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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Casinos, Pokies, Governments: a smart card?

Miss Eagle has received a comment to this post from DizzieLizzie. DL's points are so well made, in the view of Miss Eagle, that they deserve greater prominence than a comments link gives so they are posted here below. Miss Eagle would welcome further comment.


Reality is that the one sure method of tracing and recording the spending of pokies players, that also would give poker machine consumers the protective tools to better regulate their own spending, is 'smart cards'.....and these have been consistently and conveniently rejected by govts and the gaming industry alike!

No wonder!

Using mandatory 'smart cards', pokies players could keep accurate spending records, thus could more readily quantify (and claim) their recorded 'losses' on poker machines. The government etc does NOT want that information to be so readily available!

Loss on pokies is already causing the govt. huge embarrassment.

The last measure it would willingly introduce is a card that empowers pokies consumers to limit their lossses...and that may also provide a spending receipt that incidentally is required in our consumer law! (Refer Fair Trading Act 1999 161a) So not only are pokies being operated illegally....our govt. is irresponsibly allowing this to occur, even though a 'smart card' would also stop self-excluded or under-aged players from playing.
For that benefit alone the card is worth introducing. It may also protect innocent families by providing a warning of over-spending, so that homes and businesses and family security are not lost!

Crown Casino is at huge fault for misleading the public about dangers of poker machines....and so is the 'puppet' government who is over-protecting the gaming industry, instead of acting to protect all citizens, who deserve greater 'duty of care'.

The pokies problem is NOT the 'too hard basket' at all Denis. It is easy to fix.

Ban poker machines OR make them safer to use! Simple!

The government AND the gaming industry MUST tell citizens the full truth...and that is that many more people are harmed by pokies than is reported. ALL citizens will be paying for the huge rise in public health and legal costs caused by pokies addiction for far longer than the government who now ignores effective reform will remain in power, at least!

Right now the govt. is desperately trying to hide the fact that the majority of people surveyed by local councils want pokies gone from the suburbs ....or banned completely!

So much news contains the 'good' that pokies supposedly do for communities....but we are not fully told of the business collapses, loss of employment, divorces, thefts, suicides, mental illness that has occurred. They are glossed over and our Victorin communities for instance, simply cannot handle losing billions each year to two businesses, Tatts and Tabcorp....while the govt. does not get enough of the pie to ever cover its losses. Taxpayers cover THAT!!

We are also led to believe that pokies addicts are a tiny group of irresponsible social misfits...they are 99% NOT. The machines are designed to addict. NORMAL people get addicted to these insidiously dangerous machines, that use subliminal, hypnotic and 'conditioning' techniques to put NORMAL people unknowingly into a trance. The machines are also 'rigged' to have purposeful 'near misses' promote over-spending.

It is too easy to say that individuals are to blame if they lose control on poker machines. As humans we have been seduced and exploited by these machines, that purposely hook in to our normal addle our design!If we allow dangerous products into our communities...WE as a WHOLE population are to blame!! Would we allow a car with no brakes to be on our roads? Most likely we would not...Perhaps we may though if we misguidedly believed that by doing so, we may be gaining from another's loss! Hence our failing and irresponsible govt. allows the myth to continue...that pokies addicts are in a minority....that individuals are to blame here...and our courts STILL blame the human victims...those who were told that pokies would be FUN!!

Pokies addicts did not expect to be harmed by a recreation that was presented as being harmless for all but 1-2%!! Being normal people they did not think that they were in such a 'misfit' category....prior to their addictions taking hold...waking up too late to make up for their debilitating loss!

Our courts should be blaming the true criminals...the government, the rapacious gaming industry and those who KNEW full well the real dangers of these machines BEFORE they were released on an unsuspecting population.

We were told that poker machines would save our economy. What rot!!Now we have ALL seen the real tragedy and cost of poker machines....and people who allow these defective products to remain are just as greedy and culpable as the government who is now hooked on them...OR the gaming industry who bleeds us dry!!

So when our communities are financially destroyed....who will we blame then? Just 1-2% of 'irresponsible' people?? C'mon.

Wake up Australians!! This is OUR problem!!

Look at Western Australia...the only Australian state who resisted the lure of these poker machines. NOW it is booming! That is NOT just due to mining! It also results from keeping billions of dollars that eastern states lose...away from the gaming industry!! be placed in the hands of greengrocers, butchers, hairdressers, dentists, clothing retailers, restauranteurs....and all of the other tradespeople who LOSE business over in the east.

And WHY would we want poker machines BANNED or gone from our neighbourhoods...if we felt their benefits rather than their pain???

Friday, May 25, 2007

When will Israel and Hamas cease the escalation of violence?

Not everyone Jewish supports Israeli actions.
Hat tip for the photo to Ana at Whenua, Fenua, Enua, Vanua

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Archbishop and Anglicans : Policy and Prayer

We keep hearing that our economy is booming, and we saw clear evidence of that in the federal Budget. But the sad reality is that inequality is increasing. Housing affordability is at a record low, rents are rising rapidly, and homelessness is increasing.

Words of warning from Philip Freier, Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne. Read more of what he has to say here.

Philip Freier is taking the Christian voice to the frontline of the public policy debate in Melbourne.

New to Melbourne, the Archbishop has established a prayer quest, Prayer4Melbourne. This gets Archbishop Philip out and about into all sorts of places in the city and the suburbs to talk to all sorts of people. Read about this stuff on the Archbishop's blog.

Then there are his Conversations. Held in the centre of Melbourne at BMW Edge at Federation Square, there have been two so far. The first one focussed on stem cell research under the title Send in the Clones; the second one was Is a 'fair go' a 'no go' in Australia today?

Melbourne Weblogger Meetup

Can I tell you that The Melbourne Weblogger Meetup Group is to have its very first meetup to-morrow night? Diarise it right now.

Details are:
Date: Wednesday 23 May
Time: 6.30pm onwards (so those in the CBD can come straight from work)
Place: The Horse Bazaar Bar - 397 Little Lonsdale St Melbourne
Cost: nothing - buy your own drinks/coffee/food

Miss Eagle will be there and would love to meets lots of fellow bloggers.

Monday, May 21, 2007

David Hicks: politicians get brickbats

Let's be blunt here. There are politicians in this nation who bleat about citizenship and Australian values and who have done nothing to increase the value of either. In fact, they have failed the mateship test. They have failed to show a duty of care towards a citizen - namely David Hicks. Although he is not the first - just the worst - case.

There is the Black Trinity of John Howard, Philip Ruddock, and Alexander Downer.

For years, they have refused to lift a finger to gain the release of David Hicks from the US detention centre at Guantanamo Bay used to circumvent the Geneva Convention. As the US Government conspired to avoid it human rights obligations, the Australian Government was complicit and these three men were the Australian activists who conspired to ensure the detention of David in this illicit hell hole.

