Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Denis has acquired, through hard battles, a great deal of information about problems in the Sydney hinterland in relation to water, the environment, and local communities. Dr Karl Kruszelnicki who is standing as a member of the Climate Change Coalition, for the Senate in NSW has asked Denis for advice in this regard. Read all about it here.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Get Up! is masterminding the fight to keep the Senate out of the hands of one party, in particular out of the hands of the party which has control of the House of Reps. There's little doubt that Australians prefer the Senate to be a true house of review complete with Committee System (thanks and tribute to Lionel Murphy). The body politic is smarter than the major political parties give it credit for: they are able to vote one way in the Reps and vary their vote intelligently in the Senate. Long may they do so!
Family First has been reported as indulging in some classic dummy-spitting about the projected preference deal The Greens have stitched up with Labor (with the exception of Labor in Gunn's Tasmania). "Outrageous" cries Senator Fielding who holds his Senate seat on a primary vote of one point not very much per cent!
Fielding is in the Senate because of a cute preference deal at the last election and he says he's ready to talk to Pauline Hanson on preferences. Will the FF preference cuties try to come up with a deal whereby they can get anything Hanson has on offer without giving anything back? Talk about long spoons and supping with the devil!
But if venality re Hanson's preference is not enough to put FF colours on full display, get this:
"It is absolutely outrageous to think that Kevin Rudd would want to preference the Greens, knowing their stance on drugs, free injecting rooms in streets, free heroin," Senator Fielding told ABC television.
Clearly, a vote for Family First means voting for Chicken Little and his policy platform of the sky falling in. Certainly, harm minimisation is something FF finds intolerable. And injecting rooms in the streets! Well, whoda thunk it? A building with rooms in streets! Where else do rooms go? In the air so that the sky can fall on them?
But seriously, dear Reader. When all is said and done, a primary vote for The Greens in the Senate makes good sense for one very good reason - Rudd's industrial relations policy.
The electorate has not responded negatively to Rudd's "me too" political campaign. This probably means two things:
- a lot of people swallow this and feel comforted by it
- a lot of people don't believe the "me too" campaign and think he is doing it to get over the line and things will change in power - either of Rudd's own free will or because others will do the convincing post-election
To ensure that Rudd and Labor introduce an industrial relations program that is more accommodating to the wishes of the masses of Australians who have switched their votes to Labor on the strength of Howard's industrial relations legislation, the best bet is to vote The Greens 1,2,3 in the Senate.
The Greens industrial relations policy is more accommodating to those who have fought for the industrial rights of working people.
The best way to ensure Your Rights At Work is to have Labor in government and The Greens with the balance of power. In fact, The Greens are calling it "Third Party Insurance"!
Let Family First focus on the quality of mucus on their pacifier!
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
But, dear Reader, as you consider your ration of pork think on whether the picture above is relevant.
Hands up if you think Alexander Downer is charismatic - with or without the fishnet tights? Mmm...no hands up people and you are looking puzzled. Miss Eagle is not sure if he has great intellectual capacity either.
We know the Howard Government has great difficulty with refugees - actually the Howard Government has great difficulty with people, particularly people who are not Anglo, not rich, not powerful. But Downer has put his foot in his mouth this time. He reckons that we can't take all the refugees in the world (duh!) but we should focus on Burma and take refugees from there.
What a difference a headline makes! No, local headlines won't do. They have to be international - and preferrably supported by George W. Bush and Condi Rice. So Burma and the Burmese become the flavour of the month.
Meanwhile, in the real world - where people other than Alexander Downer live - the words Burmese and refugee are lived out experiences for some people - not mealy-mouthed words in the face of a sanctimonious Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs. You see, dear Reader, there are Burmese refugees left to rot in that very strange place where no shit actually describes its landscape, Nauru.
So this Foreign Minister who speaks loud and long of "experience" and the need for it as an echo of His Master's Voice, John Howard, clearly cannot hold two consequential thoughts in his mind to make some sort of sense: refugees Burma.
- They're here already, Alexander Downer.
- You ignore them already, Alexander Downer.
- You are full of guano, Alexander Downer.
- Suggest you take up residence on Nauru, Alexander Downer.
- You clearly have the capacity, Alexander Downer, to make renewable deposits of guano such that the economy of Nauru could be easily revived.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Thursday, October 18, 2007
There is glib talk about banning alcohol in Aboriginal communities in complete ignorance - or taking for granted the complete and utter ignorance of white Australia - of the reality: that a significant proportion of Aboriginal communities are dry and that Aboriginal communities - particularly older Aboriginal women in communities - have worked hard and spoken loud and long to get control over alcohol frequently in the face of feigned deafness on the part of the white powers that be.
