Category Archives: politics

Essay: It belong to them, let’s give it back

I submitted this essay for assessment (I got a HD) in the first trimester of last year.  It’s relevant to a twitter conversation so I’m posting it here as submitted.  All errors are mine.

Essay question:

Please research and critically discuss examples of the ways in which museums and/or governments are responding to the issue of repatriation. Do you think they are effectively addressing some of the problems of the past?

Introduction

After the settlement of Australia by the British in 1788, the collection of Indigenous Australian remains and objects began with collected items ending up in both Australian and international museums, and in private collections.  The acquisition of these remains and objects occurred in circumstances that today would be seen as illegal (Chamberlain 2005).  Remains and objects were largely collected “to preserve evidence of cultures that appeared to be disappearing” (Simpson 2009, p. 128), and to support a ‘scientific’ view that Indigenous Australians were “deeply inferior” (Fforde 2009, p. 42) to Europeans.  This essay will examine two case studies of the returns of remains to Indigenous Australian communities, the governmental and institutional responses to repatriation of remains and objects, and how repatriation of remains and artefacts addresses problems of the past.

The Return of Tasmanian Ash Bundles

In March 2006, the British Museum decided to return two Tasmanian cremation ash bundles to the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (British Museum 2006a).  These ash bundles had been stolen by George Augustus Robinson in the 1800s and eventually donated to the British Museum in 1882 (British Museum 2006b, Material Religion 2007).  The passing of the Human Tissue Act in the United Kingdom in 2004 and the British Museum developing their policy on human remains in 2005 facilitated this return (British Museum 2006a, Material Religion 2007).

The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre had been requesting the return of these items since 1985, and the British Museum initially claimed that they were unable to agree to the request as they did not have the power to de-accession objects in their collection (British Museum 2006b).  The return of the ash bundles involved an assessment that the ash bundles had been “well documented, published, studied and recorded” (British Museum 2006b, p. 1) and that returning the ash bundles would “not lead to any loss of existing information” or “offer any further significant information in the future” (Material Religion 2007, p. 157).

The British Museum (2006b, p. 2) acknowledged that for the Tasmanian Aboriginal community that the existence of the ash bundles and human remains in the museum “embodies all the pain of dispossession and genocide which they experience on reflecting on their colonial history”.

The Return of Remains from Edinburgh University to the Ngarrindjeri Nation, South Australia

The Edinburgh University adopted a pro-repatriation policy regarding human remains in 1990, after long campaigning by Australian Indigenous groups (Fforde 2009).  The remains that the Edinburgh University held were from all over Australia, but the majority of them were from the Ngarrindjeri people of South Australia (Fforde 2009).  The remains of the Ngarrindjeri people had been collected by William Ramsey Smith in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (Elmslie and Nance 1988).  Ramsey Smith was Adelaide’s “coroner, inspector of anatomy and chairman of the Central Board of Health” (Elmslie and Nance 1988) at the time and he sent the remains to Edinburgh University (Scobie 2009). Although the remains have been returned to the Ngarrindjeri people via the Repatriation Unit of the National Museum of Australia, the Ngarrindjeri people have not had the funding to rebury all of their ancestors (Fforde 2009, Scobie 2009).

The Ngarrindjeri people have also had remains returned to them from the Australian Museum in Sydney, Museum Victoria and the Royal College of Surgeons in London (National Museum Australia 2003, The Wire 2004), and have reported that the return of their ancestors is healing damage of the past (Scobie 2009)

The return of human remains

Indigenous Australian groups have been requesting from overseas and Australian museums the return of the human remains of their ancestors and objects that were stolen or taken from them.  As evidenced above, the return of human remains from Australian and British institutions has been facilitated by the UK Human Tissue Act and by institutions voluntarily returning remains.  This has not meant that all institutions in the UK have returned remains, or that all remains repatriated to Australia have been returned to Indigenous groups.

The Advisory Committee for Indigenous Repatriation (2014) recommended that for those remains that are returned to Australia without further provenance, that they be housed in a National Resting Place.  Where remains are only provenanced to states or territories, the remains are kept in one of the eight museums funded for this purpose, so that the remains are closer to home and that further identifying work can be undertaken to identify which Nation they came from (Advisory Committee for Indigenous Repatriation 2014).

The Australian Government’s position on the repatriation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander remains is that they should be returned unconditionally and voluntarily, and with the collaboration of the relevant peoples (Advisory Committee for Indigenous Repatriation 2014). However, some institutions in the United Kingdom are very reluctant to return remains to Australia.  The Natural History Museum, for example, has previously claimed that they cannot return remains if they those remains will be reburied, or in some cases buried for the first time, because their researchers will lose access to the remains for further scientific examination (Turnbull 2007).  Turnbull (2007) argues that as most of the Indigenous Australian remains held by institutions outside Australia are less than 500 years old, the scientific information that can be gathered from the remains could be gathered from their descendants and that there is no need to retain the remains in museums and institutions.

The return of objects

The Australian Government has stated that they seek “the return of secret sacred objects only from within Australia” (Australian Government Department of Communications and the Arts 2013, p. 6), and not from overseas despite the fact that these objects were often stolen, looted or obtained through “the gross inequality of power” (Besterman 2009, p. 109).  Indigenous Australians who seek the return of artefacts held in institutions outside Australia have to negotiate the return on their own, and generally institutions are not willing or able to return objects (Reppas 2007).

