Why Australia hates asylum seekers – | Christos Tsiolkas | The Monthly

Yet all of us, no matter which side of the asylum seeker debate we fall on, know that even if all the bloody boats were stopped, if they were all sent back into Indonesian waters, if we put all those on board into camps in a deprived satellite nation, if we exterminated the whole fucking lot of them – every blighted man, woman and child – none of this would speed up the two-hour drive on choked roads that we take to and from work, boost the numbers of nurses and doctors in our public hospitals, make our education system any better, or increase wages, the dole or our pension payments. We all know this.

Sari sight ... Kristina Keneally presents the Indian Subcontinent Community awards on February 18 at Government House. She says the new awards were set up in response to community demand.

Sari sight … Kristina Keneally presents the Indian Subcontinent Community awards on February 18 at Government House. She says the new awards were set up in response to community demand.

HUNDREDS of thousands of taxpayer dollars are being poured into awards for ethnic communities prominent in seats being contested by some of the government’s most senior MPs, including the Labor leader in waiting, John Robertson.

The awards, costing $300,000 and created in the past three months, are being handed out by the Premier, Kristina Keneally, to members of the Indian, Lebanese, Vietnamese and Filipino communities at official ceremonies held at Government House.

But their proximity to the election raises questions about whether Labor is using public funds and resources, including the Community Relations Commission, which is administering the awards, to shore up its campaign in western Sydney.

Advertisement: Story continues below
Last night ... the Filipinos line up to get their community awards.

Last night … the Filipinos line up to get their community awards. Photo: Ben Rushton

After the federal election, the former premier Morris Iemma said Labor had been dumped by its ethnic heartland in crucial western Sydney seats.

The Lebanese awards, announced on January 30 by Ms Keneally and the Labor MP for Granville, David Borger, were given out by the Premier on Tuesday night. Mr Borger did not attend, but is understood to have sent his apologies.

Mr Borger, who is the Minister for Roads, is defending his seat against the Lebanese-Australian candidate for the Liberal Party, Tony Issa. Granville is home to a large Lebanese community.

On Tuesday ... the Lebanese get-together at Government House.

On Tuesday … the Lebanese get-together at Government House. Photo: Dallas Kilponen

The Filipino awards, which were announced on February 1 by Ms Keneally and the Transport Minister, John Robertson, were handed out last night. Mr Robertson is Labor’s candidate for Blacktown and a possible future leader. He attended last night’s presentations.

Australian Bureau of Statistics data from 2006 reveals Filipinos comprise the largest overseas-born group in the Blacktown area, at 5.9 per cent.

The Vietnamese community awards will be handed out tomorrow. They were jointly announced by Ms Keneally and Labor’s MP for Cabramatta, Nick Lalich, on January 31.

The original ... the Premier's Chinese Community Service awards on February 8.

The original … the Premier’s Chinese Community Service awards on February 8.

Mr Lalich, on a margin of just 7.2 per cent, is fighting for his political future against a Vietnamese-born Liberal candidate, Dai Le, in a seat which has a large and influential Vietnamese community.

The inaugural winners of the Indian Subcontinent Community Awards were revealed at an official ceremony held on February 18, after their creation was announced on December 22.

The awards were announced by Ms Keneally and the Labor MP for Macquarie Fields, Andrew McDonald, who is the co-convener of the Parliamentary Friends of India. This group was created by the government in late November. The chairman of the NSW Community Relations Commission, Stepan Kerkyasharian, said the commission was ”just facilitating these awards” after having been asked by Ms Keneally to administer them.

”If there is a political perception, it’s not as a consequence of anything that the commission has done,” he said.

Ms Keneally said the awards were created in response to calls from community groups to recognise community service in a similar way to the long-running Premier’s Chinese Community Service Awards.

Looking very fetching in a sari…

Racism in Oz?

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Such differing views on whether racism is present in Oz in the latest Q&A TV program. To Todd Sampson, an outsider who moved to Oz about 10 years ago it is plain to see. Those born here and seem to not see it even if they are ethnics like the young Asian from Sutherland Shire. Germaine Greer’s description of the subtle racism of the educated British matches my experience in Oz. An inherent belief in their own superiority (and others’ inferiority) allows Australians to be be very ‘nice’ to people and that is supposed to demonstrate that they are not racist. This does not apply to the redneck racists who just hate ethnics of any flavour- these are the people who were drawn out of the woodwork by Pauline Hanson and co-opted by John Howard’s dog-whistle politics. See the program here.

