A possie in Aussie

March 31, 2010

Boat people scoop! They buy Home Brand Hawaiian pizza

The Brisbane Sunday Mail had a scoop last Sunday – and honoured it with a front page banner headline:  “THEY’RE HERE”: Refugee crisis hits home! As Christmas Island overflows boat people are enjoying shopping trips in Queensland.

International news agencies have not yet run with the story, but just when I was ready to write, the perfect words on the topic were published by Crikey: They’re here! The racist ham eating muslins have arrived!



March 15, 2010

Outrage? I condemn it as cheap and nasty

Filed under: humor,humour,media,News — Nayano @ 7:09 am
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I have been having trouble keeping up the momentum for this blog lately. It would be a lot easier for me if I wasn’t trying so hard to present a balanced view (What do you mean, you hadn’t noticed!).

Yes, I try to avoid posting out of outrage.

Larvatus Prodeo made reference to the ubiquity of outrage and condemnation on the web when he recently opened a thread in this way:

“What’s been worthy of condemnation this week so far? Which evil political, cultural, social, musical, religious, and other phenomena need condemnation? (Or loud denunciation?)”

Larry Gellman at the Huffington Post wrote Feeding the Beast–Our Addiction to Anger and Fear:

“If you ask most people what they want the most for themselves–and certainly for their children–the vast majority would say “happiness.” So why do so many people spend every waking moment watching, listening to, and reading things that tell us up front are specifically designed to make us angry or afraid?

“…Millions of Americans have become truly addicted to anger and outrage. Fox News and talk radio figured it out first, and years ago became the crack pipe of the angry Right. They realized early on that there’s no money in real journalism any more but they could get rich feeding our insatiable need for heroes and villains.

Millions of Australians, too.

I am constantly amazed by the volume of posts put out by Andrew Bolt (subscribe to an Andrew Bolt RSS feed – it’s very instructive!)

It’s true that his posts are usually short, but there is another factor that makes posting more efficient for him – outrage. The ‘outrage’ theme is so ubiquitous at his blog that even when an action is stated its bare bones, it is implicit that it is being stated because it is OUTRAGEOUS.

It would be much easier to settle for outrage, instead of considered comments.

For a (unintentionally) cynical take on feeding the hungry ‘beast’ of the media, have a look at Feeding the media beast: an easy recipe for great publicity By Mark Mathis

March 3, 2010

Angry Anderson and friends: please share your statistics!

I’m not Angry, but I am frustrated.

Gary ‘Angry’ Anderson yesterday added some petrol to the fire of racism in Australia by telling a Parliamentary Inquiry that there were racial and cultural reasons behind increases in weapon assaults.

(And gave “Aussie Kids’ a strange commendation: “Aussies use their fists”.

How does he know? How does he get the confidence to make such claims? Does he have access to sources the rest of us don’t?

Of course, Andrew Bolt is always there when there is a sniff of fuel being added to a fire.

Bolt ‘just’ raises the issue, and then lets the moral panic do the talking:

“Peter of Adelaide’:

“Angry is 100% correct.

“The Vietnamese were the first in Adelaide to use weapons and the machette seemed to be the weapon of choice.

“Today it’s knives, machettes (sic) and anything else available.

“Vietnamese, Sudanese, Lebonese (sic). You name the immigrants and you will find weapons within their gangs.

Another reader supports Peter of Adelaide:

“Peter of Adelaide makes points about the propensity of ethnic groups to use weapons. Supported by statistics.”

PLEASE PLEASE tell me, where are these statistics? I really want to know. Every time I have asked police for an idea of which groups are committing crimes I am met by silence. (As it should be.)

The only statistics that I know of that are publically available are from the ABS, and they are currently from 2005, and only of ethnicity of prisoners. (If you know of any others, please tell me).

And, unfortunately for those of us who would l.ike a quick answer to these things, the frequency of incarceration does not equal the frequency of crimes committed.

To take just one example, the wealthy can hire QCs to represent their children, as in a case of friends of mine whose sons didn’t like someone’s attitude in a street one night, and ended the night by killing the guy with a tyre lever.  The sons were ‘Australian’, of Anglo-Saxon descent, by the way.

‘Atatistics tell the story’ also turned up in recent discussions of the crimes against Indians. Commenters told me that the ‘statistics’ showed that the crimes were racist. But the ‘statistics’ turned out to be media reports.

Angry Anderson is clearly an idiot to say such things, and we could just write his comments off as so much hot air. But there is nothing like a ‘devil’ to increase sales of tabloid press and listeners to talkback radio. Especially if that ‘devil’ has a machete.

