Showing all posts tagged: Australia

An alternative to a Voice: an Indigenous Australian state?

26 September 2023

In a few weeks Australians will vote in a referendum to decide whether the Australian constitution should be amended to include a Voice, an advisory body, for the nation’s Indigenous people. It’s an idea some people are not in favour of though, including a number of First Nations Australians.

Some Indigenous Australians are concerned a Voice may be tantamount to ceding sovereignty. Some would prefer a treaty. Others, the idea of a set number of Indigenous seats in the Australian parliament, along, for instance, the lines of the Māori electorates in New Zealand.

Misha Saul however suggests the interests of Aboriginal people would be better served by the formation of an Indigenous state, rather than ideas such as a Voice, treaties, and even Native title.

Isn’t this the most ambitious and satisfying of objectives? Indigenous Australians could have a state of their own, far larger than the miraculous successes of the twentieth century like Israel of Singapore of South Korea.

This is the first time I’ve heard of such a proposal.


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El Nino weather event formally declared for Australia

21 September 2023

Australia is officially in the grip of an El Niño weather event. This means affected areas can expect higher than normal temperatures, and reduced rainfall. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology announcement on Tuesday confirmed what many people had suspected for some time.

The Bureau of Meteorology has formally declared an El Niño weather event, meaning one is underway for the first time in eight years. The major climate event impacts the weather patterns of 60 per cent of the globe, with Australia particularly vulnerable to its impacts.

That the declaration was made during the midst of a spring/pre spring equinox heatwave is all the more concerning. After parts of the northern hemisphere experienced a horror summer this year, with record high temperatures, and massive bushfires, some people will be dreading summer in the southern hemisphere.


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Parts of Australia may see heatwaves before the spring equinox

11 September 2023

The ten-day weather forecast for some parts of NSW are currently predicting several days with maximum temperatures in the vicinity of thirty degrees centigrade. This, at the moment, for Saturday and Sunday, 16 and 17 September, and Tuesday 19 September. These temperature ranges come close to the official definition of a heatwave:

A heatwave occurs when the maximum and the minimum temperatures are unusually hot over a three-day period in a specific location. This is considered in relation to the local climate and past weather at that place.

Such a forecast may not be entirely surprising if not for the fact Australia is only into the first few weeks of spring. Technically though, were the spring equinox — which falls on Saturday 23 September this year — to be observed as the beginning of spring (as is the case in parts of the world), then it would still be winter in Australia. A heatwave in winter, fancy that.

Long range forecasts are not always accurate though, and conditions may change between now and the weekend. Still, such warm temperatures in the middle of September are alarming to say the least.

And for anyone wondering, each season in Australia commence on the first days of March, June, September, and December, because Australia adheres to the meteorological seasonal system. Many northern hemisphere nations however observe the astronomical season convention, meaning seasons change on about the beginning of the third week in March, June, September, and December.


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Four hundred Australian authors back Voice to Parliament

23 August 2023

Four hundred Australian authors have thrown their support behind the campaign that seeks to amend the Australian constitution to include an Indigenous Voice to parliament.

Katherine Brabon, Shankari Chandran (winner of the 2023 Miles Franklin literary award), Mick Cummins, Sophie Cunningham, Peter FitzSimons, Robert Lukins, Andrew Pippos, Christos Tsiolkas, Pip Williams, Tim Winton, and Charlotte Wood, are among authors who have put their name to the Writers for the Voice website:

We, Writers for the Voice, accept the generous, modest invitation of First Nations Peoples in the Uluru Statement from the Heart to walk with them towards a better Australia.

We support their call for recognition via a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament because we believe passionately that this major reform, the product of broad grassroots consultation and supported by the great majority of First Nations Peoples, will lead to better outcomes for First Nations Peoples. It’s only fair.

What a simple, straightforward, to the point, statement. Contrast that with the scare campaign that some people who are opposed to the idea of the voice, are orchestrating.


