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The Status of Local Government in Australia

A little summary of the role and status of local government in Australia, for anyone who is curious or confused:

“Sovereign citizens” claim that local councils have no legal authority because they are not mentioned in the Australian Constitution. Sometimes they use this claim as an excuse not to pay rates or local Council fines. They are wrong.

In Australia, local governments and local councils are established and governed under State legislation, not the Federal Constitution.

Each state has its own Local Government Act which defines the rules and operations of local Councils. Because the Acts vary from State to State, the specifics of their legal status can vary slightly across the country, but some general principles apply.

To put this simply, each state’s Local Government Act serves as the legal framework for local government in that state. The Act outlines their structure, functions, and powers.

Local governments do not have inherent legislative power like State or Federal governments. They exercise delegated power granted by the State Acts, allowing them to make local laws (called bylaws) within their local government area, and within specific areas of law.

Councils are a body corporate, meaning they act as a single entity separate from their individual members (Councillors), and that they are legal persons – a necessity for them to own real property. This does not mean they are “just a corporation.”

Councils generally comprise elected representatives (Councillors) and a dedicated works and administration team led by a General Manager or CEO.

Across all states, local governments usually have three core functions:

• Providing for the health, safety, and welfare of the community.

• Representing and promoting the interests of the community.

• Providing for the peace, order, and good government of their municipal area.

Their rights and responsibilities are wider than just “roads, rates and rubbish.”

Because local Councils are established under State legislation, they are bound by State laws. This means local bylaws cannot contradict or duplicate State or Federal laws.

Various mechanisms exist to ensure local governments operate responsibly, including community consultation, oversight by State Ministers, and the courts. Citizens are welcome to attend Council meetings, and to have input into local government policies and decisions.

Israel Chats to Hamas

Israel: What do we need to do or give you to help you become a peaceful, prosperous neighbour?

PA: Land.

Israel: You already have Judea and Samaria, the heartland of the Jewish people.

PA: We want more.

Israel: How about we give you the Gaza Strip? There are thousands of greenhouses. All the infrastructure is already in place. The beaches are beautiful. It could be a new Monaco or Singapore.


Israel: Hang on. You are still attacking us.

Hamas: Yes.

Israel: But what about peace?

Hamas: There will be peace when you are all dead.

Israel: That really doesn’t work for us.

UN: Can’t you at least meet them half-way?

Hamas: Sends thousands of bombs and rockets at schools, hospitals, shopping centres.

Israel: Please don’t do that.

Hamas: We will only stop when you are all dead. And not just you, every Jew everywhere.

Hamas: Attacks through massive tunnel network. Kills young people at music festival, burns children to death, kidnaps, tortures, rapes, murders entire families.

Israel: You have passed the line of hate and aggression we can tolerate. Hamas has to go.

Hamas: Hey, you’re not supposed to fight back. That’s racist!

Hamas: Let’s have a ceasefire. We only want peace.

Israel: Will you keep the ceasefire?

Hamas: Yes

Israel: You didn’t keep the ceasefire.

Hamas We meant we will keep the ceasefire once you are all dead. But you have to stop fighting back. It’s not fair.

In no other war, ever, has any state tolerated for so long the relentless attacks of an enemy sworn to its destruction. In no other war ever has any state taken so much care to avoid civilian casualties. In no other war ever has any state continued to provide medical care, water, and food to a group determined to destroy it and murder its people.

Israel’s ongoing aid to Gaza.

Why Israel is winning, and the people of Gaza will be better off when they do.

The Truth About Gaza

I have seen a version of this before, but it is worth re-viewing:

We have been lied to. This is the message that went across the Arab world suddenly after October 7th events and the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

Suddenly we discovered the Gaza, which is inhabited by 2 million people, has 36 hospitals. There are Arab countries with 30 million citizens and do not have this number of hospitals.

Suddenly we discovered that Gaza was getting water, electricity, gas and fuel for free from Israel. Of course, there is no Arab citizen who does not pay water, electricity and fuel bills.

Suddenly we discovered that Gaza was receiving 530 million a month from Qatar alone, and 120 million a month from UNRWA and 50 million a month from the European Union and S30 million a month from America. There are Arab countries drowning in debt and cannot find anyone to help them, even with 51 million.

