View from The Hill: Entertainment venues closed in draconian measures to fight the virus


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Clubs, pubs, movie theatres and gyms will be closed and restaurants will only be able to provide takeaways in draconian measures to fight the spread of coronavirus announced by Scott Morrison late Sunday night.

But schools will stay open, after Morrison wrestled to keep federal and state governments on the same page on one of the most controversial issues in the COVID-19 debate.

The crackdown on social gathering places was agreed by federal and state leaders at their national cabinet meeting earlier in the evening.


CC BY

This followed a day of confusion, with differences between NSW and Victoria on the one hand and the federal government on the other over shutdowns and schools.

Earlier, the premiers of the two biggest states had announced they were shutting down non-essential services and activities over the next 48 hours. The ACT followed suit.

The premiers’ actions seemed in part to force the federal government’s hand.

It is not clear how much further (if any) the “shutdowns” in the two states will go beyond the baseline of closures set at the national cabinet.

In his afternoon statement, Victorian premier Daniel Andrews said the state was bringing forward school holidays to start Tuesday (rather than Friday) with a decision on whether schools will reopen to be taken on medical advice. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she would have something to say about schools on Monday morning.




Read more:
Scalable without limit: how the government plans to get coronavirus support into our hands quickly


The Prime Minister pushed back over schools, anxious to keep them open for educational reasons and to maintain the numbers of health workers. It has been estimated that closing schools could cut the health workforce by 30%.

Morrison said from midday on Monday a range of facilities where social gatherings took place would be closed or have their operations curtailed. He envisaged this would last six months.

  • Pubs, registered and licensed clubs will be shut (excluding bottle shops attached to these venues), as well as hotels (excluding accommodation)

  • Gyms and indoor sporting venues will be closed

  • Cinemas, entertainment venues, casinos, and night clubs will shut

  • Restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeaway and/or home delivery

  • Religious gatherings cannot go ahead and places of worship are to close. Funerals in enclosed spaces can proceed only with very small groups and where the 1 person per 4 square metre rule applies.

“This should highlight to all Australians how serious this is,” Morrison said.

He said there was no change in the medical advice that schools should remain open. Leaders agreed children should go to school on Monday and “committed to re-open schools at the end of the school break, subject to the advice of the Australian Health Principal Protection Committee”.

“I don’t want to see our children lose an entire year of their education, ” Morrison said. “That’s what we’re talking about here. This is very serious. If you’re a four year old child at pre-school, you don’t get your four years old year back”.

“What we will be doing, though, is allowing parents to the end of this year’s school term to be able to keep their children home where they choose to. But for all of those parents who wish to send their children to school for an education at the school, those schools will remain open”.

Asked about Andrews’ comments about reviewing the schools position after the holidays, Morrison said: “the Premier has reaffirmed his commitment this evening that is the intention of the Victorian government to reopen schools subject to the health advice at that time”.




Read more:
The case for Endgame C: stop almost everything, restart when coronavirus is gone


He stressed to parents who decided to keep their children home that they “must take responsibility for those children.

“It’s not an excuse for them to go down the shopping centre or to go and congregate somewhere else or potentially put themselves in contact with the vulnerable and elderly population. If you choose to keep your child at home, you are responsible for the conduct and behaviour of your children.”

Morrison said the coming school holidays “will not be a holiday as it is normally known”.

“There will not be trips interstate. … There will not be congregating up at the trampoline venue.” There had to be very strict rules around social distancing, he said.

“This is a critical time. An absolutely critical time. The decisions that parents make, that we all make, over the course of the next few weeks in particular could very seriously determine the trajectory that Australia continues to go on in relation to the coronavirus”.

He “implored” Australia to follow the advice about distancing and size of gatherings.

Federal and state governments have been shaken by the rapid rise in virus cases – now well above 1000 – and by the crowds on Friday and Saturday on Bondi beach and at bars and clubs.

“On the weekend, what we saw was a disregard of those social distancing practices as people turned up to the beach in large numbers, crammed venues in our major cities.

“This sent a very clear message to premiers, chief ministers and myself that the social distancing practices are not being observed as well as they should be”.

