AUSTRALIAN POLITICS -- MIRROR ARCHIVE
Looking at Australian politics from a libertarian/conservative perspective...
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31 December, 2005
Race riots will not recur: Islamic leaders
Muslim leaders believe Sydney has experienced the last of the race riots that erupted almost three weeks ago in Cronulla. NSW Islamic Council spokesman Ali Roude told The Australian that consultation between community leaders, police and government meant there would not be a repeat of the ugly scenes at Cronulla beach on Sunday, December 11. "We have been successful, at least for the time being," he said. "We are confident we have been successful that the riot that occurred on that day was the first and the last. "We are comfortable that everyone is committed and we have proven to the international community in relation to the riots that we have been successful in repressing it, and repressing it for good."
While Muslim leaders have declared the violence over, the NSW Government is not as confident and considers New Year's Eve and Australia Day to be potential flashpoints. Police are still on alert for troublespots, with roving teams of riot police and highway patrol officers on duty.
The Victorian Equal Opportunity Commission wimps out: They only persecute Christian Pastors
On 21 December I posted an email from Joe Cambria challenging the Equal Opportunity Commission of Victoria to take action about an anti-Muslim article that was in fact much more scathing than the Christian Pastors the EOCV has prosecuted. Below is the evasive reply (in rather poor English) received by Mr Cambria plus a rejoinder from Mr Cambria
"Thank you for your email of 20th December 2005 concerning issues in relation to the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 (Vic) ("the RRTA"), which also contained a recent article by Gerard Jackson from BrookesNews.com. Your email attributed the Equal Opportunity Commission with a particular role under the RRTA which is incorrect - I would like to address these inaccuracies.
In particular, apart from very limited circumstances, the Commission is not responsible for initiating and pursuing complaints under the RRTA. Complaints under the RRTA are lodged by individuals or representative bodies who firstly decide whether they wish to initiate a complaint, and then decide how far they wish to pursue the matter.
The vast majority of complaints are finalised in the course of the Commission's impartial investigation and conciliation processes, however, if complaints are not conciliated, the person or body who lodged the complaint can have the matter referred to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal ("VCAT").
Where a request is made to refer a complaint to VCAT the Commission has no discretion in the matter and must act on that request. The Commission is not a party to hearings at VCAT and plays no part in their determination. I noted above that there are very limited circumstances in which the Commission can initiate a complaint under the RRTA. Thus far the Commission has not used this power.
The other matter you raised concerned the actions of a former staff member of the Commission, in relation to the seminar that was the subject matter of the recent RRTA case involving the Catch the Fire Ministry. In the context of the Commission's role under the RRTA that I have described above, the Commission upholds the most stringent standards of confidentiality, impartiality and political independence in all its dealings. The Commission does not pre-empt or manufacture complaints - we provide a free, impartial and confidential complaint resolution service for people, and offer education and information about discrimination, sexual harassment and racial and religious vilification.
The Commission's education and complaint resolution functions are kept strictly separate and all complaints are subject to strict confidentiality standards. If a staff member, past or present has acted improperly they did so without the authority of the Commission, and all Commission staff are regularly reminded about the parameters of their role and the differences between outreach, education and advocacy.
With regard to the article your forwarded to me I do not intent to make any comment.
Dr Helen Szoke, Chief Conciliator/Chief Executive Officer, Equal Opportunity Commission Victoria, Level 3, 380 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000 Ph: (03) 9281 7170 Fax: (03) 9281 7159 web: www.eoc.vic.gov.au
Dear Ms. Szoke:
Thank you for taking time to reply. It's not obvious little can be done about Gerry Jackson's accusations regarding the Islamic Prophet. I spoke with Gerry about the issues you mentioned in your letter and he suggests you simply follow the same course of action your office did when it went after the two Christian Pastors. That is, request May Helou from your office to ask a couple of Islamic converts to read the contents of Gerry's article and file a complaint. It doesn't seem very hard does it, after all Ms. Helou seems to be accomplished in such tasks? As I see it, what's "good" for the Pastors is "good" for Gerry Jackson, don't you think?
Why most Australians use private dentists
Waiting times for Queensland's public dental services have been described as "atrocious", with some patients waiting up to five years for a basic check-up, according to the Australian Dental Association. And the continuing inability to attract staff will mean that significant funding increases by the state government would be unlikely to alleviate waiting times.
ADA Queensland immediate past president Dr Michael Foley, who works as a public sector dentist for Queensland Health, said the average length people were waiting for basic services was greater than three years. "At Logan it is five years. Where I used to work at Inala it is 4« years. South Brisbane, where I currently am, it is four years," Dr Foley said. "These are people we are getting off the waiting list to do check ups, fillings, basic cut and polishes. This is simply unacceptable - it is atrocious. We all know anything in public health there is going to involve waiting lists - our patients accept that. But to be waiting that long is an abrogation of responsibility by the State Government."
Figures provided by Queensland Health and Health Minister Stephen Robertson confirm Dr Foley's claim on the length of times people were waiting for public dental services. But Queensland Health claimed that the average wait decreased by 11 weeks between July 2004 and November 2005 and that patients requiring emergency care were generally seen within 24 hours. In response to a question on notice regarding the Gold Coast's Palm Beach Dental Clinic, Mr Robertson admitted the numbers of patients being seen had declined. "In 2003-04 there were 9901 occasions of service provided by the Palm Beach Oral Health Clinic. In 2004-05 there were 8773 occasions of service provided by the Palm Beach Oral Health Clinic," Mr Robertson said.
Dr Foley said many young dentists were going into private practice where they could get significantly better pay and conditions than working for Queensland Health. Dr Foley said young dentists working in the public sector were faced with doing very basic dental work, while their colleagues in private practice could perform a greater range of dental services to develop their skills. He said government funding increases would not offset the problem. "They can pour as much money in it as they want, but if we can't recruit the staff we won't be able to see the patients," Dr Foley said. "Dentistry has changed in last 20 to 30 years, but government dentistry hasn't and dentists are voting with their feet. They are fed up with angry patients who are fed up with having to wait for years."
Opposition Health spokesman Dr Bruce Flegg said public dental services in Queensland were "over-stretched and virtually inaccessible for the majority of Queenslanders". "They are another example of making unmet promises to people instead of telling them the true status of the services," he said.
More bureaucracy gone mad
A Federal Government body charged with investigating gambling has agreed on a definition for problem gambling - five years after being established.
And the 28-word definition came at a cost to taxpayers of nearly $1 million. Social welfare experts say it is an example of bureaucratic madness, and that a conversation with any gambler in any pub in Australia could elicit a definition within a few minutes.
The research was commissioned by the Ministerial Council on Gambling, headed by federal Family and Community Services Minister Kay Patterson, with representatives from every state and territory government. The 200-page report states "problem gambling is characterised by difficulties in limiting money and/or time spent on gambling, which leads to adverse consequences for the gambler, others or for the community".
30 December, 2005
Howard derangement syndrome
The American Left seem to be retreating ever farther from reality in what has been called "Bush derangement syndrome". The Australian Left has "Howard derangement syndrome" as its equivalent. There is an example of it excerpted below. It is however a bit misleading to regard it all as irrational. In one way it is perfectly rational. People who write the sort of tripe below are really saying: "Look at me. Look how wonderfully kind and tolerant and understanding I am." By denigrating their fellow-Australians, they hope to inflate their own reputation for wonderful goodness and insight. Just to take the first sentence below: If Australia is a racist backwater, how come we take in more refugess (per capita) than just about any other nation? And how come multiculturalism is unquestioned official dogma? Note also that one of the people the writer denigrates is Bob Carr, one of Australia's most popular politicians of the LEFT! So practically everybody in Australia is morally inferior to our brave writer! What a wanker! (jerk)
"Australia is a backwater, a racist and inward-looking country that turns its back on adventure and the opportunity to do better; a country that has rejected leaders who provide the chance for a multiracial, multicultural and independent nation to prosper in the region where it is, Asia-Pacific. It is a nation which periodically makes world headlines for its racist outbursts, whether it be the disgraceful campaign of the Howard Government in 2001 to demonise the wretched and the weak who sought sanctuary on our shores, or the media and political leaders who barracked for Pauline Hanson's inane and stupid rhetoric about Aboriginal Australians and Asians, or the racist thugs now taking it upon themselves to beat up anyone who looks as if they are from the Middle East.
Attacks that Prime Minister John Howard refuses to see as examples of Australia's racism, which is exactly what they are. Perhaps that's because he is partly to blame for last week's appalling events and for the persecution of Muslims and Arab Australians in the community.....
It's the conservatism that dismantles the policy of multiculturalism, a policy Malcolm Fraser championed and which refuses to allow Anglo-European traditions to suffocate other great cultures and value systems. It is also a conservatism that refuses to let Australia grow up, a conservatism that forelock tugs before an English Queen and a British monarchy that is rancid and corrupt. The racist thuggery of the past week is the inevitable consequence of the conservatism of people such as Howard and former New South Wales premier Bob Carr, a conservatism that never challenges and dismantles the antics of such media as The Daily Telegraph in Sydney and shock-jocks such as John Laws and Alan Jones, who perpetrate a myth about Arab Australians being different and somehow less Australian than the rest of us.
It's a media which shamefully subscribes to the view that the rape of European women in Sydney five years ago by a gang of young men, who happened to be Lebanese, was a battle between the values of Arab Australians and European Australians; a media which whips up fear and loathing by attacking the right of Muslim women to have their own time in a local swimming pool for religious and cultural reasons"
Queensland beach concerns:
Muslims are a NSW problem
Shake it downwind, please! Sunburn is not the only festive season turn-off for beachgoers causing thoughts of relaxation to turn to sand-rage. When beach etiquette - the unwritten rules of the sand - is breached, holiday temperatures can soar. Shaking a sandy towel into the wind appears to be the ultimate sin. But there are other dilemmas to deal with. How close to park a towel? When does an admiring glance become an indecent perve? Is smoking allowed?
"Everybody does whatever they want and don't seem to care about anybody else," said Caroline Heisner, who escaped the haze of Brisbane for the waves of Surfers Paradise yesterday. "Some people don't seem to know how to behave."
Youths treating the sand like a football stadium also raised the ire of sunbakers. Steven Rice, 26, and Scott Hemmings, 20, pleaded guilty to committing beach sports crimes. "We throw the ball around, and occasionally hit people." "Sometimes they're nice and throw it back, but usually they tell us to get lost," Mr Hemmings said. "But it happens on the beach, you should be allowed to come down here to have fun." Mr Rice said children were the biggest nuisance on the sand. "They make excess noise, they flick water on you when they run past, they come in packs, and they're everywhere in the water," he said. He was also particularly annoyed by girls who screamed excessively when entering the water.
Jane Croser, 23, said the popularity of Gold Coast beaches made harmony impossible. "It's hard not to offend someone else when everyone crowds in to the small space near the flags," she said.
Females also reported being hassled by zealous would-be suitors who treated the beach like a nightclub. Gold Coast Chief Lifeguard Warren Young said it was a matter of respect. "People appreciate that we have visitors from overseas and other parts of the country that might not be used to the sand or the ocean," he said. "It's all just about respect. You wouldn't kick a soccer ball around a crowded beach. Nobody likes sand flicked around, especially when it's blowy."
How to emigrate to Australia
A useful article here. Australia's ethnic problems are minor compared to Britain and the USA. Excerpt:
"Ever wondered how to go about emigrating to Australia and go about getting an Australian visa? Wondering what the various options were and how to go about the different schemes without too much red tape or expense? There are lots of ways to emigrate to Australia. This article spells it out in 9 easy stages.
The Australian economy has never been stronger and the Australian government are particularly looking out for skilled people with a specialization in many business and trade areas. In order to emigrate you could go the route of an expensive lawyer, or you could get the advice of specialist Australian immigration consultants to see if you qualify for Australian immigration eligibility.
If you are wondering about work skills needed to emigrate to Australia or qualifications needed to emigrate to Australia then it's worth bearing in mind that there is a points system for applying for what is known as the Skilled Visa. You can fill in an online form to see if you satisfy the Australian immigration points system as set out by the Australian Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMIA)".
29 December, 2005
An excellent year for conservatives and the country
John Howard will be with us for a very long time. Even if the Prime Minister hands over the reins to Treasurer Peter Costello in 2006, the Howard imprint will remain for years to come. Looking back on 2005, Howard has put serious runs on the board. He will not be remembered as a do nothing, occupy the crease kind of PM. He's more Don Bradman than Trevor "Barnacle" Bailey, the English all-rounder who made the slowest half-century in first-class cricket.
It has been a momentous year for the conservative cause. Howard has become for Australia what Ronald Reagan was to the US and Margaret Thatcher to Britain. Plenty of politicians spend a lifetime gaining power and, when it comes, are so busy holding on to it that they shy away from controversial but much needed reform. Think of Malcolm Fraser. Known for little more than his efforts in Zimbabwe and introducing secondary boycott provisions in the Trade Practices Act, Fraser was out for a duck, if we're talking cricket. Howard, on the other hand, is changing Australia to reflect the way we work, the way we raise our children, the way we're educated, the sorts of things we expect governments to do and, more to the point, the things we want to do for ourselves.
Of course, Howard is far from the perfect conservative. He has thrown tax dollars at failed businesses (Ansett, United Medical Protection), set up slush funds to massage the passage of reforms (voluntary student unionism, Telstra), and continues to prop up and pander to powerful lobbies (pharmacists). Not to mention his obscene election spending sprees. But, then, reform comes at a price. And Howard is on the reform path.
Generations X and Y (and indeed earlier generations) are no more interested in collectivist labour structures than they are in allowing central planning of their sexual and social beliefs. So the Work Choices legislation puts individual choice above union power. Similarly, the VSU reforms are based on a simple idea that no one should be forced to join a union, be it on campus or in the workplace. So if students want to jump on a bus to Woomera to protest against mandatory detention, fine. But don't expect other students to pick up the bus fare by paying compulsory union fees.
Indigenous people are being encouraged to take responsibility for their lives, to work, to be able to buy their home, to send their children to school, because the past 30 years of top-down, bureaucrat-driven regulation has failed them.
Telstra is being sold because public ownership of assets in such a hi-tech, high risk, fast-moving industry is only slightly less Jurassic than Soviet-style collectives or the Great Leap Forward.
Critics go bonkers at the idea of Howard changing Australia. The level of vitriol aimed at the Prime Minister on each of these issues is testimony not only to the significance of these changes but also to the fact Howard is overturning long entrenched vested interests, be it in the workplace, on campus, in indigenous politics and so on. A few weeks ago, even University of Sydney vice-chancellor Gavin Brown was calling VSU supporters such as Howard "redneck philistines". Hardly an intellectual response from our lofty academics. But, then, no one relinquishes power or money quietly.
Then there are the genuine but misguided Fabian socialists who believe, to steal from Reagan, that a little band of intellectual elites in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves. These people have lost their elevated status in Howard's Australia.
Other critics include one Greg Barns, once a Liberal, then a Democrat, now politically homeless, who last week wrote that Australia had become a pigsty under Howard, the conservative ideologue. The country, he argued, needed to be rescued by some latter-day Gough Whitlam or Paul Keating. Poor Greg sits waiting for Judgment Day, when a new philosopher king will lift whatever party he then belongs to into power while the Coalition will be cast into eternal damnation.
To criticise Howard as a conservative ideologue gravely underestimates him. Far from this being one man's ideological jaunt, Howard has caught the temper of his times. For Howard, conservatism is not an abstract ideology. It is diametrically opposed to abstractionism. It is rooted, instead, in human experience, in what works and what doesn't. To borrow again from Reagan, when "conservatives say that we know something about political affairs and that what we know can be stated in principles, we are saying that the principles we hold dear are those that have been found, through experience, to be ultimately beneficial for individuals, for families, for communities and for nations; found through the often bitter testing of pain or sacrifice and sorrow".
Howard's year of reform is driven by the idea that what works is letting individuals be free to make their own choices. Which raises a sweet irony in the progressives' opposition to Howard's reforms. The Left, after all, let the individualism cat out of the bag back in the 1960s when we were encouraged to "do our own thing" without any state interference. What people did in their personal lives was out of bounds. So why the vitriol when a similar notion is applied to people's lives once they step inside a workplace, a university or the family home? But such logic is wasted. Instead, pining after bygone days, critics such as Hugh Mackay suggest workplace relations may just be on the cusp of a new "communitarian era", communitarian being an updated and refurbished version of collectivism. As if somehow a new word will fool us into thinking the Left is pursuing something new.
And just to confirm that opposition aimed at Howard is too often unshackled by reason or evidence, the Howard haters have finished off the year with one of their old favourite taunts: Howard, the racist ringleader. When, after the Cronulla riots in Sydney, he refused to label Australians as inherently racist, it was just another example of "all sorts of dark shadows fall[ing] out of his mouth", according to Richard Ackland. Howard is holding the lead of that "rancid old race dog". Or, according to left-wing think tanker Clive Hamilton, Howard was whistling at us racist dogs. And let's not forget Barns's contribution: we are living in a pigsty with the PM winking and nodding to a racist populace.
Dark shadows? Leads and dogs? Pigs? Winks and nods? Howard's critics imagine he has some spooky Svengali-like influence over that dumb animal farm known as the Australian electorate. But, then, Howard haters are forced to talk down to voters rather than 'fess up to the fact the PM may be on to something with policies based on empowering individuals to make their own decisions, thus neutering a whole swag of elites who would prefer to call the shots. No wonder his critics are becoming more feral every day
(From Janet Albrechtsen)
Australia's multicultural Muslims
When a number of teenage Australian girls were subjected to hours of sexual degradation during a spate of gang rapes in Sydney that occurred between 1998 and 2002, the perpetrators of these assaults framed their rationale in ethnic terms. The young victims were informed that they were "sluts" and "Aussie pigs" while they were being hunted down and abused. In Australia's New South Wales Supreme Court in December 2005, a visiting Pakistani rapist testified that his victims had no right to say no, because they were not wearing a headscarf. And earlier this year Australians were outraged when Lebanese Sheik Faiz Mohammed gave a lecture in Sydney where he informed his audience that rape victims had no one to blame but themselves. Women, he said, who wore skimpy clothing, invited men to rape them....
This phenomenon of Islamic sexual violence against women should be treated as the urgent, violent, repressive epidemic it is. Instead, journalists, academics, and politicians ignore it, rationalize it, or ostracize those who dare discuss it. In Australia, when journalist Paul Sheehan reported honestly on the Sydney gang rapes, he was called a racist and accused of stirring up anti-Muslim hatred. And when he reported in his Sydney Morning Herald column that there was a high incidence of crime amongst Sydney's Lebanese community, fellow journalist, David Marr sent him an e-mail stating, "That is a disgraceful column that reflects poorly on us all at the Herald."
Keysar Trad, vice-president of the Australian Lebanese Muslim Association said the gang rapes were a "heinous" crime but complained it was "rather unfair" that the ethnicity of the rapists had been reported.
Journalist Miranda Devine reported during the same rape trials that all reference to ethnicity had been deleted from the victim impact statement because the prosecutors wanted to negotiate a plea bargain. So when Judge Megan Latham declared, "There is no evidence before me of any racial element in the commission of these offences," everyone believed her. And the court, the politicians and most of the press may as well have raped the girls again.
Retired Australian detective Tim Priest warned in 2004 that the Lebanese gangs, which emerged in Sydney in the 1990s -- when the police were asleep -- had morphed out of control. "The Lebanese groups," he said, " were ruthless, extremely violent, and they intimidated not only innocent witnesses, but even the police that attempted to arrest them." Priest describes how in 2001, in a Muslim dominated area of Sydney two policemen stopped a car containing three well-known Middle Eastern men to search for stolen property. As the police carried out their search they were physically threatened and the three men claimed they were going to track them down, kill them and then rape their girlfriends.
According to Priest, it didn't end there. As the Sydney police called for backup the three men used their mobile phones to call their associates, and within minutes, 20 Middle Eastern men arrived on the scene. They punched and pushed the police and damaged state vehicles. The police retreated and the gang followed them to the police station where they intimidated staff, damaged property and held the police station hostage. Eventually the gang left, the police licked their wounds, and not one of them took action against the Middle Eastern men. Priest claims, "In the minds of the local population, the police are cowards and the message was, 'Lebanese [Muslim gangs] rule the streets.'".....
In July 2005, Melbourne Sheik Mohammad Omran told Sixty Minutes that "...we believe we have more rights than you because we choose Australia to be our home and you didn't. " In the same interview visiting Sheik Khalid Yasin warned "There's no such thing as a Muslim having a non-Muslim friend, so a non-Muslim could be your associate but they can't be a friend. They're not your friend because they don't understand your religious principles and they cannot because they don't understand your faith."
Despite being told over and over by Islamic scholars, and witnessing massive influxes of Islamic crime, Western countries continue to believe in the reality of assimilation and moral relativism. In Australia, Lebanese Christians have assimilated and become a respected part of our community. The Premier of Victoria is a Lebanese Christian as is the Governor Of New South Wales. However, Lebanese Muslims have encountered serious problems because of their refusal to accept our right to live our way of life. Nothing so clearly demonstrates that it is not an issue of race -- but of culture.
Much more here
Kezza died with dignity
Aware that he was near the end of his life, Kerry Packer, the Australian media tycoon, told doctors not to intervene and asked to be left to "die with dignity", it emerged yesterday. Mr Packer refused treatment for his failing heart and kidneys, choosing to stay at home in his mansion in Sydney rather than be taken to hospital for further dialysis and medication. "I think his words were `This is my time'," said Alan Jones, a broadcaster and friend, after visiting his family. Mr Jones said that Mr Packer spoke to him before Christmas. "He said `Look. I can't eat what I want to eat. I can't do what I want to do and I can't go where I want to go. Son, what am I doing here?'," he recalled.
Ian Bailey, who has been Mr Packer's cardiologist for eight years, called him "the bravest patient I have ever known". "He knew his body better than the doctors did and made his own decisions about treatment," said Mr Bailey. "He was going into organ failure last week and suffering. He was ready to die. There were no more rabbits to pull out of the hat." Dr Bailey said that kidney failure - of a kidney that Mr Packer had received in a transplant in 2000 - was the immediate cause of his death at 68.
The kidney was donated by Nick Ross, his helicopter pilot, who described him as "a wonderful human being". "I have known Kerry for 25 years and we have shared some fantastic times together," he said. "I consider it a privilege to have given him my kidney when he so desperately needed it. A part of me died yesterday too."
Mr Packer died on Boxing Day with his wife, Ros, his daughter Gretel, 39, and his son, James, 37, at his bedside. He leaves behind an estimated fortune of 3 billion and a media empire that will be inherited by his son, who will become the fourth generation to run the family's business.
Staff 'surplus to requirements' at corrupt Australian public university
I always thought that the people in charge were a pretty slimy lot when I taught at the University of NSW but I think they have got worse since. Note this previous case involving the same university
Further allegations are emerging ahead of a report due soon from the NSW Ombudsman's office into the handling of internal complaints by a top university. Senior management at the University of NSW hired a former doctor, who had been deregistered for having sex with his patient, for a sensitive and important education post, running the university's Educational Testing Centre, which contracts out services to schools, governments and business, according to complainants. The man, Alan Bowen-James, was previously found to have lied to the Medical Tribunal and the NSW Supreme Court.
But some university staff who questioned the wisdom of the appointment have run into trouble. The outspoken former ETC services manager, Peter Curtin, was found to be "surplus to requirements" after a review of the agency's structure and is now working in a country town. A staff representative on the governing university council, medical academic John Carmody, who also questioned Bowen-James's appointment, faced disciplinary charges for being disrespectful to another senior staff member over the affair. The internal charge was not proceeded with and Carmody has retired from UNSW.
The ETC, which runs the lucrative skills-based tests for primary schools throughout Australia and, increasingly, many international clients, has had a troubled recent history. After complaints from staff, in 2001 the NSW Audit Office found the ETC was poorly administered and was characterised by "cronyism and nepotism" under then director James Tognolini, who later left. The NSW Ombudsman's office found that about 25 per cent of the ITC staff were related to other staff. The woman who made these early allegations, under the Protected Disclosures Act, also lost her position, a trend that was soon to be established.
After this controversy the ETC, which was sliced from the mainstream university to a UNSW company called NewSouth Global (but whose officers were all appointed by the university), advertised for a new general manager and Bowen-James was appointed on a temporary basis. However, after he took over, some ETC staff who checked on him learned of his background. Bowen-James, a GP who was trained in psychotherapy by psychiatrist Wynne Childs (herself deregistered for having sex with her patients), was found guilty of sexual misconduct by the NSW Medical Tribunal in 1991. He admitted to the tribunal that many of the therapy sessions he had with a woman patient, identified under the pseudonym of M, were conducted at restaurants and coffee bars rather than in his waiting rooms.
Patient M said Bowen-James then invited her to his home (while his wife was overseas) and they had sex on a number of occasions. Bowen-James denied this, claiming M was suffering from borderline personality disorder and "was fantasising" about him. But in the majority decision, tribunal members believed M's version of events over Bowen-James's, after they determined that Bowen-James had made false statements in various job applications and to investigators during the Health Complaints Unit investigation. Bowen-James appealed the decision, which had been made on the tribunal chairman's deciding vote, to the NSW Supreme Court in July 1992. The Supreme Court upheld the tribunal's decision that he be deregistered and, in its judgment on reviewing the case, also found that Bowen-James had lied.
However, the decision did not stop Bowen-James from acting as a counsellor and he advised people such as Brendan Moran, the son of healthcare tycoon Doug Moran, who later committed suicide. After this background came out at UNSW, it was suggested to the then university vice-chancellor, Rory Hume, and his deputy John Ingleson by Curtin and Carmody that the university should not confirm Bowen-James's appointment. Curtin says: "I did not think it was appropriate that a deregistered doctor and someone who had perjured themselves should be appointed to such an important post at the university and I let my superiors know." A UNSW spokeswoman yesterday declined to comment.
Others at the ETC also questioned Bowen-James's curriculum vitae, which boasted 14 university degrees from a plethora of institutions, including degrees in law as well as medicine, business administration (masters), education, philosophy and information technology. But the university went ahead with Bowen-James's appointment anyway. However, Curtin says he soon had other reasons for concerns after some staff began complaining to him about alleged misconduct by Bowen-James.
Bowen-James, whose recent employment history had been in information technology, soon expanded the ETC's information technology section, hiring new staff, upgrading equipment and introducing new software systems, including one that was finally abandoned last year as a complete failure. It cost the university millions of dollars. In September 2003, Curtin wrote a letter "in confidence" to the NSG board and the university council expressing his disquiet. Eventually, after concerns were also raised at the council, especially by Carmody, the ETC let Bowen-James go. But after a review of the ETC in November 2003, Bowen-James's main accuser, Curtin, was made "surplus to requirements".
The Ombudsman's Office will also report on the treatment of complainants in the Bruce Hall case involving alleged research misconduct.
28 December, 2005
Why attacks on Sydney lifesavers (volunteer lifeguards) triggered such a strong reaction
In Australian mythology there is an invisible line between bronzed Anzacs and bronzed lifesavers. So when a gang "of Middle Eastern descent" attacked two surf lifesavers at Cronulla beach in Sydney earlier this month, the reaction from across the nation was of instant outrage.
The enduring image of an Australian lifesaver is a young man or woman who is brave, bronzed, sun-bleached and muscular, standing silently on the shore, gazing out to sea, watching over the rest of us as we carelessly frolic in the ocean. They use their physical strength and hard-won expertise to protect us, often at personal cost and danger to themselves, and most do it for free.
Paul Scott, a lecturer in communications at the University of Newcastle and a student of surf culture, says the symbolic position occupied by surf lifesavers in Australian society is one reason there was such a strong reaction to the bashing of the lifesavers. "There's a bit of a feeling that if you attack them you attack us," he says. "There's a view that they are the bronzed sons of Anzacs. Australian beach culture is very 'white bread', and the key components are youth and localism.
"Even when people go to another beach they still respect the locals and the fact that the locals have an association with a place. Here, people saw that localism as being attacked by a group who wasn't local or at least didn't seem to be."
Code to censor radical imams
It might work
Muslim clerics would be subject to a strict new code of behaviour under a plan being devised by Islamic leaders in Australia to rein in the inflammatory language of some extremist imams. The head of John Howard's Muslim Advisory Council, Ameer Ali, told The Australian yesterday that guidelines to control religious leaders would be thrashed out at a special meeting next month. "At the moment, we have no control over these imams, we don't know what the credentials of these imams are, what their qualifications are -- everybody gives sermons," said Dr Ali, president of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils. "So we want to have some sort of order in this chaos."
Under the proposal, first discussed at a meeting of Muslim leaders in August, a new national board of imams would set guidelines for religious figures and monitor their sermons. Dr Ali said the board of imams would set "rules and regulations about sermons and who gives the sermons". The idea is believed to have the backing of many moderate Muslim leaders, but it has infuriated firebrand Melbourne cleric Sheik Mohammed Omran. "They don't have authority, they don't have the power, they don't have any licence to talk about that," he said last night.
Dr Ali's comments come a day after the defiant Sheik Omran told The Australian the Howard Government should be held partly responsible for demonising Muslims and promoting terrorism. Sheik Omran, who was not invited to the Prime Minister's summit of moderate Islamic leaders earlier this year, said he was no more radical than many other imams in Australia, but accused other clerics of being too afraid to speak their mind.
But Dr Ali, spokesman for the Muslim Reference Group set up by the Howard Government to act as a go-between for the community and Canberra, said some clerics, including Sheik Omran, required "re-education" about their religion and advice on how to deliver sermons without encouraging "violence" or inciting young Muslims to extremism. "These (clerics) need some re-education about their own religion," Dr Ali said. "Not only in their subject matter, but how to communicate with youngsters; the language they use. "In these sermons, these imams are not questioned. They have the monopoly, they say whatever they like and they get out of it."
Sad to see a great Australian go
Your government will protect you
It is difficult to say which is more moronic -- U.S. or Australian "security" precautions
For four years Ashwin Sharma was an illegal resident, a fugitive. But that did not stop the 27-year-old Indian from making a mockery of Australia's frontline security at Sydney Airport. What is troubling is that it was not difficult, and if Sharma could do it so can a criminal, a narcotics trafficker, a thief. Or a terrorist.
All Sharma had to do was outlay $1200 to get a false NSW Security Industry licence. It was, Sharma boasted, too easy. In Sharma's case, a forged replica of his originally legally obtained security licence, with an added false expiry date, got him a job as a guard at Sydney Airport, where a recent Federal Government commission recommended an overhaul of protection arrangements. He was a guard at Patrick Corporation's international freight depot. The security contractor is FBIS International Protective Services.
This should be enough to give nightmares to those responsible for the nation's security. But what is even more alarming is that these security agencies were warned about Sharma but did nothing. The Australian Federal Police were told twice that Sharma was an illegal resident, that he had a forged security licence and that he worked at Patrick freight terminal. They were told where he lived. Nothing happened. The same information was given twice to the Immigration Department. It, too, failed to act. Finally it was given twice to the NSW Police. They ignored it.
This happened when Australia was involved in a heated debate about proposed security laws, which culminated in the dramatic arrests of 16 alleged terrorists in Sydney and Melbourne. While the back door was being slammed shut, the front door was wide open.
27 December, 2005
Comment from a Sydney reader: Today's Sydney Morning Herald presents a "map" of "intolerance" in Sydney. Interestingly the areas charted as the "most tolerant" have been those most successful at making their suburbs inaccessible by anyone from the Western [poorer] suburbs . For example Bondi, rated as "very tolerant", has a strong local "green" campaign opposing the logical extension of the Eastern Suburbs railway the mere kilometre or so from Bondi Junction to Bondi Beach. Such a move would actually make Australia's most famous beach accessible to people from across Sydney without the need to park up to a kilometre away to get there. Access is something the tolerant locals apparently don't want. And the "tolerant" inner city suburbs of Newtown and Paddington have more devious strategies for keeping the "riff raff" out. They use extreme "traffic calming" measures, including road closures and "mini-parks" to turn local street layouts into a maze that medieval fortress towns would envy. The snobbery and sheer prejudice inherent in this map is breathtaking.
The Australian Left is different: "Tax cuts for high-income earners and families will form the bedrock of a federal Labor tax plan designed to make Australia more competitive in the global labour market. Labor Treasury spokesman Wayne Swan has called for urgent reform to create a "flatter" tax system by cutting the number of marginal tax rates from four to three. In his most comprehensive blueprint yet for a redesign of the tax system, Mr Swan has also proposed stripping high-income earners of the tax-free allowance in return for lower marginal rates. His plans would also have more low-income earners pay no tax. In an essay, The Cutting Edge of Competitiveness, Mr Swan said his proposals would simplify the system and make Australia more competitive internationally".
Tyrannical (and job destroying) NSW occupational health & safety act: "If you think the proposed [Australian] sedition laws are tough, spare a thought for a piece of legislation that makes them look almost benign. Under this law, there is a presumption of guilt, the trial occurs before a tribunal and there is no appeal to a real court, and 96 per cent of those accused are found guilty. Plus the party bringing the case gets to keep half the fine. It's a package Philip Ruddock can only dream of. The law is the NSW Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000, under which hundreds of managers and companies are prosecuted every year".
Debate over homosexual marriage
Recognizing gay civil unions would undermine marriage and should be resisted by John Howard, say conservative Liberal backbenchers. Coalition MP David Fawcett, who has called for financial support from the Government for a quit-smoking-style campaign to stop marriage breakdown, said yesterday that recognising gay unions would undermine the family. Mr Fawcett has hit back at fellow Liberal backbenchers pushing for Australia to follow the UK and recognise civil unions for gay men and lesbians. The move is in defiance of the Prime Minister, who has ruled out recognising gay marriages.
The campaign is being led by Warren Entsch, who has the backing of Mal Washer, Judi Moylan and Petro Georgiou, among others. They argue that Australia is being "left behind" by refusing to legally recognise homosexual relationships.
But Mr Fawcett said the effective ban on gay marriage enacted before the federal election last year meant that any proposals for civil-style unions should be opposed. "We shouldn't be working in that direction. We need to value them as people, but I don't believe it's a necessity in terms of families in Australia to recognise them," he said. "I think we need to have some very clear incentives to support and encourage marriage and family - that is for the long-term benefit of Australia - and if we grant (gay people) status and privileges across the board, then there's no longer anything that's an incentive or an encouragement for people to work at a marriage," Mr Fawcett said. "That's why I think we should hold marriage and some of the benefits that go with it as a relationship form that we advocate."
While Labor also opposes gay marriage, key backbenchers and Labor frontbenchers including Tanya Plibersek and Lindsay Tanner have advocated a civil union-style scheme. Australian Coalition for Equality spokesman Rod Swift said same-sex couples in Australia had languished many years waiting for law reform. "We congratulate these Liberal backbenchers for supporting equal and just treatment for same-sex couples and their families," Mr Swift said.
The cyclist menace
A comment from Sydney by Michael Duffy. Greenies love to criticise others for the indirect negative effects on the environment from car pollution etc., but don't bikes in high traffic areas also have an indirect effect in terms of congestion and indeed smog?
It's time to get bikes off our roads. As a mainstream form of transport, the bicycle has proved itself the equivalent of communism: a lovely idea that failed dismally in practice. Bikes are dangerous to ride and slow traffic, which creates more pollution. For the good of all of us, we need to ban the bike.
