Posted: March 11, 2013 at 1:31 pm | Tags: Christianity, equal marriage, lgbtiq, media, politics, Religion
So today Abbott has come out saying that he’s a changed man, that he’s grown and changed (recently) and that we shouldn’t judge him by comments he made 35 years ago. Ok, sure, I won’t judge Tony Abbott for comments he made 35 years ago, back when he was a dick, I’ll judge him for comments he’s said far more recently than that, which still show he’s still a dick.
Harsh you might say, but I note he hasn’t actually come out distancing himself from those far more recent comments. Let’s look at today’s news across the spectrum of news agencies.
First the ABC:
Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says he can guarantee that his religious views will not impact on policies about women.
The Liberal leader has also backtracked from his previous views on homosexuals and saying the numbers of abortions each year is a “legacy of unutterable shame”.
“I didn’t express it as well as I could have or should have,” Mr Abbott said.
“And I absolutely accept that for any woman facing an unexpected pregnancy, the choices are tough.”
“Faith is important to me. It’s important to millions of Australians. It helps to shape who I am. It helps to shape my values,” he said.
“But it must never, never dictate my politics. Judge me by what the considered view today is, not by throwaway lines and off-hand comments 35 years ago.”
Mr Abbott, who as student politician at Sydney University opposed gay rights, also said he no longer has the strong views on homosexuality he used to.
In the interview Mr Abbott reaffirmed his opposition to gay marriage.
Ok, so from the ABC report, we know that the choices women have when dealing with unexpected pregnancies are tough, but there is no mention of any new Coalition policies towards the decriminalisation of abortion. Abbott has also said that although his faith is important, it won’t dictate his politics, asking that we don’t judge him by his dickish comments 35 years ago. He hasn’t, as I said earlier, repudiated his comments over the past 11 years, many of which suggest that his politics are deeply influenced by this faith. He also said that his “strong views on homosexuality” have changed, but he still opposes marriage equality. Which suggests that although he might now think that the queer community are ok, he isn’t all for equal rights.
Additional information from news.com includes:
Mr Abbott reflected on the now-famous speech by Prime Minister Julia Gillard attacking him as a misogynist.
“It wasn’t fair and it wasn’t true,” he said.
He said he had said things in the past which he wouldn’t say today, and believed in things that he did not believe now.
“I have changed and I like to think I have grown,” he said.
His views on homosexuality have also changed and he now warmly accepts his sister Christine Forster as a lesbian, after she left her marriage of 19 years to be with her new partner Virginia.
So which things has Abbott changed his mind on? The news articles, and I’m guessing also from the content the 60 Minutes interview, he has just said he’s changed his mind and hasn’t actually enunciated what he’s changed his minds on. No, I’m not going to watch 60 Minutes and listen to Abbott’s voice to determine whether he’s been clear on what he’s changed his mind on precisely, if there was anything substantial it would be reported on in the media such as:
TONY ABBOTT SUPPORTS MARRIAGE EQUALITY
ABBOTT SUPPORTS ABORTION DECRIMINALISATION
As none of these things were reported, I think it’s yet another sound bite in the vain attempt to make Abbott seem like a decent individual.
And truly, it is so heart warming that he STILL LOVES HIS OWN SISTER even though she has come out as a lesbian. When I read that, my heart swelled fit to bursting and the stars shone brighter than ever before. What type of monster would Abbott be if he actually disowned his sister or stated he couldn’t stand his sister’s decision to live her life true to herself? That wouldn’t be politically wise, so despite leaving her high and dry in that she cannot marry her new partner or anyone else of the same sex, saying that he “warmly accepts” his sister really is the barest minimum he can do.
And from The Age:
He also stated that earlier comments condemning abortion were poorly stated and admitted that his opposition to homosexuals had changed once he had got to know gays.
Supported by his lesbian sister, her lover, his wife Margie and his daughters, Mr Abbott said that when he claimed three years ago during a television interview that he felt “a bit threatened” by homosexuals, he had been trying to guard a family secret.
He had only just been told by his sister that she was a lesbian.
“Now I couldn’t talk about that then because it was deeply personal and deeply private,” he said.
“But certainly, they were very tough times for our family, hence my comment, because the cohesion of our family was threatened at that time. But I’m pleased to say that we’re all in a better space now than we were then.”
Interviewed at a family barbecue at his Sydney home, Mr Abbott’s sister, Christine Forster, said he had been “completely unfazed” when she told him that she was in a lesbian relationship after 19 years married to a man.
