Jane Roscoe is not leaving SBS:

Jane McMillan, SBS corporate communications manager, writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (Friday, item 15). Jane Roscoe is not leaving SBS nor is she responsible for the policy of outsourcing all production apart from news and current affairs at SBS. The outsourcing of production to the independent production sector is a decision that has resulted in SBS being able to commission more quality local content than has been seen on Australian TV screens for some time now. I suggest you tune in to SBS TV more often over the coming months to catch the award winning Remote Area Nurse, new multicultural drama Kick, hard-hitting drama The Circuit about a circuit judge in WA and police drama East West 101 later this year. The Australian version of genealogy program Who Do You Think You Are? and First Australian Nation (an indigenous history program) will also feature over the next few months. All fulfill SBS’s commitment to its charter and all ensure our audiences enjoy high quality, locally made content, free to air. As for Stan Grant, his salary is a private matter between Stan and SBS. Gross overestimates that have surfaced in the pages of Crikey detract from the fact that Stan is a key part of the SBS World News team and a talented media professional.

Howard’s Aboriginal Emergency:

Former WA Premier Peter Dowding writes: Re. “Howard’s Aboriginal Emergency” (Friday, items 1-14). So, after 40 years in politics, John Howard has discovered our Indigenous community. They have been around for 40,000 years so I suppose he was expected to come across them sooner rather than later. Its just that he has spent the last 11 years of his Government ignoring their needs and opposing their land rights and even as recently as this year has taken steps to end the work for the dole scheme (CDEP) which provides the only employment for many Aboriginal people and replace it with nothing accessible by those in need. I assist a group living in the wealthy Pilbara in WA. Everyone is wealthy except the Aboriginal people and they have been pleading for start-up assistance for a pastoral station they own. Sure, the Howard Government funds such things but, oh hey, here’s the catch 22, no money for wages, no money for vehicles, and no money for recurrent expenditure like fuel. The other catch is that you will need a professional grant application writer, and no, there’s no allowance for that nor for accounting assistance to manage the money etc etc. Oh well, if you can sing the national anthem backwards balancing celery in one ear you may get some start-up money, but it’s not exactly easy to get. There are shocking consequences of the parlous state of indigenous communities and government action is welcome but to treat this as “an emergency”? There was rampant child abuse in the institutions of the Anglican and Catholic churches, but John wasn’t galvanised into emergency action over that. Maybe the truth is that refugees and boat people won’t work at this election and Aboriginal people are this year’s election Tampa. Certainly cheaper than invading Iraq.

David Flint writes: The reaction to the Little Children are Sacred report was typical. It was to call on the Federal Government to spend more money on the policy of separation so long insisted on by those who would set Aboriginal communities in aspic. But the report is not only about the collapse of whole communities, it is about crimes against children so gross and so unimaginable that they should not be tolerated for one minute, much less the delay of six weeks proposed by the Northern Territory Government, to which it would have come as no surprise. Rather than announcing the usual round of additional funding to failed causes, John Howard and Mal Brough have grasped the nettle. This is indeed a national emergency. It needs a firm response, and this seems to fall clearly within the constitutional authority of the Federal Government and Parliament. Rather than giving in to criminality, which too many politicians do, they are reacting as statesmen. And those who believe in the public benefit of free speech and a free press should be cheering. At long last the outrageous veil of secrecy over the remote communities is to be drawn aside and the media allowed to report on the disaster that the separationist agenda has achieved.

Jon Case writes: So here we have it. The hat has been found and the rabbit pulled from it. With strong echoes of “Children Overboard”, John Howard has discovered a “National Emergency” and “war” to fight for this year’s federal election. Constitutional and legal principles be damned; key recommendations on consultation with Aboriginal community leadership are thrown overboard as well; it’s full steam ahead. As was written in the Crikey Special Edition (21 June) and through a litany of articles and reports over the past decade, the Government has largely ignored Aboriginal health and welfare for the past 11 years, yet when he needs something to win back his “leadership”, and show “action” he (re)discovers it and applies draconian, unilateral and potentially unconstitutional or illegal action as the only way forward. Meanwhile, the federal Labor Party has been spooked into acquiescence in the same way they were with the Tampa incident. As was then, opposing Howard’s position or raising any reasoned arguments on why his approach isn’t the only way forward into this “war” will provide the Government and compliant media with an easy target of “uncaring about the needs of children”. It will make anyone who believes it an over-the-top response to a real crisis with many causes and much required to address it as insensitive. No doubt it will be left to the Democrats and Greens to annotate this hypocrisy. As a result of his “emergency action” yesterday and the media sing-along I’d expect a 3-5 point swing in the Government’s favour from the next polls. Here we go again down the sewer-hole of reasoned responsibility, caring action and long-term solutions to real long-term crises and decades of neglect.