When Government started to encourage bike riding a few decades ago, it was like the balmy days after the Russian Revolution: the future looked golden. It was hoped that a significant proportion of all trips made in Sydney would soon be by bike. Where it all went wrong was that almost no one showed any enthusiasm to get on their bikes. Today, fewer than 1 per cent of all trips in Sydney are made by bike. The bike activists blame this on the paucity of bike lanes and tracks, but this is like Marxists excusing the failure of communism in the Soviet Union by blaming the nature of its regime. The sad truth is that in both cases a vanguard tried to impose a new form of behaviour on the populace and was rejected. The only difference is that the bike lobby hasn't accepted this.
Every week I travel 10 kilometres down a crowded, four-lane, inner-city road. Whenever it contains bikes, the traffic is frequently forced to slow to a crawl as drivers wait for a chance to pass them. This increases the pollution given off by the cars, as well as raising tempers all round. Many bike riders hog the centre of their lane, legally and perhaps wisely, but also slip between traffic when it stops. Where there are traffic lights, this means you can find yourself grinding along behind the same bike several times in the space of a journey. So thousands of cars are inconvenienced by two or three bikes, and the amount of greenhouse gas produced increases.
Bike riders tend to be unhappy and resentful people. They relish telling stories of narrow escapes from death at the hands of stupid car drivers. While glad the individuals involved survived, one has to wonder why they persist. We all know that significant proportions of the population are depressed, tense, on a vast range of attention-limiting prescription and non-prescription drugs, or like using their mobile phones while driving. For bike riders to launch into city traffic expecting everyone else to respond instantaneously to their unexpected appearance in the same lane, or when they flash through red lights at intersections, suggests a desire for self-harm. As does their preparedness to engage in sustained exercise where they breathe in large quantities of monoxide, with health consequences that can only be guessed at.
Possibly their thinking has been adversely affected by the smog. Consider some of the proposals the lobby group Bicycle NSW made at the last state election. These included "affirmative action" such as forcing people to stop driving by introducing parking restrictions and imposing a general urban speed limit of 50kmh for all of Sydney. Considering the tiny number of cyclists who would benefit from such a change, you wonder if the bike lobby is suffering from delusions of grandeur.
Given the threat bike riders pose to themselves and others, the big question is whether it is right to encourage them. Unfortunately, bike riding is one of those activities that has acquired an aura of virtue. Supporting it (with other people's money) is an easy way of demonstrating your moral stature. The new Westlink M7 has a 40-kilometre cycleway stretching from Prestons to Baulkham Hills. This was recommended in the tollway's environmental impact statement on the sole grounds (here quoting from the one-volume summary) that it "would improve cycling opportunities in the region". Now, almost no one rides bikes on roads in the western suburbs. According to a Westlink spokesman, there are not even any estimated usage figures for the new bike path. Very wise, that - but it makes you wonder just why building an unwanted 40-kilometre strip of concrete to be lit at night by coal-powered electricity should be considered environmentally beneficial. The Westlink spokesman refused to disclose how much the cycleway had added to the cost of the project - or to the toll that will be charged to road users.
Fortunately the State Government is less enthusiastic about spending its money on bike infrastructure and has recently halved such expenditure. But more needs to be done. A public campaign encouraging people not to ride bikes in traffic would be a responsible start.
26 December, 2005
Christmas peace on Sydney beaches
Sydney's Bondi Beach was a sea of Santa hats and tinsel today as thousands of tourists and locals flocked to the beach for Christmas celebrations. People were met with beautiful clear skies and temperatures up to 28C [82 degrees F] at the city's most famous beach, which was strictly an alcohol-free zone. Even those forming part of the heavy police presence - there because of Sydney's recent racial unrest - seemed to get into the Christmas spirit, with one young constable agreeing to pull a Christmas cracker with a member of the public.
Christmas trees also dotted the world-famous icon, one accompanied by a large inflatable Santa. There appeared to be fewer people than previous years, perhaps due to the prohibition of alcohol. Some speculated it was the recent violence at North Cronulla beach in Sydney's south and Maroubra in the east that kept some people away. "Maybe people are scared to come after what happened," German tourist Andrea Jahnke said, adding that she wouldn't have missed seeing Bondi Beach on a Christmas Day for anything. "This is very different from what we would do at home and I have heard it was a lot of fun."
Up to 50,000 people were expected at Bondi Beach today with one lifeguard on duty for every 6000 swimmers.
The expected bromides from an Anglican cleric
"His greatest desire was a boy in the choir....."
The head of the Australian Anglican Church used his Christmas message to condemn the recent racial violence in Sydney. National Anglican Primate Phillip Aspinall has called on "every Australian" to take responsibility [including Phil Aspinall?] for the violence displayed during the Cronulla Beach riots, which began on December 11.
Christmas 2005 was a challenge to the nation "to participate in a new beginning and a new kind of community", Dr Aspinall, the Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane, said. His midnight service at St John's Cathedral in Brisbane last night challenged the "very way Australians define themselves" as he encouraged the community to get on with people "we don't know, love or like".
Being uncomfortable when faced with people, who are different seems natural "but becomes dangerous if these tensions are allowed to grow", Dr Aspinall told the packed congregation. "At the same time, no Australian must ever be expected to put up with criminal behaviour and must be given protection and relief by police and the courts," he said. ..... yada yada yada
In case anybody is not familiar with the limerick I alluded to above (a limerick well known among the Anglican clergy, I believe), it goes as follows:
"There once was a vicar named Byngs
Who preached of love and such things
But his greatest desire
Was a boy in the choir
With a bum like jelly on springs"
Stupid school principal abuses himself out of a job
He is such a great brain that he is apparently unaware that only about 3% of Australians have convict ancestry. A lot more than that have Chinese ancestry in fact
The principal of a Melbourne private school has been forced to resign after he called Australia a "lovely little country full of convicts". Will Stanley handed in his resignation to the chief executive officer of the Meridian International School yesterday after his comments were reported in the Herald Sun. CEO Roo Oosthuizen said he accepted the resignation after Mr Stanley phoned him yesterday. "We don't condone what Will has said and because of what he said he resigned today," Mr Oosthuizen said. Mr Stanley's comments came as he defended his school's 2005 results - the worst in the state - and lamented the school's lack of government funding.
25 December, 2005
I think this is a wonderful true story
The father of a jailed armed robber has spoken of his heartbreaking decision to dob in his son to Queensland police. Nerang building inspector Rob Hooper made the toughest decision of his life in June this year after reading of a string of armed hold-ups on the Gold Coast. Mr Hooper, 50, and his wife Cheryl suspected son, Greg, was responsible because he matched physical descriptions of the bandit. But it was the apologetic nature of the robber who repeatedly said: "I'm sorry" to the shopkeepers he was threatening with a kitchen knife that confirmed it. "That was his catchphrase," Mr Hooper told The Sunday Mail. "Whenever Greg did something wrong, it would be, 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry.' "It was bloody devastating for us. We rang the police station. It was certainly the toughest decision we've made so far in this life."
The 23-year-old turned to crime after losing his job through an injury, writing off his car and taking up gambling to pay debts. "We found out he was going to loan sharks. We sensed something was wrong but we couldn't get it out of him," Mr Hooper said. After reading reports of the so-called "hard times bandit", Mr Hooper said the clues added up and he knew he had to phone police. Greg was arrested on June 23, only hours after his father made the call.
Mr Hooper did not tell his son he had "ratted" when they met in a holding room at Burleigh Heads police station after his arrest. "That was shattering. We just broke down," Mr Hooper said. "Greg was very aggressive. He wanted to know who had dobbed to police. He wanted to find out, 'Who bloody did it?' " It took two weeks before Mr Hooper admitted the truth to his son during a visit at Brisbane's Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre. "I let it go before I told him, to see if he would settle down. I said, 'It was me who rang the police.' "We both broke down there in prison and I gave him a big hug."
Mr Hooper said he explained his actions to his son: "I did it because I love you. You could go into one of these shops and the owner blow off your head. It has to stop." Mr Hooper said Greg agreed. He also accepted his parents' decision not to support a bail application, opting for their son to stay in jail for five months until he pleaded guilty in court this month. Mr Hooper said he did not want his son "lazing around the pool at home" knowing he would go to jail.
"Greg was always a good kid but he was going through hard times," Mr Hooper said. "Deep down he was relieved to be caught. He knows right from wrong." Greg, who pleaded guilty to three counts of armed robbery and one of attempted armed robbery, was sentenced to three years' jail, suspended after six months. With time served, he is due for release on Friday - his family relieved to have him home for Christmas. They have paid his debts and Mr Hooper says their bond is as strong as ever. The pair plan a day's fishing with a few beers soon.
But Mr Hooper says: "If he does it again, it's a different ball game. I've told him that."
Perils of multicultural education
If there is one positive thing to come out of the violence in Cronulla, it will be a long hard look at how schoolchildren are educated about Australian culture and what they are taught about their responsibilities as members of a civil society. Judged by the age of many of those involved in abusing women, the mob violence at Cronulla beach and the subsequent destruction of personal property, many would have been of school age during the 1980s and '90s. While Al Grassby and Gough Whitlam sowed the seeds, this was a time when governments under the leadership of Malcolm Fraser, Bob Hawke and Paul Keating spent millions on the multicultural industry. With the support of left-liberal academics, teacher unions and curriculum writers, the prevailing orthodoxy uncritically promoted cultural diversity, denigrated or ignored Australia's mainstream Anglo-Celtic tradition and taught children that our society is riddled with racism, inequality and social injustice.
The national Studies of Society and Environment curriculum developed during the Keating years argued that children must be taught "an awareness of and pride in Australia's multicultural society" and "develop an understanding of Australia's cultural and linguistic diversity". The 1993 Australian Education Union's curriculum policy argued that children must be taught that they "are living in a multicultural and class-based society that is diverse and characterised by inequality and social conflict". Not only was the then academically based school curriculum, especially in subjects such as history and literature, condemned as Eurocentric, patriarchal and socially unjust, but examinations were seen as favouring rich, white kids and culturally biased against recent migrants.
Fast forward to more recent years and little has changed. The 1999 Australian Education Union policy on combating racism argues that government polices "are founded upon a legal system which is inherently racist in so much as its prime purpose is to serve the needs of the dominant Anglo-Australian culture". The AEU also states that racism in Australia is both overt and covert and that "both forms of racism are still widely practised in Australian society", especially as a result of the school curriculum supposedly being based on "the knowledge and values of the Anglo-Australian culture".
On reading curriculum documents developed during the '90s, once again, it becomes obvious that all adopt a politically correct approach to issues such as multiculturalism and how we define ourselves as a nation. Cultural diversity is uncritically celebrated and students are taught, in the words of the Queensland curriculum, to "deconstruct dominant views of society" on the basis that the Australian community is riven with "privilege and marginalisation".
In Western Australia, as evidenced by the Curriculum Framework document, students are told they must value "the perspective of different cultures" and "recognise the cultural mores that underpin groups and appreciate why these are valued and important".
The curriculum policy of the South Australian branch of the AEU is underpinned by "five core values". One of the underlying values is that there should be respect for diversity and "no discrimination on any grounds".
The contradictions and weaknesses evident in the way multiculturalism has been taught in schools are manifold. Tolerance, the rule of law and a commitment to the common good are the very values needed if people are to live peacefully together. Cultural relativism and an uncritical acceptance of diversity denies such values and leads to what Robert Hughes terms, in his book The Culture of Complaint, the balkanisation of society.
It's also the case that Australia's legal and political system, while imperfect, best safeguards such values. Instead of denigrating Australian society, students should be taught the benefits of our Anglo-Celtic culture: a culture strongly influenced by the Judeo-Christian tradition and from which our laws and morality have grown.
Much of the way history and politics is now taught also centres on the rights of the individual. Instead of emphasising responsibilities and giving allegiance to what we hold in common, individuals are free to define themselves how they will and to act as they wish. By defining Australian society as socially unjust and divisive there is also the danger of promoting a victim mentality. Whereas past generations felt part of a wider community and believed that hard work would be rewarded, recent generations see only inequality and their right to be supported.
Nobody should condone the violence in Cronulla perpetrated by those wearing the Australian flag or the actions of young Lebanese Muslims abusing women, destroying property and burning churches. But we also need to recognise that the PC approach to teaching multiculturalism in schools in part underpins the recent violence. As the American liberal historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr has argued: "The militants of ethnicity now contend that the main objective of public education should be the protection, strengthening, celebration and perpetuation of ethnic origins and identities. Separatism, however, nourishes prejudice, magnifies differences and stirs antagonisms."
Australia - The Right to Leave
The following adaptation of a popular American post has been circulating by email in Australia recently. I reproduce it here as a point of view that is almost completely suppressed by the media. See also Prof. Andrew Fraser for a viewpoint on the Sydney Lebanese disturbances that you never hear in the media.
This is OUR Country - YOU Have the right - the right to leave! After Sydney not wanting to offend other cultures by putting up Xmas lights. After hearing that the State of South Australia changed its opinion and let a Muslim woman have her picture on her driver's license with her face covered. This prompted this editorial written by an Australian citizen, published in an Australian newspaper.
IMMIGRANTS, NOT AUSTRALIANS, MUST ADAPT. Take It Or Leave It !
I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Bali, we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Australians.
However, the dust from the attacks had barely settled when the "politically correct" crowd began complaining about the possibility that our patriotism was offending others. I am not against immigration, nor do I hold a grudge against anyone who is seeking a better life by coming to Australia.
However, there are a few things that those who have recently come to our country, and apparently some born here, need to understand.
This idea of Australia being a multicultural community has served only to dilute our sovereignty and our national identity. As Australians, we have our own culture, our own society, our own language and our own lifestyle.
This culture has been developed over two centuries of struggles, trials and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom.
We speak ENGLISH, not Spanish, Lebanese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society, Learn the language!
If the Southern Cross or the Union Jack offends you, or you don't like " A Fair Go", then you should seriously consider a move to another part of this planet.
We are happy with our culture and have no desire to change, And we really don't care how you did things where you came from. This is OUR COUNTRY, OUR LAND, and OUR LIFESTYLE, and we will allow you every opportunity to enjoy all this.
But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about Our Flag or Our Way of Life, I highly encourage you take advantage of one other great Australian freedom,
"THE RIGHT TO LEAVE"
If you aren't happy here then leave. We didn't force you to come here. You asked to be here. So accept the country YOU accepted. Pretty easy really, when you think about it.
24 December, 2005
Was I right or was I right?
I said yesterday that the unidentified flag burners would not have been Anglo-Australians:
A man who is accused of trying to "get revenge" for the Cronulla riots by burning the Australian flag was refused bail yesterday, as more men fronted Sydney courts over the December 11 violence. Hadi Khawaja, 24, is charged over an incident in Bay St, Brighton-le-Sands in Sydney, in which he and a youth allegedly burned two flags, one belonging to the Brighton RSL. Police told the court Khawaja "to some degree has incited" the youth, 17, to take part in the act. Khawaja was charged with entering a building with intent to commit an indictable offence and destroying property by fire.
Sutherland Local Court heard Khawaja and his co-accused joined a group of about 150 men of Middle Eastern descent on Bay St on December 11. After attempting to burn a small plastic flag, the pair allegedly discussed burning a larger one atop the RSL club. Khawaja is alleged to have said: "Look, there's a bigger flag. How about burning it?" He later told police the youth "climbs like a monkey [and] we just thought it would be good to burn it. The crowd was right up".
Aint it great to be black? Just 18 months jail for the anal rape of a child
Pity if you're the child concerned though. Political correctness is very strange indeed in deciding to whom it extends its special favours
An Aborigine's jail term has been lifted on appeal to 18 months for having sex with his 14-year-old promised wife. The case has flamed debate about the role of customary Aboriginal law in the wider Australian legal system, as the traditional Aboriginal man believed his actions were allowed under tribal law. The man - who speaks English as his fourth language and lives in the remote NT outback - also did not know his actions were illegal under NT laws. The Northern Territory Court of Appeal today found the 55-year-old's earlier sentence was "manifestly inadequate".
The court had heard the girl was promised to the man - who cannot be named for legal reasons - when she was just four. He became angry after she struck up a friendship with a young man in June last year, during her school holidays. Believing the girl had a sexual relationship with the boy, the man beat her with a boomerang at the outback Aboriginal community, south-west of Katherine. He later took her to his remote outstation - where he lived with his wife and young children - threatened her with a boomerang and had anal sex with her. The child later told police: "I told that old man I'm too young for sex, but he didn't listen".
The man believed that intercourse with the girl was acceptable because she had been promised to him and had turned 14, the court heard. In August, the man pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated assault and a charge of carnal knowledge. At the time Chief Justice Brian Martin imposed a total two-year sentence, but suspended it after one month.
The Director of Public Prosecutions appealed the leniency of the sentence, and the Court of Appeal today imposed a total sentence of three years and 11 months, suspended after 18 months. In handing down the court's ruling, Justice Dean Mildren issued a stern warning that violence would not be tolerated by the courts. "The courts view very seriously and will not tolerate violence by Aboriginal men upon Aboriginal women or children, whether that violence is tolerated by Aboriginal law or not," Justice Mildren said. He said it was important Aboriginal people know sexual intercourse with a child under 16 was a serious offence. "The fact that the child has been promised in marriage according to Aboriginal customary law does not excuse such offending," he said. However, he said it was important to remember the man was not charged with rape.
Justice Mildren said the law had stopped short of making promised marriages illegal. "(But) such marriages cannot be consummated until the promised wife has turned 16," he said. "Plainly the purpose of (the law)... is to give Aboriginal girls some freedom of choice as to whether or not they want to enter into such a marriage, and to thereby empower them to pursue ... employment opportunities or further education rather than be pushed into pregnancy or traditional domesticity prematurely."
Wow! An informative description of wanted criminals! What next?
It can't last
Two workers have been robbed at knifepoint in a restaurant hold-up in Sydney's southwest. About 10pm (AEDT) yesterday two men placed a food order before jumping the counter at a restaurant on the Hume Highway, Fairfield, police said. One man grabbed a 24-year-old employee and held a knife to his throat, demanding money, while the second grabbed another employee, 19. They made off through a window with a sum of cash from the register and were last seen travelling west on the Hume Highway. No one was injured.
The pair are described as being of Middle Eastern appearance, about 20 years of age, of medium build. One was wearing black tracksuit pants, a red jacket and was carrying a kitchen knife, while the second was wearing a white jacket. Anyone with information is urged to contact Bankstown police.
I have lifted this post from Evil Pundit of last weekend
The much-heralded "Unite Against Racism" rally was held today in Sydney, and as predicted, it turned out to be the usual far-left crowd protesting against the usual scapegoats. According to AAP it was attended by 1,000 people, although a more optimistic ABC report claims there were 2,000 protesters -- either way, it was a small turnout compared to the 5,000 who rallied on Cronulla beach one week earlier.
Perhaps the general public was deterred from attending by the extremely partisan and hate-filled atmosphere of the left-wing rally. It's easy to see why some Anglo-Australians might hesitate to endorse a movement that scapegoats them alone, while excusing the Lebanese-Australian gangsters who were responsible for most of the last week's violence.
Some early photos of the rally were posted on the FightDemBack site, as well as on the ABC. I've put together a few highlights.
"Don't call us un-Australian."
In addition to The Greens, other political no-hopers showed up for the occasion.
Factions included the soon-to-be-ex-National Union of Students, socialist youth group Resistance, the Australian Democrats, and, in a surprise return from the dead, the Communist Party of Australia. One of the banners read "Howard is the Enemy Within" ... which pretty much sums up the purpose of the whole futile exercise, a feelgood parade for those left behind by history.
Students attack university journalism course
Scores of dissatisfied and angry students in the University of Queensland's journalism course have attacked the quality and standards of their program, according to a report in The Australian newspaper. The complaints are from both local and international students. UQ once laid claim to having the best journalism school in Australia, but standards appear to have plummeted since the former Department of Journalism was forced into a bitterly-opposed amalgamation with communication studies and public relations. It resulted in the departure of most senior journalism staff including the head of department and foundation professor, as well as revised courses and fewer practical assignments. The students have expressed their views on a dedicated blogspot site.
Meanwhile, the former Head of the UQ journalism school has struck out on his own and founded a private and now fully accredited Jschool of his own which is having great success at turning out students who are recognized for their skills. See here. Private enterprise beats insane bureaucracy again. Why the UQ powers that be decided they wanted to merge different departments into one super-Department remains something of a mystery. Some old-fashioned "big is better" thinking, apparently. The "small is beautiful" idea has been around for a long time now but has apparently not as yet reached the bureaucratized dinosaurs running UQ. If "big is better", how come General Motors is now on the verge of bankruptcy?
Outrageous Greenie hit on the taxpayers' pockets
Badly needed new road obstructed all the way
Queensland taxpayers will be forced to pay an extra $150 million for the Gold Coast Tugun bypass to protect endangered plants and animals, including a rare frog. Tough new conditions imposed by the NSW Government led to the huge extra cost. The 50 conditions and rising construction prices mean the cost of the bypass will rise from $360 million to as much as $510 million.
But the NSW Government has flatly refused to help fund the increased cost, despite Queensland Premier Peter Beattie blaming it for part of the cost blowout. But Mr Beattie vowed to push ahead with the road and said extra money would be borrowed if necessary to ensure work started in March. He joined NSW Premier Morris Iemma at Tweed Heads yesterday to announce NSW Government planning approval for the long-awaited road, which should halt the area's infamous gridlock.
The approval ends 18 months of interstate wrangling over the bypass, first proposed eight years ago. Only about 2km of the 7km bypass route is in NSW but the Iemma Government will own the road and Queensland taxpayers will have to foot the maintenance bill for the first 10 years.
Two years ago, the NSW Government blocked the so-called C4 bypass route because of fears for orchids, potoroos and the endangered wallum sedge frog.
Mr Iemma said yesterday his Government had given the bypass planning approval but with 50 "stringent environmental controls". They include building tunnels for endangered mammals and frogs, the preservation of an 80ha site to conserve threatened species including the common planigale native mouse and a cultural heritage management plan to protect ancient Aboriginal sites. There will also be a network of drains to allow unhindered groundwater movement. Mr Iemma defended the conditions as necessary to protect the area's "ecological and cultural heritage".
23 December, 2005
Two charged over riot flag burning
The suburbs mentioned are not noted for their Lebanese presence but if these had been Anglo-Australians, it would have been mentioned in some way.
Arrests continue to mount in the wake of the December 11 race riot in Cronulla and ensuing violence, including the charging of two males with burning an Australian flag taken from an RSL club. A 17-year-old male, from Hurstville, allegedly climbed a telegraph pole and stole a flag from the Brighton-le-Sands RSL club about 8.30pm (AEDT) on Sunday, December 11. Police say the flag was then sprayed with accelerant and set alight. A 24-year-old man from Penshurst was also charged over the incident.
The two were charged with one count each of entering a building with the intent of committing an indictable offence and malicious damage by fire. The 17-year-old is due to appear today at Bidura Children's Court and the 24-year-old is set to appear at Sutherland Local Court. Another 17-year-old is also due in Bidura Children's Court today charged over a violent attack aboard a train on December 11.
Public kissing still allowed in Queensland
Queensland's corruption watchdog has thrown out a sexual harassment complaint made against the state's top cop over a kiss on the cheek. The Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) today confirmed it was no longer investigating the complaint, which was made by the wife of a police inspector disciplined for sexual misconduct. The woman alleged Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson sexually harassed her when he greeted her with a kiss on the cheek at a Police Youth Club function last month. A CMC spokeswoman said the body had assessed the complaint, which was received on November 7. But she said it was not intending to take the matter further. "It doesn't raise a suspicion of official misconduct and police misconduct," she said.
Premier Peter Beattie today defended his police commissioner as a decent man and described the complaint as "silly". "I think it's just a nonsense," he said. "A peck on the cheek for many people is not an unreasonable thing." Mr Beattie said he was regularly kissed on the cheek - and kissed others on the cheek in his role as a public figure - and did not regard it as sexual harassment. "I went to a function last night at one of our major corporate bodies and I must have kissed or been kissed by 10 or 15 .... women at the function," he said. And he urged Queenslanders not to be overly sensitive about such affectionate greetings.
"I have a lot of faith in Bob Atkinson and I think he's a very decent man, and I think we have to be a bit careful about not being too politically correct and too sensitive about these things," he said. "If that's the case, quite a lot of people could be charged with sexual harassment."
Arrogant bastards interfering in a personal decision finally defeated
A 36-year-old woman has won a seven-year legal battle to use her dead husband's sperm to get pregnant. The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal today gave the woman permission to use the sperm as part of IVF treatment in NSW.
The woman, referred to as YZ, was living with her husband in the ACT when he died in a car accident in Victoria in July 1998. She successfully won a court order to extract and freeze a sperm sample from her husband the day after the fatal accident. The woman then fought to use the sperm to get pregnant using IVF treatment, but lost a Supreme Court battle earlier this year after Attorney-General Rob Hulls opposed the request. Justice Kim Hargrave ruled that YZ's request was prohibited by the state's IVF laws.
A subsequent bid to have the procedure done in the ACT failed when the territory's IVF authority rejected her request. But after discovering the procedure was allowed in NSW, YZ went to VCAT seeking permission to take the frozen sperm sample interstate. Following a hearing last month, Justice Stuart Morris today granted permission for the sperm to be transported to Sydney to allow the woman to begin IVF treatment. In his ruling, Justice Morris said the matter did "not involve questions about the legality of proposed conduct, but about the scope, nature and exercise of a discretion to permit the sperm to be taken to another state of Australia to enable its use".
The tribunal was told that YZ wanted to have children, but did not want to begin another relationship, and preferred not to use an anonymous sperm donation. "She wishes to have a child, or children, using her late husband's sperm as she regards him as her life partner and wants him to be the genetic father of her children," Justice Morris said. "I do not find this to be a case where the applicant is motivated by grief. Although the decision she has made will not be the decision of most widows, many widows would choose to move on and find a new partner I accept that her decision is rational and genuine." Justice Morris said it was important that the family of the dead man referred to as XZ support YZ's bid to have his children. He said it did not matter that any child born using the treatment would not have a living father. "It is trite to observe that many children born naturally do not have a father or a loving father, yet still live long and happy lives." "In my opinion, the fact that any child born as a result of the export of the sperm the subject to this proceeding will not have a father or will be conceived from the sperm of a man who is dead is not of major consequence."
The woman will now be able to begin IVF treatment in NSW, but must inform Victoria's Infertility Treatment Authority should she give birth.
Boys' education funds unveiled
Feminize education and then throw money at the problems that creates: Brilliant!
More than 800 schools across Australia will receive Federal Government funding to target the education of boys in an effort to bridge the gap with girls. Education Minister Brendan Nelson said 801 schools would receive grants in round one of the Government's $19.4 million Success for Boys program. Dr Nelson said the first round of funding would result in 235 individual schools and 113 school clusters receiving grants of between $10,000 and $80,000 to help them improve the way they work with boys.
The program aimed to support boys at risk of disengaging from school, and improve their learning outcomes and engagement in school, he said. Three key intervention areas of benefit to boys will be addressed by schools - giving boys opportunities to benefit from positive male role models and mentors, improving literacy teaching and assessment and using information and communication technology to engage boys in learning. "It is imperative that nothing is done which undermines the important and necessary progress made in the last 20 years in the education of girls," Dr Nelson said. "However, the evidence is overwhelming that boys are falling behind in our education system. Many boys enjoy school and are successful in their studies. However, it is of concern that many others are under-performing in a range of key educational areas and broader social indicators. We know that boys are underperforming in literacy, are less engaged with school, and overwhelmingly outnumber girls in disciplinary issues."
Since 2003, the Federal Government has committed more than $27 million to improve boys' educational and social outcomes, he said.
22 December, 2005
Cronulla is quiet again. Those intent on exploiting it are not
Below is today's (Thursday) editorial in "The Australian" newspaper, a Murdoch-owned broadsheet with a nationwide circulation. The heading to the editorial is "The racism furphy". "Furphy" is Australian for a tall tale or an invention of the imagination
Obsessive Howard-haters and publicity-hungry expats have been keen to exploit the Cronulla unrest for their own ends. The lawbreaking in Sydney's south, they have informed us and the world, is a manifestation of the deeply embedded racism in the Australian psyche. This racism, historically enshrined in the White Australia policy, has been reinvigorated by John Howard as part of his campaign to conscript blue-collar voters to the Liberal cause. As a result, racism is on the upswing, while support for multicultural tolerance is waning. In the aftermath of Hansonism and now Cronulla, this has sullied our image in the region and the world. We will pay a heavy price for giving the racist hordes the "dog whistle", and only a hefty increase in spending on multicultural affairs can drag us back from the brink. There has even been a partial echo of this view from the anti-multicultural Right, with some using the riot to claim vindication for their longstanding argument that the tolerance of Australians for a multi-ethnic, multiracial society is stretched beyond breaking point.
The only problem with this dire picture is that it is supported neither by the facts nor by the polling on which it relies. A poll in The Sydney Morning Herald was headlined "Voters disagree with PM on racism" and showed three in four respondents parting ways with Mr Howard's view that there is little "underlying racism" in Australia. But as our Newspoll this morning shows, when people are asked a more pointed question - "Do you agree that Australians are racist?" - the proportion plummets to well under half. True, today's Newspoll does indicate an increase in those opposed to multiculturalism, from nearly one in six in 1997 to nearly one in four today. But in the first place, there was bound to be some slippage in support, following events such as the racially motivated Sydney pack rapes in 2000, Labor's perpetual ethnic branch-stacking scandal and - above all - 9/11. Moreover, asking people what they think about multiculturalism is a bit like asking them what they think about public-private partnerships in infrastructure: most don't think about it at all. If ordinary people are unhappy about anything, it is the nation-of-tribes vision propounded by the ethnic essentialists in the multiculturalism industry. A vision of different groups rubbing along happily together in a tolerant, "melting pot" society, which is what multiculturalism should mean, would draw very wide public support.
How do we know? Partly because the big story about race, immigration and the Howard Government is not the story told by the Left, which is dominated by big chapters on Hansonism and the Tampa, with appendices on Vivian Alvarez and Cornelia Rau. The real story is of a massive immigration program, now approaching 140,000 newcomers annually, plus another 14,000 under the humanitarian and refugee rubric. And this acceleration has occurred without any visible sign of public disquiet or backlash, apart from the rumble on the sands at Cronulla, which had much more to do with a clash of ill-bred and lawless young males.
Moreover, confounding Germaine Greer's prediction of "a bloody summer in Australia", Sydney's southern beaches have calmed down nicely. Blanket policing has been a success, and on Tuesday NSW Police Commissioner Ken Moroney urged Sydneysiders to go back to the beach. Perhaps the real sociological point in all this is that, for many baby-boomers finding themselves in a post-theological world, anti-racism has become the new religion. In fact, there is a degree of racism in every society, and in every human being: to make one's mission the eradication of this ingrained element is an exercise in fanaticism. But the great corrective to the "deep underlying racism" view is a postwar record in immigration that remains the defining achievement of Australia in our time. Even now, a quarter of Australians were born overseas. Far from having anything of which to be ashamed in our treatment of immigrants, we have every reason to be proud.
It is a matter of some sadness to me that I cannot use my native Australian slang on this blog. The Australian working-class speech I grew up with is very vivid and I use Australian expressions a lot among friends and family but it just would not be understood internationally. One word that I often regret being unable to use is "galah". Lots of Leftists are just galahs. So to help educate the rest of the world, I have put up below a story that gives you an example of what a galah is. A galah is actually an Australian parrot that often does foolish things but there are many human galahs in Australia too. The man described below is definitely a galah.
The Australian Left try to boost themselves by denigrating Australia
They just hate ordinary happy-go-lucky Australians
To say that the Australian Left has a conflicted relationship with Australia is like saying that a heartburn sufferer has a conflicted relationship with spicy Thai curry: they may claim to love it, but put the two together and all you'll get is a lot of whingeing and hot air.
This tense relationship -- which is akin to teenagers who enjoy all the comforts of living at home while complaining that mum and dad are so tragically unhip -- is always simmering in the background of Australia's cultural life. But it boiled over in the wake of the Cronulla beach riot.
Because just as sullen teenagers try to prove how sophisticated they are by vilifying their parents at every turn, the Australian Left is doing its best to maintain its own social standing by rubbishing the country in that international high school known as "the court of world opinion" -- where the arbiters of cool are a handful of elite editorialists and academics and others who accumulate frequent flier points with taxpayer money.
Thus when tensions in Sutherland Shire exploded a week ago, producing images of Anglo-Australian locals battering hapless dark-skinned beachgoers, it was an ideal opportunity for left-wing media and academic elites to jump up and down and scream, "Hey! Look how awful we are!" to the rest of the world, while simultaneously and quite publicly fretting about how poor our overseas reputation was becoming as a result.
Never mind the pesky matter of the ongoing days of revenge attacks, which saw everything from cars to carols services attacked by gingerly referenced "young men of Middle Eastern or Mediterranean appearance": the Australian Left wanted the rest of the world to know that there was only one predictably pale culprit. "Australian racism derives from the same bottomless source as British racism -- from universal ignorance and working-class frustration, reinforced by an unshakeable conviction of British superiority over all other nations on earth, especially the swarthy ones.
"If Australia had been colonised by any other nation but the British, it would be less racist," chided Germaine Greer -- that perpetual teenager (and honorary Aborigine, as she never tires of repeating) who moved out of the house long ago but still comes back every now and then to get her laundry done -- in the pages of The Guardian in Britain last week.
Meanwhile, another Australian expat, Philip Knightley, sang a similar tune in Britain's The Independent: "The riots on Sydney's beaches -- Anglo-Australians ('Aussies') v Lebanese ('Lebs') -- have repercussions far beyond a drink-fuelled punch-up on a sweltering summer weekend. They have revealed that the 'lucky country's' historic racism lingers on, like a sun cancer, just below the skin."
This cycle of self-loathing was perpetuated on the front pages of The Age in Melbourne and The Sydney Morning Herald, which approvingly quoted everyone from Kevin Rudd ("Blind Freddy can tell you this is having an impact on Australia's international standing") to Queensland Premier Peter Beattie ("I think most Australians will be embarrassed by what's happened. It really is a blight on our international reputation"). The Age even went so far in an editorial as to put Cronulla at the end of a long string of supposedly reputation-damaging Australian events that included everything from Pauline Hanson's rise to the Ivan Milat serial killings. To hear The Age tell it, foreigners look at these various news items and cancel their once-in-a-lifetime holidays or rewrite their business's global expansion plans, rather than shrugging them off, saying, "oh, they've got serial killers and crazy politicians in Australia, too".
But sadly for Australian progressives who were hoping that Cronulla would give them their big moment at centre stage, the rest of the world didn't really pick up on the story. As of this writing, there were only five editorial or opinion page articles in major foreign newspapers about Sydney's violent culture clash, and three of them were written by disgruntled Australians! To put it another way, whenever bushfires break out anywhere in Australia, I receive concerned emails from friends and relatives in the US worried that my inner-suburban semi might be under threat. Yet not one of them has asked me about the riots. It just isn't on their radar.
One of the more ludicrous attempts to push the "racist Australia" angle turned up on the opinion page of Saturday's The New York Times, the holy-of-holies of enlightened thinking for the bien pensant class. There Eva Sallis, an Adelaide-based writer and professional activist, portrayed Australia as more backwards than 1955 Mississippi while steadfastly ignoring any possibility of Lebanese Muslim dysfunction that wasn't caused by white people. Fortunately, with its declining circulation and routine newsroom scandals, no one takes the The New York Times all that seriously any more; that they published Sallis's piece at all is proof that judgment is sound.
Make no mistake: what happened on Cronulla a week ago was a disgrace. But the fantasy that Australia is anywhere close to becoming an international pariah as a result is just that, the product of fevered imaginations. This year's Anhold-GMI Nation Brands Index found that Australia was the world's most highly regarded country on a host of scores, even with our Milats and our Hansons (to say nothing of our Greers and Knightleys). Despite the best efforts of the sullen teens of the Left who live in our political landscape, the rest of the world will go on thinking Australians are fine people, thank you very much.
