Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Xenophobia alive and well...

Immigration, refugees and multiculturalism are issues that no-one in the centre left parties likes to talk about during election campaigns. The spectre, not to mention the reality, of Pauline Hanson is ever present not just on All Soul's Day.

Xenophobia seems to be well and truly alive in Australia if you go by some of the comments in response to my article Australia’s multicultural society works! in ONLINE Opinion. It has always disturbed me that the easiest thing to teach our children is hate.

If you missed last night's SBS Insight program catch the repeat on Friday afternoon. It looks at the African immigration issue from the perspective of local Noble Park people.

Labor View is intended as a place for labor supporters to share ideas and opinions. When you visit please leave a COMMENT below.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Picking Winners #3: 1998 Reflections

1998 saw a national swing of 4.61% to the ALP, giving it 50.98% of the two-party-preferred vote. It only won 67 of the 148 seats or 45.27%. A depressing reflection for Labor voters. With a uniform swing in every electorate, the ALP would have won 17 of the 18 seats which it did capture, plus 11 more.

This graph of seats which changed hands includes Hume which switched from National to Liberal, Curtin and Moore won by the Libs from independents and Kalgoorlie won by the Libs from the former ALP member and then independent. These swings are not towards the ALP.

Most of the large swings against the government were in safe ALP or Coalition seats. A lot of "wasted" votes. With only 0.93% more in 8 marginals Kim Beazley would have saved us 9 years of Mr. Sneaky.

Kevin Rudd will be hoping that this pattern does not repeat itself in 2007 or that the national swing is enough to overcome this.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Picking Winners #2: Seats changing hands

There was quite a spread in 2004 as the national, seat by seat, swings show. An earlier post shows the top 20 of these.

In 2004, 70 seats had a swing less than the 1.79% average towards the government and 79 had a swing greater than the average. Yet so few seats changed hands. Those that did were all over the place. All the Coalition wins were with swings greater than the average except one. Reasons varied. Four weeks before the campaign the impact on Tasmanian seats of forest policy could not have been anticipated quite the way it panned out.

If the swing had only been the average 1.79% in the seats picked up by the government, 6 of the 8 would still have been changed hands. Had the swing been uniform then the ALP would have won 59 seats compared with the 60 they did win.

The spread seemed to even out in the end across the nation. But if you're trying to pick a particular seat to have a punt, good luck!

Labor View is intended as a place for labor supporters to share ideas and opinions. When you visit please leave a COMMENT below.

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Kyoto: Howard hoist on his own...

Howard's rejection of Kyoto has always been symbolic not practical. A tough no nonsense approach, inline with his mate Geroge W.

It worked for a while but the tide has turned and now the government has dropped its standard or being hoisted on its own petard. Malcolm Turnbull cannot enjoy being the standard bearer. (Love mixing metaphors. It's fitting that petard comes from the word for "fart"). Something to do with wind power?

Rudd is certainly on a winner with Al Gore rather than the neo-cons.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Picking Winners #1: Top 20 Swings 2004

Picking winners which won't follow the uniform swings used in the plethora of pendulums and meters is a hard job for psephologists. This table shows the 10 seats from the last election with highest swing away from the Howard government and the 10 with the highest swing to them.

The difference between Gilmore (-4.55%) and Canning (9.16%) is a huge 13.71%. If you take into account the 1.79% national swing to the coalition, the swing in Gilmore was 6.34%, to the ALP and 7.37% to the Liberals in Canning. Interestingly, neither seat changed hands. It may all even out in the wash, but it makes the punters' job harder than ever when it comes to picking winners in individual seats. Form is not always a good indicator.

Labor View is intended as a place for labor supporters to share ideas and opinions. When you visit please leave a COMMENT below.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

AWAs: Not all plane sailing

We haven’t heard much about Work Choices during the campaign except generalities. However, some things just won’t go away. I reported in August in AWAs up in the air that National Jet pilots in WA were threatening strikes over AWAs. They are the ones who carry the fly-in fly-out miners.