December 16, 2009

The media, not the Immigration Department, panics international students PR

A report in the Sydney Morning Herald Visa review may ‘spark panic’ is, surprise surprise (!) itself sparking panic among international students in Australia.

Google that headline, and the majority of hits are in Chinese –reflecting the numbers of Chinese students in Australia who came here in the hope and expectation of gaining permanent residency at the end of their studies.

The SMH article leads with this:

“TENS of thousands of overseas students studying expensive courses in Australia in the hope of securing permanent residency could be sent home empty-handed under changes being considered by the Federal Government.

“The Herald has obtained a document prepared by the Immigration Department recommending changes ”in the relationship between the lodgement of an application and the legal obligation to grant a visa”.

In other words, the media is again inciting a panic where the factual basis is very thin. ‘A change in the relationship’ could mean almost anything, and, as the Herald article says, way down in the body of the text:

“A spokesman for the department said the document was part of a consultation process and no decision would be made on the changes until next year.”

Note: ‘Consultation’ means consultation. Not decision.

The Interim Report of the Review of the Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 that was conducted by Bruce Baird of the review of the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act 2000 has recently been released, and will be part of the consultation. Baird doesn’t suggest that the link between studying and migration be broken or even weakened, and for any changes to be  grandfathered where possible.

The Senate Committee Report into the Welfare of International Students, which will also be consulted, gives the ‘Committee view’ as

2.24     The committee accepts the evidence that over time a perception has developed that a student visa may provide an automatic pathway to permanent residency, despite this not being the case. This perception has in turn been exploited by some education agents and providers who have used the perception of permanent residency to recruit students and then provide them with inadequate education or training.

2.25      The committee endorses steps that have been taken to ensure that international students coming to Australia to study are fully cognisant of the rules that apply to them and make it clear that separate and distinct processes are involved and that the requirements for permanent residency visas change from time to time in response to the requirements of the labour market.

2.26      In most cases, exploitation starts overseas with expectations fuelled by unscrupulous education agents advertising courses solely as a means to permanent residency. Regulation of providers and quality are discussed in chapter four and agents are discussed in more detail in chapter five.

November 10, 2009

Murdoch owns Newspoll. Newspoll can’t poll accurately. Any connection?

Filed under: asylum,asylum seeker,boat people,media,refugee — Nayano @ 6:38 am
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Newspoll is ‘the nation’s most authoritative snapshot of the political landscape’– that’s what Tony Abbott says. ABC Radio Breakfast

If Newspoll says that Rudd is losing support because he is too soft on asylum seekers, it must be true. Right?

Last week’s Newspoll result showed a significant narrowing of Rudd’s lead over Turnbull, and a significant increase in angst about asylum seekers- seeming to indicate that Rudd was losing because he is too ‘soft’.

These numbers were soundly overturned by the subsequent numbers provided by Essential Research and Morgan polls, that showed little change in Rudd and Turnbull’s popularity or in voter intentions, and a more benign view of asylum seekers.

Most commentators seem to be coming to the same conclusion as Crikey’s bloggers, that the ‘most plausible conclusion from recent polling is that last week’s Newspoll is an outlier’. So You Think You Can Interpret Polls?

But, as Crikey also notes, a result of the Newspoll results is that there is now ‘common wisdom’ that Rudd has suffered because he has not been as tough as Howard towards asylum seekers.

It is interesting to note that Newspoll is owned by Murdoch. The same people who own my local Sunday paper; The Sunday Mail.

In last Sunday’s edition (the first edition after the Newspoll results) the Mail ran this headline on the front page:

‘Howard: Fact: We stopped the boats: exclusive interview’

And on page 2

‘Rudd policies ‘vain, arrogant’, accompanied by a photo of asylum seekers on the Oceanic Viking.

On page 7

‘Rudd has achieved nothing- Howard’

Page 17

‘Lighten up a bit, Kev’ – Murdoch says that PM is ‘too sensitive for his own good’

Page 67

‘We stopped the boats’

Page 74 (continued from page 67)

‘Howard: we got it right’

(There were no comparable headlines in the sports section, however).

Quotes are good. You can print all sorts of things and hide behind the person who ‘said’ them.

So, I shall quote Bob Ellis:

‘After years of calling Newspoll ‘the Bill O’Reilly of statistics’ and asking why it has a CEO if its numbers are accurate, and why it turns up month after month those figures to Murdoch’s liking that make the headlines that sell the papers and do his enemies damage (‘McCain passes Obama’, ‘Nelson terminal’), I see at last, this week, what seems to me to be, the biggest whopper of all.’

Questions to be asked about whopping poll

October 29, 2009

Sudanese stabbed and media skewered

Filed under: African,media,racism,refugee — Nayano @ 7:25 am
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A young Sudanese man was murdered in an Adelaide suburb a couple of days ago.