The Tennant Creek story is very different. This is the mainstream town that closed the pubs at the behest of a powerful Aboriginal community. It is documented by the 2007 Miles Franklin Award winner, Alexis Wright, in her book Grog War which was commissioned by the Julalikari Council.
To-day, on The World Today on ABC's Radio National, there is the report of an investigation by the National Drug Research Institute - including Dr Tanya Chikritzhs and fellow researcher Professor Dennis Gray from Perth's Curtin University - which has found that, ten years on, there are positive statistics demonstrating the impact of what Tennant Creek did more than a decade ago. Transcript available here.
How good it is to hear Tennant Creek being recognised; their work being justified and verified; and the public statement of indigenous instigation of alcohol reform.
If you only listened to Howard and Brough, you would never ever know if you never ever go!
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Monday, October 15, 2007
There is an oft-used Howard quote which illustrates his doggedness, his preparedness to wait: The times will suit me.
The statement was made by Howard in a 1986 interview in Washington DC with Anne Summers. Just over three years ago, Summers revisited that interview in a piece titled: The sad times do suit him; he made them.
At that time, it looked like Howard would demolish Medicare, Australia's form of national medical insurance. The facts are that it is 2007 and we are in the first 24 hours of the Federal Election campaign which will decide who governs Australia for the next three years. Medicare is still with us.
Howard has interfered in Australian workplaces, changed the laws, left people powerless, lowered their wages. Howard's Work Choices has driven voters - it appears - into or back to the Australian Labor Party. The whole thing has left Australians feeling quite dismal.
Miss Eagle has been reminding for some time anyone who will listen that Howard's political imprimatur is neither invincible nor infallible. Medicare is here - and Howard may not be after November 24.
Why is Medicare here? Because it is quite clear that Australians appreciate and want to keep Medicare. They have made this clear year in and year out. Howard will interfere with Medicare at his peril.
This does not mean that in the next triennium, should Howard be re-elected, that he will not try to remove Medicare from the Australian landscape. And he certainly won't make such removal an agenda item at this election or any election.
Remember, dear Reader, that he promised never-ever to introduce a GST. He did. He didn't put his Work Choices legislation before the voters in 2004 - but he did it anyway as any astute political observer always knew he would. So full privatisation of medical services is part of his agenda. All those doctors want it and an awful lot of them tend to be members of, or at least vote for, the Liberal and National Parties.
But, it is clear that, if Australian voters tell the opinion polls and their politicians consistently of their support for Medicare, it will be extremely difficult to eradicate it. Similarly, for any other policy. The guarantee for survival or introduction of good policy is to demonstrate in word and deed support for that policy.
Kevin Rudd and Krew will need such reminders too should they form the next government.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
- What are the figures for the minor parties and to whom are their preferences being directed? In blunt terms, is it possible for the Greens to gain their first seat in the House of Representatives and, if so where? Is it possible for new independents to enter the House of Representatives?
- How will votes translate into seats and how will seats translate into winning and losing?
On the major vote winner for Labor, opposition to John Howard's Work Choices legislation, will voters - when it comes to casting a ballot - accept Kevin Rudd's delay in the abolition of Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs)?
This voter won't. Miss Eagle hangs her colours out for all to see. She is in that unofficial voting bloc, Rusted on Labor that Votes Green. Miss Eagle thought that this election would see her giving her No. 1 vote to the ALP like old times were here again. But, at this point in time, no.
Miss Eagle will express her disenchantment with Labor and its Leader by giving the Greens her No. 1 vote and she is helping out in the seat of Aston because Rex, one of her fellow parishioners at St Thom's, is the campaign manager there.
However, Miss Eagle believes that this is an election where anything can happen and probably will. The Liberals have already shown how desperate they are to hang on to government. Rudd has shown how tetchy he is in rebuking his Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and Bob Brown's temper hasn't been too even with the goings on around the projected pulp mill in Tasmania. And there's six weeks still to go!
So, dear Voter/Punter, consider your vote carefully. Don't make self-interest your only guide. And keep your vote well away from the mean-spirited...you know who I mean!
Friday, October 12, 2007
This announcement has made headlines across the world: here, here
Howard's announcement is being portrayed as a backflip. In Miss Eagle's view, it is not so much a backflip as a reverse triple pike with tuck and twist.*** And because Howard seldom executes a backflip, let alone attempting such a dramatic one, Miss Eagle predicts a great splash and low, if any marks, from judges who know their stuff.
