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Monday, December 12, 2005

Cry, the racist country - 2

I am not going to post to this blog until sometime in January. This blog is a commentary on social, religious, and political matters. Those of you who have been dropping on by regularly will realise that my lodestar is the teaching of Jesus - particularly in relation to justice. I am completely overwhelmed by the events of yesterday: violence from Cronulla to Perth, back to Brighton le Sands and the southern beaches of Sydney. What are words in the face of such attacks, such racism, such violence. This is happening in my Australia, my nation, my country. I have posted before on Australia as a racist country. I have wished for this nation to admit to its racism. Perhaps the events of yesterday are part of the answer to this wish: an incontrovertible display of racism. Prime Minister John Howard has denied that Australia is a racist nation. I believe that he is part of the problem: not part of the solution. His track record does not speak of effective respectful racial conciliation either with Australia's First Nations or with a number of non-European constituents.

Besides my emotional abhorrence to all this, what do I do? I am getting older and feel there are limitations to my contribution. My health has been an issue which has provided and continues to provide its own limitations. So, recognizing the insignificance of my words in the life of my nation, I am going to retreat, withdraw for a while. I want to focus on the feast, the great feast of love - where Someone loved us all so much that he came down and became one of us, lived with us, loved us and rescued us setting a pattern for each of us to follow. I will continue to post to The Trad Pad which is a commentary free zone and is full of more personal doings. Please take my silence as a time of constructive reflection, a time when I focus on the season of goodwill to all and hope that I can have some constructive insight into what ails my beloved South Land of the Holy Spirit.

May you and yours be blessed at this time and in the year ahead.

Sunday, December 11, 2005


You might have seen Peter Garrett and two female colleagues singing a new and relevant version of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Singing is more appropriate than carolling. Carolling bespeaks joy and the IR legislation brings no joy to ordinary humanity. In case you didn't get the words, pop over to Rooster and Mushroom to whom I am indebted.

Senator Fielding's vandalism

Family First Senator Steve Fielding has had his Mount Waverley office vandalised within 24 hours of casting the decisive vote in favour of voluntary student unionism at Australia's universities. While not condoning illegal entry and vandalism, I would suggest that the people who carried out the vandalism consider that, on Friday 9 December 2005, Steve Fielding became complicit in an act of vandalism against universities. Astonishing is his reported comment that he could not see a contradiction in a Family First senator supporting likely cuts for child-care services on university campuses. "Everyone else in the community needs to get access to child care and they need to pay for it," he said. Well, Senator Fielding, students paying their students' union fees are paying for their child-care. They are paying for a wide range of campus services which support their daily lives as students. It is amazing that people who received a free university education albeit paying students' union fees find it an overwhelming imperative that others now pay and acccumulate vast indebtedness - some students and their families are cast into a poverty from which it will be difficult to emerge - for a tertiary education.

Anyway, Steve it seems you are no different from other minor party and independent senators who seek to deal themselves into the political game; who seek to have themselves seen to be relevant. We thank you for your vote against the Howard Gang's IR legislation. We are just stunned that you lost your courage on VSU. You obviously could not cut yourself off from the government. You want to deal - but you haven't the guts to count the cost. Just remember Steve how many people are being alienated by toxic Howard and his gang of vandals. It could be that, in 2006 and 2007, there will a critical mass from varied constituencies. You will then have to deal with the long memories of the ALP and the Greens.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Nobel Lecture - Literature 2005

Michael Billington in his 1996 book published by Faber and Faber, The Life and Work of Harold Pinter, said:
Pinter remains to his credit, a permanent public nuisance, a questioner of
accepted truths, both in life and art. In fact the two persistently

Harold Pinter has been awarded the the 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature. Pinter, in his Nobel Lecture to the Swedish Academy, makes the case for US brutality at international level since the second world war. In fact, Pinter says, America is on a permanent war footing. Read the speech in full here.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Free the Christian Peacemakers - 2

To-day is the day when those holding the Christian Peacemakers as hostages want their demands to be met. If you have not yet signed the petition, could you please go to and add your name. Among those who have already added their names are:

