Manigualt seems to have triple Alberici’s IQ).

To two Trump-supporting women in a hair salon:  “What about what Trump said about women when he was caught on the tape  boasting about sexual assault?”

Alberici knew that Trump’s relevant words were:

“I’m automatically attracted to beautiful [women]—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything … Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.” (My emphasis. I’m not saying Trump’s words were tasteful).

So the context is that Trump, when he was an insanely rich media star, boasted that he had women groupies around him who would trade sex favors for access and relationship. To demonstrate her false point, Alberici aired the “pussy” bit of the tape while snipping off the key sentence, “When you’re a star they let you do it.” I’ve put in a complaint about this to the ABC, we’ll see how they (eventually) respond.[i]

In yet another tired “gotcha”, Alberici recycles Hillary’s debate claim about Trump calling women “pigs, slobs and dogs.”  Trump in fact acknowledged calling TV host Rosie O’Donnell fat and a loser. In 2013, O’Donnell shed 50lbs after surgery. The pair had been insulting each other for a decade, with O’Donnell falsely calling him a bankrupt. O’Donnell followed up “snake oil salesman” with “[He] left the first wife — had an affair. [He] had kids both times, but he’s the moral compass for 20-year-olds in America. Donald, sit and spin, my friend.” The link, however, also shows Trump treating his foe O’Donnell with surprising courtesy and compassion during one of her illnesses.

Alberici is particularly respectful when interviewing some of the “tens of thousands” of post-election protesters on the streets, panning to snuggly signs like “Take Care of Each Other”. She apparently failed to notice that pre-election, the Clinton team had a field day predicting that Trump supporters would not accept his imminent electoral defeat.

To sum up, the ABC is and will remain clueless about how and why Trump won the election. It will continue to serve its public with mindless sneers about Trump in lieu of analysis, as seen in Foreign Correspondent.

As a public educator, Alberici is a disgrace. As a source of information, Foreign Correspondent is a disgrace. For tolerating and promoting both of them, the ABC is a disgrace. But we knew all that, of course. What we don’t know is why the purportedly conservative government of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull disgraces itself by doing to nothing to clean out the national broadcaster’s billion-dollar stable.

Tony Thomas’ book of Quadrant essays, That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, is available here


[i] Alberici also verballed Tony Abbott when Prime Minister, causing the ABC to publish a correction.

COMMENTS [5]

  1. ianl

    > “… why the purportedly conservative government of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull disgraces itself by doing to nothing to clean out the national broadcaster’s billion-dollar stable”

    Thank you for the amusement, Tony, but the answer to your hypothetical question is that if Waffle dares to point an analytical question towards the ABC, why, then the banana will get it (or perhaps the pyjamas) – right between the eyes.

    And just you see what that does to your poll ratings, Waffle.

    • Tony Thomas

      I got a reply to my ABC complaint, with surprising alacrity:

      Thank you for your note about our story “President Trump” and in particular how it dealt with Mr Trump’s recorded statements about groping women.

      Given that sexual assault includes the sexual touching of another person without prior consent, I have no issue with the framing of Emma Alberici’s questions. I also note that Mr Trump’s staffer and the women Trump supporters in the hairdressing salon did not dispute the phrasing when the questions you mentioned were put to them.

      Kind regards

      ABC
      Michael Doyle
      Associate Producer, Foreign Correspondent

  2. Bran Dee

    Presently we have in Communications Minister Mitch Fifield one of the least effective in that office, apart from the former incumbent who was the preoccupied appointee of Tony Abbott, and was referred to in The Australian 21/11 as the Homer Simpson of the Turnbull government.

    Is Alberici not the spouse of another at the ABC, one who was given a make work position in the ‘Fact check’department?

  3. Patrick McCauley

    Alberici is particularly annoying because she holds herself in such high esteem. She seems to imagine herself not only a global citizen but also a member of the European (Italian) royalty which created the enlightened new political correctness. So Trump, for her, is a special insult. Her cultured fragilities have been doubly offended … more so than your ordinary couch feminist . She works and thinks ( and looks) more like a seductress than a journalist. More movie star than interviewer. She is the haircut the ABC wants for itself. However she may struggle to keep that under thirty ragamuffin look for much longer … as age settles her precocious bigotry into its rightful place.

  4. Keith Kennelly

    Drain the ABC swamp!

Finally, Warmists Find a Real Threat

Whatever else he does, President-elect Donald Trump can be counted on to shoo those green snouts out of the climate-scare trough — first by repealing Obama’s executive orders, then by re-directing from the UN to domestic environmental concerns. It’s a beautiful thing

green pig“I’m feeling very flat today,” snuffled Amanda McKenzie, CEO of Tim Flannery’s crowd-funded Climate Council.  As she should, given that  President-elect Trump will  end  the trillion-dollar renewable-energy scam so beloved by the council.

