Saturday, October 11, 2014

Saturday Morning Musings – more on cant & Carmen, Wassim Doureihi and a belated recognition of the death of Harry Evans

Today’s Saturday Morning Musings is a bit of a round-up of things that have caught my eye, as well as updates on some of my posts.

Wassim Doureihi, Emma Alberichi and the need for Mr Abbott to actually lead

Neil Whitfield commented:

Since I am sure I am the only one in your circle of blog friends who has actually met Wassim Doureihi -- who certainly stuffed up this interview -- I am a bit surprised you didn't reference my recent post, which our friend Ramana "liked" twice on Facebook. Whatever he may be, Wassim is not the devil incarnate.

That was a fair cop. I had seen Neil’s post (How I wish we had wise leadership!) but failed to reference it. In fact, blush, I totally forgot it! So I have added Neil’s comment plus the link to the story on his blog to my post.

Al Jazeera had an interesting if depressing story linked to the theme of this post and the comments: Austrian youth flocking to ISIL.

To begin with, the heading doesn’t properly reflect the story. The actual story was about the increase in Islamophobia in Austria and the problems that creates. Linked to that was the use of anti Musim rhetoric. However, even though the estimated number of Austrian ISIL recruits (some 140 plus) is by European standards apparently high in proportion to population, it’s hardly a flood. There is a disconnect between the headline and the story, with the headline actually displaying just that rhetorical tendency that the story is attacking.

We have to be careful not to create our own devils. In Australia, the recent “terror” raids received massive news coverage and provided a part justification for amended terror laws. So far, and we await further information, there seems to be very little in it.

My post  If a equals b – testing the proposed Australian terrorism legislation and indeed any public policy dealt in part with the application of logic. In his post, Neil referred to that logical proposition known as ‘Fallacies of False Cause’. The most famous of these, Neil noted, is post hoc ergo propter hoc: after it, therefore because of it: A occurred before B, therefore A.

Well, another variant is the need to do A to avoid B. If B then occurs, it supports the decision, look at what happened, we were right to be worried. Too often, in fact, A actually becomes the cause of B. 

Carmen, cant and the State Opera of Western Australia

I have added some more links to this post to give you access to fuller media reporting. As always, the actual story is a little more nuanced than a single report, but this doesn’t affect the main thrust of the post. It was a nanny state set of actions.

Death of Harry Evans

Former Senate clerk Harry Evans died on 7 September 2014. The present Clerk of the Senate, Rosemary Laing, spoke of his work in this way:

Harry was known – notorious even in some circles – as a defender of the Senate and the rights of individual senators as he worked tirelessly to assist them to perform their constitutional duties. He was fearless in emphasising the necessary distinction between the parliament and the executive, even though that made him unpopular with various governments over the years.

Parliament is a place where words matter and Harry will long be remembered as a master wordsmith. In his numerous published and unpublished writings, he explained complex constitutional and procedural matters with clarity, logic and style. A selection of these vintage pieces (as well as retirement tributes) were collected and published in Papers on Parliament number 52 – Selected Writings of Harry Evans in 2009.

Harry began his career in the Parliamentary Library in 1967 and was first employed by the Senate Department in 1969. Since then, he has been particularly remembered for his contribution to Odgers' Australian Senate Practice. This has also become Harry's legacy as he edited the 7th to 12th editions of this important work. The 13th edition continues this tradition as the detailed authority on all aspects of Senate practice and procedure. It is consulted and cited every day as the Senate and its committees go about their work.

I never met Mr Evans, but I had a huge respect for him. He was a doughty defender of the Senate and played a major role in its evolution as a house of review, not just a party house. He had a clear view of the Senate set within a long framework of history and precedent.

In a way, Australia and Australians have lost their view of the conceptual, constitutional and historical underpinnings of the Australian system of Government. Those underpinnings became engraved in Mr Evans’ mind. He was quite passionate about them. I honour him for that.

I fear that I have run out of time today and must finish here.    


Evan said...

Re the 'terrorist' raids.

An experienced terrorist organisation gives the go ahead for an operation over an open phone line?? Are you effing kidding me. I think there are two possibilities:
1. It was just a hoax
2. They were testing how Aus security forces would respond.

Jim Belshaw said...

I don't know, Evan. That sounded stupid enough to be genuine. I didn't keep the link, but ISIL seems to have subsequently issued an internal direction warning of the danger of using insecure phone lines.

Evan said...

I guess we'll never know.