Gary Hawthorne writes: I would like to make a comment on the latest political stunt by John Howard concerning Aboriginal affairs and his reaction to the NT report. This issue needed a responsible reply and implementation of recommendations on a whole of governments approach. John Howard and his minister could have been involved with the NT government and local councils and if as he states they are concerned, they could have started a process that may have had some effect. Instead we get his government once again deriding the NT government, implementing ridiculous policy that will only make matters worse and taking attention away from the original issues that have fuelled this problem. A statesman like approach was needed, instead political opportunism prevailed, and your comment on the Tampa theory is probably what this is all about. I do agree with John Howard that the Federal Government must take responsibility for Aboriginal affairs but this must be done on an Australia wide basis, however I am sure he will not want to become involved in this as it is going to be very expensive and there will be no one else to blame. It can also be said that many of the Federal Government’s welfare initiatives add to these problem and makes it very hard and expensive for the NT Government to fix. I do have a small stake in this issue as I own a small electrical contracting company and we do some work for some Aboriginal associations. I can state that a lot of these associations are not just sitting on their hands as the situations unfolds but are being proactive in addressing these issues sometimes with great success. With a helping hand from the federal government instead of knee jerk reactions and with the right people involved these issues may lessen far quickly than people expect.

John Parkes writes: Anyone in living memory, or at least since the “racist” controls on consumption of alcohol by Aborigines were removed by the do-gooders in the ’60s and ’70s, who has worked in law enforcement anywhere, repeat anywhere, in this country has known of the problems being addressed this week by the Commonwealth Government. It would appear that our over-protective, know-nothing, racist and simplistic forbears of the 1800s actually knew what they were doing and got at least a few things correct! The proposed solutions are, to be fair, a large part of the answer, but only if imposed nation wide and maintained forever. The problem is that it is clear to any reasonable observer that either the Federal Government was criminally and probably deliberately blind to the problem or they don’t really mean it. The proposed solutions are needed but they are clearly only temporary, aimed to be this year’s version of the Tampa and in any case largely only apply to the Northern Territory. Do they really think that these same problems don’t exist right across the whole country? Do they expect us to believe they haven’t had the problem elsewhere drawn to their attention? Fred Chaney, Father Brennan, Noel Pearson et al here have you been all these years? You obviously haven’t got your message across! This new-found care is clearly politically based. All the criticisms made yesterday of NT Government action in this field were correct, BUT, they were no different to Government action in the Territory in all the years of Country and National Party rule – and they are no different to all the years in all the States regardless of which Party was in office. This is nothing more than cynical political opportunism — either that or the PM has had a miraculous revelation made to him after all his years in politics and government — but I’m not a believer in those particular classes of miracles.

Peter Downs writes: Although originally from Victoria, I was once a long-time resident of far north Queensland (Cairns) and now back in north-west Queensland working. In all the time I have spent in the north I have always been surprised and shocked by the level of hostility, ill will, call it what you like, towards indigenous peoples. It is mostly hidden but it is wide spread. I wonder how my friends and colleagues in those places and across the north will greet Thursday’s announcement. Admirable though it is to have action, even if for all the wrong reasons, I wonder if it will be such a vote winner across our vast north.