McKenzie continues, “Progress on climate change can feel hopeless and it’s tempting to give up and turn away.” But instead, she rattles the tin for donations of $10 a month “to allow us to undertake some massive projects next year that will power communities and everyday Australians to spearhead our renewable energy transition.” Good luck with that, Amanda.

Throughout the Western world, green lobbies are likewise oscillating between despair and self-delusion over the Trump election.

Trump’s agenda – as per his election website –  includes

  • Unleash America’s $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves, plus hundreds of years in clean coal reserves.
  • Declare American energy dominance a strategic economic and foreign policy goal of the United States.
  • Become, and stay, totally independent of any need to import energy from the OPEC cartel or any nations hostile to our interests.
  • Rescind all job-destroying Obama executive actions.
  • Reduce and eliminate all barriers to responsible energy production, creating at least a half million jobs a year, $30 billion in higher wages, and cheaper energy.

Trump says Obama’s onslaught of regulations has been a massive self-inflicted economic wound denying  Americans access to the energy wealth sitting under their feet: “This is the American People’s treasure, and they are entitled to share in the riches.” ore than that, the president-elect’s  common-sense policies make the 20,000 climate careerists and activists in Marrakech, led by Vice-President John Kerry, seem comically irrelevant. They were supposed to be implementing the feeble Paris climate accord – notwithstanding that China has just announced a 19% expansion of coal capacity over the next five years.

But with the US leadership no longer concerned about climate doom, the rationale for these annual talk-fests (22  to date) has evaporated. Robert McNally, energy consultant and former George W. Bush adviser,  says climate change policy “is going to come to a screeching halt. The Paris Agreement from a U.S. perspective is a dead agreement walking.”

The agreement now has only the EU’s backing in terms of actual and significant cuts to emissions, although Australia is also now pledging to do its tiny bit for foot-shooting insanity. The EU’s continued subsidies to renewables will merely worsen its competitiveness vis a vis the new energy powerhouse across the Atlantic.

Trump has pledged not only to rip up the Paris deal, but to withdraw all US climate funding to the UN. The UN climate fund is supposed to build to $100b a year for Third World mendicants. Obama has given $500m so far and pledged $3 billion to the UN climate fund,  but Trump will divert those billions to domestic environmental projects such as the Florida Everglades. As he told supporters,  “We’re spending hundreds of billions of dollars. We don’t even know who’s doing what with the money.”

Obama, unable to get his climate legislation through the Republican-controlled Congress, used regulatory powers instead to get the job done. Trump can now neutralize those efforts simply by reversal or non-enforcement of the regulations.

One of the climate war’s best-kept secrets is that there is no real constituency for renewables, other than vested interests and noisy green groups.[1] That’s why both candidates gave global warming so little prominence in the campaign. Nearly a third of Americans think the global warming scare is a total hoax.

It’s a similar story internationally: a UN annual poll last month (9.7m respondents) had “action on climate change” rating dead last among 16 issues, with top ratings going to education, health care and jobs. Even people from the richest nations rated climate action only 10th. The poll in 2015 got the same result.

Trump’s personal view on climate-change science  is that  CO2 is probably causing some warming but the scare is vastly exaggerated.[2] He will therefore reverse Obama’s assault on the coal and coal-fired power sectors and give them a better chance to compete with natural gas.

Trump’s choice of key climate advisers is a nightmare for the warmist establishment. To transition the US Environmental Protection Agency from climate activism, he’s picked outspoken skeptic Myron Ebell, director of the Center for Energy & Environment at the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute . The CEI is equivalent to Australia’s Institute of Public Affairs.

Ebell laughs at his leftist critics and cites to congress his Greenpeace listing as a leading “climate criminal”.  He thinks warming will not be a problem for one or two centuries; meanwhile we should expand access to all types of energy – on an unsubsidized basis.

Canadian climate scientist Tim Ball told a Melbourne seminar this week that Trump is getting science advice from satellite meteorologist Dr Roy Spencer. Spencer’s  data has demonstrated that orthodox climate models have exaggerated actual warming by a factor of two to three. His own readings from satellites showed no significant warming for the 21 years up to the 2015-16 El Nino spike. He emphasises the vast uncertainties about climate forecasting and the still-unknown roles of natural forces.

Spencer, who holds a NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal for global temperature monitoring, believes  the near-universal funding of climate research by governments causes a bias towards catastrophic forecasting, since governments won’t fund non-problems. He wants funding to be at arm’s length from political interests. For the Department of Energy, Trump has picked energy lobbyist Mike McKenna, with ties to the industry-backed American Energy Alliance and Institute for Energy Research.

