Michael Burrill

About Michael Burrill

Michael Burrill is a 24-year-old writer and contrarian. His hobbies include cheap Australian lager and existential dread.

Current Affairs Wrap: FODI, PUP, CBA and war…too much war…

Last week public outrage caused FODI (The Festival of Dangerous Ideas) to cancel a talk by Uthman Badar, spokesperson of Islamist organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir. Both FODI organisers and the speaker himself denied the unfortunately-titled “Honour Killings Are Morally Justified” would have supported violence against women, but rather focused on the many ways across cultures “honour” is used to justify violence. Badar went on to label the uproar as Islamophobic and pointed to talks at previous FODI events by non-Muslims supporting torture or suggesting that killers can be good which all went off without a hitch. While some may consider the ideas of Badar’s group Hizb ut-Tahrir (a global caliphate governed by sharia law) too “dangerous,” others may bring up its non-violent status. Whatever the case, I just wonder where old favourite of this column and self-proclaimed free speech activist George Brandis was while all this was happening…

After some in the Liberal party suggested a possible ban on boycotts by environmental groups a few months back (another incident in which George Brandis was oddly absent), a motion was introduced to the Liberal Federal Council by MP Andrew Nikolic calling for environmental groups to be stripped of charity status. Nikolic suggested “real charities” like the Red Cross and the Salvos were struggling for money while green organisations were using their donations for “illegal” political activism. One of the accused groups, the Australian Conservation Foundation, has sent Nikolic a letter threatening legal action unless he clarifies or withdraws his statements. Whatever Nikolic’s personal opinion on environmental groups, he would do well to note, “real charity” the Salvo’s might have a lot less trouble with money if they weren’t having to make million-dollar payments to victims of child abuse that occurred on their watch.

Staying with the environment, Palmer United Party leader Clive Palmer met with ex-US Vice President and climate change advocate Al Gore to announce that despite he and his senators voting to repeal the carbon tax, they would vote against scrapping the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, Climate Change Authority and renewable energy target, vowing to reintroduce emissions trading at a later date. Palmer also demanded an amendment to the repeal which would force power companies to pass on savings to consumers and businesses. Palmer said of the amendment:

“I’m in business, business wants to make money. If I was in business and this change came along I wouldn’t pass it on, I’d just keep the money. And I’d just play around with the regulator.”

Clive went on to soothe any suspicions it might be more about the power bill at, say, his metal refinery than his sense of public duty adding:

“But I’m not in business, I’m serving the Australian people, so knowing that I am going to make sure this legislation goes through to protect our pensioners and everyone like that.”

One thing Clive was definitely telling the truth about is businesses playing with regulators. A Senate Inquiry has implicated the CBA in “forgery and dishonest concealment of material facts.” The inquiry also found the financial regulator ASIC to be “a timid, hesitant regulator, too ready and willing to accept uncritically the assurances of a large institution that there were no grounds for ASIC’s concerns or intervention.” Despite the inquiry’s findings, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has moved to roll back regulations for the financial services industry. No rules, none to break I guess…

Lastly this week, civil warfare remained rampant across the globe. The Ukranian army began operations anew and ISIS declared itself a caliphate, carrying out crucifixions to celebrate, and Israel seems to have decided it doesn’t want to be left out of all the fun. After the bodies of three missing Israeli teenagers were found in the West Bank (the search for which left five Palestinians dead), Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu blamed Hamas and said the group would “pay a heavy price” as Israel’s air-forces bombarded Gaza. In Jerusalem, a Palestinian youth was kidnapped and murdered as a revenge killing. From Iraq to Ukraine, keep up the good work people – we could be onto something really big here.

Who the fuck needs a World Cup or FODI when you can have a World War or “Festival of Dangerous Hostilities,” right?

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