Morrison said the leaders did not now have any confidence that people, notably the young, would refrain from congregating in pubs and clubs and the like.

“We have no confidence that [guidelines on social distancing] will be followed”.

“If guidelines can’t be followed, then for public health reasons we now need to take a further action which shuts those gatherings down.

”‘They are the principal places of social gatherings which are at greatest risk”.

By the end of Sunday, Morrison’s $66 billion stimulus package had been considerably overshadowed by a new stage of restrictions, driven by public flouting of social distancing guidelines and the determination of NSW and Victoria to see more drastic action.

But while there has been a quantum leap in the measures in the battle against the virus, there remains a lack of clarity and Monday is likely to see more public frenzy of one sort of another.

Morrison insisted “all members of that national cabinet have reaffirmed our commitment to just how important the national cabinet is to ensure that all governments are working closely together.”

He is trying to keep the national cabinet – an unprecedented beast in Australian political history – in lockstep. We’ll see whether he has actually managed to do so when the premiers have more to say.The Conversation

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Australian law says the media can’t spin lies – ‘entertainment magazines’ aren’t an exception



Shutterstock

Andrew Dodd, University of Melbourne

In a recent ruling the Australian Press Council has given a signal to gossip magazines it is OK to make up and publish rubbish about people, so long as the stories aren’t “blatantly incorrect”.

This is despite the council’s own guidelines stating all member publications must strive for accuracy and avoid being misleading.

The council, which adjudicates complaints against the print media, has also suggested it’s OK to have less rigorous standards when reporting on royalty and celebrities.

And all this happened in a ruling against a magazine for publishing falsehoods.

A confused adjudication

The council has upheld a complaint about an article published in Woman’s Day on May 27 2019. The cover declared: “Palace confirms the marriage is over! Why Harry was left with no choice but to end it.”

The Woman’s Day from May 27 2019 at the centre of this ruling.
Woman’s Day

The inside story was titled “This is the final straw” and claimed: “Prince Harry has been left enraged and humiliated by a series of shock revelations about his wife’s past” and he “has finally reached breaking point”.

In upholding the complaint, the Press Council said the headline was “blatantly incorrect” and not supported by the article’s contents. It also ruled the headline “was more than just an exaggeration […] it was misleading”.“

But the council has sent a strong signal it will be lenient with publications that exaggerate.

It said: ”[A]n entertainment publication can be expected to use some exaggeration” and “celebrity and gossip magazines are purchased for light entertainment, with readers not necessarily assuming that everything presented is factual”.

The phrase “not necessarily” suggests some people might believe what’s presented is factual. But, that aside, why is the Press Council making rulings at odds with its own general principles?

The first principle says publications should “ensure that factual material in news reports and elsewhere is accurate and not misleading and is distinguishable from other material such as opinion”.

How does it reconcile these two contradictory ideas? It’s a question Marcus Strom, the president of the journalists’ union, MEAA Media, has been considering. He told The Conversation:

The Press Council guidelines are clear that all member publications must strive to be factual and not misleading. I’m surprised that falsehoods – where not “everything presented is factual” – are allowed within that definition.

If you’ve walked past a rack of magazines in the supermarket and wondered just how many times the same celebrity can become pregnant, you may have asked yourself why these publications can print falsehoods on an almost industrial scale. You might have concluded they’re just gossip magazines and no one takes them seriously.

That same thinking seems to be driving the Press Council’s comments. But is that good enough?

The idea these publications have a special exemption from journalistic standards is a concept with almost no foundation in law. There is no special provision under Australia’s defamation laws for this class of magazines.

There is no “celebrity” defence that allows the media to make up lies about people. Even the defamation law’s defence of “triviality” offers very little protection. The Rebel Wilson case made that perfectly clear.




Read more:
Rebel Wilson’s $4.5 million win a sobering reminder that defaming a celebrity can be costly


Lawyer Dougal Hurley, of Minter Ellison, tells The Conversation gossip magazines trade on light entertainment, and readers “can and do expect a level of hyperbole that they would not in news media”.

However, he concludes:

This does not mean that the defence of triviality will succeed if these magazines are sued for defamation. Indeed, the rejection of triviality defences by the jury [in the case of] Wilson is evidence of this. Gossip magazines that have not already changed their editorial practices risk being liable for significant defamation payouts.

