Thursday, May 07, 2009

New Zealand projection

Consider the following two recent news summaries and then read the story below. "Projection" is seeing your own faults in others

No dating, thanks, just sex: "Dating culture is dead - instead, young New Zealand women are regularly getting drunk and cruising around in packs looking for men to have sex with. That's one of the findings of a TVNZ Sunday investigation into the sexual behaviour of New Zealand women. The programme makers did the story after Kiwi women last year topped the Durex Sexual Wellbeing Global Survey as the world's most promiscuous. They are reported to have an average of 20 sexual partners, double that of their Australian and British counterparts and almost three times the global average of seven. TVNZ Sunday correspondent Janet McIntyre said there was anecdotal evidence from the five women on the show that the Durex survey findings were valid. "There's a new kind of mating ritual sex is the point of entry into the relationship." If the first-up sex wasn't any good women weren't prepared to waste their time progressing the relationship. "There's no dating culture any more." In candid interviews about their sexual experiences some of the women who are all in their twenties felt empowered by having sex and wanted to celebrate and enjoy it. McIntyre said all the women who had experienced one-night stands had been affected by alcohol, a term described by at least one expert in a report as "getting pissed and hooking up".

Tricky New Zealander: "A KIWI fugitive infamous for his tricky evasion of police has inspired a new range of "Where's Wally" -style T-shirts that make a joke of his failed capture. William Stewart has been on the loose in New Zealand's South Island since February 10, attracting endless publicity with his thefts and evasion stunts, including blasting through police cordons on a farm bike. The self-styled criminal captured the imagination of fellow Kiwis when he stole dinner from a farm kitchen and etched a thank-you note in the table signed "Billy the Hunted One''. He captured the imagination of property developer Barry Toneycliffe, who has started selling "Where's Billy'' T-shirts online, fetching as much as NZ$60 ($47) a piece. Mr Stewart, 47, a long-haired, unkempt Michael Bolton lookalike, has been described by police as a dangerous, methamphetamine-addicted loner. They believe he sleeps rough in rural areas during the day and moves at night in his latest stolen vehicle with two shotguns at his side. He has been sighted robbing stores in several small towns, all of which feature on the T-shirts with their names obscured. A South Island freezer worker has also been inspired by Billy, penning a song in his name after hearing about it at his small town pub. "He's a bit of a legend in this place at the moment ... and he's obviously got a lot of followers out there,'' Robbie Robertson told the Timaru Herald. But the police say it's no laughing matter and have warned the public not to help the fugitive. "This guy is a scumbag thief, a career criminal,'' said Sergeant Stu Munro, who insisted police are not embarrassed by his evasion."

AUSTRALIANS have been made an international laughing stock by New Zealand's blockbuster comedy duo, Flight of the Conchords. The pair have gone to town on Aussies in their second TV series, which is being watched by millions in the US and hundreds of thousands in New Zealand. Australians will get their chance to see it soon, with SBS confirming yesterday it had bought season two and plans to screen it later this year.

The series, bankrolled by American TV giant HBO, continues with Jemaine Clement and Bret MacKenzie playing two bumbling, down-and-out Kiwi musicians struggling to make it as a novelty folk band in New York.

Enter an intriguing Aussie character who conforms to every stereotype ever thrown at an Australian, much to the delight of New Zealand and American audiences. Shy and awkward Jemaine picks up a woman at a nightclub and goes back to her place only to discover in the morning that she is, shock horror, an Aussie.

Keitha - she's named after her father - is a rough broad with slobbish habits, a family heritage steeped in crime, and an accent so thick not even the New Zealanders can understand her. Jemaine realises the mistake he's made on waking in a room covered in posters of a koala, Uluru and Men at Work, not to mention the Foster's empties and Australian flag doona cover.

Keitha, played by actress Sarah Wynter, produces lines like, "I've got a tongue like a badger's arsehole" and exclaims that she'd rather "root" than talk.

Jemaine is hopeful she might not really be an Australian, but she proudly assures him: "Mate, you couldn't get more Australian than me." "My great-great-grandfather was a renown rapist," she says, adding that her great-great grandmother was a prostitute, while her mother was, you guessed it, a panel beater.

