Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Rudd has swallowed the myth whole

No mention that the tiny minority of black children who were removed from their Aboriginal environment were removed by social workers to rescue them from abuse and neglect. I wonder when all the white kids who have been removed by social workers will get an apology?

The Prime Minister used the word "sorry" three times in the 360 word statement read to parliament this morning. He said there came a time in history when people had to reconcile the past with their future.

"We apologise for the laws and policies of successive parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians," the apology read. "We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country. "For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry. "To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry. "And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry."

The apology also looked forward, heralding a renewed and united effort to close the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians in "life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity". Mr Rudd pledged action as well as words, calling for the equivalent a war cabinet to tackled indigenous issues. "I therefore propose a joint policy commission to be led by the Leader of the Opposition and myself," he said. The Prime Minister said the commission would first develop and implement an effective housing strategy for remote communities during the next five years. If that was successful the commission would then work on the constitutional recognition of first Australians.

More here. The full apology is here

There are some (Left-inspired) policies towards blacks that the government SHOULD apologize for

Today, the federal Government says sorry to the Stolen Generations. But others who share responsibility for the problems in indigenous communities should also apologise. And it should be a sincere sorry, with a real outcome.

The sorry debate has been hijacked by a misunderstanding of the sources of present dysfunction in Aboriginal Australia. It’s been hijacked by those who want to salve their consciences but who can’t stomach the hard decisions that have to be taken.

Most remote Aboriginal dysfunction has absolutely nothing to do with the Stolen Generations and Ronald Wilson’s Bringing Them Home report. Although some of those people have been wounded, it’s not the basis of wider dysfunction. It’s easy to apologise for what someone else did. And to tut-tut about failures of the past. But the problems a 10-year-old raped child in Aurukun is facing today were not created by the policies of removal in the early 20th century: they were fertilised in failures of the present generation and those who lead us.

The confusion starts at the top. Last week Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said we needed an apology before we could tackle the problems. But the people to whom he is apologising are a small proportion of the Aboriginal community. The majority weren’t part of the Stolen Generations and they have entrenched problems. The assumption that an apology to the minority will fix the entrenched problems of the majority is misplaced. Most people, moreover, think the apology is to the wider Aboriginal community for anything and everything they think it should be. It’s imprecise and misconceived.

Which brings me back to my opening proposition: there should be a real apology. The people who should be apologising are those who during the past 40 years presided over deeply flawed indigenous affairs policies that created separatism, nepotism, welfarism and isolationism: dysfunction and despair; the wide-scale abuse and neglect of Aboriginal children and the poorer health outcomes of Aboriginal people in general.

The apology should be from the Government, because it still has people who want to return to the failures of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission and some who participated in the politics of nepotism. It should be from the Howard government: after all, it persisted with those failed policies for much of its time in office as a political holding strategy because it was afraid, until its last year or so, to really do something.

It should be from the Keating and Hawke governments, which fostered and cultured the policies of separatism and gave real succour to the Aboriginal industry by building ATSIC into the monster it became. And it did so not because it didn’t know this caused problems, it did it because it didn’t want to face the political challenge that really tackling Aboriginal poverty would create in its own ranks.

Every premier in every state and every indigenous affairs minister for the past 40 years should apologise for failing to provide the safety and the education that Aboriginal children deserved. Every education minister who turned a blind eye to the appalling absenteeism of Aboriginal children should apologise for not treating those children with the same respect as white children by not enforcing the same rules.

The Whitlam and the Fraser governments, which championed policies that were never going to work (and in some cases still do), should apologise. While they railed, rightly, against an apartheid system in South Africa, they created one in Australia. Instead of moralising and commentating, they should face up to their share of the responsibility.

Leaders of ATSIC - every living former commissioner - who entrenched these dysfunctions, who cut funding for women’s programs and presided over a men’s rights agenda, should apologise. All the so-called leaders. They share responsibility. It would make it a genuine act of reconciliation if black leaders stood side by side with white leaders and they all apologised together for failing their people.

A symbolic apology for something we haven’t done is meaningless. Only real and sincere regret, a genuine apology and a steely determination to take the hard decisions will ensure we don’t lose more generations of Aboriginal Australians in the future.


