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Category Archives: Oz Culture

On January 4th 2020 Scott Morrison announced that ADF Personnel would be deployed to assist emergency services with bushfire fighting activities. Shortly thereafter a  video was posted on the prime minister’s Twitter and Facebook pages summarizing the announcement. The video was backed by a jaunty* musical soundtrack and rythmic finger clicking.

David Marr had the insight to see that Morrison, whose professional career prior to politics was in Marketing, had released a jingle. A jaunty jingle. In the midst of Australia’s worst-ever bushfire emergency.

Immediate criticism followed. The tone of the jingle. The fact that it was a jingle. The use of Australian Defence Personnel in a Party-Political communication against long-standing conventions regarding prohibition against politicising the Australian defence force (The head of the Australian Defence Association, Neil James, said it was “plain wrong. It’s simple: you don’t use the defence force for party political advantage” ), posting the jingle on a web-page which solicits donations for the Liberal Party, and, most of all, using bushfire response announcements for party-political purposes.

Here’s Why Morrison’s Bushfire Jingle Is Party-Political

Morrison vehemently denies that his Bushfire announcement jingle was designed for party-political purposes, but his own explanation shows you that he is lying.

Morrison explained that the reason for his Bushfire Ad was that he couldn’t rely on the Media to properly transmit the contents of his Bushfire response to the Australian public.

Morrison said

As much as we’d all like to only rely on the reporting of the media to get those information out, I will also seek to carry that message directly to the Australian people to ensure they are aware of what we are doing.

So, Morrison would have you believe that the Australian Media cannot be trusted to reliably transmit the contents of the Federal Government’s Bushfire response to the general public. What nonsense. The man is patently lying.

What Morrison means is that the media will not transmit the message in exactly the way in which Morrision wants it transmitted – with a jingle and jaunty finger-clicking – in a way which uncritically makes Morrison look fantastic.

Not Concerned With Facts

If Morrison was merely concerned about the facts of his response being transmitted then he would have been satisfied with his media release which contained those facts and which he posted, like his Ad, on the Liberal Party and Government websites.

But, in fact, all the facts of his response had already been reported over and again in fine detail on TV and Radio on every and all channel and station. The facts were out there everywhere.

Morrison’s Ad is not designed to address a deficit of information, of transmission or of factual reporting. Its there to address image. Morrison’s personal image. That;s how we can tell the Ad is party-political. Its there to make Morrison look good.

And the second give-away that this Ad is party-political, also vehemently denied by Morrison who says this is unimportant , is the authorisation at the end of the Ad is from ‘S. Morrison, Liberal Party, Canberra’.

Morrison has faced constant criticism since the beginning of summer for his dismissive attitide towards, ham-fisted handling of, dishonest statements about, miserly outlook towards, and indifference to the Bushfire Emergency.

The Ad is designed to repair those perceptions. So the Ad says that the Government Bushfire Response is fantastic and the person responsible for this fantastic bushfire response is S. Morrison, Canberra.

Its nothing about the supposed inadequecy of the Media to report the facts of  Government Bushfire Response.

It is 100% about the inadequecy of Scott Morrison as Prime Minister.

Hence Morrison’s Jaunty Party-Politcal Bushfire Jingle.


*Thanks to Stephanie Covery for so aptly providing the appelation jaunty for Morrison’s bushfire jingle

This is Part 3 of my “Uninformed Speculation” series on the 2019 Federal Election. The other two parts being Why Rob Oakshott Will Be Speaker In The 46th Parliament Of Australia” and Why Tanya Plibersek Will Be Dumped For Nikki Savvas As Deputy Labor Leader”.

As I write on Federal Election Eve, all the polls consistently say that Labor will win with 51.5% of the 2PP vote. My prediction is that the ALP will gain a little less than that vote share but still win enough seats to form a minority government holding 74 of the 151 seats and govern with the support of two Greens plus Rob Oakeshott and Andrew Wilkie.

Here’s how the election issues have panned out:

Bill Shorten’s Personality  

Will not influence votes. Morrison relentlessly harped on about the horror of Shorten’s  unlikeability but in the end Shorten has come out well.

Noting his significant lead in the “Preferred Prime Minister” ratings, Morrison tried to make the election into a beauty content between Shorten and himself. To this end, Morrison insisted on having three one-on-one debates with Morrison, aiming to force Shorten into the spotlight and exposing Shorten’s supposed personality deficiencies as starkly as possible to the voting public. Morrison also hoped to KO Shorten in these debates using his own superior communication skills, mental agility and innate aggression.

To the surprise of most, Shorten carried himself well through the debates with the live audiences rating Shorten the winner of the first debate and scoring the other two as draws. Shorten proved effective at being able to engage audiences on his agenda and, in contrast to his reputation for being a wooden communicator, was often able to connect at a personal and empathetic level with the listeners. Conversely, Morrison, while definitely a far more assured communicator and having excellent recall of debating points and figures that he wished to quote, often came across as scripted and abstract, more of a political machine rather than a real human being. Oftentimes Morrison seems to operate in an endless jabber-mode kind of a non-stop hyper-charged babble much like Kevin Rudd with a short-circuit and the volume amped to 11. 

Here, for fun, is Annabel Crabb’s original description of The Ruddbot:

 Ruddbot, our “first android prime minister” with a Muppet-inspired smile…

There are essential triggers hard-wired into the Ruddbot cortex. Ask the android machine about the number of union officials on its front bench and it will also promptly divert into a charming reverie about a rock star, an academic and a Mandarin-speaking diplomat. Include a reference to Mark Latham in a question, and it will reply “I am not aware of those reports.” Ask it any difficult question and it has been programmed to reply by asking itself several of its own. It will then answer them all with mechanical precision.