Arundhati Roy - author, The God of Small Things
Tariq Ali - author, Bush in Babylon
Denis Halliday - former U.N. Asst. Secretary General & Head of the U.N. Humanitarian Program in Iraq (1997-1998)
Cindy Sheehan - mother of Casey Sheehan
Noam Chomsky - Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Haifa Zangana - Iraqi novelist
Kamil Mahdi - Iraqi economist and anti-occupation activist. Lecturer, University of Exeter
Mahmood Mamdani - Herbert Lehman Professor of Government, Columbia University
Rashid Khalidi - Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies, Middle East Institute, Columbia University
Cindy and Craig Corrie - parents of Rachel Corrie, killed by Israeli military
Hasan Abu Nimah - Permanent Representative of Jordan at the United Nations (1995-2000)
Ralph Nader - former independent presidential candidate
James Abourezk - former US Senator
Howard Zinn - historian
Naseer Aruri - Professor (Emeritus) University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
Kathy Kelly - Voices for Creative Nonviolence/Nobel Peace Prize Nominee
Naomi Klein - author/journalist
Michael Ratner - President, Center for Constitutional Rights
Rev. Daniel Berrigan - poet
Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou - National Coordinator, Clergy and Laity Concerned about Iraq
Jeremy Scahill - independent journalist
Mazin Qumsiyeh - author, Sharing the Land Of Canaan, board member US Campaign to End the Occupation
Milan Rai - author, War Plan Iraq: Ten Reasons Against War on Iraq
Sam Husseini - writer
Dahr Jamail - independent journalist
Ali Abunimah - Co-founder, Electronic Iraq
Leslie Cagan - National Coordinator, United for Peace and Justice
Eve Ensler - author
Jennifer Harbury - Director, Stop Torture Permanently Campaign
Omar Diop - Président de la Coalition Sénégalaise des Défenseurs des Droits humains
Anthony Arnove - author, Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal
Medea Benjamin - Global Exchange
G. Simon Harak - War Resisters League
Michael Albert - ZNet
Dave McReynolds - former Chair, War Resisters International
Bishop Gabino Zavala - President, Pax Christi USA

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Free the Christian Peacemakers

Members of a Christian Peacemakers Team - Tom Fox, Harmeet Sooden, James Loney, and Norman Kember - are being held captive in Iraq. You can find out how to take action towards freeing the captives by going here including signing a petition.

Time is of the essence so please act now -
and continue to uphold them in your prayers.

Foucault's Pendulum resolved

Some years ago I read Umberto Eco's book, Foucault's Pendulum. This is a 600 page tour de force. Focault's Pendulum is about three editors who cook up a hoax involving the Knights Templar, Stonehenge, the Kabbalah, the Rosicruicians and Brazilian voodoo -among other things - that suddenly becomes all too real. I got to the end and wondered what it was all about. The only conclusion I could come to was that it was a satire about the occult and the conspiracy-type theories they breed. But after all these years, I think I may have Eco's own answer to my question of what it is all about. It is here in a simple article which speaks to our current spiritual condition. And in all this, Eco still builds the Christmas crib with his grandson.

As a postscript, I should add that I have not bothered to read the Da Vinci Code. Having read Focault's Pendulum and Holy Blood Holy Grail (whose authors are suing Dan Brown) and having a theological understanding of gnosticism I didn't feel so inclined.

Eureka Sunday : Sedition Sunday

With the inglorious passage of the new anti-terror legislation,
it might be time to dust off the Old Beauty and march with her again.
It is over 150 years since the
Eureka Stockade and its challenge to authority.
The flag of rebellion will be unfurled in the streets again.

We swear by the Southern Cross
to stand truly by each other
and fight to defend our rights and liberties.
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Scary rumours on Liberal Party preselections

That Modia Minotaur is spreading the scariest rumours about what could happen with Liberal Party preselections. They're dreadful and the worst and nastiest of the lot is that Andrew Bolt could replace Petro Georgiou in Kooyong. (Slight adjournment while I am sick in a corner). If the Liberal Party is to lurch even further to the right - which would probably put them further right than Hitler and Genghis Khan - and casts out talented moderates within the Liberal Party, then it could be that another political party could emerge or they could move to the Democrats and transform them into something viable.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Corbett appointed to the RBA Board

He influences the price of the food we put in our mouths. He influences the price of the fuel we put in our petrol tanks. He puts banking into Woolworths stores. Now Roger Corbett, CEO and Group Managing Director of Woolworths, is going to nfluence the price we pay for our money. Woolworths takes lots of advice from Wal-Mart connections in the USA - the huge down market retailer who gets into deep water with their particular brand of employee relations. But even Wal-Mart's founder and at one time the world's richest man, Sam Walton, didn't get to influence the US greenback. At a time when Industrial Relations is high on Australia's political agenda Woolworths - who in the late 80s and early 90s cut a swathe through its permanent workforce replacing most of the permanents with part-time workers - gets a voice at the table. Is such extensive economic influence what ordinary every day Australians want to encourage?