There’s a PhD waiting for someone in analysing the news reports.

First I heard of it was through ABC radio news:

“A group of Sudanese men were sitting on an oval on Eastern Parade at about 4:30pm when they were attacked by about half a dozen other young men armed with knives and baseball bats.” Fatal brawl treated as murder

I assumed that the ‘other young men’ were Sudanese too. (Me! I thought that I was too sensitive to racial reporting in the media to be sucked in!!)

The next reports were through the Adelaide Advertiser. The first report I read excluded all mention of race – perpetrator, victim or otherwise.

Later that day in the Advertiser the victim became ‘African’ and the attackers ‘white’.

The latest reports have the victims (now 2) as Sudanese, and the perpetrators stripped of any descriptors. Six people to face court over Ottoway killing of Akol Akok

I reckon that this is going to lodge in the public consciousness as ‘another’ Sudanese murder, like the killing of Daniel Awak. Never mind the hundreds of murders that have taken place in the meantime that have not involved Sudanese.

And I dread the slow news summer months, and return of the so-called ‘experts’ who try to make their names through misinformed and misleading comments about Sudanese youth. A stab in the dark

October 21, 2009

Mass media try con tricks in asylum seeker war of words

Filed under: asylum,asylum seeker,boat people,media,refugee — Nayano @ 5:45 am
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In the asylum seeker war of words, how do con artists win hearts and minds?  The Murdoch empire is providing lessons in a breathtakingly blatant way.

On Monday evening Channel Nine aired a ‘news’ item about refugees and Centrelink benefits.

I didn’t see it, but an outraged friend called me afterwards and said it looked like an election ad, nothing like ‘news’.

In the transcript:

The information about numbers of refugees on New Start etc was the ‘result of a Nine investigation’. I don’t think that getting statistics from government departments rates as an ‘investigation’ – but this one ‘needed’ a ‘Freedom of Information request’ – so that proves that ‘they’ must have been trying to hide it.

‘Refugees are creating a soaring welfare headache for taxpayers’ – Centrelink benefits + refugees = welfare headache.

Centrelink benefits + the rest of us = ?.

By implication, refugees are not taxpayers. Nor are they really Australians.

‘Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce said he believed Australia was entitled to wonder whether at least some refugees were actually “economic migrants” wanting a more comfortable life.’

Meaning: this channel will not say straight out that refugees are just economic bludgers, but if we quote an ‘authority’ you’ll get the drift.

Then another Murdoch outlet, the Australian, printed an article from John Pasquarelli, former senior adviser to One Nation leader Pauline Hanson.

John did not pussy-foot around. The people on boats are the ‘illegals and their criminal co-conspirators, the people-smugglers’.

 ‘A new Australia is in the making, where our ethnic minorities will become majorities’. And there will be more ‘unrest in Sydney’s west’.

Who is responsible for the ‘unrest in Sydney’s west’?

‘56,000 Vietnamese refugees’. And Malcolm Fraser for allowing them in because he felt guilty about the Vietnam war.

Thousands of Lebanese Muslims let in because of a ‘suspension of normal eligibility standards’

But wait, it is ‘not just multiculturalism that is fuelling anger’.

Huh? John hadn’t mentioned multicuturalism hadn’t mentioned before this, just ‘unrest in Sydney’s west’.

So, ‘unrest in Sydney’s west’ = ‘multiculturalism’. Easy.

John: ‘Sadly, these mainstream Australians have no one with the courage to become their flag-bearer in these challenging times’.

Assumption- people taken in by this crap are ‘mainstream Australians’.

Good point though. I must agree.

We mainstream Australians have no flag bearer.

Kevin, where is your ticker?

September 11, 2009

Australian public critical of negative reporting of Islamic and Sudanese communities

Filed under: African,human rights,Integration,media — Nayano @ 10:33 am
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New research shows that Australians define ‘Australianness’ by behaviour rather than through ethnic origins.

‘Australian’ behaviour is defined as obeying the law, respecting others, integrating within communities and developing a working knowledge of English.

These findings come from a group of surveys conducted in metropolitan and regional Victoria by a team from Monash University.

In commenting on the report, Laurie Ferguson, Parliamentary Secretary for  Multicultural Affairs and Settlement Services said ‘The vast majority of participants believe that multiculturalism enhances Australia economically, socially and culturally’. Report shows strong support for multicultural Australia

The Australian Multicultural Advisory Council and Australian Government will use the report, Perceptions of Multiculturalism and Security in Victoria, in the development of new cultural diversity policies.