In the end, the final Leader’s Debate was quite boring as it was apparent before it started that Shorten was Morrison’s equal in the debates and that no conclusive victory would be gained by either man. Morrison appears to lack his usual energy, seemingly resigned to being unable to KO Shorten. For his part Shorten seemed to have the glow of a man who, to his own amazement, survived a test he felt sure would overcome him.

In the debates, Morrison was hamstrung by being unable to unleash the full force of his aggression as the Christchurch Shooting tragedy which occurred just prior to the start of the election campaign made snarling aggression, a common feature of Morrison’s communication, distasteful in the public mind, forcing Morrison to curtail this instinct of his and robbing him of a natural advantage.

Towards the end of the campaign, Newscorp made an ill-considered attack on Bill Shorsten vis-a-vis his mother. Public revulsion at this tactic provoked sympathy for Shorten and a considerable improvement in his personal approval ratings, much to the chagrin of Newscorp and whichever executive gave approval to this distasteful over-reach.

Galilee Basin Coal Mines (Adani)

Important in Queensland. Labor’s luke-warm toleration of Adani imperils jobs in central Queensland and means that the Coalition will retain all their Queensland rural marginals and gain the seat of Herbert. But the city/country divide means that Brisbane Metro seats will lack the same affect and align with the general national swing of 1.5% toward the ALP.

Big Tax Scare Campaign

Has not cut through. The polls show only a minimal narrowing of the polls toward the incumbent LNP Coalition government since the campaign began. Indeed, the lack of movement in the polls indicates that no issue has particularly cut through from either side. Voters made up their minds before the campaign began and have not changed their views since.

Fundamentally, the disunity of the government over the last five years convinced the electorate that a change is required.

Caveat: Even now, 24 hrs before voting there are a great many undecideds out there. On Saturday Morning the phrase “Big Scary Tax” in the newspapers or at the polling booth could easily push that needful 1.5% Morrison’s way.

Franking Credits

Will not affect votes. This issue created a lot of heated talk but in the end this issue does not affect many people. Only self-supported retirees who do not receive a pension are affected by this measure and only a small sub-set of those.

The Franking Credits issue in the end merely energised rusted-on Liberal voters who would never swing to Labor anyway.

Other pensioners did fall for Morrison’s scare campaign initially but if this has changed voting intention then it is not reflected in the polls.

Negative Gearing

Will not affect votes. Like all the tax issues, endlessly hammered by Morrison, but did not cut through if the polls are correct.

Shorten’s appeal to fairness appears to have neutralised Morrison’s “price crash, rent spike” rhetoric. Shorten has been arguing the case for Negative Gearing for at least three years now. I think the issue is now familiar to the voters and has lost its heat.

For those interested, here is the research showing that the concept that Keating’s abolition of  Negative Gearing in 1985 caused a rental spike is a myth.

Climate Change

Will not change seats. I thought Morrison did very well at arguing his case that the Liberals have done enough on Climate Change. But Shorten did produce a great cut-through line on this in the second Leader’s debate. Whilst Morrison was eulogising the LNP achievement of meeting Kyoto and Paris Agreement Carbon targets, Shorten intejected to note that Australian Carbon emissions are higher than they ever were  and said  “Typical Surgeon’s response – the operation was a complete success but the patient died”

The Climate Change issue has shifted voters in some safe Liberal voting seats but not many in marginal seats. Some,  but not many.

I think Shorten made the tactically correct call not to give a total cost to his Carbon Abatement policy. I think Shorten has correctly judged that general community sentiment is present for Climate Abatement and so there is not pressing insistence that this policy be comprehensively costed. Giving a definitive cost to Carbon Abatement would merely have handed Morrison with another Big Scary Number in addition to the Big Scary Tax Number that he has been endlessly shouting at the electorate.

Liberal Party Too Right Wing

Meaningful in Victoria. The wrecking tactics of the right-wing of the Federal LNP has outraged moderate Liberal voters in Victoria who are simultaneously repelled by a takeover of the State Liberals by religious conservatives. Outrage at the sacking of Malcolm Turnbull caused  a huge backlash among moderate Libs in last year’s Victorian State Election and resulted in a landslide loss including shocking losses of blue-ribbon seats.

Three or four seats will ultimately go to the ALP over this issue in tomorrow’s Federal vote.

Jobs And The Economy

Important. This is why the LNP are still in the contest. Morrison has been able to say that the Budget is back in surplus (in fact it isn’t until next year on projections, but this year it is very close). The talismanic surplus speaks meaningfully to the electorate on the subject of economic management which is considered a traditional LNP strength.

In addition, while there is very little wages growth, most people have jobs and the unemployment rate is fairly low. While the economy is lacking vigour, most people are working. In conditions where the economy is acceptably good, governments mostly retain power. (Howard’s loss in 2007 a notable exception).

LNP Disunity

This is the election-deciding issue. Fundamentally, the disunity of the government over the last five years has persuaded the electorate that a change is required. Government  infighting has caused the Libs to depose two Prime Ministers and prevented them from finalising basic policy on Power and Energy. This is a basic failing of governance and this will cause them to lose tomorrow’s election.

Well, let’s see what happens…

In relation to this, this and this

Committee: “Mr. Bancroft. When did you come to realise you had a ream of 32-Grit Industrial Grade Glass Shard Sandpaper concealed in your box ?

Bancroft: Errrmm. When Smithy took the new ball ??

Darren Lehmann: NO NO NO !

Committee: Could Counsel Assisting please relieve Mr. Lehmann of his walkie-talkie ? Thankyou. So. Mr. Bancroft. Prior to the 87th over of the innings you were completely unaware of the Silicon Graphite Hardware products concealed on your person ?

