Thursday, 2 September 2027

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

The Digital Enablement of Totalitarianism, As Editor, A Sense of Place Magazine, 18 November, 2020.


The Digital Enablement of Totalitarianism

By Paul Collits

The Covid affair of 2020 simply couldn’t have happened a decade ago.  It is a chilling thought that we are only cowering beneath the stare of Big Brother because of tech.  Yes, we are only going through all this social control because now the state can do it.  The deep state is at its deepest when it is technologically enabled.

Some have called it “health fascism”.  It is, in fact, digitally enabled health fascism.  The Covid dystopia is the culmination of several distinct actors, processes and ideologies working hideously and chillingly in tandem.  The actors include panicked politicians, cowering citizens scared to death for no reason, contingent opportunists with agendas, narcissistic, power craving bureaucrats, midwit legacy and social media players. But digital technology is the apparently benign yet (alas) very imperfectly understood technical enabler of it all.

Welcome to the surveillance state, as it has been termed by Yasha Levine in his book of the same name.  Tech enabled Covid has triggered a perfect storm of Orwellian social control.  The ChiComms’ menacing social credit system has been globalised, along with its WuFlu.

The Social Credit System is a national reputation system being developed by the Chinese Communist Party, under CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping’s administration. The program initiated regional trials in 2009, before launching a national pilot with eight credit scoring firms in 2014. 

Anyone familiar with social credit will have recognised its deep meaning for the Chinese.  East Germany, technologically turbo-charged.  How has Big tech played into the creeping state? 

The digital revolution has its own compelling, if broadly misunderstood, and seemingly agreeable buzz words:

  • Artificial intelligence
  • Big data
  • Machine learning
  • The internet of things
  • Robotics
  • Smart cities
  • Nanotechnology
  • Killer apps
  • Genome sequencing
  • Cashless
  • Paperless
  • Software as a service
  • The second machine age 
  • The fourth industrial revolution.

And so on.  We have all heard them.  They are meant to connote four messages – inevitability, irreversible, progressive and benign.

In my former life as an economic development specialist, I came across all this stuff on a daily basis.  The sheer seductiveness of these markers of supposed progress towards earthly nirvana was compelling to a whole generation of policy-makers, dumb politicians, conference goers and practitioners only too willing to swill the digital kool-aid, and to feel good without really knowing why.

What if all the technobabble of the past decade were cover, even if innocent, for something far more sinister?

Boris Johnson made a significant and revealing speech to the United Nations in 2019.  Remember, this is the same Boris who has just locked up his entire country for the second time in six months.

Digital authoritarianism is not, alas, the stuff of dystopian fantasy but of an emerging reality.

A few sentences, in the very same speech, Boris switched to up-beat mode:

I am profoundly optimistic about the ability of new technology to serve as a liberator and remake the world wondrously and benignly.

Is this idiot for real?

Then he put a challenge to “his excellencies” of the United Nations:

At stake is whether we bequeath an Orwellian world, designed for censorship, repression and control, or a world of emancipation, debate and learning, where technology threatens famine and diseases, but not our freedoms.

I hope Boris enjoys irony.

Said in September 2019, a mere few months before the same man, along with his fellow Western leaders, unleashed an attack on freedom never before seen – all driven by technology.

In passing at the UN, Boris mentioned that:

But we still have by far the biggest tech sector – fintech, biotech, meditech, nanotech, greentech – every kind of tech – in London – the biggest tech sector anywhere in Europe, perhaps half a million people working in tech alone.

Wonderful.  The capacity of clueless politicians for swallowing, then dutifully regurgitating, tech crap, is seemingly endless.  Nonetheless, it provides a useful example of the extent to which the transformation of our economies from producers of real things to the production of endless “services” can dupe the populace and its elected officials.