Suddenly we discovered that Gaza was not besieged and all goods were entering it as we foreigners and people of foreign nationalities. Its residents were travelling to Egypt and from there to the rest of the world, and there’s many examples for that.

Suddenly we discovered that Gaza was living better than many Arab countries and its people were living better than many Arab peoples.

Suddenly we discovered that our minds were besieged by a propaganda lie about what is going on in Gaza.

Suddenly we discovered that the children in Gaza are not children as we usually think, but children of terrorists with machine guns and suicide belts who underwent special training by Hamas.

Suddenly we discovered that the schools, hospitals and mosque in Gaza are organized by terror headquarters and ammunition warehouse with Hamas underground tunnels.

Suddenly we discovered that in Gaza there is an underground metro of Hamas that stretches for 500 kilometers, which Israel can only invade.

Suddenly we discovered that the supposedly doctors and teachers in Gaza turned out to be active Hamas terrorists.

Suddenly we discovered that rockets and mortars are kept in children’s rooms in Gaza homes.

Suddenly we discovered that Hitler and his book Mein Kampf were very popular in Gaza and its translation into Arabic was in almost every home in Gaza or a portrait of the author.

Suddenly we discovered that Hamas leaders live a life of luxury with multi-storey mansions with swimming pool and premium German cars.

Suddenly we discovered that there is no Israeli siege on Gaza because it still borders its Muslim sister Egypt.

Suddenly we discovered that most of the citizens in Gaza support Hamas and other terrorist groups, elected Hamas in democratic elections and celebrated the massacres on October 7th.

Suddenly we discovered that what is called journalists in Gaza who work for Western media like CNN, AP, Reuters and other turned out to be Hamas terrorists who participated in the massacre on October 7th.

Suddenly we discovered that what is called peace activists and workers of international human rights organizations of the UN, the Red Cross and WHO turned out to be terrorists and corrupt people of Hamas. Other turned out to be Hamas terrorists who participated in the massacre on October 7th.

Suddenly we discovered that most of the leaders of Hamas are a billionaires, some of them richer than President Trump with a net worth of four to S5 billion each, and that most of them do not live in Gaza.

After Hamas started the war on October 7th, moving from its customary daily rocket fire at civilians to a full-scale terror attack on Israel, the wider world has started to discover the truth about Gaza, with much of this information coming from the Arab world.

Hamas doesn’t care for the people of Gaza. Hamas doesn’t care for the Palestinian people. As their own charter has stated from their inception, their sole purpose is the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews everywhere.

Why Israel Must Remove Hamas

If you have half an hour to spare, or even if you don’t, watch this video. It answers a whole range of questions about the Middle East, including why Israel cannot stop its response to Hamas’ horror attacks until Hamas is completely defeated.

There is one section of the video where Douglas and his crew have to stop because of an incoming rocket. Douglas comments “It’s been happening all day.” These are rockets fired from Gaza at random or at civilian targets. This has been happening almost every day since since Gaza was handed to the Palestinians on the promise of peace in 2005. Israel has been under constant attack by Gaza for nearly twenty years.

There is a massive contrast between this ongoing, deliberate, brutal attack on homes, schools, hospitals, and shopping centres by Hamas, and Israel’s leaflet drops, door-knocks and putting its own servicemen and women at risk to avoid civilian casualties. See my earlier article on the recent history of Israel here. But first, watch the video.

What Makes Fraudulent Fraudulent?

Climate scientist Dr Judith Curry has published an analysis of the extraordinary judgement against Mark Steyn, who described MIchael Mann’s fraudulent hockey stick as fraudulent. The court ordered Steyn to pay $1 million in punitive damages.

I have followed this discussion and the court case for years. When you are a major public figure and media influencer, as Steyn is, you really do need to be careful in the language you use. It is fine to crtiticise ideas and theories, and fine to ask where people got their data, and how the data was interpreted. It is fine to come to a different conclusion. Describing something as fraudulent, however, implies dishonesty – misrepresentation of data and deliberate deception.

In this case, though, it is clear there really was misrepresentation of data and deliberate deception. Read Dr Curry’s article and see what you think.

