Tuesday, August 04, 2015
In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is hoping for a return to more serious matters now that Bronwyn Bishop has resigned
An Aboriginal voice on Adam Goodes
Dallas Scott's comments below confirm my impression that the behaviour by Goodes was very un-Aboriginal. In my experience, Aborigines are quiet, retiring, complaisant people, anything but confrontational people. The aggression displayed by Goodes reflects his largely white ancestry, not his small degree of Aboriginal ancestry
Sections of our media, together with the hierarchy of the unnecessary at the AFL, are now lying to protect Adam Goodes: “They’re not booing you Adam, they’re just displaying their deep seated racism the only way they can."
Of course, we have the regular roster of apologists come out, shaming the country and our society for cutting down a sports star who happens to have Aboriginal blood as part of his racial make-up. The caring, informed and sensitive city dwellers who, despite their alabaster skin tone and lack of racial diversity, can not only see, smell and hear racism, but tragically, are so deeply affected by it that they feel they must differentiate themselves from the white person next to them by pointing at them and screaming racist long enough and loud enough that somehow, somewhere in the midst of all their righteous shouting, their own skin tone will be forgotten or ignored.
One thing I’ve come to understand about our society is that often, those who see themselves as the most tolerant, educated and enlightened are usually most racist, close-minded of all. These types were the first to pick up their keyboard or a microphone and declare that speaking negatively about the so-called ‘war dance’ effort from Adam Goodes over the weekend means that we are culturally ignorant, yet in making such a claim, have themselves ignored an entire segment of the Aboriginal community, who are appalled at the ‘performance’. In wanting us to be a homogenous community capable of only thinking and feeling one way, therefore enabling them to have the correct information and be ‘right’, they are guilty of the same crime they are continually accusing an entire nation of – RACISM.
The fact is, some Aboriginal people, myself included, saw that embarrassing display and did not feel pride. Instead, we felt shame, and a sense of sadness and loss. Some of this stems from seeing yet more of our traditions mocked and traded upon, invented and earning overnight acclaim, for little more than cheap thrills while the long standing traditions are ignored, left to die quietly and uncelebrated until they are forgotten and lost forever. Some of this comes from the fact we're tired of the theatrics, and how his need for attention will play out for the rest of us, and creep a little into our own lives. For an urban blackfella like me, I hate the fact that all of a sudden my opinion is relevant. I haven’t written a blog post in almost a year, or bothered to watch free to air television in even longer, yet received two messages on my phone today – one from SBS and the other from 2GB, wanting to know what I think about the whole Goodes drama and depending on what I think, whether they want to hear from me.
Views like mine, that are contrary to the representations being made by the rabid, name-calling media, are ignored or rejected by all those who simply want to brand every incident or comment with an ‘ism’, because the object of their outrage is never to stimulate an educated debate or a discussion, but rather they wish to simply stand on their given podium and recite their narcissistic lecture, a pointless exercise for them to reinforce their followers that they alone are a bastion of cultural relevance, understanding and compassion. Sadly, theses ‘enlightened’ folks also tend to take their cues on history from the most removed people of a culture, merely because they tend to occupy the cubicle or apartment next to them, or speak with the most authoritarian voice or sense of victimhood – a sure sign that they must know what they are on about, according to our current high standards of journalism in this country – instead of seeking the truth and looking for those with knowledge that comes from a life of lived tradition, rather than being well removed from it.
I used to dance as a kid. Most of the kids who grew up in our house did it, but I have no intention of my own children doing the same. My reluctance has nothing to do with them being of mixed heritage though, and everything to do with cultural appropriation. I said I used to ‘dance’ as a kid, because that is really all it was. I was dressed in a lap-lap and painted up, was taught the moves the rest of the kids were doing, but it was all just a show. The dances were not ones passed on to us from our Elders, performed for a specific reason or during a time of unique and special celebration that led me to understand my culture in a meaningful way, but rather a collection of dance moves put together by a choreographer who may or may not have had a distant Aboriginal ancestor she found out about in her mid-thirties. A few documentaries and books from the library later, she had all the cultural awareness she felt she needed, and as a bunch of children not yet trusted with much knowledge, we didn’t know any better. We danced for smiling crowds of educated, enlightened people who clapped politely while murmuring “Oh, how cultural”, as they watched us enraptured. I would smile back at them and dance harder, oblivious to what I was doing and simply happy to receive positive praise and attention from a crowd of people I didn’t even know. But I was no better than a performing monkey to them, and for all their education and compassion, those crowds were the most racist people of all. Their wisdom and understanding of Aboriginal people and culture was a passing fetish, and in an effort to appease them, I was walking all over my own culture for their amusement, all of us completely ignorant to this heartbreaking fact.
