The Network

The Network
This blog is no longer updated. Please click the picture to hop across to The Network

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Collateral damage in Aboriginal Australia

Let's start putting together what the Howard Government is saying and doing about its 'initiative' on the State of Emergency into the Aboriginal communities of this nation. Almost immediately the plan was referred to as one of Shock and Awe: a fitting reference to the U.S. military doctrine of rapid dominance written by Harlan K. Ullman and James P. Wade which was so memorably implemented in the bombing of Baghdad.

If we had not had the modern phrase Shock and Awe to fall back on we probably would have used the word the Germans used for their technique of Blitzkrieg: the purpose of which was to avoid the stagnating tit for tat attrition of trench warfare.
Trench warfare is what so many people feel they have been in with the Howard Government as they have slogged away to build a better life in Aboriginal Australia while the Howard Government snipes at them on Mabo and Native Title, on funding cuts and refusals, on the autocratic abolition of ATSIC.
Miss Eagle suggests that, from the words of Generals Howard and Brough with a few comments inserted by Brigadier Abbot, we start building a picture of Collateral Damage. This is a term for incidental damage during a military campaign. While this definition has relevance to the Howard Government's state of emergency, perhaps an even more relevant usage of the term comes from the IT community where it is used to refer to the denial of service to legitimate users when administrators take blanket preventative measures against some individuals who are abusing systems.

So let's begin the list:
  • Loss of control over decision making by Aboriginal people in Aboriginal communities
  • Lack of Aboriginal involvement in consultations regarding their well-being
  • Loss of Aboriginal and and control over that land which has been hard won
  • Invasion. How many have there been? First settlers, squatters, miners, the military are coming
  • Invasion of privacy at community and personal level

Please send your additions. Miss Eagle apologises that she won't be able to moderate comments for a few days as she goes out of blogging range to immerse herself in the matters of rural communities.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Kevin Rudd, vision and backbone

Kevin Rudd, in spite of the polls favouring his leadership and predicting his ascension to the role of Prime Minister, is still an unknown quantity in so many ways. We have not heard anything from him - at least that Miss Eagle can recall - on vision items, the big picture stuff. True, the task at hand is to get rid of John Howard and Miss Eagle is right behind that. But vision stuff is not only about painting pictures. It gives us an idea of the principles imbued in the person. The stuff that he will stand firm on. The stuff from which he will not resile. The stuff on which the nation can rely when his backbone needs to remain straight and firm and solid.
Kevin now would be a good time to display the state and quality of your backbone and the extent of your vision. There are times when agreeing with good ideas of the incumbent government is great. It reassures the electorate. Makes the opposition look as if they can rise above petty politics. But - and remember Labor and Tampa and border security - there are times when you can look to have a spine of jelly, no vision and precious little principle.

Show us your vision, Kevin, in relation to the First Nations of Australia. Show us something of your approach to meeting the needs of some of the most disadvantaged people in this nation. Or, Kevin, is all this not on your wavelength. Are you no more able to come to grips with the Aboriginal spirit of this country than John Howard has been? Silence on this issue is not golden, Kevin.

Claire Martin's leadership in this whole concern is highly questionable. The one Labor leader who has had the gumption to make a credible protest has been Alan Carpenter, the West Australian premier. Why has he been able to attack so confidently and competently? Because his government has some runs on the board - runs of the kind which fit with the Howard criteria of what should be done - and is armed with the refusal of WA requests to the Howard Government for partnership and assistance.

It is good to see Warren Snowdon up front and questioning. Warren's track record is good. As a parliamentary secretary in the Hawke-Keating governments, Warren looked after his NT electorate well. He has a ready ear and an energetic disposition. He wants to get things done and has been in there doing it for years. Trish Cross, one of NT's Senators, is in there pitching too. So there is a good distribution of opinion: Wazza from the desert and Trish from the Top End.

More power to your arms.

Life at Mutitjulu

There is a beautiful slide show by Jason South of life at Mutitjulu here. Find out more about life at Mutitjulu here.

