Sunday, April 25, 2010

POLITICS/UK: BNP wants to set up a penal colony ...

Well, it looks like Nick Griffin, the Grand Ayatollah of the British Nazi Party (BNP) wants to be a serious contender in the upcoming UK elections. And his policies? Well one involves establishing a penal colony.

A future Queen's Speech written by ... Griffin ... would include legislation to make beer cheaper in British pubs, introduce formal bank holidays for all national saints' days and reintroduce capital punishment for drug dealers and child murderers. Householders would be allowed to defend their property by "whatever means necessary" and a penal station for extremely dangerous criminals (including rapists) would be built on the British island of South Georgia. Out would go wind turbines and foreign aid and in would come a new high-speed 200mph magnetic levitation inter-city rail network. Traffic congestion would be brought under control by curbing the "immigration invasion".

Why send British illegals to South Georgia? Why not send them to Sydney? Heck, we already have tens of thousands of illegals working here anyway. Let them do some hard labour in the market research phone rooms of Chippendale and Manly. Let them suffer in the heat of Wilderness Society bear suits as they ply for donations on the city streets. And let them weep and gnash their teeth oceans away from home as they watch us colonials cheer and laugh as England is defeated by New Zealand in the World Cup in South Africa.

Read more about Griffin's nutty agenda here.

COMMENT: Tim Blair's sensitive writing on bipolar disorder ...

Tim Blair writes a gorgeous piece about his Aunt Jill and her struggles with bipolar disorder. There really is nothing further I can add to it except that it is a must-read.

UPDATE I: We all pray for Tim and his relatives. Any readers who believe they may be suffering or know something who might be suffering from this condition should read this after reading Tim's fine piece.

Words © 2010 Irfan Yusuf

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Friday, April 16, 2010

OPINION: Politics of prejudice hover around immigration question ...

Hawkish political positions make it difficult to discuss sustainable population concerns, IRFAN YUSUF writes

Writing for a News Limited website on April 9, federal Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella described any suggestion of Australia having 36 million people by 2050 as being

... a bit like the average family inviting three strangers as permanent house-guests to live with them forever and their only preparation is hiring a doorman to greet them.

No doubt Mirabella’s parents would have heard similar sentiments expressed by those sceptical of the immigration policies of the Menzies Liberal governments. They belonged to a generation of post-war migrants who battled suspicion, prejudice and bigotry but who put their heads down and worked hard to make life better for themselves and their children. And in doing so, they helped build a stronger nation.

In her maiden speech on 18 February 2002, Mirabella made specific mention of her parents’ “hard work and many personal sacrifices which eventually allowed them to open a business of their own while raising their three children”. A humble milk bar built on more than two decades of work in factories.

My own mother would be able to relate to the experiences of Sophie Mirabella’s mum. She spent much of her working life in a pharmaceutical factory, lifting heavy boxes and facing plenty of cruel jokes about her dress and her Indian accent.

But what really is the difference between our parents and desperate Tamils and Afghans who jump of leaky boats risking their lives? Aren’t they also making sacrifices? Won’t they also work hard for their children? Or are we to apply the rhetoric from the 2001 federal election that these people are too busy throwing their children overboard?

During my own Liberal campaign in that election, I was fortunate to meet many people who had jumped the fictitious queue. One was an Afghan from the Hazara tribe who were mercilessly persecuted by the Taliban. Before the Taliban came to power, the man was a successful pharmacist with two stores in Kabul. When I first met him, he was delivering pizzas in western Sydney seven nights a week to support his wife and children while taking English classes during the day in the hope of pursuing further study.

At the time, the Liberals were using ugly rhetoric about migrants to gain and retain power. Not much has changed. Since the Fraser years, the Liberals have had a confusing and confused relationship with immigrants, especially those not choosing to be born in Europe and/or with white skin.

So often the Libs have been more concerned with capturing what could be described as the bogan vote. This has often backfired, particularly when more fundamental issues (such as the right to make an unfair dismissal claim) have proven more important to bogan (and indeed other) voters than prejudice.

The Libs also have ended up upsetting their more traditional business constituents. And more migrants are good for business. Rupert Murdoch’s hand-picked tabloid columnists may not like immigration, but his advertisers would probably take a different view.