Note that Wired magazine, the bible of the technocracy, published Boris’s speech in its entirety, no doubt with approval.  As the old lefties, would say, “it is no coincidence …”

Digital tech drove the globalisation and financialisation of everything, from the 80s.  Globalisation was enabled by digital technology, and in turn it embedded the capability of digital to take over more and more of our lives.  It was a beautiful virtuous circle.  Even the new left bought the globalisation rubbish, holus bolus.  To its eternal shame.  As it was simultaneously reeling off its talking points about the evils of “neo-liberalism”.  The left was hooked.  And it was all driven out of Surveillance Valley, as Yasha Levine aptly termed it.

Dustin Broadbery has written powerfully about the sequencing of the creeping digital control of our lives in a Covid panicdemic :

The volitional guidelines for the hospitality industry to track and trace our movements, has predictably been ramped up to mandatory. Anticipating the next iteration in this sequence – gun-to-your-head contact tracing across all interfaces of the economy – our workspaces, public transport, international flights and supermarkets. Or, for those refusing to comply, then it’s ‘no ticket, no laundry.’ And the emergence of COVID-apartheid.

In the end, if you failed to push back against contact tracing, you stand no chance of resisting mandatory vaccinations. Until the megalomaniacs in power, with their ulterior motives and god-complexes, finally claim regulatory control over our bodies. And make no mistake, our minds will be next.

This is the world of Simi Valley, California.  Where cops are now inveigled into helping shopkeepers to eject non mask wearers, and where the cops pick up motorists for being non maskists.  Anyone familiar with the fictional Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men will not wish to be pulled over by a fired up Covid cop.

The Covid ruling class is lining us all up for the next phase – first, test and trace, next digital health passports and compulsory vaccines.  We get to say where you go.  Oh, wait a minute, Daniel Andrews already did that.  And Greg Hunt too, with ScoMo’s typically slithery backing, has that in mind for Australians.

Boris Johnson and his contemporary world “leaders” have been swept up into two cults simultaneously – the cult of digital and the cult of Covid. 

When combined, the impact on us will be lethal.  And Boris ain’t the only one.  If Biden makes the White House, and with Davos empowered through the stolen election, the world WILL change.  Who thinks, for the better?  These are Big Tech’s useful idiots.  The Gen X and millennial titans of Surveillance Valley get unimaginable wealth, power over governments, oligarch status, monopoly control over their markets, a free ride on the information superhighway – infrastructure that is not even a legit public private partnership – and an unimpeachable status beyond the reach of elected governments and customers.  We-the-people get – free, addictive, self-absorbing, reality destroying smart phones and our core freedoms surreptitiously drained away.

The useful idiots have been elevated to field operatives in the global digital game of creating the new normal.  Matt Hancock, Boris’s (at least this week) UK health tsar, had a previous gig as Digital Minister.  During that time, and already embedded with Malcolm Turnbull’s globalist leftism and his veneration of all things digital, he has become a tech warrior.  Now, with Covid, he has a perfect testing ground on which to pilot his techno desires.  As a Cameroon, he was predisposed to using technocracy to advance his own career aims and his ideological proclivities.  Just like Mr Ozemail, the Malchurian candidate.

Some have noted the similarities between the Covid puppet masters with the Pied piper of Hamelin.

As the story goes, in 1284, townspeople hired a rat catcher to lure away the vermin that had overrun their village. He did, except the citizens of Hamelin cheated the man out of his payment. So the man—a “pied” piper—returned a year later and lured their children away, too.

The Pied Piper was the James Jones of the thirteenth century.  Hamelin is a real place, in Lower Saxony.  It is a mere 112 kilometres from another real place, called Belsen.  Both are in northern Germany.  The rats, then the children, were led to their chilling finales in Hamelin, courtesy of the man with the music.  The innocent of the Third Reich, were led to their own final Hamelin, just up the road, eight hundred years later.  Let us not ever downplay the evil that men do, or the willingness of normal people to be duped by the seductive appeal of ideology, or false hope.

Oligarch Valley is the Pied Piper of the digital age.

