Posts from the ‘Issues’ Category

Oh oh…

I’ve just moved into a new place but before I moved in I didn’t notice this…

What is especially worrying is that this is a very Jewish area as well as being really multicultural too.  The landlord really should have cleaned this disgraceful graffiti Off the doorstep before getting us to move in. Instead it is left up to me to do this. Then again I don’t know why any moron would daub this shit onto someone else’s door step.


The last few nights I have been watching the excellent SBS documentary ‘Go Back To Where You Came From’. The premise of the show was to gather six ordinary (white) Australians and have them trace the journeys that refugees have to make before they come to Australia. They get to meet both boat people and refugees who have come through official UN channels, see what the refugees have to face in the supposedly ‘safe’ haven of Malaysia, and then go back to Africa and the Middle East to see what life is like in the refugee camps. In tonight’s final episode they will go to the war-torn countries of origin of many refugees to see exactly what they are fleeing from.

Whilst the refugee issue is something that needs to be discussed further, it is not what I want to talk about right now. You see, the real villain of the show is Raquel, an unemployed 19 year old from the western suburbs of Sydney, who claims on the one hand that she’s not racist but on the other hand declares that she hates Africans. She is a real work of art! The problem is that I am meeting more and more people like Raquel these days. I think that part of the problem is the internet.

The net is great in that it allows people to freely express their opinions. People who otherwise would not normally have a voice are able to use Facebook, Twitter or Blogger and instantly get things off their chest. It also allows people with unsavoury opinions to have a soapbox to spread outright hatred. One person in particular that I have had the misfortune of debating online with is Scott Pengelly from Melton, a white supremacist with a strange fetish for Asian pornstars. (I know it doesn’t make sense.) Scott is all over Facebook and other internet sites, telling everyone that will listen that Australia is being invaded by [insert ethnic/religious group here] and that they are ruining Australia. This loser of a human being has publically stated that only whites can be Australian and that anyone who is not white is a foreigner and should go back to where they came from, even if they were born here. I did ask him if the Chinese in Bendigo, whose ancestors came here over 150 years ago would qualify as being Australians or foreigners but for some reason he did not reply.

Part of this problem has been fostered by our politicians. Years ago I cringed when in the face of some rabid Hansonism John Howard declared that Australia was a tolerant nation. This idea of tolerance has since been echoed by Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott. To me tolerance signifies only a willingness simply to ‘put up with someone’. Shouldn’t we be looking more at accepting people for who they are and not just putting up with them? Shouldn’t we be embracing this wonderful diversity and learning from all the different cultures that make up the melting pot of multicultural Australia? The media too, particularly News Ltd and journalists like Andrew Bolt exacerbate this issue through misinformation and by constantly looking for the worst in the migrants and refugees that we take in and then claiming that this is a trait that the majority of them share and that we really should take no more.

Finally I think I will just add a bit about myself here to show where I am coming from. I have been called an inner-city dwelling latte sipping lefty who wouldn’t know what it is like living in the suburbs next to all the refugees, Asians, Africans, Muslims, etc. While it is true that I live in inner-city Melbourne I am originally from the suburb of Noble Park, where I spent the first 22 years of my life. For those that don’t know, Noble Park is recognised as the most ethnically diverse area of Australia. It has a bad reputation but that is unwarranted as most people who live there would say that the place is not as bad as others make out. When I lived in Noble Park I used to think it was great. We had Kiwis on one side next door and Serbs on the other. Across the road there was a Mauritian family who had a daughter who I fancied, while behind us there was a Greek family where the mum always liked to sun-bake naked. The local shop owner was Lebanese whilst down the road there was a Vietnamese church.

At school, University, TAFE and work I have had mates from all corners of the globe. In Uni my best mate  was from Sri Lanka whilst ‘P’ is from Malaysia and my current flatmate is from Hong Kong. My best buddy at work, who I muck around with all the time is from the Philippines. (She’s also a St Kilda supporter and after the Grand Final last year gave me a big whack on the arm after I gloated a bit too much about my Pies’ magnificent victory!) I generally find that no matter what a person’s religious or racial background is their hopes and dreams are usually not all that dissimilar to my own.

This has again turned into a bit of a ramble and I’m not sure if I got my point across too clearly. Again this is more of a way of expressing myself and getting all of these thoughts out than anything else. If you’ve enjoyed this rant (or hated it) feel free to leave a comment.

Smoking Nonsense

I’ve seen the pro-tobacco industry advertisements that we’ve been bombarded with lately, trying to explain why plain packaging of cigarettes is wrong. I have been very confused by the messages that they have been trying to send. On the one hand they have said that plain packaging of cigarettes will have no effect at all and will just cost taxpayers money. If this is truly the case then why are they worried? Then they told us that not only would the government’s initiative not work, but that it would end up increasing the amount of people smoking, something that I think the cigarette companies would embrace. The final message that they have sent out is that people will stop buying cigarettes from shop and instead buy them on the black market. Huh?!

