Radical new plan for Australian churches.

Churches throughout Australia will be converted into social housing in order to make use of empty space, following an announcement from Minister for Families and Social Services, Anne Ruston.

“Catholic and Protestant churches throughout Australia will be renovated and repurposed into social housing, because most churches currently sit vacant for the majority of the year,” Ruston explained.

“This masterful plan is a pragmatic use of an under-utilised asset and an opportunity to finally provide an adequate level of safe accommodation to thousands of vulnerable people in Australia.”

The plan was devised in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left more people jobless or struggling to pay rent and provide for their families, which in turn placed even greater strain on an overstretched public housing system.

“Church buildings will be ‘decommissioned’ and renovated into apartment-style accommodation, and will provide basic and comfortable housing for individuals and small groups. The building contracts will soon be put out to tender, though we hear Scott Cam is very interested in receiving more taxpayer’s money,” Ms Ruston outlined.

The rationale for the world-first program was simple.

“Most churches are not used, except at Christmas and Easter. They are empty buildings. Very few people attend church services, and most of the regular parishioners are elderly, meaning there will be even fewer attendees in 10 years time. Space for new public housing is harder to find nowadays, so churches were an obvious choice.”

Churches were also chosen because they are situated in suburban locations near shops, transport, medical and recreational facilities. Many are also next to primary schools. Most Australian suburbs contain at least one church, including new suburbs.

“We are still deciding whether children will be eligible for this type of social housing, as most churches sit next to the house of the priest or minister. One solution to this problem is to house the priests or ministers elsewhere – maybe in the Tent of the Congregation.”

Church groups, meanwhile, are outraged at the plan.

“It is sacrilegious to destroy a place of holy worship and convert it into an apartment. It is an outrage. Churches are holy, sanctified buildings which connect worshippers with The Almighty. They are the centre of every parish. They must not be made into generic, cheap housing for any random person. Some of the residents may be non-Christians, some may have criminal records, be divorced, single parents or even be pedophiles,” claimed a spokesperson for an alliance of church leaders.

Supporters of the plan wonder whether church leaders are desperate to protect the holy buildings, or the expensive stained glass windows and other ornaments within them. Ms Ruston, meanwhile, was adamant that the churches will be protected in the renovation process.

“Delicate items such as the tabernacle and the stained glass windows will be removed and offered to the church to be used elsewhere. The renovations will be simple but tasteful, and if Scott Cam wins the tender, he will build the greatest bathrooms you have ever seen!”

Ms Ruston also reminded church leaders that their mandate is to serve the poor and the less fortunate, and to accept everyone. In addition, churches and religious buildings have been used throughout history to protect local people from invading armies or neighbouring tribes, natural disasters, bandits and even ruthless drug traffickers.

“Furthermore, all religious organisations receive financial assistance from the government as well as tax concessions, so it could be said that the churches were built and maintained with public money.”

Churches such as St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney will be retained as places of worship because they attract large numbers for regular church services, and because,

“…we need the tourism revenue, especially after border closures,” said Ms Ruston.

Renovation on selected churches will begin immediately after the 2021 Christmas rush.

I made bubble tea…accidentally.

I wondered how long the water bottle full of Powerade had been in the fridge.

I’d put it in the night before a long ride, but never did the long ride. Lockdown got in the way, then a sore back, then lockdown, rain, lockdown, mechanical problems…and another lockdown. Today’s hike is long enough to justify Powerade and a second bottle of water; even a cut lunch. And bubble tea.

I took a sip of my bubble tea before I set off on the long descent down the steep rocky steps which would carry me into the valley below. The sun was climbing and the light breeze on top of the escarpment was pleasantly cool.

About 10 minutes into the hike, I saw a man dragging himself up the steps.

“Hi”

“Hi,” he exhaled, looking frantic, tired and sweaty, it was warmer beneath the canopy.

“Are you going to the bottom?” he asked.

“Yep”

“My sons are halfway down, one of them left the stove on so I’ve gotta go to the top to get reception,” he puffed, “…to tell someone to turn it off. Can you check on them?”

“Sure”

And he resumed his battle with the steps.

The boys were comfortable and in good spirits. They had food and water.

“Are you guys hiking with your Dad?”

“Yep”

“He’s nearly at the top,” I explained, “he shouldn’t be too long.”

