Sunday, January 24, 2010

Vegemite labelling changed to suit Muslims

Vegemite is more than a food. It is a beloved Australian icon -- so this is not going down well. Why cannot it remain simply Australian? Islam is nowhere near typical of Australia. Vegemite is simply a yeast extract so it doesn't breach Muslim and Jewish food laws anyway. My large jar of Vegemite simply gives nutritional information where the Halal certification now appears. Is that not more useful to the vast majority who buy Vegemite?

VEGEMITE has gone halal in a bid by food giant Kraft to make the national "treasure" available to Muslim Australians. The label on Australia's most famous spread has changed in recent months to include halal certification in a move some have described as "ridiculous" political correctness. "Islamic communities are proud Australians and they want to be able to eat our national icon as well," Kraft spokesman Simon Talbot said. "We don't own Vegemite. The people of Australia own Vegemite. We're just the custodians and we want to make sure Vegemite is available for everyone."

Muslim leaders have congratulated Kraft for introducing the labels, but Family Council of Victoria secretary Bill Muehlenberg questioned the company's motives.

"This is a private company trying to make money," Mr Muehlenberg said. "I don't think they care a rip about offending the tastebuds of Muslims. "Why do we have to keep bending over backwards to please minority groups? There are only 300,000 Muslims in Australia out of 22 million people, which is a very small percentage. "Of course, there's a case for making allowances for different cultures, but aren't we getting a bit carried away with political correctness here? It's ridiculous."

Mr Muehlenberg feared the halal labelling was also a sign of "Islamisation" of western countries. "We're already seeing sharia law courts operating in Britain," he said. "Where does it end?"

Since the labels were changed in August, Kraft's head office has received regular phone calls from people complaining about the halal labelling on Vegemite. "People have called us with some fairly strong views about Australian society and culture," Mr Talbot said. "These are views that we at Kraft don't agree with. We don't engage in racist or bigoted commentary. "But for every call we receive asking about it, there is a call to say how proud they are to see it's halal. We are also proud of our kosher, halal and vegetarian products."

Vegemite has been certified kosher for more than a decade. When Kraft decided to scrap kosher Vegemite production in 2004, the backlash from Jewish consumers forced the company to do a backflip.

Yasser Soliman, Islamic Council of Victoria past-president and executive director of Diversity Connect International, said the halal certification on Vegemite was a sign Muslims were "becoming more Aussie".


Sex abuse accused father fights back

It's about time that lies such as this were penalized. But how come it takes a private prosecution? Where are the authorities in this?

A DAD cleared of claims he sexually abused his kids is now hitting back at his ex wife. The man is accusing his ex-wife of perjury, assault and threatening to kill. The legal action, believed to be a first for Victoria, will set a controversial precedent and could open the floodgates to similar cases.

"Bill", whose identity cannot be revealed for legal reasons, is alleging his wife deliberately lied when she made allegations that he had sexually abused their children. His affidavit was accepted by the Melbourne Magistrates' Court last week, a hearing date has been set for next month and a summons was due to be served on Friday. The case stems from a criminal trial during which Bill spent two years fighting charges based on his wife's allegations.

He was eventually acquitted, but the ordeal cost him his job, his home and about $450,000 in lost income and legal costs. The case is also based on similar accusations of sexual abuse of their children made by the ex-wife during a bitter Family Court battle. The Family Court judge found Bill's ex-wife to be violent, untruthful, lacking moral values and responsible for the psychological and emotional abuse of her children - but still gave her custody of the two girls, now aged 9 and 11, because they had become estranged from their father. By contrast, Bill was found to have shown "laudable forbearance in the face of the most challenging circumstances".

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show about 2.5 million Australians are denied access to family because of family law proceedings, and about 680,000 fathers see their children as little as once a year. ABS figures also show 700,000 children have no meaningful contact with one of their non-custodial parents - mostly fathers.

