Allan Takes Aim Blog

Archive for October 2009

An edited version of this column appeared in The Chronicle, Canberra, Tuesday October 13 

Reports that senior Muslims in Australia are calling for Muslims to be judged by Sharia Law can be relied on to raise a storm of protest.

 An agnostic, I won’t take sides, but reports also suggest that though many Muslims don’t want Sharia Law they prefer some form of Islamic Law to Christian based secular law.

At the same time many Christians don’t like all Christian based secular law but prefer it to Islamic Law because its main base is reason rather than religion. Though many people might think otherwise, Sharia and Christian Law have much in common. Both have a base in Jewish Halakhah law and Zoroastrian Law.

Unfortunately with the study of history in decline, many Christians know little of times pre the birth 2000 years ago of Jesus Christ, a Jew, allegedly the Son of God, while many Muslims know little of times pre 610, when the Prophet Muhammad said he had a vision in which God (Allah) allegedly spoke to him.

Both Christianity and Islam are monotheistic religions with Jesus revered by Muslims as a great prophet. Christians, Muslims and Jews each assert their beliefs and legal systems are the best conveniently forgetting the contribution made by the still extant Zoroastrianism founded by the Prophet Zoroaster, circa 450BC.

Indeed, Mary Boyce, Professor of Iranian Studies at the University of London has written, with little disagreement from other academics, that “Zoroastrianism” probably had more influence on mankind directly or indirectly than any other religious faith.” Like Christianity, Islam and Judaism, Zoroastrianism is also a monotheistic religion.

It is worth noting also that over the centuries, religion has often been the cause of conflict. Though an optimist, I confess I see little hope of any change in that situation at any time in the near future. Indeed it is one of life’s great paradoxes that people of the same faith entreat their one God to help them slay each other in battle, but also indulge in the same entreaties when fighting people of different faiths who also believe in the same one God. However, It has to be said also that as civilisation has progressed, the wars between different Christian countries were fought more on economic than religious grounds.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the wars between Islamic/Christian, Islamic/Jewish sects.

That said, it seems beyond belief that today, leaders of Christianity, Islam and Judaism, each of whom says peace is their objective and, despite believing in the same God and sharing a heritage, are unwilling to accept that violence and intimidation do not produce peace.

This is due to the fact that in Christian countries, secular law is laid down by parliaments of the people. Religious leaders play a part but only in an indirect sense.

Unfortunately, in Islamic countries where the law is laid down by religious leaders, practices and penalties continue that have long been discontinued in countries where people, regardless of religious belief – Islam included – or no religious belief at all, are afforded the protection of Christian based secular law.

Even more unfortunately problems still occur, particularly in countries which promote themselves as model democracies and guardians of human rights particularly with regard to freedom of religion, freedom of speech, education, equality for all, and other rights too numerous to mention.

The problems occur when people from cultures created over centuries, move to settle in countries in the belief they would be able to continue practicing the culture they brought with them.

Would that were the case. Sadly it is not. Instead they find that despite the promises of politicians, many of the residents in their new country do not find their culture acceptable.

Worse still, continuing to try and practice their culture often has the unintended consequence of exacerbating the original problem so that, in turn, they find themselves even more sadly in violent conflict with the law and fellow citizens.

I could but wish that I had a solution to what seems an intractable problem? Unfortunately I haven’t. The best I can do is suggest that a good start would be for all of us to start treating Australia’s new citizens as we, ourselves, would like to be treated.

The Chronicle, best for Canberra community news

This is an extended version of the column first published in The Chronicle, Tuesday October 6, 2009

A  climate change sceptic, I believe the prophets of environmentalism, the new religion, have grossly exaggerated man’s role in creating global warming. I believe also that their predictions of a hothouse world unless their solutions to reducing Carbon Dioxide are acted on immediately, are also grossly exaggerated.

Although the carbon dioxide effect is not new, the environmental doomsayers have elevated Carbon Dioxide to the position of public enemy number one. The fact is, global warming has affected earth for countless millenniums past and will do so for countless millenniums to come.

It is ironical also that one of the many ways the prosleytisers  propose to reduce Carbon Dioxide is by the development of hectare after hectare of windfarms. And while an environment dominated by whirling windmills might please them, I doubt it will please many others, particularly when a better solution to producing clean energy exists.

Instead of spending billions on windmills etc, the billions should be spent developing nuclear fusion. Unfortunately that won’t happen because the environmentalists who proselytise  about the danger of nuclear power – ie nuclear fission- has made people fearful about the use of nuclear energy.  Why, I wonder?  Is it because they are afraid that common sense will finally prevail and force them to that nuclear power – nuclear fusion – is the answer to the energy problem.

That said one might conclude also that their antagonism to nuclear power is really a case of job protection. Keeping company with them in a job protection role are those pragmatic politicians who, lacking the courage of their convictions, have quietly ditched their old beliefs and converted temporarily to the new environmental religion because, at this time, and vote wise, they deem it prudent to do so.

Nor is it strange that the politicians don’t shout about their conversion. Indeed, when the environmentalists’ solution to the global warming prove impractical, I am in no doubt the politicians will quickly reclaim their “original beliefs,” pull their old political bibles out from under the bed and, like the pragmatists they are, after a short refresher course, start preaching their old beliefs as if they had never given them up . 

 However, I excuse global warming zealot Greens Senator Bob Brown from my comments. In fact I find him sincere when speaking about his environmental beliefs because unlike the pragmatists, he has not been afraid to speak about them and so has not ever needed to retrieve them from under the bed.