Then there is the “great reset”.  Klaus Schwab, Mr Global World Order and founder of the World Economic Forum, has written a book:

“Many of us are pondering when things will return to normal,” writes Schwab. “The short response is: never. Nothing will ever return to the ‘broken’ sense of normalcy that prevailed prior to the crisis because the coronavirus pandemic marks a fundamental inflection point in our global trajectory.”

“Radical changes of such consequence are coming that some pundits have referred to as ‘before coronavirus’ (BC) and ‘after coronavirus’ (AC) era. We will continue to be surprised by both the rapidity and unexpected nature of these changes – as they conflate with each other, they will provoke second-, third-, fourth- and more-order consequences, cascading effects and unforeseen outcomes,” he writes.

“The world will “never” return to normal after Covid”.  Hover over his words, and ponder his frankness.  Schwab, coincidentally also a German, though born in the south some distance from Hamelin and Belsen, is shaping up as the Pied Piper of Globalisation.

A someone said recently, it isn’t a conspiracy theory if they say publicly what they are up to.  Joining the dots between Big Tech, Big Covid and Big Global is not that hard.  They went to the same (ideological) schools.  The long march through the institutions was planned as well, as we know from our reading of Adorno and Gramsci.  Saul Alinsky was Barack’s mentor.  And Joe is Barack’s boy, well not exactly a boy.  Joe will be hailed as a hero at davos 2021.  Up for the great reset, even though Joe probably can’t spell it.

The Kiwi band Mi Sex sang a catchy tune back in the 80s – Computer Games.  But this is no game, as maybe the Mi Sex guys perceived.

There’s safety in numbers, they say
‘Cause the figures never lie
No perfect persons ever noticed one computer die
I’m programmed to a schedule
What will the answer be
Is it suicide run till the work gets done
‘Cause the matrix grid don’t say

Digital boosters have been saying for years, no decades, that with the advent of computers, nothing will ever be the same for any of us.  We all thought it was self-serving, career enhancing bullshit.  We should have believed them.  Note Johnson’s pitch above.  Apart from being inherently benign – why should he assume this? – technocracy is oriented, even ordered, towards solving what Rittell and Webber once famously termed “wicked problems”.  Not just a force for good, but a means of creating utopia on earth.  Or as Eric Voegelin termed it (The New Science of Politics, 1952), a means of “immanentising the eschaton”.  In the secularist utopian dream, digital technology has both redemptive force and the power of delivery.

Remember what the astute tech guru Marc Andreessen said, in 2011 – “software is eating the world”.  Well, I think now we are in the digestion phase. Andreessen is a digital investor and thought leader.  And no fool.  He was speaking then of business model transformation.  But the genie is out of the bottle, with Covid totalitarianism.  Covid has provided the opportunity, no, the imperative, to take unprecedented liberties with our, well, liberty.  Oh, and ask Donald Trump about the uses of software in electoral transformation.  Not just any old common or garden digital transformation, right there.  Boris’s 2019 UN speech was a masterpiece pitch for a new global, technocratic order, delivered by a buffoon without the slightest idea what he was saying, or what it connoted.

You have been warned.  Don’t complain when you have lost everything.  Alexa has spoken.  Lemmings – to the cliffs!

Public Schools Abandoned For The Elite, As Editor, A Sense of Place Magazine, 18 November, 2020.


Public Schools Abandoned For The Elite

By Trevor Cobbold with Michael West Media

With its favouritism of funding wealthy Independent and Catholic schools, the Morrison Government has completed the demolition of the Gonski funding model that began with the Abbott and Turnbull governments. Yet public schools educate more than 80% of disadvantaged students and 95% of disadvantaged schools are public schools. Trevor Cobbold reports.

The Morrison Government has abandoned public education and is blatantly favouring private schools with special billion-dollar funding deals over the next decade. They will ensure that the existing resource gap between public and private schools will widen dramatically.

Yet public schools enrol more than 80% of the nation’s disadvantaged students – those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, Indigenous students, those with a disability and students living in remote areas. Furthermore, 95% of disadvantaged schools are public schools.

