Thursday, August 20, 2020

Cancel culture and push to rename Queensland’s ‘racist’ place names must end now, writes Michael Madigan

Today we in Queensland are pondering the (hopefully faint) possibility that we will have to rename a series of Queensland cities and towns because they are allegedly named after people connected to slavery.

A petition from 400 people lodged with the Queensland Parliament has requested the move start with Russell Island – named for Lord Russell who allegedly voted against slavery abolition

Townsville, Mackay and Gladstone are just some of the places named after figures who supported the blackbirding which often resulted in South Sea Islander forced to work in sugar cane paddocks under appalling conditions for meagre, or sometimes no, wages.

The Palaszczuk Government says it will consider changing names associated with British aristocrats and politicians who were in favour of slavery.

Yet if we start walking down this track we’ll find it has no end, no point of finality.

For, if we were to be logical and consistent, we would have to start by renaming the entire state of Queensland. The “Queen’s Land’’ is quite definitely named after the British Monarch generically even if the name originated in the time of Queen Victoria.

And it was a British Queen (Elizabeth 1) who in 1563 helped kick off the African slave trade when she rented out one of her old man’s (Henry VIII) boats (it was called ironically enough, Jesus of Lubeck) to a group of British businessman who collected African slaves.

So the institution that is the British Monarchy is tainted with slavery and the very name of this state, by association, also carries the stain.

Yet it was also members of the British Monarchy (notably Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex, now a title owned by Prince Harry) who joined the abolitionists led by William Wilberforce in the 19th Century to bring an end to slavery.

Places named after slave traders and their supporters:

Townsville - named after Robert Towns - revived blackbirding in Queensland in the late 19th Century

Mackay - named after Captain John Mackay - conducted many blackbirding expeditions through the Pacific and China between 1865 and 1883

Gladstone - named after British prime minister William Gladstone - supported the slave trade

Town of McIlwraith, McIlwraith Range - named after three-time Queensland Premier between 1879 and 1893 - tried to annex New Guinea for Queensland to promote easy flow of slave labour, supported the trade

Federal division of Dickson - Brisbane northside seat named after Sir James Dickson, currently held federal MP Peter Dutton - supported the trade of slaves to Queensland

William Gladstone’s family may have owned slaves, and he may have been an apologist for slaves, but he also attempted to rein in some of the more brutal treatment of the Irish.

Captain John Mackay may have engaged in blackbirding but he also led an expedition up from what is now northern New South Wales to present day Mackay.

That opened up the district to the agriculture which played a major role in developing the economy of present day Queensland.

As for Russell Island, a reader of The Courier-Mail has already penned a letter to the editor saying the allegations of Lord John Russell supporting slavery are simply wrong.

That Lord Russell was apparently not even born when his father Lord Russell made a speech supporting the regulation of the slave trade.

We just can’t go on doing this. We can’t go on posturing as moral arbiters of people who lived in times we can’t possibly understand.

And we can’t go on attacking people connected with slavery when almost every society on planet earth, for thousands of years, thought slavery perfectly acceptable.

Our own behaviour, which we might assume is perfectly acceptable, may be interpreted as utterly reprehensible by generations living a century on from today.

All we can hope is that future generations have the intelligence to understand that human beings are fallible, and the wisdom to know they share in that fallibility.

Brian Courtice is a former federal Labor politician from Bundaberg who knows more about the South Sea Islander blackbirding trade than most people in this state after studying it for decades.

His own property outside Bundaberg hosts the bodies of South Sea Islander who were often buried in the cane fields, where they fell.

Courtice, who has formally asked the British Government for an apology relating to the blackbirding trade which occurred under British rule, says changing a name or tearing down a statue resolves nothing.

“What we need is more statues, more place names,’’ he says.

“We need to own all of our history, not just part of it.’’


'We are losing our rights over a virus with a 99% recovery rate': Defiant organiser of hippy drumming event at a Sydney beach vows to keep defying coronavirus restrictions

The organiser of a hippy drumming event has vowed to continue defying COVID-19  restrictions and labelled social distancing measures a 'totalitarian measure'. 

Sydney Drummers founder, Curt Hannagan, organised a gathering that saw 200 people pack onto Mistral Point at Maroubra in the city's east on Sunday.

Mr Hannagan unleashed an explosive social media rant on Tuesday after he was fined $1,000 for breaching coronavirus restrictions.

'We are having our rights and freedoms taken away from us over a virus with a 99 per cent recovery rate,' Mr Hannagan wrote on Facebook.

Mr Hannagan, who also goes by Curt Alchemy, established a GoFundMe page to help pay for the event's fine and purchase new drumming equipment. 