Melbourne City Council shenanigans
Municipal crookedness and corruption is an old tradition in Australia but one Australian council does seem to have an active watchdog in the form of a blogger. See the blog Melbourne City Council if you have an interest in Melbourne. I like Melbourne -- great restaurants -- but it needs to be transported a couple of thousand miles North climate-wise. And you aint seen nothing until you have seen the Melbourne ladies in their hats. Sydney people however claim (pace Samuel Johnson) that there are only two good things about Melbourne -- the beer and the road to Sydney. They also gleefully quote something the founder of Melbourne said: "a good place for a village".
University admission standards low
Students are gaining entry to university despite failing Year 12, prompting a warning from Federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson that academic standards are "unacceptably low". A new Department of Education website shows for the first time the minimum academic scores for every undergraduate course in the country. The site, www.goingtouni.gov.au shows that students secured places at the Royal Melbourne Institute's Bachelor of Applied Science course this year with a minimum entry score of 48 if they were prepared to pay $15,600 a year for a full-fee degree course.
Dr Nelson yesterday urged vice-chancellors to review their entry standards after warning that some students "shouldn't be at university". Describing the university entrance score as a "black science", he said some students with entrance scores in the low 50s had told him privately their raw score for Year 12 results was in the mid-30s. Their results were "scaled up" as part of the process to arrive at a Tertiary Entrance Rank or Universities Admission Index.
University chiefs confirmed that some students had gained entry on even lower scores, through special entry schemes which take into account disadvantage and illness. Dozens of university courses have a cut-off score of below 55, including Central Queensland University's Bachelor of Arts at Bundaberg, the Bachelor of Business at Gladstone and the University of Adelaide's Diploma in Wine Marketing. Nursing degrees had a minimum entry score of just 53.5 at the University of Ballarat, and 55 at James Cook University. While students require 99 or above to secure a place in law at the University of Sydney, the cut-off score at Charles Darwin University in the Northern Territory is just 60.
The figures reveal students can cut 10 points or more from the score they require to gain entry to their preferred course if they are prepared to pay up to $200,000 for a degree.
Dr Nelson forced universities to publish the information as a requirement of the 2003 changes allowing universities to increase HECS charges and lift the price cap on full-fee degrees. "It is obvious we will still see in 2006 a significant number of people going into university who should not be," Dr Nelson told The Australian. "I think universities accepting students with tertiary entry scores in the mid-50s or less need to seriously think about standards," he said. "The black science which is the ultimate enter score ... is such that those students who are getting UAIs of 55 actually have raw scores in the 30s."
Dr Nelson signalled that he was prepared to consider an overhaul of university funding to allow greater flexibility. Currently, a "use it or lose it" rule applies to university student places, forcing vice-chancellors to lower the entry standards for courses or hand the places back to the commonwealth. "We're basically rewarding universities for filling every place irrespective of the standard of the applicant, and we effectively penalise those that hand places back," Dr Nelson said. "It goes without saying that the lower the tertiary entrance result the less likely it is that the student is going to be academically equipped for the academic program."
At Deakin University, students could secure entry to a Bachelor of Arts course with an entry score of 51. The University of NSW required a score of 99 or above for HECS students wishing to study law, but only 94 for students prepared to pay for a full-fee degree costing $19,000 a year or $100,000 for a degree. The gap between the cost of a taxpayer-supported HECS degree and a full-fee degree for students who miss out on marks is shrinking. For example, at the University of Tasmania students can study law at a cost of $6000 a year for a HECS degree, which can be paid back after graduation.
Melbourne University deputy vice-chancellor Peter McPhee said the critical issue when setting entry scores was the demand for places. High-demand courses such as law and medicine attracted a higher score simply there were so many applicants. "The cut-off score is really about who gets an offer of a HECS place," he said. However, he stressed that students who failed to secure 50per cent or more in Year 12 were not told they had failed. "They're not told they failed Year 12, they just get a score," Dr McPhee said. "That's not the language they use. They say the person has completed Year 12."
21 December, 2005
Some sign of spine in Sydney today
A man arrested during a police crackdown on race-related violence has had his bail revoked by a Sydney court. Parham Esmailpour, 19, of Carlingford in Sydney's north-west, faced Waverley Local Court today charged with affray and possessing an offensive weapon with intent to commit an offence. Mr Esmailpour and his co-accused, 18-year-old Melbourne resident Amir Ali Osmanagic, were allegedly carrying two bottles of petrol when police arrested them on a bus bound for Bondi on Sunday. After the December 11 race-fuelled riot in Cronulla and retaliatory violence in other Sydney suburbs, police had locked down the Bondi area as part of their plan to deal with further unrest.
Magistrate Lee Gilmour granted Mr Esmailpour bail when he first appeared at Waverley court on Monday but it was today revoked by Deputy Chief Magistrate Helen Syme. Prosecutors had sought a review of his bail following legislative amendments rushed through State Parliament last week. The new laws remove the presumption in favour of bail for the crimes of riot and affray. In revoking Mr Esmailpour's bail, Ms Syme noted that he had been caught by the new laws. She said public safety was paramount and that Mr Esmailpour's explanation to police that he intended to sniff the petrol on the beach seemed "far fetched". "In light of the lockdown ... requisite regard must be given to due public safety," Ms Syme said.
Bondi beach (Sydney) in happier times
Sinterklaas, the Dutch Santa Claus, makes an appearance at Bondi Beach. A tradition celebrated on December 5 each year, Sinterklaas is accompanied by his helper Zwarte Piet who puts naughty children in his large bag to teach them a lesson.
Australia's Muslim problem comes mainly from lower-class Lebanese
(An article below by Dr Tanveer Ahmed, a medical doctor and journalist and also a comedian! He appears to be of Bangladeshi Muslim origins. In what he says below, Dr Ahmed is correct in that Lebanese Christians have for over a century integrated exceptionally well into Australian society and in that many Muslim groups have given no particular problems. He omits to mention however that there have been big problems with Pakistani gang rapists who target and despise Anglo-Australian women)
"As the wave of violence spreads from the Cronulla chaos, we must resist efforts from our leaders, the Prime Minister included, to downplay the social significance of the events. It is impossible to deny the significance of race this time, as the Left did after the gang rapes in 2002 or when the Lakemba police station was attacked in 1999. For once people were able to say the word Lebs in polite, bourgeois circles. The word now rings loudly in mainstream Australia. It can take its place in the global vernacular of racial marginalisation, along with Paki in the United Kingdom and nigger in the United States.
While the immediate cause of the riots may have been heat, alcohol and a territorial stoush between two groups of hyper-masculine but socially powerless youth, it was still the outward eruption of a simmering problem. The behaviour of some of the drunken louts was a national disgrace. There is no argument there. But, there is a Lebanese problem. It is not an Arab problem, nor is it really a Muslim one.
The Lebanese community come from many shades and migrated from all social classes. There are more than a few outstanding citizens like the NSW Governor Marie Bashir or the Victorian Premier Steve Bracks, Their contribution to Australian life has been great. In fact, it is a fairly specific segment of the Lebanese community and a result of the particular migration of poorer farmers and lower class Lebanese Muslims after the civil war in 1975. Their numbers and concentration are greatest in south-western Sydney. There is a rampant anti-social character to some of the youth from this segment which stems from unsuccessful child rearing.
They quickly had large families. The fathers were often absent while they worked multiple, unskilled jobs trying to provide. The mothers lacked the extended family support they may have had at home. Parenting was often focused on the daughters, for in the world the mothers knew women needed more discipline and attention if opportunity and marriage was to beckon. The men were often placed upon a pedestal and few behavioural limits were set. A relatively absent father in many families compounded the problems. There are bad kids from all walks of life, but this group is producing a disproportionately higher number.
It is obvious to anyone who has worked in public education, the health sector or the police in south-western Sydney. I have seen it working in hospitals where children as young as five regularly abuse and swear at staff with minimal retribution from parents. In mental health, young Lebanese boys make up a disproportionate number of those who present in a drug induced or chaotic, violent state. Once the possibility of a psychiatric disorder is ruled out, the patients are inevitably referred to the police. An experienced detective like Tim Priest has said as much for a number of years.
Janet Albrechtsen's column in The Australian (December 14, 2005) quoted a young professional woman who has seen the anti-social behaviour for a long time in her area. Anyone who socialises in nocturnal Sydney has seen as much. The problem has to do with religion in that the lower classes in Lebanon were more likely to have been Muslim.
The more worrying link with religion is the attitude towards Western women. A decent Muslim would undoubtedly be taught to respect women in all their varieties. But all families teach a brand of womanhood, and it's imparted primarily from mothers and enforced by fathers. If a person is taught that a good woman acts and dresses modestly, it is plausible for them to deduce that a bad woman may dress in a revealing manner. This is particularly true if the young adults are already on an anti-social trajectory. The repeated insults during revenge attacks on innocent women along the lines of "Aussie slut" are particularly worrying and strike a chord with the gang rapes in 2002.
Muslim youth do have unique difficulties in coming to terms with their identity, especially when they have conflicting value systems at home compared with school or work. This can produce greater deviance or psychiatric disorder, a point better measured in Britain where South Asian youth [of Muslim origin] have a three times higher rate of mental illness. But there are other Muslim youth from many different countries living in Sydney. Other Arab Australians from Egypt, Jordan, Iran or Syria do not have the same problem. If you meet them, they will be quick to point that their community's migration was from a more skilled base. They had smaller families, focused on their children's education and integrated more easily.
It is difficult to place blame on communities that wanted nothing but the best for their children. They are certainly not evil. But it is time to acknowledge that there has been a real failure in specific sections the Sydney Lebanese population. Only then will we have a better chance at helping them. Otherwise the word Leb will leave an even greater linguistic stain in the future".
A challenge to Victoria's "anti-vilification" laws
The email below was sent by Joe Cambria to the Chief Executive Officer of the Equal Opportunity Commission of Victoria
Dear Ms. Szoke:
I have just read a piece in Brookesnews.com referring to the racial vilification laws as the Bracks blasphemy laws. The writer, Mr. Gerry Jackson, makes reference to the case your office brought against the two Christian ministers and the "aggressive" way in which your office persecuted these two men. The pastors were, as we are told, simply quoting passages from the Koran and then asking the congregation to "pray and love all Muslims".
This has a certain smell about it, Ms Szoke, reminding many of us of what used happen in Star Chamber proceedings in earlier times in England when people were prosecuted in secret trials for speaking up against the Crown.
I believe Mr. Jackson has thrown down the gauntlet with this piece. He describes himself as an active liberal party member daring your office to prosecute him. Mr. Jackson is portraying the Islamic Prophet as a vile person. I don't believe your office can avoid prosecuting Mr. Jackson judging from what he wrote in this article, which has been posted on the web.
Ms. Szoke, if I can please make an observation? If you fail to go after Mr. Jackson, the legal attack against the two pastors becomes obviously selective and capricious, smacking of opportunism. If you move to prosecute Mr. Jackson, the political position you place the State Government in could have adverse political consequences. After all, going after a Liberal Party member who writes a piece and then publishing it on the web that directly flies in the face of the blasphemy laws will simply look like a Stalinist prosecution.
I am sure that, as a matter of courtesy, Mr. Jackson will be notifying the pastors' legal representatives about his article written in Melbourne and therefore violating the Bracks Blasphemy laws. He will, I'm sure also notify these representatives of your failure to act if you fail to bring action.
As you can see, prosecuting a Liberal Party member will smack of Stalinism. However failing to act will immediately jeopardize the current ongoing case.
I am also copying this email to several people including the leader of the opposition, the Prime Minister and several journalists to ensure this correspondence receives the proper attention. See here for the article in question.
Multicultural Christmas waning in Australia?
Sydney Mayor Clover Moore learned her lesson. Last year, Ms Moore decided to put a limit on Christmas decorations around the city, allegedly out of sensitivity to multiculturalism. She was on the receiving end of a highly non-festive barrage of criticism, including from John Howard, who branded her decision "political correctness from central casting". This year, you can hardly move in Sydney for trees, fairy-lights and Santas. But Ms Moore is not the only pollie who finds it convenient to cosy up to the fat guy in the red suit. Victorian Premier Steve Bracks has called for the Christian symbolism to be put back into Christmas, including in schools, and Mr Howard was back on his favourite silly-season turf yesterday, calling for department stores to bring back nativity scenes.
It's all fairly shameless posturing, but it has a point: Christmas is Christmas, which is not quite the same thing as the "holiday season". And what Christmas means to Christians -- who still number over half the Australian population -- is the celebration of the birth of their Saviour. The real point about the effort to drain Christmas of religious content, supposedly in the name of multiculturalism, is that it does not originate from any religious or ethnic minority. Like "critical literacy", the sanitised Christmas seems largely the creation of social engineers and education bureaucrats. When this same debate surfaced last year, Waleed Aly from the Islamic Council of Victoria said it all in The Australian: banishing the Christianity in Christmas, he wrote, is not multiculturalism at all -- "it is anti-culturalism". All faiths are welcome here, but the Christian story, and the values it reflects, have a special and immutable place in our tradition.
20 December, 2005
At last we get a look at the "men" carrying bomb-materials on buses
Below is the picture of Mr Esmailpour that appeared in the "dead-tree" version of "The Australian" newspaper. The story about Mr Iemma's "tough" new laws that accompanied the picture is also reproduced below:
NSW Premier Morris Iemma has flagged a further tightening of the state's bail laws as people charged over the Cronulla riots and the ensuing wave of retaliatory violence continue to be released back into the community. Magistrate Lee Gilmour granted bail yesterday to two men allegedly engaged in acts of race-related violence at Sydney's Cronulla and Bondi beaches. Parham Esmailpour, 19, of Carlingford, in Sydney's north, was granted bail after he and another man, Amir Ali Osmanagic, 18, were charged with carrying a potential petrol bomb on a bus to Bondi.
And Harry Scott, a 21-year-old Aboriginal man from Sydney's south, was granted bail on charges of riot and affray after he was allegedly involved in two attacks on people of Middle Eastern appearance at the Cronulla beach riots last Sunday week.
Mr Iemma removed the presumption in favour of bail for the crimes of riot and affray in a special sitting of parliament last week. Yesterday, he said he would not rule out recalling parliament a second time to pass new laws, which might completely rule out bail on charges of riot and affray. "I am disappointed that that has occurred, given the changes to the bail laws that have happened," he said. "I have in mind further changes if they are needed."
Mr Esmailpour and Mr Osmanagic, who also used the surname Osman, were arrested by plainclothes police on Sunday after the bus driver smelled petrol. The court heard the men were both carrying political flyers which said "Howard's Riots: how racist policies breed racist violence". Mr Esmailpour, who the court heard was Iranian, allegedly bought $2 worth of petrol near Epping station and took it by train to Central station in a five-litre can, where he and Mr Osmanagic poured it into drink bottles.
Tuesday morning comment: How lucky we are! We are now allowed back on Sydney beaches
Sydney residents are being urged to go back to the beach by New South Wales Police Commissioner Ken Moroney - subject to a twice-daily assessment on the danger of race riots. Mr Moroney and Premier Morris Iemma made the call after a hailing the weekend lockdown of many of the state's major beaches as a success because it averted "riots, affray and assaults on other citizens". "That level of violence escalates and begets other violence," Mr Moroney said. "It's about time for Santa and Christmas to do a U-turn and come back." He called on people to get "normality back in their lives" and return to beaches along a 200km stretch of coast from Newcastle to Wollongong.
Mr Moroney said police would not be closing down the Christmas Day celebrations at Bondi Beach "at this time". "Last weekend was like no other weekend in policing in this state's history," he said. Mr Moroney said two daily bulletins would keep NSW residents up to date about the possibility of beach lockdowns. "I indicated I wanted to take the community into my trust. The alternative was to tell them nothing and keep them in the dark," he said. He added that he would only lock down beaches "if intelligence indicates it is appropriate".
Mr Moroney said the weekend lockdowns had identified some problems, including women leaving their cars and walking home after being trapped in traffic jams caused by roadblocks. "It may not be the best decision, particularly if women are walking the streets on their own," Mr Moroney said.
Mr Iemma said police had charged 163 people with 283 offences since Operation Seta began on December 12 in response to the violence at Cronulla and other beachside suburbs.
Police flag summer of beach lockdowns in NSW
Going after the Lebanese Muslim gangs who originated the trouble is not mentioned of course
Sydney's beaches will be patrolled by an 800-strong police squad for the balance of the summer holidays, with more officers to be assigned if race riots again threaten to boil over. Deputy Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said beachgoers should get used to having a strong police presence at their favourite beaches through to the end of January, with more intensive patrols in the Christmas-New Year period. "They will be working 24 hours a day, seven days a week right through Christmas and New Year," Mr Scipione said.
The beefed-up police presence this weekend, and the order by the NSW police to stay away from a number of beaches after "credible evidence" of a second weekend of rioting, led to sparse crowds on Sydney's beaches over the weekend. But Premier Morris Iemma said that while the violent gangs might have "caused inconvenience", they had failed in their attempt to ruin the lives of Sydneysiders. "They have caused inconvenience. They have tried to tear at the fabric of society and we need to meet that force with force," Mr Iemma said. An extra 2000 police were on the beat yesterday, many setting up roadblocks to stop troublemakers descending on beaches in Sydney, Newcastle, the central coast and Wollongong. Police Commissioner Ken Moroney foreshadowed further lockdowns this summer. Mr Moroney said he would urge ordinary citizens to stay away from designated beaches until "I am satisfied we have a level of restraint and order".
About 60 people were arrested over the weekend, with police confiscating dozens of mobile phones, 11 cars and a raft of dangerous weapons. The weapons ranged from nail-laden homemade clubs, knives, ornate swords, knuckle dusters, golf clubs and replica firearms....
While the police action across Sydney's beaches might have been seen as a success by the politicians and police chiefs, others remain concerned about the level of racism on the streets....
Federal Opposition Leader Kim Beazley warned Australia should avoid segregation in the wake of the race riots. Mr Beazley said it was "a very sad thing" that a week before Christmas police warned people to stay away from many beaches. "We must never, ever in this country go down the path of segregation. We do not want a segregated society," he said. He supported the NSW Government's response to the violence -- giving police more power to close beaches. "I support absolutely what Morris Iemma's Government is doing. The only people who should be in a position of showing force in this community are the authorities, in this case the police."
No ham for Christmas: Muslim menu for West Australia hospital
No tolerance shown for Australian majority customs -- like ham at Christmas dinner
A WA hospital has scrubbed baked ham from its Christmas menu, fearing Muslim patients could be offended. It has also overhauled its entire menu so that all meals are now halal - containing only meat and other food prepared according to Muslim customs.
But Port Hedland Regional Hospital staff and many non-Muslim patients are outraged, saying it is a case of political correctness gone mad. Kitchen staff are so angry that they have organised a petition demanding ham be put back on the Christmas menu. Other WA hospitals are also introducing halal dining, though the Health Department says Port Hedland is the only one to convert its entire menu to suit Muslims.
Hospital directors decided to axe the traditional festive season baked ham because of the high percentage of Muslim patients. Eating pork or ham is forbidden under Muslim custom. Until now, Muslims were asked to supply their own food if they did not want to eat hospital fare. The hospital's nursing director, Judy Davis, said though ham was not on the menu, Christian patients would not miss out on festive cheer. "We'll still make Christmas special - we've got prawns and all sorts of other special treats," she said.
But one long-time Port Hedland hospital worker told The Sunday Times the menu change was "unAustralian". "It's going to be a boring old Christmas lunch for the patients," he said. "After all, what's Christmas without a ham, or Sunday morning without bacon and eggs? "The management of the hospital are unable to stand up to a minority and keep our Australian way of life intact. They are bowing to the pressure of a select few." He warned that the only politically correct fare would soon be "a bowl of rice and a cup of tea". "No wonder the true-blue Australians are getting angry," he said. "Now all we need is for someone of the Hindu faith to jump up and down and we'll have no beef. "Before we know it, if you're sick in Port Hedland, you will have to be happy with a diet of boiled rice and a cup of tea."
A Health Department spokeswoman said the menu change was about meeting the needs of the Islamic community. She denied it meant sacrificing Christian traditions. "Port Hedland has one of the largest Muslim communities outside the capital cities of Australia, and has done so for many years," the spokeswoman said. "Changes to the menu meant pork and ham were no longer offered to patients. "However, other meat and alternatives are available." She said no patients had complained, but the Health Department was aware that staff at Port Hedland were unhappy.
"We are aware that staff would like ham for Christmas lunch, and this will be provided by the hospital," the spokeswoman said. "The majority of hospitals try to take into account the different patient mix when deciding on their menu, and offer several choices."
Victoria's police are so crooked that even a Hell's Angel beat them in court
Or, more correctly, they knew they did not have a leg to stand on in court. And the good old taxpayer forks out again. Why were not the individual policemen responsible made to pay for their arrogance?
A senior member of the Hell's Angels bikie gang has won a six-figure payout from Victoria Police after a legal backdown. Peter Hewat, a Hell's Angels Victoria sergeant-at-arms, fought to have property returned after it was seized in raids by the organised crime squad. The Herald Sun believes State Government lawyers last week decided to settle the dispute out of court. Taxpayers will pay the compensation to Mr Hewat, a transport company operator, after the legal battle.
The payout stems from raids on June 3 last year in which property, including a Kenworth prime-mover and two trailers, was confiscated. They were seized on suspicion of being stolen. Mr Hewat and his company Hewat Holdings Pty Ltd took the fight to the County Court, arguing police did not lawfully hold the property. He claimed damages and costs for the seizure. Mr Hewat's County Court writ stated that a month after the raids a demand was made through a solicitor for the release of the goods but no response was received. In December last year, six months after the raids, police returned all of the items seized, except Mr Hewat's Nokia mobile telephone. Police gave him back the prime-mover, two Krueger trailers, a Chevrolet pick-up truck, a Caterpillar motor, metal stamps and an air compressor. The State of Victoria defence document said another Kenworth prime-mover mentioned in Mr Hewat's statement of claim was not confiscated...
Mr Hewat, who is described by the nickname Skitzo on a Hells Angels website, is well known in the world of truck racing where he teams up with his son Beau as co-driver at local and interstate competitions. Mr Hewat is sergeant-at-arms of the bikie gang's East County chapter.
Years spent in an Australian public hospital for nothing
At huge cost and with very destructive side-effects
Teenager Samantha Farr spent four years bedridden in a $650-a-day hospital room after being diagnosed with a rare immune disorder that independent medical experts say she may never have had. In a case the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission found involved "serious identified breaches of practice", Ms Farr has been left diabetic, addicted to drugs and with no reproductive cycle after her treatment. Now 21, Ms Farr also suffered a series of serious health setbacks during her hospital stay, including kidney and liver failure, septic shock, lung disease and catching a hospital "superbug".
Health investigators are now pursuing answers from a number of hospitals and neurologist Suzanne Hodgkinson over the case, which cost taxpayers millions of dollars in public hospital costs. Her family is seeking millions in compensation from the NSW Government.
Ms Farr's father, Andy, claims she "nearly died" as a result of the treatment at Liverpool Hospital in southwest Sydney. "Sam has lost four years of her life and she has been physically and psychologically damaged for life. It is appalling that a leading hospital could do this to a patient," he said.
Dr Hodgkinson is the wife of controversial University of NSW professor of immunology Bruce Hall, who was publicly accused of exaggerating laboratory results before obtaining a federal research grant. Professor Hall - whom an inquiry later found guilty of academic misconduct but cleared of scientific fraud - was the director of medicine at Liverpool while his wife was treating Ms Farr there.
The Farr family's saga began in Cairns in 2000 when Ms Farr, then barely 16, suddenly "stopped breathing". After a battery of tests, Cairns Base Hospital doctors could not find a cause and referred the case to specialists at Sydney Children's Hospital in Randwick, where doctors diagnosed her with a rare and obscure disease called myasthenia gravis, which affects five in every 100,000 people. This is caused by an abnormality of the immune system in which antibodies attack or attach themselves to the nerve endings that control muscle movement, including breathing. In 2001, Mr Farr and his wife Kim moved to Blackheath in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney and after an attack Ms Farr was transferred to Liverpool Hospital, where she was seen by the head of neurology, Dr Hodgkinson.
"Dr Hodgkinson told us Sam was suffering from 'refractory' myasthenia gravis and that she needed 'aggressive treatment' or she would die," Mr Farr said. Mr Farr, who now has access to all her daughter's medical records, said she was given "dozens of plasma exchanges that did nothing"; strong immuno-suppressant drugs; corticosteroids; morphine-based painkillers; anti-cancer drugs; and ... powerful myasthenia gravis drugs, all of which had side effects". "The crazy thing was that one of these drugs in particular had side-effects that mimic the disease, affecting muscle movement and breathing," he said. "Every time we saw Sam she seemed worse ... Dr Hodgkinson told us that if Sam stopped taking this particular drug she would 'die within hours'." That is why Mr Farr was so disturbed when he went to Liverpool Hospital in April to find out that Dr Hodgkinson was on "stress leave".
Her patients were given to another neurologist, who immediately sent Ms Farr to specialists at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, the main teaching hospital for Sydney University, for a second opinion. Mr Farr said most of the tests came up negative, including the test for raised antibodies. By this time, Mr Farr had complained to his MP and then health minister Morris Iemma, who ordered another "independent neurological assessment" by a retired neurology professor at Sydney University. "The professor concluded that, at worst, at some stage, Samantha may have had a 'mild case' of myasthenia gravis -- effectively 'drooping eyelid'," Mr Farr said.
Dr Hodgkison yesterday defended her diagnosis, saying "there were excellent reasons for believing Samantha had myasthenia gravis". Dr Hodgkinson said she did "reassess" Samantha through her 3 1/2 years in hospital under her care. "It was a long, long time, but she was a very sick girl."
A spokesman for the NSW Health Minister John Hatzistergos said: "It is not appropriate to comment as the case has been referred to the Health Care Complaints Commission for investigation." But a spokesman for the NSW Southwest Area Health Service said: "This is a very complex case and the hospital remains in close contact with the family. It is being investigated internally and externally at the Area Health Service's request. "Our investigations have led to a full review of our protocols and procedures, particularly regarding long-term patients."
19 December, 2005
Ilana Mercer comments from America on the Sydney Muslim problems
"When an Arab torches a school, it's rebellion. When a white guy does it, it's fascism," says French-Jewish philosopher, Alain Finkielkraut. His observation vis-a-vis the riots in France has been validated by the coverage of the "race riots" in Australia. These began in Cronulla, south of Sydney, and soon spread to other beach suburbs, where Anglo-Aussies descended on "people of Arabic and Mediterranean background" in a territorial display of fury.
Hardly a dog of a commentator missed the opportunity to lift his leg in protest against the "white teenagers" and the "racist white mobs." However, they quickly resumed racially neutral language - and the passive voice - when Arabs were implicated. Thus BBC News reported that "a man [Anglo] was stabbed in the back [by a Lebanese] in south Sydney."
Yes, the Anglos - also the blokes whose Anglo-Celtic forefathers established Australia's political order and "civic culture" - were not described as disenfranchised or alienated. Such existential exigencies are the exclusive preserve of the "Lebs" (Lebanese, in local parlance). Or of France's Noble Savages. In the latter's case, it took the "mullahs of the media" a good week before they deigned to mention the rioters' ethnic identity. And even then, reporting was saturated with Rousseauian reverence.
Nor were experts on hand in TV studios or over op-ed pages to "analyze" what might have "driven" young surfer Aussies to alight on the "Lebs" with such anger. Buried in the clucking about "white racist gangs" were a few richly revealing words, a hint at the straw that broke the koala's back: Lebanese had brutally beat two Cronulla lifeguards. The Australian says lifesavers "epitomize Australia's white traditions and Anglo-Saxon roots." Other provocations: Lebanese were in the habit of loitering around bikini-clad white girls, calling them prostitutes and exhorting them to "cover up," as have they been implicated in a string of racially motivated, gang-rapes of young white girls. The presence among Anglo-Aussies of a camarilla of Sami Al-Arians has done nothing to ease coexistence. Ditto the memory of the 2002 Bali bombing, in which approximately 160 Australians were slaughtered.
For fingering the French rioters as "blacks or Arabs with a Muslim identity," latte sippers across the continent labeled Finkielkraut, Europe's leading conservative philosopher, the "new neo-reactionary." (Entre nous: I'd garner the same honorific for my roundup on France's rioters). He had pointed out - and proven - that the rioters were staging an anti-republican pogrom, rooted in a fundamental hatred of France and the French. Rioters had raged to the sounds of Monsieur R's rapper "lyrics" - "I piss on France," he rapped, and they did. But did the cognoscenti condemn this racial hatred? Not on your life. Freedom of speech is heavily proscribed in Europe and Australia. Aussies and Europeans can end up jailed and jobless for mouthing about Muslims (but not the reverse). So Finkielkraut recanted (and Oriana Fallaci fled).
As in France, Australia's Muslims have inflicted on their hosts harm that exceeds by far the scratches and other scurrilities they suffered from the surfers. Soon after the riots erupted, a Uniting Church hall adjacent to a mosque was burned to the ground and four churches in Sydney's southwest were attacked. A Catholic archbishop has had to entreat Middle Easterners not to target Christmas celebrations, after these hoodlums threatened, spat on and shot at parents and kids who convened to sing carols at a primary school in western Sydney. Decades of indoctrination by the "managerial professional elites" were supposed to emasculate the surfer dudes for good. They were expected to toke it up or turn the other cheek. Instead, they fought back against what they perceive as a threat to their land and life.
A threat that commenced approximately 40 years ago, when Australian central planners decided in favor of mass importation of immigrants from the Third World. Hitherto, a limited and selective immigration policy had guaranteed newcomers reinforced the ethnic and cultural composition of the founding folk. If this sounds familiar, it's because "Camelot knight-errant" Ted Kennedy engineered a similar coup in the United States.
The statist revolution was (and still is) directed from above by a treacherous political class which has shared the ideological cockpit with "intellectuals" (a misnomer, if ever there was one) who hate their country's history and inhabitants (aboriginals excluded). This hatred has fueled their quest to marginalize North-Western Europeans, whose "culture" has facilitated "the fundamental constitutional norms associated with the rule of law, representative government and individual rights," to quote Andrew Fraser (now banned in Oz).
An 18-year-old Anglo, wearing mirrored sunglasses and a baseball cap, arrived on the beachfront riding an undersized push-bike. As he sifted a fistful of sand through his fingers, he told "The Australian": "This is what we're fighting for. Like our fathers, our grandfathers, fought for these beaches and now it's our turn." More bathos than pathos, perhaps. But not half bad, considering this parting shot comes from someone who was raised on a diet of state-sponsored multiculturalism and cultural relativism, and who has been taught to hate his heritage.
A NSW policeman speaks up about politically correct policing
This open letter, from an anonymous police officer, was being distributed to locals in Cronulla yesterday
I am a NSW police officer with more than 17 years' experience and I tell you that I am scared. I am scared to do my job and I don't blame the community for taking the law into their own hands.
In the late '80s when I first joined the police force, I saw how the old school police did things. I agree there was corruption and things had to change, but what the Government, judicial system and ultimately society did to the police force was just disgraceful. In days gone by, if there was a group of hoodlums hanging around intimidating people outside a pub, two 6'2" burly coppers would turn up in a big F100 truck. The way they spoke, their stature, respect and how they dealt with these hoodlums gave them real power and not some weak piece of legislation given to them by some reactionary Government. If these hoodlums hadn't already run off because they knew what was coming, they would cop a flogging, a kick up the bum, a slap over the head. The young kids were afraid of the police and that's how we controlled and protected the community. Fear is the only thing a young male understands. That real power is now lost forever.
Let's look at how the new police force would handle the same job. Firstly, we changed our name to a "service" because it was aggressive to use the word "force". We send two small female officers, wearing silly little yellow caps. If we want to move these thugs out of the area, we have a very strict procedure we must follow. We have to announce our name and place of duty. The thug laughs and starts calling us by our first name. We have to tell them why they have to move on. We have to warn them that if they fail to move on, they may be arrested. If there is more than one thug, we have to do this to each one.
They tell us they don't speak English, start stating their rights and call their friends by mobile phone to come to the location. The process we have just started doesn't work with a drunk who wants to argue - it just makes it more confusing. We have to make detailed notes of the conversation and caution them not to say or do anything in case it incriminates them. Each time we use a power, we have to tell the hoodlum what it is and why we are doing it. From the very outset, they have the upper hand and it continues. They have the real power ... we have pretend power. If we do decide to arrest them, we have to be so careful not to grab their arms too hard or wrestle them to the ground because it may graze their legs or rip their jeans. The thugs will allege we damaged their phones, took $50 from their wallets, swore at them, put the handcuffs on too tight.
When they get back to the police station, they complain to a supervisor who now starts to investigate us. The whole charging process takes hours in a run-down police station with computers that don't work. So we charge them with offensive language, assault police, resist arrest and put them before the court. A local magistrate is presiding over the matter. After 30 minutes in court, the charges are dismissed and the recommendations made that the police should be charged with assault and sent to jail for six months. We are told we should expect to be sworn at, called a pig and stood over by thugs.
The complaint and civil action lingers on for 18 months as it goes from the Ombudsman to ICAC and PIC. The thug has got off the charges, winks his eye and smiles at me as he walks out of court. That's the justice that we have that goes on every day in many local courts in NSW. Can you see why I am scared? Do you think I am going to arrest someone, come next Friday or Saturday night, with all that rubbish going on?
I am going to take my time getting to the job, hope the thugs leave before I arrive and stand there and take the abuse. I hear my commanders saying we will uphold the law to the letter. Easy for them to say, but it just doesn't happen. If we were fair dinkum, we would have hundreds of arrests and charges every day.
Have a look at the promotion system. Junior police being promoted in front of other senior police with 20 years' experience, because they can answer a question in an interview better. Everyone is looking after themselves. We are no longer a team versus the thugs. It is me alone versus police management versus the thugs. You have seen the quality of our senior police leaders. They wouldn't last long in private enterprise.
After the stuff-ups of the Redfern riot - an absolute disgrace in operational policing - we heard senior police say "we will learn from this". Not a year later, Macquarie Fields. The same mistakes and stuff-ups. Listen to the commissioner as he talks. It is all reactionary policing.
Why didn't Intel pick this up earlier? Why weren't measures put in place earlier? Because the problems have been going on for years. The police out there have poor morale, equipment and training. We aren't united as a team - everyone has their own agenda and we are scared. We have the weak, ambiguous powers the Government says we have to have and a judicial system that just defies logic. I totally understand why young men feel they have to take the law into their own hands. I don't trust, and have very little loyalty in, the police service and the court system.
University whistleblowers victimized
They have become the victims of a desperate attempt by a university to cover up a threat to its reputation
Clara He was the respected head of a University of NSW medical research laboratory based at Liverpool Hospital in western Sydney four years ago. Today she is in a cubbyhole buried so deep in the hospital bowels that mobile phone radio signals usually cannot reach her. To get her pay, she has to report her hours to the cleaning manager of the hospital, her direct employer. But He counts herself luckier than colleague Juchuan Chen, who doesn't even have a desk and who is on a UNSW [University of New South Wales] contract that runs out at the end of this month.
Most days Chen visits He, who has been banned from her former laboratory and does little research for the university. They have a cup of coffee together and quietly rue the day they became whistleblowers. UNSW has maintained Chen, its direct employee, has been treated well. After much soul-searching during an extended university investigation of their complaints, He and Chen (and a former PhD student at the laboratory) went public with allegations against their boss, respected immunologist Bruce Hall. They said he had bullied them and, more seriously, had mis-stated some of his research findings and details of a research-funding application.