In 2002, Directors at eighteen of the largest museums in the world signed a statement taking a stand against the repatriation of objects in their collections (Reppas 2007).  The museums argued that objects in their collection “find value in their juxtaposition with other objects” (Gorman 2006, p. 79) and that “the privileged position of non-Western objects and cultures within contemporary knowledge systems would not have been achieved were it not for the position of acquired objects within the great museum” (Gorman 2006, p. 79).  These museums claim that current ethical codes or laws should not be applied to their historical acquisition processes, and that their current collections have added to the national heritage of the countries in which they are based (Gorman 2006).  In making these statements, these museums disregard the effects of their previous acquisition policies on those peoples who have been negatively affected by colonialism, claiming that removal of items from their collections would be more harmful than past practices.

The British Museum cannot de-accession objects in their collection after a High Court ruling in 2005 which prohibited the museum returning drawings looted by the Nazis to the rightful heirs, unless those objects are duplicates or useless (Reppas 2007).  The High Court ruled that more recent Acts of Parliament overtook the UK Government’s previous adoption of resolutions and conventions that spoke to the return of objects to people and nations who had been dispossessed of them (Reppas 2007).  Clearly the UK Government is afraid, as per Prime Minister David Cameron’s comment in 2010 that “If you say yes to one [request], you suddenly find the British Museum would be empty” (Associated Press 2016).

Consequently, regardless of how the British Museum and other UK Government funded museum institutions obtained the objects in their collection, they cannot return them to their rightful owners.  This is contrary to the International Council of Museums’ (ICOM) Code of Ethics for Museums (2013, p. 10) which states:

  1. 2 Return of Cultural Property

Museums should be prepared to initiate dialogues for the return of cultural property to a country or people of origin. This should be undertaken in an impartial manner, based on scientific, professional and humanitarian principles as well as applicable local, national and international legislation, in preference to action at a governmental or political level.

  1. 3 Restitution of Cultural Property

When a country or people of origin seeks the restitution of an object or specimen that can be demonstrated to have been exported or otherwise transferred in violation of the principles of international and national conventions, and shown to be part of that country’s or people’s cultural or natural heritage, the museum concerned should, if legally free to do so, take prompt and responsible steps to cooperate in its return.

ICOM’s Code of Ethics is a voluntary set of principles for museums and in this case it is not the museum that is preventing the return of stolen or looted objects but the UK Government, their legislation and willingness to take the matter to court if a museum attempted to return an object.

In 2013 the Australian Government enacted the Protection of Cultural Objects on Loan Act 2013 (Cth) to prevent museums and institutions where objects are being loaned to losing “ownership, physical possession, custody or control of the objects because of:

  • legal proceedings in Australian or foreign courts;
  • the exercise of certain powers (such as powers of seizure) under Commonwealth, State and Territory laws; or
  • the operation of such laws.” (Explanatory Memorandum)

This legislation was created after the Dja Dja Wurrung Native Title Group obtained an emergency declaration under Australian heritage protection laws to stop the return of bark etchings which had been on loan from the British Museum and the Royal Botanic Gardens in Surrey in 2004 (Fray 2004, Daley 2015).  The etchings were returned to the United Kingdom after the court case to retain them was unsuccessful (Fitzsimmons 2015).

The legislation has meant that the British Museum and other institutions are willing to loan Indigenous Australian objects, and other objects and artworks, to Australian museums and institutions (Daley 2015).  On one hand, it means that Indigenous Australians can reconnect with their culture but on the other, it is a reminder that these objects are held outside Australia and that they were taken from them through theft, force or coercion (Daley 2015).

Addressing the problems of the past

While the return of remains from museums and institutions around the world have been welcomed by Indigenous Australians and the Australian Government, issues remain regarding the return of objects from museum collections.  Tom Trevorrow, the chairman of the Ngarrindjeri Heritage Committee, who has worked to for the return his ancestors’ remains stated that “healing is beginning” (Scobie 2009) now that his ancestors are back on their country.  Fforde (2009, p. 47) states that “repatriation is fundamentally about facilitating the rights of a source community to decide the future of their ancestors’ remains”.  Indigenous Australians whose ancestors have been returned after removal “gain control over their history and culture” and “some dignity is restored” (Besterman 2009, p. 109).

The return of remains to Indigenous Australians rectifies some of the past wrongs against them and their ancestors and it is both a spiritual and cultural necessity as it assists in the preservation of their way of life (Chamberlain 2005).  Chamberlain (2005, p. 349) also argues that the failure by overseas institutions to return objects “could amount to a denial of such peoples’ right to maintain their culture or to manifest their religion”.  However, one option available to museums who are unable or unwilling to return objects to their rightful owners, is to involve the traditional owners of the objects in how those objects are displayed and interpreted which would give the traditional owners a sense of control over those objects (Davies 2004, Gorman 2006).

The Australian Government’s commitment to the repatriation of Indigenous Australian remains and the repatriation of secret-sacred objects held in Australian museums supports Indigenous Australians connection and ownership of their heritage (Advisory Committee for Indigenous Repatriation 2014, Australian Museum 2007).  Returning objects to the originating Nation or peoples goes a long way to assist in rebuilding identity and can help Indigenous Australian cultural renewal through knowledge transmission (Roehrenbeck 2010, Simpson 2009).  Simpson (2009, p. 122) writes that “the repatriation of ceremonial materials from museums may be … linked to strategies to aid recovery from post-colonial trauma, and … to contribute to indigenous health and well-being.”