Bancroft: Errmmm. Yes. Well some of them.

Committee: Here is a picture of you affixing an oxy-acetylene blowtorch to your helmet visor.

Bancroft: (Confidently). Oh yes. That’s Boof’s second-hand…

Lehmann: (Frantically through Plexiglass barrier): NO NO NO !

Committee: Could Counsel Assisting please administer the Elephant Tranquiliser ?

Lehmann: NO NO NO !

Committee: Increase the dosage.

Lehmann: NO NO N..zzzzzz

Committee: Mr. Bancroft. Exhibit C.

Bancroft Errrmmmm…

Committee: The fire hydrant.

Bancroft: Errm. Lehmo ? … Lehmo ? … (Lapses into Catatonia)

My primary age daughter made an Easter Hat at school. She was then given a writing exercise to describe it. All spelling and punctuation is as per the original


My Easter hat has dangling bangles stapled on to it. On the top of my hat a little chicken that I named Mrs. Chicken is sitting peacfully. Her feet are sticking out from under her cute, little , soft body. She has her hands drawn just below her arms. I think Mrs. Chicken looks really cute. My actuall hat is VERY glittery. The sparkles are silver.

I like my hat because it is very simple but without Mrs. Chicken it would be nothing.


Somewhat of the same genre:


This Is A Complaint About Bed Time

Five Things To Know About Me

I Feel Like Having You As A Pet

My Literary Genius Six-Year Old Retells Goldilocks And The Three Bears

i like to know a story about you – your feeling your mouth your heart your way of looking at it

The Intolerable Ubiquity Of Pencil Sharpenings

I have just read David Marr’s essay The White Queen: One Nation and the Politics of Race (Quarterly Essay #65) on Pauline Hanson and her party, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation. The confluence in name between Pauline Hanson and her party is exact and intentional. As Hanson said on national TV The Party is me [1]. And she is correct. The One Nation phenonemon is entirely a product of Hanson’s passion, personality, raw determination and resilience. Without Hanson One Nation cannot exist.

I will use this post to comment on Marr’s excellent essay, which Marr conceived in order to put a floor of fact under Hanson’s people and her political people [2]. Like all observers of Australian politics, Marr wants to understand the One Nation phenonemon, how it is that a race-based political party can thrive and become so influential within Australia. For those who abhor the phenonemon of race-based politics this understanding is a foundational, crucial first step towards neutralising One Nation or at least preventing it advancing further from its present toxifying influence into a genuinely Fascistic unadulterated race-hate movement.

Can I just say that the title of Marr’s essay The White Queen is marvellous ? It captures Hanson and the relationship of Hanson’s supporters to her perfectly.


A portion of Marr’s essay is strict quantitative research in which a profile of the typical One Nation voter is resolved from longitudinal survey-based research. This section while relatively dry reading is absolutely essential to understanding Hanson’s people.

Marr finds that the typical One Nation voter is Australian-born, male (56% v 44% female), identifies as working class , secular (not religious), lives on urban fringes of cities and large towns (but also in small rural communities), likely to have a trades education (i.e. is less educated than the general public), are pessimistic about their own economic prospects and those of Australia generally, heavily distrust government and politicians, are inclined to a law and order viewpoint in solving societal issues, thinks there is too much welfare, detests immigration and multiculturalism but does not personally live among or even know recent migrants migrants (though they may live in neighbouring areas to migrants)  or know those on welfare and, strikingly, perceives a nexus between immigrants and crime.

Marr summarises the Hansonites as being from National Party heartland


This post will develop over the next few weeks as I add to it, but I just want to start with one comment for now. Hanson’s people are, at an emotional level, infantile. 

Marr, summarizing Rebecca Huntley, who has conducted voter focus groups for many years says Hanson’s people yearn for the past [3]. Many Australians aged 40 or older may express an opinion that the Australia of their youth was a better place, but if pressed, most voters will say, no, they do not want to return to the Australia of the 1950’s with its monoculture, remoteness from the world and limited work opportunities for women. But Hanson voters do really want to return Australia to the 1950’s. Hanson’s voters want to return Australia to the young adulthood of their fathers, when they were children, when everything was certain, secure, predictable and they felt physically and emotionally safe.

Consequently, even though Marr does not say this, I do: Hanson’s people are infantile.

Engaging One Nation

This is an important finding for engaging with One Nation. It means that you are dealing with children. How do you win an argument with 55 year old children ? You can’t. You just need to give them a few lollies and their favourite blanket and hopefully that will quiet them down before they trash the joint.

John Howard knew this. When engaging with One Nation he didn’t try and argue with them. He tried to mollify them. Specifically, he addressed their insecurities. Howard said, speaking of his GST reforms, that he would  give them something better than what they had i.e. economic security and in this way draw them back to the mainstream.

Keating terrified Hanson’s people. Open borders, open tariffs, familiar industries closing down, unfamiliar new industries to be encouraged, the welcome of Asia. Every Hansonite in the country, beginning with Hanson herself, filled their nappies in horror.

The Hansonite infantilism drives their insecurity. Hence their attraction to law and order solutions such as Capital Punishment and to gun ownership, by which they hope to protect themselves and their property from both ravishing migrant hordes and theiving, dishonest government.

Hansonites are impervious to argument. They need calming down.

So the first thing you need to do for Hansonites, like Howard, is say ‘Yes, yes I hear you’. And then listen. I mean really listen. But, as for children, don’t necessarily do as they demand. Reassure them. Offer them a rosy picture of the future. Let them know they are important. I would even give them a few lollies like, I dunno, rural subsidy for road-building or construction of humungous Anzac Day memorials if it was thought this would help social cohesion and defuse their anger to some degree.