After they made their allegations, which continue to be all strongly denied by Hall, He says they were the subject of rumours and threats, possibly by some opponents of their complaints - not by Hall himself. "We first complained to the hospital and university shortly after 9/11 and we were called terrorists," He says. "Then they [the opponents] played the racist card, as I was told our complaint was really about the Chinese denigrating Australian research. This is total nonsense. It was about the vital principle of scientific integrity." After she went on television, He says, she received threatening phone calls and her house was stoned.
There had been difficulties at Hall's laboratory for some time, and in October 2001 some staff members at the immunology and transplant laboratory complained to He as head of the laboratory. "When I approached Professor Hall about this he was very abrupt," she says. "Instead of taking me into his office to discuss the situation, he abused me in the hall in front of my colleagues and other hospital staff."
Some complaints revolved around Hall's managerial style, but most of the more serious scientific allegations arose from Chen, a veterinary microsurgeon who performed surgery and carried out experiments on test rats at the laboratory. Hall, a physician, is an expert in immunology, the body's defence system for fighting disease and foreign bodies, including foreign organs commonly transplanted today, such as kidneys, hearts and livers.
Human transplant patients are given powerful drugs to suppress the body's immune response and usually have to take them for the rest of their lives, opening them to the possibility of infections and even cancers. But Hall believes he has detected certain immune cells that are the main ones responsible for tolerance of foreign organs. This is the holy grail of the transplant world; if he can turn on these cells, patients will not have to take powerful drugs for the rest of their lives. Hall's experiments have involved injecting treated cells into test rats that have had heart transplants to see if they can tolerate the transplants better than control rats that do not receive the cells. "The problem was that repeated tests showed that the controls [rats] had the same reaction as the treated rats," Chen says. "Whenever I tried to talk to Professor Hall about this, he berated me and told me I was doing it incorrectly, that I was incompetent. He never questioned whether his hypothesis was right or not."
Then Hall wrote a scientific paper for the Transplant Society of Australia and New Zealand and put Chen's name on it, even making him the point of contact, allegedly without telling Chen. Chen disagreed with the paper and claimed it included "embarrassing inaccuracies" - such as an experiment that Chen believed had not occurred - that "ruined my scientific credibility". These problems soon led to even more serious allegations that other tests in another paper were false; were not done. These results were used in the laboratory's applications for grant money from the federally funded National Health and Medical Research Council, the supreme research body.
He initially complained to the hospital about Hall's management style and these scientific matters, but she says she was told she should go to university administration because Hall was a member of university staff and funded mainly through the university. He and the two other laboratory members then made an official disclosure about the operations of Hall's unit, particularly about the scientific allegations, to the university administration under the Protected Disclosures Act, which is supposed to protect whistleblowers. The university, then under vice-chancellor John Niland, appointed the then dean of medicine, Bruce Dowton, to investigate it. He says they felt isolated and ostracised and that their side was not being listened to fully by the university. UNSW denies this. After more than four months passed without any decision, He and Chen went to the ABC and publicly revealed their grievances, which were also reported in The Weekend Australian.
Dowton's report came out only after the media reports. It criticised Hall's management style and recommended he apologise to certain staff members and undergo management training. It also criticised him over the authorship issue, but on the more serious charges it found that Hall was not guilty of any wilful scientific fraud or misconduct. But members of the university's governing council, who by then had heard the allegations in the media, were not satisfied with this and they forced a report by an independent group of eminent experts. That group consisted of former High Court chief justice Gerard Brennan and three medical professors: John Chalmers from the University of Sydney; Judith Whitworth, director of the John Curtin School of Medical Research; and David Weatherall, Regius professor of medicine at Oxford University. They concluded - in a report that was made public after Hall took the university to court to stop its publication - that Hall had behaved with a "reckless disregard for the truth" and had "deliberately deceived" and "seriously deviated" from "commonly accepted" scientific practices.
But that was not the end of the saga. Hall maintained his full innocence and said that the investigating committee had been misled and "did not understand the science". The university management then organised its own committee of experts to examine the Hall allegations. This report, accepted by the then vice-chancellor, Rory Hume, found that Hall was guilty of academic misconduct but not the more serious charge of scientific misconduct. Hall was not dismissed and UNSW paid the rental for a new research unit for Hall and his wife, neurologist Suzanne Hodgkinson, at the Australian Technology Park in inner Sydney.
Chen is now effectively redundant and the university has indicated it will not review his contract at the end of the year. Chen says: "I would advise people to think very, very carefully before they become whistleblowers." But He is just as determined as she was four years ago. "I'm not leaving," she says. "I'm not going to give them the satisfaction. I believe in the principle and I believe I was right." The NSW Ombudsman's Office has been investigating the handling of UNSW whistlelowers including Chen and He and it's understood a report on its findings will be released early next year.
18 December, 2005
Truth about Muslims forbidden
The riot at Sydney's Conulla beach last Sunday seems to have woken the NSW authorities up to the fact that they are going to have to deal with the Muslim problem officially if vigilante action is not to ensue. But the new laws to enable better police control of aggressive gatherings have been put in place under the pretext of restraining "racism" among Anglo-Australians. Since the Muslims move in large packs, the new laws to deal with groups were needed. But the desperate official need to blame everybody but the Muslims has caught various media figures in the net. Note the following quote about popular Sydney radio announcer Brian Wilshire :
"The career of veteran 2GB announcer Brian Wilshire is in limbo after he called Lebanese-Australians "inbreds" and questioned their intelligence on air. Wilshire, 61, was yesterday pulled off air and made to apologise for comments he made on Thursday night. Discussing Middle Eastern boys involved in violence he said: "Many of them have parents who are first cousins, whose parents were first cousins ... The result of this is inbreeding."
What he said is of course the simple truth. Marrying cousins is normal in Arab countries and the average Arab IQ is much lower than the normal Western IQ. You can see here that the average IQ in Lebanon is 86. If you want to encourage the speaking of truth to power, Wilshire can probably be reached here: email@example.com
There are lots of things happening in Australia other than Sydney's Muslim problem. A few of the odder incidents excerpted briefly below:
Australian health boss pisses into the wind: "Greed should not be the motivator of the nation's doctors, and highly paid specialists such as anaesthetists should not get more money from Medicare unless they guarantee to pass the savings on to patients. Health Minister Tony Abbott has revealed he understands why doctors walk out of the "chaotic" public health system in disgust, but has warned that an exodus could undermine public confidence in the profession. Pledging extra payments to GPs who undertake procedures, he warned the Government would not give more money to anaesthetists because they were likely to pocket the cash, not pass on the savings to patients. "Notwithstanding legitimate grievances about the scheduled fee and indexation, the Government is very reluctant to increase rebates for comparatively high-earning specialities such as anaesthesia, in the absence of binding undertakings from the profession that the money will go to patients," he said".
Party on us, says council: "Townsville residents are being paid to party as the council attempts to put an end to social alienation. Up to $500 for food and drink and party equipment is available to anyone who wants to hold a street party, provided it helps with social cohesion. Introduced by Mayor Tony Mooney, the paid-to-party policy is already a raging success. Townsville police have praised it as a way of bringing people together. About seven parties have already gone off, with at least another 10 confirmed. But Brisbane City Council insists it too has always been willing to chip in for the odd kabana and cocktail onion if anyone wants to open the Jatz crackers and invite the neighbours over".
Amazing: What does it take to jail a thief?: "A woman who was being charged after she stole presents for Christmas later stole the police camera used to take her photo at the station. Lucella Bridget Gorman, 38, of Banyo, appeared in the Brisbane Magistrate's Court yesterday where she pleaded guilty to two counts of stealing and one charge of unauthorised dealing with shop goods. The court was told Gorman stole $134 worth of fruit and chocolate from a Herston service station in October. Then last month, she went to a city department store and stole four Barbie dolls, toys, batteries, electronics, beauty products and earrings. She was caught and taken to the city police station so she could be fingerprinted and photographed. Then, when inside the Brisbane city police fingerprint room, police said Gorman stole their digital camera while an officer's back was turned. He quickly found what was missing and retrieved it from Gorman's bag, before she was charged with another count of stealing.... Gorman was put on a 12-month good behaviour bond and no convictions were recorded. Mr Comans warned if she came back to court in that time, she could be re-sentenced for these charges and ordered to pay $500".
A country medical school to encourage country practice
Townsville [a small regional city in Queensland] is set to revolutionise health services in country Australia after a $3 million federal grant was awarded to James Cook University yesterday. Health Minister Tony Abbott travelled to Townsville to announce a new rural medical school at JCU. The Federal Government will inject $3 million over two years to establish the landmark clinic at the university. He said the rural clinic would allow more students to study in Cairns, Atherton and Mackay, getting hands on experience in rural and remote communities. "The Government's initiative will give more future doctors an experience of rural and remote medicine, plus the skills to deliver the best possible health care when they get there.
Mr Abbott said training doctors in the country was important, because country trained doctors were more likely to practice in regional areas. Mr Abbott said the Government was trying to increase rural training at universities across the country and he listed JCU as a leader in the initiative. "It's particularly important at universities like James Cook, as the first non-metropolitan medical school in Australia." The minister's visit was scheduled to coincide with JCU's first medical class graduation ceremony. "It's actually a pretty important day for country Australia as this is the first graduating class from a non metropolitan medical school," he said.
Mr Abbott said Australia's health services were going through a period of positive change, with non-state capital city medical schools being established in Canberra, Woolongong, west Sydney and Fremantle. "There are a lot of changes happening but James Cook has been a flagship of change when it comes to trying to get medical graduates in country areas." Mr Abbott said there were 11 rural clinical schools across Australia, and as a result, a quarter of the nation's medical students were spending at least a year training in remote areas.
The executive dean of the JCU faculty of medicine, health and molecular sciences, Professor Ian Wronski, welcomed the additional funding. "We have always wanted to train doctors in the North, for the North, and the rural clinical school will give us more facilities and more teachers in communities across the region."
Official inaction on Muslim aggression helps racist groups recruit
By its language and iconography, PYL is more a Trotskyist (far-Left) offshoot than anything else
Queensland's branch of the Patriotic Youth League claimed it had recruited new members after the racial unrest in Sydney this week. The Queensland chapter of the league claimed on its website that "numerous new members" were signed up in Cronulla as tensions exploded last Sunday. The league is reportedly linked to skinhead groups, and police said those in the crowd wore boots, braces and clothing with neo-nazi insignias. Posters bearing the Eureka insignia, adopted by white nationalist groups, advertised the league and its post office box numbers in Sydney, Newcastle, Melbourne and Brisbane.
According to the website, "activism gets results". "It was nice to see so many people in Cronulla owned Australian flags," it said. "There is no way a small group of young nationalists could organise 10,000 people, but at some future date our membership will be so large as to be able to do this." The author - former One Nation candidate and two-time election loser John Drew - is a self-confessed "fanatical wagnerite" and a long-time opponent of "politically correct" ideas like multiculturalism.
Mr Drew refused to speak to The Courier-Mail, and this week placed a gag order on league members. On his website he accused journalists of seeking to print "ridiculous, false and damaging information about the (league)." "All members will be required to agree to some unfortunately necessary restrictions on contact with journalists," he said.
The Patriotic Youth League was founded in 2002 by Stuart McBeth, a University of Newcastle student formerly involved with One Nation. The league has been linked to racially motivated attacks at NSW universities, and league spokesman Luke Connor warned similar attacks could occur in Queensland. "We've got people waiting in the wings and we're going to target the biggest university," he said. The league's membership numbers are unknown, but most supporters areexpected to attend the annual general meeting held on September 12.
Sneers from those who think they're above it all: A good comment from Michael Duffy below
A year ago someone came up with the term "conspicuous compassion" to describe the public expression of fake concern for others. This week we've seen its opposite, which might be called "conspicuous contempt". Critics from ethnic melting pots such as [affluent] Turramurra and Woollahra have been lining up to abuse white-bread [working-class] Cronulla. I suspect this might have more to do with class than race.
It's always been important for those of us in the educated middle class to show we're different from the masses. Status is crucial to our sense of identity, and was traditionally asserted by superior wealth and taste. But this has become less easy with the spread of mass culture and prosperity. Our enthusiastic use of the derogatory term "McMansion" to describe prole housing reflects the depressing fact that a plumber in Bella Vista lives in a better house than a solicitor in Paddington does. For several decades now, our status has been under siege.
So thank goodness for morality, the last bastion of status, where we can still easily and publicly distinguish ourselves from the mass of our fellow citizens. Immigration is a particularly fruitful area for this, because problem immigrants end up in prole parts of the city, producing a certain ambivalence among their Anglo-Celtic neighbours. This leaves the field free for people in the northern and eastern suburbs to moralise about racism, immigration and ethnic gangs, without being hampered by any personal experience of these matters.
When Pauline Hanson [who dared to mention race] was in Parliament, preachers such as Robert Hughes enthusiastically condemned the innate racism of the Australian people. There were numerous gleeful predictions of suburban pogroms. But what happened was that nearly all the violence flowed the other way. At Hanson's apogee, hundreds of people would demonstrate outside her meetings, abusing, and in some cases spitting on and attacking, those who came to see her. Many were frightened away. It was possibly the most disgraceful episode in the recent history of our democracy. Strangely, it went almost completely uncriticised by the educated middle classes.
A more recent attempt to accuse the masses of racism was a report published by the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board in 2003, claiming Sydney was in a state of "moral panic" due to the way the unwashed had responded to some media coverage of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and subsequent events. And yet - although this was not mentioned in the report - formal complaints by Muslims of abuse and discrimination had risen only slightly in the previous 18 months. And those figures were a lot lower than they'd been in the past. But why let the facts stand in the way of the view, so comforting - so necessary - to so many in the better suburbs, that the nation is seething with potentially violent white racists?
The sad truth for middle-class moralisers is that most Australians are unhelpfully non-racist. The book How Australia Compares, by Rodney Tiffen and Ross Gittins, includes the result of a 1990s survey on the sorts of people who were not desired as neighbours. Some of the respondent percentages were: drug addicts 74, heavy drinkers 60, people with a criminal record 45, emotionally unstable 38, and immigrants and people from a different race 5. Only 5 per cent! And that was the lowest in the list of countries surveyed: Austria and Belgium 20 per cent, Japan 17, France, Italy and Germany 13.
The usefulness of Cronulla last Sunday, of course, is that at last something bad did happen. But the outrage is as selective as ever. As has been reported elsewhere, Bondi Beach had problems with Lebanese gangs a few years ago, but the police response was serious and effective. After all, we can't have that sort of thing going on at the beach used by wealthy people who've been to university. But the similar complaints by the white trash at underpoliced Cronulla have received less attention. Again, it's as much to do with class and power as race.
Not only have the enlightened ones imposed the problems of immigration on those poorer and less educated than themselves, they absolve themselves of all responsibility when the masses protest in one of the few ways available to them. It was distressing to see last Sunday's cowards and thugs wrapping themselves in the Australian flag. But it has been equally disturbing to see their critics cloaking their conspicuous contempt in unctuous rectitude.
17 December, 2005
Some good Saturday morning background commentary on the Sydney ethnic upheavals:
More to the riots than racism:
By Andrew Bolt
Four attacks on churches in 24 hours remind us it's foolish to dismiss the riots in Sydney as just proof of white Australian racism. Yes, the scuffles at Cronulla on Sunday were brutal and cowardly. But they seemed in part driven not just by beer, but exasperation at the failure of police to deal with Lebanese gangs who'd harassed beachgoers for years. And only a few people were hurt and none seriously. Yet this was, to the usual suspects, confirmation of "our" racism - of the "racial exclusion" that La Trobe University's Professor Marilyn Lake yesterday said was "a deep part of our heritage".
But see now the far worse retaliation by Lebanese gangs. Over the past days we've seen a man stabbed in the back, a woman bashed in the face with a bat, businesses smashed and more than 100 cars wrecked. Now the gangs have allegedly burned the hall of a Uniting church - a church catering for Tongan Australians. They've smashed the windows of St Thomas's Anglican Church - attended by Chinese Australians. And they've allegedly shot up cars outside a carols service for mainly Maronite Christians - Australians of Middle Eastern background.
Each assault was against a proof of "our" welcome to people of other races. Those who say this strife is about nasty "us", as in white racists, are blind, or maybe racist themselves.
"We have a problem with law and order, not race hate" -- Saturday 18th. editorial in "The Australian" newspaper -- commenting on the reality that Australia's Left-leaning press is ignoring:
Among the 200 or so nations of the world, Australia is among the most diverse, tolerant, egalitarian and prosperous. To say, as some suggest, that we are unable to accommodate immigrants ignores the reality that about 20 per cent of us come from families where English is not the native language and who have been here for only one or two generations. And as for being insular, last year about 25 per cent of the population were born overseas, the highest proportion for a century. Australia is not a nation divided by religion, like Northern Ireland. Australia is not a nation split by race, like the US until the 1960s, or divided between tribes, like too many African and Balkan countries. Australia is not a nation where the social circumstances of an individual's birth inevitably defines their opportunities in life, like India. Naturally, this does not mean successfully accommodating millions of people of all sorts of faiths and ethnicities is always automatic. As the events of last week demonstrate, Sydney is suffering the results of alienation among the children of some Lebanese families who fled to Australia from the 1970s civil war in their country. But while an unacceptable situation - no group has any right to brawl and bully others in our community - this is an exception that largely proves the rule. We used to hear of problems among the children of Vietnamese refugees who also fled their country 30 years ago. But now the Vietnamese are just ordinary Australians. As are the vast majority of the Lebanese, and all the other Middle Eastern migrants who have arrived in the past 30 years.
But instead of putting the Cronulla riot in the overall context of migration, partisans are manipulating it to suit their own arguments. Some suggest that what we saw at Cronulla was a twisted expression of patriotism by young Australians outraged by an attack on lifesavers by youths of Middle Eastern - conveniently labelled Lebanese - origin. But there was no patriotism to be proud of displayed at Cronulla - just drunkenness, blood lust and blind prejudice. Just as bad, others ignore the catalyst for the conflict supplied by ethnic gang violence and have used the riots as an opportunity to sneer at ordinary Australians. Certainly people who have warned about violent gangs of young Lebanese men have been denounced as racists in the past. And this time elitists argued it was John Howard's fault, at least in part. On Tuesday, under blaring page one headlines, Melbourne's The Age announced that the Prime Minister "has refused to acknowledge the existence of underlying racism in Australia" - as if to suggest the supposed darkness of the Australian heart was self-evident. And on Thursday, The Sydney Morning Herald sought to show how Mr Howard had harmed our international standing. Again under page one headlines, it was considered startling news that some of the leaders at the East Asian summit had indulged in small talk over news of the Cronulla riots. Inside, the paper took the angle that Malaysia saw no place for Australia as a member of an East Asian community of nations. "Malaysia delivers a short, important, face slap", the headline read. The real story was the diplomatic triumph of just being involved at the summit, in large part due to the new Malaysian Prime Minister and other supportive southeast Asian nations such as Indonesia.
This was less inadequate analysis than puerile opportunism. The debate has nothing to do with blues on Sydney beaches. That we were at the East Asian summit at all demonstrates how relations have improved since former Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad used to exclude Australia from every regional arrangement he could. It all demonstrates a desire to turn a law-and-order issue into a crisis of national identity and international diplomacy, and to blame Mr Howard for not denouncing Australians. In the way such arguments miss the point, they do us all a great disservice. That Sydney has a problem with gangs of young thugs demonstrates the way standards of policing and social order have slipped. There are many reasons for this - dysfunctional families who do not discipline their sons, magistrates who think they are social workers, police who fear being labelled as bigoted brutes for enforcing the law and widespread acceptance of illegal drugs. But these are not problems unique to Sydney, or any other Australian city. And despite what the racists in our midst, as well as the Howard-haters, say, our national record in immigration is perhaps the defining achievement of Australia in our time. Cronulla witnessed disgraceful behaviour last weekend, but the riots did not demonstrate anything definitive about Australia.
Countdown to conflict:
Long before race riots broke out last weekend, trouble was brewing on Sydney beaches. Lifesavers who volunteer at North Cronulla - that gorgeous beach in Sydney's south that was the setting for Puberty Blues - have been complaining for years about a weekend invasion. They don't mean by other freckled Anglo-Saxon sunseekers. It's the "young men of Middle Eastern appearance", the Arabs, predominantly from Lebanon, who arrive, en masse, in hotted-up cars, who rile them. These men - most of them still in their late teens or early 20s, who are Australian-born to Lebanese parents, often Muslim - come from the working-class western and southwestern suburbs, which have no beaches of their own.
With their dark skin, dark hair and gold chains, they are conspicuous in Cronulla, the jewel in the crown of the Sutherland Shire, where just 17 per cent of residents are foreign born (compared with a greater Sydney average of about 31 per cent) and where there is virtually no religious diversity (just 2.2 per cent of Sutherland residents practise a religion other than Christianity). The shire is also more affluent than its neighbours and is fast becoming a celebrity haven. Former Test cricket captain Steve Waugh lives there, as does swimmer Ian Thorpe, while celebrity chef Donna Hay was born there and went to a local high school.
The portrait is stunningly clear: the shire is a white, Anglo-Celtic, Christian heartland. But, ominously, this white sanctuary is hemmed in by the great Middle Eastern melting pots of Sydney: suburbs such as Bankstown, where half the residents are from non-English-speaking backgrounds. When the mercury climbs at the weekend, it is men and youths from these two very different groups who head for a single patch of sand at Cronulla beach. Shire locals say these Arabs have been "cruising for a bruising" for a while.
They allege the men taunt the lifesavers by stealing equipment and kicking balls at them. They annoy other beachgoers by claiming large sections of sand, from the water to the beach stairs, as a football pitch. They force people who are sunbaking to move by kicking up sand around them. They park illegally, blocking people's driveways, and tread all over people's towels. Or so it is alleged by local officials and beachgoers.
There is seething resentment, too, about their treatment of local girls, especially young girls, of Anglo-Saxon appearance, who say the boys stand over them as they sunbake, blocking the sun to get their attention and ogling their bikini-clad bodies. They leer, whistle and make appalling suggestions about how they might pass time on the beach, offering to have sex with the girls and asking if they are virgins. Again, so it is alleged. If the girls tell them to piss off, they turn nasty and call them sluts, whores and "skip" tarts.
There is no doubt anti-Arab feeling in the shire also can be traced to the violent rapes of young Anglo-Saxon girls by gangs of Lebanese boys in 2002, which culminated in the sentencing of Bilal Skaf to a maximum of 55 years in jail. There is anger, too, about Muslim leaders who have been seen on television preaching hatred against the West - such as Sheik Faiz Mohamad, who once said young women brought rape on themselves by wearing clothes that were "strapless, backless, sleeveless, nothing but satanic skirts, slit skirts, translucent blouses, miniskirts, tight jeans" - and about Middle Eastern gang crime, including carjacking, drug trafficking and murder. This, then, was the landscape for the riots, which unfolded not over days but months and years.
During a long weekend last October, police were called to Cronulla three times to break up altercations between groups of these Arab boys and young male surfers clad in Celtic tattoos and boardshorts. Then, in November, three North Cronulla lifesavers were walking along the beach when four Middle Eastern youths began yelling at them in Arabic. Foul language was exchanged and the lifesavers were beaten up. One youth, aged 19, was pushed towards a metal fence spike that punctured the skin above his eyes. Another two, one of whom was just 15, suffered bad facial bruising. The bashings were widely publicised in Sydney, in the newspapers and on talkback radio. Soon, somebody had the idea that enough was enough and it was time to "take back" or defend a popular beach from the visiting hoons.
In SMS messages sent from mobile phones and in emails, "Aussies" were urged to gather at Cronulla for a rally last Sunday. As happens in these days of quick, cheap communication, the messages - tens of thousands of them - soon were re-sent across Sydney, into the central coast and into Queensland. Some were quite tame, calling on locals to simply turn up and rally. But other self-proclaimed "Aussies" clearly had mischief in mind. "Who said Gallipoli wouldn't happen again!" said one message. "Rock up 2 Cronulla this Sunday were [sic] u can witness Aussies beatin [sic] Turks on the beach." Another urged: "This Sunday every f---ing Aussie in the shire get down to North Cronulla to help support Leb and wog-bashing day. Bring your mates down and let's claim back our shire."
Sydney breakfast radio king Alan Jones, who has been accused of race-baiting, read these messages on air and, as if the issue were not already inflamed, added: "I don't hear people complaining about Catholics and Protestants." ....
At first it seemed as if peace had a chance. The day of the rally, last Sunday, started much like any other December weekend; the beach at Cronulla was hot and crowded but the atmosphere was pleasant, even carnival-like. Families carried Australian flags. There were sausage sizzles and a game of cricket between people who had met just that day. beach captain from North Cronulla Surf Lifesaving Club, who asked not to be named for fear of being targeted, was there from the start. "It was a kind of a party atmosphere to start with," he says. "Lots of people and flags and horns tooting. It seemed fine to me. But more and more people arrived, and there was drinking and some yelling, and you could start to feel the mood changing a bit." .....
As the crowd swelled to the thousands, some young men stripped naked to the waist and painted obscene slogans on their white skin about Allah and the prophet Mohammed. A local in an Australian-flag baseball cap, Glenn Steele - who now admits he got stupidly drunk and behaved like an idiot - bellowed at the crowd, telling them to "get Lebs off the beach".
As the temperature climbed and more beer was consumed, the crowds looked around for somebody to torment. "You could see them almost hunting kids with their eyes," says Stuart, a young Cronulla surfer who was hoping to see a fight. "Not everybody was into the violence but you could see the crowd, it was like at school, when you know somebody is going to have a fight, and you just follow them around." It wasn't long before some drunk yobs found a couple of innocent boys with dark skin sunbaking on the sand and the attack began. Elsewhere, two Lebanese boys who travelled to Cronulla to build bridges tried to reason with the crowd but were quickly set upon and beaten. Police, who had been on standby, herded the boys into the Northies hotel. By then the crowd was baying: "F--- off, Lebs" and "F--- off, wogs".....
As dusk fell on Monday, a group of furious young men, apparently Arabic, began gathering at Lakemba Mosque. A rumour went around that "ugly Aussies" were on the way to torch the place. The crowd spotted two "Europeans" across the street taking photographs of them. They were a photographer and journalist from The Australian who had parked in the service station and were watching the swelling crowd. As the crowd began moving towards them, police moved in, pushing the journalist by his head into the car, saying: "Get out of here, now!" The photographer had his camera taken and the digital memory card removed before he, too, was shoved into the car. A mob descended and began kicking and shaking the car, denting the panels. The photographer gunned the engine, crashed on to the road and sped away.
Now the crowd needed a new focus for its anger. A convoy of 50 or more cars, filled with youths and men, soon began travelling from the western suburbs to the beach areas, first to Maroubra, then to Cronulla. Men wielding baseball bats, knives and axe handles shouted out open windows, abusing Caucasians stuck in the traffic jams they caused. They ran red lights and abused police, then smashed more than 100 cars.
A man, tending to his wheelie [garbage] bins, was stabbed between the shoulder blades. A woman watched, horrified, as the head of a shovel came smashing through her bedroom window. A man caught outside a youth hostel was pummelled to the ground and beaten until he was unconscious. Witnesses in Brighton-Le-Sands and Maroubra reported seeing men carrying wooden clubs with nails driven through them. Knives and bats were found discarded in bushes.
Police tried to respond, stopping and searching cars as they approached the area. People of Arabic appearance were forced out of their vehicles, on to their knees, then their faces, to await arrest, with pistols drawn and pointed at their heads.
The retaliation for Sunday's riot was not confined to the beach suburbs, however. The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, George Pell, says shots were fired outside a service at an Auburn primary school and church staff later found bullet holes in their cars.....
NSW Opposition Leader Peter Debnam said Sydney was paying the price for a lack of police on the streets and a "softly, softly" approach by the state Labor Government towards gang violence. "This is a real disgrace and it didn't just come about this week," he said.
With over 1,000 extra police, the Sydney authorities still cannot guarantee peaceful beaches
What a lot of milksops! It's only innocent members of the public that the police will be tough on -- by ordering them off their own beaches this weekend -- even off iconic Bondi!
People are being urged to stay away from beaches in Sydney, Wollongong, Newcastle and the Central Coast at the weekend after police received credible threats of gang violence and riots. NSW Premier Morris Iemma said police had received intelligence from the public indicating gangs would target Cronulla, Sydney's eastern beaches, Wollongong, Newcastle, and some Central Coast beaches this weekend.
As a result of the latest threats, police numbers would be boosted further to 1500 on Saturday and 2000 on Sunday to try to prevent a repeat of last weekend's race riot at Cronulla, Mr Iemma said. NSW Police Commissioner Ken Moroney had yesterday announced that an extra 1000 police would be on duty on Saturday and an extra 1500 on Sunday. "The police do advise that there are credible threats of large numbers of people wishing to congregate at a range of beachside locations and do intend on riotous behaviour," Mr Iemma said. "We are determined to ensure public order and safety." ....
The Premier urged locals and visitors to stay away from the targeted locations, where police would be conducting roadblocks and other anti-riot measures. "Based on the credibility of those threats, travel to these areas should be avoided and residents living within the areas ... should not be at those locations," Mr Iemma said.
Historian Windschuttle on the Sydney ethnic problems
It was inevitable, given the prevailing mind-set within government and the media, that Sydney's beachside violence this week would be called race riots. The New South Wales Premier, his ministers and many newspaper headlines all used the term. However, a more ungainly but nonetheless more accurate description would have been multicultural riots. For the doctrine of multiculturalism is really to blame. The tensions that exploded this week were defined into existence by multiculturalist policies and ideas.
It wasn't the youths at Cronulla beach who decided that all Lebanese constitute an ethnic group. That was done for them by politicians, bureaucrats and academics in the name of constructing ethnic communities. Those youths certainly can be blamed for trying to beat up a few outnumbered innocents but not for responding to people as ethnics in the first place.
In earlier periods, Lebanese immigrants were not defined as an ethnic group. Lebanon is one of the oldest sources of Australian migration. People have been coming from that country since the 1880s. They were never defined as aliens under the old White Australia Policy and their numbers gradually grew from 601 in 1891 to 2670 in 1933. Until 1975, almost all were Maronites or Christian Lebanese. They prospered here, married into the local community and, within two generations, became largely indistinguishable from the Australian mainstream. One of their offspring, Nick Shehadie, a former lord mayor of Sydney and the husband of NSW Governor Marie Bashir, captained the Wallabies in three of 30 Tests for his country. How Australian can you get?
After 1975, the onset of civil war brought Lebanese Muslims here on grounds of humanitarian resettlement. At the same time, the policy of multiculturalism was initiated by the Whitlam Government and entrenched under Malcolm Fraser. Multiculturalism began and, until recently, was regarded by most Australians as a civilised concept to ease immigrants into their new environment. But it became corrupted by partisan politics. As former Labor Government minister Barry Jones has admitted, immigration became "a tremendously important element" in building up a long-term, non-English-speaking political constituency for his party.
In the 1980s immigration policy switched from national interest to ethnic preference, from demographic and labour market need to family reunion. In the name of cultural diversity, the bureaucrats in charge used welfare and housing policy to promote ethnic community building. This concentrated non-English-speaking immigrants in western and southwestern Sydney. Most affected were the post-1975 Lebanese Muslims. By 2001, 73 per cent of all Lebanese in Australia were living in these Sydney suburbs.
Multicultural policy was always justified by the assumption that the xenophobia of old Australia was the problem. This presumption still reverberates in the voices of politicians and journalists who have responded to this week's events as if Australian youths are the real culprits. Hypocritically, they denounce racial stereotyping of ethnic groups but freely typecast Anglo Australia.
Multiculturalism is also at odds with the core tenets of liberal democracy, where rights inhere in the individual, not the collective, and where people's representatives are elected politicians, not self-appointed ethnic spokesmen or godfathers. Multiculturalism is a reversion to tribalism that is anachronistic in a modern, liberal, urban society.
In Sydney it has been plain for at least a decade that, instead of ethnic communities living happily in the diversity of social pluralism, multiculturalism has bred ethnic ghettos characterised by high levels of unemployment, welfare dependency, welfare abuse, crime and violence. The social engineers responsible should have been well aware of the likely outcome, especially for young men. All the evidence from the numerous studies of similar ethnic ghettos in North America and Europe show they produce much the same result, whatever the colour or ethnicity of their inhabitants. Ghetto culture for young men everywhere is characterised by interpersonal violence, sexual irresponsibility, incomplete education, substandard speech, a hypersensitivity about being disrespected and a feckless attitude towards work.
The Lebanese assaults on the Cronulla lifesavers that led to this week's mass retaliation were nothing new. This behaviour has been with us for more than a decade. When the former principal of Punchbowl Boys High, a school dominated by Lebanese Muslim youth, suffered a breakdown and sued the NSW government, he gave an insight to the local culture. Between 1995 and 1999, students armed with knives had threatened classmates, teachers were assaulted and gangs invaded classrooms. On one occasion, the principal had a gun held to his head by a Lebanese gang member who threatened to shoot him. One of his students was convicted of murdering a Korean schoolboy and three other students were jailed for their roles in some of Sydney's most notorious gang rapes.
In 1997, during a house fire in another Sydney ethnic ghetto at Auburn, known as Little Lebanon, police and firefighters were attacked by youths hurling rocks. An ambulance had a window shot out, ensuring all future ambulance calls to the locality were accompanied by police escort. Little Lebanon was a concentration of Muslim families from the same rural district who had come to Australia first as refugees, then as chain immigrants.
At the same time as all of this was going on, however, most Anglo Australians were giving the lie to the stereotype of latent racism. Outside the ethnic enclaves, instead of racist or ethnocentric attitudes to newcomers, old Australians were working with, marrying and having children with them. Studies by Monash University's Bob Birrell of the most revealing test of immigrant integration, the marriage rate, showed that by the end of the '90s less than 10 per cent of second-generation marriages of people of European descent were to someone from their parents' country. Much the same was true of immigrants from south and east Asia. Only 6 per cent of Indians married within their ethnic group, as did only 18 per cent of Chinese. In short, most immigrants, whatever their race, married Australians of other nationalities.
However, for the Lebanese, of whom most of marriageable age were Muslims, these figures were reversed. No less than 74 per cent of Lebanese brides and 61 per cent of Lebanese grooms married within their own ethnic group. Moreover, these figures had increased since the early '90s, when they were about six percentage points lower. This pattern may have fulfilled the community-building objective sought by Lebanese political and religious leaders, but it has been a disaster for their constituents' relationship with the rest of Australia.
Put this week's beachside violence into its political and social context, and the conclusion is clear. It is not race that is the problem but culture. Multiracialism has been a success in contemporary Australia but multiculturalism has been an abject failure.
National ID card unlikely for Australia
The chances of a national identity card are fading, with business and police voicing concerns over the costs and logistics of implementing a blanket system. Leading business groups say the cost of an "Australia card" could blow out to $15 billion, and Justice and Customs Minister Chris Ellison has conceded the financial impact could stymie a national approach.
Police have raised concerns as to how effective the cards would be without the use of biometrics technology, involving fingerprints or other identifying features.
John Howard raised the prospect of a national identity card in July after Queensland Premier Peter Beattie suggested such a system would have prevented the wrongful detention of Cornelia Rau and Vivian Alvarez. Senator Ellison said yesterday the controversial plan was still "under consideration" with some ministers understood to support the ID card as part of the fight against terrorism. But the minister accepted the proposal would have to be better "in essence and cost" than the work now being done on security jointly by Canberra and the states.
