Ugly

‘One of my closest friends is Turkish, and she won’t have anything to do with Muslims, OK?’

Camden Council has finally voted on the Quranic Society’s development application, and has unanimously voted against it. We now have to wait and see whether the applicants will appeal, and if so there will be another long wait for the outcome.

I’ve already tried to carve out a position on all this, so I’ll just summarise where I stand.

1. I wish we didn’t have religious schools at all. Some forms of religion are harmless, and indeed almost indistinguishable from humanism, in stressing contemplation, love of others and so on. But to the extent that religion demands and rationalises blind adherence to arbitrary doctrines, it’s antithetical to liberal values and it perpetuates tribalism and bigotry. Only the latter kind of religion has any need for its own schools, as instruments of indoctrination.

2. The interests of secular liberalism will not be served by blocking this or that Islamic school. Enlightenment is a long process, and is prone to setbacks as instanced by the resurgence of religious dogma in some middle eastern countries, including Israel, and in the US. But, given the right conditions, it marches on. Among those conditions are cosmopolitanism, freedom of expression (including religion) and social tolerance. None of the above are enhanced when pig-ignorant, Hansonite would-be patriots like Kate McCulloch, are seen to get their way. If migrant groups perceive our planning processes to be captive to that kind of stupidity, it will be no wonder that they feel alienated and maligned, nor any wonder if they turn inward, seek consolation in tribal bonds, and frame their grievances in terms of theological struggle.

3. Only an expert on town planning will be able to judge whether the council had good grounds to reject the application. Especially in the light of the Wollongong capers, we have reason to distrust local government processes. But if there is an appeal, I think we can assume that the proposal will be decided on its merits.

4. Notwithstanding my dislike of religious schools, I hope that there is an appeal, and that Camden Council’s decision is overturned. In the short term, if we are to remain a liberal and tolerant society, we are going to have more Islamic schools rather than less. It will not prove possible to obstruct them all on planning grounds. But blocking Camden will just move the battle ground somewhere else; and the Camden protesters’ ugly tactics, having apparently worked, will lend legitimacy to more of the same.

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153 Responses to Ugly

  1. Iain Hall says:

    I suspect that a big part of local objection to this development is that this proposed school is being parachuted into an area that has basicly no Muslim community at all.
    Frankly I find that your forth point is in contradiction to your previous three if the Koranic society want to build their school why not chose a site closer to the places that followers of this faith live?

  2. Gummo Trotsky says:

    What had me baffled, when I read this SMH report this morning, was how anyone could call the council decision a ‘victory for decency’:

    Dressed in a hat decorated with Australian flags and a long yellow dress, a resident, Kate McCulloch, emerged from the meeting declaring a victory for “decency” – and insisted Muslims were incompatible with the local community.

    “The ones that come here oppress our society, they take our welfare and they don’t want to accept our way of life,” she said.

    Maybe my bafflement is because I clicked through the link in the e-mail alert thinking it was going to be another story about the Henson thing.

  3. gilmae says:

    Close to where they live? You mean those “ghettos” they used to get accused of living in? Have you checked out how much it costs to buy tracts of land in those areas, tracts of land large enough to build multiple classrooms and still have room left over for sporting fields?

  4. Tobias says:

    Following on from point 3, while I agree that it is entirely possible that the Council decided against the proposal on legitimate planning and development grounds (and I do not have the expertise to argue otherwise), at no point in this saga have I seen any member of Camden Council condemn the bigotry and ignorant fear-mongering that exists within their community. It would be nice if at least one of them would have the decency to stand up and tell the ignorant Islamophobes cheering their decision that, while they may agree with Council on the outcome, their reasons for agreeing are abhorrent.

    Regarding Iain’s comment – the “followers of this faith” have children, and those children grow up and need to find their own place to live. Camden is on the southwestern outskirts of Sydney. For young Muslims who might have grown up in the greater southwest (e.g., in Lakemba and other suburbs), chances are their best option for affording to buy a home, remaining close to their family, and not having to change jobs is going to be buying or building in the new developments slightly further from Sydney, i.e., in the vicinity of Camden. The Muslim community is continuing to expand, just like the rest of Sydney.

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  6. gilmae says:

    The ones that come here oppress our society, they take our welfare and they dont want to accept our way of life, she said.

    I actually really love that quote. The people behind the school latched onto the move away from public schools by the aspirational middle class and proposed to build a parochial school to facilitate it. They were so willing to accept our way of life they thought parents would be willing to send their kids on hour long commutes to and from school to get an education, and presumably not end up on welfare.

    Yes. I adore that quote. A not insignificant chunk of the opposition in Camden were damned by their own words.

  7. mark e smithsonian says:

    As to comments 3 and 4 – Camden is a relatively pricey area, and is not yet contigious to the rest of western Sydney suburbia. It is not therefore your stereotypical boondocks dumping ground. It probably would be more viable for the Islamic community to acquire property in the Canterbury-Bankstown area.

  8. conrad says:

    I found the “take our welfare quote” quote amusing too. However, I read it in a different way. I read it as if the assumption was that being on welfare was the norm for white(-trash) Australia and if more “non-Australians” go on welfare too, there won’t be enough to go around.

  9. gilmae says:

    It might be relatively pricey, but it has suitable tracts of land. Suitable tracts of land in Bankstown and surrounds are basically unobtainable. I suppose they could buy Bankstown Airport and shut it down.

  10. Tobias says:

    I agree with glimae – and while it may not be contiguous, it’s easily accessible from Campbelltown and surrounding suburbs, where residential property is about as cheap as you could find.

  11. Legal Eagle says:

    Did anyone watch Insight on SBS last night? It was on the issue of faith based schools – very interesting.

    I am an agnostic. I attended a mildly religious school for part of high school, and managed to sleep through the chapel services, such that I didn’t realise that Christians believe Jesus is the Son of God until I was 25. (I think I just turned on an automatic “off” switch when religion was mentioned).

    I would not want to send my daughter to a strongly religious school (well, we don’t have a faith anyway). I wouldn’t send her to an atheist school, for that matter. I want her to make up her own mind. However, I can understand why someone from a minority religion may wish to send their child to a school where that religion is understood and the values of that religion are taught. My only concern is that all faith based schools adhere to certain minimum standards.

    Incidentally, I asked a Muslim friend what she thought of Islamic schools. She laughed (she’s South African originally) and said that the only “coloured” school near when she lived in South Africa was a Christian one, so she got taught Christian values at school and Muslim values at home. She said she thought it was good for her…she got a different viewpoint…

  12. Iain Hall says:

    There is a great tendency, that only those of us who live in what used to be the rural fringes around the the major cities really understand, of people who come into an area to then object to the things that the locals have legally done for years.
    I suppose the ho-hah about live music in Fortitude Valley (Brisbane) upsetting new residents in nearby developments is a good example for the more city focused.
    Another thing to consider is that this school would in all likely hood seek an exemption on paying rates (on the basis that it is a religious institution) yet it would expect services from the Council like water sewerage and rubbish collection.

  13. Bill Posters says:

    Another thing to consider is that this school would in all likely hood seek an exemption on paying rates (on the basis that it is a religious institution) yet it would expect services from the Council like water sewerage and rubbish collection.

    You mean, like every other religious body in existence?

    That’s an argument against tax breaks for religion, not this particular school.

    It’s also not an argument that would hold up on appeal, as it’s stupid.

  14. mark e smithsonian says:

    9 and 10 – then the silly sods should have bought the land they wanted in the Campbelltown area, not Camden which is manifestly trying to brand itself on its heritage and rural qualities. And they should only have entered the contract to buy the land on the basis that it was conditional upon the grant of the DA. The whole idea was daft from the get go.

  15. Ken Parish says:

    “yet it would expect services from the Council like water sewerage and rubbish collection.”

    When I lived in Sydney water and sewerage were provided by the Water Board (now Sydney Water) not local councils. The argument is spurious on that ground and for the reasons others have mentioned (e.g. #13).

    As for the argument that they should have bought land at Campbelltown rather than Camden, that appears to be an argument that it’s OK to inflict something undesirable on the rural working class but not on the self-appointed rural residential squattocracy of Camden. I can’t help wondering whether the apologists on this thread realise just how repulsively xenophobic their pathetic attempts at justification look to anyone other than a fellow xenophobe (noting that Islam is not a race so we can’t call it racism). In any event, Camden is immediately adjacent to Campbelltown and not meaningfully further away from the nearer south-western suburbs where a lot of Islamic Australians live. This is just a bullshit argument whatever way you look at it. Since when has any other religion been required to build its schools immediately adjacent to suburbs where the highest proportion of its adherents/prospective students live (even if they could find large amounts of vacant land there, which as gilmae points out they couldn’t)? If that was a valid point, every single GPS school would be on the north shore or eastern suburbs. So much for Newington, Kings, Joeys etc. Let’s compulsorily resume them now!

  16. Iain Hall says:

    As a Queenslander I am uncertain about the precise arrangements with regard to different aspects of infrastructure in NSW but when you have what is a large draw on resources (1200 students + staff) parachuted into a shire that is a big impost on ratepayers who will never use the facilities no matter what brand the religion is.I would still argue that it is the right of the people who actually live there to object to ANY development that will affect the place they live in.

    Ken it was probably a Freudian slip, but I find it amusing that you characterise the development as “undesirable” ;)

  17. derrida derider says:

    By allah there were some ugly people among those protesters. I particularly liked the one who said he was opposed to the school because “my kids cant speak Islamic and they’d have to learn it”, and also the one who condescended to admit “some Muslims are moderate” but went on to say “better safe than sorry”.

    And yeah, if those councillors had any guts at all they’d stand up and denounce this bigotry and make it clear that hard working law abiding Ausralians of whatever background are welcome in their community. That they didn’t leads you to suspect that the decision was indeed not kosher (or should that be hallal?).

  18. Ken Parish says:

    Iain

    Clearly those arguing against the school find it “undesirable”. It’s the plausibility or otherwise of their (and your) sundry attempts at justification that we’re debating. Hence using that label isn’t a slip at all, Freudian or otherwise.

    As for your first argument, given that water and sewerage are provided by a State government instrumentality, there is no such burden on local ratepayers anyway. The only other possible burdens would be if the projected volume of traffic generated by the school was such as to require local roads to be upgraded at council expense. That is fairly unlikely, because major arterial roads and freeways in the area (e.g. the S-W Freeway and Northern Road) are in my understanding maintained by the state government as well. However, to the extent that was the case it might well provide at least some proper basis for rejecting the application on legitimate planning grounds.

  19. gilmae says:

    I wouldn’t want to cast statements by random meatheads as common to Camden, but there was one that kept me amused for hours after reading it in the local paper, that if the school was permitted it would eventually mean Camden shops wouldn’t be allowed to sell bacon burgers.

