Saturday, February 25, 2006
I think, Danna, from what I see at a distance, that you have a good heart. However, your expression of your good heart is let down because the intellect does not sustain a good argument or rationale. This can be rectified. It depends on the level of advice you get either through staff or through more informal channels such as knowledgable people to give you sound advice.
I think the nub of your argument is fair comment. In modern Australia when the national birthrate among those of European descent is declining, the birthrate among some groups subscribing towards more traditional/conservative mores remains steady or is increasing. You are right to point out that this is a legitimate concern of government and therefore needs to be considered in government policy. You have also pointed out that some people in Australia are more accustomed to exerting their political and social views with violence rather than through the ballot or through other democratic institutions. Danna, leave behind excuses of political correctness. Even if accusations of 'political correctness' have some validity - which I doubt - you have to work in this situation and get your point across without having to call foul.
Can I draw your attention to a couple of areas relating to the issues you are trying to highlight? Look at the female kangaroo. She controls her fertility to a greater extent than the human female. If drought and bushfires - two constants on the driest continent on earth - leave insufficient sustenance, the kangaroo will not breed. She will defer breeding. I think it is like that with the human female. If she is insecure, she will defer breeding or fail to breed. The options she has include contraception and abortion. In some ancient societies, human females also used infanticide. So how secure are things for the female of breeding age in Australia? Relations between men and women are not good. Commitment and stability in partnerships are difficult to carry out in practice. In many relationship breakdowns, economics plays a significant part. Economic security is declining. Increasing casualisation and underemployment are not the economic foundations for raising children. Workforce discrimination with regard to age and gender has not been eliminated. The cost of higher education for job advancement is increasingly locking Australians out. Public primary and secondary education is underfunded to miserable proportions and private primary and secondary education is unaffordable for large sections of the population. Childcare is difficult and, with the assistance of government subsidies, Australia has bred a globalised corporate childcare provider of monopolistic proportions who is now in the courts trying to avoid the prospect of litigation and foist it back on to the individual employee. If all this is not difficult enough, should you be the parent of a child with special needs the difficulties are magnified. So there's a huge agenda for you, Danna: fair and equitable access for all to education from childcare and pre-school through to university; job security and fair and equitable access to jobs irrespective of age, gender and other discriminatory processes.
Then you might turn to the political processes of this nation. Surely your own experience has shown you that entry to and advancement in the political processes of our democratic institutions are easier if you are a male of European descent. If you are a university educated male, particularly with a law degree, then it is even easier. We have large groups of Australians who are not represented significantly in our national parliament - and certainly excluded from the cabinet table. Aborigines? Muslims? Muslim women? Creatives? Youth? Women are getting there but at an excruciatingly slow rate - and they hit the glass ceiling more often than not - and the men tell us to have three kids including one for Australia. How arrogant and impertinent!
So if you are serious about being taken seriously, Danna, there's your agenda. Security, real security, in daily life - not making us feel terrorised by Muslims one minute and telling us how great things are the next; and giving Australians truly representative government, not just the suits.
God go with you, Danna - and watch your step!
Friday, February 24, 2006
- Lord Tebbit's cricket test - identifying belonging and assimilation with what team one cheers for.
- The distinction between multiculturalism and what may be called "plural monoculturalism".
- While religion or ethnicity may be an important identity for people (especially if they have the freedom to choose between celebrating or rejecting inherited or attributed traditions), there are other affiliations and associations that people also have reason to value.
- The growth of religion-based schools.
- Faith and reason.
- A real need to re-think the understanding of multiculturalism, so as to avoid conceptual disarray about social identity and also to resist the purposeful exploitation of the divisiveness that this conceptual disarray allows and even, to some extent, encourages.
- Gandhi's farsighted refusal to see a nation as a federation of religions and communities.
No one is going to respect a citizenship that is so undemanding that it
asks nothing. In fact our citizenship is quite a demanding obligation.
I think this is the heart of the matter: that by and large there has been little or no respect in Australia for citizenship - and I am not singling out terrorists or any ethnic group. I just do not believe we truly value what we hold. Look at the track record: the number of people who live here as permanent residents, who could take out Australian citizenship, who reap the benefits of living here and expect to cherry-pick what they want from our society - but they don't take out citizenship. How many British and New Zealand citizens are in this group? Look too at the teaching of civics in our schools. Look at the erosion of so many things that we have taken for granted:
- The attempts by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Nick Minchin, to take away compulsory voting. Does he really want Australia to be like the USA where the President almost never receives the votes of the majority of Americans?
- Attempts - and in some areas of the law this has already occurred - to do away with trial by a jury of twelve with unanimous verdicts to supplant it with hearings by a judge or a jury of fewer people or majority verdicts.
- The rights of all citizens to access the law - when access to the law has become more a right of the rich.
- The right to have government assistance when abroad. Things may have improved in this regard but it is still a hit and miss afair and if you fall foul of the politics of the Australian government as David Hicks has done, forget it. Blair and the Brits can extricate their citizens from the madness of Guantanamo Bay, the US takes umbrage if any of their citizens are threatened, and yet we leave a young citizen to rot with none of the legal rights that Australians take for granted - and certainly no access to rights under the Geneva Convention.
