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.

Green zealots anti-Christianism

Peter Kurti

04 August 2017 | Ideas@TheCentre

PK 030817Children are once again being used in an aggressive Green/Left campaign aimed at imposing a hard line secular orthodoxy, contrary to everyday customs and beliefs.

Last week, Queensland education officials proposed a policy which may prevent primary school children from talking about Jesus in the playground — or even handing out Christmas cards.

Any activity that could be considered as “evangelising” — defined by officials as “advocating religion with the object of making converts” — was to be stamped on immediately by teachers.

Meanwhile, in South Australia’s City of Marion, Greens councillors proposed changing eligibility criteria for youth development grants to exclude any group that had “an aversion to diversity”.

In this case, aversion to diversity meant objecting to the Council’s decision (voted 7 to 4) to fly the LGBTI+ rainbow flag from the council building.

Of course, it is not the churches but the Council that is clearly diversity-averse because of its determination to impose total conformity with a council decision that was not even unanimous.

The Australian Greens, in particular, is the principal political arm of what amounts to a sustained campaign to drive religion — especially Christianity — out of the public square and into silence.

The campaign now extends to attempts at withholding public funds from anyone who fails to meet this ultra-secularist orthodoxy that claims to promote “inclusiveness” and “safety”.

Far from being true secularism, this ideology is effectively a form of imposed, anti-Christianism which imputes uncharitable motives to any who dissent, attempting to deny them any standing in public life.

Inclusion and diversity of opinion are not all that’s under threat. Freedom of religion, speech, and association are all vulnerable to the ideologues who are the intolerant forces of “tolerance”.

Re-thinking homelessness and mental health policy

Jeremy Sammut

04 August 2017 | Ideas@TheCentre

JS 040817The ‘tent city’ blighting Martin Place outside the Reserve Bank of Australia raises important questions about the cause of homelessness.

Predictably, Sydney City Council justifies its appalling inaction by arguing the state government is failing to provide affordable housing and support to the homeless. In response, the NSW Government has rightly pointed out that the state spends over $1 billion a year on homelessness and social housing services, and therefore no one needs to live in a tent in the middle of Sydney.

But, when you consider that many of those who ‘sleep rough’ are mentally ill, perhaps the bigger issue is the inadequacy of the current approach to the treatment of mental illness.

Given what we know about what went on behind the closed doors of the asylums, the policy of ‘de-institutionalisation’ — which was implemented in NSW in 1980s — appears to be well justified.

Yet the correlation between mental illness and homelessness suggests that well-intentioned efforts to develop a more humane model of community-based treatment may have unintended side effects.

This ‘model of care’ may simply be fundamentally inappropriate and unable to meet the needs of those with severe mental illness.

Those suffering severe mental illness might end up homeless, in gaol, or in public hospital emergency departments and wards, because it is simply impossible to provide the intensive level of care, support and management they require, in an affordable manner, in the community.

These questions about the direction of mental health policy over the last 40 years are openly discussed in the United States.

However, in Australia the prevailing view among experts and stakeholders seems to be that community care is best, regardless of evidence — such as homelessness — that contradicts this.

Raising this subject also goes against the grain of contemporary mental health policy advocacy, which is focused on disassociating mental illness from the prejudices of the institutional era, and on promoting prevention and treatment of less severe conditions.

All efforts to de-stigmatise mental illness and encourage people to acknowledge their mental health problems and seek help and support should be applauded.

But if we want to address the problem of chronic homelessness, we may need to broaden the mental health debate, and focus on the more difficult issues associated with re-thinking the community-based model of treatment.

This is adapted from a speech Dr Jeremy Sammut gave at The Economic Society of Australia’s Australian Conference of Economists in Sydney this month.

Corbyn crusade turns north

Charles Jacobs

04 August 2017 | Ideas@TheCentre

CJ 040817Jeremy Corbyn’s summer crusade will land in Scotland as he continues a post-election charm offensive. Five days this month will be spent wooing voters in marginal seats as Labour attempt to capitalise on the flood of support that has engulfed the party in recent months.

Corbyn’s confidence has grown exponentially since June’s surprise election result. He has toured the country, receiving a rock star’s reception at the Glastonbury festival, and swilling pints with voters in Conservative electorates.

The Labour leader’s war on inequality has resonated with younger voters who are frustrated with their lack of voice in establishment politics and are mobilising in number not seen in decades. Britain could well be experiencing the rumblings of a political revolution similar to those experienced in France and the United States. An outsider wouldn’t be blamed for thinking that Corbyn, not Theresa May, had emerged victorious from the election.

After this change of fortune it is clear that Labour see the time as ripe to win back their Scottish heartland. The question is, how will Corbyn present himself in the marginal SNP seats he is targeting?

The SNP have been quick to re-iterate that many of his progressivist policies are highly similar to their own. Corbyn will thus be seeking to capitalise on the backlash against Nicola Sturgeon’s drive for a second independence referendum. He will seek to present Labour as a point of difference — a more reformist option than the Conservatives, and as a party that will focus on the everyday issues without the distractions of secessionism.

Corbyn faces a challenge convincing Scots of his preferred harder Brexit model, especially his continued insistence that Britain will have to leave the single market. I expect the SNP to heavily push this point, and it could ultimately be his undoing.

Labour is faced with a seminal moment in Scotland. How the party leader is received in the coming weeks will go a long way to showing whether chants of ‘oh Jeremy Corbyn’ will ring across the glens, or be blown away in a highland gale.