  20. Iain Hall says:

    What about rubbish collection Ken? Who is responsible for that in that area?

  21. David Rubie says:

    The camden comments serve to remind us that there is a rump of multicultural australia that absolutely refuses to assimilate: the white trash (like me). Washed up like flotsam ejected from their homes, winding up on the wrong damn beach and have been fighting it for over 200 years without giving an inch, without ever realising their ire is directed in completely the wrong direction.

    So fellow white and freckly australians with far too many ranga relatives for comfort or sanity, it’s probably time to give it up.

  22. Laura says:

    yes, won’t someone please think of the rubbihs bins?

  23. Iain Hall says:

    What exactly was the zoning of the land in question?

  24. Iain Hall says:

    Scoff if you like Laura but local government is all about grass roots issues like rubbish collections and who actually pays the rates.

  25. Bill Posters says:

    Scoff if you like Laura but local government is all about grass roots issues like rubbish collections and who actually pays the rates.

    Oddly enough, that’s not what opponents of the school seem to think it’s all about:

    CAMDEN RESIDENT 2, CAMDEN RESIDENTS’ GROUP: We just don’t want to Muslim people in Camden, we don’t want them not only here, we don’t want them in Australia.

    REPORTER: Why are you wearing an Australian flag?

    CAMDEN RESIDENT 3, CAMDEN RESIDENTS’ GROUP: Why shouldn’t I be? Why is Channel 2 against Australia?

    CAMDEN RESIDENT 4, CAMDEN RESIDENTS’ GROUP: My kids can’t read Islamic, how are they going to go to that school? It’s all crap, next thing there will be a mosque, then there will be the little town that comes with it. It’s not appropriate for the area at all.

    CAMDEN RESIDENTS’ GROUP: Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Oi, oi, oi!

    Rubbish collection, indeed.

  26. wilful says:

    Iain, as the OP and others have stressed, this is not about the correctness or otherwise of the Council planning decision, but about the shocking gutter racism and misunderstanding expressed by far too many willing interviewees.

    There is absolutely no chance we would be debating this if it had been a Christian school refused permission to build by the Council.

  27. Laura says:

    My partner works in local govt Iain. I probably know more about it than you mate.

  28. Iain Hall says:

    Is that in the city or the country Laura?

  29. Ken Parish says:

    Further to Iain Hall’s sundry attempts at justifying the (apparently) unjustifiable.

    In my understanding, charitable and benevolent tax exemptions apply to things like rates and taxes but not to user charges like water, sewerage and garbage charges. They are user charges not rates, and charitable/benevolent bodies pay them like everyone else to the extent that they use those services.

    What was the zoning? The news articles don’t tell us. however, inferentially from the wording and context, it appears that this was neither a building nor rezoning application. Rather it seems to have been a planning application for a development where the proposed use is a “consent use” under the relevant town plan i.e. it isn’t a prohibited use but a developer needs to make application and the council can/does examine issues like local amenity, traffic congestion, noise, availability of local services etc.

    According to the article James linked:

    Cr Patterson pointed to a report from council officers showing the proposed development was flawed on environmental and planning grounds. These included inadequate public transport to the site, in Burragorang Road at Cawdor, and fears that it might be contaminated by hazardous materials. Cr Patterson insisted the ruling was “on planning grounds alone”.

    These are the only two grounds for rejection we know about. We can’t form any valid opinion about “fears” of hazardous waste contamination without knowing the basis (if any) for those fears.

    As for assertions that public transport to the site is inadequate:

    (1) Most schools arrange dedicated school bus services from the school at least to the nearest public mass transit station (in this case Campbelltown train station). Such services are paid for by the school or state government subsidy not by local government;
    (2) In any event, the local bus company has a scheduled public bus service passing directly by the gate of the proposed school (on Burragorang Road, Cawdor) to camden with co-ordinated bus connection on to Campbelltown station to connect with scheduled trains to the city. Buses pass by around every 30 minutes or more frequently during the periods both before and after school each day. See the timetable here. This is significantly more frequent than (for example) the public bus services passing by the main private schools around Darwin (most notably Kormilda College which my daughter atttended). This basis for rejection appears to be completely spurious.

  30. paul frijters says:

    James,

    I am not going to comment on the actual decision because I dont know much about planning laws and the lie. I leave that to the lawyers on this site. I want to take you up on your central belief:

    “Enlightenment is a long process, and is prone to setbacks as instanced by the resurgence of religious dogma in some middle eastern countries, including Israel, and in the US. But, given the right conditions, it marches on. Among those conditions are cosmopolitanism, freedom of expression (including religion) and social tolerance.”

    a nobel belief, but also a somewhat naive one. Is social tolerance really compatible with allowing groups to teach whatever they want? Whatever they want? Are you truly so convinced of the evolutionary superiority of enlightenment that it will somehow automatically ‘win’ against the alternatives, i.e. that it does not need fighting for? It does not need to actively win hearts and minds? I so want you to be right on this, James, because it relieves me of any responsibility to fight for enlightenment, but I asmit I often wonder whether it is not plain laziness to presume enlightenment will simply win, irrespective of supposed minor set-backs. I wonder whether this is not just an inability to imagine that other belief systems may win, belief systems that have more passionate defenders.

  31. James Farrell says:

    Yes, Paul, it may be too optimistic. But it’s hard to respond to your comment without knowing what concrete measures you have in mind in pursuit of your fight — in relation to this school issue at least. If you favour moves toward banning or regulating religious schools at the level of national policy, I have some sympathy for this, as you might recall if you read my other post on this topic. But I don’t think you mean to support local resistance like this, which has more to do with keeping towel-heads out of the suburb than with any educational philosophy.

  32. pablo says:

    Some posts are a bit harsh on the local council in this affair. Depending on how it is graded, municipality or shire – one through to four in NSW – will give some idea of what planning resources it has in its professional ranks.
    My guess is that lowly Camden Council would be under resourced and under pressure given its locality. Even so it’s professional advice to councillors was that the project be rejected and it is a tough call to expect councillors to go against their professional officer advice. And expecting them to grandstand on multicultural issues, let alone inter-religious bigotry is a big ask.
    From tv footage of the location this is close to the oldest and best agricultural land in the nation – the University of Sydney maintains an ag research station nearby – and I would bet that the NSW Dept of Agriculture has had something to say about further alienating prime farmland.
    So why hasn’t the State Government stepped in to assist this council through it’s new planning powers that determine state significant developments? Too controversial? Too much risk and not enough potential for developer donations?
    Best this one go through to the Land & Environment Court if the applicant feels so aggrieved and prepared to allow the local ratepayers foot the bill should they win. It is not an ideal process and no one appears to be coming out of it squeaky clean. One gets the impression it could have been done a lot better.

  33. JC says:

    I look at this from a property rights perspective and am I repulsed as always at the idea that anyone can tell others what they can and cannot do on their property if it doesn’t impinge on the property rights of others.

    If the Council and the residents dont want an Islamic school in their area they ought to pay compensation to their owners for the loss.

    I dont particularly like Islam but have no animus towards Muslims. However they have or should have the right to set up a religious school and it is abhorrent their right is being taken away.

    On a wider issue it is dishonest of us to allow people to emigrate here aware of their religious leaning and then prevent them from practicing their religion or building a religious school of their choice.

    These people deserve compensation for this state of affairs.

    If we had strongly established principles regarding property rights none of this would be happening.

  34. But to the extent that religion demands and rationalises blind adherence to arbitrary doctrines, its antithetical to liberal values and it perpetuates tribalism and bigotry.

    Sounds rather close to an illiberal view to me, even if one accepts the assessment is accurate.

    Still, nothing compared to the specific and ugly anti-Muslim bigotry shown by way too many people in Camden. It is a shame that there is so little public criticism of such blatant and divisive vilification. Yet no doubt someone soon will again be demanding that Muslim Australians do more to demonstrate their loyalty to Australia and Australian values – pity a few more people from Camden aren’t asked to do the same.

  35. hc says:

    The obvious implicaton of the actual of the Camden residents is that they don’t want Muslims living in their midst or, indeed, as part of Australia – you can label this ‘bigotry’. The Camden residents are probably misinformed about the sins of Islam but we do live in a democracy. Do you disregard the views of the Australian people when deciding who should be admitted as a resident?

    I have never been able to answer this question satisfactorily to myself. But it seems to me that you are covering your asses with an irrelevant aside if you simply view the Camden residents as ignorant bogans who don’t know what is good for them. It is a deep question.

  36. NPOV says:

    Legal Eagle, isn’t an “atheist” school simply one whose curriculum does not include belief in god? In which case, surely all Australian public schools would qualify.

    Unless you some how mean “actively promoting the non-existence of god”, but I’m not sure I believe such a school even exists.

    FWIW, it seems pretty self-evident that the intolerance and bigotry shown by the likes of Ms McCulloch is a far bigger threat to liberalism and enlightenment than the setting up of an Islamic school – providing it’s a genuine school whose job is actually teaching the relevant national and state curriculum (along with, no doubt, the expected Koran study classes). Any particular attempts to indoctrinate students with anti-liberal or illegal notions can be dealt with individually if and when they come to attention.

  37. Jacques Chester says:

    Do you disregard the views of the Australian people when deciding who should be admitted as a resident?

    If we paid attention to the principle of majority wishes about immigration, the First Fleet probably would have had to be turned around.

  38. James Farrell says:

    I assume you’re talking about immigration policy, Harry. It’s not a question I would want to dodge, but I don’t have any simple answer either. My main fear is that ethnic tension could flare up in a recession. People get along well when they’re working, shoulder-to-shoulder. But when they’re idle and competing for shrinking opportunities, they are more easily enraged by little things and have more time to pursue vendettas.

  39. NPOV says:

    hc, except we’re not allowing Muslims (or anyone, for that matter) into the country because it’s good for Kate McCulloch and her mates. We’re allowing them in because they want to be here, and they are judged to have a valuable contribution to make.

    Camdem residents certainly have a right to feel uncomfortable about a likely increase in the Muslim population of their neighbour, but that doesn’t extend as far as right to openly proclaim on a TV broadcast that Muslims are oppressors of society, stealers of welfare and rejectors of their way of life, and certainly doesn’t extend as far as rejecting their right to buy property and use it for legal purposes.

  40. JC says:

    Andrew B:

    It is a shame that there is so little public criticism of such blatant and divisive vilification.

    Not for nothing, but every bit of media I’ve seen about this issue presents those opposing the school as bigoted (and most probably are): starting from the original 4 Corners program

    But be honest Andrew, if someone was putting up something you didn’t like in your hood, you’d be up in arms finding some reason why it shouldn’t go ahead. Which comes back to the point I was making. Property rights have become so mangled that everyone thinks they have a right to tell others what they can and cannot do on property they never paid for.

