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Friday, April 27, 2007

The Alternative Anzac Commemoration

I am indebted to Dale Hess (once again) for forwarding the following material from New Zealand. If you wish to receive a pdf booklet of the commemoration, please email Miss Eagle off the sidebar.

Away from all the official ceremonies, fly-bys and flag raising, five families commemorated ANZAC Day in their own way today.

The friends and neighbours gathered to remember New Zealanders and others who sacrificed their lives for the sake of peace and freedom.

Some of the people remembered include:
Te Whiti o Rongomai

the prophet of Parihaka who refused, along with his followers, to retaliate against the violence of the colonial government bent on annexing Taranaki land for settlers.
Archibald Baxter

one of 14 pacifists in World War I who was shipped to France, sent to the frontline, tied to a pole in front of the enemy, starved, beaten and left for dead for refusing to bear arms in support of the British Empire.
Ormond Burton

a decorated World War I veteran who publicly denounced New Zealand involvement in World War II, was imprisoned with hard labour and thrown out of the Methodist Church for refusing to preach against conscription.
Archibald Barrington

the founder of the Riverside community near Motueka who toured the country opposing New Zealand participation in World War II and was arrested in Gisborne for speaking out against the war.
representative of New Zealand and a key figure in the drafting and passage of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
environmentalist and Member of Parliament.
Moana Cole

Catholic Worker peace activist who broke into a US Air Force base in 1991, sabotaged a B-52 bomber en route to indiscriminately bomb civilians in Iraq and was jailed for a year.
Pauline Tangiora

the kuia from Mahia who went as a human shield Iraq and has campaigned tirelessly for peace in the Pacific and Aotearoa.
Dr Malcolm Kendall-Smith
the New Zealand born doctor who refused to undertake a second tour of duty in Iraq with the British RAF as he considered the occupation is illegal and was found guilty last year on five counts of disobeying orders.
After reading James K. Baxter’s poem ‘To My Father’, the families wrote their own peace poems and drew pictures.

Nine year old Hugo Robinson wrote this poem:

Peace and love
are like a flying dove;
No time for war
you just have to soar;
A tui flies
through the skies;
Open free
unlike you and me;
War, revolution
is not the solution.

Others created t-shirt slogans, pictures and designs such as:
‘Drop aid, not bombs’
‘We shall remember, we shall not cease’
‘War does not breed peace, guns do not breed security’

And another poem:

My name is peace
My name is life
My name is choice
My name is mine
My time was then
My time is now
My child, my love, my future
My name is peace.

The commemoration concluded with a rendition of ‘Maori Battalion Marches Off to War’ interspersed with ‘Gonna lay down my sword and shield, down by the riverside…’

Organisers of the commemoration are expecting even larger crowds next year and are also hoping to produce a booklet of Alternative ANZACs for other groups to use.

For more information contact: Manu Caddie – ph 0274202957 /

Who is addicted? Who gives a damn?

Why is Miss Eagle not surprised at this? Why do people consider that those - governments, hotels, clubs, casinos - who promote gambling give a damn about the community? They don't give a damn about the individuals who come to their venues and are entrapped by the insidious web of gambling. So why would they give a fig for individuals en masse woven into a community.

State Governments are as addicted to poker machine revenue as any hotelier or any gambling addict. Meanwhile at a national level our so-called anti-drugs, zero tolerance Federal Government is addicted to revenue raised from the two major drugs of addiction which are, between them, responsible for so many deaths, so much violence, so many broken marriages, so many car accidents, so many hospital and prison admissions: alcohol and tobacco.

When governments get serious about drugs and addictions and rid themselves of revenue gained from them, we will have sure evidence that they give a damn about the community. When governments give a damn, the community parasites of hotels, clubs and casinos might learn to give a damn too.

Otherwise the motto, to paraphrase Rhett Butler, is "Frankly, Citizen, we don't give a damn!"

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Fair Work Australia: a fair deal?

Eight days after Kevin Rudd appeared at the Press Club and gave Australians an idea of future directions in the ALP's policy on industrial relations, Julia Gillard has begun to flesh out the policy, has started to paint the picture, to show us the landscape of IR under Labor.

Last night on The 7.30 Report, Julia broke the news about Fair Work Australia. Fair Work Australia will take over from four agencies/institutions involved in setting the industrial law parameters that govern the working lives of a significant number of Australians: the Fair Pay Commission, the Office of the Employment Advocate and the Office of Workplace Services and the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC).