Andrew Bolt comments

One election, and we're already back to group-think. Baa baa is the chorus of Chairman Rudd's Australia. Already commissars are rounding up our children for re-education, so they can chant like little Red Guards the authorised opinions of these new days. Note, for instance, this email to all schools from Victoria's Education Minister, Bronwyn Pike, a former board member of Greenpeace:

Sorry Day, Wednesday 13 February 2008, will be an historic day and I would strongly encourage all Victorian Schools to recognise and celebrate this significant event in Australia's history. It is a great opportunity for individual teachers to make sure that your students are aware of the significance of this important day by:

- Listening or watching the Apology live in your classrooms from 8.55am ...

- Reading stories which affirm Aboriginal culture and customs.

At a school level I strongly encourage you to consider the following suggestions:

- Hold a school assembly at 8.55am ... to acknowledge the Apology and listen or watch the Apology live.

- Hold a flag-raising ceremony with the Australian, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags as a sign of acknowledgment of the Apology ...

And so on.

You see it is not enough that students simply know of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's sorry to these "generations" of "stolen" children no one can actually find. To children we actually saved. They must also "celebrate" it and "acknowledge" it. For extra measure, they must also "affirm" Aboriginal customs and fly the Aboriginal flag - a flag that divides us by race. This is not teaching. This is indoctrinating. This is not passing on knowledge, but ramming home opinions of the most dubious kind.

Of course, Victoria is not alone in this extraordinary exercise, now that we enjoy the great efficiency of wall-to-wall Labor governments. NSW's 2240 state schools have also been ordered to fly the Aboriginal flag - on the very flagpoles that former prime minister John Howard made them put up to fly the Australian one. And, of course, the students were instructed not only to watch today's "sorry" on TV but yesterday's "welcome to country" at Parliament House - a ceremony by "traditional owners" welcoming our politicians to land that actually belongs to us all.

Were the children dutifully watching this made-up hocus-pocus, with its white feminist touches, told that even the local Aborigines couldn't agree who the rightful "traditional owner" truly was? Were they allowed to notice that the woman who finally did the welcoming, Matilda House-Williams, obviously had as much European ancestry as Aboriginal, making her as much invader as victim? Don't notice, children! Don't question, or even ask. And especially don't laugh at this farce - or not in front of your teacher, at least.

But what next? Must children march around the school oval waving Labor manifestos and chanting other famous Rudd slogans, such as "New Leadership!", "The buck stops with me!", "Climate change is real!" and "In answer to your question, let me say this, that in terms of what we do from 2009 on, I've got an open mind"?

But as with the children, so with many of their parents, who today will be hauled in for their own celebrations of Rudd's sorry and told to cheer. Take the staff of Victoria's Department of Human Services, who have already been given free screenings of An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore's global warming call to faith, to ensure they hold the Left's approved opinion on global warming. The department's secretary, Fran Thorn, now wants them to have the Left's approved opinion on this "sorry", too, and has emailed them all an "invitation" to a free screening - in work time - of Rudd's "significant" and "momentous" speech. "This is an opportunity for Department of Human Services staff to come together and promote greater understanding between all Australians," burbled Thorn.

Victoria's Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission is even rewarding staff who come to its own screening with tea and biscuits. No doubt some of HREOC's more censorious thought police, having already made criticism of the Koran all but illegal under our vilification laws, are now dreaming of ways to make questioning of the "stolen generations" a crime, too.

You may say I'm just twitching at Maoist shadows. But as the jubilant intelligentsia gathers for group hugs in this Rudd dawn, let ABC radio host Jon Faine make the censorious mood of the Left's new order clear. Faine, who today hosts ABC radio's coverage of Rudd's "sorry", last week asked the Herald Sun's editor in chief - on air - why he and The Australian hadn't yet done a "cleansing" of their "notorious" conservative columnists, who mock such things as I mock now. Writers like me were "out of step with the result of the election", Faine gloated, and the question now was "whether some of the staples of the media in the Howard era (had) worn out their usefulness" as we enter the Rudd era. In short: "You're not going through a cleansing process?" "Cleansing?" As of dirt, Jon? Or did you mean "fumigating", perhaps?

Let me astonish you, dear reader. Not once in Howard's four terms of Coalition rule did Faine suggest the ABC have a similar "cleansing" of its own great drain-clog of Leftists like himself, given they were "out of step with the results of the election". But more disturbing than Faine's hypocrisy is his apparent belief that the media should be "in step" with Labor, as so many of our cultural institutions are already, and that dissenters should be "cleansed". There is a totalitarian glint in young Faine's glasses, I fear. And it's a glint I now see in the eye of so many of our Leftist intelligentsia.