“Yeah,” they grunted, with the customary enthusiasm of adolescence. I had to ask:

“Which one of you left the stove on?”

“Me,” replied the youngest, about 12 or 13.

“Well, he made us come down here, and we made him go up there,” added the 15-year-old, “…so now we’re even.”

I kept walking.

After about 40 minutes of descending step after step after step I reached the valley floor and walked among towering blue gums set against a backdrop of sandstone cliffs. The sun pierced through the canopy and the birds played and sang in the trees, their melody broken only by a call from a fellow hiker.

“Oh, it’s Keith,” she exclaimed to a group of young adults who were listening to her engrossing tale.

“Hi Keith!”

I’m not Keith, and she soon realised as I approached.

“You look like Keith.”

I greeted the small group and asked them where they’d started their hike; at the top of the stairs I’d just descended, or from one of the two other trails which meet at this junction.

Hiker’s small talk, curiosity, politeness…

No response. The friend of Keith had returned immediately to her engrossing tale.

I kept walking.

I followed the river towards a campsite I hadn’t yet visited and wondered if I could reach the other side of the escarpment and make it back to the carpark in two to three hours. I had limited food but plenty of fluids, even some bubble tea.

I soon came across a friendly older gentlemen taking samples of the flora and making notes in a notebook. He told me he was an ecologist conducting a survey on the health of the bush in this particular patch of the valley. He was waiting for a young man whose impressive technological equipment would make his mapping much easier. Maybe I’d seen him.

Maybe. He might be among the group of young people at the junction, listening to a tale from a young woman with a backpack.

“Oh, Wendy, yeah, I know her. She’s on a five day expedition trying to get away from people and find some solitude, but apparently she keeps running into people, even people she knows.”

Including Keith, I surmised.

I left the ecologist to continue his survey and found a beautiful spot by the river to enjoy a peaceful lunch in the sunshine. I watched the water fold itself over and around the stones and followed the bubbles sliding like mercury over the stones in the refracted light.

I savoured my cut lunch and water, and sipped on my bubble tea, not yet realising it was bubble tea. To me it just tasted like Powerade and delightful refreshment as my body responded to the heat of the valley floor.

I followed the river for a few more minutes then turned back, deciding to tackle the hike to the other side of the escarpment another day, when I had more food, less hunger, new hiking shoes and more bubble tea.

I didn’t see the ecologists on the way back, nor did I see Wendy. Perhaps she’d found that elusive solitude. I didn’t meet Keith, nor would I know if I had, and I didn’t see the boys or their father. Hopefully he’d found someone to turn the stove off. Hopefully he’s found a way to motivate his reluctant teenagers.

Alas, all that was left was to ignore the heat and the accumulating sweat and ascend the steps to the carpark.

Step after step after step.

Sip after sip after sip.

My water was running low, but not yet empty. My bubble tea was running low, but not yet empty. I’d timed it well and should run out of water at the car park. Every sip of hydration was fuelling my body, but I knew at this point that the fillip was as much psychological.

A few more steps, a few more steps – and there it was. The viewpoint, the reward, and the end of a solid hike.

I shed myself of my sweaty, smelly shirt and slipped into something more comfortable for the short drive home. I also decided to empty the remnants of my water supply into the bottle with the Powerade, to sip on the way home.

That’s when I realised I’d made bubble tea…accidentally. I squeezed the remaining mixture from the bottom of the water bottle and felt something solid, but gooey, in my mouth.

I spat it out.

Yuk!

It felt like bubble tea. Solidified something wrapped in a coating of gooeyness. The translucent destruction of flavoursome iced-tea. Famous throughout Asia, but I’m not Asian.

“I’m very like bubble tea,” Chinese people would tell me in broken English. I’m very dislike bubble tea.

I spat out the bubble and realised there could be more in the bottom of the water bottle, so I ditched it. I reached for my other water bottle to wash my mouth out with water. It was empty. Of course, the water was in the bottom of the other bottle – with the bubble tea. It was the bubble tea.

How did this happen?

What have I been drinking all morning?

Will I get sick?

I rushed to the kitchen tap to rinse and replace the bubble tea. It was only when I emptied the water bottle into the sink that I saw it.

One single blob of solidified Powerade, like an oversized bubble in a bubble tea. Then I saw more, looking like bacteria or tadpoles. Had I just consumed tadpoles? I don’t think so, surely I would have felt them sliding down my throat. Why didn’t I know I was drinking bubble tea this whole time? I thought it was just plain old Powerade. Then I saw it. The blobs had attached themselves tightly to the inner walls of the water bottle. I had to scrape some off with my fingers.