Out-of-step thinking

The other controversial suggestion in the ruling is that the media can apply less rigorous standards when reporting on the royal family and celebrities.

The Council also acknowledges that the reasonable steps required to be accurate and not misleading in an article concerning royalty and celebrities can, depending on the circumstances, be different to those required in respect of other persons, particularly those who are not usually in the public eye.

The council offers little reasoning for this, but is no doubt assuming that, as public figures, they should expect incursions on their privacy and sensationalised coverage. Again, the council’s thinking is looking out of step with the increased use of the courts to combat inaccurate reporting and false gossip.

Hurley says: “Although in many respects gossip magazines are as they ever were, it is also true that they are bearing more risk in circumstances where they purport to report news and publish to a global audience instantaneously.”

He continues:

While international celebrities may appear to be easy targets for gossip magazines, our notoriously plaintiff-friendly defamation laws mean that these celebrities can and will sue in Australia. Only a major overhaul of Australia’s defamation laws will prevent the libel tourism that has contributed to Australia becoming the defamation capital of the world.

Perhaps in these circumstances, the Press Council might do its members – and the public – a greater service by insisting proper standards apply to all reporting, and that accuracy and fact checking be the norm, even for the magazines at the supermarket checkout.The Conversation

Andrew Dodd, Director of the Centre for Advancing Journalism, University of Melbourne

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Exporting and Training Father Christmas


It is that time of year for pouring scorn on Santa Clause once again and getting a laugh out of this secular tradition. The best video that I have seen in doing this has to be the one featured below – however, I have now found another from the same people.

The two videos below will give you about 15 minutes of amusement and entertainment – I hope you like them.

 

THE ‘NEW CALVINISM’: A Review of the Peter Masters assault on the new breed of Calvinists


I have recently come across an article penned by Peter Masters of the ‘Metropolitan Tabernacle, in London, England. Writing in the ‘Sword & Trowel’ 2009, No 1, Peter Masters attacks what he calls the ‘New Calvinism,’ in a scathing assault on what he sees as the merger of Calvinism with Worldliness.

See: http://www.metropolitantabernacle.org/?page=article&id=13

I have also come across an article written by Collin Hansen (to which Masters refers) in the September 2006 edition of ‘Christianity Today,’ in which he investigates what he calls a resurgent Calvinism, a Calvinism that is making a comeback and shaking up the church. This resurgent Calvinism is that which Peter Masters criticizes.

See: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2006/september/42.32.html

Peter Masters calls the Hansen article a book, so I am not sure that the entire ‘book’ appears in Christianity Today or whether it is an excerpt from it.

The Hansen article doesn’t come to any conclusions about Calvinism, though it does include a number of people and their comments that are opposed to Calvinism. It also includes people and their comments that wholeheartedly support Calvinism. There seems to be a sigh of relief that the Calvinist resurgence finds its root in the Scriptures and has a major commitment to them and what they teach, so all is not as bad as may first appear.

It is difficult, not being familiar with Collin Hansen, to pinpoint just where he himself stands on ‘Calvinism’ from the article itself.

However, in the Peter Masters article it is clear that he stands opposed to the ‘New Calvinism’ that he detects in the resurgent Calvinism of our day in England and the United States. Far from being pleased with the rise in numbers of those holding to Calvinistic teachings, he is concerned over what he perceives as a merging of Calvinism with Worldliness, and on some points I would have to agree.

I am not yet convinced that he is right in every area of his criticism of resurgent Calvinism as I do not believe you need to embrace the Puritans ‘legalism’ in respect to matters indifferent in order to appreciate the Puritans overall. Nor do I think you need to embrace that legalist spirit in order to stand alongside the Puritans in those matters vital to Christianity, especially from a Reformed perspective.

However, I do agree with some of what Peter Masters has to say concerning the ministry of some of the men he recognizes as leaders in the ‘New Calvinism.’ For example, I would agree with a large amount of what Mark Driscoll has to say and teach – but the manner in which he teaches it, using language that can be described as offensive, is not the way to do it. I have not heard Driscoll preach myself, but I understand he often uses questionable language in order to be relevant to the lost of this current age. What Masters has to say in this respect is quite right in my opinion.

