Archives: February 2005

…oKAY oKAY!!

I know Flute and Lefty and even Mark Knight of the Hun have been all over this one already…

I’m SLOW, orright?! I’ve launched the new Slow Blogging movement.


More good sense on the parent-friendly workforce from the Fairfax opinion page. That is, instead of the “Work and familly is a nightmare, therefore Feminism has failed so we should all give up” line so popular in the recent past. And again, it’s a bloke who is talking sense!

Happy, happy, joy, joy!

….While our government runs as fast as possible in the other direction back to madness.

Will Family First use the Family Impact statements* to help push useful work-and-family reform? I’d like to be pleasantly surprised, but I’m not holding my breath.

*This memorandum from the NSW labor government, 1994, shows FF cribbed the idea from them. …Hey, who’s that Contact Officer? Strewth! Isn’t Google wonderful?

21 Feb 2005, Comments (0)

The anti-cowgirl

Author: Helen

Like some guy in lederhosen on an alp, sending a blast out on his alphorn, I’m posting an email from the Victorian National Parks association. (I’m getting a theme going here. Alps… Cows…)

My little boy has been mad keen on drawing cows recently. I love them. They are very sweet cows.


They also come in purple.


I have nothing against cows, personally.

Here’s the email text:


The Victorian Government will make a decision VERY SOON on the
future of private cattle grazing in Victoria’s Alpine National Park.

This ridiculously outdated farming practice threatens the survival of
many native plants and animals, spreads weeds, and damages
ancient peat beds and other wetlands of the High Country.

PLEASE write a letter to your local paper, or ring talkback radio,
and let them know FROM THE HEART that you want Victoria’s
Alpine National Park to be given the chance, at last,
to recover from cattle grazing.

Contact information for many newspapers can be found below.
And you can find plenty of information about the damage caused by
cattle grazing in the alps at

The Age
c/o Letters Editor
250 Spencer St. Melb. 3000
Fax: 9601 2414

Herald Sun
C/o Letters Editor
PO Box 14631 Melb. 8001
Fax: 9292 2944

I only copied two of the newspaper references – there’s a shitload of ’em.

If you’re not familiar with the why of it, look here or here. A few graziers are trying to claim that their lifestyle (including the right to graze cattle in the alps) is Heritage and should be Heritage protected. What bollocks. For one thing, their grazing fees are ridiculously cheap, and WE are picking up the tab for trying to repair the damage as well as the opportunity cost of the peppercorn grazing fees. This rort is used by corporate-style farmers as much as the little battler type. Also, what is it about the High Country culture that’s beloved in song, story and tourism? The horses, and the horsemanship, of course. No-one could give a stuff about the bloody cows. It’s all very well for the bushies to be lovable and colourful and Heritage-y and ride their horses down the main street in Drizabones etc etc, but if they drove the herds of cows there, I think the public reaction might be a bit different. (Pamplona, anyone?!)

AND it affects waterways and water quality. Something much more urgent today than in Banjo Paterson’s time. It’s really a no brainer, unless you profit from it of course.

…Why do those cows have no udders? Well of course. They’re boy cows! Duh. Silly me.

(Update, 23/2: See Fafblog‘s picture of the week.) Tell me that’s a coincidence.

16 Feb 2005, Comments (0)

Wombat Coprolites

Author: Helen

Ian Plimer, geology professor at Melbourne University and climate change sceptic, has a hilarious piece in the SMH yesterday claiming environmentalists are against data. …Data is an evil that demystifies the romance of nature. Environmentalists are like creationists. Really! They only operate by warm fuzzy storytelling and a yearning for the past, y’know.

I’d like to know what Tim Lambert and John Quiggin, the CSIRO and the IPCC would say about that. I think it’s pretty damn cheeky and he could only imagine he could get away with it if he thinks the SMH-reading public has no capacity for critical thought whatever.

