Monday, March 15, 2010

Indigenous tokenism an empty gesture, says Tony Abbott

I have always thought this custom was a sort of pious fraud but I am pretty surprised to see a mainstream political figure saying likewise

TONY Abbott has opened up a new front in the culture wars by declaring that Kevin Rudd and other Labor ministers demonstrate a misplaced sense of political correctness when acknowledging the traditional owners of land at official functions. Mr Abbott's dismissal of the modern practice of acknowledging traditional owners as "out-of-place tokenism" also won support among some Aboriginal leaders, who have described the trend as "paternalistic," The Australian reports.

The Opposition Leader said Labor politicians felt obliged to observe the practice, despite the fact it was inappropriate in many instances.
"Kevin Rudd is not an old-style lefty . . . but the Labor Party is full of people who are, and I guess this is the kind of genuflection to political correctness that these guys feel they have to make," he told the Adelaide Advertiser. "Sometimes it's appropriate to do those things, but certainly I think in many contexts, it seems like out-of-place tokenism."

But the Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation's Eddie Mulholland said it was a positive move to acknowledge Aboriginal owners. "What's Tony Abbott trying to achieve, some cheap political shot?" Mr Mulholland asked. "It's an acknowledgment that we do exist with humans. "It is not that long ago we were classified as part of the flora and fauna."

Labor backbencher Steve Georganas defended the practice, saying it was the right right thing to do. "They are the traditional owners of this land," he said, adding Mr Abbott's comments were "totally disrespectful".

Liberal frontbencher Eric Abetz said he did not generally acknowledge traditional owners of the land when making speeches. "I find it personally to be quite paternalistic," he said, adding he had done when it was appropriate. "Why don't we acknowledge a whole host of other people and indeed deities?"


Establishment scientists accuse climate change sceptics of 'smokescreen of denial'

More assertions -- but "models" instead of facts. You can't model anything as complex as climate. We would have accurate weather forecasts if you could

AUSTRALIA'S leading scientists have hit back at climate change sceptics, accusing them of creating a "smokescreen of denial". The CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology will today release a State of the Climate document, a snapshot of Australia's climate data and trend predictions.

The apolitical science organisations have weighed into the debate as they believe Australians are not being told the correct information about temperatures, rainfall, ocean levels and changes to atmospheric conditions.

The State of the Climate report offers Australians an easy-to-understand snapshot of data. "Modelling results show that it is extremely unlikely that the observed warming is due to natural causes alone," it states. "Evidence of human influence has been detected in ocean warming, sea-level rise, continental-average temperatures, temperature extremes and wind patterns."

CSIRO chief executive Dr Megan Clark said both organisations felt it was time "to give Australians the facts and information they are looking for and to do so in a way that is very transparent and available". "We are seeing a real thirst for knowledge from many Australians and we are responding to that huge public demand. There is a lot of noise out there and a lot of reference to other countries and people want to know what's happening in this country."

Dr Clark said the CSIRO had been observing the impacts of human-induced climate change for many years and had moved on from debate about it happening to planning for the changes to come.


Families in fear of 'fuel poverty' as energy costs pushed up by Greenie nonsense

SOARING electricity prices will force more working families into "fuel poverty" where they simply cannot afford to pay for power. That is the grim prediction from an energy ombudswoman, who revealed that the number of people fearing they will have their electricity disconnected had surged by a third. In New South Wales alone more than 18,000 households had their power cut off last financial year and, with about $200 added to the average bill last July, that number is only expected to grow.

But the worst pain is expected from increases of up to 62 per cent over the next three years.

The largest retailer, Energy Australia, has an extra 36,000 customers on bill extension or payment plans - 30 per cent more than last year. The second-largest retailer, Integral Energy, has 19,000 more customers in assistance schemes - up 10 per cent.

But the real concern is that more big increases will be too much for many of these households to bear. Clare Petre, NSW Energy and Water Ombudswoman, said yesterday: "We are already receiving complaints from people who can pay now but are worried about their capacity to pay in the future."

Pricing regulator IPART proposed rises of 44-62 per cent over three years to pay for a backlog of network maintenance and the Federal Government's proposed ETS. Ms Petre said these increases could cause "fuel poverty". "It may well, that's our concern, particularly if the [ETS] comes in," she said.

Fuel poverty - a household spending more than 10 per cent of income for an adequate 21C warmth - contributed to nearly 37,000 English and Welsh deaths in 2008-09. In Australia, it isn't the cold, it's the heat. High temperatures were linked to 374 deaths in Victoria last year. IPART said a single aged pensioner would spend 7-12 per cent of income on electricity after the ETS and an average household up to 6 per cent more.

Port Macquarie mum Cassandra O'Meara said she was looking for ways to cut use after her family's power bill went from $500 to $1700 thanks to a new pool and plasma TV. "It's just ridiculous," Mrs O'Meara said of the cost jump yesterday.


Call to Send asylum seekers to the back of the queue

Family First Senator Steve Fielding says the Federal Government should consider sending asylum seekers who arrive by boat to refugee camps in other countries because they are "jumping the queue".

The Government has been dealing with an influx of asylum seekers coming to Australia by boat, with the 21st vessel this year being intercepted yesterday. The Christmas Island detention centre has been expanded to cope with the increase, but is nearing capacity.

Senator Fielding says while his proposal is "controversial", people smugglers are exploiting asylum seekers because Australia has become a "soft touch". He says his idea should be considered to stop the "tidal wave" of boats coming to Australia. "I think Australians would like the idea of the process of saying, 'If you're going to try and jump the queue you go to the back of the queue and wait in a refugee camp and wait your turn to come to Australia," he said.

When asked by reporters if his proposal would contravene Australia's obligations under the UN Convention on Refugees, Senator Fielding replied: "I think you can still work with the UNHCR on that issue because if they're fleeing for their lives why wouldn't they want to be waiting in a refugee camp where they're safe and sound?"

A spokesman for Senator Fielding says he is not proposing to send asylum seekers back to their home country. Senator Fielding says Australia could negotiate with countries that have refugee camps to send the asylum seekers there.

Dr Graham Thom, refugee coordinator for Amnesty International Australia says the proposal breaches international law. "It is also completely impractical and unrealistic," he said. "Australia would be trying to return refugees to countries such as Pakistan, Indonesia, and Malaysia who are already completely overburdened with refugees.

And Dr Thom says refugee camps are far from safe. "In the camps on the Syria/Iraqi border which I visited in 2008, the conditions were appalling and extremely unsafe In these camps," he said. "Women had been burnt to death when their tents caught on fire, children had been hit and killed by passing trucks and refugees faced extreme weather conditions with little protection."

A spokesman for Immigration Minister Chris Evans declined to comment on the idea. After coming to power in 2007, the Rudd Government dismantled the Howard government's Pacific Solution and abolished temporary protection visas. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has signalled that a Coalition government would "turn the boats back" and bring back a form of a temporary visa.


1 comment:

Paul said...

"CSIRO chief executive Dr Megan Clark said both organisations felt it was time "to give Australians the facts and information they are looking for and to do so in a way that is very transparent and available".

Which of course implies that they weren't giving us the facts and information before. Stupid girl.