Now the tobacco industry has unveiled their ‘No More Nanny State’ commercials. These ads are nearly as pathetic as the ones which the gaming industry released a little while ago to complain about the governments’ proposed gambling reforms. I noticed that if you go to the website you are able to send a chain letter to your Federal Minister, but there is not an email address to email anyone at Imperial Tobacco to tell them how wrong they are and how the government actually, amazingly, has it right this time. Of course it would be wrong of me to supply the email address of Cathie Keogh, Head of Corporate Affairs & Legal of Imperial Tobacco, for people to email their comments on the inappropriateness of the commercials, but I will anyway.

Finally I just want to say that many smokers are the biggest pack of whiners I know. They act as if they are so persecuted and that everyone is against them. These are the same inconsiderate people who have no qualms about lighting up and puffing away whilst in the midst of a big crowd, blowing their toxic fumes in the face of anyone surrounding them (this has happened to me more times than I can remember!). As someone who has lost grand parents and in-laws prematurely thanks to their smoking related diseases, I think that smoking should be made illegal but know this won’t happen. All I ask is that if smokers want to kill them selves through their disgustingly dirty habits then don’t take me with you by smoking in my face.

My Thoughts

Nyakor Tut - Winner of the Sudanese beauty pagent where trouble occured

There has been much talk about the Sudanese community in Australia and whether we should continue to resettle refugees from this country. There have been a lot of negative comments, particularly from the Herald Sun’s Andrew Bolt and fans of his blog.

One comment that has struck me as being particularly ignorant, but typical of the Boltheads, is that refugees and migrants don’t make any contributions to Australian society, except with their cuisine, and by increasing the prison population. This is of course stupid to rebut, and shows just how ignorant Bolt’s readership is. Of course Andrew does nothing to dispel these untruths as all he really cares about is how many hits he gets on his blog.

Of course Bolt’s blog and most comments left on the Herald Sun website is a fountain of ignorance. Most of the contributors seem to be either 60+ or bogans, and all seem to be sad that the White Australia Policy was abolished. (Of course I’ve have previously cut & pasted a comment that said exactly this!) Most of the people don’t seem to have the capacity to think for themselves or need Bolt to legitimize their ignorance.

One thing that I always find amusing is when Bolt’s readers call those who oppose their narrow view of the world “inner-city dwelling, latte sipping, lefties”. I guess they do not see the irony in or don’t know that their hero lives in Melbourne’s leafy inner-Eastern suburbs and loves opera. Maybe they haven’t discovered that house prices in the inner-Eastern suburbs are higher than the inner city or that most people in the inner city are renters, or that more people in this world would have drunk a latte than would have listened to opera. Bolt is hardly an everyman.

Back to my original though and whether the Sudanese are settling into Australia well. All new migrant groups have some trouble when they first arrive and it usually takes a decade or two for things to settle down. Unlike the Boltists, who seem to have the notion that because of their skin colour the Sudanese can never settle in Australia properly, I think that the most have done very well but have been let down by some trouble makers. It’s wrong to judge a whole community by their worst elements. I’d hate to think that people overseas would be judging all white Australians based on say Martin Bryant.

I do acknowledge that there seems to be problems with single parent families in the Sudanese community, with many fathers being murdered back in Sudan. Alcohol has become another problem with the Sudanese youth, but then again this is a big problem with all Australian youth and not exclusive to the Sudanese. Similarly knife culture seems to be big with the Sudanese youth but again is endemic in the rest of the youth society.

I’m not sure of what the answers are but I don’t want to condemn all Sudanese Australians. Most seemed to have done very well in such a short time.

Nigger Boy Licorice

Almost three years ago I posted some packaging used for Nigger Boy Licorice. Back then I did not know much about this brand, only that they had their factory in Hawthorn Road Caulfield. Today I found out a little more, courtesy of the Museum Victoria website.

Nigger Boy Licorice was produced through the 1950s and 60s by the National Licorice Pty Ltd, a company in the USA with a branch in Caulfield, Victoria. The National Licorice company was formed in 1902 through the merger of Young and Smylie, S.V. & F.P. Schudder and H.W. Petherbridge companies in the USA. It was renamed Y&S Candies, Inc. in 1968 and since 1977 has become part of Hershey’s Foods. This advertisement represents one of many brands which used the word ‘Nigger’ to sell and promote products during the 1950s and 1960s. It demonstrates how African American stereotypes and slurs have been imported and reused in Australia.

The original posts can be found here, here and here.