Although I applaud Prof Plimer’s efforts fighting creeping creationism*, I think he’s hardly “divorced from value judgment” (his words) when it comes to environmentalism. He doesn’t own up, in the article, to his links to the mining industry (his areas of expertise cover what to dig up, and where.) Neither does he mention his links to right-wing think tanks, the Institute of Public Affairs and the Lavoisier group in Australia, and the astroturf site Envirotruth, which is operated by the National Center for Public Policy Research, which “…advocates private, free market solutions to today’s environmental challenges”. Digging it up and shipping it out, in other words.

Professor Plimer has fun portraying environmentalists (and us laypeople who agree with preserving ecologically significant areas) as stupid. His assumption that noone will check his biases proves he really does believe we are stupid.

*Note, the reviewer agrees with Plimer’s conclusions but is pretty underwhelmed by his scholarship.

15 Feb 2005, Comments (0)

The Dad factor

Author: Helen

OK, where was I? I was meaning to do a followup on the popular ìfeminism-has-failed-womenî meme in the mainstream meeja since November, for godsakes ñ Something called Christmas and camping and then school got in the way. The good news is that there were some pretty good replies to those articles. And a lot of it came from men.

There were feisty replies from Lizzes Conor and Porter, as well as quite a few good letters to the editor.

Most women have always “run frantically” from task to task. That is what it is like to be a mother. Apart from the upper classes who had the money for nannies and governesses, the majority of women throughout history have worked alongside their partners on farms, in small businesses, in factories and industry, and still run the household. Children also were involved in making a living for the familyÖ
ÖÖ. The myth of the family where mothers gave their time exclusively to home-building and childcare is just that, a myth that existed in children’s books and appears to exist in the minds still of some politicians.

Itís the articles by the blokes which excite me, though. They get it: if itís heartbreaking for a woman to try and work a 70 hour week, perhaps itís not that good for men either. Perhaps men would like to experience life as a Dad more deeply than the Edwardian or 1950s model. Daniel Donahoo writes:

Parenting is not a job solely for women; our sons and daughters need a father’s strength, compassion and love just as much.
For men to stick their head in the sand and assume that they can continue to work full-time and function in the same way their fathers before them did, while their partner also pursues a career, is wrong.
There are many young families demonstrating the diverse range of flexible arrangements available to families.

Sushi Das published another corker of an article on the subject a few weeks ago ñ read the whole thing. That generated more interest, and more letters. Go Brendan, go Peter, onya Kevin .

Peter McDonald of the ANU makes a case that family-friendly policies making it easier for both genders to balance work and family benefit not only them, but the economy.. Unfortunately, the Howard government is still wistfully trying to encourage the (non-traditional) ìtraditionalî model.

9 Feb 2005, Comments (0)


Author: Helen

Cornelia Rau is the Australian government’s worst nightmare. Blonde, pretty, in her older photos she could have stepped out of an episode of Neighbours.

She’s the girl next door. And the girl next door was sucked into the black hole of Australia’s detention centres, where the psychiatric deterioration of prisoners is kept – as far as possible – from the public.

HREOC and refugee advocates have been trying to bring the problem of mental health in Australian detention centres for years now. The stories coming out of Baxter and other centres have been horrible. So what’s new?

Post-Tampa, one of the most successful excercises by the Howard government and mainstream media was to portray asylum seekers in the camps as the Other. Slowly, they became a sub-category of human, not as deserving of basic human rights as you or me. Perhaps even non-human. Using the word “illegals” to describe them (none of them are on a criminal charge) has contributed to this, as John Quiggin and Jack Robertson discuss.

Psychotic behaviour caused or exacerbated by detention, such as anorexia or lip sewing, were gleefuly talked up by Liberal politicians, DIMIA officials and tabloid journalists, as proof of asylum seekers’ subhuman unfitness for life here. This was echoed in talkback and grubby MSN chat sites.

But Cornelia Rau didn’t fit that mould. She was the girl next door in Ramsay Street. And suddenly, it’s possible for the majority to see what happens when the girl next door is trapped in the surreal nightmare that is a privatised Australian detention facility.

Someone like Us.