    The only difference I see here is the issue of personal preferences.

  41. rog says:

    Harry, democracy does not equate to any one group deciding how another should live.

    Camden residents have as much right to express their opinion as the muslims. Once a group interferes with another they are denying basic human rights.

    Another blow against planning powers of councils.

  42. JC says:

    Good point Rog. I would bet Harry would be up in arms too if someone wanted to build something in his hood he didn’t like.

    This thread is enlightening how both the illiberal left and right intersect at about the same point on the freedom chart.

  43. But be honest Andrew, if someone was putting up something you didnt like in your hood, youd be up in arms finding some reason why it shouldnt go ahead.

    Of course people have a right to have say over what happens in their communities. If there was a development in my neighbourhood I didn’t like it, I’d be stating why I didn’t like it. (as it happens, I do have a development I absolutely loathe happening in my neighbourhood at present – the expensive and destructive tunnels and related roadworks being gouged through Brisbane – but I won’t go into my objections here).

    I don’t object to people objecting, I object to people using religious bigotry or racial vilification as a reason for stopping a development they don’t like. Although I’ve been following this Camden issue to a degree, I can’t pass judgement on whether the town planning objections are valid. But the objections based on bigotry and vilification are not, and it does much wider social damage if these sorts of views are allowed to determine public policy.

    Do you disregard the views of the Australian people when deciding who should be admitted as a resident?

    We have migration laws. Those laws do not allow explicit discrimination on the basis of race or religion (although there’s a fair bit of implicit discrimination in various categories). Despite some vocal bigotry which naturally gets media attention, I would be very surprised if anything close to a majority of Australians would actually support removing that prohibition. However, the Australian people have the right to vote for a political party or candidate who explicitly promotes using racial or religious criteria to select migrants and other entrants, who if elected could then try to repeal the Racial Discrimination Act and the relevant sections of the Migration Act.

    Were our Parliament ever to pass such changes, I would certainly seek to move to a different country. I don’t ever see that happening, although whenever our political leaders remain silent or acquiescent to continued overt bigoted statements such as we’ve seen on this issue, it makes it that little bit more likely. It also makes it more likely that we will have greater division and reduced cohension between different groups in our community.

  44. JC says:

    Andrew:

    Your knee jerk response was to paint the objectors as being racist bigots. I’m sure, after seeing the 4C report at least few people are as they were quite explicit and it was pretty ugly viewing.

    However you can’t paint every objector that way. Like you they could have what they think are legitimate concerns about the “ugly” building going up.

    Furthermore in the present set up of loosely defined property rights why should their concerns about a particular religion go unheard while your objection(s) is somehow legitimate. They certainly dont think its illegitimate and why should they?

    Incidentally I think both suck big time.

    Rather than argue semantics as to who and who isn’t a racist bigot it would be much better to look at this as another example of people showing their personal preferences and getting away with taking away other people’s property rights.

    It’s really not that much different than what you’re objecting to from a personal preferences point of view.

    If property rights were unbreakable no one would have the right to “steal” other people’s property rights through force of majority rule and scare campaigns.

    This is a great example of reaping what you sow. In other words dont allow personal preferences to remove property rights.

    Again this is a perfect example of how your view and harry’s who is on the other side of the political fence manage to screw this up.

  45. hc says:

    So Jacques Chester you do believe we should ignore the views of a majority of Australians if they opposed a particular type of immigration. I am uneasy with this although it has been past policy.

    NPOV, You are simply saying that immigration policy depends on the interests of the migrants (if they want to come) and the views of experts that they will make a contribution. In my view the people of Australia should plausibly have a say in who lives here.

    Andrew Bartlett, For a long time in Australia both political parties offered a bipartisan immigration policy that, according to the opinion polls was opposed by residents. This lead to the creation of the One Nation movement because people felt no choice.

    In my view governments can move a bit ahead of public opinion and can provide information that dispells myths about migrants but, in the long-run, should respect the views of the majority of Australians. Moreover this is probably essential if you want to sustain an ongoing migration program.

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  48. Ahh, it’s done a little ping-back for me… that feature wasn’t something we had at Catallaxy. Anyway, I’ve decided to riff on John Finnis’ view that we should take the arguments against high levels of Islamic immigration seriously. I think I finish up saying something fairly similar to Harry’s comments above, but I’m open to suggestions in all directions. About the only ‘rule’ I set for myself was that I had to give my tutor’s arguments their due.

  49. FDB says:

    “In my view governments can move a bit ahead of public opinion and can provide information that dispells myths about migrants but, in the long-run, should respect the views of the majority of Australians.”

    Harry, that sounds almost defensible as long as it’s completely vague, but what happens in practice? Should we have a referendum on the precise quotas we allow in from each ethnic/religious background, averaged out? We allow “the majority” (identified how exactly?) to simply decide yes or no to certain ethnic/religious groups? Do we let everyone in, then allow racists to coopt local govt planning laws to keep undesirables out of “their” part of Australia?

    You see the problem?

    [I need hardly add that to “respect the views of the majority of Australians” is not something commonly done in policy-making. This approach would have stopped the floating of the dollar, the GST, so many of your favourite things! What makes immigration an issue that for you suits a populist approach?]

  50. NPOV says:

    JC, as for “why should their concerns about a particular religion go unheard while your objection(s) is somehow legitimate”…that’s easy to answer.
    Allowing bigotry to determine development policy is a path to a divided, racist society. Allowing objections based on the noise, disruption and various inconveniences generated by tunnels and roadworks is, at worst, going to lead to a society with fewer roads and tunnels.

    If absolute property rights were really some panacea where everyone was allowed to do whatever they liked on their own property as long as it didn’t impinge on the rights of others to do whatever they liked on their properties, we’d have a example society that worked that way. But I don’t believe we do, and almost certainly never will, because it ignores the degree to which people are inevitably affected by what others do on their properties. There’s plenty of valid reasons one might object to a school being built on your street: it will clog up traffic, it will use up parking spaces, it will cast shadows on your own property, it will create noise, it may negatively affect property values, etc. etc. Deciding to what how to weigh those objections of the owners of nearby properties with the desires of the owner of a property on which they wish to build is never going to a be simple job. That’s what we have democracy for: if a neighbourhood consistently determines that the local council is not paying sufficient attention to their concerns, they’ll vote for new councillors that promise to do so. So even if some hard-line libertarian council got itself elected and instituted absolute rights to the owners of property, the laws wouldn’t last very long.

  51. NPOV says:

    hc, yes, “the people of Australia should plausibly have a say in who lives here”.
    And the One Nation party gave them that opportunity. Not many took it, regardless of how they might respond to opinion polls.

    The fact is that many Australians might claim to feel uncomfortable about high levels of foreign (non-“white”) immigration, but it’s a pretty vague level of unease, and there’s simply not even real conflict for it to be a vote-changer.
    If allowing in so many Muslims was seriously disrupting our communities and Australian society in general, it would become one, as it has in parts of Europe.

    Democracy has never been about “the people” always getting their way – which is clearly impossible anyway – just about governments not being able to maintain policy that the majority of the people strongly object to over a sustained period.

  52. Helen says:

    Great post James. I saw Kate McCulloch on the news – having just wandered in on a break from cooking dinner, I honestly thought it was some kind of skit on Pauline Hanson i.e. that it was a counter demonstrator. I was quite gobsmacked to learn that she was for real!

  53. gilmae says:

    I understand she’s going to be a surprise intruder in Big Brother.

  54. Liam says:

    SL, it sounds to me like Finnis is offering a straw-Islam. The idea that central tenets of Islamic belief prevent adherents from participating in a liberal good life is a super-shaky one, IMO. Even if true, possible—and I nod to your distinction between possible and necessary—it would still require the Immigration Department of whichever country to tell immigrants that they knew better about their beliefs than they did.
    Finnis’ Islam sounds nastily like the old Australian sectarianism in which Catholics were priest-ridden, questionably loyal to the Crown, interested more in Roman dogma than common law, dangerous to apostates like Sister Liguori, and religiously unable to participate in liberal politics. It’s worth pointing out that Catholics insistence on separate education was always offered as the strongest evidence towards these beliefs.
    Harry, I certainly believe the wishes of an “Australian people” should be entirely disregarded when it comes to immigration when they’re wrong. The wishes of the Australian people would have disallowed the Dunera Boys.
    (And what FDB said about flouting the wishes of the electorate when it comes to economics).

  55. JC:

    Your knee jerk response was to paint the objectors as being racist bigots….. However you cant paint every objector that way. Like you they could have what they think are legitimate concerns about the ugly building going up.

    My response is not ‘kneejerk’, it is a considered one based on ample evidence that some of the obectors and objections are clearly bigoted. I did not say every objector is a bigot. No doubt there are some other, potentially legitimate, concerns regarding the proposal around issues like capacity of local roads to handle the traffic increase. But using religious vilification as a justification to keep out schools, clubs, places of worship, etc is wrong and should be clearly opposed. It was done regularly in the past against Catholics and Jews, causing great injustice and social division. It was wrong to do it against them and it is wrong to do it against Muslims.

    Rather than argue semantics as to who and who isnt a racist bigot it would be much better to look at this as another example of people showing their personal preferences and getting away with taking away other peoples property rights. Its really not that much different than what youre objecting to from a personal preferences point of view.

    I disagree completely. There is nothing wrong with people voicing their personal preferences to try to influence what they do and don’t want done to their neighbourhood in regards to things like air quality, costs of services, safety, etc. There is something very wrong with people when people base those preferences on bigotry and vilification. It is not something which our society should endorse. Racism and unconstrained religious vilification is very toxic and very dangerous if it is allowed to roam unchallenged.

    I should note my objections to the traffic generating and pollution concentrating tunnels in my neighbourhood is not particularly from a NIMBY point of view – I choose to live in the inner city, so I expect noise, air pollution and traffic to be part of that. My objections are that it is stupid policy and a gross waste of money which will put a financial and environmental impost on millions of people, as well as a loss of local housing and amenity, for no gain in relieving congestion. I’d also note I am well and truly on the losing side on that matter – despite being right :-)

    hc:

    For a long time in Australia both political parties offered a bipartisan immigration policy that, according to the opinion polls was opposed by residents. This lead to the creation of the One Nation movement because people felt no choice.

    In my view governments can move a bit ahead of public opinion and can provide information that dispells myths about migrants but, in the long-run, should respect the views of the majority of Australians. Moreover this is probably essential if you want to sustain an ongoing migration program.

