April 7th 2018

  Buy Issue 3017

Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Free trade agreements leave us even more dependent on China

EDITORIAL Why Russia re-elected Vladimir Putin

CANBERRA OBSERVED Empty seat last vestige of minor parties' party

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Liberals take power but plan for none for SA

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Sexual exploitation at Oxfam symptom of culture of death

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM General protection gives a false sense of security

PHILOSOPHY AND CULTURE On celestial politics

GENDER POLITICS Trans ideology awash with big money from big biomed and big pharma

REGIONAL AFFAIRS Taiwan stands up to Beijing's bullyboy tactics

CINEMA Outstanding film follows St Paul to his death in Rome

HUMOUR An Appetite for Diamonds: Porphyry Volpone investigates

MUSIC Power playing: Technique v musicality

CINEMA Peter Rabbit: More Bugs than Beatrix, but lots of fun

BOOK REVIEW We're doomed; but we're not alone

BOOK REVIEW Subcontinent set for Asian century


NATIONAL AFFAIRS The deeper causes of Australia's social malaise

GENDER POLITICS Queensland proposes transgender birth certificates

Books promotion page


News Weekly, April 7, 2018

Ever worse water woes

Noted your article in the February 24, 2018, issue of News Weekly on the Murray-Darling Basin.

The right of landowners in the upper catchment, that is, east of the Hume Freeway, to store water from surplus rain on their land for their own use is gone.

All rights to this water were removed, including those written into land title, by the Farm Dams legislation – without compensation.

Some facts:

  • 1 million megalitres, 20 per cent of Victoria’s contribution to the Murray, flows from private land.
  • Value as a tradeable water right, $2 to $3 billion; as a temporary water right, $100 million.
  • 2200 megalitres of water falls on my land in an average year – last year 3500 megalitres – and an estimated 500 megalitres runs into the river.
  • If I want to store any of it, I must first buy a water right from someone who has one – at around $3,000 per megalitre, then build a dam to store it at $2000 to $5000 per stored megalitre. For water that has never left my land!
  • The most efficient place to use water, that is, greatest production per megalitre of this limited resource, is in the high rainfall area close to the source.

We estimate that at most 5 per cent of the water from private land would meet the opportunities in the Upper Catchment for the next 20 years. As a non-tradeable right. It would probably not be financially and physically possible to build enough private dams to store the whole million megalitres – most would just continue downstream.

In summary, this is a gross injustice and extremely bad water policy.

I gave evidence to a Senate inquiry in 2008, and when I finished, Senator Bill Heffernan said (Hansard record): “You blokes were dudded!”

He summed it up.

David Evans,
Chair, Upper Catchment
Water Committee,
Moyhu, Vic.

A few more reasons housing is out of reach

Well done on your article pointing out restrictive land use to be the major factor in sky-high Australian housing prices (News Weekly, March 10, 2018).

However, several other factors contribute. They include restricting provision of “services” to a monopoly provider for each subdivision (that is, owners cannot contract their own independent tradies to put in the pipes, footpaths and bits of road), which exaggerates prices by possibly a factor of two or more.

Also owner-builders are not allowed to live on their blocks to build their own house (for instance, in a caravan or mobile home for more than three months without a caravan park licence!). This even applies to otherwise useless land around town fringes in remote mining sites.

Another factor is zoning, not just restricting the supply of land zoned “residential”, but the practice of zoning for a restricted range of uses.

If a more open zoning policy were implemented, as in the southern states of the United States, then all that the land planners think is OK for urban development in the next 50 years could be so designated, and it would be up to the farmer and the market to subdivide.

If the farmer keeps farming, his land is rated as farmland, and he is not forced to subdivide by the high cost of rates. So, the market would decide the price. How much is third-grade farmland really worth if divided up to build on? If it’s worth $5,000 a hectare as farmland, why should it be 100 times as much before services because it has been rezoned?

This is an ongoing scam perpetrated against homeowners and the public in general by state governments, councils, landholders and developers.

In other words, no one who has the power has any interest in changing this system and because it is so complicated, the general public has not really discovered what is going on!

Dr Philip Dawson,
George Town, Tas.

5G in Chinese hands

I have considerable concerns about a Chinese company being selected for the rollout of 5G technology in Australia.

Our own Telstra appears to be well on top of the forthcoming changes and it is wise to keep this sort of technology away from the Chinese Government. The present president of China, Xi Jinping, seems to wield an unusual amount of confidence and power in expanding the reaches of a revived Chinese Empire.

The least our Government can do is to repeat the attitude they took to the roll out of our NBN, where Chinese influence was rejected from the start.

Robert Bom,
West Rockhampton, Qld.


Battlers burned again

Bill Shorten’s attack on retirees’ dividend imputation credits is the straw that broke the camel’s back.

While Mr Shorten tries to sell the plan as a tax on the rich, an elimination of tax credits for shares, Treasury analysis shows that 54 per cent of those worse off from the changes (or 330,000 Australians) are those earning less than $18,200 per annum.

Additionally, 43 per cent (or 128,000 people) of those who will be worse off earn between $37,001 and $87,000 per annum while only 3 per cent (800 people) of those affected earn over $87,000. Rather than taxing the rich, the changes mostly affect those on the lowest income.

As a self-funded retiree, I am not a burden on the taxpayer for a pension.