Social cohesion is worth paying for. And it is necessary for governments to argue the case for social change. Hansonism is partially at least a result of governments taking the conservative under-educated for granted.

But ultimately if the giant 55 year old toddler baby Hansonites refuse to stop tantruming, they should be ignored. Their core constituency is low in number. You can’t let the country be governed by children.

And this is the problem that Marr identifies throughout his essay. The major parties are willingly accommodating to Hansonites. John Howard was in fact a Hansonite himself. So is Dutton and the rest of the conservative, reactionary, white male rump of the Liberal National Coalition. Both Liberal and Labor have adopted Hanson’s policies in regard to Asylum-Seekers.

The country needs a government that will treat Hansonites as children. But not dismissively as Keating did, but inclusively, without succumbing to the attraction of populism or the fear of educated reactionaries who should know better.

Hanson Is Not Racist

Hanson denies she is racist. She defines racism as a belief that one’s own race is superior to other races and says that she doesn’t think that whites are superior to Aboriginals or Asians or anyone else.

I believe Hanson. Marr does not.

Marr says that what betrays Hanson as a racist is her conspiratorial mindset, the belief shared by aggressive, ideological racists that they (the hated and feared other race) have a secret agenda to take over. This is certainly Hansonite territory.

Hanson once believed that Asians were soon to swamp Australia and now believes that Muslims intend to impose Sharia Law on us all. So-called University-educated Elites were also imposing Political Correctness on mainstream, normal Australians like Pauline Hanson, so taking over Australia with some kind of leftist Sharia. Malcolm Roberts, her climate denialist compatriot and co-Senator thinks that Climate Change is a hoax invented by Jews acting in concert with the IMF and United Nations to take over the world and enforce One World Government. Why would Jews want to do that ? Because they are evil, presumably.

While the fear of being swamped or displaced by another race or culture is indeed a feature of racist thinking I don’t believe that Hanson is racist. I consider, instead, that Hanson is Xenophobic, i.e. has a fear of outsiders from other races. Specifically Hanson fears the extinction of her own culture: which is conservative, white, secular nominally-but-not-actually-semi-Christian Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Fish and Chips 1950’s Anglo-Australian middle-class parochialism. Once upon a time everybody Hanson knew, met, or ever even saw, was like that. Hanson thinks that this particular thing that she is, is the only kind of Australian that is authentically Australian.

John Howard is this kind of Australian too. John Howard once said that he was quintessentially Australian. This gave John Howard the self-assumed right and authority, therefore, to state what was Australian and what was UnAustralian. What was Mainstream and what wasn’t. Who could have rights and who couldn’t. Hanson assumes the same nativist, infallible perfection of insight. She is Australia and can therefore speak infallibly for Australia.

Hanson fears the loss of her own culture in her own country. She fears and experiences disempowerment. Her views were derided are passe, unacceptable and crass. She feels a displacement from the cultural centre, in other words a loss of privilege which she perceives as an attack on her and her culture; she perceives targeted assistance for Aboriginals as unfair to white Australians. She calls herself  a proud Australian. I don’t want to see my culture gone. She wants everyone to behave the same way as her when in her town, state and country. She refuses to accept that her views may be out-dated or vulgar and finds such an idea impossible. She does not believe that it is acceptable or possible for a culture to change, that there is more than one way to be Australian, that the idea of being Australian can evolve.

Hanson is definitely conservative and Xenophobic. These things do not mean that she considers her own culture superior to other cultures, but she does want to make sure her own culture remains dominant in her own town, state and country. I doubt she shares the anti-Semitic views of her co-Senator Malcolm Roberts.

[1] Marr, QE #65, p.72 from Sunday Mail 10 January 2015.

[2] QE #65, p.96

[3] QE #65, p.59

[4] QE #65, p.71

A recent school news item done by my primary-age daughter:


This is a description of my families cat: Swishy. She had green eyes, brown and white fur, cute, little, white paws and an innocent face expression.

One day when I was 18 months old, my sister was 2 years old and my brother was 5 years old, our family were playing a game of UNO. In the middle of my sister’s turn my dad heard a meowing sound and saw……….

A CAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Once everyone had seen the big suprize we started to think what to name this mysterious cat. We ended up calling her………… SWISHY!!!!!!

A few years later the Council instructed some builders to build a unit-block RIGHT NEXT TO OUR UNIT!!!!!!! Since the Council said for all this to happen mice and rats came, and since mice and rats came. For my family and our next door neighbours it was like rats were taking over the WORLD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The same year but later when we were still on holidays ………………………………………………………………………………..


My family and I were really sad.


Somewhat of the same genre:

This Is A Complaint About Bed Time

Five Things To Know About Me

I Feel Like Having You As A Pet

My Literary Genius Six-Year Old Retells Goldilocks And The Three Bears

i like to know a story about you – your feeling your mouth your heart your way of looking at it

The Intolerable Ubiquity Of Pencil Sharpenings

My primary-aged daughter wrote my wife and I this letter which she left on our pillow to be discovered and read. All punctuation and spelling is as per the original.