The massive funding bias coincides with continuing huge gaps in achievement between rich and poor. The latest PISA international tests show that low socio-economic status and Indigenous students are two to three years or more behind their high socio-economic status peers. There has been virtually no change in the gaps since 2006.

A critical factor behind this social inequity is that government funding increases have not been fully targeted at need. Since 2009, after adjusting for inflation, recurrent funding per student by the Commonwealth and state governments increased by 25% for Independent schools, 21% for Catholic schools and just 3% for public schools. Recurrent funding includes funding for teachers’ salaries, maintenance of school buildings and so on.

Government funding increases have favoured privilege over disadvantage.

With its blatant favouritism, the Morrison Government has completed the demolition of the Gonski funding model that began with the Abbott and Turnbull governments. Those governments ditched the large funding increase for 2018 and 2019 that was planned under the original Gonski funding model, an increase that would have mainly benefitted public schools.

Commonwealth funding to 2029

Private schools are already much better resourced than public schools. In 2018, the total income of Independent schools was $23,029 per student and $16,401 per student in Catholic schools compared to $14,940 per student in public schools.

Massive funding increases for private schools planned by the Morrison Government to 2029 will exacerbate the disparity. By 2029, Commonwealth funding for Catholic schools per student will be nearly five times that provided for each public school student ($19,732 compared to $4,882). Funding for Independent schools of $13,063 per student will be nearly three times that for public school students.

Commonwealth funding for private schools

Save Our Schools’ estimates used official data provided by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment.

The planned increases in Commonwealth funding for Catholic schools especially is extraordinary. Catholic schools will receive an increase of $10,373 per student, Independent schools will receive an increase of $5,328 per student while public schools will receive an increase of a measly $1,962 per student.

Total Commonwealth funding for Catholic schools is due to increase by nearly $8 billion between 2018 and 2029 compared to $3.1 billion for Independent schools and $5.1 billion for public schools. See Chart 2. However, because enrolments in public schools are nearly double the enrolments in private schools, the actual increase per student is significantly lower for public schools.

Commonwealth funding for growth in enrolments  

Special deals

The Morrison Government has introduced special funding deals worth nearly $5 billion over the next decade, but none of this money is available to public schools, only private schools, with a strong bias towards Catholic over Independent schools.

Catholic schools will receive more than 90% of the increase – about $4.5 billion compared to $345 million for Independent schools. Yet this massive boost is not based on need, despite the Morrison Government’s claims to the contrary.

The large part of the increase comes from a new method of funding private schools based on a direct income measure of the capacity of families to contribute. This is worth nearly $3.7 billion for Catholic schools.

Yet, it is fundamentally flawed as a measure of need as I noted last month because it ignores many sources of family income and wealth and a school’s income and wealth. Moreover, the amount of the increase was decided in secret negotiations between the Morrison Government and the Catholic Church before the actual measure of direct income was even decided.

 To those who have, more will be given’: Largesse to private schools continues

Among the myriad new special deals for private schools that are not available for public schools is a slush fund called the Choice and Affordability Fund worth $1.2 billion over the next 10 years, some $172 million for schools to transition to the new funding method and $46 million for ACT private schools to adjust to higher levels of funding….yes, really!

Private schools will also receive an additional $30 million in funding in 2020 for drought and Covid-19 assistance.

Public schools educate about 65% of the nation’s children and more than 80% of disadvantaged students. A new approach to school funding is essential, especially if Australia wants to take part in the knowledge economy, which is going to be more critical than ever in a post-pandemic recovery.


Trevor Cobbold is National Convenor of Save Our Schools.

Trevor Cobbold

Monday, 16 November 2020

Covid-19: Politicisation, Corruption and Suppression of Science, As Editor, A Sense of Place Magazine, 17 November, 2020.


Covid-19: Politicisation, Corruption and Suppression of Science

From the British Medical Journal

A scathing editorial on government misuse of Covid-19 to scare, intimidate and confuse populations while distorting the science behind the most over-hyped disease in history has appeared in the prestigious British Medical Journal.