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World Cup bronze medal slips through exhausted Matildas fingers

21 August 2023

The Matildas two nil loss to Sweden in the third-place playoff match in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, played at Brisbane Stadium, on Saturday 19 August, came not only as a disappointment, but also a surprise, to supporters of the Australian women’s football team.

Although the Matildas enjoyed their best ever World Cup tournament in 2023, in being placed fourth, many believed the team had a better an average chance of winning the playoff game for the 2023 bronze medal.

If perhaps Matildas head coach Tony Gustavsson had not been so intent on maintaining “continuity”, by refusing to change the team’s line-up throughout most of the World Cup, winning third place was indeed a distinct possibility. Yet of the twenty-three players in the full Matildas squad, only thirteen spent significant time on the field. And that might have been twelve, had Sam Kerr, the Matildas’ captain, not been sidelined for much of the competition with an injury. Of the remaining ten players in the Matildas squad, only a handful saw game minutes.

Samantha Lewis, football writer for ABC Sport, underlined the point, at half time during Saturday’s match, when the Blågult, Sweden’s women’s football team, were leading the game one nil:

The Matildas look tired. Not just physically but mentally: their passes have been off, their decisions half-a-second too slow, their challenges late and clumsy.

It’s a cliche, but Sweden look like they want this more, and the extra day of rest they’ve had over Australia is noticeable in terms of their reaction times and pressing speed.

Tony Gustavsson has been criticised towards the pointy-end of this tournament for not using his bench enough and relying on fatigued players to get the job done, but this feels like a game where he really needs to trust the fresh legs available to him if they want to get back into this and go home with a rose-gold medal.

While Sweden played their semi-final match a day earlier than Australia, I doubt the extra twenty-four hours rest alone made them the better team in Brisbane. Even though, like Australia, they did not change their semi-final line-up, either.

Gustavsson seems to have forgotten winning tournaments on the scale of a World Cup are a team effort. He should have drawn more from the wider Matildas’ squad, rather than constantly relying on the same core players. Playing six international games — from the first group stage match, to the third-place playoff — over the course of four weeks, with virtually no substitutions, is a big ask for any team, no matter how good. Gustavsson was therefore extremely fortunate there were no serious injuries (with the exception of Kerr) forcing him to ditch the team continuity he craved.

I’m surprised though someone as seasoned as Gustavsson didn’t recognise the need to rest players, and bring some “new legs”, to quote Samantha Lewis, onto the field. And not just prior to the third-place playoff either, but throughout the competition. Being sidelined, and deprived of the opportunity to shine, must have come as a blow to those in the Matildas’ squad who sat out the entire World Cup on the reserves bench.

Not only was the thinking unfortunate, but the “continuity policy” also represented, I think, a missed opportunity. Because great things could have come to pass.

And let’s not forget the home-field advantage, something the Matildas enjoyed as tournament co-hosts, and something that can work in favour of Australian athletes. The 2000 Sydney Olympics are an example, where Australia won a record fifty-eight medals, the nation’s best showing at a Summer Olympics to date.

A rejuvenated Matildas’ team, by way of a few substitutions, and with their supporters right there beside them, might have made all the difference on Saturday night.



Matildas: The World at Our Feet, a documentary about the Australian women’s soccer team

18 August 2023

The Matildas, the Australian women’s soccer (football) team, had a stellar run during the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, hosted by Australia and New Zealand. While they didn’t make it to the final, their passion to succeed won them legions of new fans in Australia, and I dare say, further afield.

The Tillies, as they’re known to some followers, play one last match against Sweden on Saturday 19 August 2023, to determine who wins the 2023 tournament’s bronze medal. Whatever the outcome — whether they are placed third or fourth — 2023 will be Matildas’ best ever result in a World Cup.

If you’d like to learn more about the Matildas, its members, and their 2023 campaign, then the Disney produced documentary, Matildas: The World at Our Feet, trailer, comes highly recommended. I have it on good authority that a New Zealand sports lover became a Matildas fan after seeing this show.

