Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Shaping nation part of who I am, says Kevin Rudd

A revealing confession of Leftist arrogance.  What if the people don't want the shape Rudd wants?  What about letting the people shape their nation by their own individual actions and choices?  This idea that a "shape" can be imposed from on high is pure Fascism

HE is not supposed to be talking about a comeback, but former prime minister Kevin Rudd has given an interview in which he opens up about wanting to shape Australia's future well into the next decade.

Mr Rudd, who unsuccessfully challenged Julia Gillard for the Labor leadership in February, has told the Australian Women's Weekly that shaping the nation - which is somewhat difficult to do from the backbench - is "part of who I am, and you gotta be who you are".

Mr Rudd's decision to grant an interview to the magazine, which hasn't hit the streets yet, is causing ructions in Canberra, where leadership speculation is again roiling.

It comes just weeks after his wife, businesswoman Therese Rein, gave an interview to The Sydney Morning Herald in which she said the family would be happy to serve, if called upon.

The Rudd interview was granted to the Women's Weekly as part of a feature on the arrival of Mr Rudd's first grandchild, Josephine Therese Tse, born to his daughter Jessica and her husband Albert Tse in May.

The 54-year-old told the magazine the arrival of the baby had prompted "a feeling about what sort of country you want this new generation to be brought up in".

"Without wanting to sound too sort of pious about it all, you just have a keen eye to where will the country be in half a century's time when this little one's contemplating grandchildren," the former prime minister says.

"I mean, the judgments I make in my life I think are pretty simple at the end of the day. What do you believe in and why? What can you do about it? "And so that frames my approach to what I do.

"And if you're pretty passionate about this remaining a decent place to live for kids and now for grandkids (you have to serve)."

Mr Rudd softly presses his credentials, too, saying: "Everything around Australia has been changing rapidly ... the world's been dominated by Western English-speaking democracies. We live in a decade where that will cease to be as China becomes the largest economy in the world."

Asked directly whether he wanted an ongoing role for himself, Mr Rudd said: "Oh definitely, it's just who I am. You gotta be who you are."

He was quick to say that "the position you occupy in life is less important".  "What's more important is being involved directly in shaping the nation's future, to the extent that you can," he said.

"So I suppose what I'm saying through all that is: when you see this little possum ... you think of where she'll be beyond that and what sort of Australia and what sort of world she lives in.

"So many things that we take as certainties now will not necessarily be certain (when she grows up) so, you know, having always been a bit of a nerd about these questions, unapologetically so, and that is trying to think through the future and how we secure a good and fair and prosperous future for the country. And now there's a real personal dimension."

Mr Rudd tells the Women's Weekly that he happily renominated for his Brisbane seat of Griffith, despite every poll saying Labor will be in opposition by the next election.  "Queenslanders are very optimistic people," he says.


Labor support drops in latest Newspoll

The latest Newspoll shows federal Labor's primary vote falling below 30 per cent for the first time in three months.

The poll, published in The Australian newspaper, shows the Government's primary vote has dropped three points to 28 per cent.

The Coalition's primary support was 46 per cent, down two points, while the Greens remained steady on 11 per cent.

Two-party preferred results were steady – the Coalition maintained its 56 per cent to 44 per cent lead over Labor.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott gained one point as preferred prime minister, extending his lead to four percentage points over Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Forty per cent of respondents said Mr Abbott was their preferred leader compared to 36 per cent for Ms Gillard.

The poll has a three per cent margin of error.


Dick Smith blasts News Ltd over ad 'censorship'

If I were asked to publicize some criticism of myself, I wouldn't do it either

Australian entrepreneur Dick Smith has blasted the head of News Limited, accusing the organisation of biased and intimidating reporting.

In a scathing letter to News Limited CEO Kim Williams, Mr Smith says the organisation has no interest in free speech, merely profits for its shareholders.

In the letter, he writes that Mr Williams' recent claims the Government is endangering freedom of speech is "claptrap".

As an example he accuses News Limited of not running one of his paid advertisements because it criticised the organisation.

More here

Time to move town for much of country Australia

I recently spent nine days driving 4,500 kms across remote NSW – from Wagga Wagga to Ivanhoe, Broken Hill, Wilcannia, Bourke, Brewarrina, Walgett, Lightning Ridge, Collarenebri, Moree, Boggabilla, Toomelah, and Dubbo. Aside from giving me an appreciation for how vast Australia is, the field trip also highlighted the changing fortunes of country towns.

