Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Skibbereen Eagle warns the Tsar....

The Greens have threatened a trade boycott against the world's second-largest economy in an attack on China by one of its high-profile NSW candidates. Marrickville Mayor Fiona Byrne, who is running for the state seat, has revealed her council would consider boycotting China out of sympathy for Tibetans.

Labor labelled the policy as "stupid and dangerous" and warned such a ban could threaten Chinese trade with NSW - worth more than $3.2 billion to the state's economy - and damage cultural and student ties with China. "This is one of the most destructive policies announced by any mayor in Australia's history," Labor's campaign spokesman Luke Foley said. He has called for Greens Leader Senator Bob Brown to step in and rule out suggestions of a boycott of Australia's largest trading partner.

Mr Brown, however, could not be contacted by his office yesterday to seek clarification on whether he would back Ms Byrne's proposal or not.

A spokeswoman for Mr Brown said the Greens did not have a "written" policy on Tibet. But Greens Senator Christine Milne, who this week shocked Labor MPs with her claim that the Greens' "power sharing" deal with the Federal Government had delivered the carbon tax, has previously questioned Australia's free trade agreement with China based on its human rights record in Tibet.

Ms Byrne's backing for a China ban follows her boycott of Israel last month over its treatment of Palestinians. In retaliation, Labor and Liberal councillors have already joined forces on neighbouring Randwick Council to boycott Marrickville Council.

Her latest threats against China were recorded at a candidate forum on Wednesday night in Sydney. Ms Byrne said her council had expressed solidarity with the local Tibetan community. While the Tibetan community had not asked specifically for a boycott, Ms Byrne said council would adopt one if asked.

"If the local Tibetan community came to us and asked us to look at boycotting China, I'm sure council would do that," Ms Byrne said. "So we actually have done things [for] our local community ... provide action, and support our local community around those issues and I'm quite proud of that, quite proud to do that."

Mr Foley said: "It's hard to believe that anyone could come up with such a stupid and dangerous policy. "If she had her way, it would cost hundreds of thousands of Australian jobs. Bob Brown needs to step in, disown the policy and disown the candidate."

The seat of Marrickville is held by Deputy Premier Carmel Tebbutt by a 3 per cent margin. The Greens have consistently raised the issue of human rights in Tibet and have called for China to recognise Tibet's autonomy. Almost 35 per cent of people living in Marrickville were born overseas, many of them Chinese.


Muslims are not the same as earlier immigrants

ALMOST everything George Brandis said this week about Australia's successful creation of an inclusive society "receptive and respectful of people of race and faith" is true.

In an opinion piece in The Sydney Morning Herald, the senator paid tribute to Australian tolerance by recalling his experience growing up in the suburbs in the 1960s. Amid the colonial terraces and semi-detached houses of Petersham in Sydney's inner west, Chinese, Greek and Italian families lived happily alongside their Anglo-Celtic neighbours, and half the youngsters at his local school came from non-English-speaking backgrounds.

The idea that Australia under the rule of Robert Menzies did not resemble apartheid South Africa or the segregated south of the US will shock those who subscribe to the popular view that the coming of Gough Whitlam changed everything.

Brandis usefully reminded us that a multicultural Australia pre-dated the official invention of that policy by the Whitlam government in the 1970s. He also reminded us that our proud and enviable history of integrating migrants since the end of the World War II is attributable in part to the essential decency of the overwhelming majority of ordinary Australians.

Australia became a successful nation of immigrants because the egalitarianism that is central to its national character -- the principle that Jack is as good as his mate -- was extended by "old Australians" to include "new Australians".

Hence there was no white flight from Petersham or other suburbs in response to the influx of migrants from southern Europe in the 50s and Indochina in the 70s because newcomers of all colours and creeds were made welcome and accepted into the workplaces, the schools, the churches and the sporting clubs of suburban Australia.

Brandis was also right to suggest that these achievements should not be put at risk by cheap populism that seeks to exploit prejudice for political advantage. However, the senator for Queensland went too far in trying to shut down the debate about multiculturalism.

The debate was sparked in Coalition ranks by the publication of Scott Morrison's alleged remarks in shadow cabinet about Muslim immigration and community concerns in western Sydney.

"I can still remember the playground taunting of Italian kids, from which I formed my lifelong detestation of bullies who pick on a vulnerable minority," Brandis wrote in a thinly disguised rebuke to his colleagues. "Whether they realise it or not, the same sentiment that drives those who bullied those kids then, animates those who beat up on Muslims now."

This is a variation on a common grievance aired by many members of the multicultural industry: "Australia is a racist country because kids teased me about what was in my sandwiches at lunchtime."

Judging how a civilisation treats minorities based on what eight-year-olds call each other is ludicrous. To equate this with a legitimate debate about the success or otherwise of Muslim integration is just as ludicrous.

This is especially so when this debate is belatedly being had in Britain, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Switzerland and Scandinavia, now that the evidence of non-integration and the failures of multicultural policy are undeniable.

Europe has discovered that a nation of tribes united by a common welfare state does not create the harmonious society multicultural theorists said it would.

Instead, divisions between native and immigrant populations have been entrenched and the social fabric frayed. Australia does not confront challenges on the same scale, but we are kidding ourselves if we think we have nothing to worry about.

