Saturday, January 28, 2012

UWA academic Farida Fozdar told 'go back to your own country'

I think criticism of her is justified. She did apparently use the term "racist", which is very inflammatory. Many people would see it as including Hitler-type behaviour and she had no evidence that the people she described would endorse such behaviour.

There are many possible gradations of opinion about race-related matters. It may be noted, for instance, that the man who declared war on Hitler (Neville Chamberlain) was himself an antisemite of sorts -- so any implicit or explicit claim that there is such a thing as a monolithic entity called racism is unscholarly.

And any social scientist making or implying such a claim is ipso facto a very low-grade intellect. Though it might be noted that mean minds are common among sociologists. Many of them are still devoted to the writings of an obsolete economist and proven stimulator of hate named Karl Marx. The term "racist" of no use for anything except abuse. I use the term only in mockery of Leftist abuse.

I made some technical remarks about her research here on 24th. but readers may also be interested in an alternative to her kneejerk reaction to the old "white Australia policy". See here for a more philosophically sophisticated look at the issues involved

A PERTH professor whose study found people who fly Australian flags on their cars are more racist than those who don't, says she has received over 70 critical emails which include demands that she go back to her "own country".

Brunei-born University of WA Professor Farida Fozdar [Judging by the name she is ethnically an Indian Muslim], who moved to Australia when she was seven, said she was shocked by the national reaction to her study which also spread as far India and the United States.

“Some emails have been quite polite and I’ve been able to reply and we’ve actually had quite a positive interaction out of it which, I really really value," Professor Fozdar said.

"But some are straight out lots of swear words and suggesting that I should go back to where I came from.

“I’ve also had a couple of emails from people implying that I’m the Grinch that killed Christmas and that now nobody is going to fly a flag because they think it shows that they’re racist.”

Professor Fozdar, a sociologist and anthropologist, said that although the study was reported “relatively accurately” in the media, some people have misinterpreted its findings.

“What has struck me most is that the media has reported the research relatively accurately in most cases, perhaps apart from some headlines, but people have taken it up in the wrong way,” Professor Fozdar said.

“People have taken it as though I was saying that anyone who flies a flag on their car for Australia Day is racist and that flying the flag generally is a racist thing to do and that certainly wasn’t what I was saying.”

Professor Fozdar said the study revealed flag-flyers were significantly less positive about Australia’s ethnic diversity than “non-flag flyers” but that the attitude is not shared by all Australians.

“The fact that there were significant differences doesn’t mean that everybody who flys the flag feel negative towards minorities but it means that a larger proportion of them did compared with people that weren’t flying flags,” she said.

Professor Fozdar said many people ignored her findings that the majority of both flag-flyers and non-flag flyers, interviewed by her research team, felt positive about Australia’s ethnic diversity.

“But that’s not what gets picked up by people,” she said. “That statistic was there, in a lot of media reports, but people took out of it that I’m saying they shouldn’t fly a flag for Australia Day because it’s racist and that we shouldn’t celebrate Australia Day. “That was just nowhere in the research and so that is what has surprised me.”


Lucky country becomes lazy: Migrant workers to do 'dirty' jobs

I think a fairer solution would be compulsory assignment to jobs for long-term welfare claimants. Anybody can pick fruit or do cleaning

THEY clean toilets, drive taxis and wait tables - jobs that are so far "beneath" many Australians the federal government is considering importing thousands of migrant workers to fill critically short-staffed local industries.

A growing underclass is developing in Australia - a country once respected for its work ethic - where entire service professions are being left to foreigners, The Daily Telegraph reported.

Experts say high-paying mining jobs are luring young Australian workers from traditional fields such as retail and hospitality, while others would rather go on the dole than muck in and do certain jobs themselves.

"I hate to say it but there seems to be a sense of entitlement among younger Australians," Tourism Accommodation Australia boss Rodger Powell said.

"They believe jobs in the service industry are too menial or too low paid and they have been brought up to believe they are destined for something better instead of starting from the bottom and working their way up as generations did before them."

The hospitality and tourism industry is so short staffed the government is in discussions to import 36,000 cooks, waiters and bartenders to fill vacancies with another 56,000 needed by 2015, according to federal Immigration Minister Chris Bowen. Under the plan, tourism and hospitality employers would be able to bring in workers on a two to three year visa similar to the 457 visa program widely used in the mining sector. "Employers would need to show they are doing their best to employ and train domestic workers and paying market rates," Mr Bowen said.

While hospitality is struggling to fill vacancies, some sectors are being shunned altogether. "It's rare to have an Australian work as a commercial cleaner," Australian Cleaning Contractor's Alliance director John Laws said. "It is is not an attractive position - cleaning has traditionally been done by people who have English as a second language."

A spokeswoman for the cleaning union United Voice said cleaners were among the worst-treated workers in the country, with one of the highest turnovers of staff at 40 per cent. She said competition for contracts was so fierce some companies were bidding at a loss and using illegal practices such as cash-in-hand payments.