Conclusion

Although some museums and institutions are repatriating Indigenous Australian remains to their descendants and objects to their traditional owners, there are still museums and institutions who have not done so, or who are unable to do so due to governmental regulation.  The return of remains and objects to Indigenous Australians is highly important to them, and adds to the healing of the ongoing trauma of colonialism.  In the future when museums and institutions that are currently unable to return objects have those obstacles facing them removed, revisiting how this affects Australia’s Indigenous population, what objects are sought, and whether the objects are preserved or used will add to the understanding of the importance of repatriation.

Bibliography

Advisory Committee for Indigenous Repatriation 2014, Resting Place Consultation Report, Australian Government Department of Communications and the Arts, retrieved 23 April 2016, <http://arts.gov.au/sites/default/files/indigenous/repatriation/National-Resting-Place-Consultation-Report-2014.PDF>

Associated Press 2016, ‘India changes tack over return of Koh-i-Noor diamond’, The Guardian, 20 April, retrieved 23 April 2016, <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/20/india-changes-tack-over-return-of-koh-i-noor-diamond>

Australian Government Department of Communications and the Arts 2013, Australian Government Policy on Indigenous Repatriation, Australian Government Department of Communications and the Arts, retrieved 23 April 2016, <http://arts.gov.au/sites/default/files/indigenous/repatriation/australian-government-policy-on-indigenous-repatriation-august2011.pdf >

Australian Museum 2007, ‘Repatriation Policy for Australian Aboriginal Secret/Sacred and Aboriginal Ancestral Remains Collections’, Australian Museum, retrieved 24 April 2016, <http://australianmuseum.net.au/Uploads/Documents/7546/repatriation-2007.pdf>

Besterman, T 2009, ‘Returning a stolen generation’, [Part of a special issue: Return of Cultural Objects: The Athens Conference], Museum International, vol. 61, no. 1/2, pp. 107-111. Available from: 10.1111/j.1468-0033.2009.01665.x. [23 April 2016].

British Museum 2006a, Human Remains: Request for Repatriation of Human Remains to Tasmania, British Museum, retrieved 23 April 2016, <http://www.britishmuseum.org/about_us/management/human_remains/repatriation_to_tasmania.aspx>

British Museum 2006b, Request for Repatriation of Human Remains to Tasmania: Dossier Item 1: Departmental Report, British Museum, retrieved 23 April 2016, <http://www.britishmuseum.org/pdf/Final_Dossier.pdf>

Chamberlain, K 2005, ‘We Need to Lay Our Ancestors to Rest—The Repatriation of Indigenous Human Remains and the Human Rights Act’, Art, Antiquity & Law, vol. 10, no. 4, pp. 325-352.

Daley P 2015, ‘Preservation or plunder? The battle over the British Museum’s Indigenous Australian show’, The Guardian, 9 April, retrieved 24 April 2016, <http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/apr/09/indigenous-australians-enduring-civilisation-british-museum-repatriation>

Davies, C 2004, ‘Property Rights in Human Remains and Artefacts and the Question of Repatriation’, Newcastle Law Review, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 51-64.

Elmslie R & Nance S 1988, ‘Smith, William Ramsay (1859–1937)’ Australian Dictionary of Biography, retrieved 24 April 2016, <http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/smith-william-ramsay-8493>

Explanatory Memorandum, Protection of Cultural Objects on Loan Bill 2012 (Cth), retrieved 24 April 2016, <https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2012B00214/Explanatory%20Memorandum/Text>

Fforde, C 2009, ‘From Edinburgh University to the Ngarrindjeri nation, South Australia’, Museum International, vol. 61, no. 1/2, pp. 41-47. Available from: 10.1111/j.1468-0033.2009.01673.x. [23 April 2016].

Fitzsimmons H 2015, ‘Indigenous tribe demands Dja Dja Wurrung bark exhibits on display at British Museum be returned’, ABC News, 25 April, retrieved 24 April 2016, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-24/victorian-indigenous-tribe-demand-bark-exhibits-be-returned/6419998>

Fray P 2004, ‘Bark etchings fight’, The Age, 27 July, retrieved 24 April 2016, <http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/07/26/1090693902586.html?from=storyrhs>

Gorman JM 2006 ‘Universalism and the new museology: impacts on the ethics of authority and ownership’, in Marstine J, Bauer A, Haines C, (eds), New directions in museum ethics, pp. 77–87, retrieved 24 April 2016, EBL

ICOM 2013, ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums, ICOM, retrieved 2 April 2016, <http://icom.museum/the-vision/code-of-ethics/>

National Museum Australia, Largest return of Aboriginal remains, National Museum Australia, retrieved 23 April 2016, <http://www.nma.gov.au/media/media_releases_by_year/2003/28_april_2003_largest_return>

Reppas, MI 2007, ‘Empty “International” Museums’ Trophy Cases of Their Looted Treasures and Return Stolen Property to the Countries of Origin and the Rightful Heirs of Those Wrongfully Dispossessed’, Denver Journal of International Law & Policy, vol. 36, no. 1, pp. 93-123.

Roehrenbeck, CA 2010, ‘Repatriation of Cultural Property-Who Owns the Past? An Introduction to Approaches and to Selected Statutory Instruments’, International Journal of Legal Information, vol. 38, no. 2, pp. 185-200.

