Quizzically Musing

Watching the madness

Posts Tagged ‘The Age

What Stops a Nation? A Horse Race or an Airline?

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Tuesday is Melbourne Cup Day, the “Race That Stops A Nation”.  I don’t know why any more – most of the runners are not Australian horses!  Today, however, there is something much bigger stopping our nation: Qantas.  The national airline, the one that still calls Australia home!

Reading The Age, which is carrying several articles and a live Twitter feed, Qantas didn’t see fit to inform the Government of the plans to ground the airline.  Qantas gounding seen hurting airline and economy is one headline.

It came as an embarrassment for Prime Minister Julia Gillard who was hosting a  summit of Commonwealth leaders in the western city of Perth, 17 of them booked  to fly out on Sunday with Qantas.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/business/qantas-grounding-seen-hurting-airline-and-economy-20111030-1mq1g.html#ixzz1cDJC5gC0

This is big.  Not only are many of the Commonwealth leaders stranded, the impact on the Cup will be dramatic.

Who is at fault here?  I don’t know.  I’ve had my own issues to concentrate on of late and to be honest I’ve not been keeping up with the situation other than catch snatches of commentary on the radio whilst driving to work.

I DO know this is not good for our international reputation and I do know the government should have been keeping a closer eye on the situation.  To all those involved, perhaps it is time to find a common ground for the benefit of our nation.  I’m not suggesting the unions back down if their claims are valid (are they?) nor am I suggesting the airline cave in either.  I am suggesting there has to be a common ground you can all reach.

Reach it now, before we look too damn stupid on the global stage.  We have one of the world’s strongest, if not THE strongest, economies at the moment.  But we let this happen?  How did this happen?

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Written by Robyn Dunphy

October 30, 2011 at 9:55 am

Tony Abbott – do not do it!

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Good grief, what politicians will do to win power.  One of the benefits of living in Australia, at least I believe it is still a benefit, is the right to criticise our politicians, even if we are of the same persuasion!

While Mr Abbott continued to condemn the Malaysia option, the carrot for him is that the proposed changes would ensure as prime minister he could send people to Nauru.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/national/abbott-muddies-water-on-boats-20110912-1k63e.html#ixzz1Xn2wbdfj

Furthermore:

A separate change would also ensure the minister could send children offshore without having to establish this was in their best interests.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/national/abbott-muddies-water-on-boats-20110912-1k63e.html#ixzz1Xn37Hz84

No.  Definitely not.

May I remind ALL politicians of the requirements of the International Refugee Convention as discussed by Michael Pearce: 

Withdrawal from Refugee Convention may be last resort

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/withdrawal-from-refugee-convention-may-be-last-resort-20110831-1jly1.html#ixzz1WhHoDtzt

At first I thought, “What? We can’t do that!” then I read the article. Michael takes an extremely pragmatic approach to the debate, together with presenting a fresh perspective.

Public policy in Australia seems to have reversed the legal position. The major parties and public opinion seem to say that we should refuse refuge to those who reach our shores and seek asylum because that denies refuge to those in the so-called queue. That is, we should abrogate an obligation which is legally binding on us so that we can comply with an imagined obligation by which we are not, in fact, bound.

Michael goes on to say (emphasis added):

This course will no doubt be very unpopular in some quarters and for good reason. It would signal to all that we, one of the richest countries in the world with enviable space and resources to spare, did not want to share with the bedraggled and desperate few who, by good fortune, wash up on our shores. But this is only to tell the truth about who and what we are as a people.

Would that more people listen to people like Michael.

Why this desire for off-shore processing?  What exactly does it achieve?  Why the desire to send unaccompanied children off-shore?  What does that achieve?

Chris Bowen needs to read some history. 

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said unaccompanied minors presented ”very emotional and difficult issues”. ”The overriding obligation is to say to parents, ‘Do not risk the lives of your children to get the prospect of a visa in Australia.’ ”

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/national/abbott-muddies-water-on-boats-20110912-1k63e.html#ixzz1Xn5AF2xs

Parents don’t send unaccompanied children in order to get a visa – they send them to save their lives.  What of all the unaccompanied children sent here from England many years ago?  Was that OK because they were English?  I actually work with a woman who is friends with a person who was sent by their parents to Australia to save that (then) child’s life in precisely the same way children are being sent now.  Unless Mr Bowen is totally oblivious to the realities of life, he knows in his heart if he were faced with the same decisions some of these parents are faced with he would do EXACTLY the same thing.  So would any parent.  Do not make glib comments in the media to try to paint parents as being in the wrong for trying to save their children.

Australia MUST remove the guardianship of these children from the position of Minister for Immigration.  It is hard to imagine a greater conflict of interest existing.  How this came about is beyond comprehension.