Love and Mercy

Brian Wilson posted this on Instagram about four hours ago. I am sad to hear this news. If you haven’t seen the movie Love and Mercy, take the time to watch it. It has music and drama, and is a moving true-life (and lasting) romance.

“My heart is broken. Melinda, my beloved wife of 28 years, passed away this morning.

Our five children and I are just in tears.

We are lost.

Melinda was more than my wife. She was my savior.

She gave me the emotional security I needed to have a career.

She encouraged me to make the music that was closest to my heart.

She was my anchor. She was everything for us. Please say a prayer for her.

Love and Mercy


Living in the End Times? Not so much

Bad news overwhelms us, the future looks grim. The media tells us “Be worried. Be scared.”

In reality, most people are safer, healthier, and better off than at any previous time in Earth’s history.

“Have we just lived through one of the best years in human history? As we look at 2023 through the rearview mirror, I think that’s a defensible claim. In fact, the same thing could have been said at the end of pretty much every year since the beginning of the millennium (with the exception of the disastrous pandemic years of 2020 and 2021). Never before have so many people lived in affluence, safety, and good health.

And yet, it doesn’t feel that way. There’s so much horror and misery in the world—look at the situations in UkraineGazaSudan, and Yemen alone—that it is hard to believe that, on average, this past year was probably the best year ever. So, if life is better than ever before, why does the world seem so depressing?

One culprit is the media. Every good editor knows that “if it bleeds, it leads.” If the newspapers only focus on awful things and ignore all the good stuff, is it any wonder that people end up believing that the world is going down the drain?”

Read more at Quillette. The Seven Laws of Pessimism.

Thoughts on Criminology

I have had a long-standing interest in justice and criminology. This has been expressed in reading and conversation, and in my roles as a police and emergency services chaplain, and as a prison visitor. I am also fortunate to have a spectacularly brainy sister who is a research psychologist, and whose area of interest is the prompting/motivating/enabling factors for criminal behaviour, and the prediction and prevention of recidivism.

This year I begin formal studies in criminology at Griffith University, Australia’s most highly rated university for criminology and justice studies.

I have done some preliminary reading: a popular Australian textbook – Crime and Criminology (White, Haines, Asquith 7th Ed 2023), Realist Criminology (Matthews, 2014), Rehabilitation (Ward and Maruna 2007), Selected articles from the Handbook of Crime Prevention and Community Safety (ed Nick Tilley 2005), Conservative Criminology (Wright and DeLisi 2016), More God, Less Crime (Johnson 2011), Criminology: A Very Short Introduction (Newburn 2018), and multiple articles on the causes of crime, as well as rehabilitation, victim impact, and recidivism. I am currently working through the Palgrave Handbook of Australian and New Zealand Criminology, Crime and Justice (Deckert and Sarre, eds, 2017). Except for the first and last, possibly none of these would be chosen as suitable texts by academic criminologists in Australia, but I have tried to give myself a balanced range of viewpoints.

Criminology is not a discipline in its own right. There is no specific and definable body of knowledge, as there is in medicine or geology. Nor is there a set of finely honed skills, as there is in physiotherapy or welding. Instead, criminology is a multi-disciplinary investigation of a fairly narrow group of questions and issues. These include:

  • What is crime?
  • What causes crime?
  • Who commits crime and why?
  • What is the impact of crime on victims?
  • What is the impact of crime on communities?
  • How should society respond to crime?
  • an crime be prevented? How?
  • Can incarcerated offenders be rehabilitated? If so, what works?

These are worthwhile questions. The cost of crime in Australia is horrendous. Taking into account direct loss of property through theft or damage, the cost of policing, the judiciary, corrections, the cost of security and insurance, and loss of time at work, the financial cost is about $5,000 per year for every man, woman and child in Australia. That is a huge brake on the economy. In addition, and just as importantly, there is the personal and emotional impact of crime on victims, families and communities.

By providing clear, evidence-based answers to the questions above, criminologists could make a significant contribution to building a safer and more prosperous society. There is certainly some interesting research and reporting going on. See, for example, this list of featured articles from the British Journal of Criminology, all of which are free to read: https://academic.oup.com/bjc/pages/featured

The Journal of Criminology, which, while international in scope, focuses on Australian and New Zealand research, features some similarly useful work: https://journals.sagepub.com/home/anj

However, while some worthwhile studies are being done, criminologists in these journals are mostly talking to each other. That is the case for most professional journals. The difference in criminology is that there does not seem to be a lot of listening.

