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Vale Edward Gough Whitlam, Its time! for the big election in the sky

nla.pic-vn3512828-vI met Gough once, shook his hand even, when I was a callow youth an in awe of those playing the game of politics, heck I even voted for the ALP in 1972 and in 1975 and during those years I loved listening to parliament on the radio where his dulcet tones and oratory cemented my love of our democracy. My politics have changed somewhat since then but you never lose the affection you feel for your first political love even when it has become clear that their feet were very much made of clay.

Gough certainly deserves respect for leading Labor out of the political wilderness in 1972 but he also deserves the critiques of his administrative failings and economic mismanagement he will undoubtedly be greatly deified in the next few days which is fine for a long life spendt serving the nation but lets just never forget that a good emperor knows to listen when the dedicated slave reminds him “that you are only a man, not a god” those who admired him need to remember that as well.

With respect comrades

 

 

 

 

Ring around a Rosey, or a look at how the Black Death of the middle ages is reflected in the current outbreak of a Ebola

In the middle of the 14th century, however, there seemed to be no rational explanation for it. No one knew exactly how the Black Death was transmitted from one patient to another–according to one doctor, for example, “instantaneous death occurs when the aerial spirit escaping from the eyes of the sick man strikes the healthy person standing near and looking at the sick”–and no one knew how to prevent or treat it. Physicians relied on crude and unsophisticated techniques such as bloodletting and boil-lancing (practices that were dangerous as well as unsanitary) and superstitious practices such as burning aromatic herbs and bathing in rosewater or vinegar.

Source

In many ways we can see distinct similarities between the Black Death and the current outbreak of the Ebola virus in western Africa, Like the medieval plague then     there is no known cure for Ebola now and despite all of the wishful thinking, despite all of the advances in medicine in the last 600 years we are just as powerless to stem the spread of this disease. And I am sorry to be the bringer of bad news but I think that this disease is going to have a similar effect on the population of Africa as the Plague had on 14th century Europe. We can certainly expect that the death toll will soar into the millions as efforts to contain it continue to fail.

Why do I expect such a large death toll?

This is a virus that not only spread through the exchange of bodily fluids but also remains active in the items that those fluids fall upon, thus bedding and clothing that the infected have touched becomes vectors for the disease to reach new victims. Add to that cultural practices pertaining to the care of the sick that funds family looking after their own, a low level of education, the effects of other diseases poverty and crowded living conditions and it’s not had to see just how optimistic any suggestion that the disease can be contained are. Just look to the example of the response to one man with the disease who is now gravely ill in the United States to get some idea of just how much effort is needed if you are too truly contain the infection: This level of response is just not possible in third world west Africa and so it seems inevitable to me that the infection is going to spread exponentially just as the black death spread exponentially in 14th century Europe.

So what can the modern west do to help stem the spread of the disease in Africa?

Well not much at all really, we risk losing a large number of our very skilled people if we send them into the disease hot spots firstly because the treatment that is available essentially boils down to trying to keep patients hydrated and waiting to see who has the natural ability to fight the infection.   Those brave souls who are trying to treat the currently infected are trying to do so while wearing Hazmat suits that are essentially a fancy yellow plastic bag which I’m sure you will realize is nothing short of tortuous in the tropical climate of the region. So not only do the health workers run the very real risk of contracting the infection but also they risk dying from heatstroke in the suits they try to prevent infection with. Several health workers who have caught the Ebola virus have been evacuated so that they can be treated in Western hospitals but if the numbers of infected western heath workers were to increase I can foresee the practice of repatriating them being wound back or even abandoned in the effort to contain the disease. Aid in the form of medical supplies, certainly can and should be provided but the major imperative now has to be containment, and quarantine of all parts of Africa where the disease has been found.

The Environmental bigger picture, or accepting the will of Gaia

In the natural world there are clear limits to the population of any species. Be it the amount of substance that a particular species can find or something in the environment that find them tasty and therefore limits their numbers through predation. Human beings are very clever in their ability to eat almost anything that is nourishing and in many ways we have become the apex predator in every part of the eco-system. That in conjunction with our ability to mitigate that other limit to population, disease. Has seen our numbers soar beyond 7billion souls on this small planet. I would seem to me that pandemics are one of the ways that Gaia addresses the problem of too many people on the surface of the planet. Oh humanity certainly has dodged a bullet from pandemics in the recent past. But this disease is not going to be so easily dodged. I think that it has already reached a critical mass that makes it virtually unstoppable. Heck thanks to modern air travel I will be very surprised if is even just contained on the African continent.