Trump’s election is rocking the climate-scare industry to its foundations. Four decades of madness is coming to an end.

Tony Thomas’s book of essays, That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, is available here

 


[1] A YouGov poll of 18,000 people in 17 countries last February  found only 9.2 percent of Americans rank global warming as their biggest concern.   Their biggest concern was global terrorism (28%).

[2] His understudy Mike Pence hits the same note: ‘I think the science is very mixed on the subject of global warming’.

Sex Pistils at the Oz Council Bathhouse

The planet is sliding toward a climate-change cataclysm, so why not have some good old-fashioned fun with amorous slugs and carnal cuttlefish, not to mention those wanton waratahs? It’s all at the Ecosexual Bathhouse, where grant-fed artists turn tax dollars into compost

green orgyDrat! I’m LGBTQI2-S friendly[i], as everyone knows, but I missed the chance to visit the taxpayer-supported Ecosexual Bathhouse at Sydney’s Liveworks Festival a fortnight ago. The Bathhouse is intended to help save the planet from climate catastrophe by enabling people like me to have erotic experiences with earth-borne creatures such as slugs.

The Ecosexual Bathhouse is the queer/environmental creation of Perth art group Pony Express, comprising US expatriate academic Loren Kronemyer and playwright Ian Sinclair. It was also a feature of Melbourne’s Next Wave Festival  in the Botanic Gardens last May. The Australia Council gave Sinclair a $29,998 development grant  for the Bathhouse in May last year and a further $26,999 last November (total $56,997).

sinclair 1

 

sinclair 2

The Bathhouse also got $20,000 from the WA Department of Culture and the Arts, and $4000 from the federal government-supported Creative Partnerships Australia.

The Bathhouse attendants wear towels and lingerie. In the “Pollination Hall” friends, sometimes called “fronds”, pollinate orchids by hand, using a finger condom given to them by the maître d’.

The dark room in the installation, according to the grant application, has a “shape- shifting dominatrix [who] inhabits this room, a sort of dungeon where she performs the seduction dances of various animals.  Throughout the night, the [dominatrix] leaves her room and selects audience members one by one, whom she blindfolds and brings to her room. Other audiences can voyeuristically peer through the translucent wall to watch the dances.”

The dances include:

Slug Sex: The dominatrix uses UV light “to illuminate a trail of goo, which she produces in a graceful, entwining dance. Music is a lugubrious, downbeat, sensual song. Projector displays video of 
the phenomenal slug copulatory behavior.” 


Cuttlefish: The dominatrix slowly approaches audience “and fans them with undersea-like 
movements, before encircling them in her wings then darting away. Music is gentle and sweeping; projection shows microscope video of a cuttlefish’s color-changing skin.”

In the Exploration Area, there’s a   “composting glory hole” [ii], in which audiences can dip their hands through a living grass cover to feel and hear the amplified sensation of a worm farm below.” There is also a “devolution tub”, where participants sit in front of a pond growing in a tub and trigger a phone- sex conversation with the pond itself.

Sex-toy accessories include the “Squirter”— a strap-on spray bottle that permits the wearer to moisten plant and human species alike. If you’re wearing the “Paw” (a restricting glove), the dominatrix will tie you to a rock

“and, clad in a snakeskin bodysuit and a ring-gag, perform her slithering dance and drool all over you: a snake preparing to digest her prey.”

I could also have enjoyed “bespoke ‘ecoporno’ films that apply pornographic conventions to footage of the environment”. In one clip (below), a naked woman rolls around with an enormous WA banksia flower until it rains pollen over her face.

pistil packin' mama

The Bathhouse offers a route for surviving the Anthropocene from the “devastating forces unleashed by global capital”.  Pony Express’s Kronemyer explains, “Everything is crashing down around us, and our response is orgiastic decadence, rather than increasing austerity and self-containment.” It’s a “palliative strategy” that will help us make our apocalypse “more mutual, comfortable, maybe even pleasurable.”

The venture also protests at the “literal rape of nonhumans” involved in genetically-modified cropping and artificial insemination.

The Pony Express duo’s  inspiration for the work was a text by two Californian performance art theorists, Dr Annie Sprinkle and Dr Elizabeth Stevens, titled The Ecosex Manifesto.

Ex-porn star Dr Sprinkle on her last Melbourne theatre show had audience members inspecting her cervix with a speculum. She pushes stranger boundaries than that:

“Like when I ate some peyote buttons in the Arizona desert and made love with a big, erect, suaro cactus. There was no touching of the cactus for obvious reasons, but I swear, that cactus and I exchanged our sexual energies.”