Well it has popped its head up again. They want a collective agreement and may stop work for two days before the election. Pilots’ strike may cripple NW mining (The West Australian, 26 October 2007)

The West Australian also features these two sporting headlines today:

Howard gives $5m for WA cricket (How tragic!)
Howard wishes Cousins well in drug fight (They both need it if they are to play next year. Obviously not part of his tough on drugs talk!)

Won’t bother opening them. Got to draw the line somewhere.

Labor View is intended as a place for labor supporters to share ideas and opinions. When you visit please leave a COMMENT below.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Charles Perkins Oration 2007

Thanks to Will Owen who provided the following link to Marion Scrymgour's speech "Whose national emergency? Caboolture and Kirribili? or Milikapati and Mutijulu?": Labor minister lashes party over intervention (SMH 24 October 2007).

PDF files of the full speech are available in this article.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Two Strong Voices

We have had the very special experience of having two indigenous women as our local members of parliament. Carol Martin, whose video interview for Broome Voices is featured below, was the first aboriginal women elected to any parliament in Australia. She is the State Member for Kimberley in Western Australia.

Marion Scrymgour, who is a Minister in the Northern Territory government, was our local member during the four years we lived in Maningrida. Yesterday she took on Mal Brough and his invasion of NT aboriginal communities. It was time that someone of Marion's authority spoke up so strongly:

Aboriginal Territorians are being herded back to primitivism of assimilation and the days of native welfare. It has been a deliberate, savage attack on the sanctity of Aboriginal family life.
Brough wants NT Minister to resign over intervention criticism (ABC News 24 October 2007)

Download the audio podcast from the ABC news site.

If anyone knows of a complete copy of her speech, please let me know.

Labor View is intended as a place for labor supporters to share ideas and opinions. When you visit please leave a COMMENT below.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Killerspudly strikes again!

Search for a Scapegoat 4 - African edition

For my views see Australia's multicultural society works below and posts in the indigenous topic opposite.

Labor View is intended as a place for labor supporters to share ideas and opinions. When you visit please leave a COMMENT below.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Cape Leveque Sunset

While the spin doctors were arguing on Saturday about whether to have the worm, we were enjoying a classic Kimberley sunset at Cape Leveque. No television, no web, just paradise.

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

First bite: worm slays snake

"New skin, same snake, same venom" as an elder described Howard's recent conversion on reconciliation. The collective worm got him just right in the debate tonight. They didn't like his team, they remembered his lies, and they knew that his relationship with George W had not helped the wars on terrorism and global warming.

As a retired chalkie, I was saddened by Howard's last gasp in the debate which he spent on education reform: back to basics, trade schools and history curriculum. The reality has been 11 years without real funding for literacy and numeracy, no strategy for skills shortages and empty rhetoric on national curriculum. He had so little to say it was embarrassing.

PS. Good to hear that he has our military in Iraq negotiating a major policy change for use of our troops. Hardly an appropriate action for a caretaker PM.

Labor View is intended as a place for labor supporters to share ideas and opinions. When you visit please leave a COMMENT below.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

John Howard: not, not... responsible!

Midnight Oil, if I've unintentionally messed with your copyright to "Forgotten Years", please excuse me as it is in a noble cause!

Labor View is intended as a place for labor supporters to share ideas and opinions. When you visit please leave a COMMENT below.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Workers and homebuyers beware!

At his Press Conference with Costello yesterday, John Howard explained why Work Choices will keep interest rates low and contain inflationary pressure: reason why we’re not concerned is that we have an industrial relations system that in fact contains wage pressure.
Coalition announces new tax package (The Australian, Press conference transcript, 15 October 2007)
That can only mean that under Work Choices wages will be lower than under the Rudd alternative. Yet he has been telling us for months that it is delivering real wage increases. He can’t have it both ways.

I’ve been doing a little Maths about interest rates using the 6.5% figure rather than Howard’s slip of 6.25%.

Firstly, before the last 5 rises of 0.25% the rate was 5.25%. That means we have had an increase of nearly 24% in mortgage payments since the last election claim that the government will keep rates at record lows.

