Categories
News Opinion/Commentary

ABC exposed former members of the Australian Alt – Right

 

When I think of ‘Alt – Right’ or ‘neo – Nazi’ movements, I think of the U.S. or Ukraine. There have been political scandals where the Alt – Right has tried to infiltrate parties. However, individuals haven’t been identified (not that I’ve seen).

Until now.

ABC names and interviews two former white supremacists

The ABC did an article identifying two self – confessed former white supremacists. They collaborated with the Sydney Morning Herald for the investigation.

Canberra couple, Lisa and Justin Beulah are self -confessed former white supremacists. Their aim was not only to spread their hatred toward other races, Jews and LGBTQ+ people, but also infiltrate political parties.

They were involved in the white supremacy infiltration scandal that rocked the NSW Young Liberals and Nationals. They were two out of the twenty – two that were permanently banned from the Nationals.

Discord account expose troubling ideology

Both Justin and Lisa were active on the message app Discord. Their accounts were leaked to independent media outlet Unicorn Riot.

The Discord messages that the ABC were troubling. Lisa, under the username MsNatSocialist expressed a love for Adolf Hitler and a desire for a 1940’s themed wedding with men wearing Nazi uniform costumes. Lisa defended herself saying she said that to keep herself welcomed into the Discord chat.

There was also a chat where Laura made a mockery of a victim in the Charlottesville riots. She defended the chat saying it was a ‘joke’.

Have they reformed?

I can’t say for certain whether the Beulahs have reformed or not. However, going by what I’ve read and seen, they may have reformed later than what they claim.

In the televised interview, Justin and Lisa insisted that they had reformed, pointing  out that if they were still white supremacists, they wouldn’t have agreed to do the interview.

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A caution to the left and right

The Beulah’s story does really highlight the ugliness of white supremacy and antisemitism. Often, people who point out racism are slammed as politically correct or even accused of racism themselves. With the Beulahs, I don’t think their former activities are debatable. The Left should learn not to throw racism too liberally, either. Over the ears, I haven’t liked the way people use racism purely to smear others. Reading this article has just cemented my stance.

 

White supremacy is obviously not only ugly, but also dangerous. I don’t think it should be something that anyone in their right mind should or would aspire to.

 

A final thought on the article. I note the ABC’s mention that Laura was a fan of Pauline Hanson and her party One Nation.While I’m not a huge fan of Pauline Hanson or One Nation, I don’t think it’s fair to associate her with former white supremacists without givingPauline or another party member a chance to defend themselves. While I think One Nation have had issues, I thought that linking One Nation to Lisa’s radicalisation is unfair.

Did you read the article ‘Married to the Alt Right or watch the interview? What did you think about it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Categories
Politics

My take on the Election

Australian flag with 'Election 2019' underneath

The Coalition Government has gained another term in power. They have at least seventy – seven seats in the Upper House.

 

Labor’s big problem: communication

I think Labor’s biggest weakness was communication. All people heard, (and what pockets of mainstream media emphasised) was taxes and cost to the economy.

In the months leading up to the election, Bill Shorten was unable or unwilling to explain his plans and be honest about costing. He didn’t even explain franking credits; something that many Australians may not have to worry about.

The fear of taxing of superannuation was probably the thing that people were most scared of. Who wants to lose more of their retirement savings? Yet, I didn’t hear much in the media (that was convincing at least), that only a small number of retirees would be affected snd by how much.

Another area that wasn’t properly explained was Labor’s climate change policy.

How was the electric car plan going to work? On average, how far should an electric car battery run for before they had to be recharged? How much would they cost? None of these were explained by Shorten. Instead, he seemed to dodge questions.

 

What role did the media play?

Were Shorten’s lack of clear answers all his fault? What part did the media play?

One may argue that Bill Shorten did face resistance. His role in the Julia Gillard/ Kevin Rudd saga wouldn’t have helped this.

Newscorp in particular has been accused of being overly unbalanced and anti – Labor. Some also argue that many of the questions that Shorten were asked were ‘gotcha’ questions, rather than sincere ones.

What I DON’T think this election was about

I was annoyed how sections of the media made the election about the Israel Folau saga or Safe Schools. I doubt it. At leadt I hope most of us left the culture wars in 2017.

While some in the media insisted that the Rugby Australia fallout with Folau did play a role, (i.e. Outsiders), I can’t believe that it was a major contributor. Again, I think it was more to do with Labor’s inability or unwillingness to explain their financial plans.

Final thoughts: how out of touch is the media?

Over the past five or so years, polls and commentators largely predicted a Labor victory.

This, on Saturday, this was proven to be wrong.

So how did they get it so wrong? Maybe over – sampling of certain demographics played a part. Maybe people weren’t honest when polled. Something was amiss.

Either polling methods need to change, or pre election polling should be seen as useless and discarded altogether. All the polls I saw, (and I think that were reported), indicated a landslide or narrow Labor victory.

So either polling methods should be changed or considered totally useless. The second part seemed to be the case this time round.

So, what now?

Well, Scott Morrison is Prime Minister of Australia. If I was an advisor for Labor, I’d encourage them to do the following:

1. Be clear about costings/ taxes and keep them to a minimum

2. Answer questions as honestly as possible

3. Don’t tax everyone to the back teeth or make it look like you are.

 

Categories
Politics

Like it or not, childcare is a necessity

 

Toddler in childcare surrounded by blocks
Image: iStock

A federal election is looming in Australia. The nation will decide who’ll run the country on May 18.

One battleground that Labor has chosen is childcare subsidies and wages for early childhood educators.

Labor’s policy

One of Labor’s (ALP) promises is to spend A$10 million to boost wages of early childhood educators. Both parties plan to subsidise childcare costs for many families. The Labor government plans to subsidise fees based on annual combined income. Some will get their childcare for free.

