1. Peter Dutton did something useful
He banned Kent Heckenlively, the world’s ‘No 1 anti-vaxxer’, from visiting Australia for a lecture tour in December.
He said “it’s not in our national interest that he should come here.”
Free speech advocates may complain, but seriously, people can die from this madness.
2. Barnaby Joyce on statues
Here’s Barnaby from the Oz (pay-walled):
“There were people living in Australia before Captain Cook turned up,” he said. “We have got to respect that, we have to respect their culture.”
Mr Joyce said we could not change what happened in terms of white settlement of Australia, and should be proud of what Australia has become.
“What happened happened,” he said. “Ultimately, Australia has turned into a good country, a decent country, we should be proud of the country we have got and not starting some sort of revisionist process of tearing down statues and changing days.
“We can expand how they are seen, celebrated. I don’t think anybody has a problem with that. “But if you say we are going to go on a social engineering exercise, all you’ll do is get everybody offside.
Some good sense there, except I haven’t heard anyone wanting to tear down statues. I’ve heard people wanting to add to the story. For example, here’s Robert Towns’ gravestone atop Castle Hill in Townsville:
Somewhere thereabouts you’d also want to know the full story of Robert Towns (c. 1794 – 11 April 1873) who:
- was a businessman, pastoralist, and founder of Townsville, Queensland. Much of his success came from blackbirding, the practise of coercing and kidnapping South Sea Islanders as slave labourers.
All this started with a thoughtful piece by Stan Grant – Between catastrophe and survival: The real journey Captain Cook set us on. Grant sees three great movements of people in our history, the first wave possibly over 60,000 years ago, the second wave of the Brits from 1788, and the third wave from many lands, especially after WW2. He is challenging the notion of Cook’s “discovery” and the idea of terra nullius which he says is deeply embedded and still there.
One thing it has flushed out is a number of place names in Queensland’s north still using the N***** word.
3. Milking blood
The Four Corners episode Blood Business: the lucrative international trade in blood and plasma was just awful.
There is nothing intrinsically wrong with blood being gathered in one country, made into specialised blood plasma products and used elsewhere in the world. Nor is there anything intrinsically wrong about paying donors compensation.
However, what we have here is a busted town (Cleveland Ohio) with citizens exposed to a busted welfare system, selling their blood twice a week so that they can stay alive with food, shelter, clothing and a TV.
The Australian company CSL, one of four major players in the business, has issued a statement saying parts of the documentary were false, irresponsible and disrespectful. CSL was not the company the program makers entered with hidden cameras, but CSL has a collection facility in Cleveland, and the implication was that they all do it the same way.
The Australian Department of Health has issued a statement assuring us of quality assurance in the blood products we use here.
There was a statement that donors could be lying about their health and what they’d been up to as it was only a screen form where they had to tick the boxes.
It still seems to me that to collect blood twice a week from people who are economically marginalised is problematic.
4. How the rich avoid tax
They say for the really wealthy paying tax is voluntary. My wife drew my attention to an article in the AFR recently, but I lost it. Googling yielded a host of articles, for example in The New Daily and the Business Insider.
One of the favourites is to use a family trust (or “discretionary” trust, in official lingo) if you run a small business or as a tradie. Earnings in the trust must be distributed to nominated beneficiaries, who then include the income in their own tax return. It’s an accounting technicality, money does not need to change hands.
Labor has cause a stir with a plan to impose a flat rate of 30%, which, apparently, will stop the economy dead in its tracks according to some. Huffpost headlined Labor’s ‘bold $17 billion plan’, the Guardian highlighted the LNP’s ‘tax grab’ line.
The $17 billion was over 10 years. $1.7 billion a year is hardly big and bold. The point of the AFR article was that it would take the tax accountants of the really rich about 10 minutes to find another way.