The tortured logic of not acting to stamp out IS

Tamas Calderwood writes: Re. “Why the War on Terror gets a blank cheque but we ignore bigger threats” (yesterday). Bernard Keane’s argument seems to be this: Australia has not established a utopia within its own borders, as evidenced by domestic violence and indigenous health problems. Therefore, our policy to help an international military coalition destroy ISIL is a “self-reinforcing system of Stupid”, driven largely by “older white males” who “misprioritise … issues”.

It’s an interesting take on things, but when I see severed heads on spikes, crucifixions, mass executions and hundreds of thousands of people fleeing into Turkey, I wonder if Australia’s utopia can wait while we help to resolve the largest humanitarian disaster in the world today.

The fight to end indigenous disparity

Jeremy Donovan, CEO of GenerationOne, writes: Re. “Twiggy stands by indigenous jobs plan. but exact numbers murky” (Thursday). It was hugely disappointing to read Crikey’s factually incorrect take on GenerationOne. Paddy Manning’s article was strewn with errors. Not least of these was the suggestion that signatories to the Australian Employment Covenant (AEC) receive extra government funding for employing Indigenous Australians.

Indigenous wage subsidies are available to all businesses employing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. These are provided whether or not a company has joined the AEC. The government is specifically committed to “provide for pre-employment job training in accordance with the training specifications of AEC Employers (who will guarantee employment upon completion of specified training by the Indigenous job-seeker)”. Government funding for Vocational Training and Employment (VTEC) goes to training Indigenous people, not to subsidising businesses for employing Indigenous people.

Equally, Manning’s assertion that a commitment made by “a prospective builder of a new hospital at Minto in western Sydney, which went out of business, remained on the books” is untrue. GenerationOne was contacted by the author about Covenant commitments, and we informed him that: “In regards to old pledges and pledge numbers, we do a cull every six months. The particular example, Illawara Health, was cut several years ago. It is now not included.” (Ed: this email was never received by Crikey. We’re investigating why.)

Another disingenuous assertion suggested the VTEC program adds to the ‘churn’ of Indigenous job seekers. The high turnover in the training and employment of Indigenous Australians — along with the debilitating economic and social outcomes created — is a by-product of an outdated and easily manipulated funding system.

To its credit, the Abbott Government has committed to finding a solution, and the trial of the VTEC model is part of this commitment. Time spent by the author accusing AEC signatories of fudging their Indigenous reporting statistics may have been better spent researching the VTEC model, which has been created with a primary focus on improving retention rates beyond 26 weeks of employment.

Paddy Manning has created a fictional world surrounding GenerationOne, Andrew Forrest and the federal government, in which evidence and truth are notable absentees. AEC signatories work in good faith towards ending Indigenous disparity their reputations should not be in the cross hairs of a journalist seeking an imaginary conspiracy. Reporting the fight to end Indigenous disparity in this way is incorrect and dangerous.

Sunny days, chasing the clouds away …

Deborah Cleland writes: Re. “What is it with Canberra?” (yesterday). Whilst nightlife and coffee may be a matter of taste, you may like to check the BOM before making comments about relative access to sunshine. You would find that Canberra has the least number of rainy days of any Australian capital city, sitting at around 100 to my recollection. Would probably be good to check restaurants/cafes per capita too, though again, what would the well-educated small-l liberals of our lovely city know about “decent” coffee?

Never let facts get in the way of tired tropes though.

Drew​ Baker writes: I am an avid (Canberra-based) Crikey reader and look forward to reading it each day. The content, independent view and humour make for a great read.

Not so impressed with article in Tips and Rumours today, where you commented on the the OECD article on Canberra with “we wonder if they should have measured things like access to decent coffee, nightlife and sunshine, but we’re guessing not”.

I’m all for a bit of humour, but our coffee kicks arse compared to what I find in most Sydney cafes and we get a lot more sunshine than Melbourne does! You’ve got a point on the nightlife though… Come on Crikey, don’t succumb to Canberra-bashing, leave that to News Corp.

Peter Fray

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