Thursday, March 18, 2010


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is furious that Kevin Rudd seems to be slighting NSW in favour of Queensland

That "welcome" ritual again

Some straight talk from Gary Johns, formerly a minister in the Keating Labor government. He is referring to the politically correct custom -- recently criticized by Tony Abbott -- of acknowledging Aboriginal "traditional ownership" of the land at the outset of public meetings. I heartily agree that such tokenism is contemptible while there is negligible policing of Aboriginal violence towards their women and children -- JR

An American anthropologist studying Sydney Aborigines commented recently, "Doing culture can reinforce one's indigeneity or it can make one appear unreal." Welcome to country is a constant reminder of a people bypassed by progress. And how long should this go on? For 40,000 years until the ledger is somehow squared? Is there nothing else an Aborigine would want to be known for?

The welcome ceremony is part of a mindset that locks Aborigines out of the world in which they desperately need to engage. Government ministers offer a rote acknowledgment of traditional custodians but don't enforce truancy laws to make Aboriginal children attend school. Ministers will hold hands, walk over bridges and spend taxpayers' dollars on busybody schemes, but to do something effective such as forcing a child to attend school in the face of an ignorant parent: never.

I recall Howard government minister Philip Ruddock giving a welcome to country in Perth while the commonwealth was opposing a native title claim by the Nyungar people over Perth. Aboriginal Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin offers an acknowledgment at most functions, even while withholding welfare cheques from Aborigines.

Whether doing the wrong thing (not enforcing truancy laws) or the right thing (opposing poorly conceived native title claims and imposing income management for poor behaviour), the acknowledgment is trotted out. There are problems with its apparently simple wish "to show respect for Aboriginal culture and heritage and acknowledge the ongoing relationship traditional custodians have with their land". It is a gesture full of holes and with some weird fellow travellers.

One-quarter of Aborigines do not recognise a particular area as their homeland and one-quarter live in areas that may have some relationship to their original land, but those are the poor beggars who are worse off by a long way.

As for custodians, it perpetuates the myth of the Aborigine as the gentle gardener. Paul Albrecht, a former pastor at Hermannsburg in the Northern Territory, says the Aboriginal concept of caring for country is not related to environmental concerns: it's about guarding sites of significance and caring for sacred objects. Their primitive technology and frequent moves meant they did not evolve rules for land care as it is understood today.

On occasions when the substantive matter has to do with Aborigines and the function is taking place on Aboriginal land as recognised by Australian law, a welcome to country or acknowledgment is appropriate. But to indulge the concept on land that is owned by others is an insult to the latter's rights. Indeed, by overplaying the historic claims to all Australian land, the welcome acts as the original sin: it can never be expunged unless the whitefella leaves.

Peter Adam, principal of Victoria's Anglican theological institute Ridley College, was stupid enough to suggest this, saying last year that all non-Aboriginal Australians should be prepared to leave if the indigenous people wanted that, "making restitution for the vile sin of genocide". "The prosperity of our churches has come from the proceeds of crime. Our houses, our churches, our colleges, our shops, our sport grounds, our parks, our courts, our parliaments, our prisons, our hospitals, our roads, our reservoirs are stolen property," he said.

What should the three-quarters of Aborigines who are of mixed descent do? Stay or go?

In last year's Massey Lectures in Canada, anthropologist Wade Davis boldly asserted that "the other cultures of the world are not failed attempts to be modern, failed attempts to be us. Each is a unique and profound answer to a fundamental question: What does it mean to be human and alive?" He suggested that "the aboriginal people were never touched by the desire to improve the world" and that for them "the purpose of humanity [is] to sustain the Garden of Eden". What a paternalistic prig! Aborigines did their best to alter the environment by hunting macropods to death and burning much of Australia's forests, altering for all time the Garden of Eden.

Undertaken at the wrong time and place, the traditional acknowledgment serves the purposes of those determined to lock Aborigines out of the modern economy. If ministers don't agree, they should stop doing it.


Qld. Government backs down on controversial land tax grab

THE Bligh Government has caved in to demands from the property sector and will overhaul its land valuation system. From next year, commercial, industrial and residential land will be valued according to "site valuations'' which take into account the land's current market value if it was vacant. Valuations will not take into account the value of leases on that land.

Premier Anna Bligh said the change would bring Queensland into line with other states. But she said it was not expected to affect average mums and dads and would not result in significant changes to rates and property taxes. "This has been done to provide greater certainty for our commercial and industrial sectors and residential property investors, it is not a revenue measure,'' Ms Bligh said. [Ho! Ho! Ho!] She said Queensland would transition to the new system in time for 2011 valuations.

The backdown follows a campaign from the property industry against moves by the Government to retrospectively legislate to force commercial property owners to pay land tax based on valuations which took into account what their sites were used for. However, the Government is expected the today pass laws to effectively validate previous valuations so it is not forced to refund any tax to owners.

Property Council of Australia Queensland executive director Steve Greenwood said the decision was a major win for the industry which he did not believe would have been achieved without its very public campaign against the proposed legislation. A fighting fund poured tens of thousands of dollars into newspaper and radio advertising against the bill.

Mr Greenwood said while the changes to the legislation meant that land valued in 2010 would have improvements taken into account, that was a concession which needed to be made to ensure the system was overhauled in the long run. He said the State Government now had a strong commitment to get the system right by June 2011.