Rotsy M, Gifford P, Hirst R, Moginie J, Garrett P 1987, Beds Are Burning, song, Colombia, Diesel and Dust

Scobie, C 2009, ‘The long road home’, The Guardian, 28 June, retrieved 23 April 2016, <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/jun/28/aborigines-reclaim-ancestors-remains>

Simpson, M 2009, ‘Museums and restorative justice: heritage, repatriation and cultural education’, Museum International, vol. 61, no. 1/2, pp. 121-129. Available from: 10.1111/j.1468-0033.2009.01669.x. [24 April 2016].

‘The Return of Tasmanian Aboriginal Ash Bundles by the British Museum’, [Interview with the British Museum’s Deputy Director, Andrew Burnett], 2007, Material Religion, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 156-158. Available from: 10.2752/174322007780095735. [23 April 2016].

The Wire, Museum Vic returns Ngarrindjeri remains, The Wire, retrieved 23 April 2016, <http://thewire.org.au/story/museum-vic-returns-ngarrindjeri-remains/>

Turnbull P 2007, ‘Scientific Theft of Remains in Colonial Australia’, Australian Indigenous Law Review, 11(1), Available from http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/AUIndigLawRw/2007/7.html, retrieved 23 April 2016

Related Posts:

Fearmongering about painkillers – codeine

TW Discussion of suicide

So  I’ll preface this post with the following – I am not someone who uses codeine frequently.  I don’t suffer from any form of chronic pain, and apart from when recovering from surgery, will probably have medication containing codeine about once every 4 – 6 months.

I am passionate about people being able to access the medication they need, when they need it, without unnecessary hurdles being put in their way, and today’s news about codeine moving to only be available in Australia by prescription, is a hurdle in everyone’s way.  From me and my very occasional use, to those who have chronic pain who use it much more frequently.

Also, all the reporting on the topic is frequently terrible, conflating all opioid related deaths with those caused by codeine, and attributing carrier drug deaths and injuries (usually paracetamol or ibuprofin) with codeine.

Let’s start with some important numbers:

  • Population of Australia (end June 2016) a bit over 24,000,000 (source)
  • Victorian Road Toll (2015): 257 (source)
  • Number of women killed by intimate partner violence: Approximately 1 per week (around 52 per year on average) (source)
  • Number of deaths in Australia in 2015: 159,052 (source)

The importance of all these numbers will make sense further down this post.

I’ll start with the ABC article (the second that I read on this today) which claims in part:

“Medication that are available over the counter or through pharmacies should be substantially safe and not subject to abuse.”

Now paracetamol and ibuprofen are safe, generally in the quantities that the box tells you to take them.  Excessive paracetamol (overdosing) causes:

Signs of paracetamol overdose include drowsiness, coma, seizures, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. Another name for paracetamol is acetaminophen (often known by its brand name, Panadol®).

There is only a small difference between the maximum daily dose of paracetamol and an overdose, which can cause liver damage. Large amounts of paracetamol are very dangerous, but the effects often don’t show until about two to three days after taking the tablets. (source)

Excessive ibuprofen (overdosing) causes:

An ibuprofen overdose can damage your stomach or intestines (source)

Both of these drugs, which are commonly available in Australia, you can buy them almost everywhere (convenience stores, supermarkets, chemists, petrol stations, etc) are only just safe in the recommended doses.  If you have a compromised liver, or mix up your dosage, you can cause serious damage to yourself, if not die from the medication.

Neither paracetamol or ibuprofen are addictive however, so apparently it doesn’t matter how dangerous they are.

Back to the ABC article.

The TGA said misuse of over-the-counter codeine products contributes to severe health outcomes, including “including liver damage, stomach ulceration, respiratory depression and death”.

Overdosing on codeine causes:

Overdose symptoms may include slow breathing and heart rate, severe drowsiness, muscle weakness, cold and clammy skin, pinpoint pupils, and fainting. (source)

So the TGA is partly lying.  The liver damage and stomach ulceration are the result of the carrier drug, either paracetamol or ibuprofen.  I’m not sure how many tablets you’d have to take to get the overdosing effective of codeine from the blended paracetamol/ibuprofen and codeine tablets, but I’m pretty sure that the internal bleeding and liver failure will probably kill you before the “respiratory depression” does.

From the ABC:

Dr Greenaway said an Australian study using coronial data showed there had been over 1,400 deaths in a little over a decade.

A little over a decade.  Let’s say that’s 13 years since no one has bothered giving us the actual numbers.  That’s around 108 deaths per year attributed, apparently, to codeine.  Because the ABC (and all the other media outlets) didn’t bother to find the actual source of these figures, I’ve just spent 2 minutes finding them for you.

From a press release from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre:

The rate of codeine-related deaths in Australia more than doubled between 2000 and 2009, driven primarily by an increase in accidental overdoses, according to new research by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at UNSW.

“While we can’t look at trends over time beyond 2009, our sample of 1,437 codeine-related deaths between 2000 and 2013 allows valuable insights into the circumstances surrounding these deaths,” said Ms Roxburgh.

Of the 1437 deaths included in the study, just under half (48.8%) were attributed to accidental overdose, and a third (34.7%) to intentional self-harm.

