Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Conservative Qld. government rolls back Greenie tree-clearing laws

THE largest rollback of environmental protection in Australia's history is under way as the State Government waters down vegetation protection laws.

If an amendment Bill passes through Parliament in its current form, it will become legal to clear regrowth habitat for koalas, endangered mahogany gliders and cassowaries.

This is despite a written commitment from Premier Campbell Newman to conservation group World Wildlife Fund before the last election, saying he would "retrain the ... current level of vegetation protection".

WWF spokesman Nick Heath said yesterday there was no record of any government winding back laws to such a degree.  "This is a clear breach of Newman's commitment," he said.

"If the amendments pass, 700,000ha of endangered forest could be cleared. This would accelerate the extinction of animals in regrowth areas."

Mr Cripps, who will make a speech to the Rural Press Club today entitled "Taking the axe to Queensland's tree clearing laws", said amendments supported agricultural growth, while retaining environment protections.

"Twenty years of Labor Government had allowed the pendulum to swing too far towards extreme green policies at the expense of jobs in rural and regional communities," he said.

Before laws were introduced in 1999, more than 750,000ha a year was cleared, mostly for pasture. This was reduced to 77,590ha in 2009-10.

Greens spokeswoman Larissa Waters said amendments weakened rules to allow some farmers to assess their own clearing.


Australia 'most comfortably racist' country, says ignorant British blow-in

If he had talked to police in Sydney's Middle East Crime squad he would have known why Australians are leery of Lebanese Muslims

A BRITISH comedian who will soon host hugely popular program The Daily Show has branded Australia the "most comfortably racist" place he had been.

English reporter John Oliver, who has worked as a correspondent for the influential Comedy Central show created by Jon Stewart, has spent the past few days filming in Australia.

Oliver, who will present the show later this year while regular host Jon Stewart directs a film, says in The Bugle podcast that the country is a "coastal paradise surrounding a rocky hell".

"Australia turns out to be a sensational place, albeit one of the most comfortably racist places I've ever been in. They've really settled into their intolerance like an old resentful slipper," Oliver said.

"You can say what you like about Australian racism, it is undeniably specific. I had a couple of Australians - more than one - complain to me about all the Lebbos in the country, referring apparently to the Lebanese. Who the f-- is annoyed by Lebanese people?

"In a way you have to admire the attention to detail. Not just all those Arabs, but the Lebanese."

However Oliver also lavishes praise on Australia during the undoubtedly tongue-in-cheek podcast.

"Australia is a sensational place and it really begs the question: why the f-- did we make that our penal colony when its nicer than where we live? We should have said to criminals at the time 'you're all staying here, we're off to go live in paradise'."


Attitudes to Australia in India

This journalist must be aware that almost all the attacks on Indian students have been by African refugees.  Telling Indians that would materially alter their perceptions of Australians.  But political correctness is strong in both India and Australia so the Indians will probably never find out

It's nearly four years since a flinty Indian farmer named Kulbhushen Sharma looked me in the eye and asked a probing question: "Why are our people being attacked in Australia?"

I was Fairfax Media's correspondent in India at the time and had just finished interviewing Sharma about a water supply crisis in north India. In the big Indian cities, television news bulletins were awash with reports about students being assaulted in Australia. But Sharma's question proved the issue was resonating in remote villages as well. Like tens of millions across the subcontinent, he had watched dramatic reports about the attacks. His question illustrated how deeply the negative perceptions of Australia, created by the attacks, had infiltrated Indian society.

Most Australians don't realise the scale of the Indian media's reaction to the student attacks.

The issue featured in the news for months and many reports implied the attacks were racially motivated. Things changed for Australians, like me, who lived in India during that period. Previously cricket had been the first thing routinely discussed when I met a local. But after the media blitz it was the "racist attacks."

The crisis strained relations between the two governments and had a profound effect on Australia's image in India. Bloggers even started calling for tit-for-tat attacks on Australians in India.

So are Indian suspicions of Australia starting to fade?

A new opinion poll of Indian attitudes to Australia, released on Wednesday, presents a mixed response to that question. Overall, Australia is well-liked in India despite all the bad press. The survey, conducted for the Australia-India Institute and the Lowy Institute for International Policy, found Australia ranked in the top four countries towards which Indians felt most warmly. Only the United States, Japan and Singapore ranked higher among the 22 nations surveyed.

Indians feel warmer towards Australia than towards European countries or big developing nations like China, Brazil and South Africa. Australia's political and social systems provided a much more popular model for the Indians surveyed than those in Britain.