As one who refused to take up Australian citizenship until there was an option to pledge allegiance to the people of Australia instead of the queen (sorry, no capital ‘Q’ here), I am supremely ambivalent about the constitutional monarchy we have in Australia.

To me, it is a back door way for retaining the exclusionary ‘Australia’s heritage’ arguments for the diehard old school (mainly, it seems) Anglicans who see themselves as arbiters of what is and is not ‘Australian’. They are a vocal and extremely influential minority though, and are going to have to be dragged into the 21st century kicking and screaming.

Face it, the monarchy is irrelevant in Australia; apart from a few archaic constitutional conventions, it exists but in name. But it does have a symbolic significance and should be turfed out if for no other reason than to acknowledge the lack of its relevance to our lives.

It’s a sign of the times that we see the monarchy being mocked in the public domain these days. Here is a billboard advertisement for a South Australian brewery:

Coopers beer ad upsets monarchists

The monarchist rump (now that’s a useful term!) is actually expending energy to protest about this sort of stuff. A link to this story is here.

Someone should tell them to get a life or move and live it in Old Blighty.

Not all airheads are blonde

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Jonathan Holmes seems to be settling in well as the new presenter of Media Watch on ABC TV. Here is a recent story that I really liked…. Can’t he do a mean impression of an airhead?


A link to the transcript is here.

More Australia Day advice

Friday, 25 January 2008

Continuing on from previous years, Sam Kekovich has offered his annual dose of advice on how to be Austraaalian on Austraaalia Day.

Have a look here.

Also, there have been these tongue-in-cheek ads in the Financial Review and other papers, over the last week that had me a bit puzzled.

I knew there’s a government organisation that works to publicise Australia Day trying to build up a sense of history and belonging among us for this day. These ads, however, have a sly sense of humour to them and I was quite sure that it was a spoof of some government ads. But no, it appears that these ads are from the government.

Now we really know that the politically correct reign of the Howard government has ended and Australians can truly be relaxed and comfortable about themselves without getting involved in all sorts of anal and nationalistic chest thumping.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Races in Oz- serious and not so…

Monday, 5 November 2007

Every two years the World Solar Challenge is held- this is an

event based on a competitive field of solar cars crossing the Australian continent powered by nothing but the sun. Teams are required to research, build and design vehicles capable of completing the 3000km journey from tropical Darwin in the Northern Territory, to cosmopolitan Adelaide in South Australia. [link]

This year the race was won- for the 4th consecutive time- by the Dutch team from Delft University, Nuon, with their car the Nuna 4

World Solar Challenge

The car traversed the 3010 km distance from Darwin to Adelaide purely on solar power. previous years competitions have established that these solar cars can travel as fast as normal cars so this year the requirements were changed to make the specifications closer to a normal family car.But this is not the real inspiration for this note on races; this is being written on the eve of the Melbourne Cup horse race- the race that stops a nation. One of the few countries that actually has a public holiday (in Melbourne, where the race is held) for a horse race. Sport and gambling come together in this race with bets being placed by almost every grown person in the country. Offices run their own pools and even in places where the day is not a holiday, all work comes to a standstill for the 3 and a half minutes or so that the race runs.

For the not so serious races, consider these:

The Henley-On-Todd Regatta, held in the town of Alice Springs in the red centre of Oz- is held on the banks of the Todd River to raise funds for charity. It’s been held annually since 1962, making the one to be held on 30 August this year the 46th race.

In 1962, Reg Smith and his compatriots at the Alice Springs Meteorological Bureau proposed they hold an actual regatta along the lines of the famous Henley-on-Thames, a race between Cambridge and Oxford Universities. The idea was taken up by the Rotary club of Alice Springs, and the fact that the town was 1,500 km’s from the nearest large body of water was never seen as a problem.

Yes, you read that correctly- the regatta is held on land on the very dry bed of the river Todd! Reading on, at their site:

Watching seemingly sane people race in bottomless “eights”, “oxford tubs”, “bath tubs” and yachts through the deep coarse sand of the Todd River provides an unique spectacle amongst world sporting events. The multi-event program attracts many local and international participants from the audience who often finish up on world TV news paddling canoes with sand shovels and in “land lubber” events like filling empty 44 gallon drums with sand.There are crazy bathtub races too and whole naval battles by, among
others, “Vikings” and “Pirates” crewing battle boats on truck’s
chassis, bristling with mortars and high pressure coloured water
cannons hurling flour bombs at their opponents. But if it rains and
there is water in the river, the boat race has to be cancelled.

Pictures of some participants in past years, here.

And then there are reports of annual goat races and wheelie bin races at a Lightning Ridge, an opal mining town in New South Wales!