Where criminologists respond to books or papers, they frequently seem to do so by creating a parody version of views they do not hold, and then demolishing the parody they have created. This may be easy and amusing, but it does not contribute to the growth of knowledge, and encourages others; policy-makers and corrective services workers, for example, and perhaps more critical new students like myself, to doubt the practical value of academic criminology.

As an example, the first book I mentioned, Crime and Criminology, takes a dim view of anything that could be called a conservative outlook. Conservatives, we are told, believe the function of law and politics to be the preservation of the status quo (pg 10), divide society into them – bad people, and us – virtuous people (pg 136), believe humans are inherently evil, or at least irreparably flawed, justifying severe punishments on those who misbehave, stir people into a “moral panic” in order to implement stricter punishment of offenders (pg 91),  and pay little or no attention to social causes of crime and differences in background or ability of offenders.

Gosh, what a scurrilous bunch those conservatives are. Not to mention holding views like climate change denial, which should be made a crime (pg 109). I will forego discussing the nature of societies which criminalise opinions they do not like.

Perhaps this is an opportune moment to mention that the only political party I have ever belonged to was the Socialist Workers’ Party, a Trotskyite group whose values I shared quite fervently when at university in my early twenties. Since then I have had friends in every major political party, and in every major religion represented in Australia. I have shaken hands with Peter Lewis, whom I considered a good friend, with Meg Lees, Alexander Downer, Peter Beatty and with Andrew Bolt, and had conversations with all of them and many others. I know a lot of conservatives. I know nobody who holds the beliefs ascribed to them by White, Haines and Asquith.

Conservatives do not believe the function of law and politics to be the maintenance of the status quo. Many of them, as I do, have friends or family members who have been imprisoned, and do not remotely divide the world into good people like us, and criminals who deserve what they get. They do not believe legitimate concern about crime, especially in poorer, higher crime areas, should simply written off as “moral panic.” While holding firmly to the view that people are responsible for their own moral choices, they also take seriously the role of financial hardship, poor parenting, resentment, unemployment, drug abuse, and other factors which increase the likelihood of crime, try to understand and ameliorate them, and maintain the right of the judiciary to take circumstances and personal differences into account in sentencing.

Conservatives, of course, are not immune from mistakes, in criminology or any other policy area. GK Chesterton, one of my favourite authors, wrote (Illustrated London News, 19 April 1924): “The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected.”

I have pointed out in other circumstances that if you need to misrepresent your opponents’ beliefs in order to make your point, this is a clear indicator that you don’t have a point to make. The purpose of debate and discussion, whether at home, in Parliament, or in academia, should always be to find the truth, and having found it, or as close an approximation as we can humanly obtain, to use that truth as the basis for policy. This means genuinely listening, stating your opponents’ views clearly and fairly, and having positive regard even for people with whom you disagree vehemently.

Criminology is about real life, real people, real costs, and real harm. With fair and open discussion, it can also be about real hope.

50 Year Old Male Identifies as 15 Year Old Girl

Nicholas J. Cepeda, who calls himself Melody Wiseheart and is a York University professor of behavioral science, identifies as a teen girl, and competes against 13 and 14 year old girls.

“Girls from age eight to 16 in a Swimming Canada-sanctioned swim meet in Barrie last week not only found themselves in the same pool as a transgender female swimmer but in the same changeroom, too,” the paper reported on Dec. 7th.

“Parents confirmed that the person in question changed in and out of a swimsuit in the women’s locker room at the East Bayfield Community Centre during the Dec. 1 Trojan Cup,” the reporting continued.

That “person” was Nicholas Cepeda.

Fifty year old Professor Nicholas Cepeda competes against teenage girls
Fifty year old Professor Nicholas Cepeda competes against teenage girls

“The girls were terrified,” one parent recalled.

“It’s all so confusing for the kids,” another parent added. “No one is comfortable. Everybody is accepting of all people but them swimming against our kids and being in the locker room with them is not appropriate.”

“We have no idea why it is allowed,” a third parent said. “We know it’s not fair to the girls who are training at their sport and some of whom are hoping for scholarships.”

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