 Covid-19 has unleashed state corruption on a grand scale, and it is harmful to public health.

Executive Editor Kamran Abbasi argues when good science is suppressed by the medical-political complex, people die.

He writes: “Politicians and governments are suppressing science. They do so in the public interest, they say, to accelerate availability of diagnostics and treatments. They do so to support innovation, to bring products to market at unprecedented speed. Both of these reasons are partly plausible; the greatest deceptions are founded in a grain of truth.

“Politicians and industry are responsible for this opportunistic embezzlement. So too are scientists and health experts. The pandemic has revealed how the medical-political complex can be manipulated in an emergency—a time when it is even more important to safeguard science.”

Science is being suppressed for political and financial gain. 


The UK’s pandemic response provides at least four examples of suppression of science or scientists, Abbasi claims. These include deliberations of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) being initially kept secret until a press leak forced transparency . The leak revealed inappropriate involvement of government advisers.

Next, a Public Health England report on covid-19 and inequalities was delayed and a section on ethnic minorities initially withheld.

Third, on 15 October, the editor of the Lancet complained that an author of a research paper, a UK government scientist, was blocked by the government from speaking to media because of a “difficult political landscape.”

Anna Malkova

Now, a new example concerns the controversy over point-of-care antibody testing for covid-19.

The British Medical Journal slating comes amid a blizzard of heavy weight critiques of government misbehaviour during the Covid era.

Abbasi says politicians often claim to follow the science, but that is a misleading oversimplification.

Science is rarely absolute. It rarely applies to every setting or every population. It doesn’t make sense to slavishly follow science or evidence.


“Suppression of science and scientists is not new or a peculiarly British phenomenon.

“Globally, people, policies, and procurement are being corrupted by political and commercial agendas.

The UK’s pandemic response relies too heavily on scientists and other government appointees with worrying competing interests, including shareholdings in companies that manufacture covid-19 diagnostic tests, treatments, and vaccines.

“Government appointees are able to ignore or cherry pick science—another form of misuse—and indulge in anti-competitive practices that favour their own products and those of friends and associates.

“The stakes are high for politicians, scientific advisers, and government appointees. Their careers and bank balances may hinge on the decisions that they make. But they have a higher responsibility and duty to the public.”

Greytown Hospital

Science, Abbasi argues, is a public good. It doesn’t need to be followed blindly, but it does need to be fairly considered.

“Importantly, suppressing science, whether by delaying publication, cherry picking favourable research, or gagging scientists, is a danger to public health, causing deaths by exposing people to unsafe or ineffective interventions and preventing them from benefiting from better ones.

“When entangled with commercial decisions it is also maladministration of taxpayers’ money.

“The medical-political complex tends towards suppression of science to aggrandise and enrich those in power. And, as the powerful become more successful, richer, and further intoxicated with power, the inconvenient truths of science are suppressed. When good science is suppressed, people die.”

The full British Medical Journal editorial can be read here.

Feature Image by Matt Jarvis.

A Queensland Sea Sponge Unravels a 700-Million-Year-Old Connection to Humans, As Editor, A Sense of Place Magazine, 2020.


A Queensland Sea Sponge Unravels a 700-Million-Year-Old Connection to Humans

By Emily S Wong, UNSW.

Many human traits, such as height and disease susceptibility, depend on genes that are encoded in our DNA. These genes are switched on and off and further fine-tuned by important but hard-to-find regions in the genome.

A particularly important class of these regions are known as enhancers, which boost the likelihood that a particular gene will be activated. Trying to find enhancers based on the genome sequence alone is incredibly difficult, like finding a light switch in a dark room.

That’s why, until now, there has not been a single example of a DNA sequence enhancer that has been found to be similar right across the animal kingdom.