Sprinkle describes herself as “a sybaritic cougar with ecosexual tendencies…I am new bride, recently married to the Earth, the Sky and the Sea, and engaged to marry the Moon.”

Her partner Dr Stephens developed her ecosexuality as a boarder at swanky Chatham Hall school in Virginia.  With the aid of marijuana, MD 20/20, a few Quaaludes, and a little acid,  she and friends created visions of an ecosexual revolution: “We econuns loved nothing better than to go out into the hay fields, strip naked and commune with the earth, the sky and the water.” She followed up with cocaine-fuelled alcoholism in Boston.

Obviously, ecosexuality has an impeccable pedigree, is climate-friendly and is deserving of taxpayer support. It can’t be long before ecosexuality is included in the Safe Schools Curriculum.

Tony Thomas’s book of essays, That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, is available here


[i] Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, and 2-Spirit.

[ii] A ‘glory hole’ permits sex between two men separated by a wall

The HRC Welshes on My Rights

As someone who identifies as a leak-garlanded son of Wales, the Australian newspaper’s Leak-garlanded editorial page caused me so much distress that only an apology (and a lavish financial settlement) will assuage my hurt feelings. Alas, I’m out of luck

hrcA Welsh curse upon you, Bill Leak, cartoonist of The Australian, you drewgi siffilitig (in the Queen’s English, you syphilitic stink-dog). As a dark-skinned whitish person identifying as Welsh, I  lodged a race-hatred complaint to the Human Rights Commission on September 6 about your cartoon showing an obviously Welsh mother and father neglecting their child, thus offending, insulting, humiliating and intimidating me as a member of the Welsh race. [i]

Your  race-hate cartoon showed parents who have dumped their squalling toddler in 24/7 child care while they twiddle with their smartphones and ipads . The child-care staffer says the parents should talk to their son about personal responsibility, and the Welsh father replies, “Yeah, righto. What’s his name then?”

Bill Leak has form with all this stuff, especially with his earlier cartoon about an Aboriginal copper rebuking an Aboriginal lout about his errant son. The lout says, “Yeah, Righto, what’s his name then?” I hope Melissa Dinnison’s complaint to the HRC, solicited by Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane, fares better than mine.

My shtick was that I had been grossly defamed as a white Welsh father by Leak’s imputation that I neglect my children. “I have been a model parent to my children,” I wrote to the HRC, not very truthfully. “I want right of reply in The Australian, an apology from Leak and compensation for offence, hurt, vilification and humiliation.”

leak welsh

I have in mind a payment from Leak and The Australian similar to Cindy Prior’s sought-after $250,000 from those QUT students she kicked out of the Indigenes-only Oodgeroo computer room. I feel an urge to go on stress leave, but I retired 15 years ago.

Today I got a letter  back from the HRC saying they had not “formed a concluded view”. But’ as in Mordy Bromberg’s ruling in the Andrew Bolt case,  I could tell by  the letter’s tone, and reading between the lines, that  the HRC felt my complaint was dim gwerth rhech dafad (not worth a sheep’s fart) and as far as they were concerned, I could twll dy din (bugger off) unless I can make my complaint more persuasively.

The HRC letter runs to six single-spaced pages, and must have taken the HRC many hours of consultation and investigation, as befits a make-work organisation on a $24-million budget.

According to the HRC, I have until November 11 to embellish my complaint. On this significant Armistice Day,  President Gillian Triggs’ delegate will decide whether to terminate my hostilities. I can then  move to the federal courts for relief of my hurt Welsh feelings.

I must say that during these proceedings, I have got along fine by phone and email with  my opposite number in the HRC, Investigator/Conciliator Natalie Greenfield,  who has been helpful, courteous and prompt. Madam Triggs, please note this for Natalie’s next performance review.

Natalie explained that the Racial Discrimination Act “seeks  to strike a balance between the right to live free from racial hatred and the right to communicate freely – ‘freedom of speech’.” [So the HRC has certainly  come across the ‘freedom of speech’ idea somewhere or other].

Natalie’s first quandary was whether the Leak cartoon was “done because of your race, colour or national or ethnic origin or the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of some or all of the people in the same group as you.”

She quoted legal precedents including a spat among Orthodox Jews and someone cranky with the Toowoomba Sports Ground. Her key precedent was a finding in McLeod v Power, Brown FM, that the term ‘white’ did not itself encompass a specific race or national or ethnic group, being too wide a term, and that “claims under s18C made on this basis may be ‘drawing a long bow’.”As a result my Welsh-based complaint was not persuasive.

