July 14th 2018

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY By-elections a trial run for next federal election

SOCIAL MEDIA Facebook bans reflect a lack of impartiality

CANBERRA OBSERVED The gloves are on for by-election proxy bouts

FEDERAL POLITICS Federal ALP platform reads like a radical on a soapbox

ENVIRONMENT 'Climate change' news is fake news

BRITISH HISTORY Abolition of the Corn Laws paved the way for cheap food

LIFE ISSUES A world of competing sorrows: Ireland's abortion referendum

CULTURE The wee folk and their cousins, up and down the scale

WESTERN CIVILISATION Three great anniversaries of the West

FICTION Autumn Alexei's Story

MUSIC ABBA; Unstoppable, ubiquitous

CINEMA Jurassic World: Fallen kingdom

BOOK REVIEW Vision for the future, if we want to claim it

BOOK REVIEW Taking to task failed privilege

BOOK REVIEW Where Tolkien and St Thomas agree


FOREIGN AFFAIRS Beijing goes 'boo', Qantas gets in a flap

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Opposition mounts to legalisation of cannabis

Books promotion page


News Weekly, July 14, 2018

Pressure on Campion

There is a lot of pressure on pregnant women to abort their baby. The pressure comes from many sides, such as partners, parents, friends, employers and a desensitised culture. Wilfully cutting the bond between a pre-born baby and its mother is a serious mistake.

Traditional culture considers wilful abortion to be murder and for that reason modern society attempts and mostly succeeds to hide the gruesome details.

Yet, two out of three women who abort want to keep their baby. As the television interview with Vikki Campion and Barnaby Joyce showed, there was a lot of pressure on Vikki to abort or suffer the consequences.

Whatever Barnaby and Vikki were guilty off, they showed respect for life by not aborting their baby. Many of their critics do not subscribe to that morality.

Robert Bom,
West Rockhampton, Qld.



James Bowen, in a letter about history teaching with which I would not necessarily disagree, contests my attribution of the phrase “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it”. My internet research at “Goodreads” attributes the phrase to Edmund Burke in his 1790 pamphlet, “Reflections on the Revolution in France”.

Colin Teese,
Toorak, Vic.


Pescadores back where they belong

Thank you to Chris Rule (News Weekly, June 16, 2018) for pointing out my error concerning the distance of the Pescadores Islands from Fuzhou. Matsu is only 17 kilometres from Fuzhou, as he says. I have been to the Pescadores and Jinmen, though not Matsu. The error was a matter of simple confusion.

Jeffry Babb,
Essendon, Vic.

Basin plan based on a guess

In 2011, respected Wakool food producer and national industry leader Stewart Ellis issued public warnings about the draft Murray-Darling Basin Plan. Seven years later the stark reality of his predictions is increasingly obvious in rural communities.

And, as we have been recently advised, it is all based on a scam. An environmental scientist claims he was given half an hour to come up with the amount of water he thought should be recovered for environmental purposes.

There was no science, no research into how much water was needed and how it was going to be delivered; and certainly no consideration of the impact on communities of removing water from food production.

It seems appropriate that we revisit the warnings from Stewart Ellis, who said if the draft Basin Plan was adopted the minister would be responsible for:

Economically and socially destroying communities reliant on water for their survival.

Failing to deliver on a promise of a balanced plan which takes into consideration equally social, environmental and economic outcomes.

Offering no solutions to problems of invasive fish species, riparian vegetation, urban pollution, cold-water pollution.

Ignoring the people who live in the Basin, and making a mockery of the idea of “localism”.

Causing flooding events that will have the potential to damage infrastructure.

Importantly, Mr Ellis also said at the time: “It is extremely disappointing that there is no environmental watering plan in the draft plan, which begs the question of how the Government can come up with any number when it doesn’t know and won’t know for at least another three years how, when, where, why or what it wants to water.”

Now, seven years on and with more than four million megalitres recovered from food and fibre producers since the start of water reform about two decades ago, everything predicted by Mr Ellis has come to fruition.

Governments still do not know how to use the huge amounts of environmental water at their disposal effectively, how it can be delivered or how to balance environmental, food producing, social and economic needs. We’re now paying the price for political expediency, and will continue to do so until we acknowledge the mess that has been created.

All this was achieved with a 30-minute “stroke of the pen”, and has been followed by a succession of broken political promises. Meanwhile, we have billions of dollars in lost food production, an up to 50 per cent decline in population from some rural communities and massive job losses.

Shelley Scoullar,
Speak Up Campaign Inc,
Deniliquin, NSW


2001: still great in 2018

I share Symeon J. Thompson’s high opinion of 2001: A Space Odyssey (News Weekly, June 16, 2018). In more than one international critics’ poll I have put it at the top of my list of the greatest films ever made.

And 50 years on, Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece remains compelling; it is no small achievement that the artefacts and technology on display never look  clunky or dated.

Mr Thompson describes the film as “an immersive,  affective and enigmatic cinematic experience”, but  I think it is something even more than that – a meditation on the nature of consciousness and the central mystery of existence. The last words heard on the soundtrack, a reference to the black monoliths that appear throughout the film, insist that “their origin and purpose remain a total mystery” – like the universe itself, we may take it.

