Posted by: jkirkby8712 | September 23, 2011

Friday, 23rd September 2011 – refugees again, shares, beer and take-overs, and yes, a bit of football news!!!

I noticed on the screen last night,  Facebook was set for a massive overhaul overnight as it positions itself as the prime player in the social sphere. ‘  It was been reported the changes will take place at 3am AEST. Apparently, ‘these changes will make it so you know your friends better than you ever thought you could’.  I wonder if we really want that?   Anyway, I switched on this morning – before that rather nervous visit to the dentist – and wondered whether the changes would be so significant, that I would have my usual problem of not understanding what was going on!  I could see differences, but initially, couldn’t see a great deal of change – perhaps all shall be revealed as time proceeds, and I try and do things I used to do in the past!

In the meantime, the Federal Government had plans yesterday of trying to force a vote on the refugee issue in parliament, but it didn’t quite work out that that way. Prime Minister Julia Gillard has subsequently  accused Opposition Leader Tony Abbott of blocking a speedy vote on the government’s seemingly doomed attempt to resurrect its Malaysian people swap deal.   Federal parliament on Thursday began debating the government’s draft laws aimed at restoring its power to send asylum seekers to third countries, put in doubt by the High Court last month. But the coalition’s decision to list 40 MPs to speak on the bill has helped ensure a vote will not take place until parliament returns from a two-week break in mid-October. In question time on Thursday, Ms Gillard accused Mr Abbott of filibustering. “The nation’s interests today require that we deal expeditiously with the migration amendments which are before the parliament and that the legislation is passed,” she said. “Instead of that, the leader of the opposition in this place is filibustering that debate; the leader of the opposition in this place is determined to defeat offshore processing. The leader of the opposition in this place is determined to see more boats landing on Australia’s shores.” Ms Gillard’s comments came even though Labor had originally intended to delay debate on the proposals until next month. Mr Abbott called on Ms Gillard to resign over what he termed her inability to protect the nation’s borders.

“A prime minister who is incapable of protecting the borders of our country is a prime minister who has manifestly failed in the highest task she has,” Mr Abbott told parliament.  The government is hoping to attract enough crossbench support to push its amendments through the lower house but the coalition and Greens are set to vote them down in the Senate.  Mr Abbott says he will only support the legislation if the government accepts an amendment that would rule out Malaysia because it is not a signatory to the United Nations Refugee Convention. The government has ruled out supporting that amendment. Still, Immigration Minister Chris Bowen is refusing to concede defeat. “Mr Abbott has a chance to act in the national interest here,” he told reporters in Canberra. “He’s indicated he won’t be doing that but that’s a matter for him. “Obviously the crossbenchers are considering their positions.” Two of those crossbenchers – Greens MP Adam Bandt and Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie – both accused the major parties of a “race to the bottom” on asylum seekers. Neither will support the government or coalition legislation.  Independent Tony Windsor said he thought the Malaysian deal was “worth a go” and he would support the government’s bill.  Fellow independent Rob Oakeshott said he would move his own amendments to better reflect the regional protection framework agreed to by 33 nations part of the so-called Bali Process. “The regional solution is the real solution,” he told parliament. It is not known how he will vote when his amendments fail. A Senate committee will hold a public hearing into the Malaysian deal on Friday.

Personally, as I have made note of before, I’m glad of this delay, and continue to be disillusioned by this persistent desire by both parties to push for off-shore processing. I’ve always maintained that the processing of refugees who reach Australia, should be done in Australia, and I  wonder at  Mr Bowen’s reference to the ‘national interest’  – is the national interest assumed to be Labor Party policy?  I don’t believe it is, as more and more opposition  grows to these pushes to process in places like Malaysia, etc. I must say that I’m disappointed with the ongoing tone of the whole refugee issue debate. I don’t believe it enhances Australia’s position as a humane and welcoming nation, and looking at the debate from outside Australia, I’m sure that’s how it must appear. In this month’s edition of ‘Crosslight’ [publication of the Uniting Church in Victoria & Tasmania], Carla Bergmeier writes:

