Australian media owners and journalists unite to call for laws to protect a free press

Thanks AdNews.

Media owners have united in an open letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison asking him to defend press freedom in Australia.

The “Journalism is not a Crime” letter was published in News Corp Australia newspapers, including The Australian, and Nine newspapers, including The Sydney Morning Herald.

The letter, also signed by some of the nation’s most prominent journalists, including Karen Middleton, David Marr, Kathrine Murphy, Laurie Oaks and Malcolm Farr, calls for legislation to “recognise and enshrine a positive public interest protection for whistleblowers and for journalists”….

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Sorry Bob! Well, there you go…

Today I am carrying a souvenir from my time in Surry Hills. Strangely relevant again!  And no, I am not foaming at the mouth — that’s morning coffee from Diggers.

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Oh — and at least the Bunnies won, unlike Scomo’s Sharks!

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I am determined today not to get hysterical about the Australian election result. Rather, let me itemise some good things.

First, remember that ratbag Fraser Anning visiting Cronulla not long ago, and how it ended with a cameraman losing his shirt? You will be pleased to know that the people of Cook are not all bad: FA’s candidate got 0.6% of the vote!

Second, Gilmore rejected Scomo’s drop-in candidate! Labor won with 52.8% of the vote, after preferences.

Third, that gross creature Clive Palmer failed to win any seats at all, either in the Reps or the Senate! Unfortunately, his preferences and his toxic ads were a factor, especially no doubt in Queensland.

And speaking of Queensland, despite the best efforts of my relatives up there, it was likely the key place of Labor destruction, in no small part because of the Adani mine issue. My two cents worth: I do wish Bob Brown hadn’t taken his Sunday School Picnic to the Carmichael Valley. It no doubt had the reverse effect to that intended.

So there we go, folks! My footy tipping (Bunnies excepted) was pretty ratshit this week too — but we live to fight another day.

Seriously though, at my age there is every possibility I won’t live to see another Labor government. In three years I will be older than my father was when he passed away!

Ideas that we grapple with — and often fail on

I too have grappled with this one. Time spent at South Sydney Uniting Church a few years back with norrie made me confront the usual stereotypes and prejudices. So now I accept that “male and female created He (sic) them” is hardly a scientific or adequate account of the human condition. See Anatomy Does Not Determine Gender, Experts Say.

You may then be interested to examine carefully The Gender Centre, which features apparently in the latest Murdoch broadside against Labor in one of his oh-so-objective tabloids.  Fortunately the Tele is behind a paywall, and there is no way I am giving them my money!

You may also find some related matters in an earlier post here, from the time when Malcolm Turnbull was PM trying to be all things to all people:

Looks like we are seeing on several fronts what the corollary of “agility” is for Malcolm Turnbull – a surgical removal of the spine. Very disappointing. I borrowed my heading from Sean Kelly at The Monthly.

Turnbull caves to Liberal right-wingers*

…a couple of weeks ago I gave credit to Simon Birmingham, appointed education minister after the snarly mess Christopher Pyne had made of that portfolio, for sticking up for a schools program that was under threat.

Under that program a teaching manual, aimed at combating bullying against young people who might be just discovering they were lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex or transgender, was distributed in schools.

As the Australian reported at the time, the program has the backing of the Australian Secondary Principals Association, beyondblue, headspace and the Australian Education Union.

Some religious groups, however, decided they knew better. The Australian Christian Lobby spokeswoman said that forcing students to imagine themselves in a same-sex relationship was a “form of cultural bullying’’.

Yes she did.

Birmingham didn’t give some mealy-mouthed comment in response to this garbage. On the substance he pointed out the program was opt-in for schools, and on the principle he said: “Homophobia should be no more tolerated than racism, especially in the school environment. The resource is intended to support the right of all students, staff and families to feel safe at school.’’…

Today Malcolm Turnbull hung Birmingham and his pretty principles out to dry. At the prime minister’s invitation, the minister will report back to the Liberal party room on the results of an independent review of the Safe Schools program that will now occur. (For “invitation”, read “order”.)

