Monday, January 25, 2010

Can we afford to vote Labor or Liberal?

Mr. Kevin Rudd,
Prime Minister of Australia
Mr. Tony Abbott, Leader of the Opposition

Dear Sirs,

We refer to the reports below for your information.

Can we afford to vote Labor who has gone back to racist Arthur Calwell's days when "2 Wong don't make a White" - by increasing the English Test from (4.5) to (5)?

Can we afford to vote Liberal who says that migrants weaken values - what values?

What can the minor parties/Independent do for us?

We wait for your reply soon.

Yours respectfully,

Eddie Hwang
Unity Party WA (Uploaded)
Ph/Fax: 61 893681884
Date: 25-Jan-2010.
Environmental Friendly - Save the trees - Use Email.
Can you afford to give Telstra/Bigpond a try?
Migrants weaken values, Abbott says
ANDREW TILLETT MELBOURNE, The West Australian January 23, 2010, 2:35 am

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says the influx of boat people, ethnic crime and migrants' lack of respect for Australian values is undermining Australia's willingness to welcome foreigners.

In a provocative speech to the Australia Day Council in Melbourne last night, Mr Abbott suggested the "great prize" of Australian citizenship was not appreciated fully and was given away too lightly.

But far from wanting to shut the door to migrants, Mr Abbott declared there was no limit to Australia's population if immigration was managed properly, echoing Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's recent call for a "big Australia" of 35 million people by mid-century.

Mr Abbott said Australian immigration had been a "success almost unparalleled in history" but the public felt anxious about it because the surge of boat people renewed fears borders were uncontrolled, some immigrants seemed resistant to notions of equality and there were doubts whether the environment and infrastructure could handle more people.

Despite this, he insisted Australians accepted other races. "For all the misguided and sometimes cruel treatment of Aborigines, the ethnic typecasting and occasional snobbery which still exists, Australia has rarely seen domestic discrimination based on race or culture," he said.

In a swipe at the Government, Mr Abbott said soft border protection encouraged people to risk their lives.

While the main villains were people smugglers, a government that let desperate people think getting on a boat might be a shortcut to permanent residency would hardly be blameless. "A strong border protection policy is perfectly consistent with a large and inclusive immigration policy," he said.

A Nation's line in the sand
RICK FENELEY - January 23, 2010

Side by side ... Mecca Laalaa and Kim Short walk along Cronulla beach. They became friends while walking the Kokoda Track last year, an initiative organised in the wake of the Cronulla riots. Photo: Kate Geraghty

Race relations are again under scrutiny, and the question remains: what must be done to heal the wounds left by so many ugly acts. Rick Feneley reports.

You can't see the bridge from Bankstown to Cronulla, but it's there. The community bridge builders got to work soon after the Cronulla riots of December 2005, when Australians were sickened and shamed by a two-day orgy of violence that erupted from a cocktail of booze, testosterone and pent-up racial tension.
In direct response, women from Cronulla and the surrounding Sutherland Shire volunteered to teach Arabic women to speak English. Young Muslims like Mecca Laalaa and Suheil Damouny travelled to the beachside suburb to become surf lifesavers, part of the federally funded On The Same Wave project.

And last year, Laalaa and other young Muslims made lifelong friends with lifesavers from the Cronulla clubs when they walked the Kokoda Track together. They were led on this trek by some of the bridge builders to emerge from the dust of the riots: Jamal Rifi, a family doctor from Belmore; Scott Morrison, the Liberal MP for Cook, covering Cronulla; and Jason Clare, Labor member for Blaxland, covering Bankstown. Morrison and Clare have become mates, one of the many enduring friendships to result from those two days that rocked Australia.

As Damouny says: ''We were the guinea pigs.''

If it can be regarded as an experiment, it has worked in many ways. Last June, Damouny's father, Hythem, followed his lead to Cronulla. He and his business partner, Anan Qasam - two Palestinians via Lebanon and Jordan, then Yagoona - bought the convenience store on the Cronulla beachfront. Despite some lingering concerns about the horrifying scenes of 2005, Qasam says he was confident. ''I thought, that was not the Australia I knew.''

What, then, is the Australia we know?

In his address this week for Australia Day, General Peter Cosgrove, the former Defence Force chief, identified the Cronulla riots as a low point in the nation's history. ''Because it was so unusual and unexpected, it reverberated around the world. It was unexpected because Australia's reputation was that of an egalitarian and multi-ethnic society; tolerant, cheerful and relaxed.''

Now the world is watching once again. Not Cronulla, but Australia.

