Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Patriotism "racist"?

The study seems to have overlooked the origins of those who did not fly flags. Many may have been foreign-born. Perth has a very large contingent of Brits and whites from Southern Africa who may know little of Australian history. Had Australian-born people only been interviewed, there may have been no difference between flag flyers and others.

But the most important confounding variable would be social class. Middle class people are less likely to display patriotism and more "correct" in their expressed opinions

And it is after all reasonable to say that the long-term exclusion of blacks was beneficial -- given very high black crime-rates worldwide. It could be seen as rational rather than "racist"

DRIVERS who fly Australian flags on their cars to celebrate Australia Day are "more racist" than people who do not, according to research from UWA.

University of Western Australia sociologist and anthropologist Professor Farida Fozdar and a team of assistants surveyed 513 people at the Australia Day fireworks on Perth's Swan River foreshore last year to find out whether there was a link between car flag flying and racist attitudes, Perth Now reports.

Professor Fozdar said the team found that of the 102 people surveyed on the day who had attached flags to their cars for the national holiday, 43 per cent agreed with the statement that the now-abandoned “White Australia Policy” had “saved Australia from many problems experienced by other countries”.

She said that only 25 per cent of people who did not fly Australia car flags agreed with the statement.

Under the “White Australia Policy”, which was non-official government policy until after World War II, non-Europeans were barred from migrating to Australia.

The survey also found that a total of 56 per cent of people with car flags feared for Australian culture and believed that the country’s most important values were in danger, compared with 34 per cent of non-flag flyers.

Thirty-five per cent of flag flyers felt that people had to be born in Australia to be truly Australian, compared with 22 per cent of non-flag flyers. Twenty-three per cent of flag flyers believed that true Australians had to be Christian, while 18 per cent of non-flaggers agreed with the statement.

An overwhelming 91 per cent of people with car flags agreed that people who move to Australia should adopt Australian values, compared with 76 per cent of non-flaggers.

A total of 55 per cent of flaggers believed migrants should leave their old ways behind, compared with 30 per cent of non-flaggers.

“What I found interesting is that many people didn't really have much to say about why they chose to fly car flags or not," Professor Fozdar said.

"Many felt strongly patriotic about it - and for some, this was quite a racist or exclusionary type of patriotism - but it wasn't a particularly conscious thing for many.”


Premier Barry O'Farrell orders a Judicial Commission investigation into magistrate Pat O'Shane

She's been a bigoted and hostile thing for many years. As far as I can see, it's only the fact that she is part-Aboriginal that has kept her in her job. That may also be responsible for the chip on her shoulder

MAGISTRATE Pat O'Shane faces being barred from the bench after the Premier ordered her behaviour be examined by the Judicial Commission following yet another controversial decision.

Barry O'Farrell took the extraordinary step after Ms O'Shane dismissed a charge against an African-born Australian man who was alleged to have assaulted a paramedic.

In her questioning of paramedic Christopher Martin, Ms O'Shane suggested that he didn't like "blacks".

It is at least the second time Ms O'Shane has been referred to the Judicial Commission, which has already heard magistrates Jennifer Betts and Brian Maloney fight for their careers in the past 12 months.

Mr O'Farrell said Ms O'Shane had been at the centre of a series of contentious decisions and it was time the Judicial Commission reviewed her performance. He particularly took issue with the fact the magistrate refused to hear evidence from Mr Martin's co-worker.

"We cannot stand by and allow our emergency services workers to be assaulted," Mr O'Farrell said. "They are entitled to go about their work without being injured or assaulted. And if someone does assault ambulance and other emergency workers I would expect those officers to have the support of the court system when charges are laid."

"I am not going to allow assaults on our emergency services workers to become acceptable to the courts and that is why I want the Judicial Commission to review this case."