Citizenship, mateship, Australian values. Forget it! These three devalue everything that Australians hold dear.

The duty of care towards a citizen. Forget it. Corruption at AWB gets more support and priority.

Mateship. Forget it. Just because Hicks is Australian did not make him a mate. He was evil - according to the demonisation antics of the Black Trinity. Australia had no law under which he could be convicted and imprisoned. So the Black Trinity took the most convenient option. Revenge, US style. Convict him in the United States. They have a law and, if it doesn't fit, they will make it fit to order.

Australian values. Forget it. Foreign governments - particularly and in particular the United States of America - can do anything they like with impunity to Australian citizens. Britain, however, values their protection of citizens more highly than this Australian government. Tony Blair got every last one of his people released from Guantanamo years ago.


Ministers from Mike Rann down continue the demonisation begun by the Black Trinity. Wonderful how Labor and Liberal coalesce and merge into one another sometimes, isn't it?
Caught Kevin Foley briefly on the telly last night saying "he's not a celebrity, he's not a hero." Duh, Kevin!

No, David Hicks is not a celebrity. He is not a hero. He is more than that. He is one of us.

He has been misguided and foolish - as are all of us at some time in our lives, to a greater or lesser degree. But David Hicks is one of us who has been treated abominably. He is one of us who has been a victim of revenge from two governments - from the United States of America, the land of the free and the home of the brave; and from his homeland, Australia, the land of mateship, the fair go and being fair dinkum.

Are South Australian politicians so used to law and order debates and upping the ante on who is the toughest on criminals, that they just automatically mouth off?

Have they never heard of mercy and compassion?

We know the Black Trinity does not understand mercy and compassion. Corruption and privilege and special pleading for people of privilege is what is understood best.

So Rann and Co - who like to appear non-partisan, who appoint a churchman to the halls of government - look no better. No mercy for Hicks. No compassion for Hicks. Demonise Hicks. Belittle Hicks. Kick Hicks while he is down. Feet of clay, Mike and Kevin, feet of clay!

Homecoming for David Hicks

David Hicks is home - where he belongs.
Please continue to pray for his welfare.

Thanks be to God. David Hicks is home in Australia. The list of people to thank is endless. But David's greatest support has been his father, Terry. Terry Hicks has acquitted himself well. He was on a steep learning curve as he faced the media, lobbied politicians, learned to use film to promote David's cause. No parent could have done more in such circumstances than Terry Hicks.

Terry Hicks - 3 February 2007

Then there are the lawyers. They twisted. They turned. They persevered to gain every inch. Australian lawyers supporting David Hicks grew in number. Vital support. But the one who spoke to the hearts of Australians was Major Mori. An unknown in his own country he has become a well-known figure in Australia. Major Mori was exemplary. And he loves cricket which helped the case to take yet another direction in attempts to free David from Guantanomo Bay. Michael Mori now has his own row to hoe. At this time, it does not appear that Michael's strenuous efforts on behalf of his client have helped his career.

So many people assisted in the battle for David Hicks, Australian Citizen. People took to the streets, prayed in churches and a cathedral, lobbied, kept vigil, wore orange.

And one website kept faith and kept us going - Fair Go for David.

The Tao of John (for David Hicks)

In order to be strong

Make somebody weak.

To be at the centre of the crowd,

Make somebody as lonely outcast.

To gain extraordinary privilege,

Deny somebody their rights.

Sacrifice a man in the outer world.

Keep a man alone and tormented in a cage.

He will mirror the inner man you have sacrificed.

Thus pain will balance pain and end all feeling.

As you have controlled yourselfSo you shall control the world.

Leunig - The Age, December 9, 2006

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Whither the spirit of '67

Reconciliation by Edna Watson
Edna Watson is a Dharug elder whose paintings have been recognised in Australia and overseas.
In this work Edna expresses the various groups who have come to Australia with the original Aboriginal people in the centre of the circle of reconciliation.
Reconciling hands point inwards and outwards.
Earth colours dominate with the central circle showing a broken earth, symbolic of the current drought and the unfinished process of reconciliation.

Miss Eagle commends this article to you, dear Reader. This is the best article that Miss Eagle has read on the current status of Aboriginal people and the issues affecting them. It outlines the progress, the success stories, the failures and the neglect. It attaches blame. It shows the complexity of the topic and the ignorance of governments.

Miss Eagle was interested in the information that Fred Chaney, a former Liberal Aboriginal affairs minister ... has known every minister to have held the post going back to Billy Hughes.

Miss Eagle frequently uses Fred Chaney and Billy Wentworth as examples of the sort of Liberal governance that once prevailed in Australia. These men understood Aboriginal issues, they communicated with Aboriginal people, forged personal friendships in Aboriginal Australia and acquitted themselves well in Aboriginal matters.

There is no one - as far as Miss Eagle can see - in the Australian Government under John Howard who compares with these men. As far as Miss Eagle can see, there is no one in the Howard Government who has the ability to communicate with our First Nations. The great swing to the far right by the Liberal Party in the late 80s and early 90s saw to this. Such people had no value.

For this, Aboriginal people and the people of Australia in general have paid a great price.

The spirit of reconciliation. The spirit of Australia.

Brough and the boys don't get it - but others do. John Howard talks about "practical reconciliation". He hasn't a clue.

Miss Eagle doesn't pretend to have answers - but she has always felt that true reconciliation between Aboriginal people and colonising settlers will come when we are able to go in and out of one another's houses and have a cup of tea together. Because it is in this way that we get to know one another, hear one another's stories, and get involved in the lives of each other. This is reconciliation which comes out of the official sphere and out of councils and committees and becomes truly personal, truly practical.

Sure there is room for leadership in the councils and committees and they have carried us far - and could continue to do so, particularly if Howard had continued the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation. But there is no substitute for personal involvement and person to person getting to know you neighbourliness.

A pipe dream you may think, dear Reader? Time alone will tell.

But Miss Eagle thinks that programs like the AFL has put in place and the Goulburn Valley program have real chances of impacting positively the lives of individuals. One of the reasons why these programs will have success, Miss E believes, is that they are not imposed by impersonal fiat. They are worked out with Aboriginal people themselves. They are developed with their and shared interests in mind. They bring the hearts of people together to work for a common goal.

The Howard Government has never, in ten years of government, provided leadership in Aboriginal matters. Fortunately - or should that read unfortunately - the Australian Government is not the whole story of this nation. Australian leadership is not tied up in governments and bureaucracies. It resides in the spirit of its people. This spirit has had its moments in the last decade or two when personal greed and xenophobia seem to have become priorities in this nation. But everyday goodness and reason will have its way.