Margaret Bell writes: Whilst fully recognising the reality of the national emergency that has been declared on behalf of Aboriginal children in the Territory we would urge both black and white Australia to recognise the disease at hand – no work and no dignity, not just the symptoms – alcohol and drugs. Any community the world over that lives without dignity of work and the hope of a future resorts to blocking pain in any way possible. This is true on every corner of the planet. The shame for this reality in Australia rests with all those who have done nothing for thirty years and those who will lay the blame at the feet of black Australia today, particularly if the blame game leads to loss of native title to lands and becomes a five minute pre-election wonder. At Mount Druitt Learning Ground in NSW home to the largest Aboriginal population in NSW we value Australia’s first nation, learn from its history, share its wisdom with black and white especially around environment and conservation, and move forward to a better tomorrow together with great respect and great affection, but we can’t get any government to fund it. Think about it.

Malcolm Fraser on Howard’s plan:

Jeff Ash writes: Re. “Malcolm Fraser and Lowitja O’Donoghue: Without respect, this will not stand” (Friday, item 1). The sort of politically correct hand-wringing from the likes of Malcolm Fraser featured in Friday’s Crikey is precisely the reason there hasn’t been a damn thing done to help the plight of Aborigines in modern Australia. Yes there probably should have been consultation with elders and the like, but how long do you want the process to drag on? I’m sure you could ensure a few more thousand cases of child abuse if you string it out for a few years. Perhaps if people like Mal had presented a workable solution — or even a step in the right direction it may not have gotten to Howard having to step in with a “paternalistic” approach. Howard endeavours to make something happen to help — and this is what he’s met with?

Greg Hughes writes: Until Malcolm’s wonderful input, I was completely unaware of the Canadian Government’s involvement in our Aboriginal issues. But then, he was always more concerned with what was happening overseas than near Nareen. As the leader of the Eminent Person’s Group that decided Rhodesia would be well-governed by a homicidal Marxist despot, maybe Malcolm should pull his silly head in. His poisonous hatred of Jolly John did more than anything to guarantee the accession of Semi-Super Gough and his Band of Buggers (of the Australian economy). Trading Ainsley Gotto for Junie Morosi? Get real!

Chris Hunter writes: Lowitja O’Donoghue and Malcolm Fraser’s observations about ATSIC and its demise strike the heart. I agree with them, it was a valid institution albeit in need of reform. But I suspect its dry docking has dismayed many indigenous and non-indigenous Australians alike. Liberal and Labor were complicit — will the synchronised swimmers ever learn freestyle? Labor should admit they stuffed up and campaign for the re-launching of ATSIC (or a similarly constituted body) — not just advisory. Remove the sledge hammer from Jonah before he totally smashes the hull.

A missed recommendation?:

Mary James writes: Re. “Little Children vs the PM: same same but different?” (Friday, item 10). Thanks for the comparison of the PM’s announcement with the Little Children are Sacred recommendations. However, you missed a critical recommendation that the authors took pains to stress in the opening paragraph of their recommendations: “In the first recommendation, we have specifically referred to the critical importance of governments committing to genuine consultation with Aboriginal people in designing initiatives for Aboriginal communities, whether these be in remote, regional or urban settings” (p. 21). I guess the PM missed it too.

Justice in Deep North:

Christopher Ridings writes: The result of the Hurley trial leaves more questions unanswered and solves nothing. Has anyone seen the huge size of Chris Hurley particularly when seen with other blokes? I wouldn’t care to be trodden on by him at the best of times. Did anyone see the video with the size of the other bloke and how he tried to scramble out of Hurley’s way, in that rather dodgy re-enactment? Since Murinji had lashed out at Hurley, would have Hurley still been cool, calm, and collected when he tried to hustle him into the doorway, and would he have been happy “falling” on him? I’m not saying the jury was biased, but how would members on the jury with all those police eyes on them feel about being pulled over in the future? As everyone will have noticed the jury comprised no Aboriginal members. Anyone remember Mississippi Burning?

The Lockhart River inquest:

Shane Urquhart writes: Re. “Some questions for the coroner at the Lockhart River inquest?” (4 June, item 14). Dear Crikey, I make no secret that I am the father of Const Sally Urquhart who was one of the victims of the Lockhart River Crash on 7 May, 2005. I have also attended every session of the inquest so far. Congratulations on your article relating to Questions for the Coroner. I have to be careful not to compromise the inquest in any way, so I have other questions that I’d like Crikey to seriously pose … Where has the Australian media gone in relation to this inquest, the outcome of which will have serious ramifications throughout the country? Apart from one AAP correspondent there is little or no interest, especially in the southern states. Is the Packer wedding (not even in Australia and I take it, truckloads of money not being spent in Australia) so very much more important than justice and accountability for the deaths, on Australian soil of 15 innocent Australians who were going about their normal lives? I have continually said, I bet if someone of “celebrity” status was on board, the interest would be completely different.