I didn’t get sick. But then I didn’t get sick from my first COVID jab either. The water bottle has been soaked numerous times with hot water. I’m still deciding whether it’s safe to use again.

I will never again leave a bottle of Powerade in the fridge for weeks on end. I don’t recommend home-brewed bubble tea.

Image: Orimi Protograph

Scott Morrison to star in new drama series.

Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison will play the lead role in God UnFriended Me, set to stream across multiple platforms from October. The innovative series recounts the events which lead God to unfriend Morrison on Facebook and to eventually dissociate himself from the Pentecostal Christian altogether.

The series opens with the smirking face of Morrison as he accepts a friend request from God. The first episode then proceeds with a dramatic and heart-wrenching comparison of the lives of Morrison’s daughters and the daughters of the Muruguppan family, who have been denied the right to live peacefully in Australia despite the fact that both daughters were born in Australia. Episode one also highlights the central role of the Pentecostal Church in Morrison’s life and God’s great love for his loyal Christian Soldier.

Throughout the series, Morrison proudly displays his Pentecostal faith, his links to Hillsong boss Brian Houston and his close ties with The Almighty. Viewers are led to believe that Morrison’s faith and relationship with God underpin all of his political decisions. In episode 2, the blissful relationship between the prime minister and his God begins to disintegrate.

The confronting and gripping second episode opens with images of the climate crisis, as frightening as any imagery from the Old Testament. The somber reality of an uninhabitable planet is then explained in the context of Morrison’s devotion to the fossil fuel industry. At this point, God is seen to disapprove of Morrison’s determination to allow resource companies to continually destroy his greatest creation.

Morrison seems blissfully unaware of the impending doom, but is photographed building a replica of Noah’s Ark under the guise of building a cubby house for his daughters. Episode two leaves viewers guessing if the construction of the ‘cubby house’ indicates Morrison’s admission of a future full of floods and natural disasters, or a desperate desire to win back the approval of God.

Throughout the following episodes, God is seen to grow frustrated after the prime minister campaigns for re-election on a promise to turn back asylum seekers, which contravenes human rights laws and God’s call to ‘love thy neighbour’.

Morrison is also shown to ignore the meaning of ‘blessed are the poor’ when he refuses to raise welfare payments while offering tax breaks to the rich. He also ignores the plight of women and Indigenous Australians. God then takes to Messenger to remind the PM to read relevant sections of the Bible which outline the teachings of Jesus and the need to treat all human beings with dignity and respect. Morrison ignores the messages.

While God grows weary of Morrison for general ethical and moral failures, he disapproves strongly of a direct challenge to the Ten Commandments. When deputy PM Barnaby Joyce commits adultery, Morrison refuses to sanction the National Party member and God loses patience with both of them.

Finally, God is no longer able to endorse his once loyal Christian Soldier, and he threatens to sue Morrison for defamation. He also suspects Morrison is becoming increasingly devoted to Rupert Murdoch. Morrison, meanwhile, is seen to plead with God and promise The Almighty that he is doing everything in His name.

Eventually, God officially unfriends Morrison on Facebook and the series ends on a cliffhanger as viewers watch Morrison deciding whether to seek solace in the arms of Gina Rinehart or Rupert Murdoch.

God Unfriended Me streams via Facebook and all other streaming services available in Australia from October 1.

Image: Craig Greenhill

Angus Taylor launches Pay Now Pay Later.

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor has announced a world-first national energy supply system called Pay Now Pay Later, under which Australians will pay more for their electricity in the present while paying for climate change in the future.

Pay Now Pay Later is a game-changer,” boasted Taylor, from outside a newly-opened coal mine.

“The world-first energy consumption system ensures that Australians will pay higher electricity bills in the present and will pay for the environmental costs of the energy grid well into the future. We will soon be the only country in the world which forces its citizens to pay with their wallets and their futures.”

Taylor was confident that Australians would embrace Pay Now Pay Later, just as they have embraced systems such as AfterPay, BPay, Before Pay, Buy Now Pay Later, Pay It Forward and even the old-fashioned Lay-By.

“Plus, it’s not like they have a choice,” he scoffed.