Miss Eagle is indebted to Antony at Coming to the Quiet for the following quote - sage words in season.
What else will do except faith in such a cynical, corrupt time? When the country goes temporarily to the dogs, cats must learn to be circumspect, walk on fences, sleep in trees, and have faith that all this woofing is not the last word. What is the last word, then? Gentleness is everywhere in daily life, a sign that faith rules through ordinary things: through cooking and small talk, through storytelling, making love, fishing, tending animals and sweet corn and flowers, through sports, music and books, raising kids—all the places where the gravy soaks in and grace shines through. ~Garrison Keillor

Crown complicit in a crime?

Here we go again. Another mug punter has gambled his life earnings/savings away - this time to the tune of $20 million +. He misappropriated funds from a company of which he was the sole director. He is to be sentenced next week. The judge says he will do time. What are the odds, dear Reader, that Crown - where he did his dough - will retain the proceeds of his crimes? Will the company have redress? It's almost certain his family won't.

Friday, May 18, 2007

West Papua, Indonesia and the Kingmi Church Synod

Recent news this week from West Papua. See also previous post which includes links of interest.

Police occupy Kingmi Church Synod & demonstration planned by Christian congregations

Reports form Jayapura last night and this morning indicate that the Indonesian Police in Jayapura have taken control of the Kingmi Synod Office. The Kingmi Synod is now occupied by the Police.

Last night members of the Church, including Rev Zebelum Karubaba, the chair of the Kingmi Papuan Synod, were reported to be attempting to negotiate with Police.

Other senior staff also present at the time included Rev Benny Giay, Chair of Bureau of Justice & Peace at the Kingmi Church & Rev Noakh Nawipa is Chair of the Walter Post Theological College, who was previously assaulted & injured by Indonesian Police when they attempted to take control of the Church on 30 December 2006.

Sources in Jayapura also state that a big demonstration is planned in Jaypaura at 10 am by the Kingmi congregation. These said that these demonstration would be supported by the other Christian congregations in Jayapura. It was said that the demonstration would protest against the unlawful occupation of the Kingmi Synod by Police and that the Kingmi Church should have its full right to exist with full control of its property in West Papua.

It appears that this Police action is politically motivated because the Kingmi church and its members are active in the campaign to secure the Human Rights of West Papuan people and they speak against the continuing pattern of Indonesian State violence and repression of the West Papuan people.

It was also reported from Jayapura that members of the Kingmi Church, are asking the Christian & Missionary Alliance (CAMA) in Jakarta to publicly recognise the right of their church to maintain an independent synod in West Papua.

These sources believe that the Indonesian Government is supporting the GKII (The Tabernacle Bible Church of Indonesia) to take control of the Kingmi church in West Papua. It is understood that the CAMA has sided with and supported the GKII in this action.

Update on Indonesian Police Raid on Kingmi Church Synod 15 May 2007

The following report is based on personal communication with Human Rights workers in Jayapura, West Papua late today.

There ware 200 Kingmi congregation participated in the peaceful protest outside the Synod today. They have sat down on the road and blocked one lane of traffic. They are on the main road along the waterfront in downtown Jayapura - Jalan Sam Ratulangi. It was expected that they would remain there all day and go home at night and then return in the morning. No one has been arrested.

The Police presence at the demonstration was about 50 Police (both Brimob, the paramilitary police and Polres normal police) and these were outside the Synod office. The Polres were surrounding the demonstrators. An unknown number of other Police officers were inside the office. There were also 6 police trucks and a water cannon present at the demonstration. There was Brimob personnel on the roof and outside the Synod. About 6 police on the roof of the Synod had M16 style rifles and others have video cameras.

There was report of numbers of Intel (Indonesian Intelligence officers) were also present.

There did not appear to be any sign of people from the GKII Church today.

The Police occupation of the Synod is clearly in violation of the court decision of 30 April 2007. This Indonesian court decision clearly recognised the right of the Kingmi church to exist and maintain its property and disallowed the GKII action to seize the property.

Contacts say that the Police administration want to portray of the
issue as an 'internal church dispute'. It is believe the police motivation is to obscure their motives to disrupt the Kingmi Church. The Police actions appears to be politically motivated and is a attempt to stop the emergence of the Kingmi Church as large independent West Papuan organisation.

Related to this is Police accusations that the Kingmi Church of being the Church of the OPM. (The OPM or Free Papua Movement is the name of the banned West Papuan liberation struggle.)

Many members of the Kingmi church are involved in the campaign for peace & justice in West Papua.

The nature of the large police action, the apparent lack of legal basis for the action and the history of the Kingmi church suggest a politically motivated action.

The Kingmi church is said to be the third largest church congregation in West Papua with the majority of its members in the Highland areas.

WorkChoice retreat

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Wot’s in a name?-- she sez . . . An' then she sighs,
An' clasps 'er little 'ands, an' rolls 'er eyes.
"A rose," she sez, "be any other name
Would smell the same.
Oh, w'erefore art you Romeo, young sir?
Chuck yer ole pot, an' change yer moniker!"
This stanza from "The Sentimental Bloke" by C.J. Dennis came to mind when Casting a Short Shadow drew Miss Eagle's attention to the fact that the Howard Government has beat some form of retreat by backing away from the use of the term WorkChoices for its industrial relations laws.
Congratulations, fair minded Australians (as opposed to the unfair ones who support this), you are doing a great job. Keep up the good work!
Remember, there is one agenda item that the Howard Government has not attempted to meet in spite of Liberal-voting doctors and that is the abolition of Medicare. Why? Because Australians time and again have demonstrated at the ballot box their support for this national medical insurance scheme. Now is the time to demonstrate that Australians want a fair go in the workplace.
Rudd and Gillard need support and strengthening in the face of concerted attempts by mining and big business to retain AWAs. We know how poll-driven the Howard Government is. But paying attention to the polls is not the sole prerogative of one side of politics. If a pollster phones, make your views on a fair go heard. At the ballot box later this year, cast your vote accordingly.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Decency in the valley of decision?

Ross Honeywill says that decency is the key to the 2007 Federal Election. He describes a demographic group called NEOs who support the Neo Power: how the new economic order is changing the way we live, work, and play.
Miss Eagle has some empathy/sympathy with the NEO description but will wait to see: to see if there is an intrinsic decency within, to see if decency becomes the decisive factor in the 2007 Federal Election, and whether decency can change a government.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Will rusted on Labor vote Green again this time?

