Far-right; C Polling Worsens; PC Draft Report; US-Iran Deal

What is Far-right?

In the Weekend Australian Associate Ed John Lyons wrote what seemed to be an attack on groups which have been expressing concern at the activities in Australia of Islamists and in particular those advocating jihadism (see article Far-right). I am not aware of all the objectives of the groups mentioned by Lyon and some may well be using the situation to promote causes which are objectionable. But Lyon failed to acknowledge that those with such objectives have limited appeal and so far at least appear to have engaged in little violent activity. My heavily edited letter commenting on Lyon’s article is below.

Interestingly, today’s Australian reports that the Abbott government is establishing a “high-level research centre designed to stop radicalisation at the grassroots level” (see press release by Justice Minister Keenan). This is a start, but much more needs to be done to expose Islamism and its source. Note that, in referring to “combating violent extremism … and ideologies of violence and hate”, the new Justice Minister, Michael Keenan, does not make any reference to the underlying source. That is badly needed.


As the winter break concludes, the latest Newspoll reveals a fractionally worse than expected result for the Coalition (TPP 46/54) and for Abbott (now the same as Shorten for “Better PM”). Given the poor performance of Shorten at the Royal Commission and the clear indication that unions would continue to dominate Labor policy, this (and other) polling sends a message to Abbott viz you must adopt a more attacking strategy and improve your office staffing to help doing that. But there is little sign that this might happen.

Workplace Relations Reform

I have already drawn attention to the excellent critical analyses by Judith Sloan of the Draft Productivity Commission report.  Amazingly, that report has failed to recognise what the HR Nicholls Society has long been pointing out (unfortunately HR Nicholls was unable to make a submission to the PC) viz

“The HR Nicholls Society believes that in a modern society there is no intrinsic imbalance in bargaining power between employers and employees and the regulation of workplace relations should be minimal. That is in the interests of both sides and in maximising economic growth for the economic and social benefit of the nation” (see HRN website).

This is an excellent article by Henri Ergas which explains why this is so (see Productivity Commission Falls Short of the Mark) . He refers also to an study  published in today’s AFR by Castilla Strategic Advisors (see Cut union privileges to improve outcomes for workers).As Ergas points out, this “shows how the monopoly privileges the Fair Work Act grants unions have distorted their behaviour, undermining their incentive to serve their members while encouraging backdoor-door deals that tax workers who have no say in how those ­unions are run. And it should look closely at the rise in youth unemployment that accompanied the Fair Work Act’s entry into force and that has persisted despite sustained economic growth”. Both Ergas and Sloan point to the monopoly power available to unions under existing arrangements.

US-Iran Deal

Criticism in the US is mounting of the proposed nuclear deal reached between Obama and Iran, which our Greg Sheridan describes “as the worst possible deal. It will in the long run likely make the Middle East far more unstable. More important, it makes the prospect of the spread of nuclear weapons throughout the Middle East much likelier”.

Even the Democrat-inclined New York Times has published an article in which prominent commentator, David Brooks, argues that “there have now been three strategic defeats over the past several decades: Vietnam, Iraq and now Iran”. Brooks lists 8 explicit US goals set at the start of the Iran negotiations and concludes that the US has not fully achieved any. He makes an important point which our Foreign Miniser, Julie Bishop, should use to revise her attitude to Iran viz “ Iran is a fanatical, hegemonic, hate-filled regime”.

However, while there is increasing opposition (including from some Democrats) in Congress to concluding the deal and forcing Obama to use his veto, the outcome is not clear. It could require Congress to over-rule any veto (which requires a two thirds majority). One wonders whether Australia has sent any view to the US.

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