"For the pain, suffering and hurt of these stolen generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry. To the mothers and fathers, the brothers and sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry."
February 14, 2008: As Prime Minister Kevin Rudd moved to "to remove a great stain from the nation's soul" yesterday, many Australians are disappointed over the motion to say Sorry to the Stolen Generations...
According to some media outlets, many Australians did not welcome Kevin Rudd's apology yesterday. Following the Prime Minister's landmark apolgy speech, talkback switchboards and internet servers went crazy, and thousands rang or logged on to register their disagreement at the new direction.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that misinformed Sydney talkback callers described the morning's events as "political correctness gone mad" and asked why it was an apology for "them and not us". In a display of rage and ignorance, one caller declared: "I'm disgusted... he [Rudd] makes out that we've done nothing but destroy this country." a caller to Alan Jones said.
"Is he ashamed that we defended this nation against Japan? Will he say 'sorry' to the people who died defending this nation in the wars? What about them?"
Sydney shock-jock Alan Jones (also known as the parrot) pushed the view of Keith Windschuttle, who denies the validity of the "Stolen Generations". "Yes, there was a piece of nonsense and obnoxious policy in Western Australia in 1936. But over 99 per cent of them were untouched by this political stupidity," Jones said. "...Many of the children who were taken were welfare cases ...they were malnourished and mistreated."
In one online poll 36 per cent were in favour of the apology and 64 per cent against, while another had the number at 44 in favour to 56 opposed. "It shows that the average Australian in the street is not in favour of what our leaders are doing," the leader of the racist Australia First Party, Dr Jim Saleam, said.
"We were not responsible for these policies - we weren't even there. I think most people see that simple logic."
In Canberra, outspoken right-wing politician Wilson (Ironbar) Tuckey, marched out of parliament before the apology, saying it would do little for Aborigines. "Tomorrow, there'll be no petrol sniffing, tomorrow, little girls can sleep in their beds without any concern - it's all fixed, the Rudd spin will fix it all," Tuckey quipped.
Tuckey recitied louder than anyone the Lord's Prayer as Prime Minister Rudd rose to speak. "I thought there was a better chance for the Aboriginal people if I said a prayer on their behalf and relied on the efforts of a higher being because I have no confidence whatsoever that Kevin Rudd is going to do anything for them," Mr Tuckey said today. Other Liberals rustled paper in dissent and read throughout Rudd's speech - ex-Treasurer Peter Costello tapped on a laptop computer.
West Australian politician Don Randall also refused the apology, and Victorian Sophie Mirabella, was also missing. Mirabella later released a statement saying it is better for Indigenous children to be raised away from their families. She also said there is no evidence the Stolen Generations ever happened in Victoria.
Former Northern Territory chief minister and Liberal Party president Shane Stone said: "I am not big on being welcomed to someone's country or parliaments being opened by a smoking ceremony or dancing blackfellas. I have on occasion been known to be outspoken on indigenous affairs and individuals, having once referred to Galarrwuy Yunupingu as 'just another whingeing, whining, carping black'..." In the Australian he wrote: "Our indigenous people are among the most disadvantaged Australians, beset with monumental health, education, housing and employment problems. Whose fault is it? Does that really matter?"
Yet Stone, in the spirit of the occasion also declared that: "I am sorry for what has happened in the past to our indigenous people and for what continues to this day. I hope that we will all accept responsibility for our own actions and failings and as one people work together to make this country a better place for all Australians. .."
In the outback town of Bourke NSW, many white Australians also opposed apology. "I don't think we should be apologising because it wasn't our generation that stole them," one woman said. "I don't think there's a country in the world that has not been settled under similar circumstances," another woman said.
Meanwhile, opposition frontbencher Tony Abbott declared ex-PM John Howard did more for indigenous people than any other prime minister. But Howard was the only living former prime minister absent from yesterday's parliamentary apology to Australia's indigenous peoples. He refused to say sorry to the stolen generations while in office between 1996 and 2007.
Representatives of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra say the apology will mean little if the Government fails to recognise Aboriginal sovereignty. Tent Embassy spokeswoman Isabelle Coe says while the apology is a start, the next step is signing a treaty recognising Aboriginal sovereignty.
Tom Calma, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, said the day was not about guilt but about belonging, not just for the stolen generations but for all Australians. "Let the healing of the nation begin."
The Daily Telegraph
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
October 12, 2007 - After over a decade of refusing to apologise to Aboriginal Australians over their ongoing horrific treatment, Prime Minister John Howard has boldly admitted his own failure to recognise the "importance of symbolism" in healing the rift.