Over at Happening Here, JaninSanFran has put up a post worth thinking about as Australia moves inexorably to a Federal Election which almost certainly will be held late in 2007. Jan says:

Sure -- all they really want are our email addresses. But just remember what they think it will take to get those addresses and to win over progressive activists. They have to speak our language, at least in mobilizing supporters. In the primary phase, they correctly think they need us, or at least need to neutralize our concerns.

Miss Eagle thinks that this applies to the forces of progress in Australia - in particular, the Australian Labor Party. Miss E recognises the real politik on the way to and in power. But she also thinks of the rusted on ALP voters who vote Green. Are they not a blip on Labor's radar - or does compromise after compromise for power's sake put out of mind a lost constituency?

Israel and ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem

Image from The Age accompanying this Opinion piece
For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind. Hosea 8:7

When will Israel ever learn? When will it understand what it takes to live at peace, what it takes to ensure violence and war?
Read here about Israel's perpetuation of ethnic cleansing which has continued since the founding of the state of Israel.

Australia condemns African nations when they indulge in such and similar practices. But then they don't have the money that supporters of Israel have to buy politicians and influence, do they? And the Israelis are like us, aren't they? White - well, an awful lot of them are . Modern - well, give or take a human right or three. Economically sound - well, let's not discuss distributive economics. Democratic institutions - harnessed to religious bigotry and exclusivism, xenophobia and Israel uber alles.
But what does Australian political leadership do? Accepts honours. Fails to criticise.

The death of Jean Charles de Menezes: justice is scarce

This blog has maintained a watching brief on the aftermath of Jean Charles de Menezes. The unlawful death of Menezes following the London underground bombings on 7 July 2005. has left in its wake events which do not appear to Miss Eagle, and the family of Jean Charles, to meet high standards of justice.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Casinos, Pokies, Governments: complicit in crime?

Are casinos, and poker machine (slot machine) venues - together with governments - complicit in crime? Are they accessories after the fact in crime?

You see, dear Reader, when a gambler steals money - from an employer, a family member or friend or some other source - and that gambler is convicted for stealing the money the casino, poker machine venue, or the government (who receives a cut of the takings), does not have to re-imburse the owner of the money. The casino or pokie venue keeps the proceeds of the crime.

Now, to Miss Eagle, this seems a bit odd. If Miss Eagle innocently purchased a stolen vehicle, when the stolen item is tracked down it would be taken from Miss E and returned to its rightful owner - and Miss E would suffer the financial burden with her only recourse to take civil action to reclaim her costs. If the local pawn shop unwittingly receives stolen goods, they are taken from the pawn shop and the police endeavour to return the goods to their rightful owner.

So why are the financial proceeds of crime treated differently?

And there is one important difference here. The purchaser of a stolen vehicle or the unwitting pawn shop owner has a brief, once only dealing - and that is not necessarily with the perpetrator of the crime - for the transmission of the stolen property.

Casino and pokie venues have a sustained relationship - at least over many long hours if not days, weeks, months, and years - with the perpetrator of the crime of stealing money. But how often do gambling venues query the long distance gambler? They are just happy to take the money.

In Australia and New Zealand, pressure is mounting for casinos and other gambling venues to use the electronic data collected about its patrons - usually through customer service marketing programs and surveys - to help identify problem gamblers.

In recent trials here are what two judges had to say:

In December, Sally Grossi was sentenced to a minimum 3-1/2 years prison for stealing nearly $2-million from her employer. She spent the stolen money on the pokies at Crown Casino. When sentencing Grossi, the judge lashed out at Crown.
Here's an extract of what he had to say.
Reader: In my view, cases of this sort, which are increasing in number, call for a consideration of legislation which would put the onus on Crown Casino and other gambling venues, to make reasonable inquiries to ensure that large sums of money continually being lost by regular customers, as in this instance, are emanating from a legitimate source. And in default of such inquiries, a civil liability should be imposed upon these venues to reimburse the victims of crimes of this nature.

Damien Carrick: And he's not the only judge, when sentencing a pilfering compulsive gambler, to point an angry finger at a casino.
Here's an extract of what a judge had to say as he sentenced Erick Tjandra to a minimum three years prison. Reader: Quite frankly, I regard it as the height of irresponsibility for the casino to have placed such a vulnerable person in the situation of gambling in what is called the Kerry Packer Room against the House. He was not Kerry Packer, he was not an Asian Prince, he was a humble bank clerk who unfortunately developed a gambling addiction beyond his means.

So, dear Reader, make up your own mind. Are casinos, poker machine venues, and governments complicit criminals when they retain the proceeds of crime? To help you make up your mind, you might like to listen to a recent Background Briefing program or you can read the full transcript here.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Gambling: addiction, pain, loss

Miss Eagle's friend over at The Nature of Robertson has had difficulty getting acceptance of his comment on the previous post. He thought that Miss E had deleted it. She hadn't. She had only deleted a comment which was reasonable enough but was from a site which promoted Philippine casinos. If anyone else is having problems with Comments, please advise. Meantime, Miss E's friend has emailed her and asked her to post his Comment on this site. As you will see, he feels rather strongly on this topic - and for very good reason.

So over to The Nature of Robertson - these are his views:

Let me declare at the outset my personal position.
I am against gambling.

I am a relative of someone who has incurred huge financial damage personally (as well as to me) from the abuse of (and by) Poker Machines.

I care less about the "High Rollers" because one assumes that they can afford to lose millions, or else the "gatekeepers" of the Casinos ought not let them in there in the first place.

My concern is with Poker Machines in clubs and pubs across Australia, where every day people spend their money for rent, money for food, money for shoes for the kids - none of which they can afford. Ken***tt single-handedly destroyed the lives of thousands of Victorian families when he turned just about every suburban and country pub into so-called casinos, and allowed Poker Machines in where they had never been allowed.

He did this to justify allowing his mate Ron to build his "Crowning monstrosity" on the Yarra. Even Jeff could see the inconsistencies there. So, he spread the damage, rather than prevent it.

Thousands of country Victorian businesses went to the wall as a result of the spread of Pokies; and thousands of little families and kids within those families suffered (and no doubt still do) as a result.

If you talk quietly amongst your friends about gambling debts, you will find a story amongst your workmates, and friends, of lives ruined by gambling. People seldom advertise this fact, but just ask around, and it will come out. And you will be shocked by the pain, the hurt, and the loss - in the suburbs, close to you.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Melbourne to Macau: Gambling, Packer and Ho, ho, ho

Gambling, whatever form it takes - whether high-stakes baccarat in high rollers' rooms in casinos with international patronage or card games on blankets in the bush where Aboriginal men and women gamble social security benefits - brings with it three things: corruption, crime and calamity.

It depends on your point of view whether you see such social detriment being outweighed by social benefit. Jeff Kennett, former Premier of Victoria, justified the social benefit in The Age this week.

