Archive for the ‘Australia’ Category

Saving the ABC

July 8, 2018

For anyone missing the context: despite promises made before it was first elected in 2013, our Liberal/National (ie, conservative) government has been cutting the funding of our national broadcaster, the ABC. The Liberal Party national council has voted in favour of privatising it. It is subject to constant sniping from the governmnent minister responsible for it who belongs to a mysteriously-funded right-wing think-tank which has just published a book advocating the removal of any state support for it, ie its sell off.

The minister in question denies that the Liberal party resolution is government policy, but on current projections, it’s not so hard to see a not so distant future where the ABC has been so deprived of funding that it will be in such a poor state that people will be ready to see it put out of its misery or no longer bothered to defend it.

I’ve previously written about how the cracks are starting to show at our national public music broadcaster, ABC “Classic” FM.

If you value public broadcasting in Australia, now’s the time to make a noise about it.

P1000566

Today with D to the Teachers Federation Auditorium in Surry Hills for what was advertised as a “rally” convened by the Friends of the ABC.

I sold the rally to D as a demonstration. That was probably false advertising given that it was billed to take place in an auditorium, and they even asked you to RSVP.

I RSVP’d on Friday. On Sunday morning I saw in my email inbox a message sent on Saturday asking me not to come!

Due to the overwhelming response received we have filled our capacity three times over.
Unfortunately your RSVP arrived well after we had reached our capacity.
Thank you for your concern and willingness to give up your time in support of the ABC.
Please write or contact your Federal member and voice your concern and inform your MP that you were going to go the rally only to find it three times or more oversubscribed.

Blow that for a lark! Surely for any kind of political demonstration the numbers are the point. D and I resolved to go. Even if we were turned away that in itself could make a point.

“There’ll be a lot of older gents with beards,” I joked to D. I was thinking of the late Walter Bass and that kind of beard without a moustache which tend to be favoured by sixties-plus men of a left-wing or scientific/technological persuasion. I spotted the first on the front steps.

They had set up a second room with a video feed but D and I managed to squeeze in and stand right at the back. When we left, it became clear that the foyers also had been packed with sound piped out to them.

It seemed to me the model was more one of a public meeting. We had some musical items (violin and electric keyboard), speeches and the meeting culminated with a resolution. As you can see from the picture, the ABC Friends are a bit of a “grey army.” A real rally might have been a bit tough for them.

The speakers were:

Philip Adams (has a beard but with a moustache)
Sinddy Ealy (CPSU)
Kerry O’Brien (speaking in the picture – text of his speech is here)
Katelin MacInerney (MEAA)
Ebony Bennett (Australia Institute)
Tom Kenneally (who has one of those beards)
Julian Morrow (most recently EP of the just-axed ABC TV program “The Checkout”)
Magda Szubanski.

You can see the whole thing here.

Generalising a bit here, I’d say there were three strands.

First, the old-fashioned advocates of the public good, hearkening back to a possibly semi-mythical golden age of the Argonauts and before the Commonwealth Bank (and other public assets) had been privatised. I’d put Adams and Keneally in here. Whilst they got a warm welcome and both made some good points eloquently, I suspect their message would be largely water off a duck’s back for the anti-ABC agitators in the IPA and the Liberal Party. If it’s just about privatisation, they may well think, we’ve won that battle before and we will win it again.

The next strand, embodied by union reps Ealy and MacInerney. was about the effect and magnitude of the cuts on the ABC since the LNP were returned to power in 2013. It was good that E and M were there, but there are no surpises in employees of a government organisation speaking up in support of its funding.

Julian Morrow was in a strand of his own and for my money – a bit too specific to the recent fate of his particular program.

The third main strand first emerged as the audience began, in a pantomimish manner, to hiss some a reference to Malcolm Turnbull announcing cuts to the ABC. KO’B stopped them (it’s at about 51:50 into the video; his speech, which was the best and most tightly argued, starts at about 50:30). “I don’t like hissing.” he said. His point was that if the ABC was to gain the benefit of its broad support it had to reach out to those who value the ABC across the political spectrum, including people who would normally vote for the Liberal or National parties.