Federal and state police ministers have been working on ways to improve identity security as a part of their counter-terrorist measures. "We are bringing all these strands together that could make a difference on ID security," Senator Ellison told The Australian yesterday.
However, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the costs of a national identity card could be as high as $15 billion. The well-connected business lobby is firmly opposed to the identity security blueprint, arguing it would heavily increase their regulatory burden.
Another element of the counter-terrorist framework will be unveiled today, with the Howard Government to force banks, lawyers and accountants to report suspicious financial transactions. Senator Ellison said the national plan was a "significant step" towards preventing money-laundering and the financing of terrorist activity. Suspicious activities will have to be reported to the regulator, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre.
But some terrorism experts questioned the effectiveness of the law changes.. Aldo Borgu, a terrorism analyst with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said the changes could "force terrorists to become more innovative" in how they financed their activities.
16 December, 2005
Friday morning update on Sydney's Muslim problem
The news report below covering Thursday night deliberately makes it difficult to identify who were the source of most of the problems but the Muslims move in large packs so I have highlighted in red the incidents that were almost certainly of Muslim origin
Armed with new powers, a police task force has arrested 19 people in a night of unrest in Sydney in which an elderly man was bashed with a crowbar, a molotov cocktail was thrown at police and one officer was injured in a brawl. The arrests were made by officers attached to Operation Seta, created following a race riot at North Cronulla Beach in Sydney's south on Sunday and days of retaliatory attacks. Assistant commissioner Dave Owens said police used increased powers rushed through NSW Parliament to set up check points on a number of main thoroughfares in Sydney's southern suburbs. A molotov cocktail was thrown at police in "a disturbing incident" at Dickens Rd, Ambarvale, south west of Sydney, about 10pm, he said. "Police conducted a search of the area and located a number of other incendiary devices and what appeared to be stockpiled stones," Mr Owens said.
Although no arrests were made over that incident, two men, aged 24 and 23, were charged with making explosives with intent ot injure after police found seven molotov cocktails in a Cronulla unit, about 6pm. A 46-year-old man was also charged with common assault after an elderly man was bashed with a crowbar by a group of men at Riverwood in Sydney's south west about 7pm. Police were also called to shopping centres at Marrickville, Castle Hill and Newcastle where crowds of men had gathered. They were dispersed without incident, but a police officer was injured as he broke up a brawl at a shopping centre in Wetherill Park about 8.30pm. An 18-year-old man was charged with a range of offences including two counts of assaulting a police officer.
Shortly before 10.30pm, police were also called to a fast food outlet at Parramatta where 23 car loads of men in a carpark were threatening patrons with baseball bats. A 22-year-old man was arrested after he was allegedly found with a hammer and screwdriver. He was charged with possessing offensive weapons.
Excerpt from a comment by a newspaper columnist
This morning radio stations - and NEWS.com.au - reported it had been a quiet night in Sydney's beach suburbs, where racist violence exploded last Sunday. Soon after sunrise, however, it became clear the night had been anything but quiet. There had been 19 arrests, a man had been assaulted and someone had thrown a Molotov cocktail at police.
Today we report on what police say are "rumours" of busloads of people of varying ethnic backgrounds travelling up from Melbourne to get involved in more violence at Cronulla this weekend.....
Readers shared their views on the riots in our forums during the week. There were thousands upon thousands of emails, of which an edited selection was published here. The invitation for comment came with the following qualifier: "We aim to share a diversity of views but racist or inflammatory remarks will not be published." That did not stop some people calling for the reintroduction of a White Australia policy, using extraordinary derogatory language about ethnic groups and writing other messages filled with all sorts of other racist, hate-filled comments.
I point this out in the interests of openness. The forums needed to be edited to some degree because there are laws against incitement. But the emails were also instructive on public sentiment. The people who wrote those contributions could not all have been crazies or flippant pot-stirrers. Many would have been ordinary Australians working in offices around the country....
Thursday evening roundup of Sydney's Muslim problem
New laws to deal with ethnic unrest now in force -- But blaming the need for the new laws on Anglo-Australians is gross
NSW Parliament today rushed through laws empowering police to lock down, for as long as 48 hours, areas where unrest has broken out, or is threatening to break out. The numbers of police deployed to keep the peace will triple at the weekend - from 450 after two days of racial violence in Sydney's east and south, to 1000 on Saturday and 1500 on Sunday. Premier Morris Iemma recalled parliament from its summer break after rioters attacked people of Middle Eastern descent at Cronulla on Sunday, and members of Sydney's Lebanese community carried out apparent retaliatory attacks on Sunday and Monday nights.
Under the new laws that were passed unopposed today, police have the power to set up cordons in locked-down areas, search people and vehicles, close licensed premises and declare alcohol-free zones. Vehicles and mobile phones used in disturbances can be seized by police for up to seven days and courts will be able to extend the confiscation of cars by a further 14 days. The penalty for rioting has increased from five years to 15 years and the penalty for affray will double to 10 years. A new offence - assault during a riot - has also been introduced. The laws will be monitored by the ombudsman and will expire in two years unless renewed by parliament.
Police Commissioner Ken Moroney said police were ready to use the laws, which were due to come into force tonight. "To those who are intent on criminal behaviour: you are on notice," he told reporters....
The opposition backed the laws but said they did not go far enough. Opposition MPs accused the government of being soft on ethnic crime gangs, which they said were involved in Labor Party branch stacking. "The problem is the government has had a softly, softly strategy for 10 years," opposition leader Peter Debnam told parliament. "Why? Because you're indebted to some ethnic groups. That's the problem."
NSW Police Minister Carl Scully later defended a decision by police not to confront young men who gathered at Punchbowl in Sydney's west on Monday night. Mr Scully said police had watched the men gathering around cars and talking but had not seen them commit any crime.
The reality about Muslims that the Australian political and media elite are trying to ignore
Yesterday a colleague emailed me from New York. The young lawyer - her family lives in Brighton-Le-Sands, a bayside suburb north of Cronulla in Sydney - wrote: "While I agree there is no justifying excuse for the violence and breakdown in order that occurred at Cronulla, it needs to be put in context. Unless you live in an area like Cronulla, Brighton-Le-Sands or Bondi, you have no idea what it is like to have one's suburb regularly inundated with large groups of young Muslim men from the western suburbs who proceed to shoot people [as has happened in Brighton], intimidate people, regularly threaten people within their vicinity with violence, drive around in large groups screaming abuse at people from cars with their music blaring, regularly brawling, etc."
This young woman recounted that all of the girls in her family (except the youngest) have been "subject to harassment inflicted by groups of these men - comments on our appearances, racist comments on our Australian background, unwanted touching, being followed while walking home by groups of men in cars (I was once followed all the way home - have never been so scared in my life), sexually explicit remarks while alone, with friends or with boyfriends, unwanted called-out invitations to have sex with groups of them, etc".
Someone please tell Bob Brown. If ever you needed confirmation that the Greens senator is a disconnected, fringe politician who needs to spend time in Cronulla, it came yesterday when he blamed the appalling violence in Sydney's southern shire on John Howard for having "mired the issue of racism in Australia". Suggesting that the nation is swamped by racists, that ordinary Australians need some fine moral instruction from the likes of Brown, is just the latest adaptation of the David Williamson school of thought that treats ordinary Australians with disdain. It's a form of elitist self-loathing that gets us nowhere in explaining why thousands of people descended on to the streets of Cronulla in apparent retaliation against the attack on two surf lifesavers by men of Middle Eastern descent.
An eminent Australian historian predicted it all
Aghast at their television screens as they watched Sydney's race riots, how many Australians cast their minds back 20 years to remember Geoffrey Blainey's thoughtful warning that such horrors might happen? Happen, that is, unless we reconsidered our program of almost indiscriminate immigration and the accompanying madness of multiculturalism. I suppose very few viewers - or newspaper readers, or radio listeners - made the connection: if a week is a long time in politics, two decades is almost an ice age in the public memory span of history. Yet warned we were, and little heed we paid.
In mid-1984 Blainey, who then held the Ernest Scott chair of history at Melbourne University and was dean of the arts faculty, gave an address to the Rotary Club of Warrnambool, Victoria. This was hardly a commanding forum; there was no TV or radio coverage. Blainey's themes, quietly and soberly presented, were simply these: Australia each year was taking in migrants at a rate faster than the national fabric could absorb; many migrants were coming from backgrounds so starkly different from Australian norms that prospects of a social fit into our community might lie a long way off.
He went on to say that should a time come when ordinary Australians began to feel crowded or pressured by new arrivals, resentment might soon end the ready acceptance upon which migrants hitherto knew they could rely. Blainey's position was reasonable almost to the point of being obvious and appealed to the commonsense of anybody with worldly experience, and with some acquaintance with wider human nature, of whatever colour or culture.
For those who held a different view, the way was surely open to civilised debate with this most urbane and good natured of scholars. No such thing! Almost as if he had set a match to dry grass in summer, Blainey's few sensible words from quiet, coastal Warrnambool ignited an Australia-wide bushfire of howling criticism. The arsonists fanning the flames were his colleagues at the University of Melbourne's history department
On June 19, 1984, 23 academics published in Melbourne's The Age a letter that two decades later still holds some sad record for unctuous academic bilge, expressed with unprickable pomposity. Drawing in their skirts and elevating their fastidious nostrils, they disowned their own professor, saying in effect that Australia's immigration program was a subject too delicate for him to be allowed to discuss, though clearly it was OK for them. By inescapable inference, Blainey was a racist.
The issue soon surged beyond animated controversy to become a full-scale witch-hunt. There were disorders on campus, and threatened disorders if this vile man should be allowed to go on teaching. Students organised boycotts of his lectures. His colleagues hung him out to dry, at least some of them slyly conniving in the wider campus hoo-ha. Acting to perfection the part of Pontius Pilate, the university gave the mob its head. In this impossible situation, Blainey eventually resigned from his chair and Melbourne University lost one of its most distinguished, original and publicly accessible scholars. (A few years later it conferred on him the nowadays rather perfunctory distinction of emeritus).
To reread today the 23 signatures on the letter of 1984 is a curious experience. Going down the list, the mind stops repeatedly to ask: "Who? Who?" They resemble little dogs snapping at the heels of a stately thoroughbred.
Australian Liberal students celebrate end of 30-year campaign to rescind compulsory unionism for students
Note that in Australia the major conservative party is called the Liberal party. Unlike American "liberals" they really do believe in liberty
Triumphant Liberal students spent the weekend celebrating the enactment of the Higher Education Support Amendment (Abolition of Compulsory Up-Front Student Union Fees) Bill 2005 - better known as voluntary student unionism. Australian Liberal Students Federation president Julian Barendse and ALSF treasurer Rohan D'Souza watched the event live on the internet at Melbourne's Treasury Place. When the result came, they reacted with extreme elation, Mr Barendse said. It had been a tense afternoon; Mr Barendse knew the bill was going to be put, but said there were no guarantees. "It was a very nervous moment," he said. "Anyone watching it would have had butterflies in their stomach." He said it was a sweet victory on a number of levels: for those who had fought for VSU for 30 years; because it came despite Queensland senator Barnaby Joyce's opposition ("he has been shown up with egg on his face"); and because the result came during the annual conference of the National Union of Students. One Liberal student immediately jumped on a plane to fly from Sydney to Melbourne to join the party.
Mr Barendse said he and about 30 other VSU supporters went out in Melbourne on Friday to restaurants and pubs. Later in the weekend he travelled to Ballarat to visit Liberal delegates at the NUS conference. Monash University Students Union president Michael Josem said all students owed pro-VSU campaigners "a debt of gratitude for saving them from these fees". He watched the event live on the internet. "It's excellent," he said. "It vindicates all the efforts people have put in." Mr Josem celebrated the win with a few beers in a restaurant ("nothing outrageous") with friends on Saturday night. He said students would not notice much difference in the short term, but in the long term they would see that services would continue and even improve. "The world will keep spinning," he said. In a statement, the ALSF said students across the country would be "celebrating being released from the shackles of compulsory unionism".
He praised Liberal senators Mitch Fifield and Sophie Panopoulos for fighting for an uncompromised version of the legislation. Mr Barendse said he had been asked to help federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson draft the legislation because "the Government recognised our expertise". "I have no sympathy for the universities and the vice-chancellors who failed to reform themselves; it took the Government to impose VSU on them when they had the opportunity over 30 years to do it themselves," he said.
University of New England Students Association president Samantha Aber praised members of her council who had fought for VSU. "I believe that I could not have delivered a better Christmas present than providing external students who rarely, or even never, visit our campus with the right to chose whether they will fund student union services," Ms Aber said in an email forum.
Outgoing NUS president Felix Eldridge said the union's national conference at the University of Ballarat was stunned by Friday's result. "Things became a lot more positive a couple of hours later after the conference resumed," he said. "We were happy to have it resolved. We suddenly realised what we have to do to save the NUS and other organisations." Mr Eldridge scoffed at claims by Mr Barendse that Left attacks on Liberal students forced the early closure of the conference.
15 December, 2005
Thursday morning update on the Sydney ethnic problems
Four churches in Sydney's southwest have been attacked in 24 hours as the city's riots spread from race to religion. A community hall linked to a Uniting church was burned to the ground early yesterday, carol-singers were spat on and church buildings peppered with gunfire. In response, members of the Arab Christian and Arab Muslim communities have called for a curfew for all Lebanese youths over the weekend. Police believe the attack on the hall, in the suburb of Auburn, was intended to destroy the Uniting church next door, while nearby StThomas's Anglican Church, which has a primarily Chinese congregation, had all its front windows smashed. Three of the attacks were on churches within minutes of each other. The night before, Molotov cocktails were used in an attack on an Anglican church in Macquarie Fields in the city's far southwest. Arab Christians have suggested the attacks on churches may have been meant as a violent attempt to "shame" the city's Lebanese Christian community into supporting Lebanese Muslims in the race-hate war, which began as a battle against young white males over use of suburban beaches.
Community leaders said Lebanese youths should not venture out after 9pm on Friday and Saturday, and should stay home all day on Sunday. "Those who violate the curfew will be doing so in defiance of their faith, of the law and their community leaders. We are all united in opposing violence," Lebanese Muslim Association leader Ahmad Kamaledine said.
Anglican Archbishop Peter Jensen welcomed the call for a curfew. "We must remember that it is first of all in the home that we learn to respect and care for others," he said. "So I trust that all parents will join these community leaders in encouraging their own young people to exhibit mature and thoughtful respect for other people at all times."
Despite the call for a curfew, the state Government, police, community and religious leaders were bracing for a violent clash between opposing ethnic groups over the weekend. The church attacks prompted NSW Premier Morris Iemma to yesterday assign extra police to monitor places of worship. Mr Iemma said police would pay special attention to churches, schools and church halls. "We have to be on guard for this, and these hooligans and criminals will not destroy the fabric of our society," he said.
A heavy police presence was again ordered last night as the suburb of Cronulla - the scene of race-related violence on Sunday - began a second night of lock-down and police roadblocks. During a tour of the command post set up in the Sydney Police Centre to co-ordinate the crisis, Deputy Commissioner Andrew Scipione told Mr Iemma the situation was being treated as if it were a terror attack. "We are running the same command and control centre as we would for a terrorist situation," Mr Scipione said. Elsewhere in Sydney, two men were attacked in separate incidents by men wielding bats and golf clubs and asking their victims if they were Australian.
Steve Stanton, a spokesman for the Maronite Catholic Church in Australia, said he thought the shooting outside a carol service in South Auburn on Monday night was the responsibility of a "very small minority" of fanatics within the wider Muslim community. "There is also a view that it will have been done with a view to shaming the Lebanese for not standing united," he said.
Amjad Mehboob, head of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, said he believed the violence had been committed by an extremist fringe of the Muslim community. "I wish we knew who they were. I wish we could engage with them so we can find out what their beliefs are, so we can deal with them," he said. "This is something that started out as a minor scuffle between some youths and a couple of life-savers that has suddenly become an issue of racism and religion. Buildings can be rebuilt, but the damage this is doing to our community is extremely deep."
Outrage: Anglo-Australian sent to jail for trying to protect himself. No Muslims sent to jail
A Sydney magistrate has thrown the book at a 21-year-old man who was at Sunday's riots in Cronulla, jailing him within hours of his arrest for carrying a tree branch as a weapon in the western suburb of Penrith. The swift justice happened because the man was charged with carrying an offensive weapon in a public place - a summary offence that is dealt with immediately, usually resulting in a fine. But in a rare case of imposing a prison term for such an offence, Penrith magistrate Ian McRae said "drastic punishment" was required, and sentenced the man to four months. He said the stiff penalty was needed as a deterrent for such extreme anti-social behaviour.
Police told the court the man had been arrested after midnight on Monday with two others, who were carrying iron bars. The men told police they had just come from Cronulla and claimed they had been harassed by a group of people of Middle Eastern appearance.
NSW Premier big on talk, weak on action
NSW Premier Morris Iemma has called on people not to renounce their Australian identity in the face of intimidation by Lebanese gangs - even if it means being bashed. His advice came after victims of rioting in Sydney told how they were asked if they were Australian before being attacked by large groups of Middle Eastern men. Mr Iemma said that if approached, people should say: "I'm Australian and this is Australia and this is a country that is here to be shared by all. "(We are) Australian and proud of it and they're not going to - with baseball bats or with those kind of questions - change the response they get." He said if he were approached by such a gang he would say he was "proudly Australian", even if it meant being attacked.
Mr Iemma also warned troublemakers that a 500-strong anti-riot squad would be in place over summer to deal with the violence. "These people have effectively declared war on our society and the values that we hold dear to our hearts, and their behaviour will not be tolerated," he said. "Force will be met with force."
His comments came after NSW Opposition Leader Peter Debnam said tough new police powers to be rubber-stamped with Coalition support in parliament today did "not go far enough". Trumpeting his new laws, Mr Iemma on Tuesday said rioters' cars would be confiscated. But Mr Debnam said he had been told at a private briefing with government officials that instead of being confiscated, cars would be impounded only for seven days. "Seven days is an inconvenience, not a punishment. The cars should be sold," Mr Debnam told The Australian. But he said the Coalition would support the laws.
Wednesday evening update on the Sydney tensions
The New South Wales Police force is putting hundreds of extra officers on the streets of Sydney again tonight and says more will be supplied if necessary. The measures come as members of Sydney's Middle Eastern and surfing communities embraced at Maroubra Beach in a symbolic attempt to end the ethnic tensions. Tonight's plan is much the same as last night's, with 450 officers setting up roadblocks in southern Sydney and ready to go to where they are called. Police are also being sent to the earlier hotspots of Maroubra Beach and Brighton Le Sands, and to Lakemba, in the heartland of the city's Muslim community.
They are also making special arrangements to deal with the new wave of ethnic violence until at least the end of January. Assistant Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione says police numbers may increase even further on some nights. "We haven't cancelled any leave yet," he said. "But we will look at every option that's open to us, and we will consider every option, and that's one."
Middle Eastern and surfie groups have held discussions this afternoon at Maroubra and peace talks will continue this evening at Cronulla. The men say there are no ringleaders organising the violence and have revealed they are now distributing text messages urging an end to the violence. The representatives have issued a joint declaration of tolerance. Brad Whittaker, who described himself as a representative of the wider beach culture community in Cronulla, says the violence must end. "We would like to apologise for the behaviour of some of our members on Sunday, December 11," he said. "The day began as a show of solidarity against behaviour of ethnic gangs that have been harassing the public on our beaches over a period of seven years. "It escalated out of control under the influence of right-wing racists from outside this community, and [the influence of] alcohol."....
Representatives of Sydney's Arabic community have called for a voluntary curfew on all Lebanese youth this weekend, to help prevent further race-related violence. It was among a series of proposals agreed on during a meeting last night at Lakemba Mosque, in Sydney's south. The proposed curfew is from 9:00pm on Friday and Saturday nights, and all day Sunday. Parents will be asked to confiscate cars and mobile phones. Elie Nassif from the Lebanese Community Council says the measures should help reduce the tensions.....
Police are still investigating fires at two churches in Auburn overnight and a shooting at a nearby school. Premier Morris Iemma says he wants special attention paid to schools and churches. "This is a special time of the year and they are not going to engage in this criminal activity to disrupt the lives of school children or parents or worshippers," he said.....
Nazis at Cronulla? By their flag ye shall know them
Note the report below:
"Extremist groups accused of links to neo-Nazis have admitted mobilising more than 100 people to attend the riots in Cronulla. Jim Saleam, the New South Wales secretary of ultra-nationalist group Australia First, said his members had recruited up to 120 people for the rally but denied they were involved in violence. "We do have some local supporters and these guys mobilised their family friends, mates, work-mates, associates, every Jack and Harry, to come," he said.
NSW Police Minister Carl Scully confirmed that extremists had taken part in the riots. "There appears to be an element of white supremacists and they really have no place in mainstream Australian society," he said. "Those sort of characters belong in Berlin 1930s."
Skinheads wearing boots, braces and neo-Nazi emblems were among the mob of 5000. Three far-right organisations -- Australia First, The Patriotic Youth League and the Newcastle-based Blood and Honour -- handed out pamphlets. All three are considered to have neo-Nazi links. Australia First and the PYL deny any association"
A lot of Australia's Leftists are getting a great thrill out of having some real racists to bash but for once the media report is pretty accurate. The few real racists around did of course turn out for the anti-Muslim campaign but they were only a drop in the bucket as far as the totality of those participating was concerned. And as someone who has been researching Australian neo-Nazis for many years (See here and here) it surprises me not a bit that they took no part in the fighting. Most of them value their skins too much for that.
The amusing part is that the "Nazis" used the Eureka flag (white Southern Cross on a blue background) to advertise themselves. Australian Nazis normally use the Australian flag or a swastika flag. For many years in Australia, the Eureka flag has been the favoured icon of Australia's small "revolutionary" LEFT -- because it was first flown in a rebellion against authority by miners in 1854. So it would not surprise me to find that many of the "Nazis" are in fact ex-Trotskyists. Trotsky is of course associated with internationalism rather than nationalism but, for far-Leftists, hate is their only real motivation, with ideology being a superstructure that can be (and sometimes is) changed at will. The change from anti-Nazi to pro-Nazi and then back to anti-Nazi attitudes among Australian and American Communists in the 1939 to 1941 period may be recollected. And from history, Trotsky is certainly a superlative example of hate in action. The Nazis at least used to take prisoners of war. Trotsky didn't. Those he captured while he ran the Red army were simply executed. And, as the always well-informed Keith Windschuttle points out, Australia's best-known "racist", Andrew Fraser, is a Marxist academic of Trotskyite origins who is supported by other Marxist academics. And, as is often noted, in Hitler's Germany a lot of the "Red" street thugs made the conversion to being Nazi street thugs with great ease. They just swapped one form of socialism for another. They went from Stalin's allegedly "international" socialism to Hitler's forthrightly national socialism. And the antisemitism of the modern-day Left is also well-known, of course. The more things change the more they stay the same.
A primer of Australian politics
This blog appears to have quite a few overseas readers and an American reader recently wrote to me who was having a bit of difficulty understanding the Australian political parties. I thought his questions and my answers might be of interest to other overseas readers. My first general comment was as follows:
Our crazies are a bit different from your crazies but the big difference is in the mainstream Left. Our lot (the Labor party) are quite responsible and conservative -- no Deaniacs! And our major conservative party -- called the Liberal party -- are more conservative than the GOP. We control immigration here, for instance.
Which party is responsible for the open immigration policies in Australia? Neither is. We have controlled immigration but both parties have let in a lot of "refugees"
Which party supports the confiscation of fire-arms? Neither. We have strict gun laws but they have lots of loopholes. My brother quite legally owns several machineguns, for instance.
Which party wants to increase taxes? Neither. They both propose tax cuts.
Which party panders to the voters by promising free social benefits? Both.
Which party supports a strong defense for Australia? The Liberal party is a bit stronger on that
Which party would like to align with France? Neither. Both are pro-U.S.
Which party was outraged at the Moslem Bali bombings? Both
Which party urged outreach to our Moslem brothers? The Labor party is a bit more inclined that way.
Which party supports the UN over Australian sovereignty? Neither
Which party is controlled by the labor unions? Neither -- but the unions tend to be affiliated with the Labor party
Which party panders to new immigrants? Both
Which party is opposed to the Kyoto Global Warming treaty? The Liberal party.
Which party supports Kyoto? the Labor party.
Which party opposes nuclear power? Neither are much interested. Australia has huge reserves of coal.
What newspapers are affiliated with the left? All but the Murdoch press.
Which are on the right? The Murdoch press -- which runs about half our newspapers. It is the same Murdoch that owns Fox news.
Which two or three parties reflect the thoughts of most Australians that work for a living, have children in school, go to church on Sunday (sometimes) and generally enjoy life and living? Both the Labor and Liberal parties
Another reader asked me what ordinary Australians call those who are described in our newspapers as "men of Middle Eastern appearance". My answer: "Wogs".
14 December, 2005
Wednesday morning roundup of Sydney's Muslim problem
At the time of writing there was video here of local people reporting their ordeal at the hands of the Muslims. And more video here
NSW government finally shows signs of getting its behind into gear
"Emergency laws removing the right of bail for those accused of rioting are to be pushed through parliament after it emerged that all 27 of those arrested during the first two days of mob violence in Sydney were back on the streets within hours. The NSW parliament will be recalled tomorrow in the first stage in the fightback against gangs that have "declared war on our society". Under laws to be enacted, which are similar to those passed for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, six people - the NSW Commissioner and his five deputies - would have the power to declare a lockdown zone to restore order. Jail terms for rioting will be trebled, from five to 15 years. And police will be given the power to confiscate the cars of those involved in rioting, and stop and search vehicles at roadblocks. They will also be free to demand the personal details of those in the cars. Police will also be given the power to search houses and cars without warrants in areas "locked down".
On Sunday and Monday nights, convoys of up to 60 vehicles packed with ethnic Middle Eastern males attacked isolated groups of Caucasian men and women.
The laws, which NSW Premier Morris Iemma said he would finish drafting overnight, will remove the presumption of bail for people accused of rioting. This follows a political storm sparked by the release of those arrested so far over the riots. NSW Opposition Leader Peter Debnam said the fact those arrested were back on the streets within hours was "a joke". "This violence is being led by 150 criminal thugs who are known to police," Mr Debnam said, pledging the Opposition's full support for the new laws. "They have been arrested and charged many times but under the Government's revolving-door criminal justice system, they are out on the street."
The laws were necessary to battle ethnic Middle Eastern thugs who were ruining the city's international reputation after 48 hours of violence, Mr Iemma said yesterday, adding that he did not care how much the recall of parliament cost. Mr Iemma, vowing to "take back the streets", said: "It's a case of these people having brought shame on our city. They've effectively declared war on our society, and we won't be found wanting in our response.""
Another report on the new measures
Mr Scully said new police powers to be passed on Thursday during a special sitting of parliament would be powerful weapons for police. Under the laws, police will be able to lock down parts of Sydney and search and confiscate vehicles - measures aimed at ending night-time "smash and bash" raids by carloads of young men. Mr Scully said police also would be able to confiscate mobile phones. "These characters are using their cars and mobile phones to conduct convoys with intent and they are getting a very strong message," he said. "They love their cars and their phones and they're going to have them taken off them."
Mr Scully agreed that many arrested over the Sydney violence had been freed on bail and were quickly back on the street. That was why police had sought changes to remove the presumption of bail for offences including riot and affray. "We believe a number of offences should have a presumption against bail - obviously affray and riot," he said. But he said offences arising following the use of the new police powers would also have an assumption against bail. "The premier and I have made a decision that the extension of presumption against bail will include offences that have occurred where the police have used these extra powers," Mr Scully said. "So if alcohol has been banned, or a temporary alcohol prohibition zone, or lock down, or confiscation of cars - and following that people engage in hindering or resisting police or offensive behaviour or assault or anything of that nature that arises following use of these powers - there will be a presumption against bail. "If these characters don't get the message, and they continue these public disorder actions, they'll be locked up."
The above report also originally included information that the attacks had extended far inland to the suburb of Auburn but that information has now been deleted from almost all online versions of the article -- though it still appears here at the time of writing. The censored sentence:
"On Monday night bullets were fired at teachers' cars after men of Middle Eastern appearance abused parents and children at a school carols service in the multicultural Sydney suburb of Auburn, said Catholic Archbishop Cardinal George Pell."
A bit of sociological background below -- but don't expect low Arab IQ to be mentioned, of course
Sadly for Feiz, too few of his fellow second-generation Lebanese-Australians have found inner peace through religion. Rather, many have become entrenched, if not trapped, in a culture of street gangs where violence, criminality and aggressive machoism are worn as badges of honour. The violent riots of recent days will only serve to increase the sense of isolation felt by this community.
How have Australian-born Lebanese found themselves in this predicament, which is so at odds with the success stories of second-generation immigrants from other countries? "The Lebanese have been left behind compared with other groups such as the Chinese, Vietnamese, Greeks and Jews," says James Jupp, director of the Centre for Immigration & Multicultural Studies at the Australian National University. "Their level of education and therefore their level of employment and employability are lower than average ... they are still in the classical ghetto situation. So there is a lot of resentment there: they haven't done terribly well and they feel that they are not being treated like Australians and that they are being picked on."
Similar themes of alienation - a sense of being left behind - have triggered clashes involving Muslim minorities overseas, notably the recent Paris riots. This sense of "us and them" has been sharpened in recent years by the publicity given to brutal gang rapes committed by Lebanese youths and concerns about home-grown terrorism, which have generated a backlash against the community.
University of Sydney sociology professor Michael Humphrey, who has studied Australia's Lebanese commmunity, says their troubles can be traced back to Lebanon's civil war, when a new wave of migrants poured into Australia, looking for asylum and a better life. More than 20,000 Lebanese migrants arrived in Australia over a two-year period in the late 1970s: an immigration wave that coincided with a dramatic downturn in Australia's manufacturing industry. The job market they would have relied upon to build a new life in Australia simply wasn't there, Humphrey says.
By the late '80s and early '90s, unemployment rates in the Lebanese community, based mainly in southern Sydney and Melbourne, were up to five times higher than the national average. "There's a social path to this that has created a marginal second generation," Humphrey says. "We have an out-of-control teenage group. I wouldn't like to say material conditions equals bad behaviour, but it no doubt contributes." ....
Experts say that some Lebanese attitudes - including the attitude towards women - have also contributed to their failure to integrate more fully with mainstream Australia. Humphrey says that his experience interviewing Lebanese families led him to conclude that many have a "preoccupation" with what they believe to be the promiscuity of Australian women. "There's a fantasy about Western sexuality," he says. The ANU's Jupp agrees. "There is no doubt some of these young Lebanese guys have an aggressive attitude towards women," he says. "They get this from their parents: women in the Middle East are often seen as sisters, mothers or whores. "The daughters are very tightly controlled but the blokes do what they like. When they see girls on the beach walking around virtually naked, they get very excited about it."
Michael Bitar, who plays a Lebanese hothead in the SBS television comedy Pizza, is unnerved by how closely life is now imitating art. The actor from Marrickville, in Sydney's inner west, says the gang violence and racial drama in the city's southern and western suburbs in recent days reminded him of Pizza. "After I did Pizza, I had people come up to me saying I was a disgrace to the Lebanese community, and I would just say: 'Fix up what's going on on the streets first, rather than worry about what's happening on Pizza'," he says. "What happened on Pizza, it's like people are trying to do it in reality."
Fadi Rahman, a Muslim youth spokesman and president of the Islamic Centre for Research, says the disaffected core of Muslim Lebanese youth in western Sydney is caught in the classic social trap of high unemployment and low education. "These kids have got plenty of time on their hands and end up in large groups, feeling victimised," he says. "Unfortunately their parents are not highly skilled and educated and aren't aware of what the kids are up to. The parents can't relate to their children and they don't understand society and how it operates. It's easy for a young man to get away with lying his way through." ....
Humphrey says the division between working class western Sydney and affluent coastal Sydney is a historic social fracture and is not confined to antagonism between Lebanese and Anglo-Australians. However, he acknowledges that young Lebanese men causing problems on the beach is not a recent phenomenon. He recalls that more than a decade ago "young Lebanese used to go down with a Lebanese flag and run down Bondi Beach, kicking sand in people's eyes". He adds: "It was boys behaving badly." ....
Humphrey says low educational levels are an issue among young Lebanese in western Sydney, partly because of poorly resourced public schools in those regions. Jupp says the low education levels also partly reflect parental attitudes, with some Lebanese immigrants not attaching a great deal of importance to formal education.
However, obtaining an accurate snapshot of Sydney's troubled Lebanese community is problematic, because of a lack of research and the absence of statistics that might offer clearer answers. According to the 2001 census, there are 142,000 Arabic speakers in Sydney, which includes the Lebanese; yet there is little specific information available on the demographics of second-generation Lebanese.
Tuesday evening report on the Sydney Muslim problem
Tonight, NSW police have more than quadrupled the number of officers patrolling Sydney. Deputy Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said patrol numbers would be boosted from 100 to 450 to discourage further violence before new laws come into force at the end of the week.
Violence flared for a second night last night as fast moving convoys of vehicles targeted areas of Sutherland Shire, Maroubra and Brighton-le-Sands. Eight people, including three police officers, were injured as the [Muslim] mob wielded baseball bats, golf clubs, steel poles, machetes and axe handles, in what NSW Police Minister Carl Scully labelled "guerilla-type tactics". Shop, house and car windows were smashed as the gangs tore through seaside areas attacking anyone in their path.
A couple suffered facial and head injuries when they were attacked at a restaurant in Caringbah, while a man sustained fractured ribs and head injuries while taking out garbage bins at his Cronulla home.....
At around 10pm (AEDT) potential flashpoints in Sydney were quiet, with the heavy police presence appearing to deter troublemakers. At Cronulla, the scene of the worst violence last night, a police road block was set up about one kilometre from the beach, checking all cars heading into the beachside suburb. Standing nearby were a small number of bystanders, one covering himself with an Australian flag.
Brighton-le-Sands, also the scene of trouble last night, was quiet.
Prof Bunyip has a few good comments too
Monday: Muslim attacks continue in Sydney
"Racial tensions in the Sydney suburb of Cronulla exploded again last night when groups of men descended on the suburb seeking revenge for Sunday's attacks. There were unconfirmed reports over the police radio of shots fired as running battles were fought throughout the suburb, one day after some of the worst race-based clashes seen in Australia. About 10.30pm, six carloads of young men of Middle Eastern descent drove through the beachside strip near the surf club. They stopped their cars on Elouera Rd and began kicking parked vehicles and hurling bottles and screaming for the "Aussies" to stay inside.
The incident started a string of running skirmishes between police and the [Muslim] young men. Just north of the surf club, police - with guns drawn - stopped three cars and detained 10 young men, six of whom were handcuffed on the road. Further along Elouera Rd another six young men were arrested and handcuffed face-down and police are believed to have found a knife on one of the suspects. At Brighton-Le-Sands in Sydney's south, mobs of men ripped out garbage bins and smashed a window at a private clinic on Bay St.
Police had earlier moved to prevent violence at potential new flashpoints. They blocked off streets around the Lakemba Mosque, in Sydney's southwest, after about 500 mostly Muslim men gathered, after rumours of an imminent attack on the building.
Earlier last night, a police taskforce were tracing new text messages inciting more race riots, as two officers described how they saved young men from being murdered by a hysterical mob.....