    I think the first part of that quote is contestable, or at least oversimplified, but I won’t go down that path here. In any case, I don’t have a problem with the principle of “respecting the views of the majority of Australians” on this or any other matter. People certainly have a right to put that view and run for Parliament advocating such policies – as Pauline Hanson (and now Fred Nile) have done.

    However, as I said above, I doubt very much if it really boiled down to it that a majority of Australians would actually support implementing laws which explicitly sought to exclude people on grounds of race or religion. It would certainly be extremely difficult to implement in practice without massive economic consequences, major increases in antagnoism towards Australians in many parts of the world (including in places where many Australians now work and live), etc – but people can debate such things as they can when considering the pros and cons of any policy.

    I also believe it would also be very damaging to the development of our society to openly endorse policies and attitudes which were overtly racist or discriminated against people solely on the basis of their religious beliefs. Trying to have an open economy operating from a partially closed society would be rather a problem too I think, but I shan’t go on and on about it. The core problem in my view is that it is very dangerous for decisions of public and elected officials at any level to be based on or driven by overt religious or racial discrmination. There is more than a whiff of that in Camden, which is why public officials in that region and state should be making clearer statements opposing such views.

  56. James Farrell says:

    Yes, Helen, I’m keeping an open mind that she may have been part of some kind of spoof for TV. Also, the comments struck me as having been inspired by the ‘Salam Cafe’ vox pops.

  57. Legal Eagle says:

    NPOV at #36 – by atheist schools, I meant schools which actively promoted lack of belief in God. I don’t think atheist schools do exist – although perhaps Richard Dawkins would advocate starting some? If they did exist, I wouldn’t send my child to one.

    My personal view is that people should be taught about all different religions as well as atheism. And history and philosophy of science too (make people learn about Popper, please, please!).

    I was a Dawkins style atheist until I hit 25. Then I did a history subject called “Histories of God” which was awesome – it showed me that religion (like everything) has positive and negative aspects. I read the Bible, the Qu’ran and sections of the Talmud. I still choose not to subscribe to any particular religion, but I am more open-minded about others choosing to belong to a particular religion. And I have thought properly about my choice, and rethought my knee-jerk response after coming across some particularly ugly evangelical Christians as a child.

    The reaction to the building of the mosque is complicated. It’s a matter of sorting out the legitimate objections to the building from the blind prejudice. There may be some legitimate objections (eg, building is not in keeping with the surrounds, or is too large, or will create traffic congestion in that street etc), but I don’t consider objections such as “we don’t like Muslims” to be a real objection – at least not until the person who says such things has actually met some real Muslims, not just drawn a conclusion from nutbags like Hilaly (a man who doesn’t do his faith any favours) or from highly unpleasant people like the Skaf brothers.

    Perhaps some kind of dialogue could be organised so that the fears of the local people could be allayed by meeting the potential students of the school, although perhaps it’s too late for that.

  58. Liam says:

    I meant schools which actively promoted lack of belief in God

    That’s the usual joke about Anglican private schools, Legal Eagle.

  59. David Rubie says:

    Legal Eagle wrote:

    And history and philosophy of science too (make people learn about Popper, please, please!).

    Yes, the kiddies need to warned about crackpots

  60. Frankie V says:

    Camden is on the southwestern outskirts of Sydney. For young Muslims who might have grown up in the greater southwest (e.g., in Lakemba and other suburbs), chances are their best option for affording to buy a home, remaining close to their family, and not having to change jobs is going to be buying or building in the new developments slightly further from Sydney…

    Lakemba is 50 kilometres away from Camden, but only 10 kilometres from Newtown. How about we get the government to compulsorily acquire some property on King Street, knock it down, and lease the property to the Society.

  61. John Greenfield says:

    What is wrong with wanting to keep towelheads out of one’s suburb? I would argue that anybody who welcomed towelheads would be the irrational nutter, not the alleged (and misnamed) “Islamohobe.”

  62. John Greenfield says:

    Andrew Bartlett

    Do you really think you are in any position to deliver sermons on “Australian values?” Your recent sacking from parliament suggests otherwise.

  63. John Greenfield says:

    NPOV

    but that doesnt extend as far as right to openly proclaim on a TV broadcast that Muslims are oppressors of society, stealers of welfare and rejectors of their way of life.

    Really? When did you seize the means of broadcast? I would argue they have the right to say whatever they bloody well like.

  64. NPOV says:

    JG, actually I’m fairly certain there are broadcasting laws limiting what sort of pronouncements you can make. I assume you wouldn’t support them deliberately inciting the audience to murder someone?

    In my book, the right to free speech doesn’t include the right to incite violence and hatred in others. I assume in yours it at least doesn’t include the right to yell fire in a crowded theatre. We’re just drawing lines in different places.

  65. Ken Parish says:

    I see the inspiration for the post title has arrived.

  66. Legal Eagle says:

    David Rubie at #59 – really I was considering Popper’s ideas of falsifiability in relation to scientific experiments. I don’t deny that Popper was a crackpot in some regards(and quite an unpleasant person to boot). But that doesn’t mean that one should just throw out all his ideas. Rather, one should consider arguments in the alternative.

  67. Legal Eagle says:

    Liam at #58 – ha ha ha!

  68. JC says:

    Andrew B.

    My response is not kneejerk, it is a considered one based on ample evidence that some of the obectors and objections are clearly bigoted. I did not say every objector is a bigot. No doubt there are some other, potentially legitimate, concerns regarding the proposal around issues like capacity of local roads to handle the traffic increase. But using religious vilification as a justification to keep out schools, clubs, places of worship, etc is wrong and should be clearly opposed. It was done regularly in the past against Catholics and Jews, causing great injustice and social division. It was wrong to do it against them and it is wrong to do it against Muslims.

    Why is a specific dislike of one religion considered bigoted while a Dawkins like view isnt? It doesnt make sense, does it?

    I disagree completely. There is nothing wrong with people voicing their personal preferences to try to influence what they do and dont want done to their neighbourhood in regards to things like air quality, costs of services, safety, etc.

    Im not talking about situations that impinge on the rights of others through those examples you offered. However I dont see a great difference between the official complaints some of the Camden people made regarding the school and complaints by others about inappropriate development in their neck of the woods. It seems to me you dont like one version of nimbys but have no problem with other versions. (I fully support the school by the way).

    There is something very wrong with people when people base those preferences on bigotry and vilification. It is not something, which our society should endorse. Racism and unconstrained religious vilification is very toxic and very dangerous if it is allowed to roam unchallenged.

    How do you square that with Dawkins? People should be free to dislike a religion or religions shouldnt they?

    Im sorry but still find your view inconsistent.

    NPOV

    If absolute property rights were really some panacea where everyone was allowed to do whatever they liked on their own property as long as it didnt impinge on the rights of others to do whatever they liked on their properties, wed have a example society that worked that way. But I dont believe we do, and almost certainly never will, because it ignores the degree to which people are inevitably affected by what others do on their properties.

    Sure we do, most our cities were built with almost no restrictions. NYC was basically built without any restrictions at all and Manhattan is terrific.

    Theres plenty of valid reasons one might object to a school being built on your street: it will clog up traffic, it will use up parking spaces, it will cast shadows on your own property, it will create noise, it may negatively affect property values, etc. etc.

    So why arent these arguments legitimate for the Camden people?

    Deciding to what how to weigh those objections of the owners of nearby properties with the desires of the owner of a property on which they wish to build is never going to a be simple job.

    Why not? If your rights arent directly impinged you should have no legitimate reason objecting. People are even trying to control taste these days.

    Thats what we have democracy for: if a neighbourhood consistently determines that the local council is not paying sufficient attention to their concerns, theyll vote for new councillors that promise to do so.

    What you mean is its a version of legalized rape like we’re seeing in Camden.

    So even if some hard-line libertarian council got itself elected and instituted absolute rights to the owners of property, the laws wouldnt last very long.

    Doesnt make it right though. Theft can happen in many ways and stealing property rights through majority rule is basically wrong.

    I would hazard to bet that we wouldnt be allowed to build a Sydney or Melbourne etc. anymore. But getting back to Camden.The official objections they are using are appear to be identical to those used by the Save our Suburbs rent a crowd.

    Blowbacks a bitch, hey?

  69. Yobbo says:

    JC is right here, the real crime here is that city councils have the right who decides who builds what on their land.

    The people here who scream “racism” when people are opposed to a muslim school but get shitty when somebody wants to build a 25-story hotel, a Woolworths or a brothel are hypocrites.

    Either the property owner has the right to do what they want with their land or they don’t.

    If you are going to support “community-focused” zoning and approval laws then you have to be prepared that they will occasionally affect the favoured minority of the day as well as the people that usually get screwed by them (secular businesses trying to make a profit).

  70. rog says:

    I was surprised that SL supports nimbyism and the views of Finnis appear to be somewhat irrelevant (eg he is against the violent aspects of some of Islam, well most people are already against violence) – the important aspect is that the school and its attendees adheres to the laws of the land.

  71. Bill Posters says:

    Yobbo:

    If you are going to support community-focused zoning and approval laws then you have to be prepared that they will occasionally affect the favoured minority of the day as well as the people that usually get screwed by them (secular businesses trying to make a profit).

    How are Mulsims a “favoured minority”?

    Don’t worry, it’s a rhetorical question.

  72. James Farrell says:

    Either the property owner has the right to do what they want with their land or they dont.

    That’s right, Sam. Either my neighbour should be allowed to have a heliport in his back yard, or I should be allowed to dictate what colour clothing he hangs on his clothesline. The idea that there is anything in between is a monstrous lie that has served through the millennia to justify the existence of armies of parasitic legislators, lawyers and judges. Thank goodness someone has at last seen through this deception.

  73. JC says:

    Either my neighbour should be allowed to have a heliport in his back yard, or I should be allowed to dictate what colour clothing he hangs on his clothesline

    Yobbo isn’t close to suggesting that. No one has the right to a free ride enjoying the use of their property at the expense of others.

  74. David Rubie says:

    Legal Eagle wrote:

    David Rubie at #59 – really I was considering Poppers ideas of falsifiability in relation to scientific experiments.

    Yes, it was an unworthy dig at Popper’s expense Legal Eagle (although I also think the idea of falsifiability is insufficient in relation to science). I see Popper invoked far too often by creationists (wrt to his ill-informed later life comments on natural selection he later retracted) and the rest of the flat-earth crowd who have taken his insufficient analysis and philosophy and use it to try to discredit science as a whole. So, I don’t necessarily throw out Popper’s ideas on the basis that he had a few nutty ideas, it’s his central idea that’s fundamentally flawed (although an interesting starting point).

    rog wrote:

    I was surprised that SL supports nimbyism and the views of Finnis appear to be somewhat irrelevant

    Given that the piece she wrote was one long (loving) appeal to authority, I’m not surprised at all.