To me that was the real take-out lesson of the rally/meeting. That was why Magda was there (starting at 2.10 – they saved her til last) and it was the moral she drew from the Gay Marriage “survey” victory.

As they both put it, in their own ways, you have to distinguish between the hard-core antis (in this case, the Liberal Party and the IPA, say) and the reasonable people who look as though they are their supporters (ie, people who vote for those parties).

After all (this is my thought; nobody said this) if you thought (as the audience in the TF auditorium noisily demonstrated they mostly thought) the yes result in the gay marriage “survey” was a great result, not to say a resounding victory, there’s a good chance that the ABC could rustle up a better number than the “survey”‘s 62%.

Ebony Bennett from the Australia Institute made a similar point.

It’s just a simple practicality that if you value something from, in broad terms “the left,” you’ll need to speak towards the middle and even the right to muster the support you need. Maybe it’s not so different from the way that the right wing corrals the left into supporting (sometimes grudgingly) more conservatively favoured institutions such as the military, police and prisons.

At last the meeting ended, the resolution was passed and we streamed out. The poor young violinist was drowned out in the hubbub in the way that people talk over the organ when they leave a church. This was a pity because ‘Peter & the Wolf’ was livelier than the Rhachmaninov Vocalise and the Meditation from Thais she played earlier.

D was ready to march and disappointed that there was no sign of it. “You need the visibility” he said.

I don’t think we were the crowd for that. For one thing we were too conspicuously old and middle class. For another, the turnout obviously exceeded the organisers’ expectations. But I wouldn’t rule it out further down the track.

Projected behind the speakers from time to time was this image:

ABC-DEFENDERS-LOGO

My first bemused thought was that someone was intending to invoke “The Argonauts.” Surely that would be a bit obscure? There cannot be many former Argonauts younger than 60. (I am, though not by much; most children of my age cohort had switched their allegiance to TV and the program dwindled to an end in 1972.)

In fact it’s the logo for an online campaign that the Friends of the ABC are mounting called “ABC Defenders“. So I suppose it’s a nod to video-gaming aesthetics and a reach-out to the younger generation.

Which is probably not a bad thing.

(As one person commented on the facebook video feed of the meeting: “Great rally. But such a pity that very few younger people attended. You really need to reach out to them if you want to be seen as fully representative voice. Go the ABC!”)

Why can’t we have nice things?

February 5, 2018

That of which I wrote last October has come to pass: since 1 February in Australia you cannot buy medicines containing codeine without a prescription .

I wonder if there will be any detectible changes in the nation’s vital statistics as millions of addicts undergo withdrawal once their supplies are exhausted.  Well, maybe as many as a million, but surely a few hundred thousand. Stand by for lots of criminal-granny jokes.

Meanwhile it has been a good laugh to see how the pharmaceutical companies have embraced the setback as an opportunity to market flashy new combined ibuprofen and paracetamol formulations. All you need do is pop into a supermarket and buy a packet of each at a fraction of the cost.

Until the curtain came down, it was almost as if the mere prospect of its descent was enough to drive me to the chemists in search of therapeutic relief.

Not, for preference, to one of those officious chemists who asked for my driver’s licence and inevitably committed multiple breaches of the Privacy Act in their “real-time’ monitoring of my purchasing history.  Perhaps I showed my photo ID (driver’s licence, university library card, whatever) three or four times all up.

All the same, sometimes I found it prudent to make myself look more respectable by making in some other drug purchase.  Surely some Immodium or generic loperamide would be irreproachable?

Apparently not.  In the calm before the possible storm of codeine withdrawal, the Sydney Morning Herald has helpfully recycled an item from Detroit Free Press reporting that opioid addicts are having recourse to loperamide for some kind of high – or at least to stave off withdrawal symptoms.  Hundreds of tablets are required.  At Australian prices, you might as well stick to heroin.

Still, I suppose I should be grateful that this story did not break when I was masking my soon-to-be-criminal request for a packet of Panafen Plus with side-order for a packet of Diar-eze.  Otherwise my cunning plan could easily have backfired.