Kiwi film and cultural specialists are light-heartedly nervous about what Aussies will make of it. "They'll be shocked, I'm sure, because every stereotype they've ever heard about themselves is there, as plain as day," said Misha Kavka, a senior media lecturer at the University of Auckland.

Australian social history specialist Professor Peter Hempenstall, of the University of Newcastle, said it was clear the script writers had delighted in the cultural stereotypes, with Australians coming off second best. "It's all there, the convict stuff and the stereotype of the loud, raw, assertive, sexually-aggressive women," Prof Hempenstall said. "It's almost as though the New Zealanders have adopted the high moral ground here."

But Dr Kavka said this wasn't the Kiwis taking a swipe. Written for the US market, Conchords was a Kiwi take on what Americans know about the world Down Under. "You have to remember it's actually a bit of a compliment to Australians," she said. "At least Americans know something about Australia, even if it is about their convict past. They know zilch about New Zealand."

But she said New Zealanders do take "a little bit of pleasure" in precisely how reductive the Australian depiction is. "I'm not surprised it's been such a hit (in New Zealand), and I'm sure the Australians, with their good sense of humour, will enjoy it too." "After all, it's very, very funny."

Americans, for their part, have definitely got the joke about trans-Tasman rivalry and they're playing along.


Australia's banks laughing all the way to profit

Banks in Australia could be subject to tougher global regulation of capital levels despite the major institutions locally being ultra-conservative compared with their international peers. A report by KPMG, to be published today, shows that Australian banks are among the best capitalised in the world after raising at least $40 billion since the Government's banking guarantee was introduced last year.

The rush of capital raisings, mainly through domestic and international bond deals, has lifted the tier-one capital ratios of the major four above 8 per cent, well in advance of the recent average of 7.6 per cent, reports The Australian.

The KPMG report also finds that the Australian majors have weathered the global financial crisis well, with the top four recording a half-year pre-tax profits of $12.47 billion.

The result is a 23 per cent lift on $10.13 billion in the second half of 2008 and in line with $12.42 billion in the first half of last year.

KPMG's banking partner Michelle Hinchliffe said there was a risk that the Australian banks could become subject to tougher international regulatory rules from the G20 to require financial institutions to hold more capital, even though the domestic banking sector was in stronger shape than the US and Britain.

"That will have to be applied to be globally consistent but the Australian banks are in a much better position and have nowhere near the problems of the US and the UK.

A separate report on the banking industry from PricewaterhouseCoopers showed that a major driver of the bank's profit sustainability was the maintained increase in net interest income, which grew by 18.9 per cent in the March half compared with last year.

It found that net interest margins for the big four banks rose by six basis points from an average of 2.08 per cent in the second half of the 2008 banking financial year to 2.14 per cent - showing Australian banks are making more on lending than they were before the financial crisis.


Strange priorities at a large Melbourne university

Victoria University is axing foreign languages for remedial English. Given the ever-sagging standards in primary and secondary schools throughout the Anglosphere, the expanding need for remedial English teaching is understandable (even Harvard teaches remedial English) but what benefit is Vietnamese language teaching supposed to bring? Can there be any doubt that major European languages are culturally more important? Cutting Chinese is understandable, if regrettable, though. It is just too hard for most native speakers of English.

Victoria university is a cobbled-together set of former technical colleges -- not to be confused with the much more distinguished New Zealand university of the same name

VICTORIA University has dropped all its language courses except Vietnamese, while intensifying remedial English courses for which students are clamouring. Members of Melbourne's Chinese community demonstrated yesterday outside the university's Footscray campus against the decision to stop teaching Chinese language. "We need more and more people familiar with Chinese language and culture, so this move almost beggars belief," said the president of the Victorian chapter of the Chinese Community Council, Stanley Chiang.

