Indonesia worries overblown

Martin Gordon writes: Re. “Crikey says: G-G Cosgrove faces tricky Indonesian relations” (yesterday). I actually don’t see a problem at all with Peter Cosgrove as a Governor-General. The fact that John Menadue has a problem with such an appointment does not surprise me at all. His partisan loyalty to the ALP is well known. I would be surprised if he actually supported anything the Coalition does.

The hyper-sensitivity that our media attach to anything with Indonesia reflects their own personal views, and is frequently nonsense. Indonesia is going through an election cycle, which will bring the usual inflammatory “blame foreigners” rhetoric. Yes, Indonesia may be upset about our vigorous policing against people smuggling, but haven’t we being upset by the farce for some years?

I see Cosgrove potentially providing a parallel with the warm and friendly relationship Australia under Stanley Bruce and Turkey under Ataturk enjoyed immediately after World War I. Both were at Gallipoli and were veterans. They got along particularly well.

Relations with Indonesia have generally being good, and the obsessions of the media have generally being hysterical and overblown.

Aboriginal poverty a macro problem with micro solutions

Jon Coghill writes: Re. “Razer’s class warfare: Aboriginal Australia needs capital, not bullshit feelings” (yesterday). I tried to decipher Helen Razer’s piece into something more easily digestible, and I think what she is trying to say is: stop all the sentimental, spiritual bullshit and do something tangible. Or as Midnight Oil put it in the ’90s: it’s time to pay the rent.

It’s the baby boomers leading the sentimental apology and spiritual awakening, because they’re racked with the guilt of growing up unaware of the plight of Aboriginal people (perhaps ignorantly). That’s who you should aim your frustration towards.

John Pilger is a classic example of one such privileged being, looking for someone to blame and hoping his new-found spirituality will change the way thing are. He’s off the mark, but I’m afraid so is Razer. Because fixing Aboriginal Australia is not a macro problem. All you have to do is to partake in trying to help on a micro level to see that.

What we need are more people talking about the micro issues that have built up over generations of poverty that many indigenous people must hurdle these days. For instance, the insidious effects of foetal alcohol syndrome, the effects of parents who have never read a book to their child, the effects of existing on a diet of junk food and lacking the knowledge it might severely cut your life expectancy.

Yes, money into education and health will help, that’s if people can read and have enough drive to take advantage of it.

Razer is right, the problem within indigenous Australia is so much larger than changing the attitude of white people. But it’s time to move on from from a war of philosophy and take some tangible action. Each and every one of us.

Marijuana not harmless after all

Caroline Storm writes: Re. “Get Fact: is marijuana no more dangerous than alcohol?” (yesterday). The most grave problem regarding marijuana is its use by those whose brains are immature. Neuroscientists know now that the human brain matures at about 24 to 25 years. If  marijuana  is used by a teenager, for example, a psychotic episode may result. While not usual, such a reaction, tragically, is not rare. If use continues, schizophrenia may ensue and a life be ruined.

The Melbourne case of a homeless who was allegedly murdered by a youth of 19 illustrates this exactly. The teenager’s friends stated in the media that he had changed since using marijuana.

This effect regarding the drug are known and seemingly ignored by the our leaders. They must be advertised, particularly on TV, as graphically as AIDS once was. It appears to be simpler and cheaper for them to ignore the hazard and just wait for more deaths and ruined lives.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey