We read some words of wisdom from Leftist pundit and wealthy art collector Phillip Adams:
"Radio National [Part of Australia's Left-leaning public broadcaster, the ABC] invites listeners to name the greatest speech. Six thousand respond, their hundreds of nominations including Ronald Reagan, Yitzhak Rabin, William Pitt the Younger, Vaclav Havel, Bill Clinton, Salvador Allende, Mahatma Gandhi, Arundhati Roy and Thomas More.....
Anglican archbishop Peter Jensen discusses the impact of acoustics on a great speech, covering the range from the windblown Sermon On The Mount to sermons from amplified pulpits. Interestingly, his favourite speech is secular rather than sacred - Queen Elizabeth I's effort to her last Parliament in 1601: "Though you have had, and may have, many mightier and wiser princes sitting in this seat, yet you never had, nor shall have, any that will love you better." And Jensen is deeply affected when re-reading Keating's address at Redfern: "I was amazed by its high moral purpose, ripping into our conscience and our hearts."
Judith Brett, professor of politics at La Trobe University, feels as strongly for the Redfern speech, while Carr's greatest enthusiasm is for Lincoln's second inaugural address.
The hall is hushed as I tear open the envelope announcing the top 10.
Tenth: Queen Elizabeth I's rallying of the troops at Tilbury on August 8, 1588, as the Spanish Armada approached. "I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king."
Ninth: Gough Whitlam's dismissal speech, Parliament House steps, November 11, 1975.
Eighth: Henry V's St Crispin Day speech before the Battle of Agincourt in Shakespeare's Henry V. "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers."
Seventh: Earl Spencer's funeral oration for his sister, Princess Diana, September 6, 1997.
Sixth: John F. Kennedy's inaugural address, January 20, 1961. "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country."
Fifth: Lincoln's Gettysburg address during the American Civil War, November 19, 1863. "Four score and seven years ago."
Fourth: Churchill's "We shall fight on the beaches", June 4, 1940, to the House of Commons.
At Number Three: Paul Keating's Redfern address, December 10, 1992.
Number Two: Jesus's Sermon On The Mount, circa 27.
And the Oscar goes to. Martin Luther King for "I have a dream", August 28, 1963, in Washington DC.
I will not argue with nos. 1 and 2 -- though I myself would have put the wonderful Ronald Reagan's "Challenger" speech as no. 1 (it always moves me to tears when I read it) -- but I am quite disgusted by no. 3, a speech by that foul-mouthed past-master of Leftist abuse, Paul Keating. You can read the speech concerned here. It is just standard Leftist "blame whitey" crap. If it is a classic anything, it is a classic of talk being cheap.
Despite the fact that indigenous black Australians (Aborigines) are substance-abusers on an epic scale and often seem to be grossly lacking in any ability to think ahead about the consequences of their own actions, it is the fault of white Australians -- most of whom would never have even met an Aborigine -- that blacks find themselves in an undoubtedly bad state?
I grew up with Aborigines around and have repeatedly had them as tenants (what a "racist" thing to do!) so I do know the realities involved.
The logic of the Keating speech crumbles upon encounter with the most basic history. If the "dispossession" of their ancestors is the cause of the degraded state of Aborigines, how come:
1). The Anglo-Saxons did not crumble when they were taken over by the invading Normans 1000 years ago? They in fact insisted on continuing in their traditional values and eventually absorbed the Normans.
2). How come the Chinese did not crumble when they were taken over by the invading Mongols nearly 1000 years ago? They in fact insisted on continuing in their traditional values and eventually absorbed the Mongols.
3). How come the Germans did not crumble when they were taken over by the invading Allied powers in 1945? They in fact insisted on continuing in their traditional values and eventually emerged as German and as prosperous as they ever had been. Many of them even survived the gross oppression of Communism and emerged in a reasonably intact state.
And if "discrimination" is responsible for the degraded state of the Aborigines, how come the undoubtedly heavy discrimination that the Chinese and Jews endured in Australia up until relatively recently did not cause the Chinese and Jews to sink into hopeless and self-destructive apathy? Both groups are in fact extremely successful components of Australian society by almost any criterion you choose to name.