Perhaps Jeff ought to enter into discussion with the citizens of Macau and explain the social benefit of gambling to them. True, gambling seems to be the whole reason for the continuing existence of Macau. The former Portuguese colony, now handed over to China, was coveted by Europeans as a significant and strategic port. Whatever may have been significant in the European discovery and annexing of Macau, gambling is the significant factor now. And it is causing problems.

Macau has overtaken Las Vegas to become the world's gambling capital and is enjoying rapid growth, but violent clashes on international Labour Day indicate that the small southern Chinese city is socially ill. Read more here.

Macau now has 22 casinos which generated total gambling revenues of 56.2 billion patacas (US$ 7.2 billion) in 2006. In contrast, Las Vegas generated US$ 6.6 billion last year.

And an Australian is getting on the bandwagon.

Jamie Packer is Australia's richest man with a net worth of $5.5 billion. The Packer family has long interest and dominance in the Australian media. In recent years, however, Packer interests have entered the Casino business. The gambling business interest has increased over the years. The Packers have gone from being a media company with some gambling interests to a gambling company with media interests to the latest move which splits the business interests completely. This will expedite gambling (or - the word in gloss and spin circles - gaming) investments particularly those with the Ho family, who until 2002 held a 40 year gambling monopoly on Macau, and their company, Melco, with whom Packer is in partnership in opening Macau's 26th casino.

Crown Casino in Melbourne significantly impacts the city's economy, as Jeff Kennett says. Crown Macau, it is expected, will significantly impact Macau. The Crown will be Macau's 26th casino but will be Macau's very first six star hotel.

If, dear Reader, you are a concerned and ethical investor, you might like to note the financial institutions with whom the joint venturers are in cahoots:

And, where does all this leave the mug punter - high roller or day tripper?

At Crown in Melbourne, there are reports that Crown could face fines of up to $1 million following an "underhanded" rule change that could increase its take from some gamblers by 40 per cent.

Meanwhile in Macau, because of an increase in gaming tables it is expected that revenue returning to gamblers will head downward. Up the tables and down the pay back. Mmmm....

Forbes says that in a recent research report, Morgan Stanley predicted that the average daily turnover per VIP gaming table would drop 22% to about $27,823 this year and dive another 50% to $13,608 a day in 2010. The average chip turnover per mass gaming table will plunge 21.7% this year to $3,266 a day and hit $1,912 in 2010, Morgan Stanley said. Mmmm....

And the locals....

Migrant workers (in Australia they are frequently referred to as "guest workers"), mainly from the PRC and Southeast Asia, made up approximately 10.3 percent of the work force. In May several thousand workers and union members marched in demand of more effective measures to prevent the hiring of illegal workers and to limit the number of imported workers (see section 6.b.). They often received less than local residents for performing the same job, lived in controlled dormitories, worked 10 to 12 hours per day, and owed large sums of money to labor-importing companies for purchasing their jobs. They had no collective bargaining rights and no legal recourse in the case of unfair dismissal. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2006 : U.S. Department of State [Miss Eagle wonders how many work at casinos and will work at the Ho-Packer casinos?)

Ekklesia reports that the locals hit the streets again:

Thousands of people in the former Portuguese enclave in China took to the streets on 1 May 2007 to expressed dissatisfaction at poor governance in the city, citing corruption. They also noted unhappiness at sharp increases of imported labour and hikes in property prices. During the May Day clashes, 10 protesters were arrested and police fired shots into the air as a warning, accidentally injuring a passer-by.

Jamie Packer and Lawrence Ho might be happy. Their respective gambling addicted governments might be happy. Clearly not everyone is - neither in Macau nor Melbourne.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Budgeting for all Australians, except the indigenous ones

Professor Jon Altman of the ANU's Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR) has commented under the title above at Crikey reminiscent of Miss Eagle's budget response at Aboriginal issues: no mention, no money? yesterday. The comment is available on Crikey's website here. Miss Eagle is not clear whether the site is available to the general public or only to subscribers. Someone might like to let Miss E know.


Following a request to Crikey, Miss Eagle is able to print, in full, Professor Altman's comment for Crikey. Thank you, Crikey.

While the Howard government boasts that it governs for all Australians, it certainly does not budget for all Australians on any equitable needs or evidence bases: here is another opportunity lost. Billions are being spent in the 2007-08 Budget on areas like higher education, on tax cuts, on the elderly, but such expenditures are inherently biased against Indigenous people who are under-represented in universities, in employment and among older age cohorts.

Systemic biases are perpetuated. The government does not get the simple message that historic backlogs and rapid population growth result in greater and greater unmet need. Neglect now will result in social damage that will get exponentially more costly to repair in the future.

The Budget included 26 initiatives totalling $816 million over five years focusing on the Howard government framework of ‘practical’ reconciliation in health, housing, education and employment. The $163 million per annum extra funding committed will go nowhere in delivering ‘A Better Future for Indigenous Australians’ because the quantum is inadequate, given the enormity of historical backlogs, and the initiatives are piecemeal and often ideologically rather than practically based.

The headline reform is in housing where $73 million per annum extra is provided to implement the new Australian Remote Indigenous Accommodation Programme. It is estimated that in the Northern Territory alone there is a housing shortfall of over $2 billion.

This new program, which doesn't start till 1 July 2008, has three aims: to shift Commonwealth expenditure to focus on remote Australia, where only 25% of the Indigenous population lives; to abolish the Community Housing and Infrastructure Programme (CHIP) that has provided community housing; and to shift or force Indigenous people instead into public housing (thus cost sharing with the States) or into private housing, conditional on traditional owners leasing their lands to the state and meeting negotiated behavioural conditions.

All commentators (except Minister Brough) suggest that this last measure faces a huge affordability hurdle. Having demolished ATSIC, Minister Brough now wants to demonise it: the Indigenous housing backlog is all ATSIC’s fault and the government of the day since 1996 (that set the CHIP funding level) bears no accountable at all! The Minister does not understand: ATSIC did not deliver CHIP, it just funded it.

On health, the aggregates commitment is $30 million per annum, about 7% of the $460 million that the AMA and Oxfam say is needed to start closing the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and other Australians. Health can’t be ATSIC’s fault, it is administered by Tony Abbott’s department.

On education, another non-ATSIC area, there is a focus again on remote regions, moving kids away to school rather than meeting massive education infrastructure shortfalls at home communities—state and policy failure looms large here. And on employment, there are 850 ‘real’ jobs created (with state subsidy) over four years to reduce CDEP participation by a minuscule 3% of 30,000.

A very positive measure here is ‘Working on Country’ which will provide payment to Indigenous rangers to provide environmental services on the Indigenous estate: $12 million per annum extra to manage 1.5 million sq kms where there has been chronic underinvestment that is counter to national interest.