The system relies on one central component: the burning of fossil fuels. Taylor and his LNP party will ensure that the majority of Australian businesses and households are forced to secure their energy from fossil fuels such as coal and coal seam gas, rather than from renewable energy. Consumers will therefore pay more for their electricity now, and will contribute the destruction of the planet.

“We will continue with our plans to open new coal mines, to push the fallacy of clean coal, and to burn fossil fuels to supply energy to Australian businesses and households. We will do everything in our power to ensure that the majority of Australia’s energy grid is supplied by fossil fuels.”

For the system to succeed, renewable energy such as wind and solar must be suppressed for as long as possible.

“We will employ myriad tactics to suppress renewable energy. We will utilise our propaganda wing, which Australians know as NewsCorp, to spread fear and misinformation regarding renewable energy, and to perpetuate the falsehood that fossil fuels will keep energy prices down for the everyday Aussie. We also thank former rugby league player Darren Lockyer for his valuable service in this regard.”

“What’s more, Pay Now Pay Later will have the greatest impact on people who are not even paying for electricity now – children.”

Taylor also promised to use the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to funnel more taxpayers money into the fossil fuel industry, for the benefit of fossil fuel companies, under the guise of a gas led recovery.

“We will also continue to wind back schemes such as the solar rebate for Australian households, and will instead use this public money to prop up the fossil fuel industry, most of which is foreign owned.”

Australians will pay later as climate change causes more severe storms, droughts, floods and fires, which will cost the country millions of dollars. Australians will also pay later when the international economy deals primarily in renewable energy.

“While Australian energy consumers will Pay Now, the whole world will Pay Later.”

Adding his support to the scheme was current Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who helped lay the groundwork for the scheme as long as six years ago. Frydenberg used his power as federal Minister for the Environment to prevent energy company AGL from dumping coal and embracing renewable energy in 2016.

His underhand tactics were exposed in an article in The Saturday Paper by Mike Seccombe on July 10, 2021, and they centre on the appointment of chief executive Andy Vessey. The article outlines how Frydenberg called board members of AGL personally and pressured them to remove Vessey because the boss planned to transition the company to renewable energy, and to close the Liddell coal-fired power plant in the NSW Hunter Valley, which is described as:

“…one of Australia’s oldest and dirtiest coal-fired power stations.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was also present at the announcement and was asked for a comment. All he could do was smirk and hold up a lump of coal.

Image: Darren England

Australian priests to teach Driver Education.

Priests and religious ministers will teach Australian children how to drive under the federal government’s proposed extension to the school chaplaincy program. Men of the cloth will take over driver education and a host of other programs directed at young people under a proposal to broaden the $61.4 million-a-year program in which chaplains replace qualified counsellors in Australian schools.

Conservative politicians have demanded religious ministers and priests teach Australian children how to drive, as well as instructing them on topics such as drugs and alcohol, personal relationships, literacy and numeracy, cyber safety, gender and sexuality…and even how to shave.

“Cynics will claim this is a weak excuse to funnel more taxpayers’ money to Christian churches,” explained Prime Minister Scott Morrison, himself a devout Pentecostal Christian.

“But that form of inner-city, left-wing, latte-sipping thinking is far from the truth. Priests and religious ministers are the best people to teach Australian children how to drive – even better than existing driving schools.”

All Australian children would be forced to attend a minimum number of hours under the tutelage of religious instructors in order to qualify for the driver’s test through which they secure their L Plates, then their P’s and full licence. They will also be required to attend church every Sunday, and to go to confession every time they fail to check their blindspot during lessons. Religious instructors will also prepare teenagers for the written component of the test.

“The curriculum will change,” revealed Morrison, “…and this is an exciting change. Students will learn skills such as:

Hillsong starts

Reverse praying

3 point turns honouring the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

How to drive during rain, floods, fire and brimstone, plagues, pestilence and the second coming.

The driver education program is one branch of the proposed scheme to help young students through the pandemic as they suffer mental health problems due to prolonged lockdown and online learning. Conservative politicians and commentators argue that the scheme, introduced by former prime minister Joh Howard, is so successful that it should be extended to other areas of life which impact upon primary and secondary students, especially those in government schools.

“God spoke to me,” claimed Morrison. ” “I am merely a vessel through which God runs this country, and he said we must replace qualified, educated, experienced professionals with priests and religious ministers in the following areas:

Personal and romantic relationships. Even though priests can’t date or marry.