Despite occasional tensions on the cricket field (it seems the game does help) three-quarters of the Indians surveyed said cricket helps the two countries grow closer. There's no doubt India - home to 17 per cent of the world's population - would not be nearly as interested in Australia - with 0.32 per cent of the global population - if not for our mutual interest in cricket.

But when respondents were asked about how safe they thought Australia is for Indians, the findings were much more negative. Indians are not convinced Australia is a safe and welcoming place for them. An extraordinary 62 per cent said Australia was a dangerous place for Indian students. Also, most Indians apparently accepted those media reports that suggested the violence against students in Australia was motivated by prejudice - 61 per cent of respondents believe that attacks on Indian students were mostly caused by racism.

A number of well-informed Indians I know linked the student crisis to the White Australia policy, the anti-immigration rhetoric of the One Nation party, the wrongful imprisonment of Indian-born doctor Mohammad Haneef, and political controversies over asylum seekers and unauthorised arrivals. This may be contributing to the pessimistic view of Australia as a welcoming country.

The survey results are in keeping with a dramatic slump in the number of Indian students coming to Australia in the wake of the attacks. Higher education visas issued to Indian students plunged by 71 per cent between 2007-08 and 2011-12, a report by the Australian Council for Educational Research found. The high dollar, stricter visa conditions and competition from education offerings in other countries also contributed to the fall. The slump has cost our universities and colleges hundreds of millions of dollars in lost student fees. But the survey showed a significant majority of Indians still believe Australia is a good place to be educated and a narrow majority think the security of Indian students here is better than it was a few years ago. Given the chronic shortage of Indian university places, the number of Indians studying in Australia is likely to gradually rebuild.

The opinion poll suggests Indian attitudes towards Australia are complex. Fears about the safety of Indians in Australia, and lingering concerns about racism, are balanced by an array of positives.

Australia and India should be the best of friends. We share Westminster-style democracy, the English language and, of course, cricket. Add to that fast-growing trade ties, and the nations have the foundations for a relationship unique in Asia.

But the damage inflicted on Australia's reputation by the student crisis lingers.

Indian perceptions of Australia are still dogged by the events that prompted Sharma to ask me those tough questions four years ago.


Swiftian satire hits the ALP

An article published by a Liberal Party-aligned think tank that advocates killing off the poorest 20 per cent of Australians as a way to get the budget back on track has been described as a "disgraceful rant" by Treasurer Wayne Swan.

A "modest cull of the enormously poor" has been suggested by right-wing business lobbyist Toby Ralph in a tongue-in-cheek opinion piece written in reaction to the federal government's attack on the "fabulously wealthy" through superannuation taxes.

"In contrast to the fabulously rich, the enormously poor make little useful contribution to society," wrote Mr Ralph, a long-time Liberal Party campaign strategist.

"They consume more than they contribute, putting tremendous strain on the national budget.

"A modest cull would strike at the root of our fiscal dilemma. If the least productive 20 per cent of citizens were decommissioned it would directly release a recurrent $25 billion, which would almost cover overspending by the Gillard government between now and September 14th, assuming Mr Swan maintains his long-term average rate of profligacy.

"This bold initiative would rid us of indolent students, hapless single mums, lower-order drug dealers, social workers, performance artists, Greenpeace supporters and the remaining processing personnel in our collapsing yet heavily subsidised manufacturing industries."

Mr Ralph's bloody prescription for national economic recovery was written strictly as satire, he told Fairfax Media, saying "some people want to be offended".

The article ends with a suggestion that the government could recoup the $900 million it will gouge from the rich in super taxes by simply spending within its means for six days - but "that's clearly just daft", he wrote.

That has not stopped critics, including Mr Swan, questioning the wisdom of Menzies House publishing the article.

Menzies House was founded by Liberal senator Cory Bernardi, recently sent to the backbench over his comments on same-sex marriage leading to legalised bestiality.

Menzies House stemmed from Senator Bernardi's Conservative Leadership Foundation but he has since insisted he has no active role or editorial influence over it.

Chris Browne, a long-time employee of Senator Bernardi, resigned as editor-in-chief of Menzies House after an anonymous article was posted describing Joe Hockey as incompetent and a stain on the Coalition's reputation as a good economic manager.

Mr Browne was replaced by Tim Andrews, executive director of the Australian Taxpayers' Alliance and a former vice-president of the NSW Young Liberals.

Mr Andrews said of the article: "It's a satire in the tradition of Jonathan Swift's 'A Modest Proposal' and, as such, I do not see any cause for persons to be offended."

The 1729 essay suggested the impoverished Irish could ease their economic troubles by selling their children as food for the rich.


1 comment:

Paul said...

Satire usually stems from a generally accepted observation. Its not satire if no one recognizes the source of the satire.