My thoughts, exactly

December 7, 2017

not youOr almost,

on watching Malcolm Turnbull at the end of a gruelling (for us) day of pointscoring and futile amendments – some of which Turnbull voted for and none of which he voted against – celebrating with his rictus grin the outcome of the final substantive vote for marriage equality as if it were a triumph for him.

Taken from a comment in The Guardian:

Any one of those amendments debated / filibustered over the last few days would have sent the Marriage Equality bill back to the Senate. It would almost certainly have delayed the passing of the Bill until at least February, giving opponents time to regather and continue the fight. This is what the Nationals and most “Liberals” wanted. That is what Malcolm supported.

Now Malcolm wants to join the party. Well (vomit emoticon) to you.

Memo to the “Liberals” (with a few honourable exceptions): You lost. There’s no place on the winning bandwagon for you. So don’t try to to crash the party. Don’t try to claim credit. No one except your media boosters are listening.

One such media booster is Mark Kenny in the SMH, who starts out:

Like it or not, history will show it was Malcolm Turnbull – a Liberal Prime Minister – who presided over a renovation of the nation’s outdated marriage law.

One might have expected such a modernisation to emanate from the left.

Look, Mark, it did emanate from the left. Sure, it was slow, but once the ALP got to a free vote in 2012, the obstacle was those in control of the coalition denying their own members one.

Kenny continues:

His [Turnbull’s] backflip to champion Tony Abbott’s much-loathed plebiscite and subsequent embrace of Peter Dutton’s benighted postal survey, had quickened his poll slide among middle Australians. But these same Australians would later participate in Dutton’s survey in droves.

That really made me mad.  If Turnbull really thinks that participation in the postal survey signifies approval for it as opposed to a pragmatic acceptance through gritted teeth of no real alternative, he’s going to be surprised at the size of the stick that quite a lot of voters will be waiting for him with at the next election.

 

 

Surprising

October 29, 2017

News is in that Sir Ninian Stephen, former Governor-General of Australia, has died aged 94.

On reading accounts of his rather unusual early life, I like to think, or at least hope, that he voted yes in the current postal survey, health permitting.

Don’t read the comments

September 26, 2017

One night last December, Jaden Duong drove a rented van to the premises of the Australian “Christian” Lobby (ACL) in Canberra.  In the van were four LPG gas cylinders.  There was a fire/explosion, causing substantial damage to ACL’s offices.  It can’t have taken the police long to find Duong – suffering severe burns, he had walked 4km or so to Canberra Hospital.  He told police he had been trying to kill himself.

Lyle Shelton, the head of ACL, rushed back from his holidays.  He tweeted that he was shocked that things could come to this in Australia.  There was more about how violence was being incited against ACL by opponents calling ACL bigots etc.

Police, who had spoken to Duong, hastened to reassure the community that they were satisfied that this was not a terrorist incident.  The basis for this appears to have been their own assessment of Duong and his statements to them that his primary motive had been to kill himself and that the choice of location was subsidiary – though in fact there was some material pretty early on which indicated that Duong was unhappy about organised religion and ACL.

Duong spent some months in hospital (including for mental issues) in Sydney.  It wasn’t until June 2017 that he first appeared in court and his identity was disclosed to the world.

Straight away, what the Chinese call the “human flesh engine” got to work.  They were interested in depicting Duong as a “SJW” (that’s “Social Justice Warrior”) at whose hands ACL were being victimised.  They wanted to establish that the ACT Police were giving Duong a soft ride.

Duong had spent some time in San Francisco in about 2014 when his partner was working there.  He did some volunteer work for democrat politicians and a cat shelter; he appeared in a gay fundraising Mr Gay Asian and Pacific pageant; he welcomed the striking down by the US Supreme Court of the Defence of Marriage Act.  It looks as though he was doing volunteer work because as a gay partner he couldn’t get a working visa.

Back in 2003 or so Duong had also made a comment about gay law reform which was published in the SMH.

