Thursday, December 05, 2019

Tearful Jacqui Lambie votes for medivac repeal, handing Scott Morrison a major political victory

ScoMo is not getting it all his way but he is doing well overall in getting his legislation through the Senate. Cormann deserves a lot of credit

Scott Morrison has scored a major political victory by repealing the controversial medivac legislation, delivering on a key election pledge, as a row ignites over whether he struck a “secret deal” with crossbencher Jacqui Lambie.

The laws, which made it easier for refugees in offshore detention to be brought to Australia to receive medical treatment, was scrapped during a tense debate in the Senate on Wednesday. The final vote was 37 to 35.

Senator Lambie, who delivered the government victory, broke down in tears as she told the chamber she would support the medivac repeal bill.

“I’m quite sure many people have known in here this has been a really hard decision for me to make,” Senator Lambie said. “Sorry, everybody, for taking this long to make it, but we’re getting there.”

The crucial crossbencher had previously been tight-lipped on whether she would vote with the government.

Senator Lambie told the Senate, the medivac laws were a national security threat and there were “real problems” with the way they were operating. “There are problems that sit at the centre of its operation. They cannot be amended away,” Senator Lambie said. “The Labor Party and the Greens might think everything is A-OK, but I’m not comfortable with it and I’ll tell you — they know as well as anybody else that this isn’t right.”

A tearful Senator Lambie said she was voting to dismantle the legislation because it was a “matter of conscience.”

“This is a matter of conscience. I can’t let the boats start back up and I can’t let refugees die, whether it’s sinking into the ocean or waiting for a doctor and I am voting to make sure that neither of these things happen.”

While the government’s chief negotiator Finance Minister and Senate leader, Mathias Cormann, denied a secret deal was struck, Senator Lambie said she couldn’t reveal the proposal worked on with the coalition for national security reasons.

“I’m not being coy or silly when I say I genuinely can’t say what I proposed. I know that’s frustrating to people. And I get that,” Senator Lambie said. “I don’t like holding things back like this but when I say I can’t discuss it publicly due to national security concerns, I am being 100 per cent honest to you.”

During the debate, Labor Senator Penny Wong blasted the government over its track-record on transparency, saying the vote should be delayed until Australians knew the terms of the private negotiations.

A furious Greens leader Richard Di Natale blasted Senator Corman for “misleading” the parliament after he denied a deal had been struck.

“We’ve just heard conflicting accounts. We had Minister Cormann say that there was no deal. Now we’ve just heard Senator Lambie say there is a deal. Who’s lying?,” Senator Di Natale said.

“Someone is misleading the Senate. Someone is misleading the Senate about one of the most important pieces of legislation that has been before this Parliament.”

He was joined in his attack by Senator Wong who told the chamber cabinet ministers were voting on legislation “like lemmings” having not been privy to the details of the deal.

“What sort of cabinet government is that? What sort of process of democracy is that?” Senator Wong said. “You should require of this government some disclosure. You should require something more than secret deals done in the shadows.”

The surprise vote occurred after the Coalition moved a motion to put the medivac repeal to vote in a move to push the legislation through the upper house.


Police "strike" on going into Aboriginal settlements?

Just the charging of constable Rolfe has created tension. If the Rolfe trial leads to anything but complete exoneration, police may well in future refuse to go into Aboriginal communities.  Armchair judgments on police actions in the heat of the moment are intrinsically unfair and basing a prosecution on them tells police not to bother in future

One of Australia's longest-serving former police commissioners believes the shooting of Indigenous man Kumanjayi Walker in a remote Northern Territory community could have widespread consequences for the future of policing.

Western Australia's ex-police commissioner Karl O'Callaghan said officers felt unsupported after Constable Zachary Rolfe was charged with murder and many will be watching the outcome of the case "very closely".

Dr O'Callaghan also expressed sadness at the low number of Aboriginal people involved in law enforcement and the failed efforts to recruit them.

The comments come amid fresh scrutiny on policing strategies in isolated townships and the relationship between Indigenous people and the law.

Too risky for officers

As the state's highest-ranking officer for 13 years, Dr O'Callaghan has extensive experience in overseeing policing strategies in some of the most isolated places on earth.

He said the decision to charge Mr Rolfe with murder over the shooting sent ripples of dismay through the policing fraternity.

"I think [officers] feel they are not supported," he said. "[Officers] go out and do their job, something happens in a split second and they end up getting charged with a very serious offence.

"I think police in Western Australia and the Northern Territory will be very, very concerned about what this means for trying to support those Aboriginal communities."

He said the case had the potential to change the way officers approached policing in these places — and not necessarily for the better.

"The outcome of this will be watched very closely all over Australia," he said. "It will have an impact on the best of our police officers, on their decision to go to those communities.

"It will be a bad thing if police officers who are qualified and very skilled at their work decide that they don't want to go there because of this risk."

Policing in the far-flung regional centres of Western Australia and the Northern Territory has long presented a logistical and cultural challenge for officers.

A handful of staff are often responsible for between several hundred to 1,000 residents.

Small communities can be easily inundated by visitors who travel thousands of kilometres, many from interstate, to attend family commitments.

In addition to layers of complex social problems, there are language and cultural barriers to navigate, and support is usually hours away.

Law enforcement in these conditions requires a unique approach, according to Dr O'Callaghan, because officers, "are trying to deal with a lot of complex social issues".

"It can have an enormous impact on a police officer because of the complexity of what they're dealing with and I think even the best-prepared officers are not prepared or trained to deal with what they find in those communities," he said.


The Aboriginal "Stonehenge"

There are no standing stones there today but were there ever?