In other words, he gave a whole lot of oxygen to the very debate his own minister had recently called “foolish”….

See also Max Chalmers, The Anti-Gay Emails To MPs: Safe Schools Program Will ‘Destroy Civilisation’,  Safe Schools: Education or social engineering?Safe Schools: Malcolm Turnbull requests investigation into program helping LGBTI students, Jill Stark, Safe Schools program: why zealots are trying to drag us back to the dark ages. From that last one:

Imagine being 12 years old and seeing your name scrawled across a school toilet door next to the word “faggot.” Or being beaten up and spat on by a gang of classmates who discovered you were a “tranny.” What if you were kicked out of your football team because you weren’t “masculine” enough?

These are just some of the real life school experiences young people have shared with me over the past few years.

We may pride ourselves on being the country of the “fair go” but in 2016, bullying of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) children remains rife in our schools. It makes the relentless and vicious attacks against a program set up to protect those children even more abhorrent.

As Malcolm Turnbull yesterday caved into his party’s religious right and announced an investigation into the Safe Schools Coalition one thing became clear: we are in the midst of a culture war. And vulnerable children are being used as cannon fodder.

In a Coalition party room meeting on Tuesday, February 23, Senator Cory Bernardi called for the program to be defunded, claiming it was being used to “indoctrinate children into a Marxist agenda of cultural relativism.”…

Now I am such a Marxist, eh! Why only a couple of days ago on this blog I was commending Robert Service’s Comrades: A World History of Communism (2007) to my readers! A Marxist I really am not, but I do embrace diversity as a core aspect of the human condition and commend any society or program that does the same. Hence on Twitter I wrote yesterday: “I totally support #safeschools.” I also retweeted: “RT @JoshThomas87: .@TurnbullMalcolm You’re turning out to be a real shit bloke.” Among others.

First, a really really good idea is to read the actual stuff that Safe Schools offers.

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I think it is brilliant and just wish that it had been there ten to fifteen years back when I was still tutoring and teaching and even on a high school welfare committee. Mind you there have been precursors like Bullying No Way and Racism No Way in NSW….

 

Voting soon — probably on Saturday

If I vote on Saturday I could get a democracy sausage! The queue at our local polling place is not usually too long, so that’s probably what I will do.

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At City Diggers right now, contemplating voting!

I am seriously thinking of voting all choices for the Senate. In NSW that is for 105 candidates, but by voting above the line you need only number 36 boxes (minimum 6). Now my reason for wanting to number 36 is that there are certain groups I want to put last, or close to last. United Australia will be down that end, as I have hardly ever been so annoyed as I have been by the big-spending Clive Palmer and his series of total brain farts that are about as coherent as the random mutterings of drunks in a bar. He says whatever he thinks will get noticed! Come to think of it, the drunks may be better…

I also want to put the lovely Rod Bower really close to the top, after which I will place a major party. No prizes for guessing which one — but I have to say it won’t be the Greens, though they won’t be far down my list.

Meanwhile, there are some very dodgy minor parties. This article is helpful. Samples:

Australian People’s party

A self-described “centrist” party favouring populist economic policies. It says it wants to reduce the cost of living and immigration levels….

Health Australia party

Love Australia or Leave

Rightwing nationalist party calling for an end to the “Islamisation of Australia”, withdrawal from the UN and “the right to bear arms”….

Rise Up Australia party

A far-right and Christian party whose founder, the Pentecostal minister Danny Nalliah, has been a speaker at events organised by the anti-Islamist group Reclaim Australia. The party wants to limit Muslim immigration and also opposes same-sex marriage….