That’s about it, but on the strength of this the Murdoch press followed up this narrative, describing Duong as a “gay activist.”

If you find opinion pieces by someone, even if only 2 over 15 years, I guess you could say they are an activist.  Much as you might say someone who writes for News Limited/News Corp is a journalist.

Here’s a sample of the Catallaxy forum  from 7 June when Duong’s name was first released and the human flesh engine unleashed. Leigh Lowe is a particular charmer.

Look, let’s not jump to conclusions.
It could be that the court might just be trying to spare Duonger some embarrassment.
Maybe he was found in leopard print leggings with red stilettos or some other ghastly ensemble that any self-respecting poove wouldn’t be (cough) found dead in.

And picking up on this found material:

Jaden Duong, an Australian living in San Francisco, welcomed the high court’s decision on DOMA.
“My partner’s here in the U.S. for work,” he said. “I’m here on a tourist visa indefinitely because of DOMA. Now they have to recognize us … which means his work visa includes me.”

LL said:

Jaden (WTF?) appears to be front and centre everywhere.
The volunteer work is explained by the fact that his partner was in the US for work.
I wonder if the partner had a gummint posting? If so, if he is hooked up with someone who tried to commit a terrorist act, both Duonger and the partner may appear on DHS watchlist, and both may be banned from travelling to and working in the US.
Just wait for some screaming fag to bung on a Mem Fox if detained at an airport and you night have your suspected boyfriend.
Look, I am prepared to acknowledge the possibility that … and I know this sounds crazy … that Duonger was a common-or-garden drama queen, who was approaching (OMG!) his 40th birthday, maybe had a series of failed relationships in quick succession, and decided to top himself.
It’s just that blowing yourself to bits in a van doesn’t scan like a typical drama-queen suicide MO.
Whatever, there is no excuse for brushing it under the carpet. The AFP’s rush to call “nothing to see here” whilst the Duonger hadn’t even been interviewed is suspect to say the least.

Jo jumped on the wagon:

jo

Leigh Lowe
#2404865, posted on June 7, 2017 at 3:23 pm

Sorry ..
“ring wear” should read “ring to wear”.
sorry.
Won’t happen again.

A lefty in San Francisco will have plenty of “ring wear”.

Another scintillator referred to “tontine fanging.”  (Geddit?)

Duong had another court date in August and then last week.  Each date was the occasion of a fresh dose of the Newscorp treatment describing him as a gay activist.  Duong pleaded not guilty on account of mental impairment.  It’s clear that police (who despite the Newscorp and altrite commentary, are not softies about this sort of thing) recognized Duong had mental difficulties.  The Murdoch press trawled through court papers and snippets of remarks in the hearings to build up the contrary picture, in simple terms, that Duong was bad, not mad, or at least bad enough and not mad enough to be responsible.

On Sunday Duong, aged 36, was found dead.  There were no suspicious circumstances.

It is very very sad.

 

 

 

First cuckoo

September 12, 2017

Last night I heard something from the stand of trees in the grounds of the nearby public school.  It sounded like a bird but I couldn’t work out which.

This afternoon I unmistakeably heard a channel-billed cuckoo in full voice.

Could it be the more subdued sounds last night were the marks of exhaustion after a long commute?

I was there

September 11, 2017

Yesterday at D’s insistence and with him I did my part and went to the marriage equality rally in town.  There was a festival atmosphere on the train as we headed in with about 15 minutes to spare before the advertised start of 1 pm.

The last demonstrations I went to were the marches that broke many Australians’ heart – the big ones in 2003 against the invasion of Iraq.

The worst thing about such rallies is that practically every member of the organising coalition, and then a few more, has to have someone up there giving a speech.  This can really try one’s patience.  There is also the problem that in such a coalition on one issue, people will want to push the envelope out to the corner of their particular concerns.  Mostly I was with them at every corner and suspicious bulge to the package, but in the light of the “No” case campaigners’ attempt to make this postal opinion poll about every other issue than marriage of people not of a different sex, it would have been prudent, in my opinion, to keep things tight.