Natalie: “While the people in the cartoon have fair skin, the race, national or ethnic origin of the people drawn in the cartoon is not at all clear.  The cartoon appears to depict parents who are at a long day care centre and seem to be more concerned with the electronic devices they are holding than interacting with their child who appears upset.” [He certainly does, he’s any parent’s nightmare].

But there wasn’t really a causal connection from the cartoon to my Welsh race “or that of other white people of Welsh national or ethnic origin.”

From this letter I also found out lots of curious things. For example, my one-time employer The West Australian got away with publishing a cartoon in 1997 showing the head of long-deceased Aboriginal warrior Yagan in a cardboard box “expressing a desire to go back to England”.

This talking-head exercise, as they say on TV, was a comment on an unseemly spat among Perth’s Nyungar about who of them deserved a taxpayer-funded trip to the Old Dart to reclaim Yagan’s head; who of them was an authentic Aborigine; and which leader had frivolously frightened a child who was skeptical about the UK trip by using the menace of a dreamtime serpent.

Getting back to the letter, Natalie then went into whether the cartoon involved offending, insulting etc. Actually, she said, the issue wasn’t whether I’d been personally offended, insulted etc. That was irrelevant. The objective issue was “rather, whether the acts complained of were reasonably likely to have that effect on a person of that race, color or national or ethnic origin”.

Natalie didn’t write the law, so don’t blame her for it. But what a stupid law to create such a rubbery yardstick about hypothetical group racial reaction to a cartoon. It’s just a lot of Cachu hwch, or pig’s poo.

Tony Thomas’s book of 40 Quadrant essays, That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, is available here

 

 

 

 


[i] I also identify as Cornish, but Welsh will do for now.

COMMENTS [12]

  1. Rob Brighton

    What a pity Mr Leak did not dress those in his offending cartoon in a national costume that would clearly identify them as both lacking in melanin and specific group, a kilt would have served admirably.
    A quick crowd funding for the legal fee’s and you would have been rolling in free money….or not, either way the HRC could have been mercilessly ridiculed out of existence.

    • ianl

      > … the HRC could have been mercilessly ridiculed out of existence

      I used to think that – a humourless and wowserish bureaucracy could be ridiculed into changing. I still think that laughing at them is the best response.

      But I’ve come to realise that authority, while not much liking being ridiculed, will put up with being lampooned as long as in the end it WINS. The recent census/ABS imbroglio serves as a current example – the entire country and beyond laughed and laughed, but the ABS persisted in asserting they would fine us because their incompetence had made our task impossible within the required timeframe. Monty Python could not better that.

      • Rob Brighton

        You are likely correct Ian, still cant hurt to hope.
        Unless our political masters start listening and acting in accordance with our wishes laughter is the only response left. That and our vote, a point I have made to the local federal member.
        Not that he cares, he has the better part of his term to run, plenty of time to demonise and finger wag his way back for another term at the trough.

  2. Lacebug

    Good luck with that boyo

  3. en passant

    Rob,
    I am a Lowland Scot and not a member of those barbarian tribes north of the Highland Line, so I find your reference to ‘kilts’ offensive. Contact me for bank account details as to where you can deposit the $250,000 that would make me feel better …
    Erk, delete “Lowland Scot” as that may be a form of racism.
    Umm, could you forget the inadvertent reference to “those barbarian tribes” as it is just a matter of cultural relativity that they often used to raid, murder and pillage their Lowland neighbours.
    Look, can we skip the intermediate step and just send me the $250,000? Consider it a precutionary principle payment just in case you mat have offended me.
    Now to trawl through the Welsh gits article for further offences. Shouldn’t be too hard as the say the Welsh not only pray on their knees, but they also prey on their neighbours …
    The possibilities are endless and I see a new career ahead for the permanently offended moi (though the market may have been cornered already).

  4. ianl

    The HRC has apparently demanded that Bill Leak provide evidence within two weeks to show he was not being racist in drawing that cartoon. (It is also reported that Triggsie has requested The Australian to decease from reporting her daily developments – obviously she is feeling the angst of being continually laughed at, which gives me some satisfaction).

    BUT – Leak has to prove he’s NOT guilty ? The HRC does not have to prove he IS guilty ? This reversal of the assumption of innocence is well luvved by the luvvies, it shows up everywhere they drop one.

    So where are the bewigged, righteous QC’s, SC’s and very honourable Judges, marching 5 abreast with fervent, burning indignation along the Canberra Circle, protesting at the unscrupulous dumping of a hard-won common law pillar of the earth ? What’s that you say … they’re in the counting house ?

