The Dog’s Bollocks

Truth is like a dog’s bollocks – pretty obvious if you care to look.

Howard’s final act of indigenous bastardry

ABCThe Federal government, in a farcical traversty of parliamentary process today passed a shonky piece of legislation which closes the circle on Howard’s decade long determination to legally extinguish native title. Although mentioning children but a few times, the 500 page legislation enacted in the name of saving indigenous children paves the way for one of Howard’s other long cherished dreams – an unfettered expansion of the uranium industry, from mining to waste storage.

Denounced widely by indigenous leaders (where is Noel Pearson these days) and dismissed by those who have been working in indigenous affairs as containing no provisions for actually improving the quality of life in our indigenous communities, the legislation grants the Federal government the right to determine any future usage of their land, including the granting of mining leases.

The head of Reconciliation Australia and former Fraser government Aboriginal Affairs Minister, Fred Chaney says the Commonwealth’s Emergency Response Bill for Northern Territory Aboriginal communities tramples on Indigenous property rights. He says that he is shocked by the legislation rushed through the House of Representatives in the last week – it could see successful communities and families returned to dependence.

“[It] is contemptuous of Aboriginal property rights, is contemptuous of the principle of non-discrimination,” he said.

“[It] is authorising an absurd and unattainable level of micromanagement of Aboriginal lives, which is far beyond the capacity of the federal bureaucracy to deliver.”

Mal Brough either knows he is committing the biggest scam on indigenous people since colonisation or he is just plain stupid. Both, likely.

Hopefully Rudd’s bi-partisan support for this audacious act of heartless bastardry will be his first non-core undertaking. The situation will only worsen under the new legislation and will not improve until a consultative and collaborative approach to indigenous affairs is developed.

Filed under: Australian values, Indigenous, Law, Politics

Howard’s economic GM asshattery

In a discussion on Radio National breakfast today it was claimed that the Howard government is keen to push through legislation which will lead to open slather in GM agriculture in Australia. The urgency, it is claimed, is that Australian farmers are on the brink of being left behind in global competition. The economic reality is rather different.

Canadian farmers, under the terms of a US free trade agreement rather like the one we have, are growing vast amounts of GM canola, for which the only markets are pet feed and ethanol production. There is no market for GM conola as human food. In fact Australia has 20% of the world market in GM Free canola for human consumption. Once GM canola becomes wide spread, the demand for our GM Free canola will drop rapidly, obliging farmers to join up to the Montsanto canola franchise, where seed and agri-chemicals can only be purchased under contract licence from Montsanto. The only winners will be Montsanto, agribusiness and ethanol producers.

The losers will be the farmers and consumers, and of course who knows what long term consequences there will be for the environment, domestic agriculture and human health.

Howard’s US free trade agreement continues to sell our interests down the river of global corporate profits.

Responsible economic managers? Pure asshattery.

Filed under: Ass Hattery, Economics, Environment, Politics

Bishop accuses poor students of lying in survey

Federal Education Minister Julie Bishop has challenged the validity of a survey that found student poverty has worsened dramatically this decade. She described a report which found nearly one in four undergraduates took out loans last year to cover basic living costs – as “very anecdotal”, and questioned whether students answered truthfully.

“I know what I would have said if I were a student,” she said.

“I just think that we can do better in terms of getting an evidence-based report. But I accept as a matter of principle that we’ve got to focus on students’ ability to study at university.”

Perhaps she simply has no experience of poor people. I’m sure no-one in her circle of acquaintance has trouble affording tertiary education.

Bishop has no problems proposing across the board performance based pay for teachers and a radical overhaul of national curricula on largely anecdotal evidence, but not in this case.

Universities Australia has released the final report from its commissioned national survey of almost 19,000 students across all 37 public universities. Hardly anecedotal I would have thought.

“This final report affirms the initial findings released in March and shows the financial difficulties many young Australians face in completing their university studies”, Chair of the Survey Steering Group and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Western Australia, Professor Alan Robson said today.

“The complete findings from this survey highlight the need for changes to Australia’s current student income support mechanisms, to ensure all students can achieve the best possible education outcomes from their time at university, regardless of their socio-economic background”, Professor Robson said.

Universities Australia is campaigning in the 2007 Federal election for:

  1. removal of the assessable income component for all scholarships and bursaries regardless of their funding source; and
  2. a reduction in the age of independence for Youth Allowance from the current 25 years to 18 in order that university students will not be assessed on the basis of their parents’ income and assets.