  75. NPOV says:

    JC, not everyone wants to live in Manhattan. It must also be said that at the time Manhattan was built, people seemed to genuinely care about what city buildings looked like. Why that isn’t the case today, I can’t answer.

    Look, I happen to agree personally that it many cases local residents’ objections do get far too much weight. But I fail to see how “property rights” is going to fix the fact that if people don’t like something enough, they will object, and they will pressure governments into acting.

  76. It’s called giving someone’s ideas a fair run, David. I’m sure you do it sometimes, too.

  77. Legal Eagle says:

    The question of whether our property rights are unduly limited by planning laws is an interesting one.

    Often property rights are talked of as “freedoms” – but the principal freedom really consists of a right to exclude others from one’s property, ie, a limitation on the freedom of everyone else in the whole world! This is the one that tends not to be limited much. The other attendant rights are the rights to alienate, use and enjoy. These ones are the “sticks” in the bundle which do tend to be limited by the state.

    This dispute really comes down to one’s right to enjoy one’s property – how much should one have to put up with conduct from a neighbouring property which detracts from one’s enjoyment?

    The problem with invoking property rights and an attendant freedom to enjoy is that your freedom to enjoy may impinge on someone else’s freedom to enjoy. Thus, the Muslims who are building the school on the land could say “We have a right to do whatever we want with this land because we own it absolutely, and thus we have a freedom to enjoy it in whatever way we choose”. Conversely, the neighbours could say, “We have a right to prevent this development because it is impinging on our right to enjoy our property and we do not feel comfortable with the development.” In a sense, both are have valid points! Both have a right to enjoy their property, but one has to balance the competing rights.

    Therefore I don’t think one can invoke the property rights of the broader Camden residents without also considering the property rights of the Muslim minority. Then it’s a matter of one’s personal opinion as to what limitations on the rights of each are appropriate.

    I was thinking last night as I drifted off to sleep – would I object to a Muslim school being built next door to my house? The answer is generally no. The only objection I can think of which is specifically “Muslim related” is if there was a muezzin (or a tape of one) making that call to prayer. From visits to Egypt, Malaysia and the like, it would drive me wild after a bit…no offence intended…but it is something which is very alien to me. I doubt one would be allowed to have a loud muezzin in this country anyway.

    I think I might be concerned about any school being built next door – litter from the kids, balls in the back garden, noise at lunch break, a large volume of people flowing to and from the school at 9:00 and 3:30… But then again, it might raise the value of my property if I wanted to sell it to someone who wanted to send their kid to that school. There’s a silver lining to every cloud.

    Geez, this is almost a post in its own right, I’ll shut up now…

  78. JC says:

    Why that isnt the case today, I cant answer.

    Manhattan building code is now as big as a telephone book. I kid you not. You need building code expediters just to get you through the maze of City hall. You aren’t allowed to be creative or try to be in case refusal puts your development back in time.

    JC, not everyone wants to live in Manhattan.

    I never said they did. However leaving things well alone is not necessarily going to lead you to hell and back.

  79. NPOV says:

    JC, still, I can’t imagine too many people objecting if someone proposed something like another Chrysler building even Empire State building. Or that anyone would have objected much at the time they were proposed.

    As for leaving things well alone, again, that’s just not human nature.
    If there weren’t extensive building codes in the past it’s because there weren’t enough people doing things that were pissing other people off.
    It might also be because new city buildings were such huge undertakings that it made sense to take time to do it well. Now that a building can be thrown up by just about anyone in weeks using prefab concrete slabs and bits of chipboard, it’s not economic to take the time to build something that’s a valuable and lasting contribution to a city’s skyline.
    At any rate, I don’t see any reason to assume that instituting a bunch of laws that give complete freedom for anyone to do whatever they like on their own properties is going to improve the quality of architecture in a neighbourhood.

  80. rog says:

    Our local town heritage code has stopped development dead allowing a shopping centre to spring up nearby sucking the commercial life out of the place.

    They got their heritage listed facades complete with crumbling bricks, rising damp and white ants at a cost to the consumer. Once a bustling centre it is now full of bargain basement $2 shops, cheap pies, cheap clothes or for rent signs.

  81. rog says:

    And the mall! another heritage listed white elephant that you wouldnt walk down at night for fear of being bashed.

  82. James Farrell says:

    Are we straying slightly off topic here, perhaps?

    Commenters on the thread so far fall into two broad camps. The first contains everyone who, like me, is unsympathetic to the Camden protesters. It includes people who, like me, are antagonistic to religious schools, and also those who, like Andrew Bartlett, see such hostility as intolerant; but this is a side issue, because we all accept that every ethnic community deserves equal status and rights.

    The second camp consists of people who do sympathise: because they personally dislike Muslims; because they sense that the unsympathetic camp consists mainly of elitist, hypocritical left-wingers who never miss an excuse to scorn ordinary folk, and who need a good telling off when ever a pretext presents itself; or because they genuinely believe that local communities have a right, whether one agrees with their aims or not, to determine the ethnic and cultural flavour of their area.

    Since the Muslim and lefty bashing is unlikely to produce any constructive result, it seems to me that the way forward for the latter camp is to suggest some new mechanism that would broaden the range of legitimate objections to new developments to include questions of cultural and ethnic flavour. To make it concrete, do any of you want to change the Planning Act along these lines, so that the xenophobes don’t have to rely on rubbery traffic projections to keep out people they don’t like the look of?

  83. rog says:

    As I see it the question is should the state (from whatever tier) be able to act on the lawful activities of a citizen?

  84. Ken Parish says:

    An addendum to James’ comment. IMO even the commenters who are seeking in good faith to carve out a rationalist middle position between the two camps identified by James (e.g. Legal Eagle and Helen Dale) have adopted problematic positions, in the sense that one can only hold them by ignoring the actual facts of this case.

    I attempted unsuccessfully to highlight that aspect in an earlier comment. If you have a look at Google Maps and examine where the proposed Islamic school site is actually located (on Burragorang Road, Cawdor) you’ll see that it’s right outside the urban built up area in a rural residential zone apparently consisting mostly of 20-100 hectare blocks. Thus issues of noise and other impacts on surrounding residents are largely irrelevant. So too with claims of traffic congestion (even though it seems that the council’s town planners cited such problems and the council presumably relied on them in rejecting the development). Traffic accessing the area would approach via the F5 freeway and Camden bypass road so that it would not significantly impact traffic congestion in urban Camden itself. Moreover, it’s likely that most students would arrive by train and school bus causing very little congestion in any event. As for the road where the school itself would have been situated, Burragorang Road is an open, paved arterial road which is unlikely to carry much traffic most of the time. It leads only to several small-ish townships including The Oaks and Nattai and to the main entrance to Nattai National Park which surrounds the upper reaches of Lake Burragorang (formed by Warragamba Dam). It is totally implausible that an Islamic school would cause any traffic problems that couldn’t be fully resolved by requiring appropriate right and left turn lanes and adequate parking areas within the school boundaries, all at the developer’s expense. That’s how it would have been dealt with had the development been of a type that local residents didn’t in fact oppose on grounds having nothing whatever to do with planning issues.

    Hence James is quite right to suggest that the real motivations of the great bulk of opponents (if not all of them) are based on xenophobia not genuine town planning issues. At least John Greenfield’s response had the virtue of honesty. He doesn’t dress it up with fake rationalisations, he just reckons it’s fair enough to keep the “towelheads” out of whites-only areas!!

  85. Legal Eagle says:

    Hmm, I guess I was only really responding to the arguments that the property rights of the Camden residents were paramount, rather than the actual site of the school. I didn’t realise that it wasn’t actually near any houses!

    If it’s not near any houses, then what rational responses can there be to explain the banning of the planning application? Other than bare prejudice?

  86. John Greenfield says:

    James Farrell

    A more interesting question is why Luvvie Leftists have decided to exploit Muslims as a Culture War sword.

  87. John Greenfield says:

    Ken Parish

    he just reckons its fair enough to keep the towelheads out of whites-only areas!!

    Your case would have more weight if you could prosecute it without lying about what your interlocutors have said. But it is very telling – and dare I say er, ugly – that you see your Culture Wars as turning on “whites” versus non-whites.

  88. Gummo Trotsky says:

    So it’s OK to want to keep towelheads out of your suburb, so long as you don’t succeed – is that your position JG?

    Forget I asked – just go back to admiring your nifty new yellow frock and Aussie flag hat in the cheval glass.

  89. Jason Soon says:

    You mean luvvie leftists like these you ex-Marxist muppet?

    My position is the same as JC’s and Yobbo’s subject to some caveats. I agree that in the presence of significant physical externalities like smog, toxic waste, etc even people living in a vicinity can object to the use of property which they do not own if less restrictive means of addressing these physical spillovers do not exist. Even excessive parking and traffic could come under these considerations. However Ken’s comment suggests the case on these grounds are rather feeble. So the only rationale left is what can be referred to as ‘psychological externalities’. But this is an illiberal and ultimately non-utilitarian sort of rationale which is also self-defeating and can lead to vextatious abuse of whatever planning restrictions are used. People could object to developments on just about any grounds of taste. I for instance would rather not have some glib poncy narcissist like JG living anywhere near me. What sort of pollution does he emit which I object to? Simply the untestable psychic vibes of being in his vicinity. JG for all his claims to being a conservative would let loose a form of nanny state intrusiveness that is totalitarian in its effects.

    Bottom line – subject to some exceptions if you don’t like what’s happening on another’s property, buy it or contract with him. otherwise shut the hell up. Also, if you want to let Muslims or Klingons or anyone else into your country, they have as much right to set up schools *based on the same criteria* as anyone else.

  90. murph the surf says:

    “Bottom line – subject to some exceptions if you dont like whats happening on anothers property, buy it or contract with him. otherwise shut the hell up.”

    If the neighbouring land is Rural 1A then I’d guess the land purchased as the school site is also.
    20 -100 acre blocks are themselves a blight on agricultural land use but as they are now in existence they will continue to have this zoning.
    The range of uses for rural 1A are extensive and many people view them as house blocks. I live on just such a 20 acre block and having had an enormous set of cattle yards built 100 m from my home I can attest to the many pollutions from the permitted uses.But if you move to a rural area you must allow normal rural activites to proceed I think.

    “Thus issues of noise and other impacts on surrounding residents are largely irrelevant. So too with claims of traffic congestion ….”
    So if a pig farmer starts a biodynamic, organic free range pig farm next to the school, the same arguments will be trotted out to rectify the selfish and intolerant attitudes of the school’s management if they were to complain ?

  91. NPOV says:

    Actually, Jason, while I essentially agree with you, I’m not sure I can come up with an obvious reason why “psychological externalities” should be ignored while physical onoes shouldn’t.