'Over 200 people gathered in Maroubra to collectively share their heart beat and connection to one another in a form of musical celebration for the human race and mother earth,' Mr Hannagan explained.     

He also added a post on the Sydney Drumming page that said the group would 'not submit to the current totalitarian measures here in Australia'.  

'These events are designed to heal ourselves, heal our trauma, and to create harmony within our body, mind and spirit,' Mr Hannagan said.

The drummer asked those who 'stand strong for you rights, for your freedoms' to 'donate any finances... so we can pay the fine and move forward.' He also shared plans to host another gathering and asked 'Who wants another secret location tribe fest in Sydney?'  'We will not submit, we will rise in community spirit,' Mr Hannagan said.

Maroubra residents called police after seeing the drumming party grow and officers arrived at about 6pm.

'Officers spoke with a 33-year-old man who was one of the organisers of the event.

'Police were able to disperse the crowd without incident,' a NSW Police spokeswoman told Daily Mail Australia.

NSW Police said they issued the 33-year-old man with a $1,000 fine on Monday for failing to comply with COVID-19 regulations.

Daily Mail Australia has contacted the event organisers for comment. 

According to New South Wales Health regulations no more than 20 people are allowed to gather outside in a public place.

The state recorded three new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases to 3,770.  

One was a returned traveller in hotel quarantine, one has been linked to the funeral cluster in South Western Sydney and another case remains under investigation.

There were 13,736 tests undertaken in the most recent 24 hour period and 122 people are being treated for coronavirus.


Bullying, stress, anxiety: Why COVID is causing our kids to skip school

Record amounts of students have not returned to school across the country since the initial introduction of remote learning with principals feeling like they have their hands tied and that children are going to slip through the cracks permanently.

The Australian Primary Principals Association (APPA) has been told the number of students missing from school could be as high as eight per cent with teenagers refusing to return to school in some states.

According to APPA school refusal is usually around two per cent – as opposed to students occasionally being absent.

Bullying accounts for a large part of why students are truanting with one source telling News Corp Australia “it is not the classroom that is the problem, it is the playground.”

Previously school refusal students tend to be from lower socio-economic areas but the sky rocketing numbers are now including those from middle class families.

Anxiety and stress are playing a big part with students worried their academic performance has suffered from the school shutdowns earlier this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many are “too embarrassed” to go back to school as a result.

“We’ve noticed those who experienced social anxieties related to the classroom and playground have excelled with remote learning and are reluctant to go back to face-to-face learning,” Schools Program Manager at Les Twentyman Foundation Sarah Ryan said.

“The other cohort have struggled with attendance, fallen behind and now are even more reluctant to return as they’ve fallen further behind.

“Absenteeism is difficult to monitor at the moment, given the different platforms schools are using to monitor classroom engagement. We do know however, that those refusers who were starting to make progress pre-COVID are almost right back at square one.”

The APPA is calling for funds to help bring students back to school by working more closely with support agencies.

APPA principal Malcolm Elliot said too many students are slipping through the cracks and there is only so much school leaders can do by themselves.

“Schools currently have access to support such as social workers and school psychologists to support children and families, but there are issues with schools having the resources to pay for the requisite of such services and the further you move out of the urban areas the more difficult accessing this support becomes,” Mr Elliott said.

“We are hearing from school principals that there is a significant issue of children not returning to ‘face-to-face’ learning since remote learning was halted across all states, while official data is scarce during the COVID crisis on the numbers, there is suggestion that we may be looking at up to eight per cent of primary aged children still at home in some states.

“This is a national issue and was a problem prior to the added pressure of the coronavirus outbreak with research from the University of Melbourne suggesting that up to 50,000 children are not currently enrolled in school, with children for a variety of reasons unwilling to attend school, some related to issues in the home such as family breakdown, domestic violence, trauma, with an increase in anxiety also playing a major role.”

Cluey Learning’s Chief Learning Officer Dr Selina Samuels said they have seen a 30 to 50 per cent rise in senior students seeking additional support since COVID hit.

“There is no doubt 2020 has presented students with education challenges unlike no other,” Dr Samuels said.

“As schools moved to remote learning, we had a lot of senior students looking for or already using additional support such as online tutoring. They are looking for more one-to-one interactions in tandem with what they are getting at school.”


Lives and livelihoods ruined in misplaced coronavirus response

It’s just over two months since Jacinda Ardern declared: “We are confident we have eliminated transmission of the virus in New Zealand.” She made the statement after revealing that, on receiving this news from her officials, she “did a little dance”.

To be fair, the New Zealand Prime Minister said that eradication of COVID-19 had been achieved “for now”.