    [Yes, we do know the HRC is not a Court of Law, but a Court of Kangaroos]

  5. Rob Brighton

    I probably should read up on the procedures they use at the HRC but who can face that?
    Seems that someone has got an atom of sense over there as the case against the young blokes has been tossed out.
    Two questions, perhaps someone can help me.
    Those that gave the HRC $5K at the beginning….do they get their money back? and secondly who paid for the costs to defend the young blokes who defended themselves?
    I have a uninformed suspicion that like employment law you cant get costs awarded.

    I hope the Australian ignores the old cow. She needs to hear unrestrained laughter at her every utterance.

  6. mags of Queensland

    Thanks should go to the lawyer and barrister who defended these young men free of charge. If justice were to be served,however, the HRC and the claimant should pay the court costs. QUT should also be hauled over the coals for not nipping this i the bud from the beginning. Pandering to these whining ‘offended” over trivia has become a magnet for those who want their 15 minutes of fame. Like the woman who claims that Bill Leak’s cartoon shows racial hatred. Why is every criticism of anything aboriginal deemed to be hatred?

    A very succinct description of the timeline of the complaint against the QUT students is to be seen on Andrew Bolt’s blog. It shows in graphic detail just how outrageous the behaviour of the HRC and Madam Triggs in particular has been and still is.

  7. Meniscus

    It’s simply incredible that the average salary at the HRC is over $140K:

    https://themarcusreview.com/2016/10/26/they-get-how-much-at-the-human-rights-commission/

  8. padraic

    All this kerfuffle trigg ered (sorry, I couldn’t hold back)by the Leak cartoon has apparently impacted on the progressive media. I read the other day in a Fairfax publication in an article on the ABC that the “programming team, however, had already been working to create new dramas, comedies and factual shows that aren’t about – or driven by – straight white guys.” Apart from being inaccurate – ABC programming appears to have had little to do with straight white guys for some years now – this statement was not qualified by “old anglo-celtic” which in the past was de rigeur in such articles. Perhaps 18C is blowing back in their faces. A great article, but did the author have tongue in cheek and was punning when he spelt the Welsh national emblem “leak” instead of “leek”?

  9. denandsel@optusnet.com.au

    To me it seems that18c and many other social engineering bits of legislation were only ever introduced to give unproductive lawyers a well paying job. Thus far it has been very ‘successful’, that is if you think Gillian Triggs is gainfully employed. However like most government created ‘jobs’ the end result was/is always far from what was intended and it is now a very expensive and harmful disaster. It’s time to axe the HRC and 18c before civil society is crushed by the impossibility of trying to ‘obey’ such hypocritical laws and restrictions.

A BBC Program the ABC Won’t Like

Britain’s national broadcaster, much against its will, must soon reveal the gold-plated salaries of top stars and lesser lights. Given the ultra-comfy pay deal our ABC collectivists have just awarded themselves, PM Turnbull will want something similar here. Yeah, right

their abcThe BBC is now committed to disclosing the pay of its on-air stars from next year. So can our ABC continue to claim that the pay of Tony Jones, Phillip Adams et al is a state secret? It sure can, until we have conservative politicians with the will and the Senate numbers to bring ABC pay levels into the daylight.

In the UK, Theresa May’s government is amending the BBC’s charter to force the BBC to reveal the pay of all on-air talent getting more than £150,000 ($A240,000). There are about 110 of these high-fliers whose pay will  have to be disclosed in £50,000 bands; after that the bands will narrow. The BBC is funded to the tune oif £3.7 billion a year by licence fees of £145.50 ($A235) per household. The ABC is funded directly by taxes.

The BBC previously won a disclosure battle with the limp-wristed David Cameron government, which wanted a £150,000 trigger for disclosure, but the BBC managed to increase it to  £450,000 ($A722,000). This caught only seven  BBC presenters, the most familiar to Australian viewers being the winsome Fiona Bruce of Antiques Roadshow , whose modest remuneration runs to around £500,000 ($A811,000).

Theresa May’s culture secretary, Karen Bradley, says broader disclosure will make the BBC “more open and transparent about its operations”, explaining that  “licence fee payers have a right to know where their money goes. By making the BBC more transparent it will help deliver savings that can then be invested in even more great programs.”

The pay of senior BBC executives is already disclosed. The UK government says the secrecy around talents’ pay is an anomaly. Some BBC talent will continue to evade pay disclosure because they are packaged in production companies that sell shows to the BBC.  A local equivalent is The Chaser on the ABC, which is made by production company Giant Dwarf.[i]

BBC Director General Tony Hall bleats that the forced disclosure will lower the BBC‘s  competitiveness  “and this will not make it easier for the BBC to retain the talent the public love.”