Bill said yesterday he was bringing the case because he felt betrayed by the justice system. "The Family Court have cut me off from my children effectively because of false evidence brought by my wife," Bill said. "In 2005, she went to the police and made the allegations and then prepared the children on what they should say. The result was my kids were taken away from me. "I proved my own innocence and that she had lied on both occasions - in the criminal trial and in the Family Court matter. "My life with my kids was destroyed. If people can lie in court and hurt others by their utterances and statements, what is the point of the law?"

The case will intensify the current national debate over the operation of the Family Court and the principle of shared parenting, which is under attack by women's groups and is being reviewed by the Rudd Government.

Bill's ex-wife is facing charges of perjury, assault and making a threat to kill. The charges allege that she knowingly and wilfully made 10 pages of false statements to police in September 2005 and perjured herself by repeating the allegations in a sworn affidavit during a Family Court hearing in 2008. She is also accused of threatening to kill Bill in 2004 and of assaulting him with chopsticks and fingernails in 2000.

Law Institute of Victoria chief executive Michael Brett Young said private criminal prosecutions were rare, but not unheard of. "This man will have to prove his case, like anyone else, in the criminal courts," Mr Young said.


Bad behaviour by African "sportsmen" in Brisbane

They don't seem to get the idea of sport. So we have the inevitable attempt to play the race card, of course. If they had simply said that they were unfamiliar with local customs and then apologized for offending people they would no doubt have got a much better outcome. That is the sort of thing that Western whites are always expected to do when they offend some minority

A TEAM of African refugees has been blocked from playing after accusing basketball officials of racism. The Hoop Dreamz team has lodged a complaint with the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland, alleging victimisation by Brisbane Basketball and its parent organisation Basketball Queensland.

Mediation has begun but Basketball Queensland says the players will only be allowed to compete in the new season, beginning next month, if they split up and join different teams. Basketball Queensland says that it is necessary because referees have felt threatened by Hoop Dreamz players and spectators and the sporting body has a duty of care.

But team coach David Yohan claims they have been subjected to "institutionalised racism" and the move is a huge blow which has devastated the youngsters. "They can't believe what's happened," he said. "They thought Australia was a place of opportunity. If they could do something with their lives, this would be the place to do it."

Ethiopian-born Mr Yohan formed Hoop Dreamz, initially playing in a public park in Yeronga, to help keep fellow refugees off the streets and out of trouble. The 24-year-old's success has brought tributes and awards. In November he received a young leader medal in News Ltd's Pride of Australia awards and last Thursday, Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman presented him with a Young Citizen of the Year Award. Hoop Dreamz entered two teams in the Brisbane Basketball tournament last season and, in a dream debut, both made their grand finals last September, the under-18s taking the title.

But their joy quickly soured. Complaints about on-court behaviour during the under-20 grand final resulted in three Hoop Dreamz players being suspended. But Basketball Queensland then went further and commissioned an independent report by lawyer Simon Harrison into allegations by officials about the behaviour of some of the team's supporters. Mr Harrison said that, during the final moments of the final, with Hoop Dreamz likely to lose, a minority of supporters "became agitated and that agitation spilled over into what has to be regarded as inappropriate and, in some circumstances, aggressive behaviours".

The report says that Brisbane Basketball general manager Tracey Wroe, who was officiating at the game, feared for her safety after being surrounded by a group of 30 to 40 supporters after rebuking them for bursting balloons and that she was later assaulted by two girls who threw coins, which hit her in the face. A number of supporters and independent witnesses made statements denying there was threatening behaviour and alleging racist comments by officials. Mr Harrison said he found no evidence of "racist behaviour or attitude".

Officials rang police, reporting a brawl involving 50-plus people outside the stadium after the game but a police report says the group was moved on without incident. Mr Harrison recommended that Basketball Queensland's code of conduct be read to the Hoop Dreamz team before their next game.


