Friday, April 04, 2008

Rudd salute unbecoming - Opposition

I have been told a few times that I am so far Right I am almost out of sight (Something that was originally said of Syngman Rhee, if you remember him). To which I normally reply: "No. That's my brother you are talking about". So I think I can say without denting my conservative credentials that the grumbing from the Liberal Party below is utter crap. That the Australian Prime Minister and the President of the USA are on jovial terms is entirely desirable. The event concerned is a sign of Mr Rudd's maturity and self-possession, if anything

A salute by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to US President George W. Bush is conduct unbecoming of an Australian leader, says federal Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was caught by cameras snapping a theatrical salute at US President George W Bush at a NATO summit in Bucharest. Mr Rudd was briefly standing alone at the gathering of leaders from 26 countries when he saw Mr Bush, saluted, and strode over, smiling, to talk to the US President.

He said later that the salute was just a joke. "I was just saying hi to the President of the United States - I was just with him the other day," Mr Rudd said. Asked about the gesture, Dr Nelson said it was best left for the Prime Minister to comment on its meaning and on whether or not he might regret his actions later but he was clearly unimpressed. "I think it's conduct unbecoming of an Australian prime minister," Dr Nelson said. "Mr Rudd appears to conduct himself in one manner when he thinks the television is on him and in another when it is not. "Australia is a confident, outward-looking country after more than 10 years of strong foreign policy development and we need a strong prime minister to represent our very best interests throughout the world."

The incident prompted some observers to recall the storm caused by Mr Bush in 2003 when he described Australia as a "sheriff" of the Asia-Pacific. At the time, then prime minister John Howard laughed off Mr Bush's comment as a joke, attributing it to the President's Texas roots.


WSJ notes that the Australian Left is different

The editorial below is from the Wall St. Journal. Australia does have crazy Leftists but they do not run the Labor party. The Whitlam disaster saw to that. Most people have by now forgotten Gough's merry group of crazies but the Labor party hasn't

Kevin Rudd, Australia's new Prime Minister, is sometimes billed - not without a little glee - as the latest thorn in the Bush Administration's side: a pro-Kyoto Protocol, anti-Iraq War, left-of-center leader of a major U.S. ally. But the 50-year-old Queenslander seems determined not to play to media type.

We recently met with Mr. Rudd in New York, following his meetings in Washington with President Bush and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, among others. If Mr. Rudd intends to be an "ally" in the mold of Germany's Gerhard Schr"der or France's Jacques Chirac, he wasn't letting on. "The ballast that America provides in terms of global security and global economic order is overwhelming," he said, adding that the U.S.'s reflexive critics should "take a step back."

Despite his early opposition to the war in Iraq and his decision to remove Australia's combat troops, Mr. Rudd will still deploy his forces to the country in noncombat roles. He also intends to maintain Australia's presence in Afghanistan "for the long haul" and, at this week's NATO summit in Bucharest, will urge European countries to bear their fair share of the Afghan burden. Australia is not a member of NATO, but its troops, unlike those of most NATO members, are deployed to Afghanistan's dangerous south.

Mr. Rudd is also a realist about the threat posed by Iran, in terms of its "active financing of terrorist operations," its "entrenchment in Syria" and, above all, the nuclear issue. "I wouldn't like us in the future to play footsie" with the Iranians, he says, which sounds to us like an implicit rebuke of the West for the game it has been playing with Tehran. "This is baseline stuff. The Iranians are a real problem."

As for China - where he spent years as a diplomat and learned fluent Mandarin - he will urge President Hu Jintao at their coming meeting to engage directly with representatives of the Dalai Lama. But he opposes a boycott of the Olympics. "Historically, boycotts of the Olympics don't work," he says, recalling Jimmy Carter's feckless pullout from Moscow in 1980. "This will always be a two-steps-forward, one-step-back relationship. Let's be realistic about it."

Mr. Rudd is equally clear-eyed on economic issues. He inherited from John Howard the best economy in memory and doesn't intend to squander it. Sounding very much like his predecessor, he promises to reform welfare and cut taxes. Remember: Mr. Rudd is a man of the political left.

Finally, Mr. Rudd understands, in a way that must come naturally to someone whose country relies heavily on commodity exports, the benefits of free trade. As he told a Manhattan audience after our interview, "The successful conclusion of the Doha Trade Round would give the global economy a much needed psychological boost at a time when there is a heightened risk of protectionism." He added that "I was pleased that President Bush and I saw eye-to-eye on this point."

We only wish Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama would see eye-to-eye with Mr. Rudd on the subject, too. And while we'll cheerfully admit to our own disagreements with Mr. Rudd - especially on a cap-and-trade "solution" to global warming - it's good to be reminded that there is such a thing as a responsible left. America could use more of it.


Surprise! Big government intervention fails to fix black problems

Aboriginal girls still selling their bodies but I doubt that there is anything illegal about it. Interesting that nobody seems to think that it is any fault of the girls. I wonder what view of them that implies?

ABORIGINAL girls as young as 13 have been given cash, drugs, alcohol and taxi rides in exchange for sex in the Northern Territory mining town of Nhulunbuy. Indigenous elders have asked police to investigate a group of non-indigenous men in the town who they say have been sexually abusing Aboriginal teenagers for years. A group of four young indigenous women gave the Herald details of abuse by men they were prepared to identify to police. They said at least three Aboriginal girls were sexually abused at the age of 13. Nhulunbuy's elders are angry that teenagers are still being abused in the town 650 kilometres east of Darwin eight months after the $1.5 billion intervention in the Territory's remote indigenous communities.