To Mum and Dad:

this is a complaint about bed time. Me and Milly can’t go to bed in your room because it’s got dirty underwear and smelly clothse on it. pluse Me and Milly are sisters and we hate seaperating from each other. My second complaint is that you and you talk to each other and also READ in bed befor bed time and evern AT bed time. So now I have a complaint for each of you    Mum; you’re first: me and Milly see EVERY thing and we KNOW that you go on the computer when “ALMOST” everyone is asleep



from Sue and Milly.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy:

Five Things To Know About Me

I Feel Like Having You As A Pet

My Literary Genius Six-Year Old Retells Goldilocks And The Three Bears

i like to know a story about you – your feeling your mouth your heart your way of looking at it

Keep It Light

A controversy recently erupted over Coopers Brewery cancelling a limited edition release of their Coopers Premium Light Beer. Coopers had planned to release 10,000 cases of beer cans emblazoned with different Bible verses to commemorate the 200th birthday of The Bible Society. In conjunction with the release, The Bible Society produced a video of Liberal Party MPs politely discussing the issue of Same-Sex Marriage, taking different sides without hostility. The video exhorts Australians to ‘Keep It Light’.

Coopers cancelled the release following a boycott by pubs with a LGBT clientele. Coopers also promised it would join Marriage Equality Australia, issued an apology by video and press release, affirmed Coopers support for its valued Coopers drinkers and extended family, as well as saying that Coopers encouraged individualism and diversity.

Bully Is Spelt ‘L-G-B-T’

Many Christians then expressed shock, outrage and disgust over Cooper’s decision to cancel the release of Bible Society cans saying that the Gay Lobby had bullied Coopers into their decision by use of a boycott, that this was typical of the bullying tactics of the Gay Lobby, that Christianity itself was under attack, and that free speech in Australia was dead. Examples are here, here and here.

Especially galling to Marriage Conservatives is Coopers decision to join the Marriage Equality Association. Marriage Conservatives see this as proof that the Gay Lobby uses force and intimidation to compel compliance to their agenda.

In my view Coopers got what they deserved by way of the product boycott.  Coopers are not neutral on the Marriage Equality question. They were just pretending to be. The LGBT community saw through the charade instantly and called Coopers out for being anti-Same Sex marriage, which they are.

I think Coopers got what they deserved.

Imagine This

The following is a fictional scenario designed to illustrate how Christian groups have over-reacted to the Coopers decision:

Officeworks decide to assist The Australian Federation Of Islamic Councils celebrate the 200th anniversary of the publication of the first English language Qu’ran.

So Officeworks release a special edition of Copy Paper emblazoned with quotes from the Qu’ran on them such as

‘And behold! Allah will say: “O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah’?” He will say: “Glory to Thee! never could I say what I had no right (to say).”

AFIC release a video with Liberal and Conservative Christians debating whether or not Jesus is God, while referring to special edition Officeworks Qu’ranic Copy Paper.

The video participants all agree that a discussion about whether or not Jesus Is God is of vital importance to Australia.

Subsequently it emerges that Officeworks are long-time donors to Islamic Charities and to AFIC and most of the Officeworks board are Muslims.

1. Are Officeworks neutral on the Jesus issue ?
2. What are Officeworks trying to achieve by releasing Qu’ranic copy paper ?
3. Some churches boycott Officeworks. Are they justified in doing so ?
4. Are these churches enemies of free speech ?
5. Have the churches bullied Officeworks ?
6. Can we now say that free speech is dead as a result of the church boycott ?

Language Markers

Initially Coopers defended The Bible Society video, saying that the video debate was light-hearted, balanced and mature and that ‘its a debate we need to have’.  This essentially endorsed The Bible Society’s line that the “national conversation” on Same-Sex marriage had become “fraught with shallowness and contempt for those who have a differing opinion”.

These different phrasings of the same sentiment are exactly how anti-Same Sex Marriage organisations voice their opinion that the Gay Lobby uses bullying and intimidation to achieve its goals. When anti-Same Sex organisations speak to each other or to their members they typically characterise  LGBT advocates as intolerant, shouty bullies, as the three articles here, here and here demonstrate.

But when anti-Same Sex Marriage organisations or persons wish to talk with the general community they emphasise the need for balance, mutual respect and good manners as Coopers initially did, mirroring the language of Dr. Peter Jensen of the Anglican Church when he appeared on Q&A (See and Ye Shall Submit, 10 Sep, 2012) to discuss Gender and Marriage issues a couple of years ago.

PETER JENSEN: You’re speaking to me as though you respect me and I respect you, well I hope you do. Let’s have a respectful discussion on these matters not (AUDIENCE MEMBER SHOWN SNEERING). OK, I’m sorry.

The audience member sneered at Jensen because Jensen’s appeal to respect was transparently insincere and reeked of condescension as a perusal of the video will show, the segment quoted above occurring about 90% of the way into the episode.


The Gay community see the repeated calls for mature, balanced debate on Same-Sex Marriage as arrogant, unbelievable condescension. Why is it that Marriage Conservatives think they need to instruct others on what constitutes morality, ethics and human rights when such matters are well understood by everybody ? Do Marriage Conservatives that it is only straight people that have a moral conscience or manners ?

Jensen’s comments, while superficially conveying a commitment to respectful discussion actually mean this:

You and the Gay Lobby generally are fraught with shallowness and contempt for those who have a differing opinion. You are a bunch of shouty, intolerant bullies who systematically intimidate and victimise those with opinions different to yours. You force Marriage and Gender Conservatives to adopt Politically Correct positions by way of such intimidation. The behaviour of your lobby is reprehensible. Let me now demonstrate the manner in which mature, balanced, mutually respectful civil discourse on this topic should occur as I now explain it in the condescending manner of a parent instructing a child.

In short, the LGBT community recognised the language markers of their opponents in The Bible Society video and in Coopers defence of it. They saw through the charade and reacted to it. The entire campaign of Coopers was a pretence at impartiality by an organisation that was already committed to an anti-Same Sex Marriage position.


The long history of Coopers with The Bible Society, their long history of donating to Christian charities and to the Liberal Party is the behaviour which confirms the correct instincts of the LGBT community to the true attitude of Coopers to Same-Sex Marriage which is to reject it.