After becoming a man, I learned better. I learned that our chants, and our dances are sacred. They are powerful and special secrets, not entertainment for the masses or political statements designed to make sure you get yet another mention in the nightly news. I also took it to heart that the title of ‘Warrior’ is like respect. It is always earned, not merely given because of the colour of your skin or your heritage. I am proud to say that some of my own ancestors include great Warriors - men who fought and died to protect their families and their way of life, and faced enormous battles that I could never fully comprehend from where I sit today, in a relative position of privilege by comparison, however you look at the statistics and facts. It would make a mockery of the suffering and heroism of my ancestors to assign a title of great reverence and historical significance, such as ‘Warrior’, to a person whose fame and heroism is derived from little more than the ability to show up a few weekends a year and kick a leather ball around an overly groomed piece of paddock.
As Adam walks out for his next game, before making his way onto that perfectly manicured stadium lawn, I suggest he take a deep, slow breath and reflect upon the reality of his life. Rather than having to emerge from the sheds for the ‘coloured people’, kept separate from the white folks playing beside him, he will run out after being supported by his entire team, not kept to the back. When he is thirsty, he doesn’t have to take a drink at the appropriately labelled drinking fountain, set aside for only folks with his racial identity, but rather will be served like a prince, with a special servant whose only job is to provide refreshments for the thirsty players, regardless of their skin colour or heritage. As he drives his brand new sports car to training, where he looks around at the other players arriving in their equally expensive vehicles and stops to realise he is paid just as much as them, if not more, he should perhaps pause a moment and wonder about whether he is fighting a war that has already been won, and instead of complaining from his position at the top, realise how those on the bottom rungs might be sick of hearing him whinging and would much rather he just got on with life.
A good comment from Mark Allinson following the above blog post:
What a great post – I couldn’t agree more! I am a white fella, and I am ashamed of my people. No, not the ones who boo Adam Goodes, but the “educated” elites in the universities and the media who are so quick to point out the “racism” of their “ignorant” fellow Ozzies. Climbing up on the soapbox of their oh so superior morality gives them a sense of being “higher” beings, more moral, more special than their benighted “red-necked” fellows. Apparent self-hatred of the culture affords them a delicious degree of personal self-love. Even at the cost of social cohesion they will indulge their disgusting lust for self-loving superiority.
And these are the people who see “racism” everywhere they look. For some of them, it’s almost as if they are safely projecting onto others something they dare not examine in themselves, I think. For others it is a stick with which to bash their culture for left-wing political purposes. All in all, these elites are the true agents of division in our culture, and I am ashamed of them. I love the aboriginal people and I want us all to live together as Australians, not as “us” and “them”, which is why I boo Adam Goodes and the other race-baiters.
Tony Abbott resisted Barack Obama overtures on trade deal
Tony Abbott has defied a personal plea from US President Barack Obama to cave in to an American demand for longer medical patents that would push up drug prices in Australia.
In a phone call to the Prime Minister more than a week ago, Mr Obama sought Australian trade concessions to facilitate the conclusion of the 12-nation, $200 billion, Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.
Negotiations on the TPP, led for Australia by Trade Minister Andrew Robb, broke down in Hawaii at the weekend. Before the Hawaii negotiations, Mr Obama rang a number of leaders to lobby to get the deal concluded.
The US wants to increase the term for patents on biologic drugs — those made from natural sources — from five years to 12 years. The President put this position strongly to Mr Abbott. However, he firmly rejected Mr Obama’s proposal.
Both Mr Abbott and Mr Robb are on the record as saying they will sign no deal that will increase the price of drugs in Australia.
Although Mr Robb has tried to be positive after the breakdown in Hawaii, the view of the Australian government is clear and firming: no deal is better than a bad deal.
The Abbott government does not intend to compromise its bottom line on the TPP.
Mr Abbott and Mr Obama discussed other issues, including the challenge of terrorism and the situation in Iraq. But Mr Obama’s chief priority was to try to bring the TPP to closure.
The other sticking point for Australia is that the US must substantially increase access to its market for Australian sugar producers. Australia is allowed to export less than 90,000 tonnes of sugar a year to the US, while the total annual US sugar market is 10 million tonnes.
With Australia’s access to a portion of the “normal growth” expected in the US market, and a most marginal concession by the US, American negotiators have offered to raise this to 150,000 tonnes. The Abbott government believes this is completely unsatisfactory.
The government faces a stark political reality on both biologic drugs and sugar. It has promised it won’t compromise on drugs and five Nationals MPS have said they will cross the floor of parliament and vote against the deal if a better sugar offer from the US is not forthcoming.
This follows on from the Howard government not getting anything on sugar in the bilateral free-trade agreement it concluded a decade ago with the US.