Does Howard want the children or Uluru and Kakadu?

The answer is not difficult and it comes in four parts:
  1. Mutitjulu is accessible. It is close to an international airport.
  2. Mutitjulu is visible. Visibile to tourists - particularly international visitors.
  3. The people at Mutitjulu have the land on which Uluru is situated and a say in its management.
  4. It is happening now because Howard has an excuse put in his hands.

Just as the Iraq War was planned by the neo-cons before George W Bush ever came to power but could be implemented with the excuse of 9/11, so Aboriginal control of land and, above all, Aboriginal control of Uluru and Katajuta, has been a sore point with conservative forces in this nation.

The former CLP Government in the Northern Territory resented Aboriginal ownership and control greatly. And it is not only Uluru/Katajuta that is at stake. Kakadu is as well. Whitefellas want to open Jabiluka. The Mirrar people fight against it - successfully, to date. The people at Mutitjula stop planes flying over Uluru. If they thought it possible without too much angst, they would stop people walking on it. At the moment, they just make do with advisory notices which large numbers of ignorant and arrogant whitefellas ignore.

If the Federal Government can regain control of Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory - and it can wedge its way in by taking hold of community land without compensation - it can take back control of Kakadu and Uluru/Katajuta National Parks. All in the name of child abuse. Then - after the nuclear waste dump issue is settled - the land councils will be razed. Whitefellas rule, OK!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Aboriginal insecurity: thinking on vines and fig trees. Part 4. Reality on a road trip.

Miss Eagle is publishing the following from Crikey. The Howard-Brough Shock and Awe Campaign of the past week astounds people because it bears no relation to the reality of their experience. "People" who have - unlike John Howard - acknowledged the reality of Aboriginal disadvantage, the child abuse in Aboriginal communities and have lived in the NT working side by side with Aboriginal people to get on with things and build a better life. Bob Gosford, who writes below, seems to get it. So please take a dose of reality from his road trip. Please note: The links related to the names of Aboriginal organisations mentioned were added by Miss Eagle to facilitate access to knowledge on the part of the reader.

Bob Gosford writing on the road from from Ti Tree, Tennant Creek, Katherine, and Darwin:

Over three days this week I drove from the deep south to the tropical north of the Northern Territory and visited families along the way to gauge early reaction to Howard and Brough's promise to their children. From what I saw parents are drawing their own lines in the sand – and that line is firmly set at their front gates.

They say that if Howard, Brough or anyone else mandated by Canberra turn up at their houses to take their children away for a compulsory examinations for signs of s-xual abuse they will resist to protect their children.

I was driving from Alice Springs to Darwin when John Howard's coup of last Thursday was announced. I spent the night in a roadhouse there and all the talk was of Howard's move. Comment varied from "well-overdue and a good thing" to "we'll be rooned". Things were little clearer the next day and I went to the local council to see if they'd heard any more.

The Anmatjere Community Government Council offices are in the centre of the five square mile special-purpose lease excised from the Aboriginal land trust that surrounds the town. Ti Tree is a small, quiet town that provides the usual services to tourists and the people living and working on the surrounding cattle stations and small Aboriginal communities.

Many of the more essential services are provided by the council. Crikey asks the council staff if they have any comment about Howard's plans but they have nothing to say -- all they know is what they have seen in Brough's four-page press release and on Sky News the night before. A few hours and 350 kilometres up the road, I pulled into the Julalikari Aboriginal Corporation's offices in Tennant Creek. Julalikari provides 'cradle-to-grave' services to town camps and small Aboriginal communities scattered across the Tennant Creek area and the Barkly Tablelands. The staff can't say much about Howard's plans and they're loath to speak until after council meets this week. Elliott is another 'open' town another 250 kilometres closer to Darwin. The local 'white' council administers part of the town, but the Aboriginal town camps and some outstations are serviced by the small and chaotic offices of the Gurungu Aboriginal Corporation.
What do these organisations have in common? They are all squarely in the sights of Howard's coup. Why does this matter? Because they all stand to have the land they and their people have fought so hard for stripped from them -- again.