***Diving terminology: Straight - with no bend at the knees or hips; Pike - with knees straight but a tight bend at the hips; Tuck - body folded up in a tight ball, hands holding the shins and toes pointed; Free - Some sequence of the above positions.
The electorate is being taken for mugs once again. It is taken for granted that we have short memories - or, for that matter, no memories whatsoever.
So, dear Reader, let us take a little trip back in time. 9 years and 9 days ago, Australia elected the Liberal Party, with John Howard as Prime Minister, to its second term.
One year before, at the 1997 Reconciliation Conference during which the Bringing Them Home report brought out by Sir Ronald Wilson was launched, John Howard's reputation in Aboriginal Australia reached a, then, all time low. This was when Howard, most unusually, blew his cool in a speech and when Aboriginal people silently expressed their displeasure with John Howard by standing up and turning their backs on him.
This latter incident was to be repeated by many, many more people when John Howard spoke at the Sydney Opera House at Corroboree 2000. This happened the day before 250,000 Australians - with Peter Costello and without John Howard - marched across Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Bridge-marching in support of Aboriginal rights and asking John Howard to say sorry to the stolen generations took place for months to come across Australia.
So back to 1998. On election night in 1998, John Howard committed himself to achieving reconciliation by 2001. He failed. Last night he said:
"I recognise now that, though emotionally committed to the goal, I was mistaken in believing that it could be achieved in a form I truly believed in."
Again John Howard takes us for mugs with no memories. You see, Miss Eagle, for one, remembers Gatjil Djerrkura's invitation back then to John Howard to visit him in his home at Yirrkala in the Northern Territory. Gatjil was then the Chair of the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC). John Howard accepted and went to Yirrkala.
Now, Gatjil's political views were not left of centre. He was a paid up member of the NT's Country Liberal Party. Gatjil's idea was a good one. An ignorant and powerful PM. Take him to the country of a powerful Aboriginal nation, speak to him privately, show him the culture, the people at a most personal and intimate level. But nine years later, Howard says that he was not emotionally committed to the goal of reconciliation.
It has been quite clear by word and deed that John Howard has NOT been committed to the goal of reconciliation in spite of his election night words - and it is clear that the visit to Yirrkala did not touch Howard either in heart or in spirit. He came the closest to Aboriginal Australia he was ever likely to get and he was untouched, unmoved, and unmotivated.
So what brought about the military intervention of 21 June 2007? A militarist Minister of Indigenous Affairs in Mal Brough; an election year; political point scoring; and the constitutional ability to give full rein to his centralizing views in the Northern Territory.
And what has brought about his announcement on a preamble?
The Presidents of the United States of America always have one eye on history. One of their post-presidential entitlements is to the building of a library. Such libraries provide a rich resource relating to the individual president and his time in the White House. Documents and personal memorabilia are installed there and can provide rich pickings for researchers.
In Australia this does not happen. But Prime Ministers, like Presidents, do give thought to how history will view them. Howard has been particularly conscious of this. One of the reasons that Howard has hung on so long to power is because he has emulated, to some extent, and compared himself with Sir Robert Menzies whom some Liberals promote as a great Australian statesman. Therefore, if one has to be seen as distinctive in the eyes of history, length of office is not necessarily sufficient.
Howard launched a military adventure in the Northern Territory which is doing things - on a small scale. The fanfare and rhetoric have not delivered quickly and in spades what was promised. In fact, the whole thing could fail.
Miss Eagle's view is that it is an ill wind that blows nobody any good so there will be some good things to report - but how much and how long it will be sustained will have to be judged further down the track. And the discussion will always be about lost opportunity and how things could have been done better.
So the preamble announcement is Howard's insurance policy for history.
Parliament is scheduled to sit within days. This is unlikely to happen because a whole lot of goodbyes and farewell speeches might have to get a re-run! So it is likely that within the next 24-48 hours the 2007 election will be announced.
So last night was almost the last chance for Howard to do something positive in relation to Aboriginal issues. He has tried to make himself look sincere even if he has had to eat humble pie. If he loses his seat and loses government, both of which are distinct possibilities, he will look as if he has tried. If he is returned to government, he has guaranteed only to introduce a bill for a preamble. The preamble is only words. It has no legitimacy. It cannot be used as a constitutional amendment from which rights and entitlements might be derived.
And yet again we are taken as mugs without memories - because Howard has form on the matter of a preamble. In 1999, Howard presented a poorly imagined and drafted preamble to the people of Australia. It failed.