Ms O'Shane dismissed the charge of common assault against 30-year-old Kasian Wililo, saying to police prosecutor John Kahn: "I don't think you've got a case Sergeant" because she said Mr Martin had initiated "the physical interaction" with Mr Wililo after he wanted to remove him from the ambulance because he had spat on the floor.

Mr Martin told the court he had called Mr Wililo a "filthy pig" for spitting. Speaking to The Daily Telegraph yesterday, Mr Wililo said the paramedic called him a "black pig".

"After the accused spits on the floor, (Martin) says 'get out of my ambulance, you filthy pig' ... and because the accused doesn't want to get out of the van Martin drags him out. You do not have a case," Ms O'Shane said.

Under NSW law, Ms O'Shane will be forced to retire in June 2013, her 72nd birthday.

Senior police and ambulance officials confirmed they would appeal against the decision to the Supreme Court.

Mr O'Farrell said he had directed Attorney-General Greg Smith to ask the commission to determine whether there has been a "pattern of decisions by Ms O'Shane that warranted action".

If the commission believes the complaint has merit, it could "ultimately refer a matter to the NSW parliament to consider whether Ms O'Shane should be removed from her role as a magistrate".

In October, the upper house voted 22-15 to keep bipolar sufferer Mr Maloney in a job. Earlier last year, it voted for Ms Betts to remain a magistrate despite complaints about her.

In both of those matters, the complaints were lodged by members of the public. In the matter of Ms O'Shane, it has come directly from the Premier's office.

The Judicial Commission chief executive Ernie Schmatt yesterday declined to reveal how many times Ms O'Shane had been referred to them, citing confidentiality. She was referred to the secretive body after she jailed a Sydney businessman for contempt of court during a civil case in 2004 but was cleared of any wrongdoing.

Police prosecutions boss Superintendent Tony Tricter said the unit was already "preparing a request" to the DPP to appeal the case.

In 2010 Supreme Court judge David Davies overturned a judgment Ms O'Shane had made in dismissing several charges against a man accused of wrestling with police officers by saying the two officers had "coloured" and "fabricated" their evidence. The Supreme Court found that Ms O'Shane had failed to make a finding based on "the correct legal view of the arrest."

Ms O'Shane yesterday presided over a civil hearing in the Downing Centre and was angry at being photographed.


Inflexible public system renews faith in religious schools

In recent decades, the easy habits of local public comprehensive schools, considered for so long to be intrinsic for social democracy, are being replaced by anxious aspirations to private schooling. And, when we say private schooling in this country, we mean religious schooling.

Indeed, when it comes to Australian schooling, reports of the death of religion have been greatly exaggerated. About 30 per cent of students are enrolled in a religious school and for secondary education the number is much greater. The tide has turned on Matthew Arnold's old prediction of a "long melancholy withdrawing roar of the sea of faith", with an incoming swell that has not retreated for 20 years.

There are many implications of this trend but, like new wine into old wineskins, the antiquated language of public and private, secular and religious, four legs good, two legs bad can no longer contain them.

It is no longer sufficient to depict this great change as just a negative "white flight" or "suburban middle class fantasy" that might subside if David Gonski's report into education funding threw more money at public schools. Education is much more than economics, and this great sea change needs much more nuanced analysis and a new language.

One curious example is the issue of text censorship in schools. The old lore would have it that religious schooling is more repressive than its secular cousin but, in the case of film censorship, NSW state schools are now proving more restrictive.

According to the Department of Education and Training, "Material classified M should only be considered for students who are 15 years and over … Decisions about whether the use of M classified materials in the school will be approved must be made by the principal." This is despite the Federal Office of Classification recommendation that "School students under 15 may legally access this material because it is an advisory category".

As a result, no NSW public year 9 students (typically 14-15) can be shown an M-rated film (whether they are 15 or not), and since the approval process is laborious, teachers are also unlikely to screen one for year 10 students (typically 15-16). That means no Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet, Roman Polanski's Macbeth or Oliver Parker's Othello; no blockbusters such as The Lord of the Rings (teaching fantasy), Master and Commander (teaching history of exploration), The Day After Tomorrow (environment/ sustainability), Malcolm X and Mississippi Burning (history of civil rights) and no screening of many significant documentaries on WWI and WWII.