Rudd and Gillard say that the AIRC has served Australia for more than 100 years but it is a 20th-century institution that is too remote from the needs of modern Australian workplaces.
Miss Eagle suggests that making a disconnect between the old AIRC and establishing a whole new edifice might not be the best idea.

Miss Eagle has no longing for the old "industrial relations club" to be re-established. This was a long-standing boys club which did not keep pace with a changing economy. The club was a cosy one for construction and the tradeable goods sector (manufacturing) but it had no - and Miss Eagle means N.O. - understanding of the service sector which has been a burgeoning part of the economy over the last two decades.

In fact, some union and business leaders and Commissioners gave the impression that they knew all about the tourism and hospitality industry because they drank alcohol, ate at restaurants, and slept in hotel beds.

Another factor contributing to the lack of knowledge of the economics of the service sector has been that it tends to be dominated by women and young people. So we are talking about an entrenched form of discrimination. Women and young people were less likely to agitate and strike to improve their conditions so they were ignored. Some unions were happy to take their union dues but union attentions remained with the non-service sectors of the economy.

So, if there could be a more universal understanding of the sub-economies of this nation, it would be an improvement.

After that little vent, back to why a disconnect with the AIRC might not be the best idea.
Business is said to be angry about the prospect of a Fair Work Australia. One of the saddest things and one of the greatest hindrances to the well-being of this nation is the lack of consensus (as once there was) on major issues confronting Australia. The AIRC has delivered a great service to this nation since the earliest days of Federation.

While John Howard has gutted the AIRC, he did not abolish least not yet.
So if the ALP goes to the trouble of establishing Fair Work Australia, does this mean that it will be dead easy for a change of government to blow it out of the water?
Why not an AIRC for the sake of continuity and the possibility of some form of call to consensus?

Another thing that is not clear about Fair Work Australia is whether it will have a research function as the Fair Pay Commission does. Miss Eagle believes that this should be a function. If it is not be a function of this new one stop shop and shopfront, why not?

Miss Eagle likes the idea of the shopfront inspectorate function if it carries out its duties effectively and diligently. This will be a further challenge to union recruitment. In fact, it will be a challenge to those states which refuse to hand over their industrial relations powers to the Commonwealth.
Look to Queensland. Peter Beattie has said that Queensland will not hand over its powers which would result in the abolition of the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission. Beattie would not be game - Bill Ludwig and the AWU will see to that. The AWU would be the biggest loser if Queensland handed over its industrial powers. The AWU would be gutted.

Outside the south-east corner of Queensland, the AWU has coverage, under Queensland's industrial laws, across a range of industries which in other states are the province of other unions. Transfer of powers to the Commonwealth would see coverage in regional Queensland go to these unions. This would mean for instance the Shop Assistants Union would then cover all of Queensland. Award coverage in retailing is the largest union coverage in the AWU. A transfer of powers would see this coverage lost along with a massive slice of the AWU's income.

So, will the Beattie government be prepared to establish a shopfront role for its industrial inspectorate to compete?

Miss Eagle will be watching.....

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Anzac Day 2007

To-day is Anzac Day.
This is a significant day in Australian life.

All around Australia from the Australian War Memorial (below) to every tiny country community, Australian and New Zealand war dead will be remembered.

All around the world, Australians and New Zealanders will gather.

They gather for the Dawn Service in Gallipoli in Turkey.
They gather in Flanders Fields.

The troops in Iraq and every place on earth where there are Australian and New Zealand military personnel, there will be solemnity and memorial.
After the solemnity, there will be the traditional two-up game
"Two up" game in progress troops returning from service H.M.A.T. MAHIA
Museum Victoria Collection
When Australians remember those who died in the service of their nation, on Anzac Day, at the going down of the sun in RSL Clubs across Australia, the verse below is said as a sort of prayer, a testimony of sacred intent:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Praying for rain: a doubtful pursuit?

The Burrinjuck Dam - Christmas 2006 - getting lower and lower

The following email, dear Reader, was in Miss Eagle's inbox this morning, forwarded by my friend K. Please note: Crossway is Australia's largest Baptist congregation.

This is a message that Stuart Robinson Senior Pastor of Crossway Central shared with the congregation this morning.

