Articles by Nicola Wright

What’s to be gained by an Australian republic?

On New Year’s Day, the Prime Minister was goaded into commenting on the prospect of opening up the debate on an Australian republic following an attack on his republican credentials by former PM Paul Keating. Despite acknowledging there is ‘little appetite’ for such a move, he then went on to expound on what methods he’d like to use if we were to debate the issue again. Coupled with Bill Shorten’s election promise of July last year to appoint a minister to advance a republic debate should Labor win office, it is likely that the debate will be revived sometime in the near future.

Yet what is there to be gained by such a change? Some would say that the greatest benefit is that we would have an Australian occupying our highest office – a ‘mate for a head of state’. And yet we already have one. The governors-general, the Queen’s … Read the rest


Freedom to Discriminate

Now that the country has been surveyed on the question of same-sex marriage, it’s time to turn our attention to the details of the same-sex marriage bill that is before parliament. Religious freedom to dissociate from same-sex weddings will be at the forefront of the minds of many Christians and Muslims who do not support same-sex marriage. Before and during the postal survey, assurances were given, by the Prime Minister no less, that ‘religious freedom…will be protected in any bill that comes before this parliament.’

The Constitution of Australia makes provision for limited religious freedoms protections in s116 which states that ‘The Commonwealth shall not make any law… prohibiting the free exercise of any religion.’ However, this has been narrowly interpreted in the past to apply only to laws, the express purpose of which is to prohibit the free exercise of religion, not as an unforeseen consequence of anti-discrimination laws. … Read the rest


Everyman’s home is not his castle

We all know that with any land we ‘own’, there are rules and regulations over exactly what we can do with it. Some of these rules make sense such as a ban on burning off during the summer months; while others seem less useful and border on the pedantic. For instance, in my own suburb, we cannot fence in our front yards with walls any higher than 1.2m. The purpose, one assumes, is to ensure our streets maintain a certain look, to the benefit of all the residents.

If you think the rules and regulations governing how people make use of their own property is restricted to the cities and surrounding suburbs, think again. A WA man living on his own patch of paradise in the outback, has accumulated almost $5000 in court costs and fines for ‘camping’ on his own property in the middle of nowhere.

Roland Gopel, an Read the rest


Campaigning for cancer

If you were told that the Cancer Council along with the Australian Medical Association were campaigning for more cancer, you would want to know what the hell is going on. And yet judging by their stance on e-cigarettes, it would seem that is precisely what they are doing.

The Parliamentary Inquiry into the Use and Marketing of Electronic Cigarettes and Personal Vaporisers in Australia currently being held by the Standing Committee on Health Aged Care and Sport heard testimony last week from Dr John Bartone from the AMA. His stance and that of the AMA is that because we don’t know for sure that inhaling nicotine with vaporisers is 100% safe in the long run, then we should keep prohibition in place until exhaustive long-term studies have been done.

This might sound reasonable on the surface. After all how could the AMA endorse the use of a product that could Read the rest


No winners with same-sex hate bill

This week has seen the further eroding of free speech in Australia with the passing of the Marriage Law Survey (Additional Safeguards) Bill 2017. The Bill seeks to provide a “further safeguard against vilification, intimidation and threats to cause harm” based on “the religious conviction, sexual orientation or gender identity or intersex status of a particular person or group”. The new legislation is designed to apply to both sides of the debate and will be in effect only until mid November after the survey results have been announced. Possible fines of up to $12,600 apply for any breaches.

At first glance this bill seems fair. It targets campaigners on both sides equally. Vilification of LGBT people is off limits, but so is vilification of people based on their religious beliefs. All campaigning material including that posted on social media, must be clearly authorised. Even the ABC and SBS must Read the rest


Why anti-vaxxers shouldn’t be censored

A gentleman by the name of Kent Heckenlively has been denied entry to Australia by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton for his ‘dangerous’ views on vaccination. Never heard of him? Not many people had until this recent ABC news report. Apparently Mr Heckenlively is an anti-vaccination advocate on a world tour, who planned to drop by and tell Australian parents  that they should stop vaccinating their kids.

According to Peter Dutton, his views are ‘dangerous’ and are not in the national interest. No doubt Mr Heckenlively was planning to expound on all sorts debunked myths about how vaccinations cause autism or how measles is good for your immune system. As part of his tour, he would have visited a number of venues and spoken to groups of dyed-in-the-wool anti-vaxxers, as well as people who are just curious about vaccine dangers. He may very well have persuaded a few more people Read the rest


Blind to gender, and the facts

What more evidence do we need that ‘the patriarchy’ is a myth, than the recent findings of the government’s very own ‘nudge unit’? In direct contrast to the expected findings of the Behavioural Economics Team of the Australian Government, or BETA for short, having a male name on your job application form means you are 3.2% less likely to get an interview.

The purpose of the government funded study was to assess whether women and minorities are discriminated against in the early stages of applying for top level executive positions with the Australian Public Service. The method was to hide the names and any other information that would reveal their sex and ethnicity from the initial applications; so called ‘blind recruitment’. The underlying assumption is that this would increase the numbers of women and minorities getting to the interview stage.

Unhappily for the BETA nudgers, early results indicated that the Read the rest


Go home Nanny, you’re drunk

Thomas Jefferson in 1776, said ‘We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it.’

Oh, for such rights in Australia in 2017. In Western Australia, new Labor Premier Mark McGowan has called for the banning of full strength beer at the new Perth Stadium, even in the corporate boxes, which understandably hasn’t gone down very well. Newly elected Liberal Democratic MLC Aaron Stonehouse has publicly called out the Premier and labelled his move as ‘peak nanny state’. He highlighted the availability of full strength beer, wine and spirits at Parliament House to the MLAs, MLCs and public servants who are … Read the rest


After Manchester: Anger and Courage

There isn’t much that is more frustrating than the desperate scrambling, post the latest Islamist terrorist attack, for commentators and social media buffs to start their preemptive chastising of members of the public that dare to be pissed off about it. No sooner has the initial shock worn off, then the apologism begins.

News coverage descriptions of the perpetrator mention his nationality and his sporting pastime but not the ideology that drove him to detonate a bomb that killed 22 young people and himself.  Columns tell us that  love and resistance is the answer, and everyone who disagrees is a hateful troll. Being angry and hating the Manchester bombing is ‘exactly the aim of terror.’ ‘Not all Muslims’ they tell us as though we are stupid. I’m fairly certain that most people already know that ‘not all Muslims’ are terrorist bombers and yet we have to be reminded at every Read the rest