 

Things are going to get a great deal worse before they get better

During the Black Death whole towns succumbed to the disease they were left with only the dead in residence sometimes the dead were not even buried and it’s not hard to imagine that happening again in Western Africa if Ebola really starts to take off as I am expecting it to do.

What we need to realize is that modern medicine is good, its clever and its largely been the bringer of better lives for all of those it has touched, from the poor children spared the mortal diseases of childhood that used to take so many children well before they reached maturity to the wonders of surgery that can see the imperfections and damages to our bodies repaired and replaced in a way that would seem magical to a medieval man contemplating the plague yet here we stand in the same place as that medieval man facing a disease pandemic that we cannot stop and a death toll that we dread will be larger than anything humanity has not seen in the last six centuries.

If this danse macabre does play up a storm it will change every aspect of global human society we could well go from a place where the people desperately compete for places in the economy to one where skilled workers will be in very short supply in many parts of the planet. The mechanized west where we already have machines that enable a very small number of people to grow the crops to feed the many or to operate the machines will probably get through this upcoming disaster well enough but any society still that practices subsistence agriculture can expect the same hard times that befell Europe after the plague because there was simply not enough people to plant and harvest the crops. Those who have been worried about climate change May well find all of their concerns are moot because a world with less people on it will not be producing anywhere near the emissions growth they are so certain is the problem. On the other hand the worlds mercantile economy is likely to be severely affected by both the loss of potential customers and the cost of trying to address the disease.

One other thing that we should recognize is that many people see the world through the lens of their religion and those religions that have a millenarian tendency may well see Ebola as some sort of divine retribution for our “sins”. A faith like Islam on the other hand which places such value in the observance of a mass gathering like their Haj could well be both a vector for the spread of the disease and suffer a huge number of casualties among its faithful.

The innocent childhood game of ring around a rosey actually has its origins in the time of the black death.

The innocent childhood game of ring around a rosey actually has its origins in the time of the black death.

Rule 303 works

The usual suspects have been suggesting that changes to our laws intended to address concerns about the ISIS jihadis are “unnecessary” Yet we wake this morning two police officers are recovering from knife wounds and a young man was shot dead.

One shot dead, two stabbed in Melbourne

 

A TEEN terror suspect under investigation for making threats against Prime Minister Tony Abbott was shot dead by police last night after stabbing a Victorian police officer and a federal police agent.

The injured officers, both from the Joint Counter Terrorism Team, are in hospital in a stable condition.

A bomb squad expert suits up to explore Endeavour Hills police station. Picture ; Mike Keating

The 18-year-old man, who was under surveillance over his threats against Mr Abbott, met police outside Endeavour Hills police station, in Melbourne’s southeast, about 7.45pm.

Senior intelligence sources confirmed that the terrorism suspect had been among a number of people whose passports were recently cancelled.It is believed that the man was well known to police, and had displayed Islamic State flags in the local Dandenong shopping centre.

Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner southern region Luke Cornelius said police had arranged to meet with the Narre Warren man because of concerns about his behaviour.

But an altercation started after he arrived at the police station, which led the teenager to produce a knife. He allegedly stabbed the federal agent multiple times, while the Victoria Police officer was stabbed twice in the forearm.

The Victorian Police officer discharged a single fatal shot.

“Obviously both members are in shock but we are doing everything when can to provide them with support and assistance in what is for any police officer an incredibly difficult and challenging time,’’ Mr Cornelius said.

source

There is no doubt for me that the police officer who shot this man did precisely the right thing the young would be Jihadist has got his wish to be “martyred” and we can be thankful that he did not succeed in taking anyone with him and if nothing else it proves that “rule 303″works. I expect that there will now be a flurry of the usual suspects insisting that the police did not have to kill this young man, or that he was a “child”.

The police did the right thing the threat was quickly neutralized and anyone who thinks the Jihadists are no threat should hang their heads in shame.

