Daily Archives: November 14, 2008

Progress in the plant world

One of the plants put in by M two weeks ago is getting ready to flower…


Compare with Surry Hills 88: overgrown (November 6, 2008). Every day a drink via the watering can.


And then tonight it bucketed down. We haven’t had such a dump for quite a long time…

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— Photos by Neil 14 November 2008

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Posted by on November 14, 2008 in M, personal, Surry Hills


Credit where it is due: Liberal MP Petro Georgiou and Senator Judith Troeth

Yesterday the combative and I think somewhat disgusting face of Opposition politics concerned me yet again; I had in mind the latest spat over Ken Henry and the Treasury forecasts, a vacuous and disreputable exercise if ever there was one. On the other hand, we read in today’s Sydney Morning Herald Review of strict anti-terrorism laws planned – an interesting headline which rather serves the Rudd government than the truth of the matter. The implied agency in that headline suggests the government being active rather than obstructive, even if something may be said for the argument that it is better to await the outcome of the enquiry into the Haneef fiasco.

THE Rudd Government is planning a review of the nation’s tough anti-terrorism laws – including the establishment of a watchdog to monitor potential abuse – but not until after the findings of the Mohamed Haneef case are handed down.

Taking action before then could pre-empt the findings of an inquiry into last year’s police investigation into Dr Haneef and purported links to terrorism, a Government source said…

Yesterday, Labor refused to join the Coalition, the Greens and the independent MP Nick Xenophon in the Senate and support a private member’s bill to create an authority to monitor terrorism laws and the need for them.

It called for the establishment of an ombudsman or similar independent office to periodically review the terrorism laws and determine which elements were still required.

The bill was the brainchild of the Liberal MP Petro Georgiou and was sponsored by the Liberal Party. It marked a significant shift in policy from the Coalition’s period in government when the prime minster John Howard refused to countenance such a measure.

The shadow attorney-general, George Brandis, said the Coalition was not repudiating its own laws. He said the laws were introduced during heated times and gave extraordinary powers and it was important they be reconsidered.

"You cannot allow extraordinary measures to become ordinary measures by the effluxion of time," he said. "It’s appropriate to review them."

Since the terrorism attacks on September 11, 2001, in the United States about 30 bills on terrorism, incorporating 44 laws, have been passed by Parliament. They gave authorities such powers as preventive detention, control orders, detention without charge for questioning, increased surveillance powers and other provisions previously considered draconian.

During the last term, the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence and Security twice recommended an independent authority be established and twice Mr Georgiou attempted a private member’s bill.

After the election he introduced a bill in the lower house but the Government ignored it, prompting yesterday’s tactic of introducing the bill in the Senate where the Opposition and minor parties have the numbers.

"This bill adds scrutiny, transparency and accountability to our counter-terrorism laws," said the Liberal senator Judith Troeth, who co-sponsored it.

The bill will languish in the lower house until Labor decides what it will do. Senator Penny Wong said the Government had some reservations about the bill but left open the possibility it might be supported after caucus had been consulted. More likely, Labor would introduce its own legislation reflecting the spirit of the Coalition bill and taking into consideration Mr Clarke’s recommendations.

Labor called for the independent watchdog when it was in opposition. Mr Georgiou said he was disappointed at the lack of Government support yesterday.

George Brandis is spinning there, of course. There was no excuse for the mad zeal the Howard government applied to these issues, and in testimony to that one might cite the record at the time of Georgiou, Troeth and, of course, Bruce Baird — no longer in Parliament — who stood against Howardite hairy-chestedness consistently and admirably (in contrast to most of the Labor Opposition at the time) and were marginalised accordingly.

When something like Petro Georgiou’s Bill is passed, as it must be, I hope he and his allies get the credit they deserve.

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Posted by on November 14, 2008 in Australia, Australia and Australian, human rights, humanity, John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Political, politics, terrorism


Australian poem 2008 series #23: George Essex Evans “The Women of the West”

Yes, one of my mother’s favourites, particularly for the middle stanzas. The 99th anniversary of the death of George Essex Evans was on 10 November. He was born in 1863. We can never return to the world he evokes, yet it is part of the streams that converge in us today and as such worth knowing, along with all those other streams some of which we now acknowledge rather better than we did.

Today Toowoomba is better known, perhaps, as the long-term home of another poet, Bruce Dawe.

Women of the West
By George Essex Evans

They left the vine-wreathed cottage and the mansion on the hill,
The houses in the busy streets where life is never still,
The pleasures of the city, and the friends they cherished best:
For love they faced the wilderness – the Women of the West.

The roar, and rush, and fever of the city died away,
And the old-time joys and faces – they were gone for many a day;
In their place the lurching coach-wheel, or the creaking bullock-chains,
O’er the everlasting sameness of the never-ending plains.

In the slab-built, zinc-roofed homestead of some lately taken run,
In the tent beside the bankment of a railway just begun,
In the huts on new selections, in the camps of man’s unrest,
On the frontiers of the Nation, live the Women of the West.

The red sun robs their beauty and, in weariness and pain,
The slow years steal the nameless grace that never comes again;
And there are hours men cannot soothe, and words men cannot say
The nearest woman’s face may be a hundred miles away.

The wide bush holds the secrets of their longing and desires,
When the white stars in reverence light their holy altar fires,
And silence, like the touch of God, sinks deep into the breast
Perchance He hears and understands the Women of the West.

For them no trumpet sounds the call, no poet plies his arts,
They only hear the beating of their gallant, loving hearts.
But they have sung with silent lives the song all songs above
The holiness of sacrifice, the dignity of love.

Well have we held our fathers’ creed. No call has passed us by.
We faced and fought the wilderness, we sent our sons to die.
And we have hearts to do and dare, and yet o’er all the rest,
The hearts that made the Nation were the Women of the West.

The Queensland Museum has an online exhibition inspired by this poem.

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Posted by on November 14, 2008 in Australia, Australia and Australian, OzLit, poets and poetry


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