Opinion Australia

One man’s view of how the world might be.

Archive for the ‘Society’ Category

What does it mean to be "British"?

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Some statistics have been released which, if correct, maye you wonder what’s happening over in ‘dear old blighty’.  The figures released imply that 1 in 9 people living in Britain were born ‘overseas’.

Globalisation, cheap travel, easy migration and wide differences in living standards have encouraged people to move in ever greater numbers from place to place, and especially from less developed areas to those perceived as ‘better off’. There are now nearly 7 million people resident in the UK who weren’t born there.

As the recession starts to bite, unemployment rates are increasing and large numbers of non-uk born residents are qualifying for, and receiving the dole.

I suppose this is an issue countries around the world have to deal with, especially Australia which relies on immigration to keep the economy growing. The question to ask is are we going down a similar path to the UK and if so… is it really such a good idea?

It also makes you reevaluate what exactly it means to be “British”!

Source: One in nine people living in Britain now born overseas

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Written by welshdog

February 25, 2009 at 6:44 am

Posted in Environment, Society

The wheel turns.

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The fires in Victoria are still burning though some overnight rain has given the firefighters some chance of finally gaining a measure of control over the course of the twenty-one blazes they are currently dealing with. Currently no more homes are under threat, as far as we’re aware but of course the clean-up has yet to be properly begun and that will be when the true death toll will start be assessed.

We’re expecting that the human death toll might reach 300, whilst the deaths amongst animal life runs into millions. It will be many years before the environment fully recovers, in fact there are suggestions that it might take fifty years for the animal life to recolonise the burned areas, despite the fact that within a few years there will be little sign it was ever ablaze.

The scale of the disaster has affected people around the world and so far there has been some $48 million in donations to help with the recovery. Of course this will be of little use to those whose entire families have been wiped out, but for the survivors it might at least relieve the immediate pressure of how to cope without home or belongings.

The ‘shock and awe’ of the disaster has begun to recede as the horrible reality of the situation has finally settled and people are beginning to look around trying to isolate reasons for the destruction to have been on so massive a scale. After all, people were living in Australia for 40,000 years before Europeans arrived and they seemed to co-exist with the land fairly comfortably. It’s 200+ years since Europeans arrived and even after that length of time you’d think we would have arrived at some sort of accommodation with the environment such that we understand the dangers and take real  measures to protect ourselves from them. So what went wrong?

This is a question I’ll address in another post, but here I’ll just say that recriminations and infighting have already begun as those who might share in the responsibility try to shift the focus for ‘blame’ from themselves onto others. It’s an unedifying spectacle and in the long term counter productive. We really need these people to forget the shortcomings of themselves and their organisations and sit down together to establish what might have been been done better and set in place action plans that ensure this never happens again.

I admit that with human nature being what it is, this is likely to be a futile hope. Nearly 90 people died on ‘Ash Wednesday‘ in February 1983 and from reading the histories of that disaster it seems few lessons were learned. No doubt history will repeat itself again before real action is taken.

Written by welshdog

February 12, 2009 at 7:49 am

Soul of a Nation

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We’re relative newcomers to Australia having only been here 15 years or so, but ‘new’ or not we *feel* Australian, which is really strange when you think just how*huge* this country is.

What brought it into perspective was the concern we feel here in Sydney for our fellows down South in Victoria where they are suffering appalling levels of death and destruction, bearing in mind we are not at war on our homeland, though the firestorms still raging through the bush.

Much of the damage has been outside Melbourne, which is nearly 900 kilometres from us. This is much the same distance as London to Berlin. Yet, much as people in the UK might sympathise with the Germans had a similar tragedy happened there, I doubt it would have the same impact – or vice versa. 

I read the papers in the USA when the fires were raging there last summer and it almost seemed as if the papers were reporting events in another country. Here all the papers, national and local, are filled with the fires, the loss of life, and requests for donations etc to help the stricken pull their lives back together. Yet in the USA it seemed as if it was just ‘accepted’ that there were casualties… and then moved on to the next news item.

Maybe this sense of  “Australian-ism” is something unique, it’s hard to say, but there does seem to be a sense of ‘one community’ in people I’ve spoken to that overcomes the tyranny of distance. In fact whilst I was in the Post Office this morning I eavesdropped a conversation between a customer and the assistant trying to work out the best way for the customer to send a donation of goods (actually ‘hair and beauty’ care products) for the women down there to help them regain some dignity. It was such a nice gesture it almost had me in tears but also started me thinking along the lines of how integrated Australian society really is.

In the face of continued immigration and multiculturalism I really hope it continues. There is something special about the “Aussie Spirit” that the world can’t afford to lose.

Written by welshdog

February 11, 2009 at 11:35 am

Free Rice?

