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Friday, June 30, 2006

Geneva 1 - Bush 0 in the latest ball game

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Justice and plain old fashioned common sense is alive and well in The Supreme Court of the United States of America. Read the decision in Hamdan v Rumsfeld here. But justice and plain old fashioned common sense is frequently conspicuous by its absence in the Bush Administration. That's inhabited by the nutters who thought up the term "illegal enemy combatant", decided to abrogate the Geneva Conventions in relation to the treatment of prisoners of war, and didn't stop to think of the Christian tradition of The Golden Rule and that the GCs cut both ways - you do this to others and someone else will do it to your own.

What's Miss Eagle rabbiting on about?
The fact that the US Supreme Court has ruled
the military commissions illegal
and that the Geneva Conventions have to prevail.
Australians have been guilty of a sin of omission. We have never forced the Australian Government to discuss its attitude to the Geneva Conventions. The Howard Government has stood shoulder to shoulder with the US on the military commissions. Where have we forced either John Howard or the ghostly Phillip Ruddock to defend the Geneva Conventions? Where has the RSL been in defending the Geneva Conventions? Where has the Australian community or the RSL or the defence community demanded that the Australian Government declare and debate its hand on the Geneva Conventions and the fiction of illegal enemy combatants? Why is the Australian Government alone in the Western world in its support of the now illegal military commissions? For clarification of the issues, go here.
Have we shut up because:
  1. The US is the most powerful military power in the world
  2. The US pulls Australian strings
  3. This has occurred when we are fighting people whom we see as "The Other"
  4. This has occurred because the context of the abrogration of the Geneva Conventions and the institution of the fiction of "illegal enemy combatants" touches the racism inherent in Australian society

Australians need to reflect that before the League of Nations, before the United Nations, there were the Geneva Conventions.

Australians need to recall what happened in World War II in regard to those nations who were not signatories to the Geneva Conventions. Japan was not a signatory and imprisoned Allied Forces - among them significant numbers of Australians. Look at how Australians were treated by someone who cocked a snoot at the Geneva Conventions.

Germany was a signatory to the Geneva Conventions as were the Allied Forces. German prisoner of war camps were not highly desirable places but a modicum of humanity prevailed. Russia, though, was an example of a non-signatory whose forces were treated abysmally by the Germans because there was no accountability under the Conventions.

This "do unto others" at the basis of the Geneva Conventions has been raised in Senate committee hearings in the US.

It is time for Australians - the RSL, the defence community, the broad community - to demand from their government solid backing for the Geneva Conventions and its application and hem Howard and his cohorts in until they confess that the term "illegal enemy alien" is a fabricated fiction.


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It is not known what the implications are for David Hicks and Miss Eagle waits - but is not hopeful - for Australian and British Governments to provide a response in his matter based on the US Supreme Court decision.

The horror against humanity that is Guantanamo Bay is unaffected by this decision.

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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Success on the streets!

The Howard Government and its cronies tries to maintain that yesterday's rallies across the nation in cities and towns and regional centres were not a success. It never sees numbers on the streets of any significance.

250,000 walking across the Sydney Harbour Bridge six years ago asking Howard to say Sorry didn't do a thing. Nor did 100,000 in marching in Sydney trying to head off Australian participation in the Iraq war do a thing.

Yesterday's brilliant rally of 150,000 in the heart of Melbourne, 7,000 at regional centre Wollongong just as two instances is regarded by those who have intimidated the Australian workforce as unsuccessful.

And it wasn't only those who got to the rally. A big thank you needs to go to those Rail, Bus and Tram Unionists in Melbourne who had to work to keep public transport going but gave their support by letting those attending the rally travel for free. Miss Eagle knows of one very busy suburban Melbourne railway station where the orders came from the Station Master to his staff. 'Onya mate. Howard does not talk about that!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Stop the City to Stop the Rot

To-day is the day
to rally
in your town or city.
Across Australia
Let's stop the rot.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

From the desert prophets come - A.D. Hope

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Sculptors Hill (left) Stephens Creek on Nine Mile Station (right)

Broken Hill, New South Wales

Into Miss Eagle's email to-night came some wonderful information from her good friend, Ian Robinson, who now lives in Perth but will be known to many in Sydney from his time as Minister of Chatswood Uniting Church. Ian, together with Ross Neville, is planning a wonderful desert journey under the heading of God Outback which will run from 21-29 August next. You will need to go the aforelinked website for registration but here is the info.

Based on a remote station property north of Broken Hill, we will be exploring the spirit of the land - aboriginal and caucasian - as well as the country, and the difference a person can make. Participants can be accommodated in shearers’ quarters; park a caravan next to the quarters; or camp in the creek - journeying and reflection will take place from the quarters.

We will encounter station life as well as the indigenous peoples of the Mutawindji National Park. Opportunities will be given to explore semi-arid country and the big skies. Time alone, time around the campfire, and hopefully one overnight campout. Things to see and do include: landcare by the pastoralist; regular operations of station life; visit deserted mine shafts, cabin sites etc of early settlers and miners; look at a mine on Nine Mile; understand western vegetation and animals; the unique hills, geology and plains of the area; study the stars; aboriginal culture sites and feedstuffs; quiet, spaciousness, unique scenery, sunsets, stars and colours; no rush…..

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Ian Robinson has seen most of Australia’s outback, and led many groups on retreat. An ordained minister, he is presently engaged in research into the spirituality of the Australian deserts. He is married with three adult children and lives in Perth.

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Ross Neville has lived in the central and western part of NSW as a farmer, counselor and Rural TAFE teacher. He has led and arranged camps all his life. He is married and has 4 adult children and is currently the Evangelism and Mission consultant with the UCA NSW Synod Board of Mission.


Possible general program: The program will be flexible according to the nature and interests of the group

Monday Arriving: Sydney Train arrives 7:10pm Dubbo/Sydney Plane 11 am. Driving 15km Tibooburra Nine Mile on left. Settle in: Walk around creek area homestead area. BBQ dinner in creek with owner

Tuesday Tour around station with owner

Wednesday Party investigates particular part of the station

Thursday Friday Short walking trails on edge of property Sculptor Hill, Sundown trail, or station walks, Star watching night

Saturday Trip to Mutawintji National Park: aboriginal food, culture, overnight Sunday Monday Free time possibility to investigate parts of Broken Hill mines, art galleries…

Tuesday Train leaves 7:45 am Plane 11am

What to bring: Tent, if you want to camp. Day backpack, water bottle, walking boots, Sheets, pillow, blankets, if staying in shearing quarters, (or sleeping bag) bathroom items, warm and hot clothes, coat for cool winds, evenings. temperatures expected for late August 8-18 degrees (Can be 0-30) Optional (Folding chair), ground sheet, Binoculars/telescope, torch, Bible, notebook, camera, paints, crayons and musical instrument if you can.

Total cost $560 Reduced fee for camping. $40 Registration fee Includes 4WD hire, all food plus entry fees park, mine.

Problem with the cost?

Contact us - Ross Neville 02 6366 9698

Ian Robinson 08 9450 4441

Registrations close 7 August

Spirit Journeys

Carolyn Robertson

0425314863 or

It is in all our faces....

