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Ham-fisted, but live export crisis has turned the tide

WE export animal welfare. Of the 109 countries exporting livestock globally, Australia is the only one that invests in animal welfare beyond its borders.

Doubtless, Joe Ludwig of the Gillard government, who for a time banned the live cattle trade, and various NGOs would claim ownership. Methinks exporters did the hard work. There are three distinct public policy issues at play. How many animals die during export? How many are killed inhumanely in the destination country? The best response to failure in either or both. On one side are exporters, governments and some animal welfare types, on the other are radical animal welfare types.


Ignore inner-city prattle, islander work scheme is a win-win

BLACKBIRDING is back in Bundaberg and elsewhere in regional Australia. Where Australians do not want to work in “menial” jobs in horticulture, rural producers have had to look elsewhere for a workforce.

Backpackers have been a standby, but producers wanted a more reliable source of labour. That source is Pacific Islanders, just as it was 150 years ago in the infamous blackbirding era.


Equality at risk as consequences of recognition are unclear

INDIGENOUS leader Mick Dodson reckons that if the Australian Constitution is to have any relevance to Aborigines, it has to “affirm our basic identity as human beings”.

So, Aborigines are not human beings unless they are recognised in the Constitution. No one else is mentioned in the Constitution, so presumably all Australians are not human beings. Such is the mind-numbing nonsense of Aboriginal recognition.


Race-hate war is already won

TONY Abbott promised to repeal the “racial hatred” section (18c) of the Racial Discrimination Act “in its current form”. George Brandis promised to repeal those provisions that enabled Andrew Bolt “to be successfully pursued through the courts for expressing an opinion on a matter of public policy’’, a commitment he reaffirmed on ABC1’s Q&A on Monday night.

These statements are not inconsistent and the electorate awaits final words before passing judgment on any breach of an election promise.

Meanwhile, Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane fears the abolition of 18c. He says that abolition “can licence racial hatred (and) may unleash a darker, even violent, side of our humanity, which revels in the humiliation of the vulnerable’’.

Was Australia a darker place before the insertion of 18c in 1995? I do not think so.


Whistleblower Jackson’s wisdom that sparked war

KATHY Jackson is this column’s Australian of the year.

Jackson, nee Koukouvaos, is the Greek goddess Athena – goddess of wisdom and of war.

She withstood the pressure of a culture of corruption in the Health Services Union. She deserves the respect and support of the entire labour movement. Instead, many revile her.

No matter what the Abbott government’s royal commission into the administration of various trade unions reveals, she will be the one who, at great personal sacrifice, started the ouster of Craig Thomson and Michael Williamson.


Why Hope Vale is failing to engender much hope

NOEL Pearson is the outstanding Aboriginal leader of the modern era. He has fought, and verbally eviscerated, every government since Bob Hawke’s in Canberra and Peter Beattie’s in Queensland, and each time has come away with a bag of money for his territory, Cape York, and his town, Hope Vale.

His is the outstanding intellect among Aboriginal leaders. Not for him the indulgence of easy excuses for bad behaviour provided in stories of white invasion and black resistance by historian Henry Reynolds, or of racial segregation by filmmaker John Pilger.


Migration control an important tool of national social policy

SAVING one refugee is humane: saving one million refugees is almost certainly not. Large numbers of refugees, or migrants not carefully chosen, can change the nature of the host country, to its detriment. If Australia were to consist of a mix of Iraqs, Irans, Afghanistans, Syrias, Somalias, it would no longer be Australia.

Refugee advocates can never summon the courage to answer the question of how many is too many. Instead, they hide behind the particular instance, always ignoring the big picture. Governments, on behalf of all Australians, cannot ignore the big picture. The morality of the few is not the same as the morality of the many.


Give Qantas a chance by lifting restrictions on foreign ownership

QANTAS is more than the Victa motor mower, Hills Hoist and Peters Ice Cream phenomena, where the brand lives on under new owners. The Qantas brand is a big deal to Australia. Its loss would cause heartburn for the Abbott government. Can Australians understand an economy without national symbols of production, as well as “national” ownership?

The challenge for the Abbott government is different to that faced by the Hawke and Keating governments. Their task was to sell government assets into private hands. What was not so apparent then is becoming more so. As with Holden (assuming the brand fades), what will the Australian industrial landscape look like without familiar brands as well as Australian ownership?

In the late 1980s senator John Button, then industry minister in the Hawke government, walked into an ALP centre-left caucus meeting, my then home team, at Parliament House, Canberra, and asked the question, “What is the government doing owning an airline?”


Being bullied in the workplace? Blame the bosses

I HEREBY declare 2014 the Year of the Bully. It seems that work no longer sets you free. Instead, it is an arena where every conceivable wrong apparently is perpetrated against the worker. The latest is the workplace bully, and government is ready to stamp it out.

One of Bill Shorten’s last acts as workplace relations minister in the Gillard government was to allow a worker who had been bullied to apply to the Fair Work Commission for an order to stop the bullying. The act comes into effect tomorrow. What are the chances of it stopping bullying?


There’s a lack of intelligence on bikies

HOW come we have the capacity to eavesdrop on the private conversations of the President of Indonesia and his wife, but not on Queensland bikies? Or so it would appear.

Queensland and other Australian police have been tracking bikies forever. If, after all this time, and with all of the arrest powers, intelligence and surveillance available, they cannot find enough evidence to charge bikies with offences they want to charge them for, then maybe the bikies don’t do those crimes?