Bill Shorten gave a speech where he managed to reference “Climb Every Mountain,” “You’ll never walk alone,” the parable of the Good Samaritan and the St Crispin’s Day speech (those not here today will wish they were and say they were.)  There were probably more references that I missed.

So we stood out the speeches and after a longish wait to decant from Town Hall Square, headed along Park Street, Elizabeth Street, Phillip Street, Bridge Street and Young Street to Circular Quay where we were told Pauline Pantsdown had taken the stage in front of Customs House.  We didn’t actually see her as the square was pretty much full to capacity and we took the opportunity to catch a train home while we still could – just after 3.30.

It felt like a big rally to me so I was a bit peeved that it only ranked No 3 in the evening news. In some cases the rally was coupled with coverage of Malcolm Turnbull attending his own tame (I doubt if a single non-coalition-apparatchik gay person was in attendance) Liberals & Nats forum for the Yes campaign. As if Malcolm’s do was in any way comparable to tens of thousands of people on the streets.  Also a bit rich and doubtless calculated of him to hold it on this day.

I found myself immersed in a terrible emulatory hardness of heart waiting for “our” story to reach the screen: how dare those pesky Hurricane Irma types (No 1, though with predictably much more attention to the yet to suffer Floridians than the already devasted Cubans and Martinians) or Mexican earthquake victims vie with our just cause for attention?

There were lots of colourful costumes. My favourite was more subtle – a t-shirt in the style of an old pale blue Penguin paperback cover worn by a gent, about my age.  The book title?   An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde.

 

 

Nasty

August 7, 2017

Last Friday I drove out to Concord Hospital to pick up D, whom I had dropped off at 7am for day surgery.

For some reason the car radio was tuned to 98.5 fm.  According to Wikipedia:

2000FM (callsign 2OOO) is a multilingual community radio station broadcasting to Sydney in languages other than English from studios in the suburb of Burwood. It is a volunteer run organisation and is funded through listener support, grants and limited commercial sponsorship.[1]

The mission of 2000FM is to provide a service through dedication to enrich the cohesion of our cultural diversity via tolerance, understanding and respect for each other.[2]

When I turned the radio on just after setting off a man was reading from John Hewson’s article in the SMH, the substance of which was to complain that members of the Liberal Party who were agitating for a free vote on marriage equality were grandstanding at the expense of the coalition’s electoral prospects.

Hewson had written:

To be clear, I support same-sex marriage, and like so many who do, don’t, and are just a bit “here and there”, I would like to have seen the matter dealt with expeditiously, given what is perceived as widespread community support.

Up till then, I didn’t know what station I was listening to – I thought it might have been RPH (PH for print handicapped).  I was swiftly disabused of this when the reader interrupted his reading at this point to ask John Hewson, as a politician, if he ever would have been asked to write an article on SSM for the SMH if he did not say he was in favour of it.  Then I knew what side the wind would be blowing from.

Not that Hewson was actually there to answer the question.

From there on the reader interspersed Hewson’s text with his own comments. By the end (he hadn’t finished when I finally got out of the car) he was in full flood.

The argument as far as I recall it was:

  1. The trouble all began when we let same sex parents have children.
  2. Children hate to be left out or to be different.
  3. Same sex parents therefore wanted to be married so that they could go to parent teacher nights etc and be recognized. [so far an interesting inversion of the ‘all about the children’ arguments – it shows how people attribute to their opponents their own ways of thinking]
  4. So now they were trying to subvert our traditional notion of marriage, and take away our marriage, the institution of which we are a part;
  5. Which is part of our Armenian cultural heritage [he didn’t sound very Armenian, if that is possible, and maybe I’m a bit mixed up here with the announcements from time to time that the program was sponsored by St Gregory’s Armenian School – an institution which in fact was wound up some years ago with its premises at Rouse Hill now sold to Malek Fahid Islamic School and much productive – for lawyers – litigation]
  6. And not, (implicitly, like homosexuals) a matter of genital-to-genital.
  7. And now some of our politicians think they know better than us!
  8. there’s this Warren Entsch “not that I know Warren Entsch from a bar of soap – except that a bar of soap leaves you clean
  9. So you should get on your computers, I know you have them, and tell them that you don’t want it;
  10. Don’t let those homosexuals get their fingers on our marriage!