The decisive moment.
Italy kicks in the final moments
for the first and final goal of the match.

Lucas Neill.

Italy was awarded a penalty - a dubious penalty -

because of Lucas.

Mark Schwarzer who had caught all of Italy's attempts

- until now.

One of us. A saddened spectator.

But we love you all - you did us proud

- we are inexperienced -

but we will grow from this -

and we will learn.

We will miss you Guss -

so come back to us.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Will dawn come to the land of the Morning Star?

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The case for West Papua will be fraught with difficulty on its way to resolution - if there is ever a resolution. Common humanity demands our sympathy for the indigenous people of West Papua and recognition of the great injustice done to them in the method and manner of facilitating the passage of control from The Netherlands to Indonesia under the 1969 so-called Act of Free Choice. Compounding the situation is Australia's relationship with Indonesia, a close - almost the closest - neighbour of Australia and the world's most populous Islamic nation.

One of the most lucid commentaries on the topic was provided this week by the Rev Professor James Haire, Professor of Theology at Charles Sturt University, and Executive Director of the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture. James Haire lived in Indonesia for some 13 years, and he's been back and forth for the last 34, teaching there. He's a personal friend of former President Abdurrahman Wahid. James Haire was speaking on the ABC's Religion Report.

Useful links about West Papua include:
Centre for Christian Ethics RESOURCE SHEET
Papua Press Agency
Australia West Papua Association
West Papua Niugini/Irian Jaya Homepage
Free West Papua
Senator Kerry Nettle's Home Page on the Free West Papua Campaign
National Council of Churches in Australia: West Papua
Edmund Rice Centre: West Papua
TEAR Australia: West Papua
Just Comment: West Papua - The Conflict for Rights
The Big Issue: West Papua - Secret Genocide

Friday, June 23, 2006

We did it! We downed Croatia!

In spite of some Croatians thinking they were playing Rugby,
in spite of yellow and red cards
being sprinkled like confetti on both sides,
in spite of erratic ref's decisions, we have done it.
The beautiful golden lads have done it.
Australia is going to Round 2.
Thanks Guus!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

His greatest contribution was his life, rather than his death

Denis from The Nature of Robertson has written to me about the previous post.
This is his take on the topic:

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I always had a problem with the concept that Jesus died to pay for our sins - even those we had not yet committed. Somehow the time line seems important to me. If he had atoned for my sins - the ones I had not yet committed - then somehow the need to commit them ought to have been negated. But we know that is not the case.

Re The Guardian article, when I was reading it I noticed this line:

Rethinking Sentencing begins the much-needed debate into what our judicial system would look like if it was premised not on the logic of salvation as debt and repayment, but on the idea that crime is the breaking of a relationship within the community, and that genuine justice must be all about relationships restored.

That rang a bell with me. I suddenly recalled one definition of heaven (and eternity) as "being in the presence of God" - when all time ceases to exist - there is only an eternal "moment". It is sometimes referred to as the "Beatific vision".

Anyway, if that is what Heaven is meant to be, then clearly it is about relationship with God, not physical issues of warm, sunny days, palm trees, and even an Angelic Choir singing Bach! Those are essentially inwardly focussed issues - the pleasure principle continued from Earth into our concept of Heaven.

So, if Heaven is to do with our relationship with God, then it is easy to think that "salvation" (which at its linguistic origin means "healing", NOT "debt repayment") ought be to do with relationships with God (and his representative on Earth - ourselves and other people (and animals, and the planet too, if you are feeling a bit Buddhist).

So, peace and harmony are the route to salvation, because they deal with relationships.

I mention relationships with ourselves firstly - as I believe that true inner peace is probably the hardest relationship, but the most important, and the source of the breakdown of most other relationships - with other people, and with society. And it is that breakdown which gets people classified as "criminals".

So, working backwards, from the concept of Heaven, to what is Salvation, we find relationships are the key. So, sin (crime) is based on selfishness (personal gratification) above fairness (justice) to others.

Salvation comes from healing, not payment of debts.

So there, I have given you a brief run down on our relationship with God (and ourselves and other people, etc) and only used the word debt once - in the last line. And only then, to say what salvation (justice) is NOT about.

Only trouble is, it does not build into this theory of salvation the death of Christ.

However, that can surely be incorporated. But I would be inclined to say that Jesus' greatest contribution to our lives was his life, rather than his death. It was through his life that he showed us how to live, surely.

Personally, if I think about Jesus, I think of the Sermon on the Mount in preference to his death on the Cross. After all that was a political act by the Jewish Hierarchy acting in cahoots with the Roman politico/military occupying forces. And so, one can actually see that as an expression of Society's inability to deal with the simplicity of Jesus' message.

I think Salvation comes from Christ's message - his example, and his words, more so than from his death. But, if one took that sentence too literally I would probably be classed as a heretic. So, don't stress that point too much.

Thank you Denis. Food for thought there.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The price of punishment - and theology

Rev. Jonathan Chambers

Dear Reader, when Miss Eagle comes across theological phrases like Penal Substitutional Atonement her eyes glaze over. A normal human response she thinks - a bit like reflexes, involuntary breathing, and blinking. Why wouldn't you?! Then after the glaze clears Miss Eagle realises she has come across a Pharisee, a member of that ancient religious sect to whom Jesus delivered all the Woes. She then recalls that they are alive and well within the Christian tradition and are every bit a challenge to the Christian's faith as they were to Jesus Himself.

After all, the basic message of Jesus is so simple that a child can get it. Certainly there is no need for five-syllable words.

Now Miss Eagle is moved to discuss this topic with you, dear Reader, because of this challenging and enlightening article. This was brought to Miss Eagle's attention by Jonathan Chambers in last Sunday's sermon at St Thom's at Upper Gully. Jonathan who, as Senior Chaplain, co-ordinates the Anglican Criminal Justice Ministry in Victoria challenged the people in the pews on Sunday not only at the very roots of their belief but also demonstrated how such belief can have implications for one's view on justice - retributive justice versus restorative justice - and prison reform.

Miss Eagle can confess to you, dear Reader, it challenged her. But it also opened her mind to the consequences of such a way of describing what she believes Jesus did for her by His death on the Cross. So, dear Reader, can you help Miss Eagle? She is praying about all this. Thinking about all this. Wanting to know what God has to say on all this. So she invites your comments, dear Reader. But, beware! She is looking for comment that provides light - not heat. Otherwise, not only will her eyes glaze over: her ears will get so sticky she won't be able to hear!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Kerin, Union Solidarity and organising in the community

Dave Kerin at the establishment of the Outer Eastern Suburbs Community and Unions Coalition
Thursday 15 June 2006

All over Melbourne, community groups are being established to fight the Howard Government's Work Choices legislation which is changing the face of industrial relations and workplace equity in Australia. Last Thursday night, the Outer Eastern Suburbs Community and Unions Coalition was established at a meeting at the Knox Community Centre. Now organising such a group in the Outer East can be a bit difficult - simply because a lot of people do the one hour commute to the city. There are industrial areas, particularly in the Bayswater and Mitcham areas, but in these days when there is 24 hour shift work and unpaid overtime it can be difficult to pick a good time for meetings and difficult to attract people to a meeting when it can mean breaking into precious family time. But sufficient people turned up last Thursday night to establish a well-organised group.