As the shock of Australia's worst race riots settled in, police were investigating a new series of disturbing SMS text messages calling on young Arabs to start another round of attacks at Cronulla beach on Sunday. The SMS said: "All Arabs unite as one, we will never back down to anyone the aussie's (sic) will feel the full force of the arabs as one 'brothers in arms'. Unite now lets show them who's boss 'destroy' everything gather at cronulla . . . spread the message to all Arabs." Youths in the Sutherland Shire also were urged to descend on Miranda shopping centre some time this week to reignite the hostilities.
Police Commissioner Ken Moroney condemned the violence as the worst he had seen in 40 years as a policeman....
Members of the Lebanese community also met with Maroubra surf group the Bra Boys in a bid to stop the violence. Senior Bra Boys Koby and Sunny Abberton met with community leader Keysar Trad last night. Bra Boys leader Koby Abberton said last night: "The events of the past two days have been extremely distressing and can't continue. "Everyone who comes to Maroubra beach and is respectful of the locals is welcome, regardless of ethnicity.""
And in Maroubra
Terrified residents said they were bashed, threatened with firearms and forced to cower inside their homes after up to 100 youths rampaged through Maroubra in an apparent retaliation for the Cronulla race riots. Two of Maroubra's main streets were littered with vandalised cars and smashed glass yesterday as locals counted the cost of a series of organised smash-and-run attacks in which more than 60 cars were damaged.
Residents said they watched in horror - many sheltering inside with their children - as the youths, apparently of Middle Eastern descent, swept through on Maroubra Rd and Malabar Rd targeting virtually every car in the street. One man, who asked to be identified only as Steve, said he was threatened with a handgun and chased inside his home after going to investigate the commotion in the street. "I was at the gate and this big guy came rushing toward me so I slammed the gate then the next thing another guy at the car pointed a gun at me and said 'get back inside'," he said. "I ran inside and they chased us up the steps. It was terrifying."
Another resident, Niki Barr, said she was knocked to the ground after being smashed in the head by a thug with a baseball bat. The 42-year-old surfer had run outside to investigate after becoming concerned for the welfare of her elderly neighbours. "He just smashed me and kept running," said Ms Barr, who had the wound treated at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.
Politically correct police swing into action
At Lakemba last night, more than 400 Middle Eastern men, many with bats, bricks and iron bars, gathered at the mosque. Police tried for two hours to disperse them. [Gutless police. No wonder locals had to take things into their own hands] Later, as the crowd began leaving, a brick was thrown and flares were fired at people, police said.
Detective Tim Priest foresaw it all and blames the problem on inadequate policing:
If the police and the state Government are to learn anything from Sunday's riots, it is this: people largely do not believe what comes out of the mouths of senior police and government ministers. Of course, the usual claque of agenda-driven ethnic community leaders were quick to condemn the Cronulla incidents as un-Australian and racist. Never mind the multitude of racist attacks on young Australian men and women during the past decade, which have now manifested into full-blown racial retaliation.
In an article on this page nearly two years ago ("Don't turn a blind eye to terror in our midst," January 12, 2004), I argued that the increasing frequency of racially motivated attacks on young Australian men and women - including murders, gang rapes and serious assaults by young men of Lebanese Muslim descent - would rise dramatically throughout Australia. These problems remain widespread and have been documented in the ensuing two years.
Yet the NSW Labor Government and police have failed to address the issues in any way apart from the instigation of something called Strike Force Gain, set up to investigate a spate of shootings involving young men of Middle Eastern descent in southwest Sydney last year. This strike force has been largely wound down due to budgetary restraints.
The crime problems evident in southwest and southeast Sydney resemble a medical condition like skin cancer: they are relatively painless and easy to cure in the early stages, but if left untreated they require painful and radical surgery to cure. Sunday's events are the start of what could become a long, drawn-out war of racial and social division that may be harder to cure than any of us can imagine. If we addressed the problem a decade ago when it first appeared, we may never have seen what we witnessed on Sunday. Alas, such acts of violence will roll on intermittently for a great deal of time and in a manner few of us could have imagined in our lifetime.
For a future glimpse of Sydney, look back at recent events in Paris. No amount of mealy-mouthed rhetoric from the Government or tough talk from inexperienced police commanders is going to make the slightest bit of difference. This is a reality, not a prediction
The big difference between Sydney and Paris is that the young non-Muslim population in Sydney has had enough of the Muslims and is now hitting back
Baby boom traced to government encouragement
Australia has experienced the biggest increase in its fertility rate in almost a decade, and family-friendly policies and the $3000 baby bonus have been given the credit. According to the first Australian Bureau of Statistics figures to track births since the bonus was introduced in July last year, there were 67,500 children born in the June quarter this year, up from 61,400 in the same period last year. The fertility rate reached 1.79 babies per woman, up from 1.73 in 2001. Almost 258,000 babies were born across the nation in 2004-05, compared with 252,000 in the previous financial year.
Australian National University demographer Peter McDonald said the baby bonus was the central reason for the increase. "The maternity payment has had a strong psychological impact," he said. "It's a statement by the Government and society that we value children. "It's the first time we've had a fertility rate of 1.8 for a decade, and I think we'll stay at that level and it may even increase." ...
AMP Capital Investors chief economist Shane Oliver said there were no foreseeable economic or social trends that would cause the fertility rate to fall. "We have a very favourable economic environment with low unemployment, and I think that would be providing a lot of comfort for people thinking of having a baby," Dr Oliver said yesterday. "If we can maintain these favourable economic conditions, and the Government continues to promote having bigger families and backs it up with financial incentives, the fertility rate will continue to go up and up."
13 December, 2005
MORE ON THE ANTI-MUSLIM RIOTS
Prime Minister refuses to condemn the Cronulla riots as racist
Prime Minister John Howard has condemned the race-based attacks in Sydney, but says they don't mean Australia is a racist nation. "I do not accept there is underlying racism in this country," Mr Howard said today following yesterday's race riots at Cronulla Beach. "I have always taken a more optimistic view of the character of the Australian people."
Up to 5,000 people descended on North Cronulla Beach, chanting racist slogans and attacking people of Middle Eastern appearance in what NSW Premier Morris Iemma today condemned as the "ugly side of racism". The violence sparked apparent reprisal attacks late last night, with cars damaged at Maroubra Beach.
"Mob violence is always sickening," Mr Howard told reporters. "Attacking people on the basis of their race, their appearance, their ethnicity, is totally unacceptable and should be repudiated by all Australians irrespective of their own background and their politics," he said. "I believe yesterday's behaviour was completely unacceptable but I'm not going to put a general tag (of) racism on the Australian community. I think it's a term that is flung around sometimes carelessly and I'm simply not going to do so." ....
Australian society remains tolerant and decent and most of the community does not want to allow a culture of tribalism to develop, he said. "Put simply, most Australians want a nation where, irrespective of their background and always respecting the right of people to maintain affection for their own culture, ... we should encourage to the maximum extent possible everybody to become part of the integrated Australian community. "Any emergence of so-called ethnic gangs is a manifestation of tribalism and something ... we should try to discourage. "And one of the aims of policy should be to reduce it."....
Mr Howard said he fully supported the actions of police at Cronulla and anybody who broke the law yesterday or on the previous weekend, when two lifeguards and a camera crew were assaulted, should be apprehended and prosecuted.
Police Chief admits Muslim hate
Underlying hatred in some elements of the Middle Eastern community, and anger within the Anglo-Saxon community, must be addressed to prevent more violence in Sydney, New South Wales Police Commissioner Ken Moroney said today. He said there was clear fault among the two opposing groups who carried out the race-fuelled violence at Cronulla yesterday and overnight, and talks between both sides were essential if the problem was to be solved.
During an interview on Channel 7, presenter David Koch noted that many of the youths involved in the Cronulla unrest had been described as Middle Eastern, and asked Mr Moroney "what was wrong with this group of youths".
"I've sensed within some elements of this (Middle Eastern) community a hate. It's a hate that I don't understand, I don't understand it as a man," Mr Moroney said on Seven. While he was at a loss to explain that hatred, the only way forward was rational, considered talks between the two groups to head off further tension... "If we're going to find some realistic, fair dinkum solutions to this problem, then we've got to be able to sit down around a table and talk to each other."
"Beyond the rhetoric and beyond the talk though there has to be a whole range of actions. "And I absolutely guarantee you that at the forefront of those actions will be a strong law enforcement approach." Mr Moroney said it had to be a "whole of government, whole of community solution". "Without finger-pointing, and without finding blame, we need to take stock of what occurred - not only yesterday, but in the lead up to yesterday."
Paul Sheehan names the problem
Out there in Sydney, there is a huge cumulative weight of resentment and contempt at the constant provocations by Lebanese gangs - I'm not even going to bother with the simpering euphemism about "men of Middle Eastern appearance" when everybody knows what it means. It was evident on the beach at Cronulla yesterday....
What has happened on consecutive weekends has been displays of two unpalatable subcultures, the yobbo beach tribes, and the Lebanese gangsta tribes. The reactions to the Cronulla brawl will be predictable. The disgusting behaviour of the Aussie yobs, behaving even worse than the original provocateurs last week, will prompt a great deal of ululating about Australian's undertow of racism. This will be countered by a demand for recognition that violent crime in Sydney is disproportionately dominated by Lebanese, Aborigines and Pacific Islanders and Australians have had a gutful of the pandering to these groups.
Both sides will be right. You only have to look at the events at Coogee RSL club in 2002 to know that Australian beach culture has its ugly underbelly. And it would be folly to airbrush away the reality that what started the Cronulla tensions was yet another provocation by the aggressive, repugnant Lebanese gangsta culture - itself an alien subculture within the Lebanese community - which has given Sydney dozens of shootings and murders, a spate of gang rapes, hundreds of sexual assaults, and thousands of deliberate racist provocations at Darling Harbour, the eastern and southern beaches and some of the big clubs in western Sydney, along with Canterbury Bulldogs rugby league matches.
At its worst, this culture had overtones of civil war, as the Kanaan gang sprayed the Lakemba police station with gunfire. One of those who took part in this attack was Saleh Jamal, now in jail in Lebanon on weapons charges. He has turned to Islamic fundamentalism and wanted to explode a terrorist bomb in Sydney before he fled the country.
The cops hate and fear the swarming packs of Lebanese who respond when some of their numbers are confronted, mobilising quickly via mobile phones and showing open contempt for Australian law. All this is the real world, as distinct from the world preferred by ideological academics who talk about "moral panic" and the oppression of Muslims. They will see only Australian racism as the problem.
Others will see only "Lebs". Cronulla yesterday proved it is not possible to airbrush the yob culture out of the picture, but the problem is not the figment of fertile imaginations. This has been too real for too long.
There's some further interesting coverage of the riots on A Western Heart
Student Left shows its Fascist colours
Federal Agriculture Minister Peter McGauran has blamed protesters angry about voluntary student unionism laws for vandalising his electorate office. Mr McGauran's staff arrived at the office at Sale, in Gippsland, this morning to find anti-government slogans spray-painted across the building. All the locks on the office's doors have been filled with glue. The minister, who is in Sydney for a cabinet meeting, said the damage would cost several thousand dollars to repair. "It's a threatening act and further proof that elements of the student union movement are out of control," Mr McGauran said. "Now they will have to perform on merit to win the voluntary support of students instead of automatically receiving large sums of money for their own political purposes."
Mr McGauran said he had had disagreements in the past with the student union at the local campus of Monash University, and his electorate office windows were covered with anti-VSU stickers during the 2004 election. Despite strong opposition from student unions to the VSU legislation, which was passed on Friday, Mr McGauran said he was surprised by the extent of the damage to office. "I fully expected strong criticism by way of letters or phone calls to the electorate office and even through local media, but not criminal damage of this kind," he said. "There is no justification, however strong anybody might feel about any issue, to damage public property."
The Melbourne office of Family First senator Steve Fielding, who delivered the vote to pass the VSU legislation in the Senate, was attacked on Friday.
Gutless officialdom again -- and deaths result
This nonsense should have been knocked on the head immediately but what bureaucrat ever knocked anything on the head?
A stoush [fight] between ambulance Triple-0 operators has left critically ill patients to die, according to paramedics. The battle between call centres over who should take emergency calls has led to several Queensland Ambulance Service staff being disciplined and fined, following a long external investigation.
Problems began when the ambulance communications centre at Maroochydore had to answer overflow Triple-0 calls from Brisbane. Maroochydore staff were meant to take details and send the jobs back to Brisbane for an ambulance to be dispatched. But paramedic sources say Maroochydore staff became angry that Triple-0 calls were not answered by Brisbane colleagues at meal time and shift changes. In turn, Brisbane staff - upset because they claimed more resources went to the Sunshine Coast centre - deliberately diverted some Triple-0 calls to Maroochydore. That had led to a "tit-for-tat battle" between the regions, with calls not being answered promptly by either centre.
The problem surfaced last year and Maroochydore staff became the focus of a QAS investigation. A source said three staff were recently demoted and fined. "The penalty is way outside anything ever handed down before," the source said. But no Brisbane staff, nor management in either centre, were seriously criticised - angering many within the ambulance service. "It is a disgrace how the people of Brisbane are dealt with," one frontline paramedic, who declined to be identified, told The Sunday Mail this week. "We know of cases where people have died before an ambulance reached them in time because Brisbane communications are so inefficient. "It is a shocking state of affairs . . . patients are at risk."
The informant said a lack of funding for ambulance communication centres had also contributed to the problems. "Workload goes up continuously, extra paramedics are promised by government for road duties, but communication centres are being driven into the ground."
A spokesman for Ambulance Commissioner Jim Higgins confirmed disciplinary action was being taken against officers involved in the communications problem. He said QAS became aware in December 2004 of "discrepancies" in Triple-0 overload calls from Brisbane going to Maroochydore. "The disciplinary process is ongoing so it is inappropriate to comment further." The spokesman could not say how many patients in Brisbane had not been treated appropriately because of ambulance delays. He said QAS dealt with complaints against management but would not discuss individual cases because of confidentiality provisions. Emergency Services Minister Pat Purcell had not been briefed on the issue, but his predecessor Chris Cummins knew of the problems.
Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg said: "This case puts in serious doubt the Government's on-going claims over impressive response times for emergency calls." Media reports last month said thousands of Triple-0 calls to Queensland police were unanswered each year because of an outdated communications system.
12 December, 2005
The latest news about the anti-Muslim riots in Sydney
Although mob action does of course get out of hand, I am nonetheless proud of the young Australians who were prepared to resist the Muslim aggression that the politicians won't allow the police to address. Some relevant excerpts. I have filled in the words the newspapers are not allowed to mention:
"As the violence spread, police cars raced through Sydney streets from Cronulla to Miranda, Brighton-le-Sands, Rockdale, Maroubra, Woolooware and Tempe. Police said they had received reports of firearms being "flashed" threateningly but not discharged. "So far we have had no one shot," an officer said.
A 23-year-old man was in St George Hospital in a serious condition after a fight in Woolooware about 10.25pm. A radio report said he had a knife embedded in his back. Police said the man was with friends when he had an altercation outside a golf club with a "group of males of Mediterranean or Middle Eastern appearance".
In Brighton-le-Sands a group of people [i.e. Muslims] were reported to have taken down the Australian flag at the Brighton RSL Club and burnt it in the street. Youths were seen at a garage filling bottles with petrol in nearby Monterey.
Police closed Marine Parade, Maroubra, where people [Muslims] converged in vehicles on the beachfront and began fighting with locals including members of the Bra Boys surf gang. Police said 50 carloads of [Muslim] youths smashed more than 100 vehicles with baseball bats and other weapons. In the same suburb a young girl was punched in the face.
In Rockdale police gathered in riot gear following reports of youths armed with crowbars near the train station after 10pm, a car driver trying to run down a police officer, and items being thrown at police cars in Bay Street, Brighton-le-Sands. The street was blocked off. Around North Cronulla beach and the surrounding streets, drunk teenagers communicated with each other on walkie-talkies about rumoured sightings of Lebanese gangs.
Commanders from the Bankstown and Campsie patrols were on alert amid fears of outbreaks of violence. Shortly before midnight police received reports of a convoy of up to 40 carloads of [Muslim] youths heading from Punchbowl Oval to the eastern suburbs. By 12.30am today there were reports of 20 cars with men of Middle Eastern appearance at a BP petrol station in Cronulla, throwing rocks.
The Leader of the Opposition, Peter Debnam, said Sydney was paying the price for a lack of police on the streets and a softly, softly approach by the State Government towards gang violence. "This is a real disgrace and it didn't just come about this week," he said. "The Premier and the Police Minister are in denial that Sydney is a violent and intimidating society and there are no police on the streets to deal with it." The problem of street violence was not limited to Cronulla, he said. He described those responsible as home-grown thugs.....
But the Liberal MP for Cronulla, Malcolm Kerr, said the people of Cronulla were tired of being intimidated by gangs with Middle Eastern backgrounds. The reaction in Cronulla was the result of community anger over the lack of response from authorities and had got out of control as the crowd was fuelled by alcohol. "There were some drunken louts who have indulged in racist remarks but this is not a racist community," he said.
Yesterday's violence had been brewing for months. It came to a head last weekend when some Lebanese [Muslim] Australian men attacked members of the North Cronulla Surf Life Saving Club after they asked the visitors to stop playing soccer because it was disturbing other beach users.
"Steely" - who did not want to identify himself "for fear the Lebs will come and shoot up my joint during the week" - said his children had been scared by Lebanese Australians coming in from the western suburbs. "I've got a four-year-old girl and a boy who's 11, and they see these bastards come here and stand around the sea baths 'cos their women have got to swim in clothes and stuff, or they see them saying filthy things to our girls," he said. "That's not Australian. My granddad fought the Japs to see Australia safe from this sort of shit, and that's what I'm doing today."
The mob violence spilled over into Maroubra last night when car loads of youths of Middle Eastern descent swarmed to the suburb, smashing cars and attacking police. A woman was bashed, a youth reportedly stabbed, and another man admitted to hospital after being beaten with a bat. In Maroubra, in Sydney's east, more than 100 cars had their windscreens smashed by the youths armed with bats and crowbars. One car was set on fire in Malabar Rd by a molotov cocktail thrown from a vehicle. One group of youths leapt from a red Pulsar in Maroubra Rd brandishing a pistol and yelled: "This place is ours." Rachael Cooney had the windscreen and windows of her sedan smashed by a group of men with crowbars. "There were about 50 of them running down the street chanting in Arabic," she said.
And you can read here how the police have not been allowed to touch Muslims in the past. When the police fail to keep order, disorder must follow.
Young Australians finally fed up with Muslim arrogance and aggression
Two media reports below:
"Scuffles have broken out after about 5,000 people, some yelling racist chants, converged on Sydney's Cronulla Beach amid fears of more violence there. Two men of middle eastern appearance were seen being pursued and attacked as they tried to flee the crowd. One of them was later escorted away by police, with blood streaming from his brow. As the second man fled, his short was torn by an angry group pursuing him on foot. Earlier, a third man was also seen fleeing from a gang running after him.
Police have been forced to stop traffic on Elouera Road, which runs along the foreshore, as the crowd, also chanting pro-Australian slogans [How incorrect!], spilled on to the roadway. At least one man had been arrested over the unrest at Cronulla, Macquarie Radio reported.
Two men chased by the crowd were being protected by police who had moved in on Northies Hotel, on the foreshore, where at least one had sought refuge, it said. Broken beer bottles scattered Elouera Road, with many in the crowd drinking heavily. Mounted police and other units are maintaining a heavy presence at the beach today after two rival groups used text messages to urge attacks on each other. Some of the text messages encouraged people to carry out vigilante style attacks, and some message had racial undertones. One of the messages had urged "Aussies" to take revenge against "Lebs and wogs". Another urged locals to rally at point on the beach today to take retaliation against "middle eastern" gangs.
As the crowd moved along the beach and foreshore area today, one man on the back of a ute began to shout "No more Lebs" - a chant picked up by the group around him. Others in the crowd, carrying Australian flags and dressed in Australian shirts, yelled "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie ... Oi, Oi, Oi".
North Cronulla Beach, in Sydney's south, was the scene of two violent incidents last week - an attack [by Muslims] on two lifeguards on Sunday and a brawl later in the week in which [Muslim] youths turned on a media crew. Authorities have been calling for calm since those attacks, which are believed to have sparked the text calls for attacks between the two groups".
Laws toughened to protect lifesavers
(I see that the M-word gets a mention at last!)
"Thugs who bash surf lifesavers [lifeguards] will face 25-year jail terms under changes to sentencing laws to be made in the wake of beach violence at Cronulla. Premier Morris Iemma told The Sunday Telegraph yesterday the tougher sentences were designed to send a strong message to troublemakers. The move came as police, political and Muslim leaders pleaded with ethnic gangs and local youths planning retaliation to stay away from the beach.
Under the present Crimes Act, offenders found guilty of assault face jail sentences of between two and 25 years, with the length of the jail term dependent on the offender's intent and the damage caused. The Government will amend the Act to make the offence of assaulting a lifeguard an aggravating factor, with offenders to face the tougher end of the penalty scale. Mr Iemma said the amendment, to be made when State Parliament resumed next year, would also apply to volunteers performing community work. "Those who selflessly give up their time to save people in distress on the beach should not be considered easy targets by thugs and hooligans," he said.
About 40 police - including officers from the Operational Support Group, officers on bicycles and mounted police - spent yesterday patrolling the beach. Hundreds of locals sported T-shirts emblazoned with the Australian flag, while others hung patriotic banners from beachfront units in an apparent gesture of solidarity. Local surfer Daniel, 24, was pleased to see the Australian emblems on show. "This is a bit of a special weekend for us," he said. "It's good to see everyone wearing their Aussie gear and getting together - not to fight, but just to say g'day to each other." Daniel attributed the racial tension to terrorism.
His flatmate, Luke, 25, said locals resented large groups of visitors from the western suburbs [the one where lots of Muslims live, anyway] because they trashed the beach and intimidated local women....
Sydney Islamic youth leader Fadi Rahmen said the Muslim community was just as opposed to the violence as Cronulla residents. He said Cronulla had been popular with Muslim families for many years, but many of them were too frightened to visit the beach now because of the threat of abuse".
Principal apologises for saying 'Christmas'
This matter was front-page news in the Brisbane "Courier Mail" of 11th. and was seen as an outrage. Even Leftist politicians were critical of the apology. Isolated malcontents got far more attention than they deserved
A school principal has apologised for overusing the word "Christmas" in a controversy branded political correctness gone crazy. Queensland's Yeppoon State School head Laurelle Allen wrote the apology after a family claimed she had discriminated against them by using "Christmas" too many times in school newsletters. Paul and Melanie Jowsey, whose children Charles, 10, and Harrison, 8, attend the central Queensland school, do not celebrate Christmas and oppose the "historical dominance of Christianity" in Australia. They complained that Ms Allen used "Christmas" at least 10 times in three newsletters over a week and had subjected them to "direct and indirect discrimination" by treating those who embrace Christianity more favourably.
But stunned community and church leaders, teachers, parents and family groups insisted that Ms Allen need not have apologised. Australian Family Association state president Alistair Barros said: "This is just staggering. It is political correctness gone crazy. Christmas is something which is part of our heritage." Premier Peter Beattie said school principals should be free to discuss Christmas at will. "Christmas is important as a celebration and Christians should be able to celebrate the festivities as Christmas," he said. Local state MP Paul Hoolihan threw his support behind Ms Allen, labelling the case political correctness "gone lunatic". "She has nothing to apologise for," said Mr Hoolihan, Labor member for Keppel. Brisbane Catholic Archbishop John Bathersby agreed it was a case of political correctness gone mad and there was no need for the principal to apologise. "Christmas is part of our tradition and the whole country accepts the fact that we have the Christmas season," he said. "It should not offend anyone if we call it that and I can't understand why a person would be offended." Queensland Teachers' Union president Steve Ryan also backed Ms Allen, saying the Jowsey family had not been discriminated against. The school's Parents and Citizens Association chairman Yme Dwarshuis said the principal's Christmas comments were made "in good faith" and she need not have apologised.
The controversy erupted on November 30, when the Jowseys sent a letter to Ms Allen complaining about her use of the word "Christmas" in several newsletters sent to parents. The family took offence at phrases such as "Christmas concert" and "Christmas disco", and the principal's greeting: "I would like to take this opportunity to wish all families a very merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and safe Christmas holiday period." The Jowseys demanded Ms Allen respond to their complaint within 14 days.
In a letter to Mr Jowsey, Ms Allen replied: "I firstly must apologise for offending you and your family. "You are right in that there are many references to Christmas and the Christmas season in the recent newsletters. "On reflection, I should have referred to the holiday season rather than the Christmas season."
Mr Jowsey defended his actions, saying religious celebrations had no place in state schools. "I'm not being a Scrooge," he said. "The celebration of religious events has no place in state schools. Forcing the observance of such on young children is a dinosaur. "We've had enough and you don't have a right to push it down everybody's throats."
Ms Allen confirmed she sent the apology to the Jowseys, but would not comment further.
N.S.W. public hospitals: Health rebels' charter to save lives
More than 70 prominent doctors and nurses have joined forces to push for sweeping changes in the public hospital system. The rebels say many hospitals in NSW are unsafe, understaffed and dying because they are unaffordable in their current state. They say the problems are now so bad they are prepared to defy the State Government and force a public debate on the thorny issue of the viability of emergency departments in small hospitals.
The Hospital Reform Group, made up of some of NSW's most senior and respected clinicians, believes the Government has accepted the system is unsustainable but will not admit it for fear of a voter backlash. Today the rebels take their manifesto directly to the public, saying the public's expectations of health care have been unreasonably raised by politicians more intent on retaining seats than dealing with reality. Their plan to save the system requires drastic changes, such as a reclassification of jobs in the hospital sector and the possible closure of some small emergency departments, which will bring them into conflict with the public, the Government and the Australian Medical Association.
The rebels say bandaid solutions are no longer an option if hospitals are to provide safe and accessible services. One of their demands is the assessment of smaller emergency departments for either closure or revamping as GP-style care clinics, so resources can be better spread throughout the system. "We need to address unrealistic and unaffordable expectations with honesty, transparency and creativity. There is not enough money to meet the community's expectations of health care," their manifesto says. "The provision of all available hospital services in all areas of the state is no longer possible, or in the best interests of the community."
One of the rebels, Kerry Goulston, a gastroenterologist and emeritus professor at Sydney University, said: "We can't keep 35 emergency departments going in greater Sydney, staffing them as we think they should be staffed, and we have to tell the public that. Very few people have stood up and said, 'Hey, we have one of the best health systems in the world but it exists on the goodwill of the people working in it.' "
Another rebel, Brad Frankum, director of medicine at Campbelltown and Camden hospitals, said the public had to face reality. "The argument that 'we have had a hospital in that town for 100 years, we do not want to see it close' is really a sentimental argument, rather than one focused on caring for sick people. The reality of public hospitals is harsh; the over-reliance on locum staff is an unavoidable issue, and until there is political will to start moving resources out to the west and south and developing areas, we are better off not having a facility than having an unsafe, understaffed one."
The reform group says hospitals should be better integrated with primary and community care and other health services. Governments and health departments must also develop ways of stemming the steady flow of clinicians from the public to the private sector. The group says human resources are spread too thinly and too unevenly and that staff shortages are only going to worsen.....
11 December, 2005
Young Australians call a spade a spade
("Shire" refers to Sydney's Sutherland shire, which, oddly enough, is in Sydney's South, where Cronulla is too)
"They're itching for a blue [fight], these Shire boys. For Shaun Donohoe it's war, pure and simple - and it has been a long time coming. "It's been brewing for years." For another local, a teenager surveying the ocean outside North Cronulla Surf Lifesaving Club, it's time for a showdown - though it's not about race, he says, just manners. "They have no respect for anyone." Angered by what they see as an aggressive invasion by youths of Middle Eastern background, these men say they have had enough. After a week that began with the assault of a lifeguard and was punctuated by another brawl and inflammatory rhetoric, the Shire boys are ready to rumble.....
Mr Donohoe, a chef, 24, takes it a step further. "They look down on our women," he says. "They don't really assimilate to our way of life. I've been at war with them for 10 years." For him it all boils down to race and culture. But the suburb has never been a stranger to bouts of tension, whether ethnic differences were present or not.
Mark Goodwin, the assistant commissioner who has co-ordinated the police response, started surfing at the beach when he was 10. There has always been something to disagree about, he says, even if it was just surfers at odds over their stretch of ocean. "There's been tension between locals and people who come from other suburbs for a long time over various issues," he told the Herald. "We're taking it extremely seriously but there needs to be some perspective."
The Mayor of Sutherland, Kevin Schreiber, and the local federal MP, Bruce Baird, agree there have been minor issues in the past, but believe the present problems are of a different order. Mr Baird, who was born in Cronulla, says: "I haven't seen the kind of problems we've got now." The visitors are aggressive, and come armed with "anti-female attitudes". Mr Schreiber attributes much of the problem to male aggression. "I think it's boys being boys," he says, adding that he understands local frustration..."
"Get off our beach. This is our beach. We own it." These are the fighting words a group of thugs spoke to three North Cronulla surf lifesavers before bashing them on a sunny Sunday afternoon. The attack has disgusted Sutherland Shire residents and surf lifesavers who volunteer their time to protect the lives of beachgoers. Cronulla locals say in the past three years a large influx of youths have travelled from Sydney's west to the beachside to intimidate beachgoers and start fights.... Surf Lifesaving Sydney rescue services manager Stephen Leahy said it was common for Middle Eastern men from western Sydney to taunt Cronulla surf lifesavers by stealing their equipment, making idle threats and kicking balls at them. Some regular Cronulla beachgoers said that the behaviour of Middle Eastern groups was so offensive, they opted to travel to other beaches instead".
Evangelical Christians ride to the rescue in the Australian Senate
For overseas readers, I should point out that evangelical Christians normally play a role in politics that is as small in Australia as it is large in the USA. For years Australian university students have suffered the monstrous injustice of being legally obliged to join a student union when they enrol to study. And the unions concerned almost invariably have been dominated by far-Leftists who spend a lot of the union dues on saving gay North Korean whales and all the rest of it. Conservative Prime Minister Howard has been trying for years to put a stop to the system and has now at last succeeded. Senator Joyce is in American terms a RINO and Senator Fielding is an evangelical Christian and the sole representaive in the Senate of his "Family First" Christian party. The Senate is finely balanced so the government needs the support of EITHER Senator Joyce or Senator Fielding to pass its legislation. Senator Fielding has primarily religious priorites (abortion etc) but is broadly conservative
"Universities will be banned from levying compulsory student union fees of up to $600 a year, after the Government last night won the support of Family First senator Steve Fielding. The passage of the legislation also means universities will face million-dollar fines if they attempt to levy mandatory fees for childcare, counselling and sporting clubs. Instead, the Government will set up an $80million compensation fund for struggling universities to fund recreational and sporting infrastructure.
After the vote, Senator Fielding was adamant there was "no deal" and that he voted for the legislation, which comes into effect from July 1 next year, on its merits and without asking for any measures or guarantees. "Forcing students to join a student union in the 21st century is crazy," he said.
The vote marked the end of a dramatic day of Senate negotiations, with rebel Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce becoming the first government senator in 19 years to cross the floor on a new law in defiance of his colleagues.... Senator Joyce, who until yesterday had been crucial to all government negotiations on key legislation, cut a lone figure as his Nationals colleagues voted down his amendments, which would have outlawed student fees for political activities but allowed charges for sporting clubs and services. Previously, he had voted against the Government only in relation to amendments to the Trade Practices Act, a move that prompted the Government to withdraw the legislation.
Instead, Senator Fielding delivered the vital vote required, after having refused to declare his hand throughout the day. But last night, explaining his decision, Senator Fielding said the $80 million compensation fund did not influence his vote. "I made it quite clear that Family First would vote on the bill on its merits and I hadn't made up my mind. Did we discuss other things? Yes. To be frank with you, today has been very hectic and I can't recall." ....
Education Minister Brendan Nelson welcomed the breakthrough and said the details of the $80million compensation fund, which is not mentioned in the legislation, would be worked out next year. "Why is it that a single mother training to be a nurse should be forced to pay for the canoeing or mountaineering club when all she wants is a degree," Dr Nelson said...."
And the response from the Leftist students? -- the usual Leftist thuggery. If it had been some sort of Rightist thugs attacking the office and family of a Green or Leftist Member of Parliament we would never have heard the end of it but what I reproduce below is just about the sum total of all that appeared in the press about the subject:
"Student protesters raided the electorate office of Family First senator Steven Fielding last night after he handed the Government the vote it needed to end compulsory student unionism. Senator Fielding's wife, Sue, was trapped in the building after two students broke through the office front door in Blackburn Rd, Mt Waverley. They later returned and spray-painted slogans. Police were called but it was unclear last night if any arrests were made. The MP's wife, also the Victorian party chairwoman, described the behaviour as thuggery. "They don't do themselves any favors with this sort of behaviour," Mrs Fielding said".
Queensland public hospitals: Negligent health bureaucrat forced out
Another bureaucrat at the centre of Bundaberg's Dr Patel scandal may escape disciplinary action after resigning from Queensland Health. Peter Leck quit his position as Bundaberg district health manager on Wednesday. He had been facing misconduct charges for ignoring concerns about Indian-trained surgeon Jayant Patel, who was found to have contributed to at least 13 deaths at Bundaberg Base Hospital.
Mr Leck is the second bureaucrat to quit his post after having adverse findings made against him. Darren Keating, the hospital's former director of medical services, left Queensland Health last month.
However, the Davies report into the saga, handed down last week, recommended he still face criminal charges. A Crime and Misconduct Commission spokeswoman said the body was considering its options over Mr Leck. But it was not pursuing Dr Keating, she said.
Bundaberg victims support group spokeswoman Beryl Crosby said Dr Patel's former patients would be angry if Mr Leck escaped charges. "We rollercoaster ride all the way through this but they were really, really coming to terms the other day that justice was seen to be done," she told ABC Radio today. "But they're going to be very, very upset if he gets off scot free out of this."
Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg said he was not surprised Mr Leck had also resigned. "He slipped through the net now because he will not be able to be prosecuted for official misconduct, or any of those provisions that you would expect public servants to be ... disciplined for," he said.
Kyoto very close to being buried, environment minister says
The Kyoto Protocol was "almost buried" and Australia's decision not to ratify it had been vindicated, said Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell, who is in Montreal observing the latest round of international negotiations to tackle greenhouse gases and climate change. Speaking at the United Nations summit on climate change, he said other countries had realised that Australia and the US were right not to ratify the protocol, and he predicted the system for setting targets and timetables for greenhouse gas reductions could be scrapped after 2012, when most industrialised countries have agreed to reduce their emissions. "A number of [countries] are saying 'Look, we made a mistake. We don't think that it's worth opening up a new negotiation about a future commitment when the commitments we have today are looking so unreasonable'," Senator Campbell said. "Trying to squeeze everyone into the Kyoto style approach is simply not going to work."
However, his comments were not supported by statements made by other parties to the international agreement and have been described by environmental groups at the Montreal negotiations as mischievous and nothing more than political spin.
Senator Campbell said that last year he had met a number of ministers from other countries who had told him: "Australia made the right decision. This thing is not going to work." He said that sentiment had become "like a chorus", at the Montreal meeting. "You have a number of countries inside the Kyoto Protocol who were resisting doing even what's required under the protocol which is to have a new negotiation." He predicted that those countries would nevertheless begin discussing what would happen beyond 2012, because they were obliged to do so under the Kyoto Protocol. "I think it shows that this style of agreement is very close to being buried. That's not a bad thing. It shows that there's a recognition that we need more flexibility; we need to recognise national circumstances."