Most codeine-related deaths (1201 = 83.7%) during 2000–2013 were attributed to multiple drug toxicity. A small proportion (113 = 7.8%) were specifically attributed to codeine toxicity. The remaining 123 deaths (8.5%) were attributed to other underlying causes, such as coronary heart disease, cardiovascular conditions, or other drug toxicity.

More than half (53.6%) of the cases of codeine-related death included a history of mental health problems, 36.1% a history of substance use problems (including misuse and dependence), 35.8% a history of chronic pain, 16.3% a history of injecting drug use, and 2.7% a history of cancer.

Those who had intentionally overdosed were more likely to be older, female and have a history of mental health problems; those who had accidentally overdosed were more likely to have a history of substance use problems, chronic pain and injecting drug use.

Ms Roxburgh said these characteristics highlight a complex patient population in need of specialist services.

Ok, so the TGA is being even more dishonest.  123 deaths over a 13 year period were related specifically to codeine toxicity.  That’s 9.4 deaths per year.  The 1201 deaths were multiple drug toxicity, which would most likely mean, since it isn’t spelt out, that the individuals died from consuming multiple substances, such as paracetamol and/or ibuprofen containing codeine, and potentially other medication.  As I’ve already noted, overdosing on paracetamol and ibuprofen is very bad for you.

34.7% of those deaths were suicide.  That’s not people getting addicted to codeine and then dying, that’s people using a commonly available drug and committing suicide.  I’m sure that those who were intentionally self harming with drugs containing codeine would find any other drug that would have the same outcome, and yet I don’t hear the TGA calling for prescriptions only for ibuprofen and paracetamol.

I included the last bit of the press release because it’s a point I want to come back to.  Mostly that addiction is treated like a moral failing and not a social failing.

And moving onto the Guardian:

The use of common, opioid-based painkillers such as codeine, morphine and oxycodone has increased by four times over the past decade and Australian is among a handful of countries consuming the bulk of the world’s opioid medication supply, according to figures from the independent body responsible for implementing the United Nations international drug control conventions, the International Narcotics Control Board, published in the Lancet.

This is deliberately misleading.  You cannot get morphine or oxycodone over the counter at a pharmacy.  Including these two opioids in a discussion about codeine is muddying the waters.  Also, Australia “is among a handful of countries”.  What does that even mean?  What is a handful of countries, who are the other countries, and given we produce a lot of our own opioids, what relevance does this have?

The Guardian continues:

The Australian Medical Association has said it accepts the plan will result in additional health system costs and higher workloads for GPs, but AMA vice-president Stephen Parnis said that should be weighed up against the cost of harm inflicted by the misuse of codeine, intentional or otherwise.

The TGA is making a currently available, over the counter, widely used and not widely abused drug, into a prescription only drug in an environment where the current Australian government is attempting to reduce the number of subsidised doctor’s visits to everyone (source), which will make life even more difficult for those with chronic pain conditions.

The Guardian continues:

“We also know that the number of people suffering avoidable harm in this area has been increasing over time, to the point where, at least in Victoria, the number of deaths from overdose of prescription narcotics is higher than the road toll.”

And my numbers come into play.  The road toll for Victoria in 2015 was 257.  The number of people who die (on average according to the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre) is about 110 per year.

Ah… but see what AMA actually said, “the number of deaths from overdose of prescription narcotics”.  This decision is about over the counter codeine.  It is not about prescription opioids of any other kind, and yet in attempting to justify a decision which is really just going to annoy and make life harder for people, we get all these other reasons.

The AMA dude has one more thing to say in the Guardian article:

Parnis said codeine also posed a hidden danger.

“The body converts it to morphine and in fact a proportion of the population can convert it so quickly that they can suffer serious harm as a result.”

This is true, but moving to a prescription based service is not necessarily going to root this out.  Are doctors going to get more training and time to treat addiction?  Are doctors going to know which person amongst the hundreds of their patients has a metabolism that can quickly convert codeine to morphine and potentially harm themselves as a result?  It’s very unlikely.

Moving onto the article in The Age:

A TGA statement released on Tuesday morning said there was evidence that misuse of codeine contributes to liver damage; stomach ulceration and perforations; low blood potassium levels; respiratory depression and death.

The TGA’s statement, again, is incorrect.  Misuse of paracetamol and ibuprofen contributes to liver damage, stomach ulceration and perforations, and low blood potassium levels.  The TGA is conflating two different sets of harm caused by different drugs, into one in order to bolster their position.

The Age continues:

The decision comes after reports of codeine addicts swallowing up to 100 tablets a day, and people “pharmacist shopping” to get around rules introduced in 2010 that restrict purchases of more than five days’ supply of the drug at one time.

“reports of codeine addicts”, citation needed.  Also, any more than 6 (ibuprofen) or 8 (paracetamol) tablets, yet alone 100 tablets a day is an overdose amount of paracetamol or ibuprofen.  I call bullshit on this claim.

Also, it’s not hard to “pharmacy shop”, almost everyone has to do it at one point.  Some pharmacists treat anyone who asks for certain types of medication as drug-seeking,, whether it be something containing codeine or pseudoephedrine (the one that works versus phenylephrine which doesn’t), or something else.  If a pharmacist treats you badly, you go to another pharmacy (if you can).