Mr Abbott, who has always insisted marriage was between a man and a woman, even appeared to hold open the vague possibility of a future policy change by his party on same-sex marriage.
So Abbott is attempting to have it both ways, being “completely unfazed” when his sister outed herself to him, and also that “the cohesion of [his] family was threatened at that time” – though granted without context that could be in relation to another issue that had nothing to do with his sister. The way it is reported however, makes it look like he didn’t react well to his sister coming out as a lesbian, but then he got over himself – well done Abbott – you’re a mostly decent human.
And it shouldn’t take you getting to know some “gays” before your attitude to them changes to acknowledging their equal citizenship and humanity. Accepting that the broader queer community is make up of regular every day people is a no-brainer, except if you are a fundamentalist Christian who is happier to deny the humanity of your fellow citizens than to question what you have been taught.
Until I see some policy changes from Abbott which genuinely indicates that he’s shifted from his known ultraconservative views to what he is now claiming to be, I don’t accept his claims that he’s grown and changed into a decent individual, and that the Liberal Party is even remotely something I could vote for in the future.
Posted: September 7, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Tags: community, politics, Religion
I don’t have a problem with religious groups fund-raising amongst their parishioners to purchase land and build places to worship. I even think it’s really nice when several different religious groups get together and share facilities that they’ve jointly organised/leased, or even if one group owns it but is sharing because they believe it’s the right thing to do.
I do have a bit of a problem however when my Government decides to set aside some land for the use of religion, particularly when the residents of the area were far more interested in having a school provided than a place of worship. In today’s Age:
Planning Minister Matthew Guy has announced a prime government-owned site in Docklands will be provided for a place of worship. This is despite a community plan released by the government and Melbourne City Council in July listing a ”public primary school in or very near Docklands” in the top six priorities. A place of worship did not make the top six.
Now I don’t care that much for Docklands, I find it currently a soulless void (nothing to do with religion, a lot to do with there not being much I’m interested in there currently), but that’s now… In 5 years it could be the place to be, and this “prime government-owned” land could be put to far better use than to “save souls”. A community centre (secular) and a school are two purposes I could see being incredibly useful. I think the area is also lacking a doctor and a chemist, so looking after the physical health of the residents, and their education of any children living there would be far more useful.
So why is the Docklands getting government provided religious facilities?
Mr Guy said Docklands deserved a place of worship. ”Places of worship play an important role in the spiritual and emotional life of a community. They can be a critical focal point, particularly for a new suburb such as Docklands, in bringing people together,” Mr Guy said.
You know what else brings people together? Schools and community centres. They tend to bring more people together because they exist outside religion – which tends to be a group of semi-exclusionary clubs. People bond over taking their children to schools, and community centres tend to host communal events and provide spaces for various groups to get together on common interests. Community centres and schools also tend have some green space, something which is really lacking at Docklands, which is a great thing for a community. Imagine a school or community centre with a communal garden? In the land of apartments, I am sure that there would be many who would love that.
Mr Guy goes on to add:
”A new religious centre will provide significant community benefit bringing faith as well as education and training facilities for the Dockland’s community and emerging businesses.”
I’m currently at a loss, other than clearly providing education in the religion of the person providing instruction, what other education and training facilities would benefit the community and emerging businesses that wouldn’t be provided by a school or community centre – which might I add do not require people to be of a particular faith to participate in.
[UPDATE: I have been advised by someone who knows Docklands better than I that there is already a community centre in the Docklands area called The Hub (as I understand it). This also has creche facilities. This said, there are plenty of places of worship in Melbourne CBD (not covering all religions but many), but no schools.
Posted: July 10, 2012 at 10:35 pm | Tags: asylum seekers, Christianity, media, migration, politics, privilege, racism, Religion
Tony Abbott said the following today (in the Australian, article titled: Abbott slams boatpeople as un-Christian*)
TONY Abbott yesterday claimed boatpeople were acting in an un-Christian manner by “coming through the back door” and should not be encouraged to “jump the queue” with people-smugglers.
Asked on ABC Perth radio why his attitude to asylum-seekers was unchristian, the Opposition Leader responded: “I don’t think it’s a very Christian thing to come in by the back door rather than the front door.
“And I’m all in favour of Australia having a healthy and compassionate refugee and humanitarian intake program.
“I think that’s a good thing. But I think the people we accept should be coming the right way and not the wrong way.