Enigmatic it may be, but the film offers a wonderfully life-affirming message. The final image of the star-child, appearing after Bowman’s death, especially in the closing seconds when the child turns its eyes to engage the audience, are for me a glorious affirmation that life and consciousness, with all their limitless possibilities, will somehow endure forever. Who knows? Not Kubrick, not Arthur C. Clarke, certainly not me. But it’s nice to think they will.

Evan Williams,
Killara, NSW


Mary Magdalene finale

Further to the three letters (News Weekly, June 2, 2018) in response to Anne Lastman’s letters on the film about Mary Magdalene (reviewed in the March 24 edition); the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke all mention the women going to the tomb with the express purpose of anointing the body of Jesus: Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Mary the mother of James are mentioned specifically.

St John in his Gospel said that Mary Magdalene went by herself and found the tomb empty, and ran to tell the disciples. Verses 11-18 tell how she actually met Jesus. She didn’t recognise him until he called her by name, and she answered, “Rabboni” (“Master”) and Jesus said to her, “Do not touch me, for I am not yet ascended to my Father. But, go to my brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to my Father and to your Father, to my God and your God’”; which she did at once.

Many women were close to Jesus; they catered to the needs of him and his disciples during the three years of his public life. I have read also that it was Mary of Bethany who broke the box of expensive spikenard and anointed Jesus with the contents. Mary Magdalene was indeed a devoted follower of the Lord – and understandably: he had forgiven her sins and transformed her whole life.

We need to remember that not all relationships between men and women are sexual. Throughout history, men and women have had loving platonic relationships, loving from the heart with respect, admiration and gratitude.

Jan Chalmers,
North Tamborine, Qld.


Pro-life clarification

Reading Richard Grant’s letter in News Weekly (June 30), I must admit that I was wondering where it was going. It was at the third paragraph from the bottom that I was enlightened.

Richard took exception to my suggestion that pro-lifers (I mean all pro-lifers, including me) may have sabotaged the word “pro-life” and have done, inadvertently, what the “other side” have done and taken the term “pro-life” and applied it only in respect to abortion, to the detriment of other life issues.

The “other side” has stolen the words “rights” and “choice” and applied to them their own disordered meaning. Whenever they are used the meaning is women’s rights, and women’s choice to abortion.

And I would hope that we haven’t done the same with “pro-life”, because being pro-life means defending all life and all attacks against life.

Pope Francis was pilloried by pro-lifers when he said: “Frequently, as a way of ridiculing the Church’s effort to defend their lives, attempts are made to present her position as ideological, obscurantist and conservative. Yet this defence of unborn life is closely linked to the defence of each and every other human right” (Evangelii Gaudium).

One of the hallmarks of this Pontiff is his tendency to put abortion together with other attacks against the weakest and the atrocities committed especially against children, including human trafficking of children for the sexual pleasure of sinful men.

The Holy Father is not diminishing the importance of “life” and the right to life but telling us that other attacks against life must also be fought strongly. This Pontiff’s ideal is that we each make ourselves conversant with the social doctrine of the Church so that we can protect not only the unborn but the poorest of the poor, the sick, the elderly, children being trafficked for others’ pleasure: the ills in society that stem from loss of respect for life.

I have been a “Helper” for many years. I have promoted the “Helpers” at 23 international conferences. I stood outside the Richmond abortion facility (I like to think we closed it down) and the one where Richard attends, until my work in counselling of post-abortive women became too big and I couldn’t do both.

However, I also write and speak and counsel sexually abused (mainly) women (adults now) whose abuse has led them to live a half-life. A life they hate. That in my opinion is a pro-life matter. I have written to governments regarding euthanasia, abortion, the death penalty, and hope to do more in the area of the trafficking of children in the future.

I don’t think that pro-lifers argue among themselves about the term “pro-life”. I merely urge caution that pro-lifers don’t become known as a one-horse race because of language.

And finally I would like to say that this “pro-lifer” has placed close to 100 baby name plaques at the children’s memorial garden and continues to offer this service to my clients.

Anne Lastman,
Vermont South, Vic.


Ad hominem on Abbott

Isn’t the whole climate warming scenario built on the claim that increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will cause serious worldwide damage?

Tony Abbott gave an address in March in which he mentioned the scientific conclusion from the available data that, during the Jurassic Era, the carbon-dioxide level was twice what it is today, but accompanied not by disaster but by increased vegetation and animal life.

He was immediately attacked by Bill Shorten, Tanya Plibersek and Penny Wong in succession. Note that they did not attempt to disprove his argument, but attacked him personally.

Mr Abbott was putting forward a scientific argument. The trio were defending their substitute religion.

Don Gaffney,
Moorooka, Qld.


Factual articles

I have just renewed my subscription to News Weekly for a second year. I am not a practising Catholic, so my subscription might appear incongruous to some.

The reason for my $110 investment is that your magazine is the only one in Australia that publishes the very important factual articles on climate change, energy generation and our embarrassing national broadcaster, the ABC.

On the subject of climate change, may I be so bold as to suggest that you consider sending copies of News Weekly to the Vatican so that the Pope’s advisers might learn the facts.

John A. Earthrowl,
Kindred, Tasmania

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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April 4, 2018, 6:45 pm