Peter O'Brien below surveys the evidence

Having been an aficionado of climate change fiction for many years now, I have gradually come to understand the concept of ‘post truth’ or, rather, to appreciate just how omnipresent it now is.

Recently, I came across the perfect example in reading Bruce Pascoe’s hugely popular book Dark Emu.  Dark Emu postulates that Australian Aborigines were not a nomadic hunter-gatherer society, as we had all been led to believe, but a sedentary agricultural people whose achievements included baking the first-ever loaf of bread and inventing government.  Pascoe concludes that, on  the basis of those achievements, the colonization of Australia was totally unjustified. Dark Emu received the Book of the Year award at the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards in 2016.

However, my intention here is not to critique Dark Emu itself – that is the subject of my book, Bitter Harvest, which is now available.

In this essay I will examine just one ludicrous claim that is based on the work of supposedly mainstream serious academics, not faux historians like Pascoe. In Dark Emu, Pascoe floats the idea that colonists downplayed or hid Aboriginal achievements, making them seem more primitive than they really were in order to justify colonization. But not only that:

"Perversely, some early colonists exaggerated the size of some features in order to distance the structure from the capability of Aboriginal people and to suggest their origin to be the work of isolated Europeans in the distant past.  An engraving of some vertical stones at Mount Elephant, Victoria, published in the Australian Illustrated News in 1877 has certainly been exaggerated to assume Stonehenge proportions.  Faced with the evidence of permanent occupation, some were tempted to infer that the work was the result of aliens."

This claim cites the work of professors Ian McNiven and Lynette Russell of Monash University.  McNiven is an archaeological anthropologist and Russell a historian.  Their assertion first saw the light of day in a paper titled Monumental Colonialism: Megaliths and the Appropriation of Australia’s Aboriginal Past, published in 1998 in The Journal of Material Culture.  It then reappeared in a book by the same authors, Appropriated Pasts. In a nutshell, the idea is that colonists were so insecure in their right to be in Australia that they invented structures which could not possibly be the work of Aborigines.  Comparing such structures to, for example, Stonehenge, would ascribe a European heritage to them and suggest that a superior, European-based culture had been displaced by Aborigines and that, in colonizing Australia, they were merely reclaiming their own heritage.

I kid you not.

The story of the Mt Elephant stones, located some 183km west of Melbourne and often described as ‘megaliths’, begins as far as McNiven and Russell are concerned with the inclusion in an 1867 work, published in England, on the ancient rock engravings of Britain and selected areas of the world. The author, Sir James Simpson, noted:

Stone circles have been found in almost every country in the old world, from Greenland southward.  Nor are ancient circles of this kind wanting even in Australia.  My friend, Mr Ormond, informs me that he has seen many, especially in the district near Mt Elephant plains, in Victoria.  The circles (Mr Ormond writes me) are from ten to a hundred feet in diameter, and sometimes there is an inner circle.  The stones composing these circles, or circular areas, vary in size and shape. Human bones have (he adds) been dug out of mounds near these circles.  The aborigines have no tradition regarding them.  When asked about them, they invariably deny knowledge of their origin. — Appropriated Pasts,  page 104

This was actually a footnote by Simpson which McNiven and Russell describe as ‘telling’.   But I’m not quite sure what it told them.  They contend the Aboriginal denial of knowledge of the origin of the stones is a ‘two way loss’:

If the Aboriginals were not responsible for the construction of the circles, then they, like the European colonizers, were newcomers, and the legitimacy of their claim to the land was questionable.  If, on the other hand, they had chosen to remain secret about the construction, use, and meaning of the stone circles, they were evasive, sly and dishonest.  In this context, the use of the term ‘deny’ is important, as it suggests the informants were choosing reticence and silence regarding the site’s meaning. — Appropriated Pasts,  page 105

The use of the term ‘deny’ might also be a convenient way to report that the Aborigines said they had no knowledge of the stones.  The words of Simpson, a simple recounting of what he had been told, do not justify the inference drawn by McNiven and Russell that this negated in the European mind any Aboriginal claim to the land.  And you will note there is no mention of the size of the stones.  They are not described as megaliths.  McNiven and Russell then go on to cite an 1872 survey of megaliths, The Monuments of Unrecorded Ages, by William and Robert Chambers, which refers to the Mt Elephant stone circles:

Five years later, William and Robert Chambers in their megalith survey of 1872, “The Monuments of Unrecorded Ages" made reference (albeit uncited) to Simpson’s footnote  “Even in Australia – in the colony of Victoria – they are to be seen in numbers, sometimes circle within circle, as at Avebury, and without any tradition among the natives". — Appropriated Pasts, page 105

There is still no suggestion the Mt Elephant stones were megaliths, other than in the claim that The Monuments of Unrecorded Ages was a ‘survey of megaliths’.  This description and the arguably disapproving aside that the reference to Simpson was uncited, suggest this was a scholarly scientific work.  But in fact The Monuments of Unrecorded Ages was simply one essay (of thirty-one pages) about monuments in general, in just one volume of a series of periodicals titled Chambers’s Miscellany of Instructive and Entertaining Tracts.  There were at least twenty volumes of this precursor to Reader’s Digest, containing such essays as “Intelligent Negroes“, “Religious Imposters“, and the one immediately before the ancient monuments piece, “Anecdotes of Shoemakers“.  The Chambers brothers were scholarly gentlemen who lived in Scotland but their reference to stone circles in Australia was a very fleeting one in an extensive article and had nothing to do with scientific research on their part or that of anyone else.

More HERE 

1 comment:

Paul said...

"Dr O'Callaghan also expressed sadness at the low number of Aboriginal people involved in law enforcement and the failed efforts to recruit them."

If he wants competent Police then he should be celebrating this, not be disappointed by it.