Miss Eagle walked into the meeting and didn't know anybody - except the man in the back row: the grand old man of left-wing community organisation in Melbourne, Dave Kerin. (Sorry Dave - don't mean to be ageist or imply extreme antiquity.) Dave is the co-founder and co-ordinator of Earthworker and Union Solidarity and an ex-BLF official active in the anti-deregistration battle in the 1980s. Dave is also a significant player in the RMIT Community Advocacy Unit.
If you would like to get involved in the Outer East campaign against Work Choices, get in touch with Miss Eagle by emailing off the side-bar or you can phone:
Dave Leydon on 0408 998 849
Josh Cullinan on 0416 241 763.

The next meeting of the Outer Eastern Suburbs Community & Unions Coalition

will be at

The Knox Community Centre

cnr Scoresby Road and Mount Highway, Bayswater

at 6pm


Wednesday 12 July.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Working in Melbourne

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In this Victoria, our dear land,
The first that dared be free,
To show the world what freedom meant
In new lands 'cross the sea
- Ode to the Eight Hours' PioneersHamilton MackinnonApril 21, 1896

This year marks the 150th Anniversary of the gaining of the eight hour day for working people. As in so many things, there is rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne. This time it is about who initiated the eight hour day. However, Melbourne doesn't give a fig. Here, it is full steam ahead with the celebrations.

As part of the Eight Hour Day 150th Anniversary Project, Melbourne Conversations is staging a special event this coming Thursday, 22 June, from 6.15 pm to 8.00 pm, at the RMIT Capitol Theatre, 113 Swanston Street, Melbourne, opposite the Melbourne Town Hall.

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The conversation is Working in Melbourne 1856-2056: Certainty and Uncertainty? An interesting panel has been assembled:

The MC for the evening is Peter Mares, presenter of The National Interest, on ABC's Radio National.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Ecstasy! Delirium!

Probably Miss Eagle's biggest whinge since coming to live in Melbourne in September 2004 has been the fact that there is no live broadcast of the State of Origin series between Queensland and New South Wales. Melbourne is bigoted. It is not ecumenical. Queensland supports four codes: League, Union, Soccer, and AFL. Melbourne can't get past their highly localised game, AFL.

The whinge from Miss Eagle was so bad this year, dear Reader, that Herself promised her, as a birthday present, a ticket to the final State of Origin match which, this year, is being held in Melbourne. Miss Eagle has now been saying how wonderful if it would be - and it seemed unlikely - if Queensland defeated NSW in the second game and the decider would be played here in Melbourne.

And guess what?

Last night The Canetoads walked all over The Cockroaches to win 30-6 and the decider comes to Melbourne. The tickets had already been arranged through our good friend Sarah and we are doing the whole thing in style. We have a corporate box!

Now Miss Eagle is off to see if Melbourne can produce a Queensland scarf - and to check on the supplies of Champagne and Bundy Rum.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Community choice? Give us a real choice.

Miss Eagle is putting on her shoes to-night and heading over to the first meeting of the Knox Union-Community Solidarity Group. Now the shoes won't look like the ones above. More like a pair of Diana Ferrari's.

The meeeting, to discuss the formation of a Knox group to provide a community base for the opposition to John Howard's Work Choices, will be held at 6pm in the Meeting Room at the Knox Community Arts Centre, cnr Mountain Highway & Scoresby Rd, Knox. It is being organised by the AMWU Eastern District & Union Solidarity. Further information can be obtained by give Chris Spindler a call on 0425 784 819.

See you there!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Sense of Story

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Hazel Mackinnon, Bob Randall's wife, is an artist and a listener. She says

Listening to people's stories, people who are relatives of Bob Randall and live in the desert region, I created the exhibition of Sculptures and Silk, The Stories of the Stolen Generation. There are a few people who can talk but most are deeply traumatised and affected by their treatment now and in the past. Our aim is to give these people a voice, for when they are heard, the healing can begin.

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We cannot imagine the living hell that mothers go through waiting for their children to come back. Some mothers in their grief stricken minds visualise their child coming back as they were taken as a baby. Many, many mothers are still waiting for their stolen children.

Records of institutions are sometimes destroyed so names and histories are lost making it impossible for people to find their way home.

This is Miss Eagle's favourite piece. So poignant!

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Bob Randall was taken away from Angus Downs station in 1939 by Constable Bill Mckinnon. He was put on a camel, taken to the Bungalow in Alice Springs and to Croker Islander on the Top End. He found his way back after forty years, but his mother had died. He now lives in his rightful land as a traditional owner of Uluru.

Miss Eagle commends Spiritual Songlines.

If you do nothing else towards Reconciliation between Settlers and the First Nations, visit this exhibition. Talk with Bob and Hazel. Glimpse the heartfelt feelings for the land and the wounds of its people. Learn how this country can transform and heal all of us if we just slow down, stop, and allow ourselves to listen and experience what has been provided for us.

Sense of Identity

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Further to the previous post, Sense of Place , special guests at Kinross House - Uniting Arts Toorak are Bob Randall and his wife, artist Hazel Mackinnon. Hazel and her work will be the subject of a separate post. Bob is probably best known for his song Brown Skinned Baby which came into being out of the pain of the Stolen Generation. As the Rev. Anneke Oppewal of the Toorak Uniting Church explains in her background to the exhibition in the catalogue,

Bob Randall's life has been a journey seeking to reconcile aboriginal roots and new Australian culture. Passionate about his people, he has supported the weakest and most vulnerable in his community by organising practical aid and by working tirelessly for greater understanding of aboriginal issues. He has opened up discussion and provided information, through his music, the writing of a book, a children's book, an ABC televised documentary and now the production of a movie. Himself one of the 'stolen generation' children, he grew through hardship and difficulty into a man who is able to see both sides of Australian culture. He combines a deep sense of aboriginal spirituality and connectedness to the land with relatedness to Christian vlaues of love, justice and reconciliation.
Bob and Hazel were en route to the Sydney Film Festival where the film of Bob's story, Kanyini, will be shown.

The film will be previewed on Monday at the Toorak Uniting Church on Monday 19 June at 7.45pm. The Gallery at Kinross House will be open that night from 6.30pm. Prices are $10 and $5 concession. This gives admission to the both the film and the Gallery. There will be an opportunity to talk with Bob afterwards.

There will be two other opportunities to meet Bob this week. On Friday 16 June from 7.30pm to 9.00pm, Bob will be conducting a workshop on understanding Aboriginal culture. This will take place at Kinross House and admission will be $10. On Sunday 18 June at 9.00am everyone is welcome to a Family Service at Toorak Uniting Church where Bob will tell his story and perform his music.

Our golden green lads have done it!