 

 

Horrible twerp visits Cronulla with malicious intent

I refer to Crazy Egging, a carbuncle of the former Senate who wants his pus spread to the lower House in quite a few Queensland electorates and some in NSW, including the PM’s seat of Cook, which includes Cronulla — my home in adolescence and early adulthood. So he visited the other day, and guess what? Violence ensued. “Nothing to do with me,” quoth Egging, perhaps while chilling in a Munich beer hall later on.

I like to think Egging has Buckley’s or none in his malevolent intentions, but…

What was he trying to cash in on? Well, Cronulla 2005, that’s what. Happens I live-blogged at the time: here’s how I started, and note that this is now a long time ago, so links probably don’t work*:

Here are twenty-five sometimes passionate posts written during the Cronulla affair of December 2005. I see this period as something of a watershed for Australian multiculturalism. There will be some links that are no longer viable after two years. See also Four Corners: Riot and Revenge (March 2006).

1. Bad blood boils in the Cronulla stomp – National – smh.com.au: 2005-12-08

This was my first entry on this affair which, with its sequels, attracted an amazing amount of attention during December. For details, go to the December 2005 archive.

Ugly scenes at my old beach.

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When I began teaching at Cronulla High 1965 (prac) and 1966 (appointed), the main street looked like this.

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This is a recent pic, but I recognise it and can almost hear and smell the sea and the Norfolk Island pine trees.

…racial tension resurfaced at the beach when a group of young men started brawling with three locals outside Cronulla’s lifesaving club, then turned on a news photographer as police intervened. Police arrested a 20-year-old man from Riverwood and charged him with smashing the photographer’s camera. They were still looking for the rest of the men last night and said they had not ruled out a link between yesterday’s violence and Sunday’s attack.

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Erika Lamour, 18, was at the beach yesterday when the violence broke out. “I saw a group of ethnic people come down as usual and try to start a fight,” she said. “They always do it. I didn’t actually see the fight. But I saw everyone running towards the club.” Ms Lamour said the gangs that roamed the beach targeted the locals. “They always come down trying to start trouble. It’s the only reason we don’t want to come down, because we know we will get harassed.”

She said she had received an email asking locals to come to the beach this Sunday. “I got an email this morning saying that all the [Sutherland] Shire people should come down on Sunday and we should reclaim the Shire.”

After Sunday’s violence, lifesavers said gangs had been intimidating them and beachgoers in the southern and eastern suburbs for two years. The State Opposition says police cannot respond to the violence quickly enough because they have lost 18 officers in the Cronulla area.

Chief Superintendent Robert Redfern said yesterday’s violence started at 4.20pm when three local youths made a comment to a group of about six Middle Eastern-looking men at the beach. The comment sparked a fight. “As a result of the fight, one of the males coming off the beach received a cut to the face and some bruising,” he said.

Detective Inspector Steve O’Grady said one of the men involved in the fight had left the beach before police arrived. He said tensions were still high when they got there.

Worth highlighting that couple of sentences, though this is not to deny that the “usual suspects” often act out their own stereotypes only too well. Or some groups within their communities do; probably most do not. Testosterone too has a lot to answer for, as well as, perhaps even more than, culture. Judging from ABC Radio 702 this morning, the police do seem to be handling things well now and the locals would be well advised to leave it to the police.

Judge for yourselves the email doing the rounds in Sutherland Shire. And here is what a right-wing piece of shit does with the story. This one is more balanced, from a girl who is a lifesaver at Elouera, “300m walk tops” from North Cronulla. But one cannot help sympathising with Larissa:

Tuesday, December 6

This is just disgusting.

These guys volunteer to help keep people safe. They give up their free time to make sure no one in their local community gets injured and also give up their lives to save people like these louts.

As someone who’s grown up in Cronulla it angers me that people come and do this.

Don’t bring your sort of lifestyle to our area, just because you’re bored with yours mean you should do that here. Either play nicely or stay away.

Mind you, there have been earlier, and worse, incidents, such as this one reported in NSW Hansard in February 2001.

