Posted by: jkirkby8712 | September 29, 2011

Thursday, 29 September 2011 – what the ‘Age’ newspaper has to say.

I thought I’d directly quote two reports this morning from today’s ‘Age’ newspaper concerning two of the major media stories coming out of Melbourne yesterday [ignoring completely the fact that today is Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s 50th birthday!!]. One story  relates to yesterday’s storm, the other to controversial newspaper columnist  Andrew Bolt  – whose  opinions I often find quite disturbing, but in this instance, I tend to be on his side a little, though at this point, don’t intend to comment further, simply reprint the way the ‘Age’ has reported on the situation.

“Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt says “multiculturalists” have used fear to silence conservatives rather than engaging in debate about racial identification in the wake of a Federal Court ruling against him.  Bolt was given free rein on the front page of today’s Herald Sun, saying he “cannot believe it’s come to this” and “I am truly shocked”. Inside the paper, he is defended by an editorial and given a further two pages to opine about his “damn columns” and “the calamity that hit me yesterday

Bolt and the Herald and Weekly Times, publisher of the Herald Sun, yesterday lost the case brought against them by nine fair-skinned Aborigines under the Racial Discrimination Act (1975).The nine applicants contended that Bolt had implied in articles and blogs that they had “chosen” to identify as Aboriginal because of financial, political or career benefits, imputations that had offended, insulted, humiliated and intimidated them. Bolt starts today’s column by outlining his own Dutch background and struggles with identity growing up in Australia. He said he decided to identify himself as Australian, but wishes there was no such thing as ethnicity, nationality or race. Bolt laments the increasing trend of people identifying themselves as Aboriginal “when even their looks loudly suggest they have ancestry drawn from many ‘races’ or ethnicities, especially European” and said commenting on this trend was “where this misery started”. Justice Mordecai Bromberg’s finding, Bolt said, is that fair-skinned Aborigines such as the claimants do not choose their ethnic or “racial” identity. “If Justice Bromberg’s view is correct, I would be even more depressed than I am already,” he said.  “It would have grave implications for our multi-ethnic or ‘multi-racial’ community. Must we always be defined by our ancestry, trapped forever in some box of race? Is someone with even just 1/128th Aboriginal ancestry forever an Aborigine, and Aborigine only?  “I wrote about people who, it seemed to me, had other options than to call themselves, without qualification or hyphens, ‘Aboriginal’.  “They included nine fair-skinned Aborigines who responded not with public arguments, but with a legal action in the Federal Court to have my articles banned forever, and me prevented from ever again writing something similar.  “I’m talking about people such as an Aboriginal lawyer whose father was British, an Aboriginal activist whose own sister identified as non-Aboriginal, and an Aboriginal writer whose father was born in Austria.” Bolt was too worried to quote directly what he had written in the columns, but said he did not say the nine people had no right to call themselves Aborigines. He said one of the people he wrote about had since described herself as someone of English, Jewish and Wathaurung descent. “Two years ago, I would cheerfully have argued that this acknowledgment of a multiple ethnicity was healthier, and truer, in such cases than insisting on only being Aboriginal,” Bolt said.”But not today. I no longer dare.”

Bolt’s piece is accompanied by an image of Justitia, the Roman goddess of justice, holding the scales of truth while tied down with rope. Justitia, or Lady Justice, is usually blindfolded to represent the fact justice is blind, but instead has an Australian flag wrapped around her mouth. The article is littered with references to being gagged, such as “I must not go further. I may breach the law”. “For expressing such views, in such language, I have lost my freedom to put my argument as I did,” Bolt said. “And be warned: use such phrases as those yourself, and you too may lose your right to speak. “But as I say, Justice Bromberg insists he hasn’t stopped debate on racial identification, unless, apparently, your adjectives are too sharp, your wit too pointed, your views too blunt, your observations not quite to the point, your teasing too ticklish and your facts not in every case exactly correct. “And even then, having jumped every hurdle and written with the forensic dullness of a Reserve Bank governor, you will run the risk of a judge deciding that whatever you’ve written is, after all, the very opposite of what you really meant.” Bolt said Justice Bromberg, despite saying in his judgment that people are free to express their opinions even if they are “ill-considered”, had silenced those who wanted to comment on multiculturalism. “I feel that writing frankly about multiculturalism, and especially Aboriginal identity, yesterday became too dangerous for any conservative,” he said. “It’s simply safer to stay silent, or write about fluffy puppies instead. “And so the multiculturalists win. They win, because no one now dares object for fear of what it will cost them in court.  “Hope they’re satisfied, to win a debate not by argument but fear.”   Back in April, Bolt’s lawyer, Neil Young, QC, flagged his intention to lodge an appeal in the event that this case was lost. The Herald and Weekly Times said yesterday they were disappointed by the decision and would review the judgment before considering an appeal”.

Meanwhile, here is today’s  ‘Age’ report on yesterday’s storm –  which as I drove home in it, while not really enjoying  that  trip, was rather thankful I was in a vehicle and not out in the weather or trying to cope with the  public transport chaos.

“Last night, electrical storms across parts of Victoria yesterday grounded flights, halted trains, closed the Royal Melbourne Show, brought power blackouts to thousands – and sent countless others running for cover. Melbourne was plunged into eerie darkness about 3pm as clouds gathered from the north-west and unleashed a tropical-style deluge, accompanied by lightning and cracking thunder. Within hours the central city had been soaked by 44.6 millimetres of rain, making it the wettest September day since 1955. Melbourne Airport was wetter still – 48 millimetres up to 9pm – and was a scene of chaos, with dozens of flights grounded from about 5pm as a precaution against lightning.  Although the storms had cleared by mid-evening, many people remained stranded late last night as airlines tried to clear the backlog. And some faced an unscheduled overnight stay after Qantas failed to win permission to extend the Sydney Airport curfew beyond 11pm. Passengers on one plane waited on the tarmac five hours before being told to disembark. Qantas said the airline would pay for their accommodation.

Earlier, peak-hour train services were widely disrupted, with Upfield line services replaced by buses from about 5.30pm due to signal damage. Signals on the Craigieburn and Pakenham lines were also hit. Buses replaced trains from Dandenong to Pakenham and Craigieburn.  Three houses – one each in Doncaster, Malvern and Fitzroy North – were damaged by lightning, and a tree fell through the window of a Pascoe Vale house.  In Ballarat, the horse races were abandoned after 4pm, while organisers of the Royal Melbourne Show halted proceedings early amid concerns about lightning, sending thousands of sodden school holiday visitors to the exits. Power blackouts were widespread, with the major suppliers reporting a total of 29,700 customers still off the grid at 8pm. The State Emergency Service said it had received 280 calls for assistance by 10pm.    Melbourne is in for more wet weather through to the weekend, with showers today and tomorrow, and hail and a top temperature of just 15 degrees on football grand final day”.

Lightning strikes the Melbourne CBD.

Lightning strikes the Melbourne CBD. Photo: Tim Young

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