Despite the fact that pseudoephedrine can be used to make cheap, bathtub, biker speed (Tripod quote), you don’t have to get a prescription to get it.  Sales of products containing pseudoephedrine plummeted when manufacturers substituted in an ineffective ingredient (claiming it was helpful even though studies said it wasn’t), and pharmacists started treating customers who – legally – sought to buy the stuff that does work as though they were drug-seeking addicts. The same could be done to codeine really.

Back to The Age:

In 2013, Monash University researchers reported nine deaths over a decade linked to toxicity from codeine-ibuprofen medicines such as Nurofen Plus.

Less than one death a year from codeine and ibuprofen.  More women are killed in intimate partner violence per year and sadly the Government is doing sweet fuck all about that.  More people die on our roads each year, and the Government does quite a bit about that.  Also I don’t know whose figures to believe.  I’m not sure if this 9 deaths are just in Victoria, or are from a different type of study as undertaken by National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre.

The Age:

Government agency data also shows the number of Australians being treated for codeine addiction more than tripled over the decade to 2012-13, from 318 to more than 1000 a year.

More than 1000 a year.  That’s 0.0004% of Australia’s population.  Apparently that number (the 1000) is probably under reported as some people treat themselves for codeine addiction.  There isn’t any discussion as to how much codeine addiction costs the health system, so it’s hard to know if more than 1000 people being addicted to codeine, who want to not be addicted any longer, is a huge cost to the medical system or just an inconvenience.

This is in error.  Loads of resources and articles say that emergency hospitalisation of someone overdosing on codeine compounds cost about $10,000 each.  The AMA says “A review of 99 hospitalisations caused by the misuse of OTC analgesics containing codeine found they cost, on average, $10,000 per admission.”  That’s broken down a bit more over here where we find out that most of it is once again ibuprofen’s fault.

28 tablets per day?  That’s a lot.

When you treat addiction as a moral failing, despite the fact that most of the people who use codeine regularly are people who have chronic pain conditions, then you let everyone down.  The next person who becomes addicted to codeine after surgery or a bad fall is listed as the failure, instead of just something that sometimes happens when you’ve sustained certain injuries, have certain medical conditions, or have gone through major surgery.

The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at UNSW commented that:

Those who had intentionally overdosed were more likely to be older, female and have a history of mental health problems; those who had accidentally overdosed were more likely to have a history of substance use problems, chronic pain and injecting drug use.

Ms Roxburgh said these characteristics highlight a complex patient population in need of specialist services.

Instead of treating the underlying conditions that people, who use codeine regularly, have, we treat them like they are the problem.  Instead of treating addiction as an illness, we treat it as a moral failing.  We fail everyone when we act this way, and the TGA needs to actually consider the messages they’re giving those who use codeine regularly, and to stop misleading the public about the actual harm of codeine.

Related Posts:

Tony Abbott – Arsehat of 2015

It’s a big call I know, we’re 43 days into 2015 and there is so much left to go – but in the past few days, today in particular, Tony Abbott, Australia’s current inept, arsehole, Prime Minister, has raced ahead of all other contenders and seized the crown for Arsehat of the Year.  No one else, possibly no one else this decade, will demonstrate how much of an arsehat they are, as Tony has so far this year.

Today, for example, Tones decided that fair trials were things that people who were accused of terrorism did not need:

Despite prominent lawyers calling for restraint in public commentary on the case because of the potential for court proceedings to be prejudiced, Abbott disclosed key details of a briefing from police and security agency chiefs.

On Thursday the president of the New South Wales bar association, Jane Needham SC, urged restraint in publicly commenting on the case, warning that the men may not receive a fair trial.

“The association has concerns about the degree of public comment in the media concerning the two terrorism suspects appearing today in bail proceedings. Such comments have the potential to undermine the proper administration of justice,” Needham said.

“Our courts should be allowed to deal with matters before them without public statements being made that could prejudice subsequent proceedings and we would urge caution in this regard.” (Guardian)

He also, apparently under pressure, but really just because he’s an epic arsehat who engages his brain only rarely, suggested that the previous Labor government, oversaw a “a holocaust of jobs in defence industries”.  Yes he went there, he also subsequently apologised.

Mr Abbott was being pressed in question time about the surge in unemployment and the government’s plans to potentially buy submarines from overseas, instead of commission Australian-built vessels in Adelaide.

The opposition’s workplace spokesman Brendan O’Connor asked Mr Abbott: “South Australia’s unemployment rate has now reached 7.3 per cent.  Prime Minister, when will good government actually start and the Prime Minister deliver on his promise to build submarines in South Australia?”

The Prime Minister went on the offensive, telling Parliament: “Under members opposite defence jobs in this country declined by 10 per cent. There was a holocaust of jobs in defence industries under members opposite.”

Labor frontbencher Tony Burke got to his feet but before he raise a point of order, the Prime Minister withdrew his remark.

“That’s what there was Madame Speaker, jobs, jobs, jobs, I’m sorry if I, I’m sorry and I withdraw Madame Speaker. There was a decimation of jobs,” he said. (SMH)

He also, today, accused Australia’s Human Rights Commission of writing a partisan report, and that it was clearly a stitch-up, something the Human Rights Commission should be ashamed of publishing.  Clearly he also hasn’t read the report, because it covers “nine months of the Gillard and Rudd governments and the first 12 months of the Abbott government. And it references policies in place for a decade.” (Guardian).  While unfairly criticising the Human Rights Commission, he also said the following distasteful bile:

Asked on Fairfax radio on Thursday morning if he felt any guilt over the findings, the prime minister said “none whatsoever”.