There are many organisations like Anmatjere, Julalikari and Gurungu in the NT -- they are run by good people who do the hardest of jobs with little thanks or government support.
These parents don't mind their kids having general health check-ups – they think it's a great idea and this could be done at their local Aboriginal-run and owned clinics and health centres staffed by people that they and their children know and respect.

But they point out what these centres need is real and sustainable resources and a plan which includes them as part of the solution -- and not a part of some greater game.
But they are firm in saying NO to compulsory examinations by doctors that don't know their kids, that they and their kids don't know, have never seen before, and in four months time they might never see again. They worry what will happen to their kid's medical reports and most of all, they worry about their kids being subjected to these unnecessary and intrusive examinations by strangers.

Aboriginal insecurity: thinking on vines and fig trees. Part 3. Muck to Muckaty

A national speaking tour, From the Heart - For the Heartland, by Traditional Owners of the four proposed nuclear dump sites in the Northern Territory has just concluded.
The Traditional Owners represented Fishers Ridge (near Katherine), Muckaty (near Tennant Creek), Mt Everard and Harts Range (near Alice Springs)
This document comes from the Warlmanpa people, Traditional Owners of Muckaty Station. Muckaty has only recently been added to the list of proposed sites at the request of the Northern Land Council. Only one family group at Muckaty is supportive of placing a nuclear waste dump there. The majority are against the proposal and are not supported in this by the Northern Land Council. This contrasts to the support given by Central Land Council to the Traditional Owners at Mt Everard and Harts Range.
Prior to the inclusion of Muckaty, Fishers Ridge was the only proposed site within the area covered by Northern Land Council. However, heavy rainfall and floodwaters which resulted in the proposed dump site being inundated mean that, in all likelihood, Fishers Ridge is a clear non-starter. This would have left no proposed dump site in the Northern Land Council area. That would have meant that the two remaining proposed sites were both in the Central Land Council area and CLC is supporting the opposition of the Traditional Owners.
So, Miss Eagle's nose tells her that something is fishy about the Muckaty proposal.
There is an old saying which Miss Eagle (a Napanangka) is in the habit of applying to everything.
Cui Bono? Who benefits?
Who benefits, indeed?
Aside for the long-term interests of the nuclear industry, there are two beneficiaries in the short-term. Clearly the Howard Government who is doing the bidding of its constituency. But it is clear that the Northern Land Council wants to be seen as a clear player in the search for a dump. Why?
Why - when the majority of the Traditional Owners at Muckaty are against the proposal? Could it possibly be that the Northern Land Council itself would be a beneficiary of some kind if a site was chose within Northern Land Council boundaries? Would it receive brokerage fees from a proposal which could bring in to the community - so its supporters say - about $12 million? Northern Land Council has never been overwhelmingly effective in the area immediately north of Tennant Creek. The best indicator of future behaviour is past behaviour.
Miss Eagle thinks that the Muckaty proposal has not a thing to do with the views or the welfare of the Traditional Owners and the community at Muckaty. It has more to do with Northern Land Council and the King of Yirrkala, Galarrwuy Yunupingu, whose personal fiefdom the NLC has been.
The Howard Government is looking for a dump site for nuclear waste. As Dave Sweeney of the Australian Conservation Foundation has put it: the policy of the Howard Government is that Australia becomes the world's nuclear quarry and the world's nuclear waste dump. The Northern Territory Government does not support the nuclear waste dump proposal. The Port of Darwin is significant is the quarry-dump scenario since it is believed that Darwin will become the key port, the key transport hub in Australia's servicing of the world nuclear industry.
John Howard - the recovering climate change septic - is telling us ad infinitum, ad nauseam that nuclear power stations dotted the length of Australia's eastern seaboard will be the solution to carbon emissions and climate change. It will be a clean fuel. A clean fuel, eh? Compare to what? Coal. True - when thinking of air pollution, nuclear power might be preferable. But just as there is waste from coal, there is waste from the nuclear industry. The government intends to put this in drums in the ground.
The waste that will go into the dump concludes:
  • approx. 50 cubic metres of highly radioactive waste produced from reprocessing more than a thousand existing and future spent reactor fuel roads from Lucas Heights in Sydney. This will be arriving over the next 40 years and it is expected that it will come through the Port of Darwin.
  • approx. 130 drum per year of radioactive, compactible low-level solid waste comprising vials, gloves etc - again from Lucas Heights.
  • approx. 20 drums per year of drums of solidified radioactive 'sludge' produced in the treatment of reactor wastewaters courtesy of Lucas Heights.
  • Hundreds of tonnes of radioactive non-compactible contaminated items including materials from the decommissioned old Lucas Heights reactor, pipes, and machinery.
  • A stockpile of over 5,000 drums of low-level radioactive waste which will be shipped from Lucas Heights.
  • Over 800 drums of historical wastes including radioactive thorium, beryllium and uranium from Lucas Heights.
  • Over 2000 litres of radioactive contaminated charcoal ex Lucas Heights.
  • Around ten cubic metres of highly dangerous solidified molybdenum long-lived intermediate level waste produced by Lucas Heights.
  • Over 2000 cubic metres of radio active contaminated soil currently stored at Woomera.
  • Other Commonwealth Defence Department and CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) historic radioactive waste.