In a new study published in Science, we found that humans, mice, zebrafish — and most likely the entire animal kingdom — share enhancer regions with a sea sponge that comes from the Great Barrier Reef. Because sea sponges and humans last shared a common ancestor more than 700 million years ago, this means the functional mechanism has been preserved across all this time.

Read more: From brittle stars grows a ‘tree of life’: how genes trace life on Earth

What we did

Our study involved a team of researchers from the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, The University of Queensland, The Centenary Institute, and Monash University. We started by collecting sea sponge samples from the Great Barrier Reef, near Heron Island.

At the University of Queensland, we extracted enhancer DNA from the sea sponge and injected it into a single cell from a zebrafish embryo. We found that while the sea sponge enhancer sequences were very different from zebrafish enhancer sequences, they still worked: they successfully and consistently drove the expression of a fluorescent protein in certain types of zebrafish cells.

Read more: Animals in research: zebrafish

Based on computational predictions, we also identified and tested similar enhancers from humans and mice, to show that these sequences drive the expression of a fluorescent protein in similar zebrafish cell types during development.

We discovered that despite differences between the genetic sequences of sponges and humans due to millions of years of evolution, we could identify a similar set of genomic instructions that controls gene expression in both organisms.

What this means

Our findings represent a fundamental discovery in understanding the connection between our genomes and our physical traits.

The sections of DNA that are responsible for controlling gene expression are notoriously difficult to find, study and understand. Even though they make up a significant part of the human genome, researchers are only beginning to understand this genetic “dark matter”.

The work is helping us learn to “read” and understand the human genome, which is amazingly complex. Knowing more about how our genes operate will also help us understand what goes wrong in disease. An improved understanding of the genome will also help us understand how animals evolve.

Read more: Living with complexity: evolution, ecology, viruses and climate change

Emily S Wong, Head of Regulatory Systems, Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute and Senior research fellow, UNSW

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

Saturday, 14 November 2020

Australian Sues The Emir of Dubai, A Sense of Place Magazine, 15 November, 2020.


Australian Sues The Emir of Dubai

Australian Sues The Emir of Dubai

Well that’s not a headline you see everyday.

But that’s exactly what one Australian has been doing.

The story is a complicated one, made more complicated by the passing of time and a long history of legal maneuvering.

But it begins spectacularly against, as suits the leader of Dubai, a backdrop of spectacular wealth.

The emirate has been a centre for international trade in the Persian Gulf for more than a century. An Arabic expression “Daba Dubai” means, “they came with a lot of money”.

The scene of Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid al-Maktoum’s death

The emir of Dubai, Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid al-Maktoum, was in Australia in late 2005, arriving on the Gold Coast in eastern Queensland on December 28th to attend the world-renowned yearling sale dubbed “Magic Millions”.

He arrived in his personal Boeing 747-400 and was staying at the luxury Palazzo Versace hotel.

He passed away on the 4th of January, 2006.

The Sheik was a racing enthusiast with deep pockets, co-owner of Godolphin Racing, the Maktoum families private racing stable, the world’s largest thoroughbred breeding team.

It was named after the Godolphin Arabian, one of the three founding stallions of the modern thoroughbred.

Sheik Maktoum Bin Rashid was born in 1943 into Dubai’s ruling family, becoming ruler himself in 1990.

The Emir reportedly died of a heart attack. There were no published scandals associated with his death. Rashid Al Maktoum’s body was flown back to Dubai within hours, complying with Islamic tradition that a body should be buried within 24 hours.

Sheik Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, 1968.

Dubai declared 40 days of mourning, with government offices shutting down for seven days. The stock exchanges in Dubai and Abu Dhabi ceased trading, and many shops and businesses closed.

Power immediately passed to his brother, His Royal Highness Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who leads Dubai to this day.

It was at this point local Muslim leaders in Queensland suggested that as a token of respect, and to satisfy the community needs of the expanding Islamic community, two schools be constructed, one on the Gold Coast to be named after the deceased, and one in Brisbane, to be named in honour of the current leader of Dubai.