Cheers Comrades

 Police investigate the shooting. Picture: Mike Keating Source: News Limited

Police investigate the shooting. Picture: Mike Keating Source: News Limited

So you say you want a revolution

Mao is famously quoted as insisting that “all power comes from the barrel of a gun” and while that may hold true for a country in the throes of a revolution or subject to military conquest in an established democracy like our own all power comes form the most persuasive tongues and the dialogue those tongues foster within the part of the population who are politically active or engaged.  For a very long time during my lifetime those persuasive tongues were controlled by the owners of the mass media who were able to disseminate their ideas and understandings to a receptive audience who could only respond and engage with the issues via a limited facility provided by media owners in the form of “letters to the editor” they heavily controlled the choice and publication of such feed back to maintain their monopoly of political  discourse. This made owners, editors and Journalists both powerful and significant in our democracy. Political parties and aspirants to office openly courted the media and media owners and editors of both political inclinations have not hesitated to promote or deride the political players of their day especially when it came to promoting their own beliefs or vested interests. Thus we have a business focused player like Rupert Murdoch considering not only the players who will serve his political ideals but also his business interests. We should never forget that the reason that anyone publishes a news paper or owns a commercial television channel is to make a quid by selling advertising on or in it so it naturally follows that a media entity has to be responsive to its audience and to some extent reflect the needs desires and aspirations of that audience as well. Thus no matter what the ideology of a media owner may be (and I’m sure that some readers are imagining Rupert Murdoch as an evil manipulative puppet master right now) he or she also  has to respect and reflect the audience who buy his product.

The media landscape changed with the rise of the internet and the invention of the blog. All of a sudden political discourse was not controlled by mega rich gate keepers who shaped the discourse through their cohorts of authorized writers and speakers (journalists) Suddenly ANYONE  could write anything they pleased about the issues of the day and more importantly ANYONE could comment freely on what had been written. And comment people did with spirit and gusto. In the political blogs that were the pioneers of this brave new online world it was not uncommon to have comment threads that had many hundreds of postings as commentators had lively debates in real time as they tried to “find the plan” to explore an issue with great thoroughness. The problem is that most of these blogs have become very tribal indeed. A sort of mob rule mentality and tribalism has become the norm in most of the online spaces where politics are discussed. Thus if you visit any popular political site you will find that the commentators who have views consistent with the slant of the site tend to gang up on anyone with a dissenting voice who happens to raise their heads above the parapets and offer a contrary opinion. I’ve seen this happen on both left-wing and right-wing sites and it almost always devolves into personal attacks upon the person espousing a heterodox position along with the accusation that they are “trolling”.

My question is does it have to be this way forever? Surely the better way to go would be for those who have a passion for politics to do more than just seek the affirmation of those with a like minded.  Democratic politics is first and foremost about the art of persuasion. If you want change you have to persuade those who disagree with that change that they are in error and that the changes you propose have real virtue. No one is ever going to be persuaded to change their opinion if they never even encounter a rationale for a contrary opinion or if they never have their own beliefs challenged which means that even the most spirited but  “within the tribe” discussion is ever going to change a single mind. To make change within a democracy you have to change the minds and vote of those who give our political candidates their jobs.

What I advocating here is that those who want to see a better standard of political debate in this country learn to respect political difference and to embrace diversity in their interlocutors and further that everyone who wants a  better Australia needs to try to breakdown the tribalism in the online spaces where we discuss the issues. At the very least you could learn more about why those you disagree with think the way that they do, and you may even find that you can persuade them to a position that is closer to the way you see things.

Of course if you are going to be at all convincing you will have to interact with your interlocutors sincerely and with a generosity in debate that many culture warriors (as so many long time blog commentators become) find difficult. You see snarky comebacks and put downs become quite addictive when you are arguing with someone in an online forum (I know because I have not always  been a saint on that myself) but if you can resist that temptation you will discover a couple of things pretty quickly. Firstly your “political opposites” are often  not that different to yourself and that you may well have more in common than your think you do. From common ground you can find a common purpose and from a common purpose you can find a way to try to reconcile the differences in your positions. Even if you can’t reconcile those differences you can at least learn to respect each other.

As I suggested with the tittle “So you say you want a revolution ” its very easy to want change if you don’t think about how that change is to happen and what is to be built in the place of that which you want to tear down. Well I want to see a revolution in political discourse where those on the right and those on the left are willing to engage in productive online  debate that does not just degenerate in to acrimony and rancor. Hopefully in time we will see roughly equal numbers of players in the modern electronic sandpits but if we can’t have equal numbers any time soon can we at least have some respect for those of one political persuasion who go and play in the sand pits of the other-side? These brave souls bring that most rare and valued thing to these debates and that is what the Catholics used to call “an advocate for the devil”. You see once you have an advocate for the devil in your debates the depth to which you can explore the issues increases as a consequence. Of course those who just go into online comment threads for a bit of venting and affirmation from the like minded will probably hate having their blinkered thinking challenged, they will also hate having to justify many of the notions that they have previously taken for granted but the totality of the debate will have benefited. In the end we all want to change the world, we all want to see the plan, but you need to do more than carry pictures of Chairman Mao if you want to make it with anyone.

