Sunday, 24 October 2010

Catching up on the news...

OK so I've been offline for a few days (bloggers' ability to schedule posts in advance is a boon!) so I thought I'd highlight some stories of note that have come up while I've been away from things....
  • Multiculturalism is useless; long-live multiculturalism...
In Germany last week, Chancellor Merkel has admitted that multiculturalism has 'utterly failed' in that country.  And that should open a vigorous debate here about whether we can avoid the consequences of that failure.

Most Australian commentators are intent on being hopelessly optimistic, pointing to the relative success of Australia in coping with the huge influx of migrants post-WWII.  But there is a big difference, I would suggest, in a Western colony country's ability to assimilate those of the same broad Christian cultural background to the ability to assimilate the increasingly diverse religious and cultural migrant group Australia is now seeing.

The most dangerous commentaries of course are those who advocate cultural relativism,where all cultures are claimed to be equal, and just because one happened to be first in a country gives one no more rights to determine the nature of the nation than new arrivals. 

Australia must, as the Pope recently urged Britain, rediscover and treasure its Christian roots.  Of course we must remain a country where "You can eat or wear anything, practise your religion, speak your mind without fear — choices that are a luxury in many parts of the world."  But those coming here must be aware that we are not about to throwaway our heritage."

  • Asylum seeker children to be allowed out of detention and to go to school...
It was always seemed to me to be fairly outrageous that not only do we jail those fleeing persecution, but we don't even allow their children to go to school.  Until of course months or even years later when their application for refugee status is successful (as it is in the overwhelming majority of cases), by which time the task of assimilating into Australian culture is made infinitely harder by the traumas induced by imprisonment. 

So its nice to see Labor abandon at least a little of the rhetoric now that the election is over, and embrace rationality on this subject, aided by church groups and others.  Now let's hope they are prepared to stand up to the NIMBY hysteria from those living in the Adelaide Hills and elsewhere...
  • The Liberal Party embraces big Government...
No well actually I'm being sarcastic here.  I've suggested before on this blog that Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey is a dangerous idiot.  I'm not actually opposed to tighter regulation of the banks in areas such as fees and consumer relations; there is a good case for this.  But price fixing?  The good news is that Hockey is not actually Treasurer and so we can hope that his rhetoric this week about re-regulating the banks to prevent them making interest rate rises is just more irresponsible political gamesmanship and not a foretaste of what to expect under an Abbott Government.

Unfortunately, that's probably unduly optimistic, and these erratic swings in the wind are exactly what we would have been in for had the Liberals been elected. Whether that's any worse than a Government that is giving every indication of being unable to carry off any real reform (viz water, tax) is of course still an open question...

  • If only no fault divorce required a two year waiting period instead of one we'd all be saved...
This gem comes from the pen of former PM John Howard, who, in his new biography apparently laments the failure of an amendment to Whitlam's family law reforms back in the early 1970s that would have required a two year waiting period for no fault divorce.  Because really, that would have made all the difference to the destruction of family life that we have witnessed in the wake of those reforms.  Oh really?
  •   Indigenous child abuse and neglect is all a product of colonialism....
Of all the myths of our time, the denial of Original Sin must surely be the most dangerous.  And its popular version in Indigenous policy, the myth of the 'noble savage' gets a run this week on The Drum in a claim that prior to colonisation Indigenous children were never neglected, but, if necessary cared for by the extended family.  Yup.  Provided of course one doesn't count the paedophilia inherent in traditional Aboriginal marriage practices, the savage punishments meted out to rebels of all ages and more.

I'm not defending British colonialism, or suggesting that Indigenous people shouldn't be encouraged to take responsibility for their children.  But perpetuating such naive myths is never going to help achieve this.

Indeed, another article in the Weekend Australian reports that Aboriginal 'shaming' courts - which have been backed with a large public investment - are no better at reducing rates of re-offending than traditional courts....

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