There was more with which obviously I disagree, and I haven’t remembered all the nasty swipes along the way – I’ve only really clearly the remembered the one at Entsch.  I think the “fingers” (why not hands?) remark was also associated in some way with some snide suggestion (maybe about genitals again) that made it seem nastier then than it does as I have reported it.

Meanwhile, today the Liberal Party, summoned by Malcolm Turnbull, has stuck to Tony Abbott’s poison pill.  It’s not that both major political parties (Julia Gillard was a particular disappointment and Penny Wong not much better) haven’t had to wrestle in their own ways with the art of the politically possible, but surely the politically possible is changing?  The biggest irony is that, at least from where I stood, Abbott’s slippery entrenchment of the plebiscite by a joint party meeting was the final nail in his political coffin, because it was not how many had understood his previous political undertakings, even if it was consistent with the fine print.

Even the statutory embedding of a man-woman definition into the Marriage Act in 2004 (one of John Howard’s many bad deeds, though not without accomplices) was such an entrenchment – because if there was nothing to try to resist in a last ditch way there was no point in it at all.

The only consolation I can see at present is that if the head of steam builds up strongly enough, the change, when it comes, will be less traded off for little sheltered pockets of bigotry.

Here’s hoping.

 

 

 

 

My (new) scenic ride to work 1

June 11, 2017

Just over a year ago, I moved to Canterbury. Ironically, just as NSW mergers of local government areas brought into being an officially designated “Inner West,” after over 30 years (leaving aside my Perth sojourn) I am no longer living there.

That was a bit of a blow to my geographical self-respect (self-regard some may say).  It also means that I am one big hill further away from the city.  As age takes its toll, that has proved an obstacle to a bicycle commute.

Maybe one day I will surmount that.  Meanwhile, when time and weather permit, I can ride to Sydenham and take a fast and more frequent train from there.  This is my new scenic ride (half way) to work.  It takes me mostly along a stretch of the Cooks River cycleway.

detention, green

That’s the detention pond near the mouth of Cup and Saucer Creek, not long after I join the path on the south side of the river.  When I took this picture it was full of unsightly green algae. It has since cleared up.

P1120071

 

This is a distant view of the old sugar mill, now converted to flats:

P1120006

I usually cross the river at this point:

bridge near sugar mill

There is a small harbour which must have been used for the sugar mill:

sugar mill harbour

An area is fenced off to protect birds basking in the sun from pesky people.

pelicans 1

pelicans 2

I suppose I got too close for comfort.

It was difficult to catch a good photo of this, but you can detect the main stream of the river from the plastic water bottles and other flotsam floating up and down along it with the tide.  Here at least some street rubbish has been captured at the end of a stormwater drain:

rubbish trap

though as we know it is but a drop in the ocean.

The path continues past sometimes flood-prone land and (I’m being botanically imprecise here) pleasing stands of paperbarks which I guess find that congenial.

P1120075

After passing playing fields and some decommissioned tennis courts, the path crosses the Cooks River again on a bridge which is definitely in need of renewal.

This brings the path back to the southern side of the Cooks River.  There is a mosque.

islamic centreThe path crosses Wardell Road and there are more playing fields and a tennis court which is often being played on until quite late at night.  A new bridge crosses over again just near the Marrickville Golf Course clubhouse:

golf course bridge

P1120078

I ride past the club house and out of the golf course, cross the bottom of Illawara Road and come to Steel Park.

Even if I’m not really thirsty, I always pause for a drink of water here on principle.

water stand

Because it’s free.

 

 

 

 

 

Proposed travel ban for pedophiles

May 30, 2017

News  is out today that the Australian government, at the urging of HH Derryn Hinch, will be taking passports away from convicted pedophiles.  It is estimated that over 20,000 convicted sex offenders on the National Child Offender Register may lose their passports or their eligibility for them.