This week India's Government declared that if violent attacks on its citizens continued in Australia, it would officially warn them not to travel here to study. India was relieved to at last receive acknowledgment from Cosgrove and Victoria's police chief, Simon Overland, that some of the attacks have been racially motivated.

A $15 billion education industry is directly threatened, but much more is at stake. The ugly actions of a few Australians, yet again, have tarnished our reputation internationally. And as we prepare to celebrate Australia Day we are forced to ask ourselves: do these rogues manifest a racist Australian underbelly? If so, what can we do about it? And if not, how do we convince the world?

When the Herald went to Cronulla last Australia Day, it was not hard to find a young, flag-tattooed Anglo-Australian willing to proffer a racist rant against ''the Lebs''. Disinhibited by alcohol, one young woman suggested a repeat of the riots would be a good idea. ''Bring it on,'' she said. A young Lebanese-Australian, when asked how comfortable he felt amid such sentiments, preferred to echo the bravado of his blond-haired mates. ''I bash for Australia,'' he said.

It was the drink talking. There was no repeat of the violence of December 11, 2005, when mobs set upon helpless beach visitors of Middle Eastern appearance, or of December 12, when car loads of revenge attackers descended on beachside suburbs.

Amanda Wise is a doctor of sociology and senior research fellow at Macquarie University's Centre for Research on Social Inclusion. She grew up in the Shire and was a teenager there in the early 1980s. ''I can't remember seeing a flag anywhere,'' she recalls.

After the riots, Wise conducted research in the area, including focus group studies of Cronulla locals for the Immigration Department. While she was heartened by the bridge-building work and some messages of tolerance, she also encountered persisting ignorance, fear and outright anti-Muslim racism. ''And there was cynicism, particularly among the men, about turning young Muslims into lifesavers - about what it could hope to achieve.''

Wise fears that the ingredients for the 2005 riots remain. The causes, she stresses, were complex. She addresses them in her contribution to Lines in the Sand: The Cronulla Riots, multiculturalism and national belonging, a collection of essays released last month.

Wise says it was a confluence of events: years of unchecked antisocial behaviour by some Middle Eastern teenagers and young men visiting the beach; a build-up of resentment against the ''Lebs'' and their boisterous beach soccer matches; an assault on two local lifesavers; the stirring of local anger by radio ''shock jocks''; an undercurrent of Islamaphobia, particularly since the September 11 terrorist strikes; a period of anxiety, reactionary nationalism and misplaced flag-waving under the Howard government; and the critical ingredient in the cocktail - alcohol. Lots of it.

Wise worries that while temperatures have cooled, authorities must be vigilant. A stream of government ''interest and money'' that flowed into bridge-building in the first two years, she says, has all but stopped.

Only one of the pioneer Arabic lifesavers remains at the surf clubs. Like other young people, they have moved on to university and careers. But there is no new wave, yet, to replace them.

''It needs constant promotion,'' says Laalaa, 23. She regards her two seasons with the surf clubs as ''one of the greatest experiences of my life''. But there were challenges. Laalaa had pioneered the ''burquini'' - a costume to preserve her modesty. And for this she endured the occasional racist outburst; not from fellow lifesavers but beachgoers affronted by her alien appearance. ''They attacked my clothing, my beliefs. They questioned my ability to save anybody. Some thought I couldn't speak English.''

Laalaa was born in Australia. She graduated in health science and is a health promotions officer at Liverpool Hospital. She still goes to the beach often, and she has no regrets. But she says: ''It does bring you down to some extent. It's important to surround yourself with positive people.''

These include 22-year-old Kim Short, a Cronulla local and lifesaver whom Laalaa met on the Kokoda Track. Until then, Short had known no Muslims. ''It opened our eyes,'' she says. When life was reduced to this challenge, this arduous but common goal, Short says, ''We realised we had all these similarities.''

Wise, in her research, considers the cultural differences. Playing soccer on the beach, for instance, is common in other parts of the world but it became a point of antagonism here.

''Absolutely,'' says Rifi, who has driven much of the bridge-building work through his leadership at the Lakemba Sports Club. Since 2005, he says, Arabic teenagers and young men have become much more sensitive about the rights of others on the beaches. ''And they are making friends. You can see them high-fiving the locals.''

And regardless of the numbers of Arabic lifesavers today, Rifi says the legacy is clear: ''The surf clubs are not the exclusive domain of the blond-haired and blue-eyed.''

Rifi's fellow Kokoda trekker, the Liberal MP and Opposition immigration spokesman Morrison, says: ''Friendship is universal. When people finally get to know one another, all the other stuff falls away.''