Dear Family in Christ,

While at the garage getting my car fixed, I received a call from Pastor Danny [Nahlia] stating that as he and his wife were having a time of prayer this morning, the Lord revealed that it's time for the Nation of Australia to once again come together and pray for rain in response to Prime Minister John Howard's call to pray for rain! (just like Old Testament Biblical days when the King and the Prophet worked together to call the nation and people to prayerfully return to the Lord God of Israel)

In immediate obedience to the voice of God, Ps. Danny and Catch the Fire Ministries are calling on the church and nation of Australia on Wednesday 25th April (Anzac Day) from 3:00pm - 4:30pm to gather together wherever you are to prayerfully seek the Father in heaven for rain! "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn away from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14

If you live in Melbourne, we encourage you to join with us on Wednesday 25th April at Fitzroy Gardens (next to Captain Cook's Cottage) from 3:00pm - 4:30pm as Catch the Fire Ministries will lead a gathering of repentance and prayer for rain across Australia!

Most amazingly, 1 hour after I received the call from Ps. Danny, he was contacted and interviewed for 30 minutes by the editor of the Age Newspaper who asked him, "Have you thought of responding to the Prime Minister's call for prayer and what are you going to do?" Tomorrow's (Sunday 22nd April)edition of the Age Newspaper will carry an article about calling the church and nation to pray for rain.

Please forward this email and spread the Word to everyone you know across
our nation!

Let's unceasingly seek the Lord in prayer, fasting and repentance for Him to send the early and latter rains across this Great Southland of the Holy Spirit!

Thanking and Blessing You,

Jason Golden
Catch the Fire Ministries
PO Box 7427
VIC 3175 Australia
Tel: 613 9794 8211 Fax: 613 9794 9311

Miss Eagle replied to K. as follows:
K., I don't altogether agree with this praying for rain stuff.
I think what we should be doing is praying for ourselves and the condition we are in. I am pleased to see this scripture quoted - "If my people,who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek myface and turn away from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heavenand will forgive their sin and heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14

But an hour of prayer at Capt Cook's cottage won't do it.We have to reflect openly on what we have done and have a national discussion about this.We have wrecked this continent in just over two hundred years. We have turned large tracts of land to salt, we have polluted the rivers, and the oceans. We have denuded the land and now there is a word heard in this country which I had never heard before - desertification. There is a company in Queensland, Cubby Station, that no one does anything about - perhaps they don't have the power but I also wonder if they don't have the will - which has diverted water for itself. This water used to flow into the Murray-Darling Basin. Now it doesn't. Australia is losing animal species to extinction faster than anywhere else on earth. So that's what we are doing to the land, the trees, the water, and the animals. And this prime minister says pray!
Then lets look at what we have done in the last few years to people. We have concentration camps on Australian soil. We have deported our own citizens away from their country and locked up our own in these concentration camps. We are turning away to other countries humanity in need - in spite of the bible's injunction on how to treat sojourners....because, as Yahweh reminds us, you were once sojourners. Jesus, Mary and Joseph fleeing from a murderous Herod would not make it into this country! Australia has supported a prime minister who does this. A prime minister who writes letters of support for Danny Nahlia and whose support Danny Nahlia welcomes. And this prime minister says pray!

Let's take a look at our society - we pay sportsmen small fortunes, idolise them and tolerate their abuse of human beings, their rape of women, and their drug habits. Our country rushes to wars they have no business to be in and oversees large scale bribery in the sale of wheat. And this prime minister says pray!

Every day of my life I look out my windows at the Dandenong Ranges National Park - a very beautiful God-blessed part of the world. Last week, in a part of the Ranges I look at often, two young women took their lives in what is believed to be a suicide pact. Suicide and depression in Australia is a major issue. In fact, it appears to be a significant barometer of ourselves.

John Howard came to power saying he wanted to make Australians feel comfortable. Look around. Some are comfortable and a lot of those who are comfortable are self-interested, self-seeking, greedy and ambitious. The needs of the poor are neglected. Ordinary people have their public schools de-funded to provide funds for schools who are so wealthy one would not think they needed more money. Our public facilities like hospitals are falling to pieces. Our national infrastructure - around which we build our economic well being - is in dire need of investment. No one seems to be able to figure out how to run a university system without hanging hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt around the necks of the young. Housing for rental and purchase is becoming out of reach. And the prime minister says pray!
The prime minister could do something about the significant problems listed above. And, if he had tried to do all this, and we had tried to get all this done and reformed ourselves, and then we had failed, I think we could then reflect and pray. But to throw prayers God-ward and yet not acknowledge our sins....I think that is blasphemy.
Let me know what you think, K.
Blessings and bliss

Monday, April 23, 2007

Into the Everlasting Arms

Each morning, I look across from my sunroom to the Dandenong Ranges National Park.

