Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Token ceremony openings must be brought to an end

The smart-ass Leftist writer below finds fault with the Lord's prayer but says not a word about the ritual but totally hollow invocation of Aboriginal land "ownership" that leads off many official functions in Australia today. It's undoubtedly deliberate but one-sided nonetheless. The difference, of course is that Australia today is a product of Christian civilization, not Aboriginal traditions. But we see no acknowledgment of that below

There is nothing more certain to generate cynicism than having to suffer political correctness in full force. When the experience is compounded by the paternalistic condescension of those who don’t really believe what is being said or done but in their generosity are reaching down to those they really see as simpler than them, it’s intolerable.

The idea that you must open your gathering and deliberations by paying lip-service through a ceremony or incantation demanded by vocal spokespersons for what amounts to sectional interests, should offend most citizens. For many, when the ceremony invokes a cosmology or belief system that they consider anachronistic at best, or superstitious at worst, it is particularly galling.

What is surprising is that the “keepers” of the tradition involved are not themselves regularly offended by how meaningless the forced participation is, are not angered by the co-opting of a practice that means something to them but is being used and retained by others simply for political purposes. So let’s be brave enough to call for an end to pretence: starting each day of Parliament with the Lord’s Prayer (or the Our Father as it is known to some) should be challenged and the practice ended.

Wilson Tuckey has been brave enough to ignore the hypocrisy by absenting himself on most occasions from the trite formality.

And one can only be reminded of the Mantis analogy used by the David Carradine character, Caine, in the 70’s TV Show Kung Fu, observing cowboys praying before a gunfight – our politicians look like they are praying just before they go in for the kill. So let’s stop this hollow practice and relieve our politicians of the hypocrisy.


Now it's coconut trees that are bad

COCONUT palms may be ­symbols of the tropics to many, but a scientist says they are damaging the natural environment and may help spread dengue fever. Cape Tribulation Tropical Research Station director Dr Hugh Spencer has spent the past six years studying the impact the palms have had on native beach vegetation.

He has found the thin 50-100m line of forest that lies between the reef and rainforest - called the littoral zone - is constantly under siege from coconut palms, which edge out native trees, pounding them into submission by constantly dumping fronds and fruit on them. Coconuts that are left to rot on the ground collect water, providing perfect breeding grounds for the dengue-carrying mosquito.

To prevent the palms from conquering the beachfront at Cape Tribulation, Dr Spencer and a small group of volunteers have been regularly removing juvenile palms the only way they know - by hand. Where there used to be entire groves, native plants such as pandanus and she-oaks are slowly reclaiming the beach. "We're getting very, very good recruitment of natural vegetation," Dr Spencer said. "We've literally removed thousands of coconuts. We're all volunteers. Nobody gets paid in this place. "It basically means that we are protecting and recovering the most endangered of our forest types."

Cairns Regional Council general manager infrastructure services Ross McKim said the council did not have a policy either. But it did have a duty of care denutting palms to reduce the risk of liability. "Council is aware that the removal of coconut palms can be an emotive issue and actively manage the trees that are featured along the foreshores and parks of the region," Mr McKim said. "Council undertakes denutting and palm frond removal and manage those trees already in place, rather than remove what trees are currently there. "While we are aware that these plants may not be native to Australia, council appreciates these palms play an important part in creating the tropical feel of the region."

Dr Spencer previously took more direct action to eliminate palms from the beachfront by boring holes in a number of palms and poisoning them. The actions angered other locals, who referred to him as a "coconut killer". Dr Spencer said his relationship with his critics appeared to have simmered. "I kind of get the feeling that there is more of a mood of acceptance that they really are a problem," he said. "I get the feeling that is starting to filter though, but I don't have any proof. "I'm not having many people getting their knickers in a twist about coconuts being removed any more."


Police chief too fast to apologise

By Andrew Bolt

Shouldn’t the Chief Commissioner at least read a report by a heavily politicised group before accepting its conclusion that his force contains racists?
VICTORIA Police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland is embroiled in another race row after admitting that there are bigots on his force…

The damning allegations were made to The Australian as Mr Overland responded to a report claiming routine over-policing, physical assault and verbal abuse by police against African youths in three Melbourne municipalities.

The full report is expected to be publicly released today and is yet to be seen by Mr Overland, who endured a difficult first year as Victoria’s top cop…

The report into police dealings with the African community, compiled by researchers on behalf of Victoria’s Legal Services Board, is based on a series of anonymous interviews with 30 young Africans, eight community workers and two police in Greater Dandenong, Flemington and Braybrook - three areas with high numbers of African-born residents…

“I have to acknowledge that, like the broader community, we all undoubtedly have some people who have racist attitudes,” Mr Overland said.

“That is not OK. It is particularly not OK if they act on those racist attitudes in a work context and where I find evidence of that, those people can expect to be dealt with very decisively.”

The irony is that as an organisation, the police have actually been soft on African offenders, not hard, dropping charges, covering up the ethnicity of offenders and deceiving the public about crime rates in Somali and Sudanese communities.