But while Senator Brown is to be admired for his beliefs and, personally admirable as he might be, unfortunately like King Canute trying to stem the tide, his efforts are an exercise in futility.

But exercise or not in futility, his efforts to convert the world to his beliefs will lead to some degree of progress whereas the pragmatic politicians will carry on producing the chaos and turmoil that keeps society in thrall to militarism and the other isms concerned with other material things and religion.

Never will they display humanism unless it becomes politically necessary to do so. And while I admire Senator Brown, my admiration does not extend to Al Gore, 45th Vice President of the United States who finds it inconvenient to accept that the sceptics might be right about global warming and because he is better served by environmental politics than the politics of government, something that can be seen by his sharing the Nobel Peace Prize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Environmental politics serve his ambition well.

Like Gore, IPCC zealots also brook no argument that their prophecies of world doom might be wrong and that only by adopting their solutions will the earth be saved . More to the point: when the Adam and Eves currently populating planet ask Gore and the IPCC to tell them the kind of future their sons and daughters will enjoy if the formers’ proposals are put into effect what answers do they get?

In the same was as prophets of the old religions promised heaven, they reply in the same vein knowing full well that they will not be around to be taken to task when their prophecies are proved wrong.

However, just as the old religions gave us Nostradamus, remant believers in environmentalism will join elevate Gore and the IPCC as a composite environmental Nostradamus when future situations occur that could be manipulated to give credence to some statements they once made.

Who do you think is right: sceptics or doomsayers? As I’ve said already, I’m with the sceptics. My support is based on a number of things. First: for millenniums prophets of doom have predicted, in a case of plus şa change plus c’est la même chose, the end of the earth because man had offended Mother Nature with his greed and decadent life style. Second: there is no greater protector of man’s interests than man himself.

And while at times this self protection has resulted in ill will and often cruelty to their fellow man, fortunately mans’ humanity has a habit of always coming to the surface and allowing him to survive and progress.

No matter how far man progresses or how long he survives, and as no one can give a definitive answer as to how long that might be, I suspect he will go on forever. And as he develops even more sophisticated technology, let me prophecy that he will carry on doing what he has been doing since time began, going off to find new worlds, where he will continue his cycle of progress to corruption until forced to move on.

Published The Chronicle, Canberra, Tuesday 29 September 2009

I have always thought Members of the Legislative Assembly were people of principle who accepted that if they didn’t follow the rules of conduct demanded of them their parliamentary careers would be cut short.

During the twenty years the Assembly has existed, some Members occasionally exhibited behaviour that came close to cutting short their careers, but didn’t.

At election time, however, they got their comeuppance.

Much I hate having to say it, but it seems to me the time has come to sever not one but two MLA s, Barr and Hargreaves, from their Assembly seats.

Worse still, both MLAs are Ministers.

I do not say this lightly because at some time in life, the likelihood is that many of us have indulged in actions that contravened workplace or society’s rules with the result we were dismissed.

In some cases, incarceration and community rejection was the result. I am not suggesting the actions of the two Ministers merit the latter, but it has to be said that if they are not penalised, the value of the ACT Assembly as a whole is diminished and the reputations of its members sullied. Not least their actions add grist to the mill for those who think an Assembly is not needed.

Most politicians get dismissed because, arrogantly, they think they are a law unto themselves and so don’t need to observe the same rules as everyone else.

What they don’t understand is, that while most voters are prepared to tolerate a certain degree of arrogance, they cannot tolerate people who, in their arrogance, suffer from an even worse condition: blindness to responsibility.

In addition to their arrogance these politicians do not inspire respect although, like all arrogant, weak and egotistical people they demand it.

No doubt you have noticed that these egotists are also addicted to publicity, much of it about matters trivial, in which they see themselves as the main interest.

Sadly, too, Canberra has many sycophants employed in the political field who pander to them. The action that require Minister Barr to be censured and dismissed follows his being accused of the very serious charge of misleading the Assembly, a charge he denies.

This charge stems from his putting words in the mouth of an Opposition MLA – verballing as it is known – in a statement he made to the Assembly and a letter he wrote to the head of the Non-Government Schools Education Council.

After considering the matter the verballed MLA place asked Mr Barr to apologise.

The verballed Member’s party raised a censure motion that was watered down by a Greens amendment that requested the Speaker ask Mr Barr to apologise.

This was done but Mr Barr still refused, thus committing one of the most serious offences a Member of Parliament can commit: refusing to obey the Speaker.

Minister Hargreave’s action is quite different. Attending a charity function being staged to raise funds to buy a special wheelchair for ten years old girl, he and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Opposition Brendan Smyth, manhandled Greens MLA Amanda Bresnan as a joke, according to the Minister.

Neither Ms Bresnan nor anyone else seemed to see the joke and demanded an apology. It appears, that without the prompting of party Leader Mr Sejelsa, Mr Smyth immediately tendered his apologies through a written and personal apology.

Not so Mr Hargreaves. However, after some delay, he made a conditional apology that was not accepted by Ms Brosnan. Later, however, she accepted a less conditional apology.

Anecdotally, suggestions have been made that Mr Hargreaves was intoxicated at the time of the occurrence. Unfortunately for Minister Hargreaves, his history with alcohol – and other matters – is not good, not long ago having appeared on a charge of Driving Under the Influence. Found guilty, he was not convicted because of a trouble free record.

After consideration, the Chief Minister decided to give him a second chance, as did voters, by re-electing him. The question: does he deserve a third chance? Although many Canberrans might not like the Chief Minister, over the years they have respected him for his capacity to make hard decisions.

He will enhance that respect if he makes the necessary hard decisions about these Ministers.

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