In Australia, the ABC staff are a well-heeled bunch, even before their controversial new enterprise bargaining agreement, with its 2% annual pay rises, one-off $500 gift, and various leave increases. According to the ABC’s 2016 annual report[ii], three in ten staffers (29%) are pulling salaries of more than $100,000, and that is before all the add-ons (such as super). Last year, 176 executives also received performance bonuses, which averaged close to $9200. It is hardly surprising that the ABC is rated Australia’s fifth most attractive employer by the Randstad survey.

In Australia the only facts about ABC staff salaries relates to 2011-12 pay levels for  some 100 Individuals in on-air roles and in the bureaucracy, all earning more than $170,000. The big names included Tony Jones, Q&A, $355,789; Juanita Phillips, newsreader, $316,454; Richard Glover, 702 Drive host, $290,000; Jon Faine, 774 Mornings host, $285,249; Leigh Sales, 7.30 host, $280,400; Chris Uhlmann, 7.30 political editor, $255,400; Fran Kelly, Radio National Breakfast host, $255,000; Barrie Cassidy, Insiders and Offsiders host, $243,478; and Virginia Trioli, ABC News Breakfast host, $235,664. Note that they have all stuck to the ABC like fleas to a dog, notwithstanding that the pay disclosures allegedly made them prime targets for poachers from commercial TV.

The pay disclosure was anything but deliberate: the ABC for years had fought off freedom-of-information requests about pay. But an Adelaide ABC  pay office staffer in October, 2012, sent SA Family First MLC Robert Brokenshire some harmless data on regional staff numbers, overlooking that sensitive payroll data was embedded in the same spreadsheet. This data found its way to The Australian.

ABC  stars like Tony Jones, Emma Alberici, Fran Kelly and Barrie Cassidy top up their pay with speaking gigs for external parties at $5000-$15,000 a time. Google shows Tony Jones listed with Celebrity Speakers and with Saxton, Platinum, ICMI and Ovations bureaus. Alberici is with Platinum, Claxton and Celebrity. Cassidy is with Saxton, Claxton,  CMIC and Celebrity. Holmes is shown with Saxton, ICMI, and Catalyst. Leigh Sales is with Claxton, Salesforce and Platinum. Amounts paid are not public but FOI has elicited that presenter Dr Karl Kruszelnicki got $10,800 for a single speech in mid-2014. Alberici got $14,300 for hosting an awards night for Austrade in 2013, and $15,000 for a two-day Wesfarmers conference in 2012.

Apart from their comfy salaries, long-standing ABC staff are also aboard the gold-plated public-service super scheme for federal public servants. This gives them an indexed life pension. For someone retiring at 61 and with 33 years service, the indexed pension is 47% of salary, say $70,000 for someone finishing with a $150,000 paypacket.  When you die, your spouse/partner picks up the lifetime indexed pension at a reduced rate of 67% – 85% of the original pension. The spouse continues getting the lifetime pension whether or not he/she remarries. The cost of this largesse to the ABC, and hence to taxpayers, is about 20% of a staffer’s salary.

Although the two gold-plated defined-benefit schemes closed to new entrants in 1995-05, they are still costing the ABC more than the  successor “accumulation” scheme paying earnings pro-rata with contributions. The numbers are $34m liability in 2015-16 for defined benefit schemes, vs $33m for accumulation schemes.

A special lurk involves an anomaly in the system enabling ABC staffers to retire at 54 years and 11 months and still get a better lifetime payout than if they kept working to 60 or 65. If you notice that  a retiree at the tennis club seems strangely youthful, you can bet he/she has pulled this age-55 trick, which can propagate an extra benefit of up to $200,000 from the taxpayers.

It is well-nigh impossible to terminate an ABC staffer for non-performance or bad behavior. Under the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act (1983), there is not only tenure for staff but a “Tenure Appeal Board” (s57) consisting of a paid chairperson and one rep each from the commission and the staff. Thus sacking a tenured ABC worker would precipitate a bureaucratic battle. For a successful sacking, the ABC would need grounds such as a jail sentence for child pornography, as was handed in 2012 to a leading ABC personality in Tasmania. Some observers claim the protections against dismissal for ABC workers are even better than in the federal public service.

Staff made redundant have the consolation of uber-generous payouts. An ABC staffer is entitled under the previous (and presumably the new) enterprise bargaining agreement to four weeks salary for each year’s service up to five years, and three weeks salary for each year thereafter, to a maximum of 24 years service. Thus a 15-year staffer would get 20 + 30 + 5 weeks notice = 55 weeks pay. Nice!

Another perk is the talents’ extensive  “well earned break” for one sixth of the year, when high-profile programs    take long holidays. Media Watch folded its tent last November 23 and didn’t return till  February 1 – a handsome nine-week furlough. Q&A went to the beach on November 25 last year and didn’t reappear till February 1. Lateline went on hols last December 4 and re-appeared February 1. Compass did the same from November 29 to February 28.