“The most compassionate thing you can do is stop the boats,” Abbott said.

“Where was the Human Rights Commission when hundreds of people were drowning at sea [under Labor]?

“This is a blatantly partisan politicised exercise and the Human Rights Commission ought to be ashamed of itself.

“I reckon that the Human Rights Commission ought to send a note of congratulations to Scott Morrison to say ‘well done, mate’,” Abbott said. (Guardian)

That’s right, Tony thinks that the HRC should congratulate one of the most inhumane Immigration Ministers that Australia has ever seen (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10).

This week also saw Tony being found “shockingly incompetent” by a US think tank.  I’m surprised that a US think tank was even looking at Australia’s political goings on, but clearly Tony and his team are making such monumental arsehats of themselves, that the rest of the world is beginning to pay attention.

A leading United States think tank has published a piece posing the question, “Is Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott the most incompetent leader of any industrialised democracy?” and answering, quite comprehensively, in the affirmative.

Published on the Council on Foreign Relations website before Mr Abbott survived a spill motion on Monday, the piece argues that he has proven so “shockingly incompetent” that he deserved to lose his job.

“Abbott has proven so incapable of clear policy thinking, so unwilling to consult with even his own ministers and advisers, and so poor at communicating that he has to go,” wrote the CFR senior fellow Joshua Kurlantzick, a US specialist in south-east Asian politics. (SMH)

Also this week, because it is an epic week of Tony being an epic arsehat, in response to the Closing the Gap report, he said that, “indigenous Australians must “grasp” the opportunity to close the gap of disadvantage and not expect it to be granted by government” (The Australian).  This is despite the ongoing racist policies and legislation enacted by the Government such as The Intervention, continued child removal, and the cutting of Government funds towards services aimed at improving Indigenous Australian lives.  Amy McGuire at New Matilda has more:

“Closing the gap is not something to be granted by this Parliament to Indigenous Australians; closing the gap is to be grasped by them.”

This is smoke and mirrors of the highest order, because it assumes blackfellas have some sort of choice. It assumes they have an ability to “grasp” this lifeline extended from HMAS Abbott, when in reality they are being left in the sea to drown.

If you dig into report, and it really isn’t hard given it is only 20-pages long, you’ll find a much more insidious agenda at play.

According to the report, the removal of CDEP resulted in a 60 percent decline in Indigenous employment rates. But governments have continually failed to view CDEP jobs as real employment, even though they kept Aboriginal people active and engaged, and paid real wages through ‘top up’.

The Remote Jobs and Community Program (RJCP) replaced CDEP in remote areas, and effectively takes Aboriginal people back to the days before award wages.

And finally, for this blog post at least, Tony is going to be investigated by the audit office for a federal budget proposal:

Tony Abbott’s decision to hand over $3 billion of public money for the East West Link without a rigorous benefit-cost analysis will be formally investigated by the national audit office.

Auditor-General Ian McPhee is apparently so keen to pursue the issue after making preliminary inquiries with Infrastructure Australia and the Department of Infrastructure that he adjusted the audit work program to accelerate his investigation.

The promise of $3 billion appeared to breach a Federal Coalition promise made before the 2013 election that there would be no Commonwealth infrastructure projects of more than $100 million without a rigorous benefit-cost analysis.

Mr Albanese said taxpayers deserved to know what due diligence process Mr Abbott undertook before deciding to fund the project.

“Based on documents released by the Andrews government, the Napthine government sought to conceal its business case from the Commonwealth and then attempted to cook the books to make the East West project look worthwhile,” Mr Albanese said.

“It also appears Mr Abbott did nothing to satisfy himself that the project represented value for public money.” (The Age)

This has just been one week in the Prime Ministership of Tony Abbott.  Given he survived a leadership spill with no clear alternative on Monday (it’s only Thursday now), I don’t imagine with more weeks like this under his belt that he’ll be around for much longer.  My eyebrows would appreciate him not being around much longer given they’re tired of being raised so frequently, I’m worried that soon they will start living on the back of my head.  Ideally he and his party would also vanish up their own arses when Tony is removed from leadership, but we’ll have to put up with their continued wreckage for a bit longer.

For everyone else who got this far, here is the tracker of all the promises that Tony has broken since his election, and the details of the mess he’s made.

Related Posts:

Meet my friend Kath

I met Kath on Twitter when she was hosting the @homelessinMelbourne account as a guest curator.  I responded to a few of the things she tweeted and we started a conversation.  It was around this time she started her own twitter account @kathhomeless, so I started to follow that too.

Kath is a 52 year old, homeless woman who lives out of her car in Queensland.  She tweets about the problems of being homeless, how one lives in a car, tweets the stories of her life and how she ended up homeless (and it’s not a simple story), shares photos of her home cooking (and it looks pretty tasty), and beautiful sunsets and sunrises.

Sunrise photo by Kath

Kath also has a blog, which initially was put together by one of Kath’s other followers, giving Kath an opportunity to collate her stories, share information with others, and host her great photos (so you don’t have to be up at sunrise to see the great shots).

Because this is the internet, and people are cynical, doubting arsehats, Kath cops a fair amount of abuse on Twitter, with some people claiming she’s only on Twitter to beg for money (which she’s never done in my interactions with her), that she’s lying about being homeless, that she’s homeless by choice, or that she’s lying about all the things she’s done or had happen to her in the past which has resulted in her current situation.

