Daily Archives: August 6, 2008

The South Sydney Herald

The South Sydney Herald for August is out now.

In this month’s issue, read all about: the world’s largest collection of steam-powered blacksmithing equipment at ATP; World Youth Day ’08–pilgrims and protesters; the Imperial Hotel’s plans to install a giant stiletto; Redfern’s new police commander; the Waterloo Recycling Workshop; Hillsong’s ‘Shine’ program; the Mercy Foundation’s plans to end homelessness; plus Chris Gentle, Get Smart, Australia’s Next Top Model, Youth Group; and more!

Independent local journalism, but interesting outside our own patch.

My bit didn’t make this issue…

South Sydney Herald August 2008 PDF

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Posted by on August 6, 2008 in Australia, Australia and Australian, local, South Sydney Uniting Church, Surry Hills


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The 7.30 Report | ABC | The Man from OECD

Angel Gurria, the OECD Secretary General, was interviewed on The 7.30 Report last night. Some of that is worth indexing here as a touchstone for our current debate.

KERRY O’BRIEN, PRESENTER: Given the economic balls the Rudd Government is juggling at present, high interest rates, high petrol prices, a slowing economy but with stubbornly high inflation, coupled with what Treasurer Wayne Swan describes as the most difficult global conditions in 25 years, they too would have breathed a sigh of relief after the Reserve Bank statement today. But even if interest rates do start dropping again soon, there’s a distinct lack of confidence from all quarters about when the international economy might turn the corner. Even the most confident of experts is now hesitant to predict an end to the damaging global credit crunch flowing from the US sub-prime debacle. Even the boss of one of the world’s most influential economic agencies, the OECD, acknowledges these are uncharted waters, but says Australia is better placed than most to ride out the storm. Angel Gurria, Secretary-General of the OECD, is in Australia for an APEC conference, and I spoke with him in our Melbourne studio…

KERRY O’BRIEN: Is there a risk the global slowdown may derail for the moment at least a concerted effort to tackle climate change?
ANGEL GURRIA: It should not, and we are very strongly saying to leaders they must not let that happen. The climate change challenge is the most important long term challenge facing man kind today. We should not be distracted. We are talking about 2008/2009. Well, in terms of climate change, we are thinking about the end of 2009. We are going to have the arrangement in Copenhagen which will probably be the seed of the post Kyoto arrangement, you know, the post Kyoto architecture. So this is for 2020, for 2030, for 2050 on climate change. We should not let the things of the next six months or the next 18 months distract us from the very, very critical issue of climate change.
KERRY O’BRIEN: Does a moderate sized country like Australia really have the capacity to influence the major emitters in terms of reducing emissions, and coming on board to substantial targets?
ANGEL GURRIA: Absolutely yes. Australia is already leading. It’s an example, we are looking at it and how it will be dealing with its proposed legislation. Australia is also a very big exporter of raw materials, including coal, and, therefore, you know, it has to set the example. And it’s 2 per cent of the emissions, yes, but at the same time it’s larger in terms of emissions that most of the countries in the world and it is part and parcel of an organisation like the OECD, part and parcel now of Kyoto because it recently ratified. So Australia has a lot to contribute to this process. So keep at it.
KERRY O’BRIEN: You would be well aware of the argument that a developed country like Australia can’t afford to get ahead of the pack in reducing carbon emission levels while the big polluters like China, India and America drag the chain. That Australia’s economy would surrender competitive trade advantage in the process. Do you have sympathy for the argument?
ANGEL GURRIA: I have no sympathy for the argument. I actually believe the contrary is true. That by seeking, by leading, you get first mover opportunities. There’s a development of a whole industry of green business to be done, and last but not least, in the end we all are going to have to contribute to the solution, so the sooner one gets into that mode, the better. The sooner the new type of economy, the new type of production that we are going to need in order to face this world with less carbon or at least 20 per cent or 50 per cent or whatever less carbon than we are emitting today, then the better. So, again, first movers will have the advantage and Australia will enjoy that.


On Sunday I put some ideas to Sirdan over a red wine at The Carrington, and to my surprise he agreed. What I said was that the politicians really amaze me. Without being party political about it, it strikes me that they take far more credit  — or assign far too much blame — for what is happening. For example, surely it is obvious that what we are facing now was building up long before Kevin Rudd became Prime Minister. Wouldn’t it really be the case that John Howard, Peter Costello, Brendan Nelson, and Malcolm Turnbull must be thanking God daily that they are not in government at the moment? So easy to sit on the sidelines and carp, isn’t it. Would things have been substantially different if Howard had been re-elected, and Peter Costello was perhaps by now Prime Minister? Does anyone seriously think they would be?