"My goal is to see a new Statement of Reconciliation incorporated into the preamble of the Australian Constitution. If elected, I would commit immediately to working in consultation with indigenous leaders and others on this task," said Mr Howard.
But Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation say the Prime Minister cannot expect Aboriginal people to accept his proposal to recognise them in the constitution unless he is prepared to make a national apology for past injustices...
Dubbed a racist by many during his reign, Mr Howard says he has changed his views on Indigenous reconciliation. On the eve of a Federal election, he said he now believes there should be a referendum to place a preamble in the federal constitution which recognised Indigenous people's "special" place in the nation.
In his speech to the Sydney Institute, the PM set out his new position - promising that if he wins the election he would bring in a bill to include the preamble statement.
Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR) national director Gary Highland says Mr Howard will need to make peace with Aborigines first. Mr Highland says the success of a constitutional referendum will hinge on the wording of the document and the process through which the words are chosen.
"He will need to make his own peace with Aboriginal people and their leaders if he's to make peace on behalf of the nation," he said. "This will have to be a carefully considered approach. "It will have to be genuinely negotiated with but until we see the process and until we see the specific words that are being proposed its too early to tell whether this will be a positive step that the Prime Minister would hope it is."
Democrats Senator Andrew Bartlett says he is surprised by what appears to be a dramatic change in Mr Howard's attitude to symbolic reconciliation. "He has, with his mantra about practical reconciliation, actually undermined real genuine effective reconciliation, because of his refusal to accept the importance of acknowledgment of past wrongs," he said. "So I'm surprised, but I'm pleasantly surprised. It's not the be all and end all. We still have to fix up some of the other damage that Mr Howard has done."
Reconciliation Australia chief executive Barbara Livesey said there needed to be consultation with Aboriginal people about the proposed change to the preamble. "We've always said that 'sorry' is an important element of the reconciliation process, particularly for members of the stolen generation.
"Another bloody election promise," former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission chairwoman Lowitja O'Donoghue said. "It's not before time, it's what we've fought for, but who believes him? I don't."
Former Labor president and Aboriginal activist Warren Mundine said the announcement was "a bit surprising". "He has been Prime Minister for 11 years now and he is doing this just days before calling an election. He should go the extra step and say sorry," he said.
Mr Howard says he still does not believe the Government should apologise for past injustices.
Speech Extract - The Australian
Posted by antipoet at 10:29 AM
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Posted by antipoet at 10:24 AM
October 10, 2007 - In the wake of his recent decision to allow timber giant Gunns to build their controversial Pulp Mill in Tasmania, Federal Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull has now given approval to the $20 billion Gorgon gas project in Western Australia. Despite staunch criticism from green groups, Turnbull's decision virtually paves the way for the Gorgon oil conglomerates - Shell, Chevron and ExxonMobil to build an LNG plant on Barrow Island, off WA's North West coast.
The island is an A Class nature reserve and environmentalists have argued it should be protected from further development. The WA Carpenter Government recently gave its conditional approval for the project...
Environmental stakeholders say federal approval does not go far enough to protect a fragile island environment exposing it to a massive biosecurity risk - demanding the project should be sited on the mainland, rather than on Barrow island.
Project operator Chevron holds a 50 percent stake in the huge gas field, which is estimated to contain more than 40 trillion cubic feet of gas and has a nominal development life of around 60 years.
Gorgon involves recovering gas from the Gorgon field, Australia's largest known gas resource, near the North West Shelf gas fields. A gas refining and liquid natural gas (LNG) facility will be built on Barrow Island, where Chevron has operated for more than 40 years. The Barrow project is specifically designed around carbon capture and storage from the gas refining process.
Conservation groups have vigorously opposed the project, saying it will threaten endangered species. The WA Environmental Protection Authority also said the project should be blocked to protect the rare flatback turtles, which nest on beaches shared by the proposed plant.
TOXIC LEGACY: Chevron Australia, along with partners ExxonMobil and Shell, says environmental conditions are among the most stringent in the world. Mr Turnbull said the measures built on Chevron's commitment to environmental protection.
However, Chevron's commitment to the environment is currently under question. Chevron is facing an ongoing lawsuit in Ecuador since 2003, which alleges Texaco (now Chevron) dumped more than 68 billion litres of oily wastewater from three decades of drilling. The plaintiffs — 30,000 Amazon Indians and settlers — are seeking $6 billion in damages.