Secondly, an increase of 0.25% on a loan of $400,000 is $1,000 per year. The 1.25% increase represents $5,000 per year. Oooops…there go our tax cuts.

No apologies if the figures are wrong. Howard didn't but then he never apologises.

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Australia’s multicultural society works!

Multicultural Australia is another thing John Howard and his cronies just don’t get. We had Howard’s views on our different cultures when he defended Kevin Andrew’s disgraceful justification for the recent changes to refugee intakes. In addition when he explained his ideas on reconciliation, the Prime Minister spoke of integration but seemed to mean assimilation to a unified monoculture. It is a throwback to his white picket fence days of the 80's.

The following reflections are based on my experiences during the 80’s and 90’s teaching in Melbourne secondary schools with high non-English speaking background and English as a Second Language student populations: Preston East, Oakleigh, Westall and Noble Park. Westall’s curriculum offered a choice of nine languages other than English including Greek, Italian, Spanish, French, Chinese, Japanese, Khmer, Vietnamese and Arabic. It still offers seven.

A common factor was refugees who had attended English Language Centres such as the one in Noble Park. We had it all: Catholics from Vietnam and East Timor; Muslims from Lebanon, Ethiopia, Somalia and Afghanistan; Cook Islanders; all the groups from the former Yugoslavian republic. Just to mention a few.

It wasn’t utopia. There were gangs and violence, sometimes ethnically based but not always. There was rivalry between groups and lots of problems associated with adjusting to a new country. But these young people embraced Australia without having to lose their roots, language and culture. We were all richer for it.

Some personal stories:

A 21 year old Afghan Year 12 student had come to Australia via Italy and Sweden. he liked Australians most because we were less racist. When applying for Special entry to Monash Science he told me about a mental block sometimes during Physics classes. During a Science class in Afghanistan he watched as his teacher’s brains were blown across the classrooms windows by militia troops. He didn’t need special consideration as he gained entry into Monash without it.

With a great touch of irony the Year 8’s chose to see the film ‘Rambo’ as part of a Human rights Commission funded excursion. We were bonding with students from Dimboola as a cross cultural exchange. On the bus afterwards the Vietnamese students were laughing about the actors who had very heavy American accents when they spoke Vietnamese.

During a class talk a Year 7 student with a history of violent behaviour at school told how his school in Bosnia had lost all its teachers during the war. Untrained elderly people replaced them and anarchy reigned both inside and outside the school.

One of my Year 10 East Timorese students used to tell me that Xanana would save them. I humoured him because at the time it seemed as likely as Nelson Mandela being released had during the 70's and 80's. Our students’ problems were more immediate as the East Timorese were labelled as unwelcome by both Labor and Liberal governments and told to go to Portugal. The school received no funding for them and I was told that refugee advocate groups feared that they would be further victimised if their situation were publicised. They won both fights against the odds. Very un-Australian of them.

A Soccer team coached by a Croatian was made up mostly of students of Serbian, Bosnian and Croatian backgrounds. Their families were refugees from a war where they were bitter enemies and genocide had surfaced as “ethnic cleansing”. The team went on to win the Victorian State Schools competition that year. For a while the teenage machismo was replaced by genuine humility, as the boys didn’t need to boast or role play.

Kevin Andrews says that violence and gangs are not part of our culture. If only it were true! Some of our students once stoned the opposition team’s bus after losing because it contained the umpires. Some of our players went on to play with a well-known AFL club. As teenagers we would hide any St.Kilda football club colours as we left Victoria Park after games against Collingwood. If we lost the locals attacked us. If they lost they would fight amongst themselves as well as attacking opposition supporters. The good old days!

During the mid 60's the most dangerous places on Saturday nights were the stations on the Dandenong line. The gangs in those days were definitely Anglo-Saxon. In 1996 there was a gang fight on Noble Park station. Some of our students were expelled as a consequence of their participation. One of the ringleaders was a Sikh. A good thing Andrews wasn’t Immigration Minister then.