Written by Robyn Dunphy

September 13, 2011 at 11:23 am

I tried – I really did

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When Villawood went up in flames I tried to stay quiet.  I posted a comment to a friend on Facebook and that was the extent of my activism.

Today I read some comments in The Age that just make me despair of any hope for mankind.

Four Detainees still on Villawood roof screams the headline.  I do have to commend The Age for presenting far more balanced reporting than the HeraldSun.  I read articles in both papers earlier in the week.

The bit that forced me to break my silence was this:

Meanwhile, acting Prime Minister Wayne Swan today condemned a rally outside the centre, planned for Monday by the Refugee Rights Action Network.

Mr Swan said the rioters’ actions could not be defended and the rally would be inappropriate.

“I don’t think that’s necessarily appropriate at all. There has been unacceptable behaviour by people inside the facility,” he told reporters in Cairns.

“We cannot, in any way, condone the sorts of acts and behaviour we have seen at that facility in recent days.”

Mr Swan refused to be drawn on the police’s decision to deny food to the four protesters still on the centre’s roof.

No, I do not condone the specific behavior either, but I sure as hell understand it.  Just because we do not condone something does not mean we cannot understand it and fight for change when WE are the ones causing the behaviour in the first place.  The Refugee Rights Action Network has every right to protest to highlight the inhumane treatment of these poor people.  Unacceptable behaviour inside the facility?  Only AFTER unacceptable behaviour on our behalf outside the facility.  Let’s be real about the chicken or the egg here!

These people have an INTERNATIONAL RIGHT to seek asylum, to seek safe refuge.  They get here and, despite what much of the media might like us to believe, we treat them badly.  We have been criticised,  rightly so, for our policies.  But we treat them so well, you say?  Really?  Remember the sanitary products?

What makes US so damn special that we can treat our fellow humans this way?  You, yes, you reading this: you think this can never happen to YOU?  Think again, for what will YOU do if Australia gets invaded (or similar) by a regime you are terrified of?  Will you seek asylum somewhere?  But you are special, aren’t you, so you wouldn’t think of you ever being in the shoes of these poor people in Villawood.  Think again.

Written by Robyn Dunphy

April 23, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Who do we want running the country?

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Katharine Murphy writes a very interesting piece on the increase in “influence peddlers” in today’s edition of The Age.

We all know there are lobbyists.  They’ve probably been around as long as politicians in one form or another.  It does seem the whole thing is just getting a bit out of hand.  It is the PEOPLE who should have access to politicians, not highly paid representatives of interest groups.  The people never get a look-in.

I am not considering the sides to any debate here, I am only considering the influences on those debates.  Australia has long been a country that has been good at saying “only in America” about anything we thought “too American”, yet as time goes on we seem to adopt more and more American trends.  While we may not yet sue for a hot coffee, we have certainly become more litigious.  Now we seem to be lobbying our little hearts out in a similar style to the USA, or at least heading in that direction.

Katharine’s article is a must read for any Australian that is concerned about where this country is headed.  For our children and our children’s children.

Written by Robyn Dunphy

April 16, 2011 at 9:07 pm

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Religion in public schools – NO!

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All I wanted to do was check the footy results.  Unfortunately I stumbled across an article in The Age reporting the Victorian Education Department is forcing public primary schools to teach christian religion.  I am astounded!  In Victoria we have a Liberal government.  One of the foundation principles of the Liberal party is freedom of the individual!

From the party’s web site:

We believe in the inalienable rights and freedoms of all peoples; and we work towards a lean government that minimises interference in our daily lives; and maximises individual and private sector initiative.

Forcing my children to learn christian religion, or ANY religion, is denying my rights and freedoms.  Forcing my children into religious education is certainly NOT minimising interference in my daily life!  This all seems to stem from 2006, when we did not have a Liberal government, so I hope the Victorian Government acts and acts NOW on this issue that is so against the principles of the party.

We are also supposed to have freedom of religion in this country.  This issue has caused me to change my vote once before at a federal level.  This time I will voice my disapproval more strongly!

The Humanist Society has set up a website to “garner views on the issue” and is taking legal action against the Education Department.

Australia is a country of people from many different lands, many different cultures and many different religions.  We are are multicultural society and forcing christianity into schools is NOT the Australian way.  Read the article and see what it is suggested the children who opt out of the classes are going to be doing:  according to the article, they must not do any other classwork.

I am shocked.  Very shocked.  I am still embroiled in a civil rights fight with a federal government department and now I must look at particpating in a fight against a state government department.  I have four children about to enter the Victorian education system.  As a parent this is not what I want for my children.  Clearly I am not the only one, given the  Humanist Society website states:

12:30 – We are also aware that the Humanist Society of Victoria’s website has been so inundated with people wanting to access it that it has crashed. This speaks volumes on just how many people care and want to learn more. Future information will come from FIRIS so be sure to subscribe to the newsletter.

