1. Sawatdi bpi mai kap!
That is a Thai new year’s greeting I got from Mark that I posted two years ago. It means:
- May you find compassion, loving kindness and equanimity along your paths over the next year!
From a Jacquie Lawson ecard sent by my brother-in-law, we need:
- More co-operation, mutual care and love, a safer and happier world!
And more civilised politics.
2. Just one word
The Courier Mail made a big splash with We are one and free: Historic change to our anthem, no doubt paywalled. Here is our dear leader, who knows best:
After all he had been thinking about it all year, his friend Gladys B advocated for it, Annastacia said it wasn’t a bad idea, so he ran it past Cabinet, then off to the GG. Just change “young” to “one”, and all will be good.
The Prime Minister said that removing the word “young” was important for indigenous people – and that he felt most Australians accepted that.
“This is an organic, natural change that I think is in synch with the national mood,” he said.
“‘One and free’ is and must be the story of every Australian and it’s the way we truly Advance Australia Fair,” he said.
The ABC rounded up some opinion Some First Nations people said OK. Some said, not so fast.
We all know that ‘Opposition Leader’ is now a functionally redundant position, since Morrison has found his stride, but for the record:
federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese and Wiradjuri woman Linda Burney, the first Aboriginal woman to be elected to the House of Representatives, said more needed to be done.
“Changing a single word in the national anthem while First Nations people aren’t even recognised in our national constitution is simply not good enough,” Mr Albanese said.
Composer Deborah Cheetham, a Yorta Yorta woman said:
the new wording was long overdue but changing the anthem “one word at a time is probably not the right way to go”.
- “What this change brings is an opportunity for conversation. And I hope it’s a conversation that will be respectful.”
Personally she preferred the version written by Judith Durham, Kutcha Edwards, Lou Bennett, Camilla Chance and Bill Hauritz. You will find a performance of the alternative anthem by Kutcha Edwards, along with the lyrics, which begin like this:
Australia, celebrate as one, with peace and harmony.
Our precious water, soil and sun, grant life for you and me.
Our land abounds in nature’s gifts to love, respect and share,
And honouring the Dreaming, advance Australia fair.
With joyful hearts then let us sing, advance Australia fair.
Australia, let us stand as one, upon this sacred land.
A new day dawns, we’re moving on to trust and understand.
Combine our ancient history and cultures everywhere,
To bond together for all time, advance Australia fair.
As poetry it’s a bit clunky, but way better than the current abomination.
Teela Reid in the SMH says Scott Morrison’s one-word gesture won’t unify Australia, but a bigger conversation might.
Joe Williams, a proud Wiradjuri man, says in The Guardian when he heard about it:
My reply was an “eye roll” emoji with the words: “But we aren’t all one, we certainly aren’t treated as one; and many, sure as hell, aren’t free”.
He says emphatically we are NOT one big happy family. He too likes the Durham et al anthem and finishes with:
- It’s time for a fresh start and to get a new song. And if we are genuine about this word “reconciliation”, we need to start a relationship before we try to heal one that never existed.
I think we should dump the present anthem, which reeks of colonialism, run a competition for a new anthem, and if nothing better comes up adopt the Durham et al version. With lots of inclusionary conversation, of course, but that’s the direction I’d head if I held Morrison’s current position of elected benevolent dictator.
3. When was Australia first occupied?
The Williams article links to an article suggesting human habitation in Australia could have been 120.000 years ago or more.
This article has more detail, and does not just rely on the Victorian site, where:
- “Thermal luminescence analyses of blackened stones provide ages in the … range … 100-130 ka [thousand years], consistent with independent stratigraphic evidence and contemporaneous with the age of the surface in which they lie. The distribution of fire-darkened stones is inconsistent with wildfire effects. Two hearth-like features closely associated with the disconformity provide further indication of potential human agency. The data are consistent with the suggestion of human presence at Warrnambool during the last Interglacial.”
In scientific terms what we have there is a “place of fire” rather than a “fireplace”. No tools or human remains have been found. Some scientists are willing to infer human habitation, many are not. One would think the presence of a shell midden, together with charcoal together and burnt stones would tip the balance in favour of habitation.
Stone tools uncovered at the Madjedbebe rock shelter in Arnhem Land (northern Australia) produced dates of 65–80 thousand years.
However no continuity of occupation can be established beyond about 65,000 years.
Intriguingly, a Cambridge team has found:
- a “genetic signature” in present-day Papuans that suggested over 2 percent of their genome comes from an earlier, otherwise extinct, population living in the Oceanian region close to 120,000 years ago.
4. Albo comes out swinging
Anthony Albanese has one reason to crow. He won an election in July:
That was from an article by Andrew Tillett in the AFR Can Anthony Albanese win the next election? The simple truth is that Labor is expecting Morrison to go to the people in the spring, before the sheen of defeating the virus wears off and the ALP is busy with renewing its platform until March. This means there is no time for leadership shenanigans, which now include an extended member voting process.
The polls show that 2020 began with Albanese competitive, even ahead on the preferred PM question. During the year his rating had stayed much the same, while Morrison’s became turbo charged from about April.
However, by mid-December, any interest in what Albo had to say was typified by this incident:
- Anthony Albanese made his way to bus maker Volgren’s factory in Melbourne’s south-east on December 14 to hold a press conference with local member and frontbencher Mark Dreyfus.
The Opposition Leader toured the factory, talking to workers. Sporting the obligatory hi-vis yellow vest over his pressed white business shirt, he fronted the lone TV camera and was all ready to start. But something was missing. There were no journalists.(Emphasis added)
Last year it was unseemly to act politically against a government busy saving Australia. Now, with a vaccine just over the horizon, and the stimulus measures wearing off Albanese has decided that political strategy must change. So we get Labor gets ‘more licence for combat’ as Albanese promises Morrison square-up.
Anyone who thinks the Coalition had an ideological conversion should look for example at Cassandra Goldie ‘I am so scared for my future’: jobseeker cuts are devastating for millions of Australians).
Incidentally, Laura Tingle reports that Australia’s stimulus measures were half New Zealand’s as a percentage of GDP. Other countries have also done more, and boasted less.
Albanese has decided that he must take Morrison down, as well as offer a vision for a better Australia.
By himself, I don’t think he can do it, but with others like Jim Chalmers, Penny Wong and Tanya Plibersek, maybe.
Politics will be different.
5. Assange will not be extradited
In late breaking news, Julian Assange’s extradition to the US rejected by UK court over mental health fears.
It seems the English judge considered he had committed crimes worthy of extradition, but given that he is diagnosed with high-function Aspergers, and given how he has reacted to confinement in the UK, suicide would be the prospect, not just a possibility.
We should all be worried about the reach of the US security apparatus. To me he did no more than what happened in the Pentagon Papers.
The Americans will appeal. His best hope is that new POTUS Biden will intervene. Apparently Obama took no action against Assange on freedom of speech grounds.