With a hat-tip to John and Paul

Sending them to meet Mo, in person

Police have taken part in terror raids across western Sydney. Photo: NSW Police Media Unit

Police have taken part in terror raids across western Sydney. Photo: NSW Police Media Unit

 

Its sort of amazing just how nasty the latest plot to further the cause of Jihad in this country is, according to the news reports the plotters would have grapbbed a random person off the street and then brutally murdered them with a knife.

Police allege the 22-year-old, who was among 15 people arrested yesterday morning during the biggest anti-terrorism operation in Australia’s history, communicated with the Islamic State organisation while allegedly planning the attack.

TIMELINE: Terror hits home

Court documents allege Mr Azari had been preparing for the attack for several months, working closely with several other men including Mohammad Ali Baryalei, an Australian thought to be in Syria and working in a senior role with Islamic State.

Mr Azari “did between 8 May and 18 September 2014 conspire with Mohammad Baryalei and others to do acts in preparation for, or planning, a terrorist act (or acts)”, the documents allege. He could face a life sentence if convicted.

Police moved swiftly to arrest Mr Azari after intercepting a phone call two days earlier, Mr Allnutt told the court.

“There has been an immediate reaction to a clear and imperative danger,” he said.

The alleged attack “was clearly designed to shock the community as a whole with a plan to randomly select a person to rather gruesomely execute … I don’t think I’ve seen much worse”, Mr Allnutt told the court.

Mr Boland said the allegation was “based on one phone call”.

“As I understand it, there’s a very limited compass of information that federal police intend to put forward,” he said.

Bail was refused, and Mr Azari will return to court in November.

source

Even worse is the left’s favorite follower of Allah, Waleed Ali who seems to be suggesting that we should not even try to smash ISIL in Iraq because some new iteration of the Jihadi scourge will inevitably spring up in its place:

And it’s that thought that perhaps has the most to teach us in Australia. ISIL is not simply a group to be vanquished. It is not a fixed, finite, collection of people we can somehow control or eradicate. For us in Australia, it’s most dangerously a symbol: a brand a young man from Sydney can claim for himself; a flag in which he can wrap himself, and his proposed victim. For all its pretensions to statehood, the key thing is that it’s anything but. It exists in the mind as much as on land.

So it’s not the kind of thing we can simply destroy with military force. Modern terrorism doesn’t work that way. We keep killing “senior figures” in terrorist groups – indeed, it’s more than three years since we killed the most senior of them all – and nothing substantive changes. We tried to smash al-Qaeda. It fragmented, then morphed into a mass movement not truly under anyone’s direct control, with Osama bin Laden mostly a symbolic figurehead. Then it begat ISIL.

This yields a devilish problem: namely, that we are trying to confront a threat that exists nowhere in particular, and anywhere in theory. We can’t destroy that. Not in the short term and not with the kind of conventional force the state has at its disposal. What we can do is manage it. Arrest, prosecute, convict. The good news is, we’re good at that. The bad news is that this isn’t a cure. It’s the (certainly necessary) treatment of symptoms.

Ali is wrong about one thing and what he is wrong about is that there is a point to killing as many of the ISIL Jihadists as we can, simply put dead Jiahadists can’t commit any further atrocities, even if its only large numbers of the foot soldiers that we kill each one of them who is sent to their death is on less we have to worry about. The reports on twitter yesterday claimed 200 IS Jihadists were sent to Mohammad near Mosul yesterday, which is  a good start and I have no doubt taht more will join them over subsequent days and weeks. With a bit of luck those in control of the malignant IS  enterprise will likewise be sent to meet Mohammad, sooner rather than later. Ali is wrong on anther front too. His whole argument suggests that there is some way that ISIL et al can be dealt with on a political level. That is utter nonsense of course. We can no more reach a settlement with evangelical Islam than we could calm a rabid dog. There is only one way to deal with the brand of Islam that would enslave the world and that is to put down any who flock to its banners. With the sort of plotters arrested yesterday that means throwing them into the deepest darkest hole that our judiciary can find for them and keeping them there for as long as the law will allow. For their compatriots in Iraq and Syria it means bombing and strafing them until they don’t dare come out of their hidey holes.
Personally I don’t think that the campaign  in that part of the Levant will be as long as minions of the left like Waleed Ali imagine, simply put for  guerrilla war to be sustained you need the support of the indigenous population for the fighters cause and aims. In other words you need more than their acquiescence due to fear from your indigenous population. I very much doubt that ISIL is at all loved anywhere in Syria or Iraq so I don’t think that they are going to get as much support form the people as was the case during the post Saddam war in Iraq. Which means that as their fighters are wiped out there will joy form the locals rather than sorrow or anger. This joy could be the foundation upon which an enduring peace could be built if the Iraqi government can get its act together sadly I have my doubts that it can.
Cheers Comrades
Animated GIF knife

He who lives by the knife shall die by the hellfire missile

Who said we have nothing to worry about from the followers of Allah?