What more can I say?


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How to define Australian food, if that is possible

15 July 2023

Australian food critic Besha Rodell, writing for The Sydney Morning Herald:

What is Australian food? Is there even any such thing? These are questions I’ve been pondering, researching and, at times, vigorously debating, for decades. We are not Europe. We are not Japan or Korea. Aside from the food of our incredibly diverse — and until recently, often ignored — First Nations cultures, we do not have thousands of years of edible history to draw upon and call our own. This makes the question harder to answer, but it also frees us from some of the bonds that tradition can impose.

I was once part of a community of design creatives called the Australian Infront, where all of these thoughts and questions were raised, except we were discussing design not food.

The group’s objective was to elevate the perception of Australian web design, as we felt the work of local designers was being overshadowed by designers, well, everywhere, but especially in North America and Europe. But we spent a lot of time trying to figure out what exactly Australian web design was, while also working out what it meant to be Australian.

Perhaps we should have framed the question/s from a food perspective instead.


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Bryan Brown: Australian stories need streaming service quotas

14 July 2023

Australian actor Bryan Brown, speaking at the National Press Club this week, has joined calls for content quotas to be imposed on shows broadcast by streaming services in Australia. Local content quotas have been on the agenda for some time now, and are something Australian federal arts minister Tony Burke believes are necessary to support the Australian arts sector.

Australians spend billions of dollars on streaming services every year, and Brown thinks some of that money should be invested into stories that are about Australia, not just stories set locally:

What we are saying is that a percentage of that two billion bucks should go back into being stories that are actually about Australia. That are Australian stories, not just stories that are set in Australia with, in the main, American accents. With that extra money that we can get from the streamers, allows us more time to develop, allows us more time to be able to shoot, therefore allows us to make our shows reach the great heights that we want them to be.

In response, Bridget Fair, of FreeTV Australia, an advocate body representing local free-to-air television broadcasters, expressed concerns that quotas could drive up production costs:

The Australian screen sector is booming. With independent data from Screen Australia and the Australian Bureau of Statistics showing that there is more production in this country right now than ever before, the Government needs to be very clear on what problem it is trying to solve. Simply adding fuel to an already raging fire of cost escalation in the production sector will have a significant impact on the ability of Australian broadcasters to continue to deliver the Australian programming that our community relies on.

It’s a hoary old chestnut, but quotas, if not applied correctly, have the potential to back fire. Aiming to have twenty-percent of shows seen on streaming services that are about Australia, made in Australia, is admirable, but not if the results are poor quality stories.


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The Man Who Invented Vegemite, a book by Jamie Callister

21 June 2023

The Man Who Invented Vegemite, by Jamie Callister, book cover

Book cover of The Man Who Invented Vegemite, written by >Jamie Callister.

Strewth, it’s been one hundred years since Australia’s favourite yeast extract, Vegemite, hit the shelves of grocery shops. Although similar (sort of…) to Marmite, which came along in 1902, Vegemite was developed by Cyril Callister, a Melbourne chemist and food technologist in 1922.

In 2012, Jamie Callister, the grandson of Cyril wrote a book, The Man Who Invented Vegemite, to mark what would have been the ninetieth anniversary of Vegemite. And now, ten years later, it looks like the book has been republished to commemorate a century of the viscous, dark brown — and might I add — delicious, spread’s presence in the world.


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The Last Daughter a film by Nathaniel Schmidt, Brenda Matthews

21 June 2023

For decades until the 1970’s, some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were forcibly removed from their families by successive Australian governments. These children became known as the Stolen Generations. Indigenous woman Brenda Matthews was taken from her family aged two, and placed in the care of a white family.

Matthews was later returned to her birth family after her biological mother regained custody of her. The The Last Daughter, trailer, a documentary which Matthews co-directs with Nathaniel Schmidt, recounts her story as she attempts to trace her adoptive, loving, white foster family, while learning more about her Indigenous family.

The Last Daughter is presently screening in selected Australian cinemas.


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