There is $10 billion left in surplus, perhaps this will be committed to an Indigenous Futures Fund in the run-up to an election? That is the level of commitment that is needed unless Indigenous Australians are to just continue missing out and falling further behind as Australia booms.

A Palestinian economy? Israel ensures there is little hope

It seems to surprise those of the Jewish Diaspora who support Israel through thick and thin that some of us just get sick of them and sick of Israel. The one consolation is that Miss Eagle knows that many of her views are supported by people in Israel and people within the Diaspora.

Miss Eagle, in times gone by, has been an ardent supporter of Israel. Until the intifada. When Miss Eagle saw the might of the Israeli army destroying the homes of those involved in the uprising and leaving women and children homeless, it was the beginning of an awareness that the state of Israel was doing to others what had been done to them by the Nazis.

This psychopathology of a nation has continued, escalated and become more extensive. The web of victims it encompasses is continually enlarged.

Israel, since its inception as a nation state (and in events leading up to its foundation), has instituted actions which could only bring hatred upon itself, could only build up tension and frustration which eventually had to break out in violence.

No one could accuse Palestinian political groups of silent victimhood. They too, through unmitigated use of violence, have upped the ante and provoked escalated response.

But where does it stop? - and there have been so many attempts by outside peace brokers to assist in breaking the cycle.

The latest comment to bring a shafted light of reality into the madness of Israeli-Palestinian conflict and relationships is this report from the World Bank.

The gist of the report is that sustainable Palestinian economic recovery is impossible under the West Bank restriction system brought about by Israel. The Arabic Media Internet Network has comment here.

Currently, freedom of movement and access for Palestinians within the West Bank is the exception rather than the norm contrary to the commitments undertaken in a number of Agreements between GOI and the PA. In particular, both the Oslo Accords and the Road Map were based on the principle that normal Palestinian economic and social life would be unimpeded by restrictions. In economic terms, the restrictions arising from closure not only increase transaction costs, but create such a high level of uncertainty and inefficiency that the normal conduct of business becomes exceedingly difficult and stymies the growth and investment which is necessary to fuel economic revival.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

No man, no kids, no low-income: nothing in the Budget

Jody Ekert reckons she's missing out in the Budget and has some suggestions how the money should be spent.

Aboriginal issues: no mention, no money?

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Miss Eagle is indebted to Crikey for tagging the Budget speech. Now, dear Reader, Miss E has perused this with a visual text search with her own two eyes. She Eyeballed Aborigines, Aboriginal, Indigenous. No result.

Aboriginal issues frequently headline, even frontpage headlines, in the metro media. Much breast-beating, blame-shifting, bleeding of hearts. Mmmmmm...

Not only not a headline - it appears, if our Crikey is to be believed with their tagging effort, no mention. What the heck! Who gives a fig for overcrowding which leads to sexual abuse of children, dislocation, and just a plain rotten childhood? Who gives a cent for economic participation and economic infrastructure in Aboriginal communities?

Don't think there will be a decent all weather road for Wadeye or any other Aboriginal community in the NT just yet.

David Hicks coming to Yatala Labour Prison

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Short Shadow has left a comment on Miss Eagle's previous post about David Hick's homecoming. Miss E doesn't want such a worthwhile comment left unnoticed so is posting it here:

Unfortunately Premier Rann seems bent on squeezing as many populist brownie points as he can out of the last few months of Hicks' incarceration by insisting that he's kept in conditions which resemble Guantanamo as closely as possible. In SA prisoners approaching the end of their sentences are allowed to access various pre-release programs etc to prepare them for their eventual release. Rann has not only ruled this out in Hicks' case but he's also banging on about how after his release he'll still be a major threat to the community, and demanding that his liberty be restricted further by control orders and the like once he is set free. Given that the US Military Commission imposed a much lighter sentence than all the Rumsfeldian hyperbole (Hicks "the worst of the worst"?) seemed to suggest some people, hearing Mr Rann's drum banging, might smell a rodent and conclude that the Premier is trying to create a smokescreen over the perception that his government's dealing with crime, and perhaps corruption, is sub-optimal.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Crowded House and Live Earth without Hessie

Paul Hester - we'll miss you

The newly re-formed Crowded House will headline the Sydney Live Earth concert on 7/7/7. This will be their first outing since re-forming but will be tinged with some sadness because of the absence of the late Paul Hester. Miss Eagle looks forward to Crowded House being around again.

David Hicks: Home soon - very soon it seems

G Division, Yatala Labour Prison, South Australia
David Hicks who will be incarcerated there.

The arrival home of David Hicks to Yatala Prison is drawing closer in what might even be called an expeditious manner. Pray for his welfare.

Shopping: therapy, festival, compulsion, illness, manipulation

Shopping is better than sex.
If you're not satisfied after shopping you can make an exchange for something you really like.

Shop Til You Drop Magazine

What is it about shopping? What is it about shopping and the female of the species? Can we live with it? Can we live without it?

We talk about retail therapy. There seems to be a word for shopping til you drop: oniomania. Melbourne - which has more than its fair share of bread and circuses - is contemplating, as Miss Eagle has mentioned before, a shopping festival. Dubai actually has one and so has Hong Kong.

It is lovely to walk through beautiful shops selling beautiful things - even if one doesn't spend. Miss Eagle can still dream about Prada and Bulgari even if she can't afford it. This is why, even though she has not spent a cent there, Miss E was thrilled by the refurbishment of the Ground Floor at David Jones' Burke Street Mall store.

Could there possibly be a down side?

There is the illness. The cultural distortion which sees Hot Cross Buns - an Easter tradition - on sale before Epiphany. Advertising manipulating our children. The sexualization of our children. And for more information on how, when we consume, we are consumed go here.

Then there is the economic impact. Some see the globalization of retail and commodities which it sells as a positive thing. This article - brief as it is - comes out on the positive size while mentioning social disruption and the loss of jobs in some sectors of the economy.

We need to remember that when we purchase all that stuff from China and India it is great for their economies. And they really do need jobs. But when we lose jobs in this nation, we also lose skills - skills that are not always readily replaced with new ones. We can also lose access to jobs and personal economic development for women and young people.

So what is the solution? Miss E has none except the caveat emptor (buyer beware) provisions. Be aware! Demand accountability - not just from individuals but from governments and corporations.

If we become aware and demand accountability, we will become smart, ethical shoppers.

And for increasing numbers of us, we will go this way to the opp shop.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

McArthur River destruction by XStrata

Barbara McCarthy's brother was buried in Borroloola yesterday - a significant man and a significant fighter against the destruction of the McArthur River. The sorry business continues. This is the reason that three Aboriginal Labor members of the NT Legislative Assembly crossed the floor to vote against Labor's mis-timed and anti-environmental legislation supporting xstrata's proposal to wreck one of the great rivers of Australia, the McArthur River.