We Australians also need to recognise our historic exclusion of people - Aborigines from civil rights until 1967, selectivity in immigration under the White Australia Policy, and continuing selectivity by herding some immigrants into concentration camps known as immigration detention centres. We are happy to control and/or manipulate access of some to Australian law.
Our right to free speech and the democratic hallmark of transparent governemnt is limited when major social organisations in Australia are forced, if they want to receive any government funding, into silence as a condition of funding and when governments can indulge themselves in secret dealings of dubious nature and claim commercial-in-confidence dealings.
Lastly, we won't look to closely at flawed business and educational immigration programs where we have been only to happy to sell our birthright for a mess of pottage allowing criminal elements to infiltrate and unqualified people to conjure up Mickey Mouse courses while our own students are increasingly priced and placed out of university places.
Citizenship. I'm in favour of it. I am a sixth, possibly seventh, generation Australian. I am proud of the place. I just wish I saw governments, both state and federal, value it as much as I do.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
blogging in the US is not reflective of the kind of deep social and
political change that lay behind the alternative press in the 1960s. Instead,
its dependency on old media for its material brings to mind Swift’s fleas
sucking upon other fleas “ad infinitum”: somewhere there has to be a host for
feeding to begin. That blogs will one day rule the media world is a triumph of
optimism over parasitism.
Blogging will no doubt always have a place as an underground medium inThe marathon of the blogs continues. The winner/s of the race is/are not yet clear. Will enthusiastic amateurs, even those earning a reasonable income, remain ephemeral also-rans? Will the race go the swift, the powerful, the well-connected, and the talented as remains the case for the mainstream media? Will the blogosphere become a true democracy, a talented meritocracy of lifestyle and opinion? Is good grassroots blog writing sustainable in a commercialised, globalised democracy or can it only be sustained in censorious nations like China and Iran? The finishing line is a long way off.
closed societies; but for those in the west trying to blog their way into viable
businesses, the economics are daunting.
Monday, February 20, 2006
Thursday, February 16, 2006
The deed has been done. The name has been named. The perpetrator of the Leunig hoax is Richard Cooke of The Chaser. Now The Chaser has definitely been hanging around the Federal Parliament for far too long - it has picked up the knack of deniability. Of not letting your right hand know what the left hand is up to. Instance, the Howard Government and the AWB. Similarly, The Chaser and Richard Cooke. Cute! Don't believe ya! In fact, that's the Cooke-d goose at the right. Clearly, there is a desire to use someone else's name one way or another. Read what he has to say about that here.
I never agreed with the establishment of ATSIC. This was a Clayton's form of power - the power you have when you don't have any power. It was also a vehicle for a more sophisticated form of government handout. For what the administration of ATSIC cost, I wonder what effect that money would have had if it had been invested in electoral education for aboriginal people and in encouraging existing political parties to install aboriginal candidates in winnable seats. And I do not agree with some aboriginal people who want a guaranteed number of seats as in New Zealand.
In the massive swing to the right in the Liberal Party some years ago people, like Fred Chaney, who had some knowledge of aboriginal affairs were stymied. Where does sound knowledge of Aboriginal affairs lie in either the House of Representatives or the Senate? Certainly aboriginal representation in the major parties is conspicuous by its absence.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
The Quaker Peace Testimony expresses best my own anti-war beliefs.
I told them I knew from when all wars arose...and that I lived in the virtue of that life and power that took away the occasion of all wars; and that I was come into the covenant of peace which was before all wars and strife.
Empires survive on militarism - the American Empire of the USA no less than the British Empire or the Empires of other European nation states. Anti-war sentiment has never been welcome in the polity of empire and becomes punishable in many, if not most, societies in time of war. Australia is at war within the American hegemony. Israel is always at war with the Palestinians and watchful to the point of paranoia for anti-semitism and anti-zionism. Into this tangled web of paranoia, militarism, and misplaced ideology Leunig has fallen because of another's dishonesty and treachery. Anti-war sentiments and movements rarely find official acknowledgment. There has been no equivalent of the welcome home march for those who protested against Australia's participation in the Vietnam War. Yet this anti-war movement was significant for those who participated. It transformed my generation. It produced a generation of politicians many of whom are still scattered around the Parliaments of Australia. And, if this was not enough, many of us continued into the anti-apartheid movement to battle the Springbok tour of Australia and organise boycotts of South African products. I have never felt the need to read Mandela's biography - the anti-apartheid movement lived and worked in the shadow of his presence. Everyone loves Mandela to-day it seems yet few were around when the campaign was on. These two movements were and continue to be significant - yet little understood by the powerful in society, in a society dedicated to consumerism, material gain, and stratification by wealth and education.