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Ok here’s a little ‘game’ to occupy your mind and do some small thing for world hunger as you go. You can find it at Free Rice and it’s just a little something to keep our brains active.. 😉

Basically you determine the definitions of words on a given list, and click on the answer. For each one you get right… 10 grains of ride are donated to help alleviate world hunger.

The words?? Well for me they included Calvous… which means baldness, and Tanager… which is a songbird!! Sadly I’ve never heard of them before… but luckily www.dictionary.com and Google Dictionary came to the rescue 😀

On the other hand I couldn’t find got ‘barbone’ and guessed… wrongly. It seems barbone is a disease of bison! You live and learn! 😀

Still I got to level 52 before having to guess so it could be worse.The result was I ‘collected’ 120 grains for donation.

I suppose 120 grains of rice might seem to be of little help by themselves, but if *thousands* of us did it… well those few grains would soon amount to millions – and that must be of some use?!

Written by welshdog

January 19, 2009 at 8:11 am

Getting the sharp end of the pineapple!

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Seems all Senior/High School in NSW are to get their promised laptops by the end of term two next year… all those in *public* schooling that is. For those of us funding private sector schooling… there’s nothing.

Forgive me for mentioning this… but aren’t *we* taxpayers as well? Isn’t it likely in fact that ‘we’ will be paying a far higher amount into the national/state purse than most? Don’t our kids need laptops as much as the next child? What sort of discriminatory clap-trap is it that decides one section of the population is more deserving than another for this sort of important state subsidy?

I wonder, just wonder, if it’s because the larger percentage of private school fee paying parents might be thought to be those ‘right wing Liberal’ types… i.e. not your usual ‘Labor Voter’ and so not people a Labor government in political strife might consider courting… perhaps?

Those egalitarian types who run the Labor Party machine in NSW surely wouldn’t have just decided to throw equality of of the window would they? Of course, if this *was* the case, it would leave us ‘left of centre Labor’ types somewhat miffed that our kids are to be overlooked!!

Either way, the political machinations that have produced this sort of decision making will be redressed in the next election but by then it will be too late for the rest of to get *our* pound of flesh out of Federal funding!

These ‘vote buying’ tactics are getting out of hand.

Source: NSW Students to get promised laptops

Written by welshdog

November 30, 2008 at 5:24 pm

Australian Child Protection Laws – new guidelines.

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New draft guidelines related to Child Protection Laws have been released by the Australia Council in the aftermath of the Bill Henson controversies. and require that anyone taking photographs of children needs to obtain parental permission first. Ok we’ve been pressing for changes to the law but some of the recommendations offered constitute *far* too restrictive a change!

The issue as far as the majority of us has been concerned is the potential for exploitation of kids by or for paedophiles, and whilst the new rules do now make it clear that the naked child must be supervised by the parent(s) and that they must understand the nature of the artwork that is to be produced there are no clues regarding how these (or the other) guidelines are to be enforced!

Basically the new rules have swung too far in one direction but not far enough in another!

Under the rules I (for example) wouldn’t be allowed to take pictures of my kids at a school concert or at a school swimming gala, or other sporting event, unless a parent of *every* child who attended gave explicit permission for photos to be taken! Can you really see this happening?

What’s worse is that a blanket ban such as this would make it impossible for professional photographers to take ‘crowd shots’ in case a child was amongst the gathering! How would the media cover news reports if they were unable to run news coverage without identifying, contacting and receiving permission to use the image of any child they might have captured as an incidental to the main story??

What we needed and haven’t yet been offered, get was a set of rules and guidelines that allowed parents and friends to take ‘innocent’ images, but pornography such as Henson’s images of naked little girls to be outlawed with a mechanism that ensures offenders can be, *and are* prosecuted!!

I appreciate how hard it would be to ensure that those images of ‘parents and friends’ were actually ‘innocent’ but let’s face it, if a paedophile wants to take photos of kids ‘in the street’ they will regardless what you do to try to stop them. Digital cameras with long lenses are no longer expensive and someone could sit in a car be in a street several hundred yards away from a school or playground and still be able to take clear ‘close up’ shots whilst remaining hidden themselves!

The new (draft) rules show commitment, for which they are to be commended, but their format and focus requires a major rethink to be carried out before they are adopted in legislation.

Written by welshdog

November 14, 2008 at 8:55 am

Lest we forget…

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At a time when our young people are still bravely holding the line against the forces of evil, let us not forget those who made the ‘supreme sacrifice’ and laid down their lives to keep us free.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

(Written by Lt.-Col. John McCrae on 3rd May, 1915, in memory of his friend Lieutenant Alexis Helmer who he’d seen killed the previous day.)

Laurence Binyon’s “For the Fallen”,

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Note: At 11 o”clock on the 11th day of the 11th Month… we observe a minute’s silence as a mark of respect.

Written by welshdog

November 11, 2008 at 9:29 am