From Petersham, it is a 15-minute drive southwest to Lakemba. It is 30 years since [mostly Muslim] refugees fleeing the civil war in Lebanon received asylum in this country, and still Lakemba and its surrounds remain ghettofied.

The usual pattern of dispersal by first-generation children of immigrants has not occurred to the same extent and the area is plagued with poor educational achievement, high unemployment and crime.

The community concerns that exist in western Sydney about Muslims and multiculturalism are based on these jarring realities on the disintegration of some parts of Sydney from the mainstream, and the failure to repeat the successful patterns of integration of other ethnic groups.

To blame racial or religious prejudice, whether formed in the playground or otherwise, is avoiding the real issue. So is reaffirming the national commitment to multiculturalism, as the Gillard government has done, as if that and the proposed anti-racism campaign will be a cure-all.

The conventional wisdom among most elites is that we should not discuss these issues because it will unleash the racist sentiments that still lurk in the hearts of most Australians.

I think the opposite is true. It is because most Australians believe in the immigration and integration of all comers that what is going on in southwest Sydney is of concern.

Perceptive politicians have picked up on this. Effective politicians will honestly address the issues and propose solutions. Ineffective ones will shut their eyes and lecture an unimpressed electorate about respecting "diversity".


Amazing! Unless you die, Qld. Health is unlikely to admit it made a mistake!

ALL Government hospitals should be privatized, with the government picking up the bill for the poor

A TOWNSVILLE man is suing the State Government after claiming he was the victim of a hospital blood transfusion bungle. Glen Roy Feeley, 54, who worked as a fabricator, was involved in an industrial accident in 2008 and has lodged damages against the Townsville Hospital and Nursing Agency Australia Pty Ltd. The damages are yet to be finalised but they could exceed $1 million.

Mr Feeley claims he was given the wrong type of blood after he received a blood transfusion at Townsville Hospital following the workplace accident.

Documents lodged in the Supreme Court of Townsville show the man's blood type was O positive, but when he was admitted to hospital on February 25, 2008, he received an A positive blood transfusion by medical staff.

He underwent surgery on his right hand which included reattaching the index and middle fingers.

Mr Feeley claims he suffered shock, required further surgery and suffered a psychiatric and/or psychological condition and this condition has been aggravated. He also claims he suffered exacerbation of his injuries.

Court documents said the blood transfusion of blood group A were an "incompatible transfusion" and the defendants "failed to use reasonable care, skill and diligence in and about the plaintiff's medical treatment". The documents state, as a result of being given the wrong blood type, Mr Feeley suffered an "incompatibility transfusion reaction".

The documents claim he continues to suffer pain and discomfort, loss of amenities and enjoyment of life.

The incident was not recorded in the Government's patient safety report, From Learning To Action III, which detailed hospital errors during 2007-08. But Queensland Health on Friday said it was because the defendant did not suffer "permanent injury" or die as a result.


Gillard's greenhouse tax to push prices higher

Petrol, groceries and electricity bills could soar from July 1 next year under Julia Gillard's new carbon tax.

Ms Gillard vowed that consumers and businesses would be shielded from higher prices, but she has not yet outlined how compensation will work.

Key details of the new tax - including how much polluters will be forced to pay per tonne of carbon emissions and concessions for some industries - are still to be agreed between Labor and the minor parties. The energy, transport, manufacturing and mining sectors could all be hit by the new tax.

The plans drew a strong rebuke from Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, who said Ms Gillard had broken an election promise that she would not introduce a carbon tax.

But Ms Gillard said she was forced to work out a compromise with the Greens and Independents to get a scheme to fight climate change through the hung parliament. Ms Gillard conceded in Parliament yesterday that her new plan was "effectively like a tax".

The Prime Minister said energy prices had to rise to force polluters to cut greenhouse gas emissions. But she insisted "we will do it in a fair way" by compensating low income households. "It has price impacts. It's meant to, that's the whole point," Ms Gillard said. "If you put a price on something, then people will use less of it."

She warned Australia would miss out on new green jobs and be left behind the rest of the world if it did not create a "low carbon economy".

Farmers have been spared from the new tax, but there will be a separate carbon farming credits scheme for the agriculture sector.

Climate Change Minister Greg Combet yesterday confirmed petrol could be covered by the new tax. But he said the price impact could be phased in over a longer period.

Under the deal, the Government will impose a fixed price on carbon from July 1, 2012 for between three and five years. After that, the price will be set through an emissions trading scheme linked to international carbon markets.

Labor has left itself scope to delay the move to a cap and trade system by promising a review 12 months before the scheme is due to start.

Mr Abbott said he would argue against the plan. "I think there will be a people's revolt against this carbon tax," he said. The Opposition Leader warned petrol prices would rise by 6.5 cents a litre and the average electricity bill by $300 a year if there was a $26 impost per tonne of carbon emissions.

But Ms Gillard said these figures were not accurate because the carbon price and compensation arrangements had not been set.

Labor faces a battle to get the scheme through the parliament.


Note: I have two other blogs covering Australian news. They are more specialized so are not updated daily but there are updates on both most weeks. See QANTAS/Jetstar for news on Qantas failings and Australian police news for news on police misbehaviour

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