Which of course Coopers are entitled to do.

But Coopers should not be pretending that they are impartial on the issue.

And Christians should re-evaluate their over-reaction to Coopers decision.

Show Me The Bullying

The boycott by LGBT-friendly pubs is not a bullying of Coopers, though anti-Same Sex Marriage advocates portray it that way. Quite simply, people are permitted to boycott products for ideological reasons if they choose to. Why not ? How the companies react to the boycott is up to them. Boycott is not of itself bullying.

The pubs were not forcing Coopers to support any agenda. Rather, the pubs chose not to support a company they felt held a stance in opposition to their own values. Isn’t that a basic right in a democracy ?

The Newtown Hotel, which decided to discontinue stocking Coopers products,  said

“Dr Tim Cooper and the Coopers Brewery are entitled to spend their money however they wish — as are we”

In my counter-example above churches are permitted to boycott anti-Christian products if they so chose. Isn’t that self-evident ? Should churches really be expected to support anti-Christian organisations by buying their products regardless of what ideologies that company supports ?

But Coopers Support Marriage Equality !

Some defenders of Coopers see the decision of Coopers to join Marriage Equality Australia as proof that Coopers are honest brokers in the debate, promoting civil debate even while supporting the ideals of Same-Sex Marriage.

In my view, this view is mistaken. Coopers are anti-Same Sex Marriage.

Coopers have, for decades, been donors to The Bible Society, Christian Charities and the Liberal Party. These organisations are Marriage Conservatives. Then one day, faced with a damaging boycott to their $240 million dollar a year Beer business, Coopers decides to join Marriage Equality Australia.

Coopers is one of the biggest sellers in the inner-west of Sydney, amongst the many boutique pubs there and enjoys a 5% share of the national beer market. The boycott was taking effect in its retail heartland.

I think this plainly shows that Coopers decision to join Marriage Equality Australia is predicated on the profit motive. In my view Coopers’ pattern of behaviour established over decades for conventional Christian beliefs is much more of an indication of their true ideology than a sudden decision taken in the face of threats to profitability.

In my opinion, Coopers decision to join Marriage Equality Australia is simply PR and does not indicate any heart belief except a desire to protect market share.

But Coopers Didn’t Even Support The Video !

Coopers tried to distance themselves from The Bible Society video, which precipitated the boycott, saying

We want you to know that Coopers did not give permission for our Premium Light beer to feature in, or ‘sponsor’ the Bible Society’s ‘Keeping it Light’ video featuring Andrew Hastie and Tim Wilson.

In my view, this distancing is disingenuous and while probably correct on the bare facts, does not account for the approval of the video expressed by Coopers in its first press release on the controversy, nor does any public comment by Coopers over the boycott reflect its own  mission statement given in its annual report last year, which Coopers says includes fostering family and community support based on Christian values. If those values do not include support for Marriage Conservatism then I will be highly surprised.

Finally, the distancing of Coopers from The Bible Society video does not square with its long-term support for The Bible Society. The press conference announcing the release of the commemorative cans featuring Bible verses and celebrating the work of The Bible Society was jointly hosted by Tim Cooper, the managing director of Coopers,and Greg Clarke, the chief executive of the Bible Society Australia. The Guardian noted that joint press conference was  laden with bonhomie.

The distance between Coopers Brewery and The Bible Society was not reflected in any language prior to the boycott and in fact is contradicted by the long-term support for The Bible Society by Coopers over decades. Press releases by The Bible Society reflect this sense of common purpose.

Bible Society Australia has teamed up with Coopers Brewery for the launch of a commemorative Coopers Premium Light beer.

Andrew Hastie, the Marriage Conservative Liberal MP in the video told the ABC  it was “a bit disingenuous [for Coopers] to suddenly distance themselves” from the video.

I fully agree.

Grandma, Ranji And The Politically Correct Bullies

My Grandma was a flat-out racist. Everyone in her generation was. Racism was normal in her generation. Nowadays its not.

One day my Grandma told my sisters You can marry anyone you like providing he is Australian, English, American or a New Zealander. What is the common factor amongst these nationalities ?

When The Olympics were on Grandma would cheer exclusively for the white athletes. She felt the muscular superiority of black athletes gave them an unfair advantage, particularly the black female athletes. Look at the size of them ! She would say, implying there was something not quite normal, not quite natural with black people.

Grandma grew up at a time when India was still a colony of England. She enjoyed cricket. England’s premier batsman for a period from 1896 was an Indian Prince named Kumar Shri Ranjitsinhji Vibhaji Jadeja, popularly known as K.S. Ranjitsinhji or Ranji.

 As Wikipedia says  Ranji has widely been regarded as one of the greatest batsmen of all time. The famous cricket writer Neville Cardus described him as “the Midsummer night’s dream of cricket”. Unorthodox in technique and with fast reactions, Ranjiitsinhji brought a new style to batting and revolutionised the game, amongst other things inventing the Leg Glance.

When Grandma saw something that was very black she would say ‘That’s as black as Ranji’s bum’. One day I pointed out to Grandma that it was vulgar to draw attention to a person’s skin colour. She nodded and said sadly ‘Yes, it is nowadays’.

Grandma’s voice carried a  defiance that indicated that modern social norms regarding racial equality had unfairly constrained her right to free comment on Ranji’s bum and its blackness. She was put out by my demand for manners in regard to dark-skinned people and if the term had existed at the time of our conversation she would have no doubt considered me Politically Correct. 