Police have taken part in terror raids across western Sydney. Photo: NSW Police Media Unit

Police have taken part in terror raids across western Sydney. Photo: NSW Police Media Unit

Police are carrying out terror raids across western Sydney.

NSW Police said the operation, which was still ongoing on Thursday morning, was the result of a counter-terrorism operation also involving the Australian Federal Police.

Officers have raided properties in Beecroft, Bellavista, Guildford, Merrylands, Northmead, Wentworthville, Marsfield, Westmead, Castle Hill, Revesby, Bass Hill and Regents Park.

Hundreds of police officers are believed to be involved in the operation.

A number of arrests have been made, but police would not specify how many.

It is understood that raids are also being carried out in Brisbane.

Further updates were expected later on Thursday morning.

Does this story give you reason to be at least suspicious of those who follow the teachings of Mohammad?
Sadly I think that it does because no matter how many times we tell our selves that those taking up the head chopping aspects of this faith are “a small minority” we still keep getting more and more examples that suggests the pernicious aspects of the ideology are more common and closer to the surface than apologists for Islam will admit. To be frank I think that as a society we have become increasingly more complacent about the potential for an atrocity here in our country since 9/11,the Bali bombings and London bombings. Our police and security services have just been far too effective in nipping nasty plots in the bud at an early stage for many of the public to accept the reality of the threat.  I want to suggest that everyone who thinks that we have nothing to worry about to do a little thought exercise next time they are in a crowded public space, you know in a commuter train or in the lobby of a cinema, just try to work out when you could flee to if that person with a back pack were to be carrying a bomb.
Have you had a few sobering thoughts?
I’m not saying that it is going to happen, heck I’m really hoping that it never happens in this country but such atrocities are all grown from the heart of Islam  and anyone who pretends otherwise is a fool. All that we can rely upon here, apart form the good efforts of our police force, is that the majority of Muslims in this country are in fact “bad” Muslims who like so many Christians are only nominal followers of their faith.  Frankly though I don’t want to rely on that for the safety of my fellow Australians.
Cheers  Comrades
crowds-on-the-move-o

in a worst case scenario where would you flee to?

A war that is unavoidable and sadly necessary

 Tony Abbott: the operation could take ‘many months’. Photograph: Julian Smith/AAP

Tony Abbott: the operation could take ‘many months’. Photograph: Julian Smith/AAP

Australia will send a military force to the United Arab Emirates to contribute to the US campaign of airstrikes against Islamic State (Isis) militants in Iraq.

In response to a formal request from the US for specific Australian defence force (ADF) capabilities, the prime minister, Tony Abbott, said Australia would supply 600 personnel – made up of 400 from the air force and 200 from the military, including special forces – along with equipment to the coalition force against the Isis movement.

Up to eight Royal Australian Air Force F/A18F Super Hornets combat aircraft, a Wedgetail surveillance aircraft, and a tanker and transport aircraft will be sent to the United Arab Emirates.

“In addition, the Australian Defence Force will prepare a special operations task Group as military advisers that could assist Iraqi and other security forces that are taking the fight to the [Isis] terrorists,” said Abbott. Military advice would also be provided to Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq.

ADF personnel will be based in the US headquarters “to ensure close coordination” with the US and to support planning and logistics.

“We are not deploying combat troops but contributing to international efforts to prevent the humanitarian crisis from deepening,” said Abbott.

source

For once its possible to praise Bill Shorten for something because the on this occasion the opposition is sticking with the long standing tradition of solidarity with the government when our troops are deployed into harms way.  In fact with the exception of the far left Greens who have been predictably tacitly defending the IS Islamofachist killers in the northern part of Iraq there is an almost universal feeling in this country that going to war to stop the atrocities committed in the name of Allah. With the brutal murder of a British aid  worker fresh in our minds who could possibly think that there is any other choice but to go into northern Iraq and Syria with all guns blazing?

