Ideas@TheCentre – The Centre for Independent Studies


Ideas@TheCentre brings you ammunition for conversations around the table.  3 short articles from CIS researchers emailed every Friday on the issues of the week.

The Wokery vs. profits

Monica Wilkie

06 November 2020 | Ideas@theCentre

Every so often the myth that corporations adopt woke policies because it is ‘the right thing to do’ is punctured — this time thanks to comedian, podcaster (and Biden critic) Joe Rogan.

The Joe Rogan Experience podcast interviews celebrities, politicians and sports stars, and has over 2 billion views, and 10 million subscribers on YouTube.

After Rogan announced he signed a $100 million deal with Spotify for the exclusive rights to his insanely popular podcast some employees expressed disquiet.

The Spotify snowflakes were concerned about some of Rogan’s previous guests and “some …asked for editorial supervision of Mr Rogan’s podcast.”

One executive claimed, “It doesn’t matter if you’re Joe Rogan…we do apply [content] policies and they need to be evenly applied.” You must wonder if he said this with a straight face — of course it matters if you’re Joe Rogan.

Amidst the flurry of recent successful cancellations, it is easy to forget companies have one priority goal: profit.

Since Rogan announced the deal, Spotify’s stocks have increased 50% and his podcast is now the number 1 show on Spotify; as his millions of fans have followed him to the new platform.

If Spotify thought people would abandon their platform because Rogan’s podcast was now there, they would not have embarked on the deal. If people had actually abandoned the platform because Rogan was hosted, Spotify would have cancelled it.

If any business leaders thought changing the name of Coon cheese, Eskimo Pie, Redskin lollies or Colonial Brewing; kicking out a Boeing executive for what they wrote three decades ago; removing Chris Lilley’s back catalogue of shows or axing the Coco Pops monkey would lose them money, they would not do it.

This is why the attempted cancellation of J.K. Rowling was quite amusing. It’s laughable to think any publisher would refuse to work with a woman whose novels were so successful she became richer than the Queen because some Twit heads were upset.

It is quite easy for companies to jump on the woke cancelling bandwagon if they think they can earn money through their wokery – or at least not incur any losses.

As was written in The Australian recently about ANZ’s intervention in the climate change debate: “They are better at sanctimony than morality.”

Like a child finally learning the truth about where the tooth fairy money comes from, woke employees are going to get a rude reality lesson — profit does not care about their feelings.

When personal becomes geopolitical

Sue Windybank

06 November 2020 | Ideas@theCentre

A public hearing held over three weeks ago as part of the Senate inquiry into issues facing diaspora communities in Australia has sparked ongoing controversy after Senator Eric Abetz repeatedly demanded that three Chinese-Australian witnesses “unconditionally condemn the Chinese Communist Party [CCP] dictatorship”.

His demands were made in the context of the Party’s persecution of the Uyghur population in Xinjiang and its extra-territorial attempts to intimidate and silence Uyghurs living in Australia.

The trio — Wesa Chau (a deputy lord mayor candidate for Melbourne), Ormond Chiu (a research fellow at think tank Per Capita) and Yun Jiang (an ANU researcher and co-editor of China Neican) —  made it clear they did not endorse the Party or its actions and re-affirmed their support for universal human rights and democratic values.

But they rightly refused to be hectored into making blanket public condemnations, arguing that this amounted to an unfair “loyalty test” based on ethnicity.

The exchange has only served to highlight the undue pressures some Chinese-Australians face. These pressures cut both ways.

It is intolerable that some citizens cannot criticise the CCP without being stalked and harassed and/or fearing for family members back home. It is equally intolerable that others may feel they need to self-censor or stay silent to avoid being tarred as a CCP sympathiser.

And from a national security perspective — as Natasha Kassam and Darren Lim recently argued — such a line of questioning may make it harder for security agencies to investigate foreign interference, if it alienates rather than engages the very communities that are not only the most targeted by such interference but also the most important to countering it as a major source of knowledge, understanding and intelligence.

We must ensure that genuine concerns about CCP interference do not lead to over-reactions that undermine liberal values and community cohesion, undercutting ritual claims that Australia is one of the most successful multicultural countries in the world.

Evidence shows CDC works

Jacinta Nampijinpa Price

06 November 2020 | Ideas@theCentre

The Cashless Debit Card (CDC) has long faced opposition from those who claim that not allowing welfare to be spent as recipients choose denies them ‘financial freedom’ and imposes unnecessary restrictions.

But this ‘financial freedom’ can fuel destructive lifestyles. And it is the responsibility of government to ensure that taxpayer money is spent on the aims of welfare — to provide the necessities of life — rather than drugs, alcohol and gambling.

The evidence shows that the CDC works. Nine months following the first trial period across Ceduna and East Kimberley, 41% of participants reported a decrease in alcohol consumption.

Similarly, at nine months, 48% of participants who used illegal drugs reported a decrease in use. Of those with gambling problems, after nine months 48% reported a decrease.

Some days I visit my local supermarket and encounter an alcoholic family member who asks me for money to support their addiction.

This practice, known as ‘humbugging’ is endemic in regional and remote Indigenous communities. The demands made are rooted in a millennia-old system of sharing in family and moiety groups, that aimed to ensure everybody got some food.

I have learned not to carry cash for this reason. I can use the excuse that I only have my card and therefore I am unable to hand over cash.

Every day on the streets of Alice Springs and throughout the communities, humbugging has become a way for those with substance and gambling problems to scam money to support them.

And it’s also become one of the leading ways that Indigenous people who want to keep their lives on track — or even get ahead — are held back.

So it’s no surprise that many other Aboriginal Australians are forced to deploy similar measures to those I use to avoid the ‘humbugging’ demands.

Labor and the Greens would be happy to allow some welfare recipients to maintain their right to destroy their lives with alcohol, substance abuse or gambling while their children, families and communities continue to suffer.