I will leave it at that, except to note that the longer perspective Angel Gurria offered is more truthful:

KERRY O’BRIEN: Australia’s Treasurer Wayne Swan said today that this represents the most difficult global conditions for more than 25 years. Do you agree with that?
ANGEL GURRIA: I agree we are facing unprecedented and as you yourself said, uncharted situations. But Australia is well prepared, because Australia worked on its reforms, has been doing so now for the better part of two decades, and today it can face the music better. It’s stronger, it’s well prepared, it has no debt that is pulling it down, and it’s also doing better in terms of its fiscal situation, it’s reforming also in terms of things like the climate change legislation that is before your Parliament, so in general I would say you are better prepared, but it doesn’t mean that you are immune.

You count back twenty years and where do you get? Exactly… Wouldn’t it be nice if we could engage a little more, rather than playing political ping-pong?

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Posted by on August 6, 2008 in Australia, Australia and Australian, climate change, current affairs, environment, globalisation/corporations, politics


Music interlude for Sirdan’s birthday

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Posted by on August 6, 2008 in Africa, music, Sirdan


Levelling with China | The Monthly | Linda Jaivan

August2008 Levelling with China is just one of the goodies in the August issue of The Monthly, the Aussie magazine which in 2006 brought you Kevin Rudd on politics and religion. Jaivan is well qualified to write on China. She is a friendly critic, but a trenchant one nonetheless, so I have given this the flag. 😉

Every day, we carry on about how the Chinese nation is going through its most dangerous period. Yet, in fact, the Chinese people lack a sense of urgency about the crises and dangers we face. Our overweening sense of self-importance, conservatism and complacency, blind optimism, propensity for idle boasting, flattery, unscrupulous behaviour, self-deceit, and trickery have the most serious consequences for the nation and our people.

He Baochuan wrote those words back in 1988. A scholar of the philosophy of science, he had worked on China’s first computer in the 1960s. His In the Hills of China, blunt and forceful, was one of a number of books, articles and even television shows produced at the time on the subject of what some intellectuals daringly called “the China illness”. Commonly cited symptoms included the burgeoning population, looming environmental disaster, bureaucratic incompetence, corruption and unbalanced economic development. He Baochuan’s editor, Xu Yinong, commented at the time, “In the past, people have talked about Reform as being a process of ‘crossing the river by feeling for the stones’. The real worry now is that in all too many situations we simply can’t find any stones.”

In the Hills of China was banned, along with many other works, as part of the clampdown on dissent that followed the 1989 protests and massacre. The People’s Daily and other state organs published attacks on authors like He Baochuan, accusing them of wanting to sell out China to the West. The shrill language of these attacks bore echoes of Red Guard rhetoric, and was a foretaste of the style of vilification which netizens and other self-appointed guardians of China’s national honour today direct at anyone, Chinese or foreign, deemed to have insulted China’s national pride, often because they have dared to address its problems.

A few months ago, when the violence in Tibet prompted worldwide protests and counter-protests, a mainland student, Grace Wang, tried to encourage dialogue between pro-Tibetan and pro-Chinese protesters at her university in the US. Web vigilantes went after her with viciousness; after her parents’ details were found and published, self-styled patriots smashed the windows of their home in Qingdao and dumped faeces on their doorstep. Wang wrote in the Washington Post that her mother and father had been compelled to flee. The threats on her own life forced her to accept police protection. But she also insisted that there were people on the pro-Chinese side who had been willing to talk with the pro-Tibetans before the more strident voices drowned them out.

Jane Macartney, the Beijing correspondent for London’s Times, received death threats following articles she published earlier this year on the Tibetan situation. Her attackers noted that she is a direct descendent of Lord Macartney, whose refusal in 1793 to kowtow to the Qianlong Emperor is part of the long and vexed history of the West’s interaction with China. In relatively short order, beginning with the Opium Wars of the mid-nineteenth century (which Britain fought to enforce its ‘right’ to export opium from the Subcontinent to China), China experienced military invasion, economic depredation, dynastic collapse, republican revolution and adventurism, warlordism, cultural upheaval, more invasion, war, civil war and Communist revolution. As the Monash University China scholar Gloria Davies so eloquently phrases it, China is “a nation that was hurt into being”…

Click the nice green pic to see what else The Monthly has to offer.

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Posted by on August 6, 2008 in Australia, Australia and Australian, Chinese and China, current affairs, magazines