I rather firmly of the opinion that a predominately air based campaign will be more successful on this occasion than it was in the previous forays into Iraq. I think this for a couple of reasons. Firstly the current crop of Jihadis have very little willing support from the people in the territory they nominally control. This has to be a natural consequence of their brutality and continuing war crimes. Without some support from the population for their aims and methodology then all they have is fear from the people who currently live under their rule. While that is a good motivator for population compliance its not going to help them much in terms of defending the territory that currently occupy.  Secondly the local geography of dry desert mostly flat territory provides little cover and that means that vehicles  and men on the move are hard to hide form air surveillance and more importantly air strikes. If its moving and holds armed men then it can be taken out form the air.

I think that we can be pretty sure that the Kurds in the north will not tend towards the excesses of war that will alienate the Sunis who we want on our side n this war but I am far less confident of the Shia militias who may well be inclined to take some sort of revenge on the Suni population if they are perceived to be at all sympathetic to the IS Jihadis, this issue was front and center in the weekend news reporting out of Iraq on the ABC.

One thing that I don’t expect though is that there will be many IS Jihadists taken prisoner. Fanatics can not be trusted to be honorable  nor is it to be expected  that they will surrender when their situation is hopeless. Rule 303 is also likely to be applied by the ground forces that mop up as well. If many of them are taken prisoner its likely that bleeding hearts like the loopy Greens will want to see them tried by one court or another.  While that may suit the namby-pamby Greens I just don’t think that you want to give too many of these scumbags the venue to further promote their hateful ideology.

Its of course  too early to predict the result of this war but I don’t share the pessimism of  dyed in the wool extreme  lefties who are already wishing for failure here. Frankly failure is not an option because we have to excise the cancer from he middle east if any of us are to sleep well in our beds into the future the death cult has to be, well, killed as quickly and completely as we can do it. Fortunately there seems to be a quite broad range of nations who are willing to join into this sadly necessary task.

Cheers Comrades

If it moves and it has armed Jihadists in it blow it up even if they have hostages as Human shields which, sadly,  is likely to be the case

If it moves and it has armed Jihadists in it blow it up even if they have hostages as Human shields which, sadly, is likely to be the case

Abbott’s “defining moment” defines Australia as still subservient to England

(by Ray Dixon ~ an Australian blogger who blogs for Australia, not for bloody England)

abbotts-australia

“Defining moment”

noun : a point at which the essential nature or character of a person, group, etc., is revealed or identified.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s comments that the arrival of the First Fleet was the defining moment in Australian history are interesting … but wrong. And dumb. In my opinion.

Before you rusted-ons jump up and down, I’m not commenting on the reactions and rebukes from indigenous leaders, who have claimed that Abbott’s remarks were an insult “ignoring 50,000 years of (aboriginal) history” that preceded the arrival of the First Fleet on the 26th of January 1788.

No disrespect intended to our indigenous past but even the National Museum could not find much of significance from that period to add to its list of 100 ‘moments’. And I hardly think that either the first rock art, the invention of the boomerang or the arrival of the dingo revealed, shaped or identified the essential nature or character of this nation. Let’s be realistic, there was little or no change in that long 50,000 year period.

No, I actually agree with Tony Abbott that Australia (as we know it today) was more shaped by events after the arrival of ‘white man’. I just think he chose the wrong event.

So putting that aside (PLEASE put it aside because I don’t want this to be an argument over ‘the invasion’) and looking at Australia post Captain Cook claiming it for Britain in 1770, what would you call Australia’s “defining moment”, bearing in mind the definition above? At what point was the “essential nature or character” of Australia revealed or identified?

This is what Abbott said:

Mr Abbott made the remarks at the opening of a history exhibition at the National Museum in Canberra on Friday, repeatedly stating that he believed the arrival of the First Fleet “was the defining moment in the history of this continent”.

“It was the moment this continent became part of the modern world. It determined our language, our law and our fundamental values.”

And this is why I think he was wrong:

The best that could be said about the arrival of the First Fleet – which was primarily the establishment of a penal colony to relieve congestion in England’s jails – is that it marked the ‘birth’ of a nation. I’d actually call it the ‘birth’ of Great Britain’s bastard child, seeing the intent was to dispose of its unwanted dregs but, nonetheless (and regardless of how you see it), the fact is that most people wouldn’t consider childbirth to be the defining moment of their life.

What “fundamental values” were determined by that event? A “fair go”? Equality? Freedom? Hardly.