A black market of illegal workers is said to extend across other businesses including restaurants and general labouring.

In the carwashing sector, the majority of workers are from overseas. Indian accounting student Sanjay Kumar, who works part time at the Baywash Carwash in Summer Hill, said the high cost of living in Australia meant he had to work hard to make ends meet. "It's expensive here and I need the money so I wash cars to help but I love doing my job. Everyone is nice," he said.

YOUNG and Districts Chamber of Commerce secretary Thomas O'Brien said most fruit pickers were overseas backpackers and, while some locals did it, others were too lazy and had a "welfare state" mentality.

Orchard owner Alan Copeland said growers relied on travellers such as Chung-Jen Wang, 29, of Taiwan, and Yoshimi Ohta, 26, of Japan, "to get the fruit off" or risk financial ruin.

"People say they're taking Australian jobs," he said. "They're not taking Australian jobs, they're doing jobs Australians won't do."

University of Shizuoka graduate Ms Ohta said she enjoyed fruit picking "more than I was expecting". "It's an experience and the money is OK," she said.

NSW Taxi Council boss Peter Ramshaw said, while the industry was always looking for drivers, its problem was more of a lack of taxi licences.

And, with Australia's generous welfare system, those who can't land a high-paying job are in some cases better off on the dole.

Analysis of Australian Bureau of Statistics data reveals the average cab driver takes home $527 a week after tax -- just 40c more than the $526.60 a single parent gets looking for a job.

If the same parent gives up looking and goes on parenting payments they jump to $641.50 a week -- just $7.50 less than a cleaner gets scrubbing floors 38 hours a week but still more than car detailers ($569.80) and dishwashers ($631.54).

Tertiary students, the backbone of retail and hospitality, who are eligible for rent allowance can get up to $522.10 a week, almost as much as waiting tables ($569.80) full-time.

Transport and Tourism Forum chief executive John Lee said it was a global phenomenon, with migrants and working travellers the only people "willing to get their hands dirty".

"Getting Australians to do these jobs - cleaning toilets, portering, any hard work - is impossible," he said.


Dam mismanagement coverup falling apart

FRESH claims are emerging that the floods inquiry has failed properly to investigate possible failings by dam operators during last year's floods.

A day after The Courier-Mail revealed that controversial details of the operating strategy at Wivenhoe Dam were sent to the Premier's right-hand man two days before Brisbane flooded, a top dam expert claims mismanagement of the dam potentially goes far beyond breaches of the operators' manual.

Veteran engineer Max Winders says questions are still unanswered about the reliability of the tools used by dam operators to predict inflows into the dam and dictate release strategies.

Senior flood operations engineer Robert Ayre told the inquiry these had "performed satisfactorily".

But Mr Winders has analysed the official accounts and found they paint a picture of dam operators desperately trying to make their inadequate modelling software conform with reality. "Whatever they were using to model inflows into the dam and releases was just hopeless," he said.

Mr Winders believes engineers chose to ignore rainfall forecasts during the flood because the spreadsheet they were using was not producing the results they expected. "It's what any engineer would do when your model doesn't work," he said. "You change the inputs."

Mr Winders said the engineers' forecasts appeared not even to support their explanation for the massive releases made on January 11 - that it would trigger a breach of the "fuse plugs" or safety valves, which protect the main dam. "All this about 'oh the fuse plugs will be buggered and Brisbane will be doomed' ... that doesn't show up in the model," he said.

The email reported in yesterday's Courier-Mail shows Ken Smith, then director-general of the Premier's Department, was party to key information on the strategy in use at the dam on January 10, 2011.

The Commission of Inquiry said yesterday it was responsible for blacking out Mr Smith's name. The same email is thought to have been submitted by Seqwater director of operations Dan Spiller with one of his statements. The commission said the files would be on the website by late yesterday.

Deputy Premier Andrew Fraser denied any attempt to cover up information.

LNP leader Campbell Newman said it was "looking more and more likely that the Premier may be involved". "It gets murkier and murkier, like the muddy waters of the Brisbane River after the flood," he said.


Ethanol critics push to overturn NSW fuel rule

OPPONENTS of a state government plan to ban regular unleaded petrol from July 1 are expecting to force a debate in Parliament and increase pressure on the Premier, Barry O'Farrell, to abandon the move.

Under a convention introduced by Mr O'Farrell, a petition of 10,000 signatures will trigger a debate if it is sponsored by an MP.

The Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association wrote to 1200 petrol station owners last month asking them to display a petition opposing the plan under which petrol stations will be forced to replace regular unleaded with an ethanol blend, E10.

About 6000 people have signed the petition since January 5, the association's general manager, Nic Moulis, said. Mr Moulis said he had already been discussing sponsorship of the debate with MPs, whom he declined to name, and was optimistic that one of them would agree.

