Archives for April 2007

Gough and Margaret Whitlam Awarded ALP Life Membership

Gough Whitlam, 90, and his wife, Margaret, 87, have been awarded the first-ever life memberships of the Australian Labor Party at the national level.

Gough and Margaret Whitlam at the ALP National Conference, 28-04-2007 The awards were made at the ALP National Conference in Sydney.

Addressing the conference, the former Prime Minister reminded delegates of his famous admonition of the Victorian branch in 1967 when he derided the oppositionist mentality that equated defeat with ideological purity: “Certainly the impotent are pure”.

Forty years later, the nonagenarian Whitlam told the conference, “when I was 50 I could get away with saying things like that.”

Whitlam noted that under his leadership in the 1969 elections, the ALP secured “the greatest swing on record and won 17 seats”. It would not have been lost on conference delegates that in 2007 the ALP needs to win 16 seats to secure a bare majority in the House of Representatives. [Read more…]


Defence Minister Nelson’s Address at the Gallipoli Dawn Service

The Minister for Defence, Brendan Nelson, has represented the Australian government at the Dawn Service at Gallipoli, in Turkey.

In his address, Nelson said: “At this hour ninety two years ago, ANZACs were on the cusp of giving our nation its identity and place in the world, not only by what they would do here, but how they would do it.”

  • Listen to Nelson’s Dawn Service Address (6m)

Text of Defence Minister Brendan Nelson’s Address at the Dawn Service at Gallipoli, Turkey.

Australians all let us rejoice, for we are young and free.

Our anthem is a national epitaph to those whose sacrifice in peace and war, gave us that freedom.

Family epitaphs to the dead, in so few words, say so much – of love, life, loss and us. [Read more…]


Governor-General Michael Jeffery’s ANZAC Day Address

There is a need for people to “get back to the fundamental philosophy of what a worthwhile life is all about”, according to the Governor-General, Major General Michael Jeffery.

Delivering the ANZAC Day Address at the War Memorial in Canberra, Jeffery said “a spirit of service before self” epitomises what “our ex-servicement and women intrinsically believed in and fought for”.

Jeffery also said the security of the nation is the “primary responsibility” and warned against running down the defence forces. [Read more…]


The Lancet Attacks Howard Over Health And Medical Science

This year’s election provides an opportunity “to bring a new enlightenment to Australian health and medical science”, according to the prestigious medical journal, The Lancet.

An editorial in the journal says that whilst “Australian culture feels progressive and inclusive”, this “belies a strong undercurrent of political conservatism, which Howard is ruthlessly tapping into.”

The journal cites Aboriginal health, HIV and Climate Change as issues which demonstrate that “Australian politicians are scoring well below their potential”.

The Lancet was founded in 1823. Its founder, Thomas Wakley, said: “A lancet can be an arched window to let in the light or it can be a sharp surgical instrument to cut out the dross and I intend to use it in both senses”. The journal’s website says that “Thomas Wakley and his successors aimed to combine publication of the best medical science in the world with a zeal to counter the forces that undermine the values of medicine, be they political, social, or commercial. The journal was, and remains, independent, without affiliation to a medical or scientific organisation. More than 180 years later, The Lancet is an independent and authoritative voice in global medicine.”

This is the text of the editorial in The Lancet.

Click here to go to the website of The Lancet

Australia: the politics of fear and neglect

Australian clinical and public-health research is an emblem of excellence across the Asia-Pacific region. That enviable position is being put at risk by Prime Minister John Howard’s indifference to the academic medical community and his profound intolerance to those less secure than himself and his administration. The latest example of his complacency was a comment he made on a Melbourne radio station last week. He said that people living with HIV should not be allowed to enter and live in Australia — “prima facie, no”, he asserted. Australia already has tough immigration rules for those with HIV. All hopeful migrants aged over 15 years are tested for the virus. Their applications stumble if they are found to be positive.

To any visitor, Australian culture feels progressive and inclusive. This attractive exterior belies a strong undercurrent of political conservatism, which Howard is ruthlessly tapping into. As the Australian columnist Janet Albrechtson wrote recently, “the Australian polity is inherently conservative…a conservative coalition has ruled for 42 of 58 years”. 2007 is an election year for Australia. How the country interprets its past and sees its hopes for the future will be critical not only for the health of its people but also for the contribution Australia makes to world health. At present, Australian politicians are scoring well below their potential.

Take Aboriginal health. The current health minister, Tony Abbott, recently insulted Aboriginal peoples by claiming that those who spoke up for indigenous health were simply “establishing politically and morally correct credentials”. On climate change, environment minister Malcolm Turnball apparently sees little new in the latest alarming assessments by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Reviewing the effect of successive Howard administrations on Australia’s academic community since 1996, the respected scientist Ian Lowe has written that “the present government has gone to extraordinary lengths to silence independent opinion within the research community”. This year provides an opportunity at the ballot box to bring a new enlightenment to Australian health and medical science.


Howard Announces Additional Troops To Afghanistan

The Federal Government has announced that it will deploy an extra 300 personnel to Oruzgan province in Afghanistan.

The Prime Minister, John Howard, speaking at a press conference with Defence Minister Brendan Nelson and Defence Force Chief Angus Houston, said the troop boost was designed to contribute “to the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Afghanistan.

  • Listen to the Howard, Houston and Nelson Press Conference (27m)

Text of a media statement from the Prime Minister, John Howard.

More troops for Afghanistan

As Australians will know, the Government has in recent weeks been considering providing more troops for Afghanistan. After careful examination and proper consultation, the Government has decided to boost significantly Australia’s military contribution to the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Afghanistan. [Read more…]