Sorry, John Howard. You won't say sorry - and now it's time to go. You have had eleven years to heal this country, to bring reconciliation, to advance some of the most powerless and poverty-stricken in this nation.
Instead, you have not only failed to take these things forward, you have taken back many things already in place and you have actively impeded good people doing good and valuable things. No, John. As this blog has said time and again, chickens are coming home to roost.
You have to face the consequences of your actions and inactions. You have to be held accountable by the people of this nation.
Miss Eagle hopes and prays that the Australian people are up to it - but the opinion polls are saying they are. Miss Eagle hopes and prays that when you go, John, we really do get a government that is up to the task ahead which will also be held accountable by the Australian electorate.
Saturday, October 06, 2007
Friday, October 05, 2007
My friend Gina over at Patra's Place and Patra's Other Place has had trials and tribulations in recent times in relation to her employment. Gina is feisty - and a fighter. Now she has set up a new blog to document what has been happening. It is called Workplace Relations - what a farce!
Miss Eagle commends Gina for this well set up blog. Gina brings a personal take on some of the major issues at the forefront of the contemporary Australian workplace and highlights the often hidden practice of service delivery in aged care.
Miss E believes that Aged Care is, as a political issue, a major sleeper. The number of aged people is increasing - and so are their friends and relatives and the number of people employed in the Home and Community Care (HACC) program.
Gina is right! Let's get stirring. Please let her know your experience in the workplace - any workplace. If you work in a HACC program, please make getting in touch a priority. Major issues within Aged Care include:
- Lack of a grass-roots consumer complaint system for those receiving Commonwealth packages or HACC services.
- Lack of organisation among employees of private service providers - particularly those who are outsourced by local government.
- Gender domination by women in delivering services to the aged. The dominance of women in service sector occupations can be equated with lack of employee organisation and inequities in pay scales.
- Lack of a voice at the policy table for those who work at the coal-face of delivery of services to the aged in the home.
- Governments are making major changes to policies affecting the delivery of services to the aged in the home with major input from doctors and nurses but not for personal care workers.
- The role of guest workers in aged care services now and in the future.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land I work on, as the first people of this country
We'd like to spread the word as widely as possible even to women who are not already studying. In this way the information may reach some women who might not otherwise have been in a position to consider tertiary study. These possibilities make the Good Shepherd Indigenous Scholarship a very particular way of furthering
In 2006 the Good Shepherd Sisters formalised a Reconciliation Scholarship Program for Indigenous women. The Scholarship Program is an expression of Good Shepherd’s commitment to reconciliation. In keeping with the Good Shepherd spirit, the Scholarship aims to advance reconciliation by building the capacity of individual Indigenous women and by making a significant difference in their lives.
Reconciliation Scholarships are open to Indigenous women of any age who are eligible for or enrolled in a course of study leading to a certificate, diploma or degree at an accredited Australian University or TAFE.
The Scholarships assist students with their HECS liability and provide a small living allowance of $1,500 per semester. Students who have made other arrangements to cover their HECS fees and those who face additional financial, social, geographic or emotional challenges in undertaking study can request assistance for the purchase of computing equipment, child care, transport, tutoring and counselling to the value of $5,000 per year.
The value of each scholarship will be determined by the individual student’s needs to a maximum of $7,500 per year. Scholarships can be renewed each year, if progress is satisfactory; but one-off grants for special assistance can also be made.
Good Shepherd Reconciliation Scholarships are funded by the Good Shepherd Sisters and administered by the Mary MacKillop Foundation.
More detailed information and application forms are available from the Mary MacKillop Foundation. Please contact the Project Co-ordinator at:
The Mary MacKillop Foundation Limited
9 Mount Street
North Sydney, NSW, 2060
PO Box 1508
North Sydney, NSW, 2059
Telephone: (02) 9929 7344 or (02) 8912 4860
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Even though I have not been blogging I have been doing my best to keep up with my FeedDemon - and this does take quite a bit of time and constancy.
Federation Square was the centre of the universe for Melbourne fans.
Will this be the last time we see Mat King (tall, curly headed bloke in glasses on left) in a Storm shirt?
The magnificent Melbourne Storm won the NRL Grand Final. The victory was wonderful and, it is hoped, will get greater recognition for Rugby League in the midst of an Aussie Rules culture. And the follow on is great two, as the Storm has significant membership in the team to play New Zealand in the upcoming Australia v NZ tests. Much-rejoicing-in-the-marsh (oops, I mean Melbourne!)
A hat tip to Simon Barrow who has drawn attention to this opinion piece by Madeleine Bunting. Australia will go to the polls to vote for a new national government before the end of 2007.