Gender and Sexuality. Even though the Bible outlaws non-heteronormative identification.

Drugs and alcohol. Learn how to turn water into wine.

Literacy and Numeracy. Students can learn the three ‘Rs’ just from reading the Bible.

Creative Writing. Read the Bible.

Geography. How to part an ocean.

Science. Trace the human genome to a man, a woman and a serpent.

Cyber Safety. They’ll watch the show ‘God Friended Me’.

Critics, meanwhile, suggested the $61.4 million-a-year budget would be better spent coordinating a national vaccine rollout, which is the federal government’s responsibility, so that children can return to school and be released from lockdown.

Image: Orkun Azap

EXCLUSIVE: Australian government cures COVID-19.

EXCLUSIVE: The Australian government is being hailed as a saviour after announcing its COVID Capture scheme to end the global pandemic. The world-first scheme will capture all of the COVID-19 from the air and store it in the ground.

“This plan is magnificent in its simplicity,” revealed the Prime Minister Scott Morrison in exclusive correspondence with this publication.

“The plan involves using state-of-the-art technology, as well as butterfly nets, to catch all of the COVID-19 particles that are floating through the air, then store them in the ground. Patients with COVID-19 can also just dig a hole and cough straight into the soil. Particles will stay in the ground forever, or until a foreign-owned mining company digs them up while exploiting fossil fuel reserves. However, we have been advised by Craig Kelly that if the COVID-19 particles attach themselves to fossil fuel particles, they pose absolutely no threat to the wold’s population – just as Clean Coal is 100% safe for the earth.”

“Once we’ve captured all of the COVID-19, we can return to normal.”

The scheme mirrors Carbon Capture and Storage, a technique touted as a ‘technology’ that could help lower carbon emissions. According to experts such as the Climate Council, however:

  • Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is unproven and expensive.
  • Despite billions of dollars being spent in Australia and overseas, no CCS project has yet been delivered on time, on budget, or to agreed performance.
  • The quickest and cheapest way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to stop burning coal, gas and oil and replace them with renewables.

Despite this, the government, under the leadership of Greg Hunt (Health), Sussan Ley (Environment) and Angus Taylor (Energy) will proceed with COVID Capture immediately.

“We will mobilise the entire Australian population in this effort. After all, we’re on a war footing and that means we will utilise our defence forces, plus school children and Teachers, the unemployed, those receiving welfare payments, and even doctors, nurses and ambulance workers. The latter will be freed up because no one will suffer from COVID-19 anymore, and our medical facilities will be virtually empty.”

“It really is a genius plan – much like Carbon Capture.”

The highly-touted scheme was invented after other responses to the pandemic proved ineffective, and forced half of Australia to be in some form of lockdown at the time of writing.

“We considered a national vaccine rollout, but that was too hard,” conceded Morrison.

“We tried vaccinating people with slogans, but that didn’t work.”

“We tried lockdowns, but they proved unpopular in focus groups.”

“We called in the army to shoot the virus, but somehow that didn’t work.”

“As a result, we are convinced that COVID Capture is the most efficient, sensible, reasonable long-term strategy for defeating the pandemic.”

Morrison declared the initiative one of the greatest achievements in Australian history.

“This is a momentous occasion for all Australians. Aussies should be proud that this great nation gave the world Carbon Capture, and can be equally proud that we have given the world COVID Capture.”

Image: Susan Gold

Why does Gina Rinehart sponsor water sports?

EXCLUSIVE: Billionaire Gina Rinehart has revealed why she donates so much money to the federations and athletes of water-based sports in Australia. Rinehart’s company, Hancock Prospecting, is one of the major sponsors of sports such as Swimming and Rowing and has funded many of the Olympic gold medals Australia has won in recent years.

“Australia will soon be underwater,” Rinehart revealed in an exclusive interview.

“And I am largely responsible for that.”

Most of Australia’s major cities and towns hug the coastline and could soon be threatened by sea levels rising as a result of the climate crisis. Hancock Prospecting is devoted primarily to livestock farming and mining, which are driving climate change and forcing ice caps to melt. Furthermore, Rinehart wields enormous political power in Australia and has helped prevent the nation from making the transition to renewable energy.

“It is so important for all Australians to be competent swimmers, and to know how to manage a water-based vessel as sea levels rise,” Rinehart continued.