‘August marked the 10 year anniversary of the Howard Government’s questionable response to the Norwegian vessel MV Tampa, carrying 438 asylum seekers. This was followed by even more controversial approaches to deal with the arrival of potential refugees – all of which failed to meet basic humanitarian obligations. With no real solution in sight [to the current situation], the Australian public is taking matters into its own hands. At a protest rally earlier this year Julian Burnside urged Australians to see beyond political rhetoric and remember that asylum seekers are completely within their rights to be seeking refuge in Australia. “We forget the boat people who come here to ask for protection are not illegal in any sense –  they are exercising the right which every person has in international law to seek asylum in any country they can reach”. Two months later, the Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre took the Federal Government to court, over it’s decision to send asyl.um seekers to Malaysia in exchange for ‘genuine’ refugees. The Legal Centre claims asylum seekers will no longer be guaranteed protection if processed offshore. In the same week the case hit the High Court, a strategy paper titled A New Approach, Breaking the Stalemate on Refugees and Asylum Seekers was released by the Centre For Policy Development, with suggestions that would have mandatory detention phased out within two years.  The strategy was endorsed by prominent business and union leaders.  The Uniting Church also wrote to the Federal Government, urging it to take notice of recommendations made by the Australian Human Rights Commission – resulting in 500 unaccompanied minors being moved into community detention instead of detention centres. With recent polls showing the majority of Australians are in favour of asylum seekers been processed onshore [53 per cent], it seems the public’s heart is softening. Hopefully this compassion effect won’t take long to reach the government’……………………………..I’m not so sure that either the government or the opposition are listening to that 53%!

On the global economic front, we are again being bombarded with threats of ‘danger times’ ahead of us, and while Australia’s economy is still considered to be relatively secure in comparison with the USA and many European nations, the affects are starting to erode into our system, as this report from an hour or so ago shows.

‘The Australian share market is down by 1.7 per cent on Friday and nearing its global financial crisis lows as world markets tumble on fears of another global recession At 1028 AEST on Friday the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 64.3 points, or 1.62 per cent, at 3,900.6 while the broader All Ordinaries index was down 71.2 points, or 1.76 per cent, at 3,973.5.  On the ASX 24, the December share price index futures contract was 56 points lower at 3,910 points, with 18,327contracts traded. World markets plunged overnight on growing fears the global economy is headed for another slump, and concerns policymakers may be ill-equipped to prevent it.  After Asian markets, including Australia, fell on Thursday, European markets tumbled in response to the US Federal Reserve’s downgrading of its outlook for the US economy. London’s FTSE-100 index dropped by 4.7 per cent, Frankfurt’s DAX 30 lost 3.53 per cent and in Paris the CAC 40 shed 4.07 per cent. The losses then flowed through to Wall Street, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 391.01 points, or 3.51 per cent, to close at 10,733.83.  Downbeat economic data from China and the eurozone also weighed on global market sentiment.  Burrell Stockbroking director Richard Herring said the early losses on the local market were not as bad as futures trading had pointed to, meaning some investors were likely taking advantage of attractive share values after big falls this week.

“If you look at a relative basis, where indices are from the GFC onwards, we’re only 600 points off our all-time low,” he said.  “That is compared to the Dow, which is about 4,000 points off its low, so I think we are bouncing along the bottom and there’s some pretty significant value there.” Mr Burrell said the market was likely to remain more than one per cent lower for the remainder of the session, but did not expect the main indices to hit record lows’.

Now I’m not really up with the shares market, or particularly familiar with many of the stock exchange terminology currently being thrown around, or used in the above paragraph. But it is a concern that the world’s ‘supposedly’ most powerful nation, the USA, seems to be out of control in economic terms – so much so, that apart from the financial implications, the situation seems to be putting grave doubts on Barak Obama’s chances of being re-elected for a second term of office, as President. I’m heard an interesting comment this morning from an expert in these areas  –  at one time, it used to be said of Australia, ‘that every time the USA sneezed, Australia would catch cold’, That appears to be no longer the case, because in both 2008, and in this current potential economic crisis, we seem in a position to come out of things much better than the States is likely to.

Of course the other big ‘financial market’ event here, over the past couple of days, is the likelihood of Australia’s most iconic historical brewer of beer  – Fosters – being taken over by the South African firm  SAB Miller. I find that disturbing, but then I’ve expressed that view previously – concern about the way in which so many Australian iconic businesses in various sectors, as well as land grabs, are being ‘allowed’ to be taken over by foreign investments, etc.  That feeling is probably a bit ironic in view of the fact that my brother works for a major bank, where his role is centred on achieving success in the financial negotiations to ensure such takeovers or other forms of major  investment in Australian industries and enterprises are successful!!!  Think I should bite my tongue!  It was back on Tuescday last, that Mark Colvin on the ABC suggested that ‘the stockmarket was buzzing today with speculation that another big name Australian brand could be heading into foreign ownership. Media reports say that two of the world’s biggest brewing companies have their sights set on Foster’s’. How right he was!.  It seems that the company has been under performing for some years, partially caused during the reign of former Carlton President, John Elliott, with his expansion of the company in the banking area [Elders], and later, an unsuccessful diversification in the wine retailing area. Many opinions today suggest that Fosters should have stayed with what it did best – brewing and selling beer! 

