The Punch has asked me for some examples of offensive speech that might be caught out under Attorney-General Nicola Roxon’s proposed ‘1984’ amendments to create a brave, new, Speak-Easy world of proposed anti-discrimination (A-D) laws.
The first thing that comes to mind is that “Juliar” is offensive to some… but an example of free speech we ought to retain for those who don’t like the lady. If you said the word to Ms Gillard’s face, she might take you to court under proposed A-D laws for she would surely find it personally offensive.
Do we have a right to be offensive towards our Prime Ministers? I hope so, for they often offend many of us by their cross words!
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I bumped into a journalist I knew in the coffee queue at Parliament House, and he asked what I was up to these days. I told him I was looking at the environment law reforms. “Oh yeah, those,” he said confidently, then thought about it for a while before asking: “So, what’s the deal with that?”
Indeed. Most of us know something is happening with our national environment laws, but not exactly what, and if or how it will affect us. It’s quite complex, and I could talk about it for days.
But I don’t have days, I have a flat white coming in three So for all of you in the virtual coffee queue out there, here’s my three-minute, coffee-queue guide to the environment law reforms. They’re a niche interest. They only matter to you if you care about The Great Barrier Reef, native forests, The Tarkine, The Kimberley or any environmentally significant place in Australia, koalas, tassie devils or any species facing extinction, the multi-billion dollar eco-tourism industry or long-term, sustainable jobs, clean air, water or food.
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Vince Focarelli – alleged leader of the feared New Boys street gang and, briefly, an Adelaide group of Comancheros bikies – had already walked away from three attempts on his life.
It seemed unlikely that those who wished him harm were about to stop trying.
Last weekend, Focarelli’s aura of invincibility was shattered with tragic results. A hail of gunfire left the man himself with a head wound and claimed the life of his son Giovanni, who was just 22.
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I am not sure who the South Australian Police Commissioner is. Is it still Mal Hyde? Or did we get a new one? You wouldn’t know. Whoever he is, he is, as they say, a quiet man who keeps to himself.
In fairness, it’s not as if the South Australian Police Service has been doing nothing. Earlier this year, via its Twitter site, SAPOL courageously announced that it was launching an all-out blitz on one of the gravest threats to civil society - jaywalking. In a joint venture with Channel Nine, cameras were mounted at some of Adelaide’s most lethal intersections, places such as Beehive Corner which are a magnet for these dangerous criminals, with the offenders being nabbed and shamed as they went about their despicable enterprise.
We can all sleep safer as a result.
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It’s hard to pick the most disturbing moment. Is it when the van hits two-year-old Yueyue, pauses, then drives off? Is it the mother and small child who detour around her prone body? Or is it the sheer number of people who clearly see her and do nothing?
Warning: Disturbing footage
The video of the Chinese toddler, who wandered away from her mother and into trouble, makes you heartsick. It makes you question humanity. It makes you want to shake those people - shake them until their teeth rattle.
And of course, even as Yueyue lies in hospital with critical head injuries, it makes you wonder whether a similar evil negligence could happen here, or whether life is cheaper in places where it’s so much more abundant.
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This week a 14-year-old boy became the youngest Australian ever to face drug charges in Indonesia after being arrested for allegedly possessing 6.9 grams of marijuana.
It’s believed he bought the drugs because he felt sorry for a man who claimed he hadn’t eaten for a day and needed money. (Note to other overseas-bound teens: by all means give generously; under no circumstances accept the drugs.)
The boy had apparently just received a massage in the popular tourist hub of Kuta and was on his way back to the family’s resort when arrested.
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A few years ago, my wife suggested that we get a pet dog for the kids. The arguments were assembled: it is good for children to learn how to treat animals properly, it will get them outdoors and off the computer, they will get exercise by taking it around the block etc.
By the time we got the cute little thing air freighted to Sydney from the breeding kennel interstate, we had signed for it three times. Once when placing the order for the dog, once when booking it to be sent to Sydney and one more time when I picked it up at the airport. No signature, no puppy. Not once, but three times.
And the point of this story? Well at the moment the Tasmanian Parliament is debating a bill dealing with surrogacy. The bill in its current form permits two men, two women, a single man and even a heterosexual couple to enter into a surrogacy arrangement with a female person, to be known as the “birth mother”, who will seek to become pregnant and give birth to a child.
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I am trying hard not to sound like a grumpy old man well before my time, but what is it with the fun police on the streets of Perth?
In just one week, the good citizens of the Australia’s western state have been subjected to a raft of state and local government regulations seemingly designed to take the enjoyment out of the simplest of life’s pleasures.
Take the example of Town of Cottesloe, just one of 142 shires and municipal councils in the state, after it foreshadowed the banning of flying kites, hoisting over-sized beach umbrellas, playing with toy cars and drinking from glass bottles on an iconic stretch of beaches along the WA capital’s affluent western suburbs.
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