Gerard resigns from the RBA Board

Robert Gerard has gone from the Board of the Reserve Bank of Australia. Howard and Costello have been dismissive each day at Question Time in the House of Representatives. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating and to-day we have the result. Gerard has had to acknowledge - and therefore resign - that his position is untenable. Particularly when it became clear that his settlement with the Australian Tax Office (ATO) did not occur until well after he joined the Board. The ALP has a rare scalp. Let's hope it encourages them to add a few more.

Singapore kills Nguyen Tuong Van

I have not posted on the case of Nguyen Tuong Van previously. The case is so sad, the Singaporean government so intransigent - what can my words add. I prepare this post on the morning of his death. As I think about my words, I think about him and his preparations for death at 6am Singapore time, 9am AEDST. The reports tell of his composure, his preparations for death in Christ, his love for his family and his friends. Lord, welcome him into your kingdom.

I pray that Australians continue to remember the reality of the merciless Singapore government. If ever there was a need for regime change, it is needed in Singapore. We must never forget that:

In all that the Australian Government did or failed to do in the Nguyen Tuong Van case, it put the inter-governmental relationship with Singapore at the heart of the matter, entree to the forums of south-east Asia at the heart of the matter, consideration for Singapore's feelings at the heart of the matter. What evidence is there that Singapore ever considered the ethos or feelings of the majority of Australians? A touch of a mother's hand?

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Once upon a time, we owned the Commonwealth Serum Laboratory

Once upon a time, the government of the Commonwealth of Australia (otherwise known as the Land of Oz) owned the Commonwealth Serum Laboratory. In the wisdom of our political masters, this iconic organisation - which had been part and parcel of Australian public health for generations - was sold. Now CSL Limited, as it is now known, is refusing to produce Q Fever vaccine for Australians. In their view, the batch quantity is too small. The regulations of government now required increased automation. CSL Limited - in spite of making healthy profits - says it can no longer to produce the vaccine. It is in talks with the Howard Government and it thinks the way to go is for the government to provide a grant and CSL will flick the job to a third party. Shame, CSL.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Look who's been minding the money - 2

Swanie, the Opposition's Shadow Treasurer, wants an inquiry into who's been minding our money. Turns out Gerard is one of the Howard Govt's biggest donors. Surprise, surprise! How else did he get all those appointments.

Look who's been minding the money

It appears that Robert Gerard has a secret and now its out. His tax situation has been called in to question over a Caribbean tax-haven deal labelled "tax evasion" by investigators that led to a $150-million settlement with the Australian Tax Office. What gives this event a particular odour is that Robert Gerard sits on the Board of the Reserve Bank of Australia, appointed by the Howard Government (I guess one could read here - Treasurer, Peter Costello). Costello is said to be keeping mum on the matter. Gerard appears to be a favourite fellow of the Howard Government. He was also appointed to The Prime Minister's Business Community Partnership. The PM's business community partnership was established, in part, to discuss corporate philanthropy which has never been on the scale of US corporate philanthropy.

More about the Partnership in the Australian Financial Review:
Business on the give and take - Lenore Taylor - Tuesday, 07 Dec 1999
Roping business into giving - Brook Turner - Friday, 25 Feb 2000

So it would seem that Robert Gerard does not have the social good of this nation at heart. He is not philanthropic enough to even pay his tax.

Wrong way - Go Back (2)

Dale Hess has provided names and email addresses for members of the Legal and Constitutional Legislation Committee . Go your hardest.