As reported in the ‘Brisbane Times today  – ‘SABMiller boss Graham Mackay during an analyst call in which SABMiller discussed its $12.3 billion takeover of the Australian beer-maker on Wednesday night said: ”We believe Foster’s has been underperforming for a number of years, with suboptimal brand support and inferior category management.”  He noted how some of Foster’s key brands had been ”unloved”. Mackay also managed to denigrate the past and current management of Foster’s without intending to do so.  ”I wouldn’t want to and I don’t denigrate at all the current management team – but of course they haven’t been in there very long and there’s been considerable churn in the management and with it lack of focus on the brands, the portfolio and, in fact, the whole business by the generations of management which preceded the current one,” he said.  Mackay also noted how the Foster’s beer portfolio had been ”very heavily” extended in recent years and how it had not been ”particularly well thought through”.  Mackay at least seems happy about Foster’s range of beers.  ”VB is a truly iconic brand, occupying a world-recognised position in beer,” he said’.  Mind you, the average beer drinker, particularly of Foster’s VB [Victoria Bitter] brand probably won’t really care who owns what, just so long as they can continue to get their beer supply!!

Meanwhile, this evening over in New Zealand, Australia faces a critical match in the Rugby World Cup  – after last weekend’s shock loss to Ireland, the Wallabies must win this game, otherwise they will be out of the tournament, a competition, that we must have been one of the favoured teams!! What a situation to be in!   Will Genia is set to become the 78th Australian Test captain after being appointed as leader of the Wallabies team named today to face the United States at the Rugby World Cup in Wellington on Friday night. Genia is the 13th player to lead Australia, in what will be the country’s 36th Rugby World Cup match since the four-yearly tournament commenced in 1987. The 23-year-old Queensland halfback, who made his Test debut in New Zealand three seasons ago, has been handed the reins for what will be Australia’s 528th official Test match, standing in for squad skipper James Horwill. Horwill is being allowed to by-pass the match. “It’s a huge honour, a big responsibility and an occasion that I’m really looking forward to,” Genia says.  “We’ve got a big job ahead of us. The United States showed against Ireland that they are a totally committed opponent, and our own performance against Ireland, which was not up to the high standards we set for ourselves, will only have offered the Americans further encouragement.”  Unfortunately, as is usual with networks like Channel 9,  we here in Victoria won’t be allowed to see the telecast of the game until 11.30 pm [about five hours after it is finished!].

Something I referred to a day or so ago –   injured Brisbane iconic rugby league player, Darren Lockyer has made the wise choice, and decided not to risk permanent injury by playing in the NRL Preliminary final tonight at the Sydney Football Stadium.  It’s great to be brave and tough, but do those attributes fit in with foolishness?  Lockyer decided not!   This weekend’s National Rugby League Preliminary Finals see Manly Sea Eagles versus Brisbane Bronchos [tonight] and Melbourne Storm versus New Zealand Warriors, tomorrow night in Melbourne. Do we dare believe that we might be shown that game live?  I do believe we might!!  

As for my visit to the dentist – not quite the outcome I didn’t want  – just a filling today, which pleased me, as I have cared for these teeth for over 60 years, and really don’t like to lose any unless it is considered professionally necessary.  Mr Ferris apparently considered not today. Back again in a few weeks for a bit of a followup, something I’ve never done before – my visits to the dentist have been very occasional trips, once every ten years or so, seldom a  much shorter period!

Tonight in Melbourne, it’s the AFL’s 1st Preliminary Final match, with the winner into next weekend’s Grand Final.  Collingwood versus Hawthorn, and while my team has been eliminated, I’m looking forward to relaxing in front of the TV tonight to watch that game. Collingwood would  have to the favourites, having shared the competition’s leading position all season with Geelong [who play tomorrow], but for many people, it would not surprise got up as the underdogs!   We will know in a few hours!

 In the first half, a tight match, with Hawthorn looking the more effective team and just perhaps, there was an upset on the way. I didn’t really expect so however, and anticipated a much more powerful effort by the Magpies in the second half.  The third quarter saw a challenge from Collingwood, but Hawthorn managed to hold them off, and further increase the lead in a low scoring game. I expected a desperate fight back by Collingwood in the final quarter – only lost 2 games in the whole season, would it end with 2 losses in the last 3 games. I’m sure my brother and sister up in Brisbane would not be feeling too confident at three quarter time!!  And yes, as expected, a thrilling last quarter, and with 30 seconds to play, the result still in doubt!!!  But, Magpies get up, and like Carlton last week, the Hawks went down by 3 points.   Quarter by quarter scores were:

  • Collingwood Magpies:     2.3.15    3.5.23       5.6.36        Final:   10.8.68
  • Hawthorn Hawks:            2.4.16     4.7.31       7.11.53      Final:   9.11.65

 

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