She added: “Elimination is a point in time. It is a sustained effort. We almost certainly will see cases here again.” Which makes you wonder — how many “little dances” will Ardern undertake until COVID-19 goes the way of the Spanish flu during the previous pandemic in Australasia a century ago?

The sad news out of New Zealand this week is that a fresh COVID-19 cluster has been discovered and that more lockdowns have been implemented — the most severe in Auckland, the location of the current outbreak.

Until now, many disease experts and commentators in Australia have been urging the federal, state and territory governments to implement the New Zealand approach in tackling the virus.

For example, on July 14 ABC Online reported that “an elimination strategy would likely involve tougher lockdowns and has proved successful in New Zealand”. One of the commentators said that a really tough lockdown would prevent the need for a similar response at some later time.

Alas, this has not proved to be the case in New Zealand. It is not clear what is the cause of the resurgence of community transfer of the virus in New Zealand. However, Australian National University infectious disease physician Peter Collignon, is not surprised.

Speaking on Sky News’ The Bolt Report on Wednesday, Collignon said he “was always a bit concerned about this elimination term — because I think that’s very difficult to get but, more importantly, to sustain”.

Collignon is aware of the various theories about the virus cluster in Auckland. His essential point is that “one of the problems is that people who are young, 20s and 30s, often have minimal or no symptoms”. Consequently it’s easy for COVID-19 “to percolate below the surface for quite a long period … and then … it comes back”.

New Zealand had the toughest lockdowns in the whole of Australasia. But COVID-19 has not been eliminated. Victoria had the toughest lockdowns in all of Australia — but it has implemented an even stricter lockdown as it faces what appears to be a serious second wave of infection.

Meanwhile the economic consequences of the lockdown continue to wreak harm on Australia’s businesses and the nation’s mental health.

On Monday, The Mercury in Hobart led with a story about the impact of COVID-19 on Australia’s smallest state. Shelley Brooks, the director of Rodgers Reidy Tasmania, was reported as saying: “It is anticipated there will be a tsunami of insolvency appointments over the coming months and up to two years following.”

The Mercury reported that, of Tasmania’s 40,000 businesses, 95 per cent are considered to be small operators. They prevail in the retail and tourism businesses. Not much business there in the foreseeable future. Tasmania is in a statewide lockdown. Tourists and other visitors are not welcome. However, Tasmania is Australia’s least prosperous state and is dependent on money spent in the state from other Australians and foreigners.

If the islands of New Zealand cannot eliminate COVID-19, why should the island of Tasmania be expected to do so? If it cannot do so, on the current policies of the Tasmanian government the state may be locked down for another year or more.

What then will be left of the once thriving Tasmanian tourism industry and the businesses that benefited from it?

At the moment, virtually every state border is closed to other Australians except for the transmission of goods. It’s true that in 1919-20 Australia’s state borders were closed to prevent or slow down the impact of the Spanish flu.

But that was a century ago when Australians who lived in Albury could not readily work in Wodonga — likewise with Tweed Heads and Coolangatta. In short, closed borders then did not pose the economic, social and medical problems that they do today.

In NSW, Premier Gladys Berejiklian is doing her best in trying to keep open as much business and interstate trade as possible.

Certainly NSW closed its border with Victoria following that state’s catastrophic handling of quarantine procedures in hotels. But travel is possible from Queensland into NSW. The Berejiklian government seems the most focused — along with the federal government — on the need to keep the private sector going at a time of national and international recession.

It is no accident, as the Marxists were wont to say, that the two Australasian leaders in government who have been most willing to close down large sections of the economy — Ardern in New Zealand and Daniel Andrews in Victoria — have scant first-hand knowledge of the private sector.

Without question, COVID-19 is an insidious virus — especially for the aged. This is a reason to focus on the needs of older Australians and those who suffer from chronic illnesses.

But there is also a need to be mindful of those, especially in the small to medium businesses, whose lives are being destroyed by the response to COVID-19.

It is notable that the attitude to the virus by some physicians and surgeons in the private sector differs from the policies proposed by some health professionals in the public sector — including health bureaucrats who make policy recommendations to state and territory governments.

It’s much the same with the media. It seems that journalists with secure public sector jobs are more inclined than others to call for even tougher lockdowns.

In late July, Melbourne-based journalist Virginia Trioli called for a “New Zealand-style shutdown” for Melbourne. On Thursday, on ABC Radio National Breakfast, Fran Kelly gave the impression of urging federal Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Simon Birmingham to ease off in his wish that the borders between states and territories should be opened up as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, much of the private sector is dying or dead. There’s nothing to dance about in Wellington or Canberra.


 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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