The executive director of the Australian Conservation Foundation, Don Henry, who is also at the talks, said Senator Campbell's comments were "entirely inaccurate". "Wow. He is spinning it," Mr Henry said. "I think that he is just mischievously tipping a bucket over future negotiations," he said, adding that the Montreal meeting had already adopted the rules for the implementation of the protocol and was devising a global carbon trading mechanism. "Country after country [is] strongly supportive of the protocol, and they are urging that a Kyoto plus be developed for after 2012 to strengthen it."
Australia has agreed to take part in the next phase of talks on climate change - although not discussions that would lead to further targets and timetables for reductions in emission - diverging from the stance of the US, which has indicated it does not believe that it should even begin negotiations.
10 December, 2005
White backlash at Sydney's Cronulla beach
And the authorities are targeting the whites of course -- the young working class white Australians who don't want to be driven off their own beaches by aggressive Muslims. I have put the missing words into the news report
As train loads of teenagers got off at the station to make the short stroll to the water, teams of riot police, some on bikes, some on foot, moved among them. They were there to ensure that no one could claim ownership of the beach, what Mr Goodwin described as the playground of all Australians regardless of cultural background. There have been two attacks there since Sunday by groups of [Lebanese Muslim] youths on three volunteer lifesavers and a media crew.
"I grew up in this area myself and surfed this beach from the age of 10," Mr Goodwin said. "Let me clearly say that no one owns the beach, the beach is a resource for the entire of Sydney and we have ethnic populations that are just as entitled to use this beach that have been the backbone of this country for as many years. "They need to come down here and celebrate with their families and children in the Christmas spirit and the holiday period and do not need the agro of groups of young people wreaking any sort of retribution against them because they don't deserve it just as anyone else."
But it was on his orders, as inner metropolitan commander, that more than 70 extra police had been sent to the area amid fears of vigilantism following circulation of a text message urging "Aussies" to gather at Cronulla on Sunday for a day of "Leb/wog" bashing to reclaim the beaches.
Police at other Sydney beaches have also been placed on alert. Politicians and community leaders called for calm in the Sutherland Shire Council yesterday, fearing an escalation of violence on Sunday when 1000 surf life saving nippers and their families will gather for a carnival.
Mr Goodwin said police technicians were tracing the origin of the text message that is feared will incite racial violence.
The Opposition Leader, Peter Debnam, said yesterday that pouring extra police into Cronulla for a short period would not solve tensions. He said the Cronulla-Sutherland command had lost 18 officers in the last two years while numbers of police had dropped across the state in the same period by 700. He described the vigilante text message as a disgrace. "It has now got to the point where racial overtones clearly are a key theme," he said. "It should not be. These thugs that we are seeing in NSW are actually home-grown thugs.
Update: Residents speak up
Angry Cronulla residents today heckled New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma when he tried to reassure them that their beaches would be safe from violence this weekend. Addressing media at a news conference in a Cronulla park near the beachfront, Mr Iemma was shouted down by locals as he appealed for calm and warned that troublemakers would be met with the full force of the law.....
Residents have complained of harassment by visiting groups of young men, claiming it is so offensive that some locals no longer use the beach. A group of residents who had gathered to hear what the officials had to say tried to interrupt the conference. "Nice political speech," residents shouted at Mr Iemma.....
Mr Iemma, Mr Scully and Mr Goodwin quickly left as anger rose among the onlookers. "Who's supposed to defend us?" a resident who gave his name as John said to reporters. "(The gangs) just laugh at the police. "The gangs come here and cause trouble, harass everybody, and steal."
Australia speaks up for Israel in UN
Australian delegate to the United Nations General Assembly Andrew Southcott was one of the few outspoken critics of the level of Israel bashing at the organisation in the past year, after six anti-Israel resolutions were passed by the Assembly last week.
The General Assembly passed each of the six resolutions concerning Israel and its Arab neighbors, by a massive margin, with Australia being one of the few major nations, along with the US and, in some cases, Canada, to vote against most of the anti-Israel resolutions. Australia was one of six nations which voted against a resolution calling on Israeli withdrawal from the territories it won in 1967, while 153 voted for the resolution. New Zealand, by contrast voted for the anti-Israel resolutions.
Southcott, speaking on behalf of Australia in the General Assembly, said that his delegation was concerned that a number of resolutions taken up by the Assembly this year had been unbalanced in their criticism of Israel. The singling out of one side for blame in the current situation was very unhelpful, he said. Australia remained concerned by the high level of United Nations resources allocated to anti-Israeli activity, including the Division for Palestinian Rights and the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.
Source. (Original UN transcript is here)
Disturbed Australian children ignored by education bureaucracy
John Nelson is walking through his school playground. A girl walks past and gives him a high-five. He grins. Kids gravitate towards him. Nelson has been principal at Preston Primary in Melbourne's north for the past 15 years. At the end of the school year he will retire, aged 55. It has been a wrenching decision. "I'm really, really sad to be leaving," he says. Working with children as they embark on their education has been "the dream job".
But Nelson is angry about the cracks in the Victorian education system and the children who fall into them. While he is preparing to leave, he is not about to go quietly. With the candour of someone who has nothing to lose, he talks about primary schools in disadvantaged areas being in crisis as they struggle to deal with a substantial and increasing number of children, aged five to 12, with severe social and emotional problems.
Pressing for the establishment of "special settings" for these children, he says teachers and principals are working in situations that are "close to hell", while the system has become so inured to the presence of disturbed children that "the abnormal is accepted as normal". Nelson says the Government is not "fair dinkum" [genuine] about the problem and that requiring schools to deal with it is outside their educational charter and child mental health "on the cheap".
These are not, Nelson says, naughty children who respond to normal discipline and relationship-building but disturbed and violent children who are constantly suspended or expelled, whose behaviour disrupts the education of other children, who don't want to do what's fair and reasonable, who can't be left in the playground for too long because they don't know how to play, who attack other students and their teachers, who "wreck classrooms, punch, spit and act defiantly". "Schools are not trained, and they are certainly not resourced, to deal with it," Nelson says.
His accusations draw a fierce response from Victorian Education Minister Lynne Kosky. She says principals, including Nelson, who are pressing for special settings are trying to "wash their hands" of troubled children and make them "someone else's problem". "I'm not going to let schools off the hook when students are a challenge," she says. "Frankly, the principals have to take responsibility for all students."
Nationwide, the problem of students with behaviour disorders is growing. In the last NSW budget, the state Government announced a $73.6 million four-year school behaviour and discipline plan. It includes funding for 35 "behaviour schools" (there are presently 28) and 20 "suspension centres" by 2007 catering for students in years 5 to 10. Last month, the Queensland Government announced the establishment of six new centres for disruptive students, on top of the existing five, but the Queensland Teachers Union is pressing for many more. In Victoria, there is a strong philosophical aversion, one government adviser says, to taking troubled children "off-line" and "giving them a tag and putting them in a school for naughty boys".....
It's the second time this year questions have been raised about the treatment of mentally unwell children in Victoria. In August, University of Melbourne psychology professor Margot Prior, formerly director of psychology at the Royal Children's Hospital, and Ric Pawsey, a 25-year veteran of mental health, said the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service was a mess that should be replaced. "It's a basket case," Prior says. "Because I'm now out of it, I can be honest."
Nelson first rang the bell on the problem of disturbed children in primary schools 18 months ago, when he led a group of 21 principals calling for these students to be removed from their schools and taught in separate centres. These special settings, he proposed, would pool the resources and expertise not just of the Department of Education and Training, but also the Department of Human Services, CAMHS, universities and local councils. "In many classrooms, teachers and students work in an environment where, due to the severe emotional and behavioural disturbance of a student, teaching and learning plays second fiddle to surviving," he wrote in one of several papers circulated within the education department.
Schools are being used as "the first line of intervention" when intensive clinical intervention is needed to deal with a group of children on the extreme margins of the community, with problems he suspects are fuelled by family breakdown, violence, neglect, sexual abuse, drug and alcohol problems, mental illness, poverty, unemployment and inter-generational dysfunction.....
Costly harvest of ignorant GM campaign
By Jennifer Marohasy. Jennifer's blog is here
The organic food market is growing and according to some studies this demand is being driven by increasing consumer resistance to genetically modified foods. This resistance in turn is driven by anti-GM campaigning. In Australia, state government bans on GM food crops prevent the planting of GM corn, soybeans and canola, varieties grown overseas, including in the US.
During the past two weeks the Australian organics industry has sponsored a lecture tour by anti-GM advocate and US-based consultant Charles Benbrook. As part of this tour, Benbrook has made several claims, such as GM crops have been a failure in the US and herbicide use, particularly for GM soybeans, is at record levels. This story was picked up and run by numerous media outlets, including ABC radio. The only problem is that what Benbrook has said is not supported by the available evidence.
Information on herbicide use is available at the US Department of Agriculture website. This data shows that during the past 10 years the area planted with GM soy has increased and that overall herbicide use has remained steady. Last year 87 per cent of the total area planted to soybeans in the US was planted with GM varieties. Yield was a record high, at 42.5 bushels per acre, while herbicide use was equivalent to 1996 levels, the year the first GM variety was planted. In fact soybean production in 2004 totalled 3.14 billion bushels, making it the largest soybean crop in US history. It is difficult to reconcile these statistics with an out-of-control weed problem as claimed by Benbrook. While the statistics indicate that herbicide use has not declined in soybeans, there has been an almost complete shift to the more environmentally friendly herbicide glyphosate. In this regard the GM technology has been spectacularly successful.
Earlier this week a report from the US National Centre for Food and Agricultural Policy sang the praises of GM technologies, claiming that GM varieties increased yields, decreased production costs, and provided $2.3 billion in additional revenue to US farmers.
Interestingly Australia was the first country to release a GM organism, the crown gall bacterium, in 1988. Since then we have made only one other release, GM cotton, first planted in 1996. Now grown on 90 per cent of cotton farms, the latest GM varieties have reduced pesticide use by an average 88 per cent, allowing beneficial insects to return to fields and reducing the risk of pollution.
About 35 per cent of the vegetable oil we consume in Australia is from cotton seed. Most of the rest of our vegetable oil is from canola. A Greenpeace anti-GM campaign deceptively targeted GM canola as the first GM food crop and ignored GM cotton as an existing source of vegetable oil. This campaign led to the state bans on GM food crops, with only cotton exempt on the basis it is grown primarily for fibre.
Incredibly, in Australia we have banned GM varieties that could help us reduce our ecological footprint, through the use of more environmentally friendly herbicides in the case of soybeans and canola. Ironically, while the Victorian Government has banned GM food crops, Victorian farmers import large quantities of GM soybeans from the US to feed their dairy cows. Europe is supposedly GM free but imported $858 million worth of GM soy last year, also from the US.
Benbrook's tour has added to the confusion and fear and included claims at odds with the official statistics. The misapprehension is likely to reinforce opposition to GM technologies and increase market share for organic farmers. The Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics has reported that failure to commercialise GM crops will cost Australian agriculture $3 billion by 2015. Executive director Brian Fisher has said growth in GM crops overseas will disadvantage Australian grain and oilseed producers as non-GM varieties are more expensive to produce. Furthermore, he has said present bans are harming innovation and research in Australian agriculture.
Misinformation from anti-GM campaigning comes at a significant economic and environmental cost. Benbrook and the organic food industry may unintentionally be playing an expensive game with Australian agriculture.
9 December, 2005
Disgraced Leftist minister still being protected
Queensland minister Gordon Nuttall resigned last night after an official report questioned his integrity, forcing Premier Peter Beattie to face his fourth reshuffle in nine months. Despite being the highest-profile casualty of the Dr Death scandal, Mr Nuttall insisted he had been a good minister who had paid the price for taking on the "poisoned chalice" of the health portfolio.
In July, Mr Nuttall told a budget estimates committee he had never been briefed about problems with overseas-trained doctors, but was contradicted by then Queensland Health deputy director-general John Scott. Confronted next day with evidence showing he had been briefed, Mr Nuttall claimed to have misunderstood the question from the committee.
The Crime and Misconduct Commission released its report into the affair yesterday. raising the question of Mr Nuttall's evidence being "knowingly false" and called on parliament to decide whether he should face contempt of parliament proceedings, which carry a maximum fine of $7000, or criminal prosecution for lying to parliament, which carries a seven-year jail term.
Mr Beattie, who had already demoted Mr Nuttall to the primary industries portfolio, will recall parliament tomorrow and is expected to convince Labor MPs to vote against any criminal prosecution and possibly even the contempt proceedings.
Aussie measures up for Nobel
Swedish master tailor Jarl Dahlquist has measured dozens of Nobel laureates for their tails and white tie outfits over the years but Barry Marshall had an unusual request during his fitting session yesterday. "Can you just give me a quick head measurement to make sure it hasn't grown too much?" the West Australian medical scientist said in the Stockholm fitting room. "It has got to be a danger with all this fuss," he insisted, but his joke was a healthy sign that the glory of winning the world's most prestigious prize for medicine had not gone to his head.
Dr Marshall, a professor of microbiology at the University of Western Australia, has been swamped by media requests, public engagements and even autograph-seekers in the lead-up to this weekend's award ceremony in Stockholm. "It's been great fun but I can see how you could go into meltdown," he said. "It feels a bit like being a marathon runner - they should ask whether you are fit enough to be a Nobel Prize winner. "But it's important that we promote our work and try to get kids and other people interested in science so I am going to keep at it until I faint or something."
His co-winner, Robin Warren, was distinctly downbeat about the fuss. "I am looking forward to looking back on it," the retired pathologist confessed yesterday as his minder from the Swedish Foreign Ministry led him from a television interview to another engagement with Swedish radio. "I'm getting up towards 70 and I'm feeling my age ... They are keeping us pretty damn busy."
Dr Marshall, the extrovert of the pair, laughed when told that his colleague was looking forward to the end of this week's blaze of Nobel publicity and formality. "Robin pretends he's miserable at the best of times," he said with a laugh. "He hates to admit he's happy but in his quiet moments he grudgingly admits he's enjoying it."
Their Nobel Prize for proving that most stomach ulcers are caused by a previously unknown species of bacteria was announced in October - making them only Australia's ninth and 10th Nobel laureates. The prize will be officially awarded, along with this year's prizes for other disciplines, in a white-tie ceremony on Sunday morning, Australian time.
Criminal negligence by child welfare bureaucracy
More than 90 per cent of NSW children who died in suspicious circumstances last year had been the subject of reports to child protection authorities. In one case, a 13-year-old girl was reported to the NSW Department of Community Services 41 times in the three years before her death. Of the 104 deaths examined by NSW Ombudsman Bruce Barbour in his "Reviewable Deaths" annual report, which was released yesterday, all but eight of the children were already known to DOCS child protection officers. He found that of the other 96 deaths, 72 of the children had been reported to DOCS as being at risk of harm. A further 24 child deaths came to the Ombudsman's attention because the children's siblings had been the subject of a report to DOCS. Child abuse was the cause of death for six of the children, while DOCS was aware that another three were at risk of committing suicide at the time of their death.
The report, used by the Opposition to lambast the Government on failings within DOCS, reviewed 197 deaths across NSW last year. It included 93 adults with disabilities who were living in residential care or licensed boarding houses at the time of their deaths. "People with disabilities living in care and children who may be at risk are among the most vulnerable members of our community," Mr Barbour said. "Child protection and disability service provision is often complex, difficult work that places great demands on systems and individuals. "Our role under the legislation is to contribute to service improvement by identifying ways to prevent or reduce untimely deaths."
Community Services Minister Reba Meagher said the Government had already started reforming DOCS and insisted the next review would show a "significant improvement". But Opposition MPs Andrew Humpherson and John Ryan said the figures were shocking and a sad indictment on the Government's ability to care for at-risk children and the disabled.
Ms Meagher said many of the report's recommendations were in line with the Government's reform for DOCS to be completed in 2008. This would enable DOCS caseworkers to respond to more reports of child abuse, she said. "We will want to learn the lessons of these tragedies to build a stronger child protection system (and) a more responsive department of community services," Ms Meagher said.
DOCS has been under massive pressure for change since it was revealed that DOCS officials had received a number of reports about six-year-old Rose Villanueva-Austin, who died in September when she was given an accidental methadone overdose in her home. Shortly after the incident, Mr Barbour slammed the performance of DOCS, saying children were dying unnecessarily. He found an under-resourced DOCS closed files of children at high risk and did not respond adequately to concerns about unborn children. In a number of cases, DOCS had failed to take steps to protect children after they were born even though concerns were raised during pregnancy.
Mr Ryan, the opposition's disability services spokesman, said yesterday he was concerned about the number of deaths in unlicensed boarding houses, which were not reviewed by the Ombudsman.
Australian bloggers muzzled
Australian blogs will never be as hard-hitting as their overseas counterparts because of our restrictive laws. Many local bloggers are unaware that they may be liable for everything they write on their sites, not to mention all of the colourful comments made by contributors. Our new sedition laws will make this worse. Blogs fall under the same defamation and other laws that regulate all media organisations in the country.
While US bloggers are protected by a freedom of speech clause in the US Bill of Rights, new sedition laws passed by Australian authorities may make life even tougher for bloggers. Local bloggers, even without the new laws, must be very careful about what they write. "Bloggers may be liable for what's on their website as the publisher of the information," says Stephen James, a specialist in Technology Law and partner at TressCox. "I think they need to be more cautious. There is no exception in the law for internet conversations."
There have been only a few cases involving internet bloggers, but James expects more cases involving breaches of other laws. His golden rule for bloggers is: "Don't post any comment about any person that you wouldn't be happy to see about yourself." "Remember all laws, including defamation, legal obligations to keep some information confidential, providing negligent advice and even the new sedition laws may apply to bloggers," says James.
Australian bloggers have mixed views about legal issues. "My site is a group blog, maintained by my partner and I," says Caz, from spinstartshere.com. "We're both journalists and have a fairly good working knowledge of defamation, contempt, etc so we basically refer to our own judgement when writing." This means she has to moderate comments on her site. "For example, you wouldn't believe how many times we've had people post the same unsubstantiated story about an Australian singer's cocaine habit that I'd love to keep published, but can't for legal reasons," she says.
Blogger and lawyer Quantum Meruit, says most bloggers are not aware of media law. "A lot of people still don't know what blogging is, so you feel like it is almost a secret world which doesn't cross over with your real life," she says. "But, of course, there is always the potential for that real life crossover to happen."
Some bloggers say they don't care. Sam Ward from A Yobbo's View says he doesn't consider legal issues when he blogs. The legal threats Ward has received "usually come from cretins who can't even spell lawyer". He would only remove content if he felt he was in the wrong, he says. "If it was just some self-important loser trying to bully me around, I'd have my day in court."
8 December, 2005
Ruddock praises new terror laws
Which were supported by both the government and Labor parties
Attorney-General Philip Ruddock has welcomed the passage of sweeping counter-terrorism laws through the Senate, saying they will help fight home-grown terrorism. The legislation was rushed through the Senate last night after the government gagged debate on the bill.
The Australian Greens, the Democrats and the Law Council accused Labor of selling out civil rights by supporting the bill, which will give unprecedented powers to police and spy agencies.
The laws allow for terrorist suspects to be detained without charge for up to two weeks, as well as controls on their movement and communication for up to a year. They also update sedition laws, give police tougher stop, search and seizure powers and allow greater use of security cameras. "Governments have an overriding obligation, it's their first human rights obligation, to protect the right to life and safety of the Australian community," Mr Ruddock told ABC radio. "I think the criminal law system, which waits until an offence has occurred and then deals with the consequences, is not seen to be appropriate in the new environment."
Mr Ruddock again defended the use of preventative detention, saying it had worked well in in Britain after the London bombings. "Where it was necessary in the context of the investigation of multiple acts, with all of the complexity that was associated with it where it was necessary to preserve evidence, the United Kingdom found that preventative detention was very important in enabling them to manage what is a very volatile and changing situation," he said.
The Law Council of Australia said the community would turn against the laws and hoped the measures would be subject to a High Court challenge. "Wait until these laws are abused or misused and then the people of Australia will turn on them for bringing in, in peacetime, laws that allow Australians to be locked up without charge," council president John North said. "We've always believed that the High Court would not take kindly to its citizens being arrested and held without any reasonable cause."
Christian Brother jailed for sex crimes
A "Christian Brother" was jailed yesterday for molesting 10 students at a Victorian Catholic high school more than three decades ago. Peter John Toomey, 56, molested young charges at Brunswick's Trinity Regional College in the 1970s. The Victorian County Court heard Toomey preyed on boys aged 11 and 12, fondling them while they sat on his knee during classes.
Judge Meryl Sexton convicted Toomey on 10 counts of indecent assault and sentenced him to two years and three months in jail. She said his abuse had had a devastating impact on his victims. Toomey, who taught years 7 and 8, admitted spying on pupils undressing in change rooms and making students line up naked for inspection. Judge Sexton said Toomey, then in his early 20s, took advantage of vulnerable victims. Toomey volunteered for treatment in 2000 and no longer has contact with children. He will be placed on the sex offenders registry and must serve six months; the rest of his term will be suspended for three years.
"Insensitive" to Discuss the Death Penalty
The traditional method for executing criminals who have been condemned to death is hanging and that method was recently used by the government of Singapore to execute a Vietnamese-Australian drug-runner that they caught transiting their airport with a huge stash of heroin on him.
Well, it's no news that many people oppose the death penalty. Given how crooked police and prosecutors often are (See here), I oppose it myself. But Australia's hard-Left "Indymedia" thinks we should not even do opinion polls about hanging. They say:
"Media polls leading up to the execution by Singaporean authorities of an Australian man last week appear to have returned a sentiment that roughly half the country thought Nguyen Tuong Van "should hang". Apart from being grossly offensive and insensitive, the posed question of "Should Van Nguyen Hang" .... ".
So just asking if the drug-runner should hang or not was "insensitive". As usual, discussion of anything in plain language was being declared taboo. Plain language is the enemy of the Left. They NEED obfuscation to hide their total hypocrisy. They held all sorts of rallies and vigils to protest the killing of a death-dealing drug runner but killing untold numbers of totally innocent unborn babies is perfectly OK, of course. And when did any Leftists hold a rally against any of the innumerable executions that the Chinese Communists regularly carry out? Dramatizing themselves is all that Leftists really care about.
It does however make sense that the contemporary Western Left would want to make opinion polls on the death penalty as incomprehensible as possible because such polls regularly show that the general public favour exactly what the Left is arguing against. For more on that see here.
More babies die in larger Australian public hospitals
Babies born in large city hospitals are more likely to die in their first month than those born in smaller rural centres, a comprehensive analysis of Australian births has revealed. The findings have prompted experts to call for a "complete rethink" of maternity service planning across the country. The researchers for the study, which was reported yesterday in an international journal, say the findings prove smaller centres are safe - and undermine fears about quality that have led state governments to close scores of small maternity units nationwide in the past decade.
Study co-author Sally Tracy, a senior research fellow at the National Perinatal Statistics Unit at the University of NSW, said that over the past 10 years "at least half" of the smaller rural maternity units across the country had been closed on safety grounds. "Big does not necessarily mean better ... it is time for a complete rethink about maternity service planning," she said. The study found 98.5per cent of 146,422 "multiparous", or non-firstborn, babies born in large hospitals were alive after 28 days, compared with 99.2per cent in very small units.
But Dr Tracy said while this was an expected result - because very high-risk or complicated cases would naturally be referred to the biggest hospitals - the real point was that death rates were no higher in smaller units. "All women do not need the very intense medical care that's available in these large tertiary hospitals," Dr Tracy told The Australian. "At this point, the policy in Australia is just to keep on closing these small units, and leaving rural women stranded to give birth on the side of the road." Rural doctors have also backed the findings.
For the study, published online by the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Dr Tracy and colleagues examined data from more than 702,000 women who gave birth from January 1, 1999, to December 31, 2001 - representing more than 90per cent of all births in that time. The researchers grouped hospitals into five bands, based on how many babies they delivered each year. They also looked at the risk status of the mother, what interventions she required - such as epidurals and emergency caesarean sections - and whether the baby was alive after 28 days.
Among firstborns, 98.9per cent of the 4483 born in small units with fewer than 100 births annually were alive after 28 days, compared with 98.4per cent of the 115,940 born in the largest hospitals. Looking only at births considered low-risk - a more meaningful comparison - smaller units also saw slightly lower death rates, but because of the low numbers involved in the small units the difference was not statistically significant. As expected, higher levels of interventions were also recorded in bigger hospitals.
Queensland GP Ross Maxwell, president of the Rural Doctors Association of Australia, said the findings showed "low-risk delivery in small hospitals is very safe". "In rural Australia, we certainly need a strong rethink and more work to maximise the current workforce," he said.
Christine Tippett, vice-president of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said the findings had to be interpreted with caution and did not support the claim small units were safer for low-risk women.
7 December 2005
Anti-Jewish attacks still high
Anti-Jewish attacks in Australia have decreased this year, but the latest figures show aggression towards the Jewish community is still 10 per cent above average. Australia's peak Jewish body, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, said it had received 332 separate reports of anti-Jewish incidents in the 12 months to September 2005. This is lower than the 445 reports last year, but above the annual average of 301 since national figures started being collated in 1989.
Report author Jeremy Jones said that incidents recorded during the past year included arson attacks on synagogues, vandalism and Nazi graffiti on private property belonging to Jewish Australians, assaults on Jewish people, and anti-Semitic vandalism of Jewish schools and synagogues.
Newcastle Synagogue was subjected to anti-Jewish daubings, had its windows smashed and anti-Semitic posters glued to its exterior wall in April. Mr Jones said an alarming finding of the report was the "enormous amount of anti-Semitic invective on internet discussion groups and bulletin boards". "What it does demonstrate is that there are pockets within our community who have very hostile views towards Jews, which hopefully they won't act on," he said.
Anti-Jewish graffiti was recorded at a rate 39 per cent above average, but hate mail and threatening phone calls were recorded at their lowest rates for 16 and 15 years.
Some just praise of Prime Minister John Howard from one of his old enemies
Comments by Graham Richardson
Howard's greatest strength is his capacity to know the electorate. I have always held the view that no matter how smart you think you are, the electorate is always smarter; the mob will always work you out. The best politicians know that when you have made a mistake, the best thing to do is admit the error and move on. There is not much to be gained from obfuscation and the verbal fudge. Australians know when you're talking nonsense.
What goes hand in hand with knowing that the voters can work you out is how you read them. John Howard reads them very well. He is in tune with a big majority of the mob. The over-55s love him because he talks like them. He has the same values. He harbours the same suspicions they harbour about newcomers and bludgers. Almost all those over 30 share his view that while education, health and transport are important, they come way behind the economy in the rankings of the issues that change votes.
The Australian preoccupation with home ownership is right up his alley. If he can keep interest rates at historically low levels, or be seen as the one most likely to achieve that imperative, Howard knows he is invincible. Add to that historically low inflation and unemployment and you take away any really strong reasons to vote against him. That is his greatest strength. He knows instinctively what really matters to those who decide his fate. That used to be Labor's strength, but it no longer applies. While Paul Keating talked about engaging with Asia, Howard talked about interest rates. When Keating passionately appealed for reconciliation with our indigenous people, Howard talked about interest rates. When Mark Latham obsessed about reading to our children and climbing ladders of opportunity, Howard doggedly continued with his economic themes.
Australians see economic policy as the core, and social policy as what can be afforded after the real work is done. Labor may believe it has the right policies, but the result suggests it has the politics all wrong ...
Last Christmas, I saw a television report on a function Howard held for the families of our soldiers on active duty in Iraq. Howard moved among the mums and dads, the wives and children with consummate ease. He was in his element; he loved them and they loved him right back. Such a change can occur only when the confidence level has risen dramatically. On the lawns of Kirribilli House, he was king ...
Labor can either continue to declare no confidence in the electorate or, like Howard, seek to understand it more accurately. I hope Labor chooses the latter course.
Bureaucratic rigidity strikes again
Next Friday is Alex Hiles' birthday and the end of his 1.5 million-kilometre accident-free truck driving career. Doctors and bureaucrats will not let him keep trucking after he turns 85. After more than 22 years steering big rigs, the WWII veteran is about to lose his heavy-vehicle licence. The Townsville truckie has been told by the Department of Transport that unless he can obtain a medical certificate, his semi-trailer driving days are over.
"I'm fit, I still drive 300km a day and I enjoy what I do," said Mr Hiles, from behind the wheel of his 1977 White truck. "But the Transport Department says you're too old to drive, you old bastard."
Not even a petition and a media campaign have been able to prevent or delay the inevitable. A Department of Transport spokesman confirmed that once a person reached 75, they must obtain a certificate stating they are medically fit to drive. "The doctors can't give me a medical certificate because if anything happened they'd feel responsible," Mr Hiles said.
Out of bed at his Mundingburra home by 4 o'clock and on the road by 5.30am, the father of seven and grandfather of "many" works about seven hours at a silica processing plant at Woodstock, southwest of Townsville, before returning home to his wife Betty. Losing his truck licence will not stop Mr Hiles working. "I'll just go back to driving a ute [pickup]," he promised.
Victorian ambulances slowing down
Paramedics took an average of 15 minutes to arrive at code one emergencies in Melbourne last financial year. Outside the metropolitan area it was 17 minutes. Ambulances are required to attend top-priority city cases within 13 minutes of receiving a 000 phone call, 15 minutes in rural areas. One patient in Rye waited up to 47 minutes for an ambulance last year while a Melbourne patient and a St Kilda patient both waited 27 minutes for help to arrive.
The Department of Human Services' annual report also reveals how ambulance response times have worsened in the past year. In 2003-04, the average response time in code one cases was 14 minutes in Melbourne and 15 minutes for rural Victoria. Opposition health spokesman David Davis said the two-minute blow-out time was disgraceful. "Two minutes is the difference between life and death for some Victorians," he said. "They have the right to demand the Government meet its long-standing 13-minute targets."
6 December, 2005
Way clear for sedition laws
Anti-terror laws that could impinge on free speech will be introduced into federal parliament today and are expected to pass this week after dissident MPs agreed to vote for the bill. Despite concern from MPs on both sides of politics, civil libertarians and lawyers over tough sedition laws banning subversive speech, the Government appeared to have secured passage of the bill after agreeing to some concessions.
Despite the deal, Liberal senator George Brandis was still unsatisfied with the sedition provisions, which, he said, "limit free speech". Prime Minister John Howard said he was astonished at criticism, arguing that sedition laws had been in place for 50 years without restricting free speech.
Critics have argued the provisions would hinder the free expression of artists, journalists and satirists. At the urging of Senator Brandis and Liberal backbencher Malcolm Turnbull, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock has agreed to an inquiry into the sedition provisions next year. Mr Ruddock has also stressed the public interest clause in the provisions, saying they would act as a safeguard against rampant prosecutions. Labor has argued the provisions should be excised from the anti-terrorism bill until after the Australian Law Reform Commission inquiry. That position was backed last week by a senate committee led by moderate Liberal Marise Payne.
The Law Council of Australia placed full-page ads in today's newspapers as a "final assault" in its campaign against the laws. "The new laws, which will likely impact on the daily lives of every single Australian citizen, are draconian and disproportionate. The legal profession is profoundly disturbed by their introduction," president John North said.
So you thought that the "experts" knew what they were doing
"Planning" is almost 100% fads. What's right today can be wrong tomorrow -- as the following story from Queensland (published in the "Sunday Mail" on Dec. 4th, 2005) shows:
The suburban cul-de-sac - a mainstay of urban design for more than 20 years - is heading up a dead end, according to a new State Government report. A transport policy discussion paper, Smart Travel Choices for Southeast Queensland, unveiled by Premier Peter Beattie this week, suggests opening up cul-de-sacs, popular with families because they are considered safer for children.
The paper has come up with initiatives "enabling people to live closer to the goods, services and facilities they need and get around more easily in their local communities". One initiative includes street connectivity.' It said: "Connective streets provide more direct access to the places people need to go."
Western Australia introduced a Liveable Neighbourhoods Code in 1996, which helped developers plan and design connective street networks for new developments. Town planners found street connectivity significantly improved in new subdivisions where the code was applied.
Mr Beattie called for public input on this and other suggestions in the paper and said if the Government did not act to reduce traffic, road congestion and air quality would get worse.
Australian public health care on verge of a breakdown
An article by Clive Hadfield, a specialist physician
At last, Geoffrey Davies's report of Bundaberg mark II, the Queensland Public Hospital commission of inquiry, has been released. The conclusion: that an adequate and safe level of services is not being provided in Queensland hospitals and probably not in those of other states. A fundamental question is whether it would be possible to do so within Australia's free health system.
Queensland Premier Peter Beattie is the most recent premier to be bruised by his state health service. He has expressed the view that the Australian health system will fall apart by 2015. He has called for a national health summit. So what are the problems? Health care lies uncomfortably at the intersection of market capitalism and social care. Much dissatisfaction stems from this tension. A product promising relief from pain and long, if not eternal, life can extract a premium price. Doctors and pharmaceutical companies have always done well. However, public, often salaried, medical care expanded as part of a social ideal from the 1950s.
Nevertheless, there was no wholesale medical surrender of market power. Quite the contrary. The power given to professional colleges to maintain standards was used by some to restrict supply. They effectively priced themselves out of the public health system. Many an elderly man dies with a tube in his bladder after waiting years for prostate surgery. Professional groups who do not use strong market tactics such as cancelling operating lists are in a vicious cycle of decline, unable to attract trainees as their workloads grow. All the same, universal health care is seen as an important aspect of our society, a strong egalitarian glue.
The public hospital system is one of the last socialist enterprises and it is very large. It has its equivalents of butter mountains with no bread. The state health minister and premier are joint chief executives of a multi-billion-dollar enterprise and have no chance of understanding it. Every citizen has an interest in it. It is therefore highly political and impossible to administer. Absolute central control is the perceived solution but good health department policy guarantees only political wrath. Some powerful group will be upset.
As a politically run enterprise the state health system is full of inequity. The large city hospitals are a comfort to the 70 per cent to 80 per cent of the population within easy access and have great political power. Accessible services should be based in suburban hospitals but they wither. Provincial and rural hospitals stand little chance. Aboriginal health care is even more politicised and unfair. It attracts many studies but few salaries for standard Australian caregivers: general practitioners, specialists and nurses. Where the medical market is in play it is distorted by heavy and perverse federal government incentives. The federal Government's Medicare encourages turnover by subsidising every transaction so demand is high. There is no attempt at fair distribution. There is no incentive for doctors to take a share of the hard work in public hospitals and little incentive to work in rural and outer suburban areas.
Medicare reinforces public perception of value in scans and interventional procedures. Medicare will subsidise the placement of a stent in a coronary artery by $1500. The more time-consuming specialist assessment of a complex frail medical patient with multiple systems in disorder attracts $111. It is hardly surprising that the thinkers are thin on the ground, overworked and politically weak. Envy is strong in a system where no one knows what they have paid for so assumes they have paid for everything medically possible.
So what would a system that took these factors into its design look like? The two basic requirements of a health system in Australia are safety and universal coverage. Ensuring these is the rightful place of government. Provision of health services perhaps is not.
Efficiency and fairness have so far eluded government services in most consumer fields. Government's role in safety would be similar to its role in the aviation industry. A bad record would be as commercially harmful in the health industry as it is for airlines. There would be no more indiscriminate cost-cutting.
Universal coverage could be achieved by distributing health tax dollars to the individual, who would be obliged to choose a licensed health insurer as they now choose a superannuation fund or local member of parliament. The health tax dollars from those who did not choose could be allocated on rota to the competing funds. Level of cover available for the health tax dollar would be spelled out. Prolonged good health would advantage the fund through continued premiums. A healthy lifestyle would advantage the citizen financially through bargaining power for level of cover. Extra cover could be bought.