So Miss Eagle smiles a wry smile. When needs must, strange bedfellows arise. The Howard Government has wanted to eliminate the land councils. Now, it may need a Land Council to get what it wants. Mmm.....

The Traditional Owners have come up with their own symbol which they are asking people to wear to protest the use and pollution of their lands.
Dianne Stokes, a Traditional Owner of Muckaty and a Warrumunga/Warlmanpa woman of the Kalumpurlpa community says:
Top to bottom we got bush tucker right through the country. Whoever is taking this waste dump into our country needs to come back and talk to the Traditional Owners. We're not happy to have all of this stuff. We don't want it, it's not our spirit. Our spirit is our country, our country where our ancestors been born. Before towns, before hospitals, before cities. We want our country to be safe.
What do Ministers in the Howard Government have to say?
  • Alexander Downer, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, has said:
I would rather have it in the Northern Territory than in Mount Barker just down the road from my electorate office.
  • Brendan Nelson, Minister for Defence and formerly Science Minister, has said:
...why on earth can't people in the middle of nowhere have low level and intermediate level waste?
  • Julie Bishop, formerly Science Minister and currently Minister for Education, has said:
...all the sites in the NT are well away from houses...some distance from any form of civilization.
Miss Eagle finds it obscene that we have as Minister for Education someone who cannot even recognise or acknowledge the locale of one of the oldest - if not the oldest - cultures in the world. There are none so blind as they who will not see.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Aboriginal insecurity: thinking on vines and fig trees. Part 2. Mutitjulu and the invasion of 2007.

Bob Randall and his daughter, Dorothea, are bearing witness to the insecurity felt by Aboriginal people in one community, Mutitjulu. Bob is a well-known singer and, just twelve months ago, was touring major cities promoting his movie, Kanyini, as well as the art of his wife Hazel Mackinnon. Miss Eagle posted on their Melbourne visit here. This year, Kanyini was voted the best documentary at the Australian Film Festival in London. Bob outlines, as so many communities do, the requests for assistance which have been made to the Federal Government and how those requests have been met with silence and neglect.

John Howard has now discovered concern for Aborigines and, in particular, the abuse of Aboriginal children. John Howard has been a deny-er of Aboriginal abuse - until, it would seem, now. He denied that any abuse of Aboriginal children or people occurred in our lifetime and that, because it did not occur in our lifetime, there was no need to apologise, to say "Sorry".

Now, unless we have all gone Tardis travelling, hasn't the abuse to which he refers occurred in living memory - in the lifetime of present generations? And hasn't he been on watch (well, asleep at the wheel) for eleven years of that period?