Our finances are subsidising cheap money for home buyers who received many government payouts, businesses and speculators. The 2.2 per cent on savings significantly reduces our disposable income. Just after World War II, tax hikes were justified by claiming part of the taxes were for funding future pensions. Then in the 1970s massive inflation initiated by governments destroyed many retirees’ savings, some of those saving all their lives.

Relying on the diluting affects of inflation to fund significant increased welfare demands causes massive misallocation of savings. Many people suffered as interest rates approached 19 per cent. Some lost their homes. Then bracket creep in wages further increased the tax take, followed by the GST and capital gains tax.

No-fault divorce, the most damning of all, introduced with the claim that it would reduce the call on public funds, in fact raised the comparative drain on public funds with an explosion of welfare recipients. Divorces were initiated in many instances on flippant grounds. Many people who initiated divorce on these grounds realised later this was a mistake.

This scooped money from the husband’s superannuation to limit the financial call on him as the family home passed to the wife, the net effect being to reduce funds from retirement savings (locked savings} to fund housing, which can be sold at any time, which reduces a person’s ability to provide for their retirement The family home can be sold at any time to fund discretionary spending.

The 14th annual Demographia survey measured 293 international housing markets’ affordability in the third quarter of 2017. Since the 2016 survey, Australia’s overall housing market has risen, making it the second most unaffordable housing market in the world, after Hong Kong. China and other investing nations are raising the cost of housing cheered on by those who own properties but leaving younger couples to take on massive loans or debilitating rental costs.

In South Australia exorbitant electricity costs due to green zealotry,  water, land tax, traffic fines and other government charges further encroach upon family finances This has significantly raised the states’ control over people’s lives as every dollar of tax reduces a person’s ability to increase the quality of life and freedom.

The Australian Labor Party is a party of enslavement.

Trevor Dawes,
North Haven, SA


Can anyone tell me?

What on earth has gone so badly wrong with young people in the Western part of the planet? The extraordinary self-preening over handheld devices and self-harm when the reputation is apparently assaulted! The extraordinary hypocrisy in the media clamour about alleged bullying while engaging in the amazingly spiteful news and articles on Barnaby Joyce.

One is amazed at the level of ignorance revealed in the 6pm quiz shows, complete ignorance of the Good Samaritan parable, and again no idea what the Tower of Babel was.

There’s quite a good documentary on YouTube about the recently deceased English comedian Norman Wisdom, which should be compulsory viewing for all young people to give them some perspective, to be thankful for the advantages which are pretty much a birthright here, and to put the device preening at the bottom of their priorities.

Dr Tim Coyle,
Earlville, Qld.



May we join with Anne Lastman in wishing Peter Westmore all of God’s blessings on his retirement and thanking him for the sterling job he has done at the helm of the NCC/AFA for so many years. Thankfully, Peter will carry on at News Weekly, so we will still have the pleasure of reading his informed, sane and balanced reporting of the important issues of the day. 

Gillian and Jerome Gonzalez,
Perth, WA


The historical Mary

Peter Westmore’s article, “Mary Magdalene on film: a new interpretation” (News Weekly, March 24, 2018), is both interesting and yet a little difficult. I think I will need to see it for myself because Mr Westmore’s words left me confused.

I especially was drawn to the comment, “for a person who wanted to see a film centred on Mary Magdalene, but is not too concerned about the detail, this film is enjoyable. But those who expect historical accuracy will leave with a sense of dissatisfaction.”

We really don’t have much information about Mary Magdalene. She is mentioned in the gospels some say 12 times while others say 14 times, but we do not find mention of her in other New Testament writings. However, at all the crucial points in the life of Jesus she is present. She is present as one of the companions of Jesus throughout his public ministry. She is present at his death. She was on her way to anoint him in death and, importantly, she is present at his Resurrection.

While Mary Magdalene is almost unknown today her role in the life of Jesus was important. Apart from Thomas, who touches Jesus’ side after the Resurrection, Mary is the only person we know who touches the body of Jesus many times. In Bethany (John 12:2-3), Jesus sat at supper with Lazarus and his two sisters Martha and Mary, and it is Mary who took a pound of spikenard (expensive ointment) and anointed the feet of Jesus and washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. This is an intimate action especially as women could not touch a male in public.

Another more important line: “When the Sabbath day was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices with which to go and anoint him” (Mark 16:1-3). This is very important because to anoint the body of Jesus (which was naked) and which no woman could do, meant that that there was some kind of “other” relationship, because a woman could not touch the naked body of man even in death unless it was a “special relationship”.

Remembering that Mr Westmore is after historical accuracy, then historical accuracy in regard to Mary Magdalene opens the door to something unaccepted in Catholic/Christian theology. It would be akin to a wife wanting to help cleanse and dress the body of her husband in preparation for burial.

This would be accepted in their day and in our day. However, if a strange woman went to cleanse and dress the body of man not her husband then the funeral director would be within his rights to call the police.

Even the tears of Mary outside the tomb and his “Mary” in a voice she has known and loved and her “Rabboni” speak of an intimacy. “Rabboni” (my master) had a different connotation (even husband) to what we understand today.

Jesus had family, disciples, even a member of the Sanhedrin, who could have carried out the anointing. But it was Mary Magdalene who went early in the morning to do it. This speaks volumes.

Anne Lastman,
Vermont South, Vic.

All you need to know about
the wider impact of transgenderism on society.
TRANSGENDER: one shade of grey, 353pp, $39.99

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Last Modified:
April 4, 2018, 6:45 pm