Finally, I was surprised that the other part of the refugee intake changes has gone virtually without comment. Apparently the increase in Middle East refugees, especially Iraqis, will be predominantly of Christian background. It seems that race and religion have re-emerged as factors in our refugee policies. Many refugees such as the Sudanese Africans won’t find a queue to join. Their only hope, if the Howard government is returned to office, is to join the Burmese refugees on Nauru as asylum seekers.

Labor View is intended as a place for labor supporters to share ideas and opinions. When you visit please leave a COMMENT below.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Environmentally friendly

Whales near Coral Bay

(Photo: Heather Milton)

LaborView is back. We have just returned from a couple of weeks visiting the North West Cape, known internationally for the Ningaloo Reef and during the Cold War for the controversial U.S. communications base at Exmouth. It’s still spying on our neighbours but Australia is supposed to be in charge.

Ningaloo Reef has been in the news lately and has brought the third comment on environmental issues in as many weeks from the local Liberal MHR Barry Haase. The first was in opposition to a call by Broome wildlife identity Malcolm Douglas to reject a gas plant on the Maret Islands off the far north Kimberley coast. Wildlife stalwart under fire over gas plant comments (ABC 28 September 2007)

The second involved a controversy over why the Federal government has yet to nominate the Ningaloo Reef for world heritage listing. MP rejects claims of Commonwealth inaction on Ningaloo listing (ABC 5 October 2007)

The third was a response to ALP candidate Sharon Thiel’s opposition to nuclear waste dumps or reactors in WA. He’s against waste facilities.

Graeme Campbell, the former member for Kalgoorlie, stirred the pot by reminding voters:
When I was the Federal member, on two occasions I said I was in favour on the long-term storage of nuclear waste and my vote went up.
Federal uranium stoush (Kalgoorlie Miner 11 October 2007)
It will be interesting to see if he is a candidate this time. Perhaps he’ll join Pauline Hanson again. I’m sure he could get some mileage out of Sudanese refugees.

Labor View is intended as a place for labor supporters to share ideas and opinions. When you visit please leave a COMMENT below.

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Monday, October 1, 2007

Howard's end?

We are heading south to the North West Cape (a political flash-point once upon a time) for 10 days or so. While we wait for the election, please watch the laborview videos opposite and surf the archives.

It's time again

The original post of 3 July still seems apt:

This blog is about Australian politics and the desperate need for a change of government in the national election later this year. Its bias and its intentions are clear. If you are living in Australia and have not been angered by the opportunist and bullying tactics of John Howard's government in its recent response to problems facing indigenous communities, this forum is probably not for you.

With a strong economy the Liberal/National coalition politicians can't understand why they are behind in the opinion polls. I'm not interested in telling them. However, it is vital that all of us who want a change remind ourselves why they are on the nose with the electors at the moment. and that we voice our views loudly and not just leave it up to the professional politicians and commentators.

The smell of complacency has been strong in recent months. Kevin Rudd seems a victim of his own popularity. If we are going to jettison Howard's cynical crew we must face the uphill battle for Labor this year. So back to basics! Why do we want to see Howard's defeat?

  • The Iraq War! Why doesn't he get it? When he visited Vietnam recently Howard said he hadn't changed his views on the Vietnam war. Not one journalist asked him which part he thought they got right. The same question needs to be asked about Iraq. Is it just cold-blooded stubbornness? Do our troops have to stay there indefinitely because Bush, Blair and Howard made such a mess of the country that they can't organise a retreat or a settlement.
  • Basic rights of Australians have become a joke and our government's treatment of refugees is beneath contempt.
  • Work Choices: more work with less choice.
  • Warming to global climate change: from denial to nuclear power in one easy sleight of hand. Nuclear is not a synonym for alternative or renewable. Like its policies for indigenous communities it is too little, too late.
  • Lies, damned lies and statistics: Howard did not say he would keep interest rates at record lows. He let the ads do it for him and cunningly chose his words so he could worm out of it later. The polls suggest that the worm might have met the skeptical edge of public scrutiny. It is also time we had a real debate about what is happening in the economy.
We have had 11 years of mediocre, backward-looking government. Those of us from old Labor who believed that governments can make a difference to people's lives, think it's time again.

Please click on COMMENTS below to leave a message or read others' opinions.

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