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Australia has equalized against Japan in the last stages of their match - thanks to Tim Cahill. Opportunity after opportunity came as the Socceroos outshot the Samurais statistically but none were converted as Japan dominated 1-0. As Miss Eagle writes, the game is down to the last two minutes. Cahill has done it again and Miss Eagle is in tears of excitement and gratitude. Gus Hiddink is throwing himself around in ecstasy. What is going to happen with additional time?

It's a case of Hang on, Aussie, Hang on, Hang on. C'mon, Aussie, Hang On.
And hang on, we have.
As if the magic and consistent boot of Tim Cahill was not enough,
in comes Aloisi with his magic boot once again.
Beyond all doubt Aloisi takes it to 3-1.

Monday, June 12, 2006

It's an honour?

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The insignia of a Companion in the Order of Australia (AC)

It's that time of year again - the Queen's Birthday honours. Now, dear Reader, this may upset you but Miss Eagle has a great deal of ambivalence about the gongs. Each year, she assiduously peruses the list in The Australian to see who has got what. And this year your correspondent expresses her feelings.

Top of the list is the AC - Companion in the Order of Australia. Since Australia abolished knighthoods, these are the coveted awards. Now, Miss Eagle doesn't know what it costs to get an AC these days but time was when a knighthood cost $100,000 or the repayment of a gambling debt. When Joh Bjelke Petersen was Premier of Queensland, it became public knowledge that Sir Justin Hickey contributed $100,000 to Kingaroy's one and only private hospital in Joh's home town. Then there is the story Miss Eagle was told many years ago about how the late Sir Peter Abeles is supposed to have got his knighthood. Apparently the transport knight was in a game at the Forbes Club - one of Sydney's illegal casinos - with the then (now deceased) Premier of New South Wales, Robin Askin. Robin Askin was in a losing streak and in debt to Peter Abeles for a huge amount of money. Askin is alleged to have said "I don't know how I can repay you." Abeles is alleged to have said "I do."

Now clearly the artist Margaret Olley did not pay for her AC. But please note, dear Reader, that Ms Olley is the token female. As far as Ms Eagle is aware there has never been more than one female on the AC list - so we can see how the achievements of Australian women are valued, can't we?

But having said that, money and political influence is not everything. Don McDonald OBE (please note he already has an imperial gong) of 'Devoncourt', Cloncurry in north-west Queensland has received an AM (Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia) for service to the community in regional areas of Queensland, particularly Cloncurry, through agricultural, transport infrastructure, political, community health and volunteer organisations. The AM is only the second-highest award below the AC. Don is a significant player in his local community and in the state of Queensland. He is a wealthy pastoralist and makes the BRW rich list. He has had a long stint as Chair of the Queensland National Party so has great influence on the conservative side of politics. In Don's case, Miss Eagle would like to know what the reason was for the OBE. Did Don get awarded twice for the same sort of work?

And what is the difference between Margaret Olley and Colleen McCullough? McCullough only received the second highest order - Officer (AO) in the General Division of the Order of Australia - for service to the arts as an author and to the community through roles supporting national and international educational programs, medico-scientific disciplines and charitable organisations and causes. McCullough isn't quite as old as Olley but she is getting on. One is significant as an artist, the other significant as a writer. In fact, one greatly significant thing about McCullough is that she showed Australian writers how to get published in the USA and make a lot more money.

Then Miss Eagle wonders whether a sort of arithmetic should come into the assessment for a gong. Miss Eagle notes that a certain South Australian broadcasting personality named Jeremy Nicolas Cordeaux has received a gong - but Miss Eagle thinks of questions raised about some of his behaviour by Media Watch. And then there is that nasty man, Shane Stone. He who introduced, with his colleague the Liberal Party pollster Mark Texta, push polling to Australia. At a time when Australia is concerned about the lives and living conditions of Australia's Aboriginal people and all sorts of racist "solutions" are coming out of the Federal Liberal Government, it needs to be remembered that Shane Stone was formerly a Country Liberal Party Chief Minister of the Northern Territory and oversaw so much neglect and dishonesty in relation to Aboriginal policies or lack of them. Shane Stone's party was the party of government from the Territory's self-government in 1978 until 2001. As a farewell present to himself, he awarded himself the Queen's honour of becoming a Queen's Counsel: all the better to feather one's nest after politics. After the Northern Territory, he became Federal President of the Liberal Party of Australia. Now surely in all that there is the ability to notch some minus points. But no, this self-interested man who played a horrible form of politics and ignored poverty and deprivation all around him has been given this nation's highest honour.

Finally, dear Reader, let me take you to the real value in the Honours List - the lowly OAMs: the Medal in the General Division of the Order of Australia. Here you will find the unsung heroes and heroines of our community life. These are the people who find the time to provide the social glue of our communities. They are always a mixed bunch: sporting umpires and referees, foster mums, office bearers in a wide variety of organisations, and more. And chances are the ones who get this gong have been doing all this for free and for a very long time. Miss Eagle remembers once seeing the name of her childhood tennis coach in such a list. Annie Hansen would not have thought of a reward such as this for what she did - and Miss Eagle doubts she got rich out of our coaching fees - but she was an institution in our country town and countless children owed a sporting interest to her efforts.

Ms Eagle sends her best wishes to all those who have given freely of their time and their skills to build the fabric and social capacity of our communities and received awards. Ms Eagle is not a supporter of awards to those who have already been paid for their work unless that work has contributed at a quite unique and innovative level. Talent and genius should always be rewarded. What a pity that the list gets corrupted with sycophants, would bes if they could bes, retirement rewards, or people who have only differentiated themselves by staying around for a long time.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Sense of Place

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Barry Jones AO standing in front of Malcolm Jagamarra's Inapaku 2004 prior to opening the exhibition.

Friday night saw Miss Eagle at Kinross House for the Uniting Arts Toorak launch of Spiritual Songlines. Spiritual Songlines is a magnificent exhibition of Aboriginal art which runs until Sunday 18 June. The exhibition has been auspiced by the collector David Carazza who collects works from the Central and Western Deserts.

This year, Kinross House - a magnificent Victorian mansion - has focussed on the theme "a sense of place" based on Sally Morgan's book My Place. Spiritual Songlines extends the theme into a national context with a sense of place, land and identity.

The goal, as outlined in the catalogue of the exhibition, is to:

  • promote indigenous art in all its depth and colour through the paintings David Corazza has so generously made available;
  • provide an opportunity for learning about aboriginal culture and spirituality through workshops, art and the movie Bob Randall brings from Central Australia;
  • support Bob's efforts to support his community with actual, practical help;
  • deepen our understanding of the issues that need to be addressed if first and new Australian cultures are to be reconciled and made whole. According to Bob such reconciliation can only come about through the love and understanding that grows when stories are told and the experiences are shared.