    If for instance, it’s taken to an extreme, and someone constructs a new building in a neighbourhood expressly designed to be highly psychologically disturbing, but causes no obvious physical externalities, would you seriously expect others residents to simply put up and shut up?
    And how exactly are you going to stop them pressuring governments to do something about it?

    Of course, unless you’re some sort of dualist, psychological effects ARE just physical effects anyway – ones that can only be measured by examining brain activity.

    As I said earlier, deciding the degree to which nearby residents’ objections should be weighed against the rights of property owners is always going to be a complex problem, and it’s the sort of thing that governments are under constant democratic pressure to do well at. As for the idea that “majority-supported restrictions on property owners” amounts to “majority-supported” theft – well, I’m pretty sure if theft was supported by a majority then theft wouldn’t be considered a crime either.

  92. rog says:

    Most councils have a local development plan; we have one for my area full of flowery terms about existing agricultural enterprises to support planning codes – its just fresh air and scenery.

    You can run 3 sheep and a goat and live in abject poverty with dead cars in the front yard and this is all part of the rural ambience however schools are not. I know of an existing school that stopped a garden materials enterprise starting up next door – they said the dust would harm the kids, one of the parents had a similar business not too far away.

    If the school is on 100 acres there should be enough of a buffer zone to protect it.

    If you want to change the zoning you need deep pockets and lots of patience as the case is referred to back to Macquarie St. Whatever you do you will attract a lot of criticism – people dont like any change, except when their house is built.

  93. JC says:

    If for instance, its taken to an extreme, and someone constructs a new building in a neighbourhood expressly designed to be highly psychologically disturbing, but causes no obvious physical externalities, would you seriously expect others residents to simply put up and shut up?

    They could try to avoid looking at it, or do what we did. There were so many ugly French provincials/fortress like/neo-georgian growing by the day that we simply moved.

  94. Ken Parish says:

    “So if a pig farmer starts a biodynamic, organic free range pig farm next to the school, the same arguments will be trotted out to rectify the selfish and intolerant attitudes of the schools management if they were to complain?”

    That’s certainly what I’d argue, just as I am now. There’s a high probability that the islamic school people would object and attempt to bludgeon the state into imposing their own preferences and tastes on their neighbours, just as the current residents of Camden are trying to do. Except to the extent based on the strictly limited range of legitimate planning matters Jason discusses (i.e. significant physical externalities like smog, toxic waste, etc and perhaps traffic congestion to the extent it can’t be controlled effectively by restrictions on the development), all such objections should be ignored irrespective of their source.

  95. JC says:

    The price of land would pretty much rule out the possibility of a wheat and sheep station in the Sydney Eastern burbs. If this school is built on land zoned rural or within the precincts of rural zoning they run the risk like anyone else.

    However they may have a legitimate claim against a pig farm as odor would pretty much prevent the owners of the school from enjoying their property rights. This example is a classic example for the courts/legal precedent red flagging a serious case of externalities.

  96. murph the surf says:

    Well let’s hope a feed lot operator isn’t attracted to the neighbourhood.

    Rural land use must now satisfy the requirements of many local, state and federal agencies – for example

    -if the school’s land has remnant native vegetation( even native grasses are protected, or pastures which have been uncultivated since 1980 ) then they better not remove it, alter it or kill it ;

    -all tree removals will be contested and each removal or even branch looping needs approval by the local council

    -if there is a waterway on the land they can’t alter any existing natural waterflow , this extends to all drainage works also. All such works need planning permission, are regualrly inspected and the school if successful would be issued a licence to operate them for a set period.

    -residents will have a right to object to any increase in background noise and in rural areas the past overclearing of trees results in noticeable noise at considerable distance -particularly after 5pm when extra curricular activites may get into full swing.

    These are a few points off the top of my head and aren’t even approaching a beginning of the numerous grounds for the neighbours to start objections to development. It might look bucolic but rural land use and use conversion is probably more problematic than the sponsors of this school have contemplated. As it is I am not surprised , without having seen the specifics of the application that there were reasons to , at this time , reject the application.

  97. rog says:

    Odour is one reason pig, chicken, mushroom etc farms moved out of the Sydney basin and headed west. Another is land prices, with a pocketful of cash they could build a modern setup with all the latest technology. Keatings pig farm got done on numerous complaints of polluting the local waterways, they really picked a bad spot.

  98. murph the surf says:

    JC, I choose the organic ,biodynamic model as the only thing they would notice would be the pigs and the farmer.

  99. JC says:

    Thanks Murph

    I didn’t know it meant something far removed from factory farms.

  100. NPOV says:

    JC, your situation isn’t comparable, because in all likelihood you were in the minority in being bothered by the architecture of houses going up around you.
    But if the majority of people in a neighbourhood are sufficiently unhappy about a proposed development, for whatever reason, they’re going to do what they can to get their way. Having said that, there’s definitely cases, such as this one, where councils really should be showing a bit more leadership and attempt to persuade residents that a particular development is not going to negatively affect them in any measurable way.

  101. Also, if you want to let Muslims or Klingons or anyone else into your country, they have as much right to set up schools *based on the same criteria* as anyone else.

    Jason’s right on this score, which is why my essay on Finnis was designed to address the ‘point of entry’ issue – ie immigration policy (about which I am still thinking, btw). The school in Camden shit-fight is only a knock-on from the larger issue over the composition of a given country’s immigration stream.

  102. rog says:

    They knocked back an Islamic site in the Hills a few years ago, it went to Court and the Islamists won and its now up and going and there are no complaints.

    Which just proves that majorities are not always lawful

  103. James Farrell says:

    Rog: You’re referring to the Annangrove prayer room, which I mentioned in my earlier post on the Camden case. By the way, I don’t think ‘Islamist’ was the word you were after.

    Helen: Harry Clark made the same point about immigration, but unfortunately his analysis didn’t go any further than noting that it’s a ‘deep question’. There is a tendency to respond by urging a slower migrant intake or insisting that prospective migrants reach some English language threshold. Where this approach falls down is that it seems to be the people who have the least exposure to Asians, Arabs and so on, that feel the most threatened. My own environment (work, wife’s work, kids’ schools) in Western Sydney is already to some degree ‘swamped by Asians’ and Arabs, but I don’t sense that the Europeans feel particularly threatened. But, as I said in responding to Harry’s comment, full employment probably deserves some credit for the harmony we enjoy.

  104. Finnis’ is also writing in a very British context, where areas with large immigrant populations from a certain religious background tend to correlate with strong levels of support for the BNP. The BNP – with no proper campaign to speak of, and a wall-out by the MSM – even managed to get a councillor on the London Council in the last mayoral elections. They are also only one or two seats away from controlling a couple of local authorities (which have considerable power in the UK – more like Brisbane City Council than Sydney, say).

  105. rog says:

    This is the sort of bureaucratic jargon that they use to tie up development

    The views of the NSW Department of Primary Industry, discussed in more detail later in this report, that the development of this site for an educational establishment will sterilise land containing high class agricultural land suitable for regular cultivation for crops are supported. The land is located within a landscape of high class agricultural land with potential for high agricultural productivity. The land is a valuable and limited natural resource within Camden and the Sydney Basin, especially with prime agricultural land within the South West Growth Centre being identified and rezoned for urban development.

    Rural and resource lands are working lands which support diverse rural industries such as agriculture, horticulture and extractive industry and hold values that contribute to Camdens sense of place. It provides a link to Camdens rural identity and should not be considered as land in waiting for urban development. The introduction of a sensitive urban land use such as an educational establishment into this locality would not only restrict types of primary industry development in the vicinity, it would by the imposition of buffer zones limit the actual and potential production of rural holdings.

    and

    The rural landscape is an important factor in the lifestyle of the Camden community. It is considered that the proposed development in its planned location, which is highly visible, would not protect the rural landscaping setting nor foster sustainable rural activities, as it will contribute to rural/urban land use conflict. Consequently, it is considered that the proposed development does not support the objectives of the Camden Council Strategic Plan: Camden 2025

    The reality is that the land is <6ha so is hardly suitable for regular cultivation for crops and

    There is an existing poultry farm located diagonally opposite the site, it is opposite the Camden General Cemetery and 500m south of the Catholic Cemetery. Both cemeteries are heritage areas. Camden High School is located 600m to the south on Cawdor Road, beyond the Burragorang Road intersection.

    From the Camden Advertiser

    In a 1998 report, obtained by the Advertiser, council staff said the Camden High School development satisfied the objectives of the rural zoning.

    Camden High School and the Islamic school sit in the same zone but one reason council staff recommended refusing the Islamic school was that it was “not consistent with the objectives of the zone”.

    The high school also sits on agricultural land class three which, like the Islamic school site, is considered “high-class land”.

    Ms Morris said Camden High School was a State Government development application that council could not refuse without the ministers consent.

    “That was before all these later policies the Metropolitan Strategy and Draft South West Subregional Strategy]” she said. “Whilst I accept there are some similarities, the Camden High School site is a better site in terms of access and vision.”

  106. Ken Parish says:

    Many thanks for all that information Rog. As I suspected from the limited sleuthing I was able to do, the planning rejection was patently spurious. If the site had been in a built-up area, the reasons for rejection would have been given as traffic congestion, residential amenity, noise etc, whereas in a rural area it’s taking “high class land” out of non-existent production and the lack of public transport, neither of which strangely enough seemed to be enough to affect ther very nearby Camden High School.

    I think if I was advising the Quranic Society I’d be looking at an anti-discrimination complaint against the Camden Council as well as a planning appeal, and seeking administrative law judicial review as well in due course.

  107. Mug Punter says:

    I don’t like the look of those Irish Catholics either.

  108. Yobbo says:

    Lets forget the pig argument for a second.

    This sort of thing is exactly what I’m on about:

    http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2005/s1418819.htm

    Whities wanting to keep muslim school out of their town: Racist Morons!

    Whities wanting to keep supermarket out of their town: Preserving their cultural heritage!!!one

    Of course the left (and the ABC) think its absolutely deplorable that people would oppose a school that, lets face it, will change the culture of the area quite a bit. But they are right in behind those plucky country folks trying to keep out Woollies!

  109. James Farrell says:

    Yes, the insidious left again, with the platypus lovers and small retailers of Maleny marching in the vanguard. Stalin would have been proud. And that ABC reporter was positively egging them on, wasn’t he?

  110. NPOV says:

    Yobbo, do actually believe the nonsense you write?

    Wanting to keep Muslims away *is* being xenophobic, by definition, and is exactly the sort of thing that perpetuates tensions between different ethnic groups.

