Eveline Goy writes: Re. “Malcolm Fraser: multiculturalism hasn’t failed, only the Liberal Party” (yesterday, item 1).It was John Howard who broke the bipartisanship on immigration and related issues. As a result of this, he was booed at the FECCA Conference in Canberra in 1988. I was reporting officially on the conference at the time and observed the whole audience rising to their feet and booing Mr Howard. It was an eerie moment, because just until the moment when he started bemoaning the :Asianisation” of Australia, the ethnic audience had felt a real rapport with Mr Howard. He knew this and his attack was most calculated and deliberated.
The result of the loss of bipartisanship has been dire for Australia, and migrants and refugees have suffered greatly because of the resurgence of racism and bigotry. Multiculturalism was never going to be easy, but ignorance and bigotry were dismal policies. Mr Howard took us there because of his belief that dissent would bring him more votes.
As a result of the continued rise of hard-hearted and intransigent conservatives (Scott Morrison and Tony Abbott are prime examples, as were Peter Reith and Peter Costello), our country has gradually shifted more and more towards racism and divisions on the basis of race and ethnicity.
If it takes the rise of Joe Hockey to return to a more moderate policy, one which would not scapegoat the hopeless and the victims, then I hope that the Coalition will find the resolve to go in that direction.
James Burke writes: What happened to the “f” word? Mubarak’s government is described as “authoritarian”. The English Defence League are “ultra-nationalists”. And the ALP accuses the Liberal Party of deriving their policies from One Nation — which does not sound as bad as it should, unfortunately, to much of the electorate.
Why couldn’t Wayne swan just say “fascists”? It’s not hard to join the dots — from the Coalition’s hate-mongering to talkback radio, to comments on Andrew Bolt’s blog, to the Australian Protectionist Party and Australia First, back to that favoured venue of web-savvy Hitlerites, Stormfront.org.
Have a gander at Stormfront some time — it can be quite educational. Trawling it a few years ago (don’t ask), I read the words of a slick modern Nazi lecturing some impatient minion on why it was vital for the “movement” to focus on multiculturalism. Multiculti, he explained, was a Jewish plot. Multicultural societies are ones in which Jews can “feel safe”. Destroy multiculturalism and the Jews have nowhere to go.
I wonder if Cameron, Merkel, Abbott and Morrison are proud of the friends they’re making?
Maybe if we used the “f’ word more often — judiciously, of course — more of our politicians could be shamed into common sense and common decency.
Bob Cole writes: I totally agree with almost everything Malcolm Fraser has said. The one area where he totally glosses over and indeed the Australian government, of whatever persuasion, does the same, is becoming a citizen.
I have no complaint regarding immigration — none. The one assumption that I believe can be made is people come because Australia offers a better life that that they had previously. This is true of political refugees, refugees from areas of conflict and humanitarian refugees. I totally agree with Malcolm in respecting and indeed the impact upon Australian society and way of life because of immigration has been profound — food shops, restaurants and almost every facet of our life.
If Australia offers these benefits isn’t it only right that the immigrants should become Australians to maximise those benefits. After all, being Australian is something to be proud of. Dual citizenship is making our citizenship second class and that is not what we want.
I’m all for having immigrants come live here, raise their families and have all the benefits Australia can offer. As to the politicians — Labor and Liberal/National at State and National level — Malcolm is right. Stop the fear mongering and make this country continue to be something the rest of the world can be proud of.
Justin Templer writes: As he weaved his wonderful polemic on multiculturalism, Malcolm Fraser drizzled his sentences with evocative words — Anglo Saxon, Irish, Catholic, Vietnamese, Greek, Afghani — one could almost feel the strange new music, exciting dance steps, exotic foods.
But there was no reference to the inconvenient word that defines much of the current debate about refugees: “Muslim”.
Sorry, Malcolm — so last century.
Phylli Ives writes: Malcolm Fraser would make an excellent President. Roll on the Republic.
Matthew Brennan writes: May I observe in response to Michael R. James Comments (yesterday, comments) that the actual 2011 Brisbane flood level was about 1 metre lower than what the authorities were predicting. No doubt the 5.5m prediction was “worst case” but I’d say the difference is the level of uncertainty of the prediction.
Sorry, but when the information used to inform the strategy has this level of uncertainty, the chances of the strategy mitigating a flood to better than this uncertainty with certainty is a wee bit optimistic!
There is no dam on the Bremer River and the historical data shows that Brisbane has been subject to major flooding exceeding 3.6m 11 times since 1840. Of these events there were floods exceeding 5m on six occasions and there were three monster 7m+ events in 1841, 1848 and 1893. Take the estimate of Wivenhoe’s mitigation capacity as 2m at face value and subtract that from the historical flood levels and the answer is that we still have a problem.
No doubt Wivenhoe dam is too small to effectively mitigate floods and provide water at the same time and the wall should probably be raised. But maybe the real problem is that successive Queensland state and city administrations have permitted and continued to permit urban development in areas of Brisbane that have flooded twice in my lifetime at huge economic cost and will probably flood at huge economic cost one more time before I die.
Glen Fergus writes: Ignorant comments on Wivenhoe operation have been the province of those limited folk over at News, and Crikey should leave them to it.
Ms Cousins gave us an excellent summary of expert opinion on Wednesday, including the wisdom of Prof “Ashkan”, who was an institution in Queensland hydrology. So why let your commenter yesterday denigrate him and repeat nonsense memes like “36 hours to Brisbane”. The distance along the river channel to the city gauge is 128km (AMTD 150km to 22km), so that would be just one metres per second.
Anyone who even glanced at the river during the flood knows that is rubbish. (Our Prof would chide that flow velocity and flood wave velocity are not the same thing, but the error here is so great that the difference is moot. The answer depends on the circumstances, and cannot be had without a computer model.)
The beginning of the end of bookshops:
Niall Clugston writes: Re. “Rundle: the beginning of the end of bookshops” (yesterday, item 10). I don’t think Guy Rundle should extrapolate from the bankruptcy of Borders to “end of the shop”. But I guess Rundle has to be flamboyant, making sweeping historical and linguistic assertions.
I don’t think the shop has been the “default recourse for purchase” since the days of Mesopotamia, as this ignores marketplaces, pedlars, farmgate sales etc. And, for what it’s worth, I doubt English word “keep” is related to the German “kauf” (“buy”).
Borders’ collapse is probably linked with Internet sales, but its big-spending business model also has to be a factor. I’m sure there’s still a future for the less glamorous bookshop that doesn’t try to sell you coffee. And the GFC has to be a factor too.
For all the hype, online shopping is just a new version of the mail order, which was probably more prominent 100 years ago than it is now.
Berlusconi, AC Milan, Gattuso:
Martin C. Jones writes: Re. “Richard Farmer’s chunky bits” (yesterday, item 14). Richard Farmer only mentioned the incident involving the captain of Silvio Berlusconi’s football club (Gennaro Gattuso /AC Milan) in passing, but lest anyone feel sorry for the “50+ Tottenham (assistant) coach”, it should be pointed out that he (Joe Jordan/nickname: “Jaws”) was one of the great Scottish strikers, played without his four front teeth (he wore dentures), and is widely regarded as one of the hardest men to play football. (He even played for AC Milan for a time.)
Most commentators agree that the post-match separation of Gattuso and Jordan was for the former’s benefit, not the latter’s.