Miss Eagle must advise, dear Reader, that the exhibition is rather stunning - and Miss Eagle has seen quite a diversity of Aboriginal art. Artists whose work is represented at the exhibition are Josie Petrick Kemmarre and Minnie Pwerle from Utopia; Shirley Purdie and Madigan Thomas of Warmun (Turkey Creek); Jack Britten of Worranginy; Malcolm Jagamarra of Alice Springs; and Makinti Napanangka of Papunya. (Footnote: Miss Eagle carries the Warlpiri skin name, Napanangka)

The exhibition was officially opened by Hon Dr. Barry Jones, AO.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Community support needed at Campbellfield

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Under John Howard's No Choice Workplace laws, picket lines are outlawed. So community organisations are springing up right across Melbourne. One of the prime purposes of all this community activity is to provide support for workers in troubled workplaces. People from the community and other trade unionists turn up to particular places. The latest advice is set out below. It is at Preston Motors Mitsubishi in the northern suburbs.

Political & Industrial Protest at Preston Motors Mitsubishi
-TIME : 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
DATE : 10 June, 2006 (SATURDAY)
PLACE : Preston Motors Mitsubishi
1551 Sydney Road Campbellfield 3061

Workers and Locals set to show Unity and Solidarity!!
Workers at Preston Motors Mitsubishi are set to get a significant boost in their campaign to maintain wages and conditions with the AMWU - Vehicle Division (Vic. Branch) setting up a political and industrial protest on-site in Campbellfield this weekend.
State Secretary Gayle Tierney said
"We invite workers and their families to drop-in and show support for the 23 workers who are on the frontline in this battle against the Work Choices legislation.
These workers and their families do not deserve to have their wages and conditions placed under attack.
However, it is clear that the Company want to impose a wage freeze and to remove important conditions that have been in existence for a number of years. This is simply unacceptable."
."With this dispute we are in it for the long haul. We apply the principle that no worker will lose a single cent or have a single condition abolished as a result of the Work Choices legislation. Our job is to ensure that what we have today we will have tomorrow.". said Union Official David Nunns.
MEDIA CONTACT :- Union Official David Nunns 0425 784 812

Monday, June 05, 2006

Another go at knocking the foundations out from under them

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That creature of bleak outlook and hard-edge economic rationalism, Gary Johns, has put a report to the Howard Government which wants to eradicate the teaching of Aboriginal culture to Aboriginal children. Talk about the language of hate pretending to be the language of reason!

Miss Eagle just wonders what Gary Johns knows about Aboriginal life and culture. Spread out for us your credentials for your pontification from the mountain top, Gary.

Miss Eagle was educated in the Irish Catholic tradition. This was a system that was predominantly staffed by religious people from a foreign country. The system was designed to protect, preserve, and promulgate particular religious values. It was meant to strengthen a community which felt oppressed and dominated and which did not have universal access to employment because of religious bigotry. But it became a significant education system in Australia to the extent that people who were not Catholic wanted to send their children to be educated in it. It has continued and gone from strength to strength even though it can no longer rely on the unpaid labour of people of religious orders and is staffed by lay people. Perhaps, if 80 years Gary Johns had been asked for a report, he might have recommended the eradication of the Catholic tradition and culture in education. What rubbish!

If anything, Aboriginal culture should be a significant component of mainstream education in public, private, and religious schools. Here in Melbourne private schools educating the middle-classes and the wealthy are sending their students to Western Australia to learn of and participate in Aboriginal culture and communities - and everyone is loving it. Now Gary Johns would remove this teaching from Aboriginals themselves. What rubbish!

Aboriginal education is under-resourced - in some cases and places, it is barely resourced at all. Aboriginal people, even with an education, are discriminated against in employment. Miss Eagle reckons that she will know that there is no discrimination in employment when she sees Aboriginal women on the cosmetic counters in David Jones and Myer. You understand, dear Reader. Aboriginal people providing those really personal services in mainstream commerce.

Meanwhile, whitefellas over-resource the private educational sector. They have it both ways: increasing commodification of education to enhance business interests while taking money from the taxpayer. Betcha bottom dollar that Gary Johns didn't address this matter. If he did, more money could be made available for Aboriginal education and Aboriginal participation in the mainstream economy.

Robert Nelson points out here that many Aboriginal communities do have a thriving economy - based on art. But Miss Eagle guesses that Gary Johns's concept of art as economy is just as non-existent as his concept of Aboriginal culture as education.

World Environment Day 2006

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The members of the Eastern Region Environment Committee of the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne have been busy little bees. To-day is World Environment Day and yesterday at church at St Thom’s at Upper Gully we received a handy little brochure on Water Saving. While Melbourne is not the driest part of the dry continent, its residents are quite water conscious and have constant reminders to vigilance so the Water Saving brochure was a contribution to the whole civic water saving ethos. The brochure explains to us as follows:

Australia is the driest inhabited continent on earth. Most of Australia is classed as arid or semi-arid, with 80% of the continent receiving less than 600 millimetres, and 50% receiving less than 300 millimetres, per year.

Of all the water on Earth, only 3% is fresh. Less than a third of 1% is available to humans. The rest is frozen in glaciers, polar ice caps or deep within the Earth, beyond our reach.

Water is one of the most important natural resources we have. It is essential to our existence.

Since 1900, global water consumption has risen 10 fold. UNESCO has predicted that by 2020 water shortage will be a serious problem world wide.

As Christians, we are called to care for, and to share with all, the creation given by God. It is therefore a responsibility of the Church to show leadership in sustainable water management. Action is therefore being taken to raise the awareness of members of the Eastern Region of the Melbourne Anglican Diocese to this responsibility and to encourage an engagement in, and an acceptance of, the challenge concerning water usage by the Church itself and by Church members.


As a people of faith we have before us the Great Commandment,
“To love God, to love neighbour and to love self”.
The environment is our neighbour, sustaining us, nurturing us and teaching us about ourselves and about that which is different to ourselves.
The land, the water, the air, all that is vegetable and all that is animal and mineral become very intimate neighbours calling each of us to learn more about how we relate to them.

The commandment calls us into a relationship with our living world.
We mutually receive and have reciprocal responsibilities back to all aspects of the Earth’s created order.

We have been offered a time to heal both ourselves and our environment by using this received and share knowledge, we are enabled to hand on our wisdom to those generations yet to be born and also to honour all those who have made this journey before us.

Loving God we thank you for this world of wonder and delight.
You have given it to us to care for, so that all your creatures may enjoy its bounty.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Seasons of the Soul: Pentecost

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To-day is the celebration of Pentecost, the birthday of the Christian church.
Happy Birthday, Church!

Deep warmth of joy and love be yours,
Bright light of sight and life be yours,
Rich glow of fruits and growth be yours;
Fire of the Spirit burn within you
Fire of the Spirit burn within you.
Energy of God fill you and dwell in you,
Life of God inspire and renew you,
Breeze of God revive and disturb you;
Wind of the Spirit blow through you
Wind of the Spirit blow through you.
Life giving presence of God stir you
Unseen power of God strengthen you
Wellspring of truth cleanse you and lead you.
The Spirit encourage and guide you,
Creative voice of God direct you
And kindle adventure within you;
Wild Goose cheer you and call you on
Wild Goose cheer you and call you on.
by Craufur Murray

Rights at last?

Well, about time, says Miss Eagle.

The Hon. Warren Entsch MLA, Liberal Member for Leichhardt, and former Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry, Science and Resources and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources is to introduce a private member's bill later this year to recognise same-sex interdependent relationships under all federal legislation.