“If you pay a people-smuggler, if you jump the queue, if you take yourself and your family on a leaky boat, that’s doing the wrong thing, not the right thing, and we shouldn’t encourage it.”
Posted: October 12, 2011 at 9:57 pm | Tags: Government, Immigration, politics
Not government policy about Immigration, and all that entails, but the Department itself, the workplace I spent 15 years of my working life in, the Department in which I developed as an individual, learnt a lot of interesting and worthwhile things, and made a great number of friends.
Because when Immigration is demonised, I was demonised, my colleagues were demonised, and really it was rather shit. So why not demonise an entire Department of people? So glad you asked…
Immigration as an institution of people was significantly less racist than general society, and was one of the more diverse government departments (according to data I read from somewhere when I was there). It was important in Immigration as to where our clients came from, because then we could assist with interpreters, etc, but otherwise their origin was unimportant overall. Yes the world was divided into non-citizens, and Australian residents and citizens, but that was the nature of the job. The world was not divided into white and non-white, but along lines of visa eligibility (for example some nations could obtain Electronic Travel Authorities – which are a simple visitor visa to Australia, and others could not. Again not based on white or non-white lines).
When it comes down to it, the people you’d want to be working with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, are the ones that actually are. Many of my colleagues were left-leaning, socialist, caring souls who wanted the best outcome for the client. They were satisfied that, for the most part, if they made a mistake, or if a client’s situation changed, there were review mechanisms in place to look at the case again.
Let’s use an example. I had a group of clients from Kazakhstan apply for Protection Visas. Based on the country information at that time, I refused their applications as they did not meet the definition of a refugee as outlined by the United Nations Convention on Refugees. Between the time I decided their application and the time their review was finalised the situation in Kazakhstan had changed dramatically, meaning that some of them were found to be refugees.
That safety net, the ability to know that the decision I made would be (most times if rejected) reviewed made my job easier. Things which didn’t make my job easier were being demonised for working for Immigration; dealing with stories of torture, trauma, rape, and loss; a department that was becoming increasingly risk averse; and my own lack of good judgement about how many extra-curricular roles I could take on as well as my full time job.
The people who work at Immigration are great people doing a difficult job. Like all Government departments and agencies, their role is to implement Government policy. Believe me, when they don’t agree with that policy, they let those who need to know, know. My former colleagues are a rather bolshy lot and will speak up and explain exactly why X or Y is a bad idea. Whether they are listened to is a different issue of course. A number of times when I was still working for Immigration draft policy was sent for comment, and we were given the opportunity to shred it, which if it needed to be, we would. Our comments were often taken into account, and I know of several occasions where policy was withdrawn on the basis of the comments that were made.
Disagreeing with Government policy is all well and good, disagreeing with individual visa decisions is also fine, slamming an entire organisation because of Government policy or a visa decision – not so good. Really, with all Government departments, you want the best people possible to work there. The salary is not great, though in many cases the conditions are, and the people there are attempting to provide good outcomes for people. Suggesting that all Immigration employees are facists, racists, or any other epithet you think is a great one to hurl at Immigration hurts those that work there, and does nothing to change Government policy.
If you don’t like the policy of the Government of the day, talk to them, get a lobby group together, write to your local MP, attend meetings and forums where you can be heard, but don’t demonise those who are doing their jobs and who actually want the best outcome for their clients.
Posted: July 4, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Tags: Christianity, letters, lgbtiq, politics, Religion
I am related by marriage to the newly elected Democratic Labour Party senator for Victoria. This is not a happy thing. I wrote him a letter:
Posted: June 5, 2011 at 10:19 pm | Tags: differences, Feminism, media, politics
From The Age today I found the following two articles which just staggered me. The first is about train level crossings, titled “Liberal Seats Gets Crossing Priority“:
A TRANSPORT Department list of the most dangerous railway level crossings has been ignored by the Baillieu government, which has instead directed millions of dollars towards upgrading crossings in Liberal-held seats.
Well thank the FSM that the Baillieu government has it’s priorities sorted out. It’s much more about rewarding those who voted this current government in, and far less about saving the lives of Victorians. I mean really, I should have guessed, it’s quite obvious when you think about it… no wait, it’s not.
The second is about female representation on government boards, titled “Ballieu wants more women on boards“:
THE Baillieu government has adopted a target to have women filling at least half of all positions on state boards, but has ruled out imposing quotas because ”positive discrimination” won’t always lead to the best person being picked for the job.
The Coalition has adopted a statewide target to get women into 50 per cent of government board positions, which are often regarded as a stepping stone to senior roles in the corporate sector, where women are largely under-represented.