Does John Howard not understand that the people of Australia have watched him, listened to him, and remembered every word and inaction? Now that he has discovered Aborigines (well, we hope he has) it all has to be a state of emergency and frenetic activity - like George Bush and the Coalition of the Willing (including Australia under John Howard) invading Iraq.

You may recall, dear Reader, that in Baghdad the antiquities of humanity were looted. Hospital equipment was looted. All without meaningful intervention by the invaders. Could this possibly be a parable/prophecy/metaphor for what might happen in this speedy and hastily put together invasion of Aboriginal communities - which also includes, once more with feeling, the stealing of Aboriginal land without compensation?

In the weeks ahead, what will be lost in this state of emergency? What will be trampled on and looted in the attempt to achieve an outcome as unrealistic as Bush and his neo-cons?

Howard chose not to listen to hundreds of thousands of Australians taking to the streets to voice their opposition to Australian entry into Iraq. Howard has chosen not to listen to Aboriginal people and people working side by side with them for a better life. Howard turned his back on them - and they reciprocated by turning their backs on him.

Howard is sending in the troops, police, and professionals. Funding is not clear. Delegation is not clear. Enforcement under which set of laws is not clear. Howard is after a fix by fiat. And a short term fix at that. Except for the land grab, there is nothing to indicate that Howard, Brough, et al are there for the long haul; nothing to indicate that they will stand shoulder to shoulder with Aboriginal leadership across Australia to bring lasting and intergenerational change. One Noel Pearson does not an economic revolution make.
ABC TV News to-night carried a report that women at Mutitjulu had left the community and gone to the sandhills. The report did not state how many women went or how many women remained at the community. It did not state whether the women had taken their children with them. People at Mutitjulu are a long way from fig trees and vines and it sounds like they are far from security too.
The ABC's 7.30 Report provides a huge dose of reality into Howard's so-called State of Emergency in Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory. It has shown a National Press Club address by Mick Dodson in 2002 spelling out (well, not quite everything - the most horrifying was omitted by a clearly emotional Dodson) child abuse in Aboriginal communities. Don't you listen, John Howard. Don't you read, John Howard. You certainly did not speak out...until now. Have you been deaf, blind, and mute?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Aboriginal insecurity: thinking on vines and fig trees. Part 1

Photo by Alice at A Growing Delight

Micah, an eighth century prophet of the Tanakh/Old Testament, is a great friend of Miss Eagle. He is much quoted. One of the most frequent quotes is
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more;

Not so often heard is the next verse, Micah 4:4

but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree,
and none shall make them afraid;
for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.

This is one of Micah's latter day prophecies so, even in the 21st century - it is arguable - that we cannot expect the fulfilment of the prophecy. However, while fulfilment may be postponed, these prophecies have embedded themselves in Judaism and Christianity as ideals for which the people of God strive.

This week has been one in which, at least for Miss Eagle, the pain and insecurity of Aboriginal people has coalesced around three major issues: the nuclear industry; the legal system; the abuse of children.

Miss Eagle can never feel what Aboriginal people who exist at the margins of white settler society feel and experience. However, Miss Eagle has spent most of her life in Northern Australia - in North Queensland and the Northern Territory - the site of the manifestations of these three issues. Miss Eagle has lived amid some quite significant Aboriginal communities and populations. So while she is not affected as her Aboriginal friends are, she does experience the pain of the issues of this week in something like a reflected manner: through a glass darkly.

Bringing these major issues affecting Aboriginal people and nations into a coherent post is not easy. Thoughts could not be quickly expressed. One could not rush to verbage to express such deep pain. Miss Eagle is not sure she has found a pathway to coherence even now. So, dear Reader, Miss E begs you to indulge her patiently as we tread this pathway to a connected, coherent view of what is happening and what it really means. In treading this pathway, we will travel behind the headlines. Hopefully, we can sublimate emotions and the emotive. This will be not easy - and may well be impossible. be continued

Friday, June 22, 2007


Photo Friday: Dream
Hosier Lane, Melbourne - April 2006

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Nuclear waste dump for Muckaty?