Grandma, like all racists, thought it perfectly acceptable to be mildly insulting to black people. Unfortunately for her, social norms had moved on. It was no longer OK to be a racist. She felt bullied by those who told her that racism was vulgar. She felt attacked and a bit vulnerable.

Loss Of Privilege

Grandma’s sense of vulnerability was a result of her losing her privilege of assumed racial superiority. Her loss of privilege to vulgarity made her feel like she was being judged and found wanting by the transient social fad of racial equality.

Advocates of an anti-Same Sex Marriage position are feeling that same sense of bullying, judgement, vulnerability and attack that Grandma did. Social Conservatives have lost the privilege of the assumed right to be able to state who should and should not be able to get married. Modern social norms consider the assumed privilege to reject Same-Sex Marriage to be Homophobic and Social Conservatives therefore to be ignorant of what constitutes basic human respect and decency.

Seen from the perspective of Same-Sex Marriage proponents, Marriage Conservatives thus find themselves in possession of a Homophobic ethic as vulgar and as self-evidently disgusting as Racism. Explaining his decision to discontinue stocking Coopers products,

Union Hotel general manager Luke Hiscox said he found the video condescending and could not continue to support the brand, especially as many of his staff identified as LGBTI. “The idea that we need to have a discussion about basic human rights is probably why people are so upset,” he said.

When told that their views on Same-Sex Marriage are vulgar and passe, Marriage Conservatives feel shouted at and bullied, same as my Grandma did when being corrected for her casual and unconscious Racism. Just as my Grandma was shocked to be called a Racist, Marriage Conservatives are shocked to be called Homophobic and reject that labelling.

Marriage Conservatives are feeling what its like, for a change, to be the ones considered to be holding degenerate views, to be told to reform their degenerate thinking and learn what is basic human decency.

The claim to be suffering bullying and persecution is the pained and confused cry of those having privilege stripped from hem.

After a considerable number of centuries where Marriage Conservatives have held privileged and uncriticised views, the shoe is now on the other foot.

So, personally I don’t think Marriage Conservatives are being bullied by the so-called Gay Lobby. Marriage Conservatives are merely suffering a loss of privilege. Naturally, we don’t like it.

I should know. I’m a Marriage Conservative.

Some Final Words On Ranji

Ranji had to crash through barriers of Racism in order to take his warranted place in the English cricket team. The ingrained Racism of authority figures in the England of the 1890’s gives a great background to my Grandma’s epithet ‘As Black As Ranji’s bum’.

Though popular amongst many in England, both in the upper-class and in the general cricket watching public, many resented that a dark-skinned man could be better than an Englishman at cricket.

Surely that bipolar attitude toward Ranjitsinhji must have been mirrored in Australia: admiration for his ability and disdain for his colour. Like my Grandma said ‘No-one could get him out’

Again from Wikipedia,  in 1896, although his form merited selection, Ranji was not chosen by the MCC committee which chose the team.

Lord Harris was primarily responsible for the decision, possibly under influence from the British Government; Simon Wilde believed they may have feared establishing a precedent that made races interchangeable or wished to curtail the involvement of Indians in British political life.[78]

Bateman’s assessment is less sympathetic to Harris: “the high-minded imperialist Lord Harris, who had just returned from a spell of colonial duty in India, opposed his qualification for England on the grounds of race.”[79]

Ranjitsinhji made his Test debut on 16 July 1896. After a cautious 62 in his first innings, his final score in the second innings was 154 not out,[84] and the next highest score for England on the last day was 19.

He was given an enthusiastic reception by the crowd and the report in Wisden stated: “[The] famous young Indian fairly rose to the occasion, playing an innings that could, without exaggeration, be fairly described as marvellous. He … punished the Australian bowlers in a style that, up to that period of the season, no other English batsman had approached. He repeatedly brought off his wonderful strokes on the leg side, and for a while had the Australian bowlers quite at his mercy.”[85]

Although Australia won the match, the players were astonished by the way Ranjitsinhji batted.[86]

Not everyone was pleased at his success. Home Gordon, a journalist, praised Ranjitsinhji in a conversation with an MCC member; the man angrily threatened to have Gordon expelled from the MCC for “having the disgusting degeneracy to praise a dirty black.” Gordon also heard other MCC members complaining about “a nigger showing us how to play the game of cricket”.[87]

My son sat a Scholarship Test today. Afterwards I wrote the following letter to the Principal of the school that provided the test.

Dear Dr. Principal,

Thanks to yourself and International Academy for providing the scholarship test today, 25 Feb.

I thoroughly  enjoyed the presentations by yourself and your staff and came away convinced that IA provides a world-class Secondary Education.

My son sat today’s test. I would describe him as a mid-range student with relative strengths in Humanities and Creative Writing. Mathematics he finds sometimes inscrutable.

We sat him for the test not because we think he has a high chance of achieving a scholarship, but to give him the opportunity to challenge himself at a high-level task and also because his very best friend will be attending IA next year. So we wanted to give him a chance to qualify and, who knows, pull off a stunner.

After listening to your remarks about the severity of the examination I was quite concerned that we had inadvertently put our son into something really beyond his capacity. I thought he might come out of the exam deeply frustrated, enraged or maybe catatonic.

Imagine my surprise when he bounded out of the exam at Midday with the good cheer and vigour of a Border Collie pup.

‘That was a cinch’, he said ‘Easier than NAPLAN ! Can we have McDonalds ?’

I found his assessment simultaneously both highly improbable and immensely encouraging 🙂

Off we scooted to McDonald’s where he devoured a Triple Cheeseburger, a Large Fries and six Chicken Nuggets in the manner of an Anaconda swallowing a Wildebeest, or maybe vice-versa.

Who knows what he would have eaten after a NAPLAN ?