The petition calls for an indefinite suspension of the switch to E10 and a "full independent review" of the Biofuels Act, under which the change is scheduled to occur.

The association argues the switch will be costly for service station owners due to the need to modify their petrol supply infrastructure. It says it will particularly hit those retailers who do not sell E10, many of which are in regional areas.

On Monday, leaked cabinet documents revealed the government had pushed ahead with the ban despite advice from several agencies that it would increase petrol prices and may be unconstitutional.

The same day the Herald revealed research that suggested up to 750,000 motorists would pay more than $150 a year extra as they would be forced to use premium unleaded because their cars were not compatible with E10.

As part of its campaign the petroleum marketers association is encouraging station owners to display a flyer saying: "Want to pay over 10 cents per litre more for your fuel?"


For the sake of Her Honour and ours, no more double standard

At 6.17am on Tuesday, very early in the news cycle, the Premier's office released a statement saying Barry O'Farrell had instructed the Attorney-General to lodge a complaint to the Judicial Commission of NSW about the magistrate Patricia O'Shane after yet another controversy in her court. It was unusual, and also good politics and good policy.

The statement elaborated: "Mr O'Farrell told cabinet yesterday … Ms O'Shane had been at the centre of a series of controversial decisions and it was time the Judicial Commission reviewed her performance."

The pattern is well known. O'Shane has attracted controversy on numerous occasions. Her most spectacular failure was her dismissal of charges against the triple murderer Michael Kanaan while criticising the police who risked their lives arresting him after a shoot-out.

The commission needs to examine not just the controversies but the number of times her decisions have been set aside by higher courts. It should look at cases such as DPP v Armstrong, in 2010, where Justice David Davies sent O'Shane's decision back to the local court with the express provision that she not hear the case again. In doing so, the judge criticised O'Shane for getting the law wrong and using "intemperate language in a way that inappropriately denigrates the evidence of the police".

No other magistrate has a notorious reputation for denigrating police evidence. No other magistrate has been the subject of so many complaints to the Judicial Commission. No other magistrate has been subject to two apprehended violence orders.

But O'Farrell should not get his hopes up. The Judicial Commission is worse than useless. It does nothing of consequence and does it slowly. It protects judges and magistrates via an opaque process deeply biased towards rationalising errors.

If there were more truth in government, the Judicial Commission would be named the Judicial Feather.

Pat O'Shane is also highly unusual among judges and magistrates in that she has been able to place great store on her Aboriginality. There is a widespread perception, which I share, that her outspoken Aboriginality has been relevant in the latitude she has been able to exercise over the years.

There is an abundance of evidence that different standards are applied to Aborigines by the law and by society as a way of compensating for past injustices. Customary law, special sentencing forums, the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle and indigenous-only programs are examples. The intent is pure but the outcome has often been counter-productive.

Just this week, the Institute of Health issued a report saying indigenous children were 7.6 times more likely than non-indigenous children to be put on protection orders and 10 times more likely to be in foster care. It is a disgrace to the status quo, especially as disproportionate child abuse in indigenous communities has existed for decades.

Yet I don't think the central flaw in the national project of improving the lives of Aborigines is being addressed or even spoken about. That flaw is the moral apartheid we accept in the name of cultural sensitivity and/or white guilt.

On Australia Day, we can ask what it means to be Australian and only the original Australians can define themselves as Australian by race. But in the thousands of years in which indigenous culture evolved, "Australia" did not exist. Australia is an entirely modern concept. So the modern definition of what it is to be Australian is post-racial. We are all Australians. We should all be treated the same. But we are not.

When it comes to indigenous issues, our legal and political system has monetised race. It has racialised the law. In doing so, it has created a problem about identity: who is an Aborigine? There is money involved in the answer. This is why the expert panel, appointed by Julia Gillard, which produced the 300-page Report on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous People has come up with a monumental blunder.

The panel has overelaborated its brief by advocating that an "advantage" clause be inserted into the constitution which reads: "Acknowledging the need to secure the advancement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples."

This clause is the embodiment of monetising race. It enshrines moral apartheid. It invigorates the problem of defining Aboriginality. It invites the kind of racial activism and exceptionalism which the electorate despises. It dooms the referendum.



Paul said...

A fully publicly funded, ethnically diverse, slightly homely woman working in an academic ivory tower, lecturing us all on how to behave = "Safety Lesbian" (though she may actually be the more aggressive and irritating nephew of the SL, the Social-Justice Lesbian)

Paul said...

I cross paths with various O'Shanes up here in my work from time to time. Bit on the angry side, though very switched-on. They come from the venereal nightmare known as the Yarrabah community, poor sods. You may recall one of the kids in the family around twelve years ago being attacked at school by a mental case who doused him with petrol and set him alight. The official line remains mental case, with no deeper conspiracy theory ever postulated that I know of. Like Canberra riots however, thing aren't usually so simple following a first glance, and many of us still wonder why him.