It’s a slippery slope, and we seem to be rushing headlong down it.  Here is one comment by “Mark II” on that story:

I think it’s a great initiative – I am no supporter of this government but I think this will sail through with bipartisan support. In fact, I’d extend it further, and say anyone convicted of a trafficking offence for drugs or serious financial misdemeanours should be barred from travelling, too. I’m not talking about a recreational marijuana user or kid who’s swallowed some E down the club – but anyone selling, sorry, you lose the right to be tempted a la Corby and the current clone. And – if you rob your employer or clients and go to jail for it – likewise. No escaping overseas to start anew and avoid your garnishee responsibilities.

At  least “Mark II” shows some awareness of the possible blanket-reach of such measures.  Good luck to him in expecting that the authorities will draw the right line between serious and minor offences – the current approach to even trace elements of drugs (which provide no evidence of intoxication or impairment) in roadside drug tests is a case in point.

Others cheerfully propose even more radical measures without such awareness.

My own feelings are more in line with this comment, by “Jack” (though “scum” is not a word I would choose to use even of people who do very bad things):

I agree child sex tourists are scum. But we need to be careful with populist blanket legislation because, as we have seen, it can have unintended consequences and it can impose excessive punishment on those individuals who are not likely to reoffend. This is why authorities, even in the USA, have questioned the fairness and effectiveness of blanket sex offender registers. So I’d rather see a targeted register, with judges having the option of putting a name on it.

 

If you follow the jurisprudence in NCAT and other tribunals dealing with applications for Working with Children Clearances (rough selection here), you will soon discover that a very broad range of people commit offences against children.  Only some of these are indicative of a settled tendency to abuse children; many others are products of specific situations which are not likely to be repeated or where the person convicted is likely to rehabilitate and has by now shown that to be the case. These, include juvenile “sexting,” obsessive curiosity in the face of the internet, difficult family and personal circumstances, immaturity and loneliness.

There is a whole heap of bus drivers who have done something wrong within their own family, often many years ago, but who have driven buses without incidents for decades, who are currently been deprived of their employment even though the likelihood of their offending against someone outside the family must be very small – as their incident free record since demonstrates.  They go to the tribunal to try to get a clearance but often fail because they lack the resources to mount a proper case.

Some people who have pleaded guilty many years ago to what then seemed a minor offence (which they might have defended) must now regret that decision bitterly.

To ban someone for life from leaving the country is a very simplistic response to a wide range of offences.

If there are to be travel bans, it would be better if these were imposed on a case by case basis when there is a real risk; they could be limited by time or subject to some procedure for review/extension.

I realise that whilst this could be done going into the future for fresh offences, it would leave unaddressed the question of historical offences.

It is not easy to see how this can be addressed.  The many difficulties just expose to me the fundamental wrongness of imposing a civil disability retrospectively in a blanket way.

Cases of notorious sex offenders in South-East Asian countries (mostly) are rightly a matter of outrage, but they must be a very small number compared to the 20,000+ on the Child Sex Offenders Register (plus those whose offences occurred too long ago for them to make it on to the register).

One possibility would be to impose a more selective ban, targeted to those with historic offences whose travel activities indicate repeated travel to “child sex tourism” destinations.  In the future, this would require more rigorous collection of destination information for overseas travellers, which at present is mostly based, I expect, on self-reporting on travellers’ return.

Whatever will be done will involve some overreach, and even if there is a mechanism for appealing against it, will inevitably work against the less well-resourced.  It will also work against people with family overseas who have legitimate reasons to visit them and for whom the usual assumption (and Government attitude) that a passport is a privilege rather than must be questionable.

In the meantime, we can expect charges of offences of this nature to be defended more vigorously than ever, with attendant trauma to complainants/victims.  This is already happening.  Even when there is a plea of guilty, the process of investigation (to ensure nothing worse happened) and prosecution has its own Heisenberg effect, as in the case of Christopher Ryan Jones which led to victim impact statements from victims who would probably otherwise have been happily oblivious of the wrong done to them.