Take, for instance, Professor Robert Manne, voted by his peers as our "most influential public intellectual". Under Howard, Manne and other writers of the Left - David Marr, Clive Hamilton, Guy Rundle - flayed Howard for allegedly crushing dissenters just like . . . er, them? But the instant Rudd won, Manne called for all conservatives on the ABC board to resign, and said: "With the election of the Rudd Government . . . the culture war will come abruptly to an end." Is that an order, too?

Guy Rundle, an editor of the far-Left Arena magazine, similarly demanded The Australian "clean house" and sack all but one of its conservatives, and everywhere now we hear such cries from the Left for a cleansing. Hear it from former Liberal prime minister Malcolm Fraser, now an agony aunt of The Age, who this week called for a cleansing of "a conservative group of ideologues" among the Victorian Liberals who'd taken the state party to the Right. Pardon? The state Liberals still have conservatives?

In fact, this Opposition has apologised to the "stolen generations", fretted about climate change, voted to turn a dam reservation into a national park, backed vilification laws against free speech, praised multiculturalism and, in almost every ideological battle, chosen the side of the ABC. Its leader, Ted Baillieu, is so fashionably Left that Fraser praises him as "one good piece of news" - despite his consequently terrible poll ratings. Yet Fraser still wants any conservatives still loitering in the sad shadows of this limp, lame and listless lump of a me-too party to be hunted down and cleansed. Oh dear. How intolerant is the new Left of what little debate and dissent remains.

What clean fiends they are, too. See them now getting out their hoses, disinfectant and scrubbing brushes. See them set to work, cleansing bad-thinking adults and washing the brains of our children. For hygiene's sake. Want to save yourself? Then say after me the great new chorus: Baa baa. And tell your children this morning to watch in sacred silence the sorry on their teacher's TV, and then clap. Very loudly and long.



Natural processes may prevent oceans from warming beyond a certain point, helping protect some coral reefs from the impacts of climate change, new research finds. The study, by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), finds evidence that an ocean "thermostat" appears to be helping to regulate sea-surface temperatures in a biologically diverse region of the western Pacific.

The research team, led by NCAR scientist Joan Kleypas, looked at the Western Pacific Warm Pool, a region northeast of Australia where naturally warm sea-surface temperatures have risen little in recent decades. As a result, the reefs in that region appear to have suffered relatively few episodes of coral bleaching, a phenomenon that has damaged reefs in other areas where temperature increases have been more pronounced.

The study lends support to a much-debated theory that a natural ocean thermostat prevents sea-surface temperatures from exceeding about 88 degrees Fahrenheit (31 degrees Celsius) in open oceans. If so, this thermostat would protect reefs that have evolved in naturally warm waters that will not warm much further, as opposed to reefs that live in slightly cooler waters that face more significant warming.


NSW bureaucrats ban the evil peanut

Peanut butter sandwiches have been banned from a Government building because of concerns the smell could trigger a deadly allergic reaction. The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission building in Sydney's CBD has outlawed all peanut products from the building for fear an employee could go into shock and die from the fumes. Taking the nanny state mentality to the extreme, the commission has begun erecting signs in hallways, kitchens and conference rooms declaring them a "Peanut Free Zone".

The ban, which came into effect this week, is believed to have followed a situation where a staff member became concerned after free peanut butter samples were handed out on Town Hall train station. An email to staff said: "You may have noticed the new peanut free zone posters we've just placed around the floor just to help us remember not to bring any peanut products to work. "For those who collected the freebie peanut butter samples from town hall (sic) this morning, please take these home as the smell will trigger a reaction."

As well as the peanut butter sandwiches, the ban prevents staff from eating chicken satay, Pad Thai, Snickers bars, Crunchy Nut Cornflakes and anything else containing peanuts at work. The email said the nut moratorium covers the entire floor of the building, which houses a total of seven government departments. They include the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commission, Asia-Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions, the Disability Discrimination Commission, Privacy Commission, Race Discrimination Commission and the Sex Discrimination Commission.

Staff said they were "bemused" by the new rule but were prepared to obey it to save a colleague's life. A Human Rights Commission spokesman said the ban was informal and was necessary because one staff member had such an acute allergy to peanuts they needed to constantly carry an adrenaline syringe in their pocket in case of a reaction. There was no enforcement process in place, and the signs were meant to inject humour into the situation.

Concerns about peanut allergies have grown after highly publicised deaths including Sydney schoolboy Hamidur Rahman, who died after being dared to eat peanut butter at a school camp. Royal Prince Alfred Hospital's Rob Loblay said it was impossible to trigger an allergic reaction from smell but a sufferer could become "extremely distressed and anxious".


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