Now before the religious right in the U.S. nod sagely and say what else would be expected of a liberal, Miss Eagle would advise them that a Liberal in this country is not the same as a liberal in their country. A Liberal in Australia is a member of the dominant conservative party in this country, the Liberal Party, which is in government Federally and whose leader, John Howard, is a great friend of George W. Bush. The U.S. equivalent is a Republican.

A few years ago the Howard Government hastened to introduce legislation to circumvent gay marriage or recognition of gay marriage. Heaven forbid that gay couples should pledge themselves one to another publicly!

This legislation is to remove discrimination and is well overdue. And for all those big macho types out there, Miss Eagle has no idea whether Entsch is gay or straight himself - but if, dear Reader, you are into some strange form of stereotyping then he does wear a moustache. Read his cv here.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Great Water Takeover

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Recycled- a water poem

The water you are about to drink
Deserves a second thought, I think;
For Avogadro, oceans, and those you follow
Are all involved in every swallow.

The molecules of water in a single glass
In number at least, five times out-class
The glasses of water in stream and sea,
Or wherever else that water can be.

The water you're about to taste
No doubt represents a bit of the waste
From prehistoric beast and bird,
A notion not at all absurd.

The water in you is between a' betwixt
And having traversed you is thoroughly mixed;
So someone slaking a future thirst
Could easily drink what you drank first.

The fountains spraying in the park
Distribute bits from Joan of Ark
And Adam, Eve, and all their kin;
You'd be surprised where your drink has been.

The water you cannot retain
Will some day hence return as rain,
Or be beheld as the purest dew,
Though long ago it passed through you.
Dr Verne N. Rockcastle
Miss Eagle has to say that from what she has seen and heard of Senator Bill Heffernan's public life, she finds him an unattractive person. He is supposed to be a devoted Catholic but has a most unChrist-like way of dishing the dirt and making ad hominem (what is the female equivalent?) comment. However, Miss Eagle gives conditional support to his suggestion of a referendum to allow the Commonwealth Government to take over responsibility of water from the states. Miss Eagle agrees with Heffernan on the national responsibility for and priority of water.
Miss Eagle re-iterates her support is conditional.
  1. You see, dear Reader, Heffernan is a farmer. Mark Vaile, Leader of the increasingly irrelevant agripolitical machine, the National Party, has expressed concerns about the state management of water. But, dear Reader, Miss Eagle is concerned that access to water is on the basis of equity and equality. She does not trust farmers or those who would create "markets" for water. Probably the biggest issue in The Bush - aside from drought - is a topic known as Property Rights. If you want to find out about Property Rights and farmers and water, read Paroo.
  2. Cubby Station is impeding water flow into the Murray-Darling and taking water for itself. Are Vaile and Heffernan going to stand up to the owner/owners of Cubby. Peter Beattie tried and was forced to back off by angry people in the Dirranbandi/St George area: typical National Party territory and the area of Nationals Senator, Barnaby Joyce.
  3. Miss Eagle's friend Denis of The Nature of Robertson will want to know how Sydney's water shortage will be addressed. He has posted extensively on the proposed drainage of the Kangaloon Aquifer in the Southern Highlands of NSW.

Miss Eagle is not the biggest fan of Paul Sheehan (he of the Opinion columns in the Sydney Morning Herald). She does not universally share his opinions although there are times they co-incide. Miss Eagle does think that his writing skills are excellent - so even when she doesn't agree with him at least it is interesting and delightful to read. With that qualification, Miss Eagle publishes in full his piece of Bill Heffernan. It is well worth the read. But just remember, Bill, Miss Eagle is watching to see if your actions match your words. You have one notch on your belt now. Let's see a few more.

Australia has the potential to become one of the most stupid, short-sighted, short-lived civilisations (for want of a better term) ever created. The nation could last little more than three greedy, mediocre centuries as an advanced economy, and two of those centuries have already passed. Compared with what's heading our way unless we mobilise as a nation, such passing obsessions as the Iraq war and the latest federal election are mere sideshows.
People keep talking about the historic "drought" afflicting the eastern states. It is not a drought. It is far more serious than that. Even if good rains come they are not going to change the fundamental problem. The weather pattern has changed. Having mined and altered and channelled and stripped the landscape for the past 150 years in an impossible attempt to re-create Europe, we can't even see the obvious - that when you profoundly change the landscape, when you destroy vast amounts of balancing energy in the soil and vegetation, you change the weather.
Gradually, with excruciating slowness, the full magnitude of our collective ignorance and arrogance is only beginning to come into focus. We saw a hint of this focus on Friday when the Prime Minister and five premiers - all except the Premier of Western Australia - gathered in Canberra to announce a belated national effort to address Australia's slow-motion disaster with the river systems and the over-allocation of water.
The process is going to make for some strange politics. Take, for example, Senator Bill Heffernan. He can see the disaster unfolding. And because he can see it unfolding, he is now to the left of St Peter Garrett when it comes to the environment. While Garrett is locked into the union-dominated Labor Party, Heffernan has moved to the left of Labor on big environmental issues. Take his views on that most totemic green cause, the clear-felling of old-growth forests in Tasmania, protected under the bipartisan Regional Forests Agreement:
"It's a disgrace," Heffernan told me. "They could end clear-felling of old-growth forests tomorrow. And they should. They are over-committing Tasmania's forest resources in a way they will regret in a hundred years ... And in their haste to clear the timber they waste and burn and haven't even done any work on the impact on the water system. Places like Launceston are having a dramatic change in the stream pattern. It could be a long-term disaster."
Yes, Wild Bill Heffernan, the Junee farmer, Irish-Catholic conservative and political knee-capper, who sits impregnably at the top of the Liberal Senate ticket for NSW in the next federal election. He also happens to be driving two Senate inquiries (he is chairman of the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislative Committee) into national water policy and sustainable forestry practices, and thus inevitably colliding with a raft of ugly statistics and ugly satellite images.
From this vantage point, and after a life on the land, Heffernan can see disasters, all different but all related, unfolding in every state. Sitting in his office in Parliament House, Canberra, late at night, he ticks off the big problems, using exasperated language which has not been vetted by his mate, the Prime Minister:
"In Tasmania, they burn everything that's there and 1080 [poison] them, it's just a mournful operation and the process of pushing down old-growth forests is a huge waste. They recover only about 10 per cent of the old growth as saw logs, the rest just goes to the chip mill."
He wants his Senate committee to consider a proposal to protect a further240,000 hectares of that state's high-value old-growth forests, offset by what he calls a "wall of wood" coming on stream from new plantations in Tasmania and Western Australia.
"In Queensland, the great national disgrace remains the water harvesting at Cubby Station [a huge cotton farm] which completely intercepts the water rights of downstream users ...
"In NSW, the over-allocation of the rivers and aquifers is a classic example of disastrous planning by governments of all persuasions. It's the same with the complete denial of the problems caused by water interception in plantation forests. It's happening in every state ...
"In Victoria, the La Trobe Valley aquifer is facing a potential catastrophe because of unsustainable drawing down of the water table ...
"In the Northern Territory, they have no brains and no experts when it comes to water management. The Government has decided to mine the arid aquifer, which means no one has learnt from the disaster of mining the Namoi aquifer ...
"In Western Australia, climate change and unsustainable water use has caused serious long-term problems for Perth's water supply."
The senator did not blink when I told him the noted environmental scientist Tim Flannery believed Perth's water shortage would become so severe the city could become "Western civilisation's first ghost metropolis".
"We need to get beyond denial," Heffernan said. "All governments. The only way for governments to get the political courage to act is for the public to be made aware of the gravity of our national situation. Friday's announcement by the PM and [Deputy PM] John Anderson and the premiers was real progress, a good start. They all know the Murray-Darling Basin has only 6.2 per cent of Australia's run-off but 70 per cent of Australia's water farming. They know that no matter how you do the sums, we need better technology, smarter water-farming, and the removal of some activity." He singled out rice growers and cotton farmers as having to "lift their game".
"It's a no-brainer that we need a new agricultural frontier in northern Australia, where the Timor Gulf and Burdekin catchments have 60per cent of the nation's run-off - 10 times more than the Murray-Darling - but are virtually untapped."
Australia controls the world's fourth largest expanse of land, sea and continental shelf. We should be an ecological superpower. Instead we have chosen, so far, to remain a European colony in the most insidious, dangerous way possible.

