Current Affairs Wrap: Fred Nile, Rupert Murdoch, Medicare, Charlie Hebdo

Michael Burrill’s Current Affairs Wrap highlights the sensitivities of our finest – Fred Nile, Rupert Murdoch and Cory Bernardi – following Charlie Hebdo.


As 60 world leaders and around one million people gathered in Paris to march in support of ideals like free speech, freedom of the press and the sanctity of human life, “overlord” of much of the UK’s, the US’, and this country’s press, Rupert Murdoch, took part in some of the calm and considered commentary that his papers and TV channels are so well known for (just look at comments on Fox about Birmingham, England by Steve Emerson, a man who rather scarily has given numerous testimonies to the US Congress). Darth Murdoch initially tweeted, “Maybe most Moslems peaceful, but until they recognize and destroy their growing jihadist cancer they must be held responsible.”, but amidst the backlash claimed, “Certainly did not mean all Muslims responsible for Paris attack. But Muslim community must debate and confront extremism.” Which would be all well and good if the Muslim community wasn’t seemingly expected to respond and reaffirm their stance every time Ayman al-Zawahiri or Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as much as trim their beards. As liberal blogger Raif Badawi looks set to receive another 50 lashes of the 1,000 lash sentence he received for criticizing the regime in Saudi Arabia (a long time western ally), those world leaders who attended the Paris march have reaffirmed their commitment to free speech with well…silence.

Elsewhere, with many of us wringing our hands over the tragedy of premature deaths in Paris, it seems odd that so little is being said about the attacks by Boko Haram in Nigeria, which may have left up to 2,000 dead (though a few graphic designers at my local small bar did mistakenly label Boko Haram as their “favourite Fela Kuti” song). It would seem to suggest that collectively we consider the deaths of up to 2,000 Africans a lesser tragedy than the deaths of 17 westerners. If only the residents of Baga and Doron Baga had drawn some “edgy” cartoons.

Back in Oz, current health minister Sussan Ley scrapped changes to the Medicare GP rebate, citing “misinformation that is causing confusion for patients and confusion for doctors,” rather than the widespread displeasure with the move, while ex-health minister Peter Dutton was found to be the worst health minister in 35 years by a poll in Australian Doctor Magazine. One GP, Donald Rose, went onto say, “Dutton will be remembered as the dullest, least innovative and most gullible for swallowing the reforms from his thinktank.” Things aren’t going too well in Pete’s new job as immigration minister either, with up to 500 asylum seekers hunger striking on Manus Island in protest over their treatment and demanding they be handed over to the UNHCR rather than be resettled in PNG where they fear for their safety. Similarly it seems none of the refugees on Nauru are keen to be resettled in Cambodia, despite the $40 million agreement made by Muppety Morrison with the oppressive Cambodian regime (Je suis Hun Sen?). Is this another example of the banality of evil? Now I’m not saying that Peter Dutton is evil (though Dr Donald Rose’s comments would suggest he definitely is banal), just that locking up desperate people and then offering such terrible resettlement options that they feel their only recourse is starving themselves does seem pretty evil…

Lastly this week, contrary to Cory “Phar Lap” Bernardi’s attempts to reignite the debate over 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, NSW Senator Fred Nile has proved once again that the “right to be a bigot” is alive and well in Australia. Taking a break from his usual choice of soft targets, gays and Muslims, Nile took aim at survivors of the Lindt café siege and women. Implying that females are fragile pathetic creatures unable to care for themselves, Dickhead Fred (as ever, I’m only using language sanctioned by David Leyonhjelm) said, “Usually men try to protect the women and it seems that the men were trying to protect their own, saving their own skin, and leaving the women there,” and then went onto add, “Where were the men? The only man really there was the man with the gun.” Amidst the outrage, Fred Nile tried to clarify his comments by claiming he “misspoke” and that rather than glorifying Man Haron Monis, he actually intended to refer to Tori Johnson’s attempts to wrestle away Monis’ gun. I’m sure it’ll bring much solace to Johnson’s loved ones (particularly his partner Thomas) that Fred Nile considered him courageous in that moment at least instead of “immoral, unnatural and abnormal,” as Fred considered him for many other moments of his life.


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