Legal and Constitutional Legislation Committee Members:
Senator Payne (Chair), Senator Crossin (Deputy Chair), Senators Bartlett, Kirk, Mason and Scullion.
Substitute members: Senator Stott Despoja to replace Senator Bartlett for matters relating to the Attorney-General's portfolio.
Participating members: Senators Abetz, Allison, Barnett, Bishop, Brandis, Bob Brown, George Campbell, Carr, Chapman, Colbeck, Conroy, Eggleston, Evans, Faulkner, Ferguson, Ferris, Fielding, Fierravanti-Wells, Heffernan, Hogg, Humphries, Joyce, Lightfoot, Ludwig, Lundy, McGauran, McLucas, Milne, Nettle, Parry, Ray, Sherry, Siewert, Stephens, Stott Despoja, Trood and Watson , ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, ,,,, ,,,,,,,,,,, ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

A man of peace

I want to acknowledge - I can't hat tip him because he doesn't blog - Dale Hess. He is a Quaker. From time to time, I use stuff from his newsletter which is emailed to countless people. Dale's CV is below:
Dale Hess. Ph.D., 1968 (University of Washington). Model Development Group,Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre,Australian Government (Retired). Peace and nonviolence publications: co-author, The Paradox of Economic Growth and Inequity (Hampton, Victoria, Australia: Victorian Association for Peace Studies,1994); co-editor, The Peace Dossier Series, 1982–1992 (Melbourne, Victoria,Australia: Victorian Association for Peace Studies, 1992). Helped organize courses on appropriate technology, hunger, rebuilding Vietnam, peace conversion and "Our World in Crisis." Member of the Australia Yearly Meeting Peace and Social Testimonies Committee, the Board of the Herb Feith Foundation, Pax Christi, Bayside Oxfam Group, and the Victorian Association for Peace Studies.

Sedition, sedition - I'll probably end up in jail

Ruddock is not moving an inch in response to the Legal and Constitutional Legislation Committee report.

What's up with Australia! It just wants to drive people into the ground. Lock 'em up! Pay 'em little! Tell 'em to get rich! Rejoice in the bigoted! Prejudices are to be celebrated! USA uber alles!

Wrong way - Go Back

But as Michelle Grattan says, on they press. The warnings are there but they are not going to listen.

  • They didn't listen to complaints about the treatment of asylum seekers and now have themselves embroiled in a very costly mess which has damaged countless human beings.
  • They didn't listen when significant numbers of us did not believe the Weapons of Mass Destruction propaganda. WMD has now been discovered to be ill-founded.
  • They didn't listen when hundreds of thousands of Australia protested against the Iraqi War. Now increasing numbers of Americans are pressuring Bush and his Republicans - even from within - to exit.

Monday, November 28, 2005

US Christians and corruption

There are signs that evangelical Christians, among others in the United States, are beginning to wake up to Bush - that he lies, that his administration is corrupt. Pop over to Willzhead and have a look. Willzhead is a Christian and a former Republican staffer - but these days he has a clear eye. Onya, Willz.

"Liar, liar pants on fire?"

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Corruption, Katrina, and New Orleans

Corruption in the politics of Louisiana, USA, is an issue in post-Katrina New Orleans. Corruption and patronage has long been a factor in New Orleans and Louisiana and voices are being raised to blame it for the lack of effective maintenance on the levees and so being a root cause of the suffering of New Orleans residents. Read what Laura has to say at Pursuing Holiness and you will get an idea of the strength of feeling. Sounds to me like someone has been chosing good old Mammon again, putting it first, and humanity last. As Laura points out, it is a whole new landscape and the old ways no longer belong and the old ways won't work.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Duffy & debate: Jensen & The Boyers

Michael Duffy takes issue with Peter Jensen regarding his Boyer Lectures. Jensen, being the evangelical he is, uses the opportunity of the Boyers to be, well, er, evangelical. Duffy makes some good points - particularly with regard to the use of the Boyers for the purpose of evangelism. Admittedly, this is a bit different. I don't find the principle of having Jensen on - with his evangelism in national life - any different, though, to the principle of Duffy's own program, Counterpoint. Counterpoint allows a succession of Liberal and National Party politicians, neo-con sympathisers, economic rationalists and assorted right wingers to put forward their views with an occasional nod to ALP speakers. It goes to air once a week. It is intended, in my view, as a counterfoil to Late Night Live with that well-known atheist, Philip Adams. Adams is a leftie (although I think his socialism is more chardonnay and cafe latte these days than actual personal identification with the poor and the workers). Yet it is possible to hear the occasional right winger on LNL. I put this all down to the persistent carping by the Liberals and Nationals on the subject of their version of "balance". The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (The ABC) has been starved of funds by both Labor and Liberal governments. Clearly the ABC is sick and tired of this and is giving its critics some airplay. Duffy would do better to look to the quality of his conservative speakers (Adams has some real thinkers on his program) that they might attempt to convince us rationally instead of turning a lot of us off by their redneck rhetoric.