Farewell, Kurmanjai

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Love, Justice and John Dominic Crossan

Miss Eagle is indebted to Mystical Seeker over at A Blog of Mystical Searches for this wonderful quote from John Dominic Crossan in his latest book, God and Empire.

My proposal is that justice and love are a dialectic--like two sides of a coin that can be distinguished but not separated. We think of ourselves as composed of a body and soul, or flesh and spirit. When they are separated, we have a physical corpse. Similarly with distributive justice and communal love. Justice is the body of love, love the soul of justice. Justice is the flesh of love, love is the spirit of justice. When they are separated, we have a moral corpse. Justice without love is brutality. Love without justice is banality.

Friday, May 04, 2007

A long way from nowhere...

House at Gapuwiyak, NT

Meanwhile, still in the Northern Territory, reports are in The Australian to-day of the whitefella knows best policies of Mal Brough. Isn't this great news for Aboriginal people? Isn't it just what ignorant whitefellas in urban Australia want to hear as they sip their caffe lattes in Degraves Street, Park Road and Darlinghurst Road?

As he surveyed the house he helped to build, the house he will one day own, Barney Narjic was only too aware that he was the first to walk this path. "But when I pass away," the 51-year-old said, "my kids will take this over."
The Federal Govt estimates its value at $270,000. In the better suburbs of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, where the real estate in the better 'burbs is running full steam ahead, they wouldn't have a clue about relativities in Wadeye and environs.

Just to give you some point of comparison. Tennant Creek, in the middle of the NT, at the cross-roads of the nation has a population of 4,000 - 50% of whom are Aboriginal. Tennant Creek has an economy. It is in the centre of pastoral and mining activity and is a community service centre for the 250,000 square kilometres that is the Barkly Tableland. It is serviced by air, buses, and The Ghan on a very well-maintained Stuart Highway just south of a very well-maintained Barkly Highway. Miss Eagle knows of no one who would spend/invest $270,000 on a home in Tennant Creek. In fact, the biggest driver to home purchasing in TC has always been the scarcity and cost of housing in the rental market - but not to the tune of $270,000. Miss Eagle will admit though that the cost of housing in the NT is expensive because of the cost of bringing in the materials. Its just that outside the high prices of Darwin and Alice you have to have a big hard think about it - and most people do not build but purchase existing housing.

Now let's switch back to Barney and his new home. The idea is supposed to be - as it has been publicised to the Australian polity - that Aboriginal people would be able to own their own homes on freehold land just like other Australians. The idea would be that they would become property owners like most Australians.

Well, it's not happening at either Wudapuli or Wadeye. Barney gets to rent his $270,000 home and we are not told precisely what the rental is. Now, there is a rule of thumb in Sydney and Melbourne which means that, on average, you drop the three noughts off the end and that's your weekly rental. So, as a generality, a $270,000 property would rent for $270. Barney is reported to earn $300 a week on the work for the dole scheme.

Now does Miss Eagle have your attention, dear Reader, for this little lesson in home economics?

Barney is not permanently employed. Don't think the banks would want to lend, do you? Servicing a $270,000 mortgage? How do you manage that in one lifetime, particularly the lifetime of a 51 year old, and particularly the shorter lifespan of an Aboriginal man who, statistically is already on borrowed time? Will Barney still be around in 22 years when he will be 73 - after two years of rental and twenty years of mortgage repayments.

And this mortgage - unlike yours and mine, dear Reader - has strings attached. Barney will only be eligible to purchase his home if .....
.....after two years if his rental record is unblemished and the children are sent regularly to school.

When did your bank manager last check on the attendance record of the kids, Miss Eagle asks?

The federal Government says the four families will take up to 20 years to pay off their homes, with an average weekly rent of $150 for one four-bedroom house to be paid through indigenous home-ownership schemes.
Mr Brough said mortgage payments would be the same cost as rent. "I have no doubt that these families have gone through a very vigorous process of financial assessment to ensure that they have the will, they have the financial capacity (to make the payments)," he said.
"No one is being left out here high and dry."

More home economics:
If Barney earns $300 per week on the work-for-the-dole-scheme and he pays $150 in rent, how does he manage basic food and clothing for six people (himself, his wife and his five children). Now, there may be additional family benefits, but remember that, just as housing is expensive because of the costs of materials, so is food very expensive. The food that is available is basic - not organic niceties, nor health food shop niceties as in urban Australia. Why? Because there is no economy. Not even an economy which might discriminate against Aboriginal people. This means virtually no choice; little, if any, competition; virtually no employment; no diversity.

The Oz reports:

The handover came as The Australian revealed the Howard Government was set to unveil a $1billion-plus plan to encourage private home ownership and lift education and health standards among indigenous people. Tuesday is expected to provide significant backing for private home ownership and economic development in Aboriginal communities.

So, dear Reader, you will have your ear glued to the budgetary details, won't you? And if the comments above have any truth or any semblance of hope in them, Miss Eagle can provide a measure to gauge them by. If the Howard Government is deadly serious, he will fund - for soon completion - a first-class, all-weather road to Wadeye.

You see, without this there will never be an economy at Wadeye. The $270,000 home of Barney's dreams will never be worth two-bob - because there will not be an economy. No local economy means that there will be no housing market in which to create value.

And all Mal Brough and John Howard will have done - out of their utter and complete ignorance - will be to re-arrange funding for Aboriginal communities once more - this time with invective as a lead up.

Better barra than a river no more

Meanwhile, in the Northern Territory, certain North Australians are busy shooting themselves in the collective foot and legislating for a massive environmental disaster of the future: here are the future eaters of to-day. What is the alternative? Being able to catch the best fish in the whole of Australia: the beautiful barramundi of Borroloola.

Inserting the word McArthur in the search space at the top left of this blog will lead you, dear Reader, to Miss Eagle's previous posts on this topic: the destruction of the Northern Territory place of beauty and barramundi, the McArthur River.

Read the debate here. Find out why Barbara McCarthy, Alison Anderson, and Karl Hampton who are Aboriginal ALP members of the NT Legislative Assembly cross the floor of the House to vote against their own party. It is noteworthy that Barbara McCarthy who represents the NT seat of Arnhem is a Borroloola girl and firmly embedded in that community.

How other Aboriginal ALP members voted: Marian Scrymgeour who is the Northern Territory Minister for Natural Resources was absent when the vote was taken. Elliot McAdam, the NT Minister for Housing and Member for the seat of Barkly in which Borroloola and the McArthur River mine are situated, voted for the legislation. Those who were bound by the convention of cabinet solidarity voted for the bill - except when absent from the House.