Useless NSW police

A FAMILY with two young children spent two hours waiting for police by the side of the road after apprehending a boy who hurled a rock through the windscreen of their car, only to be told officers were too busy to respond. On the same day the State Government defended triple-0 response times, the Smith family from Lismore told of their anger at being forced to release the boy who threw the rock. "I was furious. I had my two kids (Amelia, 3, and Bayley, 2) in the back of the car," Adam Smith said of the incident.

Mr Smith and his wife Beverly were driving in Lismore on Tuesday afternoon when a rock shattered the windscreen. An angry Mr Smith ran to a nearby vacant block where a group of kids were loitering and saw a young boy running off as his mates pointed and yelled out: "It was him, it was him."

Mr Smith called triple-0 and was told to wait by his car as "police were on their way". But more than two hours later, and after repeated calls to police, Mr Smith was told there were only two police cars in the area and both were busy with other jobs.

"I had the kid there. He was waiting with us. I told him the police were coming and that they would want to speak to his parents," Mr Smith said. "But it was after 7.30pm, getting dark and I couldn't keep him any longer." A final desperate call to the police operator ended with Mr Smith being told to leave the scene and make a report at a nearby police station. "What's the good of that?" Mr Smith asked.

The Daily Telegraph yesterday revealed a blow-out in police response times across NSW, with crime victims left waiting an average of more than an hour for non-urgent response. Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione yesterday defended the figures and said an increase in the number of calls to police and the inclusion of regional figures had skewed the statistics. "Our response times in (Sydney) have improved over the recent three years," he said.

"But when we're dealing with increasing community sizes in other parts of the state you have to understand that sometimes it will take us longer than 20 minutes to get to a location."

The Daily Telegraph was yesterday swamped with horror stories of experiences with triple-0 and delayed police responses. Among the stories was a woman who recently lay assaulted on a street in Glebe. The victim told the triple-0 operator she was about 300m from the police station. The operator said there was nothing that could be done if she didn't know exactly what street she was on.


Food Fascists trying to ban Australian food icons

Since Australians have one of the longest life expectancies in the world, it would be more logical to ENCOURAGE Australian food favourites

JOHN Joannou knows a thing or two about Chiko Rolls [pic above] and the public's continuing demand for fried food. The Parramatta takeaway store owner dunks, fries and then drains battered products of all sorts - to go with the 150kg of chips he sells every week. But Chiko Rolls, battered savs, potato scallops and other fried morsels are firmly in the sights of a conglomeration of western Sydney councillors.

The Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils will ask takeaway shops and cafes to remove the fat and salt in foods in an attempt to make the community the healthiest in the nation. "We want to be the healthiest region in Australia by 2020," the organisation's president Alison McLaren said.

To do so, fast food shops are being asked to have "healthier options" on their menus like McDonald's, which now carries a range of items approved by the Heart Foundation. One plan is to ban the use of palm oil, which is high in saturated fats.

At Lakeside Seafood, Mr Joannou doesn't quite know what all the fuss is about - he switched to healthier cottonseed oil years ago. "People want to eat healthier foods so you have to find ways of giving that to them or as a business you'd die in the backside," he said. "We started doing this years ago off our own bat." Mr Joannou has grilled fish and salads on the menu, and gives the options of no butter on burgers and egg white instead of whole egg.

He said no matter what people would still find a way to have their "bad foods". "I don't think it's going to matter what they tell people - people are still going to want to eat these sorts of foods."


How to stop the boats with kindness (NOT)

Andrew Bolt

PROMISES, promises. Before the last election, Kevin Rudd said he had a plan to stop boats of “asylum seekers” from getting here. “You’d turn ‘em back.”

Oooh, tough talk. So how many of last year’s 61 boats - or the 24 that have reached us this year already - has the Prime Minister turned around? Um, not one, actually. Yes, he did once ship a few boat people to Indonesia on our Oceanic Viking, but even then he soon took them back.

Result? The boats this year are now arriving at a rate faster than anything we’ve seen in decades.

You see, in July 2008, election safely won, Rudd changed his tone. No more Mr Tough Guy, he decided. He’d instead undo the strict laws the Howard government had set in place to stem the flood of boat people - laws that had cut the number of boats to just 18 in all the previous six years. My red dot on the Department of Immigration graph above marks the day that the Rudd Government announced it was going soft.

Rudd had already scrapped the temporary protection visas, which allowed us to send back boat people once their countries were again safe. He’d also abolished the “Pacific Solution”, under which boat people were sent to Nauru and Manus Island with no guarantee they’d be let into Australia.

And on July 29, 2008 - that red dot day - he told the world the era of wicked John Howard was truly over. There would now be no more automatic detention of boat people. Children and adults cleared of security risk would be set free while the Government worked out if they really were refugees. And rather than make boat people prove they were no threat, the Government would have to prove they actually were to keep them in detention.

Look at the Government’s own graph. In indisputable numbers it tells yet another insulation-style story of fine talk resulting in disaster.


1 comment:

Qlenis of Qld said...

The whole matter of illegal boat people or whatever way you describe them was already fixed by the Howard Govt. PM Rudd could not have that so he wilfully dismantled all the protections which had been built in to stem the flow of boat people. He does not care how many millions fo dollars that were laid waste because he did that. He now has another "Yes Minister" disaster on his hands. Australians do not want hordes of Muslim men who are willing to sell the family silver, leave their wives and children to fend for themselves while they come here to the promised land. This wilful interfering by the PM has got to stop. He is a laughing stock and his own Party will have to get rid of him.