If you really feel it’s your place to do due diligence while reading a person’s story, perhaps you should be asking what your motivations are and who made you ruler of other people’s lives.

Kath’s most recent blog post calls for an understanding of homelessness:

The last few days have been quite draining for me trying to explain my situation to people that just don’t understand or think they do but don’t! I have been attacked by people that don’t care and think homelessness is a joke and is not real. They think it is my choice to be homeless or I choose to live this way. They have no idea of the reality of homelessness. They have never experienced it and probably never will. They have led a sheltered life away from the real harsh world. They do not understand how it can happen to people and blame me for being that way. They do not know any facts and really don’t care to find out the truth as they really don’t want to be involved with it. They question my answers to their questions and ridicule me on my comments. I try my best to be polite and help them understand what homelessness involves but they don’t care to listen. About the closest they will ever get to homelessness if the cross the street if they see a homeless person or do a sleep out which I call a camping adventure to act as if they care of to promote themselves that they are involved in a cause. It is a shame that they do not even want to understand such a major problem in Australia but why should they after all we choose to live this way. How can anyone end up homeless? It must have been my fault. I try to explain to them to read my blog and comments on twitter and maybe help them to understand my situation but they do not even do that. They are to ready to ridicule and simply don’t care enough to find out the fact. If they did it would problem raise emotions they have never and probably never will and make a fool of them for being so abrupt and uncaring. So I say to all of them good luck.

Many of my followers think that is easy and they can help me with my homelessness. Many have tried to help me by contacting charity organisations or government organisations including local MP members without my knowledge. After they do they contact me and their reaction is shock horror now they understand why I am homeless. I say to all don’t bother. No one can help as their is no housing. A shortage of housing is the problem simple. A MP or a charity just cant pull out a room or unit or house out of the air. I wish all would understand this. I have so many that try to tell me what to do with good intentions but they just don’t understand that I already have. I spent the first 6 months in Brisbane searching for answers. I learnt a lot about how the government deal with homelessness and how the charities and organisations spend there funding. It became a bit of a game for me. Gave me something to do researching all of this. No going on the housing list will not work. Yes I am injured but not disabled. No I am not a priority and will not get prioritised because I am sleeping in my car. In fact most don’t recognise me as homeless because I have a car and I am not sleeping under a bridge or a park.

Poverty is rising in Australia, which means that those who are homeless are going to remain that way, and that more people will be at risk of homelessness.

The OECD finds that poverty is rising in Australia with the number of those living in poverty accounting for 14.4 per cent of the population, compared to the OECD average of 11.3 per cent.

But Professor Whiteford, from the Australian National University in Canberra, says it does reveal some concerns within Australia.”We’ve got a lot of issues we need to address in Australia, and I think there are some obvious ones, like unemployment’s deteriorated over the past year or so. And there seems to be, particularly, problems of increasing proportions of young people who are neither in employment, education or training.”

What can we do about homelessness?  We can help those we know are homeless by giving them a couple of dollars when we see them.  Short-term accommodation is very expensive, not to mention quite risky as you end up living without a safety net or somewhere to store your belongings.  It is not our job to judge how people spend money once we give it to them, and it is not our job to pre-judge people’s spending intents and avoid giving them money because you believe they may not spend it in a way you agree with.

How can you help Kath?  Well another one of her followers set up a Pozible campaign in order to be able to buy her a new car fridge so she can keep her required medication close to hand.  Excess money will go towards much needed surgery and/or a camper van if possible.  If you have a couple of spare dollars handy, then I fully recommend this Pozible campaign.

Homelessness is a complex issue with no simple answers.  People who are homeless have often ended up that way through a collection of misfortune and, despite what our great Prime Minister Tones says, no one chooses to be homeless.  Helping those who are less fortunate than ourselves is not only what good people do, it’s necessary when the Governments of the day are likely to reduce the current level of Newstart allowance because they want to abolish the Mining Tax.

The chief executive of the Australian Council of Social Service, Cassandra Goldie, sought to broaden the debate over the consequences of the mining tax repeal legislation.

“In addition to assistance for the children of veterans, the government is proposing to abolish a range of measures which provide much needed assistance to low-income households, on the pretext that they are linked to the minerals resource rent tax,” Goldie said.

“This includes a $4 a week supplement for people struggling to cope on the $36 a day Newstart allowance, now widely recognised as grossly inadequate. The supplement is the only real increase in the Newstart allowance in 20 years. In this context, taking away this meagre increase from those already in hardship is unconscionable.”

Kath, and everyone else on Newstart is doing it hard, and when we can help them out, we should as good fellow citizens and as good people.  Some of this will be lobbying MPs, some will be working with charities to provide services, goods or food to people in need, some of this will be direct cash hand outs, and some of this will be educating others about the fact that homelessness is not simple, and is worth more than a sound-bite or some CEOs sleeping in nice sleeping bags one night a year.

We can do better as a nation and as people by looking after the vulnerable members of our society.

Related Posts:

The proof is actually in the Tony Abbott pudding

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

or

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.

Related Posts:

Religion – coming soon to Docklands

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.

Related Posts:

Tony Abbott, Christianity and “Boat People”

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.”

Continue reading Tony Abbott, Christianity and “Boat People”

Related Posts: