Thursday, 4 October 2007

Playing the Race Card

Dear fellow blogger, it was disappointing yesterday to find our esteemed minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Mr Kevin Andrews, playing the race card in an issue relating to Sudanese refugees.

Taking a lead from Pauline Hanson who has been rabbiting on about African refugees, but not getting a lot of media, he has quoted “anecdotal” reports of Sudanese gangs on Melbourne streets, and using this as a rationale for reducing the component of Sudanese in the mix of refugees to be accepted in the future. This has probably earned the coalition some votes from the redneck constituency.

A statement from the Victorian Police Commissioner pointing out that their crime statistics aren’t showing this has been brushed off using quotes from an unnamed beat cop who has made a vague reference to Sudanese moving around in groups. They do the same in Toowoomba, and because they’re physically very striking (very tall and very dark), they stand out. The fact that they don’t get up to anything whilst in these groups is apparently neither here nor there.

Our local experience, with which I have some familiarity through my parish, has been generally very positive. Sure they need help in settling in, but I’ve always considered that this was typical of refugees, and that a compassionate society would offer this help.

Andrews argues that the Sudanese have difficulty adjusting to the Australian community because of the experiences they’ve been through prior to coming to Australia. What a surprise! I’d assume that this would make them more deserving.

Apart from his limited capacity to bumble his way through the more challenging aspects of his portfolio, Mr Andrews is demonstrating a complete lack of anything resembling compassion. I guess that “mean and tricky” is a box to be ticked to ensure a ministerial position in Howard’s cabinet.

Kevin Andrews has the appropriate qualification.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Dear Tom

Fellow blogger, our household has two Fords, both pretty new, so we get lots of letters from Ford Australia. In August, a letter came personally addressed, explaining Ford’s plans for the future in light of the planned closure of the Geelong engine plant. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to respond. This is the ensuing correspondence. I hope it’s interesting –

Tom Gorman
Ford Motor Company of Australia Limited
Private Mail Bag 6
Campbellfield Vic 3061
Dear Tom
Thank you for your letter of 31 July 2007, setting out your company's plans for the future. I note your reference to our Australian heritage, a heritage that my family has been proud to support.
My father served in the RAAF in New Guinea in World War two, and I did a tour of duty in Vietnam in 1970 as an infantry soldier in 7 RAR.
Recently, the Federal government instituted a set of industrial laws that put our Australian ethos of a Fair Go in jeopardy.
Because protection for employees has been removed it now falls to corporations to accept responsibility to keep these employees safe. As a result, I have resolved to deal only with organizations that treat their employees with dignity and fairness. This means that when I have to make a decision about a relatively large purchase (motor vehicles) from any corporation, I take this into account.
Accordingly, I would appreciate it if you can provide answers to the following questions regarding your employment practices, before I make a decision to continue do business with the Ford Motor Company of Australia.
1. Have you taken advantage of the new industrial relations laws to do away with
employee award provisions?
2. Are any of your employees on AWA's?
I have purchased a number of Ford motor vehicles over the years, and will continue to do so long as Ford treats its employees well. My future purchases will depend on this.
Yours in justice and fairness

And Tom’s reply……….
Ford Motor Company of Australia Limited
1735 Sydney Road Campbellfield. Victoria 3061
I refer to your letter to Tom Gorman in which you raised questions regarding our employment practices.
In 2006 the company negotiated a new enterprise (collective) agreement with its 5 unions. This Agreement took almost 6 months to negotiate and was considered a success by both the company and the unions. We expect it will become a template for other agreements in the Automotive Industry.
Employees at Ford are either employed under the collective agreement or a common law contract.
Thank you for your enquiry and may you enjoy many more Ford miles/kilometres.

Yours sincerely

Peter Doyle
Vice President Human Resources
Ford Motor Company Australia
cc. Tom Gorman, President, Ford Motor Company Australia The Manager, Southern Cross Ford, Toowoomba Graham Barry, Regional Manager, Ford Northern Region
Copy to: The Manager, Southern Cross Ford, Toowoomba

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

The tryanny of time and distance

Working as I do in remote and rural schools, I’m in a position to feel the pulse of the bush. At the moment it’s beating as strongly as ever despite the drought and anger about council amalgamations.

The quality of life for bushies has, on the face of it, improved a great deal with the advent of better communications and more efficient transport systems, but in so many ways the bush is discriminated against.

Imagine, for example, that you have a child with a disability in the bush. The dearth of allied health services creates a situation for many families where they have to make hard decisions about staying put, or moving off their properties because their child isn’t getting the required level of support.

These people are taxpayers the same as everyone else, but they receive a fraction of the services, both in terms of quality and choice, available to their city cousins.

This is a major issue in Queensland, the most decentralised state.

The significant infrastructure decisions, those that impact on people in the bush, are generally made by bureaucrats who have their homes and lives in the city. This phenomenon persists irrespective of politics, as all the senior bureaucrats with the real clout live in the city.

I have a simple and effective solution – declare Longreach the state capital.

Why Longreach? Well basically because it’s almost at the geographical centre.

Imagine the difference it would make to decision-making if all the Directors General, all the Ministerial Advisers, and the Governor had a postcode of 4730.

The politicians could please themselves, but they would at least have a Longreach residence during parliamentary sittings.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Daylight Raving

Once again, the daylight saving debate is being given a workout.
I'm not sure where the push is coming from, but it has a white shoe flavour to it.

I spent about five years in Mount Isa, arriving there well after an abortive DLS trail. The locals were still telling tales of going for walks at 9 o'clock at "night" wearing hats and sunscreen. Teachers talked about schools full of cranky kids who hadn't had enough sleep. The hotter the weather, the crankier the kids and their parents.

The proponents typically live in the South-East corner, and I'm not sure that they have much knowledge of geography outside this corner. Queensland is pretty big. It's about 1500km at its widest point measured from Peoppel Corner to Sandy Cape. Mount Isa is further to the west than Melbourne. Cairns is due north of Canberra.

If the difference in time zones is such an issue for the commercial world, that sector can make the necessary adjustments in terms of how they organise their businesses. Leave schools, families and kids out of it.

We are fortunate in Queensland to already enjoy plenty of sunshine. If it ain't broke............

Hugh White - Without America

Hugh White is always provocative, and doesn't pull any punches when it comes to criticising current defence policy. In 1995, he was appo...