  • Families earning up to A$69,000  will have childcare 100% subsidised
  • A$69,000 – A$100,000 will get 85%+ subsidy
  • A$100,000 – A$174,000 – 64 – 80% to the fee cap.
  • Those earning over $174,000 will get the same support that’s currently available.

They also promise to increase wages for early childhood educators by 20% over eight years. That could add up to an extra A$11,000 annually.

Currently, early childhood educators are one of the lowest paying industries in Australia, despite the study and amount of work they have to do.

To keep the costs to families low, Labor has also promised to crack down on centres who place “excessIve increases” on fees.

Liberal policy

According to news.com.au, the Liberal Government doesn’t plan to make any further changes to childcare subsidies.

Last year, the Liberals introduced subsidies to lower income families. Since its implementation, the Liberal Government claims that on average, out of pocket costs for childcare dropped 10% and saved the average family A$1300 a year.

Why should childcare be subsidised?

Some people aren’t a fan of childcare subsidies, period. Gemma Tognini attacked Labor’s plan, arguing that such plans end up hurting those that need the help. She also emphasised that, for the most part, having children is a choice.

I agree with the last point. For most having a child (or a number of children) is a choice. Having to go back to work to survive financially when your child is young, though, is often not.

Many families need two parents working to keep afloat financially. This would definitely be the case in the major cities.

It’s also been argued that childcare can assist in the social, psychological, cognitive and academic development of a child. Play – based learning has shown to, not only teach children skills, but actually help wire the brain.

 

Not all families that want or need childcare for small children can afford high expenses. Too often, childcare costs make going back to work seem like a waste of time.

Also, children deserve to have the best chance to achieve in school from the start. Preschool/ kindergarten educators can alert primary schools if a child has any difficulty that could affect their schooling. Every child deserves the chance to overcome those hurdles as early as possible.

 

Look, maybe Labor’s plan for childcare is too grand. And it’s possible promised pay increases for early childhood educators and subsidies for parents will be put in the ‘never’ basket. But I don’t think early childhood education assistance should be dismissed.

What do you think about Liberal’s and Labor’s plan for childcare? Let me know in the comments below.

Categories
Pop Culture

Lunatics: had potential, but fell short

 

 

 

On the Easter long weekend, I binge –  watched Chris Lilley’s Netflix mockumentary Lunatics. It premiered on April 19.

Lunatics follows the lives of six main characters.

  • Becky Douglas: an abnormally tall teenager that starts college in the U.S. with her “non – identical” twin sister, Jess
  • Keith Dick: a fashion retailer who deals with object sexuality towards a cash register he refers to as Karen.
  • Gavin Mcgregor: an obese isolated twelve – year – old who moves to Gayford Manor in the UK and aims to become an Instagram star
  • Joyce Jeffries: an ex – porn star who struggles after retirement and suffers from hoarding disorder
  • Jana Melhoopin – Jonks: a “pet psychic to the stars”, who falls in love and becomes jealous of her female assistant
  • Quentin Cook: a failed real estate agent who becomes a DJ, ‘DJ Q*nt.

All the characters are ostracised by society. They not only embrace their ‘quirks’, but are also able to succeed despite challenges.

Criticisms from the media

Lunatics hasn’t been overly popular among commentators in the media. Criticisms vary in severity, with Michael Idato from Sydney Morning Herald saying:

His [Chris Lilley’s] characters are grotesque and frequently intentionally unlikeable. There are laughs to be found, though they are often interspersed with long spells of observation

Idato theorised that Lilley tried to avoid outrage after his 2014 show Jonah From Tonga, hence playing it too safe.

Some critics were less sympathetic.

Stuart Heritage from The Guardian Australia attacked the series as “boring”. Heritage also found the end of the series as not redemptive, likening it to a bully convincing the victim he was joking.

However, not everyone was critical of Lunatics. 

Jay Bedi attacked Lilley’s critics in The Spectator Australia, calling them “self – triggered screen critics”.

Bedi argues that pushing the limits, like Lunatics did, was a necessary thing. Australia has to compete in an international market that’s often dominated by content from the U.S.

 

 

Interesting premise, flat plot

Lunatics didn’t meet my expectations. The premise; people achieving despite physical and emotional challenges was an interesting premise. However, it fell short in a number of areas, especially compared to his previous work.

Characters were under developed and too little backstory was given

In my view, characters were under developed: While thinking and talking about this, I came up with a conclusion. Comedy characters should be either relatable (like in Kath and Kim) or completely absurd (like Basil in Fawlty Towers).

For me, the characters in Lunatics were neither. It was hard to sympathise with the characters, yet, you couldn’t dismiss them completely because of their outsider status.

A lack of background didn’t help. Why did the Cook brothers feel the need to be so sexist and narcissistic? How did Gavin Mcgregor’s loneliness really affect him?

In contrast, Jonah Takalua’s background was clear in Summer Heights High and Jonah From Tonga; he was a teenager from a troubled family and having to overcome behavioural and mental issues. Summer Heights High failed to help him, despite the efforts of teachers and Student Welfare Officer, Doug Peterson.

The closest Lunatics got to adding complexity to a character was with ex-porn star, Joyce Jeffries. Her mental health was clearly declining throughout the series. Yet, it was so caricatured that it was hard to feel anything for her.

Nothing held the characters together

Aside from their oddities, there was very little linking the main characters in Lunatics together. They were all in different places; even in different parts of the world. Having a central setting would have made more sense.

 

Lunatics could have been much better. Allowing people to develop empathy for the characters would have helped. Ironically, I think Chris Lilley achieved his aim. He got people talking, sometimes laughing, other times outraged.  So, you could argue 5hat Lilley did something right.

 

Did you see Lunatics? What did you think about it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.