Imam Abdul Quddoos Azhari, one of the most senior leaders of the Queensland Sunni Muslim community, was the originator of the proposal.

To have their children attend Islamic schools rather than state public schools is of major significance to the Muslim community.

Traditional Muslim families do not appreciate the state system’s lack of adherence to prayer schedules, the lack of belief in Allah, who permeates their every waking moment and inadequately supervised mixing of boys and girls being forbidden by their teachings.

“They are bringing their children to be educated in an Islamic environment, where they pray and read the Koran, at the same time as satisfying and excelling in the Australian curriculum,” the Imam says.

“The Muslim children are coming from faraway, ten or 15 kilometres, even if there is a public school in front of their house. It is very important for Muslims that their children learn in an Islamic setting.”

In recent times the teaching of gender fluidity under the guise of the Safe Schools program has driven even more Muslim families into the private system.

Students at the Gold Coast Maktoum bin Rashid al-Maktoum College

Issues surrounding gender and sexuality must be very delicately addressed in Muslim schools so as to avoid conflict with Islamic teachings.

The building and establishment of these schools was a significant step forward for Queensland’s growing Muslim community, and created a sense of bonding and purpose. Muslim families were for years asked for donations to save their schools.

The Gold Coast school’s official website declares: “The campus boasts a rich, green, scenic setting for your child to learn, laugh, and grow. With small class sizes, the teachers gain an in-depth view into your child’s learning habits.

“The students utilise the large multipurpose hall for sporting activities, and the daily Zuhr (midday) prayers. There are also Imams on staff to deliver the Islamic curriculum and willing to guide your child through any religious queries or complications they may have during their time here.”

The construction of both schools, including the purchase of land, cost in the order of $20 million. Both schools have received government funding since their inception.

The Imam claims he proceeded with the purchase and construction on the understanding that Dubai’s ruling house would fund the project.

Fast forward to the present, and the Imam, along with other Trustees of the Australian Islamic Educational Trust, are suing the ruler of Dubai for a shortfall of $7 million.

The case has already passed through the Queensland Supreme Court, where the judge, while not fully dismissing the case, has ruled that the Emir of Dubai is not a defendant.

The school considered an appeal on the grounds that the judge does not understand Arabic culture, and the nature of sovereignty in the Arab world.  

That is, that they were given good reason to believe that the Emir of Dubai would fund the project in honour of his brother and proceeded to borrow and spend millions of dollars on building and construction of the schools in the belief that the money would be forthcoming.

This is where the case gets complicated.

Gold Coast Campus

In a summary of the long running dispute presented to the court Imam Abdul Quddoos says His Royal Highness Hamdam Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the new ruler of Dubai, sent a letter to the Imam thanking him for the condolences over the death of his brother and approving in principle the construction of two schools, in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast.

This correspondence was sent through Mirza Al Sayegh, personal secretary to His Royal Highness.

Several meetings took place between the Imam and a delegation from the College with Mirza and the Al Maktoum Foundation, a charitable foundation in the Middle East set up with a $10 billion donation from the ruler of Dubai, one of the largest charitable donations in history.

There were meetings in both London and Dubai.

The claim is that at these meetings it was clearly suggested to the Australian Imam that in order to build the memorial school, the College had first to acquire the land. This was duly purchased in Carrara, a leafy suburb of the Gold Coast. Completed in February, 2008, the College was obliged to borrow $2.2 million from the Commonwealth Bank.

The Imam remained confident that the debt would be settled with funds from Dubai.  He was told by many UAE students in QLD that the Emir’s letter is a guarantee and it would cause offence to the Emir if his “in principle” offer was not acted on. 

It was at the Imam’s first meeting with Mirza Al Sayegh that he understood that the Gold Coast Campus was a higher priority for the Emir and he quickly proceeded to purchase a suitable plot of land for the purpose of establishing a Muslim school in the name of the Emir’s deceased brother on the Gold Coast.

Additional funds were borrowed from wealthy members of the Muslim community to fund the cost and construction of the buildings and related infrastructure.