All my questions above have only one answer of course. Aborigines are DIFFERENT. All men are NOT equal. Whether the differences are due to culture or genetics need not concern us here. The point is that it is Aborigines who are responsible for the state Aborigines are in. It is not the fault of whites. If other ethnic groups have emerged from dispossession and discrimination in a flourishing state, it is not dispossession and discrimination that is responsible for Aborigines being in a disastrous state. It is the Aboriginal difference that is responsible for the state that they are in, nothing else.
And perhaps most particularly to the point, decades of Left-inspired attempts to "help" Aborigines have clearly done more harm than good. Aborigines once had some dignity. Many of them have very little of that today. Is more of such deluded "help" needed?
Why PM Howard is one of the world's longest-serving national leaders
He is a genuinely humble man
The Prime Minister's closest lieutenant for a decade has spoken for the first time about the secrets of John Howard's success, and some of them turn conventional wisdom on its head. Arthur Sinodinos, who resigned from his post as Mr Howard's chief of staff at the end of last year, has confirmed the long-suspected role of Janette Howard as a vital part of the Prime Minister's political radar, but he also offers some surprising lessons from the inner sanctum.
There are six core lessons of success distilled from extended conversations with Mr Sinodinos, now a senior director at the investment bank Goldman Sachs. But above and beyond these rules was the fundamental disposition of the Prime Minister. "People say that Howard moved Australia to the right," Mr Sinodinos said in his first political interview since leaving government. "But that's a misunderstanding. The Howard Government succeeded because he expressed the innate conservatism of the Australian people."
The first lesson? Mr Sinodinos says that although Mr Howard is Australia's second longest-serving prime minister, he approaches every day as if it could be his last. "We always took the view that you always act as if you're in opposition and your back's to the wall - and you fight accordingly," Mr Sinodinos said "From day one he never took being in power for granted."
A second lesson upsets the orthodoxy that politicians must court popularity. It had been central to Howard's success to "put some skin in the game", Mr Sinodinos said. Rather than avoid difficult and unpopular reforms, Mr Howard tackles them head-on. "The Prime Minister is always at his best when he has a cause to fight for. It always brought out the best in him - in terms of his fighting skills, his advocacy skills, it really brought out the passion in him. And when he's out there on the hustings fighting for what he believes in, the public responds very well."
Third is the intensity of Mr Howard's day-to-day preoccupation with "filling the vacuum", dominating the media and the political airspace. Mr Sinodinos described an office where the Prime Minister and his senior staff would spend the vast bulk of their time on a typical parliamentary sitting day monitoring the media, anticipating the media, crafting lines for the media, and preparing for dealing with the Labor Party in question time. "Because if you leave a vacuum it will be filled by others - keep the initiative."
Fourth is an emphasis on unity and discipline. Mr Sinodinos revealed that the Liberal Party's federal director, Brian Loughnane, is given a seat at the table in the daily meeting of the Coalition's parliamentary leadership and in other central forums to keep unity of political message.
Fifth is Mr Howard's care never to appear arrogant or complacent - "not to be seen to cock a snook at the electorate. They want you to earn their vote."
And finally, Mr Howard had developed a "sophisticated radar system" for sensing looming political problems. It included conventional mechanisms such as polling, but also a priority on seeking out people with gripes. "He hates cheer squads." And it also included his wife: "He is pretty grounded at home. Mrs Howard is an experienced and pragmatic person in her own right. She can be very good at summing up the mood. She travels around here in Sydney when he's away she's doing things. So I think he gets a fair bit of that at home as well."
Government "child welfare' at work again -- this time in Victoria
Government child-welfare agencies always have plenty of staff to investigate allegations of witchcraft, of course
A three-year-old girl had to sleep on a police station floor and spend a night in hospital after an emergency child protection phone line went unanswered for five hours. Police sought emergency care for the girl after her 20-month-old brother was hit on the head by a clothes horse on Monday night. The girl was cared for at Preston police station until a bed was organised at the Royal Children's Hospital, police said.