The hypocrisy of the US position in these talks is stark. It is demanding free trade from others but continuing near absolute protection of its sugar market. In other words, it wants liberalisation where that would help US producers and protection where that would help US producers.
Similarly, much of its efforts on intellectual property protection, such as extending the biologic drugs patents, is a form of protectionism itself, trying to tie up trade in technology for as long as possible without regard to the costs this imposes on others.
The barriers for other nations concluding the TPP remain formidable. There is a series of unresolved disputes concerning trade in autos involving the US, Japan, Mexico and Canada.
There is also a big unresolved dispute over dairy trade. In this area, the US has demonstrated considerable incoherence, having advanced some concessions in negotiations only to withdraw them later, making the whole process extremely complicated.
Canberra is not worried about the prospect of investor-state dispute settlement mechanisms, which can allow foreign corporations to take legal action against governments. Despite some US objections, it is certain that Canberra will be able to extract exclusions involving health and environmental regulations. This means it would be impossible for actions such as that taken against Australia’s plain packaging tobacco legislation to proceed.
Australia already has ISDS provisions in deals covering 29 other trade partners, some of which have existed for three decades, and there has only ever been one action taken against Australian government legislation.
There was no need for ISDS provisions in Australia’s free-trade deal with the US because the two nations have a longstanding investment relationship, stable political systems and high confidence in the legal system of the other. That is not necessarily the case for all the other members of the TPP, which involves nations such as Vietnam and Mexico.
Mr Robb is right to say that the TPP is not dead. But its life hangs in the balance.
The meeting in Hawaii was supposed to bring a final deal. Moreover, the obstacles to concluding a deal now are formidable. If the deal ultimately fails, it will reflect monumental mishandling by the Obama administration.
The President was wrong to emphasise so strongly the element of geo-strategic competition between the US and China. He should have sold the TPP primarily on economic grounds.
Similarly, he left it far too late to lobby seriously for the deal, in Washington or the Asia-Pacific.
Australia, and the Asian region generally, will be big losers if the TPP falls over. It represents by far the biggest trade liberalisation deal since the Uruguay Round and would substantially harmonise trade rules across 12 major economies, significantly reducing the cost of business.
Mr Obama’s long delay in getting serious about the TPP has led to formidable anti-trade coalitions forming and campaigning in a number of nations such as the US and Australia.
The future of the TPP is utterly unpredictable.
Wind farms use fossil fuels for construction and operation
Bill Shorten should have asked a couple of questions before committing Australia to a 50 per cent renewable target. Can you build a wind turbine, or start a wind turbine, without fossil fuels?
The answer is no and no, you cannot. So what is the point of saddling Australia with an increasing load of wind turbines? (Much is also true for solar.)
Whatever one's beliefs on the veracity and level of threat from climate change, what is the point in spending hard-earned dollars on expensive and inadequate-for-purpose technology?
The energy density of wind power is a little over one watt a square metre. As Smaller, Faster, Lighter, Denser, Cheaper author Robert Bryce tells, if all the coal-fired generation capacity in the US were to be replaced by wind, it would need to set aside land the size of Italy. Hydrocarbons are denser energy sources than wind. There is nothing that can overcome that fact.
James Hansen, the former NASA climate scientist, wrote in 2011: "Suggesting that renewables will let us phase out rapidly fossil fuels is almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter bunny."
The other thing about renewables is that they cannot produce the intensity of heat required to not only build turbines but just about anything else that makes the modern world modern.
The material requirements of a modern wind turbine have been reviewed by the US Geological Survey (Wind Energy in the United States and Materials Required for the Land-Based Turbine Industry From 2010 Through 2030). On average, 1 megawatt of wind capacity requires 103 tonnes of stainless steel, 402 tonnes of concrete, 6.8 tonnes of fibreglass, three tonnes of copper and 20ÿtonnes of cast iron. The blades are made of fibreglass, the tower of steel and the base of concrete.
Robert Wilson at Carbon Counter takes us through the -science. Fibreglass is produced from petrochemicals, which means that a wind turbine cannot be made without the extraction of oil and natural gas. Steel is made from iron ore. To mine ore requires high energy density fuels, such as diesel. Transporting ore to steel mills requires diesel.
Converting iron ore into steel requires a blast furnace, which requires large amounts of coal or natural gas. The blast furnace is used for most steel production.
Coal is essential, not simply a result of the energy requirements of steel production but of the chemical requirements of iron ore smelting.
Cement is made in a kiln, using kiln fuel such as coal, natural gas or used tyres. About 50 per cent of emissions from cement production comes from chemical reactions in its production.