“As sea levels rise, most Australians will have to travel by water and deal with more extreme storms and floods, unless people like me stop using traditional farming methods and stop burning fossil fuels. This is why I pour so much money into sports like swimming and rowing – aside from the PR benefits and the opportunity to distract everyday Aussies from the damage my businesses do to the planet.”

“I don’t sponsor sports such as Cycling, Athletics or Hockey because you can’t play Hockey underwater (except at Uni games) and you can’t run, jump throw or cycle underwater.”

Hancock Prospecting is the major sponsor of Swimming Australia and a major partner of Rowing Australia, and is called the “matriarch” of the Australian Dolphins Swim Team. She has sponsored Australian swimming since 1992, and her ‘generous direct financial support’ is described as ‘especially critical to Swimming Australia’ for it allows athletes to ‘focus on their on their training and performance and not be distracted by financial pressures that most athletes face’.

In recognition of the amount of money Rinehart has given to sports such as rowing and swimming, she was awarded an Order of Merit by the Australian Olympic Committee (interalia), and is described as an ‘inspiration’ to Australian swimmers.

Asked if she would donate some of her considerable wealth to other countries even more directly threatened by rising sea levels, such as Australia’s neighbours in the South Pacific, Rinehart replied:

“No, I’m a patriot.”

Image: Patrick Hamilton

Unique strategy to convince thousands of Australians to get vaccinated.

The Australian government has disguised the COVID-19 vaccination booking service as a sports gambling App in an effort to trick reluctant citizens into registering for the jab.

The world-first initiative is being hailed as a creative strategy to fool hesitant citizens into registering for the COVID-19 vaccine, at a time when almost half the nation is in some form of lockdown or even under curfew.

The App is called OddBetter and was developed in order to tap into the enormous popularity of sports gambling in the country.

“Refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19 is a huge gamble, and OddBetter is a brilliant, creative solution to a complicated problem,” announced the Minister for Health Greg Hunt.

“The world-first initiative will encourage reluctant Australians to get vaccinated, which will in turn allow the country to open up and to return to some form of normal. Sports betting is a popular activity in Australia and this App taps into Australia’s love of sport and our love of a punt.”

The App has the appearance and functionality of a conventional sports betting App. It offers betting choices on a wide range of results in a wide range of sports. It differs from legitimate gambling Apps in that every time a user places a bet, they have actually sent their personal details to the government health system and automatically registered their name for a vaccination for either Pfizer, Astra-Zeneca or Moderna.

“Users will not be charged any money at any stage of this process,” stressed Hunt. “They will be required to register a credit card in order to use the App, like any sports gambling service, but this will be used only to cross reference other personal details and to confirm the user’s identity. Once an identity is confirmed, health authorities will also know if the person has or hasn’t been vaccinated.”

The minister then explained that punters using Odd Better will ‘win’ or ‘lose’ money inside the App, but that this ‘OddBetter currency’ is not real and will not add or subtract from their bank balance in the real word.

“It’s like electronic Monopoly money.”

Of course, finding a way to make people register for a jab is only part of the process.

“Once registered, we still need people to actually turn up and get the vaccination. So, the App has been designed to shut out any user who does not honour their appointment. They will then be advised to show proof of vaccination in order to resume using the App. Also, punters who have already been vaccinated will not receive an appointment notification.”

The minister was asked what had been done to prevent users from simply turning to another gambling site once they are shut out of OddBetter for not being vaccinated.

“Two things. One, we will offer the impossibly good odds on every bet, as well as more options on more sports than any other gambling company – we can do so because our service is not real. Secondly, we know that Aussie punters have an insatiable appetite for gambling – which is why there are at least 70 online gambling sites in the country.”

Hunt was also asked whether announcing the App publicly and writing a press release would expose it’s inauthenticity and thus render it redundant, to which he replied:

“Most anti-vaxxers and vaccine-hesitant people don’t read – they just take all their health advice from social media influencers, or people like George Christensen, Clive Palmer or Craig Kelly.”

Image: Daniel Schludi

Are LGBTQIA+ people being exploited?

Embracing the LGBTQIA+ community is trending. Corporations, governments, organisations and high profile individuals in Australia are embracing or being seen to embrace people from this community. This is a sign of a fairer and more equitable world, but is it also an example of exploitation?

Are LGBTQIA+ people being used by organisations to improve their public image or to distract the public from the organisations failings in other areas?