Thanks again for your excellent talks and hospitality today.

May I wish you and IA all the very best into the future.

Best Regards,

(Repost For Christmas. Originally here)

In our place we don’t do Santa.

We have informed the children that Christmas is a celebration of Jesus’s birthday and that Santa is a way people have of remembering the very nice man St Nicholas of Patara who would give presents to poor children for Jesus’s birthday because they had no one to give them presents.

Just The Facts

Objectively this is a factually historically sound precis of the identities of the major personages associated with Christmas and far closer to the truth than the western secular culturally approved Christmas story which is that Christmas is a day when the entirely mythical Santa Claus pilots a team of magic reindeer around the planet and distributes presents to children on the basis of good behaviour, completing his global mission in one night assisted by a team of magical elves.

So on a factual basis my family explanation of ‘Why Christmas?’ beats the objectivity index of the major alternative explanation by about 100-NIL.

Even if you think that Jesus Himself is a myth it is nevertheless true that Christmas Day came into being a celebration of Jesus’s birthday. Yes, yes I know, the actual day was appropriated from a pagan midwinter festival but it wasn’t called Christmas then.

Name That Stereotype

Now if you’re a hard core atheist you despise myths of all kinds so you wouldn’t be wanting to be feeding the children’s minds up with Santa nonsense. You’ll be telling them that Christmas (without the deliberate mis-spelling with ‘X’) is a celebration of the birthday of a mythical person called Jesus ’cause that’s factual, but that in your family Christmas is just about whatever you want to do at Christmas.

And if you’re an agnostic you’ll have no objection to Jesus as a putative historical personage or even as God, so you would have at least no objection to be going with the basic facts about ‘Why Christmas?‘, but you might decide to go with the Santa story because its fun for kids to play make-believe.

I guess the ‘Christmas is about Santa’ story would also be adopted to easy-going or less dogmatic atheists like Julia Gillard, Prime Minister Of Australia, who don’t believe in God but who don’t share the relentless atheist insistence on eliminating Jesus from public consciousness associated with, say, Richard Dawkins, and just like to see the kids get entranced in ‘the magic of Christmas’.

And from personal observation it would also apply to the general Australian public for whom neither Jesus nor atheism nor agnosticism registers at any meaningful resonance.

As far those who believe Jesus is God, such as myself, we obviously want to emphasize that Christmas is about Jesus’s birthday. Some Christian families also integrate Santa into their Christmas Family narrative but in my opinion this makes Christmas worse, not better.

Why Santa makes Christmas Worse

When our kids get a Christmas present they know that Mummy and Daddy have bought it for them, not Santa. So this is tangible evidence that M&D love giving them great stuff, and the greatest stuff that kids get, materially speaking, comes on Christmas Day. Pooh-pooh it if you like but gift-giving is a practical demonstration of love. Why should my kids think that Santa loves them more than M&D ? I think that its a positive for the children that they know that M&D bought them the big shiny bike or the Hot Wheels Trick Tracks Mega-Dino Challenge or the Dora The Explorer magnetic toothbrush with built in compass.

Secondly, the kids express their joy for the gift directly back to M&D and it goes like this WOW! THANKS DAD! THAT IS AWESOOOOMMME! Sorry Santa, you don’t deserve that gratitude since you don’t even exist anyway and I’m sure as eggs not letting you have it. So the M&D’s get to express the full volume of their children’s delight at the Christmas gifts, instead of vicariously filtered via Santa.

Third, we as M&D give Christmas presents to our children because we love them, not on the basis of whether or not they have been good. Our children get validated for who they are, not on the basis of their transitory behaviour. Our children know they do not have to earn the love of M&D unlike that fickle impostor Santa whose favour can at any time evaporate like summer mist.

Fourth, the children get facts not fiction. No matter how you slice it, Santa is made up. A truthful explanation of Why Do We Give Presents At Christmas must include some reference to Jesus, even if He is relegated to myth. Face it, Santa entered the Christmas narrative at some point many centuries after Jesus and doubly so the magic reindeer and elves.

Much as many hate it Jesus IS the ORIGINAL reason for the season and the reason why Christmas exists. Here’s a theoretical question your child may ask:

Child: ‘Mummy, Why DO people go around saying ‘Christmas is a time of peace and goodwill to all men’ ?
Incorrect Answer A: Because Christmas is a time when we get together as a family.
Correct Answer B: Its because that’s what the Angels said to the shepherds on Jesus’s birthday.

Quite simply, an integrated understanding of Christmas requires reference to Jesus.

Fifth, for those who are Jesus-friendly, awarding Christmas to Santa robs Jesus of richly deserved recognition. Americans have a thing called Martin Luther King Day. Contrary to current popular preferential meaning, this does not commemorate the day when Santa led a Freedom march on Washington DC to eloquently demand equal rights for African-Americans assisted by a team of magical elves. I think you get what I mean. Even if you think Jesus is just a man or even just a myth, why not let the kids admire and learn from His example ?

Santa Is Not All Bad

Ejecting Santa from Christmas is not without cost. My kids do miss out on the awestruck wonder of waiting for Santa to visit and some really great make-believe. And yes, my kids are almost the only ones at school who don’t think Santa is real, which can make them seem like Alien Life-Forms to the others who have been fed the 100% guaranteed Santa myth. Ironic that, but it doesn’t seem to lead to teasing.

But even without Jesus, Christmas is better without Santa (see reasons one, two and three above). Of course WITH Jesus there is another kind of awestuck wonder which happens to be based in historical truth, but even if you really wish to persist with Jesus is A Myth, at least you can tell tell the myth that is related to the actual origins of Christmas rather than the one that originated with Coca-Cola Inc.