Topic: News

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?


Scotland the Brave requires innovation and dignity, too

I AM a proud Glasgow man: a descendant of the Scottish nation and peoples. My great-great-grandparents on my mother’s father’s side came from Glasgow in the 1850s. That seems to be enough these days for others to make great claims about their antecedents, so let’s go with it. My Cornish, English and Irish forebears can sit this one out; I will claim them later when I can find a use for them.

Anyway, there is my poor old homeland on the rack, thinking of breaking from mother England. The Scots have a rare moment to reflect on their good fortune and why it came to be so. The white paper, Scotland’s Future, opens with the silken words: “The central purpose of independence is to make life better for people living in Scotland. Only a Scottish parliament and government will always be able to put the interests of the people of Scotland first.” Apparently, being well off has something to do with ruling oneself.


Car industry in its death throes

WILL Tony Abbott have a dollar float, tariff or GST moment? Or, will he be content to axe the tax, stop the boats, balance the books and leave the remainder to entrepreneurs and the workforce? As important as these are, there is another looming intervention required to make the economy better and, with it, a better society.

The new Labor member for Scullin, Andrew Giles, in his first speech, restated an old adage: “We wish to live in a society rather than simply fit into an economy.” He reiterated: “Let me be clear: I wish to live in a society.” Such is the romantic thinking that has locked workers into jobs that their neighbours have to support through taxation and out of jobs where they could support their neighbours.