    Wanting to keep a supermarket out might be folly (though certainly some of their objections are reasonable enough), but it’s hardly discriminating against a particular group of people in an irrational and bigoted manner. And who exactly is this “left” that is “right in behind those plucky country folks”?

  111. TimT says:

    Makes sense to me. Woolworths, the management and shareholders and workers, certainly count as a ‘particular group of people’ that have been the subject of ‘irrational and bigoted’ discrimination from time to time.

  112. NPOV says:

    But it’s not the people that are being objected to. Any ‘bigoted’? Sure plenty of people are cynical about, if not downright opposed to way Woolworth’s managers and major shareholders act, but it’s hardly bigotry by any meaningful definition of the word.

    Further Yobbo point is silly on at least two other fronts – a) there’s no obvious reason to assume that locating a Muslim school some km away from an existing residential area will “change the culture of the area quite a bit”, and b) preserving “cultural heritage” isn’t one of the reasons given by any of the objectors to opening Woolies, at least that I can see.

  113. JC says:

    N

    ) theres no obvious reason to assume that locating a Muslim school some km away from an existing residential area will change the culture of the area quite a bit

    That doesn’t matter as these things are all about perceptions. It’s the way these people see it. Is it a bigoted response? Sure looks like it after KenP’s comment.

    However as Yobbo points out bigotry isn’t just confined to racialism.

    Defintion of bigotry:

    bias, ignorance, intolerance, prejudice, racism…..

    Both the Woolies and the School example fit neatly into this definition.

  114. TimT says:

    But its not the people that are being objected to.

    You could make the same argument if you objected to a Muslim school, ie, “I don’t have anything against them as people – it’s their religion I don’t like!” It’s ‘hate the sin, love the sinner’ logic that’s deployed in a lot of cases like this.

  115. Patrick says:

    There is a tendency to respond by urging a slower migrant intake or insisting that prospective migrants reach some English language threshold. Where this approach falls down is that it seems to be the people who have the least exposure to Asians, Arabs and so on, that feel the most threatened.

    Presumably, the increased settling of immigrants in areas such as Ballarat will be having an impact on this, albeit that impact is likely to be stronger on the generation currently in school (and largely un-opinion-polled) than the generation currently answering the phone to the opinion poller.

    But, as I said in responding to Harrys comment, full employment probably deserves some credit for the harmony we enjoy.

    Absolutely it does – very few revolutions were born out of well-paid employed people with access to far more than merely basic public services. Which is why economy should trump society in government.

    To tie the first and second quote together, though, is the economic circumstances of the resenters of immigration. I am happy to bet without checking that, very generally, resentment of immigrants amongst anglo-celtic-descent Australians increases as income decreases. Maybe, in addition to enhanced integration of immigrants through English education and the like, we need to concentrate on enhanced integration of the existing population?

    How to do this, however, given the compounded combination of a) endowment effects and b) the historical version of the grass in the other field, without resorting to stupid programs like ‘jobs for poor uneducated whites’? I certainly don’t have many answers vis-a-vis the present generation of 30+s in that category (with the younger ones, education would seem the logical starting point).

  116. Yobbo says:

    b) preserving cultural heritage isnt one of the reasons given by any of the objectors to opening Woolies, at least that I can see.

    False. One of the biggest objections is that Woolies would replace the small “mum and dad” stores and dispose of the “small-town feel”.

    This is present in a large percentage of the anti-Woolies in Maleny groups press releases.

    a) theres no obvious reason to assume that locating a Muslim school some km away from an existing residential area will change the culture of the area quite a bit

    Except for the very obvious reason that there would now be a lot of muslims where there would previously had been none. Which would result in a change in culture of the area.

    Wanting to keep Muslims away *is* being xenophobic, by definition, and is exactly the sort of thing that perpetuates tensions between different ethnic groups.

    Wanting to keep a supermarket out might be folly (though certainly some of their objections are reasonable enough), but its hardly discriminating against a particular group of people in an irrational and bigoted manner.

    Do you even read what you type?

    I don’t see anybody in Camden campaigning to put a border guard on the city outskirts to keep muslims out. What they are campaigning against is a Muslim-specific school.

    That is no more campaigning against people than campaigning against Woolies is. Both campaigns are against an institution the town doesn’t want.

    Please take a good hard look at yourself, your bias is so strong you can’t even see the comparison at the moment, there is nowhere to even begin to find common ground here until you sort yourself out.

  117. rog says:

    Woolies would take business away from local shops; I cant see how a muslim school will have the same effect on Camden’s schools.

    I think people hold genuine fears that a muslim school will be a madrass preaching jihad and sharia law and be a training centre for suicide bombers.

  118. NPOV says:

    Yobbo, if you can’t see the difference beween exhibit A:

    1. “The ones that come here oppress our society, they take our welfare and they don’t want to accept our way of life,”

    2. “The fact is that Camden has been a strongly white community for a long time and the people here are scared”

    and exhibit B:

    1. “Maleny makes a lot of its revenue as a town through tourism, through people coming here to visit and they do that because of the local character. You put a great big Woolworths supermarket down the bottom, put a whole lot of the small businesses out of town and people are going to stop coming here.”

    2. “The actual construction of this supermarket will impinge on those [platypus] burrows. There will be pylons going in to the burrows, there will be damage right up to within 5 metres of the edge of the creek”

    then I agree we’re not going to find any common ground.

    Now I happen to agree that overall the town is likely to benefit in the long run from having a supermarket capable of providing a larger range of goods at better prices than was previously the case, but inevitably some people will lose their businesses, and some platypuses may suffer, and raising these concerns is justifiable enough.
    And of course, if the majority of the town’s residents really did feel that Woolies was a bad thing, then they wouldn’t build the store anyway, as presumably nobody would shop there.

  119. As I said above, there may well be legitmate planning reasons why the proposed school at Camden is unsuitable. It may also be the case that the only people in Camden expressing bigoted views and religious vilification to justify their opposition to the school are the handful of people who have been featured in the media.

    However, whatever else one’s views about property rights, planning laws and the like, the point remains that religious vilification, racism and bigotry should not be acceptable reasons on which to base planning or policy decisions.

    Whatever the merits of the arguments against the Woolworths in Maleny, religious and racial vilification and bigotry were not amongst them.

    As an aside, it is worth noting that the Woolies in Maleny was given the go ahead by the local Council, despite what seemed to be a very clear majority of locals opposed to it, which is a contrast to the Camden situation.

  120. Yobbo says:

    However, whatever else ones views about property rights, planning laws and the like, the point remains that religious vilification, racism and bigotry should not be acceptable reasons on which to base planning or policy decisions.

    For someone in a party called the “Democrats”, you sure don’t seem to like Democracy much Andrew.

    True or False: The majority of people in camden don’t want this school.
    True or False: The democratically elected council rejected it.

    Either you want democracy, in which case the tyranny of the majority prevails. As it apparently has in the case.

    Or you don’t, in which case take away the power of the local councils to enforce the tyranny of the majority.

    If you give morons the power to make decisions concerning other people’s property, then morons will make decisions worthy of morons.

    The obvious answer is to take away the power that Cletus the slack jawed yokel has to tell people what they can and cannot do with their own land.

    We already have a name for this concept: Property Rights.

  121. NPOV says:

    Yobbo, do you honestly think in a democracy, anything even close to a majority would support property rights in the form you imagine them?

    Andrew had already implied earlier (as had I) that the residents of Camdem have a democratic right to vote for political representatives that promise to act in their interests, even if their interests are “keeping Camdem white and Christian”. It’s the councils that should be doing better, and showing a bit of leadership on the issue, as the dangers of allowing racism and religious bigotry to determine council policy should be plain enough to anyone with a briefest familiarity with 20th century history. The dangers of allowing concern for platypuses and local businesses to determine council policy are neglible in comparison.

  122. Yobbo – either you are stoushing for the sake of it, or you have an incredibly one dimensional view of democracy (and property rights for that matter).

    My statement stands, regardless of Camden, Maleny or anywhere else. It is a standalone matter of principle which should especially apply in any place which calls itself a democracy.

    The day democracy becomes nothing more than the tyranny of the majority in every circumstance is the day it ceases to be democracy.

  123. rog says:

    “True or False: The majority of people in camden dont want this school.”

    Until there is a plebiscite there is no way of determining this however the councillors did say that the community was not particularly concerned one way or another.

  124. Nabakov says:

    No Irish or dogs.

  125. Yobbo says:

    Yobbo, do you honestly think in a democracy, anything even close to a majority would support property rights in the form you imagine them?

    Of course not NPOV.

    In a pure democracy, muslims would also be banned from Australia, homosexuality would still be illegal, WA would be a separate country, beer would be free and Ray Martin would be Prime Minister.

    That’s because people are stupid.

    I was just pointing out that Andrew was in fact admitting that democratic processes should have limits – as is evident in this case the mob are idiots and made an idiotic decision.

    However I am the only person being consistent here. Andrew and everyone else in this thread only seem to be concerned about idiotic democratic outcomes when it affects muslims or other minorities.

    However, when a group of morons makes an equally idiotic decision to ban a multi-billion dollar hotel (like the hundreds that have been proposed for the Scarborough Foreshore) or brewery (like the one that couldn’t be built on the Swan River foreshore because a MYTHICAL ABORIGINAL SERPENT GOD ONCE SLITHERED THROUGH THE AREA IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BUILT ON) from beginning operation which would bring immense benefits to everyone in a 1000 mile radius, they think that’s just a great example of “people power”.

    This is why property rights should be enshrined in the constitution and not subject to whims of special-interest groups, whether they be racists, greenies or just general NIMBYists.

    You can’t just pick and choose the ones you overrule on the basis of how much you like them.

  126. NPOV says:

    Shorter Yobbo: People are stupid. Except me of course.

  127. JC says:

    However I am the only person being consistent here.

    Fair go of the sauce, yobbs. What have been doing ? Eating chopped liver?

  128. Liam says:

    To derail this thread:
    I’d vote for Ray Martin for Prime Minister, as long as he was the Labor candidate. He spoke at my graduation ceremony, of all places, and made a surprisingly erudite, interesting speech, mostly about American history. At the time Kim Beazley was being hopeless as Opposition Leader, and I recall thinking that Ray would have made an awesome replacement.

  129. JC says:

    You wanted Beazley to replace Ray on 60 minutes?

  130. NPOV says:

    One last comment: treating it as a property rights problem does little to solve the problem of xenophobia, which most posters here would surely agree is the real issue here. If the school development went ahead while the residents of the area still strongly objected to the idea of Muslims being in the area, there’s a significant risk that the pupils at the school would be continually threatened and intimidated.

