Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Turnbull offside with Republican Movement

Malcolm Turnbull is no longer in favour with his old pro-Republic mates. In a press release on Wednesday 30 January, Mike Keating, the Chair of the Australian Republican Movement, criticised his comments that the republic is off the agenda until QE2 has departed:

This theory means we won’t debate the issue until we have King Charles of Australia. By that time the absurdity of our current constitutional arrangements will be even starker. No one doubts that Queen Elizabeth is a popular and admired figure but the republic is something Australians should determine on our terms.

Mr Turnbull is entitled to his opinion... but on this issue he is wrong.

Rather than putting the republic in the too-hard basket, Mr Turnbull should be taking the opportunity to forge consensus around the issue in the changed political environment. The Australian Republican Movement would be happy to assist him in this task...
It will be interesting to see if Malcolm will support any moves towards dumping the monarchy during the queen's lifetime. Perhaps he has learnt the lesson of alienating some of his party room colleagues after his stolen generation"sorry" statement before the leadership ballot. The recent Governor General debate has certainly awakened interest in the republic if online chatter is any indication.

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Tet Offensive: 40 years on

It’s forty years since the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese launched the Tet Offensive. Three images persist. The US Embassy in Saigon during its capture, the devastation of the Ancient Imperial Capital at Hue and the summary execution of a VC by the National police chief.

It was a political disaster for Lyndon Johnson and his allies such as Australia. Not
a great beginning for John Gorton’s government. The US military has always claimed that it was a crushing defeat for the communists. It was certainly the beginning of the end for the Indochina war but not before Richard Nixon spread the carnage to Cambodia and Laos.

Nixon was the beneficiary of LBJ’s political self-destruction and Robert Kennedy’s assassination in his campaign to win the presidency and end the war. I clearly remember watching Johnson’s “I shall not seek, and I will not accept the nomination of my party for another term as your President” speech. It was a moment of optimism that did not last long. Australian troops, including conscripts, would continue to fight and die for another four years. 50,000 Americans would die before their ignominious defeat in 1975. Countless millions of Vietnamese, both military and civilians, perished.

I was not conscripted but others of my age started their compulsory military service in 1968. The war changed all our lives. At Monash University, home of the most radical anti-war activists, thousands would spend their lunchtimes listening to the infamous Albert Langer and others debate Australia’s participation. Draft resisters began to openly defy the government, burning their conscription papers and taunting the Federal police and government to come and find them.

It brought the moratorium movement that would transform local politics and help to change the government as well.

For more about the year I turned 21, reached voting age and watched the world turn upside down, visit Remembering '68 an online Facebook history group.

You can contribute by adding photos, by writing on the wall, by posting items such as videos or web links or by starting or joining discussions.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Kimberley's New Best Friend: George Negus

Doubtful Bay (Photo: Save the Kimberley)

The Kimberley environment has a new advocate, George Negus. He has been recruited by the Save the Kimberley lobby group which is campaigning to limit the impact on the region of developments such as a proposed gas processing hub. He was clearly impressed by the group's Sydney promotion recently:
It's not people saying 'hands off', they're not people saying'lock it down', they're people who are saying 'this is how we can go about it'.

It's not your normal rabble-rousing operation, it's a very sane, sensible approach.
(Broome Advertiser 24 January 2007)
Look forward to his promised fact-finding visit, hopefully in the near future.
Another group fighting to protect the region is Environs Kimberley which has been conducting a range of campaigns.

Note: The weekly Broome Advertiser is not yet online. It is part of the West Australian stable which controls most of the regional papers in WA. At this stage only two of their 20+ regionals are on the web.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Mark Bin Bakar: Australian of the Year?

Broome's Mark Bin Bakar is the WA finalist for Australian of the Year. Most people know his alter ego Mary G.

Mary is our indigenous Edna Everage, stage performer and star of television and radio. She is the Queen of the Kimberley.

On Sorry Day 26 May 2006, as Kimberley Stolen Generation Aboriginal Corporation Chairperson he said:

Today, nationally through out our country, Sorry Day events/ceremonies are
taking place, in recognition of the sad dark part of Australia’s history that Australia still denies. The ignorance is still prevalent throughout our country that the kids were taken for their own good etc. The media that pumps up the issues in the various media outlets today support the principles of removing children.