Sammy Jungarayi Sambo (left) and Bindi Jakamarra Martin - a Stephen Cherry photo for The Age

The Howard Government wants to put a nuclear waste dump on Muckaty Station, north of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory, and has done a multi-million dollar deal with the Northern Land Council and some of the traditional owners to allow it to go ahead. Not all of the traditional owners approve of the deal and many residents of nearby Tennant Creek (pop. 4,000) - where Miss Eagle also used to live - are not happy with the deal either. The member for the seat Barkly, Elliot McAdam who is the Minister for Housing in the NT Government says; "This potential facility could compromise the social, cultural and traditional ties of Aboriginal people to their country."

Traditional owners who are not in favour of the dump are in Melbourne on Monday to address public meetings on the subjects. You, dear Reader, can hear them at two venues in Melbourne:

  1. "From the Heart, For the Heartland" Traditional Owner Speaking Tour. Indigenous traditional owners and community members from areas in the NT proposed for the Federal radioactive waste dump are undertaking a 2 week speaking tour of south eastern cities. They will be speaking on MONDAY JUNE 18 10.30-12noon at the Rooftop Room, Northcote Town Hall, 189 High Street, Northcote. They are asking for an rsvp for this meeting (

  2. A public meeting will be held on the same day (Monday 18th June from 6.30-8.30pm at the Trades Hall, cnr Lygon and Victoria Sts., Carlton South.

See you there!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Queensland defeats New South Wales - 2007 State of Origin - Telstra Dome, Sydney

Queensland rejoices!
Mal Meninga - Qld coach - and Darren Lockyer - Qld captain - led the Maroons to a 2-0 victory in the 2007 State of Origin series at the Telstra Dome in Sydney to-night.
How wonderful to have Mal winning for Queensland once more.
Congratulations to Darren Lockyer!
The first captain since The King, Wally Lewis, to win back to back Origins.
And all this at Telstra Dome in Sydney which so often has seemed to work against Queensland.
Oh - what a night!
Origin 2 did not have the brilliance and lightness of the second half of Origin 1.
Origin 2 was marked by determination and doggedness on the part of both teams.
The 10-6 score said it all, really.
Queensland was out to stop Willy Mason and Brett Kimmorley.
They were assisted by the absence due to injury of Mr Everywhere, Anthony Minichiello.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Rodney Olsen interviews Jarrod McKenna: peace, non-violence and no more war

Friends of this blog will have seen posts speaking of peaceworker Jarrod McKenna. Jarrod is particularly involved with working for the liberation of the people of West Papua. Miss Eagle has been contacted by Rodney Olsen of 98.5 Sonshine FM in Western Australia.

Rodney has interviewed Jarrod and, knowing Miss E's interest, wanted to let her know how to access the interview. You, dear Reader,can hear an extended version of Rodney and Jarrod's chat by clicking here. If you'd like to save the mp3 and listen later just right click here and choose where you'd like to save the file.

Rodney says he and Jarrod covered a lot of ground and tried to look at some of the big questions. They explored whether Christianity really promotes non-violence in all situations. If we believe that to be the case how do we the reconcile that with the religious right's belief that George W. Bush is carrying out God's will by taking his nation to war?

Rodney reckons it is worth your while, dear Reader, to take time out to listen to Jarrod. Jarrod will challenge you and give you plenty to think through, he says.

Chris Hurley: on trial in Townsville

Miss Eagle has had much to say on this blog in relation to the death of Cameron Doomadgee, Mulrunji. To-day, in Townsville the trial of Chris Hurley began. Miss Eagle will not be commenting on this matter during the trial. At this stage, the fact that Chris Hurley is on trial is sufficient. Those who are interested should be able to find sufficient press coverage. Miss Eagle would only remind you, dear Reader, that if more information is needed the Coroner's report into Mulrunji's death and her recommendations can be accessed here.