Obstructive teachers could face fines

National website My School will be launched this week, giving parents unprecedented access to student results for every school in the nation. Saying it was "a major tool for transforming education in this country", Education Minister Julia Gillard yesterday said she was determined the site would succeed. She said it would help identify the most advantaged and disadvantaged students and the country's richest and poorest schools.

But - with teachers threatening to boycott the national literacy and numeracy tests, the results of which are posted on the site - Ms Gillard said she had sent a stern warning the Rudd Government would take whatever action necessary to ensure the site contained as much information as possible. "I've pointed out that, under our workplace relations laws, if you take unprotected industrial action our law provides for the complainant to be penalised," she said. "I've said I won't rule anything in or out to ensure that national testing is done and done well."

Parents logging on to the website - to be launched on Thursday - will access information on student-teacher ratios, attendance rates, reading, writing and maths results for students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 for the past two years plus results for national literacy, numeracy tests as well as Year 12 exams. Every primary and secondary school will have its own page, showing the number of boys, girls and indigenous students enrolled.

Ms Gillard, the Deputy Prime Minister, said the site would also measure wealth, with a socio-economic rating system for comparisons. "If you compare schools that are teaching similar kids around the country and you see that kids from one school are doing twice as good as the others, it's not the kid's fault - it's what's going on in the school," she said. Ms Gillard said it would be the first time parents and teachers could access so much information about their school. "I think it will spark a lot of conversation between parents and teachers ... it's going to drive better engagement and interest in their children's education."


Hardline attitude to illegals aids immigration overall -- says Australian conservative leader

Tony Abbott has moved to portray his tough border protection stance as pro-immigration, arguing that it helps to maintain public support if people think immigration is controlled by the government rather than by people-smugglers. The Opposition Leader, in an Australia Day speech last night, urged minority leaders to respect mainstream Australian values, just as they demand respect for their own, arguing that would help to bolster public support for immigration.

And Mr Abbott called on Kevin Rudd to take some "courageous decisions" to meet projections of an extra 13 million people by 2050. "It's good that the Prime Minister is talking about the need for planning and for courageous decisions to meet the challenges of the mid-century," Mr Abbott said. "It would be even better if he would actually make some prior to the next election."

Mr Abbott used his address to the Australian Day Council in Melbourne to defend a tough border protection regime, arguing it was consistent with a large and inclusive immigration policy. "In fact, it's probably essential if the public is to be convinced that Australia's immigration policy is run by the government rather than by people-smugglers," he said.

Mr Abbott said 67 per cent of Australians thought the immigration intake was too high in 1993 but that had dropped to 34 per cent by 2004, even though the immigration intake had increased after the Howard government toughened its border protection regime. He warned critics of tough border protection that their concerns could "end up undermining Australia's traditional openness to immigrants". "The last thing that any Australian should want is to make recent immigrants feel unwelcome in their new country," the Opposition Leader said.

Mr Abbott said people should be especially concerned that ethnic Indians could have become the victims of racially motivated crime: "It would be an affront to our self-perception as a society where people are judged on their merits rather than on their skin colour."

Mr Abbott likened the controversy over Muslim cleric Taj Din al-Hilali's comments on women and Jews to Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne Daniel Mannix's criticisms 90 years earlier on the conduct of World War I. He argued that there had hardly been a time when there were not some reservations about the loyalty of some ethnic groups, but "thus far at least" all had eventually become as Australian as everyone else.

Mr Abbott said immigration had been a success almost unparalleled in history, but it regularly featured as an issue of concern. Factors contributing to this included an increase in unauthorised boat arrivals, raising fears that Australia's borders were again uncontrolled.

He said there was a concern about whether the natural and built environments could cope with the population pressures.


1 comment:

Paul said...

"She is also accused of threatening to kill Bill in 2004 and of assaulting him with chopsticks and fingernails in 2000."

The Kill Bill line is of course vintage crass journalism, but I'm up for the chopsticks and nails. Very Fu Wo-Manchu.