I observed how irritating this was for NSW state teachers last year in my role as a commercial teacher-trainer for the new Australian Curriculum. At seven events for about 200 secondary teachers, state school teachers complained that they were unable to screen recommended texts for years 9 and 10 because they were M-rated. Religious school teachers, however, said they did screen M-rated videos for years 8-10 students, providing parental permission notes, and discussing challenging moral and spiritual issues with their classes. They rarely consulted their principals.

This surprising trend had already been observed in my Macquarie University study of religious school English teachers: a paradox of rich educational plurality, operating within schools based on intellectually exclusivist religions.

Justifiably, teachers thought that the ban created unfair gaps between public and private. The hyper-aware moralities of religious schools actually enabled their teachers to walk a fine text-selection line between education quality and moral risk and to walk their students along the same path. This was in stark contrast to what teachers perceived as a bureaucratic, risk-averse mentality for state education.

So, as we unwrap our back-to-school box this year, we find new luminous oddities that the old colour scheme of public and private can no longer name. Thousands will be donning new and strange religious school uniforms for the first time, with all of the profound changes for Australia that this entails.

Text censorship is but one issue that belies the dogma that the shift is necessarily negative but confirms it is intricately complex and changing, deserving a more research-based, nuanced vocabulary.


Bats win park war because of Greenie laws

They are not remotely "endangered" so local authorities should be allowed to shoot them if necessary

FLYING foxes have officially won the war in Charters Towers, claiming the town's historic park as their own.

Charters Towers Mayor Ben Callcott has conceded defeat against the thousands of bats that invaded Lissner Park about 11 years ago and have since refused to leave.

He said unless state legislation was changed, which prevented the council from interfering with the colony, the council had simply run out of options. Locals claim the bats are a major health hazard, fearing they may spread disease, and are fed up with living with the stench and noise from the colony, which now numbers about 15,000.

Charters Towers Regional Council has been granted 15 damage mitigation permits by the Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) over the years, to disperse the bats using noise, fogging and lighting.

An attempt to muster the bats using a helicopter was scuttled late last year by the Civil Aviation and Safety Authority over safety concerns. The council has applied for a 16th permit to move the bats, but Cr Callcott said their best efforts had simply shifted the animals to other parts of the town, where they had become even more of a problem.

"Charters Towers City Council spent $250,000 harassing them and it didn't do anything other than distributing them into suburbia," Cr Callcott said. "I'm not prepared to spend that kind of money to achieve the same ending.

"We may never get permission to muster them, so in that case, let them lodge in Lissner Park, where at least people can choose whether they get underneath them.

LNP leader Campbell Newman, who visited Charters Towers last year, promised the town "the bats in Lissner Park will go".

Cr Callcott said a law change was the only solution. "The bats under the present legislation have defeated us," he said.

Charters Towers Action Group Against Flying Foxes spokesman Jim Henderson, who lives near the park, said the bats were creating a health hazard and preventing locals and visitors from enjoying public facilities. "Nobody wants to come into the park and sit under those tables," he said.

Mr Henderson said residents' pleas to the State Government for help moving the flying foxes on had fallen upon deaf ears. "They've ignored us and ignored us since I've been fighting it," he said.

Vikki King, who lives opposite the colony, said she wanted the right to remove the bats from her own backyard. "Three or four weeks ago, every tree was chock-a-block in my yard here," she said. "The bat shit is everywhere and it just eats everything."


1 comment:

Paul said...

Many farmers have been sent broke around here due to bat invasion of their farms. Part of the bankrupting has come from trying to fight Greenies who are determined to save everyone of the millions and millions of critically endangered bats.