    My main objection is with the council, for not obviously making a real and sincere effort to bring the (presumably Muslim) developers and residents together with the hope of fostering a bit more tolerance and understanding. Muslims will eventually just be seen like any other migrant group of the past anyway, and I’m sure if the developers came back in 10 or 15 years they’d face little resistance, but if anything can be done to speed up the process, it should be.

  131. JC says:

    So they shouldn’t build the school because there are racists in the area and who could turn violent.

    That would be a truly unique objection to raise, N.

    I’d pay good money to hear that one read out in council meetings.

  132. NPOV says:

    Actually, that’s not what I’m claiming at all, but it’s a good deal more legitimate than the objection of the racists themselves.

    All I said is that it may risky to build a school where students are likely to be subject to significiant (not necessarily violent) expressions of xenophobia from nearby residents. However, the risks are moderate and manageable, and xenophobia is curable, so no, it doesn’t mean I think the school shouldn’t be built.

  133. Yobbo says:

    Shorter Yobbo: People are stupid. Except me of course.

    That’s not what I’m saying NPOV. The point is that there is no justification for people who have nothing to do with you and no knowledge of your business or project, being able to vote on what you can and cannot do with your own property.

    If the school is unpopular it will fail. If it is popular it will be a great addition to the town. Either way what the city council thinks is irrelevant. They should stick to maintaining sidewalks and putting up stop signs.

    If people in town don’t like Muslims they can learn to live with it or piss off.

  134. Yobbo says:

    My main objection is with the council, for not obviously making a real and sincere effort to bring the (presumably Muslim) developers and residents together with the hope of fostering a bit more tolerance and understanding.

    That wouldn’t be necessary if we had strong property rights, because people wouldn’t (rightly) think that if they jump up and down hard enough, they can keep out people they don’t like.

  135. David Rubie says:

    JC wrote:

    You wanted Beazley to replace Ray on 60 minutes?

    It would never have happened, chiefly because they would have had to rename it “120 minutes”. :-)

  136. Yobbo says:

    Just as a sidenote:

    A similar thing happened about 30 years ago in Katanning, very near my hometown.

    It was around the time that exporting Halal meat was becoming big business, the local abattoir needed to have real muslims to slaughter the meat in order to export it. So they imported them from the Cocos Islands.

    The local rednecks jumped up and down saying “we dont want no moslems” blah blah blah. I am sure at that time 90% of them didn’t know what a muslim was and what they really didn’t want was black people.

    The people in the abbatoir basically said “well, we don’t really give a shit what you want, we are running a business and will do what we want”.

    30 years on and the town has a thriving muslim community and a frickin’ huge mosque to go with them.

    http://www.katanning.net/media/gallery/image67.jpg

  137. Liam says:

    You wanted Beazley to replace Ray on 60 minutes?

    Heh.

    they would have had to rename it 120 minutes.

    I know. And the dodgy disability-pension bludgers chased down the street with a camera would have gotten away every time.

  138. FDB says:

    Yobbo, Katanning’s Muslim influx happened partly because the abbatoir already existed. There was no planning figleaf to clothe the xenophobia, nor any attempt at one, because the xenophobes thought their prejudice would suffice.

    Xenophobes have become more savvy since.

  139. John Greenfield says:

    NPOV

    Xenophobia?. Your understanding of this concept is as misguided as Andrew Bartlett’s understanding of “bigotry” of which, he himself is, of course, the personification. Like many others here, you would do well to bone up on the differences between xenophobia and Islamophobia. We can surely do better than the ditzy conflation of all these concepts.

  140. NPOV says:

    Yobbo, as for “no justification for people who have nothing to do with you and no knowledge of your business or project, being able to vote on what you can and cannot do with your own property”, perhaps, except that people in your neighbourhood *do* have something to do with you. If your next-door neighbour planned a development that blocked the sun to your property, robbed you of off street parking, was horribly unsightly, or dangerously unstable, and/or significantly reduced the value of your own property, you would no doubt object, as what he does does have something to do with you.

    And further, when it comes to environmental risks, such as to animals or fragile ecosystems, then how are property rights supposed to protect them? Platypuses can’t buy property. Or in your world, does being able to afford to buy land automatically grant you the right to destroy whatever existing lifeforms are dependent on it?

    As for your abbatoir example – I accept it may be the case that simply going ahead and building the school will be the best cure for the xenophobia of the residents. But where schoolchildren are involved there are additional risks, and the council should have a responsibility to ensure that residents aren’t going to take their grudges against muslims out on innocent kids.

  141. Tim Quilty says:

    Yobbo simply sets out a libertarian view to discrimination. Do what you like on your own property. The left don’t like it, because they like to discriminate, just as long as it is on something they support. And they like to attack others who discriminate on grounds they don’t like.

    It’s simple. Don’t want a muslim school? Buy the land and do something else with it. Want to protect the platypus? Buy the land and make it a platypus reserve. Push your ideas by the advocacy of big governmenrt interference in peoples lives, and live with the consequences when a majority of people in some area holding views signifigantly different to yours use the government to advocate ideas you don’t like, block things you believe in and discriminate against groups you support.

    If I want to own the sunlight falling on my house, I’ll buy the land next door, or pay the owners for a caveat over the title stoping someone blocking my light. Or if I don’t want to waste the money, I’ll realise it isn’t my right to whinge about it.

  142. Nabakov says:

    Yo Tim Q, that’s a truly wonderful parody of the kind of thoughtless gung ho libertarianism ethos that assumes everything good about your current lifestyle just sorta spontaneously happens without any framework developed or underpinning provided by organised communities, economies or governments.

    Tho I hafta say, do you really think Yobbo is such a cost-effective target for this kinda satire?

  143. NPOV says:

    Shorter Yobbo #2: People are stupid, but we should let them do whatever stupid things they want with their own property.

    Shorter Tim Q: If you have no money you have no rights.

  144. Tim Quilty says:

    Yeah, cause you own a house, and worry about “your” sun being taken, but you have no money..

  145. James Farrell says:

    Tim, Nabokov had tongue in cheek when he congratulated you on your parody, but in my case I truly thought it was parody until I got to the end and there was no giveaway. You and Sam seem to be unaware that property rights are not, and never have been, any one particular thing, but have always encompassed a range of rights toward an asset. These may include: excluding others from it, physically modifying it, using it various ways, drawing income from it, selling it, disposing of it, and destroying it.

    The process of defining, awarding, transferring and enforcing different kinds of title are as much subject to the rule of law as anything else. The stark choice between (a) property rights and (b) government by plebiscite (i.e. tyranny of the majority) exists only in your minds. When Sam boasts of being ‘the only one who is being consistent’, he assumes that everyone should see the issue in terms of the same crude dichotomy that he does, and apply one rule or the other. You used the word simple, but simplistic is the one that springs to my mind.

    Now, of course, it’s always open to you to argue that certain kinds of property rights are economically more efficient than others, and therefore as a society we ought to work toward enshrining these in legislation. But it doesn’t follow that any arrangement which, in the meantime, falls short of your particular blueprint, is somehow mob rule.

  146. James Farrell says:

    John, I didn’t spot your comment earlier, but I thoroughly agree. We must be scrupulous in distinguishing and classifying our irrational fears. If I catch anyone ditzily conflating mosquephobia, quranophobia, hijabaphobia, muftiphobia or muezzinophobia one with the other, I’ll send him straight to you.

  147. James, you may not like it, but if you grant ‘mob rule’ the opportunity to interfere with other peoples’ property rights, you open yourself to exactly the satire that Tim and Yobbo adumbrate. Property rights are property rights. Rights to interfere are rights to interfere. The law seldom draws neat distinctions between the two – read Waltons v Maher to see this process writ large in an Australian context.

    I’m a firm believer that people should have to live with the consequences of thier democratic decisions. So, if the people of Camden use existing (weakened) property laws to ‘keep the Muslims out’, then they should bear the benefits and burdens of their decision; if they benefit (say, for example, the Muslims are generally poor quality economic contributors to the area in question, in line with Mexicans in the US – more here – http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/Immigration.html), then they will do well and can be expected to try to sell their anti-immigration agenda to the rest of us). If, however, the rest of us do well from Muslim immigration and Camden loses, then if they wish to inflict their group mentality on the rest of us, and they lose, then they should bear the consequences of their loss.

    Alternatively, don’t give groups this level of control over private property rights. In days gone by, the law prohibited only ‘equitable waste’, which is lawyer’s code for ‘wanton destruction’. If you empower groups, expect groups to abuse the power in question. Sometimes they will save the trees. Other times they will keep the Muslims out. Deal with it.

  148. Jason Soon says:

    John, I didnt spot your comment earlier

    So did you spot a black cat and walk under a few ladders on your way to work?

  149. Jason Soon says:

    Unfortunately I agree with James that property rights cannot be so neatly defined that there will never be a case where your neighbours can’t interfere with use of your property. There will be cases where use of your property can spill over into enjoyment of your neighbours e.g. toxic waste, smoke, noise, etc. This has been true since the relatively laissez faire 19th century Britain. A world where property rights can be so tightly defined that all disputes never arise simply has never existed. At the same time as I mentioned up the top I believe the threshold for such interference should be fairly high and the process for adjudication should always look at the least restrictive and anti-competitive interference with enjoyment of your property. There is reason to believe that the way current planning laws have been interpreted have been very restrictive and even aside from that, the facts that rog and Ken have dug up suggest that even allowing for currently undesirably low thresholds for interference the school should have gone through, and on top of that the principle remains that Muslim schools should be treated in development applications the same way as Jewish or Christian schools and no relevance should be placed on ‘psychological externalities’ that are simply unverifiable.

  150. John Greenfield says:

    Oh the Ayn Rand Blow Up Doll and her “psychological externalities” again!!! ROFL. I said pet, I said love. Only a blow-up doll could think psychology is external to human interactions and decision making. Hun, I would prescribe for you some study of economics and some work experience trading financial instruments, working in retail, and so on. Good luck Ayn!

  151. Jason Soon says:

    The point is that public policy should with regard to town planning should only take account of physical externalities. Or are you agreeing with Clive Hamilton that the State should levy heavy taxies and redistribute income because of the psychological externality of envy that the rich create in the poor? Or that governments should recriminalise homosexuality because of the psychological externality that homosexuals create among homophobes as long as homophobes are a substantial percentage of the population?

    Or perhaps that Greenfield should be exiled because of the psychological externality that his shallow, annoying and infantile presence creates among others?

  152. Jason Soon says:

    actually Greenfield, you rcomment #150 suggests that you don’t even know what I mean by psychological externalities and have conflated it with the idea that psychology isn’t external. go regale the middle bar of Kinselas with another joke about anorexia or recycle your thesis about lesbians on greek vases, you shallow twit.

  153. James Farrell says:

    JG, it’s a sorry spectacle when someone as obviously clueless as you starts prescribing courses in economics.

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