Then there is the problem of priming windmills. Large wind turbines require a large amount of energy to operate. Wind plants must use electricity from the grid, which is powered by coal, gas or nuclear power.
A host of the wind turbine functions use electricity that the turbine cannot be relied on to generate - functions such as blade-pitch control, lights, controllers, communication, sensors, metering, data collection, oil heater, pump, cooler, filtering system in gearboxes, and much more.
Wind turbines cannot be built and cannot operate on a large scale without fossil fuels.
As important, wind and solar do not have the energy densities to create an economy. Forget trains, planes and automobiles; your humble iPhones, laptops and other digital devices consume huge amounts of electricity and cannot be made with renewables. That most modern of new economy inventions, the computing cloud, requires massive amounts of electricity.
As Mark Mills wrote: "The cloud begins with coal." The greenies who got into the ears of Labor leaders to convince them that the era of fossil fuels is over should think again.
Reservoirs of methane hydrates - icy deposits in which methane molecules are trapped in a lattice of water - are thought to hold more energy than all other fossil fuels combined.
The Japanese, among others, hope that the reservoirs will become a crucial part of the country's energy profile, as Nature reported in April 2013. A pilot project 80km off the country's shores has produced tens of thousands of cubic metres of gas.
As with any new resources there are risks and much work is to be done for safe extraction, but the UN Environmental Program report in March, Frozen Heat: A Global Outlook on Methane Gas Hydrates, was very keen to "explore the potential impact of this untapped natural gas source on the future global energy mix".
Bill, you are suffering from Big Wind. You have let down the party and the nation.
Bureaucratic breakdown over child abuse in Qld.
The government has not ruled out sackings in the wake of an education system failure that left hundreds of suspected sexual abuse cases unreported to police.
Deloitte will start an external review into what happened and why a new system for principals to report suspected child abuse cases to police, rolled out in January, was not adequately checked to ensure it was working.
It will take at least two months for that review to be finalised.
While the most serious of concerns were forwarded to the appropriate authorities a third category, where principals believed a parent or guardian was looking out for the child but determined a report still needed to be made, were not.
On Thursday, six months after the One School system was rolled out, a principal enquired with the education department about his reports' progress and the failure was uncovered, revealing 644 cases had gone nowhere.
Education Minister Kate Jones ordered an immediate review, and police have been working with departmental officials to investigate the cases.
However they have been unable to rule out children were left in dangerous situations, or that the suspected abuse did not escalate.
"Can I say again, how sorry and disappointed I am that the system was not working as it should," Ms Jones said.
"But just to reiterate, the 644 cases reports that we are talking about, were ones where the principals had made a determination that there was a parent or guardian acting in the best interests of that child.
"It is heartbreaking to hear that the police feel that could be the case. But can I say this, I have absolute confidence in the police and the thorough work they are doing to review all 644 reports."
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the government was doing it all it could to rectify the situation.
"I'm actually furious about what's happened here and we are going to absolutely get to the bottom of it," she said from the Stretton Community Cabinet on Sunday.
"I want to get to the bottom of how this IT issue happened which was initiated under the LNP and was not checked before it was started.
"This review will get to the bottom of it. Queenslanders want to know the answer as to what this happened.
"What I can say is that the Education Minister Kate Jones has acted swiftly. She has acted as promptly and as swiftly as she possibly could.
"As soon as she heard of this issue the police were called in.
"I have made it very clear to the assistant commissioner if they need extra resources we are ore than happy to provide those resources."
Two employees have been stood aside, on pay, but Ms Jones said she could not rule out further action.
As director-general, Jim Watterson oversaw the system's implementation. He, like the minister, had been told the program had been checked.
It was only last week that the department discovered that a coding error had stopped reports from landing in police servers, despite principals receiving an email notification their report had been successful.
"At this stage, we have already made a decision to stand aside two employees, but obviously I am not going to pre-empt the investigation." Ms Jones said.
"I have ordered an external investigation, because I do want to get to the very bottom of how this happened. I can say I will not rule anything in or out at this stage.
"I want to get the facts, as I am sure every school community and every parent does as well and I'll be waiting for the investigations report."
The Opposition has said the failure to pick up the system error was indicative of the "mega-porfolios" the Labor Cabinet holds, following its election promise to cut the ministry from 19 to 14 as part of a $27 million cost cutting measure.
Ms Jones, who also looks after tourism and the Commonwealth Games, said that was not the case.
"My priority has to be the welfare of those children and to ensure that the schools in Queensland have confidence in the system," she said.
"That is why that every principal, teacher, parent and student out there knows that the system is fixed and it is working and secondly, that all of the reports are now with the police and they are working through them."
Ms Palaszczuk will review her Cabinet at the end of the year and has left open the possibility of adding another minister.