Selling off the National Estate

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Parliament House, Canberra.

For sale?

Hands up those who want to sell real property in government hands. Now hands down those who have a financial or political interest in the sale of real property in government hands. Miss Eagle's gut feeling is that when a vote is taken which would exclude those with conflicts of interest, there is no majority for the sale of real property in government hands. Then again one might wonder what would be up for sale. Well, the little gnomes of have helped us out here and actually made a list. This list should only be seen as a starter.

Miss Eagle would welcome additions to the list along with explanations of their financial and revenue value.

Australia Post: Iconic Australian monopoly business with extensive retail network, large bike inventory, potentially great billpay system, and even further revenue opportunities for featuring B-Grade celebrities on limited-edition stamps.
Parliament House: Hot air tours are just one of the commercial opportunities afforded by this iconic national parliamentary edifice in which no expense has been spared in construction and fit-out. Generous lease back agreement subject to negotiation with vendor.
Australian Institute of Sport: Developing the iconic prowess and moral fibre of the next crop of Australian athletes, there is considerable revenue potential for HECS-style scheme. Excellent sponsorship potential from breakfast cereal and condom companies.
Australian Electoral Commission: Independent democracy administration service. Excellent cost saving available from streamlining operations and reducing electorates and politicians. Unstable but iconic Pacific region also offers growth potential.
Sydney Harbour: Stunning views, plethora of fish, steady stream of water traffic, iconic harbourside real estate. Ripe for further development, above and below the waterline.
Sydney Opera House: Architectural icon superbly situated for commercial exploitation. Major merchandising opportunities, including licensing of logos and images, available for an innovative owner. Large outdoor advertising space also accessible.
Great Ocean Road: Iconic ocean-hugging roadway with major tolling potential and other opportunistic tourism revenue opportunities. Australian Broadcasting Corporation: Bloated and left-leaning broadcasting icon with enormous potential for rationalisation and depoliticising.

Come on, Howard, come on, come on

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The Prime Minister has done a backflip. He has decided not to sell the Commonwealth's share in the Snowy Hydro Electric Scheme. This, Miss Eagle believes but please contradict her if she is wrong, is the first time that John Howard has done a backflip in a positive way. To be sure he has done backflips before but they have been dishonest - like the statement that there would never, ever be a GST. He introduced one. Then there are the "non-core" promises which can be broken with impunity but Howard alone knows where the "none-core" definition begins and ends.

The question needs to be asked - what took him so long. He claims to listen to Australian people but this is hogwash. He didn't listen when a quarter of a million people marched across the Sydney Harbour Bridge and many more crossed bridges across Australia asking for an apology to the First Nations of this country. He didn't listen when 100,000 people marched in Sydney against Australia's involvement in the Iraq War and when opinion poll after opinion poll made clear that Australians did not want involvement without UN support.

There are two suggestions for the turn around. One is the blunt force of radio talk-back host Alan Jones and his long established interest in water. The other is that something was afoot within the Liberal Party and there are rumours of a down and dirty meeting brokered by Malcolm Turnbull with the Prime Minister and some angry back benchers including that well-known friend of the PM, Senator Bill Heffernan.

Miss Eagle appeals to the Prime Minister's sporting instincts. How about making it a hat-trick, John. Now that you have the got the message about how the electorate feels about the great sell-off to your mates, make it three out of three. Pull the plug on the sale of Telstra. Pull the plug on the sale of Medibank Private.

OK, Miss Eagle realises no one has done the social history of Telstra or Medibank Private but both have contributed to our social development and our national values. Telstra has many unique qualities - unique among the telcos of the world, particularly the government controlled telcos of the world. Anti-competitive practices within Telstra could have been and can be rectified without selling off the family silver. At a time when American-style health economics is severely affecting Australia's health system, Medibank Private is about to be sold. Medibank Private which has been a major instrument in containing private health costs. Medibank Private which has been a major instrument in providing competition and keeping health insurance premiums from going through the roof altogether. Medibank Private which has been made so successful by so many Australians: Australians who give their support to Medibank Private above any other health fund. So go for the hat-trick, John.

Come on, Howard, come on, come on.
Come on, Howard, come on.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Selling out the nation

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Prime Minister JB Chifley: opening ceremony: Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric scheme, Adaminaby, 1949

National Archives of Australia (when will this be sold off?)

NAA: A11016, 821
Howard, Iemma and Bracks have decided to sell the Snowy Mountains Hydro Ltd., an icon of Australia's post-World War II development. This is a national shame which brings no glory to those involved. Glorious though is the letter sent by 56 prominent Australians to their Prime Minister begging him not to proceed with the sale. Miss Eagle publishes the letter below for all the world to see together with the honourable Australians who signed - many of whom are known internationally.

