Sunday, March 10, 2013

POLITICS: Danny Nalliah for PM?

Back in October 2006, I found myself in a mass debate with one Pastor Danny Nalliah of the Catch The Fire Ministries. I was extremely thin at the time, while Danny looked like he was rather large. Either that, or the bloke/sheila who runs the website of the organisers got us confused.

I spoke for the allotted length of time on the allotted subject - Terrorism & the Death of Democracy. Danny spoke for much longer and addressed a host of topics generally unrelated to terrorism or democracy. You can find my summary of it here.

Danny has now formed his own political party based in Melbourne, a place I have recently (and the way people drive here, reluctantly) called my home. The local rag here carried a rather nasty profile of Danny's party which you can read here.

When I was on the same podium as him, there was an inkling of his interest in running for public office. He argued that the time had come for the Christian Right to take over the political agenda.

The upcoming election should be an interesting one with Danny representing an ascendant Christian Right. Watch this space.

LAW: Beggar this

OK, this really is ridiculous. Here's Suzy Freeman-Greene to more capably articulate my thoughts:
WHY is it a crime to beg when charity touts can ask us for money on the streets? Beggars can be annoyingly in your face at times but so can eagle-eyed collectors for UNICEF or Plan International, wielding clipboards, waving and waiting to pounce ... 

Begging alms ... is a crime under the Summary Offences Act. Often police turn a blind eye to this crime and, importantly, they'll refer beggars to agencies for help. Still, between 2009 and 2011, the Magistrates Court heard 393 cases related to begging. (More than 44 per cent were dismissed but in 34 per cent of cases fines were issued.) In 2011-12, Victorian police processed 240 alleged beggars.
Apparently it's all to save us from being annoyed.
Traditionally, categorising begging as a crime was justified as a preventive measure that promoted public safety. But does this argument wash? Personally, I'd rather a junkie ask me for money to fund his habit (I am, after all, free to say no) than rob my house. According to the Homeless Persons' Legal Clinic, a further reason cited for criminalising begging has been its "annoyance" factor. Indeed, in 2011, a County Court judge described how the law helped prevent beggars "imposing upon members of the community going about their business".
It beggars belief that you can be prosecuted for alleging that you are poor and that someone in the street might be able to spare you a bit of loose change. Yes, I have seen some amazingly dressed and articulate beggars in my time. Though for really buggered-up beggars, try Pakistan where poverty practitioners are often seen with limbs missing and an eye or two gorged out.

And you thought the bloke on Elizabeth Street was annoying.

 Words © 2013 Irfan Yusuf