How unwise it is to now feed the perception that the reason police arrest so many African youths is that the force is racist, rather than that these youths are more likely to be involved in crime.


A bigoted public broadcaster

Comments below by Janet Albrechtsen on Australia's ABC. "Aunty" is derisive Australian slang for the ABC

IT was a telling moment when Media Watch host Jonathan Holmes leapt to his feet last week to protest against the critical remarks made by ABC chairman Maurice Newman.

Inadvertently, Holmes proved Newman's point. An organisation whose first reflex is to reject even the most measured criticism will end up undermining its reputation and its legitimacy. No organisation is beyond reproach. Indeed, the case for taxpayer-funded public broadcasting depends on the ABC's commitment to reflect the people who pay the bills: Australians.

Having just completed a five-year term on the board, I am the first to cheer about what is best about the ABC, an organisation filled with many first-rate professionals. From its inception in 1932, it has provided a stellar range of services. Indeed, its rural and regional network of radio stations are filled with local presenters and producers who have a real sense of the cross-section of people who listen.

But there is a difference between cheering and cheerleading for the ABC. The former means being honest enough to suggest constructive ways to make the ABC better. The chairman did no more than that.Newman encouraged a "spirit of greater curiosity and open-mindedness". There should be no sense that there is an "ABC view" but rather a respect for the audience, allowing them to make up their own minds. He mentioned the tendency towards "group-think" when reporting the causes of the global financial crisis and climate change.

Newman reminded his staff to remember the ABC charter, a polite way of saying the ABC is there to serve the people of Australia.

Those who quickly denounced Newman for editorial interference, people such as Holmes, Greens senator Christine Milne and the erroneously named Friends of the ABC, have presumably not read section 8 of the ABC Act, which imposes a personal legal duty on directors to "ensure that the gathering and presentation by the corporation of news and information is accurate and impartial".

When ABC boss Mark Scott used his first public address in October 2006 to make clear the ABC would be "looking for further diversity of voices, ensuring that the ABC is the town square where debate can flourish and different voices can be heard", he spoke directly to that duty placed on us as directors.

During that first speech, Scott announced a review of Media Watch as a first example of the ABC providing more opportunity for debate and discussion. Hence the irony of Holmes's knee-jerk objection last week.

As MW host, he is fond of quoting various sections and sub-sections of codes and legislation back at media outlets, especially radio talkback hosts who have failed to comply. Yet Holmes has disregarded the ABC's own charter when it comes to matters of impartiality and balance.

Admittedly, questions of balance are not black and white. But a media watchdog doing its job might have asked whether it was best reporting practice for a prominent ABC radio host to decide that Climategate was not worth discussing because he decided it was of no significance. Or was it good, balanced journalism for an ABC television news bulletin to cover the launch of the MySchools website with five critics (three unions and two principals) and two lone Labor government voices (Kristina Keneally and Julia Gillard) in favour? Could the producer not find some people outside the government who thought MySchools was good for children and parents?

There are other simple tests that one could ask when judging balance and impartiality.

Is it a sign of balanced journalism that factual errors in news reports about, say, the environment or the Middle East tend to skew one way: pro-green, anti-Israeli? Why was Al Gore's documentary An Inconvenient Truth not subjected to the same intense dissection as the documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle? Would the ABC's Drum website run a five-part series by a single climate change sceptic? If not, why not? Clive Hamilton is no scientist, yet he was given that privilege a few weeks ago. And was it balance when an ABC reporter asked Newman on Wednesday whether he was "a climate change denier"?

The truth is that not much is required to make the ABC an even better media organisation, a truly vibrant town square of diverse opinions and perspectives. But you can see how easily group-think settles in. It happens at conservative gatherings, too. No conspiracy is necessary. The simple fact is if you spend too much time listening to views with which you agree, you grow complacent and bored. Even if a young journalist starts out with a refreshingly different perspective, Stockholm syndrome can happen in Sydney and Melbourne and Canberra.

As a counterpoint, ABC journalist Chris Uhlmann must be weary of being mentioned in dispatches. Last year Holmes was "gobsmacked" when Uhlmann's political analysis extended to questioning the Prime Minister's use of religion for political purposes. Uhlmann made more ABC heads turn in 2008 when he spoke about the "theological nature" of the climate change debate and the "lunatics" attached to the end of a very long caravan.

Anyone who writes about balance at the ABC mentions Uhlmann as a standout from the rest of the crowd. It should not be like this at the public broadcaster. There should be plenty of Uhlmanns and others, too, with different perspectives. I know of only one. An ABC reporter once introduced herself to me at a gathering by whispering in my ear that she was secretly a conservative. Why whisper it? The ABC should be a proudly diverse set of people, like the country it serves. And perhaps that is the critical point. The ABC is there to serve the people who fund it. If it chooses to undermine its raison d'etre by ignoring constructive criticism, there will be greater existential threats ahead for Aunty.


1 comment:

Paul said...

Coconut trees are very nice until the coconuts start dropping. De-nutting coconut trees is quite a profitable little sideline up here for some.