”Targets can be very effective because it focuses the mind in making sure women are actively considered, and that their merit is taken seriously … rather than say, ‘well this spot has to go to a woman instead of the best person for the job’,” Ms Wooldridge told The Sunday Age.
I considered blogging about this when the last discussion of women on boards hit the airwaves, but I ran out of time and energy and brain. Positive discrimination/Affirmative Action/whatever you’re going to call it does have it’s place. Because if your colleagues on any given board are male, then actually thinking outside that typically “white male is the best for the job” box is rather hard. And if you are presented with two equally qualified candidates, one male, one female, then far too often the individual selected is the same as the rest of the make-up of the board – which in Australia is generally white men.
So why not put a quota in place? It won’t hurt, it will give you good quality candidates that you didn’t think of to start with, and if it all falls into a heap, then you can reverse it. Ah, the joys of being able to change your mind.
Posted: March 14, 2011 at 11:50 pm | Tags: earthquake, Japan, politics, prejudice, privilege, thoughts, USA, WTF
When I came home on Friday night and found my husband (husband 2 for ease of reference) watching footage of the tsunami in Japan, I was horrified by the sheer devastation. I had been out drinking decadent (and delicious) hot chocolate with my husband (husband 1), my girlfriend and a dear friend after work and gym, and generally having a fantastic evening.
I stood behind my husband (number 2) and watched the tsunami, listened to the news reports, and watched in dumb horror the destruction occurring to my brothers and sisters to the north (and in winter when everything is going to be so very very cold).
As it happens, my husband (number 1) and I had organised to travel to his brother’s 50th on Saturday, and so that morning piled into the car to drive to Albury for the party. We stayed at a gorgeous B&B, went to the party (and my FIL didn’t upset me even once – a new record!), travelled home via a friend’s place (where we had tea, scones and deep and meaningful conversations) and eventually got home Sunday night (thank the FSM for Labour Day in Victoria).
On return I turned on my PC and started talking to my sister, while catching up with the news and finding out how much worse the devastation of Japan was. She shared two links with me, the first a collection of quotes from arsehats suggesting that aid should not be sent to Japan because Japan had bombed Pearl Harbour – or that the earthquake was return karma for bombing Pearl Harbour. Now for everyone who doesn’t have a grasp of World War 2 history (because clearly that isn’t important to some people), the Japanese did not start WW2, and the US retaliated for the bombing of Pearl Harbour with the ATOMIC bombing of two CIVILIAN cities (not military targets) – an actual war crime. So if Japan was to be paid back in any kind of karma for Pearl Harbour, that nuclear bombing certainly was it and then some.
The whole karma payback for Pearl Harbour thing is also incredibly US-centric. It certainly doesn’t address anything other grievance that other nations may have with Japan, and given some of the atrocities that occurred during WW2, there are certainly the potential for a lot of that.
The second site my sister shared with me was Karma Japan, a site that started collecting racist and bigoted commentary from Twitter mostly regarding the earthquake in Japan. Many people apparently suggested that Japan deserved an earthquake because they killed dolphins and whales. Clearly every other nation that kills dolphins and whales doesn’t deserve earthquakes and tsunamis. Karma Japan has also published positive commentary from those who are condemning bigotry and racism, and provides counter argument to the hate and ignorance.
My favourite article of all on the earthquake and tsunami that has hit Japan (yes I am serious) is this from The Age, “World Rushes Aid to Japan“. I am happily stunned by the generosity of past enemies and poor nations (well provinces) towards Japan in her hour of need. In summary:
- China’s Red Cross pledged one million yuan ($A150,000) to its Japanese counterpart
- The Afghan province of Kandahar announced $A50,000 in aid
I feel that I am unable to even grasp the magnitude of this event (and the aftershocks and the possible nuclear meltdown). It’s going to take Japan a long time to recover and rebuild, just as it will take Christchurch a long time to recover and rebuild. I wish there was more I could do other than donate money to the Red Cross.
Posted: March 6, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Tags: democracy, Liberate, Libya, politics, USA, violence
It always struck me as incongruous that democracy (and not demoncracy which I usually typo) has been imposed on so many sovereign states through Western Imperialism (mostly the US). The most recent examples are Iraq and Afghanistan, but there is a lovely trail of US led, Western imperialism, democracy imposition (the right type of democracy) in other nations, such as Vietnam and South America.