Wise agrees. Women volunteers from the Shire who taught Muslims English, through a Smith Family program, had found it a ''life-changing'' education for themselves. And in her focus groups, locals who had expressed hostile views about Muslims tempered their remarks, merely after exposure to more reasoned views.

Morrison, quite frankly, gets annoyed that the Shire is singled out for supposed racism. He says the area has one of the highest rates of volunteerism in Australia. And he stresses that many of the troublemakers in 2005 came from outside the Shire, which he believes is no more likely to produce an outbreak of racial violence today than any other Australian community.

Morrison says he and his ''good friend'' Clare, the Blaxland MP, worry that the riots are constantly regurgitated, and that this only serves the tiny minority of extremists, from the Shire and Bankstown, who ''thrive on conflict''. He insists the decent views of the vast majority have prevailed. ''It was a black day, but we have moved on … I've got to tell you, one of the things that grates us both a bit is there seems to be such a focus on where we started rather than where we are now.''

So where are we now?

The editor of Lines in the Sand is Greg Noble, associate professor with the Centre for Cultural Research at the University of Western Sydney. ''It could happen again,'' he says, ''but is much less likely to, in my opinion.''

Noble says it is ''important to stress the fact that Cronulla is one of the 'whitest' areas of Sydney. The riots occurred there, and not in the most diverse areas, because it is a bastion of monoculturalism which feels itself under threat. So yes, those ingredients remain, although the social context is different and less conducive to violent displays of nationalism that aim at excluding differences. We no longer have, for example, a federal government which has validated the airing of racialised criticisms, and we no longer have a state government which has emphasised a law-and-order stance …

''I think quite a few Australians were shocked by the events, even if they may have agreed with some opinions expressed, and so there is a degree of public awareness which is more cautious about fervent nationalism and its combination with racism.''

At the Cronulla convenience store, the new proprietors have encountered only one racist, a drunk. Qasam recalls: ''He said, 'Is this Cronulla or Lakemba?''' Other customers told off the drunk.

Qasam and his partner, Damouny, have faith in the better nature of most Australians. They are not seeking out the racists in their midst. If they were, however, they might not have to look too hard. As the Herald photographed them on the beach this week, a middle-aged, mild-mannered local approached and asked what we were doing. When told, he volunteered the following: ''I've lived here all my life, and the riots were the best thing that ever happened to Cronulla. The police had stuck their heads in the sand for too long. The ethnic kids were coming down here and making trouble. The Christian Lebanese were OK but the Muslim Lebanese, they'd kick sand in people's faces, harass the girls. No one would do anything because they were scared of being called racist.''

Coles, meanwhile, is defending T-shirts it is selling for Australia Day. ''Aussie born and bred,'' they scream. They are meant to be ''fun and light-hearted''. Some will miss the joke.

Court rules Alan Jones 'racially vilified' Muslim youths

From: AAP - December 22, 2009 9:46PM

BROADCASTER Alan Jones and 2GB radio have been ordered to pay $10,000 in damages after a court ruled he vilified Lebanese Muslims.

Upholding a complaint of "`racial vilification'' against Jones and 2GB, the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal today said a number of Jones' comments were neither reasonable nor made in good faith.

The tribunal had heard that, presenting his regular talk-back slot over the course of a number of days in April 2005, Mr Jones said Lebanese youths hated Australia and raped, pillaged and plundered the country, undermining its culture.

Jones also identified "car hoons'' as Lebanese youths and said they disrespected the police. He also expressed the view Australia was not a multi-racial but a mono-cultural society and this monoculture was now under threat from "enemies within''.

The tribunal's ruling said: ''...Jones' comments about `Lebanese males in their vast numbers' hating Australia and raping, pillaging, and plundering the country, about `a national security' crisis and about the undermining of Australian culture by `vermin' were reckless hyperbole calculated to agitate and excite his audience ...''

The tribunal also ruled Jones interpreted a speech made by Lebanese-Australian cleric Sheik Faiz Mohammed in Bankstown as an excuse for sexual assaults by Muslim men on non-Muslim women.Sydney-based Lebanese-born Muslim figure Keysar Trad, complained to the tribunal.

He was later invited onto Jones' program for an exchange during which the presenter accused Mr Trad, as a Muslim leader, of doing nothing to stop car hoons or speeches such as the one said to have been made by Sheik Faiz Mohammed.

The tribunal awarded the damages and ordered the presenter make a public apology, although its exact nature was not determined.

"We find that the complaint of racial vilification as against both respondents are substantiated,'' the

ruling said.

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