"The undersigned appeal to the Commonwealth to suspend the sale of Snowy Mountains Hydro Ltd. This iconic enterprise was a stepping stone on our path to nationhood and was seen by all the world as a marker of our aspiration. It is part of the glue that binds us.
Handing control of this central pillar of our water and power supply to those whose interests cannot be guaranteed to reflect our own, at a time of climate water and energy uncertainty such as we have never seen, is imprudent at best and could so easily end in bitter regret.
That the sale is proceeding, apace, with so little public understanding, is wrong. Such an action demands rigorous and transparent analysis by people of vision, with unquestionable objectivity, undistracted by unrealistic time limits, short-term budgetary considerations or vested interests.
We ask you to suspend the process to give pause for analysis and time for free and open debate of this manifestly non-partisan issue in all parliaments of the nation. Water is far too fundamental and precious a resource to be put in jeopardy with so little forethought.
A wise and sensitive response to the widespread and growing public anxiety about this sale would attest to the strength of our democratic system and serve to enhance the unwritten compact between parliament and people that has allowed this country to work so very well.
Our warrant for this appeal is that we are all so very fortunate as to have been born into or welcomed by this wonderful place we call home."
Les Murray, Poet
Donald Hazelwood, Concertmaster Emeritus, Sydney Symphony Orchestra
John Bell, Actor, Bell Shakespeare
Siobhan McHugh, Author and Historian
Geraldine Brooks, Author
Julian Burnside, QC
Paul Barratt, Former Secretary, Commonwealth Department of Primary Industries and Energy
Andrew Buttfield, Civil Engineer
Alastair Mant, Author
Richard Leplastrier, Architect
John Anthony, Former Deputy Prime Minister
Ian Lowe, Scientist, President, Australian Conservation Foundation
Mick Dodson, ANU Institute for Indigenous Australia
Bill Hayden, Former Governor General
Jack Mundey, Former Union Leader
Tom Uren, Former Federal Minister
Cate Blanchett, Actor
Bernie Fraser, Former Reserve Bank Governor

Peter Cockbain, President, Institution of Engineers
Justice Marcus Einfeld, QC
Bob Wilson, Chief Commissioner of Water Resources
Jonathon Biggins, Writer
John Button, Former Federal Minister
Jeff Angel, Director, Total Environment Centre
Faith Bandler, Author
Bob Ellicott, QC
Ted Mack, Former Independent Mayor, MLC, MHR NSW
David Malouf, Author and Poet
Sheila Swain, Former Mayor and head of the Mitchell College of Advanced Education
Malcolm Fraser, Former Prime Minister
Gordon Samuels, Former NSW Governor
John Menadue, Former Public Servant
Max Talbot, Former Engineer, Snowy Hydro Ltd
Rachel Siewert, Senator
Peter Andren, MHR, Fed
Alison Broinowski, Writer and Former Diplomat
Craig Ingram, MLA, Vic
Peter MacDonald, Mayor, Former MLA NSW
John Hatton, Former MLA NSW
Vin Good, Former Snowy Commissioner
Tony Windsor, MHR, Fed
Robert Manne, Professor, LaTrobe University
Andrew Bartlett, Senator
Glenn Murcutt, Architect
Henri Szeps, Actor
Richard Wallace, Mayor, Snowy River Shire
Ian Barker, QC
Ian Frazer, Scientist, 2006 Australian of the Year
Paul Stephenson, Mayor, Goulburn
Richard Broinowski, Former Diplomat
Bob Ellis, Author
Russell Savage, MLA, Vic
Peter Sculthorpe, Composer
Lady Southey
Lyn Allison, Senator
Natasha Stott Despoja, Senator
Douglas Nicholas, Convenor

Poor fella my country and ancient wisdom

Miss Eagle's mind has been very busy with grammar. She has been trying to match a preposition to the word sell: sell out, sell off, sell up, sell on. The governments of poor fella my country want to sell off everything. They are selling up as if someone was about to foreclose and they needed the ready cash. They are selling on like a speculator whose sole mode of being is to broker a bob. But most of all they are selling out - selling us, its citizens, out. Selling icons that the governments and citizens of this nation built as things of great communal and national value. Things which have been integral to our lives and our national development.

Ancient wisdom and ancient narratives serve us well. They serve us well because human nature doesn't change much. Thus the story told in the Book of Genesis Chapter 29 verses 29-34 is significant in this discussion.

Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field and he was weary.
And Esau said to Jacob, "Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary." Therefore his name was called Edom. But Jacob said, "Sell me your birthright as of this day." And Esau said, "Look I am about to die; so what profit shall this birthright be to me?" Then Jacob said, "Swear to me as of this day." So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

And into Miss Eagle's mind come names and faces: Steve Bracks, Morris Iemma, John Howard, Macquarie Bank.

Ah, poor fella my country. A birthright despised.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

40 Years of Citizenship?

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It is 4o years since the 1967 Referendum restored citizenship to the Aboriginal people of Australia. In the years since then, a great amount of goodwill towards Aboriginal people has been established within the settler community and there is an increasing understanding and respect for Aboriginal culture. But the Howard Government doesn't get it. A clean out of opposition to an ultra-right political culture was carried out in the early 90s leaving very few moderate liberals in the Federal Parliament. There is almost no-one with an understanding of Aboriginal views and culture in the footsteps of people like Billy Wentworth, Ian Viner, Fred Chaney. No-one with the anti-racism credentials of Malcolm Fraser - with the possible exception of Petro Georgiou.

The parlous state of Aboriginal community life has been highlighted in recent times. This has coincided with a new Minister on the block trying to make his name and prove that he can take charge and impose solutions. Ho-hum! Some of us have seen this all before. What we have seen before, are seeing now, and find detestable and reprehensible is people who have not got a clue, have not given their full attention to this issue before, want two centuries of something down right now, and are prepared to pontificate and use hobnail boots to impose their ignorant views. Included in this are politicians both state and federal, and the media who are in bed with them from the most senior political analysts down.

An example of this is that discussion of one of the most fundamental issues and causes of what is going on - lack of adequate and decent housing and skills in communities to build and maintain them - took almost a week to emerge as an issue in the ignorant media. But calls for more and even more police and the army made it there first, of course, of course.

Now, it has become clear for all to see - as if there was no previous evidence - that the Howard Government is going to rip off Aboriginal moneys to provide services and infrastructure which other Australians get directly from the taxpayers' coffers.

John Hartigan, Rupert Murdoch's man-on-the-watch in Australia, has got it right and is saying it out loud. Hopefully, with the power of the News Limited media in this country the message will be taken through the community from citizen to Prime Minister.


Democracy is government with the consent of the governed. It is inclusive. But time and again Aboriginal Australia has not been included, not given fullest participation in citizenship, not asked for their consent.

Miss Eagle recalls the Jana Wendt interview with Toni Morrison, the black American Nobel Prize winning writer. Morrison said that the white person always has to have centre stage. This comment struck me at the time. Your Miss Eagle, dear Reader, had never heard such a thing before but was struck by how true it is. Miss Eagle has never forgotten this and meditates on it often. The whitefella is greedy. So greedy that we will slam into Aboriginal crimes and misdemeanours while enrolling our kids in posh private schools which are milking taxpayers funds for all their worth while Aboriginal kids don't turn up to school or sit in poor accommodation - or even on dirt floors - when they do. And why should they bother turning up for school. Whitefellas don't include them in their economy with jobs - and certainly no blackfella is notching up salaries like the blokes at the Macca Bank. Does A.C. Neilsen ever poll Aboriginal communities on politics. Course not. The public phone at the community might not be working - so how can they communicate.

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Miss Eagle doesn't know how many blackfellas will be at Mal Brough's forthcoming talkfest - but she knows one. And Miss Eagle wishes to state that she personally knows him. That is the new NT Minister for Housing, Elliot McAdam, Member for Barkly. Elliot knows how to ask the tough questions. He is a member of Clare Martin's Labor Government but has been called the Leader of the Opposition for his vocal and forthright representation of his electorate and its needs.