Friends, Peace and Pine Gap

Miss Eagle has to-day received this letter and these photographs from Dale Hess.

I have just received these photos of the Quaker Meeting held at Pine Gap. To learn what is happening at the trial of the Pine Gap 4, click on:

Best regards,

From: Jessica Morrison
Sent: Monday, 11 June 2007 9:32 PM
To: Hess Dale
Subject: Quaker Meeting at the Gates of Pine Gap - was it the first?

Dear Dale

I thought Friends may be interested in this,

On Saturday 9th June, 25 people attended a Quaker meeting for worship 20 kms outside Alice Springs. The venue was the front gates of Pine Gap, a US/Australian Joint Defence Facility (also known as a US spy base), and the site of many protests.

While this was the first meeting for worship, this group of activists were able to grasp the process quickly (apart from sitting still for so long!).

Ministry included:
  • Hindu mantras;the query relating to seeds of conflict in ourselves;
  • stories of civil disobedience by Quakers;
  • that prophets went into the desert to find God and
  • that we go into the desert to find the truth about our country;
  • the nature of silence; and
  • the experience to attend the base in listening, rather than broadcasting of our opinions.

We finished with the laying of a peace sign of flowers and holding hands.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Woolworths, Safeway, Liquor and Fuel - but not food

Miss Eagle has sent the following email to Liz in Victorian Regional Office of Safeway (the name used by Woolworths in Victoria). It is self-explanatory. If you, dear Reader, agree with Miss E, please feel free to write to Woolworths in your state. If you are writing in Victoria, please send to

This afternoon, I was in the Safeway store at Burwood Highway, Ferntree Gully (not the Mountain Gate store). I was stunned to see an advertisement stating, that if customers purchased $60 of goods from Safeway Liquor, they would receive a 20c a litre discount on fuel.

I am amazed at the ethics of such a campaign. I have been told by Kerry in the Area 5 office that this was part of a national campaign organised by the Marketing Division of Woolworths.
The campaign has certainly not been well thought through. It sends very mixed messages to the community:

  1. Alcohol is more valuable than food because it attracts a larger discount on fuel at the bowser.
  2. $60 worth of alcohol far outweighs in value at the bowser any amount large or small spent on food.
  3. The campaign links alcohol to driving in an encouraging way - in more or less the same way that large car parks at suburban hotels encourage a drink and drive mentality.
  4. Woolworths, whose income is derived - in the main - from families, encourages a significant slice of the family budget to be devoted to alcohol.
  5. The campaign seeks to encourage a significant amount of spending on alcohol which is the root cause of violence and road deaths in our society and ties the name of Woolworths/Safeway to it.

I would ask you to immediately withdraw this marketing campaign from all Woolworths and Safeway stores and to refrain from any similar type of marketing in the future.
I also wish to complain about the way complaints are handled within Woolworths and Safeway.
I am told that the Woolworths system means that someone in the local regional office will email someone in Sydney but that the system does not allow for me to be cc'd. So I have no way of knowing the accuracy of material forwarded to the responsible person regarding my complaint. I have rung the corporate office in Sydney who referred me back to the local regional office. Sydney refused to give me the name of the person with responsibility for the campaign. I then asked for the title, the phone number and the email of the person responsible for the marketing campaign. This too was refused. There is clearly no way for the customer to be in direct contact with the person with corporate responsibility. I am told that the matter will take two business days and I am familiar with the time limit that Woolworths sets itself to respond.
I fear that the manner in which Woolworths deals with complaints means that the complaint will not be acted upon in a positive manner leading to the withdrawal of the campaign and that Woolworths will go on its merry way regardless.
Yours sincerely,

[Name supplied]
[address supplied]
Email: [supplied]
Phone: [supplied]
Blogs: Oz Tucker at
The Trad Pad at
The Eagle's Nest at
We'll wait to see what - if anything - happens.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Tom Burns: a personal reflection

A great and unique political figure of Australia will walk no more with us. Miss Eagle speaks of Tom Burns: formerly State Secretary of the ALP in Queensland, Federal President of the ALP, Queensland Opposition Leader, Queensland Deputy Premier, and devoted husband, father, and fisherman.