It’s always seemed really odd that you can invade another nation, tell them that they’re doing government wrong, and then hang around while they do it to your standards (and I’m not a fan of US democracy anyway). How can you impose democracy? Isn’t that an oxymoron?
What has struck me about the past month and a bit is the both the people’s uprisings in northern Africa and parts of the Middle East, and the uncertainty of the US and back-footed response of the UN. Clearly the US had vested interests in the various regimes as they were. Egypt’s Mubarak was a useful ally, so little attention to was given to human rights violations or the wishes of the Egyptian citizens. Yemen is an ally in “the war on terror”, so the current regime has been propped up using rhetoric that Al-Qaeda is based in Yemen (it may or may not be, I don’t know). Libya is different again, with a great friend in Italy, and defrosting relationships with much of Europe – though I don’t think anyone expected Gadaffi to go quite off the rails the way he has.
I’m in awe of the courage that the regular people in Libya, Tunisia, Bahrain, Egypt, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Algeria, and Morocco (list may not be exhaustive), are displaying as they take on their regimes, as they watch their fellow countrymen be beaten, killed or arrested, for standing up and demanding a better say, less corruption, and more rights than they currently have. I’m honoured to be able to hear their stories and watch them fight for democracy. I’m amazed at how technology is being used for good (and not just for spying on citizens).
I am living in an amazing time, and I hope that my brothers and sisters who are fighting for democracy get everything they want, that the civil war in Libya ends quickly and that further violence is minimised.
Posted: January 1, 2011 at 10:54 pm | Tags: Australia, politics, rights, USA, WTF
The US Navy has finally decided to ban smoking on their submarines because the risks of second hand smoke are “severe”.
The US Navy is banning its crews from smoking aboard submarines, after a study found the risks of second-hand smoke were severe.
Submarine Forces Commander Vice-Admiral John Donnelly ordered the ban aboard 73 US subs, citing health concerns.
”Recent testing has proven that, despite our atmosphere purification technology, there are unacceptable levels of secondhand smoke in the atmosphere of a submerged submarine,” he said. (The Age)
Seriously? What year do they think it is? The dangers of second-hand smoke have been known for quite a long time, and surely the Navy would be far more interested in having their soldiers at peak physical fitness instead of craving nicotine or suffering the effects of second hand smoke.
The US appears to be a much different beast when it comes to smoking than Australia, which started banning workplace smoking in the mid 1980s. According to Wikipedia:
Although Congress has not attempted to enact a general nationwide federal smoking ban in workplaces, several federal regulations do concern indoor smoking. Effective April 1998, smoking is banned by the United States Department of Transportation on all commercial passenger flights in the United States, and/or by American air carriers. On August 9, 1997, President Bill Clinton issued Executive Order 13058, banning smoking in all interior spaces owned, rented, or leased by the Executive Branch of the Federal Government, as well as in any outdoor areas under executive branch control near air intake ducts.
Which I thought would have included spaces used by the Navy, which is part of the Executive Branch of the US Federal Government. Remind me not to take my smoke-free workplaces for granted or to travel in a submarine any time soon. I value my lungs, throat and mouth… and love not stinking of cigarette smoke after a night out on the town these days. I’m a happy non-smoker and user of smoke free places.
Posted: December 18, 2010 at 10:19 pm | Tags: boat people, politics
The recent tragedy on Christmas Island is beyond words. My sympathies are with the families who are mourning those who did not survive. This post is written because of what has been said since they arrived and their boat disintegrated with some dying and others surviving heavily traumatised, and in a very small way I hope that some people read it and realise that kicking the boat people football is a very bad game.
Unsurprisingly, the recent tragedy has brought out the usual political pundits, kicking the ball all over the place, blaming the Government for the tragedy (both the executive and the legislative arms) and suggesting that as the Labour Government overturned the previous Liberal Government’s Pacific Solution, that they’re responsible for boats arriving to Australia, and that Customs, AFP, Immigration and/or Defence should have known that the boat was nearby (despite the weather and sea playing interference with radar, and the sheer size of territory they’re responsible for monitoring – press release via another website here).
Let’s start with the latter point because it’s fairly simple to address – and I’ve pretty much done so with the fact that a small wooden boat, in high (near monsoonal) seas is going to be hard to spot. Let’s not also Public Service bash, which is nice and easy with a big conglomerate of faceless individuals, but as a former Immigration staffer, I can tell you that most Public Servants I worked with were left leaning, compassionate and dedicated human beings. The type of people you’d actually want making the tough decisions that get made.