Inside the System

Liberal MP blinded by anti-Muslim bias

Federal Liberal MP Luke Simpkins has been seeing things. He has drawn ridicule after going public about “Islamic Shahada symbols” that apparently appeared in his suburban electorate in the North of Perth.

He boasted on social media about his crusade to get the so-called “Islamic symbols” painted over after they appeared on a bridge. He said, “Last week I noticed black disks (sic) that appeared to be Shahada symbols. Thanks to the Transport Minister and his adviser for getting them painted over quickly after my call”.

But they were actually stickers promoting “Speakeasy”, a bi-monthly music night at a local nightclub. As one contribution on Simpkins’ Facebook page put it, “Speakeasy is a Shahada symbol? Wow, You sir are a complete idiot”.

Gay references airbrushed from Pride film cover

Pride, the critically acclaimed film that details the true story of solidarity between gays and lesbians and striking miners in the 1984-85 strike, is out on DVD in the US. Shockingly, the film has had all references to homosexuality removed from the DVD cover. The synopsis on the back cover rebrands the “Lesbian and Gays Support the Miners” campaign group as a “group of London-based activists” and a banner reading “Lesbians and gays support the miners” has been airbrushed. The film received an R rating in the US, despite only being rated M in Australia and the UK.

Beggars swept under the rug in Perth

Beggars have been banned from Fremantle’s “cappuccino strip”, a popular tourist area, keeping the destitute out of sight and out of mind. The local council is enforcing the ban through making beggars register to prove they are homeless, and then limiting their begging to certain areas.

Only nine people have been registered as “legitimately homeless” since August last year. Yet St Patrick’s Community Support Centre, which helps the homeless in Fremantle, had to turn away 272 people looking for assistance last year. It reports that families are the fastest growing homeless demographic.

Tasmania makes it a crime to insult business

New anti-defamation laws proposed by the Tasmanian Liberal government would allow companies to sue individuals for defamation. Under existing federal libel laws companies can already sue for “injurious falsehood”, but only if they can prove that claims made about their business had a financial impact.

Under the new laws they will only need to show damage to the company’s reputation. This will massively increase the scope for businesses to use punitive lawsuits against activists, unions and journalists. Media union Federal Secretary Chris Warren said, “It will have the impact of killing freedom of speech.”

Prince Andrew implicated in sex slavery

Prince Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II, has been named in a high profile sex-slavery lawsuit filed against billionaire American financier Jeffrey Epstein.

Virginia Roberts, who was 17 at the time, alleges the abuse took place in New York, London and on Epstein’s private island in the Caribbean.

It provides an insight into the world of the rich and powerful, and how they can flout the laws that apply to the rest of us.

Court documents claim that, in addition to Prince Andrew, “Epstein also trafficked Jane Doe 3 [Virginia Roberts] for sexual purposes to many other powerful men.” They included “numerous prominent American politicians, powerful business executives, foreign presidents, a well known prime minister and other world leaders.”

A previous FBI investigation identified at least 40 young women Epstein had potentially abused. Three were questioned under oath but refused to answer.

Court papers allege that they were “threatened and intimidated” by Epstein, and that he also paid for their lawyers.

As part of a secret plea deal, Epstein was convicted of one charge of soliciting sex with a 14 year old, and served just 13 months in jail.

The best of friends

Liberal Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop has revealed how she and Kevin Rudd became the best of friends.

While they had been in touch since observing Zimbabwe’s election together in 2002, she told Fairfax that Labor’s leadership woes cemented a “much closer friendship”.

She said that “Through some of the really difficult times for him, I would go around and see him, he would come around and see me, we talked a lot about foreign policy. We talked a lot of about different approaches, I ran ideas past him”.

It shows how hollow Labor’s claim to stand for “working people” as against the Liberals, the traditional party of the bosses, really is. In a sickening illustration of the collaboration across the political elite Bishop revealed, “We rarely disagreed on things”.

Man with terminal illness told to look for work

A man with a terminal illness has been forced to spend what’s left of his short life jumping through hoops at Centrelink and job-search centres. On Christmas Eve, 33-year-old John Grayson was informed that he had a stage three malignant brain tumour, but since he is currently physically “fit for work” he doesn’t qualify for the Disability Support Pension.

In theory people with a terminal illnesses should get the pension but his extremely rare form of tumour doesn’t qualify. As a result he’s stuck making weekly visits to employment agencies and reporting on job searches.

As he put it, “[Newstart appointments] are very time costly, which I have so little of. I’d much rather be visiting friends and relatives before I die”.

Research and writing by Adam Adelpour

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