Bernadette Guruwiwi, 19, told the Herald it was well known that last Monday two girls went to the house of a retired mine worker. Both of them were given beer and marijuana to smoke before the man took the other girl into his bedroom for sex, she said. The man gave the teenager $500. Bethany Yunupingu, 20, told how two girls recently went to the house of a non-indigenous man who works for the NT Government. They were both given marijuana. One was paid $100 for having sex with the man while the other girl was given money for introducing her to the man. A 19-year-old Aboriginal woman who asked not to be identified said she was offered three bottles of whisky to talk with a man in a taxi. "I knew what he wanted . I'm disgusted that these things are going on here," she said.

The abuse of indigenous teenagers and young women is an open secret in Nhulunbuy. Aboriginal teenagers often provided sex to be taken to or from the town of Yirrkala, which costs $40 in a taxi, said residents who did not want to be named. They told how teenage girls were often picked up outside the town's hotel late at night. About eight girls were regularly given money, marijuana, alcohol or free taxi rides in exchange for sex, residents said.

Galarrwuy Yunupingu, the most powerful indigenous leader in the Territory, gave permission for members of his family to tell the Herald what they knew about sexual abuse in the town. "We are family so we can talk about these things together," said Mr Yunupingu, a former Australian of the Year and former head of the Northern Land Council, which represents most indigenous groups in northern Australia. "But everybody here knows what has been going on and the time has come for us to put an end to this once and for all," he said. "We have seven girls who are ready to provide information to the police . the offenders should be brought to justice, then lock them up and throw away the keys."

Leon White, a former school principal in Yirrkala, said there has been a "conspiracy of silence" about abuse. He said government agencies needed to work more closely to help parents protect vulnerable children and teenagers. "The indigenous intervention is yet to produce outcomes that prevent these things happening." Mr White said one recent positive development was the establishment of a "remote learning partnership agreement" which helped monitor indigenous children.

The report, Little Children Are Sacred, which prompted the intervention, referred to allegations of a rampant sex trade in Nhulunbuy where non-Aboriginal mining workers gave Aboriginal girls aged between 12 and 15 alcohol, cash and other goods in exchange for sex.



The Australian delegation to climate change talks in Bangkok has turned the clock back to the Howard era by failing to back binding greenhouse targets, environment group Greenpeace says. Negotiators from more than 160 nations are taking part in the first round of UN-led talks since last December's Bali meeting to advance plans for a new global greenhouse treaty.

According to Greenpeace activists in Bangkok, Australian delegation leader Jan Adams yesterday reverted to Howard government rhetoric of supporting US-style, long-term aspirational goals rather than binding targets. "The Australian delegate suggested that a post-2012 commitment period shouldn't have binding emission reduction commitments, it should be aspirational," Greenpeace spokesman Paul Winn said from Bangkok. "They're still following the line of the US, they still seem to be aligned with the Umbrella Group," Mr Winn said. The Umbrella Group is a loose coalition of non-EU developed countries including the US, Canada and Japan - which has argued against binding targets.

Greenpeace said Ms Adams' rhetoric was out of step with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's climate change policies and more in line with those of former prime minister John Howard, who refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. "If this is (Climate Change Minister) Penny Wong and Kevin Rudd's line, we just don't know." Ms Adams heads the Climate Change Department's international division and has the title of ambassador for the environment, a position she held under the former coalition government.

Mr Winn said much of the international negotiating team in the Howard era had remained under Mr Rudd's Government. "There really needs to be a changing of the guard at some stage."


Jails chief blasts judges for not locking up sex fiends

The Director-General of Corrective Services has launched an unprecedented attack on Queensland's judiciary, condemning the Supreme Court for not locking up serious sexual offenders such as Robert John Fardon indefinitely. Frank Rockett has told ABC Radio, in 37 cases that have come before the courts the government has argued strongly for the offender to be detained indefinitely under the Dangerous Prisoner Sexual Offenders Act.

"Certainly the Attorney-General on our behalf has argued that in every case a continuing detention order be imposed on every one of these sex offenders. We have never sought a supervision order," Mr Rockett said. "We're concerned about every one of them. We have the best people who can measure the risk of reoffending and we are telling the courts they are a very high risk of reoffending," he said. "If any of these offenders.. if they (correctional officers) took their eyes off them, they would reoffend."

Since the legislation was introduced there have been 25 breaches of supervision orders, but none has involved an alleged sexual offence - until now. Fardon is expected to face the Supreme Court today, accused of breaching two of the conditions of his 10-year, 38-point supervision order. Mr Rockett said the Attorney-General will seek an interim detention order on Fardon, so he can be locked up while police continue their investigations into allegations he raped a 61-year-old woman on the Gold Coast on Wednesday. "The important thing is that he's in custody," Mr Rockett said.

Police Minister Judy Spence said it was too early to say that the system had failed. "We'll wait and see what the police come up with and we will certainly have an investigation into whether we could have done more," she said. Ms Spence said there had been three serious sex offenders who had been put back into prison this week for testing positive to drugs. "I have some sympathy for the Supreme Court judge and some frustration too when we ask them to keep these people in prison and they release them pretty much continually," she said.

She said Mr Fardon was one of 12 convicted criminals being electronically monitored. "We've only had this law in Queensland in the last four year and we're learning all the time. Hopefully we can stop these people from re-offending because that's the intention." "Mr Fardon has proved to be a disgusting human being and I loathe him as much as all Queenslanders." Ms Spence said Mr Fardon was one of the convicted criminals on a curfew from 7am to 7pm. ``But they are free to do what they want during the day. They're not prisoners in their homes for 24 hours.''


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