To read more about Tom's achievements, read here. Miss Eagle will talk about some things that won't be in the official obituaries.

Miss Eagle first met Tom back in 1970 when he was State Secretary of the ALP. These were the tough times of the Bjelke-Petersen dictatorship in Queensland and Labor looked like a non-event, an irrelevancy in Queensland and on the national stage. In those days, Tom did not have the sartorial elegance he was later to effect. Miss E would call the style more racecourse spiv - checks, hat and all. You had to tune in to listen to Tom. He spoke rapidly and not necessarily clearly.

Tom entered the State Assembly and became Leader of the Opposition. Along the way Tom married Angela. Things changed. Miss E's guess is that Angela grounded Tom and gave him a more relaxed outlook on life. The clothing style improved a thousand per cent. Miss E has never forgotten bumping into Tom one Saturday morning as he caught a quick breakfast in Toowoomba. He was wearing a trendy three piece denim suit - and no hat. What an improvement!

Then there was his speech. It slowed. It was easier to understand and to listen to. This was thanks to Brisbane and Queensland's greatest communicator, Russ Walkington of Radio 4BH. (Allow Miss E to have a little boast here - back in 1971 Miss E defeated Russ Walkington in a public speaking competition. This thrilled Miss E - but she knew and knows who the better speaker was.)

Miss E believes Tom to be unique because of what she perceives to be an unusual gift among politicians. Tom could take a complex issue and reduce it to such simple and succinct language that the person in the street without great education could comprehend. Tom, unlike many politicians, did not bamboozle people. This great gift of communication and the fact that he was fair dinkum is what has made Tom Burns so well beloved.

Finally, who can forget the night of December 2, 1989 when Labor defeated the long reign of the corrupt National Party in Queensland. Tom was the cheshire cat that night. Winners were definitely grinners - inspite of Goss telling everyone to take a cold shower!

Tom lived at Wynnum - where Miss E embarked on life - close to The Esplanade and his beloved Moreton Bay. Because Tom loved his fishing - wherever he was in Queensland. And he died on Moreton Bay. There will be a State Funeral next week for Tom. Don't know if he will be cremated - but perhaps, if he is, Moreton Bay is where the ashes will be scattered?

Vale, Tom. You have been a great contributor. Miss E hopes the fish are biting where you are travelling. Best thoughts, best wishes to Angela and the girls at this time.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

God, creation and the placement of the Word

HT to the staff at Ekklesia for this one. God, dear Reader, seems to have difficulty getting the attention of the forty-third President of the USA. And, it is likely, that the Lord of Hosts is having difficulty getting a guernsey with the media of the said USA. All that clamouring of the religious right clogs the channels, the airwaves, and the advertising it would seem! So God booked space in The Independent across the pond in the UK. Did God use an ad agency? Saatchi & Saatchi, perhaps?
So, dear Reader, check out what God wants to say to the recalcitrant George W. Bush.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Advocacy for the environment: a defender in Robertson

To-day is World Environment Day. Denis Wilson's blog, The Nature of Robertson, is a great defender of and advocate for the environment. Pop over and read to-day's post. Miss Eagle has left a comment there.

Leunig: The path to your door

Michael Leunig is one of Australia's great cartoonists. Michael is a spiritual man and insightful in his art, his text, his comment. Miss Eagle is currently listening to Billy the Rabbit which the gifted Gyan has set to music. The CD comes beautifully packaged with a little book of the poems which have been set to music. Here is the last, but not least:

The Path to your Door
The path to your door
Is the path within:
Is made by animals,
Is lined by flowers,
Is lined by thorns,
Is stained with wine,
Is lit by the lamp of sorrowful dreams:
Is washed with joy,
Is swept by grief,
Is blessed by the lonely traffic of art:
Is known by heart,
Is known by prayer,
Is lost and found,
Is always strange,
The path to your door.