Working and Poor in the USA

HT to The Contrarian for drawing attention to this. I drew attention recently to the working poor in the USA and the topic of food insecurity. Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela, has taken the issue of international aid to the poor of the USA seriously. It is cold in America. Winter is on its way. You remember the news stories we frequently hear. Of freezing cold snaps that kill the elderly and the poor. Why? Because they cannot afford the fuel to keep them warm. Chavez is trying to penetrate that problem. Venezuela has agreed to sell heating oil at discount prices in low-income communities in Chicago, New York and Boston.

America's choice - and Australia's too - is God or Riches: humanity or self-indulgence.

David Williamson: ever articulate

David Williamson, Australia's most famous playwright, is nothing if not articulate. Williamson has chosen the AWGIE Awards of the Australian Writers Guild to air his views on Howard's industrial relations legislation.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Church vestments anyone?

The story goes that the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church was in solemn assembly discussing church vestments when the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution took to the streets of St Petersburg. It may well be apocryphal, but it is a story that haunts perceptive church people. They often fear they will get so caught up in internal religious issues that they miss really important matters confronting the wider community. So begins Muriel Porter's article on the church and terrorism. Think about it - and a wider reality.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

The working poor

Willzhead (from the US) is talking about the working poor. This phrase is heard a lot these days in the debate on the Howard Govt's industrial relations legislation. People are looking to the United States, their minimum wage jobs; the fact that sometimes people have no wage and are expected to live off tips - which probably have to be shared with other staff; the gulf, the chasm, between the rich and the poor; the fact that people can hold down jobs and still be unable to meet their basic needs. What I find frightening in Willz' post is the term "food insecure". It reminds me that the other day I heard a conversation about the poor in India. The poor were not discussed in terms of income. They were discussed in how many calories they managed to consume a day: and there are people in India with wealth beyond imagining. So 38 million in the US are reported to be "food insecure". This is scary stuff. It reminds me of the verse in Ezekiel 16:49:
Look, this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.

I am taken with the last part of this verse about strengthening the hand of the poor and needy. As I read this in the 21st century, I think of the economic infrastructure of our nations. How often does it operate to "strengthen the hand of the poor and needy"? Modern economic infrastructure seems only to "strengthen the hand" of those who have more than enough. 38 million people in the USA - the richest nation on earth - who cannot put three meals a day in the mouths of their families! Do we send international aid for distribution in the USA?

The blogger's wish list

The Pacific Highlander is thinking about wish lists for blogging conversations. Here is my list:
Stanley Hauerwas
Richard Rohr
William Johnston
John Macintyre, Rector, St Saviour's, Redfern
Dorothy Lee
Barbara Kingsolver

The top three have been great and significant influences in my life. Johnny Mac (also played an important part) won't be found on the net but a walk around Redfern (check out the pub as well) will find him. Dorothy Lee will always stir us on to think of things in new and challenging ways. Listen to her on Encounter this week. Barbara Kingsolver is a wonderful, talented novelist of social concern. Her comment on the missionary enterprise and US interference in Africa became the best-selling The Poisonwood Bible.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

US Military Commissions: Fair, Just, Balanced?

Perhaps, you're thinking it's fair enough that David Hicks is tried before a US Military Commission. You may think he will get his just desserts. Test your views against an alternative story, an intelligent story: a story of justice in face of great terror, and unimaginable loss of human life. Think about it while you are reading this.

pictured above

Scurrying around the IR ant-heap

I'm pleased to see the polls were good - but I'm not getting too excited. They could be a nine day wonder. The Howard Govt won't sit there and do nothing. The electorate could have a short memory and/or just get plain old apathetic. The worry is that Labor is going around the country saying that they will bin the amendments - as if then our worries will be over.