I also question the need to embrace so readily the entertainment of the world as part of the worship service. So as to be clear, I have listened to a lot of secular music, though I draw the line at what I find to be unwholesome and much of today’s current music in exactly that and I largely do not listen to it. I do not believe it necessary however, to imitate the secular style of music and to import it into the worship service. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that this means the entire banning of contemporary music, just that greater care needs to be taken in reaching a position on whether to include it in the worship service at any particular time – not including it simply to be ‘relevant.’

I, like Peter Masters, have grave concerns about the Calvinism that I hold to (Particular Baptist) being united with a Charismatic style of it. For me, this has no place and I find it difficult to believe that leaders of such calibre as John Macarthur and John Piper are happy to be united in conferences where Charismatic worship practices occur, etc.

I think overall Peter Masters is saying what I have been saying about the growing trend in reformed circles towards pragmatism. He says it a lot better than me of course. There is a growing embrace of church growth like behaviour and seeker sensitive styled practices that embrace worldliness as a means of attracting people to church.

I found myself being concerned with whole far Peter Masters went in his denunciation of the ‘New Calvinism.’ However, the more I think about it the more right he seems to be.

Masters calls many of the ‘New Calvinist’ leaders brilliant men and I would agree with him. I greatly admire John Macarthur and his associates, and I am sure I would also find much of what John Piper and the others have to say equally as helpful. But I am concerned with what Peter Masters has outlined in his article. I am also a little confused because I thought this was the sort of thing that John Macarthur has also decried in many of his books. I find myself finding it difficult to believe that he could be caught up in this blend that the ‘New Calvinism’ appears to be.

I certainly don’t write off everything that this resurgent Calvinism is doing. I know these men are wholeheartedly committed to the same truths as the Reformers and Puritans held dear. i do not doubt that at all. I also think they are doing much good. But if what Peter Masters is highlighting is true of this movement, than there is great need for concern I think. The real and full consequences of this approach will not be seen until the next generation and I fear those consequences will bring much harm to the church.

Marketing the Church


So I have been reading a book entitled ‘This Little Church Went to Market: Is the Modern Church Reaching Out of Selling Out (as mentioned in an earlier post during May 2007)?’ One of the things that the author (Gary Gilley) points out fairly early in his argument is that the church has moved from the perspective of worshiping God and teaching the elect, to entertaining those who go to church and bringing the unchurched in through various gimmics.

This appears to me to be a completely sound point. The focus of the truly godly churches throughout the ages has been on informed worship (in spirit and in truth), with a heavy focus on teaching true worshippers (those who are actually saved – the elect) about the God they are worshipping and what our response to Him should be (admittedly that is a simplistic summary).

What we have in the so-called churches of today is an increasingly market-driven approach in which it is necessary to out-entertain the world, in order to keep the world in the church (that is, those who are not saved, coming to church). Only this way can churches of today be considered successful. The emphasis is no longer on apostolic teaching, fellowship, prayer and the breaking of bread, but on those people ‘out there’ that we must get in here at almost any cost. So now we find that the church does ‘the world’ better than the world in many respects.

There was an Andrew Denton special on the ABC I think it was, just a week or so ago, in which he visited this major ‘Christian Convention’ in the United States. The mind can only boggle at what any intelligent person could be thinking when observing the amount of rubbish that is going under the name of ‘Christian worship and service’ these days. This picture of Christianity in America, did nothing for the true cause of Christ and his church, for those of the world watching such a program that accurately portrayed what was happening at the convention, can only be thinking, ‘what a bunch of wackos are these Christians!’ I was thinking it myself!!! One guy tried to show Andrew Denton the specks of glory on his hands that were reflections of the glory of God by virtue of him just being there – of course, Andrew Denton couldn’t see any of it, nor could the viewer – because it wasn’t there!

It is this sort of stupidity that has weakened the church in this day – yet in another sense the true church has not been weakened at all. As always, the remnant that is the true church of God endures, through all the difficulties that surround it and it will continue to do so until it is itself glorified and freed from all of this religion that has nothing to do with the true cause of Christ and his church.