Office for Children executive director Gill Callister blamed a staff shortage, while the State Government said it would investigate the matter. Police spokesman Sgt Glenn Barrot said police cared for the child for a number of hours until a bed was eventually found at the hospital. Sen-Det Tania Muller, of Preston CIU, said the toddler had slept on the carpet in an office at the police station.
Ms Callister said police and hospital staff had tried to contact child protection workers for five hours before contact was made about 2am on Tuesday. There were normally six staff members rostered on night shift, but only three were on duty on Monday night. "It's highly unusual for the after-hours child protection emergency service not to be able to respond to priority calls from police and hospitals during a shift," she said. "All staff on night shift on Monday night were dealing with cases, including a case where four children were in immediate danger. "Due to unforeseen circumstances, a number of staff were unavailable for duty on the night."
Ms Callister said the office tried but couldn't get replacement staff. "The department is taking steps to ensure this does not happen again," she said. The department received 160-180 emergency calls every night.
An RCH spokeswoman said it was not uncommon for staff to make arrangements for the siblings of injured children. She said the injured boy was yesterday in a critical but stable condition. His grandmother, 50, of Reservoir, will face court in July over the incident.
Australian Childhood Foundation CEO Dr Joe Tucci said child protection resources were stretched too thin. "I would call for a doubling of resources into that after-hours service to cope with demand," Dr Tucci said. "Six workers to cover 160 reports a night? To me there should be at least 15 workers on to cover the sort of contingencies this case has highlighted can happen."
Community Services Minister Gavin Jennings has asked for a report. "The Department of Human Services' response time to this case was outside expectations," his spokeswoman Stacy Hume said. "The minister has asked for a full and detailed explanation as to why this unacceptable delay occurred and for immediate action to be taken to ensure it doesn't happen again."
Victorian hospitals still in trouble
The number of patients waiting for surgery has grown again. In more bad news for Health Minister Bronwyn Pike, the latest hospital report shows a blow-out in the elective surgery waiting lists to 37,197 Victorians. The state's hospitals failed half their performance benchmarks, meaning tens of thousands of patients were not given medical attention in the required periods.
The six-month update into the performance of hospitals shows the Government has failed to rein in the ballooning surgery waiting lists, despite a 2006 funding blitz designed to reduce the list ahead of last November's state election. Ms Pike released the report yesterday, a month late -- a day after she was attacked in State Parliament by Liberal health spokeswoman Helen Shardey, who accused her of hiding the results. "Our hospitals have performed 914,653 operations for people on elective surgery waiting lists since 1999," Ms Pike said yesterday. But there was little good news in the report, which showed that between July and December last year:
* 800 more patients than last year were now on the elective surgery waiting list, despite a $52 million pre-election spending spree by the Government.
* A THIRD of emergency patients waited more than eight hours for a bed.
* MORE than 70 per cent of urgent patients suffering blood loss or vomiting received treatment within 30 minutes, below the required minimum of 80 per cent.
* HOSPITALS were too slow moving non-admitted patients out of emergency departments, with 76 per cent staying less than four hours, compared with the required 80 per cent.
The state's hospitals did achieve their targets for the number of times an ambulance was sent away to another hospital -- but the 1.8 per cent bypass rate was still higher than the previous six-month rate of 1.3 per cent. All 3765 emergency patients requiring immediate treatment for heart failure, life-threatening injuries and drug overdoses were seen immediately. The benchmark requiring 80 per cent of emergency patients with bone fractures or breathing problems to be seen within 10 minutes was also met. The hospitals met their benchmarks for providing elective surgery for patients whose cases are deemed to be urgent.
Ms Pike said the targets were ambitious. "There are people that wait too long, we know that, but that number as a proportion will come down because we are increasing the volume of people who are getting their surgery overall," she said. Ms Shardey said Ms Pike was incapable of managing Victorian hospitals. "It's the job of government to forecast demand, and it's a failure to manage the system more than anything else," Ms Shardey said.