Transparent fairness would take a lot of the politics out of health. The electorate may well agree to much higher funding than at present if they knew it would be used efficiently for health care. A new system would recognise the market for medical care but open it up to competition. Nurses could learn and demonstrate competence in many procedures such as endoscopy of the throat, lungs, gut, joints and bladder. Radiographers could demonstrate competence in interpreting X-rays and scans as well as taking pictures. The chief marketing tool of doctors would then properly be their breadth and depth of training and wisdom in making complex decisions.
Government licensing power could no longer be ceded to parties that could take market advantage, such as the colleges. Hospitals could be commercial enterprises or they could be community-run. The latter would allow citizens to be more involved and encourage local philanthropy. The introduction of a new system could be piecemeal. A functional provincial area with an easily defined population may be a good place to start.
How a noted Australian Leftist sees us: "In his memoir, Latham is deeply troubled by what he thinks is a loss of community. He says our suburbs have become soulless wastelands utterly devoid of humanity. Our families and communities have become engulfed by apathy and disengagement. We are empty, apathetic and disengaged. We are losing self-esteem, discontented, suffering from stress and depression, broken and empty. We are locked in a gulag of consumerism, insular, artificial, unhappy and voyeuristic..... Latham fell into the trap of believing that the pursuit of something better is a wholly selfish character trait. Australians are an extraordinarily generous people with a long and distinguished record of financial support for those in need, together with an unparalled record of voluntarism. Self-preservation is the natural human order of things, the protection of life, limb, flesh and blood. So is self-advancement and that of those closest to you. These are not selfish notions to be ridiculed and derided as the gross obsessions of the newly moneyed. People are products of their environment, their daily challenges and triumphs, their fears and failings".
An Australian Methodist minister who respects Bible teachings: "The upper house Christian Democrat, the Reverend Gordon Moyes, is often criticised for his beliefs, even within his own church, but yesterday, just before his farewell, he did not hold back. Asked by the Herald what was his greatest failure as superintendent for 27 years of the Uniting Church's largest and richest parish, Wesley Mission, he said it was his inability to convince the hierarchy that homosexuality had no place in the church. "Ministers in particular must live a holy and respectable life. There should be no room within the life of ministers in the church for sex, whether it be heterosexual or homosexual. "I regard that as pretty much a failure but I'll keep working at it. It's not a losing battle because the church must always correct itself and always has over the years."... Dr Moyes said he had made a pact with himself to retire at 65. He will now concentrate on "helping the unemployed, the poor, the homeless, the prisoners, the aged, the sick, the disabled" by taking the fight to Parliament, he said".
Before we point the finger at Singapore, we should look at Australia's body count: "Life is cheap in Australia, for all our talk. While Australians have again indulged in preaching at an Asian neighbour because an Australian heroin-runner was executed on Friday, one might ask what, exactly, is our higher moral ground? Ask the parents of Kurt Smith about our legal system's attitude to the sanctity of human life. Their son was kicked to death by four strangers while walking to a party on New Year's Eve 2002. So light were the sentences that three of these four killers are already out of prison or on the way out and the ringleader will be eligible for parole next year. Kurt was dead at 19, his life treated as worthless by the law. It wasn't even unusual, just towards the grotesque end of the sentencing spectrum".
(There is a good comment on the execution by the Singapore High Commissioner in Australia here)
5 December 2005
Bad parents to lose welfare
Federal Treasurer Peter Costello wants the Government to be able to bypass deadbeat dads and mums with welfare payments. He says welfare money meant to benefit children should not automatically go to parents who fail to care for their kids. It should instead be given to the most responsible adult in the child's family. That could be the grandparents, Mr Costello says in an article to be published in the Liberal magazine Looking Forward.
It is the first time the Treasurer has delivered on his pledge to start talking about ideas outside his direct portfolio, as part of his campaign to take over the Liberal leadership next year. "While there is still an extended family, family payments should be directed where possible to those members of the family who are prepared to be the primary support carers," Mr Costello says. The idea was inspired by the Treasurer's recent visit to Arukun Aboriginal community on Cape York Peninsula. He says it should be extended nationwide.
Of his visit to Arukun, Mr Costello says: "One elder claimed parental responsibility had broken down to such an extent parents expect grandparents to assume this role. They cited high unemployment and alcoholism amongst this generation as other signs that discipline and responsibility had fallen by the wayside."
Jewish-Muslim alliance against Christmas!
A leading Islamic body says the use of the term "Christmas" is politically incorrect because it excludes too many people in multicultural Australia. The Forum on Australia's Islamic Relations wants a community debate to find an alternative - suggesting the word "festive" as a possible replacement.
And a Queensland Jewish leader has called for an end to the "automatic imposition" of Christmas on the community, saying the season has been reduced to a "shopping festival".
The attacks have outraged Christian churches, family groups and civic leaders. Even other Muslim groups have slammed the call. Islamic Council of Queensland president Abdul Jalal said Muslims have "no right" to question what Christians called their religious festival. Premier Peter Beattie said Christmas was an important celebration that should "stay put". He said: "Christians should be able to celebrate the festivities as Christmas." Brisbane Anglican Archbishop Phillip Aspinall said Christmas should continue to be celebrated as a "very important" date on the Christian calendar. Queensland Churches Together - representing 11 denominations including Catholic, Anglican and Uniting churches - described the name-change proposal as "absurd". And Family Council of Queensland president Alan Baker described the plans as "impertinent and intolerant". He said: "No one is suggesting that other religions change the name of their celebrations, such as Ramadan for Muslims or Hanukkah for Jews."
Queensland local councils scoffed at suggestions they shun Christmas. Townsville Mayor Tony Mooney said: "Christmas is not politically incorrect and there is only a small group in the population that believe it is - and they're nuts." Caboolture Shire Council Mayor Joy Leishman said the call to rename Christmas was ridiculous.
But the Islamic-relations forum director, Kuranda Seyit, told The Sunday Mail it was time for Australia to fall in line with places such as the UK, where councils have renamed Christmas "Winterval" and replaced references to Christmas on signage with the words "Festive" and "Winter". "Australia is now so diverse and there are so many cultures and festivities, we need to acknowledge the need to be inclusive of our identity." He expected his plan would insult some people, but urged a "step-by-step" approach. "A word like Festive is a good word but the community should make an effort to come up with an alternative to Christmas. Schools will take a leading role in terms of political correctness. The younger generation will grow up and say 'it's not fair'."
Queensland's Jewish Board of Deputies president David Paratz said the extent of Christmas celebrations and partying had got out of hand - as had the commercialism surrounding the festival. Christmas was considered just a "shopping festival" by many people, he said. "It can't be assumed everyone is a Christian. People should not be faced with the automatic imposition of Christmas."
How is it "energy efficient" to increase greatly the cost of building a house?
It's just Greenie religion: That greater cost implies that MORE energy will be used in building the house. Story from Queensland, where the (moderate Leftist) Premier of Queensland is standing up for existing practices:
New energy-efficiency laws could spell the end of the iconic Queenslander home. Changes to the building code to be adopted next year mean wooden houses and timber floors could be a thing of the past, Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane told The Sunday Mail yesterday. The "five-star" energy-efficiency measures to be introduced from May are also tipped to increase the cost of building an average house by up to $15,000.
Mr Macfarlane called the decision a "terrible mistake" and warned it would be the death of elevated homes built with timber floors on stilts. "The ordinary house on stumps - that is the finish of them because everything will have to be concrete," he said. "And it is the end of the use of natural timber - unless you are prepared to substantially increase the cost of houses." Under the system, concrete is more energy efficient than timber.
The National Association of Forest Industries also warned the changes could signal the end of timber homes. Chief executive Catherine Murphy said there had already been a 40 per cent decline in the suspended-timber-flooring industry in Victoria since the introduction of five-star standards three years ago.
Australian Building Codes Board chairman Peter Laver said the states and territories had unanimously supported boosting the four-star requirement up to five-star, in line with Victoria. He denied it would mean the end of timber floors and wooden homes - but conceded it would increase the cost of building a house. "There are a couple of little problems with how you treat Queenslander-type houses up on stilts," he said. "That isn't adequately handled in the existing home energy-rating scheme. But there is a new scheme that will be a launched early next year." Mr Laver said timber homes and floors would require additional insulation to meet the standard.
The Housing Industry Association estimates the change will add up to $15,000 to the cost of building an average $200,000 home. HIA senior executive director business services Malcolm Roberts said the environmental benefits were not proven - with the estimated reductions of greenhouse gas emissions being just 0.8 per cent.
But Mr Laver said three independent studies suggested the cost increase would be closer to $2000. "Where the cost impost is going to be higher is the million-dollar houses sitting on cliff tops," he said.
Premier Peter Beattie said he would intervene to ensure the legislation did not apply to Queenslanders in their Queenslanders. "We are not going to give up the very essence of Queensland," said Mr Beattie, who owns a Queenslander in Brisbane's inner-north. "I am not going to give up my Queenslander for something that suits Sydney or Melbourne."
Leftist historians skewered again
Excerpt from Christopher Pearson about the invented "terra nullius" legal doctrine that was used to give land rights to Australian blacks
"In June last year, I reported in this column on a seismic shift in Australian history-writing. One of its rising stars, Bain Attwood, had published an article calling into question the veracity and professional ethics of Henry Reynolds, the doyen of Aboriginal history. In particular he drew attention to the disingenuous uses that Reynolds had made of the obscure concept of terra nullius, which the High Court later relied on to justify the Mabo judgment and overturn two centuries' worth of settled land law. For his pains, Attwood was denounced by other historians, most notably Dirk Moses, who described it as a "patricidal attack".
By the time Attwood's new book, Telling the Truth about Aboriginal History, came out this year, terra nullius had vanished from the text, in one of those flagrant airbrushing exercises we've come to expect. So much for telling the truth. But Attwood was not the first to note the problems with terra nullius or the most trenchant critic of Reynolds's abuse of it. That honour belongs to Michael Connor, a Tasmanian historian.
Connor has written a book, The Invention of Terra Nullius, and I shall have the pleasure of launching it for the Macleay Press, Keith Windschuttle's publishing house, on Tuesday evening. Connor will prove hard to ignore, at least for lawyers and journalists, who need to know the facts, whatever use they make of them. Even in academe, Connor's skewering of so many self-important colleagues will be welcomed by the better teachers and the brighter students of Australian history.
Connor will be hard to ignore because his field work on the origins and applications of the term terra nullius is so thorough and his exposition so lucid. Reynolds pounced on it and gave it a number of sliding definitions. It became broad enough to encompass waste, uncultivated or uninhabited land, land with no owners or land with no sovereign. The conflation of land ownership and sovereignty, Reynolds's invention and unwarranted on any legal authority, was particularly helpful for impressionable High Court judges, who seldom seem to have done their homework and took Reynolds on trust.
Connor says: "For over 20 years Australian history has been written by a conformity of historians for whom terra nullius was the foundation for their telling of Australia's story. They taught us that this phrase had always been there and was the bloody basis on which the nation stands ... Never has a falser antique been palmed off on more unsuspecting buyers." "
4 December 2005
Strange death-penalty poll
The following poll about Singapore's execution of an Australian-born drug pusher is very odd indeed:
"A poll showing almost half of Australians believed convicted drug smuggler Nguyen Tuong Van should be executed reflected their hate of drug pushers, Opposition Leader Kim Beazley said today. A Morgan Poll conducted last night found 47 per cent of Australians believed the Melbourne man should go to the gallows. But 46 per cent said the death penalty should not be carried out and seven per cent were undecided....
He was sentenced to death after he was caught at Changi airport in December 2002 with almost 400g of heroin in his possession.
The poll also found that only 27 per cent of Australians believed the penalty for murder should be death. The pollster said this was the lowest rating ever recorded and was down 26 per cent since August 1995".
Gary Morgan is a respected pollster, though some of his methods have been called into question in the past. So how do we understand the extraordinary low percentage reported as favouring the death penalty generally? In Australia, as in most of the Western world, the death penalty almost always has majority support. It's possible that Gary did a "quick and dirty" poll that ran into a large sampling error and that seems to me the only possible explanation for such a totally out-of-the-park result. I suppose, however, the result could also reflect the huge media hype about the Nguyen case. Perhaps all the hype about what a lovable guy Nguyen was tended to put people off the death penalty who normally would support it. But whatever the distorting influence was, it is clear that the results report a falsely high level of permissiveness. If such distortions were removed, the conclusion has to be that the great majority of the Australian public were NOT bothered by the execution. Drug dealers are widely regarded as death-dealers so that would be entirely understandable. I suspect that the following comments by Yarra Life are more representative than Gary Morgan's poll:
"Let's get this straight. As refugees from Vietnam, the Nguyen family found a haven in Australia, which welcomed them, gave them succour, a new way of life and citizenship. The Nguyen sons expressed their gratitude by becoming a drug user and a drug runner and thereby posing a threat to hundreds, even thousands, of young Australians. And now they are once again pleading for our charity and have waged such an effective campaign that the bleeding hearts see them as saints rather than sinners. No way"
(For more on polls generally, see here)
Usual Leftist logic: Everybody is at fault except the criminal
Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer branded a prominent Melbourne lawyer a "creep" in an angry response to claims the Government had not done all it could to save Nguyen Tuong Van. "We tried a whole range of options from diplomatic to legal but not surprisingly none of them proved to be workable or effective, and that is a very sad thing," he said.
Hundreds of lawyers gathered at the heart of Melbourne's legal precinct yesterday to protest against Singapore's mandatory death penalty. "Changi is a place that resonates in the Australian psyche ... we remember Changi for the unspeakable horrors that happened there under Japanese occupation," Mr Richter told the crowd. "But what happened at Changi this morning is more shameful and worse."
Mr Richter said Australians were the intended victims of Nguyen's crime and the Howard Government should have pushed harder to have him tried here.
More here. See Prof. Bunyip for further comments.
You can rely on your police to protect you
"A homeless teenage girl was raped in the 50 minutes it took for police to respond to her Triple-0 emergency phone call, a court was told yesterday.
In the Court of Appeal, a man whose name was suppressed was appealing a nine-year sentence for rape and indecent dealing. The court was told the girl was 14 and living on the streets in Ipswich.
The court was told the girl awoke to find the man performing oral sex on her. She immediately got up, grabbed her clothing, went straight to the phone and called police on Triple-0. But the court was told police did not arrive for about 50 minutes, during which time the man stopped the girl from leaving, indecently dealt with her and then raped her.
When police arrived, the man had claimed the girl told him she was 16 and that sexual activity had been consensual. He also denied having threatened to hit her with a pool cue. However, the man ultimately pleaded guilty to rape, indecent treatment of a child under 16 and deprivation of liberty....
More than a third of police calls are not immediately attended because resources are not available, according to police records obtained by The Courier-Mail. Average response times for routine calls in most of the state average more than 50 minutes, with Logan taking 96 minutes. Unlike other states, Queensland does not benchmark its normal response times or publicise them in its annual report".
Do as I say, not as I do
A speed-camera operator who parked his car illegally in a bus zone will be hit with a $63 fine. Police Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon said yesterday police would take action against the driver, who parked in the suburban Melbourne bus stop for several hours while booking speeding motorists. The Herald Sun yesterday published photographs showing the speed camera operator breaking the law as he went about booking leadfoot motorists in West St, Glenroy.
Ms Nixon said police would issue a parking ticket to the speed camera operator. She also said he would face consequences from speed camera operator Tenix Solutions. "I think he made an inappropriate decision, and some of us do on occasions," she said. Ms Nixon said speed cameras were used appropriately and properly "for the vast majority of times", but when mistakes were made they were admitted. Tenix has said the driver will have to pay his own fine.
3 December 2005
Big victory for John Howard -- and for Australia
Major barriers to job creation removed
The biggest overhaul of workplace relations in a century is set to pass the Senate today, after the Government used its upper house majority to crunch the WorkChoices package through procedural hurdles. The rush of debate yesterday angered Labor and the minor parties, but they were powerless to slow it. They were overwhelmed by the Government releasing 337 legislative amendments just 35 minutes before it guillotined debate at noon. The quantity of amendments, mostly technical, surprised senators, given the drafting and legislation of WorkChoices cost an estimated $131 million. The WorkChoices legislation runs to 1252 pages, including explanatory notes. Senators will have debated it for two weeks, come this evening's shutdown.
The manager of government business in the Senate, Chris Ellison, said yesterday the timetable needed manipulation because of "obstruction" from the Opposition and others. "This is an occasion where we have to put in place a reform for which this Government has been elected, and we have had an extensive second reading debate," Senator Ellison said....
WorkChoices will fulfil a core ambition of the Prime Minister's 31 years in the Federal Parliament. It will override much state jurisdiction in industrial relations; make strikes harder to organise; diminish the role of trade unions; encourage individual workplace agreements; exempt from unfair dismissal law employers of 100 or fewer workers; and dramatically cut the number of conditions in award negotiations. It will also strip the Australian Industrial Relations Commission of its role of setting the minimum wage.
John Howard yesterday denied the legislation was extreme, claiming it would generate "tens of thousands" of jobs in small business. "That is the reason the Government intends to alter the job-destroying unfair dismissal law," he said, telling Parliament that unfair dismissal protection had been in law for 12 years and was "not some sacrosanct right that has existed since Magna Carta".
A clear message to drug runners
Prime Minister John Howard today criticised the "clinical" response of Singapore's government to the pleas by the mother of Nguyen Tuong Van to hug her son for a last time before his execution. He also said Singapore's execution today of the Australian drug trafficker would damage relations between people of the two countries.
Mr Howard ruled out any diplomatic action against Singapore and said he would not encourage boycotts against the city-state. However he added:"I have told the prime minister of Singapore that I believe it will have an effect on the relationship on a people-to-people, population-to-population basis. "If individuals decide to boycott goods well that's a matter for them, but I'm not encouraging them to do that, there's nothing to be achieved in my opinion by doing that. "And you have to understand that Singapore is not the only country in Asia or indeed in the world that has capital punishment."
Mr Howard said he hopes young Australians take a strong message from the execution not to have anything to do with drugs. "Don't use them, don't touch them, don't carry them, don't traffic in them, and don't imagine for a moment - for a moment - that you can risk carrying drugs anywhere in Asia without suffering the most severe consequences. "I think that is the most important message that should come out of this traumatic and tragic event, over and above anything else, if there's to be a message."....
Mr Howard restated his personal opposition to capital punishment and said he did not believe it would ever be reintroduced in Australia. "The basis overwhelmingly of my opposition to capital punishment is a recognition that the law is not infallible, it can make mistakes," Mr Howard said.
Another lying Leftist filmmaker
Australia's version of Michael Moore? Note that the claims of the film have been rebutted by the leader of Australia's Federal parliamentary LEFT.
A documentary [sic] by Australian filmmaker David Bradbury has been condemned for suggesting that the US Army experimented with depleted uranium during training exercises in north Queensland. The Australian Defence Force has joined Opposition Leader Kim Beazley and Queensland Health in rebutting claims central to arguments levelled in the Oscar nominee's new film, Blowin' In The Wind.
The documentary repeatedly suggests depleted uranium was used by the US military at the Shoalwater Bay defence training area near Rockhampton, and that the resulting airborne particles were linked to birth defects and other health problems. But the documentary fails to record Australian Defence Force denials that depleted uranium - the material left over after the removal of radioactive uranium for nuclear fuel or weapons - had been used at Shoalwater Bay. In a statement to The Weekend Australian, the ADF said: "Defence is very disappointed with Mr Bradbury's constant claim that suggests the use of DU at Shoalwater Bay. Our numerous statements reiterate that Defence has not permitted its use on ADF training ranges, including Shoalwater Bay."
Figures provided by Queensland Health to The Weekend Australian show that last year defects were noted in seven of 255 births in the local Livingstone Shire -- a rate of 2.7 per cent, well below the statewide average of 3.6 per cent.
Asked why he did not report the Defence denials that depleted uranium was used at Shoalwater Bay, Bradbury said Mr Beazley had admitted in a recent radio interview in Rockhampton that, as defence minister in 1993, depleted uranium had been "fired at sea" in the area. But Mr Beazley's office provided a transcript of the interview which showed no such claim was made.
Bradbury has twice been nominated for an Academy Award. Some of his films, such as Frontline and Nicaragua: No Pasaran, have received international acclaim....
NOTE: It is only Leftist dramatists such as Bradbury, Pilger, Caldicott et al. who hyperventilate about DU anyway. DU is in fact one of life's most minor hazards and even if tiny amounts of it ARE ingested, it is excreted rapidly anyway
An education reformer who's in a class of his own
Four years after he took over the portfolio, Education Minister Brendan Nelson has a message for academics and teachers suffering reform fatigue: It's not over yet. The changes the Howard Government is preparing to deliver will continue to blur the traditional divide between public and private funding. This week, Nelson flagged a new push to introduce a US-style graduate school approach in the nation's universities that would encourage students to complete a generalist degree in arts or science before obtaining professional qualifications in law or medicine at sandstone graduate schools.
Nelson is also proposing to introduce significant teacher training reforms to tackle children's literacy skills and considering a new national Year 12 certificate with common curriculum in key areas including physics, maths, English and chemistry. Urging the states to put away their "understandably parochial interests", he argues the reforms are in the national interest. "You can't say to people they should learn the same thing, on the same day, on the same week of the year and have the same test," he says. "But in some areas, surely, elements of mathematics, physics and chemistry are common to everyone; [it] doesn't matter where you are."
But the great paradox of the deregulation agenda the Howard Government has pursued remains the demand to exercise even greater centralised power over curriculum, research and course content from Canberra. The system is confronting a future where the divide between the public and private system has collapsed. The old barriers are dissolving as the future of the education system emerges from the class war approach to private school funding and the death of a free university education. It's a trend that predates Nelson's appointment but has accelerated under his tenure. Last year, taxpayer funding from the commonwealth for private schools outstripped that delivered to publicly funded universities.
While the states retain responsibility for the lion's share of public school funding through GST revenues, the growth of funding to private schools has been significant. The states fund about 88 per cent of public school budgets, while the commonwealth provides about $7.6 billion to independent and Catholic schools and $4.8 billion to state schools. Commonwealth funding to independent schools has increased at twice the rate as to state schools.
After pledging to "take the heat" out of the divisive schools debate, Nelson can claim authorship of the devastating line that the ALP had a "private school hit list" in the lead-up to last year's election, an attack that successfully diverted attention away from claims he should have invested more in the nation's public schools. Racing between appointments at universities and a conference on the Year 12 certificate this week, there's more. Nelson wants five-year-olds tested for their basic reading skills when they start school and even the state-controlled early childhood education system is in his sights. "I think that early childhood education is a mess. It's a question of luck in many parts of Australia as to whether your child will get access to early childhood education and, if so, what the quality will be," he says. "I think that is one of the major frontiers for further reform that is a product of federalism at its worst. "
After a call for action from the University of Melbourne's vice-chancellor Glyn Davis, he is also prepared to debate even greater deregulation of universities' ability to generate fee income, including debate on lifting the 35 per cent cap on the proportion of full-fee degree places that can be offered to students who miss out on marks. "Volume, too often, has been at the expense of quality," Nelson says. "As far as the future is concerned, I think we need to move towards an environment where there is much less regulation that applied to our research-intensive universities. "They should have a smaller undergraduate load. They have to ask themselves whether world-class quality is compatible with very large undergraduate enrolments."
Marking his fourth anniversary in the education portfolio - he was appointed to the ministry and straight into cabinet on November 23, 2001 and was sworn in four years ago today, November 26 - Nelson doesn't seem to have run out of ideas.....
From publishing attendance records of teachers employed by the states to demanding workplace agreements are offered to TAFE teachers, commonwealth funding has come with a price. The Government has preached the choice mantra over schools but demanded the right to determine curriculum and reporting standards for parents or starve the states of funding. The failure of the Howard Government to confront this contradiction is not lost on critics of the intellectual rigour of the reform agenda. Institute of Public Affairs executive director John Roskam, one of the authors of a 2003 education paper that called for the introduction of a voucher scheme, argues the theme of greater government control over curriculum is at odds with Liberal Party tradition. "It is ironic that the Liberal Party appears to advocating a national curriculum given that it fought against the idea when Labor proposed it in the 1980s and 1990s," he says. "There is no reason school curriculum should be uniform across the country. A single nationwide curriculum would eliminate the ability of the states to compete against each other to improve standards. Whether we like or not, the best curriculum is developed through trial and error and this would be impossible under a national curriculum.
"The best argument against a national curriculum comes by looking at what Joan Kirner tried to do to school education in Victoria in the 1990s; she lowered standards, reduced course content and removed competitive assessment. If Kirner had been the federal education minister and if there had been a national curriculum, the consequences for the entire country would have been horrendous. Different curriculum systems are the only safeguard we have against this happening." Yet the concept remains a popular one among parents, particularly those who must confront the different state systems when moving interstate.
2 December 2005
Labor party crookedness uncovered by judicial report
There is blood on the hands of Queensland political leaders today. It will not be removed in the predictable whitewash-and-spin-cycle now revolving. The stain is on Premier Peter Beattie, his Cabinet, the former Coalition Government and all the spineless public servants who put political expediency ahead of safe and principled service, and the stain is permanent.
In their quest to promote themselves and their political agenda, they have habitually lied, concealed and deflected over the most fundamentally important issue to thousands of lives: public health. They have gone to monstrous lengths to hide important information from Queenslanders about the parlous state of the health system, as health inquiry Commissioner Geoff Davies, QC, ruled in his final report.
And they would have done it again over the scandal of Bundaberg Base Hospital - were it not for a courageous nurse in Toni Hoffman, a bold disclosure by her local MP Rob Messenger and an internet search by The Courier-Mail, resulting in Dr Jayant Patel's history of lethally reckless surgery in the US being exposed.
It was the culture of concealment perfected by the Beattie Government which contributed significantly, and directly, to the deadly reign of Dr Patel going unchecked. When politicians obsessed by short-term populism instead of decisive action make it clear to senior staff that bad news should be buried, such a culture spreads like a virus throughout the system.
The political greening of the Australian countryside
On the slopes of a hill outside the tiny Victorian town of Yea, Lindsay and Ingrid Knight are updating the Australian dream. For them the horizons of the quarter-acre block are too narrow. They want more space, views of hills and waterways that cannot be blocked by buildings, a stake in the natural environment.
But they also want good roads, water, sewerage and gas. They want broadband, espresso, a gourmet deli and good society. And they want to be able to get to Melbourne in an hour or two.
In the countryside around Melbourne, there are thousands of people similar to the Knights. Politicians call them tree-changers, the dryland, hill-dwelling version of sea-changers. They are pushing out along new highways and rail lines and boosting the rural population.
About 66,000 people have moved since 1999 to what the state Government calls provincial Victoria, with population growth much higher than the 1.2 per cent average in some areas, creating a phenomenon that demographer Neil Barr calls "rural amenity landscapes". Overlay the map of these landscapes with a political map of Victoria and you see that this movement of people is not just changing the social character of the bush, it is also changing the politics.
At the 1999 election, the Victorian Labor Party shocked Liberal premier Jeff Kennett by winning a swag of country seats for the first time, replacing entrenched Liberal or National Party MPs and, with them, snatching government. Part of the story here was tree-changers. Politically, they are likelier than traditional farmers to identify as greenies and to be interested in arts and culture. They demand good services and have the money and political nous to push their barrow, be it environmental or town planning.
Kennett lost ground rapidly because his government oversaw a rapid removal of services from the bush. Among the seats Labor won in 1999 was Seymour, in which Yea is located. At the following election in 2002, the member for Seymour, Labor's Ben Hardman, and many other new country Labor MPs in seats such as Macedon, Ballarat, Bendigo and Ripon, increased their majorities. Hardman now enjoys a 9.5 per cent margin.
Left envious of big houses
Except if they live in one themselves, of course
Australia's "energy guzzling" McMansions are in Labor's sights under a new housing policy designed to tackle the nation's supersized houses. In a discussion paper to be released today on urban development, housing and local government, the ALP will urge the Commonwealth to take a leadership role in enforcing tougher building codes. The new housing agenda calls for a "redesign" of the popular first-home-owner grant scheme to ensure that any savings are redirected to improving housing affordability for low- and middle-income households, rather than the rich.
As Kim Beazley prepares to chase the aspirational vote at the 2007 election, the report suggests a radical rethink of Australia's lust for bigger houses. While the plan discusses new policies required to tackle "sea-changers" and "tree-changers", it's the call to educate families that big houses in the suburbs are bad for the environment that is set to spark controversy. Opposition housing spokesman Kim Carr, who lives in a large, sprawling two-storey house in the Melbourne suburb of Pascoe Vale, said yesterday the discussion paper was designed to generate an ongoing national policy debate on housing.....
However, Fiona Allon, a fellow at the University of Western Sydney's Centre for Cultural Research, warned yesterday that families in big outer-suburban houses could find a re-education campaign "patronising". "I think they take great offence in being spoken to in those simplistic terms as if they are environmentally irresponsible consumers," she said. "A lot of people who do live in so-called McMansions are aware of the environment. The whole debate about the size of houses and environmental sustainability needs to be put in the context of a much longer history of the appeal home ownership.
1 December 2005
Lefty preachers please the media but not their flock
When Baptist minister Tim Costello fronted the National Press Club to talk about terrorism, immediately some in the media sniffed a family blue. A few days earlier Tim's brother, Treasurer Peter Costello, said that Australia "will never observe sharia law ... we will always be a democracy" and so he suggested that those Muslims intent on bringing sharia to Australia, by one means or another, would be better off setting up home elsewhere.
Brother Tim disagreed, telling a room full of receptive journos that instead of suggesting that those preaching jihad should leave, it was better to "publish, publish, publish, and debate it". No prizes for picking the media's good guy. Reporting the verbal fisticuffs between the priest advocating the three Ps and the Treasurer advocating a different P for sharia lovers (we'll call it "please leave") may be fun, but the real chasm is not between two brothers. It's between politically charged preachers and their congregations.
It's an easy bit of reporting if you're interested. Any journalist sceptical of authority could find it just by flicking through the 2004 Australian Election Study. While religious luminaries such as Tim Costello are preaching a feel-good Greens-tinted policy on terrorism, apparently most of his followers (59 per cent) in the Uniting Church are voting for the Coalition. And according to academics Clive Bean and Ian McAllister, those who regularly attend church are more likely to favour the Coalition. Put another way, if you describe yourself as religious and step inside a church and listen to church leaders such as Tim Costello, the more inclined you are to vote for the conservative parties.
It's no surprise that Tim Costello's remarks may be a blessing for the Coalition. Publish and debate is a neat idea, but I'll hazard a guess that most people have cottoned on to the fact that some of those preaching jihad have more than debating on their minds. Recall the four London bombers who read books and listened to sermons preaching the virtue of launching an Islamic holy war against Western infidels. And then they headed off to the London Tube to blow themselves up, killing more than 50 commuters.
Similarly, the hypocrisy of some hip church leaders must play straight into the hands of their conservative opponents. Where was Tim Costello and his defence of free speech when two Christian pastors in Victoria were found guilty of vilifying Islam for quoting the Koran in a way that was deemed sufficiently disrespectful to be unlawful? Seems the two pastors made the audience laugh. It's a weird logic that has Tim Costello telling us to promote debate about overthrowing secular democratic government and replacing it with sharia. But apparently he is unconcerned when a court tells two fellow Christian pastors who debated the merits of Islam to apologise or face jail.
If your audience is tuning out, it does not augur well for the future of Christianity. But that has not stopped the increasingly vocal group of meddling ministers from sidelining any talk of saving souls and instead sermonising on everything from Iraq and industrial relations to Kyoto and tax cuts.
The only consolation prize for Tim Costello and his left-wing religious confreres is that they have become the undisputed media darlings. So much so that even sensible columnists such as Michael Duffy are horrified when Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Peter Jensen dares to talk about Jesus - something on which a preacher may be expected to have some expertise - in this year's Boyer Lectures on ABC radio.
Politicized church attacked
A Queensland Liberal senator has attacked the Uniting Church for publicly opposing the Howard Government's industrial relations reforms. Santo Santoro said Uniting Church president Dean Drayton had run "the Labor line" when appearing before a recent Senate committee hearing into the Work Choices Bill, which encourages greater use of contracts and dilutes unfair dismissal laws.
His attack, made during yesterday's Senate debate on the Bill, came as Labor predicted the changes would cause family breakdowns. Senator Santoro said he was shocked Dr Drayton had taken "a partisan role" during a Senate committee hearing earlier this month. "He accused the Government of deliberately presiding over the increasing marginalisation of ever greater numbers of disadvantaged Australians," Senator Santoro said. "That's the Labor line, that's the union line and the facts show it's complete fiction." Senator Santoro said it was the role of churches to bring a moral and ethical viewpoint to discussions and that Dr Drayton's position was fundamentally dangerous.
ACTU president Sharan Burrow said under the changes some children might never experience family holidays because workers could trade away their holidays for extra pay. But Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews said the flexibility provided by the Bill would allow employees to negotiate arrangements to optimise family time. While presenting a Work and Family Award in Sydney at the weekend, he said one man told him the flexibility allowed him to reconcile with his wife, from whom he had been separated.
Split-second decision recognized by court
A judge has directed a jury to find a prison officer charged with murdering an inmate trying to flee hospital not guilty. Fabrizio Bartolo Federico, 31, killed handcuffed prisoner Garry Whyte in a corridor of Melbourne's St Vincent's hospital on May 7, 2002. Whyte had been trying to escape when he was killed. Mr Federico had pleaded not guilty to murder. Today, after the conclusion of the prosecution's evidence, Justice Philip Cummins directed the jury to return a not guilty verdict.
"The accused acted precisely as he had always been trained to do, the accused had no warning whatsoever that the deceased was about to come towards him," Justice Cummins said. "The time involved would have been a split second."
During the trial, which began on November 21, the court was told Mr Federico shot the prisoner because he feared he would steal his gun. It was told Whyte - who was on remand for burglary, theft and attempting to escape charges - was taken to the hospital for a scan after complaining of headaches. Mr Federico, who is married with one young child, fired two shots at the running prisoner, the second of which fatally struck Whyte in the neck.
Mr Federico's lawyer Robert Richter QC told the court his client acted in self-defence and to protect others when faced with "a nightmare scenario" in one of Victoria's busiest public hospitals. He said Mr Federico told police in an interview after the shooting that he feared Whyte was coming at him to take his gun.
Antisemitic public broadcaster reined in
"The SBS Office of Audience has finalised its investigation into the commentary by Dr Yannis Varoufakis on the Greek Language Program, broadcast on 29 August 2005. Your complaint has been upheld. SBS considers the commentary breached Code 1 'Introduction and SBS Radio' and Code 2.1 'Prejudice, Racism and Discrimination' of the SBS Codes of Practice.
It is the view of this Office that Dr Varoufakis, an Associate Professor of Economics Theory from the University of Athens, is an appropriate person to interview or to engage with as a commentator on a range of economic issues. However, Dr Varoufakis is not a political scientist or an expert of Middle Eastern politics and therefore does not have an expert position from which to speak about ongoing tensions between Israel and Palestine....
SBS would expect that Dr Varoufakis' commentary be balanced by an alternative point of view within a reasonable time period. On the advice provided to me, this was not done, Therefore the particular anti-lsraeli line of his commentary could be reasonably held tohave assisted in the promotion of negative stereotypes about Jews and more particularly Israeli Jews.....
SBS would like to apologise to you for any distress this broadcast may have caused you and would like to assure you that Radio Management is reviewing existing arrangements between Dr Varoufakis and the Greek Language program.....
If you consider this response to be inadequate you are entitled to take your concerns to the Australian Communications and Media Authority. SBS is grateful that you have brought this matter to our attention"