Participants approved of the diversity in Australia and see the Australian identity as fluid and dynamic, and indicated a preference for a whole-of-community perspective on issues and solutions.

(For our report of Sudanese refugees contributing to whole-of-community solutions, see Successful Sudanese settlement: a report that is not boring!)

The research also uncovered some areas of public concern.

‘Generally participants were very critical of the way the media portrays minority groups such as the Islamic and Sudanese communities,’ Mr Ferguson said.

‘In addition, some people expressed concern that some migrants do not properly integrate into Australian communities, and that settlement services should focus even more on building social inclusion.’

September 8, 2009

Australian Navy personnel kicking asylum seekers off rescue craft: explosive?

The Australian newspaper reported yesterday that video footage of the incident involving the explosion on SIEV 36 (earlier this year) shows asylum seekers were repelled from inflatable rescue boats. Secret footage of refugee rescue struggle

Sources who have viewed the footage describe the treatment of the asylum seekers as distressing and inhumane, according to the newspaper.

Outrageous, I thought when the headline caught my eye (I actually bought the copy of the Australian – a rare purchase these days for me.)

I waited for the rest of the news reports and commentary, but the only mentions I have found were in a New Zealand news service Claims Aussies kicked refugees off boat, and on the good old ABC Navy accused of kicking people off rescue boats.

Why the silence? The Australian asks in today’s paper ‘Where’s the anger this time around?’

Where are any other reports, angry or not?

Goal to the Australian.

September 4, 2009

The Australian wraps asylum seeker story in dirty tactics

It seems that, in mourning the passing of the Coalition federal government, the Australian has picked up the dirty baton of spinning stories designed to inflame anti-asylum seeker sentiment.

Paige Taylor authored a story about the government’s decision to move 10 unaccompanied minors from Christmas Island to Australia for processing on compassionate grounds in Thursday’s Australian

The story was headed: No visas, boys? Welcome to Australia

Taylor’s story included the incorrect implication that the Howard government had not acted in this manner themselves – which the Immigration Department corrected in a later story, pointing out that there had been 61 previous occasions under the Howard government when asylum-seekers from detention facilities on Nauru or Manus islands had been allowed to stay on the Australian mainland for processing after going there for medical or legal reasons, including to give birth or attend court. Kevin Rudd denies change in asylum policy

Taylor also implied that the move “that coincided with the arrival of yet another boat of asylum-seekers at the Indian Ocean territory last night” was to address overcrowding on Christmas Island  – echoing Sharman’ Stone’s position – without attribution:

“…we’ve simply been told, ‘shock, panic, let’s move some people off quickly before they’re processed and make way for the next boatload hovering on the horizon’.” Kevin Rudd denies change in asylum policy

It is interesting to compare headlines from other sources on the same matter:

Immigration first: Afghans allowed onto mainland without visas from the Macquarie Network’s Live News

No visas needed for 10 asylum seekers from Bigpond News (Telstra)

And the least inflammatory of all: Child Refugees enter Australia Without Visas from Embrace Australia, “the number one website for people interested in Australia immigration and those who simply love Australia”.

UPDATE: Media release from Senator Evans

Policy on irregular maritime arrivals remains firm

The Rudd Government is not changing its policy on asylum seekers.

Under the Rudd Government, unaccompanied children are processed as a priority.

Ten unaccompanied children were transferred from Christmas Island to the mainland on 2 September 2009.

This is to enable the department to finalise their cases and provide proper support to this particularly vulnerable group of children.

The children were part of a group who arrived on Christmas Island on 7 May 2009 and they have been undergoing the relevant processing while on Christmas Island.

Their move to the mainland in the final stage of their processing is not a change of Government policy. The department is simply finalising the processing of this particularly vulnerable group of children in an environment where better services can be provided.

They have not been released into the broader community and remain under the care of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship at the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation (MITA) centre.

The Opposition Immigration spokesman Sharman Stone is wrong to claim that their legal processing arrangements and entitlements have changed.

Dr Stone clearly does not understand the legislation introduced by the Howard Government. This makes no change to their legal status whatsoever. They are still offshore entry persons and do not have access to the onshore legal processes.

This is not unprecedented. This is not the first vulnerable group that this or the previous government has moved from offshore to the mainland before their visa status has been finalised. Exceptions have been made for vulnerable people or those with health issues, for example pregnant women or people who are seriously ill. Decisions such as these are made on a case-by-case basis.

The Rudd Government has maintained a system of mandatory detention and excision and made it clear that all irregular maritime arrivals will be detained and processed at Christmas Island while health, identity and security checks are undertaken.

The Rudd Government has also maintained extensive air and sea patrols and allocated $654 million in the Budget for measures to combat people smuggling.

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