EDIT:

In the spirit of “if you want to change something, suggest an alternative”, resulting from a discussion with someone else, my suggestion would be introduce Cultural Intelligence classes and within that framework touch on all religions to provide awareness, rather than indoctrinate in one.  We need Cultural Intelligence training, so why not start early?

Written by Robyn Dunphy

March 27, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Boardroom Quotas?

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Those of you who browsed The Age today, probably other media as well, will have noticed our Governor-General Quentin Bryce suggested we introduce affirmative action to get more women on the boards of companies.  While towards the end of the article, Quentin admitted she wasn’t in favour of quotas, quotas were indeed mentioned.

I’m not a fan of quotas.  I’m a woman (in case you hadn’t noticed), so I feel I am at least slightly qualified to comment!  I’ve never been in favour of quotas.

Definitely, definitely support equal rights, equal pay and equal opportunity.  I’m just not sure we achieve any of these things in a real way by legislating for a certain percentage of boards of companies (as an example) to be female. 

My biggest concern is that we may well end up with token appointments and that does no-one any good, least of all the reputation of women.  I am a woman who could have taken that path, had I wanted to.  I have the qualifications and the intelligence.  I CHOSE, very specifically, to do what I do because I enjoy it.  I have no desire to be the CEO of one of the major banks either.

I consciously stepped back into the sort of role I have now because I like doing the work I do. I personally believe there are a lot of women who are similar.  Just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we want to.  I have met men who are of a similar mind – it is not just women who choose enjoyment over a larger pay packet.  I just think more women make such choices than men do.  While I would possibly consider a role in an organisation I was passionate about, such as an NGO or a hospital, my motivation comes from enjoying what I do, not having the corner office on the 40th floor.  I’ll admit first class air travel is attractive though!

So before I could support quotas, I would want to be assured that there are enough appropriately skilled women out there who WANT to take on those roles, otherwise we’ll get those token appointments I mentioned.

I would like to see us find other ways to encourage companies to  include more women on their boards and appoint women to senior management positions.  A reward system may work better that waving a big legislative stick.  Businesses know that over 50% (in many cases) of their customers are women.  Women control a VERY large chuck of not only the family budget but also discretionary spending.  We are good for business at ALL levels.  Just let’s keep our choices open!

If you are a woman reading this, would you want to be the CEO of the ANZ, NAB or some similar organisation?  Would you want to be on a few boards?  80 – 90 hour work weeks in some cases.  A lot of travel in others – or both.  I’d rather have more time with my family.  Maybe that is just me.

Written by Robyn Dunphy

March 8, 2011 at 7:14 pm

Digital media versus the broadsheet

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The Age carries a very interesting article today by Brigid Delaney on the digital media and what we get.  Brigid is right: most of the web versions of the papers don’t tend to offer the same depth (unless you look for it) as the paper version.

More worrying, as the article points out, is the “snippet” approach to reading the news by those of the digital age.  For my age group, I am probably not the norm.  I too read the news on the web most of the time.  Every now and then I will actually go and buy the real thing.

I remember being at a workshop on some professional development topic or other with a variety of people.  One of the other attendees was in charge of web site content and gave a short presentation about her work.  The way of writing for grabbing attention on the web is quite interesting (I would fail miserably) for there is a need to grab the attention in that first headline or sentence.  Writers know they have a very limited attention span to work with, so must get the message across in a matter of seconds.

Are we becoming a world that knows very little about a lot?  Is what we know even remotely accurate?  Are we, as the article suggests, concentrating only on the banalities around us?  Paris Hilton gets more attention than asylum seekers for example.  How much do people REALLY know about the whole asylum seeker debate, which let’s be fair, is far more important than Paris or LiLo.  Look at how much screen space was devoted to the St Kilda nude photo issue lately (which yes, I agree, I commented on myself), or how Fevola only has to sneeze to capture the digital front page – of even the broadsheets!  Yet are either of those local stories really front page news when compared with much else that is happening in the world?  Are the floods in Queensland less important that Fev?  I think not.

I often click on a headline or “breaking news” only to find the article is in fact five lines that tell me nothing.  OK, so I now know some guy was arrested somewhere, but I don’t know the details and will probably never find out.

Are Twitter and Facebook becoming almost our defacto news feeds?  After all, what do you have on Facebook? A page titled “News Feed” – but it isn’t.  How many people say they learned of something on Twitter?  How much can you learn from 140 characters?  Twitter is a great way to spread misinformation, though.  Retweet something often enough and it almost becomes accepted fact.  Look at the celebrities using Twitter to deny transgressions!

There is nothing truer than we get what we ask for.  As a population, it seems, we are asking for banality.  That is what we will keep getting, unless we ask for something else. 

Written by Robyn Dunphy

January 4, 2011 at 10:30 am