Religion has entered the political debate in a way it has not been present for quite a long time through the strenuous efforts of the Australian Christian Lobby. There is little doubt that the ACL draws a lot of its raison d'etre from the experience of the "religious right" experience in the USA while maintain that it is not taking the path of putting its efforts solely behind the right but wish to use the Christian vote to dialogue with and influence both the left and the right of politics - or should that be the right and the right of Australian politics.
Politicians from both the ALP and the Liberal parties have been seen in mega-churches. It comes as no surprise that politicians will turn up anywhere where there are large groups of people - particularly those who can be manipulated by their leaderships or who can be delivered in voting blocs on election day. But, Miss Eagle thinks, while those pollies might think they are co-opting the Christian vote, something else is really happening.
The Australian Christian Lobby - a decidedly right-wing Christian lobby in spite of protestations to the contrary - is endeavouring to capture Australian politics - or a significant slice of it. The ACL has a definite agenda to push - and it will not always be the agenda of Catholics, Anglicans, or UCA adherents in the pews. So when the hoo-hah has died down post-election, it will be interesting to see how much the ACL and its fellow travellers have influenced the national political agenda. Very little, is Miss E's view.
Let's face it! Australia is a conservative country. It is hardly a hotbed of radical left-wing initiatives. Radical initiatives from either the right or the left are more likely to come from our Kiwi cousins across The Ditch.
The ALP's dominant faction - the Right - is highly conservative. And the Left - well, we have the Left to thank for establishing concentration camps for refugees in the harsh conditions of the Australian outback; we have the Left to thank for the deceptive mechanism to give Aboriginal Australians a voice through ATSIC. Now, Australia has the possibility of adding the conservative Kevin Rudd to the mix should the ALP win government. In a lot of areas, the ACL is merely speaking to the converted - and the converted merely want to grab the pencil marks in the right place on the ballot papers.
Below: Memorial of the Myall Creek Massacre
Yesterday, 2 October, was Massacre Day in Australia. A day to remember those indigenous people who died in the course of white settlement/invasion. I had meant to post on the day but ran out of time - because I was gathering material for you, dear Reader, so that you could familiarise yourself with some of the tragic history of colonisation in this country. You will find it here. Please email me if there is any difficulty accessing the material. It resides on my Furl site and this is the first time I have presented material on the blog in this way, so I do hope it works for you
Howard, Abbott and Hospitals
Re the Liberals' plans to turn back the clock to the last century and establish individual hospital boards, Howard's comment yesterday displays overwhelming ignorance of public administration in the health sector:
"I believe (in) moving toward a situation where every hospital had a board (and) the board was made up of a cross-section of people, including more clinicians.
"There's a CEO, and he or she is accountable for a budget and the buck would stop with him or her.
"That is how you run a company, it is how you run a club and it ought to be how you run a hospital."
Miss Eagle makes the following comments:
- The Royal North Shore in Sydney may be able to scratch up a fair bit of expertise to provide a credible Board - but experience has shown that Hospital Boards have tended to be sinecures rather than hives of active and advanced business management. Some are famed for the quality of the drinks cabinet.
- Victoria has hospital boards for local hospitals. Victoria's hospital systems have, historically, been largely private. This has meant expensive health care. Long before Medicare was established Victorians developed the habit, which continues to-day, of going to Queensland [where health care was free and mainly public] in the winter for their health care....to lovely places like Hervey Bay. This is reflected these days in Victoria having the highest Medibank Private fees in Australia.
- What's the betting that Howard and Co. have an eye on introducing some form of corporatisation either for the whole hospital operation or just forming a shell company to employ staff so that Work Choices can predominate and wages costs can be cut. Bear in mind, dear Reader, that it is not only doctors who cost heaps. When nursing professionalised through creeping credentialism, it built a highly layered career structure - at a time when modern corporations were demolishing their layers into flattened corporate structures. The taxpayer paid and continues too pay for this.
- Howard wants a larger role for clinicians. Interesting - considering that the medical associations are the biggest closed shops in the nation. Remember the Painters and Dockers? These days it's the Painters and Doctors - and they even protect known killers.
- Whatever the manner of administration there must be a vastly increased role for consumers and a form of management skewed to wide community consultation. Currently, the health system is heavily geared to suit doctors and nurses and the manner in which THEY want to deliver their particular brand of health services. What THEY want is not the same as what the consumer expects and needs. In fact, what THEY want is often the antithesis of what the consumer wants and what the consumer needs to achieve and maintain good health