Friday, August 21, 2020

ABC is forced to pull two episodes of kids' favourite TV show Bluey over claims they include racist language

Almost any word can be offensive in some context.  The context matters.  And there is no abusive or offensive context in the show mentioned below

In a famous comic book ("The Wonderful World of Barry McKenzie") written by Barry Humphries, the word "feature" was treated as very indelicate -- but in all other contexts it has no offensive character at all

The ABC has pulled two episodes of its most downloaded kids show after receiving complaints they contained racist language. 

Episodes of the show Bluey were taken down on August 10 after a viewer complained about the use of the term 'ooga booga' in the 'Teasers' and 'Flat Back' episodes.

The complaint said the phrase had racial connotations which referred to a 'problematic history for Indigenous Australians.' 

'The ABC sincerely apologised to the complainant for any distress caused by the term,' an official statement read.

'The ABC has a strong record for giving voice to Indigenous Australians and an ongoing commitment to helping reduce discrimination and prejudice.'

The complainant was also told the ABC and the external producers of the show weren't aware of the offensive language.

Bluey is the ABC's most downloaded show on Iview, having been watched more than 200 million times.

Outraged fans took to social media to slam the broadcaster for taking down the episodes. 'Can't people just enjoy Bluey as a wholesome cartoon?' one fan wrote. 'Can someone explain to me how 'ooga booga' is racist?' another added.

However others praised the decision and one woman explained why the term 'ooga booga' was racist. 'I well remember a time growing up in Western Sydney where the phrase 'Ooga Booga/s' was used conversationally to describe a dark skinned person/s,' she wrote. 'It was used in social circles, in movies or TV depicting black indigenous people as 'uncivilised fools'.

'I personally balked at hearing it used in Teasing , but never said anything because I thought it was maybe just me.'

The ABC will change the dialogue prior to future broadcast or publication of the two episodes. 


Melbourne University head says restrictions could do more harm than virus

Australia's "lockdown mindset" in response to COVID-19 risks doing more damage than the virus itself, particularly to the lives of young people, says University of Melbourne vice-chancellor Duncan Maskell.

Professor Maskell, an expert in infectious diseases and the head of Australia’s wealthiest university, said Australia had to move beyond the lockdown phase of its response or risk experiencing even greater loss of life from poverty and suicide.

"At what point do the measures that we take to suppress the infectious disease rate actually start to do more damage than the disease itself?" Professor Maskell said.

"I’m very concerned actually that if we carry on in this kind of lockdown mindset for too long, we will seriously damage young people's lives."

The vice-chancellor made his remarks in an online forum hosted by the university’s faculty of science as part of National Science Week on Wednesday night.  "We already know that there are … some death rates that have increased, there’s more suicide going on at the moment," he said.

"If we have an economy that’s not functioning, we’ll have serious poverty problems which we all know, lots of studies show will lead to increased morbidity and mortality in society."

Pandemics and infectious diseases have occurred throughout human history, Professor Maskell said, but modern society has reached a point where we believe we can control natural disasters.

"Infectious diseases are part of the landscape," he said. "People die from infectious diseases all of the time around the world, it’s just that this particular infectious disease is a new one and when it first came along we didn’t know what it might do to us."

In a forum exploring the role of universities in crises, the vice-chancellor also took aim at politicians and social media for eroding public trust in scientific expertise.

"Every single person on the planet who has a social media account feels they have the right to not just comment on stuff, but have their comment taken seriously," he said. "And so the number of people you see commenting on complicated issues with simplistic sound bites is really quite frightening."

Politicians around the world also spurned scientific findings that clashed with their own interests and ideological beliefs, he said.

Coronavirus has so far infected more than 22.2 million people and taken 783,000 lives worldwide.

About 24,000 people in Australia have tested positive to the virus, with almost 500 lives lost, including 376 in Victoria.

The Andrews government has imposed a six-week, stage four lockdown across greater Melbourne in response to the second wave of the virus, which has been far deadlier than the first wave.

The national cabinet has also introduced strict restrictions on travel into and out of Australia.

These travel restrictions have destroyed Australia’s market for international students. Universities Australia has estimated the sector could lose $16 billion in revenue between this year and 2023.

Professor Maskell said his "primary objective is to ... make sure that this university survives the crisis".

This month the University of Melbourne announced it would shed 450 jobs, along with an unidentified number of casual roles, in response to an estimated $1 billion fall in revenue.


Business groups push to open international borders for economic boost

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is on a collision course with Australia's biggest business lobby groups over tough international border restrictions they say hamper economic recovery and could see more jobs lost and global corporate deals languish.

Mr Morrison asked state premiers this week for "urgent solutions" to the havoc caused by interstate restrictions, but on Wednesday he said his international border position was "uncontroversial".