For Tony Abbott to claim the arrival of the First Fleet of convicts revealed our “essential nature” is actually to say we are still in servitude to Great Britain. We are still unwanted. We are still inferior. We are still ‘the dregs’.

And that’s a very poor choice, especially coming from a Prime Minister who was born in England himself!

The arrival of the First Fleet and subsequent settlement at  Sydney Cove certainly facilitated more arrivals (of both convict and free people), but surely it was somewhere in the events that followed our ‘bastard birth’ that more defined the true character of this great country.

For example, McArthur’s arrival and introduction of Merino sheep in 1797 had far more impact on our nationhood, especially as it gave us our first significant industry – one that still survives today.

And Matthew Flinders circumnavigation of the continent in a tiny boat in 1802 after which he named the continent ‘Australia’, certainly went a long way to define the land on which we lived.

The Gold Rush of the 1850s was also a great defining moment that brought many people from many nations to try their luck, leading to the rebellion (against the British) at Eureka Stockade, an event that was wholly justified and demonstrated our stance against an oppressive authority.

I’d even rate Ned Kelly’s last stand at Glenrowan in 1880 as more “defining” than Abbott’s First Fleet moment.

But I’d say the most significant and “defining” moments in our history are these:

The Federation of Australia on 1 January 1901 when the six separate (British) colonies of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, and Western Australia formed as one nation with a federal government responsible for matters concerning the whole nation. That was when the Constitution of Australia came into force and when the formerly British colonies collectively became states of the Commonwealth of Australia – i.e. it was our ‘Independence Day’, albeit still with the Queen as Head of State. That event – the marking of our independence from British rule – was surely the moment that defined Australia throughout the 20th Century.

And:

The 1942 thwarting of the Japanese advancement on the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea (following the bombing of Darwin) when for nearly six months our soldiers fought bravely (with no thanks to the Brits) to prevent the Japanese establishing a stronghold at Port Moresby from where it intended to isolate (and possibly invade) Australia. That was the first (and so far only) time we have ever really had to fight for our survival and very existence. And we prevailed. It was truly an event of monumental importance in our history.

So what do you think of Abbott’s choice of the First Fleet of British dregs defining who we are?

What do you say is the most “defining moment” in our history from this list of 100 events put out by the National Museum?

(Note: I’ve bolded those I think are the most significant … and added a few of my own at the end) :

at least 52,000 years ago: Archaeological evidence of first peoples on the Australian continent

about 28,000 years ago: Earliest known Australian rock art engraved and painted

about 20,000 years ago: Earliest evidence of the boomerang in Australia

about 12,000 years ago: Sea level rises, separating Tasmania from mainland

about 5000 years ago: Arrival of the dingo, Australia’s first domesticated species

1606 Dutch explorer Willem Janssen becomes first European to map parts of the Australian coast

about 1700 Makasar from Sulawesi visit northern Australia and trade with Aboriginal people

1770 Lieutenant James Cook claims east coast of Australia for Britain

1788 Captain Arthur Phillip establishes convict settlement at Sydney Cove

1792 Aboriginal warrior Pemulwuy leads resistance against Sydney colonists

1797 Introduction and improvement of merino sheep

1802–03 Matthew Flinders circumnavigates continent, which he names ‘Australia’

1813 Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth cross Blue Mountains

1830 The ‘Black Line’ — settler force attempts to corral Aboriginal people on the Tasman Peninsula

1836 Governor Richard Bourke funds Protestant and Catholic churches in New South Wales on equal basis

1838 Myall Creek massacre, New South Wales

1851 Gold rushes in New South Wales and Victoria begin

1854 Rebellion of goldminers at Eureka Stockade, Ballarat, Victoria

1854 Australia’s first railway line opens in Victoria

1856 Secret ballot introduced and all adult men given the vote, South Australia

1856 Melbourne building workers win an eight-hour day

1858 First organised game of Australian Rules football

1859 Rabbits successfully introduced into Australia

1861 First Melbourne Cup horse race

1868 Convict transportation to Australia ends

1868 Aboriginal cricket team tours England

1872 Free, compulsory and secular education introduced, Victoria

1872 Completion of the Overland Telegraph from Darwin to Port Augusta, South Australia

1879 Australia’s first national park created — (now Royal) National Park, Sydney

1880 The Bulletin established

1880 Ned Kelly’s last stand at Glenrowan, Victoria

1885 Victorian Employers’ Union formed

1885 BHP begins mining silver, zinc and lead at Broken Hill, New South Wales

1887 Chaffey brothers introduce irrigation on Murray River

1889 9 by 5 Impression Exhibition shows paintings by Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton and Charles Conder, Melbourne