The beautiful, old sandstone post office at Wilcannia conjured up more prosperous times when the town was known as the ‘Queen City of the West.’ Today, boarded-up shops with barred windows line the main street; only a service station, pub and a few shops remain open. Even the larger town of Broken Hill is showing signs of decline, with ‘for lease’ signs in front of many shops on the main street and old pubs and motels closed down.

Locals told me of the changes wrought by multinationals buying up land to grow cotton, irrigation depleting the rivers, the clearing of trees removing shelter needed to raise sheep, and the run-off from fertilizers and pesticides killing the weeds needed for oxygenating rivers.

The sides of the road across the Moree plains looked as though it had snowed recently because of the large amounts of cotton that had fallen from the bales on their way to cotton gins. Cotton farms now employ only a few people as just about every process has been mechanised.

Those towns that have found ways to adapt are doing slightly better. Although the opal industry has dwindled, enterprising locals in Lightning Ridge have found other ways to make a buck. One miner has transformed his 100-year-old mine into a gallery by carving more than 500 beautiful sculptures into its walls and enticing tourists with his creations.

Others, such as the Toomelah community on the site of an old mission 14 kms from Boggabilla, are clearly going backwards. Over the years, I have visited many different Aboriginal communities but I have never seen as many houses so obviously vandalised as those in Toomelah. Two out of three of the 50 or so houses had holes kicked into the walls, windows smashed, parts of the roofs missing, and graffiti painted over them. The sense of rage and despair in the air was palpable.

An article in the Sydney Morning Herald in May suggested the government was considering closing down Toomelah and relocating residents elsewhere. Tracker denied this was ever the case, and that the story was based only on the words of a frustrated government employee fed up with trying to improve a community resistant to change.

Whatever the truth may be, propping up towns artificially clearly is not working. Toomelah is no better off despite millions of government funding over the last two decades. The question that needs to be asked is, should government and townspeople let natural attrition and decline continue or should they do something about it? Residents of Toomelah, like many country folk before them, have to ask themselves why they want to stay and what is there for them in the future?


Australia has spies too

The secret service has delivered an unprecedented glimpse of the character of Australia's spies - nearly half of them women, of mixed ethnic heritage, and overwhelmingly young.

And the self-confessed man of "carefully cultivated shadows" confirmed Australian spooks have helped with the arrest of dozens of terrorists in south-east Asia as recently as a few months ago.

Nick Warner, head of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service, delivered a landmark speech in Canberra yesterday on the transformation of Australian espionage to a packed audience - including at least three officials from the Chinese embassy taking copious notes.

Mr Warner said the work of the service had new urgency and importance, from the collection of secrets to include operations against terrorist networks, people smugglers and alongside troops in Afghanistan.

It marks the first time in the 60-year history of the secretive outfit a serving director-general has given a public address.

"ASIS reporting has been instrumental in saving the lives of Australian soldiers and civilians, including kidnap victims," he said.

But he also offered a rare insight into the work of intelligence officers in the field, describing "a cadre of highly trained intelligence officers" that recruit human sources overseas known as agents to obtain secrets and every year produce thousands of reports.

"Intelligence in our particular realm can be defined as secret information gleaned without the official sanction of the owners of that information," he said.

In the crowd was former Australian ambassador Jeremy Hearder - son of one of the three founders of the secret service, former British army officer Roblin Hearder, who in 1952 based the espionage operations out of a military base in Melbourne.

For years, Mr Hearder was unaware of his father's secret work until he was officially briefed as a diplomat about the existence of ASIS.

"We knew he was working in Victoria Barracks, but we assumed he was working in retirement for the Defence Department," Mr Hearder said.

Mr Warner hinted at the "far-flung" operations of Australia's spies across Asia, the Pacific, south Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East - naming threats from extremists in Indonesia, Pakistan and Somalia.

With regard to Afghanistan, he said: "The ASIS personnel deployed with the ADF have developed strong bonds, and it's difficult to see a situation in the future where the ADF would deploy without ASIS alongside."

He also warned of cyber operations as "the most rapidly evolving and potentially serious threats to our national security".

About 65 per cent of his spies are aged between 25 and 45 - with 20 per cent of recent recruits drawn from an ethnic background. Three quarters speak a second language.

He said Australian spies do not use violence, blackmail or threats - but its officers can use weapons in self-defence or to protect agents.

Mr Warner said ASIS operated on an annual budget of $250 million.


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