Friends, the truth is we live in a different era. We as a country should be miles down the track in understanding about the social disadvantages that our people face in their journey in life, but today our people, and I mean that in the context of Australia as a whole, the Original inhabitants of this country, are treated as third class citizens. As a minority we collectively tend to believe this and bury ourselves in our own misfortune. But I call on all honest, human spirited Australians who are not Indigenous to stand up and support the minority, the original Australians. Support our people to overcome the social genocide that condemns our people into a "bird in a cage" principle by being kept controlled and governed by Government policy and ignorance and fed programs, ideas and concepts that are engineered by people who do not understand the plight of our Indigenous people and their obligations to each other through many facets and factors that distinguishes Indigenous from Non Indigenous.
(Kimberley Stolen Generation Aboriginal Corporation)

Whether Mark is successful or not, he would make an excellent nominee for the next Governor General, despite breaking my own criteria.

Good luck tonight!

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Heffo Biffo

This is a better, extended version of the “heffo biffo” on election night in the Canberra Tallyroom. The original is part of Bill Heffernan’s Payback which includes the senator watching Howard’s concession speech. Thanks to the ABC’s Alex Morrow for the sound file.

You can watch the full series of The Poll That Counts in Laborview videos in Youtube (links are in the righthand column) or TeacherTube.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Martin Luther King Day

The national holiday in the USA for Martin Luther King Jnr. was celebrated yesterday, 21 January. He made his historic “I have a dream” speech in 1963, 3 months before John Kennedy’s assassination.

King's own murder took place on 4 April 1968. It was just weeks after he had said, “Let me close by saying that we have difficult days ahead in the struggle for justice and peace, but I will not yield to a politic of despair.” Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution

The politics of assassination and despair are still with us. So is the struggle against racism.

For more online history about 1968 visit Remembering 68 on Facebook.

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Mungo or Maggie for Governor General

Time to get a new GG apparently. Kevin Rudd has ruled out ex-politicians such as Kim Beazley. We have had enough judges, military and politicians. One bishop was one too many. Let's not have a sportsperson or an entertainer.

Perhaps a writer. Bob Ellis or Mungo MacCallum? A chef or cook such as Stephanie Alexander or Maggie Beer. Yet the job is a political one. Labor must choose someone who will not repeat the Kerr disaster of 1975.

No doubt Poll Bludger, Mumble, Possum and Jackman will have all the odds once the bookies get going. Your nominations can left here in Comments. First correct entry and most lateral nomination will receive a copy of "The Poll that Counts" DVD of election day around Canberra and in the tallyroom.

Meanwhile we have to start pushing the Republic again. More on this soon.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Remembering '68

It's stinger season in Broome. These jellyfish were in the AQWA Aquarium in Perth on Tuesday, not at Cable Beach.

Laborview has a couple of projects in the planning stage.

The first: Remembering '68, an online history of the year I turned 21, reached voting age and watched the world turn upside down. Personal, social, political. Stories, images, sounds.

John Grey Gorton became Prime Miniter 40 years ago on January 10 with a promise of change. His government did not met our hopes but it gave us an end to rigid censorship under Don Chipp's leadership as Minister for Customs and Excise. I wonder what university life would have been without being able to read Henry Miller. The current internet filtering debate and the regular controversies at the Office of film and Literature Classification shows that we still have a way to go.

The Beatles White Album, released at the time of the May 1968 Paris protests, featured Revolution:

You say you want a revolution,
Well, you know, we all want to change the world.
You tell me that it's evolution,
Well, you know, we all want to change the world.
But when you talk about destruction,
Don't you know that you can count me out
Don't you know it's gonna be alright.

There was lots of destruction that year!

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, January 17, 2008

Back to Boab Country

We are back from 5 weeks visiting the other half of Australia. The photo was taken just before we left in mid December. It's a flowering boab.

Now it's back to business. It was almost impossible to follow Federal politics through the mass media while travelling. Standard fare was stories complaining about Labor implementing its election program and policies. The post-election reaction to proposed internet censorship is an excellent example. Those of us who opposed Stephen Conroy's opt-out version tried to get debate going before the vote. That's what elections are supposed to be about. Seems that don't rock the boat and/or we'll change it afterwards won the day.

Friends of the Labor government have a lot to do in the next 3 years to make sure that it does make a difference. The trick will be to move from essentially oppositional politics to getting real change happening. Vigorous debate is an essential part of that process.

Ideas for doing this on a regular basis are welcome. The usual online suspects will no doubt be involved. I feel a Facebook group coming on. The Rudd Cabinet is meeting in Perth next week and the PM will be holding a public forum on the 20th. We can only hope this will be more than a honeymoon event.

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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