1890–91 Depression and strikes; formation of the Labor Party

1894 Legislation introducing women’s suffrage, South Australia

1901 Inauguration of the Commonwealth of Australia

1901 White Australia policy enshrined in law

1902 Commonwealth Franchise Act gives women the vote in federal elections

1903 William Farrer begins distribution of ‘Federation’ wheat

1906 Australia takes control of Papua as an ‘external territory’

1907 Justice HB Higgins hands down ‘Harvester Judgement’

1908 Legislation introducing national age and invalid pensions

1911 Douglas Mawson leads Australasian expedition to Antarctica

1912 Australian Government introduces a maternity allowance

1913 Foundation of Canberra as national capital

1915 New South Wales Government gains unfettered power to remove Aboriginal children from their families

1915 Australian troops land at Gallipoli

1916 Federal–state agreement for Soldier Settlement

1916–17 Conscription for military service overseas defeated in two referendums

1917 Completion of Trans-Australian Railway linking Western Australia and the eastern states

1920 Country Party founded at national level

1920 Qantas established

1924 Australian Aboriginal Progressive Association formed

1932 Height of the Great Depression, with 32 per cent unemployment

1932 Foundation of the Australian Broadcasting Commission

1932–33 England cricket team in Australia on ‘Bodyline’ Ashes tour

1936 Tasmania’s thylacine becomes extinct

1938 Sydney celebrates 150th anniversary of British settlement; Aboriginal leaders hold Day of Mourning

1942 Japanese bomb Darwin but are halted on Kokoda Track

1943 First women elected to Australian federal parliament

1944 Formation of Liberal Party of Australia

1945 Florey, Fleming and Chain win Nobel Prize for developing penicillin

1945 National introduction of unemployment and sickness benefits

1945 Australia plays a leading role in founding United Nations

1945 Australian Government announces post-war migration drive

1948 Australia’s first locally made car, the Holden 48-215, launched

1949 Chifley government begins Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme

1949 Election of the Menzies government — the longest serving in Australian history

1951 Australia signs ANZUS treaty with New Zealand and the United States

1954 Visit of Queen Elizabeth II, the first by a reigning monarch 1955 Split within Australian Labor Party; formation of the Democratic Labor Party

1956 Television introduced in time for Australia’s first Olympic Games, Melbourne

1960 Australian Government lifts restrictions on export of iron ore

1961 Introduction of the oral contraceptive pill

1966 Holt government effectively dismantles White Australia Policy

1966 Gurindji strike (or Wave Hill walk-off) led by Vincent Lingiari

1967 Australians vote overwhelmingly to alter the Constitution allowing Aboriginal people to be counted in the Census and subject to Commonwealth laws

1970 Moratorium to protest Australian involvement in Vietnam War

1972 Aboriginal tent embassy established in front of Parliament House, Canberra

1972 Conciliation and Arbitration Commission grants equal pay for men and women

1973 Sydney Opera House opens

1974 Cyclone Tracy hits Darwin

1975 Governor-General dismisses Whitlam government

1976 Australian Government passes Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act

1978 First Gay Mardi Gras march, Sydney

1978 Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) established

1983 Floating of the Australian dollar

1983 Protests against Franklin Dam in Tasmania lead to formation of the Greens

1984 Australian parliament passes Sex Discrimination Act

1991 Port Hedland immigration detention centre opens

1992 High Court decision in Mabo case establishes native title

1996 Port Arthur massacre leads to tighter gun laws

2000 Walk for Reconciliation across Sydney Harbour Bridge

2001 Australian troops take control of Tampa carrying rescued asylum-seekers

2002 Bali bombing kills 88 Australians

2004 Australia signs Free Trade Agreement with the United States

2008 National Apology to the Stolen Generations

2009 ‘Black Saturday’ bushfires kill 173 people in Victoria

And they forgot about these:

1966 St Kilda wins its first (and so far only) VFL/AFL Premiership

1972 Election of Whitlam Government marks the end of conscription and our involvement in the Vietnam War

1983 Australia II wins the America Cup

2005 Makybe Diva wins an unprecedented 3rd consecutive Melbourne Cup

2010 Julia Gillard shoots the Labor Party in the foot by knifing its most popular ever Prime Minister Kevin Rudd

2014  Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott lose the plot

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