Let us remember that it was the Howard government which increased the age of independence from 18 years to 25 years for tertiary students – a policy which effectively shifted support for tertiary study back to families and student employment.

Certainly since Whitlam’s time, federal government’s of all persuasion have paid full-time students less than their unemployed peers – an anomaly I’ve never comprehended. Unless, of course, you’d rather less young people went to university in the first place. Oh wait, Howard has actually stated that to be his preference.

Read the full report here.

Filed under: Economics, Education, Politics

Howard warns Iraq – get your act together

Our brave Prime MinisterPrime Minister Howard has sent a letter to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki a week or so ago, telling him to get his act together or public opinion could force Australian and other foreign troops to withdraw. Not surprisingly, he has yet to receive a response.

Last time I looked, the Iraqi government was requesting a troop withdrawal as the only way to begin bringing peace and reconciliation to Iraq. Although Howard’s letter is purely for playing to a domestic electorate, the arrogance of it is breathtaking. The Coalition of the Willing® almost bombed Iraq back to the Stone Age and created the conditions to allow an insurgent war to develop and now Howard wants to blame the Iraqis for not having their shit together.

Howard also advised Al-Maliki that there should be a more equitable distribution of the nation’s oil revenues. I presume that would only apply to what’s left after the foreign oil corporations have taken their ‘share’.

Filed under: Iraq, Politics

Civil vs economic libertarians

With political bloggers of all persuasions having a field day analysing the unfolding events involved in the detention, charging and release of Dr. Mohamed Haneef, it strikes me as odd that, unless I  blinked and missed it, none of the usual libertarian commentators have been inspired to post on the matter in over a month.

While having only limited appreciation of the distinctions between consequentialism and rights theory, I have always assumed that libertarianism has at its core the liberty of individuals to act free from undue force and intimidation – upheld only by minimal governmental intervention based on principles of equality under law, justice and due process without excessively interfering in the lives of its citizens.

The Howard government is intending to give unprecedented powers of police surveillance without warrant or judicial oversight more usually associated with secret stasi-style police states and authoritarian regimes. Yet, still no comment from the Oz libertarians. Unsurprising in some ways as they universally support the Coalition rather than Labor, yet these latest transgressions on individual liberty go unremarked.

Would anyone care to disabuse me of the notion that Oz libertarians are more concerned with the liberty of the wealthy to take advantage of the poor? Are they simply free market ideologues in libertarian clothing? Economic libertarians, rather than civil libertarians?

Filed under: Australian values, Economics, Ideology, Law, Media, Politics

Stasi State – Howard style

Chief Secret Squirrel RuddockHot on the heels of the Haneef kerfuffle, the Howard government seems intent on moving Australia one step closer to a Stasi-styled Police State, intending to grant police authorities unprecedented ‘sneak and peek’ powers to search people’s homes and computers without court approval for ‘serious’ crimes attracting a jail penalty of 10 years or more.

Australian Federal Police will have the right to monitor communications equipment without a warrant, assume false identities to enter premises for surreptitious searches, and the person concerned does not have to be informed for at least six months, and can remain uninformed for 18 months if the warrant is rolled over.

The warrant can be issued by the head of a police service or security agency without the approval of a judicial officer. Under the proposed legislation undercover operations by federal agents may include criminal activity to further their investigations. And should it all go pear-shaped, as in the bungled incompetence of the Haneef case, the bill also provides for immunity not only to the undercover police or security officer involved, but also civilian informants who are part of the operation. I gather there is also provision for foreign security services to operate in Australia under the same provisions with immunity.

Simply talking about investigations under the existing terror legislation can attract prison term of 10-15 years. Presumably I am liable to be subjected to the new surveillance laws just for being a blogger who writes critically about these issues. Must remember to encrypt my wireless router.

That an authoritarian centrist conservative political party can still call itself ‘Liberal’ is now officially beyond a joke. Don’t expect a peep of of Australia’s conservative Libertarians. Their concept of liberty stops extends only to the free market.

Filed under: Australian values, Law, Politics

The Dog’s Bollocks

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The Dog's Bollocks: "Bollocks" is one of my favourite words, and this is now one of my favourite blogs and I've only been reading it for five minutes. – John Surname

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