Aviation and global warming:

Robin Stanier writes: Re. “Blaming aviation for global warming is just plane silly” (21 June, item 16). The point Andrew Parker is avoiding is that aviation contributes 2% (as stated by the Head of IATA) today in terms of CO2 but it also emits nitrogen oxides and water vapour in copious quantities and emits them at altitude which aggravates the situation. Also aviation is growing at 5-6% per year whilst fuel efficiencies only grow at 1% per year. The new A380 and B787s will be with us for the next 30 years at their current level of efficiencies. As aviation grows the percentage of emissions will grow while the emissions from other sources be declining (they better be or we will be in real trouble). So by 2050 or thereabouts the aviation share of the emissions will not be 1.7% of the total but somewhere around 50% depending on the assumptions you make. In any event it will not be a marginal contributor but a significant contributor. Aviation is a great innovator but the fuel efficiencies in terms of energy per seat kilometre and hence the emissions of the final generation of piston engined airliners (DC7, Super Constellation and the like) were about the same as the current batch of jet airliners (B777, A330). We pay a price in terms of fuel usage and emissions for high speed, high altitude and comfortable long-range aircraft. If we are really concerned about aviation fuel usage and emissions we can move to turboprop aircraft instead of jet aircraft, we can fly a bit slower, we can cut out stage lengths of under 1000kms and over 5000km, we can abandon the conventional shape of aircraft (such as swept wing, pressurised tubular cabin of the B747) and go to blended-wing designs similar to the configuration of the B2 bomber. We can agitate for high-speed trains and high-speed broadband. To replace aircraft usage where it is not necessary or appropriate. We have to look to aviation to reduce its emissions substantially. IATA recognises that, Airbus recognises that and even Boeing is coming on board. To deny global warming, or to put the blame somewhere else, is either to fly in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence, or to assume we can adapt to the consequences of global change which is reckless, or to bury one’s head in the sand and hope it won’t happen which is irresponsible and unethical.

Dr Mark Duffett writes: Sorry to disappoint Chris Davis (Friday, comments), but the problem with his bovine carbon circulation scenario is that cows burp and fart not only CO2, but a significant amount of CH4 (methane), which is over 20 times more efficient at trapping heat in the atmosphere than CO2. So, while cows might be “carbon neutral” in terms of the number of carbon atoms in atmospheric circulation, they’re certainly not “climate neutral”. A salutary example of how using “carbon” as shorthand for “Greenhouse gases” is highly misleading, and best avoided.

That piece was pathetic:

Jenny Morris writes: Re. “Dear Age: I think your Schadenfreude is showing” (Friday, item 26). Almost can’t be bothered to respond to the piece by “a media observer”, so predictably boring was it, but here goes anyway … The criticism of The Age’s coverage of the “background” on some of the players in Monday’s tragic violence and multiple shootings is weak, unfounded and unfair, and especially so under the cloak of anonymity. Stripping isn’t, I dare to venture, the usual avenue to debt relief for 24-year-olds, no matter the school, the artistic ability, or the MySpace profile. The shootings were bewildering and anyone in the city that day knew something was up and quickly knew that it was serious. The media was looking for information, and frankly this stuff was relevant at the time and the trial may prove it to be relevant to the shootings. Salacious, perhaps, but that’s not the journalists’ fault – it was there to be found and reported. I think The Age fairly reported the rather murky character parts of Melbourne take on after dark. Media observer’s piece was pathetic.


Friday’s typos (house pedant Charles Richardson casts an eye over the howlers in the last edition of Crikey): Item 1: “… the only Western democracy with a significant indigenous minority that has no elected presentation of any kind.” I think they mean “representation”. Item 15: “… the only criteria is as much female flesh as possible.” If there’s only one of them, then it’s “criterion”, not “criteria”.

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Peter Fray
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