Sadness has come to my heart since news broke yesterday afteroon that two young women (unknown to me) named Jodie Gater and Stephanie Gestier were found dead high up in the park.

Reports indicate that Jodie and Stephanie, who had been missing for a week, had taken their own lives.

The tragedy of young lives cut short and the overwhelming sadness that must have engulfed their families haunts me.

What a society, what a world have we built for our young that they cannot feel secure, creative, and hopeful within its bounds?

Ten years ago, this very month, a young woman came to my home who I had never met before. I only met her for an hour or so.

One month later she was dead by her own hand.

The poem below was written then.

My thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of Jodie and Stephanie.

These young girls/women are now in The Everlasting Arms.


How did I not see
the troubled heart and spirit?
Did I only look at you
to see myself
reflected back?

And if I
thought you carefree
was that only the perception
of my own comfort?

Why could I not see
through your body frame
to the pain
of old time’s torment
in your soul?

Eyes to see
a heart to understand
are what I need
to see the wounded Christ
in your life

For help or information visit beyond, call Suicide Helpline Victoria on 1300 651 251 or Lifeline on 131 114.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The times they are a-changin' as chickens roost?

Chickens are coming home to roost:
not only for John Howard but for globalization, too
Dear Reader, do you sometimes think you have a different wisdom from the professionally wise? By the professionally wise, Miss Eagle means politicians, senior bureaucrats, leaders of commerce and trade.

Do you think that you recall a certain history of events which the professionally wise - use above definition - seem to have either forgotten or completely bypassed?

Miss Eagle has come across to-day two articles which should reassure you, dear Reader, in regard to your memory and your powers of interpretation and comprehension.

The first is about John Howard in the long, long ago - before he became Lazarus with a triple by-pass - when he was Treasurer and when that name of "Honest John" was coined, not as a compliment as some use it to-day but as a perjorative.

The second concerns the fact that some Americans with strong economic and business credentials are finding holes in that smelly gorgonzola cheese that is globalization. You knew, dear Reader, as did your present correspondent that all was not well in the globalized world. We knew, you and I, that many people were ending up the poorer and missing out on the much- and oft-touted benefits of free and globalized trade.

Now, Miss Eagle is not railing against globalization in and of itself. It is an old and ancient phenomenon. Modern people like some things such as international communications and travel and dislike others like the migration of jobs off-shore, the driving down of wages.

In Miss E's view there should be one catch-cry against globalization and that is Accountablility.

Not the unctious and self-righteous catchcry of CEOs and senior mangers about looking after the stakeholders. No, dear Reader, CEOs and senior managers need to be held accountable in regard to what they deliver and the amount of remuneration, share holdings, and sweet deals they receive. Companies need to be held accountable in their countries of origin as well as their countries of location. They need to be accountable to the communities in which their places of business and their employees are located. They need to be transparent and accountable when governments give them favourable and special treatment. Of course, companies need to be accountable to their shareholders but "stakeholders" goes well beyond shareholders.

Finally, those who believe in free trade, need to be honest - not unctious - about the hidden favours they give or receive from governments and the taxpayers.

For instance, why are companies allowed to go bankrupt or into liquidation without paying workers their wages and entitlements? What happens in Australia is that businesses and corporations can avoid honouring workers entitlements, avoid paying any remuneration, or perhaps pay very poor and minimal redundancy payments and then the shoddily treated employee is thrown on the welfare heap for the taxpayer to take responsibility.

In other words, the employer; the business; the corporation can make a decision to offload employees and offload their responsibility for workers' entitlements. The employer, the business, the corporation can make a decision to benefit itself to the detriment of others. The taxpayer then has the pleasure of paying for the consequences of a decision it had no part in.

But then Australia does not provide subsidies to business! Yeah!?!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Kevin, Labor and IR go to the Press Club

It is with a sigh of relief that Miss Eagle has been watching Kevin Rudd addressing the National Press Club to-day. It was Rudd's first address to the Press Club since becoming ALP leader on 4 December 2006.
Why the sigh of relief?

Because at last the cat is officially out of the IR bag for all to see. Well, one cat is out of the IR bag. More still are lurking - but the important, seminal one is there for all to see.

For those who might have thought (and Miss E was never one) that all that needs to be done is elect an ALP government and wait for the rollback of Howard's draconian IR laws, listen/read the Rudd speech and you will have your hopes dashed.