It should be remembered there is, arguably, only one war in the last century which did not generate a widespread anti-war movement nor produce significant anti-war literature. This war was World War II. In this war, the evil and the enemy was clear from its political antecedents through to its conclusion. The anti-war literature of World War I is particularly significant from that of Vera Brittain through to Siegfried Sassoon. People of those generations felt like they had been hoodwinked. Young idealists had gone to give their all for their country only to see hundreds of thousands of young men used up as cannon fodder. While the anti-war movement of World War I was not replicated in World War II, war weariness was evident in the post-war election in the United Kingdom where renewal was at the heart of a nation who kicked out a victorious war Prime Minister in Churchill and sought a new world in the Britain's first Labour Government - a government which implemented the Beveridge Plan and introduced the Welfare State to the world.
Through our society runs the thread of anti-war sentiment which seeks to emphasise the productive and creative elements of the pursuit of peace and life in a humane society. It should not be misunderstood - nor should it be gainsaid. Nor should dishonesty and misrepresentation be allowed to bring it into disrepute.
Crikey has just dropped its afternoon missive in my email which confirms that an unknown website writer for The Chaser has fessed up and apologised to Leunig. The clever dicks at The Chaser say they knew nothing about it and the proof that they knew nothing is that if they did do it or have knowledge of it is they didn't take credit for it.
"It's not a really Chaser style stunt.
We always try to claim credit for our stunts. He [the hoaxer] has spoken to Mr
Leunig and apologised. We certainly didn't intend for this to be reported on CNN
and Reuters. In general if The Chaser pull a stunt we'll be out there taking
credit for it from the word go, being the shameless publicity seekers that we
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Some one(s) clearly has/have a vested interest in discrediting Leunig. What better way to do it? Clearly, those who wield the pen are not necessarily sissies but frequently exhibit a great strength. They have the ability to affect the minds and opinions of people. To his great credit, Michael Leunig does just this. Even his own newspaper, The Age, finds him a bit much at times. Leunig discussed this last year at Writers at Como. As he pointed out then, there are those who take bulldozers to mow down ancient forests. He uses a pen to express thoughts and ideas and they think he's a bit much! Leunig is clearly effective. His humanitarian, peaceful, spiritual, and anti-war, anti-consumerism stance is hated and unwelcome in some very powerful quarters. This sort of treatment has always been meted out to the prophets.
Monday, February 13, 2006
In 2006, some people are remembering the 250th anniversary of the birth of Mozart.
Some of us are remembering February 1936.
In February 1936, The General Theory of Employment Interest and Money was published.
The General Theory is generally regarded as the masterwork of John Maynard Keynes.
It impacted greatly on world events in the 20th century after the first world war.
In fact, in my view John Maynard Keynes, through The General Theory,
has had an impact beyond that of any other economist.
And that includes Adam Smith!
His impact has been great on the economy of Australia.
Nugget Coombs in his biography Trial Balance
speaks of the wonder and novelty
on first reading The General Theory.
This influence was with Coombs at the Commonwealth Bank
and is in the The White Paper on Full Employment.
Post 1945 Australia would not have been the same
without Keynes or Coombs.
Sunday, February 12, 2006
Bruce Wilkinson went to Africa with, not only his cultural baggage, but he was unwilling to invest the time or practice the humility to learn from Africans. The Christian church across many denominations has sound inculturation experience. Bible colleges and theological colleges teach it. Bruce Wilkinson didn't bother to listen, it appears. David Batsone reflects thoughtfully on the issue at Sojourners.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
The Chapter Procession enters the Cathedral through the Great Doors
The Acting-Metropolitan's Procession enters by the Great Doors
John responds to the Questions of Examination
Bishops gather around John for the laying on of hands
John is presented to the congregation as Bishop of Gippsland by the Acting-Metropolitan. There was resounding applause
Note: John's stole with the Aboriginal flag. This was made by his mother for
NAIDOC Week 2001.
Rev Dr Bill Lawton, formerly Rector of St John's Darlinghurst in Sydney, preached the sermon.
Adams, J. Allison, L.F., Bartlett, A.J.J., Brown, B.J., Brown, C.L. Campbell, G.
Carr, K.J., Colbeck, R., Coonan, H.L. Crossin, P.M., Evans, C.V., Faulkner, J.P. Ferris, J.M., * Fifield, M.P., Hill, R.M., Hurley, A., Johnston, D., Kirk, L. Ludwig, J.W.Lundy, K.A. Macdonald,
Abetz, E. Barnett, G., Boswell, R.L.D., Brandis, G.H., Calvert, P.H., Chapman, H.G.P. , Conroy, S.M.
Humphries, G., Hutchins, S.P., Joyce, B. Lightfoot, P.R., Mason, B.J., McGauran, J.J.J., * Minchin, N.H.
Campbell, I.G. Kemp, C.R.
* denotes teller
Question agreed to.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
Trouble is Amanda - this is not just about the toxic culture at the Dept of Immigration. Your minions like to keep you happy and do your bidding. They do their best to divine your wishes and those of Downer and Ruddock and Howard and carry them out. Black letter law or a dog-whistled read between the lines, they will do what they are bid. You see, Amanda, bad law brings bad actions. Change the law, Amanda - if you still have courage in your bones.