It’s Un-Australian

An incredibly lame ad that’s basically saying that it’s un-Australian not to play the pokies. I guess I am un-Australian as I cannot think of anything more boring than feeding coins into a poker machine for hours on end with no hope of ever recouping my losses.

Of course everyone knows that pokies and gambling is a problem in this country, except for those who make money from it like Clubs Australia.

The Herald Sun

Don’t know if anyone else has noticed this but, the above banner has started appearing on the HS website over the last 2 or so months. It seems that the HS is no longer a newspaper but is now a stories paper.

Knut The Polar Bear

stamp for environmentalism, polar bear Knut

Image via Wikipedia

Sad news today on hearing that Knut, the polar bear born at Berlin Zoo four years ago has died today. At this stage his keepers do not know why he died, only that he was not sick and that he collapsed in front of 600 spectators.

Back in December 2006 Knut caused an international sensation, after the newborn cub was rejected by its mother and had to be hand-reared by zoo staff.After hearing this news I know that my partner ‘P’ will be devastated, as she fell in love with Knut from these news reports.

It has actually been quite a sad 12 months for myself and ‘P’ in regards to zoo animals. Melbourne Zoos Brown Bear Roan passed away in 2010 of old age, whilst their 2-year-old  Pygmy Hippopotamus Monifah also died of unusual circumstances.’P’ and I had visited the animals a number of times over the years and have some really good photos of both Monifah and Roan, so we were both very sad to hear of their passing.

This all makes me wonder whether zoos are the right places for wild animals. It is great to be able to see these animals up close, and many species are losing their natural habitats in the wild due to us, but I still am not sure whether zoos are where these animals should be. I am sure that these deaths are not the faults of the zoos and that the animals in the zoos would probably be healthier than their counterparts in the wild, but it still does not make me think that these animals should be imprisoned just for our amusement. Then again, does this make me a hypocrite because I enjoy visiting the zoo?

An Elephant Never Forgets

I decided to create this blog post for a couple of reasons. Firstly due to my love of elephants, which are just the coolest animals on the planet. Also the elephant has become newsworthy in Australia, with two elephants at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo and one at the Melbourne Zoo having recently given birth. Both Melbourne and Taronga have other elephants that are pregnant and will give birth before 2010 has ended. These are said to be the first elephant births ever to have occurred in Australia.

There has been another issue to do with elephants in Australia that has gained some media attention. Up until the 1960s elephants and circuses seemed synonymous with each other but things have changed in the last thirty or so years. People now consider it to be cruel to have elephants in circuses and those who joined the circuses in the mid-1950s have now reached retirement age and circuses the world over are struggling with what to do with these great animals. Animal Liberationists have called on one circus in Australia, Perry Bros. to send their elephant Saigon away to be free, whatever that means. Perry’s have expressed that the situation that Saigon is currently in is not ideal BUT circumstances mean that Saigon must stay on with them and travel on the road. In a future post I hope to go over Saigon’s plight but not until I have all the questions that I have asked answered, because I believe that whatever I write has to be fair and balanced, not biased. I don’t really trust the media’s reports on the situation and really if you want to write about something I find that it is best to do a little research. I won’t try to pick sides but instead I will discuss the issue as I see it before giving my opinion. In what I feel will infuriate everyone who reads it, my opinion at the moment is neither pro or anti circus. (I fear that I am going to feel the wrath of both animal liberationists and circus people.)

In future posts I will also explore the plight of these animals in the wild both in Africa and Asia. One issue that is especially dear to my heart is the fate of the rare Borneo Pygmy Elephant due to the loss of habitat for palm oil plantations. Of course Palm Oil plantations affect other animals (tigers, orangutans, etc) in various Asian countries too, but the elephants in Malaysia’s Sabah state will be the ones I will focus on. I also hope to talk about the controversy surrounding the elephants in Sabah’s Lok Kawi Wildlife Park (ie they are pygmy elephants taken from the wild). I will also explore the issue of pygmy elephants being captured and sent to zoos in China and Japan back in 2003.
I do have other issues and things to cover but this is probably enough for now. I hope to do a thorough research in each of these posts that I do so I may be very slow updating. Hopefully I will do a follow up on this soon.

More Racist Licorice

The other day I posted about Nigger Boy Licorice, a brand of sweet that was popular in Australia for many years up until the mid-1960s when it was suddenly realised that people found the name Nigger Boy to be offensive rather than amusing. I don’t know much about this brand of sweet, and would really appreciate any information. I do know that the factory/shop that produced these sweets was based in Hawthorn Road Caulfield, about 500 metres from where I now work which is in the heart of Melbourne‘s ‘bagel belt’. I do have a few various offensive advertisements that the company made.