The facts have always been that once the eggs are scrambled there is no putting them back in their shells. And Howard has effected a scramble of workers rights in no uncertain terms.

Be alert!

Be alarmed!
Howard has more to come - make no bones about it. One way or another - whether he bribes you, dear Reader, with tax cuts to take a wage cut or brings in masses of guest workers to drive down wage rates - your work and your wages will be affected. Work will be upped and wages will be downed.

Miss Eagle does not pretend she will be happy with the ALP's IR platform. In fact, she is certain she will not be. What Miss Eagle does assert, though, is that Labor is the best bet for workers' rights. Labor is the best bet for workers being able to influence federal and state governments with regard to their rights.

Rudd was questioned by Paul Buongiorno with regard to whether the Fair Pay Commission would stay and whether the Industrial Relations Commission would be re-instated to its former glory. Rudd wisely said that he had no answer on this and these were issues of transition.

For those not familiar with the finest of details of political platforms - particularly the platforms of parties who have a very likely chance of winning an election - transition or machinery of government policies are vital for the smooth transition from one brand of government to another. The transition or machinery policies are finalised very late in the electoral cycle. The arrangements for transition may receive a great deal of publicity but not necessarily so. Or some areas may receive publicity but details of other portfolios are not mentioned. The astute follower of the political process will be watching, reading, listening closely for transition details.

Miss Eagle, dear Reader, is about to stick her feathery neck out. Miss Eagle bets London to a brick on that the Fair Pay Commission in one form or another will survive. Not necessarily with the same membership and not necessarily with the same name (and aren't our pollies great at changing names and the stationery) - but survive it will. Why.
The Fair Pay Commission - in some form - will remain because it is a good idea and it does have something to offer. The idea came from Blair and his so-called new Labour. In this globalised world, where the cost of labour as a factor of production is eyed off internationally, some form of research and policy facility is the only way a social and pluralist democracy can fine tune its wages bills.

You will recall, dear Reader, that when Bob Hawke came to power way back in 1983 he brought with him the Accord - an agreement on wages which was supposed to be tripartite (business, government and unions) but finished up bipartite (government and unions). The research behind the Accord, while substantial, did not have the clout of the research that is building within the Fair Pay Commission. However, the motivation to-day varies little from what Hawke had in mind.

So to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, the price of your rights, dear Reader, is eternal vigilance.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Have the gates of hell prevailed in Catholic Ireland?

If you don't want your heart touched with sadness, don't go here. The Knitter writes in the blog titled Days in the Life of Ireland's Child Care Institutions n the 20th century. Miss Eagle was raised in a pre-Vatican II background of Irish-Catholicism, Australian-style. We hear of the great fall away from the Roman Catholic faith in Ireland which is stunning for those who, like Miss E, were taught by nun after nun with an Irish accent who had left far-away Ireland as teenage girls and never saw their homeland again.

The Knitter shows us why in stark terms. Like this:
LOVE is never having to say you're sorry, but if you do, you don't have to mean it.
LOVE is never having to admit to physical abuse.
LOVE is never having to admit to sexual abuse.
LOVE is never having to admit to psychological abuse.
LOVE is never having to admit to illtreatment of abandoned children.
LOVE is never having to admit to cruelty to children.
LOVE is never having to admit to the starvation of children.
LOVE is never going to win any part of the argument.
and then there are graphics like this:

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Free at last....?

David Hicks spruced up to meet the demands of the Military Commission aka as Kangaroo Court
Miss Eagle's rejoicing is postponed until he arrives on Australian soil. The news is here. John Howard clearly thinks this will remove the Hicks issue from any consideration by Australian electors in the forthcoming Federal election. Who can tell? He may be right. But one thing is clear to all who give a moments thought to the situation of David Hicks. That is the collusion of the Australian Government in the manner of his "trial", his "sentencing, and his expected release.
Howard clearly thinks Australians are mugs.

It is quite clear that what Howard has done now, the Australian Government has had the capacity to do and could have been done previously (give or take legal manoevering around the Military Commissions legality issue). This re-inforces the belief that Howard could have done for Hicks what Blair did for Britons.

Howard refused.

Howard was inhumane.

Howard was vengeful.

Hicks breached no Australian law but Howard was determined that, one way or another, punishment would be visited on David Hicks. Some Australians may want to just put the Hicks matter away in a bottom draw. Others of us will remember David Hicks. We will remember John Howard.