Agriculture going North?

Will a shift of agribusiness to Northern Australia mean that the picture of the flooded Durack River in Western Australia will become a scene similar to the picture on the left of salinated soil?
Let's listen to Tim Flannery and the voices of knowledgable people before replicating in Northern Australia what Australians of European descent have done to Southern Australia.

Back in January 2007, John Howard did a not very good job of the old soft shoe shuffle with his ministerial arrangements. The Prime Minister appointed his vile-hearted attack-dog friend and close Liberal ally, Senator Bill Heffernan, to lead a taskforce that will consider ways to encourage farmers to move north.

Miss Eagle was so gob-smacked by this horrific appointment and its antecedents, implications, and portents for the future that it has taken this long for her to try to achieve some coherence in commenting on this mind-boggling scenario.

Miss E will start with some bullet points (and a warning, dear Reader: this post is almost certain to descend into incoherence, frothing at the mouth, tearing out of hair and similar lunacies. Please be patient. Northern Australia is Miss Eagle's very lifeblood. It is her very being even though she has been transplanted to the Land of the Eagle, Creator Spirit in this part of the world.)
  1. The Howard Government has never given a damn (or a dam) about Northern Australia. "One of the first acts of this coalition government was to cut $250 million in regional projects as well as cutting general purpose funding to the Northern Territory by $12 million. In the Territory we have experienced massive cuts to the Public Service, which means not only jobs are taken out of the region but also vital services are removed. Offices that have closed in the Northern Territory include Darwin's office of the Department of Transport and Regional Development, AusAID--the Australian Agency for International Development--Radio Australia, the Office of Northern Development, and the Department of Finance's regional office. " From the maiden speech in the Australian Senate by NT Senator Trish Crossin.

  2. What does Bill Heffernan, farmer from southern New South Wales, know about Northern Australia? Someone correct me please with some good solid facts, but Miss Eagle thinks Bill knows sweet you know what. Bill was born in Junee and has not moved far. He was educated at St Joey's at Hunters Hill. For my North Australian friends, Miss Eagle wishes to advise that when she went to live in Sydney, on her first day there she went to hear Richard Rohr speak at Joey's. Miss Eagle knows of no school as posh as this in Northern Australia. In fact, Bill, most of your generation and mine who grew up in Northern Australia - and of a number of generations since - had no educational opportunities such as you had. So, Bill, the Liberal Party under Menzies, Holt and McMahon and the Liberal-National Party Coalition under Bjelke-Petersen have much to answer for.

  3. Farmers following European and North American farming practices have wrecked the soil and water of this nation, none more so than those practising farming in the older settled areas of southern Australia - where Bill has his farm.

  4. Agriculture, in some areas of the north, has not been successful. One of the major reasons is insect attack. Again, correct Miss Eagle if she is wrong by producing some facts, but Miss Eagle believes that if widespread agriculture is to succeed north of the Tropic of Capricorn heavy use of pesticides will be required. There is an exception. Genetic modification of crops is being given or will be given the green light to avoid pesticide use. This will be of great benefit to cotton which has GM crops ready to go.

  5. The cane growing industry, because of its chemical run-off, in North Queensland has been detrimental to the Great Barrier Reef and contributes to its almost certain demise. The industry organisation has been antedeluvian in its denialist attitudes. If these attitudes have changed, please give Miss Eagle the evidence. Miss Eagle is targetting the industry as a whole in these comments and the industry organisation in particular. Miss Eagle is aware of some of the insightful, innovative techniques undertaken by individual growers to prevent run-off from their farms.

  6. The grazing industry now sends more live cattle overseas than it does to meatworks. There are few meatworks in the north these days. The live cattle - and sheep - trade is severely detrimental to animal health and welfare. In fact, it is downright cruel.

So, dear Reader, are you now ready for a reality check after that tirade (minimalist, BTW. More could be said.)? Pop across to these statements by Tim Flannery.

Miss Eagle is not alone.........

Miss Eagle is not alone in finding praying for rain a dubious pursuit. She is in good company - with Father Bob. Father Bob is a major identity in Melbourne: a humourous man posing and imposing as the old fashioned Catholic parish priest in his parish at the inner city suburb of South Melbourne. You can hear him on the radio, see him on TV, and now he's podcasting from his blog.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Howard put the fear of Hell Fire into Bill?

Miss Eagle was not clear on the role of John Howard in the Bill Heffernan's Julia Gillard comments. Here is an article from The Age printed in full because it clarifies Howard's role - and Miss Eagle loves Kate Lundy's remarks. Please note Heffernan's vile remarks on the celibacy of Catholic priests. Now many people take issue with the celibate priesthood of the Catholic Church, but to make your point like this? Vile Bill Heffernan Vile (punctuate according to taste)! More evidence of his character.

BLUNTLY spoken Liberal MP Bill Heffernan has apologised to deputy ALP leader Julia Gillard for suggesting that she was not suited to be deputy prime minister because she chose not to have children.
The man dubbed John Howard's "boundary rider" got a blast from the Prime Minister after he insisted on standing by a comment he made last year that Ms Gillard had no idea what life was about because she was "deliberately barren".
"I won't walk away from that," Senator Heffernan told The Bulletin.
"One of the great understandings in a community is family, and the relationship between mum, dads and a bucket of nappies."
The comment about Ms Gillard drew a barrage of flak from Labor's ranks, and strong criticism from Mr Howard and ministers clearly annoyed about the extent to whichit drew attention from their attack on Labor's industrial relations policy.
The question of whether people married and had children was entirely a matter for them, Mr Howard said. "I don't approve of those sort of remarks, and I made that very clear.
"Julia Gillard's life is her business, and she has a right to live it according to what she thinks is appropriate."
Labor MP Kate Lundy said that if controversial Muslim cleric Sheikh Taj al-Din al-Hilali had made such a remark, the Prime Minister would have been the first to criticise him.
Treasurer Peter Costello said it was wrong to comment on a person's decision to have children or not.
Labor leader Kevin Rudd said he believed Mr Howard was a decent man and he must pull Senator Heffernan into line over the outlandish comment.
Senator Heffernan had also repeated his observation that priests should be allowed to marry because they, "like the rest of us, wake up with a horn at four in the morning".
Mr Howard called the senator to tell him his Gillard remark was out of order and that he should apologise immediately.
Mr Heffernan's written apology was prompt.
"I apologise to Julia Gillard and anyone else who was offended for my completely inappropriate and insensitive remarks," he said.
Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella said there was no outrage from Labor women when an ALP candidate made a similar suggestion about her fitness for Parliament during the 2004 campaign.