Meetings, correspondence and consultations continued in the subsequent years, but no money from Dubai was forthcoming.

These interactions continued for a good decade, with the Imam remaining of the belief that the matter would be resolved and the bank debt settled.

The Imam writes: “The college is going through tremendous financial difficulties, paying the cost of the land to the bank, the teachers, staff and operational costs. The interest on loan has multiplied many folds.

“We are definitely and desperately seeking help at this critical and crucial time to resolve this very long outstanding matter to save the school and to protect the good image and reputation of the Al Maktoum Family.

And so to court.

The hearing at the Supreme Court of Queensland was held in May of this year, with the judgement delivered in September by Justice Susan Brown, former Vice-President of the Bar Association of Queensland and a former director of the Law Council of Australia.

No formal agreement was entered into between the parties.

In Arabic culture, a Sovereign’s word is as good as his bond.

The judgement hinges on the term “estoppel”, essentially a judicial device where a court may prevent a defendant from going back on their word.

The Australian plaintiffs claim that through multiple meetings and extensive correspondence they had every reason to believe that the monies spent on establishing the schools in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast would be reimbursed.

The defendants in the case were firstly the Emir of Dubai, second the Al Maktoum Foundation and thirdly Mirza Al Sayegh, personal assistant to the Emir of Dubai.

Gold Coast Campus

Her Honour noted: “The plaintiffs claim that, either by reason of conventional estoppel or promissory estoppel, the first and second defendants are estopped from departing from a common understanding or denying their liability to reimburse the plaintiffs for the cost of the acquisition of land and construction of the schools.”

Justice Brown, in her summary of the competing claims, said representatives of the ruler of Dubai contended that in order to succeed the plaintiffs must prove that the Emir understood, assumed or expected to pay certain costs of constructing the schools or was obliged to reimburse those costs.

“It is contended on behalf of the first defendant that the plaintiffs fail at the threshold and that an analysis of the facts and documents relied upon by them in their pleaded case reveals there is no prospect of the plaintiffs successfully establishing the above matters in respect of the first defendant.”

In the judgement Her Honour found in favour of the ruler of Dubai and dismissed any claims against him.

“I am satisfied that the plaintiffs’ claims as pleaded and as disclosed by the facts upon which they rely does not have any real prospect of succeeding against the first defendant. Nor is there any circumstance which supports the fact that a trial of claim against the first defendant is required.”

That’s a loss. Full stop.

However Justice Brown left both the charity The Al Maktoum Foundation and the Emir’s representative Mizra Al Sayegh as defendants in any further proceedings.

Many millions of dollars out of pocket, and with mounting legal costs, the judgement did not satisfy the Australian contingent, who remained aggrieved and started considering grounds of  Appeal on the grounds that Her Honour misunderstood the nature of Sovereignty in Arabic culture, where a ruler’s word is law.

Their argument was that the court, in keeping the Emir’s personal representative Mirza Al Sayegh as a defendant, must by necessity mean that the Emir whom he was representing and for whom he continues to be Secretary must still be a defendant. 

At no stage did the Emir say in any form of communication that Mirza does not represent his will. 

They wanted to argue that the only way that a court can take his name out is for the Emir to dismiss Mirza and prosecute him for false representation. That did not happen.

The school was very reluctant to go to court, according to the Imam. 

“I want to make it clear, we waited for 14 years, acting on promise after promise. But, after these 14 difficult years, with everything in our lives disrupted by this episode, we have no choice but to go to court for the sake of the children and the honour of Dubai’s ruling family.”

After legal consultation, the group have reluctantly dropped the Emir of Dubai as a defendant, but intend to proceed with the case against both the al-Maktoum Foundation and the Emir’s representative Mirza Al Sayegh in the Supreme Court of Queensland.

And that, for the moment, is where the case lies: millions out of pocket, millions still in play, hundreds of Islamic families concerned about their children’s education and the future of their community’s schools.