The AIRC is being gutted. It is likely that any Commissioner worth a pinch of salt will depart for greener pastures. The bolt has been slipped, the horse is bolted and one can't lock it up again just by saying you'll bin the amendments. This means that opponents of Howard's legislation - to lock the voting swing in - will have to come up with some pretty good IR policies. These will probably need to be something akin to the novelty of Whitlam's policies in 1972. Even if Beazley et al get to government at the next election (2007) with some great policies (the ALP at this time seems to be a policy free zone), it is unlikely that any changes will get up before the election after that (2011 - when the new senators come in and we'll be able to see if Barnaby is a one term wonder as he has promised to be!).

So we can fight to get the legislation defeated - but it looks like we will be lucky to get small changes up which count as tinkering at the edges - but the real work is yet to happen and it will require more than talk and well-attended rallies.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Go on Barnaby, take a stand. Go on Barnaby.

This is part of the campaign going on in Queensland against John Howard's industrial relations legislation.
Dear AWU members,
The AWU is currently participating in a new campaign,
'Take a Stand Barnaby"
as part of the combined union "Your Rights at Work Campaign".
We are urging members to sign the petition
asking Senator Joyce to vote no to
Work Choices in the Senate next week.
The petition can be found here:
Signatories also have the option of adding their own message
to help persuade Senator Joyce.
Your support for this campaign is appreciated -
it is hoped that 10,000 signatures will be collected by Friday.
Yours in unity,
Bill Ludwig
Australian Workers' Union, Qld Branch

Hillsong Emerge National Community Crime Prevention Funding

Hillsong is embroiled in controversy. It is alleged by NSW member of the Legislative Council, Ian West, that Hillsong Emerge applied and received nearly half a million dollars in funding from the Federal Government by involving an Aboriginal group whose actual direct involvement amounted to a minuscule amount of the overall funding. West alleges improper conduct by Leigh Coleman, Chief Executive of Hillsong Emerge. The Leigh Coleman known to many people is a man of integrity, intelligence and compassion.

The following response has been issued:

Spokesperson: Maria Ieroianni
Mr West has never made any attempt to contact Hillsong Emerge to get accurate information about this issue. As a result the speech Mr West delivered in State Parliament last night contains gross inaccuracies.

Allegations by the Riverstone Aboriginal Community Association (RACA) that Hillsong Emerge has in someway “used¹ them to secure funding under the Federal Government¹s Crime Prevention Strategy are untrue and without foundation.

Hillsong Emerge has worked in the Blacktown Local Government Area for close to 20 years, and over this time has developed strong partnerships with local community organisations and the wider community.

The partnership of local community agencies lead by Hillsong Emerge invited RACA to be included in an application for funding under the Attorney General's Community Crime Prevention Partnership at the final community consultation meeting in December 2004, an invitation they accepted by providing the partnership with a letter of endorsement.

RACA provided Hillsong Emerge with program suggestions to be included in the final application and these were incorporated into the proposed budget of the application. This original application was then submitted as two applications, one targeting youth and the other being a more generic neighbourhood approach. The content was the same and budget line items identical to those outlined in the original submission. The youth specific application was successful.

In August 2005, the Prime Minister announced that Hillsong Emerge and its partners were successful in their funding application. Up to the announcement, the Attorney General¹s Department had not advised anyone, including Hillsong Emerge, of the successful application. We fail to understand how RACA could accuse us of withholding information from them, when in fact this information was unavailable to us.

In the weeks following, representatives from Hillsong Emerge met with RACA on three occasions to address their concerns over their claim of not being recognised, specifically at the announcement event.

Attempts were made to alleviate their concerns and confirm Hillsong Emerge¹s recognition of RACA as a community partner in this project.

RACA have made a number of demands to Hillsong Emerge, the community partners and the Attorney General's Department in order to remain committed to this partnership.

Many attempts were made to meet those demands, including agreeing to speak to other community partners and the AG's Department to support RACA becoming the lead agency in the Riverstone component of the project. The first step in this undertaking was for RACA to organise to meet the other Riverstone partners, which it failed to do. Allegations that funds were offered to RACA to silence them are nonsense, in fact RACA dictated the letter signed by Mr Coleman demanding that RACA be responsible for the distribution of funds to the Riverstone component of the project. It was signed as an act of good faith to demonstrate Hillsong Emerge's willingness to co-operate with RACA as an equal partner. It was stated at this meeting that this was subject to Attorney General Department¹s
approval and the agreement of each of the other partners. A copy of this letter
was forwarded to the Attorney General's department following this meeting.