Tony Abbott discovered this recently when he was forced to backpedal on the anti-immigration rhetoric. His recent attempts to forge a coherent immigration policy (laid waste by his immigration spokesman Scott Morrison) involved cuts to family reunion, much of which takes the form of working immigrants bringing over elderly parents to provide free child care. Child-care centres may be happy with Abbott’s policy, but they represented only a minority view within the business community.

Migrants themselves should be a core constituency for the Liberal Party, especially migrants from Asia, Africa and the Middle East who are often more socially conservative. Increased migration from East Asia should have benefitted the Libs during the 1970s and ’80s, though John Howard’s 1988 comments about reducing Asian immigration soon put a stop to that. And senior Liberal Kevin Andrews isn’t the most popular man in African migrant circles after his 2007 call for African immigration to be cut following the murder of an African youth in Melbourne.

The ALP, of course, are far more clever when it comes to blowing the dog whistle. They prefer not to use hysterical rhetoric, instead generating racially neutral myths. The recent announcement that asylum seekers from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka were having their applications suspended is an example of this. Immigration Minister Chris Evans claimed his decision was triggered by "changing conditions".

In the case of Tamil asylum seekers, the change involved the first parliamentary election in 20 years. In the land of Labor mythology, the awesome power of a single election to change things for the better in war-torn nations is truly remarkable. I mean, just look at the peace and stability which two elections brought to Afghanistan. They’re almost beginning to resemble the marginal seat neighbourhoods populated by bogans whose votes Labor needs to gain or keep.

Previous generations of migrants, not to mention indigenous Australians often left out of these discussions, can also share anxieties about population growth in this country. We need to have a debate about sustainable population, but the fact that both parties are happy to have this debate whilst sounding hawkish about asylum-seekers and immigration in general makes me wonder whether the debate could descend into the poll-driven politics of prejudice.

■ Irfan Yusuf is a lawyer and author of Once Were Radicals: My Years As A Teenage Islamo-fascist. This article was first published in the Canberra Times on Thursday 15 April 2010.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

AFGHANISTAN: Rudd government celebrates the changed circumstances ...

Australia's Immigration Minister has unilaterally announced that the situation in Afghanistan is changing for the better. Wonderful. No doubt his staff would have checked news reports and found the following signs of peace and harmony ...

[01] The situation on the ground has certainly improved. Five Afghan civilians were killed by a roadside bomb today. Some 13 were injured.

[02] Canada has announced that its forces will stay in Afghanistan beyond 2011. Here's what the Ottawa Citizen reported:

Defence Minister Peter MacKay warned Canada’s NATO allies Friday the military alliance cannot take its “foot off the gas” in Afghanistan, simply because the United States is about to send 17,000 more troops to the country.

[03] The Yanks are sending in a further 17,000 troops into the country.

[04] Relations between the United States and Afghan President Hamid Karzai are at an all-time low.

[05] Democracy is working so well that the Parliament has had to issue ultimatum to Karzai to fill 11 Cabinet posts within 10 days.

[06] The Taliban is so much on the run that even Hamid Karzai wants to join them.

[07] Far from fighting drugs, the Afghan President might be too busy using them himself! Here's what a former deputy UN envoy to Kabul, Peter Galbraith, has to say:

He's prone to tirades, he can be very emotional, act impulsively," Mr Galbraith said. "In fact some of the palace insiders say that he has a certain fondness for some of Afghanistan's most profitable exports.

Yep, this is a country fast changing for the better. Hence we have every reason to bring our troops home. Speaking of troops ...

Monday, April 05, 2010

MEDIA/BLOGS: Bolt gets bitchy!

When I first read Andrew Bolt's vicious personal attack on ALP Federal Minister Kate Ellis on his bog following her recent appearance in Grazia magazine, I imagined it must have been jealousy on his part. Heck, if Alexander Downer can wear 8 inch stilettos, why can't Bolt?

But I never expected such a bitchy headline ...

Thick head flaunts thin body ...

... and then makes this extraordinary remark in his blogpost ...

I know Kate Ellis didn’t get her job thanks to her brains ...

So how did she get her job, Andrew? Methinks MP's tend to get their jobs by convincing the electorate to vote for them. Is Andrew Bolt prepared to suggest in writing how Ellis got her job? Or is he afraid of getting another tap on the shoulder from his in-house lawyers?

Perhaps Bolt's problem is that most female politicians don't look more like this ...