So come on, Malcolm Turnbull, start the ball rolling and let’s all see what our taxes are paying for at the ABC.

Footnote: The chore of reading ABC annual reports did elicit that it’s well-paid work writing post-mortems for the ABC board on ABC stuff-ups. For example, TV ex-star Ray Martin and SBS ex-managing director Shaun Brown trousered $98,400 for their 108-page report into Q&A impartiality last year, according to some fine print. For some reason the pay was split $30,000 to Martin and $68,400 to Brown. The inquiry followed the notorious invitation to ex-gaol bird Zaky Mallah to join the live audience and ambush federal minister Steve Ciobo with a question. Martin summed up the notoriously left-leaning Q&A as “mostly excellent… balanced, entertaining and informative”.

The pair looked at 23 episodes and reported that all was well on the impartiality front. But they were able to pad this nothingburger with recommendations for more women and more ethnic and geographic perspectives.

Pay for other consulting reports included

  • Ex-Age and ex-Herald editor Steve Harris: $30,000 for a review of the ABC’s coverage of the Higher Education Research Bill (2014).
  • Journalist Kerry Blackburn (assisted by former ANZ CEO Mike Smith), $60,470  for a review of impartiality of ABC business coverage, with more work in progress this fiscal year.
  • Freelance writer Mark Skulley, $21,600 for a review of ABC coverage of the proposed Shenhau coal mine during 2015-16, with more work in progress this fiscal year.
  • Ex-journalist Peter Cavanagh: $25,000 for a review of the ABC’s coverage of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreeement

However, the 2014-15 report did not disclose the amount paid to ex-AFR editor Colleen Ryan for her review of the ABC’s 2015 federal budget coverage.

Tony Thomas’ new book of essays, That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, is available here


 [i]  About 15% of the ABC’s commissioned broadcast hours go to independent productions.  Shows include We Can Be Heroes, Summer Heights High, Angry Boys, 
Enough Rope,
 Year Of The Dogs,
 Kath & Kim, The Slap, 
Sea Change, Hungry Beast,
 Lawrence Leung’s Unbelievable,
 Two Men In a Tinnie,
 On Trial,
 Gruen Nation,
 Lawrence Leung’s Choose Your Own Adventure, Two In The Top End,
 and Three Boys Dreaming. 

[ii] It is jaw-dropping to also read in that report that

The ABC’s commitment to impartiality and diversity of perspectives reflects the need for a democratic society to deliver diverse sources of reliable information and contending opinions. Aiming to equip audiences to make up their own minds is consistent with the public service character of the ABC.”

 

COMMENTS [5]

  1. en passant

    Tony,
    You mention that the ABC is resisting the transparency they insist / inflict upon others although you: “Note that they have all stuck to the ABC like fleas to a dog, notwithstanding that the pay disclosures allegedly made them prime targets for poachers from commercial TV.”
    This is the key and we should not be holding them back from being paid their true worth.
    Get rid of the ABC as just another cankerous government dysfunctional make-work sore that has long outlived its role.

    • nfw

      Absolutely. Let them make us an offer for it we can’t refuse. Then we’ll see how long Their ALPBC lasts without taxpayers forking out the dosh. Alternatively, to save bucks, move the Sydney studios to say Macquarie Fields and the Melbourne studios to Craigieburn. Then “the talent” and all the staff, who need to have domestic violence leave (can’t wait for HR to start reporting that), can work and play amongst those they claim to rule, er, represent and care so much about.

      • whitelaughter

        It has potential. Or even better, have every presenter who has bleated about Islam being a religion of peace transferred to Saudi Arabia, so they can experience that peace first hand. Given the demographics of the ABC, this will be to die for – literally.

    • ianl

      > … the ABC is resisting the transparency they insist / inflict upon others …

      Yes. Their rank hypocrisy stems from the envy within them that they fear so in others. But it isn’t the envy of the hoi-polloi they fear (after all, the hoi-polloi lurrvve meeja stars); rather, they fear the envy of each other, since ratings are supposed to be beneath their dignity and there is no other way of determining “virtue” beyond scratchy cat fighting. They much prefer not doing that in public …

  2. Bran Dee

    The chairman of the ABC board Jim Spigelman is an historic Labor figure who 44 years after after purging conservatives from the ABC is there to reject the government’s workplace bargaining limits. From 1972 to 1975 Spigelman served as Senior Adviser and Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. In 1975 he was appointed the Secretary of the Department of the Media.
    In 1976 Malcolm Fraser tried but was unable to undo the Labor purge. Now Whitlam and Fraser are gone but Spigelman is allowed to lead and uphold the Whitlam ABC legacy.