[Cronulla] is an outpost, an area where the population increases dramatically during the summer. As my correspondent has said, there is gang activity. On Thursday 15 February the Commissioner of Police was interviewed on radio by John Stanley. The transcript of that interview reads, in part:

John Stanley: And your problem is, if you sent more police to Cabramatta, they would be taken from areas like Cronulla, where we had all those calls last week about that gang problem, that I think you are aware of. These people are coming in from other parts of Sydney, into Cronulla and are causing big problems there.

Commissioner Ryan: They are causing huge problems there.

One of those huge problems occurred two days after Christmas. Following a dispute at a Sutherland nightclub, a gang of 30 Lebanese Australian males arrived at Cronulla railway station with baseball bats, iron bars, knives and guns. They open fired on a rival gang, spraying more than 20 bullets over a 50-metre area. Such behaviour and activity are totally foreign. The Premier would be aware of the writings of a former New York senator, Patrick Daniel Moynihan. Back in the 1960s he wrote an essay entitled “Defining Deviancy Down”. That summarises these appalling standards of behaviour. Previously, this incident would have made headlines all over Sydney…

Mr George: Throughout New South Wales.

Mr KERR: Indeed, throughout New South Wales, but it did not because it is so commonplace. The mayor of Sutherland shire wants surveillance cameras, and there is no reason why the council cannot put surveillance cameras in the places sought by the mayor, although the problem exists throughout the Sutherland shire. The Carr Government has failed in its basic responsibility to maintain an orderly society and should therefore make a financial contribution towards the cost of the cameras. On behalf of the people of the Sutherland shire I ask the mayor to indicate when those cameras will be installed in Cronulla.

While I freely admit that troubling, troubled, and trouble-making (and usually virulently homophobic) groups of “middle eastern appearance” are an unlovely feature of Sydney life, it is very important to keep a sense of proportion on this: see Tunnel Vision: The Politicising Of Ethnic Crime by Paola Totaro (2003) for such a perspective. For much more detailed argument, see (PDF file) Scott Poynting Living with Racism: The experience and reporting by Arab and Muslim Australians of discrimination, abuse and violence since 11 September 2001 (2004).

It should be noted that, in the ideology of racism, categorical confusions between ‘race’ (eg ‘Middle Eastern Appearance’), ethnicity (eg Arab), nationality of origin or background (eg Lebanese), and religion (eg Muslim) are common, and distinction in practice between racism directed on ‘racial’, ethnic, or national grounds is not always possible or valid. This is all the more problematic currently, for over about the last decade, especially since panics from 1998 over ‘ethnic gangs’, over ‘race rapes’ in Sydney in 2000-2001, and asylum seekers and then the terror attacks from 2001, we have seen the emergence of we might call ‘the Arab Other’ as the pre-eminent folk devil in contemporary Australia (Poynting, Noble, Tabar and Collins, 2004). The links that are made between these events, the ‘perpetrators’ involved and their perceived communities, depend on the racist imagining of a supposedly homogenous category which includes those of Arab or Middle Eastern or Muslim background. This is not a singular category, of course — it includes people from diverse ancestries and with very distinct histories — but it is seen to be a singular category. A common factor is found through blaming whole communities for criminal acts, but also in labelling as ‘deviant’ certain actions — such as seeking asylum — and a range of other practices whose key feature is their visible and threatening difference — such as building a prayer centre (Dunn, 2001).

The extent to which the categories of race, ethnicity (culture) and religion are conflated in the ‘common sense’ of racism* is an aspect which needs to be studied, especially in as much as it determines the scope of legislation and the targeting of anti-racist initiatives and resources…

Poynting’s long article has much to commend it, including some disturbing personal stories.

I rather think people in The Shire, not being all that stupid, will give Egging the bum’s rush when it comes to the vote! Nice if he scored zero, but failing that let his candidate — whoever the goose is — fail to get his deposit back! For once I have to say, “Go Scomo!”