Why would they do this?

Support for inclusion and diversity is trending. Organisations seen to support the cause can position themselves as responsible corporate or social citizens, especially if they can successfully publicise this support. The organisation is less likely to be labelled unethical, and can also use inclusion and diversity to distract the public from their unethical or questionable practices in other areas – unethical practices which are destructive to society, including the LGBTQIA+ community.

AGL

AGL is an Australian energy company with one claim to fame: it is Australia’s biggest polluter. Australia is one of the world’s biggest polluters. AGL epitomises the exploitation of the LGBTQIA+ community for Public Relations (PR) purposes and distraction.

The AGL website states that:

“In 2014, AGL implemented a LGBTQ+ Inclusion Strategy, and in 2015 we were rated as one of the best performing first-time entrants to the Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI). Our employee-driven LGBTQ+ network, AGL Shine, was created in 2014.

In September 2015, AGL announced our support for marriage equality in Australia. Our position was strongly endorsed by the AGL Board, our senior management, and AGL Shine members.”

What exactly is involved in supporting marriage equality?

Posting a message on the company’s official platforms stating support of marriage equality. Not particularly difficult. AGL made the statement in 2015, when the movement had gained such strong momentum that same-sex marriage was legalised in Australia in 2016. Hardly groundbreaking or brave.

The statement continues:

“In 2020, we were proud to be awarded Gold Employer status for LGBTQ+ inclusion at the AWEI Awards. This is the third year we have been awarded Gold Employer status.”

How hard it is to promote inclusion and diversity?

Including people of diverse backgrounds essentially means treating people fairly.

How much does inclusion and diversity cost?

To have been continually awarded for inclusion, the company must have made some financial investment.

How much does transitioning to renewable energy cost?

In the short term, a lot. In the long term, AGL would apparently make a profit because the global economy is embracing renewable technology. Convincing shareholders to invest in diversity and inclusion seems much easier than convincing them to invest in renewable energy. AGL is a business and bases all of its decisions on profits. Transitioning to clean energy is undoubtedly more expensive in the short term than embracing the LGBTQIA+ community.

Interestingly, while AGL was publicly supporting marriage equality, it made a deliberate decision not to transition to renewable energy. The company had apparently appointed a new boss in 2015, who was tasked with overseeing a move away from fossil fuels to renewable energy. However, pressure from the then Minister for the Environment, Josh Frydenberg, convinced the company to reject clean energy sources and continue burning fossil fuels.

AGL wins considerable social credibility and brand enhancement through its inclusion polices and support for marriage equality, at exactly the same time that it actively rejects a transition to renewable energy.

Coincidence?

AFL

The Australian Football League runs the premier Australian Rules football competition in the country and is well-known for its support of LGBTQIA+ people. It has held a ‘Pride’ round since 2016 to promote inclusion and diversity.

The AFL is more public in its support of this issue than other major sporting codes, and this could be motivated by honest intentions or by its commitment to its women’s competition, AFLW, in which many players are openly gay. Cynics might argue that the governing body is chasing the pink dollar, but that criticism is not constructive.

Interestingly, despite having held a Pride round since 2016, not one male AFL player has come out as gay. Are there any gay AFL players?

The AFL appears sincere in its acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ community. However, is the organisation equally sincere in its attempts to tackle racism and misogyny? The AFL also holds an Indigenous round (since 2008) and claims to embrace women, not just those involved in the ALFW.

However, just days before this article was written, a popular AFL player, Taylor Walker, was outed for a racist comment during an Aussie Rules football game, and his public apology was widely criticised as inadequate. This followed revelations earlier in 2021 of widespread racism within the Collingwood Magpies club, one of the nation’s biggest, as well as the brutal racism directed at former player Adam Goodes. The racist attacks on Goodes were so vicious, incessant and damaging that they forced him to quit the sport, and they spurned two documentaries.

Treatment of women within the AFL is also far from ideal. Numerous players have been found guilty of misogyny, harrassment and even assault of women, and this history of toxic masculinity is documented in The Frownlow Medal and The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame.

Thus, the AFL has failed to sufficiently address issues of toxic masculinity and racism, but derives positive publicity from its support of the LGBTQIA+ community.