Victoria University's Vice-Chancellor, Elizabeth Harman, defended the move, which she said was in response to student demand. "Victoria University's first priority is to the communities we serve, which are ethnically diverse and multilingual with more than 40 per cent of our students from non-English-speaking backgrounds," she said. "Our community is telling us that they want English language programs that help them through their courses of study. Over recent years, relatively few of them have expressed a demand for the (foreign) language courses that we have been teaching."

A university spokeswoman said the decision to intensify the teaching of English was based on the results of student surveys. Some Australian-born students were still lacking English proficiency after receiving university places.

Chinese had been axed, she said, substantially because of the dwindling numbers. While 36 were enrolled for the first year, just five were studying the subject in the third year. "This is not a course that students want to do," the spokeswoman said. Ms Harman said no student would be disadvantaged as a result of the decision not to teach Chinese. She said students who wished to study Chinese, and other languages, could undertake those studies at the University of Melbourne, where there would be more places available.

Victoria University is reducing its language courses to a single language, Vietnamese, which Ms Harman said "is an important community language in the west" of Melbourne. [So why do you need to teach it??]

Dr Chiang said the council would lobby federal and state ministers to reverse the decision. "We understand fully that in these economic times the university might have to rationalise and reconsider where to place their emphasis," he said. "But we would have thought that as China's economy becomes more and more important to us, that Chinese language teaching would be the last thing to cut."


Corrupt West Australian cops still refusing to admit that they did any wrong

ANDREW Mallard - awarded $3.25m over his wrongful murder conviction - is not satisfied with the payment and is talking to his lawyers. Mr Mallard told reporters: "I am extremely disappointed and I will be conferring with my lawyers." He would not be drawn into comments on the desired amount for the payout, describing it as a "very delicate situation".

Mr Mallard was yesterday offered $3.25m compensation for serving more than 12 years in jail for the a 1994 murder he didn't commit. He was wrongly convicted of murdering Mosman Park jeweller Pamela Lawrence, but later acquitted by the High Court.

Attorney General Christian Porter announced the compensation offer to Mr Mallard, the highest of its kind in the State’s history.

Mr Mallard served 12 years of a 20-year jail sentence before his conviction was quashed by the High Court in 2005. He walked free from jail in 2006. The murder investigation and his wrongful conviction was the subject of a Corruption and Crime Commission inquiry into whether police officers had engaged in misconduct. Two assistant police commissioners, Mal Shervill and David Caporn, were forced to step down from their top jobs in the wake of the CCC's findings.

Mr Mallard had demanded $7.5 million on advice from his lawyers and on the weekend Opposition legal spokesman John Quigley claimed Mr Mallard was injected with drugs as part of efforts to make him confess to the crime.

Labor MP and friend John Quigley, who has championed Mr Mallard's case and lobbied for his release, said he knew the final settlement would be ``miserable''.... ``There is no way Premier Colin Barnett or Attorney-General Christian Porter would accept $3.25 million for 12 years imprisonment and the destruction of their lives. ``There is no way they would accept that as proper compensation. ``In fact the sum being given to Andrew is about the same amount that Mr Barnett will receive from his superannuation scheme when he retires.’’ Mr Quigley revealed last week that Mr Mallard was seeking a $7.5 million payout.

Mr Quigley re-iterated that Mr Mallard would sue police in light of the $4.25 million shortfall. ``The government should have offered the $7.5 million straight up, or they should have appointed an independent assessor,'' he said. ``I would have thought the police union won’t be happy with this. ``Too right, Andrew will sue.’’

WA Police Union president Mike Dean wouldn’t be drawn into comments by Labor MP John Quigley that Mr Mallard would now sue police. Mr Dean said he stood by the officers, including Mr Shervill and Mr Caporn, and believed the $3.25m amount offered by the State Government was sufficient. “I’m sure the Government would have liked to have settled all issues, (but) the officers are extremely confident on their legal position,” he said. He said he did not believe the offer had left the officers exposed to personal litigation.

“I don’t believe there’s any legal exposure for these officers whatsoever – they still stand by their position that they have not acted inappropriately in any way,” he said. “If (Mr Mallard) wishes to pursue the civil writs, then they will be defended.”


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