Hooray! Rob Schaap’s back with a brand new blog, and he’s so good it should be illegal.

Maybe, in the current political climate, I shouldn’t have said that.

The Plain People of Ozblogistan: Sure and we’ve all updated our blogrolls already. You’re the one that’s always fookin’ six weeks behind.

Me: Oh.

OK listen up. I’ve got a brilliant idea to replace the whole Melbourne public transport system, which badly needs replacing, with a steam powered network. That’s a Twentieth century solution you cynics, cos we’ll use biomass energy. Yeah! Wood chipped from the city’s unnecessary parks to run the thing. Stop scoffing. Except for the water taxis down the Yarra (we’ll pour disinfectant in). They’ll be pulled by swans. Hundreds of swans. And a few cockatrices.

Think of the tourist dollars. Think of the untold profits to the CementMix corporation which is proposing to build the infrastructure.

Feasibility study???!!! Pah! There ain’t gonna be no steenking Feasibility study. No! it’s the right thing to do to make a decision. And the decision is to go ahead, so everyone working on this project now won’t be saying, will we do this, will we do that? They will be working to make this a reality.

People who talk about “feasibility studies” are just pansies.

Ha ha! Hahahahahahah!

The abortion “debate” (read anti-abortion campaign) is off and running. Wake up and smell the dishonesty.

Watch out for organisations with confidence-inspiring names like “Foundation for Human Development” (a front for the NSW Right to Life) and “Pregnancy Counselling Australia” (also a RTL front). No, I’m not saying RTL has no right to exist and air their opinions, but why the coyness about using their real name? Why the sneaking around? Well, maybe it’s so you can (in the case of Pregnancy Counselling Australia) attract vulnerable young women on the basis of a White Pages ad, without your opponents noticing.

Well, not for a while, anyway. Just keep an eye out for spokespeople from these organisations and others in the paper and on the radio. Hope for an articulate, well coordinated opposition. Fair and balanced?

Prepare for some outrageous massaging of statistics, too. We already have an abortion “epidemic”; Women are just whipping ’em out with incredible ease and callousness; Many of these are gruesome late term abortions with perfectly cute little bubs left mewling feebly in kidney dishes.

Fortunately, the reality is very different. But we know that won’t stop the lobbyists, and they can be very convincing – remember WMD?

Why don’t I supply alternative statistics? Because there aren’t any good accurate figures on abortion in Australia. Besides numerous problems such as collecting data in private clinics versus the public system, there are only statistics on the medical procedures surrounding abortion. Therefore, the “epidemic” that Mr Boswell and the right to lifers are so upset about includes curettages and other processes that are carried out when a woman miscarries.

So, the “epidemic” includes procedures that are “abortion” in a narrow medical sense but not in the sense the right-to-lifers use.

Despite the dearth of information on earlier abortion, we can say that the continual focus in the media on late term abortion is a crock: these abortions are by far the rarest and are only carried out in circumstances where they are the only option. (Yes, you’ll always find one abuse; there’s the single example of the woman who had a late term abortion because her baby was affected by dwarfism; I disagreed with her decision. Any other examples?)

If you follow Alas, a Blog and other feminist or political blogs you will be familiar with the resurgence of the “abortion debate” (read, push to restrict or eliminate abortion driven by the religious Right) in the US. And if you noticed the new resurgence of the religious Right in Australia since the last election, you won’t be surprised Australia is catching the virus.

At first I was heartened by the fact that Howard and other prominent social conservative Liberals seemed unenthusiastic about a change in abortion laws (insofar as Medicare rebates are concerned that is – that’s the only power the Feds have.) But then I heard this. Does this mean they know a change in abortion laws isn’t necessary – this kind of “reform” will guarantee they will get what they want anyway?

This could be interesting. Too interesting. We need to wade into this if necessary, for our daughters’ sake.

1 Feb 2005, Comments (0)

Comment on the Iraq election

Author: Helen

I don’t have any words to add to this – just loved the picture.


Captions welcome…