From 1964 to 1992, Texaco drilled for oil in the northern region of the Ecuadorian Amazon, leaving behind 627 open toxic waste pits and other facilities which continue to leak highly toxic waste, affecting more than 30,000 local people.
In the most recent court documents, Chevron faces a massive potential liability for creating levels of toxicity in the rainforest up to thousands of times higher than permitted by Ecuadorian and U.S. law. One soil sample at a Chevron well-site inspected by the Ecuadorian court contained "life-threatening toxins that exceed maximum amounts permitted by U.S. law by 3,250 times."
In 2002, Angola has fined ChevronTexaco Corp $2 million for causing environmental damage. But the company's idea of being green is to launch a $15 million ad campaign touting its greenness while spending a stunning $15 billion buying back its own stock, rather than, say, investing the money in developing new sources of clean energy.
FRAGILE ECOSYSTEM: WA Conservation Council president Chris Tallentire said Barrow Island is a fragile environment which is home to threatened flatback turtles and 21 different species of animals unique to the island. "The government has totally let us down on this one," Mr Tallentire said. He said governments were subsidising the project companies by granting them $60 million to investigate carbon geo-sequestration, to capture and store carbon dioxide produced at the site.
"It's an absolute sham," Mr Tallentire said. "It's totally pathetic, at state and federal levels, the government is subsidising a project which subsequently risks a fragile environment and exposes it to a massive biosecurity risk."
Mr Tallentire said the project should be sited on the mainland, rather than on Barrow island. WWF Australia said the federal government had ignored pleas to locate the project onshore.
"There are no conditions that will ever make Barrow Island, which is one of Australia's oldest and most important nature reserves, an acceptable location for an LNG plant," WWF Australia chief executive Greg Bourne said. "The risks to species found nowhere else in Australia and to the turtles and corals in the surrounding marine environment are simply too great."
WWF says apart from the flatback turtle, other threatened species on Barrow Island include the burrowing bettong, the golden bandicoot and the black-flanked rock wallaby. It is also home to a blind snake, believed to be the only snake in the world that lives entirely underground.
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Angola fines Chevron $2 mln for pollution Rescue Barrow Island website
Posted by antipoet at 10:17 AM
Pauline Hanson congratulates Howard government over racist policy
Oct 7, 2007 - Senate candidate and notorious racist politician Pauline Hanson has congratulated federal Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews on the decision to cut the number of African refugees allowed into Australia. Alongside Mr Andrews, the One Nation founder says refugees carry disease and escalate crime. Pauline Hanson says "you can't bring people into the country who are incompatible with our way of life"...
Unfortunately Ms Hanson is running as an independent Senate candidate in Queensland at the next federal election. Last week Hanson announced her support of Kevin Andrews' decision to cut the intake of African refugees by a third saying Mr Andrews was acting in the national interest.
"I think the Immigration Minister has taken a strong stance with this regard," she said. "I think he is in tune with how the people feel about it and the response that I have had from people through my emails and how they have contacted me over this issue. I think they are making a stance for the wellbeing of Australia. Do you want to see increased crime on our streets? Do you want to see increased violence?" she said. "Do you want to see your daughter or a family member end up with aids or anyone for that matter?"
African community groups have rejected comments by Hanson and the Immigration Minister, that African refugees in Australia have been slow to integrate into the community. The Federation of African Communities Council says the group's lawyers are lodging a complaint of racial discrimination against the Federal Government with the Human Rights Commissioner.
The Minister has been criticised by community and church groups for singling out Africans, whose share of Australia's humanitarian refugee intake has been cut by 40 per cent over the past four years. The minister says he is concerned about race-based gangs, an increase in crime among African youth, and reports of young African men gathering and drinking alcohol in parks at night.
The Human Rights Commissioner has labelled the Federal Government's stance on African refugees as "un-Australian". Commissioner Graham Innes says singling out a particular race goes against Australian values. "I think it is troubling to single out one community or group as not settling and integrating well and it is not the Australian way to deal with refugees," he said. "People shouldn't be treated differently on the basis of race or ethnic origin," Mr Innes said.
The harsh stance taken on immigration by Prime Minister John Howard has been credited with helping him win the past four elections - and there is now an assumption that Andrews' comments were aimed at influencing voters by again raising the "spectre of Australia being overrun".
Prime Minister John Howard's government has benefited from dogwhistle politics over immigration — especially in regional seats in the past.
Hanson supports African refugee reduction
Posted by antipoet at 10:15 AM