However, Ai Group, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Business Council of Australia are warning business activity and jobs growth are constrained by closed borders stopping the majority of arrivals and departures during the coronavirus pandemic.

Coalition MPs are also supporting an increase in the cap on how many people can arrive from overseas, as well as a robust quarantine system for returning Australians.

ACCI chief executive James Pearson said one in six businesses' trading conditions are significantly disrupted by border restrictions and more than half have been disrupted by both domestic and international travel restrictions. The ACCI is Australia's biggest business network.

"Opening our international borders is a critically important step in economic recovery for a trading nation like Australia," Mr Pearson said.

"Our domestic markets, disrupted by restrictions on the movement of people and goods and gatherings of people, will not be able to sustain high employment and living standards by themselves.

"We urge the government to provide assurance that the conditions under which borders will reopen are better known so that business can have more certainty."

He said there needed to be a clear plan on how - and when - the borders would open in a safe and controlled way.

The current limit is for 4000 people to arrive in the country on a weekly basis until at least October 24. To compare, in August 2019 there were 820,000 international arrivals and 950,000 returning Australians over the month.

There are growing calls for the government to review its ban on Australians travelling overseas, critics saying the policy makes Australia a prison island.

Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox, representing more than 60,000 businesses, is also pushing for international travel bans to be replaced by recommendations to allow companies to head overseas to look for business opportunities, negotiate deals and build relationships.

"The ban on Australians travelling overseas may have made sense as an early emergency measure but it is today a barrier to business that can be easily and safely removed," Mr Willox said, warning rejections to travel exemptions for businesses could cost jobs.

"Safely loosening outbound business travel restrictions would be a good start to getting business going again. "At the very least, the Government should signal a firm date on which such outbound travel restrictions will be reviewed and lifted."

BCA chief executive Jennifer Westacott said the nation's success was built on being open to the world, in terms of attracting skilled migration and exporting products and services.

As a result, Ms Westacott said "we should safely ease travel restrictions as soon as we can".

"Business and governments must continue to work together to get the right national system in place to manage and suppress the virus, open ourselves back up and get on with creating new jobs to fuel our recovery," she said.

The BCA represents chief executives from major companies employing more than one million workers, including the major banks, Coles, Woolworths, Wesfarmers, Telstra, AGL and BP.

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham declined to comment, however said on the weekend the "cautious approach" would remain important into the future as the restrictions helped Australia manage the crisis.

"We continue to review all of the health advice including as it relates to travel circumstances," he said.

"But we can't and won't put just random timelines in terms of advice as to when borders might reopen."

However, the international border situation may rely on the future of a vaccine. A report from Lowy Institute senior fellow John Edwards released on Thursday warns in a post-COVID world it would "take time" before business plans could be implemented and travel could resume.

"The resumption of mass foreign travel, unimpeded by quarantine, awaits not only the discovery and approval of a COVID-19 vaccine but also its distribution in millions of doses," Dr Edwards said.


Cash relief on the way for Victorian landlords as protections for renters are extended

Small commercial property owners in Victoria will be able to apply for support payments of up to $3,000 under a suite of measures targeting both tenants and landlords announced by the State Government today.

The measures also include extending the ban on rental increases and evictions for both residential and commercial tenants until December 31.

Those moratoriums, introduced in late March to protect tenants suffering financial distress because of the pandemic, were due to expire on September 29.

"Nobody should be worried about losing a roof over their head right now, particularly given the circumstances around social distancing," Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas said.

Land tax relief for eligible residential and commercial landlords is also being extended, and the potential discount has doubled from 25 per cent to 50 per cent.

"To get through this together, all of us — tenants, landlords, businesses, governments, banks — we need to work together," Mr Pallas said.

"And certainly these arrangements, which seek to strike that right balance, are aimed at ensuring that where the right thing is done by a landlord for a tenant, where they comply with the eligible criteria, then they too can expect that the state will provide them with relief as well."

Commercial landlords will now also be required to provide rent relief in proportion with the fall in turnover experienced by eligible tenants.

"Until now, that proportionality principle has been aspired to," Mr Pallas said. "But we will now make it a very clear and expressed intention that, if you're identifying a downturn in your capacity, your turnover, then you should have an expectation that that is similarly reflected in terms of the rent relief that you get."

Nearly 26,000 agreements for reduced rent have been registered with Consumer Affairs Victoria in the past four months, the State Government said.

The extension of the ban on rental evictions comes after some Melbourne tenants raised concerns about the September expiry date.

But the Property Council of Australia said the moratorium's extension "will push many landlords to their limits or beyond".  "Landlords cannot keep propping up the system," the lobby group's Cressida Wall said. "As the crisis goes on, we will need goodwill and action from both banks and governments to ensure that these businesses do not go under and take down the economy with them.

"We welcome the additional land tax relief announced and will work with the State Government on the technical detail of proposals to introduce additional obligations on landlords."


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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