Janu-wary: Attacks, Invasion and Change in the first month of 2014

What a month!

Here’s my little review of January in Australian Politics, along with a couple of Global Political events as well!

ATTACKS:

In the Sea……
In my fair home state of Western Australia, our Premier, Colin Barnett has decided to enact a Shark Cull. In light of increased frequency in attacks in the last 5 years, he has decide to place drum lines, or baits, to ‘snare’ any Great White, Bull or Tiger Sharks over 3 metres in length, then the Shark will be ‘put down’. The drum lines have been set up 1km off shore.

Sharks were protected species for many years in WA, since being protected and the advent of our Shark Patrol helicopters, their numbers are increasing and we are seeing more of them. There have been several protests against these culls, amid criticism from other State Governments within Australia, and from Ricky Gervais:

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Also, not condemnation from a handful of other British figures. But it don’t expect them to understand the full context, given Britain doesn’t have an issue with sharks. Okay, so that was snarky, but in order to understand this situation you need to wrap your head around more than the cull itself. Barnett didn’t have many successes in 2013, and this was an opportunity for him to take decisive action, not simply to boost his ratings, but to make a hard decision in the interest of public safety.

Personally, I am anti-cull, but I can understand why Colin has made this decision. Government has a duty of care to protect its citizens. And if another Ken Crew incident happened again, God help us. It’s not a popular choice, but it couldn’t have been ignored.

And on Land…..

Prime Minister Abbott has criticised the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC) and it’s reporting of the news, saying that it isn’t “on Australia’s side”. For my international readers, some more context here!

The Prime Minister’s comments are a little out of blue (unexpected), but not completely random. In the last couple of months, there have been some incidents — NSA documents getting leaked by Edward Snowden, incidents involving Asylum Seekers and the Australian Navy, and the Indonesian phone tapping scandal. What do these incidents have in common? In one way or another, they have affected Australia’s security (broadly speaking) — Diplomatic, Maratime/Human Security and our National security (confidential documents). Prime Minister Abbott is not making these comments for his own gain, democracy and free press got him elected. I agree with him wanting to do a review of the ABC, because news outlets should be aiming to stay relevant and flexible in the current news environment; journalistic integrity is being challenged by the ‘fast’ online news turnover that has become such a norm.

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The ABC will stay relevant. Heck, Pendulum even remixed the ABC news theme.

INVASION:

Well, ‘Invasion Day’, better known as Australia Day (January 26th). On January 26th, 1788 the English sailed into Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour) and claimed Australia, or Terra Australis. Tensions ensued with our Indigenous population, who had existed on the Australian Island for 40 000 years. When the English came, they thought that before they came, Australia was terra bullies or ’empty land’. So yes, there was an element of invasion. Massacres and battles ensued over the next hundred or so years. Australia was considered ‘settled’ by the English, which could imply that Australia was wild and rough and unruly before their arrival — added a bit of insult to injury. So there are two sides to Australia Day, two sides to everything.

I prefer to think of Australia Day as a starting point for modern Australia. Our Indigenous people were the caretakers of Ancient Australia, and now we share it. Australia is such a interesting place, there are dinosaur bones, cave paintings, inactive volcanos and fossils from thousands and millions of years ago, yet Australia has only been ‘Australia’ for 226 years, and a Federated nation for 113 years. We didn’t have medieval periods, dynastic rulers, revolutions or undergo an industrial revolution. We just appeared on the map through the whim of European explorers — the English, Portuguese and Dutch.

I love my country.

CHANGE:

Australia has a new Governor-General! A once in 5 year occurrence, so fairly significant!
G-G is the highest office in Australian Parliament, it is a predominantly ceremonial and non-political role. They are appointed by the Prime Minister, and serve a single term. They have final assent over legislation, is our Commander in Chief, have the power to dissolve both Houses of Parliament , and dismiss the Government and Prime Minister. These ‘Reserve Powers’ are prescribed in the Australian Constitution, sections 2, 61 and 68. Read more about the GG’s role and powers here!

Meet Peter Cosgrove, our incoming G-G. Former Chief of the Defence Force from 2002 til 2005.

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I think he’ll be good, because he is someone who has experience at the upper echelons of Government , he’s a familiar figure to Australians, and he has a good head on his shoulders.

Globalpol (Rest of the World):

– The Ukraine and Thailand are on the verge of Civil War.

– Barack Obama gave his ‘State of the Union’ address last night, and the US will shortly have to deal with another ‘fiscal cliff’ in the next month or two.

I’ll take a good look at Obama’s State of the Union address in my next entry.

Hope you enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed writing!

– PIK

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