Hillsong Emerge and the other community partners have made attempts to accommodate RACA¹s requests in an effort to prevent the project stalling. This comes even before contracts have been exchanged with the Attorney General's Department.

The remaining six partners, including the Attorney General¹s Department, remain committed to consulting further to seek a way forward. Ultimately how this project proceeds will be determined by the Attorney General's Department.

Hillsong Emerge remains hopeful that RACA will continue in partnership.

We know through partnership we will see a lasting impact on the young people of the area as each partner brings unique experience and expertise to this project.

We look forward to getting on with the job of rolling out the various components of this project over the next three years as ultimately we believe the people of the Blacktown and Riverstone communities will be the real winners.

I would ask that if anyone has comment on this situation, please keep it constructive and informative.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Welcome home, Vivian: back where you belong

Vivian Alvarez Solon is back!
All our love for your new life, Vivian!
May God pour out his richest blessings upon you
now and evermore.
See sidebar under Justice
for the story about Vivian and her ill treatment
by Australias's Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA)
See here for the prospect for justice for Vivian.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Socceroos did it - and aren't we proud

Never say never they said! Australia has made the finals of The World Cup in Germany in 2006 - for the first time since 1974. It has been hard work, the sport has been re-organised time after time - lastly under Frank Lowy. There has been ambition and we brought our heroes home from around the world. Praise God, though, for John Aloisi's magic boot - which kicked the last goal in a penalty shootout - and Mark Schwarzer's brilliant and fearless saves! Let's hope it is the start of a golden age for the Football Federation of Australia and all the Socceroos.

A two-fold commitment

I was amused to hear Chris Haywood proudly declare yesterday at The National Day of Community Protest that he is a member of two unions. Not only is Chris, as an actor, a member of the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance. He is also a member of the Construction, Forestry Mining and Energy Union [CFMEU]. Chris joined the Australasian Coal & Shale Employees Federation which operated from 1916 to 1990 when filming Strikebound, the story of Wattie Doig and coal mining at Wonthaggi in Victoria. This union has now been absorbed into the CFMEU. Posted by Picasa

The past can inform the present and shape the future

Chris Haywood mentioned yesterday at The National Day of Community Protest the Eight Hour Day Movement and its historic relationship to Melbourne. The picture above is of a banner in Melbourne in 1856. The Eight Hour Day Movement was integral to establishment of the union movement in Australia. We have moved far from the eight hour day. There has been the demand for a 35 hour week; the introduction of twelve hour days and two weeks on and one week off and flying in and out to oil rigs and mine sites (in the latter case there once would have been whole communities instead). Some workers earn big money from the lfly-in fly-out set-up but it involves time away from families and communities. Most of the people working these hours are men so there are absentee fathers and families held together by lonely women. Now the absent father has been with us forever: sailors at sea, drovers of cattle, economic downturns driving fathers away from home to keep things together. The difference at the beginning of the 21st century is that we are counting the cost. The Australian Christian Lobby has even made connections with loss of family time leading to youth suicide. Such input from the Christian area has long been conspicuous by its absence but, though late, such comment is welcome. There is also a diminution of the social capital of the community as society moves away from the the collective and becomes more individualistic. This is why I have been predicting for some years that eventually there will be marches and parades demanding an eight hour day: eight hours of work, eight hours of recreation, eight hours of rest. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The National Day of Community Protest - Lots of us were there - Post 7

We were there - listening to
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The National Community Day of Protest - Post 6

The Kids and The Kool were there
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The National Day of Community Protest - The Entertainers - Post 5

Clockwise from top left:
William McInnes; Tim Ferguson; Deborah Conway; John Clarke; Bryan Dawe; Chris Haywood; Tim Brunero
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The National Day of Community Protest - Support from Faith Communities - Post 4

Clockwise from top left:
Archbishop Frank Carroll - Catholic Church; Cardinal George Pell - Catholic Church; John Dalziel - Salvation Army; Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence - Judaism; Bishop Phillip Huggins - Anglican Church; Dr Ann Wansborough - Uniting Church of Australia.
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The National Day of Community Protest - Balloons, Banners & Flags - Post 3

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The National Day of Community Protest - Post 2

The Rally at Federation Square, Melbourne
15 November 2005
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