IOC

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was praised for its decision to allow an Australian female Rugby 7s player to wear headgear with a rainbow coloured design. The rainbow design promoted awareness and acceptance of issues facing the LGBTQIA+ community, and commentators explained that the Australian player was given ‘permission’ by the IOC to wear the protective equipment with that particular design.

According to media reports:

“Chef de Mission of the Australian Olympic Team Ian Chesterman threw his support behind the celebration and Williams for lodging the request.

“It’s wonderful for our athletes to celebrate their identity as well as promote all of our Olympic sports as safe and inclusive,” Mr Chesterman said.

“I’d like to thank the IOC for their support in allowing Sharni to wear the headgear and thank Sharni for sharing her story with us during the games.”

The IOC has been the subject of countless articles and documentaries questioning its ethics and accusing it of bullying and rampant corruption. Furthermore, Olympic athletes are given strict and detailed instructions to refrain from any form of protest or activism on any issue at any time during the games. But, they let a rugby player wear rainbow headgear.

Tiwi Islands Mardi Gras

The Tiwi Islands lie to the north of Darwin and are home to Indigenous Australian communities. In 2017, 30 Tiwi Sistagirls, or transgender women, travelled to Sydney to take part in their first ever Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. The inclusion was hailed as a victory for the Sistagirls and the LGBTQIA+ community in general. The inaugural journey received widespread media coverage and many organisations associated themselves publicly with this event. They could be accused of jumping on the bandwagon (or float).

Some of these organisations, including government departments, are responsible for solving many of the problems which plague remote communities such as those on the Tiwi Islands. These problems include societal decay, low life expectancy, loss of language and culture, drug and alcohol abuse, poor school attendance, violence, incarceration, unemployment, poor literacy and numeracy, and discrimination.

If the mainstream media and organisations celebrate the participation of Tiwi people in Mardi Gras, does it create the impression that life is improving on the Tiwi Islands and for Indigenous Australians in general? Does it distract Australians from the reality of life for Indigenous Australians and the need to do something about it?

Furthermore, how hard is it to get Tiwi Islanders to Mardi Gras? How hard is it to book a few flights and hotel rooms?

How hard is it to effect real change in Indigenous communities? Apparently very difficult. According to Pat Turner, Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks and CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, only two of six Closing The Gap (CTG) targets were on track: early education and Year 12 attainment.

This means that after 12 years since the release of the first CTG report, little or no progress has been made in areas such as child mortality, employment, life expectancy and education.

Once again, it could be said that LGBTQI+ people are being used to distract the public from the failures of various organisations.

Supporting LGBTQIA+ rights is important. It is a question of equality and fairness. It should not be exploited for positive PR by organisations seeking to distract the public from their unethical or incompetent practices in other areas, or to shield the organisation from public criticism.

Image: Vector Stock

Blackheath to play central role in COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

The small town of Blackheath in the Blue Mountains of NSW has been chosen as a storage site for COVID-19 vaccines as authorities continue the national rollout in response to the global pandemic. Blackheath was chosen for one simple reason.

“COVID-19 vaccines must be stored at very cold temperatures,” explained a spokesperson for the federal Department of Health, which is overseeing the rollout.

“And they don’t call it Bleakheath for nothing.”

“Winter temperatures is Blackheath regularly fall below zero and it is not uncommon for the Upper Blue Mountains town to receive a light dusting of snow every year. The bulk of the NSW vaccines will thus be stored in Blackheath, while further quantities will be stored at locations such as Mt Victoria and Bell.”

The federal government is also excited at the prospect of saving millions of taxpayers’ dollars thanks to Blackheath.

“Blackheath’s climate allows us to store the vaccines outside night and day. Thus, there will be no need for expensive refrigeration or costly underground bunkers which require a lot of electricity. We’ll just stick them in a series of freight containers and let nature do the work.”

Authorities were adamant that the storage will not cause any inconvenience to residents, and that Blackheathens should feel an enormous sense of pride in facilitating a rollout which will save lives.

“Residents will see containers pop up in various locations in the coming weeks. They will be clearly marked to identify them as medical storage sites, and will be heavily monitored by security.”

Vaccines stored at Blackheath can easily be transported to the regional hospital in Katoomba, as well as the various medical centres and clinics in the region. The town is also within easy reach of Sydney and even locations such as Lithgow and Bathurst. That said, Lithgow is likely to be served by additional storage centres in Oberon, which is an even better place to store vaccines.

Image: Daniel Schludi